BG wants citizen input on park and rec plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents will soon have a chance to talk about trails, chat about children’s activities, and gab about green spaces. The city’s parks and recreation department wants to hear what people want from their parks. “I’m actually kind of excited about this,” said Kristin Otley, director of the department. “We want to hear from the community.” The comments will then become part of the park and recreation department’s five-year master plan update. To get citizen input, five focus groups will be held – with each one targeting a specific topic. The comments will be restricted to the topics for each forum, which are: April 6: Youth programs. April 13: Natural area parks (Wintergarden and Simpson.) April 20: Fitness, aquatics and events. May 11: Active parks (City Park, Carter Park, etc.) May 18: Future directions. All the meetings will be held at the Bowling Green Community Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Free child care will be available. Anyone interested in a particular topic, who is unable to make it to that meeting may email comments to the focus group moderator, Shannon Orr, from Bowling Green State University at skorr@bgsu.edu. The last master plan for the parks and recreation department was a 10-year plan adopted in 2005. Otley said the board decided a five-year plan was more reasonable. “We think it makes more sense in this day and age.” Also at last week’s park and recreation board meeting, it was announced that the late Marjorie Conrad had bequeathed the park and recreation department annual payments between $4,000 and $5,000. It is unknown how many years the annual gifts will reoccur. “She wanted to…


Common Good benefit celebrates diversity within community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Common Good of the UCF is what those it serves make of it. The house at 113 Crim St. is the vortex of activities aimed at bettering the lives of people, and the community they live in. That can involve picking up the exterior spaces with neighborhood cleanups, or it can mean the clearing of interior spaces through meditation. That can mean growing sustenance for the body at two community gardens and a food pantry, or providing sustenance for the mind through discussions about spirituality and current event. And at dinner dialogues those two missions meet. The Common Good of the UCF embraces this broad mission because that’s what people have told them their needs are. The organization’s own needs are simple, but real. On Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m. the Common Good will present “Expressions of Arthenticity,” at the Clazel, 127 N. Main St., Bowling Green. Tickets are $25 and $15 with a student identification. One beverage and a dessert bar come with admission. The show includes a fashion show, live jazz and an auction. Tickets are available at Common Good and Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., or by calling 513-314-4489. Caroline Dawson, the financial developer for Common Good, said that the fashion show, which will start at 7:30p.m., will feature clothing from local boutiques and hair and makeup by local salons. The models will be of all ages, body types and ethnicities. That reflects the philosophy of the Common Good, she said. “We offer diversity here and embrace diversity.” Those who participate range in age from kids in after-school art classes to someone in their 90s attending a…


Health district may get Narcan for local law enforcement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Efforts are being made to get Narcan into the hands of those who are often the first on the scene of an overdose – local law enforcement. Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey told the county commissioners Thursday that the health district is looking into getting Ohio Department of Health funding for Narcan, the drug that can reverse the effects of heroin and opiate overdoses. “We can probably get it to law enforcement agencies,” Batey said. And that could potentially help save lives since in rural areas of Wood County, sheriff’s deputies often arrive at scenes of overdoses before medical assistance. Most EMS and fire departments now carry Narcan, “but sometimes the sheriff is the first person in the door,” he said. The nursing staff at the health department could train law enforcement how to properly use the Narcan, which has to be injected into the muscle of the overdosing person’s arm, leg or buttocks. Batey said he has gotten requests for information on Narcan from the sheriff’s office, North Baltimore Police Department and the Wood County Park District. “We will open this up to everyone across the county,” he said. “Let’s start this conversation.” Narcan has the remarkable ability to bring a patient out of an overdose, Batey explained. “It almost immediately strips the opiates out of the system. It brings people back to life,” he said. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn agreed that in many rural areas of the county, his deputies are often the first on the scene of drug overdoses. “We certainly can get there a lot quicker.” However, Wasylyshyn said he is concerned since the Narcan has…


