Latta’s health care vote leaves some constituents feeling sick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Congressman Bob Latta said the nation needs rescuing from the “disaster that is Obamacare.” So on Thursday he became one of the 217 Republicans who voted to push out the Affordable Care Act to replace it with the American Health Care Act. The vote was followed by cheers from Republican members of Congress who had promised for seven years that they would get rid of the ACA. “It’s very evident that Obamacare is failing the American people, and its problems continue to grow,” Latta posted on his website. “The promises of Obamacare have been thoroughly broken, and the problems it has foisted on hardworking families can’t be ignored.” “Constituents in my district have told me about skyrocketing premiums, difficultly using their insurance, and the lack of choices they face thanks to Obamacare,” Latta stated. But many constituents in Wood County were left wondering Thursday if Latta listened at all to their concerns. Those citizens, who support the ACA, peacefully protested each week outside the congressman’s Bowling Green office. They wrote countless letters and made countless phone calls. The local citizens pleaded to be heard. They begged for a chance to meet with Latta. But on Thursday, he voted without a single town hall meeting on the health care issue. Some constituents did receive letters back from Latta – but they were identical form letters mailed out months after the local residents sent letters voicing their concerns. “In his bogus form letter that many of you received, he wrote that premiums would go down 10 percent under the new plan and that he would ensure that people with pre-existing conditions would continue to get coverage,” Bowling Green citizen Meghan Wilson wrote after many local citizens received the exact same letters from Latta. “What he didn’t say is that he would vote on a bill that includes high-risk pools, which will cause premiums to skyrocket for people with pre-existing conditions. There is no end to how disastrous this plan is,” Wilson said. One Bowling Green resident voiced her anger on Facebook after Thursday’s vote. “Thanks GOP. Every person that lives in my house has a pre-existing condition. Glad you’re looking out for us,” she wrote. Twenty congressional Republicans voted against repealing the ACA, because they felt it…


Recreation center gets funky & functional glass mosaic

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Artist Gail Christofferson is proud of her most recent work. While being interviewed near the track on the second floor of the Bowling Green Recreation Center, she asks those passing by what they think of the new glass mosaic above the lobby. The walkers approve. Christofferson shares that sense of pride with hundreds of others. Almost 800 Bowling Green residents, kids through seniors, had a hand in creating those 40 glass quilt squares. They helped sort and trim the bits of glass and place them within the designs. Those designs were created not just by Christofferson, but also by Bowling Green High art students, the Conneaut Art Club and members of the Black Swamp Quilters Guild. On Tuesday, May 9, at 4 p.m. a celebration of the installation will be held. Those “funky quilt squares” were appropriate for the project, Christofferson said. “A quilt was made by the community. It was an heirloom that was valued. I like that concept.” And like a quilt, the mosaic is functional art. Parks and Recreation Director Kristen Otley approached Christofferson about creating the mosaic to help moderate the sunlight that would pour into the lobby at certain times of the day during mid-summer. Those rays left those working at the front desk literally blinded by the light. The “funky quilt” idea worked because the artist wasn’t sure how many mosaic panels she’d have to work it. Besides forming the artistic vision, she had to martial the community forces to work on it. Christofferson said she could have done the work herself, but having the community involved was an important part of the project. So crafting work gave way to filling out paperwork and making telephone calls. She was glad to have the help of the Kiwanis’ college affiliate help with grouting the 40 panels. “If I had to do it all myself, my hands would have fallen off,” she said. In the past year, she has brought together folks at Wood Lane, Montessori School of Bowling Green, Conneaut Elementary, the Wood County Educational Service Center, Kiwanis, Behavioral Connections, and Brookdale Bowling Green. She would spend an entire day working in a school. She held three open sessions at the Art in the Park, and two movie nights. All intended to get as…


