Black Swamp Players bring the marvelous world of Seuss to life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic world of Dr. Seuss tells of many amazing feats and fanciful places. Is any of that as wondrous as the Black Swamp Players managing to fit his fantastical world onto the small stage at the First United Methodist Church? That stage is bursting with color, melody and dance as the Players, in collaboration with Horizon Youth Theatre, present “Seussical the Musical” Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. returning Feb. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in the church at 1526 E. Wooster St. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and seniors from Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green or online at The show, by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, shapes a plot around several famous Seuss tales. As fun as it would be, this is not The Complete Works of Dr. Seuss (Abridged). Instead with The Cat in the Hat (Jeff Guion) as the Lord of Misrule, the script focuses on the adventures of JoJo (Maddox Brosius), a thoughtful kid from Who, the smallest planet in the sky, and the dutiful elephant Horton, who discovers Who on a puff ball. Among the three they tap into the key themes of the world of Seuss. Each is his own person at odds with society. The Cat in the Hat celebrates a sense of playful anarchy, and encourages JoJo, a boy whose great fault is he thinks too much, to be true to himself even if it means trouble for others. Horton is thoughtful in another way. Deeply empathetic, he cares for that world of people no other creatures can hear. He’s faithful despite the derision and bullying of most of the other residents of the Jungle of Nool. “A person’s a person no matter how small,” he declares. His only supporter, though he doesn’t notice, is Gertrude McFuzz (Sarah Buchanan). She’s a bird with a single tail feather, who wants more luxurious plumage. Her tale is another one about accepting oneself. This mashup approach works well and serves to put characters barely glimpsed in the books in the spotlight. JoJo’s parents are Mr. Mayor (Nathaniel Naugle) and Mrs. Mayor (Cassie Greenlee). They dote on their son, but also worry that his “thinking” so often gets him into trouble. So they send him off to a military school run by General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Matthew Johnston) and he ends up fighting the Butter Wars that pit those who butter their bread on opposite sides of the slice against each other. That tale shows Seuss creator Theodor Seuss Geisel’s anti-war passion. Mayzie LaBird (Allanah Lucas Reisling) plays a major role as the vain mother who entrusts, through deceit, Horton with her egg. Poor Horton now must care for the egg and the mote of dust on which Who resides. “An elephant is faithful 100 percent,” he says. Logsdon’s Horton is a very sweet character, yet one unmovable even in the face of taunting and isolation. He bears all manner of abuse with dignity. His melancholy rendition of “Alone in the Universe” marks the second act’s turn toward more emotionally touching territory. Not that anything can dampen the spirits of the Cat in the Hat, who is ever the mischief…

BGHS grad Clayton Krueger helped bring ‘Mercy Street’ to TV

Viewers of the PBS Civil War drama “Mercy Street” have been primed for an explosive finale to the limited series. Rebels are planning an attack on President and Mrs. Lincoln when they visit the hospital at the center of the action. The climax to the series will play out Sunday at 10 p.m. on WBGU. Another cliffhanger awaits: Will “Mercy Street” be back for a second run? Among those awaiting final word is Clayton Krueger, a 1999 Bowling Green High School graduate, who is a senior vice president for television at Scott-Free Productions, which worked developing the series for PBS. In a recent telephone interview he said the company was working on scripts for a second season pending the go ahead from top brass at PBS. The production of “Mercy Street” broke from PBS pattern of importing its drama series from BBC in England. And, he said, more may be on the way. The Civil War potboiler didn’t start as a drama series. The creator Lisa Wolfinger was planning a documentary series about medicine during the Civil War, and she brought in writer David Zabel to help with the scripting. Over the course of development the idea of a fictional series emerged. They sought out Scott Free, owned by blockbuster producer Ridley Scott, “to lend some oversight to the production,” Krueger said. They met with Zabel and developed scripts. “PBS incredibly supportive,” Krueger said. “They know their audience so well.” While some networks “can get really prescriptive… PBS never took that approach.” The episodes were filmed on location in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. Using two directors, each in charge of three episodes, the production had an aggressive production schedule, filming as many as nine pages of script a day. In a feature film, typically two pages are done a day. “We were on schedule of a network crime procedural trying to execute a period drama,” said Krueger, who is co-executive producer. This was made possible because of Scott’s philosophy of hiring the best people and letting them work. “It’s not a schedule that could have been accomplished if there was a single bad apple on either the crew or cast,” Krueger said. “Everyone was so game. Everyone was so dialed in. It was an incredibly drama-free production, behind the camera.” After shooting, the editing was done in Scott Free headquarters, where Scott has installed editing bays. ”We’re very hands-on in editing and post-production.” That philosophy of choosing the right people, and then letting them work, applies to finding new programs. “We’re very much focused on talent,” he said. “We’re all about being in business with writers and directors and supporting what they’re passionate about.” Television has never offered so many outlets for quality programming. From “The Good Wife” on CBS to “The Man in the High Castle” for Amazon, Scott Free is heavily invested in television. ”In the wake of these larger shows like ‘Game of Thrones,’ anything is possible on television now.” Krueger said his next big project, “Sensory” by Zabel, writer for “Mercy Street,” begins filming in March in Pittsburgh. Growing up the son of photographer Louis Krueger and fabric artist Susan Krueger “find some form of artistic expression was expected .” For him it was film and music videos. Krueger attended Ohio University as a film student. Television…

