Downtown Bowling Green

Food truck discussion takes sweet and sour twist

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The discussion over food truck rules in Bowling Green erupted into a verbal food fight Wednesday evening. But when it was over, rules allowing food trucks to operate in the city were ready to move on to City Council. On one side of the dispute was council member Bill Herald, who had spent countless hours covering every possible angle of the mobile food truck issue in a 180-page slide presentation. On the other side were council members Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, who wanted to move along the process, stop reviewing the slide presentation, and instead discuss a one-page food truck permit proposed by Rowland. “We talked about the size of this report,” Rowland said to Herald, referring to council members asking the committee to move along the process. “It’s taken far too long at this point.” While the committee has held eight meetings, they took place over a condensed space of less than two months, Herald said. He stressed that the one-page permit proposal “isn’t as rich with detail,” as his 180-page report. Herald asked his fellow council members to give him a half hour to get through his executive summary of 21 pages. “I think we’ve been thorough. We’ve been comprehensive,” Zanfardino said. “I don’t mean to be argumentative up here,” Zanfardino said, but added that he wanted Wednesday’s meeting to end with a plan that council as a whole could review. Rowland agreed, and pushed for a product that could go before City Council soon. But both agreed to let Herald start through his executive summary. As they studied the slides, Rowland and Zanfardino pointed out unnecessary specifics or redundancies. For example, there was no need to stipulate that the food sold has to be legal, or to identify the type of vehicles allowed. The locations where food trucks would be permitted was narrowed down to not allow the vehicles on Main Street, Wooster Street or any of the sides streets one block off of those. Those restrictions are due to safety on the state routes, which don’t have much spare room. “It’s just not made for it,” Herald said of the downtown streets. Rowland and Zanfardino agreed. “I’m personally trying to strike a balance” between local concerns and mobile food vendors, Zanfardino said. Food trucks will also not be allowed in city parking lots unless for special events. But Rowland said she has identified several locations in town where food vendors could set up. “There are a lot of places where people gather,” she said. On her list was Wooster Green, where food trucks would be allowed in the bus drop off section of South Church Street, at city parks, during Winterfest, during Firefly Nights in the summer, in private parking lots and neighborhood gatherings. Rowland and Zanfardino suggested the city try a…


Food truck talks continue to simmer in slow cooker

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The food truck discussions in Bowling Green may be cookin’ but they are still far from complete. During the seven meetings held so far on the topic, there’s been talk about peeling back the layers of an onion, putting meat on the bone, taking the issue off the back burner, and peppering the ordinance with certain language. Yet, the food truck issue remains simmering in a slow cooker. “It’s just the nature of Bowling Green to be cautious,” said City Council member Sandy Rowland, who is working with council members Bill Herald and John Zanfardino on the food truck regulations. But time is running out if the city wants food trucks to operate in the community this summer. “I think seven meetings is an awful long time,” Rowland said during last week’s food truck meeting. Rowland suggested that an ordinance be drafted by the city attorney and presented at next week’s City Council meeting. But Herald balked at that idea. “We’ve been meticulous, we’ve been balanced,” Herald said, urging his two fellow committee members to resist rushing to the finish line before the ordinance is ready. The varying work styles of committee members became even more apparent last week, with Herald referring to his 168-page report, and Rowland presenting a one and a half page draft permit for food truck vendors. “I’m hoping we can do something to attract them before 2019,” Zanfardino said, with some frustration. “I believe in the benefit they bring to the entire city.” But Zanfardino echoed Rowland’s description. “Bowling Green is very cautious and very slow to move,” he said. During last week’s meeting, like the six before, the council committee members listened to concerns from food truck vendors, brick and mortar restaurant owners, and citizens. Max Hayward questioned why the food truck proposal did not allow vendors to set up anywhere along Main or Wooster streets in the downtown area. He called that an “unnecessarily restrictive rule” that could doom food trucks to failure. Bowling Green is being “needlessly conservative and cautious,” Hayward said. Phil Barone, who owns a food truck and the restaurant, Rosie’s Italian Grille, said hiding food vendors will not work. “Food trucks need to be seen,” he said. But Herald said there is not enough room and too much traffic to allow food trucks in the area of the downtown four corners. “One of the main things we have to be concerned about is safety,” he said. Owner of the Qdoba restaurant on South Main Street downtown, Nadya Shihadeh, suggested that food trucks not be allowed to set up too close to restaurants that are “paying the taxes, paying the rent.” “I would still be OK with food vendors parking out back, but I don’t want it right in front of my store,” Shihadeh said. “It’s been…


