Wood County

County discusses new highway garage, jail booking area

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every fall, the Wood County Commissioners listen to funding requests from county offices. And every year, the commissioners weed through the requests and reject the ones they feel aren’t necessary or can wait. This year, they have discussed yanking a couple biggies – $8.3 million to expand the county jail booking area, and $2.5 million for a new county highway garage and office space. It’s not that the commissioners don’t see the value in those projects – they just don’t see room for the nearly $11 million in the county’s 2018 budget. But in both cases, the commissioners are planning ahead for the possible building projects. The county engineer’s highway garage, located at the corner of East Poe Road and Thurstin Avenue, is at least 60 years old. “Things are showing their age out there,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. “We’re at the point where we’re going to have to do some work there – or move.” Over the decades, the open space around the highway garage, which sits on the edge of Bowling Green State University, has been gobbled up for other uses. So there is no land left at the current site for expansion. The commissioners and Wood County Engineer John Musteric discussed the possibility of moving the highway garage out to county land in the East Gypsy Lane complex. That location already has a fuel facility, and it has good access to county roads. It would also allow…


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…


County flooded with calls about Portage River cleanup

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 9,500 letters have been mailed out by the county to the owners of parcels that drain into the south and east branches of the Portage River. The letters are one of the final steps in a river cleanup process that has taken a decade. The Portage River project is the biggest river cleanup ever attempted by the county – covering 46 miles of waterway. The notices mailed out alert the landowners of their estimated assessments for the river cleanup and of a hearing scheduled for Aug. 22. The cleanup of the Portage River branches is intended to reduce future flooding. However, the notices have led to a flood of phone calls to the Wood County Engineer’s Office – many of them from people questioning their responsibility to help fund the project. “We’re getting a lot of calls. ‘What’s this got to do with me? My water doesn’t go there,’” Wood County Engineer John Musteric said of the typical comments from callers. Many landowners don’t realize where their water drains – they just know that it goes away after heavy rains, Musteric said. Though the river cleanup project is the longest ever undertaken in Wood County, it is less extensive than many projects in the past. There will be no digging, no widening, no channelizing. The river branches will be allowed to keep their meandering paths. The work will only remove logjams and trees leaning into the river. “This one is actually…


Tax distributions announced for second half of 2017

(Submitted by Wood County Auditor’s Office) Michael Sibbersen, Wood County Auditor, has announced the distribution of the Real Estate, Public Utility tax, and Special Assessments for the second half 2017 settlement. A total of $81,203,716 was collected and distributed including $2,255,359 for special assessments. In addition $8,985,232 is to be reimbursed from the State Income Tax Funds, $6,186,788 in non-business credit, $863,772 in owner occupied credit, and $1,934,672 in homestead exemption monies. These represent tax reductions for qualifying properties. The Board of Developmental Disabilities requested that the 2.95 mill voted developmental disabilities levy collection be suspended for this year due to sufficient fund balance. This provided tax relief of $103 annually on a $100,000 home. Wood County currently maintains 75,079 individual land parcels of record and distributes the taxes to eighteen school districts, nineteen townships, and twenty-six cities and villages. Wood County has over 100,000 individual special assessments, which are distributed to regional, county, municipal and township governments. Examples include ditch construction and maintenance, sewer and water systems, street lighting, street cleaning, and tree maintenance programs. Totals for the second half revenue distribution are as follows: WOOD COUNTY $2,805,848 REGIONAL WATER AND SEWER $682,572 COUNTY DITCH MAINTENANCE AND CONSTRUCTION $162,133 COUNTY SEWER AND WATERLINE PROJECTS $215 MAUMEE WATERSHED CONSERVANCY $41,237 BOARD OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES $4,942,378 ALCOHOL, DRUG ADDICTION & MENTAL HEALTH BOARD $2,814,075 PARK DISTRICT $1,111,096 COMMITTEE ON AGING $777,761 BOARD OF HEALTH $625,494 HISTORICAL CENTER $59,695 JOB & FAMILY SERVICES $1,444,423.14 WOOD COUNTY LIBRARY BOND $133,663 TOWNSHIPS $6,420,344 MUNICIPALITIES…


