Community

BG honors Tim Dunn for going to bat for kids, and police officer for helping save life

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green honored two people Monday evening – a man who has spent several summers giving kids the chance to play ball, and a police officer who help save the life of overdose victim. Tim Dunn, or “Mr. Baseball” as the mayor called him, was recognized for more than 40 years working to grow Little League in Bowling Green. Dunn started on the grounds crew in the early 1970s, moved into the role of umpire, and then worked his way up to leadership in the baseball program, Mayor Dick Edwards said. Dunn was instrumental in moving the former Pee Wee ball park from its two diamonds off Mercer Road, to Carter Park where it had room to grow. The ball fields have room for beginning T-ball players to adults who don’t want to give up America’s national pastime. The well-maintained fields at Carter Park have become “a regional attraction,” with several teams traveling to Bowling Green for tournaments, Edwards said. “You have clearly been the driving force,” the mayor said to Dunn. Several of the council members had personal stories to share about the ball fields and Dunn’s involvement. Council president Mike Aspacher said he has spent a lot of time at the ball park. “A number of families and a number of kids have been affected in a positive way by BG baseball and Tim Dunn,” he said. Every spring, the ball park seems to be on automatic reset and ready for kids to step up to the plate. “That’s because all of the work Tim does behind the scenes,” Aspacher…


Old tunes find new listeners at concert for young & young at heart

With an audience made up largely of kids age 4 through 7, the line between moving to the music and fidgeting is pretty fine. It didn’t matter that the music was not only before their time – because everything is before their time – but before their parents’ time, and likely even before their grandparents’ time. The beat was good. A few youngsters broke out the dance steps, a few swayed in rhythm in their seats and a few fidgeted. Teachers know the difference. For its Young and Young at Heart concert Friday, the Bowling Green bands threw open the doors of the Performing Arts Center to senior citizens and pre-school, kindergarten and first graders from Kenwood, Conneaut and Crim. The older listeners mostly took up the back rows, while the front of the house was packed with kids, and their outnumbered teachers. After some preludes on marimba, the concert got underway with the high school’s jazz band, the Jazz Cats. Their short set was devoted to swing classics from the 1930s and 1940s. But what’s 70 years when one of the songs is named “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which is deliciously funny to say. During the switch between the Jazz Cats and Symphonic Band, Band Director Bruce Corrigan demonstrated how that bugle boy blew those notes. More funny sounds, more laughs. Corrigan knew his audience. Then the Symphonic Band stepped forward with Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” a fantasy on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” then a bit of musical magic, a piece featuring a flute solo by Lilly Rakas, and a musical tribute to bugs that included a couple…


BG Council approves plan for largest solar field in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is looking pretty bright for Bowling Green’s solar field project, with city council voting unanimously Monday evening to approve plans to install the largest solar field in Ohio. Concerns were expressed by a neighbor of the site about the loss of prime farmland. But her concerns were not enough to throw shade on the project. “This looks like a really good addition to the Bowling Green energy portfolio,” said council member Bob McOmber. “I don’t see any minuses with this.” The solar project had been stalled since last summer. Now, if all goes as planned, an estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight starting next year. “I appreciate the project moving forward. Environmentally, it’s a good thing,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “I’m really happy to see this happen.” The solar field is expected to produce more power than originally planned. The initial plan called for 110 acres to be used on the city’s 317 acres located at the southeast corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of the city limits. The city was in line to get 10.5 megawatts from the solar field, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for BG. However, instead of fixed mounted panels, the new plan calls for single axis tracker panels, which will rotate and follow the path of the sun as it moves through the sky. The rotating panels will take up 35 more acres and cost more to install, but they will increase power production, he said. The solar field will generate 20 megawatts, with Bowling Green…


BG named among top 10 best cities for families

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has been named one of the 10 Best Cities for Families in 2016. The rating was given by Livability.com, which ranks America’s cities on scales for golf, foodies, college towns, most accessible and more. Mayor Dick Edwards announced the ranking Monday evening during a council meeting. “That bodes well for us,” he said, listing the parks, schools and safety services as some of the reasons for the city’s high rating. “I’m going to start using that tomorrow,” said council member Sandy Rowland, who is a Realtor. Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the city did not apply for the award – the website selected it. “It communicates what kind of community we have,” Fawcett said of the award. Livability.com used specific criteria to select the cities considered best for families. “The communities we choose to live in as we raise children are arguably the most important, as they tend to be some of the places we live the longest,” Livability.com stated. So the website created this 10-best list to offer examples of cities that are good places to raise children. “Many of the key reasons Americans move revolve around doing what’s best for their families. We move at certain key stages – as we get married, as we have kids, as our kids become old enough for school, and as our kids head off to college,” the website said. The rankings are based on several criteria. “We crunched the data. We looked at the quality of the schools, the crime rate, and measures of the quality of healthcare and economy. We gave…


