Old salt earns ribbons in maiden voyage as fair competitor

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jim Graf took his time making his maiden voyage as an exhibitor at the Wood County Fair. Growing up in Grand Rapids, he never exhibited. He was active in Pinewood Derby and made a few car models. Graf, 80, had a varied career – factory work, selling insurance, then banking. After that he owned a mobile home park, drove a truck and worked as “a cook and go-fer” for a hazardous waste cleanup company. Then 12 years ago while he and his wife, Vicky, were wintering in Texas, she got him a project, a model of the U.S.S. Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides.” “I thought he’d enjoy it,” she said. “He’s the kind of person when he sets his sights on something, he’ll finish them,” she said, adding she “learned new combinations of words” during the construction process. Graf set to work. He worked at it for a year then set it aside. “I put it in dry dock.” But his wife knew he’d return. And, he did. A decade later, he was back at it. “Now that my fingers were numb and my eyes are bad, I get to the hardest part. A 16-year-old could tie one of those knots in one third of the time it took me,” Graf said. “You know in my old age this taught me a lot about perseverance and patience.” He invested hundreds of hours in the project, redoing the rigging several times. The two years in spent actually building the model is about as long as it took to build the original back in the late 18th century. Once finished, complete with sailors in the crow’s nest, the U.S.S. Constitution was docked in a place of honor, in a window in their home. But Vicky Graf had another idea, bring it to the fair and enter it in the model competition. “This wasn’t my idea,” said Graf. But Vicky Graf said she wanted to exhibit it because her husband had stuck with the project and completed all the close work required. “This is a heck of an accomplishment. I’m just really proud of him.” The result was a blue ribbon and a best of show. Now it will return to its berth in their Bowling Green home. And that Graf said is the end of his career as a Wood County Fair exhibiting career. “It’s the first and last time.”    

Statewide solar energy conference set in BG

Solar energy developments across Ohio will be discussed by 20 expert speakers on Thursday, Aug. 25 at the Green Energy Ohio’s Building Big Solar Across Ohio Conference. “This is the most comprehensive look at solar energy across Ohio ever presented – showing the statewide extent of currently operating solar energy systems and the growing list of solar installs expected in coming years,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director. Conference topics include: – GEO’s new list of Ohio’s 25 largest solar installations and installed solar in Ohio counties; – Ohio’s largest solar installation of 20 MW, now under construction at Bowling Green; – The state’s first “Community Solar” projects by municipal and rural cooperative utilities; and, – How large-scale solar battery storage and solar tracking systems are operating in Ohio. The GEO News Magazine Summer Edition next week will also release a new survey of solar energy installations in every county of Ohio and a new listing of the top 25 largest solar arrays in the state. This first-ever county-by-county survey will also be discussed at the Bowling Green conference. The day-long event at the Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green is expected to attract community leaders, solar developers, electric utilities, financiers, installers, and contractors along with manufacturers, retailers, government officials, educators, farmers and consumers. See registration and details on GEO’s website at:

Streets to be closed for tree trimming

The City of Bowling Green has authorized Intelligent Tree and Lawn Care to close the following streets on Aug. 15: – Crim Street between East Wooster and Clough streets will be closed to thru traffic from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Gustin Avenue from Ketner Drive to just west of the curve, will be closed to thru traffic from 1 to 4 p.m. Both closures are required as part of private tree trimming in each area.

