Community

Lines at parking kiosks cause patience to expire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Motorists are adapting to the week-old parking kiosks in City Lot 2, but they aren’t crazy about having to wait in a line as people figure out the new process. Bowling Green officials are trying to make the change as painless as possible by responding to concerns. They have added more signage about the kiosk locations, have simplified the directions on the kiosk screens, and have made city employees available at the sites to answer questions. “There has been a learning curve for the public and employees as well,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said at Monday’s City Council meeting. However, based on the lines forming at the kiosks, the city may have to make one more change – add another kiosk, which will cost the city $11,000. Last week was the debut of the new parking kiosks in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks took the place of the individual parking meters, and require motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot to notify people of the changes. Tretter said the ability to pay with credit cards at the kiosk has been a real hit with motorists. And if drivers input their cell phone number, they will be texted 10 minutes prior to their time expiring. They can then renew their parking time on their smart phones. The city’s parking technicians will still patrol the parking lots, but now they will carry hand-held devices that will tell them which cars have expired time. That change means that motorists cannot back into or pull through parking spaces since a license plate must by visible to the parking technicians. The rates and time limits for the lots haven’t changed. Those motorists wanting to park for up to 10 hours must use the part of the lot along South Prospect Street and must pay at the kiosk in that area. According to the city, the benefits of changing over to kiosks include: Replacement parts are more difficult to find and are becoming more expensive for the outdated parking meters. Increased efficiency to clear the parking lot following snow storms. Reduced maintenance for special events such as the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Reduced maintenance costs associated with parking blocks, meter poles and meters. Keep newly repaved parking lot intact. The three kiosks cost the city $37,000. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, this parking lot is just the first of six lots where city officials would like to change meters to kiosks. The city lots will be changed over as they need repaving. The next in line is the parking lot behind the Clazel.    


Wood Lane to suspend its levy collection next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is giving the voters a little gift next year. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities voted Monday to request the Wood County Budget Commission to suspend collection of the 2.95-mill levy for 2017. That means the board will not collect on the levy, which brought in nearly $8.4 million this year. To the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that is a savings of $93, according to the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The levy suspension is possible because of a lot of cost-cutting measures at the local level and changes mandated at the state level, according to Wood Lane Board President Ed Metzger. “We have not reduced the level of service,” Metzger stressed Monday evening. This may be the first time Wood Lane has ever suspended the collection of levy millage in the county. “It is something the budget commission has talked to us about in the past,” Metzger said. “As board members, we have talked about not just the service to our population, but also our responsibility to the taxpayers,” Metzger said Monday evening. The levy collection will be suspended just for 2017, then the need will be re-evaluated for 2018, Metzger said. The board was reluctant to give up the levy funds for more than a year in case there are further changes at the state level. “Things can change at the snap of a finger on the legislative side,” Metzger said. The board’s decision comes after a number of cost-saving measures since the five-year levy was passed in 2013. There has been a steady reduction of staff as individuals served by Wood Lane choose private providers. That has resulted from legislative action that stops boards of developmental disabilities from doing both the prescribing and providing of services to citizens. Other savings have been seen due to transportation changes, a conservative salary increase and the anticipated merger of the county board’s health plan with the county commissioners’ health insurance plan. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also continues to increase the enrollment of individuals in home and community based waivers and increase utilization of federal funds. Finally, the county board reviews its capital plan annually to maintain fiscal responsibility with a preventative maintenance program. Despite these cost-saving measures, the number of individuals eligible for services continues to steadily increase with needs and diagnoses being more diverse. The board will continue to provide services such as nursing and occupational therapy not covered as a waiver-funded service. The board will also continue to provide the match of federal funded waiver dollars, as well as fully fund services not covered by waivers, and remain responsible for monitoring the services, regardless of the funding source. “The county board will continue to be mindful of its fiscal responsibility by achieving cost savings when available and increasing utilization of waiver services,” Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer stated in a press release. Metzger praised the Wood Lane administration and staff for helping to make the levy suspension possible. “It is truly the effort of the hard-work and sacrifices from the staff and administration of Wood Lane that have allowed us to suspend collection of the 2.95-mill levy for 2017,” Metzger said. “We will continue, however, to be ever vigilant to assure the…


