Bowling Green

NW district weighs water options from Toledo, BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concerns about water quality, quantity and costs have resulted in a possible regional water system with Toledo in the center. But if that Plan A falls apart, then the northern Wood County area is eyeing a possible Plan B involving Bowling Green water. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District held a public meeting in Perrysburg Thursday evening to talk about possible options for approximately 6,500 of its water customers in northern Wood County. To serve its northern customers, the district currently purchases water from Toledo, then distributes it to Rossford, Northwood, Walbridge, Perrysburg Township, Troy Township and Lake Township. The status quo has been disrupted in the past few years by several concerns about Toledo water quality and cost. Toledo has been ordered to make many water system improvements, with the costs being passed on to customers who already pay large surcharges. Complaints from communities served by the district have shown growing dissatisfaction over the rates and the water quality since the Toledo system went through the algal bloom crisis of 2014. The district’s contract with Toledo water expires in 2024 – which in water agreement years is not much time. Meanwhile, talks with Toledo are still not quite complete, and negotiations with Bowling Green haven’t even begun. Rex Huffman, attorney with the district, explained at Thursday’s meeting that several political entities served by Toledo water share the same concerns. So after months of negotiations, the Toledo Area Water Authority was created. Signing a memorandum of understanding for TAWA were officials from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Toledo, Lucas County, Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County and Monroe County. “We have…


BG pursues second solar field – for community power

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The City of Bowling Green sees a bright future for more solar power. The problem is finding big open areas for another solar field. The city could use some land it has purchased over the years for economic development. But Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell pointed out that while solar fields generate green energy, they do not generate long-term jobs. The city could use some of the 70 acres left at its current solar field on Carter Road, northeast of the city. But that property may be needed for land application of biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant. “With a solar project, you need a lot of land,” O’Connell said to the board of utilities Monday evening. So the city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 71.5 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Approximately 51.5 acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The land is currently rented out as farmland. Both Wood County and the Board of Developmental Disabilities are interested in the solar project, O’Connell said. And they aren’t alone, according to Mayor Dick Edwards, who commended O’Connell and Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of the city utilities department, for pursuing an agreement to use the county land. “There’s real strong community interest in another solar project,” Edwards said. A three-year contract for the acreage was presented to the board of public utilities Monday evening. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project –…


BG doesn’t want state to pocket local income tax

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After losing chunks of state funding over the last decade, Bowling Green officials don’t plan to sit still as more local funding is siphoned away. Municipalities across Ohio are suing the state over an income tax collection change that city officials call unconstitutional. The change would allow businesses to file income tax returns with the state rather than with the city where the businesses are located. The Ohio Department of Taxation would process the returns and distribute the money back to local governments – but only after pocketing a 1 percent fee for the service. “We can do it in-house for under that amount,” Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. The change is set to take effect Jan. 1. State officials have said the change will save businesses time and money by streamlining the process of collecting more than $600 million in municipal income taxes paid by Ohio businesses each year. The change is also being promoted as a way to make the state more friendly to businesses that have locations in more than one Ohio community. But municipal officials have said giving up the processing of tax returns will result in a loss of accountability and personalized customer service for businesses. Fawcett added that the change will create confusion for businesses, and could risk the positions of four employees in the city income tax department. “We have a staff that does this. What would we do with those people,” Fawcett said. Bowling Green officials considered joining other municipalities in the lawsuit against the state, and were mistakenly added to the list of complainants. However, Fawcett explained that the potential…


Landlord and renter responsibilities examined in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to help them get out of a lease at a rental property they felt was unsafe. “I could not believe it was allowed to be rented,” said Rose Hess, who toured the house. Photos taken during the tour show a ceiling fan dangling from the ceiling, a filthy washing machine that wasn’t working, a dryer that was not vented, a stove that didn’t work, fuse boxes without covers, and bricks holding open windows. “These properties are unrentable, yet they are being…


