parks

Wood County Park District awards employee pay raises

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District is trying to clean up the last of the mess left behind from the controversially large pay raises granted – then canceled – for employees in 2010. Last week, the park board voted on its 2019 budget, including standard cost of living raises plus step raises for all employees. However, some of the employees will be seeing larger raises in their paychecks. That’s because a consultant found that the pay rates for some positions needed updating, Park District President Denny Parish said. Those raises range from 10 percent to 23 percent. “There were flaws in that, we knew from the very start,” Parish said of the old pay system. “It’s been the subject of many discussions. Parish said the park district board’s two goals for 2018 were to pass the park levy and update the employee classifications as advised by Archer & Co. The levy passed easily in May, and now the pay grades are being revised. The original employee pay scale had 25 steps and 16 grades, put together by Parish. “The original chart was done by hand,” he said. The new chart is calculated based on hourly pay rates, rather than annual salary rates – which makes it much more exact, Parish said. Based on surveys and interviews, Archer & Co. determined that some employees were not be compensated for all of their responsibilities. The positions identified as not being paid enough included the operations specialists, administrative assistant, program naturalist, and the office manager/HR coordinator. “There’s no question that what happened years ago influenced this board,” Parish said. “We needed to convince the elected officials this was equitable and fair.” The board has been very cautious the last eight years after it was forced to reject the exorbitant pay raises that were met with an outpouring of criticism. That resulted in delayed pay raises and a new salary study conducted by the same consultant used by the county commissioners. Last week, the employees recommended for bigger boosts in their pay include the following: Office/HR manager, 10 percent raise from $61,505 to $67,620.Administrative assistant, 23 percent raise from $30,368 to $37,315.Program naturalist, 16 percent from $35,172 to $40,892.Three operations specialists, one 17 percent from $31,304 to $36,836; one 22 percent from $36,088 to $44,200; and one 22 percent from $33,696 to $41,412. All of the employees will get at least 3 percent raises – which is the amount expected to be awarded to employees under the Wood County Commissioners, Parish said. That rate, he said was 50 percent lower than the raise recommended by Archer & Co. That suggestion from the consultant did not take into account the “political reality” of the raises that exceed those granted by the county commissioners, Parish said. But in addition to the 3 percent cost of living raises, the employees will also receive step raises ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 percent more. Parish said a 3 percent raise for employees would bump up the full-time staff budget by $43,500, and would use up less than 2 percent of the park district’s unencumbered funds. But because of the higher raises for some and the step raises for all, the appropriations for the full-time staff went from $1,209,694 to $1,293,146 – an increase of $83,452. Two years ago, other large raises were granted to some of the park employees. Based on the recommendation of an outside consultant, Park District Director Neil 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…


Park district peddling mountain biking in 2019 budget

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District may invest some money to attract kids of that awkward age to use their county parks. The park district already has programs that appeal to young children and adults. But the difficulty is getting older kids and young adults to view the parks as a place to spend time. So the draft budget for the Wood County Park District has a tentative $200,000 set aside for an off-road mountain biking training area and a trail off the Slippery Elm Trail. Earlier this fall, the park board voiced support for a proposal to create pump tracks in Rudolph and a mountain bike trail in the savanna area along the trail. Park naturalist Craig Spicer presented a proposal for both concepts. He explained the mountain biking park and trail would help the district attract teens and young adults. A survey conducted earlier this year showed only 6 percent of the county park users were college student age. All parks suffer from the same difficulty luring teens and young adults, Spicer said. “They are one of the most finicky audiences,” he said. According to Spicer, off-road and sport biking are growing in popularity. “This is a good opportunity to ride that wave,” he said. The creation of an off-road biking park in Rudolph, and a trail in the woods north of the community would also be an investment in a county park in the southern part of Wood County. Currently just five of the county’s 20 parks are south of U.S. 6. The proposed park would be located in the one-acre area already owned by the park district along the Slippery Elm Trail, just south of Mermill Road. The park board had already agreed to have unused farm silos removed from the property. A proposal created by Pump Trax USA shows a park with a “strider” track for little kids, a beginner track, an intermediate and advanced track, and a skills trail for mountain biking. The area would have parking for 30 cars, a bike fix-it station, and a covered shelter house. Maintenance of the park would be similar to the neighboring Slippery Elm Trail, since the bike park courses would be constructed of cement or asphalt. Don DiBartolomeo, of the Right Direction Youth Development Program, told the board he would offer programming for free at the bike park. DiBartolomeo is in the ninth year of running the non-profit youth support program Right Direction, and organizes programming at the skate park in Bowling Green City Park. “Having something like this skills track is huge,” DiBartolomeo told the board. Toledo Metroparks has talked about such an off-road biking program, but has yet to establish one, he said. “This would put you on the map. Nobody’s done it yet,” DiBartolomeo said. Those working on their off-road skills could then try out their new talents in the Rudolph Savanna, located a half-mile north on the Slippery Elm Trail, Spicer said. “The nearest mountain bike trail is in Swanton,” he said. Spicer showed a rough sketch of how a three-mile single-track mountain bike trail could wind its way through the 50-acre savanna area. Park staff have found no evidence of endangered plants in the savanna, and a single-track trail will cause “minimal damage” to the area, he said. Neil Munger, director of the park district, added that the district has been talking about a mountain biking trail for quite a while. A total of $725,577 is in the draft budget for capital improvements at 16 county parks in 2019. Following is a list of the…


