Service award helps Mariana Mitova rally support for sports program for kids with special needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Receiving the Faculty Senate’s Community Involvement award wasn’t just a boost for Mariana Mitova. It was also a boost for the causes she espouses, especially RallyCap Sports. Mitova, who teaches in Bowling Green State University Apparel Merchandising and Product Development Program, said that in addition to being a personal recognition – “the glass plaque is proudly displayed in my office” – being honored last year has greatly benefited RallyCap Sports. The program, which was founded by alumnus Paul Hooker, offers the chance to be active in sports to young people with special needs. BGSU was the first campus to host the program.  (click for related story.) Mitova is the BGSU chapter advisor, and her son, who is blind, is a participant. Mitova told Faculty Senate Tuesday that her recognition has increased awareness about the program, donations have increased to RallyCap, and more faculty became interested. They then promoted it to other families who may benefit. Her receiving the award is being used by this at national headquarters who are trying to find campus advisors at the 12 other RallyCap locations. Mitova said she used the monetary award to host a dinner for 22 core student volunteers. (More than 1,000 students volunteer putting in more than 5,200 volunteer hours.) Those broader effects, said Mitova, are the reason faculty members should take seriously the calls for nominations. If Associate Dean Mary Murray had not nominated Mitova this would not have happened. She conceded faculty get a lot of emails, and it’s easy to delete them. Mitova said she deleted the first two calls for nominations herself. “Guilty as charged,” she admitted But after being asked to address senate, “I started thinking more about what would have happened if Dr. Murray hit the delete button,” she said. “Instead she took the time to solicit support, write the nomination letter, and submit the nomination package.” That time is valuable, Mitova said. “However, she thought this nomination is worth the time.” In addition to RallyCap, Mitova is also active with the Cocoon Shelter, Victim’s Services, the Giving Store, and other charities. She said the deadline is approaching, and urged her colleagues to act. “I would imagine there is at least one person in your immediate unit, your school or college who deserves to be nominated. I am constantly inspired by the most amazing things people on our campus do. Let’s get them recognized.”

BGMS teacher inspires students in class and on court

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This was no hum-drum history lesson. This was the story of the Boston Massacre told through hip-hop. Under attack by a mob of angry colonists, the British soldiers shot and killed several men – setting a spark for the American Revolution. This was a history lesson from 1770 set to a 2018 beat by a Bowling Green student inspired by her eighth grade social studies teacher, Mandy Pasley. Pasley, who has taught at Bowling Green Middle School for 19 years, was honored Thursday as an inspirational educator of the year by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. She played the Boston Massacre recording to the club to show the creativity of her students. “Mandy’s one of our best educators,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said after Pasley was given her award. “Her passion for students is what drives her to be the best.” But Pasley, who also coaches the varsity volleyball team, passed on all the credit to her parents, her husband, her “kids” at home and in the classroom – but mostly her favorite teachers who left lasting impressions on her life. “I was blessed to have some of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” she said. Pasley, who grew up in Bowling Green, fondly remembered her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Daly. “She was way ahead of her time,” using problem-based strategies that are popular in today’s classrooms. Some lessons stuck with Pasley, like the day the class made gingerbread men, then arrived at school the following day to find the cookies had disappeared. The students had to solve the clues to find the missing gingerbread men. Then in third grade at Crim Elementary, Mrs. Sullivan was her sweet, kind teacher with very high expectations. “We never wanted to disappoint her,” Pasley recalled. But one day Pasley and her friend did disappoint their teacher, when they wrote a secret note to a boy in their class. Pasley felt horrible, and Mrs. Sullivan knew her young student well enough to know she didn’t need to say a word. “I was already mortified by what I had done,” Pasley said. The next year, Mrs. Simmons in fourth grade shared her love for literacy and reading. She would read aloud to the class every day. “Her storytelling was so amazing and powerful,” Pasley said. In seventh grade English, Mrs. Abel let her students explore, learn and “figure it out on our own.” She often peppered her lessons with current events, making them even more memorable. And in high school, it was Karol Kampe, who was her teacher and coach, and then went on to be her mentor and friend. Kampe taught some powerful lessons in the gym. “She empowered us as female athletes,” Pasley said. Girls were taught to believe in themselves. “We were just as important as the football team,” Pasley said. Pasley also credited her parents for pushing her to be her best, in the classroom and on the court. “My parents never missed a game,” she said of her volleyball and basketball games. Now her husband, Brock, and their two children inspire her. “It really made me look at my students and parents in a whole new light,” once she had children of her own. Her fellow teachers also make her try…

