Business

Get Inspired Nutrition helps smooth out a healthy diet

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Get Inspired Nutrition, 157 N. Main St., Bowling Green, is about more than serving up tasty smoothies. The club, as it is called, is about promoting an approach to nutrition and healthy eating using Herbalife Nutrition products. Owner Bobbi Henry is a believer because the system worked for her. Five years ago after having four children she’d almost given up hope of losing weight. But she knew she needed to do something because of a family history of diabetes. Then a friend told her about the Herbalife approach. And when she started learning more about it she learned it was possible to lose 50 pounds in six months. Now Henry said, she had a goal. It took her five months — the Christmas holidays intervened — but she lost the weight, and she maintained it until a year ago when she decided she wanted to lose more, and dropped another 30 pounds. “It’s not typical, but it’s what’s possible,” Henry said. “This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” While some diets are so strict people can’t stick with them, with this approach “I didn’t feel so deprived.” She consumed the smoothies and planned out meals or snacks. “If people are interested in getting started on a meal plan we can help them with that.” Or someone can stop by at Get Inspired and enjoy the products. The smoothies are 200 to 350 calories and 24-30 grams protein “so it’s a meal replacement,” Henry said. The smoothies come in more than 100 varieties with fruity, coffee, cookie, and candy flavors. They start at $6. They contain a range of natural ingredients, including oatmeal, kale, and peanut butter powder. They can be combined with energy tea to boost metabolism and aloe shots for digestive health, Henry said, for a couple dollars extra. The combinations, she said, can help boost energy and improve focus. Get Inspired opened its doors early last week. It’ll have an official grand opening in early November. Already Henry is a seeing a steady stream of customers. Many were customers of the clubs from other locales in the state. Henry was affiliated with Get Healthy in Perrysburg. She realized Bowling Green would be a good market because of the number of customers, many students who would patronize that club. She was looking for a location near campus. The North Main storefront was a good fit because it has parking out back and a rear entrance, and is just a block away from the courthouse. She and her husband, Darren Henry, did the renovation of the space, that had been home to Main Street Photo, and before that Blue Ribbon Photo. Henry remembers coming to buy black and white film and photographic paper here when she was a student. She and her husband are now finishing up the…


BGSU means business as it marks construction of Maurer Center

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When  the dignitaries gathered in front of the former Hanna Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus Saturday to apply shovels to dirt, they were marking work that had actually begun 10 months ago. Over Christmas break last year, crews and machinery descended on the parking lot on the other side of Hanna Hall and dug in to relocate utilities lines. That marked the beginning of work on a new home for the College of Business, and the future of business education at BGSU. But that gap between actual and ceremonial work is insignificant compared to the more than decade the project has been considered, a period that spanned the administrations of four university presidents. Hanna Hall is now a shell and to the east the footers and foundation outline what will be a 50,000-square foot addition — twice the size of the original building. Inside visitors have to use their imaginations to envision what President Rodney Rogers boldly declared will be “the most innovative space in the United States, if not the world.” The Robert W. And Patricia A. Maurer Center will be completed by summer 2020, and ready for students by the beginning of that fall semester. BGSU celebrated this new chapter in its history on the Saturday morning of homecoming. Business Dean Raymond Braun said that the center with its active learning classrooms and open design with space for collaboration will prepare students for the modern business environment. The design team, he said, traveled to corporate offices to see what was needed. The Maurer Center was created to help students develop the critical thinking, presentation, and teamwork that the business world requires, Braun said. The time of professors in front lecturing and students taking notes is over. All the classrooms in the Maurer Center will be active learning classrooms. Nijah Slaughter, a junior business administration student from Detroit, testified to the value of that approach. She came to BGSU because of the high rankings of the business program, and her time here has confirmed the wisdom of her choice. Her experience at BGSU has been “nothing short of amazing.” She believes that the new center will further enhance the education of future students. In active learning classrooms, she said: “The professor engages you in discussions with your peers where you solve problems and practice your presentations. You definitely cannot come unprepared, check your phone or fall asleep in one of these classrooms.” And with a Starbucks bakery in the building, she quipped, students may have no reason to leave the center. Michael McGranaghan said a belief in the importance of higher education moving to the active classroom model was one of the reasons he and his wife, Mary Lee, made a donation topping $1 million to the project. The dean’s suite will be named for…


