Environment

Bowling Green takes ‘green’ part of name seriously

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amanda Gamby’s new job may fall short of being glamorous. It’s had her tagging garbage bins, going through recycling, and riding bike for the first time in eight years. But as Bowling Green’s first ever sustainability coordinator, Gamby doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is a true believer in the city’s environmental sustainability – whether that involves energy production, recycling, bicycling or clean water. Gamby, who spoke Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, said the city has already made some serious strides toward sustainability. “We’re really already doing some pretty cool things,” Gamby said. “We’re just not telling about it very well.” So that is part of her job. Gamby, who previously served as the Wood County environmental educator, has expertise in public outreach and education for very young children to senior citizens, and everyone in between. And she wants them all to know that 42 percent of Bowling Green’s electricity comes from renewable sources. “That’s a pretty big chunk of the pie,” Gamby said. The city was the first in Ohio to use a wind farm to generate municipal electricity, starting in 2003. “The joke is that it’s a wind garden because it’s only four,” she said. But even though it’s just four turbines, some doubted the city’s wisdom and investment in the $8.8 million project. “Many people thought Daryl Stockburger was crazy,” Gamby said, of the city’s utilities director at the time who pushed for the wind turbines. But the turbines have been generating power ever since. The turbines are as tall as a 30-story building and generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power — enough to supply electricity for approximately 2,500 residential customers. Debt on the wind turbine project was paid in full in 2015, which was several years earlier than planned, Gamby said. And now, the city is home to the largest solar field in Ohio. The 165-acre solar field consists of more than 85,000 panels and is capable of producing 20-megawatts of alternating current electricity.  In an average year, it is expected to produce an equivalent amount of energy needed to power approximately 3,000 homes.  It will also avoid approximately 25,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year since the energy is generated from a non-fossil fuel resource. The city is also talking about building a community solar field…

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Researcher spells out threat of superbugs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Superbugs may sound like a new summer time horror movie, but the dangers they pose are real. This past semester Dr. Shannon Manning, from Michigan State University, presented “Superbugs! Antibiotic Resistance Matters,” the keynote address of the Ned Baker Public Health Symposium. The talk, despite its sensational title, was aimed at those in public health. The talk delved deeply into biological mechanisms as Manning explained the rapid evolution of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics and other treatments. The use of antibiotics, she said, goes back to well before people knew what they were. They were present in ancient beer, an unpalatable brew akin to liquid bread dough. Egyptians used honey and lard to treat wounds because of the anti-microbial properties. But superbugs arose only after scientists understood these properties and created drugs. This launched an evolutionary war between the drugs meant to cure diseases and the pathogens that cause diseases. While the antibiotic kills most of the pathogens, a few cells immune to the antibiotic survive, and thrive, creating new strains immune to the antibiotic. That led to the emergence of superbugs. “They can cause high rates of morbidity and mortality in human populations and also are causing high rates of disease in animal populations,” Manning said “Some of these superbugs tend to be more virulent causing more severe infections.” That leads to high rates of death and long-lasting health problems, she said. Patients end up “sicker for very long period of times.” “We do have a set a resistant pathogens that cannot be killed by any of known drugs that we have,” Manning said. “Many of these pathogens and others have developed resistance to many types of antibiotics. These are increasing in number.” None of this should have been surprising. Alexander Fleming the scientist who first isolated penicillin warned of the drug’s of overuse, Manning said. Unheeded, his warning was proven true quickly. At first penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Staph aureus killed 70 percent of its victims before the drug was discovered. Those fatalities dropped dramatically once people started taking penicillin. That prompted increased use of penicillin. Nature reacted, and drug-resistant strains evolved. Death rates rose again. Hospitals are battlegrounds. They have many patients who already have compromised immune systems and are targets for these new drug-resistant pathogens. The war between drugs and pathogens was…


