Black Swamp Arts Festival music acts don’t skip a beat in time of change (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival will feature a mix of new and familiar acts. That’s not unusual. That they feature veterans and newcomers is also par for the course. That those act will come on the wings of critical plaudits, well that goes without saying. Probably the biggest change on the festival’s music scene is one most people may not notice, and that’s as it should be. Kelly Wicks, one of the festival’s founders, is stepping down from his role as chair of the performing arts committee. Taking on that key role are Cole Christensen and Tim Concannon, two long-time festival volunteers who’ve worked with Wicks. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Christensen said. “It’s about preserving the great traditions of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. We’ll continue to feature local regional national and international talent and also to give people acts people don’t get to see. The festival has reputation for having great music, and we’re going to keep that.” That means performers whom festivalgoers have never heard of before will be their favorites after the second weekend in September. After a few months of learning the ropes (with Wicks offering some advice), most of the main stage slots are booked for the festival that kicks off Friday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. and closes Sunday, Sept. 11, at 5 p.m. It’s been bookended by the blues. The festival opens with the Tony Godsey band, a regional blues band that’s set to release its aptly title “Black Swamp Territory,” a collection of 10 original tunes. Closing will be an old friend, Michael Katon, the Boogieman from Hell (Michigan, that is). At one point, Katon had played Howard’s Club H more than any other performer. He was a regular at Christmastime, playing Christmas Eve, the blues equivalent of the Magi. In the past decade, though, he’s mostly been booked across the pond. Christensen said that Katon is excited to be returning to Bowling Green. On Saturday night he’ll return to his old haunts with a free show at Howard’s. In between Godsey and the man from Hell, there’ll be more blues, reggae, bluegrass and all sounds Americana. Christensen is especially excited about Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band out of New York City. The Latin Grammy nominees add a contemporary touch to the venerable Mexican genre while staying true to the ache and passion of the music. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is a booster of the Flor de Toloache. The mariachi band has toured with him, serving both as an opening act and augmenting his own backup band. Mariachi Flor de Toloache will play the Saturday dinner set at the festival. The festival will also welcome home-grown talent to the Main Stage, when Grant Flick and a trio assembled for the occasion…


Hard work comes naturally to BG teenager

BY JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While other high school students are still snug in their beds on most summer mornings, Nick Breen has been out working in the woods for hours. “He’s full of energy and we put that energy to good use,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “He’ll just show up some times and say, ‘I think the trails need trimmed.’” Breen, a junior at Bowling Green High School, has been volunteering with the parks since sixth grade. “Ever since his mom started dropping him off,” Stutzman said. Breen now pedals his bicycle to Wintergarden Park in the mornings to see what work needs to be done. “I wake up too early for my own good,” he said, adding that he does take time to have fun like other teens in the summer. “I do mope around, but I’ve got too much time. I’m here whenever I don’t have other things to do.” As Breen ages, the projects he takes on get bigger. A couple weeks ago, he was given the job of clearing the way for a flagstone walkway in front of the Rotary Nature Center. He dug out the path, and placed the pieces of stone, which had been salvaged from old sidewalks in the city. The project took him three days. Breen spends quite a bit of time ridding Wintergarden Park of invasive plant species. Earlier this month, he also dug 100 holes in the hard clay soil so milkweed could be planted. He even built a fence around the observation platform in the prairie area of Wintergarden Park. Breen has a soft spot for nature, planted by his parents, Dave Breen and Cindy Marso. “I’ve been hiking for a long time. My parents got me hiking since before I can remember.” The teen prefers working in the less developed city parks. “I’ve always like the more natural parks.” Breen hopes to turn that love for nature into a profession, possibly studying for a career in biology or conservation. “I’m not going to decide that yet,” he said. The teen may not enjoy every job he is given, but that doesn’t mean he refuses to do the work. “There are lots of things I hate doing,” especially if it involves walking through thorny areas, he said. “But I do them anyway. I do whatever needs to be done.”    


