Community

Time to sign up to join BG Holiday Parade

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Annual Bowling Green Parade Project Team announces the 2018 Community Holiday Parade to take place Saturday, Nov. 17, starting at 10 a.m., in Downtown Bowling Green.  The theme this year is “Our Best Hometown Holiday” complementing the award given to Bowling Green by Ohio Magazine.  Come and join community groups, businesses, bands, and Santa for some fun this year. With many local participants, this can be your year to join in on all the excitement. Unit Registration & Sponsorship forms are now available in the Chamber office or at www.bgchamber.net.  The deadline to register units for the 2018 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. Registration is $50 for Non-Investors, $25 for Investors and $15 for Non-Profits, with the fees supporting band stipends, parade publicity, general administrative costs, as well as the cost of WTOL broadcasting the Parade. Sponsorships and/or donations to help offset expenses of the parade are also appreciated.  Sponsorship and unit registration forms can be downloaded from www.bgchamber.net and mailed to the BG Chamber at 130 S. Main St., Bowling Green, Ohio 43402.  Sponsorship forms must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, November 5th to be recognized in the media outlets. The 2018 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is brought to you by the Presenting Sponsors, Julie’s Dance Studio, Rosenboom Custom Crafted Cylinders, Regal Beloit and the City of Bowling Green.  And WTOL Channel 11 will be broadcasting the parade live this year! The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce supports an environment for the development and success of business within the Bowling Green area.  The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Celebrates, Educates, and Strengthens its Investors through Business Improvement Events, Grants, Services, Leadership, Legislative Updates and Group Savings Programs.  We are your Community Connection via ‘The Morning Show’ radio program WBGU 88.1FM, Wood County Safety Council, Annual Awards, Holiday Parade and Fireworks.  The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce is Celebrating 82 years; Established 1936.


BG Schools task force looks at who’s picking up tax tab

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green School District financial task force found out Wednesday who is footing the tax bill to support the district. The bulk, 54 percent, comes from property taxes. The next biggest chunk comes from the state, at 33 percent, followed by income taxes at 10 percent. David Conley, facilitator of the financial task force, said the “vast majority” of school districts in Ohio only have local property taxes. He estimated that out of the state’s 600 school districts, only about 40 have income taxes. However, several rural districts in this area do have some income tax revenue – including Bowling Green which passed an income tax levy renewal in 2017. The question that some task force members want answered is – are all local citizens paying their fair share of the property tax pie? Or is the agricultural community being asked to pay too large of a portion. Conley’s numbers showed the makeup of the Bowling Green City School District tax base is as follows: 58.9 percent is residential. 24.1 percent is commercial. 9.7 percent is agriculture. 5.7 percent is industrial. 1.5 percent is public utility. One task force member questioned how the agricultural community feels it is bearing the brunt of property taxes for schools – since the numbers show otherwise. Conley said that the agricultural piece of the pie is being shared by a smaller number of people. However, it was also pointed out that while agricultural values recently increased significantly, they have since come down some, and are expected to continue that decline. The valuations also sat at very low levels for years before taking the recent jump in value. Residents also asked for specifics about which residents of which political entities in the district were picking up the tax tab. So broken down by political entities, the numbers showed: Bowling Green landowners makeup 74.7 percent of the tax base. Liberty Township, 6.8 percent. Plain Township, 5.5 percent. Center Township, 5.4 percent. Milton Township, 4.2 percent. Village of Portage, 0.8 percent. Middleton Township, 0.4 percent. Village of Custar, 0.3 percent. Village of Milton Center, 0.2 percent. Jackson, Richfield and Webster townships had a combined 0.12 percent. A great deal of Wednesday’s meeting focused on a 1.7-mill permanent improvement levy originally passed by voters in 1984. The district reduced the amount to 1.2 mills in 1999 and asked voters to approve it as a continuing levy. The voters supported that effort. The permanent improvement levy generates about $516,000 a year for the district. The school board recently used a portion of the levy revenue to put an addition on the middle school. Some members of the task force felt that the board had used the funding illegally – or at least improperly – for that addition. However, Conley said permanent improvement levies can be used to pay for any capital improvements with a life of five years or greater. “The board had the legal right to do an extension to the building,” he told the task force on Wednesday. But some continued to question the wisdom of the board to use the PI levy funds rather than going to the voters again for a levy specifically for the middle school addition. Task force member Richard Strow expressed concern that…


