Teaching & performing linked in music of Charles Saenz

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Charles Saenz has gotten a lot of mileage out of Charles Chaynes’ Concerto for Trumpet. In 1994 when he was a junior at New Mexico State University, Saenz played the concerto in the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition. He came away with first prize and a dream. Then 20 years later Saenz recorded the concerto. It serves as the centerpiece for his first CD, “Eloquentia,” which was released in December by Beauport Classical. The concerto, Saenz, 44, said, has been “a signature piece” that he has been studying and performing for over 20 years. “I’ll put it away for a few years and then bring it back and perform it when I’m at a different point in my playing.” He’ll find some things easier, and other aspects just as difficult. “It really challenges, in different ways, my physical abilities on the instrument,” he said. “But along with that it’s very challenging harmonically. His language is one that takes time to understand.” Saenz’ winning performance in the college competition set the trajectory for his career. He had been planning to follow his father’s footsteps and become a band director. After winning the major competition, he realized he wanted to be a performer and college professor. That meant putting “blinders on,” and concentrating on the performance, and committing to getting a graduate degree. “You start seeing little benchmarks along the way. It kind of propelled my career in a direction that led here.” Saenz has been…


Wood County hires assistant administrator

The Wood County Commissioners have appointed Kelly O’Boyle of Waterville to serve as assistant county administrator, the position formerly held by Joe Fawcett. O’Boyle’s duties will include preparation and management of the county budget, supervision of the fiscal and clerical staff within the commissioners’ office, and working closely with the county administrator to provide guidance to projects for commissioners’ departments.  The assistant county administrator also serves as the director of the Wood County Solid Waste Management District, including the Wood County Landfill.  Her employment with Wood County will begin on Feb. 16. Her annual salary will be $73,000. O’Boyle is a graduate of Central Michigan University, and holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Toledo.  She currently serves as the director of finance and human resources with SMG – the management company that operates the Huntington Center and Seagate Center.  Prior experience includes service to Lucas County as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget, and project manager.  


Elevator will make history accessible

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dana Nemeth remembers wanting to show her father-in-law, a World War II veteran, the new exhibit about the war at the Wood County Historical Center. But when they got to the museum, she quickly realized it was not possible. The WWII exhibit was on the second floor, and her father-in-law could not climb the stairs. “I was really excited for him to see it,” Nemeth recalled. “It was such a disappointment.” That was a decade ago, before Nemeth became director of the museum, and before the state gave the site a $600,000 grant to help pay for a $1.2 million elevator and accessibility accommodations. By this summer, no aging veterans, no families with strollers, no people in wheelchairs will be limited to the first floor of the museum. “It’s been a long time coming,” former Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter said Friday as the museum opened new exhibits and kicked off the construction of the elevator. Former history teacher, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, spoke of the need to make all floors of the facility accessible. “So all citizens could value and learn at this great community asset.” The elevator has been a long time coming, first being discussed in the late 1970s. State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, spoke of the contributions of history buffs like Lyle Fletcher, Clark Duncan and the countless “barn bums” that helped preserve the site that was built in 1868. “This was on the path…


History in unusual places…toy soldiers, Superman and beer cans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At the young age of 7, Matt Donahue was going through trash bins looking for beer cans. Not for recycling, but for collecting. It would be the start of a lifetime of collecting for Donahue. The beer cans, along with an eclectic combination of items such as Wonder Woman memorabilia, Dr. Seuss books, and salt and pepper shakers, are part of a new program at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. The exhibits feature several community members’ collections for the site’s new “Be Your Own Museum” program. The site was opened to guests Friday to show off the loaned collections. There are superheroes and comic book character from Larry Nader, 1950s era toys from Mary Dilsaver, vintage sewing machines from Cindy Huffman, Nancy Drew books from Jayne Tegge, hand-painted china from Jane Westerhaus, Pez dispensers from Kelli Kling, and more. Roger Mazzarella, who is sharing his collection of tin soldiers, dressed the part Friday, wearing a replica of a 1879 Wales military uniform. “I’m a historian at heart,” said Mazzarella, who is a retired history teacher. Mazzarella acquired the initial pieces of his collection from his father who served as an Army medic in World War II. When his father passed down the toy soldier collection to his son, Mazzarella tried to sell them to another collector. But instead, he came home with not only his dad’s collection, but several more pieces. He was hooked. The same was true for Donahue,…


