Wood County Park District

County park district to make its case for renewal levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When voters see the Wood County Park District levy on the May 2018 ballot, park officials really hope the voters don’t confuse this levy with the park levy recently passed in Bowling Green. Many local citizens seem to confuse the county park district with the Bowling Green parks and recreation department. And that has the county park board a bit worried about its 1-mill renewal levy set to appear on the May 8 ballot. “There is a very big disconnect” between the two park programs, said Jamie Sands, volunteer services and communications specialist with the county park district. That could be particularly bad for the county park district if voters confuse the May levy with the city park and recreation levy passed in November. “People think they’ve already passed the levy for the parks,” Sands said Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Wood County Park District Board. “We’re hoping to get the word out.” The county park board voted unanimously Tuesday to put a 1-mill levy on in May. Board President Denny Parish stressed that the renewal will be same millage sought when the park district last passed its levy in 2008. “Which means no new taxes,” Parish said. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. “It won’t cost individual homeowners more than they’ve been paying for the last 10 years.” After Tuesday’s meeting, Wood County Park…


Park district turned off by plan for electric lines along trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District Board members aren’t exactly charged up about a request from American Electric Power. The electric company has approached the park district about getting an easement for a new line along the Slippery Elm Trail near North Baltimore. The request covers the strip of land on the west side of the trail from Quarry Road to Broadway Street, where the trail starts in North Baltimore. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger listed several concerns about giving an easement for the power lines. First, it would mean the loss of most if not all the vegetation and trees on the west side of the trail. Second, Munger has concerns about poles being installed right next to the trail. And third, the southernmost section of the Slippery Elm Trail would likely need to be closed to users during construction. Park board chairman Denny Parish said the district does not have to approve the request from American Electric Power. It is unknown if AEP can use eminent domain for the project. The board suspected that AEP is asking the park district for an easement because it would be easier than dealing with several different landowners along different routes. Munger said the high transmission lines will be on 80-foot poles, which are about twice the height of standard poles for electric lines. Board member John Calderonello pointed out that the lack of a vegetation wind barrier will make that portion of the trail much more difficult and unpleasant for bicyclists and walkers….


Park district hands out grants to 11 community parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Thirty years ago as the Wood County Park District worked to pass its first levy, a promise was made to share the wealth with community parks throughout the county. That promise has been kept, and continued again this week as the park board approved $100,000 in grants to 11 Wood County communities. Over the years, the grants have helped municipalities add to park playgrounds and repair shelter houses – expenses many smaller towns could not afford on their own. The grants have also been used by several communities to make their parks more accessible to people with disabilities. Following is a list of those communities approved for grants for 2018, the projects funded, and the amounts approved: Bloomdale – $4,157 for six picnic tables with two being ADA compliant. Bowling Green – $4,332 for a scaler tunnel net on a playground. Bradner – $2,479 for an 8-inch balance beam and merry-go-round. Custar – $6,900 for a sway bench and rain garden. Cygnet – $7,835 for ADA sidewalk, and $1,176 for safety surfacing. North Baltimore – $9,873 for safety surfacing, and $4,999 for shelter house roof replacement. Pemberville – $6,150 for shelter house conversion, and $2,485 for safety surfacing. Perrysburg – $10,000 for shade structure for ballfields, and $1,949 for porch swing bench. Walbridge – $14,372 for new basketball court. West Millgrove – $9,991 for swing set and safety surfacing, and $4,997 for trash containers and safety surfacing. Weston – $8,305 for two shade structures. Though the Wood County Park District serves all…


Have to deal with guts to get glory of jack-o-lanterns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Breanna Serrato reached into the pumpkin and pulled out the guts, she got a huge grin on her face. “I love it, actually, getting messy. The squishiness of it,” the 17-year-old from Bowling Green said. Not everyone shared those feelings. At a nearby picnic table, Jessica Nekoranec, of Risingsun, grimaced as she scooped out the juicy innards. She was enjoying the carving, but the “sticking your hand in – not so much,” she said. Nearly 40 people picked out pumpkins Thursday evening for the annual jack-o-lantern making sponsored by the Wood County Park District. The pumpkins were carved at a shelter house on the Wood County Historical Center grounds, where they will be put on display for the annual Folklore and Funfest this weekend. Some came armed with their own carving equipment, accessories and definite ideas for their pumpkin art. Others just let the spirits take them. With spooky music playing in the background, the carvers got to work. “I thought at home what I’m going to do before I got down here,” said Pam Douglas, of Portage. Her plan was to turn the pumpkin into Mickey Mouse, with two Folger coffee can lids acting as the big mouse ears. “He may not end up looking like Mickey Mouse, but that’s my plan,” she said. Mary Grzybowski, of Bowling Green, won last year for carving a cat. She was hoping to repeat that winning design. “I had an idea, but it’s not turning out right,” she said. Grzybowski wore her gardening…


