BG parks and rec sets course for next five years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The five-year master plan for the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation is not “sexy.” But what it lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in substance. Much of the plan focuses on maintaining the current parks – paving parking lots and fixing roofs. Nothing too flashy. Woody Woodward, executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, complimented the park and rec board Tuesday evening for its new plan. “It matters. It helps set a course for you for the next five years,” Woodward said. He disagreed with the description that the plan lacked pizzazz. In fact, the plan has a quality that several communities neglect. “This plan gives you some time to breathe,” and take care of what the city already has, he said. “We spend so much time thinking what the next thing is, that we forget to take care of what the last thing was.” “It ensures that this community has the facilities necessary to make lives better,” Woodward said. The master plan was completed after a series of public forums was held earlier this year to collect community input on the parks. The forums were led by Shannon Orr, political science professor at Bowling Green State University. Orr said she has led forums many times in the past, but encountered something unusual at the park and rec meetings. “I’ve never run a forum where people were so enthusiastic and positive,” she said. The participants praised the friendliness of the park staff, variety of programs, reasonable prices, and clean facilities. “I hope you appreciate how unusual that is,” Orr said. “What really came out of these forums is how the community feels about parks and rec.”   The forums covered youth programs, nature parks, garden parks, active parks, fitness and aquatics. Three items repeatedly asked for by residents were an indoor pool, a walkway to the community center, and more activities for ages 12 to 16. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley presented the five-year master plan, explaining it is a “living, breathing, fluid document.” The goal is to “focus on maintaining and taking care of our parks, programs and facilities, while being aware and open to new opportunities.” The plan identifies needs at the 11 parks, at all the buildings, and with the programs. Not all of the improvements will come out of the budget, since there may be opportunities to access funds elsewhere or to get donations, Otley said. Some of the bigger, more visible projects include a renovated or new Veterans Building in City Park, a completed trail from the community center to the middle-high school complex, and a speed slide at the aquatics center. The slide would help “keep things exciting to keep the numbers up,” at the pool, Otley said. ADA issues will continue to be addressed in all the parks and facilities. Lighting upgrades will be made where necessary, and rental policies will be reviewed. Efforts will be made to upgrade online registration, create a land acquisition policy, and create a book of donation opportunities. Following are the plans for each of the city’s parks: BG Athletic Fields next to the community center: Open the four acres of game fields. Work on building an outdoor obstacle course on four acres on the…

The day the pizza died

By ELIZABETH ROBERTS-ZIBBEL BG Independent News Yesterday by lunchtime, my Facebook newsfeed was more united and emotional than I’d seen it since David Bowie unexpectedly passed away in January. More than fifty people had shared links, posts, and personal lamentations that the building housing Myles’ Pizza Pub for 39 years had been sold, and that the recipes and memorabilia that made it legendary would be leaving with its founder Chip Myles, who is retiring. The end of Myles’ Pizza Pub as we know it will be Sunday, October 2. In July, rumors of the restaurant’s closing led to lines out the door, so now that the news is official, pizza chaos has broken out. Yesterday my friend Erin Holmberg commented that right after she heard, she began trying to call and got through after thirty frantic minutes. “Just ordered 4 large pizzas to freeze… the wait time is 3 hours. Pizza panic!” We hadn’t seen anything yet. My husband and I tried to call soon afterward and they had already stopped answering the phone. At 6:30, my friend Scott Marcin quipped on Facebook “Who the hell cares about the debate tonight. Myles Pizza is closing for good Sunday! We got a national crisis on our hands right here in BG.” Myles’ Facebook page and Twitter feed have been posting policies and updates regarding their last week, including the limited menu, predicted wait times, and hours they will be open. You can read the full post here, but some highlights: Pub will open at 11 am and they will stop taking orders at 4 pm  Orders must be placed in person at the restaurant. Internet orders have been turned off and phones are off the hook. No timed orders, orders for another day, or reservations Orders are limited to 3 pizzas When I walked by at 10:30 this morning, a car pulled up and a man yelled out to me, “Hey! They open yet?” I replied that the front door was open, and asked how the two men inside the vehicle felt about the closing. “Sucks,” the driver said simply, shaking his head. “We just drove over an hour to get here,” said the other guy, who didn’t want to give his name.   An hour later, a line extended out the door and into the parking lot. Another friend, Stephanie Rine, posted a photo from inside the restaurant and said, “Been waiting in line an hour just to place my order! Hubby [Eric] has to have one more of Chip’s ham and pineapple pizzas!” Similar sentiments seem to be echoing all over town. My friend Shari Beeker, whom I’ve known since I was 13 and would win the Most Enthusiastic Bowling Green Townie prize if there were such a thing, posted a series of live updates today while she waited with her husband Shad to get inside. Sharing photos of the iconic “Myles Pizza Pub” glass lampshade as well as her late father’s cigarette smoke stain on the ceiling from 1980, she wrote, “This is actually pretty awesome, it’s like a family reunion. Just talked to the wife and daughter of ‘the first customer,’ who happens to be my husband’s boss. Standing in line behind a guy Shad graduated with, my old playground monitor is a few people back, my…

