Community

Citizens want Wintergarden Park to stay wild; Simpson to continue gardens

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City residents want Wintergarden Park to stay wild, and Simpson Garden Park to get some more gardens. Overall, both parks are giving residents exactly what they need – places of peace and natural beauty. Citizens came together to talk about the city’s natural parks and programs last week as part of a series of public forums to help with the strategic plan for the parks. The consensus for Wintergarden Park was – leave it alone. “We want to keep it as a nature preserve,” said Martha Mazzarella. And for Simpson Garden Park – manage its growth as the funds become available. Citizens said Wintergarden is ideal for nature observation, multi-generational programs such as nature walks, and has great diversity with a prairie, swamp woods and oak savannah. The strengths at Simpson Garden Park include the diverse gardens, its accessibility to those unable to navigate wooded trails, its link to the hospital so people there can easily seek peace in the park, and its educational value with labeling of plants. Programming isn’t heavy at Simpson, but that’s OK, said Frances Brent. “Just its being is the most important part,” she said, explaining its value as a passive park. Both sites make good use of volunteers, including master gardeners at Simpson. Some citizens wanted to make sure Wintergarden wasn’t changed, while other wanted faster development of Simpson. “Don’t screw it up,” Lee Rockett said about Wintergarden. “We need a natural area.” Rockett questioned the use of pesticides in the park and the removal invasive plants like the black raspberries. “When you affect the flora, you affect the fauna,” he said. Others supported the removal of non-native invasive plant species, and complimented the park department for its efforts. All seemed to agree that no more trails were needed through the woods. Jeffrey Cullen said Simpson Garden Park is a secret to some city residents, since most of it stretches back behind houses, off Wintergarden Road,…


Armed walkers’ aim to get concealed guns on campus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 35 people with firearms expressed their Second Amendment rights Saturday in Bowling Green as they walked across the campus to downtown and back. Their purpose was to have a dialogue with people about allowing concealed carry on campus. But very few people engaged in conversation with those armed with handguns and rifles. The organizer of the walk, Jeffry Smith, from Cincinnati, towered above the group with his white cowboy hat on top of his 6-foot nine-inch frame. He calmly instructed the group on safety measures – keep long gun muzzles under control, keep chambers empty and safeties on  – and explained the purpose for the walk. “We want to advocate for concealed carry on campuses and spur conversations on gun rights,” Smith said. He has organized similar walks at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Akron University, and plans one soon at Miami University. “Right now students don’t have a legal choice to carry on campus,” he said. “People ought to have that choice.” But not everyone on campus believes concealed carrying of guns will make it more safe. “I’m here to protest people who I believe are coming to intimidate this community by carrying guns,” said faculty member Richard Anderson, who stood by quietly holding a sign reading, “Remember Trayvon.” “I don’t feel comfortable with people carrying guns on campus on a routine basis,” unless they are law enforcement, Anderson said. Some of the armed walkers tried to engage Anderson in conversation. “I’d be happy to dialogue with them if they came back without guns,” he said. None did. Armed walkers said they attended to protect their rights. “I just want to promote awareness and support the Second Amendment,” said Phil Hodges, of Toledo, who was armed with a WWII handgun and an AR-15. Chris Chapin, of Fostoria, was wearing his Glock 9mm as he carried his 2-year-old son and pulled his 5-year-old son in a wagon. “I’m here…


Mills Jewelry closing shop after 69 years

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Saturday afternoon was like many others at Mills Jewelry on 192 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Someone stopped in to pick up earrings from her grandmother that had the posts reattached. Another woman picked up a necklace that had been repaired and was looking at rings. Another customer needed a battery for an older watch. And David Mills and his sister Diane Mills Haslinger were there to help them just as members of the Mills family have been for the past 69 years. On May 7, though, Mills and Haslinger will close up shop. A chapter of Bowling Green retail history will close. While the siblings agree they’re ready to take a break from the day-to-day grind of running the shop every day except Sundays and holidays. Haslinger said she’s looking forward to traveling and visiting grandchildren. Still she admits some mixed feelings. She raised her children here, she said. “It’s bittersweet.” As of Monday, the store will offer customers a last chance at the merchandise at sale prices for up to 50 percent off. The Mills family got into the jewelry business before World War II. Glee Mills learned watch repair working at Norm Crosby Jewelry in downtown Bowling Green in a storefront now occupied by the Busy Thimble. Glee Mills went off to serve in the Navy during the war and when he returned to Bowling Green he got back into watch repairs, working out of his home. When Norm Crosby decided to sell the business to move to California, Glee Mills and his mother, Clara, bought the jewelry store. In 1952 the jewelry store moved to 188 S. Main Street and became Mills Jewelry. It operated there until the 1970s when it moved a few doors south into the current location in the mini-mall built by Doug Valentine. Both David Mills and Haslinger went to work for the business in the 1970s. She had worked for Huntington Bank, and he’d come…