BG agrees to trade land to expand business park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council on Monday pushed through a land swap that will allow a business park to expand, and started the process to possibly add two additional roundabouts in the city. Council voted to suspend the rules requiring three readings of a land trade ordinance for Wood Bridge Business Park on the northeast edge of the city. Council voted unanimously to support the swap. A developer has purchased 43 acres just east of the Wood Bridge Business Park for warehousing and logistic services. The warehouse space will benefit existing Wood Bridge businesses, since many of them will use that space for storage which will allow them then to expand manufacturing spaces. That will create more jobs – which will increase income tax revenues for the city. The business park currently brings in nearly $1 million for Bowling Green City Schools each year, according to City Solicitor Mike Marsh. The extension of Wood Bridge Business Park to the east opens up the possibility for the park’s expansion to the south – eventually connecting with Bowling Green Road East. It would become an L-shaped development around the Meijer store. But to expand the business park to the south means a land swap with Richard and Judith Carpenter, who own the 65 acres east of Meijer. Marsh thanked the Carpenters for being willing to trade farm land. “They are supporters of our community and huge supporters of our school system,” he said. The deal goes like this: The city will trade approximately 80 acres of farmland east of the solar field, near Carter and Newton roads, for the north 20 acres of the Carpenter farm property. The city will have an option to purchase the remaining 45 acres south of the 20 acres acquired in this agreement. The price per acre will be $30,000 an acre for the first 15 acres, $35,000 per acre for the next 15, and $45,000 per acre for the remaining acreage. The purchase option will have a term of 10 years. Carpenter will be permitted to continue farming the 20 acres until it is sold for industrial uses. Carpenter may extend a city water service line to their house on Carter Road. The city will provide a farm access lane to the 80-acre parcel…


BG steers toward rules to allow golf carts on some streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Golf carts and other slow moving vehicles will be allowed to operate on some city streets – but only after they jump through some hoops first. As of Jan. 1, a state law deemed it illegal to operate an under-speed or utility vehicle on public streets unless it is registered, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday evening. A couple steps must be taken in Bowling Green before the carts can motor along city streets, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. First, the city must pass a local ordinance allowing them on public roads. They will be limited to streets with speed limits of 35 mph or lower. Second, an inspection program must be set up with the local police division. The vehicles must have proper brakes, lights, turn signals, tires, windshield wipers, steering, horns and warning devices, mirrors, exhaust systems, windshields and seat belts. Once an inspection is passed, the golf cart or other slow-moving vehicle can be registered and titled just like other vehicles. Stickers indicating registration will have to be placed on the carts. The city is still working on finding out how often the inspections must be performed. Fawcett said the city has received a complaint about a golf cart using public roadways in the Stone Ridge development. And the city administration and council members are also hearing from local residents who want to continue to drive golf carts on city streets. “We’re hearing that people do want the ability to do this,” Fawcett said. “We’re willing to work to make this happen. But there are some realities we have to work with.” Fawcett has started working on city legislation to comply with the state law, and Police Chief Tony Hetrick is working on creating an inspection program. “Hopefully we’ll have something shortly to present to council,” Fawcett said. “The administration remains committed to working with the public on this.” In other business, Mayor Dick Edwards talked about the pipeline panel discussion planned for May 8, at 4 p.m., in City Council chambers. The city would be remiss, he said, if answers were not sought for questions raised about possible risks of the Nexus pipeline running so close to the city water plant. Citizens with questions for the expert panel…


Portraits in friendships between BGSU student photographers & Wood Lane individuals exhibited at Toledo Museum

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News To find the Wood Lane photo exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art, walk toward Matisse’s “Apollo” on the ground floor, then take a left. Just down the hall from that masterpiece, images of people served by Wood Lane line the walls of the Community Gallery. Most of the photos were taken by students in Lynn Whitney’s Community Projects class at Bowling Green State University. Some were taken by the Wood Lane individuals themselves. The exhibit, “Speaking of,” is the culmination of semester long project through which a dozen BGSU student photographers were teamed up with Wood Lane individuals. This is the project’s fifth year. At the opening, Whitney said this was “a project that seeks to bring a voice and alternative vision to a community of especially wonderful people.” In the beginning the Wood Lane individuals were the subjects. The photographers worked with them to depict their lives. This year, though, they were also given cameras and with the guidance of their student partners also made photographs. They went out bowling, shopping, for ice cream, and talked, said Lisa Kaplan, a BGSU graduate and a professor at Adrian College who has watched the project develop. And they came to the museum both for a visual literacy workshop and to view the Kehinde Wiley exhibit. This kind of partnership is especially needed now, Kaplan said. “We face a nation that’s increasingly suffering in many ways from a terrible lack of empathy. The struggle continues to get to a place where people with disabilities are fully integrated members of society who have full access to jobs, family, and education. … The public presentation of these pictures is a challenge to a dominant, often dehumanizing, narrative of people with disabilities.” Museum Director Brian Kennedy said the project connects with the museum’ focus on visual literacy. “We teach people how to see, to make them understand what they see. When you understand what you see, you empathize; you try to think what the other person is feeling.” Those connections are more personal between the partners in pictures. “I really felt like it was going to be a new experience,” said Kristy Cartmell of her decision to enroll in the class. “It would take me out of my comfort zone and make a…


