Community


Protesters in BG take Donald Trump to task

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Donald Trump prepared to take the podium at the National Republic Convention Thursday, others in Ohio were taking makeshift stages across the state to protest the presidential candidate. Anti-Trump rallies criticizing his “dangerous and hate-filled agenda” were held in 15 cities from Akron to Zanesville. In Bowling Green, the rally started out slowly, with the protesters almost being outnumbered by the security personnel outside the Wood County Courthouse. Dick Teeple, of Bradner, was one of the first to show up, carrying a toilet seat with Trump’s photo in the center. “I have grandchildren. I care about what kind of future they have,” Teeple said, listing his top concerns as the environment, women’s rights, equal pay and climate change. “What they stand for, I’m against,” he said of Trump and his vice presidential pick Mike Pence. Teeple was wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt, but said he would be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. “I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about Hillary. But she’s not going to sell out the environment.” As he stood on the courthouse steps, Teeple said he is mystified by Trump’s ability to win supporters. “I can’t understand it. I…


Recycled tire material tried on buckled sidewalks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying out a new product that may put a slight spring in the step of walkers as well as help trees along city sidewalks. Buckled up sidewalk pavement is being replaced by a product made from recycled tires. The first experiment with the rubber surface sidewalks is being tried on a small section of Eberly Street, where  tree roots had buckled up the paved sidewalks, said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Craft explained to city council Monday evening that the recycled tire product is flexible with expanding tree roots, and with the ground as it freezes and thaws in the winter – “where concrete will break.” The rubber will not only help trees by allowing their roots to grow without buckling the concrete, but it will also be beneficial to walkers. It should reduce the trip hazards of broken pavement, and it will allow the water to run into the ground rather than gathering on the pavement and freezing in winter. “It’s a way to save the trees and not damage the roots,” Craft said. The city may try the rubber material next on some sidewalk sections…


Making migrant workers feel at home in Wood County

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The workers who come into Wood County to pick crops may be here for just a few weeks, but La Conexion de Wood County wants them to know they have a friend while they are here. On Sunday La Conexion and the First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green welcomed migrant workers at an event held at a camp in Bloomdale. They didn’t go empty handed. The Brown Bag Food Project came with boxes of food to tide them over until their first paycheck. The Wood County District Public Library staff was on hand with books and activities for the children. The Cocoon Shelter was there to offer its support. The event, now in its third year, was initiated by the church as a way of working with La Conexion, which works out of the downtown Bowling Green Church. Beatriz Maya, the managing director of La Conexicion, said that about 200 workers “at most” are now in Wood County. The numbers of migrants arriving has been declining as agriculture has mechanized and the mix of crops grown locally has changed. Now the demand is for people to pick cucumbers. Those jobs last for about six…


County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to…


Library board accepts low bid on Walbridge project

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The price tag of the addition and renovation of the Walbridge Branch of the Wood County District Public Library is coming in under budget. The library’s board Tuesday accepted a general contractor bid of $849,000 from Midwest Construction of Holland. The board also accepted the company’s bid of $3,350 for shades. The administration has decided not to pursue a second alternate bid for benches and plantings. Library Director Michael Penrod said they will wait until the project is finished to do that work. The estimated cost for the bid was $1 million. Of the 10 bids submitted seven were under that number. Tom Stuckey, the project administrator, said to have that number of bids submitted was “phenomenal.” The one concern with the Midwest bid was how much under it was the others. The unsuccessful bids ranged from $929,800 from Spieker to $1,165,777 from Cross renovation. Penrod said he was pleased so many area firms were interested in the project. Several board members questioned the low bid. Stuckey said he did go back to talk to company officials, and they assured him they “capable and confident that they are ready to proceed.” Stuckey said he’s…


BG debates trash bin enforcement – issue fines or confiscate cans?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to make sure that once a garbage bin ordinance is passed, that it is enforceable. So on Monday evening, council debated whether violators should face fines or have their trash cans confiscated. Council member John Zanfardino expressed concerns about the penalty portion of the ordinance. He is in favor of ordering violators to pay fines when problems are spotted. Waiting to confiscate the cans on garbage pickup day would be like arresting someone for walking around with an open bottle days after the violation, he said. He asked that the city warn residents for first violations, then issue fines for additional violations. “To me, that’s a very laborious way to address it,” Zanfardino said of city workers confiscating the cans. Council member Sandy Rowland shared concerns about the city taking away garbage bins from violators. “I just don’t think it’s going to work for enforcement,” she said, voicing concerns about city workers entering private property. But Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the cans would only be removed from property when they are sitting by the street on pickup day. “We don’t want people to go on private…


BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to…


Multicultural Affairs office looks for common ground between campus & community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the 40 people who came out for a #Let’sSupportEachOther gathering last week in the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs were staff members. These counselors and residence life staff are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with students’ concerns. Not only their concerns as students at Bowling Green State University, but the concerns they bring with them to campus. The meeting was called to discuss the recent incidents of black men dying in encounters with police officers, followed by the killing of five police officers on duty during a protest in Dallas. While those in attendance, which included faculty, community members and two campus police officers, need to focus on students’ emotions, they must also deal with their own reactions. Krishna Han, assistant director for diversity, said he found himself in tears on several occasions when watching videos related to the slayings. He had to eventually step back from social media. One black woman spoke of her fears for her son. They live in a suburb of Toledo, and he is repeatedly followed and stopped by police, and he’s been stopped in Bowling Green as well. Some expressed frustration over…


