Community

Earth Week opens with Creation Care Celebration

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Creation Care Celebration, which marked the beginning of Earth Week activities in Bowling Green, focused on the possibilities. Honored by the Black Swamp Green Team, the event’s sponsors, were those who were already making a difference locally, and statewide. The keynote speaker spoke about what churches could do to preserve the environment. And a series of workshops were offered on household options for taking action. Stumbling blocks were mentioned – the state’s renewable energy standards are on hold. But the two state legislators in attendance State Senator Randy Gardner and State Representative Tim Brown, both Republicans said they were in favor of lifting the hold on them and letting them take effect. The keynote speaker Greg Hitzhusen of Ohio State University’s School of Environment & Natural Resources, spoke of a pastor in Idaho who took the initiative to put saving the environment at the center of his church’s mission. He discovered, Hitzhusen said, less resistance than he expected. Now 10 years later he’s experiencing fierce backlash to his efforts. “How do we overcome these obstacles?” Hitzhusen wondered. The speaker, who is involved in the Interfaith Light and Power movement, focused his talk on what works. “Build on your strengths,” he said. That means finding what expertise is within the congregation that can spearhead efforts. The United Church of Christ in Sylvania used the expertise of Al Compaan, a leading researcher in photovoltaics, to initiate a solar project. “Do what makes sense for your…


BYOB – shoppers urged to bring your own bags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s the ugly sign of spring – the flimsy plastic bags blowing on trees and bushes. “I bet if you looked out your window wherever you are, you would inevitably see a bag in a tree,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. But we Americans like our plastic bags. It’s estimated we use 6 billion a year to carry home our groceries and other items. Though some are reused to line wastebaskets and pick up after pets, the vast majority are thrown out. During a visit to the Wood County Landfill, the county commissioners noticed the screens around the landfill caked with plastic bags. “It was incredible. There were bags in every tree, in every bush,” Kalmar said. So the commissioners asked the Wood County Solid Waste District to help the region clean up its act. And that has led Amanda Gamby, environmental educator with the county, to start a campaign called “Got Your Bags?” “We’re finding them in pretty large quantities when we go out to pickup,” Gamby said of the plastic bags. “It’s a horrible litter problem,” Kalmar said. “Everybody uses them, but we have to do better.” So local residents are being asked to either take their own reusable bags to stores, or bring their used plastic bags back to the stores to be recycled. If recycled, the plastic can have a new life as composite lumber, pallets, containers, crates or pipes. In talking to local residents, Gamby has…


BG considers increased cemetery fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants to dig itself out of its losing rate system that doesn’t cover expenses at Oak Grove Cemetery. So on Monday, council gave first reading of new regulations for the cemetery, which sits north of Bowling Green State University. The goal is to set rates that more reflect the actual cost to maintain the site. “It would get us closer to that,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett explained. “But even the proposed changes wouldn’t get us to that point.” The city is taking care to keep the rates lower for city residents, with no price change recommended for the purchase of a plot for an adult resident. “We are giving the benefit to city residents,” Fawcett said. Some of the rate changes include: Grave lots for adult non-residents will increase from $425 to $850. Infant grave lots will increase from $115 to $150 for residents and $130 to $250 for non-residents. Adult internment for adult residents will increase from $350 to $600, and $460 to $800 for non-residents. Infant internment for residents will increase from $150 to $200, and for non-residents from $200 to $300. Rates are also set to increase for weekend burials, holiday burials, cremation burials, disinternments and reburials. Some of the other changes in the cemetery regulations include: Total height of new monuments may not exceed 36 inches. Any violation may result in the city issuing an order to remove. Prohibited items around the graves were expanded…


Fire will bring new life to park prairie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier today, the bright orange flames devoured the tall prairie grasses and left behind several acres of charred ground.  But in a matter of days, life will start bursting through the blackness. “Within three or four days new life pops up,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. As Stutzman watched the prairie burn in Wintergarden Park on Tuesday, she talked about the reason for the occasional controlled burns. “We are trying to minimize the amount of woody plants and invasive species,” she said. And that will help flowers germinate and grow in the prairie area. Without the burns every one to three years, the blackberry and sassafras plants take over, she said. The fire crew was led by Tim Mason, who has been doing controlled burns like this since 1970. To get rid of the woody plants, the crew was doing a backburn, followed by flash fires up the sides. “The fire has to work backward,” Stutzman said. Once new life starts returning, there should be sunflowers and a variety of other wildflowers in the meadow. “There will be lots of great wildflowers that are great for pollinators and butterflies,” she said. The meadow was designed with pollinating plants in mind. “The grasses are the backbone of the meadow,” and the flowers are the mosaic, Stutzman said. “The majority of the meadow has been reintroduced with a grass and flower mixture.” The acreage of…


