BG Schools not satisfied with state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   None of Wood County’s school districts brought home grades worth posting on the refrigerator in the latest round of state testing. But one difference is that while other districts were scrambling to explain their grades when they were released Friday, Bowling Green had already prepared its residents for the bad news. When Bowling Green City School District got word of the less than stellar grades in July, Superintendent Francis Scruci decided to rip off the bandaid. The district announced early the scores wouldn’t get them on any honor roll. The district scored C on overall achievement and post high school readiness; A in annual progress and graduation rates; and F in literacy gains in K-3 and closing the achievement gap. The scores were lower than customary across the state, possibly because of the new testing system. In the area of overall achievement, scores for other Wood County school districts were: B for Perrysburg; C for Eastwood; and D for Elmwood, Lake, North Baltimore, Northwood, Otsego and Rossford. On Friday, Scruci repeated his distrust in the state testing being an accurate measure of student achievement and teacher performance. “We’re going to own what we got,” he said of the grades. But he cautioned that a one-day assessment is not fair to schools or students. “It cannot be confused with the good things going on in our district. It’s not a true assessment of what kids know and how teachers are doing.” Scruci pointed out that 85 percent of the school districts in the state are dealing with lower than desirable grades. “So is it a school problem, or is it a testing problem?” “It would be wrong to judge us based on this report card. Most superintendents would say it’s a flawed system,” he said. “A lot of school districts are in the same boat. We’re not in this boat rowing alone.” Scruci also questioned the calculations used by the state to grade districts. “You can make data look the way you want it to look,” he said. “The Bowling Green City School District is not accurately reflected by that report card.” That’s not to say that Bowling Green schools aren’t going to make changes to bring up their grades. “We’ve got areas to improve on. Every district…


Pride Picnic celebrates inclusive BG community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Gwen Andrix and Amy Jo Holland moved together to Bowling Green in 2011 they wanted to find out a way to reach out to the community. They had met in Columbus while working on the Freedom Ohio campaign to repeal the state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. So they decided to host a Pride Picnic. ”It was our way of connecting with the community,” Andrix said. They established a FaceBook event page. The first picnic attracted about 60 people, and in each of the two intervening years have drawn a about 100. The fourth Pride Picnic will be held, rain or shine, Saturday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in City Park, in and around the Kiwanis Shelter. The idea behind the event is simple: “It’s a chance for the community to get together and have an enjoyable time,” Andrix said. That community, she said, includes everyone. “It’s not just the LGBT community, but the community at large. … It’s all about families.” As in previous years, Andrix and Holland will supply the hamburgers, hot dogs and buns. Several area pizza shops and other businesses are providing food, and everyone is asked to bring a dish to share. Also, people attending are asked to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the Brown Bag Food project. Holland founded the charity which provides emergency food and other necessities. Andrix is a board member. Also, when possible, leftover food will be shared with Brown Bag clients. Holland said based on the response on Facebook even more people are expected to attend this year. The couple organized the community vigil this summer in response to the attack on an Orlando night club. At the vigil, the picnic was mentioned, and that made more people aware of it. For the couple, the picnic celebrates a community that has become their home. “I do feel good about this community,” Andrix said. “That’s what I like about Bowling Green, the sense of community. I’ve made a lot of friends. It’s a safe place.” Holland grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. Andrix grew up in Westerville. Even before moving here with Holland she had a favorable opinion of the city because of the passage of…


Help offered for safe drug disposals at home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When you look in your medicine cabinet, how many old prescription bottles are looking back at you? Maybe there are some pain pills for post surgery recovery. Or maybe there’s some antibiotic you forgot to finish as you recovered from an infection. Wood County residents now have a save way to dispose of old prescriptions. Deterra drug pouches that deactivate drugs are being given away by the Wood County Educational Service Center. The zip-lock pouches deactivate drugs effectively, safely and quickly, according to Milan Karna, program coordinator with Wood County Prevention Coalition. “The compounds of the drugs are rendered useless by the carbon inside,” Karna said. Though some drug drop-offs are available at law enforcement agencies in the county, the Deterra packets can be used at home. The pouch top is ripped off, drugs poured in, water added, then zipped tight and disposed. Liquid medications can also be placed in the pouches. The packets are biodegradable, Karna said. This option is better than throwing pills in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, where the medications can make it into waterways, he said. And it’s much better than keeping old prescriptions in the medicine cabinet, where they can be tempting to kids – even good kids. Across the nation, prescription meds like these are finding their way into “skittles” parties, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. Kids collect random pills from home and make a potluck of them at parties. An estimated 2,500 juveniles start taking opioids every day – and many of those are prescription drugs, Karna said. “We don’t want someone to go down the path of those unintended consequences,” he said. And it’s not advisable to share drugs with others, or use expired drugs yourself, he added. The Wood County Educational Service Center partnered with donors to get more than a thousand of the Deterra packets. They are being given away at the center in Bowling Green. Karna is also hoping to make the packets available through partners in the county, such as the health district, law enforcement offices and food pantries. Anyone interested in getting a Deterra packet can contact Karna at mkarna@wcesc.org or 419-354-9010.


