New music from BGSU trio to help spread awareness of The Cocoon & its work

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News A few years ago Natalie Magaña needed the help of the Cocoon, which is “committed to ending domestic violence and empowering those affected by it.” Now Magaña, who is a graduate student in flute performance at Bowling Green State University, wants to return the favor. Composer Chace Williams (image provided) The Emanate Trio will perform a benefit concert, “Letter in the Window,” Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. at St. John XXIII on Route 25 in Perrysburg. Other members of the trio are Emily Morin, piano, and Madaly Navis, violin. The trio will perform  a composition, “Domestic Violence,” composed by fellow graduate student Chace Williams specifically for the concert. They will also perform their own arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango’ as well as music by Nino Rota, Mel Bonis, and Bohuslav Martinu Magaña said she and Navis play in the liturgical band at the church. They talked about forming a chamber group that could do benefit concerts for local causes. In January with Morin they formed Emanate Trio, and they started brainstorming about causes they may assist. About that time she saw a story in BG Independent News about The Cocoon wanting to find new ways to promote their services. “I experienced things in my personal life,” she said. “I reached out to them a couple years ago. When I read they were looking for new ways to raise awareness of their services it was little personal to me and close to home, I thought this would be awesome.” So Magaña approached the Cocoon with the idea.  Cocoon staff will be on hand to meet with people during the reception following the concert.  Magaña also reached out to her friend Chace Williams, a first year graduate student in composition, to write a piece for the concert. She first heard his music before he came to BGSU, and she was drawn to his music even then.  For inspiration Williams turned to a poem by Eavan Boland, “Domestic Violence.” Williams said he was struck by a butcher shop’s sign that Boland quotes: “please to meet you meat to please you.” Williams said “that line inspired the whole form of the piece.” He said he walked away from the composition at one point, and that line stuck with him. “It was super powerful.” He drew on the poem’s four stanzas to develop the material for the piece. Williams, who studies with Elainie Lillios, usually writes electronic music. This is the first time in a while he’s composing a piece for acoustic instruments. He found the prospect exciting. Rather than focus on melodies and harmonies he concentrated on the sound of the instruments, often pushed to their extremes.  All the techniques he employs are “not native to classical music.” He calls on Magaña to blow into the end of her flute to create a whistling sound. He has Navis pushing down with her bow onto the violin strings to get a scratching sound. Morin will elicit a variety of sounds playing inside the piano, including rolling a ball over the strings. And the piece makes strategic use of a fan to create the sound of the wind. No one will leave the concert at the end singing his piece, Williams said. “I knew the setting,” he said. “I  didn’t hold back at all for the audience. It will be challenging. I came to the conclusion that I would write a meditation on this subject.” Williams said that his schedule doesn’t allow for him to volunteer on a regular basis. Still “we need to support those who give people that safe…

