Community

Pemberville teen Isaac Douglass headed to Sumatra to commune with orangutans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic worlds of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and others fictional heroes weren’t enough for the Isaac Douglass. “I used to read a lot of fantasy books,” Douglass, 14, said. “I enjoyed having little adventures, and I wanted it to happen in real life.” Two years ago the Pemberville teen returned from a Winter Jam concert with a brochure and an idea. He wanted to take a 30-day trip to Australia. His parents, Shawn and Maria Douglass, weren’t ready for that, but as people who traveled themselves when they were young, they wanted their son to have the same opportunity. “We want him to see the world as much bigger than the microcosm of Wood County,” his father said. They found a shorter trip. So at 12 he ventured to Costa Rica where he helped build a road to a farm and painted the house the farmers lived in, and swam and hiked. That’s what he did at 12, now at 14, Isaac is ready to venture further, to Sumatra and Bali. Like the trip to Costa Rica, this trip, offered by ARCC Programs, is both a service trip and a recreational venture. The largest part of the 18-day trip will be working to restore orangutan habitat in Sumatra. The orangutan is the most endangered primate in the world, Shawn Douglass said. Afterward the teens will venture to Bali for some surfing. Isaac will be leaving in late June. Originally the family had looked at the trip, but decided it was financially prohibitive. Then the price was cut because they needed more teenage boys….


Dunn hits home run with Hometown Hero award

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Playing ball at Carter Park is a rite of passage for many Bowling Green children. It’s where they learn to run for first base, not third after hitting the ball. It’s where their families fill the bleachers to root them on. It’s where they grab a handful of gummy worms and a slush after hot nights on the field. So Modern Woodmen recently honored the man who has devoted 41 years to the BG Youth Baseball program as a “Hometown Hero.” Tim Dunn was recognized at the Carter Park diamonds last month, and the fans seemed to appreciate the honor, since Modern Woodmen paid for hot dogs and drinks for anyone interested. “About 400 people took them up on it,” Dunn said. Many of the young ball players may be unfamiliar with Dunn and this enduring role with the youth baseball program. He started in 1976 by taking care of the grounds as a kid. He went on to umpire in high school, became Pee Wee League commissioner, then president of the BG Youth Baseball and BG Pee Wee League. Dunn has held that position since 1982. He coached teams for years, but now focuses on more administrative items like the scoreboards, sponsorship contracts, and organizing eight tournaments a year. Dunn still enjoys watching games from the stands, but now he usually has a pen and pad, so he can take notes on issues that need fixed. He knows a lot of people are counting on him and the program. This year there are nearly 400 children in the youth baseball program….


BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds that the district already has, so it will not be part of the bond issue in November. The three options being considered for the bond issue were: Renovations of Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries (Crim was renovated recently) and major high school additions: $54 million. Build new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries, plus the…


Organizers set gears in motion to stage Project Connect

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shannon Fisher, co-chair of Project Connect, said someday she’d like the program to go out of business. Project Connect is one-day program that provides direct services and connections for the community’s most vulnerable residents. She told 30 or so people attending the kickoff meeting Thursday morning: “We would love not to do Project Connect Wood County because that would tell us everyone in our community has a safe place to live, enough food, and a job to support their family. Until we get there, though, we need to do this.” This is planning. This is putting the gears in motion to stage the multifaceted festival of community care. The kickoff meeting was held at St. Mark’s Lutheran where four and half months from now guests needing a plethora of services will arrive. Project Connect will be held at the church Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. When people arrive, Fisher said, they are not “clients” or “patients,” they are “guests.” Each guest is assigned a host, who helps guide them through the array of services. The aim is to breakdown the usual formality of a client on one side of a desk, covered with paperwork, and the service provider on the other side soliciting information. Project Connect takes a more personal approach to determining what someone needs, and then meets those needs if possible on the day of the event, as well as helping guests make connections that will assist them for the rest of the year. Jamie Brubaker, who chairs the provider committee, said, Project Connect is about being more than a…