The Stacked Deck offers gaming fans a new place to gather in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Joe Busch was in high school, playing Dungeons and Dragons had a “Cheetos in the basement” stigma attached to it, so he and his friends used the school chess as a cover. Now role playing games and the card game Magic are more popular and accepted. Busch is out in the open with his love for the games as the new owner of The Stacked Deck, a gaming shop in downtown Bowling Green. Busch said he first got into gaming in junior high. Like many others in his generation Pokémon served as the gateway game. He and his friends heard about Magic the Gathering, which was more complex with deeper back story, so they started playing that. Busch said he loved writing and telling stories, so in high school, he started his own Dungeon and Dragons campaign, conducted under the cover of the chess club, and continued through his college years. The New Jersey native, Busch attended Rowan University where he studied journalism. Summers he’d come home and muster his friends and resume the campaign. That’s the appeal of role playing games in the world of fast paced video play. Video games may have good stories, he said, but those tales are created by someone else. “Dungeons and Dragons moves with you,” he said. “It’s writing a story but with a group of five people all contributing. You can do whatever you want. You’re just having fun telling the story together.” Whether engaged in role playing, another board game, or a Magic, the social aspect of people gathering for fun and camaraderie is part of the attraction. From the beginning Busch knew he wanted to do more than sell games and cards, but wanted to have a place where people could play uninhibited without the questioning looks of people wondering what they were doing rolling those strange dice and talking about fireballs. “It’s not like you’re an outsider doing something like that here,” he said. The appeal is broad. “You can have anybody play with anybody.” Fathers bring in their kids to get their first starter deck of Magic cards. He had a man in his 70s stop by. He’d seen YouTube videos about Magic, and was thinking about taking the game up. When Busch went to the bank to set up his business account, the banker was excited because he played Magic. He introduced him to one of his co-workers who was also a fan of the game. This is the kind of place Busch missed when he first moved to town about four years ago to take an editing job. When the owner of that company cashed out, he took a job in the frame shop at Ben Franklin. He liked the job, but felt he was in a rut. Busch, 28, admired what his friends…


Food truck discussion continues to cook up controversy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The idea of inviting transient food truck businesses into downtown Bowling Green leaves a bad taste for a stalwart member of the downtown business community. Floyd Craft, owner of Ben Franklin, Ace Hardware and other downtown buildings, said existing downtown businesses pay taxes into a Special Improvement District that supports items such as street cleaning, flower planting and watering, snow cleanup, and weekend trash pickup. Craft pays the SID anywhere from $200 to $1,049 a year, depending on the property. My main concern is the downtown,” Craft told the three council members – Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino – charged with coming up with regulations for food trucks. “I’m very much against having outsiders in our downtown” – people who don’t pay property taxes and would only have to pay a relatively small permit fee, he said. “We can barely cover our expenses as it is,” Craft said of the downtown district. But Craft also noted that he was one of the people behind the start of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, which allows food trucks to set up in a city parking lot for a weekend. The fee charged for that is quite high, he added. The discussion at the previous meetings on food trucks has focused on allowing the vendors downtown for special events – not on an ongoing basis. Nadya Shihadeh, owner of Qdoba in the downtown, said parking is already a problem for downtown restaurants. However, if the city sets specific rules for the location and hours of operation, Shihadeh said she could get behind the idea. “I think food trucks are cool, totally,” she said. “I’m not against food trucks,” as long as they are regulated, Shihadeh said. Garrett Jones, owner of Reverend’s, said the city needs to limit the number and the size of the food trucks. “Some of these vendor trucks are massive,” and would take up too many valuable parking spots, he said. Rather than focusing on the downtown, Jones suggested that the city look at the mall parking lot on the north edge of the city for food trucks, and maybe for the weekly farmers market. “There’s not much going on there at all,” and the site could benefit from some revitalization, he said. Jones also said he has spoken with some downtown Perrysburg restaurant owners who have seen their businesses hurt by food trucks at the weekly farmers market there. Christopher Parratt, who said he worked in the restaurant business for 15 years, said the city needs to create a level playing field for brick and mortar restaurants and for food trucks. From a patron perspective, city resident Ann Beck thanked the committee working to come up with a plan to allow food trucks. “When I think of a progressive town, and a college town,…