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BG Schools to put $40M issue on ballot for single community elementary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to put a $40 million issue on the November ballot to pay for the construction of a single community elementary school. For those voters who mistake this as the same issue that failed twice before, the board stressed that is not so. This issue is for $40 million – rather than $72 million. This bond will be for 30 years – rather than 37 years. This tax will be split so half is paid with traditional income tax and half with property tax – rather than all property tax. And the district will apply for state Expedited Local Partnership Program this time around. But for those voters who think the single community elementary school has been floated before, they would be correct. Before listening to citizen comments at Tuesday’s meeting, most of the board members were leaning toward a bond issue for three separate elementary schools. But speaker after speaker asked the board to do what is right for students – and try the consolidated school with this new funding structure. Board members Ginny Stewart, Bill Clifford, Jill Carr and Norm Geer agreed. Board member Paul Walker voted no – not because he believes the three schools are better for students – but because he fears the community won’t support just one school. The audience at Tuesday’s meeting gave the board a standing ovation after the vote to put the issue on this fall’s ballot. After the last two failures of the building issue, the board formed two task forces made up of community volunteers. By voting on the funding for the facilities, the board followed the recommendation of the finance task force that worked seven months to come up with the compromise on how to best fund the building issue. By voting to use the funding to build one community elementary, the board took the recommendation of facilities task force members when they voted in January on which building option they preferred. At that meeting, 61 percent of the members voiced support for a consolidated elementary. That recommendation, however, was not presented to the school board as the final decision of the facilities task force. Instead, the task force was asked in March to vote based on which school proposal they felt the community would support. That vote was for three separate elementary schools. But on Tuesday, several members of the facilities task force spoke before the board, voicing their frustration that their recommendation was based on their guesses about community support – not on their own feelings about what is best for the students of the district. Ken Rieman speaks to the school board. Ken Rieman, a member of both task forces, shared his feelings after touring Bowling Green’s schools and other newer schools. “There is no doubt the current Bowling Green facilities are substandard,” he said. A single community elementary school is the best educational and financial solution for the district, Rieman said. “I’d like the opportunity to vote on the best option,” he said. Tracy Hovest, also a member of both task forces, thanked the board for giving citizens a chance to serve in the groups, and for spending many Saturdays meeting as a board to find a solution. Hovest, a teacher in another district, said she could enroll her daughter in the district where she works, or could afford to send her to another district. But she believes in BG schools. “I’ve always had a choice,” Hovest said. “I will choose BG every single time. The teachers here, the programs…


Holocaust survivor Erna Gorman digs up story of her family’s horrific past

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News After taking a few sips from her water, Erna (Blitzer) Gorman, ever the grandmother, told her audience, “I wish had a bottle for each of you.” Then, she added, if anyone was feeling parched, “the bottle’s there.” “I’m healthy,” she said, drawing a laugh from those gathered in the ballroom of Bowen-Thompson Student Union Monday evening. Then the Holocaust survivor explained why she made jokes, even as she told of the horrors she and her family and other Jews endured. That helped her tell the story. Inside, Gorman said, her stomach was in knots. Hers is a story that needs to be told. Asked later how to deal with those who questioned whether the Holocaust happened, Gorman said, to respond that they had heard her story. This was the seventh year the Bowling Green State University Hillel had brought a Holocaust survivor to speak on campus.  Rachel Feldman, Hillel cultural chair, said that the Jewish organization would continue to do so as long as there are survivors to speak. Gorman, now 85 — though she claims 29 — was only a child in 1939 when she, her parents and her older sister, Suzanne, left Metz, France, near the German and Luxembourg borders to join her father’s family in Poland. That was a large extended family, led by a pious patriarch. When Hitler broke his pledge and invaded Poland, Gorman’s family headed east to Ukraine to join her mother’s parents. Gorman remembers her grandmother as a tiny woman in a white apron who baked bread. And she had “a pudgy grandfather” who would hold her in his arms. Erna Gorman concludes the program at BGSU. “My parents were aloof,” she said. “They did not have time to cuddle. They just said ‘obey.’ They didn’t have time for anything else.” A German officer, known for his hatred of Jews, arrived in Monastyriska. The Jews were pushed out to a ghetto. Those that survived the disease and hunger were pushed to another ghetto. One day Gorman’s father and all other able-bodied men were rounded up and sent into the forest where they dug a mass grave. Jews from the ghetto, including Gorman’s grandparents, were rounded up brought into the forest, told to strip and then shot, one by one.  The able bodied men were told to bury them up. When her father returned, Gorman said, she heard him tell her mother about her parents’ fate. She recalls her mother’s tears as her parents quietly recited the prayer for the dead. Gorman said even now when she sees photographs of fields in Ukraine and Poland in full bloom, “I think to myself if you dig far enough someone would find my grandfather’s grave.” The survivors in the ghetto were moved to another place. There Gorman’s family had a corner spot in a house on the ground floor. They pulled up the floor boards, and dug into the dirt below. They dug out a space just large enough for the four of them to hide. One night they heard screams and shots. The Germans and “local thugs who were more than happy to help” were rousing the inhabitants forcing them out, killing some on the spot. The four members of her family hid below the floor. It was, she said, like being buried alive. “I knew, as young as I was, I would die if I cried out.” Gorman said she’s uncertain how the next crucial step of the story occurred. But a local Christian farmer rescued them — “he’s an angel” — and hid them in a loft…


