BG residents asked to conserve electricity Monday

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a weekend of blasting air conditioning, Bowling Green electric customers are being asked to cut back on their electricity use on Monday afternoon. The city utility department is asking residents to voluntarily hold off on doing laundry, cooking and set air conditioners at a higher temperature. It’s not that the electric system can’t handle the demands, according to Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. And it’s not that there are any risks of blackouts or rolling brownouts due to the peaking power usage. It’s not about the power. It’s about the money. Customers are being asked to conserve power Monday from 2 to 6 p.m. so the city can save on electricity costs next year, O’Connell said. “There’s plenty of power available and the grid is in good shape, but if we can conserve during these peak hours, the city can save on transmission and capacity costs next year,” the city released in a statement. “Lowering the peak demand will help keep the city’s electricity rates low.” Though the temperatures are expected to be higher on the weekend, residents are being asked to conserve on Monday, when industries will be an additional pull on the electric grid. Bowling Green’s electric rates are based on a transmission charge and a capacity charge, O’Connell explained. The transmission charge for next year will be calculated based on the city’s peak energy consumption this year. “So what we are paying this year is based on last year’s peak,” he said. The capacity charge is based on the average of a particular hour of electric usage during the top five peak days. “When customers can cut back on peak days, that can reduce the charge for next year,” O’Connell said. This is first time since O’Connell became utilities director in 2011 that the city has made such a conservation request of its residents. Customers are being asked to: Shut off lights when not needed. Unplug small appliances and electric chargers. Raise air conditioner thermostats a degree or two. Close curtains, drapes and blinds. Hold off on laundry and other household chores requiring electricity. Turn off televisions, computers, gaming consoles and other electronic devices when not being used. More conservation requests will likely be made this summer if other heat waves hit the region. “We will try to hit the high ones,” O’Connell said. “This is a possible way to reduce those charges for next year.” Joe Fawcett, the assistant municipal administrator, also predicted the city may ask for similar conservation efforts a handful of times during the summer. “When it’s a perfect storm – if it’s really hot and people are running their air conditioning and other appliances, and industries are operating,” Fawcett said. ”As a municipal electric system, owned by its citizens and customers, it is contingent upon those same citizens and customers to keep the electric rates for themselves and all other customers of Bowling Green Municipal Utilities as low as possible,” the city’s press release stated. “Our citizens and customers have the opportunity to make a difference in their system and their rates by conserving energy during the periods stated for the upcoming days. As forecast dictates, we will most likely be asking our citizens and customers to again conserve energy at additional times this…

City makes slow and steady progress on land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Progress on land use issues in Bowling Green is a marathon – not a sprint, according to City Council member Bruce Jeffers. For those who doubt that progress is being made by the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, Jeffers reported otherwise during Monday’s council meeting. “We are continuing to move forward, slowly and deliberately, with planning a variety of improvements for Bowling Green,” he said. The council, mayor, administrative staff and citizens are helping to implement actions listed in the land use section of the city’s comprehensive land use plan. “I wanted people to know we are not sitting on our thumbs,” Jeffers said. So far, the efforts have focused on zoning, streets, neighborhoods and general aesthetics. Jeffers listed proof of this as the rezoning of properties along East Wooster Street in the downtown area, street improvements further east on Wooster Street with roundabouts planned at the I-75 interchange, and Complete Street enhancements being discussed all along East Wooster. The city is also working to revitalize neighborhoods, and has selected a consultant to help devise a plan. That plan will include public/private partnerships, coordinated financial incentives and the changing of some subdivided homes back into single-family owner occupied houses. Residents will be asked to participate in those plans. Jeffers also mentioned the garbage bin issue being worked on now by council. “Aesthetic regulations are more elusive than we might first expect,” he said, listing future aesthetic issues to tackle such as building maintenance, landscaping and excessive clutter. “A very thorny issue, which many people mention, is signs,” he said. Signs have been discussed by city officials for at least 40 years. An existing city ordinance states, “without adequate regulations and design standards, signs are a nuisance.” But Jeffers said that the city needs to pursue goals that are attainable. “We have to pick the items we can most likely be successful with,” he said, suggesting the city “focus on big picture housing revitalization.” The 2009 update of the housing section of the city’s master plan includes the following goals: Worker incentives to buy houses in Bowling Green Revolving loan fund Senior housing Housing trust fund Code enforcement Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation loans Neighborhood associations Student involvement Affordable housing Historic preservation Aging apartment buildings Green initiatives Conversion of rental properties Maintenance standards “A lot of good people have worked to improve neighborhoods for a long time,” Jeffers said. “Many residents and businesses have made tremendous improvements at great expenses over the years as well.”  

