Downtown Bowling Green

New WBGU-TV show captures sound, atmosphere of Howard’s Club H

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dive is a moniker that Howard’s Club H wears proudly. While owners Steve Feehan and Tony Zmarzly have made a number of cosmetic improvements to the Bowling Green establishment, the essential gritty rock ‘n’ roll essence of the place remains. Joe Goodman, of WBGU-TV, recognized that spirit as soon as he came in. The graffiti, the concrete floors and the smell of well-aged beer, he said, “reminded me of all the places I loved in New York City that I was missing. … It’s where real rock is born. This is where people cut their teeth.” So the television producer started thinking about how he could share this place viewers. Working with bands and the owners, he brought in a crew to film. The result is “Live at Howard’s.” As the posters declare “the dive comes alive on WBGU-TV” on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 11 p.m., and in that time slot every week for the next nine. The shows will then be rebroadcast early Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3 a.m. The show’s premiere will be celebrated with a party at the club where the first episode will be shown. Goodman said the aim is for “Live at Howard’s” to be “a little manic, energetic” in keeping with the vibe of the gritty club. The aim is to feature up-and-coming bands both local and regional with a mix true to the club’s usual lineups. The first show features Howard’s regulars Tree No Leaves. The band headlined a show last December, when the first taping was…


Sugar Ridge Brewery opens up in historic downtown BG location

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News At Sugar Ridge Brewery the beer isn’t relegated to the tap, it finds its way into every course on the menu. Mike Mullins, the owner and the brewer, said the restaurant’s chef J.R. Hernandez “incorporates it in everything” – the sauces, the brines, even the desserts. Sugar Ridge Brewery opened at 109 S. Main St., earlier this month during the Black Swamp Arts Festival. A ribbon cutting will be held to celebrate the new eatery Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. Contact the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce to RSVP at MarissaMuniz@bgchamber.net or (419) 353-7945. Mullins opened on Dixie Highway in October, 2010. He operated it there until he closed it two years ago in preparation for opening the Bowling Green restaurant in the old Millikin Hotel. The new microbrewery was a long time coming. The walls had been covered in plaster and dry board and the tile covered with carpet. Mullins put a lot of “elbow grease and sweat equity” stripping the place to brick and mother of pearl tile. That renovation was done “one brick at a time” exposing the historic hotel’s original interior. Mullins started as a chef. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he worked in Columbus as a sous chef at the One Nation and then as an executive chef two top restaurants in Charleston, West Virginia. He started brewing back in 1992. “I just always wanted to brew beer and see how it would turn out.” He has seven varieties on tap. Many of the names are a…


Scavenger hunt helps international students discover downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Students from around the world got a chance to explore downtown Bowling Green Wednesday afternoon. The international students from Bowling Green State University came from many countries—France, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Zimbabwe, Netherlands – just to name a few. A scavenger hunt organized by the Four Corners Center had them searching out all the treasures they could find in the downtown. That included the coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops, restaurants, and even the farmers market. Teams of about half dozen students each buzzed about town. Members of one group said they didn’t have time to talk as they hurried off to find Homeworks. Elisa Erbrech, a business student from Strasbourg, France, said, those on her team were too intent on winning to even stop and taste the cookies and coffee the Wood County Library had set out. And they accomplished their mission. The team was the first to finish. Marcia Salazar-Valentine, the director of International Programs and Partnerships, said the idea behind the scavenger hunt was to introduce the students, all of whom had just arrived at BGSU, to the downtown, and to introduce downtown businesses to the students. “The international students are so important,” said Wendy Chambers, the director of the Wood County Convention Visitors Bureau, one of the Four Corners entities.  “We wanted to welcome them to the community.” BGSU enrolls more than 1,000 foreign students. “I think it takes a while because they have so much to do the first weeks,” Salazar-Valentine said. She remembers arriving as an international student…


For Keeps throws a party to mark 20 years of peddling life’s fun, non-essentials

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amy Craft Ahrens is celebrating 20 years of running For Keeps in downtown Bowling Green, and she wants her customers to have a piece of the action. That’ll be especially true for one lucky customer in particular. As part of the celebration, the shop is holding a party under a tent Saturday Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is handing out puzzle pieces. One of those pieces will complete a puzzle on display in the party tent. The person who gets the piece will receive a $250 gift card. Another 50 prizes will be given out as part of puzzle game. Craft Ahrens said that every year she has a sale to mark the anniversary of the opening of the store, but this year being a milestone she decided to expand the celebration. There’ll be cookies from the Cookie Jar, in keeping with Craft Ahrens’ shop local philosophy. Mimosas until their gone and beer, wine and soft drinks. Grab bags for $1, $3, $5 and $10 containing “a hodgepodge of goodies” worth at least twice the price. Customers can participate in a trivia contest about the store with questions such as how many women named Amy have worked there. And there’ll be goats. Craft Ahrens fancies goats, and when she was in Boston to run in the marathon earlier this year, the hotel she was staying in had goats, so she thought: “Why can’t I?” The sale will run from Friday through Sunday. Balloons will be strewn about the floor,…


