Business

BG, BGSU to host Ohio Town & Gown Summit

From BG CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University were chosen to be the hosts of the Third Annual Ohio Town and Gown Summit this summer.  The summit is scheduled for Wednesday, July 18 through Friday, July 20, at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union on the campus of Bowling Green State University.  The summit provides an opportunity for networking and learning more about successful strategies and best practices for universities and their host communities to work together to create a cohesive and thriving community. Discussions and presentations will be designed to strengthen the relationships between Ohio higher education institutions and their respective municipalities, along with focusing on the unique opportunities and challenges that have been minimized with specific approaches.   Bowling Green Mayor Richard A. Edwards and BGSU President Rodney Rogers will provide the welcoming to the approximately 250 attendees anticipated.  BGSU President Emeritus Mary Ellen Mazey will be the keynote speaker during lunch on Thursday, July 19, which will focus on Bowling Green’s relationship from a comprehensive, community-wide visioning process to implementation and how the relationship has strengthened through the visioning process.  Bowling Green and BGSU have much to be proud of and to celebrate with the wide-ranging partnerships that have been created to best serve both the interests of the university, city and their constituents. The summit will also offer the opportunity to reflect on the progression of partnerships and brainstorm ways to further collaborate.     A broad variety of attendees will likely include elected officials, city planners, safety officials, city administrators, community ambassadors, higher education professionals, college students and downtown, chamber and visitor organizations to discuss important topics and opportunities related to community and university relations.   Committees comprised of city, community, and higher education officials have been meeting to coordinate the logistics of this large event and to develop programming that will be informative, meaningful, and include presenters from across the state of Ohio. There will also be opportunities for the attendees to tour the campus and community to highlight the many exciting and unique features of both the campus and community.  The planning committee is working on special programming to bring attendees to local businesses and attractions, especially to the beautiful historic downtown Bowling Green. The group will be invited to attend the next Best Hometown Celebration that will be hosted at the Simpson Building & Park on Thursday, July 19 from 4:30-6:30 pm.   The idea for the Town and Gown Summit originated when representatives from Ohio attended the 2015 International Town and Gown Association (ITGA) conference…


Firefly Night ready to take flight on Friday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Let the dancing in the streets in downtown Bowling Green begin. After months of planning, the Firefly Nights street festivals are ready to make their debut Friday, June 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Main Street. The initiative’s first official event was a 5K run and walk in May to help raise funds for the festivals. Friday Main Street will be closed with stages for music on either ends, a beer garden, vendors and food trucks, kid’s activities, and downtown businesses ready for customers. This will be the first of three one-night festivals planned for the summer. Firefly Nights was the brainchild of a group of downtown women business owners – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. They’ve been joined by others including Amy Craft-Ahrens, who used her expertise from years with the Black Swamp Arts Festival to help with vendors, and Michelle Elson, who booked the bands. Now the effort is ready to go, abetted by a favorable weather forecast. “I am very excited and a little bit nervous,” said Wicks, “but mostly I am really looking forward to celebrating summer with everyone in downtown BG. I think it is going to be a wonderful party!” Earlier this year when the event was announced Thompson stated the goal: “We want to foster a diverse, neighborly and lively atmosphere in downtown BG. That’s the intent and sole focus.” Main Street will be blocked at the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington. East-west traffic will continue to flow along Wooster Street. Bandstands will be located on either end with altering acts. Performers booked for Friday are, in order of appearance: Boo Lee Crosser, Sam Dell, Chris & Shellby, and Amelia Airharts. Downtown shops are staying open until 10 p.m. Sam B’s, Flatlands, and Qdoba will be serving patrons on the sidewalk and others are encouraging take-out orders. Several food trucks will also be on hand: Eric’s Ice Cream; Poppin George’s Kettle Corn; Roe’s Concessions; and Weenie Dogs Vendors signed up are: All Things Beautiful Bath & Body; Black Sheep Shack; Blanquility; Charming Oak; Exhale and Create; Happy Place Felt Boutique; Gilead Candle Company; Jamber’s House of Color; Krueger Sew Crafty; Michelle Adler; Portrait Art; PreshGoods/WoodStout; Staeble Studio A Photography; The Upstitch; and The Wicked Wire. Firefly Nights will continue July 20 and Aug. 17.  