Firefly Nights to light up downtown BG this summer (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A group of businesswomen want to light up downtown Bowling Green this summer. After conversations of what can be done to bring visitors to the downtown during the summer doldrums, Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, Stacie Banfield, of Mode Elle Boutique, Kati Thompson, Eden Fashion Boutique, and Gayle Walterbach, of Coyote Beads, banded together to launch Firefly Nights. The summer time series will get off to a running start with a run/walk through downtown on May 18 at 9 p.m. Firefly Nights will continue with evenings full of music, food, shopping and kids activities on the third Friday of each summer month – June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17 – from 6 to 10 p.m. “We want to foster a diverse, neighborly and lively atmosphere in downtown BG,” Thompson said. “That’s the intent and sole focus.” Main Street will be blocked off from the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington. There’ll be music stages at each end featuring area music acts. Banfield said they plan to feature four to six acts each night. The organizers hope to attract some craft booths, and possibly a farmers market. Downtown stores would remain open and could have sidewalk sales. “We’re hoping to get restaurants to provide some kind of dining experience,” Banfield said. “We’re coming off the success of the Chocolate Crawl,” Thompson said. “So many people said they loved being downtown at night and experiencing so many places they didn’t know were here.” That event held in conjunction with Winterfest to benefit United Way of Wood County sold 400 tickets. People cruised through 18 stops to sample sweet goodies. Walterbach said they hope to attract two to three times that many people. “People who are always looking for fun things to do in the summer, so we’re hoping it attracts people not just from Bowling Green but from surrounding communities,” Thompson said. So far the response from downtown merchants has been good, as had the response from the city and Downtown Bowling Green. The Black Swamp Arts Festival has pioneered the way for such events, Walterbach said. The organizers are still looking for sponsors, with sponsorships ranging from $500 to $5000 for a presenting sponsor. Registration for the Firefly run/walk has begun. Click to register . Firefly Nights also needs volunteers. Email fireflynightsbg@gmail.com to volunteer. With the event still taking shape, more information will be forthcoming.        


Food truck meeting gives BG officials a lot to digest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The committee studying food trucks in Bowling Green got a heaping serving of advice from a wide range of food providers Monday evening. They heard from the owners of a burger bar, family diner, fast food site, and the chef at a country club. They also heard from food truck owners who sell everything from perch and grilled cheese, to grilled lamb chops and lobster macaroni & cheese. And all of them seemed to want to find a way that brick and mortar restaurants can not only survive, but can benefit from having food trucks in the city. “I’m here to find out how we have to adapt to compete,” said George Strata, who owns Beckett’s Burger Bar and Call of the Canyon with his wife, Phina Strata. “Competition is good,” as long as it’s fair, he added. A current city ordinance allows food trucks on private property, but not on public property within 150 feet of a right-of-way. A committee made up of Bowling Green City Council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, is studying if those rules should be changed to make it feasible for food trucks to set up in the city. Herald asked for input on where trucks should be allowed, the specific hours of operation, the duration of operations, and how many locations may be used? Food truck operators abide by a “code of the road,” Herald said, but some specific rules may be in order. “We’re in the process of trying to see what’s feasible in town,” Zanfardino said. Russ Courtney, owner of Rusty’s Roadtrip which sets up weekly in Perrysburg and once a year at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, suggested that the rules not be made too restrictive. “If the law gets convoluted enough, people will say, ‘Forget it,’” Courtney said. The city of Perrysburg has no rules limiting the days of operation, said Phil Barone, owner of Rosie’s Italian Grille, a food truck owner, and president of the area food truck association. The food trucks go to Perrysburg on Thursdays during the weekly farmers markets, and go to Maumee for “Food Truck Fridays.” “You don’t need to worry about food trucks hanging out,” Barone said. They are too busy, and will only go where there is demand. “Maumee embraced this,” Barone said. And Perrysburg restaurants are thriving on the farmers market night because the food trucks bring so much business downtown, he said. “It’s really working.” Rowland said she has spoken with many residents who want food trucks at Bowling Green’s downtown farmers market. “I think it would bring a lot more people down,” Phina Strata said. Mary Hinkelman, executive director of the Downtown Bowling Green organization, said a survey of farmers market visitors showed that 85 percent of them would like food…