Long-awaited design selected for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The public spoke – at least 272 of them – and overwhelmingly supported the more meandering, less symmetrical plan for Wooster Green. So on Thursday, the Wooster Green steering committee made it official and voted to go with Option 2 for the 1.2 acres of green space where the junior high used to sit at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “You’ve listened to the public. You made a decision. Now we can move forward with a plan,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said to the group. Following a public meeting about the green space plans and a week of two possible designs being displayed in the library, the steering committee received 150 online reactions and 122 written surveys on the designs. Option 1 was a more symmetrical design, with the walkways forming an “X” on the site. Option 2 was a more casual look, with a meandering path. “There was clearly a preference for option No. 2,” said Bob Callecod, who is co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee with Ann-Marie Lancaster. Comments on Option 1 referred to the plan as too formal, boring, and having too many sidewalks, Callecod said. Comments on Option 2 used words such as “pleasing, relaxed and organic,” he added. “They liked it because of the gentleness of it,” Callecod said of the plan with curved walkways and more open green space. “I think we got reasonably good participation,” Lancaster said of the community response. “People want to preserve a lot of the…


BG named one of Ohio’s best hometowns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As editor of Ohio Magazine, Jim Vickers is accustomed to visiting communities throughout the state. But during a recent stop in Bowling Green, Vickers was struck by three features of the city – the energy from the university even though most students were gone for the summer, the healthy downtown, and the beautiful Simpson Garden Park. Bowling Green left such an impression, that the city was named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The 12th annual Ohio’s Best Hometowns issue of the magazine recognizes four communities in addition to Bowling Green: Marietta, Milford, Mount Vernon and Wooster. Bowling Green beat out other communities because of its vibrant college town atmosphere, strong sense of community and shared vision for the future. “I was in Bowling Green for the site visit,” Vickers said, so he had first-hand knowledge of why the city ranked so high. “Every year we look for towns that exemplify a strong community.” They checked out the campus. “It’s a vibrant college town, even in the summertime,” he said. “There’s an energy there.” They went downtown. “The health of the downtown really struck us. There’s a lot of work that goes into a downtown that works.” And they visited Simpson Garden Park. “That was a true community effort,” Vickers said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the community bonding together.” City officials were pleased that Bowling Green was awarded the honor. “It helps to continue and foster the community that we all know Bowling Green is. There’s a strong sense…


Closing time at Ginny’s Inspired Fashions is bittersweet

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For stylish women, Ginny’s Inspired Fashions in downtown Bowling Green let them dress to a T, from socks for their toes to hats to top off their assemblage with outerwear and underwear for parts in between. The shop, though, was more than a place to find what to wear to go out and have a good time, but a destination in itself, a gathering spot, founder and owner Ginny Stewart said. A place to share stories, drinks, laughs, and, now that Stewart has announced she’s closing, tears. “I’m going to cry,” one customer declared as she walked into Ginny’s Tuesday. Just a few racks of dresses, tops, and skirts remained. The supply of headwear was thinning out. Stewart wrapped purchases in Christmas paper, and she had no more bags. Though Stewart originally said she’d stay open until late in July, it now looks like Friday, July 14, will be her last day. Stewart said after seven years she’s retiring. “My husband (Scott) is going to be working fewer hours in the next year, and we want to spend more time doing the things we’ve talked about doing. I want to spend more time involved in the social causes that matter to me, and I want to give more time to the schools.” Stewart is in her first term as a member of the Board of Education. The district has a bond issue to fund a major building project on the ballot in November. She announced the news of the shop closing in an email…


Ginny’s Inspired Fashions closing

After seven years of helping Bowling Green look classy, Ginny Stewart has announced that she is closing Ginny’s Inspired Fashions by the close of July. Saturday marked the beginning of what she’s calling a retirement sale, and at mid-afternoon customers were lined up to purchase goods at as much as 70 percent off. Stewart said she’ll close when she no longer has enough stock. What remains will be donated. Stewart said that this was the right time to step aside. In an email to customers, she wrote she was looking forward to spending time reading, spending time with family, including her husband, Scott, and friends, and working for causes she believes in. Stewart is a member of the Bowling Green Board of Education. The shop got its start inside Coyote Beads selling stylish hats for men and women, before moving across the street to its current 133 S. Main St., location, where she did business at first as BG Hats and Apparel selling an expanded range of men’s and women’s fashion items. Not long after she opened her doors there, however, a fire in an upstairs apartment closed the shop for a number of months. But she reopened, and later changed the name to Ginny’s Inspired Fashions.    


