Community

Fire Chief Wants Fewer False Alarms at BGSU, More Inspections

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson would like his firefighters spending less time responding to false alarms at BGSU and more time making fire inspections in the city. During Monday evening’s strategic planning meeting, Sanderson reported on two long-range goals for his department. First, he would like the university to somehow assist in the response to fire calls on campus, which account for 20 percent of the fire calls in Bowling Green. Of the more than 3,300 fire calls last year, 686 were to BGSU – and one third of those were false alarms to residence halls. “We’re committing resources there so often,” Sanderson said. The chief suggested that BGSU could help lessen the load either by providing a direct subsidy or possibly by providing first responders who could arrive at the source of the calls to ascertain their validity. Second, Sanderson said the city has a fire code requiring business inspections, but has not been implementing it. “We have not been enforcing fire code for a number of years,” he said. Businesses should be inspected regularly for fire codes, as is done in Perrysburg and Perrysburg Township. “We really need to be doing that.” Sanderson estimated that fewer than 5 percent of businesses in Bowling Green are inspected each year. “I know there are businesses that haven’t been inspected for many years,” he said. Council member Theresa Charters Gavarone asked about fire code. Mr. Spots, a business owned by Gavarone and her husband, was recently damaged when a fire started at a neighboring business, the Corner Grill. She said while the…


Bowling Green Beer Works Draws Steady Following

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This is the closest that Bowling Green gets to a speakeasy. The establishment sits tucked away in a cluster of old garages at 322 North Grove St. On weekends – Friday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, 1 to 10 p.m., customers slip in through a back door. A newcomer can be forgiven for suspecting a secret word may be required to gain entry. Inside a couple dozen people hang out, all with pint canning jars of beer in front of them. Some of the beer is golden, some the color of caramel, others dark as chocolate. Not a “lite” beer in sight. Welcome to Bowling Green Beer Works. Here the beer is consumed within a few feet of where it is brewed. In the cooler in the corner rests the beer they’ll be sipping next week. Consumption takes its rightful place as the last step in the brewing process. The micro brewery’s owner Justin Marx presides over the scene. He makes suggestions, describes his product, accepts comments, most of them compliments. These Friday and Saturday tastings culminate his week of work making the up to 10 varieties that he offers on any given night. “I love my clientele,” Marx said. “We like to have a neighborhood feel. I can’t believe the tremendous amount of support we’ve gotten.” He first applied for his permit back in September, 2014, and finally secured all his federal, state and local paperwork, so he could open the tasting room, in September, 2015. His love of beer making dates back further than that. Back, Marx, 42, said, to before…


BG Prepares For Tough Talks on Trash, Housing and Other Touchy Topics

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent Media   Bowling Green is in line for some tough talks – and maybe even some tough love on its housing, its trash collection, its cemetery, its senior center, and the money it takes to deal with all the above issues. “We’re going to have to have a real conversation,” Council President Mike Aspacher said, referencing the revenue issue. “It’s going to be time to have these tough conversations.” Those talks will have to include elected officials, city administrators and citizens. During a three-hour strategic planning meeting Monday evening, city officials began the conversations and plotted possible courses for the city’s future. Many of the goals remain the same: East Wooster corridor improvements, East Side revitalization, and finding the right use for the West Wooster-Church Street property. But newer topics were also touched upon: Possibility of privatizing trash collection, the decline in housing sale prices, the filling up of cemetery plots, and the touchy subject of just who is responsible for maintaining the Wood County Senior Center. Following is an overview of some of the strategic planning discussion. The city will look at different options for handling trash collection. According to Brian Craft, public works director, Bowling Green is one of few cities in the region to continue providing the service. The city has no fee earmarked for trash collection, but Craft pointed out that the new automated trucks costs $250,000 each. He warned the public may not be fond of the idea. “They like picking up the phone and we respond.” The year-end report for real estate sales in the region showed that…


Long Road From Otsego to Afghanistan for Medal of Honor Recipient

  By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cheryl Jones gets goosebumps just thinking about her former student in hand-to-hand combat with the Taliban and rescuing an American hostage. And there he was this morning, Navy SEAL Edward C. Byers Jr., receiving the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts. “Eddie. We just called him Eddie,” recalled Jones, the health and physical education teacher at Otsego High School where Byers graduated in 1997. “He was really a kind kid. He was very respectful, very polite, very quiet.” All the Otsego High School students were called to the auditorium this morning to watch Byers receive his award at the White House. They sat in respectful silence as the alumnus of their school was bestowed the honor by President Barack Obama. Byers, 36, who grew up in Grand Rapids, talked often in school of wanting to join the elite Navy rank. “He always wanted to be a SEAL. He would talk about it endlessly,” said Tom Ferdig, who was a year behind Byers in school. Few doubted his commitment, but at the time it seemed a pretty lofty goal for a small town boy, said Ferdig, who now teaches history at Otsego High School. Long before he was hiking on missions across Afghanistan, Byers was camping and learning outdoor skills with Boy Scout Troop 325 in Grand Rapids. “He was just a nice kid, who was always willing to do things,” said Pam Heyman, a library media specialist at Otsego, whose son was in the troop with Byers. “I wasn’t surprised. He always said he was going to be in the…