BG Council committee chews on food truck information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents are hungry for food trucks in the city. And Phil Barone thinks he has a menu that might please their palates. Barone, who has owned Rosie’s Italian Grille in Toledo for 36 years, has a food truck that serves customers in Perrysburg and Toledo. “To be honest about it, I’ve been looking in Bowling Green,” said Barone, who is a BGSU alumnus. But Bowling Green’s food truck rules are too restrictive, he told city officials Saturday during a work session examining the city’s food truck ordinance. No food vendors are allowed on public property – unlike other communities where food trucks can set up in parking lots or in street parking spots. The city of Toledo first balked at changing its ordinance, Barone said. “I got a lot of flack. The restaurants didn’t like us there,” he said. But the food trucks have transformed St. Clair Street every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during lunch time. Now instead of just a handful of people venturing out to eat on St. Clair, the food trucks draw about 1,500 during lunchtime. “People come out like ants. It’s fun to watch,” Barone said. Barone heads up a food truck association which has 11 members. Their menus offer items like grilled baby lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese, cauliflower crust pizza, Cuban food, steamed mussel salad, perch, cappuccino, and ice cream. “Food trucks aren’t just serving corn dogs,” Barone said. The committee examining Bowling Green’s food truck rules – made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino – has heard from citizens wanting food truck options, from local business owners concerned about the impact on their livelihoods, and from prospective food truck owners who would like to set up their mobile shops here. “I’m hearing from a lot of people,” Rowland said. “The citizens say ‘Yes, we want them.’” Some downtown businesses also would like to see food trucks. “We need interesting things to bring people downtown,” Rowland said they have expressed to her. But brick and mortar restaurants, and the Downtown BG organization have voiced concerns about the mobile vendors taking business from existing restaurants and creating litter problems. So the committee has been looking for common ground. “I firmly believe there is an intersection,” where all can co-exist, Herald said. Barone may have given them that common ground on Saturday. Food truck operations are serious businesses, that want to offer citizens dining options and want to be part of the community, he said. They are sometimes accused by other businesses of “cherry-picking,” but that is not true, Barone said. “We don’t want to just pull in and not be part of what you’re doing,” he said. “They are your future restaurateurs. It’s a smart way to see if your food is going to…


Food trucks stir up worry for brick and mortar restaurants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It was the battle between hot dogs and Philly cheese steaks Monday during the first meeting tackling the food truck issue in Bowling Green. Brick and mortar restaurants and mobile food trucks manage to co-exist in other communities – so Bowling Green is looking for the secret recipe to allow both to operate in this city. But the common ground for rooted and wheeled restaurants may take awhile to find. “We’re all in the same boat,” said Aaron Evanoff as he talked about his plan for a hot dog food truck. “We’re not in the same boat,” Jim Gavarone, owner of Mr. Spots, disagreed from the audience. The current city ordinance permits food trucks, but requires them on private property with large setbacks in some areas, and only during limited hours. The rules have been found to be too cumbersome, so a City Council committee has been charged with finding a middle ground that can work for citizens, existing brick and mortar restaurants and mobile vendors. Monday was the first meeting of the Public Lands and Buildings Committee, made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. The committee will meet again on Saturday for a “really good roll up your sleeves working session” from 8 to 11 a.m., in the council chambers. Zanfardino said many more meetings will have to be held before recommendations can be made to council. “I’m hoping we can have it done sooner rather than later,” Herald said. “But not so quick that we stifle public input.” “It’s very important that we get public input. You don’t want to leave it up to us,” Herald said. The committee will study actions that would allow food trucks to operate, while benefiting the public , promoting entrepreneurship, adding to a strong downtown, and enhancing citizens’ experiences. The group will look for a balance that will not hurt existing restaurants and maintain a vibrant downtown. Rowland talked about the success that cities like Perrysburg and Toledo have experienced with food trucks. She added that Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler has visited other college towns, like Kent and Oxford, to explore their food truck regulations. The primary locations in Bowling Green for mobile food vendors are likely the downtown, areas close to the BGSU campus, and the city parks. But the committee first needs to hear from the stakeholders – restaurant owners, food truck operators and citizens. “I agree on the need for public input,” Rowland said. Evanoff, who first presented his idea for High Flying Hotdogs to City Council last year, said the city needs to bring its mobile food vending ordinance into a new era. There are many examples of food truck and restaurant owners pleasantly co-habitating, he said. There are ways to make sure mobile vendors don’t crowd the…


Baby, it’s cold outside, so why not celebrate?