East Siders tired of landlords not maintaining rentals

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side resident Rose Hess is always armed with a roll of Scotch tape. “That’s just in case she needs to post something on an East Side home as she goes by,” explained John Zanfardino. Hess has taken it on as her duty to notify student renters in her neighborhood of such information as garbage rules, nuisance party issues, or just tips on how to be a good neighbor. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” she said. University student behavior is often a topic at the East Side neighborhood meetings. But on Thursday evening, much of the discussion was on the landlords who rent to students. Neocles Leontis, a BGSU faculty member and East Side resident, noted the large number of students living off campus and the growing number of rentals in the community – an estimated 60 percent of the housing units in Bowling Green, he said. “We’re also concerned when landlords violate safety and health standards,” Leontis said. He asked for help from the group’s guest speaker, Dr. Tom Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost at BGSU. Leontis sought Gibson’s support working with the city, “so all housing units meet minimal standards. We are woefully behind.” Gibson offered to help. “You have my support,” he said. The issues range from rental homes in disrepair, absentee landlords and poor energy efficiency. Gibson said while he was working at Ball State, he chaired a campus and community coalition for landlords and homeowners. Students got involved by developing a list of landlords to avoid. It functioned similar to “Yelp,”…


Don Scherer’s “Cooperative Wisdom” wins Nautilus Award

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS A book co-authored by Dr. Donald Scherer, professor emeritus of philosophy, and BGSU alumna Carolyn Jabs, a journalist and author, is the recipient of a gold Nautilus Award. “Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart” won recognition for illuminating an innovative and highly effective approach to conflict resolution. “We started working on the book in 2008, long before the recent election,” Scherer said. “Today, we find that people are deeply tired of endless conflict. There’s a real hunger for the benefits that come only from cooperation.” Scherer, who specialized in environmental ethics during his teaching career, spent a lifetime studying social systems to understand what makes them sustainable. “Cooperative Wisdom” distills his research, describing five principles that promote the kind of cooperation that undergirds thriving human communities. “The book is rooted in rigorous ethical philosophy,” Scherer said, “but the principles are relevant for families, schools, workplaces, nonprofit organizations and even governments.” Scherer and Jabs wrote the book as a conversation, a time-honored way of presenting philosophical ideas. Using living examples from history, current events, family life and Scripture, the book guides readers through 15 practices that will help them master this new way of responding to conflict. Jabs writes the award-winning column “Growing Up Online” and has published hundreds of articles on families, ethics, environmental issues and the internet. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Working Mother and Family PC, among many others. She is also the author of “The Heirloom Gardener.” The Nautilus Book Awards recognize books that transcend barriers of culture, gender, race and class….


Paranormal policy spelled out – and not on Ouija board

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Few public institutions have to adopt official paranormal policies. But then few local buildings are featured in the “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Ohio.” The Wood County Historical Society recently adopted a policy on paranormal investigations at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. There have been times over the years when ghost hunters have been allowed to spend the night in the museum in an effort to stir up spirits of the past. So Dana Nemeth, director of the historical center, said a consistent policy was in order. “We were starting to have people request to rent the museum for paranormal investigations,” Nemeth said. So the board spelled it out – and not on a Ouija board. No special arrangements will be made for paranormal investigations. No spooky overnight outings, and no sanctioned supernatural postings about the museum. There are multiple reasons to halt the channeling of so-called spirits at the museum, Nemeth said. First, the employees at the museum are county workers. “It’s not appropriate use of county employee time to supervise such activity,” she said. Second, there is already enough stigma associated with the people who once inhabited the former county poorhouse. The Wood County Historical Center and Museum is the site of the former County Infirmary, which operated from 1869-1971. After the last of its residents were moved to the new Wood County Nursing Home, the building was slated for destruction, but with support from the community, the building was repurposed into a museum, which is managed jointly by the Wood County Commissioners, the Wood County Historical Society,…


‘Isms’ give power to prejudice by labeling people

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Racism. Sexism, Ageism. Classism. Those “isms” tacked onto the ends of words stand for prejudice combined with power. The words define systematic prejudice – made easier by lumping people under a label. Earlier this month, Not In Our Town Bowling Green held another workshop at the library – this one specifically on “isms.” Everyone at the workshop could identify as a victim of at least one “ism.” There were “foreigners” and “feminists.”  There were people who stood out due to their color or their politics. The workshop was led by Dr. Krishna Han, assistant director of the BGSU Office of Multicultural Affairs. Han, originally from Cambodia, speaks five languages. Sometimes he can’t immediately find the English word that he is searching for. So, his strength sometimes appears to be a weakness when people judge Han’s intelligence by his occasional halting English. That and the color of his skin mean that Han may forever be looked upon as a foreigner in the U.S. – no matter how many years he had been here or the fact that he is an American citizen. “Generalization is dangerous – period,” Han said. Han tires of hearing people say, “Worry about your own country … This is my country,” he said. Even stereotypes that paint favorable pictures of people – such as all Asians being smart and hardworking – are harmful. “Any stereotype is negative,” said Ana Brown, a member of NIOT and BGSU administration member. Han asked the group to identify the hurtful comments directed to them in the past. “What do you never again want…