BG Chamber seeks nominations for mid-year awards

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Nominations are currently being sought for the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year Awards. The public is invited to submit nominations for these awards. Nomination forms, including criteria and submission information, are available from the Chamber of Commerce, Four Corners Center at 130 S. Main St., and can also be obtained from the Chamber’s website at www.bgchamber.net. Completed nomination forms should be returned to the Chamber of Commerce office by June 18th, 2018; no late submissions will be accepted. For questions contact the Chamber of Commerce office at 419-353-7945 or chamber@bgchamber.net. These awards will be presented at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Mid-Year Meeting to be held on Friday, July 20th, 2018 at Olscamp Ballroom 101, at Bowling Green State University. I LOVE BG AWARD – The I Love BG Award was established in 1988 to recognize an individual or organization for their efforts in increasing the visibility and promotion of the City, and improving the quality of life for Bowling Green residents. OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD – The Outstanding Customer Service Award is to honor businesses that demonstrate exceptional customer service. To publicly promote, showcase and congratulate those businesses who are excelling in customer service. To maintain and strengthen Bowling Green businesses including for-profits and non-profits as outstanding providers of exceptional and quality customer service. The Business must be an Investor of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce at the time the award is presented. The Business must be in operation at least one year. Nominations are encouraged from satisfied customers who feel they have received exceptional service from a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Investor. Businesses can self-nominate. SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD – The Small Business of the Year Award is to honor businesses located within the Bowling Green city limits that demonstrate achievement in management and workplace excellence, product innovation, and community and social responsibility. To acknowledge publicly the vital contributions made by area companies to business growth in Bowling Green. To illustrate the depth of talent that exists in the Bowling Green business Community by highlighting nominees’ success stories. The nominated business may be any for-profit business headquartered in the city limits of Bowling Green. Businesses must meet the definition of a Small Business as defined by the Small Business Administration. Businesses must be financially stable and operational for a minimum of five years. Businesses must be an Investor of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce at the time the award is presented. The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce supports an environment…


Nearly 800 acres set to be shovel-ready for business

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County took another step this week to get nearly 800 acres shovel-ready for prospective developers. The Wood County Planning Commission voted to recommend rezoning of 793 acres in Troy Township, from A-1 agricultural to B-PUD planned business district. The acreage is located off the west side of Pemberville Road, just south of U.S. 20, near the Home Depot distribution center and the East Ohio Gas Co. site. The zoning change was requested by the gas company, also called Dominion Energy. The recommendation will go to the Troy Township Trustees for a final decision. With the economy picking up, East Ohio Gas has gotten some interest in the property, according to Dave Saneholtz, of Poggemeyer Design Group. “They are getting a lot of calls from perspective users,” Saneholtz told the county planning commission. And the companies calling are interested in large acreage areas, he said. “We don’t know exactly who’s coming,” Saneholtz said. But that specific information is not needed for the zoning change, which is intended to consider the best overall use of the property. Once a company makes a proposal for the site, then it will be required to present detailed plans to the township. Most of the surrounding zoning in that area is for industrial uses, with some agricultural land. Wood County’s land use plan calls for the area to be the site of growth. “We assumed it’s going to be growing,” said Dave Steiner, head of the county planning commission. “It’s an area we’d like to see economic development.” The acreage already has utilities to the site, and it has been declared by the state to be a “Job Ready Site.” “That’s a pretty important distinction there,” Steiner said. The zoning change now would be one less hoop for developers to jump through if they select the property. “This would get the property ready for development,” Steiner said. “So it will be shovel-ready. They won’t have to wait for the property to be rezoned.” The planned business district zoning classification allows some flexibility, but it will require the owners to meet buffer and setback regulations set by Troy Township.