Project Connect links people with the help they need

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Justin Stricklen was in serious need of a haircut when he showed up at Project Connect on Wednesday. It had been six months since his last trim, and he wasn’t particular about how it was styled. “Whatever she does, I’ll like it. I’m not picky,” Stricklen said as he sat in a makeshift barber chair as a volunteer stylist used clippers on his hair. Stricklen was one of about 300 people who showed up at the annual Project Connect Wood County event Wednesday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green. He was there for more than a haircut – looking for help with employment and some winter clothes. Project Connect is an annual event bringing together health, employment, housing, food and other services all in one location on one day. When the doors opened at 9 a.m., people were waiting to get in. “At 8:30 we had a line around the building,” said Kathy Mull, one of the coordinators of the event. “The benefit of Project Connect is we can bring 57 providers in one space together,” Mull said. “People can come to one location and go from one to another.” People attending don’t just get a brochure about services available – they get the services that day, or get help navigating the sometimes complicated path to receiving help. “Folks aren’t always sure where to start,” Mull said. They may need help with utility bills, or dental care, or food. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. So Project Connect brings all the help to one location. Jenessa Holtgrieve, of Bowling Green, came to Project Connect for help with food, winter clothes and diapers. “It helps a lot. They’ve been very generous here,” Holtgrieve said. Charlie Jones, of Bowling Green, waited in the hallway as his wife got an eye exam. Jones said he came in search of Christmas gifts for their son, employment help, and winter coats for his wife and son. Brandie Guinn, also of Bowling Green, has been attending Project Connect for the last three years. She came to get flu shots, her blood pressure and vision checked, and to get birth certificates. “This place is amazing,” Guinn said. “It’s a really great resource.” Project Connect brings together many governmental, health and educational agencies. Some agencies offered several services during the day. For example, the Wood County Health Department offered smoking cessation help, WIC assistance, nutrition and budget advice, relaxation skills, and free birth certificates paid for by Zonta and BG Exchange Club. In the area of medical care, people attending were offered dental screenings, podiatry examinations, PAP screenings and mammograms, blood pressure checks, relation therapy and yoga, eye exams and glasses, blood pressure checks and breast health evaluations. Aid offered for children and families included help applying for child support, holiday assistance, child care assistance, Headstart enrollment, developmental screenings for children, and WIC cards. Other benefits offered included legal services advice, referral for health human resources, health care for Medicaid/Medicare recipients, nutrition and wellness assistance. Personal care assistance included chair massages, haircuts, clothes, and personal hygiene products. Several agencies offered help with transportation and assistance for senior citizens. There were also library resources and pet food supplies available. Help with housing and utilities included assistance with home repairs, homeownership and fair…


