Community

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…


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…


2015: A year in review in BG – Your tax dollars at work

(From the City of Bowling Green) For the City of Bowling Green, 2015 wasn’t unlike other years. Provide excellent services to the citizens of Bowling Green in the most cost effective manner possible. Below is a review of significant 2015 projects and a view of how your tax dollars are utilized in the community. Coordinating the replacement and repair of sidewalks was a significant accomplishment of the Public Works Department in 2015. The City’s 50/50 sidewalk program, which is a cost sharing program between the City and property owners, resulted in the replacement or repair of sidewalks on 26 properties in the City. In addition, as the impact of the Columbia Gas natural gas line replacement repairs were realized, the Public Works Department quickly swung into action to monitor the work and advocate for citizens in the construction area. As a result, 30 properties received new sidewalks. All the sidewalk work added up to roughly one mile of sidewalk replacement in 2015. A major responsibility of the Public Works Department is road maintenance. In that area, a significant project was conducted on Poe Road, between Mitchell and North Grove. Improvements included 1.89 miles of paving. Working with state and federal resources, the City contributed $298,000 of the $1.14 million total project cost. Numerous other infrastructure projects were completed in 2015 by the Utilities Department. The Electric Division completed street lighting upgrades to energy efficient LED fixtures on two major corridors – Mercer Road from East Wooster to East Poe Road…


New BG soccer fields moving ahead

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Efforts to provide more soccer space in Bowling Green have scored a goal with funds now available to erect a fence between the fields and Haskins Road. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board approved field use policies Tuesday evening, and learned that a fence will be constructed to separate the fields from the nearby road. Four of the 20 acres just south of the community center have been turned into “pristine game fields,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. Those fields were planted with grass last year, so the grass should be hearty enough for play this fall. “We do expect them to be in good shape for fall use,” said Tim Stubbs, park facilities coordinator. Stubbs said the original plan for the athletic fields did not include funding for a fence along Haskins Road. However, there is money in the budget this year for a fence, he said. “That’s basically to keep kids from running out into the road and keep balls from bouncing out into the road,” he said. Otley said the fence is necessary. “I totally agree,” she said. “I will personally sleep better tonight knowing that fence is there.” The fence will be vinyl covered black chain link – the same type that surrounds the swimming pool in City Park. A sign reading, “Bowling Green Athletic Fields” will be posted on the fence, Otley said. One issue remains, and that is the city…


Ridding Wintergarden of non-native invasive species

(This is the second in a series of columns about nature by Bowling Green’s Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz) When I first became the Natural Resources Coordinator for the City of Bowling Green in 2000, I was interviewed and asked what I planned to do to make Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve a better place.  It was a daunting question.  Wintergarden Park had been left to its own devices as a public space. People used it, but very few as compared to today.  There were years of accumulated trash, trails weren’t maintained, trees fell across trails and were removed as time and resources permitted, and some visitors used the park in ways that suited their own needs.  Public usage, and maintenance aside, the park also had a huge problem environmentally.  Wintergarden/St. John’s Woods was the poster child for non-native invasive plant species. To the casual nature lover and user of natural areas, green is green.  Most people look out into a forested landscape and they see a sea of green plants and what appears to be lush forest.  As a naturalist and manager, I saw nothing but sickness and decay.  Wintergarden was nothing but Bush Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Privet, Burning Bush, Garlic Mustard, Black Locust, and Asian Bittersweet.  That’s just the short list.  I’m pretty sure we had just about every invasive species a nature park manager loses sleep over.  Removal and control of these species was a daunting task and one that needed to take a high priority. Our first…


Future just got brighter for BG solar field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s solar field project just became bigger, brighter and more of a bargain. The solar project, which had been stalled since last summer, was approved Monday evening by the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities. On May 2, the project will come before City Council, which has already had two readings for the project and was just waiting for details to get ironed out. If all goes as planned, an estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight starting next year. “This is incredibly exciting for the city of Bowling Green,” Mayor Dick Edwards said. The project is not only moving ahead, but it 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. “The panels will rotate and follow the path of the sun as it moves through the sky,” O’Connell said. 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 getting 13.74 megawatts of the power for…


Thank You, Mr. Brown

The following is a reflection piece written by Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, who sang in the Memorial Choir to honor Jim Brown. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green was nearly full for Jim Brown’s Celebration of Life service Saturday morning. I scanned the crowd as people filed in, looking mostly for those I remembered from high school. We sat in the section to the right of the pulpit with other members of the Memorial Choir. Stacey (Timmons) Higgins from the Class of 1990 was sitting on my left; Amanda Gullufsen, a fellow graduate of the Class of 1991, was on my right. Both had been Madrigal Singers with Mr. Brown in High School and had traveled with him to the former Soviet Union as it was crumbling. I had been in regular Choir my 10th – 12th grade years, singing such memorable pieces as “I Sing The Body Electric” (from FAME) and the Rutter Requiem. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Brown had known John Rutter personally. My husband, John Zibbel, had graduated from BGHS some years after me and had been fortunate enough to be a student in the first Humanities Class co-taught by Mrs. Dianne Klein (Former English / Creative Writing) and Mr. Brown in their last years teaching before retirement. John’s class in the 98-99 school year was themed “Making The Midwest Home.” They traveled by bus to Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. In speaking about the Humanities class, Mrs. Klein stated that due to the closeness that the groups experienced from traveling…