Legislators asked to step up Lake Erie protection

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years after algal blooms created a water crisis in the Toledo area, local leaders want to know what Ohio and Michigan are doing to prevent the green water from returning. Last week, legislators from both states were asked to explain efforts at the state level to keep Lake Erie clean. The state senators and representatives were a captive audience for questions from regional city, village, township, county and school officials during a TMACOG forum. The legislators were asked about steps they had taken to protect the water quality in the northwest Lake Erie basin. One legislator from Ohio and another from Michigan said they had been “proactive” in their clean water efforts, with manure application on farm fields now being regulated. State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, stopped short of using the word “proactive,” but listed off several bills and proposals to protect the water. However, he then added, “I don’t believe we have done enough yet.” “We still have more work to do. This lake deserves it,” Gardner said. State Rep. Mike Sheehy, who represents several Lucas County subdivisions, said many Ohio waterways are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. “Guess which river is not on the list?” he asked – the Maumee River. State Rep. Bill Reineke, from the Sandusky County area, said he represents several farmers in his district who have been self-regulating their use of manure on fields. “We can’t be blaming anyone,” he said. Michigan Rep. Bill LaVoy said his region has worked with government sources of the problem, and is now starting to focus on farming sources. “We all have responsibility,” said State Rep. Steve Arndt of Ottawa and Erie counties. The problem is caused by failed septic systems, community wastewater system deficiencies, and agricultural runoff. “There just simply is not enough money,” to tackle the problem without turning to science to pinpoint the sources, Arndt said. The local officials asked about aging and failing water systems that need replacement, but are not affordable for most communities. “We definitely should do more,” Gardner said. “Isn’t it amazing that we live next to one of the most important fresh water sources” yet parts of the region have very high water rates and bicker over their systems. Gardner went on to say he had proposed a billion dollar clean water bond issue that did not garner ample support to progress this year. “That is not going to happen in 2016,” he said. Michigan State Rep. Jason Sheppard said his state shares…

Country kids school city folks at the fair

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   County fairs give city kids a chance to learn about farms and the livestock raised on them. The fairs also give country kids a chance to work on their patience when city folk ask some rather inane questions. In the beef barns, a lot of people meandering through mistake the steer for cows. That’s a real elementary lesson for farm kids, who know that cows are females and the beef barns have male steer and young calves. “It’s not a cow,” Rebekkah Schober, 12, of Walbridge, said with a hint of exasperation as she explained the difference. But most of the time she doesn’t bother to go into detail for people wandering through the barns. “I feel like that would be rude. Besides, they won’t remember that by tomorrow morning, so it would be a waste of time.” Some people also mistake the steer for big pets. “They’ll touch them without asking,” said Macey Fix, 17, of Gibsonburg. “They are sweet animals, but be careful around them. If it kicks someone, it would really hurt bad.” AnnMarie Nietz, 12, Walbridge, gets the same “cow” questions. “Only girls are cows,” she said as she tended to her steer. Then there’s the “do they bite” question, to which she sternly replies, “no.” Helping her was Amelia Leiser, 10, who said some city folk ask why her steer is so dirty. “He lays in his own poop, for pete’s sake,” she said. Amelia is pretty protective of her steer, and doesn’t let strangers touch him. “I don’t where your hand’s been,” she tells people who ask. In the next barns over are the swine, many of them sleeping soundly in the middle of the afternoon. These are not the cute little piglets of storybook lore, but hefty creatures weighing up to 300 pounds. Brady Ziegler, of Bloomdale, explained that he has to practice walking his pig to prepare for showing him at the fair. That is no easy feat considering the only aid he can use to keep the pig on the right path is a stick to tap it behind the ears. “Even a very well behaved pig can go bonkers,” said Brady’s dad, Matt Ziegler. Elsewhere in the swine barn, other kids were making their first acquaintance with swine. “They’ve never been on a farm,” said Nicole Sheeks, of Wayne, whose children were carefully reaching into a pen to pet a pig. “He’s very shocked that pigs aren’t soft,” she said of her son. The next barn over…

Health goals set for county – now comes tricky part

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Health experts from across the county have set four top goals for improving local residents’ health. They want us to shed some weight, get help for mental health issues, stop bullying and get access to health care. Now, comes the tricky part. To accomplish those goals, a list of steps has been set up for area agencies. On Friday, the Wood County Health Partners were shown how they can keep track of their progress. Connor Rittwage, an epidemiologist with Wood County Health District, explained the electronic “dashboard” program that will allow each health agency to record which goals they had accomplished. The charting will hold agencies accountable for their efforts. “You can pull up the dashboard and see how everybody is doing,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said. “I think this is the key to moving this forward.” The progress can be monitored by the agencies involved – and by the public. “Now the public is going to be able to see it,” Batey said. In the past, community health goals have been set, detailed reports written, then the reports often languished on agency bookshelves. “We want to make sure this plan doesn’t just sit on a shelf,” Batey said. The frequent updates to the plan will also allow the health partners to examine strategies that are successful and those that are not. “You don’t want to keep doing things that aren’t working,” Batey said. The health partnering agencies will continue meeting quarterly, since face-to-face conversations will also help the plan succeed, Batey said. “We want healthy, happy residents,” he said. Following is a list of the goals set in the Wood County Community Health Improvement Plan: Decrease adult, youth, and child obesity with the following steps: – Promote breastfeeding in new mothers – Implement OHA Healthy Hospitals Initiative – Expand wellness programming such as the “Walk With A Doc” program – Expand efforts of the Wood County Obesity Task Force – Increase nutrition/physical education materials being offered to patients by primary care providers – Create a wellness outreach campaign Increase mental health services among adults and youth by doing the following: – Increase the number of primary care offices who screen for depression during office visits – Provide Mental Health First Aid Training for adults and youth – Expand evidence-based programs targeting youth and families – Increase social support systems for adults and youth – Increase awareness of trauma informed care Decrease bullying and violence among youth and children with the following actions: – Support…