BG City Council votes 6-1 to make parks smoke-free

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s city parks will be smoke-free starting in 2019. The decision to do so was one vote shy of unanimous by City Council. Council member Bruce Jeffers was the sole vote opposing the smoke-free ordinance. While Jeffers supports the existing ban against smoking inside park buildings, he believes the expansion of the ban to all park property is going too far. It’s “reasonable” for people to be able to smoke in parking lots at the parks, Jeffers said. “If a person chooses to smoke there, in my view they are not really bothering anybody,” he said. But council member Sandy Rowland said the smoking ban is appropriate for all park property. “There are children outside playing. Those children are inhaling the smoke,” Rowland said. Rowland, who serves as city council’s representative to the parks and recreation board, said the decision to expand the smoking ban was the right one. “I laud the park board for making this decision of what’s best,” she said. “We know we’re doing what’s right.” After all, Rowland said, the parks department supports healthy lifestyles. “The parks promote health. It’s a brave move,” she said. Council member John Zanfardino asked if the vote for the smoking ban by the park board was unanimous. Rowland confirmed it was unanimous. Council member Mark Hollenbaugh asked if smoking in a car on park property would be a finable offense. City Attorney Mike Marsh replied that he did not believe it would be. When it came up for the vote, Jeffers was the only council member to vote against the ordinance. The smoking ban will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. Kristin Otley, parks and recreation director, said most park visitors obey with the current ordinance. “Most people have been accommodating,” she said. Otley said the parks department will post signs explaining that smoking will not be allowed anywhere on park property. After the council meeting, Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said his officers will start out by just issuing warnings during a “grace period” while people become acquainted with the change. After a certain period, citations will be issued. “You don’t want to be heavy-handed, but you want to send a message,” Hetrick said. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” Otley said earlier this fall. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. Earlier this fall, the park board voted to ban smoking anywhere in the parks, starting in 2019. Park staff had noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks. “We can make sure people using our facilities are in a healthy environment,” Otley said. Park board president Jeff Crawford agreed. “It fits with what we stand for as parks and recreation,” Crawford said at a park board meeting. As they debated the ordinance, the only concern expressed by the park board members was the possible loss of rental revenue from people using park facilities. But the board agreed that the loss of a couple rental fees was worth the effort to provide clean air to park patrons. “If we’re a trend setter in that area, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards commended the board for taking steps to completely ban smoking…


