Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Superheroes and sidekicks invited to save the world at Super Dash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News With their capes and super powers, children are being invited to save the world – or at least a few acres in Bowling Green. The annual Super Dash is planned for May 4, at 2 p.m., on the obstacle course behind the Bowling Green Community Center, at 1245 W. Newton Road. The event takes place one week after the “Avengers 4” movie hits theaters. “So the kids are all going to be in superhero mode,” said Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “They will be entering the comic book world of make-believe.” Children are invited to come dressed as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Spiderman, Flash – or whatever they wish. “Some kids create their own original superhero,” Kovacevic said. “It’s almost like a Halloween in May.” Their powers will be tested by the obstacle course, which is a little more than a mile and has about 18 natural and man-made challenges along the route. There will be tires to jump through, pyramids to climb, tunnels to crawl through, climbing walls to scale, balance beams to cross, hurdles to jump and cargo nets to traverse. Best of all – at least for the kids – there will also be three mud trenches. Mud trenches along the obstacle course “There’s something about jumping around in the mud that is fun for everyone,” Kovacevic said. “The kids totally get into it. It’s fun to watch.” For parents who want to avoid mud in their Batmobiles on the way home, there will be wash stations and a hose behind the community center to clean off muddy superheroes. The costumed kids will follow a storyline as they climb, tunnel and jump through the course. They will have to earn “galaxy rings” along the way in order to stop the villains, Kovacevic said. “Basically, they are saving the world,” he said. Adults are allowed to dress up as superheroes to be the super sidekicks of their children along the obstacle course. If the adults are not sure of superhero identities, all they need to do is check out the movies. “Every month there’s a new superhero movie coming out,” Kovacevic said. The annual Super Dash will also feature a Hero Festival, featuring local hometown heroes – like police officers, firefighters, military members and BGSU athletes. The kids will be able to compete in contests such as the “Flash Dash” and the “Hulk Throw.” This year, the Super Dash event is partnering with Wood County Children’s Services foster parent recruitment program. “Every county is desperately in need of foster parents,” Kovacevic said. “Foster parents and adoptive parents are heroes in these kids’ lives.” Start of last year’s race Last year’s race had 120 participants. “We’re hoping for continued growth this year,” he said. Children ages 3 through 14 can sign up online at www.bgohio.org/parks, or in person at the community center or Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave. The cost is $16 for city residents and $19 for non-residents if registered by April 12. After that, the cost is $26 for residents and $29 for non-residents.


First responders to be recognized for role fighting opioids

As Ohio continues to face an opioid issue of epidemic proportion, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board wants to recognize the work being done by individuals on the front lines of this fight. On April 29, at 1 p.m., at the Wood County Courthouse Atrium (One Court House Square, Bowling Green), first responders and their families will be invited to listen as community leaders express their gratitude and address local issues that many first responders face. Anyone with questions may call the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board at 419-352-8475.


BG residents can sign up for CodeRED notifications

The City of Bowling Green has entered into a partnership with Wood County for a free community notification system – CodeRED. This system will eventually take the place of the Nixle alert system currently being used. CodeRED provides the city with the ability to notify residents in the event of emergency situations or critical information such as water boil advisories, snow emergencies, or large scale electrical outages. In order to receive these notifications, residents need to sign up for this free service. A link has been posted on the City’s website, www.bgohio.org, along the right-hand side with helpful facts and information as well as the opt-in link for residents to register. Residents are also encouraged to download the free mobile app as well. Personal information will be controlled by CodeRED and will not be released unless compelled to do so by a court of sufficient jurisdiction. Through this system, residents will receive the type of notification of their choice – voice, text, and/or email. This includes a notification for the visually impaired.