Plensa’s mythic monoliths invite visitors to explore Toledo Museum’s grounds

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For the next six months “Paula” will preside at the Monroe Street entrance of the Toledo Museum of Art. The sculpted head stands 22 feet tall, weighs 35,000 pounds, and if you listen closely enough she may whisper to you. Jaume Plensa’s work needs room to speak to viewers. Space for viewers to stroll around and quietly commune with the large structures. The human forms reflect back to viewers something, maybe secrets, about themselves. The Toledo Museum of Art has given the Plensa’s art the room it needs both inside in the Levis Gallery and spread across the museum’s 36-acre campus. The Spanish artist’s work has already found a home here. At a recent press preview, the museum’s associate director Amy Gilman said that when Plensa’s “Spiegel (Mirror)” was installed at the intersection of Collingwood and Monroe a few years ago, museum officials weren’t sure what the response would be. “We didn’t know what would happen when we put something at such a prominent intersection of the museum and the city. … The public doesn’t always like the public part of public sculpture.” Even before the installation was complete, she said, “it became beloved. It became a touchstone.” Since then people have picnicked, played, and wed near the sculpture. So when the opportunity to bring this show, which was organized by the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville, to Toledo, “we didn’t hesitate.” The installation of “Spiegel” also made people realize how far the museum’s campus stretched. Gilman said the museum wants to extend its programs into that 36 acres, and Plensa’s “Human Landscape” is the ideal vehicle to further that mission. So through Nov. 6, “Spiegel” will be joined by “Paula” and five more monumental Plensa sculptures spread around the grounds. The museum has a summer’s worth of outdoor activities planned, starting with the Community Block party today (Saturday, June 18) from 6 to 10 p.m. and continuing with outdoor poetry readings, flashlight tours of the sculptures, poetry readings, concerts, and a Play Space for children. “One of the things we’re really working on here is activating the entire campus,” Gilman said. The intention is to continue to engage the same caliber of artists as the museum has always exhibited “and work with them in unique and wonderful ways.” The installation of “Human Landscape” was a collaborative effort, explained Claude Fixler, exhibit designer for the museum. The artist himself visited to consult on the placement of the outside sculptures, as he had when Spiegel was installed. And his representatives were on hand when the 18 works on paper and sculptural installations were set up in the Levis Gallery “to make sure Plensa’s vision is carried out in placement and lighting,” Fixler said. The design is meant to give the experience…


BG’s Not in Our Town recognized nationally

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Four years ago, Bowling Green was struggling with how to confront racist acts and hatred in the community. Racial graffiti had been written on sidewalks, racist tweets were made about university students, and a local man with ties to known hate groups was arrested. City and university leaders came together and decided to try a Not In Our Town campaign. The program had worked in other communities across the nation to stand up against all forms of violence, discrimination and hatred. The effort took off, engaging more than 12 community organizations and collecting 50,000 pledges from students and community members who understand that hate hurts the entire city and campus. Earlier this month, those Not In Our Town efforts were recognized with a national award for adding to the quality of life in Bowling Green. The award was presented in Chicago by the International Town & Gown Association and Brailsford & Dunlavey. Accepting the award were local NIOT leaders Heather Sayler, representing the city of Bowling Green, and Leslie Galan, representing BGSU. Galan said the award came as a surprise since the recognition is normally given to programs that create economic development and infrastructure projects. “It’s an honor, when you think you’re flying by the seat of your pants,” Galan said. But the efforts are clearly paying off, she added. “It has really helped to change how students see things. It’s changing the quality of life for a lot of people.” The Bowling Green NIOT program is now being asked to share its success with other communities struggling with similar problems. “We have the same concerns, the same issues,” Galan said. Despite its success, Not In Our Town organizers will be the first to admit that their work is not over.  The community was reminded of that this week when the group participated in a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shootings. During the vigil, Rev. Gary Saunders disputed the notion that “Not In Our Town can go home and close the doors. It’s all better now.” The work is far from over, he said. The organization is committed to pointing out hatred and intolerance – and not settling for it as the norm. He mentioned the “Islamaphobia” discussions held earlier this year in response to discrimination against Muslims. “We get better after each event,” said Saunders, another NIOT organizer. But the Orlando shootings, and the hateful actions of some local motorists toward people holding daily vigils downtown for the LGBTQ victims, are a reminder that citizens must stay vigilant against intolerance. “Let’s show that backbone,” Saunders said during the vigil. Bowling Green’s Not In Our Town has held several events to promote diversity and inclusion, including: A Black Lives Matter forum that created a safe space to talk about race…


Kuhlman tries for court of appeals seat – sending local candidates scrambling for open seats

