Parks district offers winter activities

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Parks District is offering a full slate of programs to help young and old to get the most out of winter. Polar Parks Mini-Camp Wednesday – Friday, January 2 – 4; 9:00 am – noon W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 25930 White Road, Perrysburg Experience a wild Wood County winter through this 3-day mini-camp! Each day highlights a different educational theme and seeks to explore through hands-on and outdoor activities. Cost: $12/$10 FWCP per day, or $30/$25 FWCP for all three days. Ages 8-13. The registration deadline is one week before the beginning of the camp day. Leaders: Jim Witter and Craig Spicer Register at, or call (419) 353-1897 Introduction to Orienteering Sunday, January 6; 1:00 – 3:00 pm Bradner Interpretive Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Find out what else the magnetic compass can do besides show you which way is north. This reliable low-tech tool can help you get from point A to point B. We will learn the basics indoors and then take it outside on a short orienteering course. Leader: Bill Hoefflin Register at, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, January 10; 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve: Hankison Great Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) Register at, or call (419) 353-1897 Homeschoolers: Project Feederwatch Friday, January 11; 10:00 – 11:00 am Bradner Interpretive Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Learn how Wood County Park’s volunteers count birds at our windows on wildlife and how you can help scientists learn about bird populations in Wood County. Leader: Jim Witter Register at, or call (419) 353-1897 Native American Moccasin Making Workshop Series Saturdays, January 12, January 26, February 9, February 23; 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Learn the skill of making authentic Native American moccasins over the course of four sessions. The Plains two-piece style will be featured. Cost for series: $30. Leader: Stewart Orr Register at, or call (419) 353-1897 Arctic Open Archery Saturday, January 12; 12:30 – 3:00 pm Arrowwood Archery Range 11126 Linwood Road, Bowling Green Arrows fly in the crisp winter air! Arrive anytime between 12:30 and 3:00 to give this cool archery a shot. Leader: Craig Spicer This is an open program. There is no need to register. Ice Age Mammals of Ohio Tuesday, January 15; 6:30 – 8:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve: Hankison Great Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg An impressive array of extinct animals used to call Ohio home following the retreat of the last glacier. Discover these megafauna and learn about some of the theories behind their extinction.  Leader: Bill HoefflinRegister at, or call…

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Grandparents find support raising their grandchildren

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The seven strangers sat around the table, not sure where to start. They had at least one common bond – they were all grandparents who are now raising their grandchildren. The reasons varied. Some parents relinquished the rights to their children because of addictions to drugs or alcohol. But regardless of the reasons, the grandparents – who thought their days of daily parenting were done – were now raising another generation of their family. Last week was the first of monthly support group meetings being held for “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,” at the Wood County Educational Service Center. Most of the grandparents started their stories by apologizing for feeling lost or complaining about their unexpected return to parenting. Felicia Otte, a school and community based prevention specialist liaison with the educational service center, told the grandparents to stop apologizing. “You have every right to feel that way,” Otte told them. That opened the floodgates, relieving the grandparents from guilt, and allowing them to speak freely about their struggles with those who knew exactly what they were talking about. (Because none of them wanted their grandchildren to be embarrassed, they asked that their names not be used.) One grandma talked about raising four grandchildren. One has attention deficit problems, and the specialists haven’t found the right medications to work for him yet. “I get a lot of phone calls from school,” she said. Another woman has found herself in the “sandwich” generation. At the same time she is raising three grandchildren, she is also struggling with the fact that her own mother is slipping and needs to be placed in assisted living. Then was the woman who has raised her teenage grandson since he was a toddler. She was able to offer words of encouragement and support to those just starting the journey. The only grandfather of the group just recently had two grandchildren move in with him per a court order. “It could be till next week or it could be forever,” he said. Another grandma told of taking in her two grandchildren off and on for years. It was just over two years ago that she realized the children were often home alone and taking care of themselves – so she stepped in. Her story got even more complicated, with her daughter overdosing and dying about 18 months ago, her grandson starting to wet the bed, and her not having time to properly grieve her daughter’s death. “I’m beyond my breaking point,” she said. The last to speak was a woman who took in her grand-niece after her niece was killed by a drunk driver. Initially, the father took care of the little girl, until she kept showing up with burned feet, broken bones, hungry and missing school. “This was the last thing we wanted. We don’t…