BG fine tunes three design options for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s downtown green space is taking shape. The question now is whether it should be a formal symmetrical shape or an informal meandering shape. Some pieces of the puzzle are definite – like the stone arched entry, the pavilion, and a gathering area. But just where those pieces fit on the 1.7 acres at West Wooster and South Church streets is still unknown. On Thursday, Troy Sonner, of Poggemeyer Design Group, presented three possible designs for the town square dubbed Wooster Green. The firm is donating its design services to the community in recognition of the business’ 50th anniversary. “We are one step away from a blank canvas,” Sonner said to members of the green space steering committee. The first design was modeled after the ideas of the Green Space Task Force. It includes wide walkways from corner to corner, creating a symmetrical “X” shape with a center area featuring a fountain or statue. The pavilion would be located toward the south of the site. This plan has the most concrete. The second design was submitted by a city resident, and features an open area close to Wooster, a winding walkway, and the pavilion toward the southwest portion of the square. This plan leaves larger open spaces and has less concrete. The third design is a combination of ideas from the task force and the citizen’s plan. It features the pavilion closer to Church Street, has a winding walkway, and much more open space toward the center and south of the…


“This coming holiday season, we will gather together around a smaller tree that can serve as BG’s tree for another 30 years of memories” — Michael Penrod

The annual lighting of BG’s Community Holiday Tree has been a tradition for just over 30 years and the Wood County District Public Library is proud to host BG’s Tree. Because it is important to the Library that the tree remain a vital part of the holiday season for Main Street for many years to come, we have worried about the health of the tree for more than a few years. Branches have died, or lost many of their needles, and the tree is swaying more and more with every strong windstorm. Recently, the Library checked with an arborist who, when examining the tree in detail last week, found indications of a disease that causes branches to die from the ground upward. While the tree many live for a few more years, we do not want it to get into such a poor condition that it no longer looks nice as the community’s tree. BG deserves a beautiful tree filled with holiday lights. We also do not want to purchase a lot of expensive decorations for a large tree and then have to replace the tree with a smaller one. Therefore, after much deliberation – and reluctance – the Library has decided that it is better to replace the current tree with a new, healthy one that will be able to serve as BG’s tree for many years to come. Later this Spring, we will work with the City to plant a new tree in the same location. This coming holiday season, we will gather together around a smaller tree…


Community tree has seen its last Christmas; new tree will be planted in place

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Downtown Bowling Green will be getting a new community Christmas tree, and it’ll be delivered well before the winter holidays. At Monday’s Library Board of Trustees meeting, Library Director Michael Penrod said he had asked city arborist Grant Jones to take a look at it. The arborist found clear signs disease. The 50-foot Colorado blue spruce’s days are numbered. Once the disease sets in, Penrod said, it cannot be reversed, though it’s hard to tell how long the tree would last. Conceding the tree’s uncertain future, the library board voted to have the tree removed and replaced as quickly as possible. Jones, Penrod said, felt a new tree, likely about 12-foot-tall, could be in place within weeks. It would cost the library about $3,000-$4,000. Penrod said he’d already been approached by Mary Hinkelman, the director for Downtown Bowling Green, to discuss the future of the tree. Downtown BG owns the ornaments that decorate the tree, and the years of stringing increasing lengths of lights to cover the tree has taken their toll. A couple ceremonial tree lightings, have suffered temporary blackouts. Faced with replacing the lights, she wondered how many Downtown BG would have to purchase. She said this afternoon, after being informed of the library board’s decision, that she’s hoping to be able to use the LED bulbs which are in good shape and expensive to replace with whatever replacement wiring is needed. She won’t know how much that would be until later in the year when the decorations are pulled out of…