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman has turned in an application for judge in the Sixth District Court of Appeals, sending more local candidates scrambling for seats. Kuhlman didn’t think much of it when some of his Wood County supporters approached him about filing for the ballot spot vacated when Court of Appeals Judge Jack Puffenberger withdrew his name on June 3. Kuhlman chalked it up to his local constituents being supportive. But then the push came from people outside Wood County, including encouragement from Lucas County’s handpicked candidate for the seat who declined the offer. So Kuhlman started taking a second look. “I’ve been struggling with it for the last couple days,” said Kuhlman, the lone Democrat on the county commissioner board. “I really like being a commissioner.” But after debating, he decided to take the chance. “I’m going to go for it,” he said Friday afternoon. Kuhlman’s decision has started a game of political musical chairs with potential candidates eyeing empty seats. “It’s a complicated mess right now,” said Mike Zickar, head of the Wood County Democratic Party. That’s because earlier in the week, Republican Tim Brown announced he was giving up his state representative position to take the top spot with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. “It’s like playing multiple games of chess right now,” Zickar said. Here’s why: Kuhlman is facing off with Republican Ted Bowlus right now for county commissioner. If Kuhlman is selected by the Sixth District’s eight central committee leaders for the court ballot, he has to give up his spot on the county commissioner ballot. That leaves a big opening for Democrats interested in running for county commissioner. The replacement for the ballot will be chosen by the Wood County Democratic Party, but will not serve unless elected, since Kuhlman will remain in the commissioner seat till the term expires in January. Meanwhile, both parties are eyeing the empty seat being vacated by Brown leaving for TMACOG. “I have not heard from anyone,” Brown said about potential candidates on Thursday. “I’m sure there will be a lot of people thinking about it. This area is rich with talent.” The Republican Party Caucus of the state legislature will pick Brown’s replacement, according to Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. “It’s wholly in their hands,” he said. That person will fill out Brown’s term till the end of 2016, but it’s up to the Wood County Republican Central Committee to pick a person to go on the November ballot. That choice must be made by the filing deadline of Aug. 15. “Is it likely to be the same person? One would think if there is good communication, it will be,” Burton said. Brown’s departure may also lead to a game of…


Horizon troupers spread their wings in musical “Honk!”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Horizon Youth Theatre really has something to quack about in its production of the musical “Honk!” Note, this is “Honk!” the original, not “Honk Jr.,” the shorter adaptation for young actors. That’s ambitious, especially when the director Cassie Greenlee sets about to feature as many of her young cast members as possible. That cast has an age range of at least 10 years between your youngest ducklings to the lead William Cagle, who is about to fly off to Columbia University in a few weeks. “Honk!” is on stage is on stage at the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster, Bowling Green, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $8 for students. With so many kids getting featured roles, it has the effect of one of those big budget movies with a batch of cameos. Except here the cameos aren’t by a parade of stars but by stars, I’m sure, in the making. That everyone gets a chance to shine is testament not just to the work that went into this production, but to the troupe’s extensive training programs throughout the years. These kids aren’t just ready for this show, but for whatever appropriate show that comes their way. The musical follows Ugly from hatching to the final realization of his true self. It’s a journey of self-discovery that takes him far from his native lake and puts him in precarious situations. Each of these episodes plays out as its own drama.  Ugly, hungry and cold, finds himself in a home inhabited by a pampered cat, Queenie, (Anne Weaver) and a domesticated hen Lowbutt (Narnia Rieske). Ugly stumbles into their house, followed by his indefatigable pursuer Cat (Thomas Long), disrupting their placid routine. Suddenly Queenie is love struck by Cat, and the two felines have a delightful dancing scene. The hen Lowbutt fears Queenie will run off with Cat and leave her alone. Then there’s Maggie Pie (Sophia Nelson), an intrepid and obnoxious reporter for “America’s Most Feathered.” She tries to score ratings with the story of Ugly’s poor mother (Sky Frishman) who has lost her child. There’s Greylag (Jude Furlong) and Dot (Olivia Strang), leaders of a gaggle of geese. They are marching, not flying, goose-stepping as it were, just one of the gaggle of avian puns with which the writer Anthony Drewe has feathered the script. At the end we get Maddox Brosius playing a bullfrog who wants to be a comedian and managing to croak out to good effect a number surely pitched for an adult. Throughout the cast does well by the numbers, including nailing a few difficult harmony parts. Frishman, as Ida, gives the show much of its heart.  When we meet her, she’s been left on her own…


