Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG residents want indoor pool, more fitness classes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents jumped right into swimming and exercise discussions at this week’s park focus group – bringing to the surface again the idea of an indoor pool at the community center. Local residents love their swimming. So much that they would like to do it year-round. “They do understand when they say that, that it’s very expensive,” said Kristin Otley, director of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Those attending the public forum also had other suggestions for the pool: Flip flop the lessons, so older kids have the early morning classes when the air is the chilliest. The pool is heated, but cool mornings make it seem chillier, Otley said. Make better use of lap lanes which are underutilized. Offer weekend swim lessons. Add a fitness program at the pool for older children. Add an indoor salt water therapy pool. Residents also brought up the possibility of creating a premium pass for the community center, and working out a deal with the Bowling Green State University Recreation Center, to allow members to use the indoor pool in the winter. “People were interested in that,” Otley said. The public forum also focused on the community center and programming offered there. Residents said they were interested in youth and family fitness classes, including parent and child yoga. Others suggested offering fitness classes for parents and children, at the same time but in different areas of the center. It was mentioned that an obstacle trail behind the community center was being considered. “People seemed to like that,” Otley said. Some other suggestions included: More…


BG sees steady economic growth in 2015

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green industries invested more than $50 million in machinery and facilities last year. “Our companies keep reinvesting in themselves,” Sue Clark, executive director of Bowling Green Economic Development, said Thursday during the annual meeting of the organization. “It was a steady year of growth.” And while adding machinery, they also added jobs – with there now being more than 4,000 manufacturing employees in the city. “We now have more employees in the manufacturing sector than the university does,” Clark said. The largest investment was made by Phoenix Technologies, which added equipment to its East Poe Road plant. The addition of the new plant process means that a plastic bottle dropped off at the nearby recycling center can be washed and ground up at the Poe Road plant, then trucked to the Fairview plant where it is pelletized, then trucked to Southeastern Container on North Main Street where it can be reinvented into a new bottle. The full circle process in one city for plastic recycling is remarkable, Clark said. “We’re very proud of that.” The city is also seeing some commercial growth, with a Fairfield Inn being constructed and Kroger being expanded. The economic development office made a move itself to 130 S. Main St., along with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Downtown BG. Also in 2015, the city “survived another year of construction on I-75” and weathered the peaks and valleys of the auto industry, Clark said. But there are difficulties, she told the audience. “While I paint a rosy picture, we’re not…


Woodland Mall on sheriff’s sale list, but will not be auctioned, manager says

Woodland Mall, 1234 N. Main St., Bowling Green, is on the list for the upcoming Wood County Sheriff’s Sale of foreclosed properties. But mall manager, Michelle Beaverson, said the owner’s attorney was just trying to get the taxes lowered on the property. She said the mall will not be sold at the sheriff’s sale. “Everything will be taken care of before then,” Beaverson said Wednesday afternoon.


AgCredit Celebrates 100th Birthday with Canned Food Donations

AgCredit’s branch offices recently held Open Houses to give members their patronage checks and celebrate the Farm Credit System’s 100th birthday.  Throughout the second week in April, many members and friends attended the birthday themed parties. In honor of the occasion members were asked to bring canned goods to help each branch reach their goal of collecting 100 cans. Every branch exceeded the goal and the Association as a whole collected over 1,500 cans. Cans were donated to various food pantries local to the offices. “AgCredit is thrilled to celebrate this centennial by giving back to the community, donating over 1,500 cans association wide,”  says  Marketing Coordinator, Connie Ruth, “The food drives are yet another way the farm community comes together to support their neighbors.” Patronage is a way that AgCredit shares profits with its members.  AgCredit has returned over $227 million to its borrowers over a period of 29 consecutive years.  This year AgCredit is returning 26 cents on every dollar borrowers accrued in interest on their loans in 2015.


