Community

Century of stories shared by those over 90

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were centuries of stories in one room Monday during the annual 90s Plus Spectacular celebrating Older Americans Month in Bowling Green. More than 70 local residents aged 90 and older were honored for their longevity. One by one, they were recognized as stories were shared about their years gone by. “Longevity is something we can celebrate now as people are living longer and healthier,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programming at the Wood County Committee on Aging. Take John Searle, 90, of Perrysburg, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the 89th Infantry in Europe, crossing the Reine with General Patton. Searle was among the troops who overran the first concentration camp in Ohrdruf, Germany. After the war, he started classes at BGSU, where he met his future wife. They went on to 42 years of marriage, with four sons, four daughter-in-laws, and four grandchildren. Searle was the pastor at Trinity Methodist Church in Bowling Green for 42 years, during which he performed 632 baptisms, 728 funerals and 437 weddings. Now, Searle’s life is much less demanding. “What do I do? As little as possible,” he said with a grin. “I’ve been on vacation for 25 years.” There were the expected stories of several marriages lasting more than half a century, men serving bravely in World War II,  women focusing on families and home. But there were many surprises behind the aged guests. There was Jean Atha, who worked at the ClaZel theater, and still loves riding the Witch’s Wheel at Cedar Point. Doris Bringman, 95, a former physical education teacher at Elmwood, who lives in the same…


BG high and middle schools put on lockdown while police search for suspect (updated)

Around 12:30 p.m. today, the Bowling Green Police Department asked Bowling Green High and Middle Schools to go into lockdown mode due to the police tracking a suspect wanted on several felony warrants. The lockdown was lifted before 1 p.m., and police have arrested the suspect. According to an email sent out by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci, the suspect is a white man in his 50s, wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans.  He was being tracked by a K-9 unit and does not appear to have entered the school property but as a precautionary measure the district was asked to lock down the buildings.  A witness had reportedly seen the man on Middle School grounds. Police later picked up the man, Wayne English, 49, of 1052 Revere Drive, Bowling Green, without incident in the 15000 block of Bowling Green Road West. English had a felony warrant for breaking and entering into a home in his neighborhood, according to BG Police Lt. Dan Mancuso. He also had two other warrants from two other counties, according to Police Major Justin White. English was taken to the county justice center.    


BG citizens gush over their parks, but push for more on ‘park poor’ side of city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents love their parks – so much, they had no trouble rattling off three pages of positive comments gushing about the gardens, trails, playgrounds, pool and more. But when the time came to identify weaknesses, they listed off plenty of problems, or opportunities for improvement, depending on the point of view. Citizens were asked Wednesday evening to list strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department during the fifth and final focus group. The ideas presented will be considered during the formation of the parks department’s five-year plan. The most glaring weakness seemed to be the “park poor” east side of the city. Children from a large chunk of the southeast corner of the city have to cross major streets or the railroad tracks to get to a park some distance away. Resident Tom Kleine suggested that the city look into buying the former South Main School playground property. “Children could use that space,” he said. But instead, “children are left to the streets and the alleys.” The old schoolyard has playground equipment, a basketball court and a place to play kickball, all surrounded by fences. But neighborhood children have not been able to resist the chance to play. “Kids are jumping the fence,” to get into the playground, resident Jon Herald said. Another resident pointed out that while community support has been strong over the years, nearly all the funds raised have gone toward parks on the west side of town. Another “weakness” identified is the city’s rental of more than 60 acres to the county club for a golf course. Resident John Calderonello…


BG citizens to be surveyed on bicycle use

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To get more public input on how Bowling Green streets can better accommodate bicyclists, an online survey may soon be peddled out to local residents. Members of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission agreed Tuesday evening to first hold a public forum, then send out a survey to collect citizen input. The effort is part of the Complete Streets program being worked on by the city. That program calls for streets to be more safe and welcoming for all forms for transportation, including bicyclists. The commission hopes to hold the forum sometime in June. It was suggested that the city publish the 2007 transportation plan highlighting recommended bike routes through the community, so people can react to those routes at the forum and on the surveys. The survey is intended to reach a broad spectrum of the community to learn their priorities for bicycling in the city, according to commission chairman Rob Kleine. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission voted unanimously to name Bob Midden as “Spokes”person of the Year for 2016.  Midden rides his bicycle to work at Bowling Green State University most days, except when the weather is icy or snowy. And he always wears his helmet when riding. The nomination form submitted for Midden, said he supports bicycling because it saves money, improves the environment and is good exercise. In response to previous concerns being expressed about a lack of bike racks at key places throughout the city, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported that she now has about 10 new racks to be stationed in the community. Three places being considered for the racks are…