BGSU putting on the glitz to raise money for arts scholarships

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In its inaugural year in 2015, Bravo! BGSU got it share of bravos. Lisa Mattiace, chief of staff for President Mary Ellen Mazey, said “thrilling” and “spectacular” were among the words attendees used for the black tie optional event. Mariah Burks, then a senior in theater and the recent winner of the Kennedy Center’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, performed and remembers the event as having plenty of “glitz and glam.” Take away the champagne glasses, she said, and those attended got a good sense of what goes on every day in the university’s studios. As for her BGSU experience, she said: “It was an amusement park. I’m not even going to try to sugarcoat it. As an undergraduate there are moments, trying different stuff, where you’re absolutely terrified and you say ‘I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to go on that ride.’” But other times, she just embraced the challenge. And like that trip to the amusement park, “you have all your friends with you,” Burks said. These friends form a support system, “a family really.” The most notable ovation at the 2015 Bravo! BGSU came in the dollars raised for arts scholarships, $65,000. The president’s office isn’t resting on those laurels, though. This year’s event on April 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Wolfe Center, will add more luster, in the hopes of adding more lucre, to the arts scholarship coffers. Tickets are $100 and are available by calling 419-372-6780 or by emailing lmattia@bgsu.edu. Some attendees at last year’s Bravo! Expressed the view that the arts at Bowling Green State University were “a hidden gem.” The event aims…


BGSU orchestra takes students on tour of ‘The Planets’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Students from local schools filled Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus Thursday morning. They’d been invited by conductor Emily Freeman Brown to go on a journey through Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” Given the number of people, a few coughs were inevitable as Brown and the orchestra took them on a musical tour of the solar system and along the way introduced them to the ancient deities who lent their names to the planets. Then came the last movement of the piece, Neptune, the god of mystery. “We’ll have some secret visitors,” Brown told the audience before the movement began. “Listen carefully.” And as the piece neared its conclusion, high, soft voices were softly heard offstage, ghostly, wafting over the orchestra. By the end, only the voices were heard. No violins. No harps. No brass, percussion nor woodwinds. No coughs. Hundreds of children silent as the music faded away. “That response is proof that we’re doing something good,” the conductor said after the performance. Sharing music “is fundamental to human nature.” This was not the first time Brown has led the orchestra in a performance of “The Planets” for a young audience. She did it back in 1992. Those kids would be old enough to have children of their own. How the university has presented young people’s shows has changed over the years. Brown’s first endeavor in 1991 was a trimmed down version of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” For a number of years, the College of Music presented Saturday morning programs modeled after Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts. But attendance at those Saturday morning events had dwindled to the point there…


7 drug canines do sweep during lockdown at BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green High School went on lockdown Thursday morning as seven drug-sniffing dogs searched the school. At 8:15 a.m., teachers were instructed to put all student book bags in the hallway, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. The canines then did a drug sweep of all the bags, the lockers, and all the vehicles in the parking lot. The drug sweep inside lasted about 90 minutes. The dogs “hit on” 20 lockers and 20 book bags, but no illegal substances were found. “Nothing was found internally in the school,” Scruci said. The dogs also “hit on” 15 cars in the parking lot, all belonging to students.  Those students were brought out to their vehicles, then school administration and law enforcement searched inside the cars. Marijuana was found in one car. All cars in the lot, including employees’ vehicles, were part of the sweep, the superintendent said. Scruci said no one at the high school knew about the drug sweep until 8 a.m.  – even the administration. The superintendent said the search was not the result of a reported problem, but because he believes it is a good way to promote smart choices for students. “I’ve always done it as a practice,” at the previous school districts where he served as superintendent, Scruci said. “We’re going to continue to try to educate kids on the dangers of drugs,” he said. “We want to make sure they are making the right decisions.” Bowling Green Police Major Justin White said the seven canine units at the school included BG’s dog, along with two dogs from Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, two from Fostoria Police Department, one from…


