Community

Library not a place that shushes new ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Michael Penrod remembers the doomsday predictions for libraries, with the internet and electronic books rending them obsolete. “Locally, the numbers don’t bear that out,” said Penrod, director of the Wood County District Public Library. It could be because the library is always looking for the next chapter on how to reach out to readers, he said during his annual “state of the library” presentation to the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The library continues to add to its collection of electronic books for people who want to access a good read anytime, anywhere. It offers job coaching and one-on-one help accessing its 24-7 virtual library. And instead of shushing children, young patrons are encouraged to read aloud. This is not a library where new ideas are met with “Shhhhhh.” Last year, the library saw a 3.8 percent increase in borrowing, a 10 percent increase in program attendance, a 25 percent increase in patrons asking staff for assistance, and a 19 percent increase in foot traffic in the building – averaging 4,839 visitors per week. Borrowed books, ebooks, audiobooks and other items totaled 602,463 last year. The most growth was seen in borrowing of electronic books. When first hired at the library, Penrod recalled thinking he would spend a couple years at the library before moving on to something “bigger and better.” “Bigger and better is here,” he told the commissioners. Penrod said he had just received calculations from the state showing return on investments at the library. For every $1 invested at the library, the community gets $4.14 in return, he said….


Kenwood closed again Thursday; water test results not complete

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kenwood Elementary School will be closed again Thursday since complete test results are not back on water at the school. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci closed the school on Wednesday due to discolored water at a drinking fountain in the school. Initially it was believed the greenish colored water was due to a back flow valve failure. However, Scruci said this evening that the water problem appears to more likely be the result of the older pipes in the building going unused over spring break. The pipes went unused for 10 days during break. After being run, the water was clear this morning, Scruci said. Tests conducted this morning showed the water being fine but the full scale contaminant test results will not be available until after noon on Thursday.  Therefore, Kenwood Elementary will be closed again Thursday. All other schools in the district will be open. “Our first responsibility is to keep our students safe,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents.  “I am not willing to take any unnecessary risks and want to err on the side of caution.” Water samples were taken to a testing site in Toledo from Kenwood school and other schools in the district for baseline data. Initially the testing facility said the results would be complete in eight to 10 days, but Scruci said it was made clear that was unacceptable. “We cannot wait eight to 10 days,” he said. The district has one more calamity day left due to few snow days this past winter, but Scruci would really like the students back at…


BG shifts gears to map out bike routes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City Engineer Jason Sisco was troubled by the lack of bike route rules in the Complete Streets concept. “Engineers, we like standards,” he said. So Sisco shifted gears and did the next best thing – talked to people who frequently bicycle on Bowling Green streets. The city’s Bicycle Safety Commission met with Sisco Tuesday evening to work on the Complete Streets project, with the goal of making transportation safe for all modes of traffic. The commission discussed two main topics in order to create a new map designating bike routes around the city. First, which streets should be designated bike routes? “We can’t build bike paths everywhere,” Sisco said. And second, what type of accommodations should be made for bicyclists on those streets? The options include bike paths, which are paved areas separate from the roadway; bike lanes, which are lanes specifically for bikes along the edge; or sharrows, which use paint on the pavement to remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists. Sisco presented four different maps that already designate various “bike routes” across the city. The Complete Streets concept is intended to take that a step further and make the streets safer for cyclists. The new map will focus on getting cyclists to destinations, like schools, parks, the university, and shopping. “Let’s try to do something that makes sense and is attainable,” Sisco said. The routes will be designed to get a 10-year-old to school, a family to the park, and a college student to classes, suggested Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. Many roadways in the city have…


Kenwood Elementary closed Wednesday due to discolored water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Discolored water in a drinking fountain at Kenwood Elementary School has resulted in the school being closed Wednesday. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said this afternoon that the water fountains were all shut off after greenish colored water was noticed. City utility workers were called, tested the water, and found no bacteria in it, Scruci said. As a precautionary measure, a water testing company was called, but was unable to get to the school today. “We have the company coming tomorrow to ensure that the water is without question safe,” Scruci said. Boiler technicians and plumbers are also working on the issue to identify and correct the original cause for the discoloration, he added. Because the water was clear on Monday, it is believed the problem was caused by a boiler backflow valve malfunction. “We believe that we know the cause of the problem but until we are 100 percent certain that the water in the building is safe, we cannot put students and staff at potential risk,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents. Scruci is hopeful the school will be open again on Thursday. But that will only take place if he can be assured the water is safe for students and staff to drink, he said. “If they can’t guarantee me tomorrow that the water is safe, I will cancel school again,” Scruci said. Since the school district did not use all its snow calamity days during the mild winter, the elementary has some “wiggle room,” he said.  