County gives BG $300,000 for roundabouts at I-75

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners have kicked in $300,000 for roundabouts being planned at the Interstate 75 interchange in Bowling Green. The commissioners presented the check Thursday morning to Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. “I know these decisions aren’t easy to come by, with all the competing demands” for funding, Edwards said to the commissioners. But Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the impact of the interchange improvements will reach beyond Bowling Green. “It’s important for all of us,” she said. The roundabouts planned for the interchange on East Wooster Street are intended to make traffic move more smoothly and reduce accidents. Work on the necessary infrastructure for the project will begin in 2018, according to Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. The actual road paving work is planned for 2019, she said. “It’s got a lot of moving parts,” Tretter said of the project. Edwards thanked the commissioners for their “spirit of collaboration.” “We appreciate you recognizing the import of this,” he said, referring to Bowling Green as the capital of Wood County. “We do have this very important corridor coming in off 75. This will make a huge difference.” The improvements are even more needed with the expansion of the Wood Bridge industrial park off Dunbridge Road, the mayor said. “We do work together really well in Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “We actually communicate and talk about our issues, and solve our issues.” Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the local share is due to the Ohio Department of Transportation in the spring. The current projected total local share for the road work and utility work is $5,150,000; $3,450,000 for the…


Florida woman thanks Pemberville for helping get power back

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, electricians from Bowling Green and from Pemberville traveled down to help Floridians whose power was knocked out. The three linemen from Bowling Green were Trent Tyson, Randy McBride and Tim Brubaker. The two electricians from Pemberville were John Lockhart and Dean Ridner. This morning, the village of Pemberville received an email from a family displaced by the hurricane, who expressed their thanks for the electricians who traveled so far to help. Molly Brown approved her letter being shared….. Village of Pemberville, We are in Tallahassee, FL. Last night, by the grace of God, a potentially catastrophic and life changing Hurricane Irma was diverted slightly inland, saving all of the homes here and significant changes in everyone’s lives. We fled here from Jacksonville, which initially was supposed to be harder hit. Then the storm track changed. It was coming here, and I was stuck with my three small boys in a hotel while my husband, who is a police officer in Jacksonville, had to stay behind. It was a lot of stress, watching the storm come and not being able to get out of its way. We lost power at 3 am, myself and my three little boys. Today, we just got back on power. Not a long time, but having it back after all the build up of stress was AWESOME! And then, driving through the parking lot of the hotel, I saw the electric truck with the people who fixed the power. The truck has your village logo, Pemberville, Ohio. THANK YOU. Thank you for sending people to help us. Thank you for letting go of your resources. I’m sure some people will…


FERC approves Nexus pipeline – BG opposition not giving up

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline has been granted federal approval to be constructed across Ohio – but local officials and activists still aren’t giving up their hopes to get the route changed. Late on Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the construction of the 36-inch high-pressure pipeline to carry natural gas from shale fields in Appalachia across northern Ohio and into Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The $2 billion Nexus pipeline, stretching 255 miles, will be capable of carrying 1.5 billion feet of gas per day. But Bowling Green officials and local activists have expressed concerns about the close proximity of the proposed pipeline to the city’s water reservoir next to the Maumee River. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards, who has been asking the Ohio EPA to consider the risks to the city water treatment plant, still hopes the state agency can intervene. “It still has to be certified by the Ohio EPA,” Edwards said Sunday afternoon. City officials are scheduled to have a conference call with Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and his staff next week. The agency has promised the mayor that they are conducting a systematic review of concerns submitted by Bowling Green officials. “They are painfully aware of what has happened with the Rover pipeline” in other areas of Ohio where hazardous material spills have occurred, Edwards said. The mayor insisted that the Nexus plans are not final. “We’ve tried to protect the interest of Bowling Green as it relates to the water treatment plant,” with the pipeline proposed to be buried 700 feet away. “I’ve always said that was not a good location.” Edwards said the city has invested more…


County and BG team up to resume glass recycling

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s still not crystal clear, but it appears a solution is in sight for glass recycling to be resumed in Bowling Green and Wood County. Last month, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. That applied to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. On Monday, the Wood County Solid Waste Management Board reviewed four options for glass recycling presented by Bill DenBesten, chairman of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners said they preferred “Proposal D,” which requires some buy in by both the city and county. “This proposal focuses on keeping the overall costs as low as possible, sharing both risk and rewards with the county,” DenBesten stated. “It leverages the city’s offer to load glass at no charge to further reduce costs. The plan calls for the following steps to occur: The recycling center will again start accepting glass in its drop-off and satellite sites, and schedule shipments with both the transport and glass processing companies. The city will make its old salt shed, next to the recycling center on North College Street, available for storage of glass in between shipments. The city will also use its equipment to load the glass into trucks to be transported. The county will be responsible for all charges billed by the hauler, who will invoice the county directly. DenBesten said the recycling center is reluctant to start up glass recycling again if the city’s loan of the salt shed is just a temporary…