Kids don’t let a little rain drown their artistic efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A little rain can’t deter true artists. Just ask 3-year-old Virginia Rich, who was intent on painting every inch of the wooden airplane she built minutes before. She wasn’t about to let the threat of some raindrops get in her way. “I don’t think it’s keeping people away,” Katie Beigel, youth arts chairperson, said early in the afternoon. “Every once in a while there are a few sprinkles, and then it holds off.” Besides, the kids seemed oblivious to the precipitation. “They are painting in the rain. They don’t care,” Beigel said. The volunteers also came through in spite of the damp drizzling weather. A decision had already been made to cancel the Kiwanis Youth Arts Village for Sunday due to the forecast for heavy rains. “Some of our Sunday volunteers were really awesome and came out today,” Beigel said. Many of the art projects seemed impervious to the wet conditions. The wide brimmed  brown paper hats held up remarkably well in the drizzle. The tie-dyed shirts weren’t harmed. And the construction projects hammered through the sprinkles. Greylin Durbin, 7, of Tontogany, still had her purple hard hat on from making a car from chunks of wood. “I like how they have amazing stuff to build and make,” she said. Her mom, Lindsay Smith, appreciated the effort that goes into incorporating the children in the arts festival. “I think it’s awesome,” Smith said. “They get to build their own hats and cars.” Next, Greylin was headed to the painting station to put a coat on her car. “I’ve always wanted a red car,” she said. Nearby Brady Stierwalt, 7, of Bowling Green, was getting some help from a BGSU construction management student as he built a boat. “Oh my gosh, I love it,” said his mom, Keri Stierwalt. “They get to create things with their own hands.” Dan Stanton, of Bowling Green, was entrusted to carry his kids’ artwork – including an airplane painted with every available color. “We bring them every year, and every year they get to experience something different,” Stanton said. One of Biegel’s goals this year was that kids get a little education about “going green” with their artwork. One of the new projects in the arts village was turning old T-shirts into grocery sacks. That idea was born in a survey taken as last year’s festival. “Everybody asked for bags to carry home their stuff,” Biegel said. While the floppy brimmed hats returned this year, the decorations to adorn the hats came from recycled items. “I want kids to use things they see at home to make art,” Biegel said. “It makes art seem more attainable.” Other art projects were created from leftover crafts, like the round cardboard backings for pizzas, and cornhusks. Kids were urged to use their imaginations. “We have…

A real treat – Downtown Halloween and fall festival combined

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials have approved plans to serve spirits to adults as young ghosts and goblins take to the streets for trick or treat in the downtown. Plans are underway to combine a fall Firefly Nights with the annual downtown trick or treat on Oct. 19. And on Tuesday evening, Bowling Green City Council approved an F-2 liquor permit, which would allow for the sale of beer and liquor. The city had already issued a liquor permit for the summer Firefly Nights. However, since the October event will cover a larger area downtown, another approval was needed by City Council. The approval was unanimous. “I hear nothing negative,” Council President Mike Aspacher said Tuesday evening about the Firefly Nights events. The decision to combine the Firefly Nights and annual downtown trick or treat was made by downtown merchants due to the overwhelming success of both events. The October event would extend the street festival into the fall and allow for more safety measures for the annual trick or treat. Last year, an estimated 2,000 costumed children filled the downtown sidewalks to collect treats from the local businesses. Concerns were raised about keeping the large streams of children safe. So it was decided the best solution would be to close Main Street for the event. And while the street is closed, why not have a party? The expanded footprint for the Firefly Nights Fall Festival will be along Main Street from Clay Street to Washington Street. That is a block further north than the summer Firefly Nights. Police Chief Tony Hetrick said he is working to find barricades for all the intersections involved to keep vehicles from entering the festival area. “We only have so many police cars,” Hetrick said. Other city vehicles may be used to provide barricades. The fall festival-trick or treat will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. There will be food, music, kids activities, and treats for children. The event will not take the place of the citywide trick or treat.

Downtown BG announces change in trick or treat event

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Downtown Bowling Green, OH is excited to announce there are big changes to its annual Downtown Trick or Treat event. Mark your calendar for October 19. Last year about 2,000 children filled the sidewalks to collect treats from the local businesses. It’s an incredible sight to see so many young children dressed up. It also raised some concerns about keeping all the children safe. The best solution was for us to close the street this year. When this was talked about at the Downtown Merchants meeting it was very apparent that if the street was closed we should consider the possibility of having another Firefly Nights. Talks with the Bowling Green Central Business Special Improvement District dba Downtown Bowling Green and the Firefly Nights creators were agreeable and we are moving forward. This will be the Firefly Nights Fall Festival and you can expect to experience music, food, kids activities, and so much more. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of treats for the children too! This will all happen October 19th, 6-10 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Bowling Green and is taking the place of what was planned for October 26th, not the regular city wide trick or treat. Expect more details to be announced soon.

