Cocoon turns to community to continue phone safety net

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years, Verizon has provided a lifeline to survivors of domestic violence. But the company will soon be discontinuing its phone donation recycling program called HopeLine. Locally, the program has helped domestic violence survivors served by The Cocoon. In the last two years, the local shelter has received between 100 and 150 phones with pre-paid minutes and text messaging, said Kathy Mull, executive director of The Cocoon. “It’s really been a benefit to us in supporting survivors who we serve,” Mull said on Friday. “It really does provide a valuable service.” The cell phones play a vital role in several survivors’ safety plans. Phones can help victims of abuse feel safer and less isolated by giving them a way to call emergency or support services, employers, family and friends. But on Dec. 31, that HopeLine program will be ended by Verizon. The change is being attributed to several factors, including a decrease in phone donations as more customers opt to trade in older cell phones for newer models, and also by the declining availability of feature phones, which had been provided to domestic violence survivors by the HopeLine program. So The Cocoon is looking for other phone options. Mull explained that the agency works with survivors to get their own sustainable resources. But in the meantime, The Cocoon will be turning to the community for help. “We are really exploring all of our options,” Mull said. The Wood County community has been very supportive of the domestic violence agency, and Mull is hoping that response continues for this need. “We will be asking the community to donate to help folks who don’t have other options – to provide them with that safety net,” Mull said. Anyone interested in donating old cell phones with pre-paid minutes may call The Cocoon office at 419-373-1730 to arrange a drop-off. Phones may also be dropped off at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on South College Street in Bowling Green. “The community has been really gracious to us,” Mull said. Though the end of Verizon’s HopeLine program is unfortunate, Mull said she is thankful for all the company has done for survivors of domestic violence. “We are extremely grateful for Verizon,” she said. It is estimated that in the U.S., one in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, and each year more than 15 million children witness violence in their homes. Verizon Wireless’ commitment to preventing domestic violence began in 1995…

Read More

Now OH honors familiar faces on local art scene

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A year ago Aaron Pickens won best of show at the Now OH exhibit with a painting it took him two hours to complete. The painting was a small a landscape painted on location. This year Pickens won Best of Show for a very different piece. “In Da Club” took two years in the studio to complete. It draws on Pickens’ fascination with toys, and serves as a commentary on the contemporary art scene. Pickens said the piece references fashionable trends in painting. In the middle is a small self-portrait that’s slashed by a splash of paint. He also plays with the use of repetition. He also employs social media “love” and “like” icons. These are the tropes he sees in the work that are featured in magazines and are accepted in juried show. “In Da Club” has not been accepted in any juried shows. Pickens said. But the Now OH, is open to all comers from 12 counties in Northwest Ohio. The 11th community art exhibit Now OH opened Friday night in the Bowling Green State University Fine Art Center with a gallery talk by juror Michelle Carlson and the awards ceremony. The show continues through July 28. Gallery hours are: Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The 65 artists who showed work included avocational artists, some who have been at it for decades, and an art professor. The prize winners included names familiar to those who frequent local arts events, such as Art Walk and the Wood County Invitational at the Black Swamp Arts festival. They are stalwarts in those shows, though not necessarily award winners. Painter Craig Blair received the first place in 2D work for his painting “Girl with Balloon.” In her talk Carlson praised Blair’s mastery of spray paint art and the way he used a few simple images – a woman, a balloon, a blimp – to create an evocative effect. Blair said in his 50 years of painting he’d never won an award. He’s been a regular exhibitor at Now OH. “I like the quality of the art especially for a non-juried show,” Blair said. He doesn’t paint to win awards. “I just do it because I like it.” Others seem to appreciate what he creates. “I sell a lot of paintings.” Carlson said the juxtaposition of two award-winning works demonstrates the way the show reflects the diversity of the region. Meghan Kozal’s finely cut wood piece “And Word Became Flesh,” featured layers of what appear to be Arabic script. Carlson praised…


