Community

New business park planned in Crossroads area

A new business park, promising hundreds of new jobs, is being planned in the Crossroads area of Wood County. NAI Harmon Group today announced its plans to purchase an 87-acre piece of land from the carpenters union for development of a Class “A” business park, the Harmon Business Park, located within Crossroads property. The announcement was made at a Wood County Economic Development meeting this morning. “It’s a great opportunity for Rossford and the Crossroads,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “It’s going to provide some much needed development up in that area.” NAI Harmon Group is looking to attract at least 10 end users, totaling hundreds of new jobs for the area in the coming years. The first tenant to the park is slated to break ground in the third quarter of this year. The entire investment is projected to cost more than $75 million upon completion. The Harmon Business Park sits alongside Interstate 75, Ohio 795, and the Ohio Turnpike to attract warehouse/distribution and light manufacturing users. Also, the park will be within an existing TARTA route that will make it easier for employees to access their new jobs. “I am committed to developing this project to the fullest and believe we must create jobs and opportunities to build a strong central metro area,” said Ed Harmon, president of the NAI Harmon Group. The announcement was good news for Rossford officials. “I believe this is the anchor the City of Rossford and Wood County needs to redevelop the Crossroads,” said Neil MacKinnon, mayor of Rossford. NAI Harmon Group plans to partner with the City of Rossford and Wood County to accomplish this project. Harmon is working alongside the City of Rossford to address road, water and sewer infrastructure needs and zoning changes that will allow the area to expand now and in the future. “This new business park and facilities will be designed to meet the demands that we are seeing in the market today,” Harmon said. “I have been meeting with seven possible users for the…


Lack of skilled labor slows some local manufacturers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Graduating high school students have long looked at college as the route to financial security and prestige. But more and more, it’s a ticket to great debt and frustrating job searches. For years, parents have propelled their offspring toward professions needing college degrees. “That’s where you make money,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “But that just isn’t true anymore.” “Parents want kids to be something other than in manufacturing,” Clark said. But those parental dreams are based on outdated beliefs that industry is hard, dirty work with little reward. Today’s manufacturers are “very high tech, very clean, and very well-paid,” she said. During her annual report on economic development in Bowling Green, Clark talked about healthy growth in the city. Manufacturing jobs had reached 4,000 – the highest ever in the city. “Our companies keep reinvesting in themselves,” she said. “We now have more employees in the manufacturing sector than the university does.” But that growth, along with the low 3.7 percent local unemployment rate, poses a problem of its own. “While I paint a rosy picture, we’re not without our concerns,” Clark said. “Finding good employees is at the top of our list.” The top complaint from industries in Bowling Green is the lack of skilled trade workers, she said. In fact, some manufacturers have reported that they have been turning down work and foregoing expansions because they cannot find the needed workforce. “While we are a university town, we still value plumbers, electricians, die makers and machinists,” Clark said. Some training programs, like union apprentice programs, Penta Career Center and Owens Community College, are responding to the need. But while they are “filling the pipeline,” it’s not solving the problem right now, she said. One of the Bowling Green industries feeling the pinch of not enough skilled trades people is Rosenboom Machine & Tool Inc., which makes custom hydraulic cylinders. “I’ve had difficulty finding the skilled positions I need,” said Dee Meyer, head of Rosenboom human resources. The…


Memorial Day speaker drops bomb about Boys State … but turns out his coordinates were likely wrong

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A retired U.S. Air Force colonel dropped a bomb on the Bowling Green Memorial Day Program Monday, but it appears the torpedo may have been a dud. During his keynote speaking comments, Col. Scott Manning expressed his sadness that Buckeye Boys State was moving from Bowling Green State University to Miami University after this year’s program. As a high school student, Manning had attended Boys State and decided to return to BGSU for his college education and ROTC. So the loss of the program was a personal loss to him. That bombshell sent some shockwaves through the dignitaries and the crowd at the Memorial Day service. “I’m absolutely astonished if that’s true,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said. Edwards attended Boys State when it was stationed at Camp Perry, convinced the program to move to BGSU in 1978 when he was in the university president’s office, and was later named to the Buckeye Boys State Hall of Fame. The Buckeye Boys State program has been in limbo for a few years, with the primary sticking point being money. BGSU wants more to house the program, Boys State wants the university to consider the value of having 1,300 male high school juniors come to campus for a week of mock government activities each June. “You get the best and the brightest from the state,” Edwards said. The program is not intended to be a money making venture, he said, but it does work as a recruitment tool for BGSU. Until Manning’s announcement, it was believed negotiations for a new five-year conference agreement were still going on. The current agreement expires after the program later this month. “I know negotiations haven’t been going well,” said Dave Ridenour, of the Bowling Green American Legion Post, who also helped organize the Memorial Day program. But after the program was over, Ridenour said that Manning had been given inaccurate information. “He misspoke from rumors.” The coordinates for the bombshell were faulty. “It’s pretty common knowledge that negotiations have not been going well…