Korducki Sentenced for Accident Killing 4 People

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With his eyes squeezed shut and his voice shaking, Nicholas Korducki faced the family of the four people killed in a car accident last year when he crossed the center line. “I’ve searched for the words I would like to use,” the 17-year-old said to the Jacobs family. “I can’t seem to find them. I’m very sorry about all of this.” More than a year after causing the accident, Korducki, was sentenced Thursday. He will spend seven days in juvenile detention, have his license suspended for two years, be on probation, complete a remedial driving course and do 100 hours of community service. Korducki’s testimony came after three members of the Jacobs family told about the deep loss felt by the deaths of Harley Jacobs, 88; Donna Jacobs, 85; Diane Jacobs, 64; and Kenneth Johnston, 71, all from Luckey. The four died as a result of the accident on Ohio 25, between Newton and Bishop roads, just north of Bowling Green on Feb. 5, 2015. “These people sounded like really upstanding people, good as gold, and that makes this all the worse for me,” Korducki said. “I hope you all can find it within yourselves to forgive me,” the Bowling Green teen said to the 30 members of the Jacobs family filling the Wood County Juvenile Court. “I’m so very sorry.” The attorneys for Korducki had filed a request that no media be allowed in the court, but visiting Judge Michael Bumb from Fulton County, denied that motion. As part of a negotiated plea, the prosecutor’s office asked that four charges of…


BG Eyes $4 Million in Water, Wastewater Projects

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly $4 million in utility projects for this year were approved Monday evening by the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities. The projects will keep clean water pumping to customers, and improve wastewater treatment once customers flush their used water away. The biggest project, estimated at $1.25 million, is the construction of a new pump station on Conneaut Avenue and force main improvements. The current pump station is undersized and cannot keep up with demand. The board approved applying for a low-interest loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Water Development Authority for the funding. The city is also expecting to get some funding this year for road paving on Conneaut Avenue from Grove Street to Mitchell Road. So Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green, suggested the pump station work take place prior to the paving. “Obviously, we don’t want to pave a road then tear it up,” O’Connell said. The board also approved the city going after $1 million in grant funding for upgrades to the sand filter system at the water treatment plant. O’Connell explained that the city is a good candidate for a zero interest loan since the upgrades will improve efforts to limit algae problems in water. The original estimate for the work was $400,000. However, it was decided to expand the scope of the project and create a longer term solution to the algae problem. The expanded project could save some money in another area since it could reduce the work at the backwash pumping station, O’Connell said. The board of…


Parks to Try for Larger Levy

  By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 16 years, the levy supporting parks and recreation in Bowling Green has been static. Meanwhile, the park facilities and programs have been anything but. So Tuesday evening, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board approved a request to put a new, higher millage levy on the fall ballot. The park and recreation department has been operating with a 1.4-mill levy, which generated $638,500 annually for 16 years. The new levy would be 2 mills for five years, bringing in $915,000 annually. The reason for the increase is simple, according to the levy committee which recommended the millage. The department has continued to expand its facilities and programs to meet the needs of its citizens. “And the public expects this quality to be maintained,” said Jeff Crawford, a member of the park board and levy committee. “It’s overdue,” said board member Cheryl Windisch, noting that costs for everything else have increased in that 16-year period. Park board president Kent Strange said it was a “great feat” for the department to get by on the same millage for 16 years while offering quality services. “This will go a long way to continuing with that.” The levy recommendation will now go to city council for approval to be put on the November ballot. Park and recreation levies in Bowling Green traditionally enjoy at passage rate of about 60 percent at the polls, according to Kristin Otley, director of the city’s park and recreation department. She is hoping for similar results this time around. “The need is real and we feel we can communicate…


Electric over-charges to go back to customers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green electric customers will get a boost in their bills the rest of this year. Over-collected electric charges will be reimbursed to city customers – to the tune of $2,325,049 from last year, the city’s Board of Public Utilities heard Monday evening. “The money has got to go back to the customers,” said Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for the city of Bowling Green. The city adopted an accounting standard in 2009 that allows deferral of unrecovered power supply costs that otherwise would have caused a default of the city’s bond agreement. The city often over-collects to ensure that it has enough to cover its bond payments. If there is money left over, it then goes back to local residents. “At the end of the year, we have to account for our power supply costs,” O’Connell said. About 10 percent of the $2,325,049 will be refunded each of the 10 months of March through December. After Monday’s meeting, O’Connell said the over-collected amount was actually running higher, but decreased when power costs were lowered and kilowatt hours dropped. A story will follow later this week on the water and wastewater projects approved by the board of public utilities for this year.