Manufacturers building excitement in BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Decades ago, parents warned their children to get college degrees so they could avoid the dirty, repetitive work of manufacturing. That is no longer the case. “Our grandparents said, ‘Get your degree. Don’t go into manufacturing,’” said Lisa Wojtkowiak, senior talent learning and development manager at Betco. But on Friday, Wojtkowiak and other Bowling Green manufacturers were telling students just the opposite. “We make bubbles,” she said. “It’s not the old steel mills of the 1950s.” Bowling Green Middle School students got a glimpse of modern manufacturing Friday during the annual manufacturing day. The event included representatives from Vehtek, Rosenboom, Lubrizol, Betco, Regal, GKN, Phoenix and Penta Career Center. The students got to do learn about robots, virtual reality, heart dissections, density of liquids, helicopter designs and cleaning products. “This is to show our students what modern manufacturing looks like,” said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator for Bowling Green City Schools. “We want to spark their interest in manufacturing as a career option.” Today’s manufacturing uses robotics not back-breaking labor. “They may have had a grandparent who had a different experience with manufacturing,” Anderson said. The annual manufacturing day at Bowling Green City Schools was introduced a couple years ago, when local plants started having trouble finding skilled workers. “Manufacturers are in need of qualified workers,” Anderson said. The event allows local manufacturers to introduce themselves to students before they’ve already chosen a career path. “I think it’s important for manufacturers to introduce themselves to younger populations,” Wojtkowiak said. “The sooner we’re in their schools, the better.” College is no longer the only path to good-paying jobs, said Carol Espen, senior human resources manager with Regal. “I hope that they recognize manufacturing is an exciting industry” for jobs in areas such as engineering and finance, Espen said. At the Regal display, students were making modifications to paper helicopter designs, then testing them to see which stayed airborne longer. At the Lubrizol display, students learned about different liquid densities, by dropping items such as eggs, ping pong balls, bolts and dice into tap water and salt water. “We’re hoping they leave with a little bit of excitement about STEM,” science, technology, engineering and math, said Lubrizol plant manager Matt Paquette. Nearby at the Rosenboom display, students were putting together hydraulic cylinders. “They are learning how raw materials are turned into finished products,” said Sherry Hintz, head of Rosenboom human resources.”They are learning how to go into a real work environment.” That hands-on work struck a chord with seventh grader Bradley Palmer, who said he was interested in building hydraulics. “This is showing people about engineering in Bowling Green,” Palmer said. Another seventh grader, Lydia Mullins, was eyeing the robotics. “We’re learning about a different career instead of going to college,” Mullins said. “I love a lot of the…


