Downtown Bowling Green

New city building study to see if senior center structure can be saved

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green found an answer to its need for more city administration space in the neighboring senior center. But the question now is whether or not some of the historic senior center can be preserved as it becomes part of a new city administration building. Years ago, the Bowling Green city administration offices outgrew their space at 304 N. Church St. And now that the Wood County Senior Center is building a new facility on South Grove Street, the city will soon have access to that neighboring property that it already owns at 305 N. Main St. On Monday, the city’s board of public utilities will discuss a resolution putting money toward a study of a new city building. Part of that feasibility study will evaluate the existing senior center, located directly to the east of the city building. The study will examine if that structure, which was formerly a U.S. Post Office, can be preserved in some form as it becomes part of a new city building. “We’re keeping an open mind, seeing what the experts recommend,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said on Friday. “We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with.” The feasibility study will examine the three structures owned by the city on that block – the city administration building, the senior center, and a house recently acquired by the city at 316 N. Church St. Property owned by the city is outlined in red, and includes the city administration building at 304 N. Grove St., a house at 316 N. Grove St., and the county senior center at 305 N. Main St. The city administration building started its life more than a century ago as a school. It then was turned into a library, and in 1976 became the city administration building. The result is a 17,000 square foot building with cramped offices, maze-like spaces and cobbled together technology. But after years of discussion, the solution turned up right next door. In 2017, city officials announced that property at 140 S. Grove St. would be donated to the Wood County Senior Center for a new facility. That means the city would then have the entire stretch between North Main Street and North Church Street for a more spacious and modern city administration building. The location would also satisfy the desire held by Mayor Dick Edwards and others to keep the city building in the downtown area. The current senior center has its share of building issues. It was built in 1913 and used as a post office until the 1970s. It’s gone through many renovations for use as a senior center, but it may pose as many challenges as the city building. Retrofitting the site for ADA standards has been challenging, the elevator is a maintenance nightmare, the chiller is a six-figure item needing replacement, and façade and roofing problems are looming. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. But as long as no federal funds are used on the site, the city can do with it as it wishes. The city building also has a long list of deficiencies. The council chambers is small, with the fire code allowing a maximum of 66 people. That means several times a year, citizens attending meetings have to stand in the hallway since the room is overflowing. The restrooms are cramped and just barely pass muster for handicapped accessibility. Some office floors slope so much that wheeled chairs roll across the surface. Power access is less than ideal, so masses of cords are…

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Water back after construction crew breaks line in downtown BG

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS The water is back after a contractor working on the project downtown inadvertently struck a water service line this morning near Ben’s on South Main Street. The city had to shut down the waterline from Wooster to Clough streets, according to the city’s Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. But as of 11:15 a.m., the waterline was repaired and downtown businesses and residents had water again, he said. The affected customers have been notified of the boil advisory and the boil advisory is on city website. The city took samples for bacteria testing and should have the results around noon tomorrow, O’Connell said. The contractor, plus personnel from the city’s sewer and water department were on the scene working to fix the break, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. Kelly Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, was closing the coffee shop for the day. He said the construction has not put a dent in his business. “Luckily caffeine in an addictive substance,” he quipped. Though the water is back on, there will be a boil water order, and Grounds will stay closed until at least late morning Tuesday, Wicks said. Amy Craft Ahrens of For Keeps said she’d be staying open because they had no public restrooms. The construction has cost some business she said. Then there’s been the ongoing noise of the equipment just outside her door. “I’m ready for it to be over,” she said. Still she tries to look on the lighter side. The sign outside the shop door reads: “The road to success is always under construction.”