Elm on Conneaut hill has to go so sledders will be safe

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For an unknown number of decades, the towering elm tree on Conneaut hill provided shade in the summer and something for sledders to swerve around in the winter. But on Monday, yellow “caution” tape was stretched around the hill, warning sledders to stay away. It’s not like Bowling Green has many sledding options for kids on snowy days. But on this rare occasion, the snow on the hill was not lined with new ruts from sleds going down and little feet climbing up. The stately elm, it appears, will have to go. And since sledding will not be allowed while the tree stands, the elm will have to go soon. “A very large crack has developed in the tree,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday. “This large part of the tree is separating from the rest of the tree.” The giant tree was examined by Bowling Green’s city arborist and by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources arborist. The two came to the same conclusion. “We couldn’t have children on that hill with that tree there,” Tretter said. So the tree will come down this week, she said. Not only will that allow children to keep sledding this winter, but the best time to take down a tree of this size is when the ground is still frozen, Tretter added. The city has tried for years to stretch out the life of the shapely elm tree. Years ago, some limbs were braced together in order to shore up the aging tree, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. But that was only a short-term fix. No one has been injured by falling branches from the tree, Fawcett said. The city faced some options – with none of them being pretty. First, cut down the elm. Second, close the park. Third, aggressively prune the tree, removing about two-thirds of the tree and making survival very difficult. To make the loss of the tree a little more palatable, Tretter said the lumber from the elm will be used to make some benches near the sledding hill at Conneaut and Haskins roads. Also, more trees will be planted in the park to offer shade in the future.

Book about tiny mouse is a big deal to BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues. First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time. Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary. “I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted. With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or being read themselves by the older students. The goal is to team up as a community to build a love of reading with the kids. So the program doesn’t stop at the school doors. The entire community is asked to get involved. Again this year, several Bowling Green businesses have gotten involved by becoming trivia question sites for the students. Each week, new trivia questions about the book are posed at the sites – giving the children a chance to win prizes for reading. “We’re going to be reading this book all month long,” Semancik told the cheering students. After the rowdy assembly in the gym, the students went back to their classrooms, where each was presented with their own copy of “Ralph S. Mouse.” They then gathered together with classmates to read the first chapter. In Megan Reed’s first grade classroom, the students sat on the floor, eagerly awaiting the book. After handing out a copy to each student, Reed gave them a minute to explore the book themselves. They flipped through to see pictures, found the table of contents, and identified parts like the spine of the book. Then Reed introduced them to Ralph S. Mouse. “Follow me,” she said, to the rapt listeners who held their own copies in their little hands. She started where all books start, at Chapter 1 – “A Dark and Snowy Night” in this case. After a few pages, one student asked if they had to follow along in the book. “If you would prefer to listen, that’s just fine,” Reed said. Another student wondered out loud what Ralph’s middle initial stood…