Gordon’s resignation comes under cloud of accusations

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After seven years of being the voice of the First Ward, Bowling Green City Council member Daniel Gordon has stepped down. First elected as a college student, Gordon fought for the rights of those often unheard by city government. He worked to improve East Side neighborhoods and to make the city a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds. But he steps down from City Council under a cloud of accusations of sexual assault and rape. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that his office is looking into the allegations that were reported to the police division by a third party. Hetrick said he could not reveal details. “I can’t comment on an investigation,” the chief said. The person making the accusations has not reported them to police. The accusations were posted on social media, including as comments on the Wood County Democratic Party’s Facebook page. Mike Zickar, president of the Wood County Democratic Party, said he saw the comments last week on the party’s Facebook page. “I notified the police. I felt like they were the people to investigate,” Zickar said. “I felt like that was a serious charge, and the party doesn’t have the mechanisms to investigate,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher said he was made aware of the social media posts last week, and was aware those were forwarded to the police division. Gordon had one year left on his council term. Council will follow the same process it has in the past to fill vacancies, Aspacher said. Any First Ward resident interested in the position has until Oct. 31 to submit an application to the city. Prior to the next council meeting on Nov. 5, a Committee of the Whole meeting will be held to hear from all the applicants. A replacement will be selected at that time, Aspacher said. Aspacher said Gordon has served the city well during his seven years on council. “He was always eager to discuss issues of inclusiveness in our community,” Aspacher said. Gordon provided a valuable connection between the university and the city, Zickar said. “I feel Daniel brought a real nice link between students and the city,” Zickar said. Mayor Dick Edwards also praised Gordon’s efforts on council. “Obviously this comes as quite a surprise,” he said about the resignation. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Daniel,” Edwards said. “He’s reached out to me a number of times and has asked my thoughts on different matters.” The mayor said Gordon was a responsive council member, who had a good understanding of the need for neighborhood revitalization. He praised Gordon’s efforts on the “Welcoming BG” initiative, and his success at creating Ridge Park. “I think that was a good accomplishment,” Edwards said. The mayor agreed with Aspacher that a First Ward replacement should be found by the next meeting. “It’s so important that we get a good person on there right away.” The First Ward seat will then be on the November 2019 ballot. Gordon said this morning that he was unaware of the police looking into any accusations against him. He had intended to announce his resignation at Monday’s City Council meeting, but said he was instead in the hospital ER at that time after having an asthma…


BG school board wants transparency with task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education made it clear Tuesday evening that the school task force discussions must remain public and that the board not be kept in the dark on the process. “The public nature of this process is absolutely necessary,” said board president Jill Carr. For those community members afraid to express their opinions publicly, the task force consultant  volunteered to be “Ground Zero” for their comments. After the first meetings of the financial and the facilities task forces, some members expressed concern that the information shared at those meetings was public. Some objected to updates being given to the board of education. The task forces have been set up to determine the best options for district school facilities. The recommendations will be presented to the board of education. The board has vowed to keep a hands-off approach with the task force process – however, the board wants updates so members have the same information as those in the task force meetings. “It’s essential that we remain informed,” Carr said. Carr expressed her appreciation for community members on the task forces, and voiced concern about the condition of the school buildings. “They are deteriorating right before our eyes,” she said. “Time and openness are of the essence.” Carr’s comments came after consultant David Conley reported to the board on the first financial task force meeting. He has posted the meeting on Facebook for public viewing. However, the team coordinating the facilities task force was unaware of the desire by some citizens to have meetings videotaped and reported to the board. Conley said he would make them aware. Board member Bill Clifford said the board supported the task force process with an understanding that updates would be reported to the board. “That was an expectation,” Clifford said. Conley said he has been impressed with the willingness of “courageous” task force members to share their thoughts at meetings. However, those who want their comments kept confidential can relay them to Conley privately, he said. “I’m really proud how we’ve engaged the community,” Conley said. The first financial task force meeting was attended by about 55 community members. Conley has also heard from about 10 senior citizens unable to make the meetings who don’t have internet connections. So he is trying to find a way to get the information to them. The next meeting of the financial task force will be Wednesday at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. During that meeting, Conley said he will present answers to several questions raised at the previous meeting. “The goal is to make sure everyone in the community is informed and that they know the truth,” he said. The task force will talk about the makeup of the district – “who we are and where our money comes from,” he said. Conley reported to the board that the task force has covered information on the large geographic area of the district, plus some of the election history of the district. The history shows an “incredibly strong record of voter support” – except for the bond issues, he said. While most districts have a 33 percent passing rate for levy issues the first time around, Bowling Green’s rate is about 70 percent. “This is a community…


Community bands to scare up seasonal sounds

From BG AREA COMMUNITY BANDS The BG Area Community Bands present the annual Fall  “family concert,” Halloween Hi-Jinks,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. at the Bowling Green Schools Performing Arts Center.  The afternoon program will include familiar seasonal selections with a focus on “family friendly” music.  Children of all ages are most welcome to attend, and are encouraged to wear “non scary” costumes. The Concert Band, conducted by Thomas Headley, will feature “76 Trombones” by Meredith Willson, John Philip Sousa’s delightful setting of “Yankee Doodle,” a Pixar salute to the movie “UP!” and a medley of a number of Disney favorites skillfully arranged by John Higgins. BiG Band BG, the Bowling Green Area Jazz Band directed by William E. Lake, will feature Jazz vocalist Elizabeth Green on “Cry Me a River” and Tenor Saxophonist Dan VanVorhis on Louis Prima’s “Jump, Jive, and Wail.” The family-friendly one-hour concert is free, and the public cordially invited to attend.  The Performing Arts Center is easily accessed from nearby parking at the 530 West Poe Road school campus.  Free-will donations will be gratefully accepted, along with information about the Patron program.