BG gets school facilities report – now citizens get to weigh in

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The state has weighed in on Bowling Green City School buildings – now it’s time for local citizens to do the same. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci just received the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s report at 9:30 this morning, so he hadn’t had time to fully digest its contents. However, it was already very clear to him that Bowling Green residents have some decisions to make. To start that process, the first of several community focus groups will meet March 14 at 6:30 p.m., in the middle school library. Scruci plans to roll out the facilities report and ask citizens how they would like to solve building issues identified in the report. “We need to have a conversation with our community to find out what they want and what they will support,” he said. Scruci estimated the public input process would take about a year. At that point, if the public supports it, the district may proceed with a bond issue to finance some type of construction. “I don’t want to be reckless and put something on our ballot,” if the community doesn’t want it, he said. The options are numerous and involve maintaining buildings as they are, renovating or building new. But in the meantime, the school district cannot wait to deal with overcrowding issues at Conneaut Elementary. The school is already at capacity and anticipating a larger kindergarten class due to a change in the eligibility dates for beginning students. “We are out of space,” Scruci said. So the district plans to lease a modular unit for its fifth grade classrooms starting this fall. The unit will be placed off the cafeteria area of the school. “It’s a temporary solution,” he said. The facilities report from the state identified Conneaut as the building with the greatest needs, recommending that it may be more cost effective to demolish it and build new, rather than renovate, Scruci said. The report estimated it would cost $10 million to renovate the building, as opposed to $13 million to build new. To rate school buildings, the OFCC scores 22 structural and technological criteria. The renovation and replacement costs are then based on meeting those standards. The facilities report estimates it would cost $25 million to renovate the high school, and between $38-$40 million to replace it. Scruci said it probably would not be worth it for the district to co-fund construction projects with the state. Based on a formula using local property values, the district would get only 10 to 14 cents per $1 for construction costs. “On paper we look different than what we actually are,” Scruci said, listing the farmland value and college student population as items that skew the numbers. If the district were to accept the state funding, it would be constrained by state rules. “It probably isn’t worth playing by their rules. You lose the local control,” he said. “I can tell you, my recommendation to the board isn’t going to be to enter into that.” The report also predicts an increase in district enrollment by 150 to 175 students in the next 10 years. Scruci estimates that number to be even greater. “I can see our populations growing a little more than what they are projecting,” he said. Next…

Nightlife ain’t no life without Corner Grill; Howard’s show to benefit displaced workers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Saturday’s benefit for employees of the Corner Grill should help out Patrick McDermott’s finances. He’s been out of work since an early morning fire destroyed the interior of the landmark Bowling Green eatery on Feb. 1. Still for him the show, which will run from 1 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday, at Howard’s Club H at 210 N. Main St., is about more than money. He’s looking forward to seeing his old customers. McDermott worked the third shift, so he cooked for folks who just got off late night shifts at bars and other restaurants and he cooked for folks just heading to their jobs. “I’d like to reconnect, hang out with them for the day.” Nikki Cordy, a long time employee at Howard’s, said the idea for the benefit got started while the interior of the diner was still smoldering. So she set out to book 12 hours of music. After five hours, the bill was filled. A few acts had to be turned away. Among those performing will be Circle the Sun, Harlow, The Casket Company, Birthquake, Fathom City, Scare Me Green, Adam Rice, Justin Payne, Ginger and the Snaps, Mike Dubose, Tom Vasey, and the Defenders. There will be a $5 cover charge. Cordy said she had “a soft spot in her heart” for the Grill. Sometimes Larry Cain, who owns the Corner Grill, would bring over food when he knew the Howards crew hadn’t had a chance to take a break. The Grill always was able to accommodate her gluten-free diet required by her celiac disease. “It’s about family,” she said. After closing time, the Howard’s staff and other night shift workers to unwind, have breakfast and a cup a tea, after a long night’s work. The workers included musicians. Singer-songwriter Justin Payne, who will play at the benefit, said he “haunted the place for so long.” That included working there. The benefit is “a special opportunity for many segments of the arts community in BG to rally around a local institution and its employees. “Many of us in town are on a first name basis with the cooks and servers at the Corner Grill. It has been a colorful local institution, since 1946, and its workers have been getting our community through their days in their own wonderful ways over those years.” Cain said he’s hoping to be back open in a couple months. McDermott said the impact has been hard on the 10 employees. Some have been picked up extra hours at their second jobs, or temporary jobs. Some like McDermott, who only worked at the Grill, are out of work. For workers, he said, the job could pay well if they could handle some of the silliness involved at serving revelers still not ready to call it a night. Cordy said that the closing of the Grill leaves a big gap. Now workers just head home, and cook for themselves without the camaraderie. “We’re all in withdrawal.” So early Sunday morning when the last act at the benefit packs up, all the fans, workers and musicians will see on the corner to the south will be the shadow of the darkened neon sign.