Wood County residents urged to get up and get active

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents are being politely prodded to get up off their sedentary seats. The Wood County Health Department has launched a campaign encouraging local residents to get more exercise using free community parks and trails. Health surveys have shown that too many people are overweight, and too few are getting the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Only 28 percent of Wood County adults surveyed last year said they exercise five days or more per week. Ten percent said they did not have any physical activity in the past week. Inactivity and obesity are tied to many areas of a person’s health and can lead to a variety of serious diseases. And last year’s physical activity and nutrition survey showed that Wood County residents need to do better at both. “It was enough to give us some ideas of where we should prioritize,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that lack of physical activity and obesity are big problems across the country,” Aspacher added. The survey conducted last year showed that not only were many people not getting enough exercise, but many also weren’t aware of local exercise options available to them. So health department officials decided to start a motivational campaign, encouraging local residents to use the exercise options already available throughout the county. “We have great parks. We want to promote what we already have,” Aspacher said. In addition to the county parks, nearly every community in Wood County also has its own park. “You can go to the park in Grand Rapids and see something completely different than you would see in the park in Bradner.” A new website, WoodCountyHealth.org/activity, lists parks and trails in different communities, as well as events such as 5Ks and fun runs, and links to recreation programs, fitness groups, SilverSneakers sites for seniors, and several links to cycling resources. “There is one place to go for the information,” Aspacher said of the website. “This might inspire someone to go to a park.” Having a goal in mind can create the motivation people need to stick with an exercise routine, but many people have a tough time getting started. Wood County Health Department will post encouraging messages, exercise tips and photos showing the diverse parks and recreation opportunities that Wood County has to offer. Local residents are asked to share those messages on social media. “We want them to help amplify the people we reach,” Aspacher…


What’s happening in your community (updated July 16)

NEWLY POSTED: Firefly Nights aims to shine brighter, July 20 Firefly Nights will return to downtown Bowling Green, Friday, July 20, 6-10 p.m. with even more festivities. The street fair will present more music, vendors, food trucks, and kids activities. Set to perform are: North Stage: 6:30 p.m.,  Vester Frey; 7:30 p.m., Dooley Wilson; and 9 p.m., Minglewood Labor Camp South Stage: 6 p.m., Flannery Murnen; 7 p.m., Three 2 Many; and 8 p.m., Ryan Roth & The Sideshow. For more details, announcements, and giveaways visit the festival’s website, Facebook page, Instagram account. NEWLY POSTED: Water ski championships come to BG, July 21 & 22 The Ohio State Water Ski Championships welcomes 100 athletes from around the state to compete  at Bees & Skis Lake, 16559 King Road in Bowling Green, Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This competition is an opportunity for competitors to win the state title and to advance to the Midwest Regional Championships in Wilmington, Illinois. The tournament is hosted by John Gorski and the Barking Shores Ski Club. Skiers ranging in age from 8 – 80 will compete in three events, slalom, trick and jump. In addition to the State Championships, the final Buckeye Buoy Tour stop will be hosted at Bees & Skis Lake on Friday, July 20. A banquet will be hosted Saturday night on site where the Ohio All-Star Team will be announced, junior awards presented and the Distinguished Service Award honoree recognized. Distinguished Service is the highest honor given to a volunteer in the Ohio Water Ski Association (OWSA). NEWLY POSTED: Cronin Buick celebrates opening, July 17 A ribbon cutting and Business After Hours to celebrate the Grand Opening of Cronin Buick GMC at 1099 N. Main St., Bowling Green, will be held July 17. The Ribbon Cutting will be at 4 p.m. with the Business After Hours 4:30-6 p.m. RSVPs are appreciated by contacting Marissa Muniz at MarissaMuniz@bgchamber.net or by calling the Bowling Green Chamber at 419-353-7945. This event is presented by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Cronin Buick GMC and the City of Bowling Green.   NEWLY POSTED: Families invited to ‘Rock! Out with the Beetles,’ July 18 Families are invited to join Wood County District Public Library Children’s Place staff and a BG Parks and Recreation naturalist for a special “Rock Out! with the Beetles” program on Wednesday, July 18, 2 p.m. at Wintergarden Park. Enjoy beetle-themed stories, music, crafts and a nature presentation.  For more information, call the Children’s Place at 419-352-8253.   NEWLY POSTED: Youth Volleyball Camp at the Community Center, July 23-27 Registration…


Josh Almanson shares his hoop skills with hometown youngsters

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Josh Almanson was just getting ready to launch his professional career, he decided he wanted to share the skills that had gotten him that far with the kids in his hometown of Bowling Green. So the Josh Almanson Basketball Camp was launched. On Monday the 13th camp gets underway at the Bowling Green Community Center. The camp runs Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day for girls and boys who will be entering grades 2-9. Almanson’s pro career lasted nine years starting and ending in Luxembourg with stops between in Germany, France, and Portugal. But every year, he’d bring home what he’d learned along the way. He’s now a middle school assistant principal in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus, where he also serves as athletic director. Almanson, 36, said the camp taught him lessons as well. It gave him an exposure to working with youngsters that fueled his interest in education. Over the years he’s learned that the campers come in full of energy, and his job is to make sure they expend it before they leave the gym at the end of the day. “You don’t want them to go home with some left in the tank,” he said. Children’s first exposure to basketball often comes from seeing game highlights. He wants to show them what goes into creating those spectacular plays. “What happens when they show up to a tryout and practice? Their exposure may be seeing highlights, this looks completely different.” There’s training in the fundamentals, integrated with a lot of game play. “We have different team competitions or individual competitions. We do a lot of skill work and development. That’s kind of the basis, a lot of skill work and a lot of competition.” The camp draws 60 to 80 kids from all over Northwest Ohio. “They have a good time and meet new people.” Depending on numbers they’ll be broken down into several groups based on age. Some of the students come in with relatively advanced skills and already play in leagues. Others are just starting to learn he sport. Almanson works with them all. “We want kids to learn something about basketball and learn something about themselves and have a good time with it.” He said he’s been fortunate in the coaching help he’s gotten to help with the camp. Some have gone on to coach in college. Almanson did coach the first few years he was a teacher, but can’t now that he’s an administrator. He said he’d…


