Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Wintergarden nature center closed during renovation

Phase Two of the “Building on Nature Project” will begin today, Oct. 11. This phase is the remodel of the interior public spaces of the Rotary Nature Center, located in the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve. During the renovation the building will not be accessible to the public. It is anticipated that the project will be complete and open again to the public by the end of the year. For questions or more information, contact the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department at 419-354-6223, or visit the website (Parks and Recreation).

Park district takes step toward renewal levy next spring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be going back on the ballot next year – but the board won’t be asking for any additional funds. The county park board voted Tuesday afternoon to start the levy process by asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the current valuation for the park district. The board then plans to place a renewal of its 1-mill, 10-year levy on next year’s spring ballot. “I believe that will suffice to serve our financial needs for another decade,” Board President Denny Parish said. Wood County voters have a history of supporting their parks, and will appreciate the district’s decision to not ask for more money, Parish said. The current levy brings in a “pretty steady” amount of approximately $2.8 million a year. “I believe we can operate for another 10 years on the same millage,” Parish stressed. Board member John Calderonello mentioned that some voters may still be stinging from issues on this November’s ballot. But Parish said the park district can choose between spring and fall of 2018. “We can’t wait till 2019,” he said. And board member Bob Dorn reminded that if the park levy fails in the spring, it can be repeated in the fall. Parish said many residents of Wood County don’t realize how the park district if funded. “There’s a misconception that we get funded by the general fund of the county commissioners,” he said. The park district first passed its 1-mill levy in 2008. Since then, the district has made several improvements and acquired much more property. “It’s all been done…

Wood County Sheriff’s Office buys drone

Last month, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office purchased a DJI Matrice M210 Drone to add to its inventory of equipment. The drone will be used for search and rescue missions, assist the Special Response Team with aerial surveillance, and aid in emergency or non-emergency situations involving Wood County citizens. The drone cost about $20,000, Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. Helping with the purchase was a $9,000 donation from Michael McAlear, who was a friend of the sheriff’s and a special deputy. He died in June. The sheriff’s office is currently flying the drone under the FAA Part 107. Currently, the sheriff and three deputies have their airmen certificates with a UAS rating. In the short time the sheriff’s office has had the drone, it has been used twice. It was used to assist in locating 52 head of cattle in Center Township. And it was used to assist Fostoria Police Department with a suspect who had fled on foot. Once deployed, the drone helped the suspect be quickly apprehended. Currently, the drone has the capability to run a single or dual mount camera system, with one of the cameras being a FLIR camera.

Project Connect in need of volunteers

Project Connect has put out a call for volunteers for the annual event on Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 315 S. College Ave. Training for volunteers will be provided. Link to Volunteer: Several different opportunities available, particularly hosts from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., 10:15 a.m. – 2 p.m., and 12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., and of course all day volunteers. There are also opportunities to help with meals services. Project Connect is a one-day, one -stop event with free goods and services for Wood County individuals, families, elders and veterans in need.  Many volunteers are needed to ensure a successful event.  Volunteer roles include: welcoming guests, guiding guests through the event, serving and cooking hot meals, and distributing coats, hats, and gloves. The project had a huge impact last year by providing 574 individuals and families supportive services from one of the many service providers who work to make the program a success. This is the fifth year for Project Connect Wood County and will take approximately 300 volunteers to make this year’s event a success. You will be required to attend a volunteer training prior to participating at the event on Oct. 18. Please include your email at sign-up so you can be notified of training dates and times. Please indicate in the comment box when you sign-up for a volunteer slot if you are bilingual or have an interest in volunteering prior to the event. All volunteers must be 18 years old to participate.  

