Applebee’s pulls zoning variance request in BG

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

Glass mosaic would add sparkle & shade to Community Center lobby

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Gail Christofferson’s community mosaics are made from thousands of bits of glass, and by thousands of hours of work by hundreds of community members. Some will trim and sort thumbnail-size bits of glass. Some will glue those down in preordained patterns. And some to create those designs. When all is done, Christofferson hopes to have as many as 50 20-inch-by-20-inch glass mosaic panels. Those panels will provide an artistic solution to a problem at the Bowling Green Community Center’s lobby. Now, explains Kristen Otley, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, at certain times of day in certain seasons, the staff members working at the main desk are blinded by the sunshine.  That makes it difficult for those trying to serve the public during those times. Right now there are shades up. But Otley envisioned something else. She knew Christofferson from the workshops the artist has presented for Parks and Recreation. In 2011 and 2012 Christofferson facilitated the creation of a mural at the new Otsego Elementary school. Since then she’s turned to glass work full time and worked on about more 10 mosaic projects, as well as smaller work notably her mosaic guitars. Otley said they talked about it for a couple years. It always came down to where the money would come from. They decided to team up with the Kiwanis Club, and working with Alisha Nenadovich, they requested funds from the Bowling Green Community Foundation. It’s the kind of project the foundation likes, Otley said. Something that involves the whole community. The mosaic project was awarded a $5,000 grant. That’s enough for 20 panels, Christofferson said. “Visually my ideal is 50 squares.” She hopes to find donors to sponsor a square or two or several. The price is for $250 a single square with the price per square declining to five squares for $1,000. She plans to send out a fundraising appeal in the fall. After the summer, she’ll be able further gauge how far along the project is. Those sponsoring the panels, can design them, subject to approval of Otley and the artist. (Logos are not permitted.) They can also help put them together. The assembly is a community endeavor. That part of the project was kicked off at Art in the Park in June. The design began earlier. Christofferson worked with high school art students to design…

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

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

Community invited to discuss school buildings

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

BG asked to be patient on green space decision

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

Parking to be restricted in City Lot 2 for repaving

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

Charters Gavarone interested in state rep seat

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

Registration for inaugural Optimal Aging Community Fair underway

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

BG Council balks at setting tough trash bin rules

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

County cool to solar field request for tax break – commissioners want more information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The prospect of Bowling Green having the largest solar field in Ohio appeals to county officials – but they don’t like to be kept in the dark about tax abatement details. So on Tuesday, company officials involved in building and operating the solar field northeast of the city were asked to explain their request for a 30-year tax break for the $43 million project. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw noted the confusion on the part of NextEra Energy officials about needing to outline their request. But she explained that the commissioners have a policy of meeting in person with any company that wants tax breaks. “We certainly feel it’s something we need to know as much as we can about,” Herringshaw explained to representatives of NextEra Energy and AMP Ohio. The tax abatement request for the solar field is unlike those that normally come before the commissioners. First, the amount is massive, giving a tax break of $10 million over just the first 15 years. Second, the duration is proposed at 30 years, compared to the customary 10 to 15 years. Third, there is no ongoing employment, which is the basis for most tax breaks. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from July 18 to Dec. 31. And 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – but there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Fourth, regular tax abatements require that school districts be “made whole” by the business getting the tax break, but this agreement does not. The company will pay some money to local taxing authorities “in lieu of” the tax breaks, but not the entire amount. One other concern is that the solar array will be built using panels from Hanwha – not Wood County’s First Solar company.  Jared Haines, of NextEra Energy, said his company has an ongoing relationship with Hanwha, which produces solar panels that have a “less toxic influence” when they are removed at the end of their usefulness. But Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said he believes First Solar handles the disposal of its products. LaHote asked the NextEra Energy representatives what would happen if the commissioners don’t approve the tax abatement. Janet Ward replied that the cost of the project would go up for Bowling Green. Haines said a rejection could potentially cause the…

BG Main Street to close July 9 for car show

In conjunction with the Annual Classics on Main Auto Show, certain street closings and parking restrictions will be imposed in the downtown on Saturday, July 9. Main Street, between Clay and Pearl, will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at 5 a.m. on Saturday. While Main Street is closed, no through traffic will be permitted on Washington, Clough, Court, and Oak streets. However, Wooster Street will remain open for east and westbound traffic throughout the day. During the closure, detour routes for local and truck traffic will be posted. All on-street parking will be prohibited in the closure area. Additionally, on-street parking will not be allowed on Clay Street from Main to North Grove Street. City Parking Lot 6, located to the north of the Senior Center, will be closed during the event. All streets will reopen, and on-street parking will be reinstated, as soon as possible following the event completion. The Classics on Main event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