BG mayor honors those who make community better

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green recognized a roomful of people who have made life better for others – whether it be families with autism, people seeking fair housing, or a woman who put her all into a small business for four decades. The council chamber was overflowing Monday evening with people who were being honored for contributing to their community. Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Barbara Rothrock for her constant dedication to small business in Bowling Green. Rothrock is retiring as owner of the “much loved and respected” Calico Sage and Thyme store. Rothrock was praised for leading by example, with 40 years of “grit, grin and outright perseverance.” When called up to the podium, Rothrock continued her push for local businesses. “Small business is important,” she said. “Support the businesses you love.” Edwards also recognized April as Autism Awareness Month and honored local families who are “living with the realities of autism and who are helping ever so many others deal with autism.” The mayor called to the podium Mary Murray, a “trailblazer” in the area of autism at Bowling Green State University, and the John Titus family. With his arm around young Ian Titus, who would one day like to be mayor himself, Edwards read a proclamation for autism awareness. Edwards also recognized Fair Housing Month in Bowling Green, calling up members of the Human Relations Commission. “Apart from its symbolic value, it is an important reminder about the basic provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968,” he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, city council: Learned from Utilities Director Brian O’Connell that plans…


BG Council backs 2-mill park levy, but some worry about asking voters to pass more millage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council took a unified stance Monday on the parks and recreation levy planned for the fall ballot – but only after an hour of debate. Some wanted a more cautious approach, while others believed Bowling Green voters could be counted on to pass additional millage. No one on council questioned the need for a 2-mill levy for parks and recreation, but at least two members wanted the millage split into two levies that add up to 2 mills. Their concern was the devastating effect if voters didn’t pass the additional millage. Both Bob McOmber and Bruce Jeffers spoke in favor of two smaller levies. “I think it has a very good chance of passing that way,” Jeffers said. But when a motion was put forth to accept the parks and recreation board’s recommendation for one 2-mill levy, both McOmber and Jeffers supported the motion. “I don’t want anyone to use a split vote on the levy as ammunition,” McOmber said. McOmber said he was aware his stance would be “unpopular,” however, his fear is that voters will easily pass a renewal but may balk at the additional millage. By offering two levies, the parks could at least count on the existing levy amount continuing. “If the renewal dollars go away, they are facing a disaster,” McOmber said. Park levies in Bowling Green have traditionally been well supported, but they have also normally been on spring ballots. McOmber pointed out that since the present levy ran out in 2015, there is no wiggle room if this levy fails. There will…


BGSU student metals and jewelry on display at Wood County library

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Student Metal Arts Council from Bowling Green State University’s School of Art is “Forging Ahead” with an exhibit at the Wood County Public Library. The “Forging Ahead” exhibit features about two dozen works of jewelry and metal art in the library’s display window. The exhibit opened Saturday and continues through April 15.                   The exhibit is part of the effort to teach students in the arts professional skills, said Andrew Kuebeck, the faculty advisor for the council. Those efforts include an entrepreneurship class specifically for visual artists taught by Gene Poor. The exhibit was organized by the council’s treasurer Michaela Monterosso. For her the library was a natural venue for the show. Back in her hometown of Terryville, Connecticut, she would place her work in the local library. “I’d put my piece there and there was so much traffic going in and out of the public library that I got a lot of commissions, so I decided it would be a good opportunity for the Student Metal Arts Council.” The show was open to all who submitted work. “It’s meant to be an encouraging event,” she said. Monterosso wanted to give her fellow students a no-stress chance to display their work. “It’s good for their resumes,” she said, “and good for mine.” The council awarded first prize in the show to Katelyn Turner’s “Mother of Pearl” and second place to Diana Bibler’s “The Hero.” It promotes the council and the work being done on campus by jewelers and metalsmiths. Monterosso was attracted to BGSU by…


Downtown businesses to be surveyed for green certification

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s downtown businesses will soon have a chance to prove how green they really are. For two years now, Lucas County has had a sustainability program in place for businesses, according to Holly Myers, environmental and sustainability professor at Bowling Green State University. Myers and her students would like to bring that “green business” program to downtown Bowling Green. Last week, Myers and three students presented their ideas to the City-University Relations Commission, which endorsed their concept. To start the process, the businesses will be surveyed. To qualify as a green business, an operation must adhere to the values of environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and quality of life, Myers explained. The survey covers the following topics: Waste reduction and recycling, with points for recycling items, electronic billing and printing double-sided copies. Green purchasing, with credit given for buying products in bulk, buying from local vendors and using recycled items. Energy conservation and efficiency, with points for using energy efficient lights, shutting down computers not in use, and participating in the city’s Efficiency Smart Energy Conservation Program. Alternative transportation for planning delivery routes, using hybrid fuels or employee ride sharing. Water conservation and pollution prevention for planting drought-resistant plants, using low-flow toilets or tankless water heater. Staff training and public awareness for offering customers green service options, or asking customers if they want a bag (to promote use of fewer bags). Community involvement by participating in local charitable events, offering volunteer opportunities to employees, or making annual donations to charity. Certifications or awards for safety or other efforts. Businesses that do well…