Scientists continue to address harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in an age of satellites, vintage tools have their place in protecting the environment. The research in harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie by scientists from state and government agencies and institutions of higher education is constantly evolving. A new European satellite promises to provide a steady stream of advanced analytics and should allow for the development of 3D models of harmful algae blooms. As scientists monitor the water in Lake Erie and the tributaries that feed it, they also employ a tool that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. As part as a water testing demonstration at the Stone Lab on Middle Bass Island, researchers used the Secchi disc, a basic device that’s lowered into the water to determine how clear it is. The demonstration was part of the seventh Harmful Algae Blooms forecast conference held at the lab. Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that this year’s bloom splits the difference between the smaller bloom in 2017 and the more extensive problem in 2016. The severity was rated at 6, on the open ended scale. The worst blooms, seen in 2011 and 2015, were 10 or greater. Last year was an 8. The forecast for algae blooms is based on six different predictive models, all using different methodologies. Scientists can’t say, though, what the chance is that this bloom will turn toxic like the one in 2014 that left 500,000 customers served by the Toledo system without safe water. Stumpf said that scientists are working on developing techniques to forecast the likelihood of toxicity. The blooms, he said, appear to be developing sooner as the lake warms up earlier. They tend to subside in August, but then last year re-emerged on a smaller scale in September. The earlier onset does not mean the bloom will be more severe, he said. Thomas Bridgeman, from the University of Toledo, noted, there’s also been more healthy algae growth in the lake, and  that could compete with the harmful variety. James Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer for Ottawa County, said it was important for those managing water plants to look further into the future as they consider the needs for new technology to address the problem. “We need to able to predict how soon this may subside,” he said. Chris Winslow, the director of Stone Lab, said that given the size of the watershed feeding the lake that’s hard to predict. Methods have been developed and implemented in the agricultural community to…


Pets get all groomed and gussied up for annual show

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like a pageant mom arriving without hairspray, it didn’t take Jordan Cravens long to realize she and bulldog Reggie were going to be out-glamoured at the pet show in City Park Wednesday evening. “We can already see we’re way out of our league,” Cravens said as she looked out over the competition at the annual show sponsored by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Reggie had been signed up for the categories of cutest and best dressed – but both seemed out of grasp with the throng of dolled up dogs waiting to take the stage. “I can see the bow tie is not going to be enough,” Cravens said. How could Reggie possibly compete with the golden retriever dressed as Harry Potter, the German shepherd as football player Johnny Manziel, not to mention the smaller breeds in their tutus and tiaras? “Clearly, these dogs prepare year-round,” Cravens said with a smile. On the plus side, Reggie had not yet puked due to pre-pageant jitters. The pet show featured the furry and funny pets of the community. There were the customary dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs, hedge hogs and hermit crabs. And as usual, the competition was fierce, and the judging was nerve-wracking. Before any animals took to the stage at Needle Hall, judges Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett and BG Police Animal Control Officer Tom Sieving agreed that some categories are always difficult to decide. Take, for example, the cutest dog category. That’s really subjective, the judges said. “The tough part is when the kids are really into it, and you let them down,” Fawcett said. “Some of the parents are really into it, too,” Sieving added. The pets were judged in categories like best pet trick, best dressed, birds that talk or tweet the loudest, and pet that looks most like its owner. There were also categories for shaggiest, longest ears, slimiest reptile and funniest name – which was won this year by Sir Oliver Purrsalot. The feline beat out the hedgehog named Feisty, who lives up to his name, according to young owner Quinn Rader. “He’s feisty at night and unfortunately at day, too – even though he’s supposed to be nocturnal,” Quinn said. This year, the pet show had a new category of Pet Rocks, working with the Wood County District Public Library’s summer reading program called “Libraries Rock.” Some kids stuck with squirming contestants. Kylah Crawford dolled up her guinea pig, Lilly, with gold beads and a…