BG annexes acreage planned for assisted living facility

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is about to grow by 31 acres, making room for an assisted living facility on the northern edge of the city. City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to accept the annexation request for the acreage at the northeast corner of Haskins and Newton roads, across from the city’s community center. According to the request, submitted by HCF Realty of Bowling Green, the new facility would consolidate existing nursing home buildings at 1021 and 850 West Poe Road. Council tabled the ordinance which would change the zoning for the acreage to I-1 institutional until a public hearing can be held on the request on March 7, at 6:45 p.m. Council member Bruce Jeffers called the proposed facility a “significant development” for the city. He explained how city officials must do a “cost-benefit analysis” prior to voting on any annexation request. In this case, the benefit of the annexation outweighs the expenses associated with the additional acreage, Jeffers said. “The cost benefit analysis is very favorable to us,” he said. “This particular project is nothing but desirable.” The location of the proposed assisted living facility next to the community center makes sense, Jeffers said. “I am happy to support this.” Other council members echoed those feelings, including Bob McOmber who after recent knee replacement surgery spent 11 days in one of the facilities being replaced. The updated facility will be appreciated, he said. HCF officials are promising a “state of the art facility,” council member Sandy Rowland said. “It’s going to be a benefit to the community,” council member Theresa Charters Gavarone said. The current nursing homes on West Poe Road being replaced will be sold if possible. If they cannot be sold, HCF officials have told the city they will tear down the structures rather than let them decay. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, city council: Heard that waterline work is being planned in the area of Manville, Third and Clough streets. Information will be sent to residents affected, according to Brian Craft, public works director. Learned ODOT is erecting a noise barrier along Interstate 75 in the Carter Park area. Learned the Winterfest activities went well this past weekend. “I’m happy to report the sculptures in City Park are still there” but may melt when warmer weather returns this weekend, said Kristin Otley, head of the parks and recreation department. Heard from Otley that the levy committee will have a recommendation ready for the park board next week. The honorary chairperson of the levy campaign will be Margaret Tucker. Learned that the salt not used to treat snowy streets this winter will still be good next year. “What’s left in the old salt shed, we’ll move to the new salt shed,” Craft said. Heard from Lori Tretter, municipal administrator, that city officials are continuing their visits to local industries.

BG school calendar proposal – good news and bad news

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year’s proposed calendar for Bowling Green City Schools has some good news and some bad news. The good news – students’ quarters and testing periods won’t be broken up by long vacations. The bad news – students’ summer will be cut shorter than usual to make that happen. Long gone are the days when school started after Labor Day. Now districts feel the pressure to squeeze in a couple weeks of classes before September rolls around. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci presented the proposed school calendar Tuesday evening to the board of education. The schedule calls for classes to start on Aug. 15. By starting early, students will be able to complete two full quarters before heading off for Christmas break. According to Scruci, teachers and students then won’t have to spend the first couple weeks in January refreshing their memories of what they learned in December. “We can’t afford that anymore,” Scruci said. Spring break will then fall on the first full week of March. That means the vacation time won’t get in the way of school testing, he said. Scruci realizes the mid-August start to the school year may not be popular with some. “Granted, that is early,” he said. But the early start will also mean an early end to the school year on May 23 – as long as the district doesn’t exceed its snow calamity days. The early exit in May could give BG students a better opportunity to compete for summer jobs, the superintendent added. School board member Ed Whipple voiced his support for the school calendar changes. “I think the testing issue is critical,” he said. Whipple also noted that the earlier spring break for the school district would be helpful to many families since it would then align with the break at Bowling Green State University. “They will be doing the happy dance,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board: Heard a presentation from Jacob Kielmeyer, a member of the DECA program about his project that won first place at the district level. A story will appear later this week on his project. Learned 43 of 50 DECA students qualified for a state tournament. Welcomed 18 international educators who are studying at BGSU. Learned drama club students will be attending the state thespian conference and competition. Heard Model UN members were going to a conference at Ohio State University. Thanked Steve and Rhonda Melchi for their donation of $500 for the “Believe” scholarship.