Ice floe debris still keeping walleye anglers out of park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Most of the massive ice chunks have since melted, but the destruction from the ice floes in Buttonwood Park remains. The Wood County Park District Board made it official Tuesday, by voting unanimously on the resolution to close the park along the Maumee River in Perrysburg Township for an indefinite period. Last month, the board saw photos of the destruction from the ice floe that towered over six feet high in some areas of the park. Trees between the river and the park parking lot bear scarring at least six feet high. The parking lot was demolished, and the soccer fields once covered with ice are now completely covered with debris left behind from the ice floes. This is not an ideal time to have the park closed, since the Maumee River is entering peak walleye season, Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said. But there is just no way the park district can rebuild the parking lot and clean up all the debris quickly, Munger said. And the park district will likely rethink its parking lot and soccer field placements, since this is the second time in four years that the flooding has taken out the parking and sports facilities. Park staff walk past massive ice wall last month at Buttonwood Park. Conversations are planned with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine how the park district can use the floodplains there. Though Buttonwood Park is closed due to the damage, anglers can still access the Maumee River from Hull Prairie Road, a township road which acts as an entrance to the park. The road goes all the way to the river, and people can park along the roadway. The park district is allowing people fishing to walk along the bank of the river – but they must stay out of the woods, parking lot and soccer fields. Jeff Baney, assistant park director, said he is hoping to get an EPA permit to burn the wood debris on site. Park board member Bill Cameron asked about the possibility of volunteers helping to pick up the wood debris, and take what they want, so the wood wouldn’t be wasted. Baney said much of the wood is in large chunks, and would require the use of chainsaws. Though it would be good to find a use for the wood, “I’m not real comfortable with that,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board heard an update on the plans to turn a house at Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve in Perrysburg Township, into an interpretive center. The building, formerly the home of the quarry owners, will be transformed using about $274,000. Because the second floor of the home did not meet accessibility standards, the top floor will be taken out – allowing for huge two-story windows to overlook the quarry and bird feeders, Munger said. Plans call for an exhibit space, a small climbing wall with padded floor for children, a focus on quarry operations, hands-on learning activities and quarry tools for kids to play with, geological information and the history of quarrying in Northwest Ohio. The center should be open to the public next spring, Munger said. In other business, the board heard a brief update from Jim Witter, park district program coordinator, about the diversity of programs offered at the county parks. They range from bird hikes and escape rooms, to beer programs, and ‘taste test the past,” focusing on depressions era food. “They have been filling up. It’s great to see,” Munger said of attendance at the park programs.


I-75 lane restrictions planned for ODOT to install traffic cameras

The Ohio Department of Transportation is installing interstate traffic cameras today, so some lane restrictions are planned on Interstate 75 south of Bowling Green. Today from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., there will be lane restrictions on northbound I-75 at Oil Center Road, and on southbound I-75 at Bays Road. Today, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Bays Road over I-75 will be closed. On Thursday, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., lane restrictions are planned on northbound I-75 at Greensburg Pike.


Not sure what kind of tree to plant? BG arborist can help

(Submitted by BG Arborist Grant Jones) The Bowling Green Tree Commission will be hosting a class on the “What Tree Should I Plant?” on Saturday, May 11, from 9-11 a.m. at the Urban Forestry Arboretum at 1060 Pearl St. – just west of the fire station. Do you want to plant a tree this spring but need some help deciding what to choose? Join Bowling Green’s City arborist to walk through the Urban Forestry Arboretum to discuss the pros and cons of the different trees that are growing there. All the trees growing at the arboretum are also planted along the city’s streets and in the parks. When matched with the right site they can do well. The event is free to the public. Contact the Bowling Green arborist at gjones@bgohio.org or419.353.4101 if you have any questions.