Lisa Hanasono honored statewide & at BGSU for her work promoting diversity

From BG OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Lisa Hanasono’s work is founded in the integration of research and teaching and lived out in her commitment to the community. In recognition of her engagement of students with such important issues as promoting unity, diversity and inclusion, Hanasono, an assistant professor of communication, received a 2016 David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service. The award was presented by Ohio Campus Compact, a nonprofit membership organization of 41 Ohio colleges and universities working to promote and develop the civic purposes of higher education. The Hoch award honors the outstanding work in service-learning and/or civic engagement by a faculty or staff member at an Ohio Campus Compact member institution. In addition to the Hoch award, Hanasono has also been selected to receive the College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Award for 2016, again in recognition of her putting into practice her research and pedagogical interests in diversity and inclusivity. Collectively, Hanasono’s teaching, research and service activities work together to strategically develop, deliver and evaluate the effectiveness of community engagement projects and initiatives that advance diversity at BGSU and beyond. Drawing from her research expertise on discrimination, advocacy and social support, she worked with community partners and students to design, launch and assess BG4Unity, a community-based service-learning project. BG4Unity encourages people to use social media responsibly to advocate against hate and engage in community building. Undergraduate students enrolled in Hanasono’s Persuasion courses partnered with local organizations and applied course concepts to raise community members’ awareness about the prevalence and danger of cyberbullying and online discrimination, motivate people to join BG4Unity to demonstrate their…


Cinco de Mayo is a loud & proud celebration of Mexican heritage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Gloria Pizana and her family didn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo when they grew up in Pemberville. Their celebrations of the Mexican heritage were private – birthdays, holidays, all had their own Latin twist. Now Pizana, as a member of Bowling Green’s Human Relations Commission, organizes the Cinco de Mayo celebration which was held Sunday. As she spoke the sound of Mexican music echoed through the corridors of the Woodland Mall. “I never had this,” she said. “Having grown up in Northwest Ohio you think you’re the only one. You have a few cousins. No one ever talks about your culture, who you are. You’re isolated, and the history books never mention it.” That’s why she feels it’s so important that Bowling Green has held this celebration for 24 years. It started, Pizana said, when then Mayor Wes Hoffman approached Marsha Oliveraz about what the city could do to recognize Latino culture. The result was the Cinco de Mayo celebration. That’s a bit ironic because, as Pizana notes, the holiday that celebrates the Mexican repulsion of a French invasion in 1862, isn’t really celebrated much in Mexico. Still this became a time for area Hispanics to celebrate their roots and culture. That’s important, Pizana said. “I say it’s the most important history. To know who your ancestors are is to know who you are today because of what they went through. It’s showing respect and appreciation for your ancestors. You need to take pride in who you are. The more you know about your family the more there’s that self-pride. That’s why we do this….


City office building bursting at its ill-fitting seams

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city administration building is a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. No, it’s more like several square pegs trying to squeeze into that circular space. The building, at 304 N. Church St., started its life more than a century ago as a school, then was molded into a library, and in 1976 became the city administration building. So while its age poses some problems, the bigger issue is that the building was designed for educating children, not for administering city services. The result is a 17,000 square foot building with cramped offices, maze-like spaces and cobbled together technology. For years now, city leaders have discussed the possibility of a different municipal building, with the debate continuing on whether it should be a new building or a renovated existing site. Most seem to favor the offices staying downtown. But one conclusion that doesn’t get much debate is the need for different space. First, there’s the age issue. About 20 noisy air handlers are crammed between the original ceilings and the drop ceilings. Ultraviolet lights and air purifiers are used to reduce the mold problem. “It’s good mold, but mold none the less,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. Workers often find a powdery white coating from the drop ceilings on their desks, according to Public Works Director Brian Craft. “I thought it was snowing in my office the other day,” Fawcett said. Across the hall in the personnel and clerk of council office, sloping floors cause a problem. One employee couldn’t use a plastic sheet under her office…