Family honored for building cultural bridges in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green family known for its Mediterranean cuisine was honored Monday evening for building cultural bridges in this community. So and Amal Shaheen were presented with an Honor Roll Award by the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission during a city council meeting. The award recognizes actions that promote respect and diversity in the community. “Our town’s quality of life rests on this foundation of equality and understanding, a foundation built by countless actions, both in the public eye and behind the scenes,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, co-chairperson of the commission. The Shaheens, who own South Side Six, have taken very public actions to bring the community together. “So and Amal Shaheen are an example of bridge builders whose quiet efforts enhance our town as a community of peace,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with food – the Mediterranean cuisine from South Side Six that they have donated to the interfaith peace-making breakfasts held in Bowling Green. “Summertime finds South Side Six serving their menu at Lunch in the Park and educating customers about Mediterranean cuisine,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with words – such as during the Not In Our Town forums on the nature and the effects of Islamophobia. “The planners thought it was critical to have a Bowling Green resident representing the Muslim faith,” Saunders said. “And so Amal convinced So, twice, that he should be that representative. Talking about one’s personal faith in such a vulnerable setting called for courage and community spirit, and So’s comments and insights were an important contribution to the understanding of his experience living the Muslim faith in the BG community.” The Shaheen family has been a part of Bowling Green since 1991. “When their name comes up in conversation, it’s always followed by the observation that ‘they are great people, very generous, and very community-oriented.’ They are good neighbors, and the Human Relations Commission is honored to present them with this Honor Roll recognition,” Saunders said. Amal Shaheen was unable to attend the meeting, so So Shaheen accepted the award with two of their children by his side. He commented that he wanted his children to see the importance of being involved in the community. In other business at the city council meeting: Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported the five-year master plan for the city’s park and rec department will be presented at the next park board meeting. Council gave a second reading to the resolution dedicating the space at 215 W. Wooster St., as open green space for the community. Council gave a second reading to the resolution creating a medical marijuana moratorium in the city. Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said three city employees and two city trucks were sent to Oberlin after heavy winds knocked down trees and poles in that community on Sept. 10. As a fellow AMP member, the communities provide mutual aid when needed. In 2014, mutual aid was sent to Bowling Green following heaving winds that knocked down poles. O’Connell reported that the heavy rains in Bowling Green this past Saturday, measuring 2.9 inches, caused a combined sewer overflow from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day. The overflow should not count against Bowling Green in the permit process…


CASA looking for runners and walkers for event

(As submitted by Friends of Wood County CASA Board) Please plan on attending to support the Friends of Wood County CASA Board who will be holding the Karen Swartz Memorial 5K Run/Family Walk on Saturday, October 8, starting at 8:00 am at the Rossford Recreation Center, 400 Dixie Highway.  This year’s 5 K Run will wind through Rossford, beginning and ending at the Rec Center. The Friends of Wood County CASA Board is a nonprofit organization which lends support to the Wood County Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad litem program through promoting community awareness, fund raising, and monitoring the fiscal needs of the organization. This community event is to commemorate the memory of Karen Swartz.  In addition to being a teacher, coach, advisor, dean of students, and athletic director at Rossford High School, Karen made a great contribution to the Wood Co CASA/GAL program by serving as a CASA/GAL volunteer and then volunteer coordinator for ten years. The walk is a wonderful tribute to Karen Swartz, according to her daughter, Karrie Failor, who is a Wood County Friends of CASA Board Member. But even better is the opportunity to bring awareness to the needs of CASA and to promote more volunteerism so more children can be served, Failor said. This event, which began in 2011, has drawn between 125-175 attendees each year.  This will be the first year that a 5 K Run option will be available.  Participants will have the option to run, run/walk, or walk. In 2016,  with the assistance of 35 volunteers, the Wood County CASA program has served the voices of 113 neglected and a used children in the Wood County Juvenile Court system. The Friends of Wood County CASA Board hopes to use this event to raise community awareness and recruit additional volunteers in order to ensure that these victims of neglect and abuse are given a safe, permanent home. For additional information on the program or the Friends Board, please check out our website @ www.woodcountycasa.org For information on this year’s Run/Walk and to register, please click the link to the October races on   http://daves running.com/runsignup/    


