Community

Too many gyms in BG may be unhealthy for business

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Bowling Green area residents try to work off their butts or guts, the city is seeing a glut of gyms in the community. Gym members trying to burn off calories on cardio equipment and build muscles on weight machines may benefit from the exercise options – but the number of gyms could be unhealthy for the businesses. There are many similarities at the gyms – lots of equipment for those who prefer solitary exercise, or classes in spinning, zumba or pilates for those who thrive on group motivation. There are some differences at each location. The community center has a track, basketball and volleyball courts. St. Julian’s Fitness has free classes with memberships and is the official Silver Sneaker location in the city. Anytime Fitness is open round the clock and allows use of any other Anytime Fitness in the world. BGSU Recreation Center has a couple indoor pools. And Crossfit offers its own brand of specialized workouts. Soon, people looking for just the perfect fit to perfect their bodies, will have another choice. Planet Fitness has announced plans to open a gym on South Main Street, near the Staples store. Generally, Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, is in favor of new business growth to the city – especially since that means new tax revenue – even if it is another gym. “I think competition is a great thing. It keeps us all on our game,” she said. However, this latest entry has some gym officials breaking out into a sweat. “That is concerning. This…


Dancing the night away at Toledo Museum’s Block Party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Toledo Museum of Art’s annual Block Party takes place throughout the museum’s campus. And for the fourth party held Saturday night, even the lawns and terrace didn’t seem like they were quite big enough as thousands of neighbors, coming from as close a few blocks away or neighboring communities, jammed the museum grounds for a night of entertainment, food, beverages, and camaraderie. The air throbbed with the sounds of hip hop, electronica and funk. Two dance groups performed, including the Hellenic Dancers. The troupe’s performance was tied to the opening in the museum’s Canaday Gallery of the major exhibit “The Berlin Painter and His World.” The show showcases dozens of vases painted in 5th Century B.C. in Athens, Greece. Considered the finest representations of their time, the vases come from museums around the world.  During a glass demonstration tiny replicas of those vases were being created. Greek food was also among the cuisines available from the food trucks arrayed along Monroe Street. The evening also featured The Dancers of Aha! Indian Dancers and Birds Eye View Circus. Despite the international flare, all the performers come from Toledo, a nod to the area’s cultural richness. The multi-ethnic throng ranged in age from babes in arms and hard-to-corral toddlers to elders, who for whatever their infirmities, still could move to the music. As closing approached, people were still dancing to the throbbing beats delivered by DJ Folk. In the middle of it all, Alexander Calder’s sculpture “Stegosaurus” presided, poised it seemed to snap its moorings and join the dance.    


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…


Artist brings color & pride to South Toledo

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Miguel Hidalgo and Vicente Guerrero, heroes of Mexico’s fight for Independence, are riding again, now in South Toledo. The two are the central figures in a mural created by artist David Cuatlacuatl and students involved in the Bowling Green State University mural project. Cuatlacuatl, a Mexican-born, Indiana-raised artist, was the guest for this year’s project. He is the resident artist with the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center. He’s been at the center since last summer, but his connections extend further back. He first visited when his brother Frederico Cuatlacuatl was studying for his Master of Fine Arts in digital arts at Bowling Green State University from 2013-2015. But David Cuatlacuatl was offered the opportunity to come to Toledo when the director of the Quintero center visited an artist-in-residence program that the Cuatlacuatl brothers co-directed in their native Puebla, Mexico. She offered him the position in Toledo. Gordon Ricketts, the BGSU instructor who runs the mural project, knew his brother and approached him to work with a few students to create a mural as part of the summer project. (For a story on the mural project see http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-students-paint-murals-to-animate-toledo-neighborhoods/) So Cuatlacuatl set about designing a mural for a wall two blocks from the Quintero Center. It’s on the back of the building that houses the food pantry run by the Immaculate Conception Church that’s right across the street. In the center he placed Guerrero and Hidalgo on a horse, and in a contemporary touch he has them wearing running shoes, the Nike swoosh evident on Guerrero’s footwear. The general’s presence reflects the ethnic mix of…


Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging…


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…


Home sweet Habitat home … with mortgage paid off

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 years ago, James Wenz and his family moved into their newly built Habitat for Humanity home on Walnut Street in Bloomdale. Their home was one of the first built by Habitat in Wood County. On Thursday, Wenz crumbled up his mortgage and lit it on fire. “That’s the sweetest fire I’ve ever seen,” said Wenz. Wenz is the second of the 37 Habitat homeowners in Wood County to pay off his mortgage. So the event was celebrated outside Trinity United Methodist Church in Bowling Green. “This is huge. This is what it’s all about, right here,” said Mark Ohashi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Wood County. “Here we’re seeing the success of the program.” Habitat for Humanity homeowners pay a no-interest or low-interest monthly mortgage payment for a safe and affordable home. “We know that with just a little help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Ohashi said. “James and his family just needed a boost, and they took that opportunity and ran with it. They’re the perfect example of what a home can do for a family.” Wenz raised three children in the home on Walnut Street. “They’ve all left the nest,” he said. “It was a good place to raise a family.” And now that the mortgage is paid off, Wenz has plans for those monthly payments that used to go toward his house. “I’d like to save for retirement,” he said. And remodel his home, he added. Before burning his…


Holiday drunk driving turns celebration into tragedy

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY This year, as we celebrate our country’s birthday, thousands of families take to their cars, driving to neighborhood cookouts, family picnics, and other summer festivities. Sadly, some of those families’ Independence Day will end in tragedy, as too many irresponsible people decide to drink and drive. Unfortunately, their bad choices have lasting effects on families. For as many good memories as the Fourth of July holiday can provide, it can also create devastating nightmares for families who lose a loved one due to drunk driving. During the 2015 Fourth of July holiday period (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6), 92 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher, and 146 people died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08. In fact, from 2011-2015, 39 percent of all traffic fatalities over the Fourth of July period occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. Join us for a family friendly event on July 3, at the Perry Field House Parking Lot beginning at 8 p.m. Enjoy games, prizes, and the chance to interact with Bowling Green Fire and EMS plus officers from the Bowling Green State University Police Department. Activities continue until the fireworks begin at 10 p.m. Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July. Please designate a driver and make it home safe.


BG Community Center to fine tune fitness class fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Changes are being considered at the community center that will help pay for fitness instructors and help people stay fit at the same time. But it also means people will be paying a little more for fitness classes. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday discussed new fitness class pricing for the fall, and offering a discount for community center members who want to take classes, and for those who take classes who want to join the community center. “Our mission is to make sure people are healthy,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. The price increase will be voted on next month, and go into effect in September. The following rates are being considered: Drop-in classes: $8 now, $10 proposed. Monthly: $40 now, $45 proposed. Quarterly: $105 now, $117 proposed. Annual: $360 now, $396 proposed. The last time rates changed was 2015, and Otley said she would rather see “small incremental price increases” than putting it off and needing big rate hikes. “Minimal increases is our philosophy,” Otley said. No increase will go into effect until the fall. “We want to be able to give people a heads up,” she said. “We want to be as transparent as we can.” In the past, people taking classes could only go to the specific class they signed up for. But now, people can pay monthly, quarterly or annually and pick from a variety of classes, such as spin, step or zumba. That makes it more appealing for people who want to try different classes, Otley said. But…


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…


Survey shows Wood Countians are overweight, under-exercised

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A recent survey of Wood County adults shows that 70 percent are either overweight or obese. Few are eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables. And few are drinking the suggested amounts of water. Ten percent of the adults said in the past year they have had to choose between paying bills and buying food. The survey also shows many would support more locally grown foods, want more accessible walking and biking trails, and would like local agencies to partner with grocery stores to provide low cost healthy foods. The 2017 Nutrition and Physical Activity Health Assessment – which is still in its draft form – is intended to help local organizations develop strategies that focus on wellness, access to care, and unmet community needs. The survey is the work of the Wood County Health District and the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. The information was gathered from 456 local residents who completed surveys. A separate section, which came from 106 community leaders in the county, was done to see how close the answers compared between average citizens and key leaders. The survey showed that key community leaders are much more aware of healthy food options and exercise opportunities in the county. “One of the biggest gaps we identified was the difference between key leaders and the general public,” said Pat Snyder, communication manager at the Wood County Health District. “It’s not that every place needs more bike trails or parks, but we need to make people aware” of where they already exist, said Alex Aspacher, county outreach coordinator at the…


