Downtown Bowling Green

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 green space, and minimize the amount of concrete. Those were two driving factors in this design.” Some residents asked questions on the surveys about restrooms, water fountains, trees, benches and parking. Those were not included in the initial plan because the design was just looking at the placement of three major components – an arched entry, a display area for a sculpture, and a gazebo-like structure. The space will include tree-lined streets, other landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style…


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 of community here,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “It’s nice to have some affirmation of all of the good work everyone does around here.” Fawcett mentioned teamwork of the university, city school district and city government. “It takes everyone to make Bowling Green the community it is.” This is the second time Bowling Green has been named one of the state’s best hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The last time was 10 years ago, said Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and…


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 to customers late Friday night. But, she said, word started circulating at Grounds for Thought during the day Friday, and since then she’s had a steady stream of customers in to buy the last few must-have items, and mementoes of the shop. Barb Bettinger was there to pick up a few more baubles. She miss the selection of jewelry, and she’ll miss the proprietor’s personality even more. “Definitely friendly.” Stewart started selling hats seven years ago in a space in the rear of Coyote Beads….


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 square. This plan has the least concrete. Mayor Dick Edwards pointed out that some citizens expressed concerns about the loss of too much green space in the original plan for the square. “We’ve tried to back off,” he said. Steering committee member Michael Penrod said he preferred the more formal look of the symmetrical plan, but he also liked the idea of less of the site being paved over. He questioned whether residents would like the “more Victorian” look of the task force plan, “or…


“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 that can serve as BG’s tree for another 30 years of memories. ~Michael Penrod WCDPL Director


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 storage and inspected. Penrod said Jones advised planting the tree this fall. The library will leave it up to the arborist to select the best tree, and then just write the city a check. Anything taller than 12 foot, he said, would probably require more watering and feeding of nutrients. A smaller tree could be surrounded by smaller portable trees to add to the festive atmosphere during the holidays. The decision was not an easy one for the board. Ellen Dalton wondered if they couldn’t…


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, having started with DirectTV. “I loved bath balms,” he said, “but as a guy no one in the market sells a masculine scent or gender-neutral scent.” He and Bail want to show bath products “can be gender neutral while retaining the quality we want from a local company. “We’re just trying to bring back the local vibe and bring back a quality American product,” Heaton said. The shop’s location downtown makes it accessible to college students, with later hours to fit their schedules. He said…


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 years later Cillian was born. “I grew up in this house full of instruments. Several days a week some kind of musical activity was going on.” He started on the tin whistle, then graduated to the pipes. He tried the fiddle “but it felt alien to me.” As a teenager he drifted away a bit. He was active in sports. He played flute in orchestra and saxophone in school combos. “But I always loved the music.” Still “it was down my list of priorities.” It…


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 could be more,” she said. The event created new and strengthened existing relationships between neighborhood groups, the city and students. “These partnerships will be great,” Sayler said. The event also served its purpose of bringing campus and community together – with all ages attending the block party. “That’s been really cool to see,” Rosa said. For example, the event brought Karen Walters and some young thespians from Horizon Youth Theatre to the event. After performing in front of the courthouse, they checked out the chairs…


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, and the steering committee envisions it being used in the future for events like Friday afterwork gatherings, concerts, perhaps farmers’ markets or flower shows. But decisions must be made on whether the space can be used for such events as weddings, the mayor said. “A site like this has tremendous potential for the businesses,” Callecod said. The mayor suggested that other communities with similar sites be consulted. Money is also an issue, with a goal set to raise at least $300,000 through donations. More will…


All of BG invited to giant community block party

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Citizens of Bowling Green are invited to a giant block party on Saturday, April 22. Actually, it’s a party covering multiple blocks and the entire city is welcome to attend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The idea for “Court Street Connects” was born at a Community Action Plan meeting last year. The concept for a block party was top on the list for local residents wanting to bring about positive changes in city – especially the East Side. Court Street was identified as a great location since it is a natural corridor between Bowling Green State University and downtown. But the party is reaching far beyond that one street, said Heather Sayler, the city’s planning director who has been working on the Community Action Plan. “To improve neighborhoods, you’ve got to bring a lot of people together,” Sayler said. “It’s really exciting.” Those coming together to make the block party a big bash include the city, BGSU, Wood County, fire division, police division, parks and recreation department, bicycle safety commission, BG City Schools, Wood County Historical Society, local businesses, library, bookmobile, the Common Good, county solid waste agency, county park district, Wood County Hospital, East Side Neighborhood Group, Habitat for Humanity and more. “It’s all free,” Sayler said, including many children’s activities. Various types of entertainment will be provided from the Wood County Courthouse steps, including acoustic music, theater and poetry reading. There will also be “pop-up art” along the street. Q’dobe will have a food truck on site. The city will also be test driving  bike lanes, which will be painted on the south side of Court Street, from Prospect Street to Thurstin Avenue. “People want more transportation options,” such as bike lanes, Sayler said. “This is a cheap, low-cost way.” City officials hope to measure the popularity of the bike lanes. “We’re actually going to collect some data.” In addition to the bike lane, the Court Street Connects event is also intended to highlight the assets of the neighborhood – historic homes, the grand…