BG Council listens to citizens angered by racist attack at Waffle House

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council heard more Monday evening about the ripple effects from the racist attack at Waffle House two weeks ago. Council chambers was so full – with about 80 people there – that people had to listen from the hallway. They heard from a black woman who described her own experience of being verbally abused in a local restaurant. They heard from a Hispanic woman who wants training for business employees so they know how to handle such incidents. And they heard from a white City Council member whose voice shook with emotion as he told how one of the alleged attackers at the Waffle House was in his government class at North Baltimore High School. “I feel the sting when that’s inadequate,” council member and teacher Mark Hollenbaugh said. “There are people within our community who have values who don’t represent us,” he said. Eleven citizens took their concerns to City Council about the racial attack reported in the middle of the night on March 31. The incident started when Justin Hartford, 18, of Mount Cory, and Zarrick Ramirez, 18, of Findlay, entered Waffle House and were reportedly met with racial slurs from two other men in the restaurant. One of the men allegedly told the teens that President Donald Trump would deal with immigrants like them. Before leaving the restaurant, the men taunting the teens reportedly went over to their table and began beating them. Three employees and a customer told police the two victims did nothing to provoke the attack. Bowling Green Police Division arrested Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, for felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. Since then, two community meetings have been organized by La Conexion in an effort to come up with preventative measures to keep similar incidents from occurring in Bowling Green. “The incident deeply affected and rightly enraged” city citizens, said Beatriz Maya, leader of La Conexion. She thanked the police division for its quick response to the attack, and city leaders for speaking out against such hate crimes. “Bowling Green has taken a clear stance against hate,” Maya said. But more must be done, she told council. Maya read a list of recommendations gathered at the community meetings following the attack at Waffle House. The suggestions included: Acknowledgement that racism exists in the community, with more open dialogue needed. “We must recognize this is a systemic problem,” she said.Enactment of an ordinance stating zero tolerance for racist incidents. Businesses could use that ordinance to require patrons to immediately leave if they are using racist language. If they don’t leave, police should be called.Training should be offered to teach employees how to respond to hate incidents. Those businesses completing the training would be given “welcoming city” decals for their doors. Council President Mike Aspacher said he has spoken with Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter and Police Chief Tony Hetrick about the possibility of such training be offered. Hetrick said the police division may be able to expand the training it already offers for liquor establishments, to make it instructional for businesses that operate overnight. It’s possible that some type of training for bystanders could also be offered in the future. “It’s clear this is a community problem that will require a community solution,” Aspacher said. City Council heard from many citizens who wanted some type of training. Karla Davis-McGowan prepares her comments before speaking at City Council meeting. Karla Davis-McGowan talked about her experience when her father first brought her to BGSU in 1983. “Wow, baby. It’s just like…


