Community

ODOT details road projects in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Construction projects on Interstate 75 and surrounding roads have drivers tied up in knots – or stalled in traffic. “It looks like hell out there,” Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said during a meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation officials Tuesday morning. Every time he drives on I-75, which is being widened to three lanes in each direction, Kuhlman is amazed at the complexity of the project. “It could be way, way worse,” he said. The commissioners were told by ODOT officials that the widening project is on schedule, with the stretch of I-75 between Devils Hole and Oil Center roads expected to be done by the end of November. “Essentially, we’re where we need to be,” said Brian French, engineer on the project. But until it’s done, the disruptions to drivers will continue, with closures in the Perrysburg area expected till September, then closure of the southbound ramps for Route 582 planned after that. ODOT is trying to stagger road closures and detours. “We certainly appreciate 75 being widened. All of your predecessors talked about it,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Even though we get caught in traffic jams,” Herringshaw added. But Todd Audet, deputy director of ODOT District 2 office in Bowling Green, isn’t apologetic about the congestion caused by the construction project which came sooner than expected due to early funding. It would have been irresponsible for the district to not snap up the construction dollars when they were offered, he said. “Funding became available and we’re doing as much…


It takes a community to help elders age safely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes a community to not only raise children, but also to help elders age with dignity. As Bowling Green officials stopped to “Pause of the Pledge” on Tuesday morning, they were also encouraged to look out for older members of the community. Last year, 267 cases of elder abuse and neglect were investigated in Wood County. That is an increase from the 2014 reports of 235 cases, according to Marc Briseno, supervisor of Adult Protective Services in the county. Every year an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported. “We certainly want to be a place where people can live, work and enjoy their retirement,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw. “It is our collective responsibility to make sure they live safely and with dignity.” Many of those present Tuesday were wearing purple shirts with the slogan, “Aging is Natural. Abuse is Not.” It is up to individuals to be aware of elder abuse or neglect, Herringshaw said, to “allow seniors to live as independently as possible.” Wood County has many services in place to protect seniors as they age, according to Dave Wigent, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services. “Wood County enjoys an especially robust range of services for seniors,” Wigent said. “Most counties in Ohio do not have these services,” which makes this county a “better…


Oath Keepers gathering rallies survivalists in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Oath Keepers spent the weekend learning how to survive all types of disasters including overreaches by the federal government. Approximately 100 members, many dressed in their black Oath Keeper T-shirts, military cargo pants and boots, and equipped with radios and earpieces, gathered for a multi-state rally at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green. Nick Getzinger, of Weston, who is executive officer to the president of the Ohio Oath Keepers, said the organization has grown in the last couple months. “People have found out we’re not a militia,” he said. “If they have a militia mentality, they have to keep that with their group,” Getzinger said. “We’re not going to take a military stance.” Since opening the Oath Keepers Outpost store at Woodland Mall earlier this year, Getzinger has stressed that the Ohio branch of the group is not like others in the nation. If potential members show an anti-government mentality during the vetting process, they are turned down for membership, he said. “We’ve turned quite a few people away,” he said. Getzinger is well aware that the Oath Keepers has been labeled as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I know Southern Poverty tries to throw everybody in the same bucket, but you can’t do that,” he said. “We don’t buy into conspiracy theories, but right now we believe our country is on the wrong track.” While that may be Getzinger’s stance, the mindset of the others at the rally is unknown since they were ordered not to speak…



Bearing witness to Orlando killings draws mixed response in BG (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Local residents came out Sunday morning to show their support for the victims of the mass killing in Orlando, Fla. An attacker, Omar Mateen, gunned down people in the Pulse, a gay night club. Fifty people, including Mateen, died at the scene. Another 53 were wounded. With a rainbow flag, a handful of people gathered near the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. They were greeted by a show of hands – some gave them a thumbs up, some gave them a middle finger. Bowling Green resident Amy Jo Holland said “it was not a pleasant experience.” There were positives and negatives, she said. Linda Tomajko, of Bowling Green, said some honked in support, others thanked them for being out. A couple “preachers” showed up, she said. “One said he understood why God killed those people because they were sinners.” Another said those at the vigil were destined for hell. One preacher stood in front of them for 30 minutes and “bellowed at the top of his lungs,” said Gwen Andrix, another Bowling Green resident. She said the reaction was “fairly typical” of what happens when members of the LGBTQ community gather to express themselves. Tomajko said she was prompted to act because the attack struck close to home. She learned of it when she first got up this morning. There have been so many shootings in the past months, she admitted the impact on her has dulled. “I have a lot of friends who are gay and trans,” she said, “and when I…