Park district takes aim at creating archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Briana Witte is aiming for a bullseye with one of the newest programs to be offered by the Wood County Park District. Witte, a woodland specialist with the park district, is heading up the archery program which will include a new range for archers on Linwood Road, near Bowling Green. The archery program came about as a result of town hall meetings held across Wood County, asking local residents about park programs they would like to see. Two of the top requests were kayaking, canoeing and archery. The kayaking and canoeing are now in place, and the archery is on target to be ready soon. Archery, unlike so many other sports can be enjoyed by people of varied ages and skill levels, Witte said. “You don’t have to be in really good shape. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be fast. You just have to be patient,” Witte said. People will be able to use their own bows and arrows at the archery range, or they can use the compound bows purchased by the Friends of the Parks. “These are really nice because an 8-year-old can use it and with a few adjustments, a 50-year-old can use it,” Witte said of the compound bows. Adaptive bows will also be available for people who use wheelchairs or have other particular needs. Crossbows, which are typically used for hunting, will not be permitted at the archery range. Once completed, the archery range will be open from dawn to dusk. It will not be staffed unless there is a class or special event planned. Classes are planned for children and adults. “This is the only archery range in the county,” said Jamie Sands, communications specialist and volunteer coordinator. “The free, open access to being able to practice is wonderful.” Mobile archery ranges have been offered at parks throughout the county, but the permanent range on Linwood Road will be much more convenient. The site will have room for 10 archer lanes and targets, ranging from 5 to 70 meters. There will be a shelter house with benches for the archers, spectator seating, a storage room and a parking lot for 20 cars. The stands are being constructed as part of an Eagle Scout project by Bryce Ruddock. The archery site has been cleared, and work will begin on the range and structures once the land purchase is complete. The park district received a $1,000 grant for the project from the Henry-Wood Sportsman’s Alliance. The park district is buying the property from the Wood County Commissioners for $1, Witte said. The area will be planted with slow-growing grass. “If you’ve ever buried an arrow, they are difficult to find,” Witte said. For people wanting to buy their own bows, they will find a wide range of costs from as low as $15 to thousands of dollars. “It doesn’t have to be expensive,” Witte said. Witte has childhood memories of straw bales being set up in a friend’s yard for archery. “I thought it was a really cool idea, and I wanted to see it go somewhere,” she said. So Witte became a certified instructor with USA Archery. “Brianna has done so much work” on fundraisers and range schematics, Sands said.    …


Change in leadership at Inner Peace Homes

From INNER PEACE HOMES, INC. Inner Peace Homes, Inc. (IPH), a Bowling Green-based non-profit foster care and adoption agency, has announced the appointment of Mindy Martin as Executive Director.  IPH has served families and children across Northwest Ohio since its founding in 1994, and Ms. Martin will be leading the agency into a brand new era of community outreach and organizational development. Located on South Main Street, IPH provides for the needs of children and adolescents who require out-of-home placements because of abuse, neglect or dependency and need a safe, secure and nurturing environment.  In situations where reunification with one’s birth family is not possible, IPH homes are able to provide long-term foster care or assist in preparation for adoption or emancipation. Before accepting the position of Executive Director, Ms. Martin served as a case manager at IPH.  Prior to joining IPH, Ms. Martin worked for 15 years at Williams County Department of Job and Family Services in the Children Services Unit.  Her primary role was to work with foster and adoptive families, and she gained diverse experience in the child welfare field during that time. Ms. Martin earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Sciences with the focus being in Social Work.  She has gone on to complete the Adoption Certificate Program through Rutgers University. Not only does Ms. Martin bring experience from working in the field, but she also has firsthand experience of being a foster/adoptive parent.  Ms. Martin and her husband are foster parents and have adopted two children.  She continues to be passionate about children as she has worked as a youth leader and continues to work with the children’s program at her church. She succeeds the creator and founding director Paul Thompson who founded Inner Peace Homes, Inc. the home in 1994. IPH has served families and children across Northwest Ohio since that time, realizing his vision of ensuring safe and happy homes for children in need. Mr. Thompson retired on June 15. Mr. Thompson received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work from Bowling Green University. He has gained experience by working with youth in various capacities, including as a Detention Officer, Detention Supervisor, and Assistant Director of Wood County Juvenile Detention Center, an Assessment and Admissions Counselor at a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital, and as a therapist in a geriatric partial hospitalization program. He was also the first Vice President of the Ohio Foster Care Association. For over 10 years he was a youth sponsor with church youth groups. He also found himself involved for 10 years as a Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Thompson and his wife, Alice, have been foster parents for well over 18 years, allowing him to provide direct care for more than 40 children. They have five children of their own, three of whom adopted.  