‘Buddy Benches’ to make BG playgrounds more friendly for lonely kids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School recess is supposed to be a fun break from the confines of the classroom for elementary students. But for some kids, the playground is a lonely place. It was like that for Aleksander Ostrowski, a third grader at Kenwood Elementary School in Bowling Green. “Aleks came to me and said he had no one to play with and just walked around” during recess, said his dad Chris Ostrowski. So the Ostrowski family started thinking about how to make the school playground a friendlier place for kids. They had heard about Buddy Benches before, and started doing some research. The bench idea got started in the U.S. by a 10-year-old boy named Christian Bucks who was apprehensive about moving to Germany for his dad’s job. One of the schools there had a buddy bench – a place where a child could sit if he had no one to play with, and other kids would take it as a signal to ask him to play. Christian ended up not moving to Germany, but he did start spreading the Buddy Bench concept across the U.S. And soon, each elementary in Bowling Green may have its own Buddy Bench. “I want all the elementaries to do it,” Chris Ostrowski said, since every school undoubtedly has children facing the awkward problem of having no one to play with during recess. The benches are intended to give kids a safe, nonjudgmental place to retreat, and to encourage other kids to reach out to them. “It really teaches kids the importance of social interaction – the inclusion, the tolerance,” Ostrowski said. The idea for the benches has actually been brewing a while at Kenwood Elementary. Physical education teacher Jeremy Koehler and Jennifer Ostrowski, Aleks’ mom and a teacher at the school, had been discussing the possibility of getting a bench for about four years. The problem of children feeling left out and alone on the playground is nothing new, Koehler said. “I’m 27 and it was an issue when I was in elementary school,” Koehler said. But the issue was money, since each bench with concrete pads costs about $1,000. “We weren’t sure where we would get the funding,” Koehler said. But together, the Ostrowskis and Koehler made a plan. Chris Ostrowski started…


Theatergoers will lap up Players’ off-beat dog story “Sylvia”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “Sylvia,” one character warns another that if you give a dog a woman’s name you soon start thinking of the dog as a woman. Well, if you cast a fine comic actress as a dog, believe me you will start thinking of her as a dog, a lovable, neurotic, rambunctious, affectionate, and always entertaining dog. With Traci Johnson playing the title dog in A.R. Gurney’s comedy, the Black Swamp Players have done just that. “Sylvia” opens Friday at 8 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster, Bowling Green. The comedy continues its run Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. and next weekend Sept. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10 for seniors and students from Grounds for Thought or by visiting www.blackswampplayer.org. The adult comedy, directed by Wayne Weber, is one of Gurney’s explorations of white, upper middle class angst. Greg (Ryan Albrecht) and Kate (Stephanie Truman) are empty nesters in the 1990s who have moved into New York City from the suburbs, and they are experiencing just the city life they were seeking… dinner parties, chamber music concerts, Knicks games. After raising their two children, now away at college, Kate has a blossoming career in education. Her mission is to bring Shakespeare to inner city junior high students. She’s earnest and devoted to her new endeavor. Greg, on the other hand, is at a dead end with his job, which somehow involves money markets. Sort of a vague sitcom dad kind of employment. After another argument with his boss, he flees work for the park. That’s where he meets Sylvia. It’s love at first sight. The play opens with them coming into the apartment for the first time. Other than a collar, there’s little to tell the audience that Johnson is playing a dog. You don’t need to be told. Her high energy and begging for affection does the trick. Johnson is a superb comic actress. She can deliver a punchline with the tilt of her head, or by bounding onto the sofa. Greg is smitten, and all his frustrations seem to fade when he’s with her. He pours all his attention into her care. Not good for…