County park district shares funding to help local parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District made a commitment years ago to share its tax dollars with community parks around the county. When Neil Munger, director of the county park district, visits communities throughout the county, he is frequently reminded of the value of that sharing. “There have been a lot of times, going out and looking at some of these communities, I see that 90 percent of the improvements in the parks are made with these grants,” Munger said. “It’s really heartwarming to see that.” This year, the Wood County Park District again set aside $100,000 to disperse to local community parks. Fifteen requests for funding were received, with 13 being granted. “The board likes to spread it out as much as we can,” Munger said. “It’s all judged on merit,” he said. Applicants willing to share in the costs or donate labor are viewed favorably. One was rejected for an incomplete application, and the other because it was too large of a request, Munger said. Following is a list of how the grant funding will be used: Bowling Green: $19,640 to replace Bellard and Perkins shelter houses in Carter Park with one larger shelter that will be ADA compliant. Custar: $2,538 for tree and shrub planting. Cygnet: $4,346 for replacement of bleachers. Luckey: $3,915 for playground resurfacing. North Baltimore: $12,394 to replace basketball goals. Perrysburg: $10,463 for replacement of playground equipment. Perrysburg Township: $7,702 for playground resurfacing, replacement of swingset chains, and picnic table. Portage Township: $3,252 for concession stand equipment (commercial refrigerator and popcorn popper.) Rossford: $11,103 to resurface pickleball courts. Tontogany: $4,245 for disc golf course. Walbridge: $9,674 to replace fencing. Wayne: $7,522 for playground equipment (ADA swing and merry-go-round.) West Millgrove: $3,205 for park benches and funnel ball.


Park District offers November events

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District is offering a variety of programming during November including events tied to Native American Heritage Month. Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Certification Program Tuesday, November 6; 7:00 – 9:00 pm Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green This informational session will explain the details of this excellent natural resources education program. Beginning in April, this certification program is coupled with community-based volunteer service. Sessions include many topics such as birds, interpretation, ecology, native plants, mammals, insects, geology, and more! Certification co-sponsored by OSU Extension.Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Turkey Tomfoolery Thursday, November 8, 6:00 – 7:30 pm Otsego Park Thompson Stone Hall 20000 W. River Road, Bowling Green Wild turkeys are being seen much more frequently here in Wood County. Bring the kids out to learn about one of the largest birds in our parks, we will finish the evening with some games and fun activities. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, November 8, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. 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   Wild Skills: Shelter-Skelter Saturday, November 10; 10:00 – 11:30 am W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 25930 White Road, Perrysburg Be prepared for when your adventure turns south. Having a shelter to get out of the elements can be a life saver! Get hands on and learn to build one using only the nature around you. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   The Native American Experience Tuesday, November 13; 7:00 – 8:00 pm Otsego Park: Thompson Stone Hall 20000 W. River Road, Bowling Green What was life like for Native Americans as they coped with pressure from European settlers? Join guest speaker Taylor Moyer, Toledo School of the Arts humanities teacher and living historian, as he describes the interaction between the two cultures from a Native American perspective. Details of clothing, tools and other artifacts will be woven into the narrative.Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Fly tying by Wildwood Anglers Thursday, November 15, 6:00 – 7:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Join Brad Dunkle, local fly fishing guide and owner of Wildwood Anglers, for a small group intro to fly tying. All material and tools provided. Registration required, no walk–ins. Cost: $12, FWCP $8. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Wild Skills: Bow-drill Workshop Friday, November 16; 6:00 – 8:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 25930 White Road, Perrysburg Build and test out your own bow-drill fire-starting kit. Learn about the evolution of fire-starting, which materials work best, and how to identify the best wood for the job. Wood provided. Bring your own knife capable of substantial wood carving. $10/$5 FWCP. Leader: Craig Spicer Emerge: Cap 20. Must be 13 years of age or older (minors must have release of liability sign by adult before attending). Carving and knife skills will not be covered in depth – please become familiar and practice before attending. Full-tang knives preferred, with blades less than 5” long. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Demo Saturday, November 17, 1:00 – 4:00 pm Otsego Park 20000 W. River Road, Bowling Green Learn the process of carving hunting decoys, and see examples of decoys…