Tax breaks – just part of doing business for cities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council member Bruce Jeffers isn’t against business. He’s just doesn’t like the idea of having to offer incentives to attract them to the city. So before council voted on an ordinance Monday evening for a new job creation and retention program, he had a few questions. “I value our businesses in Bowling Green,” Jeffers said. And the city has done a good job of making sure the community has good infrastructure and energy options for prospective businesses, he said. “So I wonder why we need to offer incentives for businesses to come here,” he said. “The answer seems to be because everyone else does it.” That answer is partially true, responded City Attorney Mike Marsh. Incentives like tax abatements are nothing new, Marsh explained. “I wrote the first one 32 years ago,” he said of the first city incentives program for Bowling Green. The city, Marsh said, doesn’t offer every possible incentive, but picks and chooses what works best here. “You don’t have to have the exact same programs, but you need to have some things tailored for who we want to attract,” he said. So the city is selective in its incentives. “We don’t want people who want to come here and not pay any taxes,” Marsh said. “We’re not desperate. We don’t want to give away the store.” However, without some incentives, the city may not even get a glance from some perspective businesses. “Then again, if we didn’t have them, we might not have gotten them to look at us,” Marsh said. Council went on to unanimously approve the new job creation and retention program. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the program is modeled after one used by the city of Maumee. Similar programs were reviewed from dozens of cities, he said. The purpose of the city’s program is to “help maintain Bowling Green’s competitiveness as a location for new businesses and the expansion or retention of existing businesses.” The program offers incentives to qualifying businesses that agree to create a specified number of new jobs. Eligible businesses include headquarters, manufacturing, science and technology, research and development, distribution and certain types of service industries. To get incentives, the business must create jobs which are new to the city. The jobs must equal a minimum annual local payroll totaling $350,000 within a three-year period. Companies may receive up to 50 percent of the total payroll tax that the city receives from those jobs for a period of three years. For…


Registration open for STEM Manufacturing Camp

From the Office of U.S. SENATOR SHERROD BROWN U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) encouraged Wood County students entering grades 6 through 8 to register for the “Wood County STEM Manufacturing Camp,” to be held at the Wood County Educational Service Center. The four-day camp will help students learn about manufacturing, teamwork, and local production facilities. The office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has partnered with several local organizations to put on the camp, to encourage young people to explore careers in manufacturing. The Summer Manufacturing Camp will take place at the Wood County Educational Service Center from July 9-July 13. Students and parents can learn more about the camp and download the registration flyer HERE. The camp costs $60 per student. Need-based scholarships are available to students eligible for free or reduced lunch. “Manufacturing is one of our state’s most important industries, but too often, our companies can’t find workers with the right skills, while our students don’t realize all the opportunities available to them,” said Brown. “We need today’s Ohio students to realize all the potential careers they could have in Ohio manufacturing, and that’s why, for six years now, my office has put on summer manufacturing camps for 4th through 8th graders across Ohio.” The camp gives local students the opportunity to learn about careers in their community, tour local manufacturing facilities, and learn from experts about financial literacy and skilled trades. About Summer Manufacturing Camps Brown’s office started organizing summer manufacturing camps in 2013, and since then, the number of camps throughout the state has grown every year. This year, Brown’s office will help organize 19 camps in 15 counties.


Peach Peony shop pops up in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Since graduating in 2012, Ashley Hughes has returned to her old haunts in Bowling Green to shop and eat out. On one trip the Bowling Green State University graduate in tourism and event planning noticed an empty storefront. She didn’t see a vacancy, she saw an opportunity.  Last weekend Hughes opened Peach Peony Co. at 140 N. Main St., just as the shop’s namesake flower were blooming. Hughes reported a good opening weekend, but she won’t pop back up again until June 15 in conjunction with the first Firefly Night event. Hughes sells a variety of crafts and home decor products to appeal to all the senses. She has candles, foodstuffs including jerky, signs, cards and more including her own handcrafted dreamcatchers. While she stocks merchandise that appeals to all ages, her target market is college students and recent graduates. “I saw the opportunity here in BG to tap into the younger crowd,” she said. “They definitely appreciate the handmade quality and shopping small.” She set the time’s she’s open to their needs. Her hours will be coordinated with Flatlands Coffee next door, staying open well into the evening, including until 10 p.m. on Firefly Nights and in the Friday and Saturday of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Hughes knew that she was only going to be open a few weekends this summer, and when she learned about Firefly Nights, that persuaded her to make those the weekends. Starting Aug. 15 she’ll be open every weekend with her grand opening scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25, during move-in weekend. Hughes sometimes organizes her own shows – she had one in Upper Sandusky earlier this month and has another one planned for November. Her recent show included 45 vendors and food trucks. She also sells her wares at fairs around the state, Columbus area this weekend and then Cincinnati. She’s participated in vintage markets hosted by Bowling Green shop Painted Clover. She mixes in some of the merchandise from the shop. Hughes is still adding to her merchandise mix.  She has some screen-printed apparel coming in. The clothing will have Bowling Green and Ohio themes. Hughes was making dreamcatchers while attending BGSU. Her sorority sisters were so enthusiastic that she launched an Etsy shop. “I was always interested in arts and crafts and grew up going to arts and crafts shows,” Hughes said. Now she’s made them her business.    