BG challenged to do more recycling and composting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council has been urged to think “outside the landfill” as a way to save the city money. Neocles Leontis, a Bowling Green State University chemistry professor, suggested last week during a council meeting that the city could reduce its general fund shortfall by thinking creatively about waste generated in the city. He spoke when council asked for public input as they debated options to shore up the city’s general fund after a series of funding cuts from the state. Council members agreed the best option for raising $800,000 a year would be to start charging a fee for trash pickup. Leontis urged them to be more creative in their thinking about garbage. After meeting with Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft about garbage statistics for the city, Leontis reported the city collects about 5,600 tons of garbage a year. Of that amount, about 12 percent is recycled – so about 5,000 tons end up being landfilled. The landfill charges $39.30 a ton, so the city is currently saving about $25,000 a year through recycling. Leontis suggested the city could do better – much better. While the city improved its recycling rate a few years ago after investing in the larger blue recycling containers, the 12 percent recycling rate is relatively low, he said. The average national recycling rate is about 35 percent, Leontis told council. If Bowling Green were to increase its rate to the national average, the city could save an additional $50,000 in landfill costs. But why stop there, he asked. “Why be average?” He presented…


Public concerns about health care focus of Sunday talk at Maumee Valley UUC

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Joe Hessling knows the health care system. He’s been a partner in the RL King Agency, an employee benefits consulting firm, for 14 years. In the 20 years previous he worked in the Mercy Health System and for the Diocese of Toledo overseeing the health insurance and pension plans for its 3,000 employees. He also serves on the board of directors for a Medicaid clinic. Also, he said in a telephone interview: “I’m a person who has had every illness known to man.” That personal experience is as important as his work experience. “To be a consultant you have to have experience with industry. You can be much more empathetic to individuals who are taking on the insurance companies and the insurance market and help them walk their way through it.” Hessling will share his knowledge when he presents Health Care for the Underserved, Sunday, June 25, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 20189 N. Dixie Highway (Route 25) Bowling Green. “I’m an advocate for access to care, to make sure everyone had access to health care,” he said. His approach is to provide people with the information they need to both make decisions for their own care but also advocate for the kind of health policy they’d like to see the country adopt. Hessling tries to steer clear of advocating for any particular policy, though he has his opinions. He said on Sunday he’ll be “explaining what’s happening on both sides of the aisle … what’s good and what’s bad.” “The purpose isn’t to get people to take…


Wooster Green designs to get public review in July

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The steering committee has batted around all kinds of ideas for Wooster Green – so soon it will be the public’s chance to weigh in. Three features of the 1.2-acre green space where the old junior high used to sit are not up for debate. There will be a stone arched entry at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. There will be a 20 by 30 foot octagon shaped pavilion for performances or gatherings. And there will be a display area for public art – possibly a sculpture. Based on public comment and input from the steering committee, some changes to the plans have already been implemented. The site will have less concrete than originally planned. “That was a clear cut message that came from the last meeting,” said Troy Sonner, with Poggemeyer Design Group. The firm is doing the Wooster Green design space for free as part the business’ 50th anniversary gift to the community. During Thursday’s steering committee meeting, there was spirited debate over the four possible designs presented. The goal of the group was to narrow it down to two designs that will be presented to the public for input. After some deliberation, the committee decided on one design that is more symmetrical, with walkways creating an “X” in the green space. The other design had more meandering walkways that curved across the green. “Here’s the kicker,” said Lori Young, co-chair of the design committee. “We’ve got one shot to design this space so it’s usable.” The steering committee logged concerns about: Having enough space for…


Fitness trail links Simpson park to Conneaut sled hill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   From Conneaut Avenue, it almost looks like a new playground. But there are no slides, no swings, no climbing structures. This is a different kind of playground – one made for adults who want an extra challenge as they walk, run or bicycle past. On Wednesday afternoon, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Wood County Hospital and the City of Bowling Green officially dedicated the fitness trail and exercise station. The trail, which runs through hospital property, connects Simpson Garden Park and Conneaut sledding hill. The exercise equipment is located in the empty lot along Conneaut Avenue, just north of the hospital’s rehabilitation center. Representatives of the hospital, chamber and city parks talked about how teamwork made the fitness trail possible. “I’ve been here 20 years,” said Stan Korducki, president of Wood County Hospital.  “And I remember talking to people about how Bowling Green was different.” That difference was the desire to work together to make life better for citizens. “I hadn’t seen that in other communities,” Korducki said. The hospital decided to tear down the weathered big blue house that sat along Conneaut Avenue, which left a green space with old stone fences. Since one of the hospital’s missions is to encourage people to be more active, the decision was made to tie Simpson Garden Park and the sledding hill together. “This just seemed to be the right thing to do,” Korducki said. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, remembered checking out the fitness equipment for placement in a city park. “Literally the next day I…