Carter Park shelters ‘interesting’ but need replacing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Removal of the two “teepee” shelter houses at Carter Park is the next big ticket item on the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board’s to-do list. So the park shelter houses will be the benefactors of next year’s Wine and Cheese Auction event held for the parks. This year’s Wine and Cheese Auction benefited Ridge Park. The event raised $24,495, according to park board member Jodi Anderson. “It was very successful, as always,” Anderson said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board. “It was a great event,” Park Board President Jeff Crawford agreed. It has already been decided that next year’s event will raise funds to remove the aging shelter houses in the middle of Carter Park. Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said the style of the current shelters is “interesting.” However, they are structurally questionable, and are no longer considered worthy of renting out. The parks and recreation department has applied for a grant to build one new shelter to replace the two older ones. However, the grant won’t pay the entire cost, Otley said. So funds raised from the Wine and Cheese Auction will be directed to that project. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley praised the recent maintenance improvements at Conneaut/Haskins Park. A new park sign has been installed, old shrubs have been removed, and the dumpster has been replaced by trash receptacles. The Conneaut/Haskins Park is in store for more changes, thanks to an anonymous donation for new trees in the park, Otley said. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting: Otley announced that the seasonal restrooms in the parks will be closed on Nov. 7. Year-round heated restrooms will remain open in City Park, Simpson Garden Park and Wintergarden Park. Otley reported the new City Park building is on-track, with construction likely to start next March. She expects the final plans to be ready to present to the board at its January meeting. Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, reported that the annual Zombie Mud Run was a success, with 133 participants this year. The board learned that new educational interpretive kiosks are being planned for Wintergarden Park, Carter Park and outside the Community Center to explain the native plantings in the parks.


County park district hits bullseye with archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The latest park hit the bullseye for archers in the Wood County area. On Tuesday, the Wood County Park District held its monthly meeting at the new Arrowwood Archery Park, located on Linwood Road, southeast of Bowling Green. The park adds archery to the activity list of canoeing, biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking and rock climbing offered by the park district. “It shows the diversity of the Wood County Park District and the diversity of the staff,” said Denny Parish, chairman of the park board. Parish said he is proud of citizen support and staff making the variety of activities possible. Park district Executive Director Neil Munger agreed. “The idea for this archery range actually came from public input,” Munger said. (A grand opening will be held Sunday.) After the meeting, park board members were given a chance to try their skills at the new archery range. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board got its annual visit from former park board member and current park patron Frank McLaughlin about the need for more bike accommodations by the county park district. McLaughlin said he was out on the Slippery Elm Trail again this past weekend. He said he can’t imagine any park in the county getting more use. “It’s like a freeway out there on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. While the trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore is great, more would be nice. “We could certainly use something from Bowling Green to Perrysburg,” McLaughlin said. Munger mentioned that as a member of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments bicycle committee, the park district has learned of possible plans to use Hull Prairie Road to connect Bowling Green and Perrysburg. McLaughlin noted the narrow nature of Hull Prairie. Wood County is also falling behind on connecting the Chessie Circle and North Coast trails, he said. A bike trail already stretches from Lorain to eastern Wood County, then picks up again in Lucas County heading west to Archbold. McLaughlin mentioned the park district owns land that could be used for a bike trail in the Perrysburg Township area. “It would be nice to see that happen,” he said. “This is the one missing piece,” he said of the east-west bike trail across northern Ohio. Munger said the park district is trying to use a regional approach on bike trails, and will continue to look for grant funding for such projects. The board also agreed to increase park shelter house rental rates to $40 per day. Munger said the rates had been $25 for the last 27 years or so. Other area shelter house rental rates are $30 to $80 for four hours. The park district rentals are all for full days. “It’s still a bargain,” board member Tom Myers said of the new $40 rate. “All of our shelters have electric, so if you bring a crockpot for a reunion,” there’s plenty of power, Munger said. “We’ve got some really good facilities.” In other business at Tuesday’s meeting: Munger mentioned the unexpected death of former park ranger Doug Carr. Board member Bill Cameron asked the district to consider some effort to remember Carr. Park police responded to board member Sandy Wiechman that the number has dropped of the people trespassing from Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve to the neighboring stone quarry. Munger said wetland plans are progressing at the Reuthinger Memorial Preserve. Once the corn is harvested, grading will be done, followed by seeding. “It’s been a long process, but a good one,” Munger said. The Arrowwood Archery Park grand opening will…