Mary Hinkelman in driver’s seat at Downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mary Hinkelman arrived in her new job as executive director of Downtown BG at the right time. Starting in early spring, she was ready to dig in to help with the planting that’s part of downtown beautification efforts. Keeping downtown BG looking bright and welcoming is the prime mission of the organization. The Special Improvement District is funded by assessments paid by downtown landowners. The goal is to encourage visitors and shoppers to discover and return to the area. Hinkelman feels there’s plenty of reason for them to do just that. “You can really shop local,” she said. “I love BG. There’s always something happening here in downtown. … There’s clothing, jewelry, restaurants – good restaurants – and Ben Franklin is a staple.” Shop owners “know you when you walk in,” she said. “The center of the town gives you the personality,” Hinkelman said. It makes a city more than “just a name.” “This little town makes a big impression on people and a lot of that has to do with the downtown,” Hinkelman said. And, she said, the property owners are keeping their buildings up. All the more reason “to show our appreciation and frequent them.” She gave credit to her predecessor Barbara Ruland.  “She did a wonderful job.” Hinkelman, who moved to Bowling Green in 1999, was already familiar with Downtown BG, especially through her involvement in the Classics on Main car show. Hinkelman is both an exhibitor – she has a 1979 Pinto Cruising Wagon – and as a member of the organizing committee. The show is one of the downtown’s signature events, along with the weekly farmers market. Hinkelman said…


BG Schools’ financial forecast a rollercoaster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District Treasurer Rhonda Melchi showed the school board Tuesday the five-year financial forecast for the district, then showed them an image that best summed up the situation – a rollercoaster. Melchi described some of the changes that have occurred since October. Tangible personal property tax was expected to disappear, but the district was supplemented for two years of that revenue. State foundation funding increased from a 0.28 percent to a 0.31 percent share. While that may seem insignificant, Melchi said it adds up to quite a bit. Of the $5,900 per pupil funding level at Bowling Green, the state will pay $1,829. Property tax collection has increased by $120,000 and the school district income tax is up $129,000. Some savings are being experienced in health insurance costs. But looking ahead, the district is adding two curriculum coordinators, six regular classroom teachers, two special education teachers, one behavioral specialist and one speech specialist. All those figures add up to revenue and expenditure lines that crisscross on their ways up and down on the financial forecast chart. Based on the current snapshot on finances, the district will have a positive balance until 2019, Melchi said.  Then, the district will have to search for more revenue. Also at the meeting, the school board learned about a new literacy task force led by Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for the district. She introduced several teachers who have been working on their own time throughout the year on a program to improve reading programs. All the teachers wore red T-shirts, McCarty said, because “this group is on fire.” Several of the…


Three city firefighters promoted to lieutenant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With their fellow firefighters filling the back of council chambers, Mayor Dick Edwards swore in three new lieutenants to the fire department Monday evening. Ryan Patton, Brad Feehan and Jason Wilkins, with their families surrounding them, took the oath promoting them in the city fire department. Edwards praised the three firefighters and the profession as a whole, “who serve so unselfishly.” Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson called the three men solid firefighters, paramedics and natural leaders. “We’re very proud of these three people,” the chief said. “We’re all glad to have them.” Also at Monday’s meeting, city council voted to approve raises for non-union employees by 3 percent, the same amount granted to union employees of the city. Council member Robert McOmber stressed the city’s effort to keep pay increases the same for union and non-union employees.   In other business, Planning Director Heather Sayler reported that the city is down this year in zoning permits, with 108 being requested so far, compared to 121 last year at this time. The number of single-family housing permits is also down, with nine this year compared to 14 last year at this time. Sayler also asked for council’s help reporting grass that exceeds the allowed height in the city, since the city has just one code enforcer. As part of the Not In Our Town program, Sayler also introduced Margaret Montague and Carol Kinsey, who will be visiting businesses in the city to make sure they are aware of the program and ask them to put NIOT logos in their store windows. In other business, City Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported…