New voting machines come with hefty price tags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Wood County got its first touchscreen voting machines, many people feared they were too old-fashioned to keep up with the new voting technology. But now, after 11 years of elections, it’s the voting machines themselves that are considered obsolete. Across Ohio, county boards of elections are facing the challenge of replacing their aging voting machines with newer, expensive technology. The price tag to replace Wood County’s touchscreen voting stations is between $3.8 and $4.2 million. Counties and election boards have been working with the state legislature and secretary of state to get help footing the bill. “This is a great need across the state,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “The implications statewide and nationally are incredible.” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton presented the news to the county commissioners on Tuesday. “He told us the end is in sight and we need to prepare,” Kalmar said. The first touchscreen voting machines were purchased as part of the Help America Vote Act after the infamous “hanging chad” drama in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The electronic touchscreen systems were purchased to prevent the uncertainty of punchcard voting. The initial touchscreen units cost $1.2 million – with federal funds paying for at least 80 percent of the price, Kalmar said. Kalmar is banking on the legislature helping this time around. The topic has been before the state for a while. “That has been the discussion for the last two…


Wood County to direct growth with new land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The new Wood County Land Use Plan does more than give lip service to organized development – it’s added some teeth. Recently the Wood County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the new land use plan, which will direct growth to areas with the roads, waterlines and sewer lines to handle it – while maintaining the agricultural and natural areas that are also important to the county. “It’s nice because you have zoning, and zoning is great for directing growth, said Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission. But the land use plan takes it a step further. “Without a plan, you don’t have something to fall back on.” So if a developer wants to rezone some acreage in the middle of prime farmland for industrial use, the land use plan helps back up the rejection by the county and townships, Steiner said. The plan takes into consideration the latest census information, demographics and development. The plan also looks at “reinvestment areas,” where previous development has “fallen by the wayside” and may need a jumpstart with brownfield development, Steiner said. And the plan defends agricultural areas that are still vital to the county’s economy. The county had outgrown the last land use plan, which had been adopted in 2007. “It was not nearly as comprehensive as this one,” Steiner told the commissioners. The guiding principles of the land use plan are as follows: Support sustainable land use and development patterns, and identify…


County touts high economic development, low unemployment

Wood County continues to see high economic development successes and a low unemployment rate, according to the report presented Wednesday during the annual meeting of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. The report, from WCEDC President Doug Miller, talked about the great success achieved with limited resources. “Over the past several years, we have attracted a number of businesses to Wood County,” Miller wrote in his report. Those newer businesses include Home Depot fulfillment center in Troy Township, the CSX intermodal facility in Henry Township, the Harmon Business Park in Rossford, and the FedEx Ground Hub in Perrysburg Township. “Scores of existing businesses choose to remain in Wood County and have or are expanding,” Miller continued. Those businesses include Phoenix Technologies, Northwood Industries, First Solar, Principle Business Enterprises, Schuetz Container, IMCO Carbide Tool, and Pilkington North America. “As a result, unemployment hovers around an amazing 4 percent,” Miller stated in his report. Much of the credit should go to the spirit of cooperation among elected officials, those appointed by elected officials, and community volunteers, he said. “Feedback we receive from developers and others from outside the area remains positive and often hear that the process is Wood County runs so much better than in other places,” Miller stated. In an effort to work with local communities to meet their needs, Wood County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Wade Gottschalk and other executive committee members often hold informal monthly breakfast or lunch meetings with entities. “The meetings serve as a way…


‘State of the County’ paints positive picture

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite a few aches and pains here and there, the health of Wood County is quite good, according to the county commissioners who presented their State of the County Address Tuesday morning for the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. Commissioners Ted Bowlus, Doris Herringshaw and Craig LaHote shared the county’s success of having a high bond rating and low unemployment rate. They encouraged area residents to shop locally – helping local businesses and local government at the same time. “Even with the changes to the economy, we continue to remain steadfast in our optimism for the future of Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “Our challenges as county commissioners remain the same – serve the needs of an expanding population, continue to promote Wood County as an excellent place for industrial and commercial development, promote prime farmland, and protect the quality of life that the citizens of Wood County have come to expect.” Herringshaw, president of the board, started by listing some of the county’s priorities as economic and workforce development, public infrastructure, social services, water quality and community safety. “Wood County has remained fiscally strong due to the commissioners’ conservative approach to budgeting, which ensures that there are sufficient resources to cover all of the county’s mandated services for the citizens,” Herringshaw said. Sales tax revenue for the county again hit a record amount, just shy of $21 million last year. However, the state has announced that sales tax revenues will be reduced…