Tricked-out Firefly Nights will offer plenty of treats for kids & grownups

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights is adding some new tricks to the downtown festival to provide more treats for kids and adults alike.  The Firefly Nights Fall Festival will be held Friday, Oct. 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. in downtown Bowling Green. The festival continues the series of events offered throughout the summer. Now it’ll change colors just a bit to fit the season. For kids that means a costume contest, trunk and treat, pumpkin decorating, and a kiddie tractor pull. For adults that means a farmers market, more music, free yoga classes, and beer gardens on both ends of Main Street. Adults are invited to come in costume as well. The fall festival took shape through parallel discussions by the Firefly organizers and the downtown merchants. Mary Hinkelman, former Downtown Bowling Green director and now Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the concerns about downtown trick or treat were raised by merchants. Downtown trick or treating had outgrown the streets. She estimated about 2,000 children trick-or-treated downtown last year. That many youngsters accompanied by adults jammed the sidewalks, causing safety concerns. The merchants wondered: What if they could block off the street as they do for Firefly Nights? Hinkelman took the idea to the board of directors and they approved. So did the Firefly Nights organizers who were already considering doing one more festival in fall. “I think it was the zeitgeist of the time,” said Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. “You know how small towns work — good ideas just grow.” A new partnership was born. Laura Wicks said the idea was: “Why not make it more of a family friendly activity instead of just filling up a bag of candy?” So the Fall Firefly Nights will be held instead of downtown trick or treat, which had typically been on the Thursday before Halloween. In place of children going to door to door to businesses, Thayer Family dealerships is bringing cars downtown, and treats will be doled out from the trunks. Trinity United Methodist, a couple blocks off Main Street, will also hold its trunk or treat event that night from 6 to 8 p.m. In the Firefly costume contest, judges roaming the crowd will select 40 kids — 20 from earlier in the night, 20 from later — based on the creativity and effort put into their outfi. Firefly Nights will also offer those attractions that brought people downtown on the third Fridays during the summer, even when the weather was wet. Bands have been booked for stages at each end of Main Street.  Performing will be: North Stage • 6:30 p.m. — Lucian Townes • 7:30 p.m. — Two Shoes Jackson • 9 p.m. — Tree No Leaves South Stage • 6 p.m. — Elia Rose • 7 p.m. — Todd Elson • 8 p.m. — Patrick…


One manufacturer expanding, another one moving to BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials approved the sale of acreage to one local industry looking to expand and to another looking to move here from Cincinnati. The Board of Public Utilities on Monday evening voted to support the transfer of 1.56 acres to Vehtek, located on the east side of the city in the Woodbridge Industrial Park. “They have a large amount of racking to store items in the parking lot,” said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. “This is going to be a big help to solve a parking problem.” Vehtek, with approximately 700 employees, is one of Bowling Green’s largest employers. The company has plans to add another 50 employees. The company wants to buy two parcels west of the plant. Several employees already have to park in the grass during their shifts. “They definitely have a need for additional parking,” O’Connell said. The fire chief has had continuing concerns about employee and plant safety. Plans call for an improved right-of-way on East Poe Road, with the addition of a culvert crossing over the Poe Road ditch, along with widening a portion of Poe Road. These improvements will allow better truck access into and out of the facility. For the right-of-way widening, Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green’s economic development office, has been working with the state to secure Ohio Department of Transportation funds for 75 percent of the improvements. Normally the city would fund the other 25 percent of the project, O’Connell said. However, the city is proposing that Vehtek pay $60,000 to the city for a strip of city property adjacent to the company’s northern property line. This will improve Vehtek’s ability to expand its site and make parking/storage improvements. “That parcel really has little value to anyone else besides Vehtek,” O’Connell said. On the southeast corner of the city, three acres will be sold to a new company moving from Cincinnati to the John Quinn Innovative Tech Park off Napoleon Road. The property will be sold for $26,000 per acre. According to Clark, the company plans to build an 18,000-square-foot manufacturing building. It currently has 10 employees, and plans on hiring 10 more by 2022. Also at Monday’s meeting, the public utilities board approved a solar project easement and lease agreement with the Wood County Commissioners and Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The city has been looking for more property for another solar array – this one for a community solar project. City officials are interested in the 70 acres sitting at the northeast corner of East Gypsy Lane Road and Interstate 75. The county commissioners office owns 50, and Wood Lane owns 20 acres. The board approved a land lease agreement for a solar development on the county property. The agreement is for a three-year lease option and does not…