Airing out the arts in Simpson Garden Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art in the Park allows the arts to blossom right along with the flowers in Simpson Garden. For the fourth year, the festival of arts will take place at the garden, at the intersection of Conneaut and Wintergarden, Friday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event packs in a lot of activity into a two-hour span. It features plein air art – artists working in the open air, as well as strolling musicians, theater, at every turn, and children’s activities in the Simpson Building. That’s where performances will happen if the rain comes. But Alice Calderonello, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, urged people not to give up on the weather. Last year the rain threatened all afternoon, but then the skies cleared just in time for art walk. “For some reason heaven smiles on us,” she said. This year, said her husband, John Calderonello, there are more performers than ever. They will be spread from the upper healing garden where strolling performers from the university’s doctorate in contemporary music will do their musical version of plein air art, improvising to suit the mood. Also, new to the event will by the vocal ensemble Inside Voices, also near the healing garden. Down the way in the peace garden the Kaze No Daichi Taiko drum ensemble will perform. In stages closer to the building singer Tom Gorman, the old time ensemble Root Cellar Band, Irish tunes by Toraigh an Sonas, and the Black Swamp Drum Circle will entertain. In the amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theater will stage a preview of its summer musical, “Dorothy in Wonderland,” at 5:15 and 6:30 and in between the Black Swamp Players will read a section of Scott Regan’s original play “Peanuts and Crackerjacks.” The play will be part of the Players’ 51st season. Spread throughout the garden will be artists at work, though not so intently that they won’t take a time to chat with guests. Last year eight artists took part, but organizers are always hoping for more. Jules Webster of Art Supply Depo is again sponsoring a $100 gift certificate to go to one artist voted the favorite by those attending. While artists can sign up on the day of the event, Alice Calderonello encouraged them to register in advance to make sure the council can get their names on the…


Park District offers nature education programs in June

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT   PIPs: Dragonflies and Art in the Park Friday, June 1; 10:00 am – noon WW Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Look for dragonflies through their life cycle and create artwork guided by local artist Valerie Rowley. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Paddle the Pond Every Monday, June-August; 4:00 – 7:30 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Enjoy a float on the pond at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve; perfect for a family outing, comfort-builder for beginners, or relaxing exercise! An instructor will be available for introductory safety and skills education. All boats, life-jackets, and paddles provided. Boats and gear on a first-come-first-served basis. Enjoy a nature walk while you wait! The last Monday of every month will feature kayaks along with canoes: June 26, July 24, August 28.   Kayak Safety & Rescue Saturday, June 2; 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Three Meadows Pond 700 Three Meadows Drive, Perrysburg Join American Canoeing Association instructors to advance your kayak safety and rescue skills. Be prepared to take a swim through this involved course that will help you keep all boats afloat and prepare you for when they don’t. See online description for full details and registration requirements.  Cost: $25, FWCP $20 Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Senior Nature Hike Series Mondays, June 4 and August 6, 10:00 – 11:30 am June 4: WW Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg August 6: Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, Bowling Green Join a naturalist for exercise and the wonder of watching the seasonal changes. The hikes will offer a true mind-body connection. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Bird Song I.D. Part Two Tuesday, June 6; 7:00 – 8:30 pm Slippery Elm Trail: Cricket Frog Cove 14810 Freyman Road, Cygnet Get some experience listening for breeding birds as we build upon skills learned in March’s bird song program. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, June 7, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv. Group meets once a month. Register for any or all. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN). Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Bike Skills Bash Sunday, June 10; 1:00 – 3:00 pm Black Swamp Preserve 1014 South Maple…


BGSU ReStore sheds light on need to reuse material

Nick Hennessey, director of the Bowling Green State University Office of Sustainability, is all business as he gives a reporter a tour of the ReStore sale. We stroll down a long corridor that starts in the Sundial on the north side of Kreisher dorm, into the dorm’s lounge area. Lining the space are tables of stuff, lots of stuff, a variety of stuff from the makings of a Halloween party to books passed rows of clothes. There are microwaves, lamps, and electronics. This is a college-life version of Ali Baba’s cave. Then Hennessey stops. “I’m digging these green pants,” he said, picking up a pair of trousers from a stack. Setting them back down, he allows they probably won’t fit. Then he gestures to a nearby pile of blue jeans. In previous years, there were many, many more. “We used to get so many pairs of jeans,” he said. This year, “jeans seem relatively low for both men and women.” And that may be a good sign. “Maybe some people are hanging on to things longer. That would please me a great deal. Maybe people are having second thoughts about getting rid of stuff maybe they could reuse.” The ReStore is the culmination of his office’s When You Move Out Don’t Throw it Out (WYMO) campaign. It encourages students when they leave campus for the summer to donate what they don’t want or can’t fit in their vehicles. Some people misinterpret the treasure trove of castoffs, Hennessey said. “One of the things I like to clarify to people because we’re always hearing people come in and see all this stuff and say ‘I can’t believe students left all this stuff behind.’ The reality is they have to make intentional decision to donate it. They made the decision ‘I want to donate something to the WYMO program.’” That means hauling stuff to the lobby of their residence hall and putting it in the appropriate bids, even though the dumpster may be closer.” With the help of interns, Sierra Wilson and Wolfgang Ach, and numerous volunteers, these donated items are organized, cleaned up, and laid out for people to buy. Last year, Hennessey said, the sale netted about $4,000. That money helps support sustainability programs and education. Those proceeds, though, are not the reason for WYMO, Hennessey said. This sale itself is a demonstration of the importance…