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News During a season when the temptation is stay bundled up at home, Bowling Green’s Winterfest BG Chillabration gives folks a reason to brave the cold. On Saturday afternoon, visitors could alternate between experiencing the chill as they strolled through the ice sculpture garden or ride around the downtown in an open horse-drawn trolley. They could warm up in the heated Chillabration tent where bands had started performing mid-afternoon, or view high school art work on display in the Four Corners Center. Another option was to stop for a bite to eat at a local restaurant or do some shopping. Aaron and Molli Blachuta had done a bit of all of that. The event gave the couple and their 19-month-old son Blaiden “a change to get out of the house and give the little man a walk,” the dad said. Molli Blachuta had seen an announcement on Facebook. “It’s always nice to find something we can take him to.” That’s harder to do in the winter. They also ate lunch at Sam B’s before taking the carriage ride. They were going to stop into Ben Franklin before heading home. Jayan Karunarathna, a doctoral student in photochemical sciences from Sri Lanka, said he likes coming downtown for any of the events, whether Winterfest or Black Swamp Arts Festival. Winter events are especially appreciated. He checked out the ice sculptures created to advertise local businesses and services. He said he was going to go back to campus and bring friends down to hear more of the music in the Chillabration tent. “I think it’s good to have things like this … so people can hang around and meet new people,” he said. Earlier in the day the tent had featured about 10 vendor tables. The fair was an innovation in Winterfest’s 10th year. By 4 p.m. it had been transformed into a music venue with Ginger and the Snaps the opening act for a lineup that would run until 11. Up front, beer and wine were being served at a bar fashioned from blocks of ice. A couple visitors had come intent on hearing The Snaps. Char Brock had come from Toledo. She wanted to see Ginger and the Snaps, but had also appreciated the ice sculpture and the high school art. “It’s a great idea because it brings people out and brings people together to see things you don’t normally see.” Kathy Wittman was looking at the high school art. “They’re so creative,” she said. Wittman appreciates the diversity of work exhibited. On her way to the tent, she planned to walk down on the other side of the street, to look at the school art displayed in shop windows. “I think it’s a great celebration. It gets people out. I try to come out every year.” She appreciated that the…


‘Chocolate Crawl’ proves to be a sweet success

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Downtown Bowling Green has seen its share of bar crawls. But Friday’s crawl was different – this one was for chocolate craving patrons. “We’re getting chocolate wasted tonight,” Brenda Rausch said with a smile, as she and friends left a store after gathering a chocolate treat. The Chocolate Crawl, which kicked off Bowling Green’s Winterfest Chillabration weekend, involved 18 downtown stores, and raised money for United Way of Wood County. Since this was the first Chocolate Crawl in Bowling Green, the thought was to start out small. But once the word was out, the tickets went like – well, candy. The goal to sell 200 tickets was quickly surpassed, with the sales finally cut off at 400. “We could have sold a lot more tickets,” said Sue Clanton, director of the United Way in Wood County. Participants were given golden tickets promising “chocolate treats beyond your wildest dreams.” They were also given downtown maps with red hearts signifying each of the 18 businesses handing out chocolate delicacies. The stores participating in the Chocolate Crawl provided their own treats, Clanton said. “They came up with whatever they wanted to serve,” she said. For Waddington Jewelers, that meant a chocolate fountain. For the Cookie Jar, that meant chocolate cookies warm from the oven. And for Reverend’s Bar & Grill, that meant choco-tinis – at least for those crawlers over age 21. “Everybody’s come up with something unique,” Clanton said. As Brenda Rausch, Pam Irwin, Jolynn Feather and Erika Harris made their way on the crawl, they visited shops they had not been in before. “I’m going to come back here,” Rausch said about the Painted Clovers shop. “It’s a great thing for the community to bring people downtown,” Irwin said. About an hour into the Chocolate Crawl, the women’s favorite was the chocolate cupcakes from Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro. Later along the chocolate tour, the group had a new favorite – the chocolate martinis. “This is worth every hot flash we’ve had this evening,” Irwin said. Elsewhere on the crawl, Kelly Driver and Tara Barker came prepared with bags to carry home their chocolate goodies. “Our favorite so far is the Eden brownies,” from Eden Fashion Boutique, with the chocolate doughtnut holes and hot cocoa from Grounds for Thought coming in second, Driver said. At Waddington Jewelers, people lined up to drench marshmallows and strawberries in the chocolate fountain.  Waiting his turn was Zach Durliat, a Bowling Green State University student from Arlington. “We’re college students, so we love free food,” or at least very inexpensive food, Durliat said. “Free food – we’re there. Plus, it’s a good thing to do on a Friday night.” The chocolate fountain proved to be so popular that the store staff had to run out to resupply the strawberries and skewers. Nearby…