Diving head first in no-hands pie eating contest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six grown men tested their stamina and their stomachs Saturday during a no-hands pie eating contest at the Heritage Farm Festival held at the Wood County Park District’s Carter Historic Farm. James Benschoter put his beard in a ponytail. Dylan Thomason starved himself ahead of time. And Joel Kuhlman thought he was prepared. “I was actually looking forward to it all week – until I got here,” said Kuhlman, a Wood County commissioner. The rules were simple, but strict. No utensils. No hands. The first person to finish and stand up won $20. “The rest of you get to finish the pie we gave you,” said Bryan Bockbrader, the park district’s stewardship coordinator. “If you pass out in your chair, you are disqualified,” he added. The men were thanked for sacrificing their dignity, then told to begin. The apple pies went down easy to start, with the men occasionally lifting their heads to breathe. All the contestants were given large bandana handkerchiefs to use as bibs. But most were employed to get apple pie out of their noses. As they labored to inhale the desserts, Bockbrader egged them on. “This is muskrat pie, we found it along the road.” Thomason, the youngest of the group, was going strong right up till the end. “No more pie for me for a year,” he said after he walked from the table and slumped down to the ground. John Dalton, the eldest of the group, gave it a noble effort, rarely lifting his head from…


County housing analysis reveals lack of affordable rentals and lack of public transportation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A new analysis of housing in Wood County revealed the same problems as past studies – too few affordable rentals and a lack of public transportation which doesn’t allow people to access less expensive housing. Dave Steiner, director of the Wood County Planning Commission, shared the latest Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing with the county commissioners on Tuesday. The study is required every five years in order for the county to get Community Block Grant Funding from HUD. The massive report digs into the county’s demographics, and looks at areas where fair housing opportunities can be furthered. Steiner said the report points out three areas needing improvement. First is the lack of affordable rentals, which are limited primarily to Bowling Green. Few low rent properties are available outside of the city, he said. Second is the lack of public transportation, which is especially detrimental in small villages. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw mentioned the new Net Plus transportation program which should be in operation by the end of last week. However, that program is to provide rides to doctor’s appointments, not to the grocery story or social visits. “It does keep people in small towns kind of isolated,” Herringshaw said of the lack of public transportation. With Wood County being the seventh largest county geographically in the state, efforts to provide comprehensive public transit have stalled. “There’s no easy solution to that,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. Steiner agreed. “I have yet to find a solution,” he said, adding that…


BG ready for algae season in river water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s that time of year, when the recipe for algal blooms starts cooking in the Maumee River. Spring rains run nutrients from soil into waterways and the sun’s rays warm up the water to create algal blooms. “All those ingredients in the water that promote algae growth start to happen,” said Brian O’Connell, utilities director for the city of Bowling Green. Last week, an algal bloom in the Maumee River near Defiance’s water treatment plant prompted a “no contact” advisory. Defiance is located upriver from Bowling Green’s water intake which sits between Grand Rapids and Waterville. “Swimming and wading in the Maumee River is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets,” a Defiance news release stated, according to the city’s newspaper. But Defiance officials said the drinking water supply was safe. The water is currently being drawn out of the city’s reservoir, not the river, they reported. And water from the reservoir had been tested, showing safe levels. Bowling Green’s drinking water is also safe despite algal blooms in the river, according O’Connell. Bowling Green draws its water from the Maumee River near its West River Road plant, and pumps it into a reservoir where it is treated for any algal blooms. That is just the first step, O’Connell explained earlier this week. “To top that off, there’s a small UV light system,” he said, and then chlorine treatment just in case anything slips past the processes. “Our finished water samples have always shown…


