Community

Public bugged by Zika invited to program tonight

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 Ohioans have been diagnosed with Zika Virus this year. But local residents need not worry about mosquitoes in their backyards or area parks spreading the virus. Local residents with concerns about Zika are invited to a presentation tonight at 7, in the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., Bowling Green. The program will be hosted by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, and presented by Wood County Health District epidemiologist Connor Rittwage and health educator Jennifer Campos. “It’s for anybody curious about it,” Rittwage said. “We’ll take as many questions as we can.” But Zika Virus is nothing for local residents to be stressed about, he added. “Our level of worry has not changed too much. It’s something to definitely watch. But the chances of it developing in Wood County are very low.” Zika 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. In fact, there is no evidence anywhere in the continental U.S. of the type of mosquitoes known to transmit Zika, Rittwage said. However, 934 cases have been reported in travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected countries – including 22 cases in Ohio. And 13 cases have been reported to have been sexually transmitted in the U.S., with one in Ohio. “Travel is still a huge component,” Rittwage said. Before traveling to another country, Rittwage advised checking with the Centers for Disease Control map. “It’s always important to check if there are any advisories.” The Centers for Disease Control has determined the Zika Virus is much more concerning than initially believed. It is the first time a mosquito bite can cause serious brain injuries to babies, including microcephaly, a birth defect which causes the infant’s head to be small and the brain to not develop properly. So far in the U.S., seven infants have been born with defects associated with Zika. “If you’re…


Veterans hit the trail on Warrior Hike seeking peace

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A Bowling Green native has embarked on a long-haul hike intended to help military veterans walk off the war. Marine veteran Martin Strange, 32, started his Warrior Expedition last week. With hiking partner, Army veteran Sterling Deck, Strange will circumnavigate the state of Ohio, taking about three months to cover the 1,444 miles. Warrior Expeditions was started about four years ago by Sean Gobin. After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gobin set out to walk the 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Strange said Gobin gained so much from the experience he founded Warrior Expeditions to offer the same experience to other veterans. There are options for hiking, paddling and bicycling. In trekking the Appalachian Trail, he was following the footsteps of a veteran of an older generation. Coming home from World War II, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the length of the trail. Strange served four years in the U.S. Marines as a machine gunner. The Bowling Green High graduate enlisted at 21. “I felt life had my back to the wall,” he said. This was his way “to push back and jump off a cliff and see what happens. That’s what the Marine Corps infantry was to me.” Strange was deployed twice to Iraq. When he was discharged in 2009, he went on and served as security for the State Department, working in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I’m a completely different person from when I joined up,” Strange said. “And grown since I got out.” Strange, son of former BG residents Carney and Dorothyann Strange, went on to study wildlife management at Hocking College, but that lost its appeal after a few years. He was drawn to the Warrior Hike by his love of outdoors. Even before starting the long hike, he’d spent three months sleeping in his hammock, homeless by choice, he said. “Certainly not destitute.” Gobin interviewed Strange over Skype to see if he was right for the adventure. He and Deck were paired up. They’d never met before starting out. The program provides…


Wood County jail may start housing Toledo inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Justice Center may have the key to Toledo’s inmate issues. That means the county jail in Bowling Green may soon be housing up to 25 people a day arrested in Toledo for misdemeanors. According to Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, Toledo officials turned south to this county after an ongoing feud over charges to the city from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker. “They were looking at their options,” Wasylyshyn said on Saturday. The sheriff said the Wood County jail could house at least 25 misdemeanor inmates for $65 a day, plus an initial booking fee. That is the same amount charged for overflow inmates from other neighboring counties. “I told them I could easily handle 25,” Wasylyshyn said. “I didn’t want to over-count – so we have room for our inmates.” However, the sheriff said that number from Toledo could possibly grow since the recently completed expansion of minimum security housing at the Wood County Justice Center has created the room for 224 inmates overall at the jail. As of last Friday, the county jail had 142 inmates. Based on the low estimate of 25 inmates from Toledo a day, the county jail could bring in an extra $600,000 a year, Wasylyshyn said. “It’s good for Wood County,” he said. “We have the bed space, so it’s a great thing for Wood County to get some of the money back that was spent on the expansion.” Prior to the expansion, which was estimated at around $3 million and which included more than the inmate housing areas, the jail had 149 beds. The deal with Wood County Justice Center may work for Toledo for a variety of reasons. First, the county jail on East Gypsy Lane Road in Bowling Green, is quite a bit closer to Toledo than Stryker, and costs less per day per inmate. Second, the city is in the midst of a dispute with the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio and Lucas County over jail costs. The city of Toledo…