Protesters in BG take Donald Trump to task

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Donald Trump prepared to take the podium at the National Republic Convention Thursday, others in Ohio were taking makeshift stages across the state to protest the presidential candidate. Anti-Trump rallies criticizing his “dangerous and hate-filled agenda” were held in 15 cities from Akron to Zanesville. In Bowling Green, the rally started out slowly, with the protesters almost being outnumbered by the security personnel outside the Wood County Courthouse. Dick Teeple, of Bradner, was one of the first to show up, carrying a toilet seat with Trump’s photo in the center. “I have grandchildren. I care about what kind of future they have,” Teeple said, listing his top concerns as the environment, women’s rights, equal pay and climate change. “What they stand for, I’m against,” he said of Trump and his vice presidential pick Mike Pence. Teeple was wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt, but said he would be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. “I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about Hillary. But she’s not going to sell out the environment.” As he stood on the courthouse steps, Teeple said he is mystified by Trump’s ability to win supporters. “I can’t understand it. I think there is some anger, but I think they better get over that and see what he’s going to do.” At its height, the Bowling Green rally had eight protesters. While their numbers were few, their concerns were many. “I just absolutely think Donald Trump is wrong for America,” said Kristie Foell, of Bowling Green. “I’m so disgusted by the attacks on Hillary.” Foell sees the Republican candidate as morally bankrupt, and his party as being motivated by an opportunity to legislate restrictions on abortions and same-sex rights. “My mother said to me, ‘I would vote for a monkey over Hillary, and now I have that chance,’” Foell said of her mother, who is almost 80 and a lifelong Republican. Sage Rozzel, of Bowling Green, held a sign saying “Dump Trump,” showing the likeness of the candidate in a pile of poo. “I do not agree with Donald Trump at all. He’s not aware of climate change. He’s racist,” Rozzel said, also listing off Trump’s views on immigrants, Muslims and Hispanics. “It’s very scary because people are voting for him. It’s insane.” “He’s feeding off of people’s fear. Feeding off of fear is not going to make it better. It’s going to make it worse,” Rozzel said. The rally outside the courthouse did draw some attention from pedestrians who snapped photos and motorists who honked their horns. Carla Patterson, of Texas, was doing research at the courthouse when she decided to check out what was going on. She shared the feelings of the protesters. “Trump’s a jackass,” she said. “Not that I’m real crazy about Hillary.” Two others working in the courthouse complex stopped to check out the signs during their break. They both expressed concerns about Trump. “It’s going to be a very divided country if we don’t get it together now. We can’t go on like this,” said Venus Robinson. Besides, Robinson added, “I think it’s time for a woman.” Alexandria Clark said Trump has no understanding of average Americans – people who struggle to feed their families, keep a roof over their heads and shoes on their…

