Community

Citizens can email ideas for downtown green space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite several public meetings about the new downtown green space in Bowling Green, many citizens complained that they weren’t given an opportunity to express their desires for the proposed town square. To remedy that perceived slight, an email account has now been set up to take suggestions. Anyone wanting to submit ideas for the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets can now email their suggestions to woostergreendesign@gmail.com. Mayor Dick Edwards said he spoke recently with representatives at Poggemeyer Design Group about the two main elements already planned for the town square – an arched entryway and a pavilion. The exact designs are still being worked on, but will consider the historic character of the area, and will work to preserve as much green as possible.  Other necessities include bike racks, drinking fountains, benches, sidewalk lighting and trash receptacles. There are many other decisions under consideration that will be needed to turn the site into Wooster Green – a town square for the Bowling Green community. First, what are the protocols for using the site? Second, how can at least $300,000 in donations be raised for the space? And third, how can the entire community be engaged in the project? The steering committee for Wooster Green met Thursday afternoon to make progress on those considerations. “We definitely need clarification on when and how the site can be used,” said Bob Callecod, co-chair of the promotions committee. The green space has already been used for several public rallies, and the steering committee envisions it being used in the…

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Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first…


BG may spend $478,000 to stop stink from sewage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not easy – or cheap – to make sewage smell like roses … or at least less like sewage. Bowling Green officials are considering spending about $478,000 to take away the foul odor that sometimes emanates from the city’s water pollution control facility on Dunbridge Road. The plant is the source of many complaints, primarily from Bowling Green State University and from nearby businesses. “It’s a sensitive issue for us,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. “We’ve had numerous complaints from businesses in the area.” The facility staff believes the two likely sources of the stench are the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it has had limited success. The septage station has no odor control. “The odors can be quite foul,” O’Connell said. “We’ve tried to get this problem licked in the past,” but the fixes always proved to be temporary. So that sent the city’s utility staff on a field trip last year to a wastewater plant in Pennsylvania, according to O’Connell. The plant installed a carbon filter system to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to the plant, O’Connell said. The permit for the plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter,” said Doug Clark, superintendent of the Bowling Green plant. “We want to be good neighbors,” O’Connell said. So on Monday, O’Connell asked…


Changing of the guard for courthouse security?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After 20 years of securing the Wood County Courthouse, there may be move for changing of the guards. Upon the retirement of Tom Chidester, chief constable at the courthouse complex, a debate began over whose job it actually is to protect the courts. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. A court security office was created and staffed, and now performs several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But now Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners, in a memo to the judges, sheriff and prosecutor, suggested that the current system be retained. “It is a cooperative plan that has served the courts, the courthouse complex, and the citizens of Wood County well,” the memo stated. “We are troubled by the premise that we are being asked to undo the work of many previous elected officials, and that the result of our decision, either way, will be disagreement, argument, and animosity where there has been little or none for over two decades,” the commissioners stated. The system was well thought out, has evolved over the years and works very well, the memo continued. Wasylyshn said his only motivation is to ensure that his office is meeting statutory requirements for court security. “The question I’ve had was what…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s…


‘All Politics is Local’ and some is pretty nasty right now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If you want to make your words count with politicians, forget the form letter. Face-to-face conversations are best. Personally written letters and phone calls also carry some weight. But email form letters are next to worthless – especially if you forget to put your name in the “insert your name here” slot – which oddly enough, many people do. “Personal contact is best, if you can,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said Saturday during the second in the three part series on “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” Gardner was joined in the “All Politics is Local” program by former State Rep. Tim Brown, Bowling Green City Council members Bob McOmber and Sandy Rowland, and Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner. The “Civics 101” project is the brainchild of local citizens who were moved by the last election to become more engaged in the workings of government. “I know people are cynical about politics,” Gardner told the crowd. But individuals can make a difference in government. And despite what many people think, it’s not about the money for many politicians, he said. “That’s not true for most,” Gardner said. It’s the chance meeting with a physician at a Kiwanis pancake breakfast about the need for children to carry their asthma inhalers at school, or an emotional plea from a mom about the need for children to have comprehensive eye exams. “Sometimes it’s just one person” who starts the ball rolling on new legislation, Gardner said. When he was just new as a county commissioner, Brown remembered…


St. John Passion in its element as Good Friday offering

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Liturgy and drama are one in Bach’s St. John Passion. The theatrical elements – a narrator, dialogue, and the evocative underscoring for small orchestra—are undeniable. Yet the message and the story almost demand the setting of a church. Yes, it is presented in a concert hall, but that’s akin to a staged reading of a play as opposed to a fully staged production. The St. John Passion was fully in its element on Palm Sunday afternoon in Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo. The Passion, one of two that have come down to us from Bach, the other being the monumental St. Matthew, was presented by musicians from Bowling Green State University. The performance brought together the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr, the University Choral Society directed by Mark Munson, who also conducted the work, organist Michael Gartz, and voice faculty taking on the principal roles and solos. Munson said he’s been waiting for Easter to fall late enough in the semester to be able to prepare the Passion for presentation during Holy Week. So on Good Friday, April 14, the St. John Passion will be presented at 7 p.m. in First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green as the community commemoration of the day. The Passion was first performed in 1724, revised over time, though the final version reverted to much the same as it was originally performed. As presented in Bach’s time, a sermon would be preached between parts one and two. Those in attendance Sunday were advised not to applaud between the two movements. Spohr read several verses of the…