Classroom is a stage for Conneaut’s Bob Marzola

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The fifth grade classroom at Conneaut Elementary School is Bob Marzola’s stage. “There’s storytelling. There are props. There are costumes. At least when I teach there are,” Marzola said. Marzola, who teaches social studies and English language arts, knew his teaching style was reaching his young audience when a parent came in for a teacher conference. The student had told her mother that Marzola memorizes a new script every day. “‘Mom, I don’t know how Mr. Marzola does it,’” the parent explained her child said after school one day. “‘He puts on a different show every day.’” Ta-da. Lesson learned in a most pleasant way. Marzola was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as Bowling Green’s elementary inspirational educator. The organization honors outstanding teachers each year. Later this month, inspirational educators from the middle school and high school will be recognized. Marzola is definitely not a traditional type of teacher. His skills are known throughout the district, leading teachers from his own and the other elementaries to recommend him for the award. “He’s creative. We want kids to think outside the box,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “He brings the classroom to life. The kids love him.” And Marzola loves them back. “I’m here receiving this award because of them,” he said. “I have become a better teacher because of my relationship with them. They inspire me. Just as I’m teaching my students, they are teaching me.” Marzola gets to reconnect with a lot of his students when they get into high school, since he choreographs all the district’s musical productions. “Building on the relationships we had when we were in the elementary is amazing,” he said. “They truly are attached to your heart forever.” Marzola credited his parents with being patient with his love of dance as he was growing up. Their support was steadfast even when his first performance consisted of him standing on stage crying. He stuck with it, and they stuck by him. And that has helped make him the teacher who stages his lessons for eager young minds. “Teaching and theater – it’s the same,” Marzola said. “Students don’t want to be talked to. They want to be taken on a journey.” And like any good performer, Marzola knows when his audience is not responding. “There’s a lot of thinking on your feet. A good teacher flips the script” and finds a different way to reach the students. “I want to inspire them to always achieve their best.” Marzola also credited his fellow teachers for inspiration. Educators are always sharing strategies that work in the classroom. “If you keep it to yourself, it does not help your students,” he said. “They’ve helped me to be a better teacher.” Marzola also thanked the school administration for being tolerate of his non-traditional techniques. “I appreciate that they let me teach in a way that plays to my strengths,” he said. “I love what I do. I truly believe this is what I was meant to do.” Turns out it’s not just the kids who love Marzola. Several Kiwanis members whose children were in Mazola’s class over the years also had fond memories. As he introduced Marzola, Lee Meserve talked about the thrill of being a good teacher. “Turning…

Disabilities melt away for Ice Frogs hockey team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Off the ice, they are kids with autism, cerebral palsy or attention deficit disorders. But once they leave the bench, their disabilities melt away and they become part of a team. They are the Black Swamp Ice Frogs, an ice hockey team for players with disabilities. The team makes room for people to play the sport regardless of their abilities. “It’s really neat to watch the kids play,” said Heather Sayler, whose son, Ethan, plays with the Ice Frogs. “It’s making them fit in.” “No one is looking at you and judging you,” said Ethan’s father, Todd Sayler. The Ice Frogs’ current players range from age 4 to 35. Some of the common disabilities are autism, Down syndrome, respiratory problems, physical impairments, cerebral palsy, and attention deficit disorders. The Ice Frogs hockey team was formed in 2012, and has about 15 players. All the teams in their league play no-contact hockey. Sue Kepling’s grandson, Dylan, 18, is non verbal and has 13 disorders. But that doesn’t keep him off the ice. “To see him stand on ice skates, with all his disabilities, is amazing,” Kepling said. But ice hockey is expensive. And ice hockey for kids with disabilities can have crippling costs. The parents are not asked to help with expenses, since that would make it impossible for some of the players to participate. “We want the kids there,” Kepling said. Ice time alone at the BGSU Ice Arena costs the team $2,600 a year. The team has never had new equipment. They started out five years ago with hand-me-downs, and continue trying to make do. It became glaringly obvious last year at a tournament game that the Ice Frogs looked like the rag-tag Bad News Bears of hockey. “We’ve been using used hockey equipment since we started,” Heather Sayler said. Shoelaces are missing from the skates. Pads are falling apart. Helmets are far from the latest technology in protection. Then there’s the unpleasant factor of incredibly sticky equipment, with a mouse nest being found in one of the equipment bags last year. “When we meet other teams, we look like the Bad News Bears on ice skates,” Kepling said. Beyond uniforms and regular gear, there’s the expense of adaptive equipment. One player uses a metal harness system, and some use “walkers” on the ice. Others need special ice walkers that include seats. “Some of our players have physical disabilities that require a special blade on the skates,” said Shannon Anderson, secretary of the Ice Frogs team. During a recent weekly practice at the Ice Arena, the players put on their gear and got on the ice. There was no yelling by coaches, and pucks that didn’t quite make the goal were given a helpful push into the net by BGSU hockey players who were helping out. Making goals is the best part of hockey for Ethan Sayler, 12. “We get to shoot goals. I like doing the dance after we make goals,” Ethan said. “I like working together. I like passing to my friends.” Winning is also big on Ethan’s favorite list – but he’s OK with losing, he added. Winning has a different definition with the Ice Frogs. For Josh Anderson, 8, being a “floater” on the ice is a…