Lionface one acts find comedy & drama close to home

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News That coffee shop could be in Bowling Green. That comic convention could be in Columbus. The Lionface Productions one-act plays – all three written for the troupe – have a sense of familiarity viewed through a different lens. The Lionface production of one acts opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the rehearsal hall behind the Performing Arts Center in the middle school. The show continues Friday and Saturday. Guests should enter through door M, near the patio area to the south of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $7 and $5 for students. Two of the plays were presented at a Wednesday night dress rehearsal. (The third “The Amazing Red Diamond” written by Jesse Koza got an early run through because of a scheduling conflict.) “Every Seven Years or So,” written by J. Benjamin and directed by Christina Hoekstra, traces the arc of the friendship between Eric (Cole Stiriz) and Fiona (Kathryn Gonda) from being artistically inclined and insecure high school students into young adults when the issues that first drew them together still resonate. We meet them mid-conversation as Eric is telling Fiona how his father, the high school art teacher, caught him in flagrante with another boy in the ceramics studio. The story sets up the relationship between Eric and Fiona as friends with no romantic interest. It also helps introduce the character of the father, as a fellow dreamer, who is never seen, but casts a shadow on the action. Stiriz and Gonda have good chemistry as friends so close they know just how to grate on each other. Eric is high-minded, and a snob. Fiona is interested in writing fantasy,…


BG schools did not sanction gun raffle…club cancels fundraiser

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Student groups do all kinds of activities to raise funds – sell candy bars, wash cars, sit in dunking booths. But raffling off guns? Not in Bowling Green, says Superintendent Francis Scruci. Scruci sent out an email to district parents late Wednesday afternoon explaining that a raffle was being promoted by the Bowling Green Wrestling Club. The prize was two firearms, with one being an assault rifle, he said. As of Thursday afternoon, the raffle had been canceled. The superintendent explained he did not sanction the raffle and was not aware it was being conducted. He had been alerted by a parent earlier Wednesday. “The Bowling Green City Schools does not promote guns and is not affiliated with this type of raffle,” Scruci wrote in the email. “I can assure you that if the proper procedure had been followed the raffle would have been denied for distribution through the district.” The email continued to say the Bowling Green Wrestling Club is an outside organization raising funds for wrestlers from youth to university age and exists outside of school parameters. “It’s technically not affiliated with the school,” Scruci said when reached Wednesday evening. No flyers were sent out with students, but the high school wrestling coach did send out an email about the raffle to school staff, the superintendent said. “I knew nothing about it,” Scruci said. “They did not submit anything, nor did we distribute it.” But the superintendent decided to be proactive and send out a mass email to parents. “It has nothing to do with us, but I didn’t want parents to see it on Facebook” and think the school endorsed…


Phoenix Technologies gets 1 out of every 20 plastic bottles recycled in US

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bob Deardurff loves the scene in “The Graduate” when a character shares the secret of success with Dustin Hoffman. Just one word – plastics. That one word has proved to be Deardurff’s success at Phoenix Technologies in Bowling Green, which was named Wood County Corporate Citizen of the Year on Wednesday evening. In fact, the company has had so much success that one out of every 20 plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. comes to the Bowling Green company, Deardurff said. Phoenix Technology takes plastics full circle by using items from the recycling center on North College Avenue, washing the items at its plant on East Poe Road, then converting the plastic into pellets at its plant on Fairview Avenue. “We have an opportunity in Wood County and Bowling Green, so we can close the loop,” all within a half mile, Deardurff said. The recycled plastic is then returned to items for packaging food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, shampoo, soap and detergents. When introducing the Corporate Citizen of the Year, Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw noted the company’s beginnings in 1985 in Toledo. “The business flourished,” she said, and by 1991 was manufacturing bottles for Palmolive dishwashing detergent. In 1992, the company opened in Bowling Green, and by 1993, the company had one manufacturing line and eight employees. Before long, they added two more lines. Then in 1999, they patented the technology to be able to serve larger markets. “All the while they were focusing on be environmentally friendly and green,” Herringshaw said. The company now employees 96 people at its two facilities in Bowling Green. “They are the key to making this company…