Downtown parking committee needs more time

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The committee examining downtown parking needs more time on the meter. Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council Monday evening that the parking committee would like more time to study the issue of how parking gets paid for downtown. The committee originally had till the end of October, but asked for an extension till the Nov. 5 council meeting. The request was granted. “We’re very thankful of the participation of business owners and property owners,” Council President Mike Aspacher said. The parking committee includes the following downtown property and business owners: Dick Newlove; Greg Halamay, owner of Finders Records; Kim Thomas, owner of the H&R Block Building; Kati Thompson, owner of Eden Fashion Boutique; Ben Waddington, owner of Waddington Jewelers; Floyd Craft, owner of Ben’s and Ace Hardware; and Garrett Jones, owner of Reverend’s. Also attending the parking meetings, representing the city, are Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, Director of Finance Brian Bushong, Police Chief Tony Hetrick and City Councilman Bruce Jeffers. The committee is charged with looking at whether the city should continue to charge for parking, or if the property and business owners want to work on a shared cost approach, Fawcett said. “They are examining all options,” Fawcett said. The committee was initially given two months to come up with a solution for maintaining downtown parking. The cost of parking meters will double in the downtown area if a solution isn’t found. Two proposals being considered are: Doubling meter costs to 50 cents an hour to pay for parking lot maintenance. Pulling out all parking meters and kiosks, and assessing downtown property and business owners for parking costs. The problem is that the city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots and enforcing parking rules. But the fear is that doubling parking costs will discourage customers from patronizing downtown businesses. The city’s downtown lots – with their 600-plus parking spaces – are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. So the options suggested in August included increasing the parking revenue, sharing the costs of maintaining the parking lots, or getting rid of some of the expenses. Under a shared cost program, the downtown property owners would be assessed based on their front footage and the benefits to their parcels. The average property owner would pay $220 a year for 20 years. The lowest amount charged would be $30 a year. The highest – to the owner of multiple properties – would be $2,000 a year. Those assessments would generate about $20,000 a year. The concept of the downtown property owners picking up the tab for parking expenses was not supported by the landowners during a meeting earlier this year. However, the business owners attending the last council meeting…


NSG Pilkington may build new glass plant in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Troy Township is on the list of possible sites for a new glass plant estimated to cost close to $300 million to build and furnish. Earlier this week, paperwork was filed at the Wood County Commissioners’ Office from NSG Pilkington Glass requesting an enterprise zone agreement that would give the company a 100 percent tax abatement for 15 years. “This is not a done deal by any means,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “They are still investigating other sites.” The Wood County site making the short list of locations for the new plant is off Pemberville Road, just south of Garling Road, Gottschalk said. The location is south of the massive Home Depot warehouse off Pemberville Road. The paperwork states that NSG Pilkington will create 150 jobs at the new 511,000-square-foot plant, according to Sandy Long, clerk of the county commissioners. The total investment at the site is estimated at between $260 million and $294 million, including the construction, machinery, fixtures and inventory for the new float glass facility. Todd Huffman, plant manager at the Rossford NSG facility, said Thursday that the company recently developed a new type of glass coating. The new transparent conductive oxide coating is thinner and lighter while being durable and resistant to chemicals. It can be widely used for solar cells, buildings, cars and various electronics and medical devices. The Rossford plant will continue its production, but a new plant is needed to produce the transparent conductive oxide coating glass. “We are going to be expanding in North America,” Huffman said, not elaborating on how many sites are under consideration. The request for tax abatement is just one item on a long list of criteria the company is considering for a new location. The location will be somewhere close to Toledo, Huffman said. “We need to be making glass for our customers in the fourth quarter of 2020,” he said. That means construction must start in the spring of 2019, Huffman explained. Gottschalk said he is hoping the Troy Township location makes the cut for the new plant. “It’s a great local company,” he said of NSG Pilkington. “We’d love to land this company in Wood County.” “This is yet another example of the attractiveness of Wood County for economic development,” Gottschalk said. “We hope to get another big win for Wood County.” Earlier this year, NSG Pilkington was named Wood County Corporate Citizen of the Year, during the annual meeting of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. The company, one of the largest manufacturers in the glass industry, started out as Libbey-Owens-Ford – the last names of three inventors in the glass business – Edward Drummond Libbey, Michael Joseph Owens and Edward Ford. The earliest roots reach back to 1818 in England. The mission…