Recycled tire material tried on buckled sidewalks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying out a new product that may put a slight spring in the step of walkers as well as help trees along city sidewalks. Buckled up sidewalk pavement is being replaced by a product made from recycled tires. The first experiment with the rubber surface sidewalks is being tried on a small section of Eberly Street, where  tree roots had buckled up the paved sidewalks, said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Craft explained to city council Monday evening that the recycled tire product is flexible with expanding tree roots, and with the ground as it freezes and thaws in the winter – “where concrete will break.” The rubber will not only help trees by allowing their roots to grow without buckling the concrete, but it will also be beneficial to walkers. It should reduce the trip hazards of broken pavement, and it will allow the water to run into the ground rather than gathering on the pavement and freezing in winter. “It’s a way to save the trees and not damage the roots,” Craft said. The city may try the rubber material next on some sidewalk sections on North Maple Street. The recycled tire product costs about $6 a square foot, which is comparable to concrete. However, the rubber takes more labor and time since it has to be mixed as it is applied. “The pace is slower,” Craft said. But it is probably worth the expense, “if it saves you from taking down a perfectly healthy tree,” whose roots are causing upheaval with concrete sidewalks. The city may also try the rubber material in the downtown area next to the bricks around trees. The material may work well to slope up around the trees, Craft said. “It’s good for the environment,” he said. And “it’s really going to wear well.” Craft does have some concerns about snow removal on the rubber, but will wait and see how it goes over winter. The rubber comes in different colors, with the city using a dark gray on Eberly Street. In other business, Mayor Dick Edwards reported that city officials attended a meeting on water issues with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Monday. “This ended up being a very positive meeting,” unlike some previous meetings on the topic, Edwards said. “Toledo is coming to the realization,” that very few major cities rely on just one water intake, the mayor said. Also at the meeting, Edwards encouraged city residents to take advantage of the home energy audit program being offered by Columbia Gas. The energy audits identify ways that homeowners can make changes to save energy and money. In other business, it was announced that the Bowling Green Police Division will soon be going through an onsite assessment as part of the accreditation process. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter reported the onsite assessment will look at the police policies, administration, operations and support systems. A public information session will be held July 26, at 5:30 p.m., in the Simpson Garden Park building. The public is also welcome to call in their comments on July 26 from 1 to 3 p.m., by calling 419-352-7459. Tretter said the city’s fire and police divisions are both accredited, which is a point…

Making migrant workers feel at home in Wood County

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The workers who come into Wood County to pick crops may be here for just a few weeks, but La Conexion de Wood County wants them to know they have a friend while they are here. On Sunday La Conexion and the First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green welcomed migrant workers at an event held at a camp in Bloomdale. They didn’t go empty handed. The Brown Bag Food Project came with boxes of food to tide them over until their first paycheck. The Wood County District Public Library staff was on hand with books and activities for the children. The Cocoon Shelter was there to offer its support. The event, now in its third year, was initiated by the church as a way of working with La Conexion, which works out of the downtown Bowling Green Church. Beatriz Maya, the managing director of La Conexicion, said that about 200 workers “at most” are now in Wood County. The numbers of migrants arriving has been declining as agriculture has mechanized and the mix of crops grown locally has changed. Now the demand is for people to pick cucumbers. Those jobs last for about six weeks, then the workers will be off to Michigan to pick apples or to Georgia or Florida to harvest other crops. As the number of crops in a region diminishes it becomes less worthwhile for workers to travel at their own expense to a place to harvest. Though their numbers are down they still have needs, she said, and La Conexion wants to help meet them either directly or by connecting them with other service groups. Maya said she has been trying to help facilitate the workers signing up for Medicaid. Though a federal program, the health program for children and the poor is administered by states, so whenever the workers move to new fields, they must give up Medicaid coverage in one state and sign up again in a new state. That means more detailed paperwork, submitting documents and waiting periods, that in Wood County can take longer than a family’s residency in the county. Last summer, she said, a child was hurt while playing, and had to go to the emergency room, but the family had no medical coverage. “We’re working with Jobs and Family Services to see if we can change the scheduling a little bit,” Maya said. That’s the kind of service La Conexion provides to Latinos in the county throughout the year. She said the forms needed to register for school are daunting enough for native English speakers, but for non-English speakers they can appear nearly impossible. La Conexion has worked with the school district to translate many of those forms. Maya said the group also advocates for services such as the hospital to provide translation services as required. Those services are provided online using Skype. She said the Bowling Green police employ such an online service. The migrants in Bloomdale, she said, are mostly from Guatamala, in the country on H2A visas. On Sunday those from the church, La Conexion and other groups shared pizza and stories, and offers of help for whatever problems they may face. This welcoming is appropriate for a place where so many residents of Mexican heritage first arrived as…

County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to look at it,” LaHote said. “This abatement is unique,” he said. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before, but this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since there will be no jobs beyond the construction period. “It’s been hard for us to get numbers,” LaHote said. Consequently, it was difficult to weigh the impact of the tax abatement. “The more we looked into this, the more questions came up.” LaHote said the delay on the tax abatement might have been avoided if the commissioners had been given more time to consider the request. “I wish we had been brought into the process a little sooner.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw also defended the time taken to review the request for the tax exemption. “It has been difficult to get answers to all of our questions,” she said. Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said the board likes to reference historical criteria when making decisions. But in this case, no criteria existed since this request is unlike most. “It’s being driven by a public entity,” but a private entity will profit, he said. Last week, Bowling Green officials met with the commissioners to convince them of the need for quick action on the tax exemption. “It put us in a bit of a rush,” Kuhlman said. “We are being put in a position that there’s almost an expectation that we approve this.” It was made clear by city officials that without the tax break, the solar fields would not be built by NextEra and AMP. “So we do feel some pressure,” Kuhlman said. However, by time they voted Tuesday, all the commissioners felt they had enough information to approve the project. “We can’t say we totally agree with everything,” but enough to approve, Herringshaw said. The solar field is planned on 320 acres owned by the city of Bowling Green at the southeast corner of Carter and Newton roads….

