parks

Big year at BG parks – bubble soccer, Bigfoot & more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bigfoot, bubble soccer and birthday party packages are part the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department’s plans for 2018. Those, of course, are among the more click-worthy items planned. There are also the more humdrum items like policy reviews, paving, and painting at the pool. On Tuesday evening, the parks and recreation board reviewed accomplishments from 2017 and goals for 2018. The accomplishments included adding more youth and family fitness programs, making parks more accessible to people with disabilities, repairing the stone wall around City Park, paving more trails at Simpson Garden Park, beginning two-acre prairie expansion behind the Community Center, and adding to the splashpad at the pool. “We got a lot done in 2017,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. The goals for this year include: Demolish the Veterans Building, Scout Building and Depot in City Park and replace it with one new building. Expand youth and family fitness programs. Start bubble soccer league. Expand birthday party packages. Start programs for adult birding and adult nature study. Level and reseed turf in open area at Ridge Park. Continue paving trails at Simpson Garden Park. Continue to expand hosta garden to 1,000 different species. Continue to expand outdoor obstacle course behind community center. Offer aqua spinning class at the pool. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley presented numbers of people participating in various park programs. The total number of people attending park and recreation events last year was 18,591. “It’s pretty neat to look at that. I feel great about that,” Otley said. Jeff Crawford, president of the park and rec board, complimented Otley and her team for reaching that number. “Congratulations. I’m actually staggered at these numbers,” Crawford said. Following are some of the events and numbers presented: 3,906 attended community special events, like the Brown Bag Music Series, Frostbite Run, Art in the Park, pet show, concerts and lunches in the park. 7,519 attended adult and youth fitness programs. 389 attended adult sports programs, like volleyball and basketball leagues. 135 attended adult recreation events, like the Adult Egg Scramble. 468 attended youth and family events, like the Daddy-Daughter Dance, Pint Size Prom, BG Zombie Mud Run and Breakfast with Santa. 498 attended day camps and days off school programs. 1,662 attended youth sports programs, like dodgeball, soccer, basketball, softball, tennis and volleyball. 523 attended youth…


Park district to maintain solar sanctuary for birds, bees and butterflies

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District has agreed to play a role in a local sanctuary for butterflies, bees and birds. The park board voted unanimously Tuesday to maintain the 13.4-acre “solar sanctuary” planned around the solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. The project fits nicely into the mission of the park district, according to Neil Munger, executive director of the district. In exchange for maintaining the site, the park district can use the wildflower sanctuary as an educational tool. “It’s been an ongoing issue around the country – the loss of pollinator habitat,” Munger said. The city of Bowling Green is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the new 165-acre solar field. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The wild habitat area, which will be planted outside the fenced-in solar array, is intended to benefit various pollinators, crops, soil quality, water quality, foraging birds and Monarchs. Ohio is a priority location for Monarchs on their annual trek to Mexico. This region also has many crops that are suffering from inadequate pollination. Crops relying on pollination include tomatoes, blueberries, melons, soybeans, peppers, peaches, cucumbers, squash and apples. Honey bees account for more than $15 billion in agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Water and soil quality are also helped by the wildflower habitats because the native plants have deeper root systems and add nitrogen to the soil. The plants also attract insects, which are a food staple for many birds, and provide bird nesting areas in tall grasses. The wildlife habitat will be a team project of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the City of Bowling Green, Next Era Energy, American Municipal Power, and Bowling Green State University. The final partner to sign on was the park district, which will maintain the site and use it as part of…