County park district eyes projects for next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District Board got a first look at projects planned for next year – from parking lots and playgrounds, to orchard trees and fencing for goats. Neil Munger, director of the park district, stressed Tuesday that the numbers attached to each project are very preliminary. But the draft budget gave an idea of the planned improvements to the parks in 2018. The biggest project will be turning a house at Sawyer Quarry Preserve, in Perrysburg Township, into an interpretive center. Those renovations are expected to cost about $350,000. Trail construction is also planned at that park. “There are not a lot of huge projects this year,” Munger said. Following is a list of proposed projects at each of the county parks: Buttonwood Recreation Area – parking lot repairs. Cedar Creeks Preserve – parking lot sealcoat and painting of restrooms. William Henry Harrison Park – new playground equipment, with an estimated price of $50,000. The district will seek grants for this project. W. Knight Preserve – nature center deck repairs, window replacement. Otsego Park – parking lot sealcoat, and playground equipment also estimated at $50,000. Grants will be sought for the equipment. Wood County Historical Center – shelter repairs estimated at $8,000. Zimmerman School – brick repairs to cost about $9,500, plus a new entrance ramp and entrance door replacement. Slippery Elm Trail – paint bollard posts, and make repairs to pole barn in Rudolph Savanna area. Baldwin Woods – bridge and parking lot construction, estimated at $125,000. Carter Historic…


Park district takes step toward renewal levy next spring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be going back on the ballot next year – but the board won’t be asking for any additional funds. The county park board voted Tuesday afternoon to start the levy process by asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the current valuation for the park district. The board then plans to place a renewal of its 1-mill, 10-year levy on next year’s spring ballot. “I believe that will suffice to serve our financial needs for another decade,” Board President Denny Parish said. Wood County voters have a history of supporting their parks, and will appreciate the district’s decision to not ask for more money, Parish said. The current levy brings in a “pretty steady” amount of approximately $2.8 million a year. “I believe we can operate for another 10 years on the same millage,” Parish stressed. Board member John Calderonello mentioned that some voters may still be stinging from issues on this November’s ballot. But Parish said the park district can choose between spring and fall of 2018. “We can’t wait till 2019,” he said. And board member Bob Dorn reminded that if the park levy fails in the spring, it can be repeated in the fall. Parish said many residents of Wood County don’t realize how the park district if funded. “There’s a misconception that we get funded by the general fund of the county commissioners,” he said. The park district first passed its 1-mill levy in 2008. Since then, the district has made several…


Wood County Park District employees get 2.5% raises

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District employees have been granted cost of living pay increases of 2.5 percent, retroactive to the beginning of this year. The pay raises cover the district’s 27 full-time and four permanent part-time staff members, according to Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. Munger said the park district did not give cost of living raises at the end of 2016, when the Wood County Commissioners granted 3 percent raises to other county employees. The park board members said at that time they would reconsider and discuss the raises at a later date. In September of 2016, the park board did approve pay raises recommended by an outside consultant which performed a compensation study. The raises were granted to 20 park employees in three phases starting in September and completed in April. Munger saw his salary go from $71,697 to $86,587. The assistant director’s salary increased from $55,224 to $67,572; the operations manager’s went from $49,982 to $59,167; the field operations manager’s changed from $49,982 to $60,714; and the chief ranger pay increased from $48,360 to $55,300. Most of the other raises ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 annually. In April, other hourly raises were granted to get park employees up to minimum standards. Those raises affected 12 workers, with hourly raises ranging from 16 cents to $1.46. The park district is still trying to recover after exorbitant raises were recommended by the board in 2010 based on a consultant study. After an outpouring of criticism, those raises were rejected. That…


Newly sealed Slippery Elm Trail now less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail is now a little less slippery. The 13-mile rails to trail that stretches from Bowling Green to North Baltimore has been paved with a new surface product called Onyx. The sealant promises to last longer, seal faster and be less slippery. “I’ve had nothing but great comments on the Onyx,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District, said last week during a meeting of the district board. “Everybody loves it.” Some of those comments came during the board meeting by park board commissioner Christine Seiler, who had just used the trail that morning. “The traction was wonderful,” even with all the rain the area had the previous day. However, Seiler said there appeared to be some areas of the trail where the old pavement seemed to be showing through. Baney said he would check on that. The Wood County Park District Board paid $119,552 to seal the trail, including striping of the trail at intersections along the route. According to Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning there was less time that the trail was closed to users, Fairbanks said at…