BG pays debt of gratitude on Memorial Day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As she sat along Main Street this morning waiting for the Memorial Day Parade to pass by, Debbie Van Ausdal got goosebumps. “Our area doesn’t have any parades anymore,” said Van Ausdal, of Dayton. “This is a beautiful town. I just love it.” She came up to Bowling Green after her daughter, Sarah Galish, called to say she was going into labor. But since the baby decided to delay his or her arrival, Van Ausdal and Galish went to the parade to show respect for Van Ausdal’s father who served in the Korean War. “It’s a way to honor him,” Van Ausdal said. The annual parade started on South Main Street, stopped briefly at the Wood County Courthouse, then ended for the program at Oak Grove Cemetery. Marching were color guards from the BGSU Army ROTC Pershing Rifles, American Legion Post 45, and Paul C. Ladd VFW Post 1148. There were Civil War re-enactors, Korean War veterans, members of the local American Legion, VFW and AMVETS, plus BGSU student veterans, Bowling Green High School Marching Band, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Along the parade route were several families, decked in red, white and blue, with children waving flags. Sitting on the curb in front of Ben Franklin were two young adults, Jared Baker of Bowling Green, and Becky Wittkofski of Toledo. “As a veteran, it’s a great way to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Baker, who served in the Air Force. Wittkofski, whose dad retired from the Air Force, said she grew up as a “military brat.” “This is my first civilian parade in a while,” she said. Down the street a bit was Julie Corrigan, whose husband Bruce, was directing the BGHS marching band. “I would come anyway,” she said. “I think it’s important that the younger generation knows why we do these things. Sometimes I don’t think they know.” To some children if it’s not explained, she said, “it’s a parade with candy.” Dave Hyslop makes sure to attend the parade every…


Historical center to focus on World War I next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares to honor those who gave their lives serving the country, the Wood County Historical Center is preparing to look back to those who served a century ago. The museum is planning to focus on World War I next year – 100 years from when the U.S. officially entered the war – trying to give local residents an idea of what it was like to serve in the war and what it was like to be left behind at home. Though the exhibits are still in the planning stages, Museum Director Dana Nemeth and Curator Holly Hartlerode Uppal explained the concept last week to the Wood County Commissioners. All men living in Wood County at the time had to sign up for war, but it cannot be found exactly how many went overseas to battle, Uppal said. One part of the exhibit will be a trench-like structure so visitors can experience a little of what the soldiers felt during trench warfare. “Imagine living in one of those things,” Uppal said. Soldiers fought largely in trenches during World War I. By the end of the war, more than 9 million soldiers had been killed, and another 21 million wounded. Nemeth and Uppal hope to have global domination games, and WWI propaganda posters from the library, as well as gas masks and uniforms from the era. Bradner American Legion will be approached about loaning the museum its WWI machine gun for the exhibit. The exhibits will also focus on the lives of families left behind here in the states, by explaining Victory gardens, Liberty Bonds, and rationing that was part of life then. The exhibits will also look at “shell shock” and post traumatic stress disorder – terms that originated during WWI, Uppal said. In an effort to immerse visitors in the era, Uppal said the community band will be approached about playing a concert of World War I music. And some type of poppy field will be created to recognize the poem memorializing WWI soldiers,…


Overgrown courtyard becomes oasis in middle of BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The courtyard at Bowling Green High School is being transformed into a peaceful oasis in the middle of the classrooms and chaotic lives of students. There in the courtyard is the soothing sound of a waterfall, where koi fish glide back and forth, beautiful flowers and smooth stonework. But it hasn’t always been this way. A couple years ago, biology teacher Josh Iler looked at the courtyard and realized it could be so much more. “The bushes were overgrown, covering the windows,” Iler said. One bush was blocking the door into the courtyard, making it difficult for students and staff to use the area. “They would not come out here,” Iler said of the students. But on Thursday, the courtyard was full of students sitting at the patio tables, taking a breather before their last couple classes of the year. “Now you’ve got to get out here early to get a seat,” Iler said. A couple years ago, Iler decided to use the courtyard as a classroom tool, and turn it into the oasis at the same time. He asked North Branch Nursery to come up with a landscape design for the space. “Get me started and I’ll let the kids figure out the rest,” he said. From there it grew … and grew. The work started on the edges of the courtyard, with the old overgrown bushes being pulled out and replaced with neatly sculpted flower beds. Then recently, the work moved into the center, where the school’s victory bell used to sit before it was moved out to the football field. “There was nothing but a cement slab,” in the center, Iler said. So on a recent Saturday, Iler and his students were joined by Superintendent Francis Scruci to create a koi pond with waterfall. “It got bigger and bigger,” he said, with the help of Select Stone, North Branch Nursery, Midwood and D&D Landscaping. One of those students helping with the project is Jordan Arrington. Though he graduated on Sunday, Arrington came back to…