BG moves ahead on roundabouts and City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green rounded out the year Thursday by approving steps for the city’s first roundabouts and a new building in City Park. During its final meeting of the year, City Council voted unanimously to issue a total of nearly $10 million in bonds to finance both projects. For the roundabouts, $6.2 million in bonds will be used to improve the Interstate 75 and East Wooster Street area by constructing rotary intersections. “This is a great piece of legislation to end the year on,” said council member Bruce Jeffers. The city has been working on the East Wooster improvements for years, he noted. Jeffers told Mayor Dick Edwards that he recently visited the community of Carmel, Indiana, which the mayor frequently points out as a community that knows how to use roundabouts. Carmel has 100 of the circular intersections. “The roundabouts are going to be great” in Bowling Green, Jeffers said. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both I-75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. The goal is made the entrance to the city more attractive, create a smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents at the interchanges. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. The bonds will help pay for the road widening, paving, resurfacing, grading, draining, constructing curbs, sidewalks and related drainage improvements, installing traffic signals and lighting, installing waterlines and sanitary sewers, and constructing a sanitary sewer pump station. The roundabout project is being worked on with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The current estimated cost for the entire project is more than $8.8 million. The city and utility portion of the project is approximately $6 million. An ODOT safety grant of $750,000 in addition to the ODOT share of the project at $1.7 million adds up to $2.47 million toward the cost. The Wood County Commissioners also kicked in $300,000 for the project. Also at Thursday’s meeting, council approved the sale of $3.75 million in bonds to tear down three old buildings and construct a new one in City Park….


County parks to spend $807,990 on site improvements

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District is planning more than $800,000 in capital improvements to its parks in 2018. More than half of the money – $420,000 will be spent on renovations to the Sawyer Quarry Preserve interpretive center in Perrysburg Township. That park, off Lime City Road, offers rappelling and bouldering in an old quarry. The other big ticket items for next year include $125,000 for bridge and parking lot construction at Baldwin Woods, where seasonal hunting is allowed, near Weston; $50,000 for playground equipment at William Henry Harrison Park near Pembervillle; and another $50,000 for playground equipment at Otsego Park near Grand Rapids. Following is a list of the improvements planned at the park district’s 20 sites: Buttonwood Park – $8,300 for parking lot repairs and miscellaneous. Cedar Creeks – $17,200 for parking lot sealcoat, paint restrooms and miscellaneous. Fuller Preserve – $500 for miscellaneous. William Henry Harrison – $52,000 for playground equipment and miscellaneous. Park headquarters – $2,000 for miscellaneous. W. Knight Preserve – $30,960 for nature center deck repairs, great room acoustic treatment, LOONA room window replacement and miscellaneous. Otsego Park – $61,000 for parking lot sealcoat, playground equipment and miscellaneous. Wood County Historical Center – $10,000 for shelter house repairs and miscellaneous. Zimmerman School – $12,800 for brick repairs, entrance ramp and entrance door replacement. Slippery Elm Trail – $23,850 to paint bollard posts, repair bridge railings; Cricket Frog Cove, miscellaneous; Rudolph Savanna/Midwood for pole barn repairs; and Black Swamp Preserve for boardwalk repairs. Baldwin Woods – $126,000 for bridge and parking lot construction, and miscellaneous. Carter Historic Farm – $17,980 for barn roof beam repair, barn ridge cap replacement , stone path to school, pasture fencing, orchard trees, parking lot repairs and miscellaneous. Bradner Preserve – $14,050 for deck construction, picnic tables, grill and miscellaneous. Beaver Creek Preserve – $3,000 for building furnishings and miscellaneous. Reuthinger Preserve – $7,650 for radiant heat for shop, replacement lighting for shop and miscellaneous. Sawyer Quarry Preserve – $427,000 for interpretive center renovations and building improvements, trail construction and miscellaneous. Other business discussed at Tuesday’s park district board meeting included an update on a request from AEP for an easement along the Slippery Elm Trail for power lines. Park District Director Neil Munger said that the revised request was much more acceptable than the original request, which asked for an easement along…


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 District Director Neil Munger said the district is committed to not raising the tax burden on local residents. Over the last several years, the park district has focused funding on land acquisitions.  That focus is about to shift. “I think we’re looking at a maintenance phase,” Munger said. Future land acquisitions will rely on grants or other funding options, he said. “We will be looking for other sources of funding rather than going to the taxpayers.” In the meantime, the county park district will be continuing to try to get the word out to local residents about the county parklands and programs. Sands said a recent online survey received responses from more than 2,000 people. A park volunteer survey was completed by about 300 people. And a five-question survey will soon be sent out to “key decision makers” in the…