Tobacco 21 urges cities to increase smoking age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Trying to regulate tobacco products has become a game of Whack-a-mole. As soon as standards are established for one product, the innovative tobacco industry comes up with another one. “We regulate one product and another one pops up,” said Tom Geist, regional director for the Tobacco 21 program. So instead of spending all their efforts chasing new products, Tobacco 21 organizers are trying to convince municipalities and states to bump up the legal age for tobacco products to 21 years old. In Ohio, five communities have increased the legal age: Cleveland, New Albany, Bexley, Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington. Two states – California and Hawaii – have increased the age statewide. As of last Friday, there were 190 cities in 14 states that have adopted ordinances making 21 the legal age for tobacco. Geist has set his sights on adding Bowling Green, Toledo, Athens, Dayton and Columbus to the list. Geist spoke to members of the Wood County Prevention Coalition Friday at the Wood County Educational Service Center, explaining the reasons for Tobacco 21. First, tobacco is deadly. According to widely accepted numbers from national health institutions, tobacco is responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S. “It is the worst failure of American public health in the last 100 years,” he said. Smoking kills between 500,000 and 600,000 a year in the U.S. That’s more people each year than all of the Americans killed in World War II. Put in a more graphic manner, it’s like three packed 747 airplanes crashing and burning daily, Geist said. Several health issues have been linked to smoking, some of which greatly diminish the quality of life. “It’s not just death, it’s the road there,” Geist said. “One that’s entirely avoidable.” Smoking also causes several neonatal problems, and doubles the infant mortality rate for babies when their mothers’ smoke during pregnancy. Second, by making tobacco illegal before age 21, several young people may be stopped from smoking as youth – and as adults, Geist said. The average age of smoking “initiation” is 14 to 15. “If you can keep kids from smoking until they are 21, it’s very unlikely they will start smoking,” he said. “Teenagers are not the best at decision making. Teenage brains are wired to take risks, set themselves apart.” But if legalized smoking can be discouraged until age 21, by that time their brains have grown enough to know better than pick up the habit, Geist said. Surveys show that 27 percent of Ohio’s high school seniors have used tobacco in the last 30 days. “People think tobacco won’t hurt you for a while,” he said. But the neuro-toxins make the users predisposed to use other substances, Geist said. Kids who smoke have higher drop-out rates, have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and have a much harder time kicking the habit as adults. Third, addictive nicotine is again being marketed to youth – this time it’s the e-cigs or vaporizers, according to Geist. The e-cigs come in countless flavors, like vanilla, cherry or bubblegum, which make them seem so innocent. They are advertised using images of sex, candy, or high school settings as lures. The public should not be fooled by the tobacco industry’s claim that the primary purpose…


