Special delivery: Mail calls treasured by WWI doughboys

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For the American doughboys overseas in World War I, mail from back home was a true treasure. To the farm boys who had never been beyond their fields, and the city boys whose borders ended at the edge of their boroughs – mail call was a brief visit to home sweet home. “Those were the two most important words of the day – mail call,” said Gary Levitt, from the Museum of Postal History located in Delphos, southwest of Bowling Green. Mail call meant a box of hand knitted socks from mothers, newspaper clippings of hometown festivals or football games from siblings, and letters full of sweet talk from sweethearts back home. “You didn’t have any other form of communication,” Levitt said recently during one of the monthly “teas” at the Wood County Historical Center. This gathering focused on mail during World War I, since the museum is featuring an extensive look into the war and the Wood County men who served in it. “To many, letter writing may seem a quaint and charming pastime,” Levitt said. But a century ago, when America entered WWI, it was all families had to keep in contact. “Writing letters was considered a patriotic duty, along with food rationing and buying war bonds,” he said. But it certainly wasn’t easy for mail to reach the right destinations, since the doughboys were spread out and many of their troop locations were secret. “Americans were all over Europe,” Levitt said. “No one wanted to let anyone know where anyone was.” Plus there were no transatlantic flights, so mail…

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Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show celebrates continued excellence in its 25th year

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show the 25th year celebration is pretty much business as usual. That means working to maintain its standing in the Sunshine Artist magazine’s listing of top art shows. Last year the festival was ranked 70th on the journal’s Top 100 Classic and Contemporary Show list. That’s about where the festival has ranked in the 15 years or so that, it has broken onto the list. Those rankings are based on artists’ average sales which are something shy of $3,000. The 25th Black Swamp Arts Festival will be presented Friday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept.10, with the art shows presents Saturday and Sunday. For more details, visit: http://www.blackswampfest.org/. Brenda Baker, who chairs the festival’s visual arts committee, said she would like to think the milestone year has attracted a few more artists to apply. As it was the jurors Kathy Buszkiewicz and Brandon Briggs reviewed 222 applications to fill the 112 booth spaces on Main Street in downtown Bowling Green. Six award winners from last year have committed to returning. That includes best of show winner Isaac Smith. Baker said that 18, or 12.5 percent, of the artists are in their first Black Swamp Arts Festival. “That’s pretty high.” Another 15 percent have been regulars for at least that past five years. The rest are in or out depending on the judgement of the jurors. Buszkiewicz wrote in an email: “Having judged this show in the past, this time I have seen some good returning artists’ applications. There also seems to be some new applicants to the…


Newly sealed Slippery Elm Trail now less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail is now a little less slippery. The 13-mile rails to trail that stretches from Bowling Green to North Baltimore has been paved with a new surface product called Onyx. The sealant promises to last longer, seal faster and be less slippery. “I’ve had nothing but great comments on the Onyx,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District, said last week during a meeting of the district board. “Everybody loves it.” Some of those comments came during the board meeting by park board commissioner Christine Seiler, who had just used the trail that morning. “The traction was wonderful,” even with all the rain the area had the previous day. However, Seiler said there appeared to be some areas of the trail where the old pavement seemed to be showing through. Baney said he would check on that. The Wood County Park District Board paid $119,552 to seal the trail, including striping of the trail at intersections along the route. According to Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning there was less time that the trail was closed to users, Fairbanks said at a previous meeting. “Within a matter of hours, it’s usable,”…


Library survey to get a read on patrons’ needs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Library patrons accustomed to checking out books will soon be asked to check in their feelings about the Wood County District Public Library. How often do you visit the library? What is the library doing right? What is the library doing wrong? Do you read ebooks? Do you prefer old-fashioned paper books? A library survey will soon be conducted to determine community expectations and needs. Shannon Orr, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University, and her students will conduct the survey. Orr has done similar efforts for the city parks and recreation department, and the city schools. The surveys will be mailed in September to a random sample of voters in the library district. The survey will also be online, with the results to be kept separate from the mailed returns. Staff, boards, volunteers, patrons and the public will be asked to complete the online survey if they do not end up as part of random sample. At the same time, the library will be hosting focus groups to collect public opinions. The data gathered from the surveys and focus groups will be used to devise a strategic plan. “If we get this information, we should do something with it,” library board president Brian Paskvan stressed during a board meeting Monday. Also at Monday’s meeting, the board discussed a rebranding effort and updating the library’s logo. Options for the new logo were displayed, with the goal being a memorable image. “So when you see this, you recognize it as the library,” Paskvan said. Because of the long name of Wood…


BG frustration builds over Nexus pipeline concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials are tired of getting the brush off by the Nexus pipeline, by the Ohio EPA, and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But it appears that getting anyone in authority to listen may take more money than the city can afford – and even then the results are not guaranteed. The major concern is that the 36-inch high-pressure natural gas line will be located close enough to the city’s water treatment plant along the Maumee River, that any accidents could have horrific consequences to the water quality. The city has called in experts and sent letters expressing concerns to many state and federal officials. During City Council meeting Monday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards held up files of information he had collected on the pipeline issue. “This is enough to choke a horse,” he said of all the paperwork. “I take it all very seriously,” Edwards said. “I’m frankly, not giving up at all.” Other efforts are underway to plug the pipeline project. A citizens group is currently collecting signatures to get a charter amendment to protect Bowling Green from the pipeline on the November ballot. (A story on that petition effort will appear later this week on BG Independent News.) Brad Holmes, president of the BGSU Environmental Action Group, who is coordinating the charter amendment effort, asked city officials Monday to file a motion to intervene with FERC. He referred to the Nexus pipeline as a “potential source of disaster.” Neocles Leontis suggested the city also try a different route of asking the Ohio EPA to withhold approval of…


BG not giving up on finding glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials aren’t giving up yet on finding ways to recycle glass rather than send it to the landfill. Last week, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies 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. That did not sit well with city officials, who found out about the decision through an email after the decision had been made. “Something like that, it would have been nice to be brought in a little earlier. It would have been nice to phase it in,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. City officials have contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. The city and county officials also plan to meet with Owens-Illinois representatives about possible glass recycling options. Fawcett said this morning that city officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” Ken Rieman, of the recycling center, said last week. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a…


Public input sought on two designs for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is looking for a green light on one of its two plans for the Wooster Green space being developed in the downtown. On Wednesday, July 19, local residents are invited to a program at the library, where both plans will be described, comments will be sought, and questions will be answered. “Obviously, the committee has worked very diligently on coming up with concepts,” said Bob Callecod, co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee for Wooster Green. “We want to know if we’re on the right track.” All of the meetings on the green space have been open to the public, but very few citizens have attended. So the presentation at 4 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library meeting room, 251 N. Main St., is intended to seek out public opinion on the project. “We would like the public’s response to these proposals,” Callecod said. “We want to make it clear that nothing is in stone at this point.” The two final design options will remain on display in the library until July 27, so people can continue to study and comment on them. Also, starting July 19, a link will be active on the city’s website (www.bgohio.org) for citizens to use to offer input. Both of the two final design options for the 1.2-acre green space where the old junior high used to sit include three features. There will be a stone arched entry at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. There will be a 20 by 30 foot octagon shaped pavilion for performances or…