Firefly Nights announces a Halloween-themed encore festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even after a wet start to the evening, the more than 200 people who were around at the end for Friday’s Firefly Night festival, still wanted more music from the closing act Freight Street. So the local folk-rock quintet, fronted by Boo Lee Crosser with singer Flannery Murnen, drummer JP Stebal, bassist Devonte Stovall, and violinist Kathleen Schnerer, obliged. This was to have been end of the three-event community festivals for the season. But organizers also have an encore planned. The businesswomen who spearheaded and organized Firefly Nights in downtown Bowling Green announced at the end of the night that there will be one more festival this year on Oct. 19. The October event will feature the same mix of music, food, kid activities, and shopping, only with a Halloween theme. Working with Downtown Bowling Green, the Firefly Night fest will take the place of downtown treat or treating. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown BG, said that the festival was a way to continue the trick or treating while adding more activities both for youngsters and the whole family. Kati Thompson, one of the Firefly founders, said the idea came up through discussions by the organizers. Hinkelman responded favorably to the possibility, and suggested using it to replace downtown trick or treating. With about 2,000 kids taking part last year, the event is becoming unmanageable, she said, with kids having to wait in long lines to get their treats. They then approached the city about the possibilities of staging another festival, which requires closing Main Street in downtown off to traffic. City officials approved. In announcing the event, Thompson said: “Don’t worry we’ll still have plenty of treats for the children, but we’ll combine that with fun for the entire community.” What Halloween activities will be offered and how the treat or treating will be handled is still being discussed. Possibilities include hayrides, a kiddie parade, Halloween and fall themed activities, doughnuts and cider, and even a costume contest for children and adults. Thompson said details will be forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Firefly Nights festival will be held 6-10 p.m., same as the summer events. Friday’s event got off to a soggy start with a downpour shortly after it began. Festivalgoers sought shelter under awnings, and in shops and restaurants. Laura Wicks and Gayle Walterbach, two of the founders, said they expected restaurants did well. Boosting local business is part of the mission of Firefly Nights, they said. But the food trucks that stayed had lines by closing time. Other vendors, however, probably suffered. That’s the nature of an outdoor festival, Wicks said. Both were upbeat at how the summer events had gone, and enthusiastic about the encore to come.  

Tipping the scales – local fight against childhood obesity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Diane Krill was a child, she spent summer days playing in the park – not parked in front of the TV. “We were there from sun up to sundown,” she said of days of non-stop activity. “We didn’t go home until the dinner bell rang.” But times are different now, said Krill, CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center. Parents afraid to let their children roam the neighborhood sometimes prefer to use the TV as a babysitter. And when they do activities – like soccer or baseball – busy parents often rush through a fast food drive thru to pick up dinner. “We are seeing trends that are leading from childhood to adulthood,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The likelihood that an obese child will learn healthy eating and exercise habits as an adult is, well, slim. So on Tuesday, the Wood County Health Department held a meeting on childhood obesity for interested community members. A recently conducted Community Health Assessment showed that 72 percent of Wood County adults are overweight or obese – higher than the state average of 67 percent. That adds up to about 37,000 Wood County adults who can be labeled as obese. “That seems staggering,” Batey said. “What can we do about that?” The survey found slightly better results among local youth, where the number of obese youth dropped a bit in the last three years. “We’re seeing a positive trend with our youth, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. A big problem appears to be that many Wood County adults are not modeling healthy exercise or eating habits for their children. And discussing people’s diets can be a potential minefield – like bringing up politics or religion, Batey said. When surveyed about exercise, many local adults said they don’t have time for physical activity. However, in the same survey, adults averaged 2.4 hours a day watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, and 1.4 hours on the computer for non-work items. “We’re not taking time to get up and move,” Batey said. “I’m not saying don’t watch TV. But get up and move while you’re watching TV.” Batey admitted to being a “couch potato” himself, and eating too much fast food – until he and his wife had their first child. “This is about childhood obesity. But kids learn from our behaviors as adults,” he said. In the countywide health survey, 76 percent of the parents said the most physical activity they participate in with their children is cleaning and yardwork. While that’s all good, it’s not showing kids that exercise can be fun. “Are we setting the standard that kids want to get physical activity,” Batey said. “What messages are we sending to our kids?” Batey’s household has a rule that each…