Sense of community blossoms in Common Good’s garden

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Common Good’s community garden at Peace Lutheran Church grows the usual beans, tomatoes, lettuce and eggplants. It also grows a sense of community. The produce that grows in the 3,500-square-foot plot can nourish a body. It can also nourish a sense of being connected to the earth. A core group of 15 people cultivate the plot so what grows there can be shared with everyone. The community garden was inspired by a cultural immersion trip to Mexico in 2008, said Megan Sunderland, director of the Common Good, a community and spiritual development center. The students came back stuffed with food for thought about globalization, access to land for gardens, and access to nutritious food. They also were committed to doing more than thinking about the issue. They were ready to get their hands dirty planting the seeds of action locally. The idea for the community garden grew from that. Sutherland said they approached Pastor Deb Conklin of Peace Lutheran about using some of the space on the church’s property between Pearl and West Wooster streets. The church was interested in the collaboration, providing the garden space, a tools and a place to store them, and access to the church. All this is in keeping with the creation care that’s a central tenet of the church’s mission. The core of about 15 people who regularly show up for planting, weeding and harvesting have a variety of motivations. Some are interested in sustainable agriculture, others in providing space so anyone can garden, and others providing quality food to the community. On Memorial Day Weekend, the…


Lupines turn park meadow into colorful mosaic

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bordner Meadow in Wintergarden Park is putting on a show right now with no admission fee charged. The periwinkle lupines have taken over sections, giving bursts of color to the meadow. But the show will only be in town for a few more days, when the lupine blooming season comes to an end. “They are quite prolific,” Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, said about the colorful meadow. “It does put on a very nice show in the month of May,” Stutzman said. People come out to the park just to take in the meadow mosaic of the floral spikes. But the lupines haven’t always had a prominent place in the park. There was a time about 20 years ago when no lupines were left in the Bowling Green area. The flower that was once a signature plant in the Oak Openings area had nearly disappeared from the region. “It was a potentially threatened plant in Ohio,” Stutzman said. Lupines are pretty particular about where they take root. “It’s picky in that it likes sand and sun,” Stutzman explained. That combination made the Bordner Meadow a perfect home for the lupines since the area has sand ridges left after glaciers receded from the area. So 17 or 18 years ago, the lupines were reintroduced to the meadow as part of a Bowling Green State University project. A total of 500 lupines were transplanted to the park. The lupines took over from there. “From there it hasn’t taken much for the plants to spread,” Stutzman…


BG remembers its war dead on Memorial Day

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Greg Robinette, a retired Army colonel, said raising flags and flowers on Memorial Day is a fitting way to honor those who died in the nation’s wars. People also need to do more. Robinette was the marshal of the Memorial Day parade in Bowling Green Monday and delivered the keynote address. “We must be engaged in preserving freedom,” Robinette said in the ceremonies at Oak Grove Cemetery. “We cannot let it be eroded either by apathy or activism or else they would have died in vain.” The best way to honor “the sacrifice by our fallen heroes is by living the freedom they have secured for us.” That can be as simple as voting. It can mean volunteering at churches and schools, to share the history of our country, “and the positive impact hit’s had around the world.” And, he added, “we can pray every day that brave and patriotic women and men will continue to accept the challenge of wearing a military uniform.” More than a million men and women from the American Revolution to Army Green Beret Mark De Alencar, who died fighting in Afghanistan in April, have been killed in the nation’s wars. The war on terrorism, Robinette warned, will not have the clear conclusion of a treaty that other wars have had. Peace may elude the country, and continue for years. The commemoration started under blue skies with temperatures in the 70s with a parade that moved from outside the post office on Washington Street, down Main Street, then up Court and onto the Oak Grove Cemetery. Wreaths were placed…