Clazel will be buzzing with new piano concerto Monday

The Clazel in downtown Bowling Green is not the place you’d expect to hear a piano concerto. On Monday night at 8, though, pianist Vicky Chow will perform a recently minted concerto. Instead of strings and winds, Chow will be flanked by banks of small loudspeakers. Her performance of Tristan Perich’s “Surface Image” for piano and 40 channel 1-bit electronics is part of the Bowling Green State University MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music’s Music at the Forefront series. Chow gave the premier performance of “Surface Image” in February, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York. When it was released on New Amsterdam records the following year, it landed a multiple best-of-the-year lists. According to the label’s website: “Chow’s dynamic performance is swept up in a sublime flurry of dazzling 1-bit sounds, simultaneously entangling and unraveling over the hour long journey. The line between electric and organic is artistically blurred, as the simple hand-wired electronics fuse with the individual notes of the piano on the same, expansive plane.” A native of Vancouver, Canada, Chow was invited at 9 to perform at the International Gilmore Music Keyboard Festival and the next year performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She has made a name as a performer of contemporary works giving the premier performances and recording works by Steve Reich, Michael Gordon, John Zorn and others. She is the pianist with the Bang on a Can All Stars, Grand Band, New Music Detroit and The Virgil Moorefield Pocket Orchestra. On Sunday at 3 p.m., Chow…


Getting downtown to go green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Downtown business owners may soon learn how changing to environmentally green operations can help them keep more of their economic green. Students studying environment and sustainability at Bowling Green State University are working on a type of “green business certification program.” Such a program, which is already in place in Lucas County and Toledo, recognizes businesses that put together sustainability plans. Dr. Holly Myers, who specializes in land use and environmental planning at BGSU, is coordinating student efforts to survey downtown Bowling Green businesses on a sustainability grade card. The three principles of sustainability are environment, economics and quality of life. “It seems like downtown is a good place to start,” she said. Businesses will be surveyed, and suggestions will be made of how they can operate in a more sustainable manner. “This is not something to force on them,” Myers stressed. The green checklist includes topics such as waste reduction, energy conservation and green purchasing. The program will calculate how much can be saved by steps such as changing to LED lightbulbs, billing electronically, or turning off computers at the end of the work day. “I think they are going to be surprised at how much they can reduce their costs,” Myers said. The sustainability rating goes far beyond recycling, but Myers said some students are particularly interested in conducting a trash audit of businesses. “There is very little recycling downtown,” she said. The sustainability project will also help students understand…


Islamophobia is everyone’s problem

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The shadow of ISIS and American politicians who exploit its atrocities hung over the panel on Islamophobia at Bowling Green State University Wednesday afternoon. The moderator Susana Pena, director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies, started the discussion off by positing a definition: “Islamophobia is a hatred or fear of Muslims as well as those perceived to be Muslim and Muslim culture.” She told the more than 100 people in attendance that at its most extreme Islamophobia expresses itself in physical violence and hate crimes, such as the 2002 attack on the Islamic Center in Perrysburg. It also expresses itself in racial profiling and “micro-aggressions … every day intentional and unintentional snubs and insults,” Pena said. Cherrefe Kadri, a Toledo attorney, was on the board of the Islamic Center of Northwest Ohio when the arsonist attacked. The man convicted of the crime wrote a letter of apology. “It was a cathartic exercise,” Kadri said. “He thought we were happy he was imprisoned. I assured him we were not.” Kadri said she is disappointed in politicians such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson who “think it’s courageous speaking against people based on their religion.” And she’s disappointed in other political leaders, especially Republican leaders, who have not opposed their views. “It puts people in danger.” Saudi student Adnan Shareef, president and founder of the Muslim Students Association at BGSU, said he knows of some Muslims “afraid of affiliating themselves with anything Islam.” This…