First Solar site promising 500 new jobs gets tax break

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is looking bright for the First Solar facility proposed in Lake Township. The Wood County Commissioners voted Thursday to grant a tax abatement request that would relieve the company from 100 percent of its eligible property and inventory taxes for 15 years. The solar panel company has plans for a $400 million facility, with 1.2 million square feet of space, and 500 new jobs. “It’s nice to see this major project go forward here in Wood County,” Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, said during the meeting with First Solar officials and the county commissioners. The new plant will be located at the southeast corner of Tracy Road and Ohio 795 – just down the road from the existing First Solar facility in Perrysburg Township. Lake Township officials have already signed off on the tax abatement, and the two school districts affected by the tax break have already made deals with First Solar. The agreements will result in Lake School District getting an additional $898,000 a year – enough to allow the school board to forgo the next levy planned for the ballot. Penta Career Center will receive $72,000 a year. In addition to creating 500 new jobs at the site, another 500 construction workers are expected to be employed to build the facility. Clarence Hertzfeld, plant manager for the Perrysburg operations, said the new site will have an estimated employee payroll of $30 million. “It will essentially double our output capacity,” Hertzfeld said of the new location paired with the existing site. First Solar’s main customers are large commercial and industrial power producers. “We compete in all the global markets,” Hertzfeld said. Jay Lake, who handles First Solar manufacturing workforce development, said the company hopes to leverage more of the “great workforce” in this region. Wood County Planning Director Dave Steiner was asked by the commissioners to weigh in on the tax break request. Steiner said he saw no problems with the request. “They’ve been a very good corporate citizen,” Steiner said of First Solar. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw welcomed First Solar’s expansion plans. “We are certainly glad you decided to stay here,” she said. Hertzfeld said First Solar appreciates the county’s cooperation in making the new facility possible. “We’re extremely excited about what we’re endeavoring here,” he said.


Firefly Nights appeal granted for liquor at downtown events

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink. City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request. Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening. Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run. The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said. “We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.” Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said. “We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members. But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the streets, she said. The plan is for beer and wine to be sold at all of the festivals. Organizers have talked with police and fire officials, who supported the permit request. “We really believe we have something special in downtown BG,” Thompson said, noting that the hundreds of people who attended the “Chocolate Crawl” in the downtown earlier this year expressed interest in the variety of shops in the city. “We have to expose them to all we have to…


BG trims fat off proposed food truck ordinance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some of the leftover crumbs from the food truck discussions were tidied up by Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole Monday evening. The ordinance allowing food trucks to operate in the city will be ready for City Council to vote on at its next meeting. The decisions made Monday evening favored making the ordinance the least restrictive as possible – with the understanding that if a problem occurs, council will then handle the issue. But council member Bill Herald, who was head of the committee tackling the food truck issue, brought up several issues that weren’t addressed in the ordinance, just to make sure they should not be included. In most cases, the Committee of the Whole preferred to keep the recipe for food trucks as simple as possible. For example: Trucks in the downtown area Herald noted that the ordinance did not require food trucks in the downtown area to have “visibility triangles.” Council member Sandy Rowland reminded that the goal was to “keep the regulations as free as possible. Those are things we can change as we live through the implementation.” Council president Mike Aspacher agreed that council can “adjust as needed,” when problems arise. If a food truck were to park in an unsafe location, the city will discuss the problem, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said. The city has a history of working with people and coming up with solutions that are agreeable. “We really do try to employ diplomacy,” she said. Hours and days of operation Herald pointed out that the ordinance does not limit food trucks to certain days or hours of operation. Aspacher said the city’s goal is to not place such limits. “My feeling is we should not do so,” he said. Council members Rowland and Bruce Jeffers agreed. Several food vendors have attended city meetings to explain that they only set up on days and times when they can get plenty of customers. Appeals process for those opposed to food trucks The proposed ordinance allows food vendors to appeal if their permit request is denied. However, there is no appeal process for the public if the permit request is granted, Herald said. This addition would allow more freedom to the process, he said. Jeffers agreed. However, Aspacher and Rowland saw no need for the appeal language. “I just feel this is unnecessary,” Aspacher said. Rowland pointed out that the city doesn’t allow the public to appeal other businesses in the community. “I don’t know why we should…