Community solar project takes another step forward

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future just got a little brighter for the proposed community solar project in Bowling Green. On Monday, Bowling Green City Council had the first reading of an ordinance authorizing an easement and lease agreement for between the city and Wood County. Earlier this year, the Wood County Commissioners entered an agreement with the city to allow 50 acres of county land to be studied as a potential site for a solar field. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also agreed to allow 20 acres of its neighboring land to be part of the project. The 70 acres sit on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane facilities. The property is currently leased for farming. Last week, the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities approved the agreement now before council. The agreement is for a three-year lease option and does not commit the city to taking any action or spending any funds. Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell explained that having the property under a lease option would allow the city to have more detailed discussions with solar developers. “This is meant to be a community project,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, said during a meeting with the county commissioners earlier this year. “Everybody is talking about doing their best to make this succeed.” Both of those entities have already shown strong support for solar power, by backing the city’s solar field on Carter and Newton roads. That field, at 165 acres, is the largest solar field in Ohio. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. This new project, on East Gypsy Lane, would be different in that it could be a community solar field, which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to O’Connell. All of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green. The community field could produce up to 10 megawatts, which is about half of the power generated at the Carter Road site. The panels would likely rotate with the sun during the day to maximize the energy generated. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said earlier this year. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would be an ideal location for this,” Stockburger said. The agreement with the county commissioners gives the city up to three years to determine if the East Gypsy Lane site is an economically sound location for a community solar field, Stockburger said earlier this year. “If the numbers all work out,…


BG council member questions Columbia Gas protocols

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least one Bowling Green City Council member is not ready to give Columbia Gas a pat on the back for agreeing to notify the city more promptly in case of an emergency. On Monday evening, Council member Greg Robinette complimented the local response by firefighters to a serious gas leak last month. But he referred to Columbia Gas’ response protocol as “negligent and reckless.” Gas company officials met with city officials and agreed to not wait so long to call the fire division in the case of another leak. But that gave Robinette little comfort. “I’m still quite concerned about Columbia Gas and their internal policies,” Robinette said. “Despite their assurances to do better, I don’t think we should give them a pass.” He referred to comments made by a Columbia Gas official after a leak that allowed natural gas levels to reach explosive levels in downtown Bowling Green. After the leak, Columbia Gas defended its response. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” Robinette called that statement an “outrageous admission” by Columbia Gas. He cited what he called a “disregard to the safety of residents.” City Council member John Zanfardino asked about the seriousness of the gas leak. “We were like a cigarette lighting away from blowing up a building,” he asked. Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said the gas is “highly explosive” and had reached explosive levels. Moorman reported to City Council the results of a meeting that he and Public Works Director Brian Craft had with Columbia Gas officials days after the downtown leak. Moorman said he and Craft had a very frank conversation with them. “It was made very clear that would never happen again here in Bowling Green,” Moorman said. Columbia Gas officials agreed go beyond their policies and immediately notify Bowling Green Fire Division if gas leaks in the downtown construction area get close to dangerous levels again. On Sept. 13, a leak occurred in the downtown area of South Main Street, where Columbia Gas is replacing old natural gas lines. By the time the fire division was notified, the leaking gas had reached explosive levels, Moorman said. “They did not call us soon enough,” the fire chief said. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural…