Synesthetic Oil Spill plans psychedelic takeover of Howard’s

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News When Billy  Gruber was in high school he loved classic rock, and he loved the scene it spawned. Think the Monterey Pop Festival. Now about a decade later, he’s ready to stage his own happening on April 20, a counterculture holiday. Lighting the way will be his Synesthetic Oil Spill show. “I’ve had an idea of the pop show in my mind for a long time just because of my interest in that music and in that art scene,” he said. The Synesthetic Oil Spill 4/20 Music & Arts Takeover will be staged at Howard’s Club H from 4:20 p.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The takeover will include a full slate of bands from contemporary concert music to hip hop with all the stops along the way. All acts will perform to the swirling glow of Gruber’s old-school analog light show. Gruber, who grew up in the Dayton area, described himself as a “a kid from a corn field.” He started music in the middle school band program on percussion. “I wasn’t the greatest at sports,” he said. So he quit football to be in the marching band, and then quit wrestling to be in the pep band.  When it came time for college, he headed north to Bowling Green State University where he earned a degree in World Music with a minor in philosophy. As a hand drummer he played with Indian Opinion and Tree No Leaves, one of the bands featured on Saturday’s bill. Also performing will be former bandmate Benji Katz, a poet and rock musician, now based in Cincinnati.  Billy Gruber, Christian Michael, and JP Stebal work the light show earlier this year. (Photo by Abbey Becker/provided) After graduating in 2016, Gruber returned to Dayton where he tried to plug into the local music scene. He played some drum set, but there wasn’t much call for his specialty, auxiliary percussion.  “The lights seemed the coolest way to jam along,” he said. So he found a YouTube by Steve Pavlovsky of the Liquid Light Lab in New York City.  The materials are easy to assemble. His father is a teacher so he could get an overhead projector.  “I put on an  analog light show with overhead projectors, slide projectors and glass clock faces. You mix water and mineral oil and a little bit of colors,” he said. “I’m in a very analog position.”  In the two years, he’s been doing the light show, he’s worked with about 50 bands. For Saturday’s takeover, Gruber has booked nine local and regional acts. Scheduled to perform are:  • Tree No Leaves (psychedelic rock);  • Nick Zoulek (contemporary saxophone performance) • Rovr (Toledo glitch punk) •Masakiio (hip hop) •MuAmin Collective (Cleveland hip hop) •Baccano (Toledo jam rock) •Benji Katz (Cincinnati poet rock) •Douggy (hip hop) •Nessy the Rilla & GrowBoyz (Detroit hip hop) •watchTV (Toledo hip hop) Also on hand will be a dozen vendors featuring food, crafts, and art.  As an artist himself, Gruber said, he’s interested in promoting other creators’ work.  “I have a ton of creative friends and want to get their work out there and try and make a profit. For me it was to try to include as many artists from as many media as possible.” Vendors who will be on hand are: •The Cookie Jar BG •Virginia Rieth Art (who did our poster art as well) •Lindsay Jo Durham •Alycia Bardwell  •Blue Tiger Gems •P.G.W Creations •Maddie Cox •Andrew Vogelpohl •High Spirit Woodworks •Otaku Drawing Chick •STREETWALKINCHEETAH •Chelsea Ford


Mike Aspacher talks about his vision for mayoral role

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Mike Aspacher may be a townie, who has served on Bowling Green City Council for 10 years, and is running unopposed for mayor. But he still wants citizens to get to know him – and vice versa. “I believe these type of meetings are really, really important,” he said last week as he held a public gathering at the library downtown. “This begins the opportunity for me to earn your trust,” Aspacher said to those gathered. But he’s earned that already, said former police chief Brad Conner. “Obviously these folks here trust him, or we wouldn’t be here right now,” Conner said. Aspacher assured residents that his governing style would not change when elected mayor. And that means using one criteria when making decisions – “What is best for the residents of Bowling Green,” he said. Aspacher referred to himself as a “proud Democrat” and a “true townie.” “I’ve never lived anywhere else, and truthfully, I’m immensely proud of that.” Still working on getting comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, Aspacher apologized for using a “script.” But no one seemed to mind “I think it’s important for you to understand who I am and where I come from,” he said. He spent 35 years working out of Local 50 plumbers and pipefitters union, before retiring last year. He has volunteered in the community with coaching ball teams, leading cub scouts, and serving on the park board, school board, and city council. Mike Aspacher answers questions. Aspacher listed what he believes are the tenets of a strong community: Responsive and transparent local government. “We certainly try to be transparent in all our decision making,” he said of council.Sound financial management. “We are challenged and continue to be challenged,” primarily by the state cuts to Local Government Funds. In spite of that, “the city is on sound financial footing,” he said.Well-trained public safety forces. Both the city’s fire and police divisions are nationally accredited. “They are comprised of the best people we can find,” and the city provides the best training and equipment possible.Efficient public works. Citizens have expectations, and the city strives to meet those, he said. “People want their trash picked up, their streets plowed. They want their city to look nice.”Good public utilities. The city’s electric, water and sewer rates are all competitive, and the services reliable. The water quality exceeds EPA standards. City leaders believe in investing in public utilities, and in getting power from renewable sources – like the city’s wind turbines and the largest solar field in the state. “We’re incredibly proud of that,” he said.Commitment to public education. “Historically, Bowling Green has supported their schools practically at every turn,” he said. The city must continue supporting the mission of the district and the school board. “One is so dependent on the other,” he said of the city and the school district. Without quality schools, the city can’t attract new businesses and residents. “We fully understand the importance of the schools in our community.”Well-developed and maintained park system. The city’s park system is the “envy of many communities,” with a park within one mile of every home, Aspacher said. The focus now shifts to maintaining the parkland the city has acquired.Thriving business community. Aspacher said he recently went on annual business visits with other city officials. “It was pretty uplifting,” he said. “Our business community is really thriving.” Healthy downtown. “We should be very proud of our downtown,” with its vibrant and varying businesses, he said. The city is committed to continuing support of the downtown merchants by…