Library board accepts low bid on Walbridge project

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The price tag of the addition and renovation of the Walbridge Branch of the Wood County District Public Library is coming in under budget. The library’s board Tuesday accepted a general contractor bid of $849,000 from Midwest Construction of Holland. The board also accepted the company’s bid of $3,350 for shades. The administration has decided not to pursue a second alternate bid for benches and plantings. Library Director Michael Penrod said they will wait until the project is finished to do that work. The estimated cost for the bid was $1 million. Of the 10 bids submitted seven were under that number. Tom Stuckey, the project administrator, said to have that number of bids submitted was “phenomenal.” The one concern with the Midwest bid was how much under it was the others. The unsuccessful bids ranged from $929,800 from Spieker to $1,165,777 from Cross renovation. Penrod said he was pleased so many area firms were interested in the project. Several board members questioned the low bid. Stuckey said he did go back to talk to company officials, and they assured him they “capable and confident that they are ready to proceed.” Stuckey said he’s worked with the company on other projects. “They’re a capable company. They’ve been around a long time. They have the wherewithal to do this project.” Ellen Dalton wondered if they might cut corners, or if they were hiring cheap labor. Stuckey said he will be on the site monitoring construction. The company hires union labor, and all workers must be paid prevailing wage. He said that sometimes how low a bid comes in is determined by what the subcontractors say they can do their parts of the projects for. Some companies may have a single preferred subcontractor, and therefore don’t get a lower price. Stuckey praised the board for its work on the project. “There will be great pride in this. I’m looking forward to the groundbreaking.”        

BG debates trash bin enforcement – issue fines or confiscate cans?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to make sure that once a garbage bin ordinance is passed, that it is enforceable. So on Monday evening, council debated whether violators should face fines or have their trash cans confiscated. Council member John Zanfardino expressed concerns about the penalty portion of the ordinance. He is in favor of ordering violators to pay fines when problems are spotted. Waiting to confiscate the cans on garbage pickup day would be like arresting someone for walking around with an open bottle days after the violation, he said. He asked that the city warn residents for first violations, then issue fines for additional violations. “To me, that’s a very laborious way to address it,” Zanfardino said of city workers confiscating the cans. Council member Sandy Rowland shared concerns about the city taking away garbage bins from violators. “I just don’t think it’s going to work for enforcement,” she said, voicing concerns about city workers entering private property. But Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the cans would only be removed from property when they are sitting by the street on pickup day. “We don’t want people to go on private property. We own the right-of-way,” City Solicitor Mike Marsh said. The city already confiscates trash cans that are left at the roadside for several days. Residents then have to pay $50 to get them back. Council member Bruce Jeffers said confiscation of a trash bin sends a strong message. Marsh cautioned that fines cannot be levied against residents without a citation being issued. “There isn’t a way to fine someone without citing them first,” he said. Council members suggested that a violation to the new garbage bin ordinance be a civil infraction. Zanfardino said the most egregious trash violators will just tidy up their yard on trash day and continue breaking the rules the other six days of the week. Other college towns, like Kent, fine people for violations, he said. “If we’re serious about this, I sure hope the council considers a civil infraction,” Zanfardino said. “A warning will fix 75 percent of them,” he said. And the rest should be convinced after facing fines. “Unless someone is stubborn as a box of rocks,” having to pay a fine should encourage compliance, he said. Failure to pay will result in the fine being placed on the resident’s taxes. Most of the communities surveyed about their trash bin ordinances found compliance from residents. “Our purpose here is to clean up our town,” Rowland said, adding that enforcement will add value to properties in Bowling Green. “It has been a culture that we let things go.” Council member Theresa Charters Gavarone again voiced concerns about the ordinance going too far. “A lot of people will be impacted by this,” she said. “There are so many houses where people keep their trash cans in the driveway by their garage.” It was estimated that 50 to 100 homes keep their trash bins in front of the living portions of their homes. About 500 store their bins in front of the garage portions of their homes. And 1,500 or so keep their bins to the side of the homes. Council member Bob McOmber said most of the homes with the trash bins in front…

BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest potential threat seems to be the Asian longhorn beetle. “They like maples, which is unfortunate because maples are good trees,” Jones said. But unlike the ash borer, it appears the longhorn beetle can be stopped by treating trees. “It would be nice to avoid that,” he said. Jones said he’s aware of the controversy last year, when the city lost several mature trees along West Wooster Street to a gas line construction. He understands how people become attached to trees. And his office right now is working to replace street trees and those wiped out by the ash borer. “I’d really like to continue the trend of planting a diverse group of trees,” he said. Later this fall, Jones and the city tree commission plan to hold a couple seminars for the public on trees. The exact topics and times have not yet been determined. Jones encouraged the public to call him if they want trees planted in their tree lawns, the areas between sidewalks and streets. “I’ve met with a lot of people who have questions about their trees,” he said. Jones praised the city for meeting the criteria and being named a “Tree City USA” for 36 years. “That’s a really good number of years,” he said. The city has also met the “growth component” of Tree City USA criteria for 22 years, more than any other community in Ohio, he said. Jones hopes to grow on that success.        

Multicultural Affairs office looks for common ground between campus & community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the 40 people who came out for a #Let’sSupportEachOther gathering last week in the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs were staff members. These counselors and residence life staff are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with students’ concerns. Not only their concerns as students at Bowling Green State University, but the concerns they bring with them to campus. The meeting was called to discuss the recent incidents of black men dying in encounters with police officers, followed by the killing of five police officers on duty during a protest in Dallas. While those in attendance, which included faculty, community members and two campus police officers, need to focus on students’ emotions, they must also deal with their own reactions. Krishna Han, assistant director for diversity, said he found himself in tears on several occasions when watching videos related to the slayings. He had to eventually step back from social media. One black woman spoke of her fears for her son. They live in a suburb of Toledo, and he is repeatedly followed and stopped by police, and he’s been stopped in Bowling Green as well. Some expressed frustration over what they could do; others expressed frustration over the perceived lack willingness of others to take action. Emily Monago, director of the office, said in an interview the next day that she was surprised by the number of people who came out. “We just wanted to provide an opportunity for people to talk.” She said one of the possibilities discussed was how to become more involved with the city’s Human Relations Commission and in the joint city-campus Not In Our Town movement. “How can we do more to promote that and get people involved? Those are some of the conversations we’re having. We’re trying to strategize about how we can make a stronger community connection.” While Bowling Green may seem remote from the settings where these events unfold, the issues are still important for local residents to address, Monago said. “Members of our Bowling Green are impacted by these events. … They have to acknowledge that people are in pain because of these events,” Monago said. Students bring their experience from neighborhoods that are very different from Bowling Green. “I don’t see how as a community we cannot address it. It’s an issue for all of us.” The Office of Multicultural Affairs holds weekly dialogues as a way of “checking in with our students,” she said. In fall it will again host an event where students and police officers have a chance to talk to each other. “We just need to keep those conversations going,” Monago said. “As long as these conversations are happening on a national level, we have to have opportunities for our students to have conversations locally.”