Clean Lake 2020 Plan earns bipartisan support

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A perfect storm of sorts has led to the latest effort to fight for the health of Lake Erie – including weather projections of a moderate to bad year for algal blooms. So far this year, the lake has been the focus of a federal court order, U.S. EPA emphasis, Ohio EPA impairment declaration and a less than ideal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast. “All these factors created a sense of urgency that perhaps should have already been there,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said. And others in the state legislature seem to agree, showing strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly as a bill and a proposed statewide bond issue was introduced Wednesday in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan, introduced by Gardner and State Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, includes funding of up to $36 million in 2018 for efforts to reduce algal blooms through conservation practices and other Lake Erie initiatives. Also proposed is a Clean Water Ohio Bond Issue that would appropriate $100 million per year for 10 years after statewide approval by voters. Gardner believes that even those Ohio voters at the southern end of the state will support the bond issue since it involves help for more than just Lake Erie. The Ohio River has also seen its share of algal bloom problems. But the primary focus will be on Lake Erie, since an estimated 5 million people rely on the lake for drinking water, and tens of thousands of jobs depend on the lake. “That demands that the priority be on Lake Erie,” he said. The Ohio EPA’s declaration that the open waters of Lake Erie are impaired means little if the state doesn’t act, Gardner said. “The most important thing is – what do we do about it,” he said. “It’s what we do from now.” “Almost everyone realizes there’s a lot of work to be done to help the lake,” he said. One of the biggest factors in the algal bloom issue is something state legislators can’t control – heavy rainfall events. “It just means we have to be more aggressive and spend more on the right strategies to get it done,” Gardner said. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan has not only garnered bipartisan support in the state legislature, but…


BG DECA students’ runoff filtration idea cleans up at international conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two DECA students from Bowling Green poured in on, and scored a second place finish at the International Career Development Conference in April with a pitch for a product to address Lake Erie’s algae problems. Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker, both Bowling Green High School juniors, placed second in the entrepreneurship idea contest at the DECA conference held in Atlanta with their idea for a filter that would address the runoff from farm fields that’s polluting Lake Erie. They were the top U.S. team with first place going to students from Ontario. And the pair says they’re not stopping there. “This is a huge market and could provide a future for us and families, and better future for people around the world,” O’Donnell said. They see the technology they are working on as being the foundation for a business. For that reason, they asked for a certain amount of discretion when describing the details of their idea. The have applied for provisional patents. Simply put, it is a filtration system that goes on the end of the piping from field tiles that removes the nitrates, phosphorus, and sediment that run into the Lake. That runoff messes with the lake’s ecosystem and can cause the kind of toxic algae growth that turned off the tap for much of the region during the Toledo water crisis in 2014. O’Donnell and Stucker have known each other since middle school. It was in seventh grade that they learned about the problem facing Lake Erie. But it was more recently when Stucker was having a conversation with a friend that the idea started to hatch. His friend, from Colorado, said she was headed west over winter break to go skiing. He lamented they had nothing so exciting here in Ohio. When she brought up Lake Erie, he said, it was too cold part of the year and toxic in the summer. This got him thinking about what could be done. This became the topic for his and O’Donnell’s DECA project. Trident Filters was born. Both are students in Penta Career Center’s satellite marketing program offered at Bowling Green High School. Their teacher Cara Maxey said the partners launched into the project with rare commitment.  “They worked extremely hard on their own networking,” she said. “They put in the extra time and effort outside the…