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Despite recession Commissioners hopeful

With grim forecasts dominating the country’s economy, the Wood County Board of Commissioners focused on the positives that still exist for Bowling Green and the surrounding communities during the State of Wood County Address yesterday morning. Commissioners Jim Carter, Tim Brown and Alvie Perkins spent an hour inside the packed Wood County District Library updating citizens on plans for both the present and the future of the county’s economic plans. ‘We expect 2009 to be pretty difficult,’ Carter said. ‘But there are bright spots that give us hope for the future of Wood County.’ One of the biggest projects set to begin within the next few months will be the construction of a CSX railroad terminal near North Baltimore – part of a $700 million gateway project created by the company scheduled to be completed during last 2009 or early 2010. As part of the program, bridges will be elevated and tunnels will be reconstructed to add additional height for double-stacked trains, Carter said. A significant number of jobs will also be created with the terminal, with the operation of warehousing units and hundreds of trucks each day using the station. But with such a massive project, commissioners realized traffic congestion would quickly become a problem on the already slow-moving 1-75 section from Perrysburg to Findlay. ‘Because CSX will benefit the local economy, we want to fix the congestion on the highway,’ Carter said. Under the commissioner’s plans, 1-75 would be widened from four to six lanes, and with the creation of the CSX terminal, Brown said the chances of getting the construction plans approved are good. But while the future projects of Wood County were the address focus, commissioner’s devoted lengthy attention to the struggles individual citizens are facing during the financial crisis. ‘We’re very aware many of our citizens have been impacted and have had to cut family budgets,’ Brown said. ‘Now more than ever, we need to hear from you and all the citizens of Wood County.’ One of the primary concerns Brown saw affecting citizens was the phasing out of the Ohio tangible personal property tax, which is a tax placed on physical property used in the general operations of a manufacturing or service-based business. After the tax year of 2008 is complete, the personal property tax will be eliminated statewide – which means the $750,000 a year average from the tax for Wood County will be gone.’ ‘We were told to expect one of the worst state budgets since the Great Depression,’ Brown said. ‘But you can help us by continuing to shop in Bowling Green and in Wood County.’ By promoting Wood County as a place of industrial commercial and agricultural growth, the commissioners agreed citizens could help encourage economic growth in the county. Brown said pushing Bowling Green as a vacation spot and keeping the one cent portion of sales tax on purchases made in the county will help the area remain strong during the recession. ‘When the state’s economy does turn around, we want to make sure Wood County is leading the way in economic development,’ Brown said. But former Mayor and Bowling Green resident Wes Hoffman said while he thinks the plans for the future are good, he is still concerned with declining property values and rising foreclosures in Wood County. ‘It’s a concern of ours that reflects what’s going on in the rest of the state,’ Brown said. ‘People aren’t building, and they’re holding onto their wallets.’ And though such issues do pose problems, the commissioners said the number of people living in Wood County is actually increasing. By maintaining the county’s local amenities, such as recreational parks, museums and restaurants, the commissioner’s said they think Wood County and its citizens can weather the struggles ahead. ‘This really is a great place to live,’ Perkins said. ‘You people make the difference in Bowling Green and the outlying area of Perrysburg.’

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