‘Adopt’ a block idea taking shape

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Residents of Bowling Green’s East Side often wake to find their yards littered with trash from party-goers. So in an effort to clean up the neighborhoods and sullied reputations of college students, plans have begun for some blocks to be “adopted” by student groups. The Bowling Green City-University Relations Commission discussed the cleanups as a goal that can be accomplished rather than started then put on hold each time a break in semesters occurs. “We talk about these things over and over again,” said Lisa Mattiace, vice president of the commission. But little is accomplished, the board agreed Tuesday evening. Peter Rodriguez, a member of the Undergraduate Student Government, said that organization had begun talks about student groups adopting city blocks, similar to the “adopt a highway” program started by the Ohio Department of Transportation. But Rodriguez added that the progress on the program “is very, very slow.” The project is brought up annually, but “there’s no traction.” Members of the city-university commission agreed they could help provide the needed traction. They recognized this program as a project they could team up with the USG to get accomplished, possibly this spring semester. And once started, it would be easy to continue every semester. “I think it’s commendable for the USG to be taking that on,” commission member Chris Ostrowski said. Tom Mellott, also on the commission, suggested that signs be erected identifying which group is responsible for which blocks. “I think it…


Walk of life: Noted bassist Robert Hurst offers straight talk to BGSU jazz students

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jazz performance comes down to conversation. On the stage that means the bass player communicating with the drummer, and both communicating with the saxophonist, explained award-winning bassist and composer Robert Hurst. Off the stand it means listening to records together, and talking about the music. When he traveled with singer Dianne Krall’s band, the musicians would take turns assembling playlists to listen to during long bus trips. It’s about the hang, said Jeff Halsey, the director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University. Hurst, who has played with a who’s who of the jazz world, in the Tonight Show Band and composed for movies, was on campus last week. He performed with the university’s top student big band, and then on Friday held a master class with a couple student jazz combos. Communication also means being clear with yourself, Hurst, 51, said. “Two things I try to ask myself,” he said: “How can I make this groove better? … Are you being a drag?” That applies not just to the bandstand, he said, but life in general. Hurst carries his prominence lightly, not afraid to crack a joke. When saxophonist David Mirarchi said the trio was going to play the standard tune “I Hear a Rhapsody,” Hurst came back at him with “I hear a Rap CD?” He praised the group he heard, but also offered some advice based on his decades as a musician. A solo, he said, should have a theme,…


Former director of Stroh Center being investigated for financial irregularities

BG INDEPENDENT NEWS The Bowling Green State University employee who oversees the Stroh Center has resigned over financial irregularities. Ben Spence, a Bowling Green native, had been Stroh director since 2013. In a statement from the university stated that in Augu st, university internal auditors “discovered irregularities with cash handling practices done in connection with Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) tournaments held at the Stroh Center.” Spence was suspended at that time, and resigned in October. The university then presented the information to the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office, which is conducting an investigation. University officials will not comment about the investigation while it is ongoing.


BGSU gets boost from College Credit Plus

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A new program to encourage high school students to take college courses has been a plus for Bowling Green State University enrollment. College Credit Plus started this fall as a replacement for the more limited post-secondary education options program. State officials hope it will encourage more students to get college credits before they graduate. In discussing enrollment for the spring semester at BGSU Monday, Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Planning Cecilia Castellano said that some of the increase in undergraduate enrollment was attributable to students enrolled in College Credit Plus. That was especially true at Firelands, said Castellano. Firelands has long been strong in reaching out to high school students both with the earlier PSEOP program, and now Credit Plus. The university has also seen an increase in graduate enrollment, she said. Part of that is high school teachers coming back to take the courses to get the credentials they need to teach the college courses back in their schools. The university has a state grant to support that program. The news Monday was good for BGSU as it reported its 15-day enrollment numbers. The university has 509 more undergraduate and graduate students enrolled this spring compared to a year ago, a 3.3 percent increase. That brings enrollment on the Bowling Green campus to 16,036. Firelands saw a 9.7-percent increase to bring its study body to 2,232. That’s a 4-percent increase overall for BGSU. Undergraduate enrollment in Bowling Green was up 281 students,…