Earth Day plants the seed for respecting planet

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN  BG Independent News   Bees get no respect. Leeches may be ugly, but they are a sign of beauty to biologists. And powering an incandescent light bulb takes a lot of energy from little legs. An awful lot of learning was packed into fun hands-on (and feet-on) activities at the Seventh Annual Community Celebration of Earth Day on Sunday outside at the Montessori School in Bowling Green. “We want people to have a greater appreciation of the local environment and also feel more connected with the planet,” said Caitlin Buhr, advancement director at the Montessori School. A lot of children have that bond with Mother Nature, she added. “We want to nurture the connection they already feel.” The Earth Day celebration featured several different activity stations that snuck in learning for young children. Children got to hold some critters like crayfish that came straight from the Maumee River near Otsego Park. “Those critters can tell us a lot about the health of the river,” said Christina Kuchle, from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The sample in the aquarium was a pretty healthy mix of crayfish, mayflies, leeches, sow bugs, and freshwater shrimp. The next station took children out of the water and lifted them skyward. Children could hear the calls of a bald eagle, California condor and Peregrine falcon, plus touch the skulls of several birds. “Kids like anything hands on,” said Cinda Stutzman, of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Children put those…


Students and colleagues sing their good-bye to James Brown

By FRANCES BRENT Good bye dear, dear Mr. Brown! Saturday 50 of his former students, youthful again despite grey hair and receding hairlines, met at St. Mark’s Lutheran in a Memorial Choir led by Linda Gullufsen, to sing him to his rest. The church was packed with his admirers. The final Hallelujah Chorus drew dozens more singers from the pews for a musical celebration of a man who brought so much beauty and creativity to the young people of Bowling Green. Jim Brown brought greatness to Bowling Green students as they learned to create a beauty that transcended their everyday selves. He made music matter. Bowling Green High School students that didn’t make it through auditions, or that never thought of trying, still experienced an era when music (band was terrific too,) was a source of school cultural pride. Jim Brown and his generations of student musicians were also a source of community pride and for a time almost defined Christmas and summer musical theater in BG. To earn a place as a Madrigal Singer was to be blessed for life and to learn that all that glory of song was the result of very hard work, lots of discipline and major disruption to family life. Less well known was the wide ranging idealism and world view of a class he co-taught with English teacher Dianne Klein that inspired students outside his musical world. Jim Brown was the heart, soul and remarkable leader and inspiration of a truly memorable 50-year…


Roller on a roll at Art Walk

Art Walk winners   Art Walk has been good to artist Tom Roller. In previous years he’s won both the top prize awarded by the jurors and has won the top prize chosen by the public. This year he won both. That double win will amount to a fond farewell for Roller, who said earlier in the day that he’s going stop doing art fairs this year. At 78 hauling his large metal sculptures is more than he wants to take on. Not that he’ll abandon his metalworking tools. He’ll continue selling his sculptures inspired by flora and fauna out of his garage. That’s plenty of work for him. Also winning Juried Art Awards were: Chris Burch, photography, second place, and Shannon Yocum, found art furniture, third place. Winning People’s Choice honors were: Richard Gullett, drawings, second place; John Calderonello, wooden boxes, third place; and Curisa Passalacqua, fourth. Art by professional, avocational and student artists was displayed in 29 locations in downtown Bowling Green.


Children’s author a big kid himself – advocates for underwear on head, mac and cheese in bathtub

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Todd Parr’s suggestion that kids eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub did not go over well with their parents. “Moms and dads were very mad at me,” Parr said, smiling. But mac and cheese is a recurring theme in Parr’s books for children. That and underwear. Parr talked about them both with children during his appearance as guest author at the annual Literacy in the Park event Saturday at Bowling Green State University. “His books remind us to be ourselves. That it’s OK to be different,” Tim Murnen, interim director of the BGSU School of Teaching and Learning, said as he introduced Parr to an audience of eager children and their parents. “His books remind us that everyone should wear underwear on your head at least once in your lifetime,” Murnen said. But beyond the silly subjects of food and undergarments, Parr’s underlying message was for the parents as much as their kids. It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to wear glasses, to be missing teeth, to get mad, to have a pet worm. From the stage in the busy, noisy field house, Parr read some of his books aloud to the children. The underwear book outlined the “dos” and “don’ts,” suggesting that underwear not be put in the freezer, always be worn when fishing, but never be used as bait. Each book ends with the same salutation. Love, Todd. Parr told the kids a little bit about his life….