Mosquitoes with Zika virus not in Wood County…but health district will monitor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Northwest Ohio’s less than ideal weather may be its saving grace when it comes to the Zika virus. The shaded areas on a U.S. map showing states with the mosquito species carrying the Zika virus come very close to Wood County. The latest Centers for Disease Control maps don’t show the Zika carriers this far north. “I don’t think Northwest Ohio has enough heat,” said Connor Rittwage, epidemiologist with the Wood County Health District. The Zika virus 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. However, cases have been reported in travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected countries – including nine cases in Ohio. “There is no risk for Wood County residents just by being in Wood County,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. That means local residents can go about their normal summer activities without undue worry, Batey said. “People shouldn’t be concerned about limiting their summer activities,” he said. However, if traveling to affected areas, local residents should do some research first. “I’ve gotten questions from people planning their honeymoons,” Batey said. Those couples who may want to have children soon, might want to not visit areas where Zika is common. “I’d look at what country and what the risks are.” The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that the Zika virus is much more concerning than initially believed. It is the first time a mosquito bite can 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. A majority of the adults who get Zika virus will not experience symptoms. “A lot will get it and never know it,” Batey said. But in some adults, the virus has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a…


Art Walk set for downtown Bowling Green

Downtown Bowling Green and the Bowling Green Arts Council will present the 24th annual Art Walk, a celebration of the arts in the community, on Saturday, April 23. This free event showcases art from artists of all ages and disciplines including the visual and performing arts and also features art-related activities for children. The galleries throughout downtown are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Demonstrations, activities and performances continue throughout the day. As part of the event, The Busy Thimble is hosting its third annual quilt exhibit featuring the Black Swamp Quilter’s Guild on Art Walk day, with some of the best examples of the quilters’ art at The Four Corners Center, 130 S. Main St. The exhibit will feature dozens of beautiful handmade quilts of varying sizes from small baby quilts to large bed sized quilts and wall hangings. Guild members will be working on new creations and doing appliqué, hand quilting, and machine piecing demonstrations throughout the day. The Downtown Foundation is raising funds to beautify Downtown Bowling Green with hundreds of beautiful blooming plants for the community at the Fashion Food & Fine Art Luncheon at Sam B’s. The fashion show and luncheon will be held on April 23rd at noon during the Art Walk. Attendees may choose from a menu of chicken salad or vegetarian lasagna. During lunch models will showcase spring fashions in clothing, accessories, and more provided by Ginny’s Inspired Fashions, Coyote Beads, Farm Girl’s Boutique and For Keeps. Tickets are $20 and are available now at Ginny’s Inspired Fashions, Coyote Beads, Farm Girls Vintage Boutique, Bliss Salon and Spa, Grounds For Thought, and at the Downtown Bowling Green and Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce in The Four Corners Center. The After Party and Awards Ceremony will be hosted at The Four Corners Center. The party is from 6-8pm and will feature music by some favorite local groups.


“Getting Sara Married” tells of match made in mayhem

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “Getting Sara Married” has just about everything you’d want in a romantic comedy: two reluctant suitors, a meddling aunt, a bout of amnesia and some serious food allergies. All those get comically twisted into a plot that not surprisingly ends up with the male ready to move his recliner into the female’s apartment. The fun is in the way the characters are manipulated in ways unlikely and comic into reaching that conclusion. The Black Swamp Players’ production of “Getting Sara Married,” written by Sam Bobrick and directed by Willard Misfeldt, a 40-year community  theater veteran, opens tonight at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The show continues Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and April 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and April 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or from Grounds for Thought or online at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/tickets/. Having a well-meaning, interfering aunt always benefits such a plot. In this case Aunt Martha (Fran Weith) fills the bill nicely. At once ditsy and single-minded, she’s concerned that her 30-something lawyer niece will “walk that long road of life alone.” “Left to your own devices,” she tells her niece in one of their hilarious telephone chats, “I’m afraid you’ll end up an old maid. By your age I had been married twice.” Isn’t that embezzler that Sara is representing single? But the niece, the Sara (Caris Cloyd) of the title, professes no interest in matrimony. She’s more concerned with preparing the defense for the embezzler. “Marriage,” Sara says at one point, “is not the way to happiness. Actually divorce usually does the job a lot better.” So Aunt Martha resorts to extraordinary, and illicit methods, to hook her niece up with financial advisor  Brandon Cates (played by Joshua Cloyd, Caris Cloyd’s husband). So, much to Sara’s dismay, an unconscious Brandon is delivered to her apartment by Noogie Malloy (Leroy Morgan), as…


