Community

BG gets ‘dose of reality’ – curb appeal lacking as families shop for college

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Shopping for universities has become a “buyer’s market,” and many prospective students and their families aren’t attracted to what Bowling Green is selling. Bowling Green has received this “dose of reality” in the latest study on city development. Without making some major changes in the community, the report projects Bowling Green State University will likely see a big drop in enrollment. The consultants have shared a painful truth, Mayor Dick Edwards said during Monday’s City Council meeting. “Bowling Green has a major image problem that needs to be fixed,” Edwards said of the report. “The condition of the city is placing the university at a competitive disadvantage in attracting students.” Edwards, however, objected to some of the bold statements in the report. “I sincerely believe that we have not been standing still as a community,” he said. “I nevertheless agree that timing is critical and we have no choice but to move forward with deliberate speed on a priority basis.” The “Strategy for Redevelopment” focuses on the East Wooster Corridor, and was researched by Development Strategies of St. Louis. Bowling Green State University contracted for the study that is looking at how to best develop the areas on the outer fringe of the university. The city and university have been working on the East Wooster roadway for the past few years, with roundabouts and a new bridge over Interstate 75 underway. But the report pointed out that the minor rezoning efforts by the city are not enough. The report has an “unmistakable sense of urgency,” Edwards said. Projections call for diminishing numbers of traditional age college students beginning in 2025. That will intensify the competitiveness in the marketplace. Also, students and parents are increasingly making decisions about colleges based on appearance of communities. Communities like Kent have made substantial improvements in the areas adjoining the campus, Edwards said. Bowling Green is in the beginning stages of those efforts. “The simple truth is that we as a community cannot afford the economic losses associated with declining enrollments,” the mayor said. BGSU President Rodney Rogers has been awaiting the report. “He clearly senses this urgency,” Edwards said. “The numbers are very, very telling.” The numbers,…

Read More

Debunking the myths about running for elected office

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Candidates running for office need name recognition, a 30-second porch speech and a good pair of walking shoes. Dr. Melissa Miller, political science professor at Bowling Green State University, presented a program Tuesday on “Gotta Run: Taking the mystery out of running for office.” She spoke to a crowded room of potential candidates and interested citizens, where tables had to be removed to make space for more people. “You’re here tonight because you care about democracy,” Miller said. But running for office can be a frightening prospect. Many potential candidates fear that throwing their hats into the ring may cost too much money, demand too much time, and require them to make long-winded speeches. It’s those fears that might lead to the more than 40 percent of state legislature races in the nation going uncontested each election, Miller said. “That’s not so good for democracy,” she said. So Miller tried to debunk several myths surrounding running for office. Myth: Running for office is so expensive that only the rich can afford to do so. False. While more than $1 billion was spent on the last presidential races in the U.S., running for local offices takes modest budgets in most cases. The only fee for filing with the board of elections to be a candidate is between $30 and $80, depending on the position being run for. And most candidates for local offices don’t break the bank on running. “You can get a campaign up and running with a few thousand dollars,” Miller said. Miller talks about how to campaign for office. Myth: Running for office is too complicated. “Truth be told, it’s a little complicated,” Miller confided. Candidates need to know their local government structures. For example, in Bowling Green the City Council candidate races are partisan and based on wards. In Perrysburg, the council races are non-partisan and citywide. Some have primaries, some do not. And different communities have different filing deadlines. But all a candidate needs to know can be found at the Wood County Board of Elections. “Go to your county’s board of elections,” Miller said. “There’s no substitute for talking with professionals at the board of elections.” Myth: It…


Searching for solutions to opioid crisis – 17 died from overdoses last year in county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Seventeen Wood County residents died last year from opioid overdoses. Two days before a recent community forum on opioid addiction, Wood County Commissioner Ted Bowlus went to the funeral visitation for 33-year-old man killed by opioids. “He came from a good family. His mother was a nurse,” Bowlus said. “It just goes to show it can happen to anybody,” regardless of their age, education, socio-economic situation. “We need the public, we need the community, we need the county in helping us fight this battle,” Bowlus said as he talked about the crisis that kills 130 people each day in the U.S. The community meeting on opioid addiction, held at First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green, featured speakers who try to prevent addiction, those who work with addicts, and those who decide the fate of addicts in court. Preventing addiction Kyle Clark and Milan Karna addressed the prevention efforts in the county – stressing that addiction is not a moral failing but rather a chronic brain disease. “Addiction is an epidemic in our county and is best addressed through prevention,” Clark said. “Youth and adolescent programs are more important than ever before.” Through the Wood County Educational Service Centers’ Prevention Coalition, efforts are made to delay experimentation with drugs by local youths. The older they are, the more responsible decisions they can make as their brains develop, Clark said. So programs are offered to try to decrease the availability of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, while increasing the education to kids about the harm these items can cause, Clark said. For the past 16 years, surveys conducted in Wood County schools show some success with students. For example, in the most recent survey, 95.7 percent of fifth through 12th grade students said they had been drug free in the last 30 days. “That’s because prevention works,” Clark said. For every $1 spent on prevention, $67 are saved, Milan said. “The cost of addiction is really quite staggering,” he said. Parents need to play a role in prevention, Milan added. “A critical part of this is truly parents talking to their kids about drugs,” he said. Working with addicts Belinda Brooks works with local addicts…