St. Aloysius marks Catholic Schools Week

Submitted by ST. ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC SCHOOL An open house, mayoral address and teacher/student appreciations will highlight a week of activities at St. Aloysius Catholic School in honor of Catholic Schools Week on January 28-February 3. “So many good things happen at our school year round, and Catholic Schools Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great successes of our faculty and students,” said Andrea Puhl, principal. “I particularly encourage the public to visit St. Aloysius during our  pen house and experience the education of which we are so proud.” The open house kicks off the weeklong celebration, which will be held Sunday, Jan. 28 from 11:15 a.m.  to 1:30 p.m., following the 10 a.m. Mass; all are welcome. Building tours will be available, as well as presentations for preschool (11:30 a.m.), junior high (11:30 a.m.) and kindergarten (12:00 p.m.). Other activities throughout the week include:  Monday, Jan. 29 Community service projects by various grades.  Tuesday, Jan. 30 Bowling Green Mayor Richard A. Edwards will present a proclamation to the entire school at 2:45 p.m.  Wed., Jan. 31 Students get to dress up as their future profession. Sweet treats will be distributed to locations around the community who help show students the way to success.  Thursday, Feb. 1 Teacher luncheon in gratitude for their service. All-school liturgy and dress-up day.  Friday, Feb. 3 School spirit day, treat at lunch, plus a Catholic Schools Week gift for all. Academic pep rally, followed by 1BookBG kick-off for preschool-Grade 5. More information on St. Aloysius School is available at

Girl Scouts prepare their pitches for annual cookie sales

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eighty gung-ho Girl Scouts got a crash course in cookie sales on Saturday in Bowling Green. It’s not like the cookies need much of a sales pitch. Customers already find the young salespeople and their products are irresistible. But the girls got some tips on making a solid spiel for Samoas and peddling the popular Thin Mints. The young salespeople, who gathered at First United Methodist Church, stoked the excitement over Girl Scout cookie sales season with chants and songs. (Yes, there are songs about the cookies.) If that wasn’t enough to inspire their sales, there was a “cookie tasting station.” Led by Jen Codding, the girls pledged to “make the world a better place.” …. And what better way than through cookies. The cookie kickoff was held so the older, more experienced Girl Scouts could coach the younger members on the skills of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. The young scouts spent time at several stations learning about the products they are selling, how to talk to potential customers, and how to make change once the sale is complete. The scouts in sixth grade and above were sharing their sales experience with those aged 5 to 9. The best part of the training was it focused on the product – Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, S’mores, Do-si-dos, Savannah Smiles and Toffee-tastics. “We’re here to have fun and celebrate cookies,” scout leader Erica Grossman said. Of course it goes far beyond the sweet treats. Much of the training focused on social skills. “I’m teaching them cookie skills, like how to sell better and how to be safe going door-to-door,” said Nora Brogan, 12, of Bowling Green. “I just like to go door to door,” said Nora, who is in her sixth season of selling Girl Scout cookies. Between selling in her neighborhood and her mom taking the cookie form to work, Nora has sold as many as 650 boxes during a season. She admitted the cookies are not a hard sell. “Everyone loves the cookies,” Nora said. And even if they don’t want boxes for themselves, she can often convince customers to buy boxes to donate to soldiers overseas as part of “Operation Cookie.” The newer S’mores seem to be a favorite this year, though Nora has her own favorites. “It’s a tie between Tagalongs and Thin Mints,” she said. Samantha Codding, 13, of Bowling Green, was offering the newer scouts some tips on social skills. “As you get older, you start to realize how to talk to people,” said Samantha, whose top pick is Thin Mints. Though Samantha has been selling cookies for several years, she is still excited when cookie season rolls around. It gives her an excuse to reacquaint with neighbors. “I just kind of like talking with people and getting to know what’s going on,” she said. “Most people don’t just order and then you leave. Usually there’s a story behind it.” Violet Grossman, 9, of Bowling Green, was one of the young business women being taught by more seasoned scouts. Though young, she has already sold cookies for four years, topping out at close to 700 boxes sold one year. As a younger generation scout, she is using some high-tech selling…