School task force hears report on buildings; some want meetings confidential

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the new Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force leaders toured the school buildings recently, they came upon a sign that seemed to fit the district’s situation. “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Nearly 60 community members met in the high school cafeteria last week for the first facilities task force meeting. They first addressed brick and mortar issues, and got an update on the condition of the school buildings. Then they touched on the “elephants in the room” that are affecting the future of the buildings. Two task forces are working on the school building issue – one looking at the facilities and the other at the finances. While both groups are working independently of each other, the financial task force will make its final decisions based on the goals set by the facilities task force. Once both task forces are done, recommendations will be made to the board of education of how the district should proceed. Those recommendations could range from doing nothing to the buildings, to renovating the existing buildings, to building new elementaries at their current sites, to consolidating the elementaries into one new building. The school administration and board are taking a hands-off approach to the task force process. They provide information when requested, but don’t attend meetings and don’t offer input. David Conley, who is facilitating the financial task force, provides live video via Facebook for those who can’t attend the meetings. The facilities task force did not videotape last week’s meeting. A member of the task force, Grant Chamberlain suggested that the meetings be kept “confidential” since items discussed at the meetings could be harmful to business owners. The facilities task force coordinators said they had originally planned to give school district officials updates on what was being discussed – not to get approval or input, but just to keep them up-to-date. Some members of the task force objected, and a decision will be made at the next meeting on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. Leading the facilities task force are three members of Fanning Howey, a firm of architects, engineers, planners and former school administrators who specialize in school buildings. The firm has assisted more than 100 Ohio school districts, including Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood in Wood County. Three members of the firm are volunteering their time to work with the Bowling Green facilities task force – architects Steve Wilczynski and Dan Obrynba, plus former school superintendent Tim Hamilton. Prior to last week’s meeting, the team toured the district’s school buildings and reviewed the most recent report from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which is the agency that establishes state funding rules. The team reported that Bowling Green’s ranking by the OFCC is not good – meaning no money is available now, and if it becomes available some day, it will pay for an estimated 17 percent of the project, if the buildings are designed to state specifics. “Your ranking is heading in the wrong direction,” Hamilton said, estimating there are 100 school districts in front of Bowling Green for funding. “There are a lot of districts ahead of you.” The task force coordinators reviewed…


Tricked-out Firefly Nights will offer plenty of treats for kids & grownups

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights is adding some new tricks to the downtown festival to provide more treats for kids and adults alike.  The Firefly Nights Fall Festival will be held Friday, Oct. 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. in downtown Bowling Green. The festival continues the series of events offered throughout the summer. Now it’ll change colors just a bit to fit the season. For kids that means a costume contest, trunk and treat, pumpkin decorating, and a kiddie tractor pull. For adults that means a farmers market, more music, free yoga classes, and beer gardens on both ends of Main Street. Adults are invited to come in costume as well. The fall festival took shape through parallel discussions by the Firefly organizers and the downtown merchants. Mary Hinkelman, former Downtown Bowling Green director and now Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the concerns about downtown trick or treat were raised by merchants. Downtown trick or treating had outgrown the streets. She estimated about 2,000 children trick-or-treated downtown last year. That many youngsters accompanied by adults jammed the sidewalks, causing safety concerns. The merchants wondered: What if they could block off the street as they do for Firefly Nights? Hinkelman took the idea to the board of directors and they approved. So did the Firefly Nights organizers who were already considering doing one more festival in fall. “I think it was the zeitgeist of the time,” said Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. “You know how small towns work — good ideas just grow.” A new partnership was born. Laura Wicks said the idea was: “Why not make it more of a family friendly activity instead of just filling up a bag of candy?” So the Fall Firefly Nights will be held instead of downtown trick or treat, which had typically been on the Thursday before Halloween. In place of children going to door to door to businesses, Thayer Family dealerships is bringing cars downtown, and treats will be doled out from the trunks. Trinity United Methodist, a couple blocks off Main Street, will also hold its trunk or treat event that night from 6 to 8 p.m. In the Firefly costume contest, judges roaming the crowd will select 40 kids — 20 from earlier in the night, 20 from later — based on the creativity and effort put into their outfi. Firefly Nights will also offer those attractions that brought people downtown on the third Fridays during the summer, even when the weather was wet. Bands have been booked for stages at each end of Main Street.  Performing will be: North Stage • 6:30 p.m. — Lucian Townes • 7:30 p.m. — Two Shoes Jackson • 9 p.m. — Tree No Leaves South Stage • 6 p.m. — Elia Rose • 7 p.m. — Todd Elson • 8 p.m. — Patrick McGee • 9 p.m. — Three Two Many There will be a full complement of food trucks there to appeal to a variety of palates from sausage lovers to vegans. The trucks will be relocated on the north end with the festival’s footprint. Main Street will be blocked off from Washington Street to  Clay Street, about a block and a half longer than before. All this takes volunteers. The summer events, Hinkelman said, required more…