Commemorative Trail opens at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve

(Submitted by Wood County Park District) The Wood County Park District and the Friends of the Wood County Parks are pleased to announce the grand opening for the Commemorative Trail. The trail has engraved legacy bricks along its 310 foot length which winds between a native plant prairie and a wetland pond at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve located at 29530 White Road, Perrysburg. Additional legacy bricks are available for purchase. Newly engraved bricks will be installed each quarter. To purchase a brick, find an order form at the park, or online at An eight-inch by four-inch legacy brick with three lines of engraved text is $100. An eight-inch by eight-inch legacy brick with five lines of engraved text is $125. All proceeds support the Friends of the Parks, a non-profit, 501c-3 agency. The Friends of the Parks in turn, support park programming, facilities and activities for the citizens of Wood County. The W.W. Knight Nature Preserve is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until 30 minutes past sunset. The preserve, the natural playscape (playground with all natural materials), pollinator gardens, recycled bottle house, the nature center, the library, and the windows on wildlife are all free and open to the public. The special event space in the Hankison Great Room is available to rent for a modest fee. For more information visit

Community invited to 2-year anniversary of Ridge Park

Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department and Councilman Daniel Gordon invite the community to come celebrate the two-year anniversary of Bowling Green’s newest park, Ridge Park. The event will be held on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Ridge Park, 225 Ridge Street, from 3 to 6 p.m. Planned activities include games and activities, live music, food and refreshments. This is a free event for all ages to enjoy.

Humane Society’s pizza booth raises $2,600 for organization

(Submitted by Wood County Humane Society) The Wood County Humane Society (WCHS) worked the Pisanello’s Pizza Booth at the Black Swamp Arts Festival (BSAF) which ran from Friday, September 8th to Sunday, September 10th. All of the proceeds benefited The WCHS. The pizza booth brought in approximately $2,600.00 for the organization. President of The Wood County Humane Society, Heath Diehl, stated, “We at The Wood County Humane Society are very fortunate to have a community partner like Pisanello’s that whole-heartedly supports our mission by partnering with us on such a successful fundraising event each year. It is through partnerships like this that we are able to provide the best possible treatment and quality of life for all animals in Wood County. Working a shift or two in the Pisanello’s booth at the Black Swamp Arts Festival is one of the highlights of my year. Not only do I get to help raise money for a cause that I care deeply about, but also I get to do so while listening to fantastic music and being surrounded by the delicious smells of Pisanello’s pizza.” The BSAF has become a staple fundraising event for the WCHS. Bethany DeLuca, Fundraising Committee Chair, wanted to emphasize, “A huge thank you goes out to our volunteers who make this event successful year after year! Their help and the fabulous crew at Pisanello’s allow the WCHS to raise crucial funds and provide the festival goers with great pizza! We also want to thank Tom and The Bowling Green Country Club for providing our transportation for the weekend.” The WCHS, located in Bowling Green, Ohio, is a…

Area around solar field may be restored to natural habitat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials hope to save on mowing expenses and provide wildlife habitat all in one plan. Instead of mowing the open grassy areas surrounding the solar field on Carter Road, city officials are suggesting that the acreage become a pollinator habitat. The Board of Public Utilities was presented with the proposal Monday evening by Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green. While mowing the 12 acres around the solar field doesn’t require a lot of time, it is an expense the city could avoid, O’Connell said. Daryl Stockburger, assistant utilities director, began looking for ways to reduce maintenance and enhance the solar site. He talked with representatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about a grant to help convert the grassy areas into a pollinator habitat as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the Maumee Area of Concern. The habitat restoration would increase native habitat – such as vegetation, migratory birds and bees – and improve water quality in the watershed, O’Connell said. An agreement would likely require a commitment by the city to allow the pollinator habitat to remain for possibly five to 10 years. That would not be a problem, O’Connell said, since the solar contract has a longer term and there are few options for the narrow strips of land outside the solar field. It has been suggested that the Wood County Park District could maintain the habitat restoration area over the life of the grant. The project could provide educational opportunities for the park district, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green City…

Streets to be closed for BGSU Homecoming Parade on Friday

In conjunction with the Bowling Green State University 2017 Homecoming parade on Friday, Oct. 13, temporary road closures and other traffic restrictions will occur. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13 on South Grove Street and proceed to the east along Wooster Street, ending at Mercer. Below are the traffic impacts on parade day: • South Grove: between Washington and Wooster, will be closed to through traffic from 4 p.m. until all parade units have joined the route. This area will be staging for the parade. Residents in the closure area will have access via Washington. Temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between Washington and West Wooster. • North Grove: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between Clay and West Wooster. • Clay: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between North Grove and North Main. • Buttonwood: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. from north of 145 Buttonwood to West Wooster Street. Posted signs will indicate the parking restrictions. • Former school administration site: No parking noon – 6 p.m. • Wooster: between Grove and Mercer, will be closed for approximately one hour to 90 minutes as the parade progresses to the east. The road closure will be “rolling” meaning, for example, that Wooster at Main will be closed at 5:30 p.m. but will reopen once the entire parade has passed. Wooster, closer to campus, will close later than 5:30 p.m. with the closure times dependent on the pace of the parade. • Streets that intersect…