Presbyterians to dedicate church windows

(As submitted by First Presbyterian Church in BG) On October 2 at 2:00 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green will hold a special service dedicating the newly restored stained glass windows.   The windows, created by the Henry Keck Glass Studio of Syracuse, NY, were installed in 1938, and have been restored by the Bigelow Glass Company of Findlay as the crowning piece of an all-church capital campaign in 2012.  The project took 20 months with a cost of $150,000, involving over 20,000 pieces of glass. The restoration will help anchor the role of the church as a historic religious and community center in downtown Bowling Green. Co-pastor Rev. Gary Saunders says, “We are a church deeply committed to our city and our downtown neighborhood.  It is our profound hope that the restored windows will be a gift to the entire Bowling Green community as the light shines through them to beautify our town.”  The city council has been invited, and the service will feature special remarks by Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards. The dedication ceremony will also be the debut of the book “A Bible in Glass” that describes the windows in detail and tells the history of their installation.  The layout of the book was done by Ethan Jordan, with the introduction by Marcy St. John and the text by co-pastor Rev. Mary Jane Saunders.  The books will be available for purchase following the service. Each of the twenty-four windows includes a scene from the life of Christ, a historical church symbol and a verse of scripture.  The twelve windows on the north side are now visible to the community from W. Wooster Street, following the demolition of the former Junior High School and the creation of a green space. These windows depict scenes from the life of Jesus, while the twelve on the south side are themed on his parables and miracles. The dedication service is designed as a community event, and all are welcome.  Guest soloist Diane Martin McEwen will offer a special musical piece.  Following the dedication, refreshments will be served in the church Fellowship Hall.  Those with questions may call the church at 419 352 5176.

NIOT plans ‘Real Talk with Real Cops’ at BGSU

(As submitted by Not In Our Town BG) Not In Our Town BG stands with all who grieve following the deaths in Tulsa and Charlotte last week.  We also witness to the deep feelings of anger, frustration and fear that these events have generated among people of color and others here in Bowling Green and on campuses and in communities around the country. One of our NIOT cornerstones remains our commitment both to truth-telling and to improving the relations of our BG and BGSU police with the Bowling Green community at large.  We continue to support “coffee with cops” events, and we highlight the coming community/police conversation called “It’s Just Us:  Real Talk with Real Cops.”  This will take place Friday Oct. 14 in the theater (room 206) of BGSU’s Bowen Thompson Student Union at 6 p.m.  There is no overstating the importance of open and honest communication with and by our officers, particularly involving those who have reason to be fearful due to current and past events. The tragedies of last week underscore the value of the cooperation and the partnership of the two police departments with NIOT-BG since our origin.  But they also show that we in Bowling Green must continue with the hard work required to reject prejudice and violence in our town, and to become a community in which all people are not just included but are respected and safe.  