Women veterans sought for Honor Flight

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Honor Flight is looking for a few good women. Women veterans, that is, to go on the first all-women veterans Honor Flight from Columbus. “This is the first one I’m aware of” just for women, said Dave Chilson, of Bowling Green, who has been very involved in the Honor Flights from the Toledo area. The one-day trip to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10, will be free to about 80 veterans as a thank you for their service. “This is an appeal to spread to word, so they can be honored and recognized as they so well deserve to be,” Chilson said. “I don’t know how many women veterans there are. That’s why we’re getting the word out.” One of the local women enlisting for the flight is Emmy Hann, of Bowling Green. Hann, 85, served in the Army, Women Medical Specialist Corp from 1952 to 1956 as a dietetic intern and commissioned officer. “I loved the experience so much that I extended it,” she said. She trained at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Her husband, Bill, was a Korean War veteran. Until now, Hann never applied to go on an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. “I always felt the opportunity should go to the people who had been in the trenches,” she said. But Honor Flight clearly believes Hann and other women are deserving of the recognition. And Hann is…


Victory Inn owner files appeal over zoning denial

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The owner of the defeated Victory Inn in Bowling Green has filed an appeal, saying the city improperly denied him a variance to build another hotel. The proposed new hotel would be at the same location, 1630 E. Wooster St., as the Victory Inn, which was frequently the source of complaints about bedbugs, plumbing and electrical problems, the lack of smoke alarms and cleanliness violations. After nearly five years of wrangling with the owner, Jamal Garmo, of Michigan, the hotel was demolished last October. Last month, the Zoning Board of Appeals listened to Garmo’s new plans to construct a new hotel. Garmo needed approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, since the hotel he is proposing exceeds the city’s height and story limits. By a vote of 3 to 2, the board rejected Garmo’s request. The appeal, filed by Bob Spitler in Wood County Common Pleas Court, stated the board’s denial was “unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious and an unreasonable exercise of discretion.” The appeal continued to state the denial posed an “unreasonable hardship” against Garmo. City Attorney Mike Marsh said Friday afternoon that the appeal was likely filed just in case it was needed, since it was required to be filed within 30 days. Marsh added, however, that Spitler notified him that new hotel plans would be coming. “I heard they were working on revised plans that would comply with the zoning code requirements,” Marsh said. “If that happens, then everybody is…


BG residents want indoor pool, more fitness classes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents jumped right into swimming and exercise discussions at this week’s park focus group – bringing to the surface again the idea of an indoor pool at the community center. Local residents love their swimming. So much that they would like to do it year-round. “They do understand when they say that, that it’s very expensive,” said Kristin Otley, director of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Those attending the public forum also had other suggestions for the pool: Flip flop the lessons, so older kids have the early morning classes when the air is the chilliest. The pool is heated, but cool mornings make it seem chillier, Otley said. Make better use of lap lanes which are underutilized. Offer weekend swim lessons. Add a fitness program at the pool for older children. Add an indoor salt water therapy pool. Residents also brought up the possibility of creating a premium pass for the community center, and working out a deal with the Bowling Green State University Recreation Center, to allow members to use the indoor pool in the winter. “People were interested in that,” Otley said. The public forum also focused on the community center and programming offered there. Residents said they were interested in youth and family fitness classes, including parent and child yoga. Others suggested offering fitness classes for parents and children, at the same time but in different areas of the center. It was mentioned that an obstacle…


BG sees steady economic growth in 2015

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green industries invested more than $50 million in machinery and facilities last year. “Our companies keep reinvesting in themselves,” Sue Clark, executive director of Bowling Green Economic Development, said Thursday during the annual meeting of the organization. “It was a steady year of growth.” And while adding machinery, they also added jobs – with there now being more than 4,000 manufacturing employees in the city. “We now have more employees in the manufacturing sector than the university does,” Clark said. The largest investment was made by Phoenix Technologies, which added equipment to its East Poe Road plant. The addition of the new plant process means that a plastic bottle dropped off at the nearby recycling center can be washed and ground up at the Poe Road plant, then trucked to the Fairview plant where it is pelletized, then trucked to Southeastern Container on North Main Street where it can be reinvented into a new bottle. The full circle process in one city for plastic recycling is remarkable, Clark said. “We’re very proud of that.” The city is also seeing some commercial growth, with a Fairfield Inn being constructed and Kroger being expanded. The economic development office made a move itself to 130 S. Main St., along with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Downtown BG. Also in 2015, the city “survived another year of construction on I-75” and weathered the peaks and valleys of the…