BGSU students advocate for solar array on campus

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS A hill created by construction debris goes mostly unoccupied during the year. Except that is on Independence Day when people gather there to watch the fireworks being launched from the stadium to the southeast. A group of Bowling Green State University students have a different vision for the site – they’d like to see an array of solar panels erected there. Recently the Environmental Action Group and Environmental Service Club drafted a letter and had it signed by a couple dozen other student leaders urging the university to take the city up on its offer to put solar panels on the site. The city’s main solar array will be located on Carter Road, but it offered to also place some on campus. No site was designated. City officials confirmed Monday night that the offer was made, but they’ve yet to hear a response from BGSU. Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, said the university hasn’t taken enough action to fulfill its climate action plan that resulted from president Mary Ellen Mazey joining other higher education executives in signing a Climate Commitment calling for campuses to become neutral in their greenhouse gas emissions. That plan, filed in November, 2014, sets out “a vision of the institution as a sustainable campus in the 21st century, operating economically and efficiently, and producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a vision to be realized by the year 2040.” The solar project would provide “great visibility for the university showing how we are taking some steps to realize our goals,” Murnen said. Matthew Cunningham, the president of the…


Lead pipes long gone for city waterlines…but lines to some older homes may still be lead

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Flint residents will likely be suspicious for years to come about the water that comes out of their taps. Many continued drinking the discolored water after being reassured by authorities that it was safe for consumption. The crisis that will reverberate for years in Michigan has some Ohio residents wondering about the safety of their tap water. Any lead pipes used in Bowling Green city’s water delivery system have long ago been replaced, according to city officials. But the city has no control over the pipes used to tap into the lines and carry water into individual homes. “As far as our records go, we’re not aware of any lead service lines that are a part of the system,” said Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green. In the early 1990s, the lead lines were replaced with copper lines, according to Mike Johnson, of the water division. But homeowners are responsible for that bit of pipe that brings the water from the street lines into their faucets. “We don’t always know what is in the house,” O’Connell said. Since some residents may unknowingly have lead lines in their homes, the Environmental Protection Agency has had the city test about 30 water samples each year from residences that may have older connections to the city waterlines. In the past several years, only a handful of homes have shown any detectable levels of lead, Johnson said. All the others have tested as “no detect” for any lead. Unlike Flint, Bowling Green uses anti-corrosive chemicals which deposit on the walls of the pipe…


Friends serve up support at benefit for Corner Grill staff (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Howard’s Club H got to rocking a little early Saturday. At 2 p.m. the Mechanical Cat was on stage rapping about other worlds against a psychedelic background. The business at hand though was a centered on a very real world cause – helping the 10 or so employees of the Corner Grill, who have lost work because of the Feb. 1 fire. The Grill is a beloved part of the downtown scene, whether for folks people heading to work at dawn, the employees from the county courthouse down the block, or the late night revelers and the workers who serve them. It’s been that for decades. So Howard’s, another venerable downtown establishment, opened its doors to host the benefit that ran from early afternoon to early the next morning with a full slate of bands, as well as a buffet of home cooked food and raffle items. Howard’s employee Nikki Cordy who organized the benefit reported: “It was absolutely amazing. It certainly exceeded my expectations. We had perfect weather,everyone was in such a positive and fun mood,we ran on time,all the bands showed up & kicked ass,we raised over $4,000. I couldn’t possibly be happier.” Larry Cain, the owner of the Grill, said he was glad to see the turnout to help his employees. They’re a team, he said. He now expects the Grill will take three to four months to open its doors. A glance inside the diner shows a gutted interior. The linoleum counter, Cain said, has been saved. That’s good, given he wants to preserve as much of the eatery’s classic…