Little boy honored for big act of heroism

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eight-year-old Conner Beck was an unlikely hero. He’s a little guy, who’s not much for words. But earlier this year, Conner was big on action at a time when it really counted. Conner and his dad, Aaron Beck, were on their way home to Bradner after attending a BGSU hockey game in February. It was dark, around 9:30 p.m., when his father started slowing down on U.S. 6. He told Conner, who was sitting in the back seat, that he didn’t feel well and was going to pull over. But as he was in the process, Beck blacked out due to intense abdominal pain, and went left of center into a ravine just past the Luckey Farmers site on Route 6. The pickup truck then went up out of the ravine and landed on the railroad tracks about 30 feet from the roadway. Though scared and unsure what was happening, Conner unhooked his seatbelt and crawled to the front of the pickup. He turned on the emergency strobe lights, which he had seen his dad do many times in his role as a Bradner firefighter and EMT. The father and son located Beck’s cell phone, and called 911. His father was unable to talk, so Conner told the sheriff’s dispatcher exactly where the truck was and asked that they send Bradner EMS. The dispatcher called CSX to stop trains heading that way, and Conner convinced his dad that he needed to get out of the truck since it was sitting on the tracks. Then Conner walked to the edge of Route 6 and waved his arms to try to get help for his dad. Motorists honked their horns, but no one stopped to help. Bradner EMS arrived on the scene and took Beck to Wood County Hospital, where he remained for three days. Since then, the father has listened to his son’s 911 call to the dispatcher. “It was pretty intense,” he said. Beck remembers little from that night. “I could hear him screaming,” the father said. He remembers Conner getting him away from the railroad tracks and taking care of him until help arrived. Conner, now 9 and a third grader at Lakota, was honored Saturday evening during a Cub Scout camping event on the grounds of the Wood County Historical Center. According to Kathy Bomer, scouting district advancement and awards chairman, the Boy Scouts have four awards for heroic actions. Conner was bestowed with the second highest honor, she said. “He risked his life,” Bomer said of Conner trying to flag down help on Route 6 on the dark winter night. “Not one person stopped. All they did was beep at him. He could have become a victim himself.” Tammy Stahl, cubmaster of Conner’s scout pack, said the boy put into action skills he had learned from his father’s role on the fire department, and from his experience in scouting. “He remained pretty calm the whole time,” Stahl said. Conner, again in his quiet way, stood in front of more than 100 Cub Scouts at the campfire ceremony Saturday and accepted the scouting medal pinned onto his uniform by his dad. “This is important and I want to make sure the kids know,” Bomer said. The award plaque credited Conner…

Silent Witness unveiling set for Oct. 4

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Bowling Green State University Women’s Center has announced the unveiling of the 2016 collection of the northwest Ohio chapter of the Silent Witness Project. The evening will include an address by keynote speaker Paula Walters, a certified paramedic, domestic violence survivor and founder of Standing Courageous, Inc. Walters will share her personal story and honor the family and friends of local domestic violence victims who did not survive. She also will invite audience members to join her effort to convince legislators of the need for a Violence Offender Registry, which would allow citizens to be informed about those who are habitually dangerous to others. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Parkway Place, 2500 Parkway Plaza in Maumee. It is free and open to the public; however, due to the intense nature of the program, organizers ask that those in attendance do not bring young children. The 2016 Silent Witness Project collection includes 62 free-standing, life-sized wooden silhouettes, each one bearing the name and story of a girl or woman whose life ended violently at the hands of a husband, boyfriend, dating partner or stalker. All Silent Witnesses in the collection were from northwest Ohio and all were murdered within the past decade. During the unveiling, the silhouettes will be revealed one by one in a solemn ceremony. Each Silent Witness will be represented by an individual reader, who will recount the story of the girl or woman represented by that figure. The Silent Witness Project is a national initiative, founded in 1990 in Minnesota, in response to an epidemic of domestic violence homicides. There are local Silent Witness Project chapters in all 50 states. The BGSU Women’s Center founded the northwest Ohio chapter in 2001, and it is now one of the largest chapters in the United States. Friends and allies for the 2016 Unveiling ceremony include: AAUW (Bowling Green branch), BGSU FORCE, BGSU Graduate Women’s Caucus, BGSU Police Department, BGSU Queens of Color, BGSU School of Family and Consumer Sciences, BGSU Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Bethany House (Toledo), Center for Child and Family Advocacy (Napoleon), The Cocoon (Wood County), Crossroads Crisis Center (Lima), Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team (Lucas County), Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team (Wood County), Domestic Violence Resource Center (Toledo), El Centro de la Mujer (Toledo), Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center (Lucas, Ottawa and Wood Counties), Family Service Counseling Center (Wood County), Hermanas Unidas program of Adelante (northwest Ohio), House of Ruth (Defiance), La Conexcion de Wood County, Lutheran Social Services (Northwest Ohio), National Council of Negro Women (Bowling Green section), Not In Our Town (Bowling Green), Open Arms Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services (Findlay), Project Genesis, Family Service of Northwest Ohio (Lucas County), Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter (Erie County), Toledo Take Back the Night Collective, University of Toledo Eberly Center for Women, University of Toledo Police Department, University of Toledo Women and Gender Studies Program, Victim-Witness Assistance Program (Toledo/Lucas County), Women of Toledo, YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter (Toledo), Zonta Club (Bowling Green), and Zonta Club I (Toledo).