Wood County Library sets limits on unattended children

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The library is a great place for kids, a safe space for kids, but it’s not a day care center and the staff members are not babysitters. The Wood County District Public Library approved a policy Tuesday that clarifies just how employees will deal with unattended children. The policy, said Library Director Michael Penrod, was drawn based on guidelines from Child Protective Services. The library staff needs to know, he said, what to do if they have a 6-year-old running around and the parent is two miles away at home. Penrod said that in discussions with parents, staff has been told that there are no guidelines. Now there are. From birth to age 7, the parent or guardian, must be “in the immediate vicinity.” There was some discussion whether that should be more precisely defined, but Penrod said short of getting measuring tape out, that may prove to be too restrictive. “You’ve got to be able to see them,” Board president Brian Paskvan said For children 8 or 9, Penrod said, the parent needs to be in the building. Those 10, 11 and 12 years old can use it on their own. Here the issue becomes transportation. “If a child is not able to leave the library without an adult, they should not be in the library without an adult,” Penrod said. Also, if a child needs to wait for a ride at closing time, the staff will call the police to provide transportation…


BG high’s “Footloose” is about more than fancy footwork

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This is not just some footloose and fancy free musical. The stage musical version of “Footloose,” a story told twice on the big screen, touches on some serious issues, said Jo Beth Gonzalez, who directs the theater program at Bowling Green High School. “There’s domestic violence,” she said, “loss of family, and death. … I actually think the stage play is richer.” And, of course, lots of dancing. It is, after all, called “Footloose.” “It’s a big dance show,” Gonzalez said.                     The musical will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the center’s box office Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The dancing is one of the reasons senior Logan Brown wanted to audition for the lead. He loves to dance and used to perform with his sister Lauren. Brown was excited that he would work with Bob Marzola, who is serving as choreographer. Brown has been in all the musicals during his high school career, he said.  He’s said he was “super excited” to be taking on the role of Ren Mac Cormack, a teenager from the east who ends up in a southern town where dancing has been banned. He’s an outsider “with daddy issues,” Brown said. He’s more than willing to push back against rules “that don’t make any sense.”…


BG looks at plan to put city building and town square in same space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the click of a power point, half of the green space planned for the city’s “town square” was gobbled up by buildings. The site analysis presented to Bowling Green City Council Monday evening showed a new city building and the current green space cohabitating on the 1.6 acres which formerly housed Bowling Green Junior High School at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. The 35,000-square –foot building left vacant 35,000 square feet of open green space – turning the “town square” into a “town triangle.” “Our charge was to integrate a beautiful building with a beautiful green space,” said Bill Steele, of Poggemeyer Design Group, which did the study. The plan wasn’t intended to be a building plan but rather a spatial concept to show if the two purposes could be happily wed on the site. “Is it possible for these two entities to co-exist on the site?” Council president Mike Aspacher said. To help envision the possibilities, the plan included office space, a glass atrium facing the green space, an overhead canopy which would create a natural amphitheater for music, theater or speaking programs, plus a building with public restrooms and storage for tables and chairs. “There were certain things we felt were worth saving,” Steele said, such as views of First Presbyterian Church and the historic house next to the site on West Wooster. On the remaining green space could include design elements planned by a…


Singers come from near & far to honor Jim Brown

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Those who knew Jim Brown will go the distance to honor his memory. Linda Gullufsen, who will direct the singers at a memorial for Brown Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green, now lives in Tennessee. Others, such as Brandy Tell Mann who is now living in Youngstown, are traveling from far corners of the state. Others are coming from the East and West coasts and places in between. Gullufsen said that one singer arrived at the first rehearsal with an apology. She’d flown in from New York, but she was not able to come to the memorial service. Was it all right if she participated in the rehearsal? She wanted to do at least that to pay tribute to her former choral director. “That speaks volumes about the man being honored,” Gullufsen said. “He was revered enough in his life that they would make any sacrifice they could to be part of this choir,” she said.  And everyone comes with a story. Of course, many others are coming from Bowling Green where Brown was the high school choral director from 1966 to 2004 and an active member on the arts scene.“He was Mr. Music in this community,” said Ed O’Donnell who coordinated the music for the memorial service. Last Friday a handful of singers got together for more rehearsal on the music that will be sung. The four pieces, three sung by the full choir, were all chosen…