Flatlands Coffee reaches for new heights in barista championships

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Flatlands Coffee made its presence known at the Specialty Coffee Association National Barista Championships this past weekend. For the shop’s owner Ben Vollmar and Rachel Diaz, operations manager of the shop, to make it to the championship event in Kansas City, Missouri, was success, Vollmar said. Now he’s ready to build on that with an eye toward next year. He felt to have two people from a part of the country where specialty coffee is still new, and make it to the championships to compete against “the best of the best” was an honor. The learning curve is steep, he said. The rules are 22 pages long “and there’s even more you learn” at the competition. To make it, they had to be in the top 16 of the 60-barista field in the qualifying round held in Nashville. Rachel Diaz in the championships. (Photo courtesy of SPRUDGE) Each barista has 15 minutes to make four espressos, four milk espresso drinks, and four espresso specialty drinks of their own creation. And they have to talk throughout the process, demonstrating their knowledge of coffee and the brewing process. The winner will represent the specialty quality industry for the entire year, and compete internationally. Vollmar placed in the middle of the pack, not making the cut to go on to the semifinals. Part of the competition is being able to precisely tell the judging panel what they will taste in the specialty drink. Having made a last minute adjustment to the grind on his coffee, he was off. He feels if he’d been more precise, he may have moved up enough to move on. “You have to incredibly accurate in what you tell the panel that they’re going to taste. They better taste it. That’s where majority of points are,” he said. In his creation, he used tea, milk, lime and dry ice to quickly chill it. Diaz used nitrogen infusion and pear rooibos tea. She hit a time crunch. She went 55 seconds over time and was docked a large number of points for it. She said she realized when she had 10 seconds left that she had to either call time and not lose the points or just continue and make the best drink she could. “I just made the choice that I’m just going to do my best and give my full presentation.” Vollmar said he was on the sidelines watching her “going crazy” cheering her on.  Diaz had decided to compete after Vollmar’s experience in the Eastern qualifying event in 2018. The team at Flatlands watched a live feed of him in his first competition on a live feed. “I have to do it next year,” Diaz told herself. “I was completely intrigued by it.” Diaz said she enjoyed the sense of community. “To be able to see interact with people in the larger industry was very exciting.” Diaz has only been working as a barista for a couple years. She started when Vollmar hired her to work at Flatlands. Last summer she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law. She had to decide whether to get a job related to her field, or stay at Flatlands and pursue something she was passionate about. “Once I made the decision to stay it was a matter of how I develop myself as a coffee professional,  develop my skills, develop my technique,” she said. “Competing was one of those things.” In preparing for competition “I’m doing research on coffee, on espresso extraction, the science behind that. I…

Art Walk, set for April 27 in BG, seeks exhibitors

From BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL Bowling Green Arts Council, in partnership with Downtown Bowling Green, is proud to announce Art Walk 2019, an art show in which businesses though out historic downtown Bowling Green will host artists’ displays and performances. Art Walk will occur on Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year, the Art Walk will feature an exhibition of one piece by each individual artist at the Wood County District Public Library in addition to the displays at businesses, so visitors will have a chance to start out with a tempting preview. Artists living within 50 miles of Bowling Green are eligible to participate and may display works in any size or medium as space and amenities of the chosen venue allow. Artists are encouraged to find a venue, but help will be provided if needed by contacting The entry fee for individual artists is $20. Non-profit organizations can pay one entry fee of $20 for any number of affiliated artists if profit from any sales exclusively benefits the organization and not the individual artists. No commission or fee on sales is taken. Brochures with all artist locations will be distributed throughout the area. Entry procedures – online, by mail, or in person – are available on the BG Arts Council Website or from the Downtown BG office in the Four Corners Center, 130 S Main St, Bowling Green The deadline for registration and payment is April 1st. All paid Art Walk participants (excluding non-profits) will be eligible to receive one of six monetary awards: three Juror’s Awards and three People’s Choice Awards.  The awards sponsors are Jeff and Inge Klopping, Alice and John Calderonello, the BGSU School of Art, Dick and Nadine Edwards, and Bowling Green Arts Council. Awards will be announced at the After Art Walk Party, 3:30-4:30pm at the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N Main St, Bowling Green. Art Walk is sponsored by Downtown Bowling Green and the BG Arts Council.