STEM in the Park makes learning loud, messy & fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Learning can be pretty loud and messy. Just ask the kids covered in foam bubbles. Or the kids making concrete. Or the ones building rockets. For the seventh year in a row, a whole lot of learning masqueraded as fun at STEM in the Park at Bowling Green State University on Saturday. “We want to make learning fun and we want to spark interest in the STEM fields” of science, technology, engineering and math, said Jenna Pollock, coordinator of the event organized by the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. An estimated 5,000 grade school kids, their parents and volunteers showed up to play. All the events were hands-on, with the messier ones relegated to the outside. There was a “Cootie Camp,” where kids could enter a black tent to get a peek at the germs covering them. There was a giant foam machine shooting foamy bubbles all over kids. There was a sloth and a vulture from the Toledo Zoo. And yes, before you ask, this is education – just in a sneaky form. “We do make it fun,” Pollock said. “They are learning without thinking they are learning.” One outside tent was devoted completely to water issues. Children – and in some cases, their inquisitive parents – got to use a remotely operated vehicle, similar to those used by oceanographers to study shipwrecks and coral reefs that are too deep for divers to venture. “They go places man cannot,” explained Matt Debelak, of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Another display showed kids about erosion in watersheds. Powdered hot chocolate represented the dirt, powdered Kool-Aid represented pesticides. As the young scientists sprayed water onto the “terrain,” they could see how rain sends soil and pesticides into waterways. At a nearby display, dirt and roots were turned into a lesson on how plants can hang onto nutrients and water. “They are really into shaking the jars of dirt,” said Jessica Wilbarger, of the Lucas Soil & Water Conservation District. “They’re really impressed when the water reaches to bottom,” following along roots that extended about two feet deep. One of the hot spots of the STEM event was the foam pit, where an endless stream of bubbly foam was shooting out at kids. Jodi Recker, of Spark Enriched Classes for Children, called it a “sensory extravaganza.”  Next to the foam pit was a “bubble pond,” where kids dipped hoops and created giant bubbles.   “We are not constrained by a test,” Recker said. “We are here digging in, taking it to the kids’ level.” Kids were learning about the surface tension of bubbles and how foam is formed. “We are helping kids see that learning is for our whole lifetime,” she said. And experiments are good – whether they are successful or not. “You won’t know until you do it.” At the construction area, kids were pulling on ropes to see how pulleys make it easier to lift weight. They also got to make “concrete popsicles,” that set up in about 15 minutes. “It’s about as fast of a concrete lesson as we can do,” said Scott Gross, an instructor with the BGSU Construction Management program. Inside the Perry Field House, other experiments were taking place. Kids were looking through virtual reality…