County senior center expenses getting old for BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building used to house senior citizens services in Bowling Green is a senior itself. And like anything elderly, the 102-year-old structure is showing its age and facing some costly repairs to keep it functioning. Earlier this year during a city strategic planning meeting, it was noted that major structural repairs are needed at the Wood County Senior Center, which the city leases to the Wood County Committee on Aging for $1 a year. But while the rent is cheap, the repairs are not. Many city officials were not aware of any contract holding the city responsible for repairs, but learned the city had always just done the work. However, the long-standing lease agreement for the senior center does state the city is responsible for “major maintenance requirements,” including repairs to the roof, boiler, furnace and electric system. The agreement holds the Wood County Committee on Aging responsible for “minor building repairs,” such as general maintenance and upkeep including interior painting. So city officials are looking for someone to share the costs of the senior center, which started out as a post office in 1914 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. And the most natural place to look for help is Wood County, since the senior center serves residents of the entire county not just Bowling Green. “We would like to have a discussion with the county commissioners,” said Bowling Green City Council President Mike Aspacher. “We would like to have that discussion to figure out if we can work together to do what the building needs.” However the Committee on Aging’s six satellite sites in North Baltimore, Pemberville, Perrysburg, Rossford, Walbridge and Wayne are also open to any older residents of the county, and rely on community partners, according to Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. None of those communities are objecting to the expense, she said. “We could not do what we do throughout the county without support of the communities,” Niese said. None of the senior sites are owned by the committee and all are supported by the communities in which they are located. Many are housed in churches or municipal buildings, with the committee on aging paying a small user fee. “It works because of partnerships,” Niese said. “They feel it’s supplying a service for the local constituents.” Aspacher said…

Not In Our Town BG to meet Thursday, July 7

Not In Our Town BG will gather for a meeting on Thursday July 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the city council chambers, 304 N. Church St. The group will review its participation in the Bowling Green vigil for Orlando, the reception of a national Town and Gown Association award, and community issues to address in the summer and fall. NIOT-BG is a grassroots community movement encompassing both the BGSU campus and the city of Bowling Green. It gathers to confront prejudice, discrimination and hate behavior in Bowling Green, and to work proactively toward an inclusive and respectful community. The meeting is open to community participation and welcomes new voices.

Assessing the State of a 240-year-old Nation on its birthday

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Between the last blast of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and the first blast of Bowling Green’s fireworks display, BG Independent News roamed through the crowd Sunday night to ask people how they were feeling about the state of the United States during the celebration of its 240th birthday. The responses ranged from upbeat to concerned, from pithy to expansive. Here’s what we heard: Chip Myles, of Bowling Green, disputed the naysayers who paint a negative picture of the state of America on its 240th “I think we’re far better off than people realize. How many people can gather freely throughout the world, like we do?” he said. “Everything we hear is negative. The economy is not what it was, sure, but it’s still good.” Myles did voice one complaint: Philanthropists focus some of their wealth on helping Americans in need. There is no need for people in America to go hungry. “I wish they would help some of our own here, they have so much.” David Hupp, a 1964 BGSU alumnus who lives in Sylvania and returned for Sunday’s fireworks, sees the nation at turning point. “I think we’re at a crossroads. We have two candidates that are running that both have a lot of negatives. One is certainly being supported by special interests. The other one only has his self-interests.” One may need to be pardoned, and the other has no tact, he added. “One may take us to war and that scares me.” The presidential election will be tough, but the nation will remain strong. “This country has survived much worse.” Curtis Bennett, of Kenton, gave the nation a solid “poor” rating and listed off the negatives. “The economy. You don’t make enough money to support your family. The crime rate has gone through the roof. And drugs have taken control,” said Bennett, whose wife has family in Portage. “When we were growing up, it took a community to raise a child.” Now many communities have lost their way. As proof, he said a spectator was stabbed during the fireworks he attended Saturday evening in Indian Lake. But Bennett isn’t giving up on the nation. “There’s always hope,” he said. Sandra DeSteno, of Bowling Green, is anxious as the nation prepares to elect a new president. “It’s a little scary going into the political season. I think we’ve made huge progress in the last couple…