BG at-large council primary puts 4 women in race

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green voters narrowed down the field of at-large council candidates in Tuesday’s primary election – leaving four women in the race. Winning a place on the general election ballot were Democrats Holly Cipriani and Sandy Rowland, and Green Party candidates BeverlyAnn Elwazani and Carolyn S. Kawecka. A total of 10 candidates had filed for the two open at-large council seats. Running for the seats were four Democrats, four Green Party members, one Republican and one Independent. Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said this is the first time the Green Party has had enough candidates to warrant a primary ballot in Bowling Green. None of the ward seats were contested in the primary election. The primary election whittled down the at-large race to a maximum of two candidates from each party. Following are the unofficial vote counts for the Democratic at-large candidates: Holly Cipriani: 423 Mark Hollenbaugh: 412 Robert Piasecki: 266 Sandy Rowland: 1,001 Following are the unofficial vote counts for the Green Party at-large candidates: Helen Kay Dukes: 29 BeverlyAnn Elwazani: 41 Carolyn S. Kawecka: 31 Rosamond L. McCallister: 20 Voters will elect two at-large candidates in the November election from the choices of Democrats Cipriani and Rowland, Green Party Elwazani and Kawecka, Republican Greg Robinette and Independent Nathan Eberly. One council member from each of the city’s four wards will also be elected in November. Following are the Democratic and Republican candidates who have filed for those seats. No Green candidates filed for the ward seats. First Ward: Democrat Daniel J. Gordon, Republican Ryan A. Rothenbuhler. Second Ward: Democrat John Zanfardino, Republican Kent Ramsey. Third Ward: Democrat Michael Aspacher, running unopposed. Fourth Ward: Democrat Scott W. Seeliger, Republican William J. Herald. Rowland, the only winner in the primary with council experience, emerged as the top vote getter on Tuesday. If re-elected, she plans to focus on the city’s neighborhood improvement plan and helping the city general fund recover. “I want to boost our general fund through economic development,” she said. “And I’m excited to see the green space become a reality in our town,” Rowland said. In addition to serving on City Council, Rowland served on the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission when efforts were made to secure rights for…


BG Schools income tax renewal passes by wide margin

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters easily passed a 0.5 percent income tax renewal for Bowling Green City School current expenses for five years on Tuesday. The unofficial vote was 1,937 to 647 – giving the district a victory with 75 percent. “I’m very humbled and appreciative of the community support,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said after the votes were tallied. “I think it speaks volumes about how our community looks at our schools and what we do. This will allow us to do what we do in the classroom.” But Scruci said Tuesday’s solid support should not be taken for granted. It cannot be translated as support for the school district’s next venture at the polls for new or renovated buildings, he said. The income tax for the district began in January of 1993 and has been renewed every five years since. It makes up 11 percent of the district’s general fund revenue, generating $3.34 million annually. The issue was the first on the ballot since Scruci became Bowling Green’s superintendent nearly two years ago. Though any election victory is a good victory, Scruci said he was very pleased with the margin of the votes. “I think it really does speak to the amount of support we have in the community,” he said. “And at the day’s end, the winners are the kids.” However, Scruci cautioned that Tuesday’s victory does not mean the district can count on voters passing a levy for new or renovated school buildings. “I don’t think you can compare the two,” he said of the renewal levy and a new tax issue. “I don’t think you can draw a parallel. They are two different things.” The board will be meeting for a couple workshops later this month to discuss the district’s building options. “We will talk about what direction we’re going to go,” Scruci said. For more than a year now, school officials have been gathering input from the community on which building options they support. The board will soon have to decide whether to put a levy on the ballot in November or next May. And they will have to decide whether to seek funding to build new buildings, renovate existing buildings, or some combination of both. Scruci is hoping voters will be supportive at the polls…