Tom McLaughlin returning to the land of his ancestors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tom McLaughlin was walking in the rain recently. When a driver stopped and asked if he wanted a ride, McLaughlin declined. He was getting ready for Ireland. The 82-year-old native of Bowling Green, who made his career elsewhere before returning to his hometown 25 years ago, is on the move again. At the end of July he’ll begin a long journey, first by train and then by plane, to his new home in Cornamona in Ireland’s County Galway. There he’ll continue his studies in the Irish language, memorize the poetry of William Butler Yeats and soak in the music and dancing. “Wherever they have traditional music, I’ll be there,” he said. For McLaughlin, it’s a return to a land his family left several generations ago. His late wife Kathleen, who had a keen interest in genealogy, located records of a great grandparent in Pennsylvania. McLaughlin’s own grandparents lived in Bowling Green where he was born. When he was just about ready to enter high school his parents moved north to Oregon. (He still gets together for lunch with members of the Bowling Green High Class of 1953.) In September, 2015, McLaughlin, traveled to Ireland with his five grown children. His eldest son, Tom Jr., was suffering from the cancer that would claim him in June, 2016. Tom Jr .had a deep love of Irish music and dancing, and as a naturalist a fascination with the cliffs and the birds that swirled about them. They located the ancestral plot in Northern Ireland. They explored the culture and the nature. And they hatched an idea. Why not buy a place in Ireland, with everyone having a…


BG may share bar tab for sewer improvements

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities agreed Monday evening to split the tab on sewer improvements that will allow the Brathaus bar to expand. Doug Doren, owner of the bar at 115 E. Court St., wants to expand the existing building to the north. The city has been working with Doren to relocate the existing city sewer that is partially underneath the existing building. The expansion would also be over the sewer, according to Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. O’Connell explained to the board Monday evening that both the city and property owner will benefit from the sewer relocation. Doren will be able to move forward with the building expansion, and the city will have a new accessible sewer that will be within a utility easement. The sewer also serves other customers in the area. Originally, Doren was going to cover the full price tag for the sewer relocation. However, the costs will be higher than first expected. So O’Connell proposed a 50/50 split on the anticipated $50,000 cost. At the same time, the city’s electric division plans to have work performed in the utility easement to relocate the overhead electric lines to underground service. This would allow for the removal of the large self-supporting pole that is located in the sidewalk on the south side of East Court Street, O’Connell said. The cost for the electric work is estimated at $50,000.  The city will pick up that entire tab, since it is the sole entity to benefit from that work. Doren would like to work on the bar expansion in April, so the city plans to…


Pipeline protesters pack BG Council meeting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council chambers overflowed into the hallway Monday evening as people urged city leaders to not buckle to a pipeline company. More than 20 speakers implored City Council to continue their commitment to green energy, rather than take steps backward in their environmental efforts. Once the meeting room exceeded its 66-person capacity, Fire Chief Tom Sanderson had to ask 40 others to listen to the meeting on the hallway speakers. “I think this is a moment in our history” when Bowling Green has the opportunity serve the greater good, Laura Sanchez told council. Monday was the second reading of an ordinance to grant Nexus Pipeline an easement to cross 29 acres of city land located in Middleton Township, about 2.5 miles east of the city’s water treatment plant. The third and final reading will be given on Dec. 5, when city council will vote on the ordinance. The proposed natural gas pipeline would run 255 miles from fracking fields in eastern Ohio, across the state, to Michigan and end in Canada. Along its route, it will pass through Wood County, north of Bowling Green, then go under the Maumee River downriver from the city’s water intake. Once it gets to Waterville Township, a compressor station is proposed. One by one, citizens stood up Monday evening and asked the city to fight the pipeline plans. Lisa Kochheiser said the pipeline would intersect with a fault line, run near a quarry where blasting takes place, and be dangerously close to the city’s water reservoirs. “This scenario is a recipe for disaster,” she said. During a council meeting earlier this month, pipeline protesters…


Veterans reminded their service is not forgotten

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County veterans were reminded Saturday that their service to the nation has not been forgotten. That gratitude was shown in the resurrection of a monument in their honor, and in the effort made to give a final salute at veterans’ funerals. Both were explained during a Veterans Day program in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. “None of us who have served consider ourselves heroes,” said veteran David Ridenour. “We are ordinary citizens who may have performed extra ordinary feats.” And those selfless acts for the greater good must not be forgotten. Army veteran Joe Fawcett, who is assistant municipal administrator for the city of Bowling Green, talked about the city’s efforts to restore the veterans memorial at the entrance of City Park. The memorial was first dedicated on Memorial Day 1931, with the etched statement, “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” That statement was the catalyst for Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft to restore the monument to its original glory. Over the years, the monument had become overgrown by arborvitae, and had suffered from neglect. “Unfortunately, it appeared we had forgotten,” Fawcett said. In addition to removing the shrubbery and restoring the monument, the city also put bases in for flags around the site. The city invested more than $20,000 and countless hours in the effort. “Brian’s vision is one that we can all be proud of,” Fawcett said. “We all owe it to them to live up to the words, ‘Bowling Green has not forgotten,’” he added. Local veterans are also being remembered in another way, with a final farewell performed by fellow veterans. Mary Hanna, executive director of…