Sun sets the stage for Art in the Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News All kinds of artists turned out for Bowling Green’s second annual Art in the Park in Simpson Garden Park. Artists were drawing, painting, doing needle work. Adult and budding actors staged shows. Performer Nick Zoulek blew saxophone; Michiko Saiki blew bubbles. And, of course, there were those who expressed their artistic inclinations by snapping photos with their smart phones. Jacqueline Nathan, president of the Bowling Green Arts Council, said the Art in the Park was a success, drawing at least as many attendees as last year’s inaugural event. Sunny weather in the 80s certainly helped. Aaron Pickens, of Grand Rapids, was painting a line of arbor vitae. Painting outdoors is way of taking a break from his highly detailed and realistic paintings of toys. Those can take 500 hours to complete. But if painting outdoors is fun, it’s serious fun. Painting outdoors is a challenge. There’s so much detail, he said. “You have to learn what to leave out. The landscape taught me how to paint.” Denise Carter was working on a rag rug that will serve as a wall hanging. She pulled brightly colored fabric through the weave of a coffee bean sack. The fabric became flowers, but Carter wasn’t depicting the blossoms in front of her. For her working outside was enjoyable because the colors were so much brighter in the full sun. Nearby in the amphitheater the sun served as stage lighting for theater. The Black Swamp Players offered the all-too-topical political satire “The Spot” about the filming of a candidate’s…


When collecting crosses the line to become hoarding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The line between collecting and hoarding is not as fine as some might think. That news seemed to comfort some of the ladies dressed in wide-brimmed hats and lace gloves who had just finished sipping tea and eating scones Thursday at the Wood County Historical Center’s tea titled “When Collections Go Wild.” “I don’t want to be a party pooper, collecting is great. But sometimes it goes bad,” said speaker Dr. William O’Brien, a psychology professor at Bowling Green State University. As he addressed hoarding, O’Brien suspected that his audience members were thinking, “I wonder if this is going to be about me?” But there are distinct differences between collecting and hoarding, he said. Collecting is common and enjoyable. Those who collect feel proud of their collections and share them with others. “People don’t hoard out of joy,” O’Brien said. Collecting rarely interferes with social functioning, and those who do it are able to acquire items carefully and discard items they no longer want. In contrast, hoarders are often ashamed of the items they have compulsively accumulated. “They don’t want people to come over to their house.” Hoarders have great difficulty discarding things even if they have no value. They become anxious just thinking about getting rid of things, O’Brien said. Collecting to compulsion can be a slippery slope, he said. “The line is when the home environment is interrupted.” At that point, hoarding can lead to marital and family strife. “The non-saver tries to sneak things out of the home” to…


Start a new chapter by learning to play ukulele at library

From Wood County District Public Library Book groups and ukuleles take center stage at Wood County District Public Library (251 N. Main St., BG) in the library’s upcoming adult programming for the week of June 13 – 19. Events are free and open to all. Monday, June 13 · Kristin Wetzel leads the Page to Table cookbook discussion group meeting at 6:30 pm in the Carter House. This month’s meeting focuses on “Food Network Stars.” Participants, may bring a dish prepared from a cookbook by their favorite Food Network chef, along with a copy of the recipe, noting any changes made. The library will supply flatware and dinnerware. Tuesday, June 14 · The library’s Diversity in America book group, led by Jim Litwin meets in the 1st Floor Meeting Room to discuss Sally Denton’s American Massacre. Thursday, June 16 · Coffee Talk book group, led by Kristin Wetzel, holds its annual “Book to Film Day” in the 1st Floor Meeting Room. At 10:00 am the group will discuss Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Following a break for lunch, the group resumes its meeting at 1:00 pm to watch the book’s critically acclaimed film adaptation (Oscar nominee Best Film and Best Screenplay, Nick Hornby), featuring Saoirse Ronan (Oscar nominee, Best Actress). Sunday, June 19 · Ukulele playing is taking the area by storm, thanks in no small part to the Grande Royale Ükulelists of the Black Swamp (GRÜBS). If you have a ukulele and are looking for a fun, friendly, and helpful group to explore your instrument with, join members of the…