Ashley Furniture plans to open in BG by November

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ashley Furniture store plans to soon furnish a store here in Bowling Green. On Wednesday evening, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance request from the home furnishings store. Ashley Furniture applied for variance to put up a larger sign than permitted at 816 S. Main St., in the same strip of stores as Big Lots and Subway. The location was formerly a Hallmark store. “They just want a larger sign to be seen from the road,” said Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals questioned Ashley Furniture representatives about the hardship that the sign restrictions placed on the company. Company officials said the larger sign would be proportionate to the 24,000 square foot store, and would be able to be seen from the road, Sayler said. The board agreed to allow the variance. Company officials reported the furniture store may be open by November. Ashley Furniture has had a distribution center in Bowling Green since 2006. The warehouse, located in Bellard Business Park on the north end of the city, is currently undergoing an expansion to double its size, Sayler said. The retail Ashley Furniture site is leasing the South Main Street space from Southwood Plaza LLC/Tolson Enterprises, in Toledo. “Having a filled-in space is wonderful,” Sayler said. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. “It seemed like a nature fit,” Sayler said this morning. Also moving into the same strip of stores is a Rapid Fire Pizza restaurant, which will be located just to the south of Ashley Furniture. The zoning variance for Ashley Furniture was requested by Advance Sign Group, to allow the construction of a wall sign that would be 191.42 square feet in size, which is 79.42 square feet larger than allowed in the city’s B-2 general commercial zoning district. The request also asks for permission for the sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the…


Opiate addictions treated like disease, not choice

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he sat in his mother’s garage with a gun in his mouth. “I just wanted to die,” Bell told an audience at Bowling Green State University Wednesday evening. “The only reason I didn’t pull the trigger is because I didn’t want her to find me like that.” Bell was one of the lucky ones. Every day in Ohio, eight people die from opiate related overdoses. “Those are good people, who got sucked in,” he said during the program on heroin and opiates. The opiate problem has been going on for more than a century, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. But it didn’t seem to matter when Asians used it as they built the railroads across the nation. Or when poor African Americans and Appalachians returned from the Vietnam War using it. But now it’s different. “It’s the first time it’s affected young, white, affluent people,” Boxill said. Ohio has the distinction of ranking second in the nation for overdose deaths. Bell was almost one of those statistics. He grew up with an idyllic childhood in a middle class family in Walbridge. “I went to a good school. I got straight As. I played sports. I went to church.” He had a loving family that ate dinner together each evening. He stayed away from drugs and alcohol and even dumped his girlfriend after he heard a rumor that she had smoked a cigarette. But then he went from his small school to St. Francis, where there was much more competition. His freshman year, his father was diagnosed with cancer and died six months later. With Bell’s hero gone, he looked for one elsewhere. It started with a cigarette, moved on to beer, then liquor, then cocaine. The day he got his driver’s license, he got a DUI in Rossford. But he was still able to function well enough to play three high school sports, get at 4.0 GPA, and get a baseball scholarship to University of Toledo. But one day in college, turning a double play, Bell tore his rotator cuff. The fairly minor surgery would make a major change in his life. “They sent me home with a prescription for…


Huffine offers software consulting with a personal touch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Susan Huffine brings a personal touch to computer software issues. Huffine has launched HSC Services – Huffine Software Consulting Services – as a full-time business in August. She started the business in March as a part-time endeavor. Now the 1982 graduate of Bowling Green High School is offering knowledge acquired over several decades to area businesses. The software consultant offers a range of services, all customized to the customer’s particular requirements. That includes finding just what software a company needs and how to adapt it to its operations “so the software can work for their company rather than them working for the software.” Huffine also consults on how best to manage systems and analyze a business’s processes. She can set up a basic website and creating advanced databases and spreadsheets for companies. That wide range of services is all delivered with a personal touch. “I need to listen to them,” she said. “I need to ask them questions before I can get to the nitty gritty of what they really need. I cannot create database without them, constantly meeting with them asking questions.” Huffine comes from family of business people. Her father, Bob Huffine, ran a car repair shop in Custar, and her mother, Kay, did the books and continues to work part time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the village. “My mother taught me my love for numbers.” She’s proud to have the Huffine name on another business and feels her father, who died in January, is “watching me.” That family background in small business also gives her insight in what it’s like to operate a business, including how tight finances can be. She tries to set her fees accordingly. Huffine, though, didn’t set out to operate a business. She has always loved music and influenced by long-time high school choral director Jim Brown she went to Bowling Green State University to study vocal music. “But life didn’t direct me in that way.” She switched to business education. “I was floundering.” As a student worker in the Career Center at a time when computers were first taking hold, three counselors noted her high tech skills and advised her to go into business. She graduated with a business degree with specialization in Management Information Systems in 2000….