New City Park building to help celebrate ‘life moments’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Veterans Building in City Park has seen its share of “community life moments.” The building has hosted generations of birthday parties, baby showers, wedding receptions and family reunions. It has witnessed square dancing lessons, euchre game nights, and pint size proms. But its days are numbered, with its crumbling block walls, leaks, lack of air conditioning, and lack of ADA accessibility. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. In order to continue offering a place for “community life moments,” the city is preparing for the sale of $3.75 million in bonds that will pay for tearing down three old buildings and constructing one new facility in City Park. On the demolition list in addition to the Veterans Building, are two much smaller structures – the Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building – all near the entrance to City Park. On Tuesday evening, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board got another look at the initial plans for the new building, which will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley stressed that the park levy passed by Bowling Green voters last year included money to pay off the bonds for this building project. “We are not asking people for additional money for this project,” she said. The construction has a “fairly tight timeline” to minimize interruption with park programming, Otley explained. The architecture and engineering firms should be hired by February, with bids being awarded in July. Construction should begin in mid-August next year, so the project will be completed by mid-spring in 2019. The replacement of three smaller buildings totaling 8,000 square feet, with one totaling 12,000 square feet will allow for improved traffic flow at the park entrance, and for a larger parking area with 100 spots. The additional parking will be useful not only for those using the new building, but also for those using the pool or ballfield, Otley said. It’s not unusual for all the parking spots in City Park to be used during events. The new building will also be as energy efficient as the city can afford. “We’re…


BG eyes $10M in bonds for roundabouts & park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council set the stage Monday for issuing nearly $10 million in bonds – to help build roundabouts on the east side of the city and to build a new park building on the west side of the city. Council declared emergencies on both bond issues, to move them along a little faster. Both will have final readings and a vote at the next meeting on Dec. 28 at 5 p.m. Both projects have been in the pipeline for years. The $6.2 million in bonds is intended to improve the Interstate 75 and East Wooster Street area by constructing roundabouts. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both I-75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. The goal is made the entrance to the city more attractive, create a smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents at the interchanges. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. The bonds will help pay for the road widening, paving, resurfacing, grading, draining, constructing curbs, sidewalks and related drainage improvements, installing traffic signals and lighting, installing waterlines and sanitary sewers, and constructing a sanitary sewer pump station. The roundabout project is being worked on with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The current estimated cost for the entire project is more than $8.8 million. The city and utility portion of the project is approximately $6 million. An ODOT safety grant of $750,000 in addition to the ODOT share of the project at $1.7 million adds up to $2.47 million toward the cost. The Wood County Commissioners also kicked in $300,000 for the project. On the other side of town, the sale of $3.75 million in bonds will pay for tearing down three old buildings and constructing a new one in City Park. The buildings being demolished are the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and Depot Building, all near the entrance of City Park. It was determined that the old buildings were not work sinking renovation dollars into. The buildings will be replaced with one larger building with adequate…


Park district turned off by plan for electric lines along trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District Board members aren’t exactly charged up about a request from American Electric Power. The electric company has approached the park district about getting an easement for a new line along the Slippery Elm Trail near North Baltimore. The request covers the strip of land on the west side of the trail from Quarry Road to Broadway Street, where the trail starts in North Baltimore. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger listed several concerns about giving an easement for the power lines. First, it would mean the loss of most if not all the vegetation and trees on the west side of the trail. Second, Munger has concerns about poles being installed right next to the trail. And third, the southernmost section of the Slippery Elm Trail would likely need to be closed to users during construction. Park board chairman Denny Parish said the district does not have to approve the request from American Electric Power. It is unknown if AEP can use eminent domain for the project. The board suspected that AEP is asking the park district for an easement because it would be easier than dealing with several different landowners along different routes. Munger said the high transmission lines will be on 80-foot poles, which are about twice the height of standard poles for electric lines. Board member John Calderonello pointed out that the lack of a vegetation wind barrier will make that portion of the trail much more difficult and unpleasant for bicyclists and walkers. And board member Christine Seiler noted that the buzzing from the overhead electric lines will take away the peaceful feel of the trail. Seiler asked if there would be any benefit to the park district for granting the easement. Munger said there would be none, other than a payment to the park district for the easement. The amount of that payment is unknown. A representative of American Electric Power is scheduled to attend the park district board meeting in January, to make a pitch for the easement along the Slippery Elm Trail. Seiler, whose last meeting with the park district board is in December, expressed regret that she wouldn’t be present to vote on the request. “Can we vote on it before I leave – please,” she said with a grin.