Attack, hate speech reported after election ‘whitelash’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a long election season laden with hate speech, the results of Tuesday’s vote have left many populations feeling vulnerable and targeted. On Thursday, a BGSU student reported on Facebook that as she volunteered to collect election signs from yards on Crim Street, she was physically attacked and called racial slurs by men shouting they were “making America great again.” Bowling Green police are investigating the incident. On Wednesday evening, as a peaceful rally was held in the green space in downtown Bowling Green for those troubled by the election, Krishna Han said three teenage boys walked by yelling, “Black lives do not matter.” On Tuesday evening, a BGSU student from Tunisia explained during a city-university relations commission meeting, that international students are reporting threatening incidents to her, and worry about the climate created by the election. After years of inching toward inclusion, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign “whitelash” is being blamed for legitimizing hatred toward many populations – Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women and more. “It was a pretty traumatic day,” BGSU student Allie Dyer said Thursday during a Not In Our Town meeting. “We are in very real danger now. We have to watch our backs now.” In response to the student reporting the attack on Crim Street, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Thomas Gibson released a statement to all students. “BGSU is committed to ensuring that we have a welcoming and safe climate for all members of our community. We believe in the value of respecting one another, promoting diversity and being inclusive in making Bowling Green State University a place we can…


Bike tour of BG opens eyes to some solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Maybe Bowling Green doesn’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a scattered patchwork of bike lanes to make city streets more friendly to cyclists. Maybe the four-wheeled and the two-wheeled motorists just need to learn how to co-exist on the roads. On Monday, two groups of city leaders took bike tours of the community. They rode quiet residential streets like Eberly, and busy four-lane streets like Main Street. “No one ever honked at us,” said Catherine Givres, an educator with YaY Bikes, whose mission is to get “more butts on more bikes, more often.” The ride was an eye-opening experience for several of the bicyclists. “I’ve cycled for over 60 years, in multiple countries,” said Steve Langendorfer, president of the city’s Bicycle Safety Commission. “I bike thousands of miles every year.” During those years, he has consistently hugged the edge of the road – trying to be courteous to motorists and trying to take the safest spot on the road. But on Monday, Langendorfer and the others rode a few feet into the road, about where the passenger tire of a car would travel. “It was fascinating,” he said. Cars did not whiz by just a few feet from the bicyclists. When the ongoing lane was clear, the cars swung wide around to pass. That’s one of the keys, said Givres. Bicyclists should not think of themselves as in the way of traffic. “You are traffic,” she said. “It is not rude to take up space on the road.” Ohio law considers bikes as “street legal vehicles.” They have the right to take up space on the road – and the…


BG lease of city land for golf course questioned

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The golf course in the center of Bowling Green has long been a source of community pride and more recently a source of complaints of privileged use of public property. The city’s lease of the 60 acres to Bowling Green Country Club expires in 2025. The terms of the lease allow the city to terminate the lease anytime after 2015, with two year’s prior notice required. City officials recently received a detailed letter on the golf course lease, suggesting that the city view its options before the 2025 deadline. The request came from Bowling Green citizen Lynn Ackerson, who previously asked questions about the site at a park and recreation board meeting. “Raising the topic of the BG Country Club lease of 80 percent of City Park sometimes causes voices to raise and strong emotions to emerge,” Ackerson wrote to city officials. The nine-hole country club course is one of three golf courses in the city. “The BG Country Club Golf Course is apparently an important part of BG’s history,” she continued. “The semi-private BG Country Club is also perhaps one of BG’s best kept secrets and frankly a mystery to those that are newly aware of this gem and its relationship to our wonderful network of parks.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards responded with a history of the site, explaining that City Park was the original Wood County Fairgrounds. “The current arrangement indeed goes back that far,” Edwards wrote. The Wood County Agricultural Society sold the land to the city in 1928, with some records indicating that the lease arrangement predates the sale, the mayor said. The country club owns the…