Faculty members urge BGSU to be a leader in addressing sexual violence

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sandra Faulkner wants Bowling Green State University to be the leader in combating sexual assault on campus. The director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hopes that the recent protests over the way BGSU handles sexual assault will lead to innovation, not duplication of other universities’ “best practices.” “No institution in higher education handles sexual violence well,” she said. Faulkner and her colleague Sarah Rainey, an associate professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies, met with Dean of Students Jodi Webb Friday in the wake of a protest that drew about 200 students. In their meeting with Webb, Faulkner and Rainey brought with them a list of actions, drafted by members of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty, that BGSU could take immediately to start addressing the problem. On Monday President Mary Ellen Mazey announced the formation of Task Force on Sexual Assault. Rainey is one of 17 members appointed to the task force. The task force includes faculty, staff, students, the student member of the Board of Trustees, and a representative from The Cocoon. (http://bgindependentmedia.org/mazey-to-launch-task-force-on-sexual-assault/) According to President Mary Ellen Mazey’s letter announcing its creation, the task force’s charge is: “to review our policies and procedures for Title IX and sexual assault, benchmark our efforts against best practices across the country, and provide recommendations to improve the campus culture and our policies. In addition, the task force will examine our services for supporting sexual assault victims and evaluate our awareness and prevention efforts.” Both Faulkner and Rainey were encouraged by the composition of the task force. Faulkner is concerned about the word “benchmark.” “We shouldn’t be benchmarking with anyone,” she said. “We should innovate. We should do more.” Other institutions should be looking to BGSU as the model. While the Task Force is expected to gather before summer, Rainey said she expects the work to start in earnest in August when the fall semester begins. It would be hard to meet throughout the summer given faculty and students are not always on campus. They indicated a report would be made by the end of the year. Before then they and their colleagues and students would like certain steps to be taken. The university must do a better job of educating students about the issue. That…


BG Council wants to plug general fund problem

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to get a handle on the city’s lagging general fund problem before it becomes a crisis. So prior to the next two council meetings, the Committee of the Whole will meet at 6 p.m. on May 15 and June 5, to talk about building up the city’s general fund revenue. Council member Bob McOmber advised his fellow council members to talk with constituents and ponder on the possibilities. “Think long and hard about this topic before that meeting,” he said during Monday’s council meeting. And leave all the options on the table. “Just sort of let the topic percolate in your mind.” McOmber isn’t expecting council to make any decisions on May 15, other than narrowing down the options to raise more general fund revenue. But by June 5, they should be prepared to choose. “We’re going to need to move fairly quickly,” he said. Stagnant revenue and increasing expenses have Bowling Green City Council looking at ways to bring more money into the city’s general fund. The city’s gains in income tax revenue have been eaten away by state and federal funding cuts in the past decade. The budget for 2017 lists revenue of $14,996,197 and appropriations of $15,623,253 – which means it is cutting into the balance by $627,056, and is not sustainable. The city’s overall revenue continues to be flat, as costs continue to escalate. While income tax revenue is up, the city continues to take hits from interest revenue, intergovernmental fund cuts such as estate tax losses, and the end to its cable franchise income. Local government funds shrank from 18 percent of the general fund a decade ago, to 7 percent now. The local government fund loss was about $600,000 annually, the loss of the cable franchise fee was about $300,000 a year, and the loss of estate tax averaged about $700,000 a year. Eight ideas have been presented for generating revenue for the city general fund: Redistribution of the city income tax. This would not be a tax increase, but would require a public vote since it would switch how the funding is used. This would likely increase water and sewer rates, which are “extremely low” because so much funding from the general fund is now…


Children urged to honor Earth Day all year long

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   “Bob” the crayfish was a big hit at the eighth annual Earth Day Community Celebration on Sunday. But it was his bigger buddy “Chompers” with very active pinchers that drew shrieks from the young children. “You can touch a Maumee River crayfish and go tell your friends,” tempted Christina Kuchle, of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The annual Earth Day event on the open field next to the Montessori School in Bowling Green was focused on fun – with the hope that children and their parents would go home knowing a bit more about how to protect the environment. “It kind of ties everything together,” said Amanda Gamby, of the Wood County Solid Waste Management District. “It brings us all together for one last hurrah. It drives home the Earth Day, Every Day message.” At one booth, Jamie Sands of the Wood County Park District was pushing the message that bees are not bad. Though much maligned creatures, they are very important to humans, she said. “Ninety-five percent of what we eat is possible because of pollinators,” Sands said. “We love bees. Yeaaaaa bees.” Next to the booth, children were trying to “pollinate” towering flowers by throwing balls into the centers of the posies. “We want them to know the importance of pollinators and the importance of pollination,” Sands said. And in the process, maybe parents were learning a bit, too. Instead of spraying to kill bee hives, Sands suggested a phone call instead. “There are agencies they can call to move the nests,” she said. “We need bees.” The Bowling Green Tree Commission was also on site, encouraging folks to take note of the value of their trees. By going to itreetools.org/mytree/ people can type in a few facts about their trees and find out the environmental value of them. Partners for Clean Streams showed fishing line recycling bins. Though stray fishing line may seem harmless, the line can get wrapped around animals and cause them great harm. Plus, the plastic leachate from the lines contaminates the water. “It all ends up in Lake Erie,” said Paul Fuzinski, program coordinator for Partners for Clean Streams. By using simple pipe cleaners and beads, children at another booth were taught about the water cycle as they made…