Park District opens archery range

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District introduces its newest park property. The Arrowwood Archery Park grand opening will be Sunday, October 14, 2018 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Try your hand at archery and receive a short safety and skills lesson available first-come, first-served. Guests are welcome to bring their own equipment. The new archery range, located at 11126 Linwood Road in Bowling Green, will be open every day of the year from 8:00 am until 30 minutes past sunset. It is a covered, open-air shelter that is free to use. Park visitors bring their own equipment for personal range use. Park programs will provide equipment and instruction. The first public program offered at the Arrowwood Archery Park will be the free Jack-O’-Lantern Open Archery on Saturday, October 27th from 10 am until 12:30 pm. Pumpkins and carving tools are provided to create your jack-o-lantern target. Expert instruction and archery equipment are also provided at this Halloween-themed outdoor recreation program. For more information about the 20 parks and nature preserves in the Wood County Park District system and about the public programs offered, please visit www.wcparks.org , or call 419-353-1897.  


Park fees to increase, but pool rates treading water for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Park fees will likely increase next year – but the city’s park and recreation board agreed Tuesday to not dive into rate hikes at the pool just yet. The board voted to raise rates for several park programs and facility usage by 3 percent. Excluded were programs that are already at the top that the market with bear. There will be no increase to membership fees at the community center, and a lower non-profit rental rate is being introduced. The proposed rate increases will be reviewed and acted on by City Council in October. Also on the list for proposed fee hikes were daily and season pool passes. But park board chairman Jeff Crawford asked that the proposed increases at the pool be studied further. He spoke about his wife’s experience teaching at Crim Elementary School, where a portion of the student body is lower income. Crawford said he would like to wait and see the summer statistics at the pool to see if it’s necessary to raise fees for kids using the facility. Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department, said families can get discounted passes. “I get that, but the parents don’t generally reach out for that,” Crawford said. Board member Jodi Anderson echoed that concern. Otley said that operating the pool is expensive. “Our expenses go up every year,” she said. The total revenues and expenses for this past summer aren’t available yet. The year was a good one for the pool – with attendance up by nearly 7,000. Labor Day weekend alone saw attendance of 1,598 at the pool. But those good years are needed to cover for bad years, Otley reminded. “I get what you’re saying,” Crawford said. However, he sees it from a different perspective, he explained. “If we’ve done well, we don’t need to raise them.” Crawford asked that while the other fee increases be passed on to City Council for approval, that the pool rates remain unchanged until after the board sees the numbers for this past summer. “I would feel more comfortable acting on this,” after viewing that information, he said. The board agreed. Recommendations call for a 3 percent increase in family pool passes, raising them by $4.50. The daily fee increase would be 25 cents. The rates were last raised in 2017. The proposed pool fees for daily admission are: $6.25 for adult residents; $7.25 for non-residents. $4 for child residents; $5 for non-residents. $5.75 for youth residents; $6.75 for non-residents. Annual fees proposed for pool passes are: $155 for resident families; $191 for non-residents. $108 for resident adults; $129 for non-residents. $98 for senior residents; $118 for non-residents. $88 for student residents; $98 for non-residents. Board member Karen Rippey said when she took visiting family members to the pool this summer they commented on the high daily pass cost. Otley said the Bowling Green pool gets several users from outside the city because its rates are lower than many other area pools. A day pass for Maumee’s pool, for example, is $8. “We have people coming from all over,” Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards thanked the board for delaying a decision on the pool rates until numbers for the past season are available. “There’s a huge part of me that appreciates your sensitivity” to children whose families can’t afford pool fees, he said. City Council member Sandy Rowland agreed. “It’s about doing the right thing,” she said. Following is a summary of 2019 fee recommendations that will be presented to City Council in October: Programs and events: 3…


Clearing the air – BG to ban all smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board put principle (and clean air) above profits Tuesday evening as members voted unanimously to ban smoking in city parks. The park board asked that City Council adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in the parks. The only concern expressed by the board was the possible loss of rental revenue from people using park facilities. But the board agreed that the loss of a couple rental fees was worth the effort to provide clean air to park patrons. “If we’re a trend setter in that area, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” Otley said. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. On Tuesday, the board voted to ban smoking anywhere in the parks, starting in 2019. “We can make sure people using our facilities are in a healthy environment,” Otley said. Park board president Jeff Crawford agreed. “It fits with what we stand for as parks and recreation,” Crawford said. “Maybe we’ll gain a few rentals.” Natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz said he doesn’t envision the smoking ban hurting park usage. He noted the smoking ban at BGSU has not cut into the university’s enrollment. “It doesn’t seem to be hurting them,” he said. Park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks.The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “I have no problem walking up to someone and saying, ‘Please smoke in the parking lot,’” Gajewicz said of the current rules. If staff ran into problems, they would call city police to assist. Passage of a city ordinance would strengthen the enforcement, Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards commended the board for taking steps to completely ban smoking in city parks. “Given what we’re all about with the parks, it makes really good sense from my perspective,” Edwards said.