BG police uniforms stolen from dry cleaners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Division is asking for the public’s help in solving who stole police uniforms from a local dry cleaning business. “We have no suspects at this point,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning about the two Bowling Green police uniforms which were stolen Friday night during a breaking and entering at Long’s Dry Cleaners, 345 N. Maple Street, Bowling Green. Multiple items were stolen including two different styles of uniforms worn by officers of the Bowling Green Police Division. Other city uniforms were also at the dry cleaners since the city contracts with that business to clean employees’ uniforms. But the police uniforms were the only ones stolen, Hetrick said. “It would make me believe they knew what they were after,” Hetrick said this morning. “We’re quite concerned about this,” the chief said. “Why would you take uniforms unless you are planning on impersonating an officer.” Two uniforms were taken, one the current style with navy shirt and french blue pants, and the other being the new style with navy shirt and pants. The stolen uniforms have police patches on the arms, however, they did not contain a badge or name plate. So the police division is advising that anyone interacting with someone in a Bowling Green police uniform should make sure the person is wearing a badge, which depicts the BGPD building on it, and the officer’s name plate. All officers are required to carry division identification as well. Hetrick also said most uniformed officers use marked patrol cars. Anyone who may have information related to this crime…


Little girl makes waves saving rare dolphins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Standing on a step stool to reach the podium, the 9-year-old told how she has taken on a nation’s prime minister and a local corporation to try to save dolphins on the other side of the globe. Calista Wilkins, a fourth grader at Otsego, has been working two years to preserve Maui dolphins, the smallest of its species, that live off the coast of New Zealand. On Thursday, Calista shared her story with the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. The serious little girl with long blond hair is not intimidated by leaders whose words praise the preservation of the dolphins, but whose actions do the opposite. Her efforts have earned her a grant from Jane Goodall’s organization to continue her dolphin-saving work. Calista was also at ease speaking to the group of Kiwanians, trying to engage them in the presentation. She showed slides of New Zealand, where the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was filmed, and asked if anyone was familiar with the small statured characters called hobbits. “The Maui dolphins are sort of like that,” she said. Though Calista has never been to New Zealand, and has never seen the Maui dolphins, she confidently explained their plight. The rare dolphins number only about 50, and risk becoming extinct by 2030 if nothing changes to reverse their fate. The black, white and gray dolphins have rounded noses, dorsal fins shaped like Mickey Mouse ears, and like to swim in groups close to the shores of the northern portion of New Zealand. Calista showed photographs of the small dolphins, including one called “Scratchy,” named…


National Walking Day on April 6

American Heart Association Walking Day is Wednesday, April 6, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the BGSU Perry Field House. Celebrate National Walking Day with BGSU, Wood County Hospital, the City of Bowling Green, and Wood County employees. Lace up your sneakers and improve your odds of living a longer, healthier life by joining us for a Poker Walk! Enjoy a healthful bout of exercise with your colleagues, healthy snacks, raffle prizes, and giveaways. POKER WALK – No prior knowledge of poker is needed to participate. Rather than winning based on skill or speed, the top individuals who collect the best poker hand while walking at the Perry Field House track win great prizes, such as a Fitbit®! The Golden Sneaker Award will be awarded to the employer with the highest percentage of walkers. SPIRIT CONTEST- The participating individual or group (office, colleagues, friends, etc) demonstrating the most enthusiasm and spirit wins a free chair massage (up to one hour) for their office or work area walkers. CELEBRITY WALKERS – Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, President, Bowling Green State University; Mayor Richard Edwards, City of Bowling Green Mayor; Dr. Sidney Childs, Interim Vice-President, Division of Student Affairs; Dr. Nicholas Espinoza, Director, Falcon Health Center; Dr. Marie Huff, Dean, College of Health and Human Services; Craig LaHote, Doris I. Herringshaw and Joel M. Kuhlman, Wood County Commissioners; Andrew Kalmar, County Administrator; Stan Korducki President, Wood County Hospital; Lori Tretter, Municipal Administrator; Monica Moll, BGSU Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety; Viva McCarver, Chief Human Resources Officer.