BG candidates talk rentals, roundabouts, schools & streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green council candidates were asked to take stands on substandard rental housing, roundabouts, the school levy, streets and more Sunday evening. This year’s election is crowded with 12 candidates for Bowling Green City Council. So the candidate forum, sponsored by the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, gave some city residents their first glimpse at those on the ballot. They are: At-large council – Six are running for two seats: Holly Cipriana, Nathan Eberly, Beverly Elwazani, Carolyn Kawecka, Gregory Robinette and Sandy Rowland. Kawecka was not present. First Ward: Daniel Gordon and Hunter Sluss. Sluss was not present. Second Ward: Kent Ramsey and John Zanfardino. Ramsey was not present. Third Ward: Michael Aspacher is running unopposed, so he did not participate in the forum. Fourth Ward: William Herald and Scott Seeliger. Following are the answers given by candidates to citizens’ questions. Cipriani, a Democrat who works as an academic adviser at Bowling Green State University, believes she can be a voice for residents of the city. She said she can offer a “fresh perspective” on issues and isn’t afraid to take action to solve problems. Cipriani said she is “very passionate” about the Complete Streets program as a way to promote safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. She would like to use already conducted research to identify areas of the city were bike lanes can be added. As for the city’s budget difficulties, Cipriani wants to make sure state leaders realize the impact of the money cut to local government budgets. The city needs to focus on improving neighborhoods, infrastructure and…

Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log…

BG and county may team up for ‘community solar’ field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green and Wood County may be teaming up on bright idea for the area. The city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 70 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Fifty acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, said Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The city’s proposal was presented to the Wood County commissioners last week. It would require the county to commit the acreage to the project for 30 years. The property is currently rented out as farmland. The commissioners were interested in the idea, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “They said they were willing to consider it. We don’t see any county building boom” on the East Gypsy Lane property, Kalmar…

BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed…

Annual Folklore and Funfest set for Oct. 14

(Submitted by Wood County Park District) Free family fun is brewing at the Wood County Park District. Join the autumn festivities for the 28th annual Folklore & Funfest event at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 4 – 9 p.m. Parking, entrance and all activities are free. Activities include: Horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, games & prizes in Booville, face painting, crafts, s’mores on the campfire, nocturnal nature tent, self-guided tours of the museum, Halloween cartoons, scarecrow alley, jack-o- lantern walkway and the spooky trail. Food is available for purchase. Costumes are encouraged, but not required. All ages are welcome. County Home Road is available to event traffic only and closed to through (non-event) traffic starting at 3 p.m. The entrance from Route 6 to County Home Road will be open. For more information, visit

He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge … and lived to tell about it to help others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The second that Kevin Hines cleared the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge, he knew he had made a mistake. But by then, he was falling 220 feet at 75 mph. Up until that moment, Hines believed he had to kill himself. Hines spoke Tuesday morning to an auditorium full of Otsego High School students. Next month, he will talk with students at Bowling Green City Schools. He was asked to speak at local schools after the recent Wood County youth survey showed an increase in suicide ideation among 7th through 11th graders. In fact, the local rates were higher than the state and national averages. Hines told students they should not keep quiet about their pain. “I was falling apart at the seams, but I hid it from everybody,” he told the students. “Your pain is valid. Your pain matters, because you matter.” Hines was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoia during his junior year of high school. The diagnosis came after he had a role in the play “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” “I was on a stage, much like this,” he told the students, pointing to their auditorium stage. When Hines looked out at the audience of 1,200 people, he was certain they were all there to kill him. He ran off the stage. Hines went to a psychiatrist, who started treating him. But Hines was resistant. “I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want something to be wrong with me.” Before long, the active, athletic teen was withdrawn, depressed and having hallucinations. After…