BG Tree Commission gets to root of tree issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Tree Commission gathered for a meeting last week under a tree dedicated to a former member, Walt Ferrell. The tree, a three-flowered maple, was planted in the city’s arboretum located to the west of the city’s fire station on Pearl Street. The plaque at the base of the tree honors Ferrell, a 10-year member of the city tree commission, who graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. “He was a good man,” said Bob Manley, a member of the tree commission. As they stood under the young tree, the commission continued its monthly meeting with the city’s arborist Grant Jones. They discussed the stress that the summer’s hot, dry conditions placed on trees – especially young trees trying to get established. “A lot of those really struggled,” Jones said. The city is currently doing a lot of pruning of trees for overhead power line clearance, and some trees are being removed in the area of Madison and Lorraine streets due to work on water and sewer lines. Jones assured tree commission members that the city was planting more trees that it was removing. Approximately 120 trees were planted in the spring, and another 88 are planned for this fall. The group also discussed the city’s new efforts to give tree roots a little more wiggle room by using a sidewalk surface that is rubbery and moves a bit rather than cracks from root pressure. The tree commission also discussed educational efforts in the city. Jones recently held a diagnostic program to help city residents determine if their trees were healthy or suffering with problems. Another program is planned on Oct. 8 that will focus on soils. The workshop will look at the difference between sandy and clay soil, and organic matter compaction. “Hopefully, we’re going to be able to be outside for it,” Jones said. Another seminar is planned in November on using leaves for mulch. The program will be modeled after a town located north of New York City, where the community follows the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach to leaves. Rather than having the city pick up leaves, residents are encouraged to use them as mulch. Landowners are instructed how to mulch leaves with their mowers, Jones said. “That way, you are returning those nutrients to the soil rather than having them hauled away.”

Brush pickup in city begins Sept. 26

Beginning Monday, Sept. 26, the City of Bowling Green will be conducting a brush pickup. Brush should not be placed curbside any sooner than one week prior to pickup. Brush and limbs should be placed curbside loosely, not bundled. Stumps and limbs in excess of 12 inches in diameter and 10 feet in length will not be picked up. Brush mixed with leaves or other yard debris will not be collected. The city, at its discretion, will not collect entire trees placed in the right of way as a result of work by a contractor or are of such size and multitude, that it surpasses the intent of the brush collection. This is not an unlimited brush collection. People living on cul-de-sacs, should not place brush in the cul-de-sac green space as it may block fire hydrants or may make it unmanageable for city equipment to remove. There will be one citywide sweep of all four wards. Pick up will start in Ward I. Once the crew leaves a street, they will not return. Pickup is by ward and not by the normal refuse collection day. Brush collection is only for locations which receive city refuse collection. To ensure pick up of your brush, it should be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on Sept. 26. Any questions regarding the brush pickup should be directed to the Public Works Department at 419-354-6227.

Big dairy blamed for busting up rural roads, draining township road budget

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dave Housholder and his fellow Portage Township Trustees are tired of patching township roads only to have them broken and rutted a few months later. “I’m getting a lot of heck from the citizens,” Housholder told the Wood County Commissioners Thursday morning. The problem, according to Housholder, is that the MSB Dairy, a concentrated animal feeding operation with 2,100 cows, is beating up the surrounding roads with frequent use. Any other type of industry causing such heavy traffic could be held responsible for the road wear and tear, he said. But because of agricultural exemptions, the dairy has no such obligations. Portage Township resident Mike Billmaier joined Housholder to explain the problem to the commissioners. In his previous work as a contractor, Billmaier said he was held responsible for road damages. “It was our job to maintain the roads and cleanup our own messes,” he said. If he didn’t comply, “I would have been fined or put out of business.” The two men explained that the roads surrounding the dairy – Bloomdale, Portage, Emerson, Cloverdale and Greensburg – have suffered great degradation. Bloomdale Road, in front of the dairy, was repaired eight weeks ago and now is so torn up, Billmaier won’t drive down it. “I was literally appalled by the amount of damage,” Billmaier said. “It dumbfounds me that this much damage is allowed to go on.” Housholder asked the commissioners to help the township deal with the ongoing problem. First, he asked that they take a drive down past the dairy – which is in the process of expanding to nearly 3,000 cows. “When you come out to the sticks” to campaign for votes, take a drive down those roads, he suggested. “A lot of life has been taken out of them this year,” he said. “The lifespan of these roads is being shortened.” Second, Housholder asked the commissioners to use their weight to push for changes through state legislators or the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. “Please try to crank up the volume,” he said. Both Housholder and Billmaier said the large dairies should not fall under agricultural exemptions, which were originally intended to help smaller farmers. Traditional dairies had anywhere from 25 to 60 cows – not the thousands allowed in CAFOs. “If they want to hide that under the agriculture umbrella,” that just isn’t fair, Housholder said. “That’s not an agricultural use, it’s an industrial use,” Billmaier said of the mega farms. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar noted that industries would be held liable for the road repairs. “I can come after a trucking company. I can’t come after this,” Housholder said. And with other types of businesses, the township can require them to locate in areas zoned for industry that are better equipped to handle heavy traffic. Numbers from the Portage Township road supervisor showed that the township regularly spends 35 percent more on road repairs in the vicinity of the CAFO. “We lack the resources to keep up,” Housholder said. “We basically have exhausted all we have for roads.” With winter coming, and Bloomdale Road ripped up, Housholder said he isn’t sure how the pavement can be plowed. “I think I’m going to have a lot of upset phone calls this winter.” Billmaier suggested that…