Newbery Award winning author Katherine Applegate to visit Gathering Volumes, June 2

From GATHERING VOLUMES Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal. Crenshaw spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times’ children’s bestseller list. Home of the Brave continues to be included on state reading lists, summer and class reading lists. With the release of her latest middle-grade novel about embracing diversity, Wishtree, local bookstore Gathering Volumes participated in Nationwide Wishing Day with a day full of activities culminating in a children’s cooking contest. Gathering Volumes’ event was deemed the most creative and Katherine Applegate is headed to Perrysburg to help celebrate. Ms. Applegate will be at Gathering Volumes on Saturday, June 2. Seating for the event will begin at 4:30 p.m. After a presentation and discussion, Ms. Applegate will be available to sign books. Ms. Applegate won the 2013 Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. This annual award, granted by the American Library Association, recognizes the previous year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The story is written from the viewpoint of a gorilla living in a glass cage in a shopping mall. According to the award committee, “Katherine Applegate gives readers a unique and unforgettable gorilla’s-eye-view of the world that challenges the way we look at animals and at ourselves.” Her latest novel, Wishtree, is narrated by Red, an unforgettable oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wish tree” – people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. The animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows help Red grant a wish for a child that moves into the neighborhood. Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, Wishtree is Katherine Applegate at her finest, writing from the heart and from a completely unexpected point of view. Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes says, “Ms. Applegate’s novel, Crenshaw, tells the story of Jackson, whose family has fallen on hard times, and his imaginary friend, Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a large, outspoken cat who comes into Jackson’s life when Jackson needs help. It is my daughter’s favorite book and the one that gets reread again and again.” Ms. Phillips says she couldn’t believe it when she was notified that Ms. Applegate would be visiting Gathering Volumes. “I knew it was a possibility when we signed up to participate in Nationwide Wishing Day, but I never imagined our event would be deemed Most Creative. We love having authors in and seeing the connection with their readers, and it is even more exciting to see students meet an author that has, or will, impact their view of the world.” All…


Conversation about being a welcoming BG shows the work to be done

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The community conversation on how to make the city’s Welcome BG promise a reality had a lot of aspirations and some practical goals. It also had a number of reminders that for some people Bowling Green has a long way to go. The focus often is on welcoming immigrants. Judith Jackson May, who teaches at the university, though, said she was born in the city, grew up here. Still as a black woman when she goes into Walmart she’s always followed. She wonders why they think she’s going to steal something. And she stopped shopping at Kroger because of the unfriendly attitude she faced there. She loves her walk to work every morning, except for the black jockey figure decorating the lawn of a home on Haskins Road. And she and her husband seem to get stopped by police a lot. Still May said she loves Bowling Green. There’s something that keeps her there. Nicolas Cabanillas, who is of Hispanic descent, echoed May’s love of his hometown. Still as he’s walking, trucks will pull up next to him and then accelerate so then vehicle spews exhaust. Melba Conway, who recently moved here, said she’s been struck by how whatever activity she attends, whether a Tai Chi class or a service club meeting, all the faces she sees are white like hers. That lack of diversity, she said, leads to casual expressions of racism like a sign in the library’s women’s room that offered diapers “for those in need.” The baby depicted is black. Why associate the child “in need” as black, she wondered. Christina Lunceford, a special assistant to president for diversity at BGSU, said that the university needs to recruit a diverse faculty. Students are being educated as global citizens and need faculty who represent that reality. Those faculty are encouraged to live in Bowling Green. People want to live in a community where they can be engaged, she said Still, she said: “We have to be realistic. We still have a lot of work to do.” Being more welcoming to people of all backgrounds is more than good intentions, it’s an economic reality. Margaret Montague, of the Welcome BG Task Force, spelled out the demographic trends. The population of Bowling Green is at once growing older, and at the same time growing more diverse. Sue Clark, executive director of the BG Community Development Foundation, said that there’s an increasing shortage of workers. There are 9,200 jobs ranging from laborers to engineers available within 20 miles of Bowling…