Forget the rocking chair, these seniors are going rock climbing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This is not a matchmaking service for senior citizens – at least not in the traditional sense. But the New Adventures program does match up seniors with new people and new activities they might not have the gumption to try on their own. They leave their rocking chairs and their inhibitions behind. The group has gone to a rock climbing wall, basketball game, canal ride, painting party and comedy club. Next on the list – a winery and movie theater for art films. The New Adventures group was started in 2011 by the Wood County Committee on Aging in cooperation with Bridge Hospice. “We were seeing individuals who, after they were grieving, there were no connections for them to socialize,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programs at the Wood County Senior Center. As older adults lost their partners, they often felt a lack of companionship. And if they tried to continue their relationships with couples they had long socialized with, they sometimes felt like the fifth wheel, Brogley explained. So New Adventures was created to engage single seniors to get out and socialize. After a couple years, the group morphed into a program offering new experiences for anyone interested. “It’s not a matchmaking service,” though the group has resulted in one marriage, Brogley said. “It’s just to have somewhere to go and people to do things with.” Several of the outings are in the evenings, when seniors might be reluctant to venture out alone. “The lonely hours are 6 to 8 p.m.,” Brogley said. Between 12 and 15 people go on each outing. Many activities are educational, such as the trip to the new BCII crime lab and the planetarium at BGSU. “We all still want to learn,” said Rita Betz, program and technology specialist at the senior center. “We’re always looking for what’s next.” Others adventures expose the seniors to foods outside their comfort zone. Though some are at first hesitant to try foods they can’t pronounce, the group has acquainted seniors with a sushi bar and hummus. “It’s anything we can find. You wouldn’t do these things if you were by yourself,” said Holly Griggs, program and active aging specialist at the senior center. Many of the seniors come back from the outings with more than a full stomach. “A lot of people from our trips develop friendships,” Betz said. The New Adventures coordinators make all the arrangements, handle the driving, and make sure the trips are affordable, said Mary Grzybowski, of Bowling Green, who has gone on some of the outings. Her favorite was the Shrine of Assumption in Carey. “That was spectacular,” she said. Grzybowksi also went to the wild animal nursery, a Mexican restaurant, Fort Meigs and Carter Historic Farms – all trips she wouldn’t have made alone. “It gets people out and keeps them active and engaged,” she said. “I wish every community could have one of these.”      

Owner Wants to Keep ClaZel in the Heart of BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The old gal can’t keep up with those late nights the way she once could, which is the situation the ClaZel now finds itself in. As someone who considers himself the beloved venue’s caretaker as much as its owner, Ammar Mufleh decided late last year that the late night dance parties had to stop. The late night dance club that was in the venue on weekends ended last December. The venue now concentrates on special events – wedding receptions, corporate meetings, fundraisers, and concerts. “College students put a little more wear and tear on a facility,” Mufleh said. “I take a lot of pride in the time, talent, and treasure it took to rebuild and renovate it.” It wasn’t only the theater that was strained. “I have a very talented staff,” he said, and their energies would be sapped on Friday nights when at 2:30 a.m. they’d have to scrub, do some repairs, and transform the space into the setting for a wedding reception on Saturday. After the reception, the staff would be back at it, transforming the ClaZel again into dance club for that night. The new focus will be “less taxing on the staff,” Mufleh said. “I’m excited to focus on a demographic that really appreciates the allure, the aesthetic the history of the theater,” he said. Mufleh, who grew up in a family of entrepreneurs in the Toledo area, can count himself in that demographic. As a student at the University of Toledo, he recalls driving down to Bowling Green to see movies at the ClaZel. He admired the structure then, even if, as he recalls, he had to pick his seat to avoid the plaster falling from the ceiling. He sees the ClaZel as more than a movie house and certainly not a bar. Since he purchased it, he’s acted on that vision. “It is an edifice created as an interesting environment for community engagement,” Mufleh said. He said that goes back into the theater’s history. It was a gathering place during World War II where people learned the latest news. He’s tried to maintain the venue at the heart of the community. There’s been fundraisers to help cancer patients raise money to defray the costs of treatment, theater performances, or political events for the Libertarians and Democrats. “It’s been a place, since it opened, that embraces its sense of community.” The ClaZel has a memorandum of understanding with the College of Music to host concerts there, such as the recent performance by internationally known pianist Vicky Chow, who performed a piece for piano and electronics. He’s also hoping to work out an arrangement to bring back Jazz Night with the university jazz faculty that was suspended a few weeks ago. This weekend the ClaZel hosted a Falcon Flame event for those who met their life partners at BGSU and then on Friday the Red Cross Fire and Ice. Mufleh sees his market for the wedding and corporate business is within a 120-mile radius from Bowling Green. The city, he said, is well located for business meetings for corporations with satellite offices throughout the region. The ClaZel has also hosted weddings where the bride may come from Ann Arbor and the groom from Columbus. The collaboration with the university is about…