BG asks county to help welcome immigrants to fill jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   “Help wanted” signs are going unanswered in Wood County. So local officials are looking at attracting immigrants to the region to fill those openings. Bowling Green initially wanted to put out a welcome mat to immigrants because it was the right thing to do morally. Then as city officials researched the idea, they discovered it was also the right thing to do economically. As evidenced by the number of “now hiring” signs posted in the region, Bowling Green and Wood County economic development officials have been hearing for months that the region is running low on workers. In May, Wood County economic development officials were celebrating a banner year in business expansions – creating nearly 1,000 new jobs. But the issue waiting in the wings was the low unemployment in the region, wavering between 3 and 4 percent. While that low rate is great news to employees, it is worrisome to economic development officials. “It’s a good thing. But there is going to be a time when new businesses slow down looking at Northwest Ohio,” Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, said earlier this year to the county commissioners. On Tuesday, the county commissioners heard the same warning – this time from Bowling Green officials. “We hear the same message time and time again,” Mayor Dick Edwards said. “We need good workers.” City Council passed a resolution in 2017 welcoming immigrants and “condemning any discrimination, harassment or unjustified deportation of immigrant residents.” As the initiative was researched, it became obvious that the welcome mat could have far-reaching economic benefits. Ohio Means Jobs estimates there are 9,200 job openings within a 20-mile radius of Bowling Green. “We are looking for skilled and other kinds of workers to come to Wood County and Bowling Green,” Edwards said. While Ohio has always been looked upon favorably by companies because of the region’s work ethic – that means nothing if there aren’t people to fill jobs. Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said site selection teams will notice if the available workforce is too low. “We might get ruled out before they look at anything else,” he said. Communities around the region – like Toledo and Sandusky – have already adopted “welcoming” initiatives. And while the success of the region and Wood County to bring jobs here is great, it has created a critical need to attract more workers to the area, said Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green’s economic development commission. “That only makes the workforce demand more crucial,” Clark said. Clark explained the local effort is being designed to welcome immigrants and refugees. She listed possible refugees escaping the war in Syria or the unrest in Central America. “We’re not talking about bringing in illegal immigrants,” she said. The initiative would also extend the welcome…


Shared salute sought at new BG City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No battle lines were drawn, but there are some strong feelings about veterans retaining top billing in the new structure replacing City Park’s Veterans Memorial Building. City Council member Greg Robinette – a veteran himself – reported to council Monday evening that he had spoken with Dave Ridenour of American Legion Post 45 about the history of the existing building. The local legion had leased the building from the city for its post headquarters from 1929 to 1979, Ridenour said. Even after the headquarters moved, the city decided to continue honoring local veterans by keeping the name Veterans Memorial Building. While city officials would like to continue that tradition, they would also like to reduce the debt on the new building by looking for private sponsorship of the new structure. “I fully understand,” that desire to look for naming rights, Robinette said. The building name could be a compromise between a major donor and local veterans. “I think we can make that work.” But council member Bruce Jeffers expressed some concern that the respect for local veterans not be clouded by recognition of a private donor. He also talked about the value of a veterans display inside the new building. “It seems we might want to distinguish between those who have served in combat zones,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland said she supports the continued recognition of local veterans in the name of the building. However, she mentioned the effort the city is making to get a return on its investment of $3.75 million in bonds for the new building. The building is expected to be used by community members for events such as weddings, memorials and other public gatherings. “I think we have to be careful in the way we outfit the interior,” Rowland said. For example, a display of weapons of war may make the building less appealing to those wanting to rent it for occasions like weddings. “I hope we don’t plan on putting a cannon in there,” Rowland said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Earlene Kilpatrick, who is retiring from her position as executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “You’ve had a wonderful working relationship with the city,” Edwards said to Kilpatrick. During her years as director, the city saw many groundbreakings, the mayor said. “You haven’t allowed the ceremonial scissors to rest.” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter also thanked Kilpatrick for working so closely with the city. “It really has been a pleasure to work with you,” Tretter said. “You’ve been a tremendous asset.” Kilpatrick in turn thanked city leaders for their support. “You really care. That’s what’s so special,” she said. “Keep up the great work. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of that.” Also at the meeting, council approved the purchase of…