Public library taking on new roles

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The changing nature of libraries came up several times during the meeting Tuesday of the Wood County Board of Trustees. In his report, Library Director Michael Penrod noted that some people are surprised that though space at the Walbridge branch will double when the new addition is completed, the stack space for books will not. At least, he told the board, space for books will remain constant. Often, he said, when libraries renovate that space is reduced. Why? Well, Michele Raine, adult services librarian, provided part of the reason. The library now circulates more than 4,000 e-books a month. That tops the target staff had set. All major publishers now make their newest books available, while before they only allowed their back catalog to be circulated in the electronic format. That comes at a price, Raine said. Publishers can charge three times as much for an electronic version of a book as they do for the hard cover, and they restrict how many times it can be borrowed by patrons before requiring the library to repurchase it. Increasingly libraries are about more than books. Among the adult activities offered at the library were a ukulele club, attended by 18, and a session on straw bale gardening attracted 28. And library staff in April helped 10 people put together resumes and do job searches. “This is a place you can continue to learn and grow for the rest of your life,” Raine said. She also announced that the piano recital series presented in conjunction with the Bowling Green State University piano faculty will continue next year. Raine said she especially like the recitals because the…


BG tries to clean up its act – at least in front yards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   September Killy-Knight is a “proud townie.” But when she walks downtown with out-of-town guests, she is often embarrassed. “The aesthetics and charm of our town are being compromised,” by a problem that can easily be solved, she told Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. In case there was any question, Lori Young showed council photos of the problem – home after home with garbage containers in their front yards, bags of garbage on porches, dumpsters in front yards, upholstered furniture sitting outside. “This is a growing issue,” Young said. A council committee aware of the problems met before Monday’s council meeting to go over proposed revisions to the city’s refuse and recycling collection ordinance. But many of the citizens at the meeting felt the changes did not go far enough. “A lot of people are concerned about placement of a lot of cans,” council member John Zanfardino said. “We do want to set some limits.” During a recent drive around the city, Zanfardino said he saw “slum-like” settings with garbage in front yards. “It’s really detrimental to our neighborhoods.” “When I see an overflowing garbage can by the front porch, that’s terrible,” council member Robert McOmber said. But the proposal made Monday night did not ban garbage containers in front yards. Diane Vogtsberger asked why the revised ordinance didn’t require the cans to be kept in back of dwellings. “That’s a no brainer,” she said. Zanfardino said he “was trying to find a middle ground.” But none of the citizens who spoke at the meeting wanted that compromise to include garbage cans in front yards – maybe side yards if no other…


Library wants to showcase BG’s talent

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Since the Wood County Public Library opened in 2003 its atrium up to a variety of entertainment. With the purchase and installation of a Steinway grand piano in 2006, the library became a regular venue for performers, from around the corner and around the world. “We have a lot of concerts and recitals, and people a lot of time people will ask how they can perform,” said reference librarian Kristin Wetzel. “All these people would like to perform, so why not have an adult talent show just to showcase different acts in town that maybe people don’t always get to see?” So BG’s Got Talent was born. The show – not a contest, “just pure fun” – will be held June 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the atrium. Acts have until June 3 at 6 p.m. to sign. The show is open to pretty much any kind of act that can move on and off stage quickly. Acts will have as long as 15 minutes to perform. Wetzel said these could be singers, poetry reading, clean stand-up comedy, anything suitable for all audiences. “It’d be great to have a few piano pieces mixed in,” she said. So far, three acts have already expressed interest. Two are singers accompanying themselves on guitar, and the third is a group of teenagers who are writing their own song. “There’s room for more,” Wetzel said. Registration forms are available at the library or on the library’s website: https://www.wcdpl.org/sites/default/files/BG%27sGotTalentSmall.pdf. For information email http://woodref@wcdpl.org or call 419-352-5050.    


Trump’s success stumps some local Republicans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At a time in the election process when party faithful normally rally around their presidential candidate, this year’s non-traditional frontrunner is causing some Republicans to casually distance themselves or outright reject the candidate. So where do some local Republican leaders stand on Donald Trump? State Sen. Randy Gardner, State Rep. Tim Brown and Wood County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Mike Marsh stepped delicately around the issue, not voicing support but not burning any political bridges. “Interesting,” Gardner said when asked about his opinion of Trump. “Politics is always about choices,” he said. “This is clearly a much different set of choices than the American people have faced before.” Gardner acknowledged this election year is unlike any other in recent history. “I’ve always been able to support the Republican nominee,” he said. So does that mean Gardner will back Trump? “Ask me when there’s a nominee,” he said. Brown said he was supporting John Kasich as the nominee. “My candidate was the governor,” he said. “I think he would have had much broader appeal.” But now that Kasich is out, where does that leave Brown? “I could more than live without his third grade bullying,” he said of Trump’s conduct. “I don’t understand that. My wish is he would develop a better sense of decorum.” But Brown does understand why Trump is winning over voters – and will walk away with more Republican primary votes than any other GOP candidate in history. “That’s a powerful statistic,” Brown said. “I get how he taps into the sentiments of the people,” he said. “I get that he’s tapped into some people’s anger” on issues such…