City Park to come alive with sound of music

Information from BG PARKS & RECREATION Bowling Green Parks and Recreation will present six shows in its Concerts in the Park series, starting on June 12. All concerts are Sunday nights at 7 on the Needle Hall stage in City Park. Scheduled to perform are: June 12, The Bowling Green Area Community Band. June 19, The Joe Baker Band, playing standards, rock, blues and country standards. June 26, Kerry Patrick Clark and Band, playing folk and original songs. July 10, The Jeff Tucker Band, originals and rock classics. July 17, Swingmania, swing and big band sounds. July 24, The Pride of Toledo Chorus and Voices of Harmony, barbershop singing.


Come on in – the water is fine at city pool

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The lounge chairs are lined up in rows, the snack bar is stocked, the lazy river has been activated, and the inner tubes are inflated. And even better – the weather forecast for Saturday is calling for a sweaty 88 degrees – perfect for taking a dip in Bowling Green’s city pool on its opening day for the summer. The forecast also calls for a chance of rain, but according to the white board on the wall by the pool entrance, there’s a “148 percent chance of having fun.” “Finally, good weather,” said Kristin Otley, director of BG Parks and Recreation, who has been knocking on wood for weeks in hopes of a hot weekend opening for the pool. This will be the third year for the new aquatic center, complete with a water park, slide, diving boards, lazy river, and picnic pavilions. The pool, located in City Park, opens for public swimming at 11 a.m. Josh Chatfield, manager of the pool, said the preparations went smoothly this year. “We’re ready. Everything fired up really well,” he said. And unlike some other community pools in the area, Bowling Green is not seeing a shortage of lifeguards, Chatfield said. “We have an abundance of people” to staff the site, he said. Last year, the pool lured more than 30,000 swimmers and more than 450 kids for swimming lessons. “We had kids on wait lists we had to turn away,” for lessons, Chatfield said. Otley is hoping for similar – or even better – numbers this summer. But the variables are out of her hands. “Any outdoor recreation operation is so dependent on the weather,” she said. But so far, the signs are good. “It looks like it might be a nice hot summer. Hopefully the people will come.” While the attendance affects the revenue end of the pool operation, the expenses don’t vary much with the number of patrons, Otley explained. “We have to be staffed a certain way regardless of whether we have 20 people or if…


Big Kids bring Bard’s beautiful works to BG stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shakespeare’s plays and actual play collide when Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare Company brings the Bard’s works into Bowling Green’s City Park. Since 1997, the Beautiful Kids have localized Shakespeare’s observation that “all the world’s a stage,” and paraded Shakespeare’s panoply of characters across the Needle Hall stage. All within laughing and shouting distance of the swings, slides and picnic table. All within a wooded glade that can stand for parapets of a Danish castle, a battlefield at Agincourt, the Forest of Arden, or the wilds of Prospero’s island. The productions began in 1997 when a group of Bowling Green State University theater students decided to stage “As You Like It” at Needle Hall, and every year since students, graduates and the friends have returned to stage a Shakespeare play, sometimes two. The troupe marks its 20th year with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this week Wednesday, June 1, Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3,  at 7 p.m. The tradition has passed down from student to student with little formal structure. Tyler Ward, who was active with the troupe for five years starting in 2005, said because the plays are not done with the constraints of school or work, they have an element of freedom to them. “Beautiful Kids gave me the opportunity to explore Shakespeare on my terms,” he said. “We were doing it for the love of it. We were doing it because we wanted to do some freakin’ Shakespeare.” With the semester over, and the cast hanging on in town for a few weeks, “it became really celebratory. It became like a month-long party.” Ryan Albrecht, who is producing this year’s show, said that in the last few years, student participation has dropped off. That’s probably because the theater fraternity Theta Phi is no longer active, and that served as an important conduit for Beautiful Kids. The troupe, he said, is trying to revive the link with theater students in order to keep the troupe going. Regardless of who’s on stage, the spirit remains. This is Shakespeare…


Humane Society garage sale on steroids offers shoppers high volume for low prices

