children

Public library offers programs for middle school students

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The ood County Distruct Library is launching its fall series for middle school students. Weekly Tween/Teen Coding & Creative Writing Clubs The library offers two tween/teen after school club opportunities on alternating Mondays from 4-5 p.m. Youth ages 10 and up are encouraged to explore and participate in both the Coding Club and Wordplay Creative Writing Club. No previous experience is required for either group. The Coding Club investigates computer programming with several Sphero robots, as well as guided coding practice through Code.org for students who would like to experiment with more in-depth coding. Wordplay is a new creative writing group, where students will play word games and consider writing prompts as they learn about how to craft stories through their writing. The two groups meet Mondays from 4-5 p.m. in the Children’s Place, alternating weeks. Coding Club meets September 11 and 25, October 9 and 23, November 6 and 20, and December 4 and 18. Wordplay meets September 18, October 2, 16, and 30, November 13 and 27, and December 11. Middle School Book Group The middle school book group, “Pizza and Pages,” meets for the first time this school year on Tuesday, September 12, at 2:30 p.m. in the Bowling Green Middle School’s Media Center. “Pizza and Pages” is a partnership between BGCS and WCDPL and is open to all area 6th-8th graders. The Children’s Place of the Wood County District Public Library has multiple copies of the pre-selected books available to check out. This September, youth can choose one or more of the following “Middle School Experience” titles: Posted by John David Anderson; Ungifted by Gordon Korman; and The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan. Posted by John David Anderson is the story of Frost and his friends who start communicating through sticky notes left all over the school when cell phones are banned. Soon other kids start following their example, triggering a wave of bullying activities in the wake of a new girl’s arrival. Ungifted by Gordon Korman is the story of Donovan, whose thoughtless prank accidentally destroys the school gym during the Big Game. In the aftermath, he is mistakenly sent to a school for gifted students and has to learn how to be one of them. The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan is the story of scientist-in-the-making Madeline Little, starting sixth grade and learning that middle school is nothing like a perfect lab experiment–and…


1,000 backpacks to help kids start back to school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Angela Jones, of Weston, had no idea how she was going to afford school supplies for her six children this year. She found the answer with a little help from local agencies, businesses and churches. Mary Jane Perez, of Perrysburg, agonized over those same concerns for her five grandchildren. She estimated it would cost at least $300 to get the grandchildren started in school. “It’s very expensive right now,” Perez said. But her mind was eased a bit Wednesday as she carried out five new backpacks loaded with school supplies. Her grandchildren tried them on and checked out the contents. “I picked mine out,” her youngest granddaughter said, showing off her pink camo print backpack. Jones picked out bookbags for her children, and said each child had also gotten vouchers for new shoes to start off the school year. Her worries, however, were not over. “I don’t even know how I’m going to get them clothes this year.” More than 500 backpacks were ready for families to pick up Wednesday at the Back to School Fair at Woodland Mall, organized by the Salvation Army and United Way. The fair was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. “At 1 o’clock they started showing up,” said Sue Clanton, director of United Way of Wood County. Half of the 500 bags were gone in the first hour, she said. “School supplies are a huge thing for families.” Earlier this week, an additional 500 backpacks, stuffed with school supplies were given out by Wood County Job and Family Services to families who could show financial need. Sixty vouchers were also given to children to go shopping for new shoes. Kids were also given socks, hats and gloves for colder weather. Those backpacks also had some hygiene items tucked in, like soap, shampoo and toothpaste, said Shannon Fisher and RoxAnn Neifer, both of Job and Family Services. “A lot of the schools were telling us kids are coming to school without using hygiene products,” Neifer said. “They were ecstatic,” Neifer said about the children’s reactions as they opened up the backpacks. “There was one girl really excited about a toothbrush,” Fisher said. Fisher estimated it costs about $100 to fill an average school backpack. “And that’s just general supplies,” she said. That’s…