Secrets to stay sealed – unopened time capsule likely to be buried again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It looks like secrets buried in City Park will stay buried in City Park – at least for another 15 years. The riddle of the mystery time capsule rediscovered last week was solved. The capsule was buried as part of the city’s 150th birthday party in 1983. The sesquicentennial  bash also featured a 150-foot banana split and square dance demonstrations. But as far as the secrets contained inside the time capsule – well, city residents may have to wait several more years to have those treasures revealed. Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said Monday that the original intention was likely that the time capsule remain buried for 50 years. It has only been 35 years since it was put in the ground during a community ceremony. “My guess is we will probably rebury it,” Otley said. The forgotten time capsule was rediscovered last week then city park staff and architects walked the area of City Park where a new building is being planned. The time capsule is under the footprint of the building. When the park department’s natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz posed the question about the time capsule last week on Facebook, it sent local residents scurrying for their local history sources. The time capsule is covered with concrete, a rock, and some etching that was too weathered to read. But some long-time Bowling Green residents recognized the location as the site of the sesquicentennial time capsule. The capsule was buried with great pomp and circumstance on Oct. 2, 1983, during a community gathering in City Park that commemorated the city’s 150th birthday. More than 1,000 townspeople showed up for the festivities which included a box lunch for $3 each, a hymn sing, children’s games, horseshoe tournament, pie baking contest judging, a style show of old fashions, softball games, wagon rides,and prizes awarded for a beard growing competition. Top-billing, right after the box lunch, was the burying of the time capsule. The event was recorded by Joan Gordon, who headed up the sesquicentennial committee. A photo taken by Jim Gordon shows local historian Lyle Fletcher burying the time capsule. But 35 years later, the time capsule, with its now undecipherable etching, had gone unnoticed. The mystery memorial would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the path of the new City Park building being constructed next year. The new building in City Park will take the place of the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. It has necessitated the moving or replacing of some memorial trees. And now, the time capsule will likely join in that transplanting – no longer a mystery except for its 35-year-old contents.


Help sought solving time capsule mystery in City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is being asked to help solve the puzzle of a mystery time capsule buried in City Park. (See update.) The time capsule, covered in concrete with a rock on top, has been there long enough to have been forgotten. It has gone basically unnoticed for years – except by the person mowing around it. But earlier this week when city park staff and the architects for the new City Park building walked around the site for the new structure, they happened upon the mystery memorial. “Somebody told me at some point that it was a time capsule,” Natural Resources Coordinator for BG Parks Chris Gajewicz said. The engraving in the concrete has a date, though the year is particularly difficult to read. The date appears to be Oct. 2, but the year could be 1958 or 1969 – or anything in between. “It’s so worn, it’s really hard to tell,” Gajewicz said. “It’s one of those institutionalized knowledge things that’s gone,” Gajewicz said. The mystery time capsule would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the footprint of the new City Park building being constructed next year. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green City Parks and Recreation Department, is confident the city will be able to solve the mystery. She suspects the time capsule is referenced somewhere in old park board minutes. “There may be records. We just haven’t dug them up – pun intended,” Otley said. The new building in City Park will take the place of the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. It has necessitated the moving or replacing of some memorial trees. But so far, the time capsule under the rock is the only unknown in the construction footprint. “It’s the only mystery,” Otley said. Seeing that Oct. 2 is the anniversary of the time capsule burial – though the year is unknown – Otley said that date might be a good time to unearth the capsule and see what’s inside. Gajewicz has posted a photo of the time capsule site on Facebook in hopes of jogging some memories of longtime townies. So far, the responses have been more humorous than helpful. “That’s just before I was born. Maybe it was to commemorate me,” one person posted. Another predicted that unearthing the site would not reveal a casket. And another asked “Where’s Lyle Fletcher when we need him,” a reference to a long-gone historian, who could recall just about everything about Bowling Green. So since Fletcher is gone, it’s up to the rest of Bowling Green to dig into their memory banks to solve the time capsule mystery.