Wood County Commissioners talk sewers, landfill, pipelines, more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners took a look at the big picture for the county this past week during a long-term planning meeting. They talked tax abatements, sewers, and the landfill expansion. And they discussed pipeline corridors, unsafe intersections and jail improvements. The long-term planning meetings give the commissioners a chance to look ahead and prepare for issues that may pose problems in the future. Such as: Tax abatements. The commissioners discussed the benefit of keeping track of businesses that have abatements that are nearing expiration, so county officials can examine the possible effect on the county. Septic systems. The cost of putting in a new septic system can cost up to $20,000. The commissioners have heard from local residents who have installed new septic systems, then shortly after find out that a sewer is being constructed past their homes, and they are legally required to tap into the public sewer system. The commissioners talked about being more proactive about letting county residents know where sewer services are being proposed so they don’t invest in new septic systems needlessly. Wood County Landfill. The county is within 10 years of filling to capacity the current cell that is licensed at the landfill. The commissioners talked about the need to begin the expansion process. There is open acreage at the site, but permits must be acquired before it can be used. Pipeline corridors. Earlier this year, as plans were underway for four pipelines to run different routes through Wood County, the commissioners asked that the pipeline companies consider combining routes so as few landowners were affected as possible. This week, the commissioners discussed the possibility of asking the planning commission to recommend in the county’s land use plan that pipelines be built along roadways. Jail improvements. The sheriff has been asking the commissioners to approve renovations to the jail booking area, the holding cells and the medical area. The commissioners plan to meet with the sheriff soon to discuss the project. Energy audits. The county has already made changes resulting in significant savings in energy usage in governmental buildings, including new boilers, lights and windows. Next on the list for energy audits are the jail and the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Unsafe intersections. The commissioners occasionally get letters from citizens concerned about rural intersections where accidents have occurred. The engineer and sheriff will be asked to communicate with township trustees about places where additional signage might be warranted. Relocation of the county highway garage to the county’s East Gypsy Lane Road complex. The garage has been at its location on East Poe Road for approximately 60 years. The location on East Gypsy Lane would make accessing county roads easier. The Wood County Economic Development Commission has been asked to offer patent assistance for local inventors. The possibility of a business incubation site may be considered.  


Students win big in Constitution ‘Jeopardy’ game

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not every day that kids get to shout in a library, or that a state legislator gets to pretend to be Alex Trebek. Just on U.S. Constitution Day, or in this case, the closest school day to the anniversary of Sept. 17, 1787, when the document was signed in Philadelphia. The Constitution Jeopardy contestants were excited, but well behaved fifth graders from Conneaut Elementary School. The game show host was State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, whose previous position as a history teacher helped prepare him for Friday’s role. The setting was the Wood County District Public Library, in the same room that will be used in less than two months for local adults to elect their public servants. “This room makes me nervous, because this is where I get hired or fired,” Gardner said to the students. He asked the children if they could name his boss. The names started flying. The president? No. The vice president? No. The governor? “Some people think so, but he knows he’s not. I’ve told him that before,” Gardner said. After several other wrong answers, Gardner revealed the answer. “You are my boss. I’m required to listen to you.” The fifth graders may not have been prepared for that question, but once the Constitution Jeopardy game began, they could not be stumped. The categories consisted of topics like the founding fathers, checks and balances, branches of the government, the creating the Constitution. The students had no trouble naming the law-making branch of government; the third president, who was not at the signing of the Constitution; and the location of the Constitutional Conference. A history teacher at heart, Gardner could not resist throwing out a few of his own questions, asking the number of congressional and senate members. The answers may not have always been exactly what he had in mind. When asked about other items associated with Philadelphia, children named cheese steak and Hershey chocolate. As the Jeopardy game heated up, without the aid of dueling buzzers, the teams shifted to raising hands rather than shouting out answers. Arms shot up for those knowing the power of a veto vote, and the First Amendment as defender of freedom of speech and religion. The clue for Alexander Hamilton was aided with mention of the popular Broadway musical. Some questions were pretty easy for the fifth graders, like naming the first president. “If you would have gotten that wrong, we might have had to do demerit points,” Gardner said. Other questions even stumped the game show host, like how many of the 13 original states had to ratify the Constitution? That would be nine. Another tough question covered the additions to the Constitution, which of course, the students knew were called amendments. An audience member and former school board member, Ellen Dalton, had to help with this answer. It’s 27, if you’re wondering, with the last one added in 1992. The students knew the Constitution was written on parchment, not paper, and with a quill made from a feather. “You guys are smart,” said Maria Simon, head of youth services at Wood County District Public Library. Though this doesn’t happen to Alex Trebek, after the game it was Gardner’s turn on the hot seat. The students…