‘Making It’ camp builds kids’ interest in manufacturing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Their assignment was serious: Design a glider that can carry a spectrometer over Lake Erie to identify algal blooms before they reach dangerous levels. Their supplies were not so serious: A shoe box, cardboard, duct tape, popsicle sticks, yarn, aluminum foil, Saran wrap and pennies. The young engineers were middle school students, mostly from Bowling Green, who signed up last month for a five-day manufacturing camp, called “Making It.” The camp was designed to help Wood County students learn about manufacturing, teamwork and local production facilities. In addition to spending one day engineering gliders at Bowling Green State University, the students also visited manufacturing sites in Wood County, including Owens-Illinois, Home Depot, Lubrizol and Northwood Industries. Students toured each of the sites to get a better picture of what modern industries look like. Penta Career Center also hosted an advanced manufacturing lab using robotics. The goal was to show students that manufacturing no longer means repetitive, thoughtless processes. In many cases, it involved high-tech engineering skills. “This is some really good hands-on experience,” said Maria Simon, of Wood County District Public Library, which was one of the camp sponsors. “It’s not just ‘Let’s make a glider.’ But let’s make one that does what we want it to do.” As the students struggled with their gliders, they heard from two NASA engineers from the Glenn Research Center, Nicole Smith and Eric Reed. “I hear you guys are going to be doing some pretty incredible stuff this week,” Smith said. Both women work with the Orion spacecraft in Sandusky. Smith is an aerospace engineer. “That actually does make me a rocket scientist. You can make all the jokes you want,” she said with a grin. Reed works on the vacuum chamber and contamination control for the spacecraft. “Our technicians won’t be eating cheeseballs,” Smith joked. Both women talked about the thrill of being part of a project that will help humans reach Mars. “We are pushing beyond what we’ve ever done before,” Reed said. “This is why I went to school,” Smith said. They encouraged the students to not give up in school – even when it gets really tough. “I got Cs in physics. I’m not going to lie,” Smith said. “I failed the first physics test I…


Library crowns first Royal Reader

The Wood County District Public Library has crowned its first royal reader. Anneliese Lawrie, the 4-year-old daughter of Josh and Kelly Lawrie, of Haskins, has had 1,000 books read to her since early June. The feat was part of the library’s initiative to get kids to read or have read to them 1,000 books before they enter kindergarten. Shea Cunningham-Darabie, who operates the daycare Engaging Young Minds where Annaliese was cared for, said it took “a community effort” to achieve the goal. Cunningham-Darabie said that she reads picture books an hour a day to the children, and then she’ll read a chapter book during their quiet time. Anneliese also read to at home, she said. Her parents told Cunningham-Darabie that at night Anneliese would tell them how many books she wanted to read and set them out. “She was very self-motivated. She loves books.” The books she heard read at story times at the library’s Children’s Place also counter toward the 1,000. Cunningham-Darabie said about a month into the program, she realized that Anneliese’s totals were adding up. Cunningham-Darabie was interested in having her achieve the goal before she relocates to Michigan. Cunningham-Darabie is moving to Pinckney, Michigan this weekend. She said the move is bittersweet as she keep getting greetings from former charges, the oldest of whom are now juniors in high school. While the 1,000 books before kindergarten initiative was launched in conjunction with the library’s summer reading program, which has now wrapped up, it will continue year round. So far 464 youngsters have registered to participate. “That’s what I’d like to do,” said Children’s Librarian Maria Simon, “get children involved in reading.”  


Here’s the scoop – cops meet with kids over ice cream

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than a year now, Bowling Green Police Division has been meeting citizens over cups of hot coffee. On Friday, they tried something different – meeting them over bowls of ice cream, with chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top. “This is bigger than the Coffee with the Cops,” said Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick as he looked out over the room at the Wood County District Public Library, full of children eating ice cream and wearing police badge stickers. “We’re making you all honorary policemen today,” the chief told them. Police officers posed for photos with kids holding their bowls of ice cream. They answered questions about their jobs. Deputy Chief Justin White said he did not get the usual, “Have you shot somebody” question today. In fact, most of the questions were not about the two-legged officers, but about their four-legged canine officer named Arci. “He’s going to make an appearance,” assured Hetrick. The goal was to make the kids more comfortable around police officers in their community. “We’re here to help,” said Lt. Brad Biller. “The police officers in the community are here to serve them, not to be feared by them.” The officers have visited the library in the past to read to kids, but this visit was a little different. “We’ve invited the police officers before, but we’ve never thought of combining it with ice cream,” children’s librarian Maria Simon said. “What a great idea.” The ice cream, combined with the location, drew in a different and larger crowd, Lt. Dan Mancuso said. “We were trying to get other people,” not just the normal coffee crowd, Mancuso said. “It’s summertime, kids like ice cream.” And the long-term benefit may be more than the bowl of ice cream. “So if there are problems, they feel comfortable coming to us.” The hit of the day proved to be Arci, the Belgian Malinois canine cop. His handler, Sgt. Gordon Finger, said Arci is trained for several different jobs like sniffing out narcotics, tracking people, searching for missing people, and apprehending people. Arci, who responds to commands primarily in Dutch, loves to work, Finger said. “Work is his life’s blood,” he said. “His favorite part of the day is when he sees me getting ready…