Coffee and conversation with BG cops

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tim Horton’s coffee shop was probably the safest place to be in Bowling Green Wednesday morning … as long as you weren’t cracking any jokes about cops and doughnuts. The first “Coffee with a Cop” event packed the place with police and citizens wanting a chance to chat. “We want people to be comfortable talking with us,” said BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick. The chief was getting a variety of input from citizens, some with concerns about neighborhood issues like loud parties and littering, and some just wanting to say “thank you” to the police. “It was a mix of a lot of different things,” Hetrick said. Sitting at one table were Lt. Brad Biller and Lt. Dan Mancuso, talking with citizens as they stopped to chat. “It’s been very positive,” Mancuso said. “People are saying things are going in a good direction,” Biller said. Some citizens had specific concerns, such as the woman who was recently widowed and was worried about personal security at her home. Others came with praise for specific officers, like Pam Leid, who wanted the chief to know about a particular patrolman who has been very helpful. “This patrolman has done a superb job and the chief needs to hear that,” she said. Mike Crawford came to show his support for local officers. He served 16 years on the force, and his son is currently with the department. But Crawford said the current climate makes it very difficult to be a police officer. “Quite candidly, I wouldn’t do it now for anything,” he said. Linda Lander was there as a member of the Not In Our Town…


State of Wood County – steady and solid

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s annual checkup showed a healthy region with more jobs being created, more teamwork being touted, and more tax revenues coming in to support services. The state of the county address, held this morning in the courthouse atrium, painted a rosy picture of the past year and the one ahead. “The past year was one of progress and change in Wood County,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, who presented the program with fellow commissioners Joel Kuhlman and Craig LaHote. Finances are staying steady. “Throughout the recession, Wood County remained fiscally strong,” Herringshaw said. Increases in revenue from property tax, sales tax and the casino tax are helping to compensate for loss in revenue from Local Government Funds and investment income. The commissioners recently approved a budget with annual appropriations totaling $40,628,105 – nearly $900,000 more than the previous year’s appropriations. Those solid finances have allowed the county to pay cash for some capital projects, such as the $2.9 million jail expansion and $1 million updates at Wood Haven Health Care. It has also allowed the county to retain its good bond rating, Herringshaw said. The commissioners have made wise use of the casino tax revenue, she said, by using it to fund bridge designs. This year, the revenue will pay for seven bridge projects throughout the county. Kuhlman listed off successes at several businesses in the county, with many new jobs being created. Those included First Solar which is adding 250 jobs, Fed Ex which is adding 262 jobs, Home Depot which is creating 500 jobs, CSX which has added 30 jobs, plus expansions at Schutz Container, O-I, and the…


Beloved Alvie gets atrium named after him

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Gail Perkins has no doubt her late husband, Alvie, was planning ahead when he sketched out the atrium design for the Wood County Courthouse Complex. “That’s why he put in the skylights, so he could look down and see what’s going on,” she said, pointing up to the glass sections. And she knows Alvie would have been so proud to have the atrium dedicated in his honor Wednesday morning during the annual State of the County address. As the longest serving county commissioner in Wood County history, Perkins would often talk about the atrium at home, his wife said. That and roadwork, and pump stations and flooding ditches after heavy rains. “Our evenings out were to drive around looking at the ditches,” Gail Perkins recalled, smiling. Such is the life of a public servant and his spouse. As the atrium was officially dedicated in his honor, Commissioner Doris Herringshaw referred to Alvie Perkins as a “forefather,” serving 25 years as commissioner and passing away in January. “We believe it’s appropriate to name this atrium for him,” she said. The stories vary a bit, but no one disputes the fact that Perkins came up with the idea for the enclosed atrium that links the courthouse, county office building and old jail which is currently the law library and records center. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar tells it this way. “He sketched it on the back of something he pulled from the recycling bin.” And from there the plans progressed. The atrium solved several problems. It allowed for better courthouse security, made it possible for people to walk between the buildings without being exposed…