BG still waiting to meet with Columbia Gas about leak

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green city leaders are still waiting for a meeting with Columbia Gas officials about explosive levels of gas leaked into the downtown Thursday evening leading to the evacuation of several businesses and apartments. City officials have concerns since the fire division was not notified until hours after the leak was noticed. By time firefighters arrived on the scene, the gas levels were at “lower explosive limits.” Gas employees working in downtown Bowling Green held a “safety shutdown” meeting today for the crews working in the downtown to discuss Thursday’s leak. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” However, city officials have not yet had a chance to express their concerns. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene until about 11:20 p.m. “It was a dangerous situation. It was handled well by police and fire,” Moorman said. However, city officials do have some concerns about how the leak was handled by Columbia Gas. So city officials want to be heard. “We’ve got concerns like everybody else,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said on Friday. “We want to share the concerns of the public.” Moorman is also anxious to discuss how leaks can be handled in the future. “We need to come up with a better procedure if it ever happens again,” he said.


‘Ag-Venture’ farm tours harvest knowledge for visitors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Farming is more than a profession for Fred Vetter. “The dirt you’re standing on – my grandpa bought in 1912,” Vetter said as he looked over his Mercer Road farm north of Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon. Vetter’s farm was one of seven stops on the Wood County “Ag-Venture” self-driving farm tours on Saturday. Like others on the tour route, Vetter wanted local residents to see farms as more than just some fields along country roads. “Everybody drives down the road and they see us,” he said. But most Wood County residents know little of what it takes to farm the land. “We need to educate people,” Vetter said. “That we’re trying to be good stewards.” The “ag-venture” tours took visitors to traditional farms, like the Vetters, Moser Farms on Hull Prairie Road, and Black Swamp Ag on Portage Road. It also led visitors to more unconventional farms like Schooner Farms on Otsego Pike, and to agri-businesses like Pioneer Seed, Luckey Farmers and Hirzel Canning. This was the first time for a county-wide tour to be organized, said Julie Lause, of the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District, which was one of the sponsors. “Agriculture in Wood County is the top business and people don’t realize how extensive agriculture can be,” she said. “They don’t realize what it takes to create the products we eat.” For soybean, wheat and corn farming it takes equipment that can costs more than many homes. Vetter’s 2003 combine cost about $140,000. Nowadays, with all the tech gadgets, a combine can cost as much as $500,000. It’s standard for equipment to have self-steering GPS, and tires taller than many of those visiting the farms. Fields have to have drainage – especially on this land that was once swamp. And drones help identify problem areas of disease or pests before they spread too far. “It takes a lot of money to farm,” said Vetter, whose sons Shane and Garett, have joined him in agriculture. Even when the best seed is purchased, planted on time, and fertilized – the outcome is still in the hands of Mother Nature. Long periods of rainy or dry weather, at the wrong times, can greatly impact the harvest. Aphids can devour otherwise healthy plants. “You can work as hard as you can,” Shane Vetter said. “Mother Nature is in charge, no matter what.” And then on top of everything else, there’s politics. “The tariffs are touching us,” Fred Vetter said of his soybeans and corn crops. “I’m not saying we won’t be OK. But we’re feeling it.” Elsewhere on the “ag-venture” tours was the less traditional Schooner Farms near Weston. “We do a little different farming than they’re going to see at other farms,” Don Schooner said. Rather than being production-based, Schooner’s farm is education-based. It features pick-your-own…