Library council launches campaign to support state funding

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Library is joining libraries around the state to rally their supporters to let legislators know how important libraries are to them and to the state. Library Director Michael Penrod told the library board about the Ohio Library Council’s Protect Public Library Funding advocacy campaign. Penrod said the idea is to let legislators know how important libraries are as the state budget starts to take shape this fall. The governor doesn’t propose the biennium budget until early in the year, but much of the work goes on behind the scenes in fall, said Penrod. The information presented by Penrod shows the general decline in funding from 2008 when it was set at 2.22 percent of the state’s general fund budget until it was 1.66 percent in 2015. The legislature did raise it to 1.7 percent in 2016, but unless action is taken that will drop back to 1.66 percent. Libraries aren’t advocating for a specific amount of funding, he said. Just no cuts. “It’s very much a positive campaign, people to contact our representative and senator and tell them why you love the library,” Penrod said. The library council provided statiics on the economic impact of public libraries. For every $1 spent on public libraries it generates $5.48 in economic value. Libraries, according to the handout, provide $2.7 billion in direct economic benefit to residents.  With more than 8.7 million Ohioans with library card holders, Ohio has the highest per capita use of public libraries in the nation. Libraries have only two funding streams, state money and a local levy. Penrod also reported on local efforts to help the ibrary. The Library Foundation raised more than $94,000 at its annual fundraiser at Schedel Gardens. Also, the Friends of the Library’s book sale earlier this month raised $4,600, the most ever. Penrod reported that since the library started using a collection agency about eight years ago to go after those who have not returned materials borrowed from the library, it has retrieved materials worth $121,000 and collected $119,000 in reimbursement for materials not returned. This is not a source of revenue, Penrod noted, because it simply replaces materials the library already possessed. Meeting in Walbridge, the board also received an update on the expansion project there. “Everything seems to be going well,” he said. He said he expects the library will have to close for about a month once work extends from the addition next door into the library, and renovation work begins there. The expansion will be finished by late January or February, he said. The board also swore in its newest member, Nathan  Eikost, of Walbridge.