Park district to preserve farm, restore wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt sat on the porch of their farmhouse as people started showing up for the Wood County Park District meeting Tuesday. They gazed out on their cornfield as they talked about their plans to donate their property to the park district to preserve it for future generations. “We didn’t want it to turn into that,” Doug Pratt said, pointing at the roofs in a nearby housing subdivision. They guaranteed that won’t happen by turning over 160 acres of fields and farm homestead to the park district. Bob Hawker, park board president, praised the Pratts for their generosity and appreciation of parks. After Tuesday’s park board meeting, the board members toured the land and house that the Pratt’s were leaving to local citizens. For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. The 160 acres of fields and farm homestead are split by Hull Prairie Road, just north of Roachton Road. The farmland is almost completely surrounded by housing developments, and will soon be neighbor to the newest Perrysburg school. The Pratts asked that the park district dedicate about 40 acres for sports fields, then use the remaining 120 acres for trails, trees, a pond, cross country skiing and picnic areas. The couple asked only that the park district be good stewards to their land. “Preserve it as open land and provide a place for recreation for years to come,” and preserve the family name, Mary Ellen Pratt asked. The 160-acre park area will be the second largest county park, next to the Bradner Preserve, and is estimated to be worth millions of dollars to the district. In addition to the acreage, the couple is also leaving their historic Hull Prairie home to the park district. The land and home will remain in the Pratts’ hands as long as they live. In other business, Park District Director Neil Munger reported that the park district will be working to restore a small portion of the Great Black Swamp with a grant received from the North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts. The grant will be used to help transform a 40-acre portion of Reuthinger Park off Oregon Road into a wetlands. The park district is…


Ohio swing state status comes with privilege & pain

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio is just a face in the crowd of 50 states most years. But every fourth year, we have bragging rights that our votes truly count. As Ohioans, we get showered with attention every presidential election – and unlike citizens in New York or California, we matter. That’s because Ohio has picked winners in presidential elections 28 out of 30 times since 1896. “Ohio, hands down is the most important,” said Melissa Miller, political science professor at Bowling Green State University. “We have the best record of swinging to the winner.” Ohio isn’t just a bellwether state, it is THE bellwether state, Miller said Tuesday. And this year, we may well be the swingingest of the swing states. “We could be the Florida of 2000,” she said. Miller will be giving a presentation for the public about Ohio’s status as a swing state, Wednesday at 7 p.m., at Zoar Lutheran Church, 314 E. Indiana Ave., in Perrysburg. Miller will talk about Ohio’s role as a battleground state – which puts its residents in the bulls eye for both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s campaigns. The latest polls which include all four candidates – Clinton, Trump, the Libertarian’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein – show Clinton and Trump incredibly close in Ohio. “They’ve been neck and neck for a long time,” she said. And the campaigns know more about Ohio than many Ohioans do. They know that Ohio most closely maps the national popular vote. The average deviation has only been off by 2.2 percent in the last 30 elections, Miller said. They know Ohio most often puts the winner over the top in the Electoral College. “That’s huge,” she said. “We provide the last little edge” to push the winner over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. “That to me is just stunning.” Other battleground states are important. But none of them – not Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Iowa or New Hampshire – have the long history of picking winners like Ohio. With our battleground status comes some privileges and some pain. We have more power, and are listened to more by the campaigns. The saying, “one person, one vote,” may hold true – it’s just that our votes count more. “Ohio…