Zoning change allows The Beat to go on

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With some fancy footwork, Bowling Green Planning Commission tweaked the city’s zoning code to allow a dance studio to build a new facility in the Bellard Business Park. Bowling Green Economic Development Executive Director Sue Clark asked that the M-3 zoning classification be expanded to allow for a dance studio. Clark explained to the planning commission Wednesday evening that The Beat dance program has been asked to leave its current location at 1060 N. Main St., in order to make room for another tenant. Clark said she looked at several possible sites with the client, but could not find a suitable home for the business which has about 200 students and needs parking for 30 to 35 vehicles at a time. So the owner, Colleen Murphy, has decided to build instead. “We have done an extensive search for appropriate properties to build on and this location keeps surfacing as the best fit,” Clark said in a letter to the city planning office. “I showed her a lot of places,” Clark said Wednesday evening. “She kept coming back to Bellard.” Several of the dance students live in Perrysburg, according to Clark. “She really wanted to stay on the north end of town.” The business purchased the northernmost two acres of the business park near the corner of Newton and Brim roads, and is planning to build a facility of about 7,300 square feet. “We think this will be compatible,” with the area, Clark said. But under the current zoning code, it is not permitted. The zoning code allowed indoor sports training facilities, defined as for baseball, basketball, batting cages, boxing, cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer and volleyball courts. The language specifically rules out ice and roller skating rinks, bowling alleys, racquet and tennis clubs, paintball arenas, billiard halls, archery and shooting ranges. Dance and yoga classes, as well as health and fitness clubs were previously on the list of not permitted activities, but were moved to the permitted list with the planning commission action Wednesday evening. Also at…


Recent killings, by police, of police, show system in critical condition, criminal justice scholar says

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Phil Stinson, Bowling Green State University professor in criminal justice, was in Washington D.C. working on a confidential project for the U.S. Justice Department. A leading expert in policing he spent his days in a windowless room. Still the news about two more killings of black men by police officers penetrated the meeting room. And then late Thursday, the news broke of five Dallas police officers gunned down by a sniper. The incident, which occurred at the conclusion of a peaceful protest, ended with the gunman dead after a standoff with the police. Was Stinson shocked by this? “Everything is business as usual,” he said. And that’s not good. “Everything’s the same. We’re in a powder keg situation. … It’s a mess and the hot summer doesn’t help.” With the advent of social media “we’ve reached a tipping point,” Stinson said. That was clear with the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. It continued with a steady stream of incidents, including the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Monday, and then the killing of Philando Castile in a Minneapolis suburb. While videos may document these incidents, Stinson said, they don’t provide a solution. “I honestly think the police in many parts of the country, especially urban areas … are engaged in combat policing,” he said. “They’ve come to think over time that they are dealing with people who are the enemy. They certainly treat black males as if they were the enemy. That’s a huge problem. Not only is there a fear of crime, but there’s a fear of black people.” These officers come into a traffic stop like the one in Minneapolis or the encounter like the one in Baton Rouge, “all amped up.” The way Alton Sterling was body-slammed shows that. “They wouldn’t do that to you or me. It’s just nuts.” Stinson added: “You can’t shoot police officers. We can’t have that.” He saw that in a Facebook post from a former student…