Waterline work planned on Pearl, Knollwood, Hillcrest and Parkwood

The Bowling Green Water Distribution Division will be conducting waterline work on Pearl Street, from Maple to Brigham; Knollwood Drive, from Ordway to the dead end; Hillcrest Drive, and Parkwood Drive.  The work is scheduled to begin Aug. 15. Affected property owners will be given notice one week prior to work beginning along with a reminder given one day prior.  The work will require a one-day shut-off of water service followed by a 72-hour boil order advisory.  Once the boil order is in effect, a water boil advisory door hanger will be placed at affected residences and information will be posted on the city’s website.  Traffic will be affected during this work. For questions or more information, contact the Water Distribution Division at 419-354-6277.

BG community nudged toward more inclusiveness

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Crowding around the tables at the library Thursday were people of white privilege, people of color, and people who love who they choose to. At one table in the back of the room were four people of different backgrounds with one common link – discomfort and discrimination in Bowling Green. Ayanna Byers, a BGSU graduate student from Pittsburgh, had been in the city for less than three weeks. Longtime Bowling Green residents were telling her about a nearby community, when Byers asked if it was a “sundown town.” The white women at the table didn’t understand, until Byers explained. “It’s a town where if you’re a person of color you shouldn’t be there after sundown.” As a black woman, Byers said she is accustomed to being followed around stores by shop employees. “I’m so used to things happening,” she said, so sometimes she doesn’t even realize it at first. She has only ventured off campus twice since arriving in the city, the first time to an ice cream shop. She was standing at the counter to order, when a white woman and her children pushed in front of her. “It still happens,” Byers said. Sometimes it’s subtle, and impossible to prove. “But you feel it in your gut,” said another person at the table, Krishna Han, who is from Cambodia. “I never knew racism till I came to this country,” said Han, whose skin is brown and who speaks English as his third language. Han said Bowling Green is much more inclusive than a lot of small American cities, but there is room for improvement. At the other end of the table was a white lesbian couple, who told of a less than welcoming experience when they moved to Bowling Green last year. The couple said a neighbor left notes with the words “Dike” and “Lesbo” for them, and tried to injure their dog by putting rat poison in their backyard. The couple, Jacqueline Adams and Kacey Long, reported the threats. They ended up moving to a different home during their first semester in the city – and found a very supportive landlord and neighborhood. “Sometimes you get that one rotten neighbor,” Adams said. “We don’t let one person define how we feel about everyone.” Those four were among about 60 people who gathered Thursday to discuss diversity and inclusion in the city. They came from different places – some activists, some retired, some teachers, some police officers, some students, and some city council members. All were…

