County jobless rate down, but foreclosures, crime up PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Monday, 07 January 2013 11:57
Unemployment is down and sales tax revenue is up in Wood County.
But also increasing last year were foreclosures, criminal convictions, abandoned properties and divorces filed in the county.
These facts were part of the good news-bad news reports shared by county officials during the annual start of the year meeting of the Wood County Township Association last week.
Commissioner Jim Carter told township officials that the county's unemployment rate had dipped below 6 percent, and sales tax revenues were about 5 percent ahead of the previous year.
Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said county officials are "pretty proud" of the jobless numbers, especially since neighboring counties have seen their rates bounce back up.
"A lot of teamwork has gone into that," Kuhlman said of lower unemployment rate in Wood County.
Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen told township officials that despite budgets being stretched by recent cuts, Wood County was weathering the downturn relatively well.
"I can assure you the county is on a secure financial basis," Sibbersen said.
Meanwhile, the courts and county law enforcement are seeing greater demands. Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson explained that criminal convictions are on the rise. Bowling Green Municipal Court Judge Mark Reddin said the court's caseload had been steadily dropping to about 13,000 from the 17,111 cases in 2005. However, the court is now starting to see and uptick in cases.
"There's more crime now," he said, noting the increase in defendants addicted to opiates.
Wood County Clerk of Courts Cindy Hofner reported that her office has seen an increase in foreclosures, criminal cases and divorces being filed.
Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Dave Woessner said the county is seeing more properties being abandoned as families walk away from foreclosed homes. And Dave Steiner, county planning commission director, explained his office has received a "Moving Ohio Forward" grant that will help pay for the demolition of vacant, abandoned sites.
Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn presented an update on the county jail population, with changes to state sentencing shifting many prisoners to local jails in order to save the state money. Due to the increasing inmate numbers at the jail, the sheriff said he is hoping the county will move forward soon on an expansion to that facility.
Wasylyshyn also said his office is working on the "next generation 911" system that can receive text messages.
Also reporting to the township officials last week were Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards; Julie Baumgardner, county recorder; Jill Engle, county treasurer; State Rep. Tim Brown; State Senator Randy Gardner; Ray Huber, county engineer; Brad Gilbert, EMA director; Wade Gottschalk, county economic development director; Lyle Schulte, of the regional water and sewer district; Lolita Guthrie, of the Wood County Genealogical Society; Kurt Erichsen of Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments; and Elizabeth Bostdorff on behalf of Congressman Bob Latta.

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