PathStone paves way to success for young adults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amber Wild arrived in Bowling Green last year. Pregnant with no place to go, she headed east from Washington State to stay with a friend. She didn’t have a permanent place to live, had a juvenile record and was pregnant. She was “couch surfing.” Then Wild contacted PathStone in Bowling Green. The private social service and employment agency helped her get a place to live, she said. They helped her find an obstetrician. Helped her find a fast food job and set her up with training to become a State Tested Nursing Assistant. Helped her sign up to get food assistance. PathStone helped with the day-to-day needs as well, providing her with mattresses and dishes. All that she needs, Wild said, “so I can raise my kid correctly.” “They’re definitely more laid back,” Wild said. “They tried to help with everything you might need help with. They don’t limit themselves. I think that’s a good thing. They helped put me on the right path, so I could do what I wanted to do.” PathStone, which is part of a national non-for-profit human services and community development organization with headquarters in Rochester, New York, opened up shop in Bowling Green in January. At first the office was open part time and shared space behind Panera Bread with the Children’s Resource Center. As of Sunday, PathStone has taken over the lease and is open full time, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. off the parking lot behind 143 S. Main St. Operating with a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, PathStone aims…


Plant exchange helps gardeners blossom

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The tables lined with plants were like a smorgasbord for people hungry to start their spring planting. The fifth annual Wood County Plant Exchange this morning at the county fairgrounds offered gardeners a chance to trade plantings that may have overgrown in their yards, and pick up new plants to try. There were trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, berries, seeds, bulbs, ground covers, grass, daylilies, hostas and vines. There were plants that are fast spreading, and those that thrive in shade and sun. “I’m very excited. This is really cool,” said Pat Snyder, of Grand Rapids, who was stocking up on canna lilies and a spider plant. “And my daughter is dragging something around.” Some of the plants weren’t much to look at. But people with green thumbs were able to look beyond the scraggly appearance to see the potential of the plants. “I had no idea it was this big of a deal, and it had this many kinds of plants,” said Jan Lyon, of Bowling Green.  She brought hostas that she traded for myrtle. “I’ve been giving them away to everyone I can think of,” she said of the hostas. Lyon said she would definitely return next spring for more. “I’ll build up my muscles for next year.” With her arms, bags and boxes full of plants, Yvonne Martinez, of Bowling Green, had her day cut out for her. “My husband’s getting started already. He’s digging holes,” Martinez said as she finished rounding up the blackeyed susans, lilies, cactus, marigold seeds and much more. She traded in several cannus plants, which…


Water and sewer lines stretched to most of county….now challenge is maintaining them

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years now, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District has stretched water and sewer lines to the last communities to get services in Wood County. Now, the problem is maintaining all those miles of underground lines. This year, the water and sewer district has identified $8.5 million in water projects and $17 million in sewer projects that need work. Most of those costs for sewers are for maintaining existing lines and pump stations. And much of the water costs are for increasing water quality by looping lines and putting in aeration, according to district engineer Tom Stalter, who gave a report Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. “They don’t bring us anymore customers,” but the improvements strengthen services, Stalter said of the maintenance projects. The district is currently working on extending Bowling Green water to Bloomdale, in the southeastern corner of the county. “So we can abandon that decrepit water plant,” Stalter said of the aging Bloomdale plant. The village is plagued with very high sulfur, he said. Recently, a water line break occurred while Stalter was in Bloomdale. “You could smell where the water break was.” The waterline is currently under construction, and will make Bowling Green water available to people along the route. “We’ll reach out to all the folks along the line to see if they want to connect,” Stalter said. With the increasing concerns about water quality, the district is also planning to add more bulk water stations in the county, in places like Middleton Township and near the Chrysler plant in Perrysburg Township. “We sell a lot…


Nominations sought for bicycle ‘spokes’person

The Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission is sponsoring the 16th annual Bicycle Spokesperson of the Year award. Nomination forms for this annual award are now available at the City Administration Building, Community Center, Simpson Building and the City’s website. Any Bowling Green citizen can be nominated who exemplifies the spirit of bicycling through involvement in biking, bike safety or bike-related activities. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, May 13. For questions or more information call the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department at (419) 354-6225.