Street closures planned for BGSU Homecoming parade

In conjunction with the Bowling Green State University 2016 Homecoming parade on Friday, Sept. 30, temporary road closures and other traffic restrictions will occur. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30 on South Grove Street and proceed to the east along Wooster Street, ending at Mercer. Below are the traffic impacts on parade day: – South Grove: between Washington and Wooster, will be closed to through traffic from 4 p.m. until all parade units have joined the route. This area will be staging for the parade. Residents in the closure area will have access via Washington. Temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between Washington and West Wooster. – North Grove: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between Clay and West Wooster. – Clay: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. between North Grove and North Main. – Buttonwood: temporary no parking will be imposed from noon – 6 p.m. from north of 145 Buttonwood to West Wooster Street. Posted signs will indicate the parking restrictions. – Former school administration site: No parking noon – 6 p.m. – Wooster: between Grove and Mercer, will be closed for approximately one hour to 90 minutes as the parade progresses to the east. The road closure will be “rolling” meaning, for example, that Wooster at Main will be closed at 5:30 p.m. but will reopen once the entire parade has passed. Wooster, closer to campus, will close later than 5:30 p.m. with the closure times dependent on the pace of the parade. – Streets that intersect with Wooster will be closed at the point where they intersect with Wooster. Access to businesses will be maintained but not via Wooster Street entrances. Side streets should be utilized. – Mercer: between Ridge and East Wooster, will be closed once the parade approaches the area for units to travel onto Alumni Drive. Traffic delays are expected.


Wood Lane board has 3 vacancies to fill

Wood County Commissioners Doris Herringshaw, Craig LaHote and Joel Kuhlman seek to fill three vacancies on the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities (WCBDD). Eligible candidates must be residents of Wood County and have training and experience in business, finance, law, health care, personnel, or government. One candidate must be eligible for services or be an immediate family member of an individual who is eligible for services from WCBDD. Interested candidates must complete an application for volunteer service, available at the commissioners’ office, or on the commissioners’ website at www.co.wood.oh.us/commissioners/forms and submit it to the commissioners’ office no later than 4 p.m. on Oct. 14. Additional information can be obtained by calling (419)354-9100 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Wood County Park District plans programs

(As submitted by Wood County Park District) Following is a list of programs coming up at the Wood County Park District: Tai Chi Tuesdays, October 18 and 25; 2:00 – 3:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Tai Chi is a slow-moving low-impact aerobic art form that encompasses stretching. The benefits include relaxing the mind as well as the body. This is free, open to the public, does not require registration and is great for all ages and abilities. For more information: wcparks.org, (419) 353-1897   Fall Colors Evening Hike Thursday, October 20; 6:00 – 7:15 pm Bradner Interpretive Center 11540 Timmons Road, Bradner Enjoy the fall colors and discover the science behind how and why the leaves change. Cider and doughnuts will be provided for a seasonal after-hike snack. For more information: wcparks.org, (419) 353-1897   Friends’ Fall Colors Bus Tour Saturday, October 22; 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, BG This special edition of the bus tour series includes brief hikes at two parks. Friends of the Wood County Parks provide seasonal snacks and beverages at the last stop. Cost: $15/person; $10 Friends of the Wood County Parks Member. For more information: wcparks.org,  (419) 353-1897   PiPs – Corny Corn Saturday, October 22, 4:00 – 4:45 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, BG As the adults harvest the corn in the fall, children can get involved, too. From corn husk dolls to corn meal treats, experience some corny fun. Please register ALL people (adults and children) attending the program. Adults must stay with their preschoolers. For more information: wcparks.org,  (419) 353-1897   Farm Chores: Corn Harvest Campfire Saturday, October 22, 6:00 – 8:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Harvesting corn used to be intense manual labor with some serious celebrations following. Visit the corn field and corn crib to learn about picking, storing, shelling, and milling ear corn. Finish with stories around the campfire as we sample fresh corn bread and homemade honey butter. For more information: wcparks.org,  (419) 353-1897   Jack – O’ – Lantern Open Archery Monday, October 24; 4:30 – 7:00 pm Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, BG Registration is not needed. Arrive anytime to give this eerie archery program a shot! Carve your own pumpkin-target, or use arrows to make a “holey” jack-o’-lantern for a scary good time! All pumpkins, carving tools, and archery gear provided. Participants must be 7 years or older. Minors must be with a legal guardian. For more information: wcparks.org,  (419) 353-1897 Geocache – n’ – Candy! Wednesday, October 26; 5:00 – 6:30 pm William Henry Harrison Park 644 Bierley Avenue, Pemberville Dress in a spooky costume and embark on this high-tech hunt for tricks and treats. GPS units provided. Dress for the weather and for walking in rough terrain during brief self-guided exploration. Costumes are encouraged! For more information: wcparks.org,  (419) 353-1897   “Carter Ruggers” Monthly Meeting Carter Historic Farm Park Thursday, October 27; 7:00 – 9:00 pm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Join us from 7:00-9:00 pm on the 4th Thursday of each month as we work on crocheted rugs. Open to those just beginning or experienced. Bring your own cotton material for personal pieces; we provide materials for working on farm pieces. Registration…