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cathy Walters clung tightly to the pink pool noodle, the stuffed walrus, and the horned hats for her grandkids as she rooted through the plastic farm animals. She was a woman on a mission. “I came here for anything I can find,” said Walters as she rummaged for items at the Wood County Humane Society Garage Sale on Thursday. And this wasn’t her first load at the sale. “Two people had to help me carry it out,” she said of her first round which included an incubator for eggs, a vegetable steamer and glassware. “All I have to do is figure out where I’m going to put it,” Walters, of Bradner, said with a sly grin. “These are great deals. You couldn’t ask for better prices.” The monster garage sale filling the space under the grandstand at the Wood County Fairgrounds is a major annual fundraiser for the humane society, bringing in $15,000 last year for the organization. It is also a major undertaking for the 80 volunteers who accept donations from the community and organize them for the three-day sale that runs through Saturday. “The donations were incredible for three straight days,” said Joe Schroeder, co-chairperson of the sale with Stephanie Ringler. The group accepts anything “good and useful” and hopes garage sale enthusiasts like what they see. “Furniture flies out of here,” Schroeder said. Crafts and fabrics are also hot. “They buy them by the box.” And on Friday, clothing goes for 10 cents an item. “It’s a real guess. What sells one year might not sell the next,” said volunteer Jean Scott. The scene was a dream for bargain hunters looking for some obscure items to take home. For the home decorators there were vases galore, candlesticks, snow globes, wind chimes, and ceramic forms of every creature from ducks, elephants and dogs, to frogs, cows and cardinals. The kitchen gadget aisle bulged with electric griddles, coffee makers, the “miracle chopper,” several George Foreman grills, waffle irons, cookie cutters, muffin pans, woks, ice cream makers,…


Bill makes public records more accessible to public

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Public records should be just that – public. For that reason State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, co-sponsored a bill making public records more accessible for Ohioans. Brown said he decided to co-sponsor Senate Bill 321 after hearing testimony from Ohioans who were blocked from getting public records by obstinate public officials. “No one should need to hire a lawyer to get public records,” Brown said. “It can be time consuming and costly to resolve these matters.” “We came up with a bill that works for people,” he said. Ohio already has a simple method in place for making an initial public records request that is not burdensome to a citizen. However, if the office or agency denies access to those public records, the person requesting them is “often faced with an uphill battle consisting of attorney fees and court dates.” Under Senate Bill 321, any person who believes that his or her public records request was improperly denied can file a challenge with the Court of Claims for $25 without the need to hire an attorney. The legislation also stipulates that the claim must be resolved within 45 days. If the matter proceeds to court, and it is determined that the public office or official acted in bad faith, the court can award court fees to the citizen who filed the records request. “Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction,” Brown said. Two years ago, the Ohio Newspaper Association, along with the Ohio Coalition for Open Government and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, sent out journalists in all of the state’s 88 counties to see how cooperative governmental entities were at responding to public records requests. The journalists were undercover, pretending to be citizens requesting records that should be available to them. Most of the offices in Bowling Green and Wood County did pretty well at responding, though some initially balked at the requests. Overall, Bowling Green and Wood County offices did much better than many areas of the state. Senate Bill 321 takes public records…


Community engagement secret sauce in moving BG forward

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The city is moving to make progress on many fronts, and two members of council credit citizen involvement with helping set the agenda. Daniel Gordon, who represents Ward 1, and John Zanfardino, who represents Ward 2, both on Bowling Green’s east side, held a meeting for their constituents Monday night at the Wood County Library to discuss the issues facing the city. “BG has some really engaged folks,” Zanfardino said. “That’s incredibly important.” He cited the efforts of the People of Engagement Bowling Green, a project founded last year to bring information to residents and bring those residents into the process. Several members were in attendance. Zanfardino also noted the weekly bike rides that are being held to raise awareness of the need for accommodations for bike rides. Students also have been active picking up trash in the neighborhoods on the south side. Sean Herman, who works with The Common Good, was on hand. “All our efforts are important and are moving the city forward,” Zanfardino said. One issue that has recently gotten a boost, he said, was the need to look at how to revitalize housing, especially on the east side of town. The city has just allocated $90,000 to hire a consultant to advise it on the issue. “The city council has put it in the forefront,” Gordon said. Zanfardino said for the 11 years he was on council the issue was not even acknowledged “until last year.” The effort follows up on the development of the city’s land use plan. It takes “the housing aspect of it and actualizes it,” he said. The public forums on a five-year plan for the parks have ended, Gordon said, but those still wanting to submit ideas should send them to skorr@bgsu.edu. Two issues of particular concern to him are the creation of another park on the southeast end, possibly where a playground exists at the former South Main School, and the further development of the park on the Ridge Street School site. He also said he was concerned about…


