parks

County park district to make its case for renewal levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When voters see the Wood County Park District levy on the May 2018 ballot, park officials really hope the voters don’t confuse this levy with the park levy recently passed in Bowling Green. Many local citizens seem to confuse the county park district with the Bowling Green parks and recreation department. And that has the county park board a bit worried about its 1-mill renewal levy set to appear on the May 8 ballot. “There is a very big disconnect” between the two park programs, said Jamie Sands, volunteer services and communications specialist with the county park district. That could be particularly bad for the county park district if voters confuse the May levy with the city park and recreation levy passed in November. “People think they’ve already passed the levy for the parks,” Sands said Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Wood County Park District Board. “We’re hoping to get the word out.” The county park board voted unanimously Tuesday to put a 1-mill levy on in May. Board President Denny Parish stressed that the renewal will be same millage sought when the park district last passed its levy in 2008. “Which means no new taxes,” Parish said. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. “It won’t cost individual homeowners more than they’ve been paying for the last 10 years.” After Tuesday’s meeting, Wood County Park…

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Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing…


Taming invasive plants so they don’t take over nature

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Bowling Green Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz took over at Wintergarden Park 17 years ago, he led Jennifer Windus, of ODNR, on a tour of the wild acres. He proudly showed her the woods and the prairie. But Windus, now retired from ODNR, couldn’t help but notice all the non-native invasive plant species that were taking over the park. She zeroed in on the 4-foot tall impenetrable garlic mustard plants. “You are the poster child for everything that can go wrong,” Gajewicz recalled her saying. That was then. After years of volunteers and staff pulling out the stubborn garlic mustard and other non-native invasive species, Wintergarden is a back-breaking success story. “My sons can both identify garlic mustard while going 60 mph down the highway, and insist that we stop to pull it out,” Gajewicz said. The efforts have worked, according to Windus, who is now president of Ohio Invasive Plants Council. “I am really impressed with all the work you are doing,” she said last week after taking a tour of the park that she once called a “nightmare.” Windus returned to Bowling Green last week to talk about “Good Plants Gone Bad,” at the annual Kuebeck Forum offered by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Many of the non-native invasive plant species look like beautiful wildflowers or vines to the inexperienced eye. But if left to roam, some can rapidly take over natural areas, Windus said. They reproduce quickly and have no natural controls. “They out compete native species,” she…


City athletic fields taking shape by community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 20 acres behind the Bowling Green community center are gradually taking shape – with soccer goals to score, obstacles to climb, and soon open grassy fields to play on. Last year, four of the 20 acres just south of the community center were turned into “pristine game fields,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. That was the first goal for that site in the five-year master plan, Otley reported to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board last week. Then an obstacle course was built for those wanting an extra challenge. And a portion of the acreage is being restored as a natural prairie area. Next the remaining 12 acres or so will be leveled and reseeded for an open grassy play space. “The plan has always been to level and seed,” so the site will be “playable for anything.” In time, the space could be used for some outdoor fitness classes, Otley said. Parking for the athletic site is in front of the community center, so a trail will be paved between the parking lot and the fields. And since Newton Road has flooded twice in recent years and required closure of the community center, the paved trail may be wide enough to be used as an emergency roadway from Haskins Road to the community center. Eventually, restrooms and more storage may be added to the athletic fields as well, Otley said. A fence was erected last year along Haskins Road to keep soccer balls from…


Plans revealed for new building in BG City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By this time next year, the Veterans Building and Girl Scout Building in Bowling Green City Park may be reduced to piles of rubble. In their place a new building will be constructed. The community got a sneak peak at the new City Park building plans Tuesday evening. The drawings were displayed in the stifling heat of the Veterans Building, and portrayed a design much different than the existing structure. The new building won’t be unbearable in the heat, it won’t have cracks in the walls, it won’t have crumbling blocks, and it won’t have mold on the ceiling. “It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Bob Callecod. “I’m very impressed with the design.” The new building will incorporate design elements of the historic depot at the park entrance and Needle Hall which stands next to the Veterans Building. “This building will add so much vitality,” Callecod said. “It will be a wonderful view as you come into the park.” Joan Callecod appreciated the flexibility of space in the new building, which includes a catering kitchen. “It’s very attractive,” she said. The new building is estimated to cost $4.5 million – with that price including furnishing, landscaping and moving of the depot building to another location. The city parks and recreation department will not be seeking new money for the project, explained Kristin Otley, director of the department. “It did not make sense to keep pouring money into these buildings,” she said. The city passed a park and rec levy recently,…


Wood County Park District employees get 2.5% raises

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District employees have been granted cost of living pay increases of 2.5 percent, retroactive to the beginning of this year. The pay raises cover the district’s 27 full-time and four permanent part-time staff members, according to Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. Munger said the park district did not give cost of living raises at the end of 2016, when the Wood County Commissioners granted 3 percent raises to other county employees. The park board members said at that time they would reconsider and discuss the raises at a later date. In September of 2016, the park board did approve pay raises recommended by an outside consultant which performed a compensation study. The raises were granted to 20 park employees in three phases starting in September and completed in April. Munger saw his salary go from $71,697 to $86,587. The assistant director’s salary increased from $55,224 to $67,572; the operations manager’s went from $49,982 to $59,167; the field operations manager’s changed from $49,982 to $60,714; and the chief ranger pay increased from $48,360 to $55,300. Most of the other raises ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 annually. In April, other hourly raises were granted to get park employees up to minimum standards. Those raises affected 12 workers, with hourly raises ranging from 16 cents to $1.46. The park district is still trying to recover after exorbitant raises were recommended by the board in 2010 based on a consultant study. After an outpouring of criticism, those raises were rejected. That…