Wood County Commissioners

BG and county may team up for ‘community solar’ field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green and Wood County may be teaming up on bright idea for the area. The city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 70 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Fifty acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, said Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The city’s proposal was presented to the Wood County commissioners last week. It would require the county to commit the acreage to the project for 30 years. The property is currently rented out as farmland. The commissioners were interested in the idea, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “They said they were willing to consider it. We don’t see any county building boom” on the East Gypsy Lane property, Kalmar…


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…


Home Depot – big building, big workforce handle big chunk of dot-com sales

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Just about every detail of the Home Depot Direct Fulfillment Center in northeastern Wood County is massive. Walking around the perimeter of the store would put 1.3 miles on your pedometer. The site is staffed by 572 hourly employees and 68 salaried staff – all who wear the recognizable orange Home Depot aprons. The facility also uses about 45 contracted employees for services such as security and tech maintenance. Towering racks allow products to be shelved 33 feet high. Employees use 170 hydrogen fueled forklifts to move the items after customers order them online. On the average day, the facility in Troy Township ships out 28,000 to 30,000 units. That could be anything from a drill bit to patio furniture. The number of shipped units could jump as high as 70,000 on Black Friday. On this past Friday, the Wood County Economic Development Commission and Wood County Commissioners visited the vast Home Depot facility for the annual “state of business” tour. They learned that the distribution center grew a bit this year – adding 32,000 locations for different products to the 300,000 locations already existing in the facility. The company made a $4 million investment this year in fire suppression, electrical and expanded racking. And the local site saw its annual sales increase by 9 percent. The Home Depot facility, which sits in the middle of farm fields in Troy Township, handles 40 to 45 percent of the company’s dot-com business. Currently about 6.4 percent of Home Depot sales are online. Despite its mammoth size of 1.6 million square feet, the direct…


County hears pitch for business incubator to hatch inventors’ ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A business incubator may be set up in Wood County to help local inventors hatch their ideas. The Wood County Commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday morning from Rene Polin, president and founder of Balance, a company that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. “You can’t just be a dreamer. You have to be a dreamer with a business plan,” Polin said. And that’s where Balance would come in to the picture. “We want to bring our panache in the industry from Cleveland to Wood County,” Polin said. To do that, Polin needs some type of very basic workspace – something with office space, power and connectivity. “I know that sounds primitive,” but that’s all that’s needed, he said. The firm’s Cleveland space is an old factory building. The firm works with entrepreneurs, helping them assess their plans, fill out necessary paperwork, and determine if the project is worth their time and investment. After all, most inventors aren’t good business people, explained Doug Miller, of the Wood County Economic Development Commission which is working to bring Balance here. “They don’t have any idea how to run a business,” Polin agreed. “We bring the management acumen.” The business incubator can help entrepreneurs determine if there is a market for their product, Miller said. “People get focused on their invention,” but if the public won’t buy it, the idea isn’t going anywhere, he said. Sometimes, the dreams need to be tweaked. “We ask the hard questions,” Polin said. “We don’t kill the dream, but we change their idea of what their dream can be.”…


Glass recycling expected to start again Thursday at noon

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Load up the glass that’s been collecting in the garage for the last two months. If all goes as planned, the Bowling Green Recycling Center will start accepting it at noon on Thursday. The Wood County Commissioners and the recycling center have come up with a deal. The agreement works for the county – which is paying for it. The agreement works for the recycling center – which will do the work and arrange transportation. And it works for local residents – who would rather see their glass recycled than landfilled. According to Bill DenBesten, president of the Bowling Green Recycling Center, glass will be accepted at the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, the 24-hour drop-off in Bradner, the weekend drop-off in North Baltimore, and the satellite trailers. Two months ago, the Bowling Green Recycling Center stopped accepting glass. The decision applied to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, and the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. Glass for recycling is particularly difficult to haul since it is very important that a load not be contaminated. Glass collected in Bowling Green and throughout the county usually has to be transported every three to four weeks, when 22 to 23 tons are collected. Glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. The recycling center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton…


Wood County selects solution for glass recycling

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The glass recycling operation may resume soon for Bowling Green and all of Wood County. The behind the scene operations may be a little different, but residents will once again be able to drop off their glass recyclables as they have in the past. “The public should see no difference from before,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said Thursday morning. The new solution calls for the glass to be shipped to a new location in Dunkirk, Indiana. “The commissioners are optimistic this will work,” Kalmar said. “The most important part is it doesn’t go in our landfill,” he added. The county commissioners selected a proposal from Strategic Materials, with costs of $20 a ton for shipping paid to Strategic Materials, and $10 a ton for handling paid to the Bowling Green Recycling Center. The county will pay the entire $30/ton fee. Strategic Materials is interested in a three- to five-year agreement. ”This arrangement is uncomplicated, restores glass recycling county citizens, cost effective, and keeps glass out of the landfill,” Kalmar said. Bill DenBesten, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center, said the center board will review the decision made by the commissioners. “Since this new proposal includes a change of partners, increased due diligence is required before we formally respond. We have already begun informal discussions and are planning a more comprehensive meeting, likely on Monday evening,” DenBesten responded. “I’ll let you know just as soon as the board has made its decision.” If the agreement proceeds, people dropping off glass will once again be able to use the bins at the recycling…