BGSU setting sights on rising in U.S. News college rankings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University continues to hover just above the 100 mark for the Top Public National Universities by U.S. News and World Report. That’s down a bit from last year, when BGSU was 101 in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges”, and lower on the list than President Mary Ellen Mazey would like to be. “There’s always room for improvement,” she said. Still she said she was pleased. The ranking puts BGSU in the top tier of national public universities, along with three of its sister Ohio institutions – Miami, Ohio University and Kent State. BGSU placed 194th on the overall National University list. The top 20 schools there are all private institutions, Mazey said, with large endowments. “We do compete with them,” she said. She feels BGSU holds its own, probably because of cost. The university was ranked 184th in the Best Undergraduate Business Programs category. Some do question the value of the rankings. “There’s a debate about it,” Mazey said. “I know some of my predecessors here didn’t put as much emphasis on it. But our parents and students look at these rankings, so therefore I think it’s important.” BGSU has been in the 90s and lower 100s for a number of years. Mazey said she was impressed with BGSU’s 92nd ranking when she arrived in 2011. “If you place an emphasis, you can move,” she said. “But then again, everyone’s trying to do that. It’s a very competitive environment. We’re going to have a greater emphasis on it this year.” The rankings are based on perceptions of administrators at other top universities, and high school guidance counselors. But looming larger are other factors. Most of those the university has already been working on. Student graduation rates, either in four or six years, count for 20 percent of the score. Attracting top quality students also is an important factor and has been an emphasis in recruiting. This fall the university boasted the best academically prepared freshman class in its history. Faculty salary and degrees, and student-faculty ratio all play a part; as do the number of small classes under 20 students, and large classes over 50. Mazey said BGSU has relatively few large sections, and she said she wants an administrator to look at the…


BG wastewater rates not keeping up with costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wastewater is not exactly viewed as a prized commodity, like water or electricity. But Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening that they aren’t charging enough for their wastewater services. “Wastewater is kind of a weird animal,” Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said Monday afternoon. Unlike water and electric, for which customers are charged more when the city delivers more – with wastewater the city charges for taking away a used product.  “There’s little ability to grow sales.” The city recently hired a consultant to look at the current wastewater rate structure, and look at the expenses to operate the city’s wastewater plant. The study found that the city is undercharging its customers. “We not currently collecting enough to fund the utility,” O’Connell said. The results of the study were presented to the city’s board of public utilities, with recommendations that revenues need to increase by about 21 percent in order to meet the projected 2020 revenue requirements. “We need to have a rate adjustment,” O’Connell said. The rate hikes will be spread out over four years, with 5 or 6 percent increases each year. The wastewater study also noted that the city’s residential and industrial customers are currently subsidizing the commercial and wholesale customers. Consequently, the commercial and wholesale customers will see larger increases than the residential and industrial users. “You don’t want those numbers to get too far out of whack,” O’Connell explained. As is typical, the board of public utilities will be given some time to digest the wastewater report before voting on any rate increase plan. O’Connell expects the board to make a decision at its Oct. 10 meeting. “It gives the board time to think about it,” he said. O’Connell sees the proposed rate increases as reasonable, especially since they will be spread out over a period of four years. “They can plan for it. It’s a more moderate increase for them,” he said. The study listed typical wastewater bills for each type of customer in Bowling Green. The average monthly residential bill is currently $17.30. Over the next four years, the proposed rate increase would bump the average monthly residential bill to $18.21 in 2017, $19.12 in 2018, $20.03 in 2019, and finally $21 in 2020. The report also compared…