BYOB – shoppers urged to bring your own bags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s the ugly sign of spring – the flimsy plastic bags blowing on trees and bushes. “I bet if you looked out your window wherever you are, you would inevitably see a bag in a tree,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. But we Americans like our plastic bags. It’s estimated we use 6 billion a year to carry home our groceries and other items. Though some are reused to line wastebaskets and pick up after pets, the vast majority are thrown out. During a visit to the Wood County Landfill, the county commissioners noticed the screens around the landfill caked with plastic bags. “It was incredible. There were bags in every tree, in every bush,” Kalmar said. So the commissioners asked the Wood County Solid Waste District to help the region clean up its act. And that has led Amanda Gamby, environmental educator with the county, to start a campaign called “Got Your Bags?” “We’re finding them in pretty large quantities when we go out to pickup,” Gamby said of the plastic bags. “It’s a horrible litter problem,” Kalmar said. “Everybody uses them, but we have to do better.” So local residents are being asked to either take their own reusable bags to stores, or bring their used plastic bags back to the stores to be recycled. If recycled, the plastic can have a new life as composite lumber, pallets, containers, crates or pipes. In talking to local residents, Gamby has found that they don’t object to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store – it just hasn’t become part of…


Health and wellness expo for those 50 and older

Mark your calendars and save the date for the inaugural “Your Highway to Health:  50+ Health & Wellness Expo” being held at the Bowling Green Community Center on Wednesday April 27th from 10am–1:00pm.  The Community Center is located at 1245 W Newton Road, Bowling Green. The event is being held in partnership between the Bowling Green Parks & Recreation Department, Wood County Hospital, Wood County Committee on Aging, Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center, and the BGSU Gerontology Department. The goals of the event are to increase health awareness and encourage positive healthy behavior changes in our community through increasing knowledge of local health resources for participants through on-site health screenings, activities, materials, demonstrations, and information. Visitors should come dressed for activity as they will have the opportunity to get active by dropping in on group fitness class demos, trying out Pickleball, and walking the track free of charge. Visitors can also stop by vendor tables to learn about products, as well as activities and programs that promote and improve health and wellness. Health screenings will be available including blood pressure, bone density, oxygen saturation, and balance screening. Opportunities to learn about important topics will be provided through attending our guest speaker sessions including Dr. Robert Lavey from Wood County Hospital speaking about cancer screening; Dr. Nancy Orel from BGSU speaking about BGSU’s Optimal Aging Institute; and Josh Chatfield & Lindy Donaldson from BG Parks & Recreation speaking about fitness opportunities at the BG Community Center. Visitors will also have an opportunity to tour the community center, enjoy a healthy snack, and participate in raffles and vendor giveaways. This…


Sheriff’s office investigating sale of fake concert tickets

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the sale of fraudulent tickets for the Luke Bryan concert held April 14 at the Huntington Center, Toledo. The fraudulent tickets were sold after being posted for sale on Craigslist. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting if others had purchased the fake tickets for the concert that they contact Det. Lt. Jamie Webb at 419-354-9087.


BG Police and DEA to collect unused prescription drugs

 On April 30th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Bowling Green Police Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your pills for disposal to the main entrance of the Wood County Hospital at 950 W. Wooster Street in Bowling Green, Ohio 43402.  This entrance is located on the eastside of the building.  (The DEA cannot accept liquids, needles, or sharps, only pills or patches.)  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. For more information about the disposal of prescription…