Plastic bag ban urged – before state yanks right to do so

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Green-minded students challenged Bowling Green Monday evening to live up to its environmentally conscious reputation. During the second public meeting to collect comments on a possible ban or fee on single-use plastic bags, seven citizens spoke – six in favor of a ban and one with a host of questions. Listening were members of the City Council Community Improvement Committee made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. The Bowling Green State University students and graduates listed off other communities that have already adopted measures to stop the proliferation of single-use plastic bags. On the coasts, in San Francisco, Boston and Seattle, plastic bag bans are already in place. The rules differ depending on the city, explained Amelia Reed. Some still allow plastic bags for produce and meat products – but they have to be made of a high percentage of recycled plastic. Some cities have gone further and have enacted 5 cent paper bag taxes to encourage shoppers to bring cloth bags. The European Union recently voted to ban single-use plastic bags by 2021, according to environmental science student Ross Martin. “If an entire continent can do it, the city of Bowling Green and the university can do it,” Martin said. If not, Bowling Green will continue to be a part of the problem, he added. “We need to follow the example of our friends across the pond,” Martin said. Martin suggested that the ban cover all businesses, not just the big box stores. He questioned the concern by businesses that customers will go elsewhere to shop if Bowling Green businesses no longer have plastic bags. BGSU is already working to implement a single-use plastic bag ban, according to Tatiana Grazos. Last spring, more than 1,000 signatures from students and staff were collected to request a plastic bag ban. The effort was supported by the university, and the bags will be phased out by spring of 2020. The university is coming up with alternatives for students – such as bags made with 85 percent recyclable material, Grazos said. “I implore the city of Bowling Green to implement a plastic ban,” not only for big box stores, but for all businesses,…


BG parks & rec achieves 2018 goals; reaches for more in 2019

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Some statistics are meaningful – some are just interesting. For example, who knew that 1,564 hot dogs were sold at City Park last year? And is there some connection between the 1,403 orders of nachos with cheese sold at City Pool and the 59 swim diapers sold? But seriously, here are some stats from Bowling Green Parks and Recreation for 2018: 19,670 total participants in programs.82,394 daily swipes into the community center.2,918 reserved facility uses, with an estimated headcount of 81,254.6,931 fitness program participants.47,935 visits to City Pool. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, recently reported the 2018 accomplishments and 2019 goals for the department. The parks and rec department did some long-range planning, plus completed maintenance and repairs. Work continued to make the parks more accessible to people with physical disabilities, the Nature Center at Wintergarden Park was remodeled, roof and HVAC repairs were made at Simpson Building, and Ridge Park saw drainage repairs and the installation of a backstop. At Conneaut-Haskins Park, new trees were added after the large ailing tree at the base of the sledding hill was removed. And new benches were added along the Wintergarden Park trail. The parks and rec department also made several land management improvements, such as: Restoration of native plant species at Wintergarden St. John Nature Preserve, Carter Park and the community center.Continued paving of trails at Simpson Garden Park.Redevelopment of the Healing Garden at Simpson Garden Park.Completion of the two-acre prairie expansion at the community center.Expansion of the hosta garden to more than 1,000 different species. The parks and rec department also last year expanded youth fitness offerings, as well as lowered the age of participation in fitness classes. Programs were offered on a variety of topics or skills, such as bubble soccer, outdoor survival skills, wilderness first aid, archery, birding, nature study, theater camps, a walking program, and aqua bikes spinning classes at the pool. Otley also presented information on goals planned for the parks and rec department in 2019. Big on the list is the demolition of three buildings near the entrance of City Park – then the construction of a new replacement building. The department…


Imagination rules in the world of author & illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Tony DiTerlizzi writes creates stories that are read and viewed by millions of people. Most famous is the “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” both as a book and a movie. There’s “Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight,” a George Lucas approved expansion on the “Star Wars” franchise. Then there’s “Kenny and the Dragon,” The Wood County District Public Library’s Youth Community Reads book for this spring.  Of all those fans one reader remains the most critical to the best selling author. What will 10-year-old Tony think of what now 50-year-old Tony DiTerlizzi makes? Tony DiTerlizzi with Juno Kleinhans, who also likes to draw and write her own stories. DiTerlizzi recently visited Bowling Green as part of the Community Reads program. He visited schools, and in the evening gave a talk about how the 10-year-old from Florida grew up to become a beloved author and illustrator. Luck, he said, was important. Yes, people tell him that he’s lucky because he gets to spend his time  drawing and writing fanciful stories. When DiTerlizzi talked about luck, though, he went back to his childhood growing up in southern Florida. “Old people move down there and turn into lizards,” he said. He was not a good student. He preferred sitting in class drawing. In those doodles he unspooled the stories that were being screened in his mind. Then came time for him to give an oral book report on the classic children’s book “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” by Beverly Cleary.  “An oral book report is like oral surgery,” DiTerlizzi  told the audience of parents and kids. Then he crouched,, trying to make himself as small as he could, to demonstrate how he presented his book report. He had failed to master even the basic details of the book. The problem was, DiTerlizzi said, was that the books he loved were picture books, such as Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad.” While Cleary’s novel had a few illustrations, it was mostly words. But DiTerlizzi was in luck. His teacher had an inkling of what the problem was. So he gave 10-year-old Tony another chance. Pick two scenes from the book and draw pictures of them. Suddenly the youngster was engaged, reading…