CD relives memorable night that bluesman Luther Allison put Howard’s on the map

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Back before Howard’s was Howard’s Club H. Back when it was on the west side of North Main Street. Back when it served liquor, beer, wine, and sandwiches prepared upstairs, and it also served a lot of colorful characters, some of whom lived in the rooms out back. What it didn’t offer was live music. That is except for when a college professor assembled friends and guitars for an impromptu hootenanny singing folk songs, some with decidedly blue lyrics. When the Wood County District Public Library bought the property in the late 1960s as a site for its new facility, the bar was displaced across the street to the former Modern Heating storefront, and then to the room next door. For Charlie Davis the long-time manager this was an opportunity. Yes, the place that opened Feb. 14, 1973, was nicer. The floors were level for one thing. “It was supposed to be more of a club atmosphere instead of just a watering hole,” remembers Tom Lambert, who had worked at the bar since returning home from the Army. It also had room for live music. Davis had been wanting to host bands, especially blues bands, for a while, and now he had his chance. He started booking acts including J.B. Hutto, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Dawkins, as well as locals including Diamond Reo (not the 1980s national act with a slightly different spelling). The music drew decent crowds until about 18 months later when Chicago bluesman Luther Allison came to town for a September weekend in 1974. Lambert was manning the sound booth. He brought along his reel-to-reel tape recorder and jerry-rigged a connection. He caught local history on tape. The first night’s crowd was modest, Lambert remembers. Allison came to party, and the room could hardly contain his energy. Davis remembers Allison getting up on the bar and walking down in true blues fashion, jangling the lights as he went. When he got to the end he didn’t stop. Trailing a long cord to keep his guitar plugged in, Allison headed out the door and ended up playing in the middle of Main Street. A night to remember. Lambert said that once word got out about Friday’s show, the bar was packed the next night. In the early morning hours of Sunday, Lambert played the tapes from the shows back to Allison and his band. They enjoyed reliving the nights. Then the tapes were set aside. Lambert made a cassette for his brother in Oregon. A footnote. Howard’s meantime has established a foothold as a mecca for blues and rock. The bar’s fortunes waned at times, but now it’s enjoying a renaissance. And some 40 years later, Lambert plays the cassette of a night that ignited that tradition to John Henry, owner of Third Street Cigars in Waterville…