Citizens want Wintergarden Park to stay wild; Simpson to continue gardens

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City residents want Wintergarden Park to stay wild, and Simpson Garden Park to get some more gardens. Overall, both parks are giving residents exactly what they need – places of peace and natural beauty. Citizens came together to talk about the city’s natural parks and programs last week as part of a series of public forums to help with the strategic plan for the parks. The consensus for Wintergarden Park was – leave it alone. “We want to keep it as a nature preserve,” said Martha Mazzarella. And for Simpson Garden Park – manage its growth as the funds become available. Citizens said Wintergarden is ideal for nature observation, multi-generational programs such as nature walks, and has great diversity with a prairie, swamp woods and oak savannah. The strengths at Simpson Garden Park include the diverse gardens, its accessibility to those unable to navigate wooded trails, its link to the hospital so people there can easily seek peace in the park, and its educational value with labeling of plants. Programming isn’t heavy at Simpson, but that’s OK, said Frances Brent. “Just its being is the most important part,” she said, explaining its value as a passive park. Both sites make good use of volunteers, including master gardeners at Simpson. Some citizens wanted to make sure Wintergarden wasn’t changed, while other wanted faster development of Simpson. “Don’t screw it up,” Lee Rockett said about Wintergarden. “We need a natural area.” Rockett questioned the…


Armed walkers’ aim to get concealed guns on campus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 35 people with firearms expressed their Second Amendment rights Saturday in Bowling Green as they walked across the campus to downtown and back. Their purpose was to have a dialogue with people about allowing concealed carry on campus. But very few people engaged in conversation with those armed with handguns and rifles. The organizer of the walk, Jeffry Smith, from Cincinnati, towered above the group with his white cowboy hat on top of his 6-foot nine-inch frame. He calmly instructed the group on safety measures – keep long gun muzzles under control, keep chambers empty and safeties on  – and explained the purpose for the walk. “We want to advocate for concealed carry on campuses and spur conversations on gun rights,” Smith said. He has organized similar walks at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Akron University, and plans one soon at Miami University. “Right now students don’t have a legal choice to carry on campus,” he said. “People ought to have that choice.” But not everyone on campus believes concealed carrying of guns will make it more safe. “I’m here to protest people who I believe are coming to intimidate this community by carrying guns,” said faculty member Richard Anderson, who stood by quietly holding a sign reading, “Remember Trayvon.” “I don’t feel comfortable with people carrying guns on campus on a routine basis,” unless they are law enforcement, Anderson said. Some of the armed walkers tried to engage…


Mills Jewelry closing shop after 69 years

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Saturday afternoon was like many others at Mills Jewelry on 192 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Someone stopped in to pick up earrings from her grandmother that had the posts reattached. Another woman picked up a necklace that had been repaired and was looking at rings. Another customer needed a battery for an older watch. And David Mills and his sister Diane Mills Haslinger were there to help them just as members of the Mills family have been for the past 69 years. On May 7, though, Mills and Haslinger will close up shop. A chapter of Bowling Green retail history will close. While the siblings agree they’re ready to take a break from the day-to-day grind of running the shop every day except Sundays and holidays. Haslinger said she’s looking forward to traveling and visiting grandchildren. Still she admits some mixed feelings. She raised her children here, she said. “It’s bittersweet.” As of Monday, the store will offer customers a last chance at the merchandise at sale prices for up to 50 percent off. The Mills family got into the jewelry business before World War II. Glee Mills learned watch repair working at Norm Crosby Jewelry in downtown Bowling Green in a storefront now occupied by the Busy Thimble. Glee Mills went off to serve in the Navy during the war and when he returned to Bowling Green he got back into watch repairs, working out of his home. When Norm Crosby decided…