County trying to keep up with bridge repairs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes an awful lot of bridges to crisscross the drained Great Black Swamp’s ditches and creeks – 441 bridges to be exact. And it takes an awful lot of money to keep those bridges in good repair. So once again Tuesday, officials from the Wood County Engineer’s Office came to the county commissioners to seek funding for bridge design. Since the county began receiving casino tax revenue, the commissioners have dedicated those funds to bridge design. Last year, $615,997 was put toward design costs. The actual bridge construction is then funded by the engineer’s office. Even with that, it’s difficult to keep up with repairs, according to Joan Cherry, of the engineer’s office. All bridges in the county are inspected annually and then appraised on a scale of 0 (failed) to 9 (excellent), she explained. Last year’s inspections found one bridge in failed condition; 4 critical; 15 serious; 52 poor; 45 fair; 78 satisfactory; 110 good; 88 very good; and 48 excellent. “I would love for all of them to be a 4 or higher,” Cherry said. The rankings continue to slip as the years pass. Once they hit the “serious” 3 ranking, “they start to go on the replacement list.” Construction costs also continue to rise each year, with a small box culvert bridge costing about $150,000. The average bridge costs $350,000 to replace, while the larger structures can cost close to $1 million, Cherry reported. With the minimum lifespan for a bridge being 50 years, and more than 70 bridges currently ranked at “poor or worse,” Commissioner Craig LaHote asked if the county needs to plan accordingly. “Should we be anticipating we will have to fund this at a higher level in coming years?” That’s hard to determine, Cherry said. “Some years you may only get a handful that drop down” in the ratings. Top on the list of structures needing replacement are the following bridges. The estimated cost…


BG community calendar, map, app available

Community calendar, interactive map and app for everyone! Have you ever tried to pick a date for an event without having to peruse multiple calendars?  Do you want a place to post weekly specials for your business?  Are you listed on an interactive map to help your customers get to your location?  The Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau saw the need for all the above and through partnerships we are officially launching GoBGOhio.com for both visitors and our community. GoBGOHIO.com is a one-stop website for community events and business information to highlight what your business has to offer!  With one calendar for everyone, it will be much easier to learn about what is happening without having to navigate many other calendars when planning your next outing or your event.  This calendar, interactive map and downloadable app will help visitors and our community find your exact location and the particulars on an offer or event!  The app is available on both I-Phone and Android and is currently available in the app stores. Businesses and organizations are invited to add their events for free or for photos & links to your event or business join us at the $100 level intro offer good through 2017.  Any business in BG is eligible to participate from retail, restaurants, attractions, churches, banks, doctor offices, insurance companies, clubs, organizations you name it you can participate.   You can post deals on the calendar, add your business listing, add promotional articles to the newsroom and so much more!  After the $100 level intro offer expires, it will only be $100 per year to be a part of this great community effort and the whole community and beyond will have access to your organization’s information. The site was created by Agile Oasis and along with the bureau; the following partners participated in the GoBGOhio program.  Those founding  partners are BG City Schools, City of BG, BG Chamber of Commerce, BG Economic Development Office, BG Convention & Visitors Bureau,…


Oil drilling not thrilling to county park district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An oil and gas exploration business failed to return to the Wood County Park District board meeting Tuesday to follow up on its pitch to test in parkland. The park commissioners did not seem disappointed, and had no intention of inviting the company back. “To be honest, it’s not going to change my mind,” said park commissioner Denny Parish. Sean Haas, of Reserve Energy Exploration, in Chagrin Falls, asked the county park commissioners last month for permission to do testing in Baldwin Woods. He said he would return with a more detailed presentation this week, but canceled. The company was interested in doing seismic testing for oil and gas in the 124-acre preserve, off Euler Road near Weston.  The preserve is a mix of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. Seismic testing is a process where an image of the subsurface is created. That data is then used to locate the most optimum place to drill for gas or oil. Haas explained the seismic testing does not use explosives, but rather shakes the ground to discover gas or oil. During last month’s board meeting, Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger expressed concerns about any type of testing. He referred to Baldwin Woods as a “sensitive natural area.” “It’s not something I would encourage or something I would support,” Munger said. “I would not recommend it.” Haas countered that process is “non-invasive” and should be thought of as “scientific research” that could be of benefit to the community. “It shakes the ground,” he said of the testing. “It doesn’t create any tremors or earthquakes.” However, a park district employee asked Haas last month if he was aware of a recent report by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that states seismic testing is harmful to fish and wildlife. Haas said he was unaware of the report. If approached again by the energy company, the park board will allow a representative of the firm to…