BG Winterfest celebrates 10th year

From WINTERFEST BG CHILLABRATION  Bowling Green invites you to the Coolest Weekend of the Year during the 10th Annual Winterfest BG Chillabration full of winter themed activities for everyone. We will kick things off downtown with the merchants Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser for the United Way on February 9th. The Frozen Swamp Tent will be a Winter Market by day and host live music, beer, wine and refreshments by night on February 10th on the corner of S. Main St. and Clough. Also on the 10th downtown the Ice Garden will highlight ice sculptures and carving demonstrations with Mascots of all kinds on hand to greet the kids. This three-day fun-filled community event also features Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, 1BookBG Trivia, Chili & Soup Cook-Off, Frostbite Fun Run, Cookie Creations, Youth Dodge Ball, the new Black Swamp Curling Center Learn to Curl, Window Youth Art Exhibition, Four Corners Gallery BGHS Art Exhibit and WC Library events to include Solar over Smores and I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt. The Slater Family Ice Arena will be hosting Bobcat hockey and public skating. FRIDAY • 10 a.m. -7 p.m. BGHS Art Show, Four Corners Gallery • 3:45 – 6 p.m. Youth Dodgeball, Grades 3-8th, BG Community Center • 5-9 p.m. Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser, participating merchants downtown funds going to United Way (tickets available at Downtown BG, Merchants and United Way) • 6 p.m. BGHS Bobcat Hockey vs. St. Johns, Slater Family Ice Arena (ticket required) • 7-8:50 p.m. Public Skate, Slater Family Ice Arena (skate rental available) SATURDAY • 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt, WC Public Library Second Floor • 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Winter Market in the Frozen Swamp Tent offering vendors of all kinds, BIGGBY coffee & hot cocoa, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 11 a..m 1 mile Frostbite Fun Run, City Park (pre-registration & fee) 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Ice Carving Demonstrations by Ice Creations, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Mascots in Ice, meet & greet the mascots while they model for sculptures, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 10 a.m. -4 p.m. 1BookBG Trivia Fun, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 12-2 pm Chili & Soup Cook Off, Vet Building at City Park ($5 tasting) • 1:30-2:30 p.m. Cookie Creations for Kids, Girl Scout Building at City Park • 2-6 p.m. BGHS Art Show, Four Corners Gallery • 3:30-5:20 p.m. Public Skate, Slater Family Ice Arena (skate rental available) • 3-5 p.m. Carriage Rides, Four Corners Center (free) • 4-11 p.m. Frozen Swamp Tent offering beer, wine, snacks and live entertainment (beverage tickets at door) • 7-8:50 p.m. Public Skate, Slater Family Ice Arena (skate rental available) SUNDAY • 1:30 p.m. BGHS Hockey Game vs. Cathedral Chartard, Slater Family Ice Arena (ticket required) • 2 p.m.  Solar Oven Smores, WC Public Library Event (free) • 3-5 p.m. Learn to Curl Class,…


Ice bar & garden gives BG a place to chill

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Winterfest BG Chillabration is back for 2018 even bigger and better than last year. The Saturday evening of live bands, incredible ice bar and amazing ice garden met with rave reviews.  This year the heated Frozen Swamp Tent will not only provide shelter for live music from 4 – 11 pm, it will also present the first ever Winter Market from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  All this happens in the Huntington parking lot on the corner of Clough and S. Main Streets. This is also the location for our beautiful ice garden and live ice carving demonstrations.  The ice garden officially opens at 10 am. This year we will host mascots from 10 am – 6 pm and they will be the models for our extremely talented ice carvers from Ice Creations.  This is sure to be a hit with every age group.  The schedule of these live sculptures and appearances are:  10 am – Bobby and Betty Bobcat, Noon – Walleyes’ Spike and Cat Trick, 2 pm – Freddie and Frieda Falcon, 4 pm – Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot.  Many thanks to the sponsors of these live demonstrations; Almar Property Management, Greenbriar Inc., Thayer Honda and Walmart and to those that made it possible for us to have all these great mascots at our event; The Mud Hens, BGSU Athletics, Bowling Green City Schools and Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro.   There will be Mud Hens tickets given away as a part of the Walleyes sculpture demonstration and Thayer Honda will have giveaways including a $100 Visa Card during the last demonstration of the day.  BGSU Athletics will be on hand to let us know about the special programs they have going on too! Our incredible 6 foot ice bar that will be unveiled at 4 p.m. was sponsored by Nate and Wally’s Fish Bowl, Everyday People and Uptown/Downtown. They are all businesses in Downtown Bowling Green.   The design is under wraps and is sure to be one of the “coolest” sculptures of this event. The ice garden sculptures this year offer everything from a huge piggy bank to a tricycle.  Those that attend will have a chance to win prizes at the following sponsored sculptures:  Elite Collegiate Apparel, Howards Club H, Sundae Station and For Keeps Gifts is offering customers a special when they stop in and say what was inside their sculpture.  We received ice sculpture sponsorships from all of these businesses too:  Heritage Corners, BGSU, Copy Shop, Banfax Exterminating, Ben Franklin Crafts, Randall Roberts, CPA, Wood County Insurance, Main Street Ace Hardware, The Sentinel-Tribune,  The City of Bowling Green, BGSU Athletics, The Union Bank, Newlove Realty, The Four Corners Center, Marsh & Marsh Attorneys at Low, Blush Bridal, Brookdale Bowling Green, BG Parks and Recreation, BG Youth Hockey, and all these realtors of BG Danberry Realtors:…