BGSU hears about taking the initiative to keep students engaged

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Vincent Tinto left the best news for the end of his keynote address Monday at Bowling Green State University’s Teaching and Learning Fair. “You don’t need new initiatives,” he told the luncheon crowd in the student union ballroom. “You have enough of them.” And they seem to be working. “I’m very impressed with the directions you’re taking.” Tinto, a professor emeritus from Syracuse University who is considered a leading scholar in how to keep students in college, prefaced this good news with a review of approaches to help students succeed. To anyone paying attention to curriculum developments on campus, much did seem familiar. Supporting students means engaging them in the classroom, giving them a sense of belonging, setting high expectations and then assessing what’s working, Tinto said. He reviewed strategies to do all this. For example, he said, “we hear again and again and again, that students do better in groups than they do on their own.” Tinto continued: “The thing that drives learning in the classroom is active engagement with others in the classroom…. That drives a sense of belonging in the classroom.” That learning can come in many flavors – collaborative, cooperative, problem-based or project-based. All, he said, use the student’s interest in making social connections in order to get them more involved in their learning. Those groups, though, must be structured by the teachers. Letting students select who they work with often leads to one person doing most of the work. The more students work together, the more they will study. “Active engagement with others predicts time on task,” he says. And time on task, studying, predicts academic success. Tinto also noted:…


Interfaith gathering calls for peace in face of terror

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Just hours after terrorists struck Belgium killing at least 30 this morning, people of different faiths gathered together in Bowling Green. The peace they wanted to promote seemed so fragile in the wake of the attacks. “Today, of course, we woke up to the terrible news of another terrorist attack in Europe,” said Phil Dickinson, who practices Buddhism. “How can we compete with bombs and bullets?” The answer – with hospitality that leads to peace. True hospitality that is offered to more than friends and family. The same can be said for dealing with hate speech that is currently dividing this nation politically. “Fear and terror seem to be everywhere these days,” Dickinson said. Dickinson was one of the speakers of many faiths who shared at the second annual Community Interfaith Breakfast in Bowling Green Tuesday morning. The program included speakers representing Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestant Christianity, Islam, and Roman Catholic Christianity. They broke bread, ate fruit and drank coffee together as a community united by their respect for each other. “We see the diversity of people in our community as a gift, not as a problem,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, co-chair of the Not In Our Town group which helped organize the breakfast. Imam Talal Eid, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, said different faiths must build bridges. “We need to be together to learn how to live together,” he said. “We need to learn a common language. That is the language of peace and hospitality.” Eid referenced the attacks in Belgium and the “innocent lives lost.” Every religion has its fanatics, and these terrorists “claim they are Muslims,” but…


Park levy need not questioned, but more millage may pose problems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BG officials did not question the need for a new parks and recreation levy Monday evening. They did, however, question the chances of the millage increase passing on the November ballot. City council’s finance committee listened to BG Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley as she made the pitch for a 2-mill property tax levy lasting five years. Since the proposed levy is an increased amount from the current 1.4-mill levy, the council committee felt the need to scrutinize the request. Otley explained that the parks and rec program has not seen a levy increase in 16 years. In the meantime, the program has grown in acreage, facilities and programming. “We’ve added so much in 16 years,” Otley said. “The things we added were all things the community was asking for and wanted to see.” Also during that 16-year period, several maintenance projects were deferred. “A lot of things have been put off,” Otley said. For example, the Veterans Building in City Park is in great need of repairs. The parking lot at Simpson Garden Park has serious pothole problems. The park land has grown to 333 acres, including the new Ridge Park. And the 10-year-old community center is in need of maintenance. The three members of the finance committee, Robert McOmber, Michael Aspacher and Theresa Charters Gavarone, did not dispute the need for the additional millage. But they expressed concern that if voters don’t support the levy, that the department will be left with no levy revenue since the current levy has expired. “It’s the first time we’ve gotten ourselves in a position where we only have one shot,” at the…