Levy renewal sought for child and adult protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services has relied on voters to provide funds to protect local children and seniors. This year will be no different. There have been times when expenses and needs are lower, that the voters have been given a break and the levy has gone uncollected for a year. But that is unlikely to occur again anytime soon considering the most recent increase in abuse and neglect reports. “They are on a record pace for child abuse and neglect complaints,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. It doesn’t help that Ohio is “dead last” among the states for funding of child protective services, according to Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Even if Ohio were to double its spending for child services, the state will still be last, he said. “We’re forced to support with levy funding from the local level,” Wigent said. “We’re in an embarrassing situation for child welfare support,” he said. Also not helping is the uncertainty of the federal budget. If the cuts were to proceed as proposed by President Donald Trump, child abuse and neglect funding would be slashed further. “It would have a devastating effect on us here,” Wigent said. Wigent presented his request to put the renewal 1.3-mill levy on the November ballot this year to the Wood County Commissioners. The commissioners gave the levy request their verbal blessing, and will have staff prepare a resolution to get it on the ballot, Kalmar said. The millage, to be collected for…


Tom McLaughlin returning to the land of his ancestors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tom McLaughlin was walking in the rain recently. When a driver stopped and asked if he wanted a ride, McLaughlin declined. He was getting ready for Ireland. The 82-year-old native of Bowling Green, who made his career elsewhere before returning to his hometown 25 years ago, is on the move again. At the end of July he’ll begin a long journey, first by train and then by plane, to his new home in Cornamona in Ireland’s County Galway. There he’ll continue his studies in the Irish language, memorize the poetry of William Butler Yeats and soak in the music and dancing. “Wherever they have traditional music, I’ll be there,” he said. For McLaughlin, it’s a return to a land his family left several generations ago. His late wife Kathleen, who had a keen interest in genealogy, located records of a great grandparent in Pennsylvania. McLaughlin’s own grandparents lived in Bowling Green where he was born. When he was just about ready to enter high school his parents moved north to Oregon. (He still gets together for lunch with members of the Bowling Green High Class of 1953.) In September, 2015, McLaughlin, traveled to Ireland with his five grown children. His eldest son, Tom Jr., was suffering from the cancer that would claim him in June, 2016. Tom Jr .had a deep love of Irish music and dancing, and as a naturalist a fascination with the cliffs and the birds that swirled about them. They located the ancestral plot in Northern Ireland. They explored the culture and the nature. And they hatched an idea. Why…


BG fine tunes three design options for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s downtown green space is taking shape. The question now is whether it should be a formal symmetrical shape or an informal meandering shape. Some pieces of the puzzle are definite – like the stone arched entry, the pavilion, and a gathering area. But just where those pieces fit on the 1.7 acres at West Wooster and South Church streets is still unknown. On Thursday, Troy Sonner, of Poggemeyer Design Group, presented three possible designs for the town square dubbed Wooster Green. The firm is donating its design services to the community in recognition of the business’ 50th anniversary. “We are one step away from a blank canvas,” Sonner said to members of the green space steering committee. The first design was modeled after the ideas of the Green Space Task Force. It includes wide walkways from corner to corner, creating a symmetrical “X” shape with a center area featuring a fountain or statue. The pavilion would be located toward the south of the site. This plan has the most concrete. The second design was submitted by a city resident, and features an open area close to Wooster, a winding walkway, and the pavilion toward the southwest portion of the square. This plan leaves larger open spaces and has less concrete. The third design is a combination of ideas from the task force and the citizen’s plan. It features the pavilion closer to Church Street, has a winding walkway, and much more open space toward the center and south of the square. This plan has the least concrete. Mayor Dick Edwards…


New voting machines come with hefty price tags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Wood County got its first touchscreen voting machines, many people feared they were too old-fashioned to keep up with the new voting technology. But now, after 11 years of elections, it’s the voting machines themselves that are considered obsolete. Across Ohio, county boards of elections are facing the challenge of replacing their aging voting machines with newer, expensive technology. The price tag to replace Wood County’s touchscreen voting stations is between $3.8 and $4.2 million. Counties and election boards have been working with the state legislature and secretary of state to get help footing the bill. “This is a great need across the state,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “The implications statewide and nationally are incredible.” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton presented the news to the county commissioners on Tuesday. “He told us the end is in sight and we need to prepare,” Kalmar said. The first touchscreen voting machines were purchased as part of the Help America Vote Act after the infamous “hanging chad” drama in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The electronic touchscreen systems were purchased to prevent the uncertainty of punchcard voting. The initial touchscreen units cost $1.2 million – with federal funds paying for at least 80 percent of the price, Kalmar said. Kalmar is banking on the legislature helping this time around. The topic has been before the state for a while. “That has been the discussion for the last two years,” Burton said. Heavy duty lobbying is underway to get some money out of the state’s next budget cycle, he…