BGSU center has spent decade tracking changes in family life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The last few decades have not been easy on the Norman Rockwell portrait of the American family’s holiday dinner. Those neatly delineated generations and family relationships are a thing of the past. The grandchildren may be the products of parents who live together without marriage. Or they may be the children of a same-sex couple. The grown son or daughter still lives at home with mom and dad, who may be contemplating divorce. Grandma has brought along her special friend. They are a committed couple, but live apart from each other, and have no intention of altering that arrangement. All this change, say Wendy Manning and Susan Brown, co-directors of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, may cause some observers to despair. Some take a dim view of the decreasing marriage rate and see it as a sign of the decline of the American family, said Brown. But “if you’re open to a diverse range of shapes a family can take, it has never been better because people can form the types of families they want to form. We’re more accepting of a wide range of family relationships, and people have the opportunity to build the kind of families they want to be part of.” “There’s a lot of trends that are ongoing that make this an especially exciting time to be studying the American family,” Manning, a distinguished research professor, said. The two researchers and their faculty colleagues and graduate students have had a front row seat, and even a role, in these changes through their research. Manning did research for the American Psychological Association’s amicus brief for the two Supreme Court cases that established same sex marriage in the United States. Her research found “overwhelming evidence that children fare as well in same sex families as in different sex families.” Manning said: “That research made a difference.” It demonstrated “the appropriate role for us to play in examining the literature.” This fall, the center marked the 10th anniversary of its founding. In July, 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, put out a call for proposals for a national center for marriage research. Given BGSU was already the home for the Center for Family and Demographic Research, and that BGSU faculty were already heavily involved in studying a range of issues relating the family, this seemed a natural fit. “We felt we had the expertise to satisfy those goals,” said Brown, who chairs the Sociology Department. “We were in a position to articulate for scholars what the key questions were surrounding family structure, child well-being, adult well-being, community well-being. For us, it wasn’t a stretch. We felt we have the people and the critical mass here and the track record to be successful.” They had a month to respond with an application. Brown remembers it “as a whirlwind” with long nights of work reminiscent of her days as a graduate student. But in October BGSU learned it had the winning application. Though the federal funding has since gone away, the center continues to thrive. The center both analyzes federal data and collects its own. The center disseminates that data in profiles to more than 2,000 recipients and on its website ( The center…

BGSU Hosting Around the World Creativity Fair

Submitted by BGSU College of Education and Human Development BGSU’s Creative Learning Environments class will be presenting the Around the World Creativity Fair on Saturday, December 9 at First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church Street, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm for children ages 4 to 12. Upon arrival, children will receive a mock passport which they will get stamped at each location they visit. Stations representing sites from around the globe will feature hands-on educational activities based on cultural celebrations and customs, demonstrated and supervised by students from the College of Education and Human Development. Stations include decorating sugar skulls (Mexico); designing paper henna tattoos (India); building cardboard box pyramids (Egypt); stringing beaded necklaces (Nigeria); fashioning felt hats (Germany); making Carnivale masks (Brazil); and decorating (and eating!) traditional star cookies (Italy). Crafts, activities, games and snacks will allow your child’s creativity to flourish while they learn about cultures around the world in a warm, educational environment. Sponsored by HDFS 2300, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the College of Education and Human Development.