Klein doing his best to help county plan for the worst

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Jeff Klein is accustomed to handling emergencies. Now he’s helping people plan to prevent them. Klein has been named director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency. He served as deputy director under recently retired Brad Gilbert. Prior to that, Klein spent more than 30 years in the fire service – most recently as fire chief in Perrysburg. So shifting gears to methodical planning rather than rushing to respond is a little different for Klein. “One of the hardest things for me was I had to pick my clothes out,” said Klein, who wore a firefighter uniform for years. Anyone who knows Klein, knows he has a wicked rapid-fire sense of humor. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take his job very seriously. He knows much of his job is educating people about how to prepare themselves for the next disaster. “The sad reality is people think ‘it’s never going to happen to me.’ But somebody in this county is going to be the next house fire and the next flooding,” he said. So Klein wants to help people plan for those terrible moments in their lives. “Everybody knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning – but nobody knows what to do,” he said. Preparation can make a big difference. Before big snow storms people should make sure they are stocked up on items like their medications and pet foods. “It’s not just going to Kroger and buying up all the bread,” he said. “When the blizzard comes, you need to be prepared.” If people plan ahead, they can avoid making problems even worse by having to rush around in inclement weather. “How do I prepare my family, so we don’t get stuck on the highway,” when it’s best to just stay home, he said. Some prevention efforts take more time – and money. For example, if a bigger retention pond might save a home from being flooded, that might be a good investment. “Nobody likes to spend money,” Klein said. But if disaster strikes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance coverage will likely pay just a fraction of the costs to reimburse a family’s losses. “You play a big role in this,” by planning ahead, he said. As EMA director, Klein will continue working on the Code Red system that Gilbert began. The Code Red alerts will notify local residents of such events as bad weather headed this way or a hazardous material incident in their area. All landlines in the county will automatically be hooked up for the Code Red alerts. Cell phone users will have to register for the notifications. People will also be able to choose different options of which alerts they wish to receive. Klein plans to keep building on Gilbert’s work. “I think Brad really got a great foundation,” he said. So that means that in addition to planning, Klein will also get to respond to disasters – and still get to work side by side with the first responders he has known for decades. “I’m having fun,” Klein said with a smile.


BG seeks residents’ input on fair housing matters

Currently, the City of Bowling Green is conducting a fair housing study. Known as the “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI),” the AI enables the city as a Community Development Block Grant recipient to, in part, “affirmatively further fair housing” as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The goals of the study are to identify whether barriers to fair housing choice exist locally in the rental and real estate markets as well as the mortgage lending, insurance, and appraisal industries. Further, the study examines private and public policies and practices that could, intentionally or inadvertently, lead to housing discrimination. The AI process includes the solicitation of opinions from persons involved in the housing industry, including renters and homeowners. If you live in Bowling Green’s city limits, you are invited to take part in this survey, sharing your opinions and experiences involving fair housing. Your answers are anonymous and responses will only appear in compilation format. This survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. The survey will close on April 24. The survey is available in both English and Spanish. To access online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7J3YNPF (in English) or https://es.surveymonkey.com/r/7T9NTVL (in Spanish). The surveys are alsoaccessible at www.bgohio.org . To obtain a paper copy of the survey, call 419-354-6203.


Fire – not Roundup – used to maintain prairie at Wintergarden Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News As the flames grew and the heat from the fire hit her face, Cinda Stutzman smiled with satisfaction. She knows the controlled burn of about 10 acres this morning at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve is a part of the life cycle for the prairie area. “I very much look forward to this. It’s like Christmas for me,” said Stutzman, natural resources specialist with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “I know what it’s going to do for the habitat.” In the section first burned this morning, some native prickly pear cactus plants were exposed after being hidden before by long grasses. “They’ll perk right back up,” and park visitors will be able to view their big flowers this year, Stutzman said. “It’s a rejuvenating force,” she said. “We’re still trying to beat up on the sassafras that is trying to encroach, and the blackberries are kind of aggressive.” Controlled burns are performed every year in different parts of the park, explained Chris Gajewicz, natural resources coordinator with the city. The burns can only be conducted in certain weather. “Today is a perfect day,” Gajewicz said. There were clear skies, no gusty winds, and low humidity so the smoke would rise. The goal is to burn the woody saplings and invasive species in the prairie. The native species there will return after the burn – and some actually benefit with the fire aiding their germination, Gajewicz said. The burn was conducted by members of the Hancock County Pheasants Forever organization. Ronald Gossard said he has been doing controlled burns for about 20 years. “It’s always stressful,” Gossard said, keeping a watchful eye on the flames as they moved across the prairie. Fire has been used for centuries to maintain the land. “The Indians did that for feeding the buffalo,” Gossard said. “We’re going back to the native way – not using Roundup.” While the controlled burn leaves the earth barren and black, it doesn’t take long for life to return, Gajewicz said. “It will look black and then in a couple days it will rain,” he said – at least that’s the weather forecast his knee was predicting. Then the native plant material in the soil will be rejuvenated.