BGHS ’78 grads show their class with new bobcat statue

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Poised to lift the white shroud from the object set in front of Bowling Green High School, Bill York paused to note that he’d been promised “this is not just another class of ’78 prank.” The class, known in the years since they graduated as the worst class ever, has set about turning over a new leaf. “We’re trying to establish a new reputation as the most giving class,” York said. That spirit was represented when the object, a large bronze statue of a bobcat, was unveiled. For Principal Jeff Dever, it will be “a tremendous thing for kids to come to school and see that.” And yes, he heard, the stories about the class as “the worst class that came through these doors.” What he knows is that the class has been “very generous.” “They handled this from start to finish,” he said. The project was spearheaded by Bill York. Classmate Mike Hammer, the city superintendent of public works, enlisted help from city workers to get the base of brick and concrete constructed. York said that after the class held its 35th reunion, some of the organizers talked about creating a more permanent structure. In 2014, the Bowling Green High School Class of 1978 was created. In 2015, the foundation awarded its first scholarship for $1,000 and donated a couple benches that sit outside the school. This year a $2,500 scholarship was awarded, and the bobcat was purchased and placed. The idea for the bronze mascot came from members of the class, York said. They wanted something “unique” and enduring. It should be made as it is of bronze, stone and brick. “It’ll be long lasting,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll outlast us all.” The budget for the project was $8,500. The class raised almost $12,000. York said that may mean benches or other elements could be added to the project. The bronze bobcat was purchased from the Large Art Company, from Baltimore, Maryland. York said that when they first approached the administration about how they could help the school, all the administrators knew of the class was its reputation. “We were rambunctious,” Hammer admitted. In a humorous poem penned for the occasion, class member David Kinney noted that the faculty “pushed us out the doors with cheers.” Those teachers, though, also “motivated us to give back with all our might. Now we know the kids of ’78 are all right.” At least one teacher thought so at the time. Frances Brent, who taught sixth grade, said the class, which included her late daughter Liz, was “wonderful.” “I adored them. I like ornery kids,” she said. The class is continuing its efforts. After the unveiling of the statue, some members were heading off to a golf outing to raise more scholarship money.  

Health center doesn’t turn any patients away

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Navigating health care systems can be a scary process, especially for those people who lack adequate insurance. But local residents who have put off medical care for fear of another bill they can’t afford will not be turned away at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. “We are looking at the whole person” and that includes offering services on a sliding fee scale so they are affordable to all, said Diane Krill, director of the center located inside the Wood County Health District at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. “No one is turned away for services,” Krill said. The health and wellness center provides primary care for all ages, with Dr. Steve Dood as chief medical officer and Katie Barricklow as family nurse practitioner. “It’s care for infants through everyone,” Krill said. The center offers STD testing, women’s health care, senior health care, behavior health services and social work services. An in-house pharmacy allows patients to get their prescriptions filled on site. “They can get all of their needs met,” Krill said. The center is a lifesaver for many patients who have put off dealing with health issues, said Rhonda Stoner, social worker at the site. “They’ve let their health go for so long, by the time they come to us there are a lot of health needs,” Stoner said of some patients. “We see the smiles on their faces now. Before they thought there was no hope,” she said. “We see the healing in that old wound.” The center focuses on treating the entire person, Krill explained. So in addition to tending to physical needs, the center also has a behavior health specialist to help with mental health needs such as anxiety, depression and everyday life struggles. “Evidence shows that physical and mental needs are really integrated,” Krill said. “We do feel behavioral medicine is important.” The services are “patient-centered,” and based on community health assessments of local needs. With its expanded services, the health and wellness center has seen an increase in patients. Last year, the center saw more than 1,000 patients, and so far this year 344 new patients have come in for care. “We’re always accepting new patients,” Krill said. And anyone is welcome – people with high co-pays, people with bad coverage, low income or high income, people from Wood County or from elsewhere. The goal is to reach people who aren’t being helped elsewhere. “I think we are,” Krill said. The next goal is to offer dental care. With the help of grant funding, the health center plans to expand and add five dental chairs, possibly by the end of next year. “Dental care has always come up as a need here,” Krill said. More than 60 percent of the current health center patients have not seen a dentist in the past six months, she added. “It just makes sense for us to add this service.” Unlike most medical services, the health and wellness center has its own social worker who helps patients navigate health care coverage. “We help individuals sign up for the marketplace,” Krill said. “That seems to be scary for people.” As a federally qualified health center, patients can be presumed eligible on the spot, “Which gives them temporary…