Art brightens a dreary day as downtown BG hosts 25th Art Walk

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art work filled a variety of nooks and crannies in shops downtown Saturday for the 25th Art Walk. The annual event offers people a chance to view the work of a variety of artists, from school kids to elders, and visit shops downtown they may never have been in. That was the case at the Painted Clover on South Main Street. One woman walked in, exclaiming “I haven’t been here since it was Art-a-Site!” as she looked around. The shop’s manager Morgan Savage said traffic was better than a usual Saturday and a number of those who came into shop were there specifically for Art Walk. For many, it was their first time in the store that sells hand painted furniture and home décor. Painted Clover was displaying silk-screened prints of birds created by Savage, a graduate of the Bowling Green State University School of Art. Savage was happy to have the opportunity to show her work. A few doors down in Encore Bridal, Michael Neal, son of the owner, said “a lot of people came strictly for that, for the art.” Foot traffic ebbed and flowed during the day. “I think the weather kept a lot of people away,” he said. Still Mary Dennis said she was pleased with the number of people who stopped by her display inside Grounds for Thought. This was the first time she’d exhibited and was glad she did. Across the room painter Randy Bennett was at work. He didn’t have paintings out for sale. Instead he set up his easel and was dabbing paint on one of his politically provocative pieces. He said he likes to come into Grounds for the Art Walk because the shop supports him by regularly showing his work. Whenever he finishes a painting, he’ll hang it at the coffee shop. “It’s cool,” he said, of painting in public. “I always have friendly conversations and if they like it, you have a new best friend at least for a few minutes.” At Ace Hardware, Betty Winslow was at work as well. Her location was perfect because she makes jewelry out of small bits of hardware. On Saturday, though, she was stringing bead bracelets for the Kids Count, Too “Princess for a Day” event. “It’s actually been pretty good…


Author overcomes learning disabilities to become storyteller

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of more than 100 books, remembers the horror of being forced to read in front of her class. She would clutch the book so hard, her nails would break. “To me, that was like being asked to stand in front of a firing squad,” Polacco told her audience of parents and children Saturday at the Literacy in the Park event at Bowling Green State University. “I could not read until I was 14 years old. I could not write. I couldn’t do math,” she said. “I felt stupid. I felt dumb.” Polacco recalled the unintentional cruelty of her classmates. “The whole class started laughing at me,” when she tried to read aloud. “Please don’t laugh,” she told her audience on Saturday. “You have no idea how much you are hurting that kid.” Polacco’s life turned around at age 14 when one of her teachers finally realized that she was dyslexic and dysgraphic. She was also unable to learn when sitting still – something that wasn’t understood till years later. “In my day at school, I had to sit like a rock.” So Polacco is a big believer in the individuality of children and the way they learn. “I believe all children are gifted. The trick is, we don’t open our gifts at the same time.” Polacco, who lives in Michigan, has turned her gifts into beautifully illustrated children’s books. “For me, art is like breathing,” she said. She didn’t started writing books till she was 41. “Older than dirt,” she told her young audience. In the last 31 years, she has written about 115 books. “They come out of me so fast, I can barely keep up with them.” Polacco comes from a family of storytellers – her mother’s people were from Russia and Ukraine, and her father’s people were from Ireland. As she was growing up, her family did not own a television. She asked the children in the audience to guess what she and her brother watched every evening. “My grandmother, that’s what we watched,” she said of her babushka, who loved to tell stories. “I heard all of her stories over 1,000 times.” When Polacco and her brother would ask if the stories were true, her grandmother would look…