Pride Picnic celebrates inclusive BG community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Gwen Andrix and Amy Jo Holland moved together to Bowling Green in 2011 they wanted to find out a way to reach out to the community. They had met in Columbus while working on the Freedom Ohio campaign to repeal the state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. So they decided to host a Pride Picnic. ”It was our way of connecting with the community,” Andrix said. They established a FaceBook event page. The first picnic attracted about 60 people, and in each of the two intervening years have drawn a about 100. The fourth Pride Picnic will be held, rain or shine, Saturday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in City Park, in and around the Kiwanis Shelter. The idea behind the event is simple: “It’s a chance for the community to get together and have an enjoyable time,” Andrix said. That community, she said, includes everyone. “It’s not just the LGBT community, but the community at large. … It’s all about families.” As in previous years, Andrix and Holland will supply the hamburgers, hot dogs and buns. Several area pizza shops and other businesses are providing food, and everyone is asked to bring a dish to share. Also, people attending are asked to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the Brown Bag Food project. Holland founded the charity which provides emergency food and other necessities. Andrix is a board member. Also, when possible, leftover food will be shared with Brown Bag clients. Holland said based on the response on Facebook even more people are expected to attend this year. The couple organized the community vigil this summer in response to the attack on an Orlando night club. At the vigil, the picnic was mentioned, and that made more people aware of it. For the couple, the picnic celebrates a community that has become their home. “I do feel good about this community,” Andrix said. “That’s what I like about Bowling Green, the sense of community. I’ve made a lot of friends. It’s a safe place.” Holland grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. Andrix grew up in Westerville. Even before moving here with Holland she had a favorable opinion of the city because of the passage of anti-discrimination ordinances and the subsequent vote that turned back an attempt to repeal of them. “It was a really good thing people in Bowling Green did,” she said. The support from the business community for the Pride Picnic is indicative of that sense of community. Among those contributing to the picnic are: Chipotle, Grounds for Thought, Starbucks, Vito’s, Pisanello’s, Marco’s, Campus Pollyeyes, The Cookie Jar, Ginny’s Inspired Fashions, The Alehouse Grill, Walmart, Jimmy John’s and Sandy Rowland. The First Presbyterian Church will present children’s activities.


