State Rep. Theresa Gavarone

Lawmakers quizzed on Lake Erie, school testing, gas taxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When local officials had a chance to quiz their state legislators Wednesday, there were more questions than time for answers. Lawmakers were asked about some hot button issues like Lake Erie efforts, school testing, gas taxes, and the state’s growing rainy day fund. Fielding the questions were State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, plus Ohio state representatives Jim Hoops, Derek Merrin, Mike Sheehy, and Michigan state representative Jason Sheppard. Asking the questions were members of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, during the organization’s summer caucuses with state lawmakers at Penta Career Center. Acting as moderator was Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, current chairperson of TMACOG. Tim Brown, executive director of TMACOG, said the agency has a 50-year history of going beyond politics to solve problems. “We lay the politics aside, put the partisanship at the door, and talk,” Brown said. The first question was about state efforts to stop harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. While actions already taken have been appreciated, the local officials wanted to know “What’s next?” Gardner acknowledged that the work on Lake Erie is far from over. “There is no misunderstanding that we’ve done all that we can do,” he said. “We can find a way to do more and do better. We must.” Gardner said he hasn’t given up on a proposal to create a clean water bond issue. “Quite frankly, we haven’t received strong support from the governor to go forward,” he said. But Gardner is hopeful the bond issue can be revisited next year. Sheehy said environmental groups are “tired of failure” as the state struggles to find solutions. “We’ve all been saying this a long time. More needs to be done.” School officials asked about state testing requirements for students. Gavarone said testing requirements have been reduced, but more needs to be done to get timely feedback to teachers and parents, so they know how to help students. Gardner added that any testing requirements that aren’t federally mandated need to be reviewed. “They should be questioned and scrutinized as to their value,” he said. The legislators were asked about the state’s role in helping with workforce development. While Merrin said it isn’t the state legislature’s job to help create workforces, Gavarone and Gardner both offered other perspectives. Gavarone said students…


State grants $1.6 million for new senior center in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The news was worth a brief delay in the country fried steak as the lunch hour approached Monday at the Wood County Senior Center. “We’re smart enough to know to not get in the way of lunch,” State Senator Randy Gardner said to the seniors as he made the big announcement. The new senior center in Bowling Green will be getting $1.6 million from the state, secured by Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green. That amount is the largest state capital bill grant awarded in Bowling Green since at least 1992, Gardner said. “Wood County does a lot of things well. This is one of the hallmarks of Wood County,” Gardner said about the county’s senior agency. “This is one of the best organizations in the entire county.” “I am so thrilled to be in a position to work for you this way,” Gavarone told the seniors gathered for lunch. “It’s going t be a tremendous benefit to all of Wood County.” Other community projects in Bowling Green are also in line for capital bill funding. The Cocoon Shelter will receive $375,000 to help protect women and children from the dangers of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Two years ago, the Cocoon was given an $800,000 grant, adding up to $1.175 million in the last two capital budgets. The BGSU Forensic Program will be getting a $200,000 grant to help enhance the BCII Crime Lab’s forensic academic programs. The announcement of the senior center funding will help move along the proposed construction of the new facility in Bowling Green. “We are very, very excited,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. Last year, the City of Bowling Green gave 2.35 acres at 140 S. Grove St., to the Committee on Aging for a new building. The seniors had outgrown the existing building – which was considered state-of-the-art when the agency first moved in more than 35 years ago. After the land had been given to the Committee on Aging, the board set a stipulation that ground can’t be broken until the board has secured at least two-thirds of the dollars needed. At that point, Niese predicted it will be a three- to five-year process to complete a new senior center. But Monday’s announcement of the state funding has moved…


State legislators listen to some local concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone on Thursday talked about legislation aimed at school funding, violent criminals, drug trafficking, communication disabilities, and abandoned wells. All are efforts to make life better for Ohioans. But some local citizens wanted to know when the next cut in state funding was going to hit. Why was the state taking a share of municipal business income taxes? When can local governments expect state funding to be decreased again? And why are legislators focusing on issues that affect a small number of individuals when they ought to be tackling the big issues of education, health care, jobs and the economy? Gardner and Gavarone met with members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to present a legislative update. “Some of our best suggestions come from meetings like this,” Gardner said. First, the state legislators talked about some of their successes this past year: School funding on a smaller scale Senate Bill 8 allows school districts to get up to $1 million in state funding for items such as technology expenses, roof repairs, school safety or adding a classroom. The legislature is designed to help districts – like Bowling Green – which are too wealthy to get much state help for major building projects, Gardner said. Districts are not likely to participate in the school facilities funding program if the state share is 20 percent or less. “For those kind of districts, they’re not likely to accept the strings attached,” Gardner said. So this bill allows districts to access state funds for smaller expenses. “It is now law and available to school districts,” Gardner said. “A district like Bowling Green may be a strong candidate some day.” Sierah’s Law Senate Bill 231 was made into law after Sierah Joughin, a college student from Metamora, was murdered in 2016 by a man who had committed similar crimes in the past. The bill puts into place a law enforcement data base of people convicted of kidnapping and other violent crimes. Ohioans have long been able to find out if sex offenders live near them, but there has been no such data base for violent felons. “If law enforcement doesn’t know, the public doesn’t know,” Gardner said. “Sometimes minutes or hours matter.” Communicating for those unable to themselves House Bill 115…