Applebee’s pulls zoning variance request in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For Bowling Green residents hungry for an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in the city, this may not be good news. Applebee’s filed for a zoning variance in June to allow for more parking spots at a potential location on South Main Street. But that request for a variance has been pulled, according to Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. “It was out of the blue,” Sayler said, adding that she was not told why the engineering firm, Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., withdrew the request. Calls by BG Independent News to the engineering firm in Chicago were not returned. But Sayler said she has gotten mixed messages from the engineering firm, with the city planning office being told to “keep on hold” the request filed for a zoning permit for the restaurant. “I wish I knew more, but I don’t,” Sayler said on Friday. The withdrawal of the variance request was on the agenda of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals’ meeting on July 13. The casual dining restaurant had requested a variance to allow more parking spots than now permitted at a site at 1175 S. Main St., near Home Depot on the south edge of the city. The request sought a variance to allow 11 parking spaces that would have encroached 5 feet into the required 5-foot setback to the north and east. “The city has definitely been in communication” with representatives of Applebee’s, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said last month. Sayler had been working with an Applebee’s representative to find a location for the restaurant, he said. “They definitely have been showing interest,” the mayor said of Applebee’s. “They were looking at different sites,” specifically along East Wooster Street near Interstate 75, Edwards said. But the restaurant chain seemed more interested in the South Main Street location, closer to U.S. 6 traffic.  


Glass mosaic would add sparkle & shade to Community Center lobby

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Gail Christofferson’s community mosaics are made from thousands of bits of glass, and by thousands of hours of work by hundreds of community members. Some will trim and sort thumbnail-size bits of glass. Some will glue those down in preordained patterns. And some to create those designs. When all is done, Christofferson hopes to have as many as 50 20-inch-by-20-inch glass mosaic panels. Those panels will provide an artistic solution to a problem at the Bowling Green Community Center’s lobby. Now, explains Kristen Otley, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, at certain times of day in certain seasons, the staff members working at the main desk are blinded by the sunshine.  That makes it difficult for those trying to serve the public during those times. Right now there are shades up. But Otley envisioned something else. She knew Christofferson from the workshops the artist has presented for Parks and Recreation. In 2011 and 2012 Christofferson facilitated the creation of a mural at the new Otsego Elementary school. Since then she’s turned to glass work full time and worked on about more 10 mosaic projects, as well as smaller work notably her mosaic guitars. Otley said they talked about it for a couple years. It always came down to where the money would come from. They decided to team up with the Kiwanis Club, and working with Alisha Nenadovich, they requested funds from the Bowling Green Community Foundation. It’s the kind of project the foundation likes, Otley said. Something that involves the whole community. The mosaic project was awarded a $5,000 grant. That’s enough for 20 panels, Christofferson said. “Visually my ideal is 50 squares.” She hopes to find donors to sponsor a square or two or several. The price is for $250 a single square with the price per square declining to five squares for $1,000. She plans to send out a fundraising appeal in the fall. After the summer, she’ll be able further gauge how far along the project is. Those sponsoring the panels, can…


‘We run, we get shot. We stay still, we get shot.’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As well intentioned white people sat around the table expressing varying degrees of outrage over the latest shootings of black men by white law enforcement officers, Ana Brown had to interject. “As the only black person in the room,” Brown wanted them to know how she felt. “I’m tired. As black people, we are so tired. We are tired of black people being hashtags.” During Thursday’s meeting of the Bowling Green Not In Our Town organization, Brown shared the story of a black student who was recently pulled over because of a clerical error. The student was surrounded by police with guns drawn, then handcuffed. “That would not happen to me,” said Cindy Baum, who is white. “We run, we get shot. We stay still, we get shot,” Brown said. The Not In Our Town meeting gave people a chance to discuss the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota this week, and to ask local law enforcement how things can go so horribly wrong. “This is the place we talk about this stuff,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, of NIOT. The shootings brought a couple new people to the meeting this week. One was seeking answers. “After the recent events, I can’t sit back anymore,” Baum said. “It is pretty remarkable how much of this is happening over and over and over again. Something has to change.” Others said the issue isn’t new, just the proliferation of videos from cell phones. “Thank goodness,” Baum said. Despite their frustration, there was a realization that the public only sees fragments from video footage. “Right now we don’t know all the facts,” said Lt. Dan Mancuso, of the Bowling Green Police Division. “We’re getting bits and pieces reported from the media.” “There’s more to the story,” agreed Bowling Green State University Police Chief Monica Moll. But Moll also said it’s hard to deny that a problem exists. “It’s tough when you see a group of incidents, when you know there is something wrong,” she said. Moll said she believes the problems…