Connection Center offers hope to those facing mental illness

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For almost two decades, the Connection Center in Bowling Green had provided a safe and welcoming place for people struggling with mental health issues. The only problem was that the space at 194 S. Main St. did not keep up with the growing needs. “We’ve needed this space for a long time,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, which is the primary source of funding for the center. “I know the Connection Center has been very important in helping people recover,” Clemons said. “This is phenomenal.” Verna Mullins, the Connection Center manager, said the new expanded location promises many possibilities. “Our new facilities will give us a chance to grow” not only in the number of people served, but also in the programming offered, Mullins said. The primary goal of the center is to help people on their paths to recovery from mental health problems. “We will continue to do what we do best – provide hope,” Mullins said. On Thursday, the official ribbon cutting was held at the new Connection Center location at 309 S. Main St. The new location has almost double the space for adults receiving mental health services in Wood County. There’s room for more educational programs, like those on nutrition, exercise, and tips on how to beat the holiday blues. And there’s room for fun – as evidenced by the center’s schedule posted on a big calendar on the wall. There are plans for musical entertainment and a Halloween party. The center has a craft area, big TV, and plenty of comfortable seating. There are field trips planned to a pumpkin patch, alpaca farm, bowling, a cookout, the movie theater, a corn maze, apple orchard, and neighborhood strolls. “Whenever there was a holiday party, you couldn’t move,” John Fortner, director of Harbor mental health services in Wood County, said of the old space. The doubled space is expected to make a big difference for a lot of people. “It was really, really cramped in the other building,” said Julie Kershaw, psychosocial rehabilitation specialist at the center. “I think a lot more people will start coming.” Mary Hinkelman, new executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased to see the expansion – still in the downtown area. “This was a really big move for them,” she said. “We’re very excited for you.” Mayor Dick Edwards praised the renovation of the new space, which is located in front of Everyday People Cafe. “What an amazing transformation here,” he said. “I understand what you are trying to do – to make this more accessible to more people.” State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, also praised the new site and the programs offered there. “What a tremendous facility connecting people to services,” she said. The Connection Center is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Tuesday having extended hours until 6:30 p.m. On Saturday the center will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Project Connect in need of more volunteer hosts for next week’s event

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The  volunteers’ t-shirts are made, now Project Connect needs to get more people to fill them. On Tuesday afternoon, students in Janet Ballweg’s screen printing class at Bowling Green State University put their skills to good use, printing 170 yellow t-shirts that will be worn by the hosts at Project Connect. Those hosts help guide guests through the dozens of services that will fill every corner of St, Mark’s Church next Wednesday (Oct. 17) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Project Connect is, according to organizers: “A one-day, one-stop event with free goods and services for Wood County individuals, families, elders, and veterans in need. This event is to get individuals that are in need in Wood County more aware of the broad range of organizations and resources available for their benefit.” In 2017, Project Connect, an initiative of the Continuum of Care Coalition of Wood County,  helped 574 individuals from 278 households. More than 200 people volunteers and 52 providers and agencies set up shop. Project Connect provides same day services as well as long-term connections.  The hosts are key players in this. They help the guests navigate the event so they get what they need, whether it’s legal help, food assistance, a winter coat, or a haircut. One week out from Project Connect those hosts are in short supply. An email sent out Tuesday said 46 hosts were still needed. Click to volunteer. It takes more than 200 volunteers to stage the event, said Erin Hachtel, one of the Project Connect co-chairs. And these students are a part of the effort. “For me it’s a way to show the many ways people can use their talents to help people. You see people using art to make a difference in the community.” This is Project Connect’s sixth year, and Ballweg’s students have printed the t-shirts each year. Some years they’ve done more and in multiple colors. Hatchel was wearing a red shirt, which signifies that she’s a member of the organizing committee. On the day of the event this lets people know, she’ll have broader knowledge about what’s going on. Because there were extras from previous years, only yellow shirts are being printed.  “It’s a way to give back to the community,” Ballweg said. This service learning project has elements of both. Given it’s early in the semester, the students have only completed one printing project so far. Taking this  on accelerates their learning. They have to work together, and teach other while printing the shirts, Ballweg said. While their schedules don’t allow them to volunteer on the day itself, she does encourage them to stop by to see for themselves what happens at Project Connect. Those who do are impressed, she said. They don’t realize that this kind of poverty exists in Bowling Green. Hatchel said: “I hope this is something that lasts beyond their student years and they take with them.” 