BG considers increased cemetery fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants to dig itself out of its losing rate system that doesn’t cover expenses at Oak Grove Cemetery. So on Monday, council gave first reading of new regulations for the cemetery, which sits north of Bowling Green State University. The goal is to set rates that more reflect the actual cost to maintain the site. “It would get us closer to that,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett explained. “But even the proposed changes wouldn’t get us to that point.” The city is taking care to keep the rates lower for city residents, with no price change recommended for the purchase of a plot for an adult resident. “We are giving the benefit to city residents,” Fawcett said. Some of the rate changes include: Grave lots for adult non-residents will increase from $425 to $850. Infant grave lots will increase from $115 to $150 for residents and $130 to $250 for non-residents. Adult internment for adult residents will increase from $350 to $600, and $460 to $800 for non-residents. Infant internment for residents will increase from $150 to $200, and for non-residents from $200 to $300. Rates are also set to increase for weekend burials, holiday burials, cremation burials, disinternments and reburials. Some of the other changes in the cemetery regulations include: Total height of new monuments may not exceed 36 inches. Any violation may result in the city issuing an order to remove. Prohibited items around the graves were expanded to ban mulch, glass objects, solar powered lights, wind socks, pinwheels, mailboxes and stepping stones. No grave blankets or flower…


Whipple resigns; BG school board needs new member

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Ed Whipple got his first teaching job, teaching English and French in Chicago Public Schools, he didn’t think too highly of the board of education. “You remember Welcome Back Kotter?” he asked. “I was Kotter. I had the Sweathogs.” But times changed, and so did Whipple, who has come to appreciate that school boards perform a valuable service. And now times are changing again, and Whipple submitted his resignation Tuesday evening from the Bowling Green Board of Education. He will be moving back to Salem, Oregon, where his life in education first began. Whipple practically grew up on the Willamette University campus, where his father was alumni affairs director.  His father later became the school’s first vice president of student affairs in 1967 – the job Whipple will be filling on June 1. But that means Bowling Green Board of Education now must find a person to fill Whipple’s seat here. “He did a fantastic job,” Board President Paul Walker said. Whipple’s resignation was accepted, “reluctantly” and “begrudgingly” by fellow board member. “It’s been a great honor and privilege to serve as a board of education member,” he said. “I thank you for the opportunity to serve.” Whipple, who was vice president for student affairs at BGSU, said as his son went through school in Bowling Green, he was pleased with staff, school leadership and the community support. “I’ve been so impressed.” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Whipple’s leaving is a hard hit for the board. “It is a tremendous loss to our district,” Scruci said. “Those are big shoes to fill….


Take a walk on the wild side with Chris Gajewicz, BG naturalist

(This is the first of regular columns about nature by BG’s Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz.) Each year naturalists, birders, and nature enthusiasts eagerly await spring migration.  Warmer weather, longer days, and spring storms signal major movements of birds to head north to their summer breeding grounds.  Casual nature observers often see their first robin of spring around this time of year.  Hard core birders know that these robins have been here all along for the most part toughing out our northern Ohio winters and subsisting on fruits and berries all winter rather than the more commonly observed worm feasts in spring. Truth be told, I know spring is here when the red-winged blackbirds finally arrive.  Red-winged blackbird, (Agelaius phoeniceus), males arrive first and they can be seen setting up their territories along country roads, in wetland areas and just about anywhere cattails are growing in early March.  The males are highly territorial and set up intricate invisible boundaries known only to them and other members of their species.  The males aggressively display and call out to other males along these lines and chase out interlopers if necessary.  In reality, they spend most of their time displaying for each other and altercations are few. Male red-winged blackbirds are a striking jet black bird with red and yellow “epaulettes” or shoulder pads, (think George Washington’s golden shoulder pads on his uniform).  When the bird is at rest, generally only the red portion can be seen.  When the male is in full display, he spreads his wings and splays his tail from a sitting position, leans forward, and calls out the familiar,…