Gas line project gets ready to dig into downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News During the next four months, Columbia Gas will be replacing natural gas lines in the downtown Bowling Green area – affecting more than 110 customers and disrupting traffic along Main Street. In an effort to explain the construction project, Columbia Gas officials will hold a community meeting with Bowling Green citizens on Monday, May 21, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St. The work area is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but will extend down certain side streets, alleys, and into parking lots. The gas line work will begin in early June, and is expected to be completed by October. Cheri Pastula, communications manager for Columbia Gas, said the project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines will be replaced with plastic pipes. The Bowling Green project was moved up to this year, Pastula said, since the city is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next year. “We decided to do it this year before the city does its roads,” so the street work will not need to be disturbed, she said. During the community meeting, Columbia Gas officials will address how the project will affect residents: Columbia Gas contractors will work street by street to install new main lines and service lines up to each customer’s home or building. Gas service will not be impacted until it is time for Columbia Gas to connect the customer to the new gas system at their meter. For most customers, gas service will be interrupted for approximately two hours. Customers will get advance notice of this service interruption. If the gas meter is currently inside, it will be moved outside. Any surface that has to be disturbed will be repaired by Columbia Gas. This includes sidewalks, driveways, lawns and landscaping. Once this work is complete, customers will have a gas system with state of the art safety features. During the construction, Columbia Gas will make efforts to not shut down any streets. However, lanes will be reduced and flaggers will be on hand, Pastula said. “There most likely will be some traffic disruption,” she said. “But we try not to close down the roads.” Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities around the state to replace aging gas lines over the last decade. This is paying off in safety, with leaks reduced by 40 percent, according to the company. Residents can contact…


Massage therapist Audrey Leslie lends helping hands to people with a variety of needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Audrey Leslie was helping a friend when she found her mission. The friend had a sore back and asked Leslie for a massage. Leslie obliged. “You’re really good at this,” the friend said. “It wasn’t at until that moment that I realized I could do this for a living,” Leslie said. “That people would pay for me this.” That was in 2011. She was at an occupational stalemate. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but “I wanted a career where I could help people.” She attended what was then the Healing Arts Institute in Perrysburg (now the Orion Institute.) “I absolutely fell in love. I’ve been doing that for the last six years,” she said. Leslie, after working inside a salon, is venturing out on her own, opening a studio within Blush at 100 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green this week. She sees clients by appointment only. Call 419-806-9317. Leslie said it was time to hang out her own shingle and take advantage of tapping into the business acumen of veteran entrepreneur Lee Welling, owner of Blush. “My passion is helping people with pain and fatigue,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at. … Massage is the oldest form of medicine.” Some are recovering from injuries, some dealing with chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia. A mother of three, she’s also certified to do prenatal massage. “I always had a plan in future to have classes for mothers of newborns on how to massage their babies.” Aroma therapy and essentials oils, which she is also certified in, play a big part in her practice. Leslie does CBD massage using oil made from hemp – it’s 100 percent THC free, she notes. “It’s amazing for auto immune disorders, fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog,” she said. She can use it as part of a massage. She also has products she can sell. Leslie, 34, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. She attended Bowling Green State University for two years. She worked in preschool until she had her first child.  “I became a mother and realized I just wanted to be a mother.” She was looking around for options when she had her epiphany about massage therapy. She noted that Ohio has some of the strictest regulations on massage therapy. She sees about 20 clients a week. Some come weekly, some every six week. Some show up just when they have an acute problem. One has been coming three times a week…