Park district hands out grants to 11 community parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Thirty years ago as the Wood County Park District worked to pass its first levy, a promise was made to share the wealth with community parks throughout the county. That promise has been kept, and continued again this week as the park board approved $100,000 in grants to 11 Wood County communities. Over the years, the grants have helped municipalities add to park playgrounds and repair shelter houses – expenses many smaller towns could not afford on their own. The grants have also been used by several communities to make their parks more accessible to people with disabilities. Following is a list of those communities approved for grants for 2018, the projects funded, and the amounts approved: Bloomdale – $4,157 for six picnic tables with two being ADA compliant. Bowling Green – $4,332 for a scaler tunnel net on a playground. Bradner – $2,479 for an 8-inch balance beam and merry-go-round. Custar – $6,900 for a sway bench and rain garden. Cygnet – $7,835 for ADA sidewalk, and $1,176 for safety surfacing. North Baltimore – $9,873 for safety surfacing, and $4,999 for shelter house roof replacement. Pemberville – $6,150 for shelter house conversion, and $2,485 for safety surfacing. Perrysburg – $10,000 for shade structure for ballfields, and $1,949 for porch swing bench. Walbridge – $14,372 for new basketball court. West Millgrove – $9,991 for swing set and safety surfacing, and $4,997 for trash containers and safety surfacing. Weston – $8,305 for two shade structures. Though the Wood County Park District serves all of the county, the grants go a step further. “This is a way of giving back to some of those communities,” said Neil Munger, director of the county park district. To make sure the grant selection process is fair, the team that reviews and selects the winners is made up of park professionals from outside Wood County, explained Jeff Baney, assistant director of the county park district. Also at Tuesday’s park board meeting, Munger went over the district’s draft budget for 2018. The board members will vote on the budget during their December meeting. Included in the budget are salaries raises of 1.5 percent for park district staff. In other business, park board chairman Denny Parish announced that three members will be leaving the board. Parish thanked John Calderonello, Bob Dorn and Christine Seiler for their service on the board…


BG Healing Garden to get some doctoring of its own

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some doctoring of the Healing Garden is planned for next year in Simpson Garden Park. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation recently donated $27,500 for concrete work at the Healing Garden to make it accessible to all. That work will be part of a complete redesign of the garden, Park Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz told the city’s park and recreation board Tuesday evening. The Healing Garden is located on the far east end of the Simpson Garden Park, with access from Wood County Hospital. In the past, the garden has had more of a medieval medicine garden feel, Gajewicz said. But next spring, the garden will be replanted to have a more holistic philosophy. “There will be more of a mind, body and spirit approach to it,” he said. “It will be less of a curiosity and more interactive.” For example, the plantings will include some “interactive thyme,” that will generate a calming scent as people walk through or even recline in it. “We want the garden to be less of a walk-by,” Gajewicz said. Programming outside of gardening may include relaxation, Tai Chi, yoga and other forms of exercise that are low impact but would benefit from a garden surrounding. The area will promote peace and calm and will have a collection of healing plants and trees to provide shade in the otherwise open sunlight environment, according to Gajewicz. In other business at the board meeting Tuesday evening, a letter from a soccer coach was read by Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. The letter told of the impact the park and recreation’s D-League soccer program had on one family. The coach said he was recently approached by a mother, who said her foster daughter had come from an exceptionally difficult background, was very shy and rarely spoke or showed emotion. The mother, who was visibly moved, said she wanted to get the girl involved in an activity and saw the notice about the soccer league. She didn’t know anything about soccer or the league, but signed up her daughter. According to the letter, the mom saw a transformation in the girl. “She loved soccer and loved playing with the other kids, and was so excited to hear when it was a day of practice or games.” “To think we can have this kind of positive influence over the…