Fire will bring new life to park prairie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier today, the bright orange flames devoured the tall prairie grasses and left behind several acres of charred ground.  But in a matter of days, life will start bursting through the blackness. “Within three or four days new life pops up,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. As Stutzman watched the prairie burn in Wintergarden Park on Tuesday, she talked about the reason for the occasional controlled burns. “We are trying to minimize the amount of woody plants and invasive species,” she said. And that will help flowers germinate and grow in the prairie area. Without the burns every one to three years, the blackberry and sassafras plants take over, she said. The fire crew was led by Tim Mason, who has been doing controlled burns like this since 1970. To get rid of the woody plants, the crew was doing a backburn, followed by flash fires up the sides. “The fire has to work backward,” Stutzman said. Once new life starts returning, there should be sunflowers and a variety of other wildflowers in the meadow. “There will be lots of great wildflowers that are great for pollinators and butterflies,” she said. The meadow was designed with pollinating plants in mind. “The grasses are the backbone of the meadow,” and the flowers are the mosaic, Stutzman said. “The majority of the meadow has been reintroduced with a grass and flower mixture.” The acreage of the entire Wintergarden Park is about 100 acres, with approximately 30 of that being field and meadow. “I’ve been working…


West Evers to close for gas work

Columbia Gas of Ohio has been authorized to close West Evers to through traffic from Fairview to Main Street on Thursday and Friday, April 21-22. Temporary no parking will be in place on these dates from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Intersections along West Evers will not be affected and will remain accessible during the closure. The closure is required to complete concrete and asphalt repair associated with the natural gas line replacement project. Questions or concerns may be directed to Columbia Gas of Ohio or the Public Works Department at 419-354-6227.


BG looks at plan to put city building and town square in same space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the click of a power point, half of the green space planned for the city’s “town square” was gobbled up by buildings. The site analysis presented to Bowling Green City Council Monday evening showed a new city building and the current green space cohabitating on the 1.6 acres which formerly housed Bowling Green Junior High School at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. The 35,000-square –foot building left vacant 35,000 square feet of open green space – turning the “town square” into a “town triangle.” “Our charge was to integrate a beautiful building with a beautiful green space,” said Bill Steele, of Poggemeyer Design Group, which did the study. The plan wasn’t intended to be a building plan but rather a spatial concept to show if the two purposes could be happily wed on the site. “Is it possible for these two entities to co-exist on the site?” Council president Mike Aspacher said. To help envision the possibilities, the plan included office space, a glass atrium facing the green space, an overhead canopy which would create a natural amphitheater for music, theater or speaking programs, plus a building with public restrooms and storage for tables and chairs. “There were certain things we felt were worth saving,” Steele said, such as views of First Presbyterian Church and the historic house next to the site on West Wooster. On the remaining green space could include design elements planned by a task force for the site, such as a statue, gazebo, brick pavers area by the canopy, and walkways crisscrossing the…


County park district offers programs

Yoga, Nature & You Mondays, April 18 and 25; 9:30 – 11:30 am W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Enjoy a nature hike with spring wildflowers. After the hike, join in a yoga class at the nature center led by certified instructor Jenn McCullough. Cost: $12. Leader: Jim Witter Register at www.wcparks.org   Wildflower Wednesday Wednesday, April 20; 6:30 – 7:30 pm Cedar Creek Preserve 4575 Walbridge Road, Northwood Nothing says spring like wildflowers bursting from the thawing ground to flaunt their beautiful blooms. We’ll look for trillium, spring beauties, trout lily, and many more seasonal flowers. Leader: Pam Menchaca Register at www.wcparks.org   Living Green: Your Dream Green Home Thursday, April 21; 6:30 – 8:00 pm W.W. Knight Preserve: Friends Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Prepare your home for the summer months to conserve energy and save money. Eric and Zeb will present their dream green home using all the concepts talked about throughout the living green program series. Leaders: Eric Scott and Zeb Albert Register at www.wcparks.org   Grain Barn Workbench Tour Thursday, April 21; 6:00 – 8:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Get a sneak peek at the newest outbuilding exhibit on the farm – the workbench in the Grain Barn. Learn about the restoration of the bench and tools displayed, as well as how the tools were used in the 1930s. Leader: Tim Gaddie Register at www.wcparks.org   Cache-In-Trash-Out (CITO) International Weekend Cleanup Friday, April 22; 1:00 – 3:00 pm William Henry Harrison Park – 644 Bierley Ave, Pemberville Join geocachers and earth-advocates around the world on this special…