Kids calm during house fire thanks to safety training

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When lightning struck, setting fire to a home south of Bowling Green in the middle of the night last month, the parents expected their three young children to panic. “I was expecting to have three crazy, screaming, hysterical children,” said Melanie Yarger, of Rudolph. But instead, Hannah, 9, Nicholas, 8, and Natalie, 6, knew exactly what to do. “The kids were so calm,” Yarger said. So their mom wrote a letter thanking those who taught her children how to respond – Bowling Green Fire Department. “Through their visits when Hannah was in kindergarten, we developed our home fire plan (several years ago) and always talked about the ‘safe spot’ and what to do,” she wrote to the department and specifically to Lt. Mike Leestma who heads the school visits. The lightning struck the home of Curt and Melanie Yarger on March 28 at 12:15 a.m. They know the exact time because the blow knocked the clock off their mantle. “It was quite a loud boom,” Melanie Yarger said. Immediately, the smoke detectors started going off. “It was quite a shock,” she said. Her husband ran to see if the smoke alarms were going off just because of the lightning strike. “He flew down the steps,” but quickly released that it wasn’t a malfunction since the house was filling with smoke. “I grabbed the dog and the kids met me in the hall,” with Hannah holding her siblings’ hands, Yarger said. “They were automatic. They said, ‘we have to go to the safe spot, and call the fire department.’ They had the whole thing down. They were so calm in the chaos.” Yarger credits the annual visits by the fire department to St. Aloysius School, where their children attend. When their oldest, Hannah, was in kindergarten, she came home talking about the visits and carrying the fire safety coloring book. “It made my husband and I think about it,” Yarger said. The lesson…


Pinwheels a reminder of 718 cases of child abuse last year in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the giggling preschoolers planted the field of spinning pinwheels in Bowling Green Wednesday morning, they were standing up for less fortunate children. “We told them they are going to be planting these pinwheels to help boys and girls who have had bad or sad things happen to them,” said Susie Dunn, of Dunn’s Kiddie Kare, who brought 24 children to help at this year’s Pinwheels for Prevention project. Each of the 718 pinwheels represents an investigated case of child abuse or neglect in Wood County last year, according to Sandi Carsey, director of Children’s Services. The purpose of the annual event is to remind people to not sit by quietly as abuse occurs. “We want to raise awareness for child abuse – to get people to make reports when they see something,” Carsey said. The 718 case count last year is just two over the number from 2014. But Carsey noted that the reports of abuse or neglect have increased greatly early this year, with 89 in February and 80 in March, compared to the average of 60 to 70 a month. Carsey also said that more cases continue to be seen with parents addicted to opiates. As Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson helped the children plant the pinwheels, he talked about the serious side of the event. “We want people to pay more attention to concerns about child abuse, and to learn to report it,” he said. Dobson echoed the concerns about opiate addictions having an impact, saying an analysis of criminal cases in Wood County during 2015 showed that 22 percent involved opiates in some way. Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Job and Family Services, said the numbers of child abuse cases here have remained pretty stable, rather than increasing as expected. That means, he added, “they are also not going down.” That is the goal of the annual pinwheel project. “We are trying to keep the…


Cocoon in line for $800,000 to help care for domestic and sexual abuse victims

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Cocoon, which serves local victims of domestic and sexual abuse, is in line to get $800,000 in the state’s Capital Budget. “It’s pretty amazing,” said Michelle Clossick, executive director of the agency that serves all of Wood County, responding to emergencies 24 hours a day. Last year alone, the Cocoon had more than 6,000 requests for services, she said. The $800,000 will help the agency meet those needs by helping to double the number of its emergency shelter beds to 24 at the yet-to-be completed facility at 200 Campbell Hill Road. The funding will also help with the renovation of the site to make it a fully accessible comprehensive advocacy center for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. According to Clossick, the goal is to have shared community space in the center, “where everyone can come together.” There is not room for that in the existing shelter. The plan also calls for spaces for children to play inside and outside the facility. The new Cocoon facility, including the emergency shelter space, should be open by May 2017. Clossick explained that the program, formerly called the Cocoon Shelter, is now going by the name of Cocoon. “We’ve expanded our mission so we are now doing more comprehensive services.” When the first Cocoon shelter opened in Bowling Green 11 years ago, there was one paid staff person. That number has grown to 25 staff now to meet the needs, Clossick said. Clossick thanked State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Tim Brown, both R-Bowling Green, for pushing for the state funding. “This was a very hard fought battle this year,” she said. “This is one of the largest funded community projects that’s ever happened in Wood County.” “They chose to invest in this project because they saw a need,” Clossick said. Gardner echoed those comments in a press release on the funding. “New support for the Cocoon Shelter became one of our area’s…