Health district offers heart disease and stroke screening

Wood County residents ages 27 to 64 are eligible for free health screenings for heart disease and stroke risk. The screenings include cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and BMI. Appointments are required. Currently two screenings are scheduled for next week. Future events will be scheduled in Weston and Stony Ridge. The current event schedule is: Bowling Green – Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 8 a.m. to noon at the First United Methodist Church (1526 E. Wooster St.) Bradner – Thursday, Aug. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Bradner American Legion (209 W. Crocker St.) North Baltimore – Thursday, Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. to noon at the North Baltimore Library (230 N. Main St.) To schedule an appointment, call 419-352-8402 ext. 3258. Fasting for 8-10 hours before an appointment is recommended for more accurate results. Registered Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers are also wanted to help with these events. If you are or want to become an MRC volunteer, contact William Bryant-Bey at 419-528-8402 ext. 3267 or to learn more. The events are funded by a grant from the National Association of City and County Health Officers to support Medical Reserve Corps activities. Three events have already had to be rescheduled due to no or low numbers of appointments. Why screen for heart disease and stroke risk factors? Heart disease and stroke accounted for 26% of all Wood County adult deaths in 2013. Some heart disease and stroke risk factors can be changed, treated or controlled. These include blood pressure, diabetes, blood cholesterol, smoking and obesity. The 2015 Wood County Health Assessment found that more than 1 in 4 people (26 percent) of Wood County adults had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, 30 percent had high blood cholesterol, 22 percent were obese, and 11 percent were smokers, four known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The Medical Reserve Corps is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. In Wood County, all types of volunteers are accepted including medical and non-medical individuals. During times of crisis, volunteers will be needed to help give medication or care for large number of injured or ill. Becoming an MRC volunteer requires completing online training and registration through an Ohio volunteer database. Wood County Health District encourages people to sign up now to make it easier for them to help later. The mission of Wood County Health District is to take the initiative to facilitate opportunities for Wood County residents to lead healthy lives. Our Health and Wellness…

Once ordinary skills now extraordinary at the fair

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than 140 years at the Wood County Fair, people have been showing off their prowess at baking and sewing. The skills exhibited were once a way of life, a necessity. Now, they are uncommon –and draw “oooohs” and “aaaaahs” from those who have never stitched up a bodice or never baked up a rhubarb pie. Judy Arps and her daughter, Janeen Shipp, both of Haskins, were admiring the quilting entries Wednesday at the fair when asked if either of them bake or sew. Arps cracked a smile, and Shipp rolled her eyes. “We had to learn it out of necessity growing up,” said Arps, who learned to sew from her mom. “If I wanted more than one dress, I had to sew it.” Arps became so skilled that she sewed her prom dress and her wedding dress. She is now passing on those skills to her granddaughter. Arps also excels in the kitchen, specializing in baking bread and the secret family recipe for coffee cake. “She taught me how to can,” Shipp said. That was also a necessity when Arps was growing up. Shipp has carried on the tradition, canning jams, fruits, green beans, tomatoes, red beets and pickles. “If you can put it in a can, you can can it,” Shipp said, echoing her mom’s words to her. Cooking is a different issue, one that Arps admits she lets slide some days. “I can go get a sandwich faster than I can turn the oven on.” Denise Waterfield, of Grand Rapids, also learned her sewing skills at an early age – though not from her mom. “I have a picture of when I was 9 years old, sitting on the couch opening an embroidery kit for Christmas,” Waterfield said. She was hooked. “My grandmothers were seamstresses, knitters and milliners. I think it’s in the genes.” Waterfield walked through the display cases at the fair pointing out her handful of ribbons earned for embroidery, lace work, quilting, sewing a stuffed animal and a coin purse. The secret, she said, is patience. That’s something she knows a lot about, since during the school year Waterfield is a bus driver for Bowling Green City Schools. Betty Whitacre, of Bowling Green, said she’s too short on patience to handquilt, but she loves quilting by machine. “My mom used to quilt at the church in Custar,” Whitacre said. The ladies there did it by hand. “That’s a talent of its own.” Whitacre finds sewing relaxing, and just made a…

BG explains new garbage bin rules

(Submitted by the city of Bowling Green) City Council passed legislation at the Aug. 1 meeting updating Chapter 94 of the Bowling Green Codified Ordinances, which covers garbage and litter laws within the City. These changes were made by Council to help keep Bowling Green neighborhoods appealing and healthy as well as improving the efficiency of refuse/recycling collection. Some of these changes include: – container lids shall be closed at all times. – all containers shall be set at the curb with the lid opening facing the street with the lid fully closed, and all containers shall be removed from the right-of-way by 7  a.m. the day following collection. – on non-collection days, all refuse and recycling containers – including dumpsters – whether City or privately owned, shall be stored within an enclosed area or in the side or rear yard of the premises adjacent to the structure with the lid closed. The purpose of requiring container lids to be closed at all times is to help prevent the breaking of the lid during the collection process. If the lid is open or the container is facing the wrong way at the curb, the lid can break. Also, if the lid is open during non-collection days or at the curb, the chances increase that the garbage within the container will fall out becoming loose litter. These changes will go in to effect on Aug. 31. The changes have been posted to the City’s homepage. Call Public Works at 419-354-6227 or the Mayor/Municipal Administrator’s Office at 419-354-6204 for questions.