East Side asked to be patient with student misbehavior

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side residents may feel like townspeople in “Groundhog Day.” Each year the students may change, but the behavior is strikingly similar – with recurring loud parties, litter and drunken behavior that go with sharing their neighborhoods with college students. But many students, who are fresh to adulthood and life away from home, have no idea what it means to be a good neighbor, according to Rodney Fleming, whose job it is to help educate students about being a positive part of a community. “To everyone at this table, this is not new. You’ve had the same problems for years,” Bowling Green State University Student Legal Services’ Fleming said last week during a meeting of the East Side Neighborhood Association. “But we all have to understand, this is new to these students.” Fleming sympathized with the residents but asked for them to approach student problems with patience and understanding. “Most of them are intelligent, reasonable people,” he said of students. “If you talk to them, they will listen. They’re humans.” One year-round resident revealed her secret to establishing a good relationship with her student neighbors – plates of homemade cookies. Even then, there can be problems, she said, like when her young neighbors mistook her front porch for their own. The next day, the students brought her a potted flower to apologize for the flowers they had destroyed. Fleming applauded that effort, and encouraged cordial communication – especially in light of the current tone of the presidential race. “I think it’s even more important that we all try to be civil. We all have to work together to live together.” Bowling Green council member Bruce Jeffers agreed. “They are young people learning how to be good neighbors.” Fleming is one of three full-time attorneys on the Student Legal Services staff, which is not part of the university, but rather contracts with BGSU. The sole clientele of the office are students, who pay $9 per semester to fund the service. “We like to think of ourselves as the…


Brown Bag Food Project needs help to keep helping those in need

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Brown Bag Food Project had a successful first year by the only measure that matters: 782 people fed, 104 of those in the month of April alone. The grassroots food effort has been so successful, it’s now finding itself short of resources to help those in need. This summer as it marks its first year of existence it has its work cut out for it. Still the founder Amy Jo Holland and the project’s board members are optimistic they will find a way to continue the work she started. The Brown Bag Food project helps meet the immediate needs of folks who find themselves in hard times. The project can offer four to five days’ worth of food, and does so without income checks or referrals. And that food includes fresh dairy, meat and vegetables not usually found at food pantries. The project also can provide toiletries, personal hygiene products and diapers that Food Stamps won’t cover. And the project can arrange the delivery of these items during off hours when convenient for people who are working. Project volunteers try to help their clientele find more permanent assistance. “We try to be a guide not just temporary help,” said board member Amy Jeffers. All this is done “no questions asked,” said board member Nathan Eberly. Holland started the effort a couple years ago. She works at WalMart and discovered that some of her co-workers were going several days without eating. So she started helping them out. The effort grew. For a while the project helped people in Toledo as well, but that “overwhelmed” the fledgling effort, Eberly said. So the Brown Bag Project concentrated on Wood County. There’s enough need close to home. In Wood County 13.7 percent of residents experience food insecurity – they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In some families adults will skip meals so the kids can eat, Jeffers said. Eberly said he knew Holland from other social activism and decided to help her with accounting and money management. They…


Some high school students take a pass on free lunch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Teenagers from poor families in Bowling Green are apparently not taking advantage of the free and reduced priced lunches they are eligible for. School Superintendent Francis Scruci said at a forum for residents of Wards 1 and 2, that while about 30 percent of students in the district are eligible for free and reduced lunches, the number that actually apply at the high school “drops dramatically.” The numbers start to go down in middle school and the decline continues as students get older. Those students, Scruci said, don’t want to be identified as poor. That they don’t get the food they may need because of that is “sad.” The district has done everything it could to make sure those students cannot be identified at the lunch line. Yet a suspicion persists “that everyone’s looking at them and everyone knows.” The percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunches varies by elementary school with about 40 percent of Crim students eligible, 30 percent Kenwood and 20 percent at Conneaut. For some students, the breakfast and lunches they eat at school are the main meals they get, Scruci said. He said that many times people who rely on public assistance programs will move to Bowling Green because of the proximity of social service agencies. Scruci was at the meeting to discuss the building prospects for the district’s facilities plan. The district has: two aging elementary schools, and one, Crim, that was recently renovated; a high school that needs extensive work; and a new middle school. District officials plan to take up to 18 months to work with residents to decide how the community wants to proceed. He said he will not put a plan on the ballot that’s cooked up by administrators and school board. “If the community wants to do nothing, we’ll do nothing,” he said. If the community wants to build a new high school or central elementary school, then that’s the direction the district will take. Or if residents express support for renovations then that will be the…