Community invited to discuss school buildings

The Bowling Green Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m. at the Middle School Library, 1079 Fairview Ave., Bowling Green.  This is a Community Focus Workshop of the Board, with the purpose of the meeting to provide an update and solicit feedback about the Ohio Facilities Construction Committee (OFCC) Master Plan report. No action is expected to be taken.



BG asked to be patient on green space decision

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents were urged to be patient as the city deliberates on the future of the gray area known as the downtown green space. On Tuesday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards said he expects the city to make some decisions within the next two months on the open 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets that formerly housed the junior high school. Edwards noted that the 15-member Green Space Task Force completed its work more than nine months ago, after “very intensive study efforts.” That group suggested that the location be preserved as a green space and gathering area for the community. “I don’t want to see the work of that task force slip away or be forgotten,” the mayor said. The task force, led by Eric Myers, addressed the four points they were asked to study: Develop and recommend a conceptual plan for the space. Review the history of the site and prior recommendations for possible use of the space. Consider design elements that require minimal operating costs in keeping with the history of adjoining properties. Recommend a plan that lends itself to private fundraising efforts. In the nine months since then, City Council’s Public Lands and Building Committee looked at the possibility of a new city office building sharing the acreage with a green town square. “Council and the administration have been engaged in a process that reflects the weight of the topic and the value of the land as well as the varying opinions from many members of our community,” Edwards said to council. The mayor said that out of respect for that process, he has tried to listen quietly to public debate. “At the same time, it’s been no secret that I strongly favor the retention of the 1.7-acre green space as green space given its integral spatial relationship to our historic downtown and the adjoining historic church and neighborhood,” Edwards said. “I see great value in what it means to be a vibrant and healthy community to…


Parking to be restricted in City Lot 2 for repaving

Beginning Friday, July 8, parking will be restricted in City Lot 2, behind SamB’s and Panera, due to repaving of the lot. The project is expected to take approximately two weeks to complete and during that time, sections of the lot will be closed. Parking permit holders for City Lot 2 will be permitted to park at 10-hour meters at any of the other metered city lots during this time. Questions about the repaving project may be directed to the Engineering Division at 419-354-6227 and questions about parking may be directed to the Police Division at 419-352-1131.


Charters Gavarone interested in state rep seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council member Theresa Charters Gavarone announced Wednesday evening that she is seeking the state representative seat vacated by the resignation of State Rep. Tim Brown. Charters Gavarone, a Republican, is an attorney, business owner, and is serving her second term as council member representing the city’s Fourth Ward. She earned a business degree from Bowling Green State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo. “I really enjoy the work on council,” she said Wednesday evening. “I think I have something to offer at the state level.” Charters Gavarone said she is interested in mental health issues, drug addiction, education and economic development. As an attorney for 22 years, Charters Gavarone said she has first hand experience with the justice system. “The impact of mental illness and drug addiction on both adults and children is devastating on both a personal and community basis. Although a lot is happening to improve services, there is more work to do to make services available to those in need.” “I think we have a long way to go,” she said Wednesday evening. As co-owner with her husband of the Mr. Spots restaurant in downtown Bowling Green, Charters Gavarone said she understands the role small businesses play in the local economy. “I think it’s important to keep Wood County working,” she said. “It’s important to support small businesses.” Charters Gavarone also pointed to her experience as a parent. “As a mother of three, I understand the challenges faced by families, children, and schools,” she said in making the announcement. “I’ve worked with students in the classroom and library and have supported teachers and coaches as a fundraiser and volunteer. Wood County needs a representative who understands the issues from all sides and someone who is willing to listen and represent their interests in Columbus.” As a city council member, Charters Gavarone said she has employed a bipartisan approach to issues. “In my years as an elected official, I have proven that I can work with people to…