Eden Boutique offers fashion paradise in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG INDEPENDENT NEWS A shopping trip for clothes that left Kati Thompson dissatisfied provided the impetus to launch her new business. Eden Fashion Boutique, 186 S. Main St., Bowling Green, will mark its grand opening with a ribbon cutting Friday at 11:30 a.m. The shop will feature contemporary women’s clothing and accessories, including the active leisure line Albion. Thompson said Eden will be the exclusive Ohio dealer for the line. Still Thompson envisions her shop as something more. She wants Eden Boutique to be “a place for all women to gather and have fun and feel love. I know that has nothing to do with clothes, but I just want to be that space, that positive atmosphere.” That means having a spacious interior that not only displays the clothing well, but is easy to move around in. Thompson and her husband, Dave Thompson, have six children, including two foster kids. Thompson said she knows what it’s like to try to move around a shop with a stroller. She also made sure the restroom can accommodate a mother with children. Also, “I wanted to bring an opportunity for women of all sizes to shop together.” When Thompson went out to Los Angeles to purchase inventory, she brought a team – her sister and a couple friends. “Each of us have different body types.” They could looked at the clothing differently. So they may say: “That looks cute on you, but not on me.” The stock includes a large selection of denim, so women can find just the jeans that fit just right. “I tried to bring in a lot of unique fabrics and patterns, not something you can pick up any store in the mall,” she said. “The premise is we’ll only have a limited number of items. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so everyone in town isn’t walking around wearing the same thing.” That’s exactly what she was looking for that she didn’t find earlier this year. A 2004 marketing graduate from Bowling Green State University, she envisioned what the perfect shop for her would be. “I wanted to come into a space that was well curated with a unique selection of items, not something everyone in town would have, and a place where the inventory would change regularly.” Thompson said she knew she wanted to be in the 100 block of South Main, and on the west side of the street. When Jamie Zulch moved her tailoring business to her home, Thompson knew she’d found her spot. The shop had the…

BG police offer liquor establishment employee training

The Bowling Green Police Division will provide Liquor Establishment Employee Training (LEET) on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 5 to 7 p.m.  The training will cover State of Ohio and Bowling Green liquor laws, civil liability, and fake ID recognition. Employees and management staff of local businesses (bars and retail outlets) that sell alcoholic beverages are encouraged to attend. This training will take place at the Bowling Green Police Division’s Training Room at 175 W. Wooster St.  Please contact Detective Andy Mulinix at 419-352-1131 or to register for this event.  Pre-registration is not required.  The session is free and attendees will receive certificates upon completion.

What to say to kids about so much violence? BG school district offers help

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green parents are struggling with how to explain the recent violence in the world to their children. Though surrounded by cornfields and isolated from much of the turmoil in the world, the children see images and hear stories of the violence. So to help families discuss these difficult topics, a community meeting will be held Aug. 11. The meeting was organized after some parents expressed their concerns about how to talk with their children about incidents like the shootings in the Orlando night club or the terror attacks in France. “A couple moms were getting their hair done, and talking about ‘I don’t know what to tell my kids,’” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. Scruci saw an opening for the schools to help. “If we can provide some resources,” he said. “We want to give our families a chance to ask questions. ‘What should we say? What shouldn’t we say?’” The school district is partnering with the Not In Our Town organization to host a community discussion on Aug. 11 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Performing Arts Center Lobby at Bowling Green High School. The discussion will be targeted for the adults in children’s lives, and may not be appropriate for children themselves. Heather Sayler, an organizer of the Not In Our Town organization, said it is hoped that some people with counseling expertise will be able to speak at the meeting. “People who work with children on a daily basis, or when they are in crisis,” she said. Social media makes it almost impossible for youth to avoid news of violence here in the U.S. and around the world. The news lately has been full of stories about terror attacks in Europe and Asia, mass shootings here in the U.S., the killings of black men by police, and the killings of police trying to protect their communities. “The purpose of the meeting is to share ideas of how to talk to your children about the violence, answer any  questions you may have, and to give resources for parents to use to help their children better understand and feel safe,” the school district said in a press release about the event.