BG faces learning curve – roundabouts on their way

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Countians seem to prefer their intersections squared off like tidy plus signs – none of that fancy circular stuff. But local drivers may want to brush up on their roundabout etiquette since at least a couple rotary intersections will pose a learning curve in Bowling Green starting in 2018. Bowling Green’s plan for its East Wooster Street corridor calls for four roundabouts. Two are definite and coming sometime in 2018 – at the interchanges on each side of Interstate 75. The other two are just possibilities – at Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Surveys submitted recently by Bowling Green residents, about the proposed East Wooster corridor work, showed a great deal of suspicion about the roundabouts. But city officials believe that once citizens realize the safety benefits, and experience the ease maneuvering around them, that most motorists will be sold. Though roundabouts are common intersection features in many parts of the nation, Wood County has been slow warming up to the idea. Efforts to install a couple in northern Wood County have met with great resistance. Wood County Engineer Ray Huber has spent a few years trying to convince people that roundabouts make sense for several reasons. They are safer for motorists, take less land to construct, are easier to build, and cost less to install and maintain. So why aren’t roundabouts being embraced here like elsewhere in the nation? “It’s called change,” Huber explained. The single roundabout currently operating on a public road in Wood County is at the southern edge of the county on Ohio 18 in North Baltimore. North Baltimore Police Chief Allan Baer confessed that motorists there had a difficult time adapting to the rotary at first. “They had no idea how to enter, exit or drive in a roundabout,” he said. The roundabout, which was put in three years ago to handle the additional traffic created by the CSX railroad intermodal hub west of the village, has now become routine for local drivers. “They seem to like it,” Baer said. “When people get in there, it flows great. It’s like a ballet.” Since installed, the intersection has been the site of two minor crashes, both weather-related, the police chief said. Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft, who has done his research on the circular intersections, believes the roundabouts would be good for the city for a variety of reasons. First, they are safer. “They are designed to intentionally make you slow down,” Craft said. Head-on and high-speed right angle collisions are virtually eliminated with roundabouts. Second, they can save money by not requiring stop signal installation and maintenance. And third, they can help the city meet its goal of making the east entrance to the city more aesthetically pleasing. The center areas of roundabouts are often landscaped. “That’s the front door to our city and it’s the front door to the university,” Craft said. “This would dress up the corridor a little bit.” Craft is aware that some city residents are firmly opposed to the use of roundabouts. The surveys completed by citizens on the corridor plans included some strong language referring to the rotaries as “the dumbest thing ever.” But Craft remembers another time when local residents spoke out against change. “I heard…

