Juvenile centers try to reach young felons before they become hardened criminals

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Each year, Ohio tries to reach juvenile felons before they become hardened criminals. But that takes money – lots of it – and support from state legislators. So last week, juvenile judges from 10 area counties came together to explain the need for support to their state legislators. “We are dealing with more serious children here,” Fulton County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Bumb said. Many have substance abuse problem, and many have severe mental health issues. “Unfortunately, to provide quality treatment costs money, lots of money,” Bumb said. Currently, the vast number of young felony offenders are being treated in 12 juvenile residential centers in the state. Prior to the start of these centers, juvenile felons were sent to a prison system run by the Ohio Department of Youth Services. “These facilities are becoming more important,” Wood County Juvenile Court Judge Dave Woessner said. The residential centers keep kids from being housed in juvenile prisons. Wood County is the home to one of these residential centers. It provides services for boys, ages 12 to 18, who have committed felonies. “The overriding mission is we serve as an alternative where judges can place juveniles,” closer to their homes and with an emphasis on family involvement, said Bridget Ansberg, director of the JRC in Bowling Green. Juvenile Residential Center of Northwest Ohio in Bowling Green The facility serves 10 counties, has a capacity to house 42 boys, and is normally about 80 percent full. Emphasis is placed on changing behavior and when it’s time, practicing on the outside. “We do a very graduated release,” Ansberg said. The youth get home passes and weekend visits. “They have a chance to practice.” An estimated half of the residents are sexual offenders, and several are substance abusers. More than half are on psychotropic medications and are receiving mental health services. The center is not equipped for very violent minors, who continue to be housed in juvenile prison run by the Department of Youth Services. The average stay at the center in Bowling Green is eight months. During that time, the boys attend school taught by Wood County Educational Service Center staff. “We have school every day, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Ansberg said. Since the inception of the residential center program in 1994, Ansberg has noticed a change in the juveniles arriving. They tend to be more impulsive, have less self-discipline, and have more substance abuse issues. They need more mental health services and more help catching up with school. “Their mental health needs are more significant,” she said. And many really lag in academics. “We have kids coming in that are really behind,” Ansberg said. But the hope is that by coming to the residential centers, the youths can be caught before they become hardened criminals. “We want them to be able to rehabilitate at this level,” Ansberg said. If they aren’t rehabilitated, then they may be destined for the DYS jails for juveniles or adult prison. “If it’s not addressed in their youth, it’s not going to get any better,” said retired Wood County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Pollex. DYS Director Ryan Gies was also present as last week’s gathering of judges and legislators at the local juvenile center in Bowling Green. DYS Director Ryan Gies He spoke of the past, when DYS was “warehousing” kids – before the residential center option was available. “This is sort of their last opportunity,” Gies said of the centers. Unlike prison settings, the juvenile centers work to change cognitive behavior – change the way kids think….

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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…

Horizon Youth Theatre’s younger actors take flight with ‘Silly Goose’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Seldom is a goose chase this much fun. But it sure is when the younger members of the Horizon Youth Theatre take a romp through fairy tale land in “Silly Goose” this weekend  at the Otsego High School. (Check out details.) Keith Guion, who directs the production, wrote the script. The show takes a goose, Silvia, through three tales involving geese, starting when she’s just an egg and following her into adulthood, at least in terms of goose years. The script has some playful recognition that this is a play, starting with a game of goosey goosey gander as the curtain rises. At times the three actors playing Silvia at different stages in her life playfully  interact. And the middle Silvia (Hannah Campbell) in true teenage mode complains about the many idioms involving her species. What does a goose egg, as in a lump on a human head have to do with geese? And why are goosebumps called “goose” bumps? The story takes flight before Silvia has hatched.  Sarah Keller as the gosling relates how her mother (Lauren Clifford) was constantly having her eggs stolen and eaten by a mischievous fox (Aidan Thomas). The troubled mother is befriended by Channer (Drew Thomas), a mysterious fellow who can talk to animals. He builds her a house, and that’s where Silvia is hatched. The mother uses her wits help keep herself and her young ones safe from the clutches of the fox.  Channer serves as a link among all the stories. He enlists the teen Silvia in helping a young shy maid (Alice Walters) with a secret. And with Silvia’s help the maid achieves her rightful place. The final tale has the grown Silvia (Reece Hall), who in her travels with Channer has turned into a golden goose, help that maid’s mourning daughter (Addie Smith) laugh again. It’s a roundabout adventure in which the put-upon youngest brother of a family, Jack (Liam Rogel) comes in possession of the golden goose. That leads to a hilarious predicament. A string of people – just about the entire 30-plus cast members — gets stuck together in a long line. As we follow the tale of “Silly Goose” a few lessons are taught about perseverance, bullying, and the value of kindness and generosity sometimes with a contemporary twist. When Jack is offered the princess’ hand in marriage, the hero’s usual prize, he asks: what does the princess want? Mostly, though, “Silly Goose” is true to its title.  When a group of kids are called on to act together as a group, as with the staggering procession, or the goslings (Claire Nelson, Sophia Milks, Lila Stover) huddled in the house, or the innkeeper’s daughters (Emy Wilkins, Lauren Peppers, Isobel Roberts-Zibbel) spying on Jack, the line between acting and just being themselves seems to disappear. It’s all a game that the audience is invited to watch.