Refugees test Germany’s services and goodwill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across Germany, more than 1 million refugees are packed into school gyms, old military bases, unrented apartments and tents. The influx of the migrants has divided the nation. But where some people see a crisis, Christian Schlegel sees a challenge. Schlegel, who works for a news and documentary channel in Germany and is in the U.S. as part of a journalism exchange program, talked to Bowling Green State University students and faculty Tuesday about the refugees who flooded his country in the last months. Countries like Germany and Sweden were a natural choice for the refugees, some fleeing war and famine, and other trying to escape extreme poverty. “I think they thought we were a relatively rich country,” with good social services, Schlegel said. But the influx of 1.1 million migrants in the nation of 80 million tested the social services and the good will of some Germans. “Germany was unprepared,” Schlegel said, explaining that in 2003, just 127,000 applied for asylum in his country. Processing of the latest refugees has moved slowly. “Refugees have to wait for appointments for several months.” Meanwhile, some Germans have remained welcoming to the migrants, but others fear it will ruin their culture and security. Those feelings were magnified after the mass assaults reportedly committed by Muslim migrants on New Year’s Eve in the cities of Cologne and Hamburg. Those attacks “mostly served right wing political parties,” Schlegel said. The welcome mat that had been cautiously extended, was pulled back. The New Year’s Eve attacks fed the “hysteria,” though Schlegel pointed out that far more people die in auto accidents a year than from terrorism. Schlegel estimated that those vehemently opposed to the refugees – especially Muslims – measure between 10 and 20 percent of Germany. Initially, some clung to the traditional “Dublin Rule,” which states that the European member country where a refugee first hits ground is responsible for that person. “It’s not our problem,”…


‘Open carry’ walk planned in BG Saturday

An “Open Carry/Firearms Education Walk” is planned for Saturday in Bowling Green. Organizers, who have coordinated such walks on other college campuses in Ohio, will be walking with their firearms from the Bowling Green State University to the downtown area, then back. They plan to eat lunch while downtown. The walk will start at Lot K on the campus at 1 p.m. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said Ohio law allows open carry of firearms in most locations. “It’s completely legal, as long as the person is not barred from possessing a firearm,” he said. Police officers will be made aware, but will not monitor the event. “They are merely walking with an unconcealed firearm. That’s not illegal in any way, shape or form,” Hetrick said. BGSU Police Chief Monica Moll said the organizer Jeffry Smith contacted her though not required to do so. In an email, she said: “He has previously conducted similar walks at the University of Akron, the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University.  I have talked to members of the police department at each of those institutions and they said they did not have any safety concerns or problems during Mr. Smith’s event.  Based on that information, I do not have any major concerns about the event at this time, but we will have some of the BGSU police officers who are working at that time maintain a presence in the vicinity of the walk.” No number estimate for those participating was given to city police. Hetrick said similar walks with open carry firearms have been held in the city without incident. “There were no problems,” he said.


Smith reaches for the stars at planetarium

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the stars filled the domed sky and the cardboard rocket took off into space, one of the students quietly slid over to sit in her teacher’s lap. “This was so real, one little girl thought the dome took off,” teacher Nancy Frankart said after the planetarium show was over and the lights came on. “She thought we were traveling to space.” That is music to Dale Smith’s ears. Smith has been director at the Bowling Green State University Planetarium since it opened in 1983. “I came with it. That makes me the best director they’ve ever had and the worst director they’ve ever had,” he said, smiling. Smith started focusing on the stars as a child in upstate New York. “In third grade, a friend lent me a book about planets, and I was hooked,” he said. “A lot of astronomers have similar stories. Something grabbed ahold of us.” For some, like Smith, it’s not enough to look skyward themselves. They want others to enjoy the view as well. “Something inspired us and we want to share our love of the universe with audiences.” And that’s exactly what Smith does as he turns off the lights, asks the children to put on their imaginary seatbelts, lean back in the planetarium chairs and travel through space. Last week, he took first through third graders from St. Wendelin Catholic School in Fostoria on a ride in the “Secret of the Cardboard Rocket.” This particular show tells of siblings who build a spaceship out of cardboard and spend the night in it in their backyard. The rocket blasts off in the night, taking the pair to every planet in this solar system. The students’ eyes were glued to the dome ceiling for the 40-minute trip to Pluto and back. The shows get routine for Smith, but the children’s questions after the show continue to thrill him. “Once the first one asks, the ice is…