BG recycling efforts trashed with 35% garbage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ken Rieman is accustomed to handling some pretty disgusting stuff. But lately, his job is enough to test even the toughest of stomachs. Last week, as he sorted through items at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, he came across raw hamburger squirming with maggots, dirty diapers and used feminine hygiene products. In the past, the amount of trash placed in residential recycling bins has averaged anywhere from 7 to 18 percent. But in the last couple weeks, that amount has jumped up to 35 percent. “That’s totally insane. We can’t handle that,” Rieman said. “That’s what I call abusing the system.” Rieman thinks he knows the reason behind the increase. He believes it’s an unintended consequence of the city’s new trash bin rules. He suspects the city requiring garbage bin lids to be closed is leading people with overflowing trash bins to sneak their extra garbage into their recycling bins. “The only explanation I have is the city trash rules,” he said. “They’ve said the lid has to be closed, so where does the trash go now?” On Friday, he stood at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, hand sorting items from bags that city residents had placed in their recycling bins. He sifted through cigarette butts, a filthy towel, footstool, used kitty litter, disc brakes, a broken scooter and rocks. “Anyone who thinks I ought to be sorting for recyclables is welcome to take my job,” Rieman said. But Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft isn’t jumping to any conclusions that the new trash rules are causing the problem. “Trash in recycling has always been a problem,” particularly at the beginning of every fall semester as Bowling Green State University students return, Craft said. Every August and September, city workers visit neighborhoods near campus to educate students about trash and recycling rules. And this year may require even more education with the city’s new trash rules in place. The worst problems are occurring on Wednesdays, when the recyclables are picked up on the east side of Main Street, where most of the student population lives. “There are always people who won’t follow the rules,” Craft said. “You’ve got to give us a chance to educate people.” Since the recycling bins are dumped into city trucks with…


Time’s up for parking meters replaced by kiosks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lilly Hinebaugh stood in front of the parking kiosk, reading the instructions. “Oh my God,” she said in response to the command that she enter her license plate number on the digital pad. So she sent her friend back to the car. “Can you go over and yell it to me?” “This is annoying,” said Hinebaugh, a BGSU student from Huron. She wasn’t alone. Monday was the first day that the new parking kiosks were in operation in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks have taken the place of the individual parking meters, and require the motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. Rebeca Olivarez also was caught off guard. “I didn’t know my number. I had to go back. It was kind of a hassle,” she said. “It was easier to use a meter.” However, Olivarez said she liked the option of using a credit card with the kiosk. “That’s good if you don’t have change.” And she realized that like anything different, it takes time to get accustomed to it. “It’s just new,” she said. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot now to notify people of the changes. That didn’t help Traci Rodgers, one of the drivers unlucky enough to end up with a ticket on her car. “I didn’t know I had to pay,” she said, as she walked around the lot with the yellow ticket that will cost her $5. “It’s crazy. This is a big pain in the butt.” Bowling Green parking technician Jamie Cook spent most of her morning Monday walking people through the kiosk system. “It’s the questions we get all the time about parking,” she said. “Trust me, it’s a learning curve.” Motorists are pleased about a couple features of the system, Cook said. “People are very thankful they take credit cards,” she said. And if drivers input their cell phone number, they will be texted 10 minutes prior to their time expiring. They can then renew their parking time on their smart phones. The city’s…


Black Swamp Arts Festival Update: Closing time

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS (This is  the last of our blog posts about the Black Swamp Arts Festival. See you next year.) Every year I get that wistful feeling when Main Street in downtown Bowling Green reverts to its workaday self after the two and a half days of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. It’s like seeing the first discarded Christmas tree on the curb. The festival came off well. All those weather worries proved for naught. Saturday had intermittent showers, and late in the afternoon there were sudden hard gusts of wind, that had artists and helpers scurrying to better secure their booths. But that passed. If they gave a best of show honors for weather, Sunday would certainly be a top contender. One thing artists have consistently noted is that when it rains at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, the crowds seek cover in shops and booths and then return as soon as the rain stops. They don’t just go away. The result was Saturday wasn’t a bad day for art sales, and Sunday was far better. Ceramicist Jan Bostwick said she and her partner were “clicking our heels” over the amount of pottery she moved, and fabric artist Becca Levenson gleefully compressed her remaining stock into less than two feet of rack space. Now they’ll be back to work, producing more merchandise for their next fairs. Others didn’t fare as well. Jeweler Amy Beeler said hers were all right. That’s been true the entire season. She’d been told by veteran exhibitors that sales always get slow during presidential election years, especially when there’s no incumbent in the race. Most artists said their sales were good. Amy Craft Ahrens, co-chair of the concessions committee, said that sales in the beer garden were up dramatically on Friday, and just a little off on Saturday night. Speaking just as the festival was closing down, she said she was optimistic about Sunday given the length of the lines. Certainly the crowds seemed larger than usual for Sunday, which is not surprising, since it was a break, not just from Saturday’s showers, but the oppressive humidity late last week. It was a great day to be outdoors, noshing, looking at and buying art and taking in some great sounds. Homegrown talent was evident more than ever this…