BGSU professor helps young people find their voice to protest gun violence

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Young people singing their original songs about the impact of gun violence and the desperate need for a change took the stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco recently. Their songs and others’ are part of a new album called “Raise Your Voice: The Sound of Student Protest.” The 11 tracks came from students across the United States, performing as soloists or in groups, from hip-hop to rock to spoken word to voice and piano. They are united in their insistence that gun violence has to stop. The impetus for the album came from Dr. Katherine Meizel, an associate professor of musicology in the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. With the help of the Little Village Foundation, she found a way to preserve those voices and share the students’ message. “The project has two goals: to encourage young people to vote and to raise money for gun safety,” Meizel said. Proceeds from the album will be donated to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety organization, which works to end gun violence, create safer communities and assist victims of gun violence. “Raise Your Voice: The Sound of Student Protest” is available at Grounds For Thought, for a discounted price of $16.50. For each album sold, $15 will go to Everytown for Gun Safety ( The album is available for download and streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. “It’s important for young people to feel they can make a difference, and these students are demonstrating that in a really powerful, beautiful way,” Meizel said. “One of the reasons I’m so impressed with this movement is that they don’t imagine they can’t make a difference; it’s absolutely clear to them they can make a difference, and they are doing it. They don’t sit back and say, ‘My voice doesn’t count.’ They are making it count. “The students have different ideas about what reform should look like, but they all want to be safe in school and they all want to help heal people who have been harmed. They want to tell their representatives to care more about young people than about the gun lobby. Some want to tell policymakers they will soon be able to vote and will be making an impact politically. The want to encourage other young people to use their voices the way they have, and vote.” Last spring, as the country reeled from yet another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida, students organized a walkout on March 14, 2018, memorializing the 17 students and teachers who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was the first of a series of rallies organized by students calling for an end to gun violence. The first walkout was followed on March 24 by the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country, and then a walkout for the April 20 remembrance of the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Meizel said she watched in rapt attention. As an ethnomusicologist, one of her primary focus areas is music in culture and human life, “what music means to people in life,” she said. “I like to use contemporary examples for my classes, where we talk a lot about music in politics and music in resistance,” she said. “I was looking online to see what music people were performing, and there was so much. I started archiving it. It was on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. There was a ton of music — original music, protest music from the 1960s, little kids’ choirs, music from films, choral…