Levy renewal to protect against child, elder abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the numbers of child and elder abuse grow in Wood County, so does the need for county residents to support the levy renewal that provides funding to protect those vulnerable populations. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners signed a resolution putting the 1.3-mill child and adult protective services levy renewal on the November ballot. The millage, to be collected for 10 years, will raise an estimated $3.7 million annually. The levy renewal effort comes at a time when the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services is seeing record numbers of child abuse investigations. It’s expected the county will investigate at least as many cases as last year – when the numbers jumped 25 percent to 894. “We anticipate having about as many as 2016, which set the all time record. Maybe a little higher,” said Dave Wigent, director of the county Job and Family Services. In addition to the increasing number, the county is also seeing an increase in the severity of the abuse cases – requiring that more children be placed in foster care. The overall increased cost of Children’s Services last year was about $500,000, Wigent said. So losing the levy funds that the county has relied on since 1987 would cripple the ability to provide child and adult protective services, he added. “It would be catastrophic for our child welfare and adult protective services,” Wigent said. The levy revenue makes up 90 percent of the adult protective services budget, he said. And loss of the levy would mean reductions in Children’s Services staff. “That would be at a time we are seeing record cases,” he said. Wigent stressed that the levy is not new money being requested of taxpayers. “It’s not a new tax,” he said. He also reminded that over the 30 years of the levy, there have been six times when the county has decided to not collect the full amount since it has not been needed. “We only take the money we need,” Wigent said. Wood County Job and Family Services may be the only department in the state to do that, he added. During the last 10-year period, there have been two years when the levy millage was not collected at all, and two other years when…


Girls sink their teeth into STEM … and sharks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The slimy, smelly spiny dogfish sharks were placed on the lab tables in front of the young girls. “Ewwwww,” one girl said squeamishly. “I can never eat gummy sharks again,” another girl said. This was the moment they had been waiting for at Tech Trek week – shark dissection. They were armed with gloves, scalpels and scissors to open up the gray sharks native to Australia. Some were a little timid about slicing into the sharks. “Oh my goodness,” one girl said with apprehension. Others were ready to explore. “I call dibs on making the first cut,” another said with glee. The shark dissection class Wednesday at Bowling Green State University’s Tech Trek week was just one of several sessions to help the participants realize that their female gender should not keep them from careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The fifth annual Tech Trek, supported by the American Association of University Women, is intended to make STEM educations and careers more accessible to girls. The program is only open to girls, so they are encouraged to pursue their STEM interests in an environment free from stereotypes, and given the chance to believe in themselves. Tech Trek is based off of the research titled “Why So Few?” which shows that women enter STEM fields at much lower rates compared to their male peers.  The research also showed that the crucial time to get to girls before they give up on STEM careers is in junior high. “The most critical time to impact them is between seventh and eighth grade,” said Dr. Deborah Wooldridge, professor and director of the BGSU School of Family and Consumer Sciences, who is head of the Tech Trek week. “We expose them to all areas of STEM.” The 55 girls all came to the camp with existing interests in STEM subjects. The camp builds on those interests, and teaches them that their gender should not dampen their enthusiasm or slow their success. “There are lots of subliminal messages out there – that’s just not what women do,” Wooldridge said of STEM careers. Many STEM professions are still male-dominated. “Computer science is tough to break into,” she said. By the end of the week, the girls should have no doubt that they…