Shared salute sought at new BG City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No battle lines were drawn, but there are some strong feelings about veterans retaining top billing in the new structure replacing City Park’s Veterans Memorial Building. City Council member Greg Robinette – a veteran himself – reported to council Monday evening that he had spoken with Dave Ridenour of American Legion Post 45 about the history of the existing building. The local legion had leased the building from the city for its post headquarters from 1929 to 1979, Ridenour said. Even after the headquarters moved, the city decided to continue honoring local veterans by keeping the name Veterans Memorial Building. While city officials would like to continue that tradition, they would also like to reduce the debt on the new building by looking for private sponsorship of the new structure. “I fully understand,” that desire to look for naming rights, Robinette said. The building name could be a compromise between a major donor and local veterans. “I think we can make that work.” But council member Bruce Jeffers expressed some concern that the respect for local veterans not be clouded by recognition of a private donor. He also talked about the value of a veterans display inside the new building. “It seems we might want to distinguish between those who have served in combat zones,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland said she supports the continued recognition of local veterans in the name of the building. However, she mentioned the effort the city is making to get a return on its investment of $3.75 million in bonds for the new building. The building is expected to be used by community members for events such as weddings, memorials and other public gatherings. “I think we have to be careful in the way we outfit the interior,” Rowland said. For example, a display of weapons of war may make the building less appealing to those wanting to rent it for occasions like weddings. “I hope we don’t plan on putting a cannon in there,” Rowland said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Earlene Kilpatrick, who is retiring from her position as executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “You’ve had a wonderful working relationship with the city,” Edwards said to Kilpatrick. During her years as director, the city saw many groundbreakings, the mayor said. “You haven’t allowed the ceremonial scissors to rest.” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter also thanked Kilpatrick for working so closely with the city. “It really has been a pleasure to work with you,” Tretter said. “You’ve been a tremendous asset.” Kilpatrick in turn thanked city leaders for their support. “You really care. That’s what’s so special,” she said. “Keep up the great work. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of that.” Also at the meeting, council approved the purchase of 1.57 acres at 315 and 325 N. Grove St. for $500,000. The property sits just to the east of the city’s water and sewer division at 324 N. Maple St. The property, which was formerly the site of BG Block and Lumber, will secure a long-term home for the water and sewer division, and possibly provide room for future growth. The water and sewer division could use three of the buildings on the property, totaling about 10,000 square feet, for cold storage of materials, hydrants, valves, topsoil and sand. The city’s electric division currently has transformers and other equipment sitting outside on the North Maple Street property. In other business: Tretter reported to council that work is ongoing to align the city’s land use plan…