Tickets available now for HYT’s Silly Goose

Submitted by HORIZON YOUTH THEATRE Award-winning Horizon Youth Theatre is proud to present Silly Goose, written and directed by Keith Guion, October 26th and 27th at 7 p.m. and October 28 at 2 p.m. at Otsego High School. According to its author, Silly Goose is the life story of a goose named Silvia who finds herself in three separate fairy tale adventures. As one of The Young Goslings, she and her mother and siblings have to contend with a determined fox who wants to eat them all. A mysterious man named Channer builds an iron house to protect the geese from the fox, and the fox tries several ways to trick them into opening the door so he can get at them.When Silvia is a bit older, Channer takes her to join the royal flock of geese at King Delroy’s palace. There, she meets The Goose Girl, a sad and lonely maid with a terrible secret that she cannot divulge to a human soul. So she tells Silvia, and Silvia,, with some guidance from Channer, helps the Goose Girl achieve her happy ending. After that adventure, Silvia and Channer form a partnership and travel from kingdom to kingdom helping other people achieve their happy endings and punishing the evil people who stand in their way. At some point, Silvia becomes The Golden Goose who is found by a young lad who travels to the castle with an assortment of people stuck to the goose and each other, thanks to Channer’s magic, and when the princess sees this odd parade, she laughs for the first time in years. So Silvia and Channer achieve a happy ending for the young lad and the princess. But what about Silvia’s own happy ending? Where will she find that? Is her life one wild goose chase after another? And what is it with all these goose idioms anyway?  The play features 33 student actors and crew members ages 6 to 14 from several area schools including Bowling Green Public (and St. Al’s, BG Christian, BG Montessori and Sleek Academy); Perrysburg, Rossford, and Otsego. The rest of the production team: Haven Bradham, stage manager; Stephanie Truman, producer; Christina Hoekstra, costumer; Wendy Guion, props; Steve Rieske, set designer; Anne Weaver, set artist; Gray Frishman, light board operator; and Calista Wilkins, crew chief.  Cast: Aidan Thomas – Fox Hannah Campbell – Silvia 2 John Simpson – Dirk Lilly Koralewski – Peasant 1 Sam Koralewski – Prince Anders Amy Claypool – Goose 2 Drew Thomas –  Channer Alice Walters – Princess Elmina Sophia Milks – Child 2, Gosling Claire Nelson – Child 1, Gosling Lauren Peppers – Deedee Sarah Keller – Silvia 1 Calista Motisher – Goose 1 Liam Rogel – Jack Addie Smith – Princess Marisa Adam Proulx – Parson Charlie Vostal – Lance Angie Ruiz – Jack’s Mother Reece Hall – Silvia 3 Emy Wilkins – Gigi Isobel Roberts-Zibbel – Bebe Ella McNamara – Clerk Emily Coen – Casey Lauren Clifford – Silvia’s Mother Lila Stover – Gosling Nash Valentine – Conrad Jonah Truman – King Delroy Crew: Stacy Anderson, Lauren Carmen, Steven Edwards, Gavin Miller, Rose Walters, Calista Wilkins Otsego High School is only seven miles from Downtown BG. Tickets available now at the HYT website or at the door for only $5.00. Fun for the whole family! As always Horizon Youth Theatre wishes to thank Joyce Wright and the Otsego School District for generously hosting all of our productions (four per year). Thanks also to the Woodland Mall for providing rehearsal space and St. Marks Lutheran Church for audition space. We couldn’t do this without you.

Distracted driving – simulator teaches safety behind the wheel

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With no warning, a car strays into the neighboring lane. “Is this not Bowling Green,” said Sandy Wiechman, Wood County Safe Communities coordinator. “You really have to pay attention.” The driver manages to avoid a collision, but seconds later, a dog runs into the street. She slams on the brakes, but it’s too late. “She just killed a dog,” Wiechman said. In this instance the dog and the driver are fine, since the crash occurred on Wood County Safe Communities’ distracted driving simulator. The simulator gives drivers an idea of the distractions out on the road, without the threat of injuries. The “driver” sits behind the steering wheel, with control of the wheel, the gas pedal and the brake. But there is much the driver has no control over. “You’ve got distractions all over the place,” Wiechman said. There’s a soccer ball that rolls out on the street, fire trucks approaching, construction cones, sun glaring into the windshield, school buses stopping, dogs and cats dashing into the road, pedestrians and bicyclists. And then there are the distractions inside the vehicle. There’s an annoying passenger who keeps asking the driver to make a call or text for him. In Wood County, about 4.5 percent of car crashes are blamed on driver distraction. In 2017, drivers reported the following distractions: Cell phone, 25; texting or emailing, 5; other electronic communication device, 7; electronic devices such as navigation devices, DVD player or radio, 39; others inside the vehicle, 99; and external distractions outside the vehicle, 84. Wiechman said the distractions go far beyond texting. Some people try eating lunch, check out the neighbor’s yard, or look to see if they know the bicyclist as they pass. “I refuse to do it just on texting. There are just so many things that can happen,” she said. “You never know when a kid is going to dart out into traffic,” Wiechman said. “One time can ruin your life and someone else’s life.” Even conversation in the car can be distracting. “You just have to pay 100 percent attention,” she said. It isn’t long before the “driver” is cut off by another car, swerves to avoid that vehicle and then hits an oncoming vehicle head-on. The simulator screen then gives the driver a view of the EMS crew standing over as an air ambulance lands nearby. The driving simulator is more important now, Wiechman said, since schools no long offer drivers education, and most students take driving classes online. “They think they are more in control than they really are,” she said. The simulator can also be used to show drivers the challenges of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “It simulates drunk for you,” Wiechman said. After the motorist crosses into oncoming traffic, a police officer pulls the car over and asks for a driver’s license. Upon smelling alcohol in the car, the officer then asks the driver to exit the vehicle to do a field sobriety test. The driving simulator was purchased in 2017 with donations from the Bowling Green Dancing with the Stars event and from the Rossford Police Department. “We’ve been using it non-stop since,” Wiechman said. “This is just invaluable to me.” The simulator is usually used with students ages 14 and older. Before they take the wheel, they get some education from Wiechman and a police officer. “We really don’t want it to be just a fun tool,” she said. “It’s not just something to giggle at.” In addition to using the simulator in schools, some local industries…