City, BGSU regret loss of Buckeye Boys State (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News University and city officials this morning are expressing regret by the decision by the trustees of Buckeye Boys State to move the program to Miami University. The board of the American Legion-sponsored program made the decision Thursday night after a year of negotiations on a new five-year contract. On two occasions this year, people associated with the Legion have indicated the program would be leaving BGSU, its home since 1978. A press release from Gerald White, director of Buckeye Boys State, stated that the decision was made by a majority vote of the board. The statement described the negotiations as “intense.” The agreement would have kept the mock government program on campus until 2021. Instead the group will convene next June at Miami University. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said that the university had negotiated in good faith and had made several “fair and competitive offers.” Mayor Dick Edwards, who attended Boys State in 1956 and was a BGSU administrator when the program was brought to campus in 1978, said he was “distraught” over the decision. He said he has “so much of my emotional self invested” in Boys State. The decision, he said, came from “an accumulation of frustrations” on the part of the trustees and the Legion. “I’m not unhappy with leadership of American Legion.” He said President Mary Ellen Mazey did intervene in the process to try to save the program. But “it’s been building.” There were concerns about access to certain services and facilities, including the Student Recreation Center. “It was a constant dinging.” An initial proposal that called for a 41-percent increase didn’t help, even though the university backed off later. “It set the wrong tone.” Miami University, on the other hand, said “whatever you want, we’ll provide.” That approach reminded Edwards of his time at the university when BGSU lured the program away from Ohio University. Getting the program here and keeping it here had been a total community effort. Officials like chief financial officer George Postich, who attended Boys State in Illinois, knew the value of the program, he said. The Boys State release noted several other proposals were made to attach Boys State, but that it came down to Miami and BGSU. “In the end, after a fair and equal presentation to the board of trustees on the merits and disadvantages of both institutions and a report to the Boys State Board on negotiations with Bowling Green State University, the board, by majority, voted to re-locate Buckeye Boys State to Miami University.” “We appreciate our long standing relationship with Buckeye Boys State and the American Legion and wish them the best of luck,” Kielmeyer said. BGSU shares Boys State’s mission of developing the leadership in Ohio, he said. The university would like to continue offering a $1,000 renewable…


Child abuse reports spike, another investigator to be hired

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When child abuse reports jumped in February, it was hoped the spike was just a blip. But then came May. “February set the all time high for Job and Family Services investigations in a month,” said Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County agency. “But in May, we broke the record we set in February.” Children’s Services has gone through brief spikes in the past, Wigent said. “This is going on a five-month trend.” Last year, the agency investigated 718 child abuse and neglect cases. The average has been 60 to 70 cases a month. But this year, the numbers were hitting 80 to more than 90 a month. In order to deal with the increase in child abuse cases, the office needs another investigator, Wigent told the Wood County Commissioners on Thursday morning. While the current staff can handle the increase for a month or two, the continued demands are too much for the present staff. The workload is being spread amongst the six current investigators and others on the Children’s Services staff. “All these folks are busy to start with,” Wigent said. Wigent presented graphs to the commissioners showing the average number of investigations handled per worker per month at other county Children’s Services agencies in Ohio. Of those listed, Wood County had the second highest workload, with each worker handling 13.6 investigations a month. Licking County was higher with 16 per worker, and Allen County was the lowest with nine per worker. “It’s pretty easy to say these seven people are the tip of the spear for us,” Wigent said of the child abuse investigators. They have a dangerous and emotionally draining job, he added. Wigent said Wood County Children’s Services “runs lean,” compared to some other counties, such as Marion County, which has about half the population of Wood County but about twice as many investigators. The agency has enough in reserves, along with state and federal funding, to pay for the new position, he said. Wigent also pointed out that not only are the case numbers up, but also the severity. In the last few years, the county has seen five child abuse deaths. “During the recession, we were all kind of holding our breath,” waiting for stress levels to cause an increase in child abuse cases, Wigent said. But the spike never came – until now. The reason for the increase now seems multi-faceted. “Part of it is the opiate issue,” said Sandi Carsey, director of Children’s Services. “The drug issues are phenomenal,” Wigent said. But the other reason may be the agency’s push to make people aware of the need to report suspected abuse or neglect. Children’s Services is using billboards and speaking at schools and other locations about the need to not turn a…