The Kids and Families of BSP’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

By Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel HYT Board Member BG Independent News contributor At a Horizon Youth Theatre board meeting over the summer, someone casually mentioned that Black Swamp Players would once again be producing the one act holiday play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the children’s novel of the same name by Barbara Robinson. There were excited gasps and clapping, and I believe I may have squealed. Full disclosure: yes, I am on the HYT Board. Yes, I am an occasional contributor and ad manager for BG Independent News. And yes, I did get a role in the play, along with the rest of my family. In 2013 and 2014, Guy and Janet Zimmerman directed the play, and the two productions had many repeat actors, though only Bob Walters kept the same role (Charlie) both years. Johanna Slembarski played the narrator and wise young protagonist Beth, and the next year played the antagonist, bossy cigar-smoking Imogene Herdman. Stephanie Truman had the role of adult protagonist Grace Bradley in 2013, and the next year played the antagonist Helen Armstrong. My entire family was in the 2014 production as well. For many of us, Pageant was our kids’ first theatre experience, a sort of “gateway play” to a happy, creative future of being thoroughly immersed in children’s theatre. The Players decided to take a break from Pageant for a few years, so as to not over saturate the Christmas play market which would surely cause attendance to dwindle. But three years have passed, so the time for this spirited family friendly comedy has come around again. This year it is being helmed by Keith Guion, who often directs and leads workshops for Horizon Youth Theatre. Stage Manager is Macey Bradam, Wendy Guion is Queen of Props, and Producer is BSP regular Melissa Kidder. Most of the adult actors happen to be HYT board members as well as parents of children who were cast (the exception being Linda Lee who has the role of Helen Armstrong). New HYT Board President Thomas Edge was given the role of Bob Bradley and his wife Trinidad Linares gets a line as Mrs. Clausing (their daughter Ligaya is in the Angel Choir). Everyone’s favorite director Cassie Greenlee, whose last HYT production was the wonderfully received All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, is playing overwhelmed first time Pageant director Grace Bradley (Cassie will also be directing the upcoming BSP musical Secret Garden). As I did in 2014, I get to play gossipy Edna McCarthy, who seems to have some competitive envy of Grace and causes major chaos in a particularly fun and raucous scene. Keith gave me permission to play her younger and hipper this time, and we changed her first name to Edie. My bio even states “I will be the best tattooed and pierced church lady ever.” John Roberts-Zibbel, who played Bob in the 2014 production, is Reverend Hopkins this time around, and our daughters Alexandra and Isobel play Lily in the Angel Choir and Hobie Clark, respectively. Michael Walters is playing a fire fighter and his wife Karen is providing piano accompaniment and nursing duty for wheelchair-bound Helen Armstrong (their daughters Rose and Alice are in the Angel Choir). Haley Wilkins, mom of Calista and Emy, is enjoying her first time on…