Paws down … pet show was the place to be in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Godzilla the guinea pig managed to upstage the dogs performing tricks at the annual Bowling Green Pet Show Wednesday evening in City Park. The guinea pig, with an alias of the “fuzzmeister,” perched on the hand of his owner, Fran Flores, 15. Fran took aim with her finger, said “bang,” and Godzilla dramatically fell backwards and played dead. The judges seemed stunned by the performance, and one said “bang” to test the guinea pig – and once again Godzilla collapsed upon command. The guinea pig stole the show from the dog who waved with his paw, and the other who weaved in between her owner’s legs as she walked, spun in circles and then played dead. The dogs were no match for the furry rodent. More than 60 pets were walked, carried or dragged to City Park for the annual pet show sponsored by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. There were 22 categories for the pets to be judged in, like shaggiest pet, biggest rodent, best dressed pet, and best behaved. No entries competed in the categories of most interesting farm pet, slimiest reptile, or loudest bird. A couple kids did try to win for having pets that looked most like their owners. Sitting on the Needle Hall stage for the competition were judges Tom Sieving, the Bowling Green Police Division’s animal control officer; Joe Fawcett, the assistant municipal administrator; and Melissa Hill, from the Wood County Humane Society. “We don’t take it too seriously,” Sieving said before the competition began. But all the categories weren’t as cut and dry as who had the longest ears – the coonhound or the spaniel. The area in front of the stage was full of people with their talented – or at least lovable – pets. There was Baxter the bulldog, who competed in the categories of cutest boy dog and best behaved. His owner, Jennifer Gutierrez, agreed that Baxter might have stood a better chance if there was a category for longest tongue. There was Minnie the Pomeranian, who strutted her stuff for the best groomed and prettiest girl competitions. She wore two bows on her tiny head. “We just happened to have a grooming appointment today, so it worked out perfect,” said her owner Holly Cordes….


Ta-dah moment: Library & circus are compatible

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ta-Dah was the word of the day Friday morning at the Wood County Library. As part of the summer reading program, the Cirque Amongus from Michigan visited the library to give an introduction to basic circus skills – stilt walking tight rope walking, a ladder pyramid, riding a unicycle, balancing, and juggling. A successful, or even unsuccessful, attempt was concluded with a loud ta-dah! Accompanied by the hands flying out to the side. Children’s Librarian Maria Simon started off the morning with a cautionary note by reading the picture book by Elise Parsley, “If You Ever Want To Bring a Circus To the Library, DON’T!” But Simon clearly didn’t heed the book’s message. She welcomed Myrthia Hornshaw and Johan Yamine into the building with open arms. At first they demonstrated each skill, using drawing volunteers from the dozens of children in attendance.  After each skill was shown, the kids were instructed to scream ta-dah! They were itching to go. With the help of the library’s volunteens, the kids – for some walking a recently acquired stunt — then got to try for themselves. That meant riding bikes through the atrium. Tottering on a “high-wire” that was just a few inches off the ground. Tumbling, balancing, working with other kids to form a pyramid on the ladders. And they were the only ones having a blast. Diana Hensley, who as there with her two children, tried her hands with the balance sticks and then she even got on a tiny bike, not afraid to tumble. Hensley said the family frequently takes part in library activities, throughout the year. She appreciates that in the summer there’s something going on just about every morning. The circus program was special. It got kids moving. It involved kids of different ages as well “It’s more interactive,” she said. “It’s a different thing that kids don’t get to experience.” That was why Simon brought Cirque Amongus to the library. The program gives kids a chance to exercise their gross motor, helps them build their self-esteem through learning something new and, most of all, have fun. Cirque Amongus was started 17 years ago by Hornshaw’s brother Sem Abrahams and his wife, Teresa. Hornshaw joined about 10 years ago. The founders are performers as well, she said,…