Mosquitoes with Zika virus not in Wood County…but health district will monitor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Northwest Ohio’s less than ideal weather may be its saving grace when it comes to the Zika virus. The shaded areas on a U.S. map showing states with the mosquito species carrying the Zika virus come very close to Wood County. The latest Centers for Disease Control maps don’t show the Zika carriers this far north. “I don’t think Northwest Ohio has enough heat,” said Connor Rittwage, epidemiologist with the Wood County Health District. The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, and has spread through much of the Caribbean, Central America and South America. So far, there have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquito bites in the U.S. However, cases have been reported in travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected countries – including nine cases in Ohio. “There is no risk for Wood County residents just by being in Wood County,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. That means local residents can go about their normal summer activities without undue worry, Batey said. “People shouldn’t be concerned about limiting their summer activities,” he said. However, if traveling to affected areas, local residents should do some research first. “I’ve gotten questions from people planning their honeymoons,” Batey said. Those couples who may want to have children soon, might want to not visit areas where Zika is common. “I’d look at what country and what the risks are.” The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that…


Art Walk set for downtown Bowling Green

Downtown Bowling Green and the Bowling Green Arts Council will present the 24th annual Art Walk, a celebration of the arts in the community, on Saturday, April 23. This free event showcases art from artists of all ages and disciplines including the visual and performing arts and also features art-related activities for children. The galleries throughout downtown are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Demonstrations, activities and performances continue throughout the day. As part of the event, The Busy Thimble is hosting its third annual quilt exhibit featuring the Black Swamp Quilter’s Guild on Art Walk day, with some of the best examples of the quilters’ art at The Four Corners Center, 130 S. Main St. The exhibit will feature dozens of beautiful handmade quilts of varying sizes from small baby quilts to large bed sized quilts and wall hangings. Guild members will be working on new creations and doing appliqué, hand quilting, and machine piecing demonstrations throughout the day. The Downtown Foundation is raising funds to beautify Downtown Bowling Green with hundreds of beautiful blooming plants for the community at the Fashion Food & Fine Art Luncheon at Sam B’s. The fashion show and luncheon will be held on April 23rd at noon during the Art Walk. Attendees may choose from a menu of chicken salad or vegetarian lasagna. During lunch models will showcase spring fashions in clothing, accessories, and more provided by Ginny’s Inspired Fashions, Coyote Beads, Farm Girl’s Boutique and For Keeps. Tickets are $20 and are available now at Ginny’s…


“Getting Sara Married” tells of match made in mayhem

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “Getting Sara Married” has just about everything you’d want in a romantic comedy: two reluctant suitors, a meddling aunt, a bout of amnesia and some serious food allergies. All those get comically twisted into a plot that not surprisingly ends up with the male ready to move his recliner into the female’s apartment. The fun is in the way the characters are manipulated in ways unlikely and comic into reaching that conclusion. The Black Swamp Players’ production of “Getting Sara Married,” written by Sam Bobrick and directed by Willard Misfeldt, a 40-year community  theater veteran, opens tonight at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The show continues Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and April 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and April 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or from Grounds for Thought or online at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/tickets/. Having a well-meaning, interfering aunt always benefits such a plot. In this case Aunt Martha (Fran Weith) fills the bill nicely. At once ditsy and single-minded, she’s concerned that her 30-something lawyer niece will “walk that long road of life alone.” “Left to your own devices,” she tells her niece in one of their hilarious telephone chats, “I’m afraid you’ll end up an old maid. By your age I had been married twice.” Isn’t that embezzler that Sara is representing single? But the niece, the Sara (Caris Cloyd) of the title, professes…


County trying to keep up with bridge repairs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes an awful lot of bridges to crisscross the drained Great Black Swamp’s ditches and creeks – 441 bridges to be exact. And it takes an awful lot of money to keep those bridges in good repair. So once again Tuesday, officials from the Wood County Engineer’s Office came to the county commissioners to seek funding for bridge design. Since the county began receiving casino tax revenue, the commissioners have dedicated those funds to bridge design. Last year, $615,997 was put toward design costs. The actual bridge construction is then funded by the engineer’s office. Even with that, it’s difficult to keep up with repairs, according to Joan Cherry, of the engineer’s office. All bridges in the county are inspected annually and then appraised on a scale of 0 (failed) to 9 (excellent), she explained. Last year’s inspections found one bridge in failed condition; 4 critical; 15 serious; 52 poor; 45 fair; 78 satisfactory; 110 good; 88 very good; and 48 excellent. “I would love for all of them to be a 4 or higher,” Cherry said. The rankings continue to slip as the years pass. Once they hit the “serious” 3 ranking, “they start to go on the replacement list.” Construction costs also continue to rise each year, with a small box culvert bridge costing about $150,000. The average bridge costs $350,000 to replace, while the larger structures can cost close to $1 million, Cherry reported. With the minimum lifespan…