BG school board to revisit levy options next month

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education is giving itself one month to heal from the school bond issue defeat – then it’s back to the drawing board. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci said defeat of the 6-mill levy was “disappointing.” But on the morning after the election, the focus had to shift – there were still 3,100 students to educate, he said. Scruci suggested the school board take a break from levy discussions, then reconvene in December to consider the district’s next steps. He also asked that newly elected board member Norm Geer be present during those discussions. Though the loss of the levy by 550 votes was discouraging, Scruci said he was most dismayed by the discourse from the levy opposition. “The most disappointing part was how divisive it became and how personal attacks occurred,” he said. The levy would have paid for the construction of a centralized elementary building north of the middle school, and an addition and renovations to the existing high school building. Scruci has stated that the district will not come back with a watered-down version – since that won’t meet students’ needs. But next month, the discussions will begin of where the district goes from here. “We have a difficult decision going forward,” Scruci said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board hired Cathy Schuller as the new district treasurer. Schuller, who is currently the assistant treasurer at Rossford school district, will be taking the place of Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring after 22 years in the position. The board also voted unanimously to give Scruci merit pay of 2.25 percent for achieving the district’s goals during the 2016-2017 school year. Other business at Tuesday’s board of education meeting included recognition of outstanding efforts, like those of athletes Gracyn Amos, Zachary Applegate, Macy Hanus, Alli Fahy and Nicholas Jackson. Middle school lunch monitor Darlene Hecht was recognized for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking student in October. “I saw these kids pointing, and then I saw this girl go over,” Hecht said after her recognition. “I did two (thrusts) and on the second one I could feel it come up.” The seventh grade girl thanked Hecht after the incident and told her, “I thought I was going to die,” Hecht said. Jim and Dee Szalejko gave a presentation on the Dear Santa Society, which the couple brought to Bowling Green when they moved here in 2008. Dee Szalejko, a teacher, said the program is intended to make the holidays bright for all children, despite their families’ finances. “We would see kids come in after the holidays and they didn’t have new clothes or toys,” and some didn’t even have enough food to eat, Dee Szalejko said. The Dear Santa Society helps any child in need in the Bowling Green school district. All donations go to the families, except for the cost of postage for mailings. “You can count on the money going to the families,” she said. Families in need get toys, clothing, hams, fruit baskets, personal hygiene items and laundry products. Handmade blankets are given to all the children. “Nobody should be cold over the holidays,” Dee Szalejko said. In the last nine years, the Dear Santa Society has helped 226 families, with…

County voters support child, elder protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters responded to the increasing numbers of child abuse and neglect in Wood County by passing the 1.3-mill renewal levy for Human Services on Tuesday. The Wood County Human Services levy passed with nearly 68 percent of the votes (19,126 to 9,151.) That wide margin of approval was welcome news to Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. “I think that people understand that child protection and protection of the elderly is very important,” Carsey said. “Wood County has always been very supportive,” she added. Since the levy was last passed 10 years ago, Wood County has seen six deaths of children under 3 years old due to abuse. Five suffered from head trauma, and one was smothered. There are no plans to use the levy funding to add staff. A pressing need is to provide safe placements for children removed from their homes. “The number of kids in care has gone up drastically,” Carsey said. Wood County is on its way to setting a record for 2017, as the numbers of child abuse and neglect cases continue to grow. Since 1987, the Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services portions of the agency have relied on the 1.3 mills to support their work. The 10-year levy generates $3.7 million a year, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $36 a year. The funding provides for child abuse and neglect investigations and, if needed, placement of children in foster homes or other settings. The levy also supports elder services, such as home health aides, homemaker services and investigations of elder abuse and neglect. The needs of the protective services at both ends of the age spectrum continue to increase. Following are the statistics for 2016: 894 child abuse investigations. 260 elder abuse investigations. 212 of the child abuse investigations involved drugs. 142 of the investigations were child sexual abuse investigations. 59 children were placed in substitute care such as foster care or group homes. And the numbers look even worse for 2017. The reasons may be two-fold, Carsey said. In recent years, the opiate crisis has led to more cases, and there has been a real push for the public to report abuse and neglect concerns. “Last year in September, we had 35 children in foster care. This year we have 50,” Carsey said, adding that her office is currently trying to recruit more foster families. Meanwhile, the number of elder abuse and neglect cases is expected to pass 300 this year, she added. “We appreciate the county’s support,” Carsey said.