Giving the gift of music to unlock memories

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Music is being used to unlock the memories of some senior citizens in Bowling Green. And with the help of some young college students, many more of the seniors will soon be listening to jazz, gospel, classical, or whatever they please. “For those who have dementia, sometimes they have a hard time communicating,” said Brooke Harrison, administrator at Bowling Green Manor. But music can be the magic that allows them to grasp some of those missing memories. “There are a lot of memories tied to music,” said Andrea Daley, resident service coordinator at BG Manor. “You can actually notice an immediate change” in some seniors when they put on headphones and listen to tunes. A Human Development and Family Studies class at Bowling Green State University focused on adult development and aging this past semester. With professor Laura Landry Meyer, the class learned about music and memory, and heard about an innovative therapy approach at BG Manor which used music. The students were moved by the program and wanted to help it grow. So they collected iPods, headphones and monetary donations with the original goal of raising $250. They far exceeded their goal – collecting $713, nine iPods and 10 headphones for the senior facility. Erica Rybak, a student in the class, explained that she and her classmates were so moved by a video they watched of a man with dementia whose memory was unlocked by music from his past. “This man totally lit up. He was so happy. He had tears streaming down his face,” Rybak said. “It was very special.”…


BG strong and ready to take on challenges of 2016

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is making great strides in sustainable energy, has seen consistent job growth, and is making progress on some of the stickier issues in the community, Mayor Dick Edwards told the audience at the annual State of the City held this morning. And though some difficult issues await the city this year, the community is up to the challenge. “I often find myself reflecting why the mechanisms and processes of government in Bowling Green seem to work so well over the years,” Edwards said at the chamber sponsored event in the county library. “In my view, and one that is commonly held, it is the continuing ability to work together, to find solutions to perceived needs that seem to work and to think ahead, to anticipate needs.” The mayor praised the economic health of Bowling Green. “Our job growth continues to be one of the most robust of any city in the region and is integrally related to the city’s fiscal health,” Edwards said. He spoke of progress in the city’s effort to use renewable energy, saying the city will soon have “the largest solar field of any city in Ohio.” But challenges lie ahead. “We have a very full plate these days and some special challenges.” Those include: The “absolute must” passage of the park levy. The East Wooster Street corridor plan. Housing and neighborhood revitalization. Vehicular and pedestrian safety and the “new face” for the city at the new Interstate 75 interchange. Maintenance of a vibrant downtown. Finding a new home for municipal government offices in the downtown. Municipal…


Never too young to start fighting off effects of old age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Age may only be a number, but as one ages, a number of things start breaking down.  Bones get more brittle, memories may start fading and mobility may lessen. But rather than giving up to the effects of aging, seniors in Bowling Green were invited Wednesday to “Your Highway to Health, 50-plus Health and Wellness Expo” at the Community Center. “We want to encourage people to be as active as they can be,” Andrea Miller, an intern with the Parks and Recreation Department, said as she checked in registrants. The more active and involved people are, the more they experience a better quality of life and a longer life, Miller said. Some of the exhibitors at the expo offered items to help keep people in their homes as they age, such as walk-in bath tubs and hand bars for bathrooms. There were booths that encouraged seniors to continue full lives, like the library exhibit with books on walking and hiking, and the County Parks exhibit that touted the health benefits of being outside in nature. There were stations that checked up on medical issues, such as blood pressure and nutrition. And there was information on fitness activities offered through City Parks and Rec, like the “Silver Sneakers” program, pickleball, yoga and Zumba. “It’s a good time to get started,” for any age senior, said Ivan Kovacevic, Recreation Coordinator with the City Parks and Recreation Department. The expo also looked at other needs for seniors, such as social and emotional. Rita Betz, of the Wood County Committee on Aging, said services are offered…


Meeting special needs of children in BG schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Children with learning disabilities used to be removed from regular classrooms, away from regular curriculum, away from regular kids. When Lorraine Flick started teaching 30 years ago, children with special needs were tucked away from her classroom. “They went away to some other teacher. I never saw them.” That is no longer the case. Those children are taught in the “least restrictive environment.” So many of those students with special needs are now in regular classrooms. “Over the years, we have found that students who are segregated or separated from their peers,” can learn in regular classrooms if given a little extra support, said Flick, a former elementary principal who is now director of children’s services at Wood Lane. How Bowling Green schools meet the needs of these children was discussed Monday evening during a panel discussion on special education for the League of Women Voters. Schools are legally bound to offer education in the “least restrictive environment,” said Bob Yenrick, executive director of pupil services for Bowling Green City Schools. If a child can “access the curriculum” with the extra help of being paired with a “para-professional” in the classroom, then that child does not need to be put in a different class. “We need to make sure we are honoring that least restrictive environment at all times,” Yenrick said. That change has consequences for schools, and challenges for teachers as well as for the children. But those challenges are worth confronting, according to the panel. Schools still have special education teachers, but now they are referred to with the politically…