Wood County Park District offers May programs

(Submitted by Wood County Park District) Following is a list of events schedule for May by the Wood County Park District. Open Archery Wednesday, May 3; 4:30-7:00pm Wood County Historical Center 13660 County Home Road, Bowling Green Arrive anytime between 4:30 and 7:00 pm to give archery a shot! All archery equipment provided along with brief beginner-friendly instruction from our certified instructors. Children must be at least 7 years of age to use our equipment. No registration required. Scrapbooking Retreat Saturday, May 6; 9:00 am – noon or 1:00 – 4:00 pm Beaver Creek Preserve 23028 Long Judson Road, Grand Rapids Slow down and engage in a favorite hobby! Led by Friends’ of the Parks members Jill Konst and Ranaye McLaughlin, participants will make a card and create a page to add to a scrapbook. Supplies and light refreshments are included. Please register for one session, both programs will cover the same material. Intro to Rope Rappelling Saturday, May 6; 9:00 am – 1:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg It’s a day of rope rappelling fun!  A brief orientation covers gear and safety procedures, then it’s off to the 25-35 foot cliffs.  Safety equipment, instruction/guidance, and water are provided.  Bring a water bottle and sack lunch.  Participants must be 12 years of age or older.  Closed-toe footwear only; access to cliff tops requires short hikes on slightly uneven terrain. Intro to Nature Photography Tuesday, May 9; 6:00 – 7:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg You can take beautiful nature photos!…


Park district takes aim at archery range and other projects

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District’s board approved eight projects last week to spruce up the parks – including one taking aim at the new archery range. The bids on all eight projects came in at or below the estimated costs. Among the projects approved was archery range construction costing $9,973, awarded to K&K Construction, of Weston. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said there is a lot of community interest in the “long-awaited” archery range located on Linwood Road behind the county historical center. The project approved Tuesday is a concrete slab floor for the shelter where archers will stand when they shoot at targets. The entire archery range project is estimated at $46,500. Besides the 76-foot concrete slab, the rest of the project will be done in-house by park district staff. The 10-lane range is expected to be done in July or the beginning of August. An Eagle Scout candidate is building targets to be placed in different length lanes. Following is a list of the other projects approved: Beaver Creek concrete work costing $9,355, awarded to K&K Construction. The work will replace part of the walkway and patio leading up to the retreat center, and put a concrete pad in for handicap parking next to the sidewalk. Bradner Preserve boardwalk lighting costing $7,425, awarded to Gross Electric. The LED lighting will be installed along the boardwalk between the parking lot and the nature center. The center is scheduled to be open to the public on May 20, from 1 to…


Trail sealant to last longer, seal faster, be less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail will soon be sealed with a product that promises to last longer, seal faster, and be well, despite the trail’s name, less slippery. The Wood County Park District Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $119,552 to seal the 13-mile trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore. The price includes striping of the trail at intersections along the route. The product being used this time is called Onyx, by Strawser Construction in Columbus. Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, said the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning less time that the trail would have to be closed to users, Fairbanks said. “Within a matter of hours, it’s usable,” he said. That’s a real plus, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. “As soon as they sealcoat it, we’ve got people chomping at the bit to use it,” he said. And unlike some other sealants, the Onyx provides a non-slick surface. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t using something that if someone is rollerblading and it’s wet, that they’re down,” said Jeff Baney, assistant director of the county park district. The sealant also comes with a one-year warranty. Baney…


Park district takes aim at creating archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Briana Witte is aiming for a bullseye with one of the newest programs to be offered by the Wood County Park District. Witte, a woodland specialist with the park district, is heading up the archery program which will include a new range for archers on Linwood Road, near Bowling Green. The archery program came about as a result of town hall meetings held across Wood County, asking local residents about park programs they would like to see. Two of the top requests were kayaking, canoeing and archery. The kayaking and canoeing are now in place, and the archery is on target to be ready soon. Archery, unlike so many other sports can be enjoyed by people of varied ages and skill levels, Witte said. “You don’t have to be in really good shape. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be fast. You just have to be patient,” Witte said. People will be able to use their own bows and arrows at the archery range, or they can use the compound bows purchased by the Friends of the Parks. “These are really nice because an 8-year-old can use it and with a few adjustments, a 50-year-old can use it,” Witte said of the compound bows. Adaptive bows will also be available for people who use wheelchairs or have other particular needs. Crossbows, which are typically used for hunting, will not be permitted at the archery range. Once completed, the archery range will be open from dawn to dusk. It…