Pro Musica celebrates music students’ travels near & far

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Pro Musica sends university music students around the world so they can learn and perform. Sometimes those trips send them far from home; sometimes they bring them home. That was the case with Chi-Him Chik. Pro Musica help fund the Bowling Green State University student’s attendance at a music festival in his native Hong Kong. While there, the saxophonist said, he met composers and arranged to commission new pieces for saxophone. That will mean more concerts back home both in Hong Kong and in Bowling Green. Chik was one of five students who performed Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library in the annual Coffee & Classics concert. He played “The Jungle,” a contemporary piece for solo saxophone by Christian Lauba. Pianist Josh Wang, who performed two preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff, also used a Pro Musica grant to travel home. In his case, Wisconsin. He put together a concert tour. Not only did it give him a chance to perform his repertoire in concert several times in a compressed period of time but it gave him experience booking and promoting the tour. It went so well, Wang said, that several venues have asked him to return. Singer Suzanne Pergal traveled to Nice, France, for a summer academy. For her, to be taught by French teachers and be surrounded by native French speakers was invaluable. Sunday, though, she sang in English – four selections from “Ten Blake Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed with Robert Ragoonanan on oboe. Caleb Georges performed a prelude from a suite by J.S. Bach on viola….


Ohioans’ turn coming to pick presidential favorites

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Soon it will be Ohioans’ turn to pick their favored candidates for this fall’s presidential election. In the March 15 primary election, local voters will help narrow down the field of candidates. Some voters get on board with their true favorite candidate, while some use their votes to derail the opposition. Whatever the case, voters in Wood County can choose the ballots they cast without being challenged by poll workers, according to Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. “They can pick any ballot they wish,” be it Green Party, Democratic, Republican or just an issues ballot, Burton said. In previous years, citizens with histories of voting with a certain party in primary elections were sometimes questioned when they wanted to switch parties for a primary ballot. Those voters were sometimes asked to sign a form stating they wished to align themselves with a different party. That all changed a few years ago, Burton said, when the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office under Jennifer Brunner redefined the rules. Poll workers were no longer to ask voters to sign those forms unless they had reason to believe a voter was being untruthful. “We told our poll workers to no longer use that form,” Burton said. But some counties in Ohio still question voters who wish to switch, Burton added. “There are some counties that still use that form,” in instances when poll workers believe voters should have to declare their allegiance when switching parties. “We tell our poll workers to let people use whatever ballot they want to vote. That…


Students do the neighborly thing on East Side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With their rubber gloves and blowing garbage bags, the students scooped up sandwich wrappers, paper plates, and beer cans. But their primary prey was much smaller. “The two big contenders are cigarette butts and Taco Bell sauce packets,” said Sean Herman, who organized Saturday morning’s cleanup of the city’s East Side through The Common Good organization. By 9 a.m. nearly 50 students and a couple full-time residents were crammed into The Common Good house on Crim Street to load up on coffee and bagels before heading out for the neighborhood cleanup. They were given gloves, garbage bags and maps with instructions of streets their teams should cover.   Herman has organized several cleanups, but this one drew more volunteers – from fraternities, a student environmental group and honors students. The work focused in the Wooster Street area on the east side of the city. “This is where the most trash seems to accumulate,” he said. Through The Common Good, Herman has pulled together occasional cleanup crews for the past 18 months. “I just thought there was a need out there and no one was doing anything about it,” he said. Hollie Baker said the cleanups started after the East Side neighborhood group began talking about the negative effects of living in an area so populated by university students. “So this is a way to help the East Side become cleaner and show them that college students acknowledge it’s a problem,” Baker said. Megan Sutherland, director of The Common Good, said BGSU students canvassed the East Side neighborhood to ask how relationships could…


Student designs Alzheimer’s app with his grandpa in mind

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Alzheimer’s Disease is like a melon baller, scooping out holes in memory banks of brains. After watching Alzheimer’s take away so much from his grandfather, Jacob Kielmeyer is working on a way to help people suffering with the disease. Kielmeyer, a senior at Bowling Green High School and the son of David and Diane Kielmeyer, presented his “Nostalgia” app that he created for his DECA class to the board of education Tuesday. The project earned Kielmeyer first place at the DECA district level and qualified him for state competition. And best of all, it could actually become a tool that families can use to help their member with Alzheimer’s regain enjoyment from their memories. The “Nostalgia” program offers a new approach to memory therapy by creating a first-person interactive world designed by family members. The program pairs familiar sounds with familiar photographs to help Alzheimer’s patients get past those holes in their memories. The student was inspired to create the program by his grandpa, Donald Kielmeyer, who died in 2008 after suffering many years with Alzheimer’s. The app he showed Tuesday was designed with his grandpa in mind. The computer screen flashed images of his grandpa’s favorite places – the Main Street of his town, the church he attended for years, a favorite restaurant, a treasured fishing spot, and the Ohio State University football stadium – which his grandpa frequented to cheer on the Buckeyes. The program, created by family members who know the patient best, can then be controlled by the person with Alzheimer’s, allowing them through touch to decide whether they…