Skateboard, scooter sports teach more than stunts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cautious adults cringed as the carefree youth demonstrated their skate park skills – flipping and twisting in the air – seeming to defy gravity. The kids show up almost every day to use the skate park in Bowling Green’s City Park, riding their skateboards, scooters, BMX and mountain bikes. Last week, the youth demonstrated their skills for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Many of them have been inspired and instructed by Don DiBartolomeo and Matt Bowley, of The Right Direction, a non-profit organization that uses action sports to teach life skills. “He took a childhood activity, riding a bike, and parlayed it into a career,” Kiwanis member Scott Seeliger said of DiBartolomeo. “They’ve affected the lives of young people.” The Right Direction teaches kids far more than stunts on their skateboards and scooters. The organization teaches time management, organization and communication, DiBartolomeo said. The youth learn practical skills, like how to work on their bikes, and community skills like how to create a fundraiser to aid local organizations. Last year, the kids performed 3,500 hours of community service and collected 2,000 pounds of food to donate to local food pantries. “It gives the kids a chance to step out of their little bubble,” DiBartolomeo said, and be part of the bigger community. And the skate park in City Park gives them a safe place to practice their skills. When the skate park was first constructed, some questioned whether it would get much use. But nearly every day, kids are at the park, fine-tuning their stunts. “It gives these kids something to take interest in,” DiBartolomeo said. And they show their appreciation for the site by keeping it clean from trash and graffiti. “They kids are very respectful.” “These guys take care of this like it’s their own house,” Bowley said of the skate park. For many of the youth, action sports filled a hole in their lives, Bowley said. They aren’t the kids who fit into traditional sports like football or basketball, or who enjoyed organizations like scouting. The Right Direction, with its loose rules, fit them better. “There’s no governing body for it. We saw a need and we filled it,” DiBartolomeo said. The Right Direction also offers an opportunity for families to take pride in…


BG Girl Scouts get real life government lesson in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares for another birthday, a group of Bowling Green girls will celebrate this Fourth of July with new knowledge about their government. Members of Girl Scout Troop 10799 recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they crammed in as many tours and sightseeing stops as possible in four days. They learned that George Washington didn’t smile for portraits because his artificial teeth would fall out. “He was a great leader, but his teeth … not so great,” said Girl Scout Natalie Hollands. They learned that while the Senate chambers is a serious and somber place, the House of Representatives is raucous and chaotic. “You could hear a pin drop in the Senate,” said Allie Parish. But not the House. “It was really crazy,” Paige Suelzer said. The leader kept banging the gavel for quiet. “They were like little kids.” And they learned that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is no place for giggling – even if one of their little sisters drops a water bottle that rolls close to the feet of the soldier on guard. Thirteen Bowling Green Girl Scouts, who will be entering sixth grade this fall, toured the city with their families. They visited the memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr., the memorials to those who served in the Vietnam War and those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They toured the East Wing of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. The girls all had their favorite sites. For Sophia Nelson, a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, her favorites were the Ford Theatre and the Petersen House, where Lincoln was taken after being shot. For Allie, it was the American National History Museum, where the huge flag is displayed that inspired the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” For Natalie Hollands, it was the White House, which the girls toured just hours after the shooting at the Republican baseball practice. For Reagan Otley, it was the Lincoln Memorial – though as you might guess, her favorite president is Ronald Reagan. For Paige, it was the Capitol, where the Scouts witnessed a rare event. “They saw something that rarely happens,” said Kristin Otley, Reagan’s mom. The House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the…


Earth Camp gives kids peek at the wild side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the day, nearly 250 kids left William Harrison Park – some wearing paper butterflies with pipe cleaner antennae in their hair, some with dirt on their hands, and some with new ideas in their heads. Elementary age children from throughout Wood County gathered at the park in Pemberville for the annual Earth Camp Tuesday organized by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for kids in the Community Learning Centers STARS program. “We get every single one of the Community Learning kids outside for the entire day,” said Amanda Gamby, who coordinated the event. A parent herself, Gamby said sometimes after a long day at work, parents just don’t have the energy to take kids outside to play. So for the 18th year, the Earth Camp gave them a full day to explore nature. This year’s theme was wildlife. “It’s pretty great,” said Jamie Sands, with the Wood County Park District, which partnered on the camp. “This is for kids to be active in nature while learning about wildlife.” Children went from station to station, learning about the declining Monarch butterfly population, “habitracks” using a map to explore habitat components for animals, the importance of pollination, local amphibians, and Nature’s Nursery. “Then they get to go down to the river and see some critters,” Sands said. “They go home and they are probably all exhausted.” At one station, the children learned about the efforts of Nature’s Nursery to help nurse wildlife back to health and return them to the wild. Some of the lessons focused on what the program does not do. Nature’s Nursery takes in 2,500 animals a year. The children guessed the types of animals are aided. Sea turtles? “We don’t take care of sea turtles, no,” Marquita Tillotson, of Nature’s Nursery said. Snapping turtles, yes. Fish? “Nobody ever calls us up and says, ‘we found a really sick fish,’” Tillotson said. Rabbits? Yes. In fact, about half of the animals taken in at the nursery are rabbits. “Tons of little babies,” Tillotson said. Beavers? No, but they would help a beaver if it was brought in. Moles? “We do get moles. We got a cute little mole the other day,” Tillotson said. When the animals are better, the nursery releases…