Wood County honors employees for service

The Wood County Commissioners recently recognized county employees who have reached five-year milestones with the county. Following are the employees honored last week for their service: Five Year Awards Adult Probation, Bo Gillian Board of Developmental Disabilities, Lynne Beard, Erin Brooks, Jennifer Cosgrove, Hal “Doug” Lee, Terrie Hunt, Danielle Perkins and Sarah Vestal Common Pleas Court #4, Kelley Hansen Court Security, Ron Dicus and Ed Kaplan Dog Shelter, David Webb Engineer’s Office, Joan Cherry Health District, Lexie Jacobs Job and Family Services, Laura Belleville, Sheri Chiarelott, Abigail Grieser, Brandy Thomas and Maricarol Torsok-Hrabovsky Information Technology, Meredith Nicholson Juvenile Court, Jenifer Bibler and Jesicca Sautter Juvenile Residential Center, Zac Cameron NorthWest Community Corrections Brandon Will Prosecuting Attorney, Stacy Bressler and Thomas Matuszak Public Defender, Carol S. Martinez Sheriff’s Office, James W. Knallay, Christina F. Patrick, Tyler J. Petree and Jeremy E. Sheeks Wood Haven Health Care, Lindsay Birkenkamp and Barbara Dunn Ten Year Awards ADAMHS Board, Britni Fackler Board of Developmental Disabilities, Doug Feehan, Renee Kapron, Katie Kramer, Greg Matheny, Laura Peterson, Sara Stalets and Henry “Hank” Taylor Buildings & Grounds, Jon Balser, Jeremy Murphy and Nicholas Wallace Building Inspection, Stephen O’Regan Clerk of Courts, Stephanie Wadsworth Dog Shelter, Justin Gallagher Emergency Management Agency, Bradley J. Gilbert Health District, Shari Bockbrader, Lisa Fork and Kathie Klauber Highway Garage, Isaac Bailey, Gary Britten and Chase Greulich Job and Family Services, Cathy Allen, Vicky Chandler, Mary DeWitt, Dawn Lauer and Marcy Schmeltz NorthWest Community Corrections, Teresa Webb Recorder’s Office, Gina Hineline and Vikki…


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…


Bowlus, Kuhlman face-off for commissioner’s seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Safe water, a quality workforce, and the opiate epidemic top the list of concerns for Wood County Commissioner candidates Dr. Ted Bowlus and Joel Kuhlman. Both Bowlus, a Republican and podiatrist, and incumbent commissioner Kuhlman, a Democratic and attorney, grew up in the Pemberville area. The two are competing for one of the two open commissioner seats. Facing off for the other open seat are Democrat Ed Kolanko and Republican incumbent Craig LaHote, both from the northern end of Wood County. A story on that race will appear later. Kuhlman and Bowlus see the water issue as multi-faceted. There is the issue of Lake Erie’s “impaired designation” status, and the decision on water sources for the region. The commissioners have been asked to support an effort to have the Western Lake Erie Basin declared “impaired.” That designation would get the U.S. EPA involved in identifying the sources of the phosphorus creating the harmful algal blooms. Neither Bowlus nor Kuhlman are sold on the need for “impaired” status, though Kuhlman is more open to considering the designation. After sitting through a series of meetings on the issue, Kuhlman called the discussions “enlightening” and “confusing.” While parts of the western basin are already labeled as impaired, Kuhlman wants to delay the decision until more facts are gathered. Bowlus has made up his mind that the impairment status would do more harm than good. “I feel strongly we should not designate the lake as impaired,”…