BGHS ’78 grads show their class with new bobcat statue

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Poised to lift the white shroud from the object set in front of Bowling Green High School, Bill York paused to note that he’d been promised “this is not just another class of ’78 prank.” The class, known in the years since they graduated as the worst class ever, has set about turning over a new leaf. “We’re trying to establish a new reputation as the most giving class,” York said. That spirit was represented when the object, a large bronze statue of a bobcat, was unveiled. For Principal Jeff Dever, it will be “a tremendous thing for kids to come to school and see that.” And yes, he heard, the stories about the class as “the worst class that came through these doors.” What he knows is that the class has been “very generous.” “They handled this from start to finish,” he said. The project was spearheaded by Bill York. Classmate Mike Hammer, the city superintendent of public works, enlisted help from city workers to get the base of brick and concrete constructed. York said that after the class held its 35th reunion, some of the organizers talked about creating a more permanent…


Health center doesn’t turn any patients away

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Navigating health care systems can be a scary process, especially for those people who lack adequate insurance. But local residents who have put off medical care for fear of another bill they can’t afford will not be turned away at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. “We are looking at the whole person” and that includes offering services on a sliding fee scale so they are affordable to all, said Diane Krill, director of the center located inside the Wood County Health District at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. “No one is turned away for services,” Krill said. The health and wellness center provides primary care for all ages, with Dr. Steve Dood as chief medical officer and Katie Barricklow as family nurse practitioner. “It’s care for infants through everyone,” Krill said. The center offers STD testing, women’s health care, senior health care, behavior health services and social work services. An in-house pharmacy allows patients to get their prescriptions filled on site. “They can get all of their needs met,” Krill said. The center is a lifesaver for many patients who have put off dealing with health issues,…


Northwest Ohio gets its close up in NowOH art exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A portrait of Northwest Ohio is now on display in the galleries in the Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Center. Friday the 9th Northwest Ohio Community Art Exhibition exhibit opened featuring work by 56 area artists. Entry into NowOH is open to all artists who live in 12 Northwest Ohio counties. “Everything that got sent in got included in the show,” said the Detroit artist Sarah Rose Sharp, who served as the exhibit juror.  “Something that’s really beautiful about that is it paints kind of a collective picture of a community which is great to see.” Art, she said, is “subjective” and when so many works are brought together “you can get kind of an aggregate of a community’s experience.” Roxanne Shea’s “Ariel View,” which Sharp selected for Best of Show honors, reflected that vision. Sharp praised the work for its blend of an archaic printing technique with references to geo mapping. Shea’s portrayals of the trailer park where her grandfather lived are rooted in the Rust Belt experience. Shea, who received her Master of Fine Arts in 2-D Studies this spring from BGSU, said her grandfather died right before she started these prints. Shea, who…


Water study searches for non-Toledo options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The suspect quality and high price of Toledo water has prompted Wood County to search for other sources of water for its customers now dependent on Toledo. A study paid for by the economic development commission identified three alternate sources of water for Wood County users. The three primary scenarios identified in the study, which was released Friday, were: City of Bowling Green’s water system with expanded reservoir space. Maumee River regional water plant with an intake and reservoir. Maumee River/Lake Erie Bayshore water intake, with a regional water plant and reservoir. Wood County customers have long questioned the price of Toledo water, but also began to doubt the quality after the water crisis in the summer of 2014, when people were warned to not drink water from Toledo due to the algal blooms. So a study was conducted to look at other options. “The Wood County Economic Development Commission believes the national attention on the water crisis brought into question the potential impacts on future economic development attraction and retention effects for Wood County,” a release on the study results stated. The cost of Toledo’s water to users outside the city…


BG School District considers building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green school officials are facing four major decisions – and none of them are easy. Does the district want to fund building projects locally or use some state funding? Should the district consolidate the elementary schools or stick with neighborhood buildings? Should the district renovate, construct new or do nothing with its buildings? And lastly, how can they get the word out to more people in order to get more educated input. “We want to know what our taxpayers are thinking,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said during another public meeting Thursday about building options. The options are many, but none will move quickly. The earliest the district will put a levy on the ballot is May of 2017. “I like May elections,” Scruci said. “I’ll tell you why. People tend to be a little more positive.” And the earliest a new school might be constructed would be three years after getting the approval from the school board. The most expensive option calls for the consolidation of the three elementaries into one central building, and major renovations to the high school. That option has a price tag of $54 million. It’s unsure how…


Solar project faces more questions from county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners threw some shade on Bowling Green’s plans Thursday to build a solar array to help power the city and other communities. Work was to begin on the largest solar field in Ohio in a couple days. But that is unlikely now since the county has not yet approved the 30-year tax abatement requested for the $43 million project. The commissioners continued to question the rushed timeline of the project, which would build a 20 MW solar array on city acreage northeast of the city. “How necessary is this aggressive timeline?” Commissioner Joel Kuhlman asked. “Critical,” responded Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. “There can be no delay.” If the county does not approve the tax exemption, the solar project will be unaffordable for NextEra Energy and AMP, which are working on the project, according to O’Connell. “It is likely that this project will be canceled due to the increased costs,” he said. “This project is bigger than just a Bowling Green site,” O’Connell said. There are 26 proposed sites in AMP member communities across five states. Six of those sites, including Bowling Green’s, are planned…