Wood County Commissioners make connections in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners took their local concerns to a higher power earlier this week. The three went to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal officials about issues that matter back here in Ohio. As part of an invitation to the National Association of Counties, 82 county commissioners from across Ohio spent the first part of this week making connections in the nation’s capital. “The purpose was for us to learn more about the federal departments and what they can do for us, and open the lines of communication,” said Doris Herringshaw, president of the Wood County Commissioners. Though governors and mayors are frequently on the guest list in Washington, D.C., this was reportedly the first time the focus was on county commissioners. This was an effort to reach more local grassroots government, Commissioner Craig LaHote said. The expenses for all three commissioners – Herringshaw, LaHote and Ted Bowlus – will be picked up by county taxpayers. Flights, hotel lodging and food added up to a total of about $1,500 – with the education and connections made by the commissioners well worth the expenses, they agreed when they talked Thursday after their three days in D.C. While there, the commissioners met with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Vice President Mike Pence, toured the White House and heard from Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump. “She’s an excellent speaker,” Herringshaw said of Conway. The commissioners met with representatives of 10 to 15 federal agencies, and were scheduled to meet with others, such as HUD Secretary Ben Carson, but several officials were…


Wood County asked to support ‘The Big Fix’ for dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year the Wood County Commissioners were asked to support “The Big Fix” program which provides low cost spaying and neutering of dogs. The commissioners were reluctant, since they had doubts that Wood County residents would drive to northern Toledo to have their dogs fixed. But it appears the $10 coupon inserted with dog license certificates was enough to convince 248 dog owners from Wood County to drive their pets to the Humane Ohio location to be spayed and neutered. So last month, Steve Serchuk, a volunteer with Humane Ohio, was back in front of the commissioners asking again for their support of “The Big Fix.” “People took advantage of it. They outsold their goal,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. “It’s been very successful,” Serchuk said. “If the price is low enough, people will do it.” Since the commissioners turned down the request last year, Serchuk himself funded the cost of the spaying and neutering at Humane Ohio, at an average cost of $65 per dog. The average cost to have a dog fixed at local veterinarian offices ranges between $115 and $225. When Wood County dog owners were asked on their license applications if their dogs were fixed, more than 30 percent said they were not. “That’s a big number,” Serchuk said. Spayed and neutered dogs are less aggressive and less likely to roam – meaning the county could save money in the long run by having to euthanize fewer dogs, he said. But in many cases, people can’t afford the costs. “We demonstrated people in the county would like…


Wood County fights to retain $900,000 in sales tax

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Commissioners are worried they are about to get the short end of the sales tax stick. And that could mean $900,000 less coming into the county each year. The issue is rather confusing, but here goes. Since 2010, the state of Ohio and its counties have been collecting sales tax from Medicaid Managed Care organizations, which provide medical services and equipment. Those sales taxes brought in about $597 million a year for Ohio and other $200 million for counties. But in 2014, the federal government decided that the Medicaid sale tax was not proper. Ohio was told it either had to apply the sales tax to all managed care – not just those serving Medicaid clients – or to none. The feds also objected to the fact that since the U.S. government pays at least 60 percent of Ohio Medicaid costs, it was basically paying an indirect federal subsidy to Ohio. Now here’s where it gets even more confusing – and frustrating to local officials. Gov. John Kasich asked and received a waiver on the sales tax that will make the state whole. In fact, the state may bring in a bit more – $615 million a year. The problem is, Kasich failed to include counties in on the waiver. The governor’s budget will reimburse counties a portion of the sales tax revenue for one year – but then counties are on their own. “It only corrected the state’s problem,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “It leaves the counties out. They need to adjust that formula to fix everyone’s…


Wood County Commissioners talk sewers, landfill, pipelines, more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners took a look at the big picture for the county this past week during a long-term planning meeting. They talked tax abatements, sewers, and the landfill expansion. And they discussed pipeline corridors, unsafe intersections and jail improvements. The long-term planning meetings give the commissioners a chance to look ahead and prepare for issues that may pose problems in the future. Such as: Tax abatements. The commissioners discussed the benefit of keeping track of businesses that have abatements that are nearing expiration, so county officials can examine the possible effect on the county. Septic systems. The cost of putting in a new septic system can cost up to $20,000. The commissioners have heard from local residents who have installed new septic systems, then shortly after find out that a sewer is being constructed past their homes, and they are legally required to tap into the public sewer system. The commissioners talked about being more proactive about letting county residents know where sewer services are being proposed so they don’t invest in new septic systems needlessly. Wood County Landfill. The county is within 10 years of filling to capacity the current cell that is licensed at the landfill. The commissioners talked about the need to begin the expansion process. There is open acreage at the site, but permits must be acquired before it can be used. Pipeline corridors. Earlier this year, as plans were underway for four pipelines to run different routes through Wood County, the commissioners asked that the pipeline companies consider combining routes so as few landowners were…