Pro Musica, Naslada Bistro team up to raise funds for music student enrichment

From PRO MUSICA Naslada Bistro, in downtown Bowling Green, will be hosting a fundraiser for Pro Musica from March 27 (Monday) – April 1 (Saturday). A portion of each bill will be donated to Pro Musica during the weeklong event. All monies raised will be use to fund student travel grants for students in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. Patrons need to mention Pro Musica when they order. Located at 1820 S. Main Street in Bowling Green, the bistros name mean “lingering over excellent food and sipping quality wine in the company of good friends” in Bulgarian. It is known for its authentic European and American cuisine prepared with the freshest of ingredients. Pro Musica, funded by nearly 250 dedicated alumni, friends, parents and members of the Bowling Green community, sponsors a wide variety of musical events and provides financial to music students for educational travel projects. In addition, the organization provides funding for scholarships and various awards at Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. The organization supports raises funds to support student-initiated educational travel projects to attend workshops, festivals, competitions or master classes, both domestically and internationally. Every dollar Pro Musica raises goes to help students. As a bonus, diners may wish to pair their meal with concerts being offered during the college’s annual Jazz Week events. Concerts include: Tuesday (March 28), Vocal Jazz Ensemble featuring jazz vocalist Kim Nazarian, 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall; Wednesday (March 29), Jazz Faculty Group, 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall; Thursday (March 30), Jazz Lab Band I with guest trombonist Alan Ferber, 8 p.m., Kobacker Hall, (March 30), Coffee & Classics, 7 p.m., Wood County Public Library and Saturday (April 1), Bravo BGSU! A Celebration of the Arts, 6 p.m., Wolfe Center for the Arts. Bryan Recital and Kobacker halls are located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. The Jazz Lab Band I concert and the Bravo! BGSU!! A Celebration of the Arts event require tickets. For further information, and how to purchase tickets, visit www.bgsu.edu/musical-arts/events.html.


Music rings out up & down BG’s Main Street

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music brought people together in downtown Bowling Green Friday night. On South Main Street more than 100 people gathered at Grounds for Thought for “Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song” a protest song singalong led by three of the four members of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. A couple blocks north more than 100 people celebrated the ageless power of rock ‘n’ roll with The Welders, who for more than 30 years have been staging a spring break show at Howard’s Club H. Mary Jane Saunders, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, opened “Singing for Our Lives” at Grounds by explaining her rationale for suggesting the event. Many are feeling stressed and uncomfortable in the current political climate, she said. That’s been expressed in several rallies, most held in the green space next to the Presbyterian Church.             The sing-along of classic songs was offered as an occasion “to have fun together” while not forgetting the cause that has united so many in the community. “Music has the power to empower and to energize us,” she said. Pop music historian Ken Bielen gave a brief introduction to protest music, much of it by simply quoting memorable lines. He recalled that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who urged Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. “When people get together in the right combination, history is made.” He then recalled Country Joe McDonald’s admonition to the throngs at Woodstock singing along to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” “I don’t know how you expect the stop the war when you can’t sing any better than that.” And at first the singing at the Grounds event was, let’s say,  dutiful. But humor, another unifier, helped pull everyone in. After singing the Holly Near song that gave the event its title, Jason Wells-Jensen joked about the setting of the microphone, saying all short people were the same height to him. At which point bandmate…


BG to see ‘Good Neighbor Guide’ and community festival plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next week Bowling Green residents will get a sneak peak at the new “Good Neighbor Guide” and plans for a community festival. An open house on the Bowling Green Community Action Plan will be held Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the atrium of the Wood County Courthouse. Citizens will be able to view and comment on the planning concepts for the city’s East Side. Also on view will be the new “Good Neighbor Guide” with descriptions of various community problem issues, permits, penalties and contact information. The open house, guide and festival were discussed Tuesday evening during a joint meeting of Bowling Green City Council and Planning Commission with the representatives of Camiros, who are working on the city’s Community Action Plan. (A story on the zoning discussion at the joint meeting will appear Wednesday on BG Independent News.) Plans for the Court Street Connects Festival will also be on display at the open house next week. The festival, set for April 22, is to create stronger connections from the downtown to Bowling Green State University. The all-day event will be held on the front lawn of the county courthouse. Its purpose is to celebrate the city’s East Side, with historic home tours, safety demonstrations at the fire station and Earth Day events. The Court Street Connects Festival will also serve to test on-street bikeways from BGSU to Prospect Street, along the south side of Court Street. The bikeway will stay in place for the following week. Volunteers are being sought to help with the April 22 event. At next week’s open house, the four draft concepts of the Community Action Plan will also be highlighted: Preservation of historic and green spaces. Activation of park and other community areas. Connection of people in the neighborhoods. Evolution of the East Side of the city.