Anti-abortion protesters picket outside BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As students left Bowling Green High School on Wednesday afternoon, they were met by anti-abortion protesters with graphic photos of aborted fetuses. Principal Jeff Dever said the protesters showed up with no notice to the school district. “I didn’t want those people there, especially with the kids,” Dever said this morning. “Some kids were afraid to go past them.” However, the six protesters stayed on the sidewalk along West Poe Road – “which is a public space,” he said. Bowling Green police responded, and along with Dever, talked with the protesters and advised them to stay off school property and not go past the public sidewalk. Dever said he asked one of the protesters why they would want juveniles to see the graphic images. The protester reportedly told Dever that he first saw such photographs of abortions when he was 6 years old. “Shame on your parents,” the principal said he responded to the protester. The anti-abortion group was reportedly at Bowling Green State University earlier in the day, then moved over to the high school in time for school dismissal. There remained there from about 2:15 to 3 p.m. “The bad thing was it scared the kids. They were spooked about walking through,” Dever said. “It kind of stunk. They shouldn’t do that.” Some other students were angered by the protesters, the principal said. “We had kids who wanted to argue with them.” According to Dever, this is the first time anti-abortion protesters have taken up space in front of the school. He’s hoping it’s the last. “I don’t want schools to become battle grounds for national issues,” he said. “It wasn’t healthy yesterday.” The anti-abortion group outside the school Wednesday is reportedly going across the country, visiting university campuses and public schools. “Unfortunately, we became their target,” Dever said.

Two views on Melrose – Great news for Wood Lane kids; new concerns for neighbors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After decades of providing homes for adults with developmental disabilities, Wood Lane is working on its first home for children. The home, at 1022 Melrose St., Bowling Green, will be home to four children whose families need assistance in caring for them. “It’s new for us, but it’s something that everyone connected with our program knows we need,” said Brent Baer, superintendent of Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “In the last year, not a week has gone by that I haven’t heard that we can’t wait,” to offer homes for children, Baer said. The board’s housing plan originally planned for a children’s home to be opened in 2019-2010. Then the house on Melrose became available. “What a great place to grow up,” Baer said. However, some neighbors on the quiet Melrose Street, that borders Wintergarden Park, are wondering how this new home will affect their neighborhood. Wood Lane had initially planned to use the Melrose home for the Horizons program, as a home for adults with unforeseen homelessness or behavioral difficulties. But the Horizons program home will instead be located near Portage. “The owners live next door and they contacted us because they want us there,” Baer said. That gave Wood Lane an opportunity to open its first children’s home on Melrose Street. “There were cheers and claps from the staff,” when Baer told them a home for children could be opened sooner than expected. “These individuals and their families are in desperate need of this home. Their needs are just too much for one human being to keep up with.” The staffing for the maximum of four children will likely be two workers during waking hours, and one at night. During the school year, the children will attend Wood Lane School or other local schools. Wood Lane Residential Properties has 26 homes in Wood County for people with various levels of developmental disabilities. In addition to the Melrose Street home in Bowling Green, the residential properties program is also currently working on two more homes in Perrysburg, according to Jessica Miller Blakely, chief executive officer of WLRP. Unlike Bowling Green, the city of Perrysburg requires such group homes to acquire a special use permit. “Each community is unique in their zoning,” Blakely said. In the case of the two Perrysburg homes, there was some neighborhood opposition, but the city approved the permits. “I think a lot of it is an education piece,” Blakely said. “It really is no different from having a family live next to you with a couple of them having disabilities. We’re not changing it into a business. It’s a home. It will house people as a home.” But not all the Melrose neighbors see it that way. Though the change to a children’s home is preferable to the adult proposal, neighbor Polly Miller is still uncomfortable with the plans. As a parent with four children, she is concerned about children with behavioral problems living in the new location. “We just don’t feel it’s an appropriate place for a group home,” Miller said. She is not pleased that there has been no communication between Wood Lane and the neighbors. “They just came in and started doing all this work, without contacting anyone,” she said. “We don’t like…