Summit brings women in philanthropy into focus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Learning how to manage money and learning the value of sharing that wealth with others go helping hand in helping hand. For the past 15 years, Auburn University’s Women’s Philanthropy Board has entwined those lessons in programs geared toward elementary school students through adults. Bringing those values together is essential, said Sidney James Nakhjavan, the executive director for the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Auburn. She was the keynote speaker at the Women in Philanthropy Summit Saturday at Bowling Green State University. The summit was convened by the presidents of BGSU, Otterbein University and the University of Findlay. “When you talk in terms of money management, you talk in terms of one thing,” Nakhjavan told those in attendance. “When you talk in terms of philanthropy and building a legacy, you certainly are talking about one thing. When you blend it then you get this powerful force that really effects change within people. …  It becomes this burning passion.” While teaching money management may seem fairly dispassionate, said Nakhjavan every semester she gets “criers.” One male student became apoplectic in a session talking about money management. He was angry because he didn’t realize how much debt he was taking on. He didn’t know what an IRA or a 401K was. He’s not alone. One young woman told Nakhjavan that when she saw 401K on the syllabus, she thought she was going to have to run a race. Another thought United Way was an airline. “They end up being grateful to learn this stuff and empowered to build their legacy,” the speaker said. Since 2001, the efforts, started as Women’s…


Gardner and Brown talk about marijuana, wind energy and roundabouts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s state legislators fielded questions about marijuana, roundabouts and windfarms Friday morning from local residents. State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Tim Brown, both R-Bowling Green, presented a legislative update to members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The talk covered a wide range of topics on health, energy and transportation. Gardner reminded those present that he and Brown value direct contact from their constituents and make an effort to be “very accessible” to citizens. Brown said it’s good for the public to be aware of state legislative efforts. “The more sunshine we have on these deliberations the better it is for all of us,” he said. Following are some of the issues discussed. Windfarms Brown talked about a wind energy bill that currently calls for setback requirements that make wind farms “next to impossible.” Under the current language in the bill, the majority of the wind turbines at Ohio’s largest windfarm would not be allowed. “Their right to have them has been stripped away,” Brown said, adding that he is working to change that. Some businesses are reluctant to locate in Ohio because the state doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy, he added. “We have businesses who want to be in our state and say, ‘No,’” such as Amazon, Brown said. “They demand renewable energy.” Gardner said Ohio needs to look at making use of renewable and natural resource energy. “I think there’s an ‘all of the above’ policy,’” he said. Orange barrels Ohioans should not expect relief from road construction anytime soon, Brown said. “I hear more about this from people than anything else.” The state…


City parking lot to be closed during work

On Monday, May 16, the Electric Division will begin working in the northern portion of City Parking Lot 2 off of South Prospect Street, just south of the South Prospect/East Wooster intersection. New street lights and poles will be installed requiring that this portion of the parking lot be closed to parking. No parking will be permitted in affected spots throughout the work, which is anticipated to last through Wednesday depending on weather and progress of work.


BGHS accommodates transgender students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When word came down from the Obama administration today that transgender students should be able to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, it did not send Bowling Green High School into a panic. Principal Jeff Dever said the high school already has taken steps to make transgender students feel safe and welcome – by having a restroom identified for transgender students and by calling students by their chosen names and pronouns. A directive is being sent to school districts throughout the nation today saying that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. The directive comes with no new legal requirements, but clarifies expectations of school districts that receive federal funding. It is not clear yet if Bowling Green’s separate restroom meets those qualifications, but Dever said it seems to be meeting transgender students’ needs. “What I have heard from students is their greatest angst comes from using the restroom,” he said this morning. “I understand that completely.” For the students, the separate restroom seems to be a sufficient solution. “I haven’t had any complaints,” Dever said. Though the issue of transgender students has long existed at the high school, Dever said it has changed with the visibility of Caitlyn Jenner. “It’s more of an issue here at school now,” he said. “It’s come to the forefront.” That may bring about locker room changes soon. Devers said the school has not designated a transgender locker room yet because none of the current handful of transgender students are on athletic teams. However, with five locker rooms, the school should be able to…