Tim Brown leaving Statehouse, but sticking with public service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, is stepping down from the Statehouse to return to his roots. Brown was hired as director of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Wednesday. The move ends his 27-year career in government, but returns him to grassroots public service that he found most rewarding. “It was the time I spent with Jim and Alvie, at the local level, that I enjoyed most,” Brown said referring to his years as Wood County commissioner with Jim Carter and Alvie Perkins. “Now I’ll have a chance to do it again,” Brown said this morning. “It’s the local stuff that matters to people. It kind of feels like I get to come home to those issues again. The public service isn’t ending on my part.” The decision to give up the Statehouse for the TMACOG leadership position was tough. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “This path provides me with the opportunity to do the work I really enjoy doing.” Brown will probably start his new job in mid-July. His salary has not yet been set. Brown started his career in public service working for Congressman Paul Gillmor for eight years. He then served as county commissioner for 15 years, and is now in his fourth year as a state representative. He was not looking for a new job, but was approached by a few people about the difficulty TMACOG was having filling the top position. “The more we talked, I realized this is the work I enjoy. It turned out to be a remarkable opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to.” Though Brown was not being pushed out of office yet by term limits, that reality did play a part in his decision. “Here I am, four years into the job, and my eligibility is half over,” he said. That realization was combined with the rare opening for such a job as director of TMACOG. “It’s not a position that comes along very often,” he said, noting that it has been 25 years since the agency has done an outside search for a leader. Though much of TMACOG’s work is done behind the scenes, Brown said the agency’s impact is great for the region. “Its work is profound.” Brown will be taking over at the time with some big issues looming in the region – one being water quality and water distribution, which TMACOG released a study on Wednesday. “Here we are at the foot of the Great Lakes,” with vast quantities of water, yet good drinking water is an issue, he said. Brown’s exit from the House leaves an opening during an election year. According to Brown, the Speaker of the House will decide the process for replacing him. That replacement will likely…


BG community gathers in the shadow of Orlando killings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The people at Pulse, the gay club in Orlando, were there early Sunday morning to have a good time in a space where they felt safe. Then a gunman intruded into the party, killing 49, wounding 53, several gravely. On Wednesday evening more than 300 people gathered at the First Presbyterian Church to remember the victims. The names of the dead were displayed around the community room, and then when the gathering moved outside for lighting of candles, all 49 names were read aloud. “Tonight we are gathered in the ashes of a horrific event in Orlando,” said the Rev Gary Saunders, co-pastor of First Presbyterian. He said that he had talked to “a dear friend, a gay man, who said ‘I won’t be there. I’m too afraid of being part of group like this that will be, by definition, a target.’ So sad, but understandable.” Among those in attendance was Imam Talal Eide, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, he decried the “heinous” crime, and said that it was against the tenets of Islam. “The bloody slaughter of innocent people is … condemned.” God created all people with dignity and gave people “the freedom to choose our lives,” he said. As a human “I am responsible to build bridges of love between us rather than bridges of hatred.” The Rev. Lynn Kerr of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation said it was “O.K. to afraid in the wake of the attack.” But the people needed to make choices. “Let us choose love, and act on it, again and again and again.” Mayor Dick Edwards said the community needs “to embrace the basic tenet of the Not In Our Town movement to fight hate in any form and stand tall for individual liberty.” Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey urged those present to act to address gun violence. “I don’t believe our forefathers, when they wrote the Second Amendment, intended for weapons of mass destruction to be used in schools and night clubs.” She said it was “incumbent” on those in the room to address this problem. Gwen Andrix, who along with Linda Tomajko and Amy Jo Holland, organized the event with the assistance of Not in Our Town Bowling Green, has been at the Four Corners every day since Sunday with a gay pride and transgender pride flags where she has at times been preached at and mocked. At the gathering, Andrix read a letter from a childhood friend, a gay man. It detailed the ways in which the LBGTQ community has been attacked since the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City. The letter writer said he did not want the “prayers and moments of silence” from those who supported religious figures and politicians, including Donald Trump, who promoted…