BG shop owner catches shoplifter with help from strangers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This crook didn’t stand a chance. He picked the wrong shop owner to steal from – a marathon runner. He picked the wrong location – next to the police station. And he ran the wrong direction – almost getting hit by the city prosecutor’s car before being nabbed by two strangers. Amy Craft Ahrens has chased down shoplifters before – four times, actually. But on Tuesday, the For Keeps shop owner got a little extra help from bystanders. In the end, two good Samaritans tackled the suspected thief, and Craft Ahrens returned to her shop with the stolen purple Vera Bradley bag. Police were quickly on the scene, since the For Keeps shop shares an alley with the police station. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick was sitting in his office with Major Justin White when they heard shouting in the alley. They looked out the window. “We saw Amy running, chasing after someone,” Hetrick said. He couldn’t tell exactly what she was yelling, but “you could tell it was loud and angry.” It all started around noon, when Craft Ahrens was on the phone with a vendor in her shop at 144 S. Main St. She saw a man come in the front door of the store. He walked along the aisle with Vera Bradley items, then headed to the back door. As he walked out the door, “I could see something purple in his hand.” She recognized it as a $108 Vera Bradley bag. “I said, ‘I’ve got to go chase a shoplifter’ and threw the phone down,” Craft Ahrens said. If she would have been thinking clearly, Craft Ahrens said she would have just approached the man quietly. “But I yelled ‘stop,’ and immediately he started running.” “I was yelling, ‘Stop thief,’ like right out of a movie. Who does that?” The man – Randy Arndt – ran out into traffic on Wooster Street, and was almost hit by a car driven by City Prosecutor Matt Reger, who then pulled over in the alley to help. A couple was walking on Wooster Street, and heard Craft Ahrens yelling. The pedestrian, Chris Burden, basically “hip-checked him and knocked him to the ground,” Hetrick said. Meanwhile, another car on Wooster Street pulled into the alley, and a passenger, Collin Dille, got out and helped when Arndt tried to get up and run again, the chief said. Dille told police he saw Craft Ahrens running after Arndt. “He didn’t think she could catch up.” Craft Ahrens, an experienced runner who has completed several marathons, was at a disadvantage since she had a dress on, Hetrick said. Craft Ahrens is sure she could have caught up with the shoplifter, if she hadn’t been wearing flip-flops and just completed a big run recently. “I had just run a 40-mile race last week,” she said. “Had I had my running shoes on, I would have caught him.” As shop owner, she tells her staff to not confront shoplifters. “But it was just a natural instinct. I was just so mad.” After Arndt was subdued, Craft Ahrens retrieved the bag. She realized her store was left unattended, so she ran back there as Reger handled the scene with police. Arndt, 37, of 140 N. Main St.,…

Sheriff pleads case for more jail holding cells

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not uncommon for Wood County inmates to be doubled up in the booking holding cells, or even placed in an office where the furniture has been replaced with a cot. Though far from ideal, the current booking area of the Wood County jail just does not have room for all the traffic, especially all the special needs created by drug use or mental health conditions. “It’s a ticking time bomb,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Tuesday morning to the county commissioners. “It’s not a safe way to do it, but we don’t have any options.” But the sheriff hopes that will change. Wasylyshyn made his pitch to the commissioners again for expansion of the jail’s booking and medical areas. He made the same request about five years ago, but at that time the commissioners approved the part of the expansion allowing more beds at the facility, but not the booking area. At that point, the booking expansion was estimated at around $5 million. When the Wood County jail was built in 1989, it was intended to have a larger inmate booking area. But efforts to trim costs resulted in the booking area being smaller than planned. Wasylyshyn said the expansion can no longer be put on hold. The current booking area has five cells, intended to hold one person each. The request is that the area be expanded to six individual cells for men, five individual cells for women, two group cells for men, and one group cell for women. The group holding cells could accommodate 10 each. Since the jail first opened in 1990, the needs have changed. Now the facility is booking more people with drug addictions and people feeling suicidal. So the holding cells are being used for these people, who must be kept under watch. One person who was deemed suicidal, but did not qualify for care at a psychotic facility, was kept in a holding cell for six months, where he could be checked on every 10 minutes. “Everyone knows we have a problem with drugs everywhere,” said Ronda Gibson, jail administrator. “It makes us not have holding cells for what is actually intended,” she said. Gibson estimated on any given day there are four to five active detox cases that have to be watched at all times. “The female population everywhere has gone up as well. They are under the drug spell,” she said. The cells are also being taken up by and people with severe behavioral issues such as screaming, kicking doors and “throwing feces on the windows,” the sheriff said. “I could send you video of people yelling and screaming all night long,” Gibson said to the commissioners. Wasylyshyn said the vast majority of the 3,700 inmates booked annually go right into the general population area of the jail. “Most of the inmates are cooperative. Most of them are good people who have made some bad decisions,” he said. “We want to treat them with respect.” Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman agreed, saying most of the inmates are not in the county jail for heinous crimes. “We know these people and we don’t want them to not be safe.” Wasylyshyn and Gibson also emphasized the need for a larger medical area, located…