Winterfest full of chills and chili

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Outside in the frigid cold, the lone ice sculptor chiseled away at his work. Inside, hundreds of people shed their layers and loaded up on steaming hot chili. Both the chill and the chili were part of the eighth annual Winterfest celebration in Bowling Green going on this weekend. At noon today in City Park, ice artist Doug Corcoran was finishing up his 15th carving after starting his work at 7 this morning. The cold, which peaked in the teens, didn’t bother him under his five layers of clothing. “I’m doing fine actually. I like the cold,” he said. “Some of the ice is really brittle,” but there was no chance of his artwork melting away this weekend, he said. Each ice carving started as a 350-pound chunk of ice. Corcoran, of Sylvania, then used a chainsaw and chisel to sculpt the ice into artwork. From Bowling Green, Corcoran is headed to an event in Dayton for more carving. In between, he will have a chance to thaw out. “He cranks up the heat in the car,” his wife, Annie, said. Corcoran wasn’t the only one braving the bitter cold this morning. About 50 runners showed up for the Frostbite Fun Run in City Park. One of those was Kristin Otley, head of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “I couldn’t feel my legs,” Otley said after the run. By the time the race began, the temperature had warmed up to 10 degrees, but it felt like minus 3, she said. The extreme cold wasn’t keeping any of the Winterfest events from occurring, except for the carriage rides. “It’s too cold for the horses,” Otley said, noting the irony that it wasn’t too frigid for the runners. The chill wasn’t a problem inside the Veterans Building in City Park, where people were lined up for the annual chili cook-off. Big roasters and crock pots of piping hot chili quickly warmed up the insides of people coming in from the cold. “This is a favorite,” said Wendy Chambers, head of the Bowling Green Visitors and Conventions Bureau. There were 14 variations of the dish, including sweet potato chili, three meat chili steeped with maple sausage, hamburger and short ribs, chili made with home grown and canned tomatoes, and Indian masala chili with saffron rice. The chili concoctions were made by local organizations, businesses and individuals. Phi Gamma Delta fraternity from Bowling Green State University, served up its “Snowy White Owl Chili.” “We were playing around all day making chili, and we found one we liked,” said Nick Wheeler, as he stirred the pot of white chili. The name was somewhat deceiving, since it referenced the fraternity’s symbol, not an ingredient. “No snowy white owls have been harmed in the making of this chili,” Wheeler said. Some chili ingredients traveled long distances to be served up at the Winterfest. Drew Hanna and Kathy Mitterway made their sweet red pepper chili using small red and black beans that they could only find in Long Island, where Mitterway lives. When Hanna last visited Long Island, he made sure to smuggle back the secret ingredient. “I drove back with two dozen cans of the small beans,” he said. As an added attraction, the pair served up…

Prospects good for Boys State to stay at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The state American Legion and Bowling Green State University both want Buckeye Boys State to continue to meet in Bowling Green. The two sides are in the process of negotiating a new five-year conference agreement. The current deal lasts through the 2016 event. Boys State brings about 1,300 male high school juniors to campus for a week of mock government activities each June. A recent letter to a local newspaper asserted that BGSU was about to lose out in hosting the event. However, Gerald White, the director of Buckeye Boys State, in an email to the university prompted by that letter asserted the Legion’s desire to keep the civics event at Bowling Green where it has convened since 1978. The email was intended, he said, “to set the record straight” and let university officials “know exactly where American Legion Buckeye Boys State stands so there is no misunderstanding, confusion, or misleading information.” Yes, he said, the Legion does check out other campuses “to see what would be available should something catastrophic occur on the BGSU campus or in the City of Bowling Green which would necessitate Boys State not being able to conduct the program.” Also, he said, other institutions do query the Legion about whether it would like to move. That’s not surprisingly, the director said, given the program’s success and prominence. None of those has offered “significant financial incentives” to get Boys State to relocate. The conference agreement must be periodically studied, he said, adding: “I think it is a mark of the partnership between American Legion Buckeye Boys State, the City of Bowling Green, Wood County, and Bowling Green State University and the pleasure and pride that the Buckeye Boys State Board of Trustees has in conducting our program on the BGSU campus that for 37 years, now going into 38, Buckeye Boys State has remained in the City of Bowling Green and the campus of Bowling Green State University.” While other options have been looked at, White wrote: “It is every hope of the Buckeye Boys State Board of Trustees that a Conference Agreement can be worked out to the satisfaction of both parties, but I can assure you, that at the present time while other facilities have been looked at, there is NO decision to move the program.” University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer issued a statement. “BGSU greatly values our long-term relationship with Buckeye Boys State and we’re committed to continuing that partnership. Our discussions with the American Legion on a contract renewal for the program have been extremely positive and productive.”