BG historic preservation efforts to focus on busting myths

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green officials are hoping the future of historic preservation efforts will be more fruitful than the past. The city has resurrected its plans to preserve historic structures in the community, and now has a five-person Historic Preservation Commission. The commission will work to debunk myths about historic preservation rules that doomed the first effort about five years ago. No, the city will not dictate the colors a house can be painted. Yes, the city will allow additions to historic buildings. Yes, historic structures – if no longer fit for preservation – can be torn down. Mayor Dick Edwards reintroduced plans for a commission last year to “preserve, promote, encourage and support the maintenance, use and reuse of historic buildings in the city.” In other words, it would help property owners who want to preserve historic structures. Some historic homes are losing the battle against time and rental transformation – such as in the area surrounding the Wood County Courthouse, Edwards said. “It’s very painful to watch some of these very beautiful historic homes becoming rental homes,” the mayor said. Historic preservation commission members Les Barber, Reina Calderon, Greg Halamay, Gail Nader and John Sampen. The commission members, who held their first meeting recently, are Les Barber representing the First Ward, Reina Calderon of the Second Ward, Gail Nader of the Third Ward, John Sampen of the Fourth Ward, and Greg Halamay representing the downtown. The proposal for such a commission was first brought up in 2009, then became part of earnest discussions in 2013. Efforts died in 2015 after some citizens interpreted the city’s preservation efforts as government telling them what to do with their properties. At that time, Edwards tried to explain that the commission was there to help – not give orders. “It’s not threatening, it’s not dictating to people, it’s not putting the heavy hand of government on neighborhoods,” he said. “It was misconstrued and misinterpreted by some individuals.” Nevertheless, suspicions and very vocal objections by a few citizens about the motivation for the historic preservation commission killed the effort. City Planning Director Heather Sayler said there is great value in preserving historic buildings in a community. “We really had some issues with the myths floating around the community,” Sayler said. “It’s definitely a hot topic. It’s an important topic.” This time around, the city and the commission members hope to do a better job of educating the public and calming fears. “Property owners don’t want to be told what to do with property,” said Halamay, who was elected chairperson of the commission. The goal of historic preservation is to protect the historic integrity of buildings – and help when possible with restorations. It is not to nitpick and tell homeowners what they can and cannot do with their properties. Barber agreed the education role is crucial. “Otherwise this is kind of a useless operation,” he said. Calderon suggested that the commission begin by creating an inventory of historic buildings in the community. Nader noted that a previously designed walking map of historic places in Bowling Green could be a starting point. “If we dust it off, we don’t have to start over,” she said. Three sites and two historic districts in Bowling Green are currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the Secretary of the Interior upon recommendation of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. However, placement on the National Register provides no protection to any historic property. The commission talked about working with the county commissioners to see if they would be interested in dedicating…