Chocolate Crawl brings out competitive nature in choco-holics

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News My husband, a runner, does not understand the skill and stamina required to complete a “Chocolate Crawl.” He cannot comprehend how an event called a “crawl” is athletic. But this year’s Chocolate Crawl went from 16 business participants last year to 42 this year. As far as I’m concerned, that is like going from a 5K to a marathon. My husband also has no respect for the training regimen it takes leading up to the annual event held in downtown Bowling Green as a fundraiser for United Way during the city’s Winterfest. And he refuses to acknowledge that there is a technique: Gloves slow you down. No matter how cold it is, repeated removal and replacement of gloves cuts into your finish time. The harsh reality is, some places will run out of chocolates before feeding all 500 participants.Hydrate. Take advantage of the stores offering the chocolate smoothies, the chocolate “buzz” rum shots, the hot chocolate and the chocolate shooters which threw in a shot of espresso so “crawlers” could maintain their pace.Use the buddy system. When you are eating chocolate on the crawl, you need a true friend who will tell you if your face is covered in hastily eaten chocolate. (Thank you, Julie.)Accessorize with a bag, since consuming all the chocolate on site is not advisable.Consult the downtown map occasionally to make sure you stay on course and don’t miss chocolate stops. Robin Cross, of Bowling Green, was going strong as she started the Chocolate Crawl Friday evening. She had just stopped in at SamB’s for one of the true delicacies on the crawl route – a Belgian chocolate truffle dipped in Columbian white chocolate with an Amareno cherry on top. “It’s my favorite so far,” Cross said. Of course, she hadn’t turned down the more common chocolate treats of the Hershey variety. The lure of chocolate was enough to get her out in the cold. “It’s for a good cause … and you gotta love chocolate,” she said. Charlotte Perlaky, 10, of Sylvania, dips into the chocolate fountain at Waddington Jewelers. At Waddington Jewelers, crawlers were given the choice of strawberries, pretzels or rice krispie treats to drench in a chocolate fountain. “I could just do this all day. It’s so satisfying,” Aimee Burns said as she held a treat under the running milk chocolate. This was Burns’ second year on the crawl. And she was ready for the challenge of the expanded course. “It’s the best. This is huge,” she said. Down the street at Aardvark Screen Printing & Embroidery, owner Gary Bell added a twist to the crawl. He was handing out T-shirts that smelled like chocolate. There’s nothing like the sweet smell of chocolate to keep the crawlers motivated. “We were looking for some idea that was chocolate related,” Bell said. “The scent is supposed to last through 40 washes.” The shirts were a hit. “People are loving them,” he said. Bell also threw in some chocolate chapsticks as an added treat. Chocolate crawlers get brownies at Art-a-Site. The vast majority of the crawl participants were female, possibly because they are more open to the idea that consuming chocolate can be a competitive event. But some husbands and male partners seemed to recognize the value of participating – or at least pleasing their mates. “I’m a willing participant,” Patrick Schroeder said as he and his wife, Karen, waited for their treats in United Way. But he willingly admitted that between the two of them, “definitely Karen” is more of a choco-holic. “We share,” Karen said. Jackie and…

Chillabration underway in Bowling Green (updated)

After getting underway Friday with a luncheon and talk by Olympic curler Tyler George and the Chocolate Crawl through down Bowling Green on Friday night, Winterfest BG Chillabration was back at it Saturday morning with a fun run. Weather in the teens was just right for the sculpture garden and for a taste of hot chili. For details of what’s planned click here. Malavika Melkote serves up chili seasoned with Indian spices and served with a dollop of basmati rice at the chili cookout in the Veterans Building in City Park. The city Parks and Recreation Department was celebrated with an ice sculpture in the sculpture garden in the Huntington parking lot at the corner of Clough and South Main streets in downtown Bowling Green. Fresh local produce was featured along with there food stuffs and crafts in the winter market in the Frozen Swamp Tent, which continues until 2 p.m. At 4 p.m. the tent transforms into a music venue, including beer, wine, and snacks for sale. Early risers tour the sculpture garden. Diners chow down on hearty servings of chili during the chili cook-off. Olympic curler Tyler George featured in an ice sculpture. The Bowling Green Curling Club offered lessons in their sport Saturday. The sessions were all sold out. Olympic figure skating legend returned to his home ice Saturday to host the Elimin8 Cancer Skating Exhibition. “My heart is full,” he said, whenever he returned to the place he took his first steps and missteps as a skater. He recalled that his mother died of cancer in 1977, and then 20 years later he had his first battle with the disease. The Elimin8 Cancer helps to raise money for the search for a cure. he said, and helps show young people that they can make a difference. Members of the Bowling Green Skating Club perform during the Elimin8 Cancer Skating Exhibition. James Adkins entertains in the Frozen Swamp tent, which is open Saturday night until 11.

Downtown BG to take over hosting Classics on Main Car Show

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN As the bitter cold of winter begins to set in on our community, Downtown Bowling Green is keeping its thoughts on the warm summer months; as planning the Classic’s on Main Car Show begins. After three years of management through the Sentinel Tribune, Downtown Bowling Green is now managing and promoting the popular car show for 2019.  Special events manager, Samantha Beane, who also took over the Summer Farmers Market from the Sentinel last year, is looking forward to bringing the show back to the non-profit office and continuing its success.  “We are so thankful for the Sentinel’s willingness to take over the show years ago and after one successful event transition (with the farmers market) last summer, we are looking forward to continuing event success in our office,” said Tony Vetter, director Downtown Bowling Green. The Classics on Main show is set to continue on July 13th from noon to 4 p.m. Committee members have already begun the early plans for this local summer favorite, but are looking for willing volunteers to bring new ideas and excitement to the show, or help day of.  “If anyone out there is a car enthusiast who wants to help make this show a success, I want to talk to you”, said Beane. Email inquiries are welcome at or call the Downtown BG Office at 419-354-4332.  “This shows success is truly community driven, and we look forward to bringing in the veterans who have created the show back, as well as new faces to help introduce our show and town to the next generation”- said Samantha Beane. So Save the Date BG!