Northwest Ohio gets its close up in NowOH art exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A portrait of Northwest Ohio is now on display in the galleries in the Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Center. Friday the 9th Northwest Ohio Community Art Exhibition exhibit opened featuring work by 56 area artists. Entry into NowOH is open to all artists who live in 12 Northwest Ohio counties. “Everything that got sent in got included in the show,” said the Detroit artist Sarah Rose Sharp, who served as the exhibit juror.  “Something that’s really beautiful about that is it paints kind of a collective picture of a community which is great to see.” Art, she said, is “subjective” and when so many works are brought together “you can get kind of an aggregate of a community’s experience.” Roxanne Shea’s “Ariel View,” which Sharp selected for Best of Show honors, reflected that vision. Sharp praised the work for its blend of an archaic printing technique with references to geo mapping. Shea’s portrayals of the trailer park where her grandfather lived are rooted in the Rust Belt experience. Shea, who received her Master of Fine Arts in 2-D Studies this spring from BGSU, said her grandfather died right before she started these prints. Shea, who grew up in a low-income family in Grand Rapids, Michigan said: “I was trying to understand where I came from, where I’m at now and how I feel a little distance from my family because I’ve gone through college.” The winning work is an overview of the park, while another print shows a few trailers. She used the collagraph technique that involves employing found materials. In her case that was wood and 24-inch masking tape. She build up the surface and then cut away material to create the images. “Growing up I didn’t have much, so I had to use what I had around me,” Shea said. “The collagraph process involves grabbing what you can and applying it to the plate. Finding the materials is a big part of the process for me, bringing it back and showing its beauty.” Using salvaged materials, Sharp said, is becoming a common practice among Rust Belt artists. “Finding use for discarded objects… has become a metaphor for redemption.” At Friday’s awards reception, Sharp took viewers through the collection and commented on those pieces she chose as award winners. George Clemans’ ceramic piece “When Irish Wedding Bells Chime” was given the first place in three-dimensional work. Sharp said it reminded her of the way objects can serve as “place holders” for experience. The objects crafted by Clemans serve as a representation of the place God fits into the Irish tradition. Aaron Pickens’ small painting “Existential Planking” was given the first place award for two-dimensional work. “It’s really funny,” Sharp said of the miniature painting. In that small frame, Pickens makes reference to the history of art, toys and the contemporary fad of planking. “It’s a nice piece that wove together so many different elements, and some mad painting skills,” she said. “Well played, Aaron.” Clara Gabriela Delgado’s black-and-white photograph “Lucky” won the Bowling Green Noon Kiwanis Youth Award. Delgado, who just completed her first year as a BGSU art student, took the photograph in a Bowling Green neighborhood. It shows a dog in a ramshackled enclosure with a sign saying “Lucky” in the background….

Water study searches for non-Toledo options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The suspect quality and high price of Toledo water has prompted Wood County to search for other sources of water for its customers now dependent on Toledo. A study paid for by the economic development commission identified three alternate sources of water for Wood County users. The three primary scenarios identified in the study, which was released Friday, were: City of Bowling Green’s water system with expanded reservoir space. Maumee River regional water plant with an intake and reservoir. Maumee River/Lake Erie Bayshore water intake, with a regional water plant and reservoir. Wood County customers have long questioned the price of Toledo water, but also began to doubt the quality after the water crisis in the summer of 2014, when people were warned to not drink water from Toledo due to the algal blooms. So a study was conducted to look at other options. “The Wood County Economic Development Commission believes the national attention on the water crisis brought into question the potential impacts on future economic development attraction and retention effects for Wood County,” a release on the study results stated. The cost of Toledo’s water to users outside the city limits also prompted the study. “There’s a big upcharge for the suburbs,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director for the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “We asked, are there other alternatives that are economically feasible?” “The answer is – yes,” Gottschalk said. The options would relieve Wood County customers’ dependency on Toledo water, said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. The contract between many Wood County users and Toledo for water expires in 2024. So this study gives time for action to be taken to create other sources. “A water plant might take five or six years to get up and running,” Gottschalk said. “Ideally, we’d like to see some sort of regional water agreement.” The current Wood County usage from Toledo is approximately 5.5 – 6.8 million gallons per day with projected maximum usage to increase to 12.3 – 14.25 million gallons per day. To meet these demands, a 10 to 20 million gallons per day water treatment facility is required. The Wood County study considers the capital costs, operational costs and probable rates for the three options identified. The first scenario has Bowling Green’s water plant supplying all of the northern end of the county. The plant would have to add reservoir space, Greiner said. The second possibility has Bowling Green adding a second water intake and expanding its plant. And the third scenario looks at the possibility of a regional effort drawing water out from the Lake Erie Bayshore area, and building a treatment plant. No reservoir would be needed. The results of this study are being discussed and no final recommendation has been developed. But the study is a starting point, Greiner said. “Now we have some facts to work with,” he said. The results of the Wood County study will be presented Monday afternoon to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.