Second bomb threat mailed in BG, this one to Panera

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A bomb threat was received at Panera Bread, in downtown Bowling Green, this morning around 10:24, according to Bowling Green Police Division. The restaurant was inspected by police and a bomb-sniffing dog, and no bomb was found. “We do not believe it’s credible,” BG Police Lt. Dan Mancuso said around noon. The business is open for business. This is the second bomb threat mailed to locations in Bowling Green in the last two days. The letter received today appears similar to the letter received Monday at Kenwood Elementary School. “We don’t know if it’s related,” Mancuso said. “It’s under investigation.” The mailed threat was opened Monday at Kenwood around 3:30 p.m., after school was let out for the day. According to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci, the message was a hand-scribbled letter stating that a pipe bomb had been placed in the school. The letter reportedly had a bogus return address on the envelope. Both letters will be sent to a lab at the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for testing. Bowling Green Police Division performed a sweep of the school building Monday, using Bowling Green State University Police Department’s bomb-sniffing dog. Additional security is posted at the district’s school buildings today. Mancuso advised that anyone receiving a threat of any kind contact the police division. “We want them to call us immediately so we can determine if it’s a credible threat,” Mancuso said. Anyone with further information on the two bomb threats is urged to contact the Bowling Green Police Division at 419-352-2571 or Wood County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-54-CRIME (419-352-0077).


Great Climate March leader to speak in Bowling Green

(Submitted by FreshWater Accountability Project) Former Iowa State Congressman and Director of Bold Iowa, Ed Fallon, will be at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green on Friday, April 12, at 6 p.m., to share his experiences as leader of the Great Climate March. Fallon will read from his book, “Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim,” and share candid reflections about the interpersonal drama of the march as well as his own recounting of his life and what compels him to work tirelessly to build awareness of climate change. Fallon will speak informally and engage the audience to discuss the imminent threat of climate change to build involvement and action through an informed public. On March 1, 2014, Fallon set out with 50 other marchers on the “Great March for Climate Action,” that would span eight months, starting in Los Angeles and ending in Washington, D.C. His book not only describes the daily challenges of such an undertaking, but shares deeply personal doubts and reflections. This makes the book an interesting read as well as stimulates thought about the place we all share on a planet that is increasingly challenged to support life as we know it. As Fallon shared with another marcher who was sobbing about species extinction and how little the march appeared to accomplish: “Remember, every little thing we do is important. Whether you are marching, protesting or campaigning for office, you’re making a difference. And if you and I have to compromise in the process, let’s not be too hard on each other, OK?” With most climate models predicting dramatic, if not disastrous, climate change effects, Fallon’s book relates how individuals can take action, along with the frustration that often entails. Recently, Fallon witnessed the effects of the flooding in his home state, which fuels his mission to bring the subject of climate change forward into public awareness, discourse and action. All are invited to meet Fallon, join in the discussion, and learn about his important work, which includes a radio show called the, “Fallon Forum.” Books will be available for purchase and donations will be accepted to support Fallon’s mission to “Walk the Talk.” More information about Fallon and his book can be found at: http://fallonforum.com/ and http://boldiowa.com/marcher-walker-pilgrim/.


No bomb found at Kenwood, search continues for suspect

A search of Kenwood Elementary School Monday found no bomb. A bomb threat was received in the mail Monday afternoon, according to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci. Police are still looking for the person who sent the threat. Around 3:30 p.m., after school was let out, Scruci said he received a called from Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney saying she had just opened a letter that came in the mail. Inside was a hand-scribbled letter stating that a pipe bomb had been placed in the school. The letter reportedly had a return address on the envelope. Bowling Green Police Division was called, and a sweep of the building was conducted in search of any explosive device. The police presence is increased at all the district’s buildings on Tuesday.


ODOT reminds drivers to slow down for construction zones

(Submitted by the Ohio Department of Transportation) To kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week, ODOT wants to remind drivers that work zone safety is as much their responsibility as it is the workers’ responsibility. Last year in Ohio, there were 4,662 crashes in work zones. Of those crashes, 1,131 were injury crashes and 13 were fatal crashes resulting in 14 deaths.  Of the 14 fatalities, four of the deaths were roadside workers. “Have you ever been on a road and hit the rumble strips that have been placed to prevent you from going over the line?” asked ODOT Highway Technician 3 James DeSelms. “Imagine working on the Interstate and hearing that noise while you’re outside a vehicle. It’s a scary feeling,” DeSelms shared with examples of drivers nearly striking ODOT crews. “It’s really important that you slow down, and move over for us, because we’re out there and we’d like to go home like you do every night.” ODOT wants to get the message out that people need to be cautious in work zones, so we’ve created a memorial representing the four workers killed in Ohio’s work zones in 2018. This memorial will rotate throughout Northwest Ohio this summer/fall. It is our hope that seeing a visual representation of the four workers will emotionally affect the community, and drivers will remember to drive safely in work zones so everyone can return home. “We really want to stress that those decisions that drivers make on the roads have a direct impact on whether workers get home safely that night,” said ODOT District 2 Deputy Director Patrick McColley. “We really want people to slow down. We want people to pay attention. We want people to get off their phones and really make an extra effort to pay attention in those work zones.” Work zone safety is important for workers, but it’s also important for drivers. Last year, 10 people killed in work zones were drivers or passengers. Rear end crashes are the top type of work zone crashes and following too closely is the top contributing factor. Ohio law requires motorists to move over a lane for all roadside workers. If they cannot move over, drivers should slow down.


City leaders condemn racist attack at Waffle House

(Submitted by BG Mayor and City Council) In the wake of the March 31 incident at the Waffle House in Bowling Green, which resulted in charges of felonious assault and ethnic intimidation, the City of Bowling Green vehemently condemns this type of behavior. We, as a community, have worked long and hard to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and welcoming. This type of behavior is not representative of Bowling Green or its residents. While much work has been done by this community, more work remains. Namely, in helping to educate those visiting Bowling Green that while they are here, as a community we expect they exhibit the same tolerance we espouse. While the two perpetrators were not residents of Bowling Green, their awful behavior should not and cannot be tolerated. Further, that we help educate the community on how to identify hate and when to contact law enforcement. As a city government, we encourage all residents of Bowling Green and those visiting this city to continue to stand together in order to present a united front against hate, violence, intolerance, and biased behavior. We call on our community partners, including but not limited to – Not In Our Town, the Human Relations Commission, and Bowling Green State University – to continue our efforts and remain committed to stamping out hate in all forms.


Bomb threat mailed to Kenwood Elementary School

A bomb threat was received in the mail today at Kenwood Elementary School, according to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci. Around 3:30 p.m., after school was let out today, Scruci said he received a called from Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney saying she had just opened a letter that came in today’s mail. Inside was a hand-scribbled letter stating that a pipe bomb had been placed in the school. The letter reportedly had a return address on the envelope. Bowling Green Police Division was called, and a sweep of the building is being done in search of any explosive device. A message was sent to parents of Kenwood students. Scruci said he plans to talk with Police Chief Tony Hetrick about increasing police presence at all the district’s buildings on Tuesday.