Have to deal with guts to get glory of jack-o-lanterns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Breanna Serrato reached into the pumpkin and pulled out the guts, she got a huge grin on her face. “I love it, actually, getting messy. The squishiness of it,” the 17-year-old from Bowling Green said. Not everyone shared those feelings. At a nearby picnic table, Jessica Nekoranec, of Risingsun, grimaced as she scooped out the juicy innards. She was enjoying the carving, but the “sticking your hand in – not so much,” she said. Nearly 40 people picked out pumpkins Thursday evening for the annual jack-o-lantern making sponsored by the Wood County Park District. The pumpkins were carved at a shelter house on the Wood County Historical Center grounds, where they will be put on display for the annual Folklore and Funfest this weekend. Some came armed with their own carving equipment, accessories and definite ideas for their pumpkin art. Others just let the spirits take them. With spooky music playing in the background, the carvers got to work. “I thought at home what I’m going to do before I got down here,” said Pam Douglas, of Portage. Her plan was to turn the pumpkin into Mickey Mouse, with two Folger coffee can lids acting as the big mouse ears. “He may not end up looking like Mickey Mouse, but that’s my plan,” she said. Mary Grzybowski, of Bowling Green, won last year for carving a cat. She was hoping to repeat that winning design. “I had an idea, but it’s not turning out right,” she said. Grzybowski wore her gardening gloves for the task – more out of habit than due to the gooey guts. “I’m a gardener, nothing bothers me,” she said. Sheila Kratzer, of Bowling Green, had no grand plans for her pumpkin. “Just your basic jack-o-lantern,” she said. But she was hoping for good placement on the historic center grounds for the Folklore and Funfest. “You don’t want to be by the outhouse,” she said with a smile. Kratzer’s friend, Monica Bihn of Bowling Green, was struggling with her pumpkin design. So Kratzer offered a bit of advice. When all else fails, “go Frankenstein.” At the same picnic table, BGSU student Michael Borowski had just finished cleaning out the stringy, seedy guts. If awards were given for the insides, he would have won the spic and span prize. But the outside remained a mystery. “I’m still trying…


County park district eyes projects for next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District Board got a first look at projects planned for next year – from parking lots and playgrounds, to orchard trees and fencing for goats. Neil Munger, director of the park district, stressed Tuesday that the numbers attached to each project are very preliminary. But the draft budget gave an idea of the planned improvements to the parks in 2018. The biggest project will be turning a house at Sawyer Quarry Preserve, in Perrysburg Township, into an interpretive center. Those renovations are expected to cost about $350,000. Trail construction is also planned at that park. “There are not a lot of huge projects this year,” Munger said. Following is a list of proposed projects at each of the county parks: Buttonwood Recreation Area – parking lot repairs. Cedar Creeks Preserve – parking lot sealcoat and painting of restrooms. William Henry Harrison Park – new playground equipment, with an estimated price of $50,000. The district will seek grants for this project. W. Knight Preserve – nature center deck repairs, window replacement. Otsego Park – parking lot sealcoat, and playground equipment also estimated at $50,000. Grants will be sought for the equipment. Wood County Historical Center – shelter repairs estimated at $8,000. Zimmerman School – brick repairs to cost about $9,500, plus a new entrance ramp and entrance door replacement. Slippery Elm Trail – paint bollard posts, and make repairs to pole barn in Rudolph Savanna area. Baldwin Woods – bridge and parking lot construction, estimated at $125,000. Carter Historic Farm – barn roof beam repair, stone path to school, pasture fencing for goats and chickens, orchard trees and parking lot repairs. Bradner Preserve – deck and patio construction, picnic tables and grill. Beaver Creek Preserve – building furnishings. Reuthinger Memorial Preserve – miscellaneous. Fuller Preserve – miscellaneous. Sawyer Quarry Preserve – interpretive center renovations and trail construction. The park district board will get more information on the capital improvement projects at the next meeting in November, then will approve the budget in December, Munger said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board agreed to spend about $18,500 to retile 18 acres at the Carter Historic Farm. The park district rents out 55 acres for farming at the site. The oldest clay tiles are failing in 18 acres of the farm. Munger informed the board that as the landowner, the park…