Registration for inaugural Optimal Aging Community Fair underway

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Registration is now underway for Bowling Green State University’s inaugural Optimal Aging Community Fair. The fair, which will be held Aug. 1, will include an international keynote speaker who will focus on active aging, plus panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and health screenings, all emphasizing the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, cultural and occupational. Colin Milner, chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging and founder of the active-aging industry in North America, will serve as the keynote speaker. Recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of “the most innovative and influential minds” in the world on aging-related topics, he will discuss the seven dimensions of wellness and the nine principles of active aging. The fair will also include remarks from Dr. Marie Huff, dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Kathy Golovan of Medical Mutual of Ohio; and Paula Davis, project administrator for the Optimal Aging Institute; a panel presentation on trends in aging and caregiving and personal stories of resiliency moderated by Denise Niese, Angie Bradford and Danielle Brogley from the Wood County Committee on Aging. The afternoon will offer a variety of breakout sessions where participants can experience the seven dimensions of wellness through fun, engaging and educational programs and activities. Session topics include: Introduction to Mindfulness, Navigating Insurance Options, Aging in Place, Understanding Trusts and Wills, Preventing Scams, Zumba for Seniors and Using Technology to Stay in Touch and Make New Friends. Ongoing activities include exhibitors, health assessments, yoga, listening post for caregivers, home assessments and more. The fair, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, is free for people 60 and older and BGSU employees and students. The cost is $20 for other attendees; lunch is included. The fair requires advance registration online at www.bgsu.edu/oai. The event is one of Davis’ first duties as project administrator of the newly created Optimal Aging Institute. Davis was previously the director of corporate and foundation relations at BGSU. She…


BG Council balks at setting tough trash bin rules

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After months of discussions on garbage bins cluttering front yards, the bins have yet to budge an inch. Other college towns in Ohio have set clear rules about garbage bins in their communities, but Bowling Green is reluctant to ask residents to move their bins beyond the front of their homes. City officials spent well over two hours discussing the issue again Tuesday evening – first during a committee meeting, then at the city council meeting. Those who want the most sweeping changes have heard from citizens who are tired of overflowing trash cans sitting in front yards and littering their neighborhoods. Those who want minor changes have heard from citizens who say moving the bins back from the front of their homes would pose a hardship. At the end of discussions, city council presented a watered down version of the original proposal – and it’s still not clear if that has enough support to pass a first reading at the next council meeting. City Council had wanted the new rules to be in place by time BGSU students arrived back in town at the end of August. Those council members wanting the strictest rules were Daniel Gordon, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. Those wanting the loosest requirements were Mike Aspacher, Theresa Charters Gavarone and Bruce Jeffers. Bob McOmber appeared to be the swing vote, with his secondary concern being clear wording that citizens can understand and the city can enforce. Some in the audience appreciated the “healthy debate,” which was a little testy at times. But some were frustrated with the proposal that was weaker than they wanted. “I’m very disappointed and depressed that a majority of the council can’t stand up for the older neighborhoods,” said Les Barber, who lives on North Prospect Street. Many of the older neighborhoods have been overtaken by rental properties, where residents take less pride in their homes. That leads to “degradation of those areas,” he said. Barber questioned how the city will proceed with its neighborhood revitalization plan if…