County park district hits bullseye with archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The latest park hit the bullseye for archers in the Wood County area. On Tuesday, the Wood County Park District held its monthly meeting at the new Arrowwood Archery Park, located on Linwood Road, southeast of Bowling Green. The park adds archery to the activity list of canoeing, biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking and rock climbing offered by the park district. “It shows the diversity of the Wood County Park District and the diversity of the staff,” said Denny Parish, chairman of the park board. Parish said he is proud of citizen support and staff making the variety of activities possible. Park district Executive Director Neil Munger agreed. “The idea for this archery range actually came from public input,” Munger said. (A grand opening will be held Sunday.) After the meeting, park board members were given a chance to try their skills at the new archery range. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board got its annual visit from former park board member and current park patron Frank McLaughlin about the need for more bike accommodations by the county park district. McLaughlin said he was out on the Slippery Elm Trail again this past weekend. He said he can’t imagine any park in the county getting more use. “It’s like a freeway out there on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. While the trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore is great, more would be nice. “We could certainly use something from Bowling Green to Perrysburg,” McLaughlin said. Munger mentioned that as a member of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments bicycle committee, the park district has learned of possible plans to use Hull Prairie Road to connect Bowling Green and Perrysburg. McLaughlin noted the narrow nature of Hull Prairie. Wood County is also falling behind on connecting the Chessie Circle and North Coast trails, he said. A bike trail already stretches from Lorain to eastern Wood County, then picks up again in Lucas County heading west to Archbold. McLaughlin mentioned the park district owns land that could be used for a bike trail in the Perrysburg Township area. “It would be nice to see that happen,” he said. “This is the one missing piece,” he said of the east-west bike trail across northern Ohio. Munger said the park district is trying to use a regional approach on bike trails, and will continue to look for grant funding for such projects. The board also agreed to increase park shelter house rental rates to $40 per day. Munger said the rates had been $25 for the last 27 years or so. Other area shelter house rental rates are $30 to $80 for four hours. The park district rentals are all for full days. “It’s still a bargain,” board member Tom Myers said of the new $40 rate. “All of our shelters have electric, so if you bring a crockpot for a reunion,” there’s plenty of power, Munger said. “We’ve got some really good facilities.” In other business at Tuesday’s meeting: Munger mentioned the unexpected death of former park ranger Doug Carr. Board member Bill Cameron asked the district to consider some effort to remember Carr. Park police responded to board member Sandy Wiechman that the number has dropped of the people trespassing from…