Historic farm to be jammin’ and cookin’ again soon

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Carter Historic Farm will soon be cookin’ again. The historic farm, which is part of the Wood County Park District, is making its transition to being a working farm. That covers everything from the crops grown in the fields to the foods cooked up in the kitchen. “We’re going from a petting zoo to an actual working farm,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District said Tuesday during a meeting of the park board. “Nothing out there is static,” Baney said. Which means equipment like the antique tractors actually have to work the fields. The chickens, goats and farm cats serve a purpose. It’s hoped they will be joined by sheep, cattle and eventually horses. Visitors to the farm, on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, will be able to experience a day in the life of a depression era farm. “At the end of the day, the biggest thing a farm did was put food on the table,” Baney said. But there’s a glitch in that plan. The circa 1930 oven in the farmhouse kitchen has outlived its usefulness. The oven overheats, refuses to shut off, and even turns on all by itself. That poses a problem, since a lot of cooking programs at the historic farm require an oven, according to Corinne Gordon, historic farm specialist with the park district. So on Tuesday, the board heard a request to replace the old oven with a new oven that is designed to look like a 1925 oven. The oven would cost $5,399. “It’s a very specialized piece of equipment,” Baney said. But the oven is essential to programming at the farm, which offers educational programs on “farm to table” canning, using herbs from the garden, pickling and jam making. “For the women of the house, a good portion of the day would be in that kitchen,” Gordon explained to the board. But board president Denny Parish had other concerns. The price tag of more than $5,000 was “a hard swallow,” he said. “I know how this will look to many members of the public,” he said, fearing that citizens may view this as irresponsible spending after the recent passage of the park district levy. “I’m not sure right now that I can support this.” Parish asked if other options had been considered – like buying an actual 1920s-era oven, or asking the vendor Appliance Center to donate a portion of the cost. He also asked how often the oven is actually used at the farm. Gordon said the oven is used every day the farm is open, which is three days each week and for special events. A lot of school groups visit the site. “It’s going to be used continually,” she said, stressing the emphasis on the site being a working farm. It’s one thing to have home-cooked foods already prepared in the kitchen, “it’s another thing to actually smell it and taste it,” Gordon said. Gordon also said a new oven that looks old will be much safer than an authentic old oven. “I think it would be a worthwhile investment,” said Jim Witter, program coordinator for the park district. After discussion, Parish was still not thrilled with the park district spending so much on an oven – so he offered to put $2,000 toward the purchase himself. “Now I’ll call my wife and tell her,” Parish said with a smile. “You’re welcome to come cook on the stove any time,” said Neil Munger, director of the park district.  


Mountain biking park and path explored along Slippery Elm Trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District is hoping to hitch a ride on the off-road mountain biking craze. On Tuesday, the park board voiced support for a proposal to create pump tracks in Rudolph and a mountain bike trail in the savanna area along the Slippery Elm Trail. Park naturalist Craig Spicer presented a proposal for both concepts during the monthly park board meeting held at Harrison Park in Pemberville. The mountain biking park and trail would help the district attract teens and young adults. A survey conducted earlier this year showed only 6 percent of the county park users were college student age. All parks suffer from the same difficulty luring teens and young adults, Spicer said. “They are one of the most finicky audiences,” he said. According to Spicer, off-road and sport biking are growing in popularity. “This is a good opportunity to ride that wave,” he said. The creation of an off-road biking park in Rudolph, and a trail north of the community would also be an investment in a county park in the southern part of Wood County. Currently just five of the county’s 20 parks are south of U.S. 6. “There’s a little bit of imbalance there,” Spicer said. The proposed park would be located in the one-acre area already owned by the park district along the Slippery Elm Trail, just south of Mermill Road. The park board voted last month to have unused farm silos removed from the property. A proposal created by Pump Trax USA shows a park with a “strider” track for little kids, a beginner track, an intermediate and advanced track, and a skills trail for mountain biking. The area would have parking for 30 cars, a bike fix-it station, and a covered shelter house. “This project fits our mission,” Spicer said. “I think it will attract people for years to come.” Maintenance of the park would be similar to the neighboring Slippery Elm Trail, since the bike park courses would be constructed of cement or asphalt. Don DiBartolomeo, of the Right Direction Youth Development Program, told the board he would offer programming for free at the bike park. DiBartolomeo is in the ninth year of running the non-profit youth support program Right Direction, and organizes programming at the skate park in Bowling Green City Park. “Having something like this skills track is huge,” DiBartolomeo told the board. Toledo Metroparks has talked about such an off-road biking program, but has yet to establish one, he said. “This would put you on the map. Nobody’s done it yet,” DiBartolomeo said. Those working on their off-road skills could then try out their new talents in the Rudolph Savanna, located a half-mile north on the Slippery Elm Trail, Spicer said. “The nearest mountain bike trail is in Swanton,” he said. Spicer showed a rough sketch of how a three-mile single-track mountain bike trail could wind its way through the 50-acre savanna area. Park staff have found no evidence of endangered plants in the savanna, and a single-track trail will cause “minimal damage” to the area, he said. Spicer had no cost estimates for either the off-road bike park or trail, but said there are grant opportunities available. “We’re just at the beginning of this,” he told the board. Neil Munger, director of the park district, added that the district has been talking about a mountain biking trail for quite a while. The park board members all expressed their support for the training park and trail. Denny Parish, chairman of the park board, urged Spicer to move forward…