BG has lot on its plate with Community Action Plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The completed Community Action Plan has given the city a lot to chew on. “What’s that saying, ‘You can’t eat a horse in one bite,’” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said about the plan. “There are so many things in there, we could get overwhelmed very quickly.” The CAP is like a smorgasbord that the city will have to decide what it can handle now on its plate, and what needs to wait. “It’s a lot,” Planning Director Heather Sayler said. “It can’t all be done at once.” The plan, which cost the city $89,000, will be presented to City Council and City Planning Commission members on Feb. 28, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. The city wants to make sure that others in the community join in the smorgasbord. “We can’t shoulder this all on our own,” Fawcett said. Those community partners include BGSU, businesses and residents. “We also need neighborhoods to champion this,” Sayler said. The Bowling Green Community Action Plan follows in the footsteps of the vision set by the Land Use Plan Update adopted by the city in 2014. It describes strategies to improve the quality of life for residents throughout the city, with a definite focus on the East Side and neighborhoods surrounding downtown. The goals of the plan are generating a stronger owner-occupied household market, attracting and retaining professionals and young families, developing high-quality rental units, encouraging greater investment toward improving existing properties, and establishing better community connections. The CAP has also been guided by comments received through the planning process, such as the need to address conflicts between homeowners and BGSU students, lack of housing diversity, ineffective zoning regulations, and misunderstandings about code enforcement. The plan offers “7 Bowling Green Principles” created to act as a tool to evaluate requests for new development and guide redevelopment and revitalization of the city’s core area. The plan focuses on the East Side, which has been greatly impacted by the growth of BGSU and has become a magnet for student rental properties. Over the years, the character of the neighborhood has changed from single-family owner-occupied homes into an area dominated by rental properties geared toward students, compounded by aging housing stock and lowered property values. The Land Use Plan emphasizes the opportunity to attract stable households to this community, making it walkable to downtown and the university. But the plan warns that given the lack of private reinvestment, impact on Bowling Green’s quality of life and relationship to the success of BGSU, the risk of not adequately addressing these neighborhood issues would be a major setback for the city, its residents and property owners. The Land Use Plan recommends broad initiatives intended to attract the city’s target market of young, educated professionals and starter families. The university, city, and local…


BG eyes 2018 goals – neighborhoods, food trucks, downtown cameras and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighborhood revitalization, food trucks, more cameras in the downtown bar district, and code enforcement by police made the list of 2018 goals for Bowling Green city officials. City department heads listed their top priorities for the year during a work session held Saturday morning for city council. Mayor Dick Edwards set the tone. “This is going to be a very ambitious year, and if we think otherwise, we’ll get smacked right in the face with it,” Edwards said. The mayor repeated some of the projects he mentioned at last week’s council meeting, including progress on Wooster Green, East Wooster corridor, and new City Park building. Unlike those highly visible projects, the city will also be updating its charter – making sure the effort is “citizen-driven,” Edwards said. And efforts will be made to define the city’s goal of being a “welcoming community.” The mayor talked about the city’s goal to become more diversified industrially. Sue Clark, the city’s economic development director, has reported increased interest in the city. “The phone has been ringing off the wall,” Edwards said. “It spells a very promising picture for 2018,” Edwards said, noting the importance of economic growth to city services. Edwards revisited a topic that consumed much of last year – the Nexus pipeline.  “That was gut-wrenching at times for all of us. That’s going to be a special challenge for us in 2018,” he said. City officials still have not been given a timeline for the pipeline construction. Concerns continue, the mayor said, about state legislation that could have negative effects on municipalities. Edwards has talked with State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, about the state’s plans for 2018. “They keep talking in very positive terms about supporting local government,” Edwards said about state officials. “All the words coming out of Columbus are encouraging, but the proof is in the pudding.” The mayor also took time to try resurrecting the city historic preservation effort that was started and then dropped. “I would at least like to get something before you that you can address,” he said to council. Cities like Toledo are taking advantage of tax credits to revitalize downtown historic areas. Bowling Green could do the same, Edwards said. “Other communities have really been benefitting from this,” he said. Each of the city’s department heads also listed some goals for 2018. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said she would like to work on updating city regulations for permitting peddlers, solicitors and itinerant merchants. That includes regulations for food trucks. “We get many, many calls about this,” Tretter said. The current rules require 150 feet of right-of-way between food trucks and the roadway. “This ordinance has not been updated in a very long time.” Finance Director Brian Bushong will be working on bond rating…