Students to clean up reputations and neighborhoods at same time

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU students often get trashed for not being good neighbors to full-time city residents. In an effort to clean up their reputations and their neighborhoods at the same time, an Adopt a Block program is being started with the help of the City-University Relations Commission. Danielle Parker, vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government at Bowling Green State University, said the program will help students connect with the community. “This is a new and exciting way for students to give back, besides dropping off some canned goods and walking away,” Parker said. The program will work somewhat like the larger scale “Adopt a Highway” effort. Ten “blocks” have been established by the City-University Relations Commission. Student groups will be asked to adopt an area then head out once a month and pick up trash in the medians. The trash will then be disposed of in the dumpsters behind the city fire station and electric division on Thurstin and Court streets. The 10 “blocks” up for adoption are: North Enterprise from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. North Summit from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. North Prospect from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. East Court Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Pike Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Ridge Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Merry Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Reed Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Area bordered by Wooster, Biddle, Clough and South College. Area bordered by Wooster, South Enterprise, Clough and South Prospect. “Students will go out and take care of that block,” Parker…


Scooby Doo, Chief Wiggum, Professor Snape get votes for Wood County sheriff

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some people take voting very seriously. Others, not so much. Some apparently see it as an opportunity to show their creative side. In the primary election earlier this month, Wood County residents voting on the Democratic ballot were given the chance to fill in a write-in candidate for sheriff. Retired deputy Ruth Babel-Smith was running as a write-in candidate, but many voters were thinking way outside the box. Some voters at least stuck with people with law enforcement experience – however questionable it might be. Getting one vote each were Barney Fife, the bumbling deputy from Mayberry RFD; Chief Wiggum, the lazy incompetent police chief in The Simpsons, and Roscoe P. Coltrane, the corrupt sheriff from the Dukes of Hazzard. “I was just disappointed Boss Hogg didn’t get it,” said Mike Zickar, of the Wood County Board of Elections. A few cartoon type characters garnered single votes like Alfred E. Newman, of Mad magazine covers; Fred Flintstone, of the prehistoric town of Bedrock; and Scooby Doo, the canine with the mystery solving gang of meddling kids. Mickey Mouse got 4 votes – 5 if you count the voter who just wrote “Mickey.” Garnering one vote was Disney’s Sheriff Callie, an animated cat who rides a blue pony enforcing the “Cowpoke Code” in the Old West. Some voters went big, writing national political figures like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Some preferred to stay local, casting votes for Chip Myles, of Myles Pizza; Daniel Gordon, a Bowling Green councilman; and Jim Weinandy, a local attorney. A few voters put their confidence…


Gloria Gajewicz honored for home grown science teaching skills

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green teacher Gloria Gajewicz was inspired through her career by her own teachers, and further by her mother’s pursuit of education. So it is fitting that she should receive an award named for the late Neil Pohlmann, an educator and BGSU professor who left his mark on science education. Earlier this month Gajewicz won the first Neil Pohlman Award given by Bowling Green State University at the spring conference of the Northwest Ohio School Boards Association meeting. Patrick Pauken, director of the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy, said the award “is given in recognition of valuable contribution to Educational Administration and Leadership Studies at BGSU.” Gajewicz is working on her doctorate in the program. The award carries a scholarship. Pauken wrote: “The faculty selected Gloria for the award because of her endless dedication to teaching, learning, and leading in our schools. She is an excellent graduate student, as well, inspiring her classmates with her professional stories of student success. Our classrooms and schools are special places, indeed, with teachers and leaders like Gloria Gajewicz.” Gajewicz has taught science for 20 years, the last 16 at her alma mater, Bowling Green High School where she teaches biology and honors physical science. Finishing her second semester of what she expects will be a four-year process, Gajewicz’s goal is to become a curriculum specialist with her particular interest in science. She said she was inspired to pursue science by the many great science teachers she had in the Bowling Green system. That included Roger Mazzarella, “the wizard of Mazz,” in seventh grade and Bob Rex in…


Calico, Sage & Thyme turns over new leaf as founder retires, new owner steps in

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Customers of the retail institution Calico, Sage & Thyme will have plenty to celebrate in April. They’ll be able to wish proprietor Barbara Rothrock a happy retirement after 41 years operating the store. And they’ll enjoy a sale marking her retirement. Customers will also be able to welcome a new owner for the shop, Lisa Palmer, who is buying the business. The business, on the corner of South Main and Clay streets in downtown Bowling Green, had been slated to close when Rothrock’s previous efforts to find a buyer fell through. Palmer will take over as of April 29. She said she plans both to maintain the venerable business’ character, and add her own touches, including selling more arts and crafts on consignment. “I want to leave as much the same as possible,” Palmer said. “She has such a great following for the cards, children’s books, jewelry, teas and spices. All of that I plan to keep.” Palmer has been considering opening a shop for a couple years, and when she found that Calico, Sage & Thyme was still for sale, she decided to make an offer. She has worked in her husband’s business, Jim Palmer Excavating. Her only experience in retail goes back to working at Kmart when she was in high school. That’s no deterrent to success. All she has to do is look to Rothrock. She had little retail experience when she opened the shop in 1975. It grew from her love of herbs and necessity. She was a secondary school teacher when she moved to Bowling Green with her…