HYT musical looks back, but not far, at being 13

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Being 13 is hard. Maybe singing and dancing about it makes it better. The Horizon Youth Theatre is staging the Jason Robert Brown musical “13: The Musical” this weekend at the Otsego High auditorium, Thursday, Oct. 4 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.  and Sunday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. ( The cast of teen actors are not far removed from those troublesome years. The script by Dan Elish and Robert Horn plays heavily on the social aspects of being in junior high. There’s nary an adult mentioned, save for the lead character’s mother, and the off-stage voice of a rabbi. This is all about the kids, and their relationships with their peers and their own emerging personalities. The musical opens with Evan (Thomas Long) singing about turning 13, when everything changes. He’s looking forward to his bar mitzvah which he envisions as a wild party with the hottest DJ in the city and dancing. Then he learns his parents are divorcing, and he and his mother are moving to Appleton, Indiana, where he knows no one. Who will come to his bar mitzvah now? Certainly Patrice (Terra Sloane) his new neighbor who befriends him, and he wants the in-crowd led by quarterback Brett (Isaac Douglass). And there lies the conflict on which the whole plot hinges. Patrice, a girl who thinks for herself, is an outcast, and if she goes then none of the “cool” kids will attend, or at least so sayeth alpha boy-child Brett. All this leads to about 90 minutes of navigation through the circles of middle school hell. The hierarchy is familiar — the jocks and cheerleaders and the nerds. The script keeps the divisions simple and clear. Evan, who is both determined and quite confused, has to be on one side or the other, as much as he tries in his awkward almost 13-year-old way to straddle them. He ingratiates himself to Brett by suggesting how he can get close enough to Kendra (Anne Weaver) to get some “tongue.” The idea is to go to a horror movie, an R-rated horror movie, and that means getting Evan’s off-stage mom to buy the tickets. So he enlists Archie (M. Clifford). Archie has muscular dystrophy and walks using crutches, to ask his mother because “no one says ‘no’ to a boy with a terminal illness.”  Archie is the most interesting character. Archie understands his dilemma and that he must scheme to get anything. When he and Evan scheme together, though, things are bound to go awry. Throw into the mix another schemer Lucy (Scarlet Frishman) supposedly Kendra’s best friend, who really has her sights set on Brett. The fragility of these relationships plays out in the songs, which have a retro rock sound. “Hey Kendra” sung by Brett’s posse Malcolm (Gavin Miller) and Eddie (Bob Walters) sounds like a barbershop quartet singing on a corner. The lyrics are full of clever turns. Brett pondering when he’ll make his move on Kendra during the movie sings of how everyone “is immersed in all the blood vessels bursting” on the screen. Sloane’s Patrice gets to sing the heart-wrenching number about “What It Means To Be a Friend.” And then late in the show, she and Long’s Evan do that musical theater routine where they perform a song, “Tell Her” supposedly about others, but really about themselves. The 13-member cast seems to enjoy reflecting on a time not so far in the past. Their performance will evoke memories for their parents and other adult members of the audience. They may not all…