Candidates compete for voters’ support at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For two hours Sunday afternoon, 18 candidates on the November ballot talked about the lack of civility in Congress, arming teachers in schools, abortion, and judicial temperament. As far as candidate forums go, this one was not a snoozer. However, it was rather lengthy, so another story will follow about the seven State Board of Education candidates. The forum, hosted by both the Bowling Green and Perrysburg League of Women Voters groups, skipped the candidates’ opening statements and went straight into questions. The three candidates for the 5th District Congress seat were Democrat J. Michael Galbraith, who has taught finance and management at the college level; Libertarian Don Kissick, who is an autoworker and Navy veteran; and incumbent Republican Bob Latta, who previously served as state legislator and county commissioner. The first question was about the brutal discourse in Congress, and how that might be changed. Latta talked about the importance of establishing working relationships with people. “You just have to turn off the TV and sit back and talk,” he said. Latta was critical of the Democrats being unwilling to consider the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and instead stating from the beginning that they would oppose his advancement to the court. Galbraith saw the issue differently. “Congress is being run by a group of people with extremely narrow interests,” he said, noting tribalism on both sides. As for Kavanaugh, Galbraith said the nominee was “forced through.” “I personally didn’t feel this man has the temperament,” he said. Galbraith pointed out the partisanship that doomed Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “They are simply not responsible to the people of the U.S.,” Galbraith said of Congress. Kissick suggested that more could be accomplished if Congress would stick to the issues rather than attacking each other. “We’ve lost that in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Career politicians are disconnected from the average person. He suggested citizens could change that situation by voting outside the two-party system. “You have to start voting differently,” Kissick said. “That’s how we ended up in this mess.” The congressional candidates were then asked about the contamination at the Luckey FUSRAP site and the harmful algae in Lake Erie. When would the studying end and the solutions begin? Galbraith said there is “too much finger pointing going on.” Farmers and people working on the environment and clean water issues need to “sit down together” to solve problems. “Farmers are interested in finding a solution” he said. “Water is a crucial resource and things are not getting better,” he said, adding that more regulations may be necessary. As a Libertarian, Kissick does not see a solution coming from government. “I’m a staunch free market advocate,” he said. Government solutions benefit politicians and their donors, Kissick said. The problem is best suited for the courts to handle, he added. “There needs to be a shake up,” he said. Congress has been “doing nothing or dragging its feet for years.” “I’m just not a fan of the federal government sticking its nose everywhere,” Kissick said. Once that starts, “they don’t like to leave.” Latta said the cleanup at the Luckey facility is the largest project in the Army Corps of Engineer’s Buffalo District. Latta also mentioned the…


Fire simulation burns impression about safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After watching a bedroom erupt into flames in a matter of seconds, local families likely examined their own homes a little closer when they went home on Saturday. For the first time, Bowling Green Fire Division’s annual open house featured a simulated fire scene. “I think it’s really hit home,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It’s going to really leave a lasting impression.” The fire scene showed two side-by-side bedrooms. One was riddled with fire hazards – cigarette butts on the floor, a candle left burning on the dresser, overloaded extension cords, small zip cords used improperly, and heavy furniture sitting on electrical cords. “I guarantee the kids are going to go home and check it out,” Moorman said. The fire structure was constructed by the Bowling Green firefighters specifically for the open house. The purpose was to show not just fire hazards, and the importance of smoke detectors, but also how quickly fire can spread, said firefighter/paramedic Nathan Espinoza. Very soon after the fire started in one bedroom, the temperature in the room hit 1,200 degrees, Espinoza said. The bedroom next door, with it’s door shut, stayed at 90 degrees – until the door was opened. “As soon as he opened the door, it shot up to 300 degrees,” Espinoza said. The safe bedroom was also equipped with a sprinkler system, which is becoming more standard in homes, Moorman said. Unlike smoke detectors which may go off when food is burned in the kitchen, the sprinklers are activated only when the temperature reaches certain temperatures. “The technology is very reliable,” the chief said. That information stuck with Emerson Jordan, 9, who was waiting his turn to use the fire hose to put out a pretend fire. “It puts out the fire before the firemen get there,” Emerson said about smoke detectors. Emerson also remembered the importance of keeping his bedroom door shut at night, to prevent a fire from quickly spreading. Hannah Sayler, 10, left the open house with the same knowledge. “If you have a sprinkler in your home, it’s good,” she said. Parents were similarly impacted by the fire simulation. “It’s going to make us go home and check all our stuff for fire safety,” Amanda Gamby said. Also at the fire open house, families watched a demonstration of extrication equipment on a van, got to spray a fire hose, and sat in fire trucks and ambulances. “We’ve had a lot of families here,” Moorman said. The fire open house is held every October, which is National Fire Safety Month.