BG to consider 2 more roundabouts on East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials may soon seek another go-round at more roundabout funding. On Monday, Bowling Green City Council will hear the first readings of resolutions for two more roundabouts on East Wooster Street. The city is already working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on roundabouts at the Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The resolutions before council on Monday involve the intersections of East Wooster at Campbell Hill and Dunbridge roads. If approved, ODOT would pay 80 percent of the roundabout costs, with Bowling Green paying the remaining 20 percent. That means for the Campbell Hill rotary, estimated to cost $1,525,000, Bowling Green would pay $310,000 plus $153,000 for project preparation. For the Dunbridge Road rotary, estimated to cost $935,000, Bowling Green’s share would be $190,000, plus $95,000 for project preparation. Bowling Green is already working with ODOT to put two roundabouts at I-75 and East Wooster Street in 2018. The work will include pedestrian access along the bridge deck and aesthetic improvements for those entering the community. The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments is seeking transportation projects that might qualify for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. Roundabouts often qualify since they allow traffic to continue moving at a steady pace unlike regular intersections that require motorists to stop and go. In addition to creating less air pollution, city officials are interested in the roundabouts because the East Wooster Street Concept Plan identified these locations for intersection improvements, including a “new look” for the corridor. The plan calls for a calmer and more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the city with a landscaped median as part of that concept. Since the East Wooster corridor is the “front door” to the community, the plan suggested increasing trees, calming traffic and adding improvements for pedestrians. Another benefit, according to city officials, is that fewer left hand turns into and out of businesses will be required because of the roundabouts. That is expected to decrease the number of serious vehicle crashes in the corridor. The funding decisions will not be made until December. If Bowling Green is awarded funds, the money may not be available until 2022 or later. Applications for the funds are due June 2, so City Council will be asked to give the…


Electric study aimed at keeping customers from rate shocks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials reviewed a plan last week to control electric rate increases while still meeting revenue requirements. A cost of service and rate study proposed ways to develop rates that are fair and equitable – with few unpleasant surprises for customers. “This plan presents a way to sustainability, with limited impact on customers,” said Trey Shepherd, of Sawvel and Associates. “They want something smooth and level.” Bowling Green has a couple strengths in its favor. First, electric sales are continuing to increase. “We don’t see a ton of municipalities experiencing growth,” Shepherd told members of the city’s Board of Public Utilities Monday evening. More growth means less impact on customers since rate increases can be spread over more electric users. “Growth helps,” Shepherd said. “It really does help to limit rate increases.” The other plus for Bowling Green is its movement toward renewal energy. There is less reliance on market energy purchases, making the city less exposed to the volatility of the market, Shepherd said. Currently, nearly 40 percent of the city’s electricity is generated by renewable sources of hydro, solar and wind. “Compared to other municipalities in this part of the state, your renewables are higher,” he said. The city has been able to prepay $4.6 million into the rate levelization fund, due to growth in electric sales and lower than expected power supply costs over the last few years. Annual rate increases for residential customers are expected to be in the area of 2.83 percent. Most commercial and industrial customers will see rate increases of around 4 percent. No customers will experience rate hikes of more than 4.5 percent. The steady small increases will help electric customers plan for the future, according to Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. Shepherd said some of the rate classes are higher than Toledo Edison rates. However, Toledo Edison rates change every three months, he added. The board of public utilities will be asked to approve the rate adjustments in May.


Wood County landfill filling up faster than expected

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s landfill continues to be filling up faster than expected. When 2016 rolled around, it looked as if the existing permitted space at the landfill would last another 11 years. By last summer, that remaining lifespan had shortened to eight to 10 years. And by Tuesday, that time had shrunk to six or seven years. The news was presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday by landfill staff and consultants. Since it takes a few years for any landfill expansion to be approved by the Ohio EPA, work is being done now to get the process going. The entire landfill area is close to 300 acres. Of that, 45 acres are permitted right now for use. It’s that space that has six or seven years left. The requested expansion will be for 65 acres to the north of the current area being used. The first phase of the proposed expansion would “piggyback” on top of a section already being used. The landfill is allowed to reach a height just over 100 feet. Bill Petruzzi, of Hull and Associates consulting firm, said a place to put trash is a treasure. “Wood County has continued to provide such a good service to the community,” Petruzzi told the county commissioners on Tuesday. In the last three decades, the number of licensed landfills in Ohio has dropped from 197 to 37, he said. Of those, more than half are private. “All along, Wood County has always done the right thing,” Petruzzi said. “You provide a needed service at a low price.” The county landfill has never been a “dump,” he added. Operations there have always met standards for liners, caps, water quality, gas monitoring and compacting. Attention has always been given to “safety, human health and the environment,” he said. “You’ve done good planning. I think you’re in very good shape,” Petruzzi told the commissioners. But efforts to expand should not be delayed. The reason for the faster filling is three-fold, according to last year’s presentation to the county commissioners. First, the Henry County landfill closed, resulting in much of the garbage from that neighboring county coming to Wood County. Second, as the economy rebounds, the increase in new construction creates more debris, and people tend to buy new items…