Pratt farm defies development, donated to park district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. Descendants Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt could not bear to have their beloved farm split up and turned into housing developments, so on Tuesday they did something their community-minded ancestors might have appreciated. They gave their land to the people of Wood County for generations to come. “We express our gratitude to the park district,” Doug Pratt said as he and his wife handed their homestead over to the Wood County Park District. “Our only regret is we won’t be here to see it.” 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. “What you did is very generous,” said Denny Parish, of the park district board. “I find it ironic that you would thank us.” “The citizens of Wood County thank you,” said Bob Dorn, of the park district board. 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. “We don’t want it in housing,” Doug Pratt said of his farm. Neil Munger, director of the park district, assured the Pratts that the farm would be in good hands. “What a wonderful, wonderful thought on their part to preserve their property,” Munger said. “It will be a natural space for future generations.” Mary Ellen Pratt shared the story of the farm’s beginning nearly 200 years ago. William Pratt, of the New York Militia, was charged with delivering supplies to Fort Meigs during the War of 1812. Something about the region – with its heavy woods, swampy land, and Native Americans – convinced him to settle in the Perrysburg area. In 1819, William Pratt brought his family to the area. He died in 1824, but his family carried on. The oldest farm documentation the Pratts have found is a land patent sent from Washington, D.C., signed by John Quincy Adams. William Pratt served as the first treasurer of Wood County and as a common pleas judge. Fred Pratt (Doug’s father) served as a commissioner and township trustee. Doug Pratt has farmed the family’s acreage for decades, drove school bus for Perrysburg schools, and served 32 years as a volunteer firefighter. “We have a history of giving to the community,” Mary Ellen Pratt said. “We’re standing on the shoulders of a lot of people,” Doug Pratt said. 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…


ODOT details road projects in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Construction projects on Interstate 75 and surrounding roads have drivers tied up in knots – or stalled in traffic. “It looks like hell out there,” Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said during a meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation officials Tuesday morning. Every time he drives on I-75, which is being widened to three lanes in each direction, Kuhlman is amazed at the complexity of the project. “It could be way, way worse,” he said. The commissioners were told by ODOT officials that the widening project is on schedule, with the stretch of I-75 between Devils Hole and Oil Center roads expected to be done by the end of November. “Essentially, we’re where we need to be,” said Brian French, engineer on the project. But until it’s done, the disruptions to drivers will continue, with closures in the Perrysburg area expected till September, then closure of the southbound ramps for Route 582 planned after that. ODOT is trying to stagger road closures and detours. “We certainly appreciate 75 being widened. All of your predecessors talked about it,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Even though we get caught in traffic jams,” Herringshaw added. But Todd Audet, deputy director of ODOT District 2 office in Bowling Green, isn’t apologetic about the congestion caused by the construction project which came sooner than expected due to early funding. It would have been irresponsible for the district to not snap up the construction dollars when they were offered, he said. “Funding became available and we’re doing as much as we can,” Audet said. The entire I-75 project should be completed in two to three years. Then the increasing interstate traffic will flow more easily. Layth Istefan, highway management administrator, said I-75 is “important to our local economy. Most of our goods and services are transported on interstates.” And once it’s complete, the snarled roadway will be a distant memory. “I’ve got to believe five to 10 years from now, people will say, ‘Remember when this was two lanes?’” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. ODOT officials met with the county commissioners Tuesday to update them on the $431 million in projects currently underway. Following is a list of some of those projects: Bridge repair on Ohio 795 over the CSX railroad, for $1.2 million. The westbound lanes will be closed this year, and the eastbound lanes next year, French said. S. 20 resurfacing from Lime City Road to Lemoyne Road, including the replacement of two culverts, which will close the road for 14 days next spring. Turn lanes will also be added at Oregon Road. S. 6 resurfacing from Henry County to Ohio 235. The route will be closed for 45 days during work on the Beaver Creek bridge. The two resurfacing projects will cost $6.7 million. Roundabout on Roachton…


It takes a community to help elders age safely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes a community to not only raise children, but also to help elders age with dignity. As Bowling Green officials stopped to “Pause of the Pledge” on Tuesday morning, they were also encouraged to look out for older members of the community. Last year, 267 cases of elder abuse and neglect were investigated in Wood County. That is an increase from the 2014 reports of 235 cases, according to Marc Briseno, supervisor of Adult Protective Services in the county. Every year an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported. “We certainly want to be a place where people can live, work and enjoy their retirement,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw. “It is our collective responsibility to make sure they live safely and with dignity.” Many of those present Tuesday were wearing purple shirts with the slogan, “Aging is Natural. Abuse is Not.” It is up to individuals to be aware of elder abuse or neglect, Herringshaw said, to “allow seniors to live as independently as possible.” Wood County has many services in place to protect seniors as they age, according to Dave Wigent, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services. “Wood County enjoys an especially robust range of services for seniors,” Wigent said. “Most counties in Ohio do not have these services,” which makes this county a “better place and safe place to age.” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson expressed his objections to a state commission’s plans to possibly remove senior citizens from the list of special classes of victims in the state. “That’s offensive,” Dobson said. “They deserve the extra protection” of the courts, of law enforcement and of legislation. Dobson urged all those present to be aware of elder abuse when they see it. “This is our responsibility. It’s our responsibility to recognize the signs.” Those signs, according to Briseno, include poor hygiene or poor living conditions either from self-neglect or neglect from a caregiver. Financial abuse can be spotted by noticing unusual spending habits or the lack of money to pay bills. “Those should really raise a red flag for family members.” In an effort to handle the increase in senior issues, an elder abuse task force has been established, led by David Romaker, of the county prosecutor’s office. The majority of the cases involve self-neglect, followed by a growing number of cases of financial exploitation, he said. Oftentimes a family member takes charge of the shopping or the finances, and takes advantage of the elder. “That’s where things can spiral out of control,” Romaker said. “The next thing you know, $30,000 is gone.”…