R&R Bath offers natural way to freshen up & relax

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Walking north of the west side of North Main Street in downtown Bowling Green past the restaurants and bars, a sweet and fresh scent tickles the nose. The source is evident a couple doors down at 157 N. Main the home of R&R Premium Bath Products. The new business has been open for several weeks with a grand opening set for May 21. Still someone in need of a last minute Mother’s Day gift may want to stop down. The shop is run by Joseph Heaton and Sarah Bail. The mission of the shop is not only to provide products that make their customers clean, they also strive to keep Mother Earth clean and fresh as well. Heaton said all their products are made from natural ingredients. Many of the products hand-crafted on site. An opening in the shop gives customers a peek into the workshop. Bail, who graduated from Bowling Green State University earlier this month with a Bachelor of Science in ecology and conservation, oversees the materials used. Heaton and Bail moved here from Springfield, Ohio, four years ago when she started her studies at BGSU. “Anything you can imagine using in the bathroom we’ll have it,” Heaton said. Bath bombs, including its original GloBomb, soaps, make-up removers, lotions, bubble bars, fizz sticks, and robes. “Everything we sell here is either made here or made in the United States, all handmade,” he said. That means finding suppliers who have the same quality standards that they do. Heaton said he’s devoted to selling,…


Irish duo to give listeners a taste of what’s coming to Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even though Irish piper Cillian Vallely has performed before audiences of thousands around the world, he’ll still find time after a gig to sit in at a local jam session, or seisiun. The camaraderie of those spontaneous music gatherings have become a huge part of the propagating Irish music. “You can go all over the world and go into an Irish bar and find people playing this music. There’s a common repertoire,” said Vallely, who grew up in Northern Ireland. “A lot people are not taking it up to be a performer or a top player, they take it up because they like the company.” As a member of Lunasa, called “the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet” by the Irish Times, he’s now at the pinnacle of Irish music, but he still likes to sit in. Vallely, on pipes and low whistle, and Lunasa bandmate Kevin Crawford, flute and whistle, will play a free show Friday May 12 at 7 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. The concert, sponsored by local Irish group Toraigh an Sonas, is a preview for the full quintet’s performance at the Black Swamp Arts Festival on Sept. 8. There was a time, Vallely said, when the music was dying out in Northern Ireland. Then in the 1960s folk revival brought it back to public attention. His parents were catalysts in helping bring the music back. Though avocational musicians, they founded Armagh Pipers Club in 1966, taught and went on tour. A few…


BG block party brings community and campus together

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s block party on Saturday met all the qualifications – live music, food, dogs and people of all ages. Spectators sat on straw bales as they watched musicians perform from the makeshift stage, complete with cardboard curtains, in front of the county courthouse. Children played games of giant checkers and got their faces painted. The hungry filled up on Chicago dogs and onion rings. And young and old pedaled along the temporary bike lane along East Court Street. “It’s close to perfect,” said Heather Sayler, city planning director who was in charge of organizing the Court Street Connects event. “We’ve had a constant stream of people since 10 o’clock,” she said. “I don’t think we could ask for anything better.” The block party was the brainchild of the city’s Community Action Plan process. At a series of public meetings, Bowling Green residents were asked what project they wanted to try out first in an effort to improve neighborhoods on the East Side. The block party was top on the list. “This is great,” said Adam Rosa, a principle with Camiros, the consulting firm helping with the Community Action Plan. “It’s amazing how much energy has gone into this. It’s great seeing all the energy.” The goal of Court Street Connects goes far beyond the one-day block party. “When people see changes in their neighborhood, it brings other positive changes,” Rosa said. “It will help with decision making about what we want to do.” Sayler agreed. “This makes people recognize this area…


Citizens can email ideas for downtown green space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite several public meetings about the new downtown green space in Bowling Green, many citizens complained that they weren’t given an opportunity to express their desires for the proposed town square. To remedy that perceived slight, an email account has now been set up to take suggestions. Anyone wanting to submit ideas for the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets can now email their suggestions to woostergreendesign@gmail.com. Mayor Dick Edwards said he spoke recently with representatives at Poggemeyer Design Group about the two main elements already planned for the town square – an arched entryway and a pavilion. The exact designs are still being worked on, but will consider the historic character of the area, and will work to preserve as much green as possible.  Other necessities include bike racks, drinking fountains, benches, sidewalk lighting and trash receptacles. There are many other decisions under consideration that will be needed to turn the site into Wooster Green – a town square for the Bowling Green community. First, what are the protocols for using the site? Second, how can at least $300,000 in donations be raised for the space? And third, how can the entire community be engaged in the project? The steering committee for Wooster Green met Thursday afternoon to make progress on those considerations. “We definitely need clarification on when and how the site can be used,” said Bob Callecod, co-chair of the promotions committee. The green space has already been used for several public rallies,…