Gas leak downtown reached dangerously high levels

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Several businesses and apartments in downtown Bowling Green were evacuated Thursday evening after dangerously high levels of natural gas were detected in the area. Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, said that she noticed the gas smell shortly before 6 p.m. The coffee shop and Coyote Beads, both on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street, were shut to the public after that because of the gas smell. Owners of those two businesses and Lahey Appliance & TV said Columbia Gas teams were in their stores working on gas lines earlier in the day on Thursday. The natural gas company has been working in the downtown area all summer replacing old gas lines. Wicks said a Columbia Gas employee was on the scene, and told her and Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads that he needed to call in more help to handle the problem. However, the Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified of the gas leak until nearly two hours after the smells were noticed, when Columbia Gas called 911. “We were never notified until 8,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said on Friday. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed high levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Moorman said. The fire chief classified the gas levels as being in the “lower explosive limits.” “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off,” Moorman said. “Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. “Fortunately, after 8 p.m. most of the businesses are closed anyway,” Moorman said. The Columbia Gas spokesperson for the Bowling Green project was not available Friday afternoon, but Moorman said the crew members on the scene Thursday evening said they were having difficulty shutting the leak, and were initially unsure if the leak was from an old or new line. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene until about 11:20 p.m. “It was a dangerous situation. It was handled well by police and fire,” Moorman said. However, city officials do have some concerns about how the leak was handled by Columbia Gas. Those issues will be raised on Monday or Tuesday, when city leaders plan to meet with Columbia Gas representatives. “We’ve got concerns like everybody else,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “We want to share the concerns of the public.” Moorman is also anxious to discuss how a leak can be handled in the future. “We need to come up with…


Mary Hinkelman named new director of BG Chamber

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Mary Hinkelman – who has made Bowling Green her business – will soon take on a broader workload. She is going from being a cheerleader and advocate for downtown businesses to meeting the needs of 450 businesses in the entire Bowling Green community. Hinkelman has been named the new executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, a position held by Earlene Kilpatrick for the last decade. She relishes the challenge. “You never tell me that I can’t do something,” Hinkelman said with a smile. The common denominator with her old job and new position is the focus on local businesses. “Doing things with the businesses is the favorite part of my job,” she said. Hinkelman admits she won’t miss the 6 a.m. phone calls from the downtown groundskeepers, or cleaning the streets on some Saturday mornings. But she is looking forward to continuing working side-by-side with businesses. As Downtown BG director, she represented about 175 businesses in the downtown area – everything from retail and restaurants, to law offices, medical services, and non-profits. As chamber director, Hinkelman will be spreading her skills to the entire business community. She knows the job will be a challenge. “I know that the way people do business is very different than 10 or 15 years ago,” she said. “Are we still meeting the needs of the chamber?” Hinkelman would like to focus on the creation of a business incubator space in the city to help entrepreneurs get started. “This is still in its infancy,” she said. “It would be a place for someone to launch a product and see what the interest would be.” The chamber of commerce announced Hinkelman’s hiring Friday morning. She was one of 65 applicants for the position. “It was very humbling,” she said. Hinkelman is proud of her two-plus years as downtown director. “I saw there was a difference being made,” she said. During her tenure, the downtown initiated a Chocolate Crawl. “That was wonderful,” she said. The Downtown Farmers Market has expanded and is expected to have more than 100 vendors next year. A winter market is being started, which is “super exciting.” The Art Walk was revived with the addition of the “one-bite competition.” “The numbers were dwindling, but people love food,” she said. And the summer Firefly Nights were so successful the event is continuing into the fall. The downtown is also working with some BGSU architecture students on making the “dog-leg alley” by Finders, on North Main Street, a usable space. With the addition of some outdoor seating, Hinkelman hopes to see an area for pop-up artists. Hinkelman believes the new creative ideas for the downtown are encouraging others to get involved. “When you see a good thing, everybody wants to get in on it,” she said. In her new…