BG’s Scruci tries to dispel rumors about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci tried to stop the rumor mill from churning Monday evening. For 90 minutes, he presented details and answered questions from a packed meeting room at the public library about the school district’s building plans and the bond levy to support them. Scruci has heard “all kinds of stories” about the district’s plans. “We wanted to get this information out now,” he said. “We want to get out in front of those” rumors about costs, cuts, kids and more. So he started by explaining the building plans and the $72 million cost to taxpayers. “I’m going to be the first to tell you that’s a lot of money, and we know that,” Scruci said. The 6-mill bond issue will appear on the November ballot for the projects. “Schools are always going to be the investment in the future in every city,” he said. “If we kick the can down the road, the cost is going to grow.” For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that means an extra $210 a year. But since the average house value in Bowling Green is $170,000, Scruci said that would add up to $357 a year. And for those on the higher end, with a $250,000 home, the bond issue would mean another $525 a year. When he said the bond issue was for 37 years, someone in the audience whistled. “People are going to say that’s a lot of years, and it is,” Scruci said. But a bond issue with fewer years would mean greater payments that could be unmanageable for many residents. Scruci said he knows there are families in the district who will have difficulty paying the $210 a year. “I know there are some people in this community who can’t afford this,” he said. But Scruci maintained that the school district should not continue to put good money into old buildings that don’t have “good bones.” The board is not interested in taking state funding for construction, since the state would only contribute 11 to 13 percent, but would take control over the projects. The district is losing new students to newer schools. And Bowling Green students deserve better facilities. “We owe it to every student in this district to give…


Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the floor, to another asking about geothermal energy. Stockburger talked about the city’s new solar field – which is the largest solar array in Ohio. He quizzed the kids about where the field was located. Columbus? That’s our capital, Simon offered. OSU? Go Bucks, she said. Prospect? Sounds promising, Simon said. When it turned out to be in Bowling Green, the kids cheered. So then they were quizzed on the number of solar panels in the field. Turned out to be 85,000. “Can anybody count that high,” Stockburger asked. Which led some kids to start counting. “Kids will take you seriously,” Simon advised. Later is was the kids’ turn to quiz Stockburger. “How many light panels are there in the whole world,” one child asked, successfully…


‘Coffee with CASAs’ event to inspire volunteers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The opiate epidemic has reached down into the youngest and most helpless members of Wood County. Just as Wood County Children’s Services is seeing more child abuse and neglect cases, the Wood County CASA program is seeing those growing numbers stretch their volunteers. The numbers have increased so much that some families are being turned away, according to Kathy Hicks, a volunteer member of the Friends of CASA Board. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers who advocate for the needs of children, and act as the voices of children in court, Hicks said. “So the court knows how the child feels,” she explained. “Kids don’t want to tattle on mom or dad.” The CASAs make home visits, speak in court on behalf of the children, and contact doctors, schools or other agencies to try to determine what is in the best interest of the children. The Wood County CASA program, with director Carol Fox, currently has 32 volunteer CASAs who are serving 45 families with a total of 90 children. The growing number of cases has led to about 10 families being turned away so far this year. Much of the increase is due to the opiate epidemic, Hicks said. “It is just amazing to me how many families have this drug problem. It prohibits them from taking care of their children,” she said. “That’s really sad.” The issues are often further complicated by multi-generational opiate problems. “It’s not just the parents. It’s the grandparents,” Hicks said. “Grandma and Grandpa can’t step in because they aren’t clean either.” So the children are often placed with foster families. In order to get more CASA volunteers so more children can be served, a “Coffee with CASAs” event is being held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green. Anyone who stops and chats with the CASA volunteers will be given a wooden nickel for a free cup of coffee from Grounds. “We want to get these families the help they need,” Hicks said. Volunteers CASAs will be on hand to explain what it takes to do the job. Volunteers must go through a training program, must pass a screening process, and must have “the desire to help people,” she said. Efforts have been…