Jail inmates to undergo scanning

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sure, police dogs have great noses for sniffing out crime, and command community adoration. But they do have their limits. They can’t work 24 hours a day, and they can’t sniff out hidden weapons. So instead of acquiring a canine to scan inmates entering the Wood County jail, the sheriff’s office has purchased a full-body scanning system. The scanner was purchased with $118,000 in jail commissary funds, from inmates purchasing snacks or toiletry items. The Soter RS body scanner shows if an inmate is trying to smuggle drugs, small weapons such as razor blades, or cell phones into the jail. The searches are much less invasive, and less unpleasant than strip and cavity searches for both the inmates and the jail personnel. According to Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, Wood County Justice Center is the third county jail in Ohio to have such technology. Upon arriving at the jail, each inmate will go through the 10-second X-ray scanning procedure. The scan shows any foreign objects in the stomach or body cavities, or any items that may have been missed during a pat down by officers. “It’s more thorough than TSA scanners,” at airports, Wasylyshyn said. Inmates will also go through the scans when they return from furloughs or court hearings, “just in case someone, somehow passed something to them,” he said. The decision to get a body scanner came after changes in the state that allow more serious criminals to be housed…


Espen fearless in defense of environment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Brad Espen wouldn’t stand a chance in a popularity contest. He refused to budge for landowners protesting sewer lines. He stood eye to eye with federal officials delaying cleanup of hazardous materials. He was unapologetic when enforcing smoking bans. “I made my share of people mad, but when you know you’re doing the right thing, it kind of balanced things out,” said Espen, who will soon retire after 30 years in environmental health at Wood County Health District. “I was always trying to do the right thing.” Espen may have lacked popularity, but he was never short on persistence. One case in point would be the now demolished Victory Inn, in Bowling Green.  After countless inspections and violation reports, the hotel was finally shut down. “We just never gave up with that one,” he said. Espen started at the health department doing housing and restaurant inspections. He then went on to solid waste inspections, and eventually took over as director of environmental health. “I was always interested in the environment,” though he originally thought his career path would lead to work with wildlife and nature – not sewers and hazardous waste. He grew up in Bowling Green, being the sixth generation of his family here. “That’s part of the reason I care so deeply about my community.” Espen starts his days early, getting to work around 5 a.m. when the office is still quiet. From his office he has led crusades for sewers…


“The Butler” Author Serves Up History From the Basement

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Reporter Wil Haygood had to watch two episodes of “The Price Is Right” before he could start interviewing Eugene Allen and his wife, Helene. Haygood had come to the Allen home because he was interested in hearing about Allen’s experience as an African-American butler in the White House. In the living room there was little sign of his former employment. A single photo with Nancy Reagan. Only after two hours of talking did Helene Allen turn to her husband and say. “You can take him down now.” That’s when Haygood went down with Allen into the basement. Walking gingerly in the dark, Allen clung to the reporter’s arm, until they found the light switch. When the light went on, Haygood saw what looked “like the most gorgeous room in the Smithsonian Museum.” The writer related all this to an audience last week at Bowling Green State University’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Allen’s basement walls were lined with photos and memorabilia from decades of service in the White House. There were presidents and royalty – Duke Ellington for one. There were gifts, including a Stetson hat given to him by Lyndon Johnson, given to Allen by the presidents he had served. Among the items were 20 photo albums. Here was history in all its glory, in the basement of a modest Washington house. Haygood asked Allen if anyone ever written about him. “If you think I’m worthy you would be the first,”…


BG Parks Due for Levy and Master Plan Update

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green parks and recreation officials want help from citizens this year. First, they want citizen input on a master plan update, and then they want citizen votes on a levy in November. Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department, told city council earlier this week that the parks are on the third year of a three-year levy. That means the city will be working to put a levy on the November ballot. The levy amount has not been determined, but Otley explained the department’s levy amount has not changed in 16 years. The parks and programming, however, have changed greatly, she added. “There is a lot more acreage and facilities, and things to take care of,” Otley said. Otley also informed council that the parks and recreation department will be working to update its master plan this year. The plan will cover the next five years. Five or six community focus group meetings will be scheduled to get public input on the parks and programming. Also at Tuesday’s council meeting, Planning Director Heather Sayler reported that zoning permits have remained steady in the city, with 364 in 2014, and 370 in 2015. A small increase was seen in single family housing starts, with 19 in 2014 and 26 in 2015. Sayler announced the Wood County Health District inspectors will start the housing survey in the city in early spring. Council also heard about an annexation request for 31 acres at…