Patient advocate bill signed in Ohio law

One of the most comprehensive patients advocate bills in the nation was signed into law at the Ohio Statehouse Monday, according to State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green. Gardner sponsored Senate Bill 129, known as the Prior Authorization Reform Act, to require faster turnaround times for patients and medical providers to receive health care coverage decisions from insurance companies. “This bill begins a new era when patients can receive health care in a more timely manner – the same health care they expect, deserve and have paid for,” Gardner said Monday.  “We need a more modern, accountable and cost-effective prior authorization process in Ohio.  Soon we will.” Gardner said the Ohio State Medical Association had approached him to sponsor the bill. “I agreed with them we need a better system,” he said. “I’ve always been one who wanted to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.” Nearly 80 health care providers and patient advocate organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, several mental health organizations, the Cleveland Clinic and numerous other hospitals supported the bill. The lead supporting organization, the Ohio State Medical Association, said the bill is one of its top priorities during the current session of the General Assembly. “Senate Bill 129 has a number of provisions that will make the prior authorization process more transparent, more fair, and more patient-focused,” said Tim Maglione, senior director of government relations for the OSMA. Gardner said the bill was quite complicated, involving several medical organizations and tackling multiple provisions. “Most states have done one or two provisions at a time,” he said. Highlights of Senate Bill 129’s numerous reforms include: Requires a new electronic web-based prior authorization process designed to end the costs and time lost with the current fax and phone call system. Provides for a 33 percent reduction in the time allowed for insurers to decide prior authorization requests and a 67 percent reduction in decision time for appeals of denied requests. Mandates that insurance companies disclose to medical providers all necessary information and documentation that a provider must submit in order for the request to be considered complete. Prohibits the practice of insurance companies retroactively denying payment for approved prior authorization requests after the surgery, service or medication is provided. Requires that insurers provide a 12-month prior approval for medications to treat some chronic conditions. “The arguments that these reforms might increase insurance costs are unfounded,” Gardner said.  “A better, faster prior authorization process can be more cost-effective for everyone involved, and the bottom line is that it is better for patients.” The web-based prior authorization system must be established by 2018, while many of the other provisions of the bill will take effect in January of 2017.    


Mustang designer enters Boys State Hall of Fame

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Ford Motors wanted to perk up its product line with a car that would appeal to young drivers, they turned to Gale Halderman, the company’s chief designer. He came up with a classic, the Mustang. Buckeye Boys State revved up its Hall of Fame Monday when it inducted Halderman, who turns 84 Tuesday, into its Hall of Fame. Halderman attended Boys State in 1949. He went on to attend the Dayton Institute of Art, and decided he wanted to design cars. He joined Ford as a 21 year old, and spent the next 40 years with the company. He described himself as “just a farm boy who liked to draw cars.” At Ford, the former farm boy designed trucks and tractors as well as the Mustang. Since retiring he’s turned the barn on his family farmstead into a car museum featuring a number of vehicles he designed. Halderman said he gained much during his week at Boys State that served him well in his career. As a member of the newspaper staff, he learned to work with people, even people he didn’t necessarily like. “But you don’t need to tell them,” he said. “You’ve just got to work with people in any career you choose.” Halderman wasn’t the only speaker who recalled the lessons learned from Boys State. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said those lessons in the hands-on civics program have served him well in his career in government and university administration. He attended in 1956. “I can firmly state my Boys State experience has never left me.” Edwards said he would be remiss as a band alumni if he didn’t “give a shout out” to the musicians in the ensemble, especially his fellow saxophonists. The program continues at Bowling Green State University through Sunday.