Searching for skeletons

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Millie Broka doesn’t look much like a detective. But she and her cohorts spend their time trying to reveal skeletons in people’s closets. As president of the Wood County Genealogical Society, Broka helps people discover their roots and fill out the branches on their family trees. Digging up ancestry has become somewhat vogue lately, especially with the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” which researches celebrities and often reveals surprising skeletons with checkered pasts. But genealogists would like non-celebrities to know that everyone’s family tree has a story to tell. And in many ways it’s getting easier for the average person to do their own sleuth work. Unlike genealogists of the past, who spent hours with dusty ledgers filled with fading cursive names and dates, most of today’s amateur genealogists search the internet for links to their ancestry. More and more records are being transcribed and are more accessible than in the past. “It’s easier to go online and look for information than go through records up in probate court,” searching for the key details on births, deaths and marriages, Broka said. That doesn’t mean that amateur genealogists don’t still run into brick walls. Even Broka, with all her experience cracking cases, hits dead-ends at times. Broka recommends looking for clues by talking to relatives – before it’s too late. “I think a lot of times, you don’t get interested in it until you are older,” she said. “Then it may be too late. The ancestors are gone or don’t remember things.” Start with the present and move backwards. The genealogy office at the Wood County Courthouse Complex has packets that can help get the search started. The journey begins with a five-generation chart, which can be filled with searches through obituaries, census records, probate records and tombstone records, many of which are online in Wood County. Then be patient. Family trees take generations to grow, so they won’t be untangled quickly. Be prepared for tedious searches through seemingly endless records. Then celebrate when another piece of the puzzle is found. “Once you get hooked, you’re hooked,” Broka said. Wood County’s Genealogical Society has gone to great strides to make records more accessible to people trying to dig up their roots. But that only gets people so far. “Most of our relatives came from the East,” from Pennsylvania and Maryland, Broka said. So as amateur genealogists continue to dig deeper, they are at the mercy of records from other states. Sometimes, the clues come from unexpected places. Broka believed she had hit a brick wall in her search, when she received an email from her nephew in England. Her nephew had received an email from an unknown distant relative in Georgia. It turned out the family records had been clouded by the fact that somewhere along the line, an ancestor had children prior to being married. The clue enabled Broka to break through the brick wall and continue to dig deeper. “Those are the skeletons, and I think they’re fun to find. It’s really exciting,” when the pieces fall into place, she said. Searches are now also being aided by DNA. Broka and her husband, Bob, have had their DNA tested to see what other clues that may reveal. But no one needs…

Pressure is on for top teen pianists at Dubois competition at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This weekend a couple dozen of the best teenage pianists in the country will converge on Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus for the David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition. They will perform music for solo piano for a small audience panel of judges, fellow pianists, and a few anxious family members. Music lovers from the community are welcome as well and will be rewarded by hearing talent akin to what’s heard on the National Public Radio show “From the Top.” There won’t be jokes, and endearing stories though. Just music played in the most rigorous setting a musician can encounter. At stake are cash prizes. The winner receives $3,000, second place $2,000, and third place $1,000. The semifinals will take place Saturday from 9 5 p.m. with the finals Sunday from 9 noon. The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. This year the guest pianist will be Spencer Myer. (Christopher O’Riley, host of “From the Top” did the honors in 2012). Myer performed in many competitions, especially as he was launching his career. Even when he didn’t get past the first round, he feels he gained from those experiences. He made contacts and was heard. “Things always came from that exposure.” A competition like the Dubois pushes students to learn a number of pieces, most of them memorized. The Dubois participants prepare programs 20 to 30 minutes long. They must select pieces from three of four musical eras, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary, including at least one classical sonata. All music written before 1945 must be memorized. “Also I gained a lot of performance experience under very high level of pressure,” Myer said. More tension than a normal performance. “Just having that jury adds that huge element of pressure.” His experience as a juror has also been “revealing in terms of how one musician to the next can really have the absolute opposite opinion.” An interpretation that’s blatantly wrong for one juror may be just what makes a performance special for another, he said. As in football, competitions have an element of “any given Sunday.” As BGSU Professor Laura Melton, who has coordinated the festival since its inception, has said, on another day any of the best competitors could come out on top. “That’s what makes art wonderful,” Myer said, “that it is subjective.” Not that makes it any easier on the competitors or their families. “It is hard on the parent,” Myer said. He suspects his mother is still bitter that he wasn’t named the winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, though, Myer said, “I’ve long gotten over it.” Competitions “have proven to be a great vehicle for giving young people performance opportunities.” For listeners they’re a way to discover new talent and hear great piano playing. Also as part of his residency Myer will perform a concert Saturday at 8 p.m., also in Kobacker. Tickets are $10. (See story And he will give a master class with BGSU students on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall. “I always try to bring a balance of the musical aspect and the technical aspect,” said Myer. “I find that the student always reacts very positively if you make some technical change that really…