Bruce Meyer builds on his love of BG & BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bruce Meyer doesn’t have a crystal ball on his desk. As Bowling Green State University’s vice president for capital planning and campus operations, Meyer could use one at times. “My job involves working with faculty, working with staff, working with the community,” he said. “We’re trying to predict the future as to what programs may have to be put in place, what classroom might look like, what residence halls might look like, so when it comes time to build, we’ll have an idea of what those will look like.” Meyer is engaged in the early stages of coming up with the campus master plan 2.0, he said. That involves interviewing the leadership of BGSU. “That’s been very interesting and informative for me about where we may be heading next.”  That peering in the future, however, comes at a time when he and his team are working on the final stages of the campus master plan. That one dates to 2008, though, work didn’t start until 2010, about the time Meyer, a long-time resident of Bowling Green, arrived back at his alma mater. Now construction is well underway on the Mauer Center, the new home of the College of Business.  That project is converting Hanna Hall and expanding it by twice its current size. He said he was recently did a walkthrough Hanna Hall. “It’s pretty amazing to go into the building,” he said. “They’ve started to take some of the walls out because it’s going to be an open concept.  … It’s going to be one of those buildings where you’ll want to stop and see what’s going on in there.” The Mauer Center is scheduled to open a year from now. The next piece is a complete renovation of the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering. The programming for the building and visits to other campuses to see their technology buildings are underway. Next summer will see a renewal of the conversion of classrooms into active learning spaces. One of the earliest projects accomplished under the master plan was the creation of prototype classrooms in Olscamp.  “We’re starting to get comments back from students that are very positive,” Meyer said. “They really like the active learning classrooms.” While these don’t get the attention that a new building or complete renovation of an iconic building such as University Hall get, their impact is as great. “It’s off the charts. That’s where future teachers from this university start. They get to see what active learning is.” That will help shape their own teaching. Meyer added: “We also have to have some discussion about the residence halls.” The Master Plan calls not just for building but tearing down. Harshman Quad was razed earlier in the summer. Now the fence is down and grass is planted. Trees will go in this fall. The…


Vintage shirt fundraiser a perfect fit for Finders & Downtown Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Finders Records having a vintage-theme t-shirt made in the store’s honor was a perfect fit, especially when shop owner Greg Halamay decided the store’s share of the profits would benefit Downtown Bowling Green. The shirt will be created by BG Memories, a local spirit ware company founded by Ryan Fowler and Kevin Goldner, both 2003 Bowling Green State University graduates. As of midnight, the green and gold shirt can now be ordered. Ordering will continued through Sept. 9. Laura Fredericks, manager of Finders, said it hasn’t been determined whether they will be available after that. Fredericks is a faithful customer of the company’s shirts that offer designs celebrating aspects of BGSU life, including the now-gone Harshman Quad and its dining hall. Local businesses, current, Campus Pollyeyes, defunct, Mark’s Pizza Pub, and somewhere in between, the Corner Grill, also have their own BG Memories attire. When BG Memories approached Finders, Fredericks and Halamay had a rather short conversation, he remembers. The decision was to go with the shirt and donate the store’s share, which probably will be in the neighborhood of $10 a shirt, to the Downtown BG. Halamay serves on the board of the special improvement district. “Everything the SID does downtown contributes to the health and well-being of our retail operation.” That includes clearing snow in the winter, hanging flowers in warmer weather, and sweeping sidewalks year round. It has sponsored the local Farmers Market and worked with the independent groups that stage the Black Swamp Arts Festival and Firefly Nights. Many people, he said, assume that what the SID does is paid for by the city. Downtown BG’s activities are funded through a special tax levied on property owners, who voted it in. Downtown BG also gets private donations. “As a property owner, a business owner, I thought it was a good idea and very, very appropriate” to donate the proceeds to Downtown BG, Halamay said. The shirt will be distinct from Finders’ own classic t-shirts. Those shirts, designed by Tony Duda, have been around with a few tweaks for about 35 years. The logo is familiar to anyone who works in the store. It’s based on the old sign from the campus store that is still displayed in the back office. The new shirt harks back to an earlier time, the first Finders shirt. Halamay designed those, and a few were screen printed. Like that one, the BG Memories version will be green with a gold design – the colors inspired by those of the high school Halamay attended in Akron. Those colors are still used throughout the store. Fredericks said she and BG Memories also did research into old store ads to fine tune the design. Fredericks said that she and BG Memories decided that initially at least the shirts will not be printed on…