BG School District discusses student drug testing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools has been one of the hold-outs in the county for student drug testing – but that may be ending. The board of education heard a presentation Tuesday evening from Kyle Prueter, of Great Lakes Biomedical, which handles drug testing in about 120 schools in Ohio. “We have a concern just like most schools,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said, noting that Eastwood is the only other district in Wood County that doesn’t already do random drug tests. Scruci said he hopes to have a “community conversation” about a drug testing program, possibly next month. He stressed that the purpose of the testing would be to help, not punish students. “It is not a gotcha program,” he said. “We are not in the business to kick kids out of school.” Prueter said his business, Great Lakes Biomedical, has the same philosophy. The purpose is prevention. “It’s all about giving kids one more reason to say ‘no,’” when other kids pressure them to use drugs or alcohol, he said. Random drug testing of students averages 85 percent support from parents, and more than 50 percent support from students. “The kids are tired of it also,” he said. Testing is done with kids in extra-curriculars because attending school is a right, but participating in athletics or other activities is a privilege. It is a myth, Prueter said, that drug testing turns kids away from sports and other extra-curriculars. “There is no decrease in participation,” he said, noting that his business has been doing drug testing for 20 years. In the past, some schools treated positive drug testing results with “zero tolerance,” Prueter said. But most schools now realize it does no good to kick kids out of school for doing drugs. Though it will be up to the school board to set the district’s policy, Prueter said schools often give students two options if they test positive for drugs or alcohol: Plan A requires the student to get as assessment to determine the seriousness of the problem, then get counseling. They will not be kicked out of extra-curriculars, but they may be “dinged a bit,” meaning their participation may be curtailed. Once testing positive during a random check, they may also be tested more often during future tests. Plan B is the less desirable alternative. If the student will not comply with Plan A, then he or she may be kicked out of extra-curriculars. Drug testing works, Prueter said, citing the success of a past grant in Wood County that tested for marijuana in six school districts for three years. While marijuana use went up elsewhere, the use in those districts decreased, he said. “It’s not going to eradicate drug use at school,” he said, but added, “the program does work.” Prueter said most schools set up drug testing programs based on the school board’s discretion of how often the tests are conducted, who is tested, and what items are tested for. The tests are normally conducted at school, with randomly selected students giving urine specimens, then returning to class. The urine samples are sent to the same labs that test airline pilots and truck drivers, he said. If a specimen test is positive, a medical review officer will call the…

Time to sign up for “Lights, Camera… Angels!” Holiday Parade

From BG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Annual Bowling Green Comunity Holiday Parade Project Team announces the 2016 parade theme “Lights, Camera…Angels!”. This year’s parade will take place Saturday, Nov. 19, starting at 10a.m., in Downtown Bowling Green. Come and join community groups, businesses, bands, and Santa for some fun in the sun this year. With many local participants, this can be your year to join in on all the excitement! Unit Registration & Sponsorship forms are now available for the parade in the Chamber office or at The deadline to register units for the 2016 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. Registration is $50 for Non-Investors, $25 for Investors and $15 for Non-Profits, with the fees supporting band stipends, parade publicity, general administrative costs, as well as the cost of filming and rebroadcasting the parade (dates and times TBD). Sponsorships or donations to help offset expenses of the parade are also appreciated. Sponsorship and unit registration forms can be downloaded from and mailed to the BG Chamber at P.O Box 31, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402. Sponsorship forms must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 to be recognized in the media outlets. The 2016 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is brought to you by the Premiere Sponsor, Julie’s Dance Studio, with support from BGSU-WBGU-PBS and the City of Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce helps improve Investor’s bottom line by offering group discounts on health insurance, informational seminars, creating networking opportunities, and keeping members up-to-date on changing legislation. For more information contact the BG Chamber at (419) 353-7945 or visit