Help offered for safe drug disposals at home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When you look in your medicine cabinet, how many old prescription bottles are looking back at you? Maybe there are some pain pills for post surgery recovery. Or maybe there’s some antibiotic you forgot to finish as you recovered from an infection. Wood County residents now have a save way to dispose of old prescriptions. Deterra drug pouches that deactivate drugs are being given away by the Wood County Educational Service Center. The zip-lock pouches deactivate drugs effectively, safely and quickly, according to Milan Karna, program coordinator with Wood County Prevention Coalition. “The compounds of the drugs are rendered useless by the carbon inside,” Karna said. Though some drug drop-offs are available at law enforcement agencies in the county, the Deterra packets can be used at home. The pouch top is ripped off, drugs poured in, water added, then zipped tight and disposed. Liquid medications can also be placed in the pouches. The packets are biodegradable, Karna said. This option is better than throwing pills in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, where the medications can make it into waterways, he said. And it’s much better than keeping old prescriptions in the medicine cabinet, where they can be tempting to kids – even good kids. Across the nation, prescription meds like these are finding their way into “skittles” parties, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. Kids collect random pills from home and make a potluck of them at parties. An estimated 2,500 juveniles start taking opioids every day – and many of those are prescription drugs, Karna said. “We don’t want someone to go down the path of those unintended consequences,” he said. And it’s not advisable to share drugs with others, or use expired drugs yourself, he added. The Wood County Educational Service Center partnered with donors to get more than a thousand of the Deterra packets. They are being given away at the center in Bowling Green. Karna is also hoping to make the packets available through partners in the county, such as the health district, law enforcement offices and food pantries. Anyone interested in getting a Deterra packet can contact Karna at mkarna@wcesc.org or 419-354-9010.


‘Buddy Benches’ to make BG playgrounds more friendly for lonely kids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School recess is supposed to be a fun break from the confines of the classroom for elementary students. But for some kids, the playground is a lonely place. It was like that for Aleksander Ostrowski, a third grader at Kenwood Elementary School in Bowling Green. “Aleks came to me and said he had no one to play with and just walked around” during recess, said his dad Chris Ostrowski. So the Ostrowski family started thinking about how to make the school playground a friendlier place for kids. They had heard about Buddy Benches before, and started doing some research. The bench idea got started in the U.S. by a 10-year-old boy named Christian Bucks who was apprehensive about moving to Germany for his dad’s job. One of the schools there had a buddy bench – a place where a child could sit if he had no one to play with, and other kids would take it as a signal to ask him to play. Christian ended up not moving to Germany, but he did start spreading the Buddy Bench concept across the U.S. And soon, each elementary in Bowling Green may have its own Buddy Bench. “I want all the elementaries to do it,” Chris Ostrowski said, since every school undoubtedly has children facing the awkward problem of having no one to play with during recess. The benches are intended to give kids a safe, nonjudgmental place to retreat, and to encourage other kids to reach out to them. “It really teaches kids the importance of social interaction – the inclusion, the tolerance,” Ostrowski said. The idea for the benches has actually been brewing a while at Kenwood Elementary. Physical education teacher Jeremy Koehler and Jennifer Ostrowski, Aleks’ mom and a teacher at the school, had been discussing the possibility of getting a bench for about four years. The problem of children feeling left out and alone on the playground is nothing new, Koehler said. “I’m 27 and it was an issue when I was in elementary school,” Koehler said. But the issue was money, since each bench with concrete pads costs about $1,000. “We weren’t sure where we would get the funding,” Koehler said. But together, the Ostrowskis and Koehler made a plan. Chris Ostrowski started talking to businesses and looking at fundraising, and Koehler approached the school district’s superintendent and elementary principals. The plan is to put two benches each at Kenwood, Crim and Conneaut elementaries, and one each at St. Aloysius, Bowling Green Montessori and Bowling Green Christian Academy. The total cost is estimated at $9,954. Home Depot has offered a special price on the steel benches that have the words “Buddy Bench” cut into the back. Charles Mohr Concrete has volunteered to pour pads for each of the benches. Chris Ostrowski said a Go Fund Me account may be set up to help with the project. Koehler said the schools hope to hold kick-off assemblies once the benches are in place, and instruct the kids on how to use them. The website for Christian’s Buddy Bench suggests the following rules: Before you sit on the Buddy Bench, think of something you would like to do. Ask someone else to play with you. The bench isn’t for socializing. Only…