Police seek information in Glanz homicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than three years after being found dead in her Bowling Green home, the homicide of Dawn Glanz is still unsolved. Investigators want anyone with a possible piece to the puzzle to step forward. Bowling Green Police Division issued a release Thursday asking that anyone with information about her death come forward – even if that information seems insignificant. Glanz, 66, a professor of art history at Bowling Green State University, was found dead in her home on Kensington Boulevard in Bowling Green on May 9, 2013. She was the wife of Robert A. Brown, of Toledo, and stepmother to Josh Brown, of Sylvania. In December 2013, Glanz’s death was ruled a homicide by the Wood County Coroner. The autopsy found that she suffered a sharp force injury of the scalp and was stabbed by an assailant. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that no new information has surfaced about the case, and that the police believe someone has details that could help them solve the case. “We want to keep this in the forefront,” Hetrick said. “We don’t want people to forget we have this unsolved homicide.” “We believe someone has information and for one reason or another hasn’t shared it,” the chief said. Hetrick said the police division will not give up on finding Glanz’s killer. “We’re not going to give up on this case. It’s been a couple years, but we’ve had cases go longer and then solved them,” he said. “Somebody out there knows something,”…


Sign language – variance granted for hotel LED sign

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A variance was granted Wednesday evening which will help a local business owner compete with the big flashy signs closer to the interstate. The Bowling Green Zoning Board of Appeals voted to grant a variance for a new larger LED sign for the Best Western hotel at 1450 E. Wooster St. The variance was requested by Harmon Sign to allow an 18-foot tall and 58.8-square-foot sign, which would encroach 17 feet into the 25-foot front yard setback. Nelson Pixler, of Harmon Sign, said the new electronic message sign is all part of a rebranding effort at the Best Western location. The new sign will not be any taller than the current sign, and will allow the owner to use the existing foundation. “It certainly will spruce up the area with the new look,” Pixler said. The hotel also has a very tall pole sign that was granted a variance in 1991, according to City Prosecutor Matt Reger. Paul Bishop, the son of Best Western owner Jake Bishop, explained the effort to rebrand the hotel, locally called the Falcon Plaza. Approximately $400,000 has already been spent on renovating the common areas, conference rooms, lobby and breakfast area. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” Bishop said. Next on the list is upgrading of all the individual hotel rooms, which should be completed next year. Though part of Best Western, the hotel will retain its local flair as the Falcon Plaza. “We intend to keep that as part of the identity,” Bishop said. Not…


Green space still in limbo; BG offered Wood Lane home for expansion of city site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city of Bowling Green is still looking for a home for municipal offices. That’s what worries some residents, who don’t want to see the city’s new home built on the green space where the old junior high used to sit. City council has not addressed the issue since mid-April, when a consultant presented plans for a new city building sharing the green space area. So Monday evening, citizen Carol Kinsey asked council where the plans stand for the open space. Council president Mike Aspacher explained that there had been “no development.” The mayor and city administration are looking at all the alternatives for a new city building. He asked that citizens “be patient,” and added that the citizens’ support of saving the green space has not gone unnoticed. “We get that. We understand that,” Aspacher said. Council member Sandy Rowland assured that once the issue moves out of the council committee, public input will again be sought. “There’s a lot of interest in what’s happening,” Rowland said. One option to give the city offices more space occurred recently when Wood Lane officials asked if the city would be interested in buying the house just to the north of the city building on North Church Street. The house is used as a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities. “That house is certainly available,” said Mayor Dick Edwards. But the city has no plans to purchase the property, he added. “We have no immediate need for it.” Aspacher said “a very brief…


Communities compromise to get block grants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In an era of political bickering and obstinance, Wood County Planning Commission saw a rare example of compromise and cooperation Tuesday evening. As usual during the annual awarding of Community Development Block Grants, the planning commission had far more requests than there was funding. Seven towns asked for a total of $307,800, but the county had just $162,000 to hand out. Each town described its request, with the mayor or other official giving their best pitch. “Now’s the hard part,” Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission, said of the selection process. “The state puts us in the position of only selecting four and the money is finite,” said commission member John Alexander. The commission weighed the value of the projects and the amounts the towns were willing to pay on their own. And then they tried to shuffle the projects around to meet the winning combination of $162,000 – but with no success. So instead of digging in and defending their requests, the four towns on the top of the funding list all agreed to shave some money off their requests and try to come up with more funding own their own. So when the math was done, the following communities got funding: Bairdstown, through the efforts of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, will get $40,000 to help low and moderate income homeowners pay for sewer lateral installation costs. The town had asked for $50,000. Bairdstown is the last village in Wood County to get public sewers for its…