Park district takes step toward renewal levy next spring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be going back on the ballot next year – but the board won’t be asking for any additional funds. The county park board voted Tuesday afternoon to start the levy process by asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the current valuation for the park district. The board then plans to place a renewal of its 1-mill, 10-year levy on next year’s spring ballot. “I believe that will suffice to serve our financial needs for another decade,” Board President Denny Parish said. Wood County voters have a history of supporting their parks, and will appreciate the district’s decision to not ask for more money, Parish said. The current levy brings in a “pretty steady” amount of approximately $2.8 million a year. “I believe we can operate for another 10 years on the same millage,” Parish stressed. Board member John Calderonello mentioned that some voters may still be stinging from issues on this November’s ballot. But Parish said the park district can choose between spring and fall of 2018. “We can’t wait till 2019,” he said. And board member Bob Dorn reminded that if the park levy fails in the spring, it can be repeated in the fall. Parish said many residents of Wood County don’t realize how the park district if funded. “There’s a misconception that we get funded by the general fund of the county commissioners,” he said. The park district first passed its 1-mill levy in 2008. Since then, the district has made several improvements and acquired much more property. “It’s all been done with prudent management with available funds,” board member Bob Hawker said. Parish noted that some school districts and other agencies in the county are finding it necessary to ask for increased millage. “That will shine a nice light on Wood County Park District,” he said. Also at the meeting, the board was introduced to Bob Callecod, who will be acting as levy chairman. Callecod, of Bowling Green, is a former county park commissioner, is active with the park district, and helped get the first levy passed. “It’s a cause well worth working for,” Callecod said. The Wood County Park District currently has sites throughout the county, including Adam Phillips Pond, Baldwin Woods Preserve, Bradner Preserve, Beaver Creek Preserve, Black Swamp Preserve, Buttonwood Recreation Area, Carter Historic Farm, Cedar Creeks Preserve,…


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 wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log hurdles, trenches full of water, an Army crawling obstacle, a tunnel, and plenty of mud. The “zombified” humans along the course are students from the Bowling Green High School DECA program. Last year there were 35 to 40 of them. But upon request, Kovacevic has boosted the blood thirsty predators. “We’re hoping to have about 80 zombies,” he said. “It’s really a cool collaboration,” Kovacevic said about working with the DECA students, who get some experience working with the business community for donations as well. “Instead of just working on theoretical projects, they get to see one put into action,” he said. A BGHS art class also created art for the Zombie Mud Run T-shirts, with the winning entry showing a green arm emerging from the mud and grabbing a…


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 explained. “Vines tend to creep and crawl over other vegetation and smother it out.” There are more than 65 non-native plants that are documented as invasive in Ohio natural areas. Many of them were introduced in the U.S. for good reasons – like soil stability, medicinal, herbal, horticultural, or agricultural purposes. But the fast growing plants then ended up creating problems of their own. Multiflora roses were introduced in the 1930s as a “living fence.” And Mexican bamboo was brought in as erosion control. However, “they choke out everything else,” Windus said. On the most-wanted list of invasive species in Ohio are Garlic Mustard, Purple Loosestrife, Buckthorn, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Knotwood, Winter Creeper, Asiatic Bittersweet, Reed Canary Grass, and several types of Honeysuckle. Some become urgent economic and conservation challenges. The impact of the plants can drastically change natural areas,…