Moving history doesn’t come cheap

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Park officials don’t want to rewrite history, just the bid requirements for moving a piece of it in Wood County. The Wood County Park District Board voted Monday to re-advertise for bids to move the historic one-room Zimmerman School down the road a spell to the historic Carter Farm. The action was necessary because the last job description did not require a bid bond. The board discussed the costs involved with moving the structure or leaving it at its existing location on Carter Road, north of Bowling Green. The last bids came in at $105,545 for moving the school, putting in a foundation, relocating the restrooms, running electric and propane, and then demolishing the old foundation. The other option of not moving the school came in at $122,485. That cost would cover adding a bus turnaround and parking area, installing a wider culvert, replacing the foundation, relocating the propane tank, moving the restroom, constructing a sidewalk and electrical work. By moving the school, the district officials hope to save money and make the historic farm and one-room school a more all-inclusive learning experience for visiting families and school children. Also at the meeting, the board voted to accept tasers for park rangers at no cost for park district. The tasers were offered by Bradner Police Department, which had received more than needed from Miamisburg’s police department. Munger explained that the tasers would give the rangers another option in their “use of force continuum.” The rangers carry batons, but those instruments are more likely to cause physical damage than tasers, Munger said. The tasers can be used to immobilize someone with no lasting injury, he said. Board approval for the tasers was not unanimous, with board member John Calderonello objecting. He asked for information on how often the district’s park rangers have to resort to force. No information on that frequency was available at the meeting, but Munger said he would try to track down the data. In other business, the park district board: Approved contracting with K&K Construction, Weston, for $6,470, to put a concrete floor in the Beaver Creek Retreat Center. The previous floor was ruined by flooding. Agreed to have a new well put in at the interpretive center at the Bradner Preserve. The current well is running dry, and will cost $5,589 to replace. Voiced support for an effort by the Friends of the Parks to put in a brick memorial trail at the W.W. Knight Preserve. The group was asked to come back with more details so the board could determine how best to help. Learned the park district had received a $21,200 grant to purchase 12 kayaks and related equipment. The kayaks will be for the public to use on park ponds and the Maumee River. Heard a report on the work of the park rangers, who cover the district 365 days a year.

Helping the county avoid growing pains

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Armed with blue, green and red markers, citizens circled areas of Wood County ripe for development, deserving of preservation, and worthy of reinvestment. They came with different purposes – farmers, developers, elected officials – but with one goal to help chart the direction for land use in the county. “I’m just interested to see what their plan is, and how that’s going to affect me,” said Paul Braucksiek, who lives in rural Webster Township, northeast of Bowling Green. He estimated his township is 99.9 percent agricultural. “And it probably needs to stay that way.” The planning open house Wednesday evening was part of the public input portion of the county’s effort to update the land use plan adopted in 2007. The new plan will consider where zoning changes would be appropriate, where utilities should be expanded, where roadways should be built. The process will also identify areas that should not be developed, but preserved. As people milled about looking at county maps at the planning open house, Braucksiek chatted with Denny Henline, of Pemberville. “I came tonight because I watched Levis Commons and I watched the Golden Triangle,” both areas of retail development in the Perrysburg area, Henline said. While he isn’t opposed to growth, Henline would like to see it directed to areas that are not prime farmland. “For my grandkids, my goal is to have a good vision,” he said. “It just breaks my heart when they come out and gobble up prime farmland. It’s like a runaway horse. You can’t stop a runaway horse.” Henline, however, would like to see more development occur in the Pemberville Road corridor that would encompass Luckey, Pemberville, Bradner and Wayne. But to encourage growth in specific areas, utilities like water and sewer have to head that way. From the southern end of the county came Henry Township Trustee John Stewart, who knows something about planning for development. “We got our planned business district,” by the CSX intermodal hub, Stewart explained. “It’s something other townships should look at.” Alice Brown, who grew up on a farm in Perrysburg Township and now lives in Bowling Green, came to keep an eye on the county’s roadmap for the future. “My concern is the future of Wood County,” she said. “Are they controlling development and then in three years it will be obsolete?” Rick Metz, a developer from Bowling Green, shared similar concerns. “We need to look ahead, not backwards,” he said. Metz talked about the demise of shopping malls in the region, and the decay of small towns. “Should we be running utilities out there to preserve the inevitable,” he said, referring to rural towns with dwindling populations. “We need to think ahead.” The county is contracting with McBride Dale, Cincinnati, for $63,000 for the land use plan. The planning process is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. For more information, contact the Wood County Planning Commission’s Dave Steiner or Katie Baltz at (419) 354-9128 or the website: