BYOB – shoppers urged to bring your own bags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s the ugly sign of spring – the flimsy plastic bags blowing on trees and bushes. “I bet if you looked out your window wherever you are, you would inevitably see a bag in a tree,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. But we Americans like our plastic bags. It’s estimated we use 6 billion a year to carry home our groceries and other items. Though some are reused to line wastebaskets and pick up after pets, the vast majority are thrown out. During a visit to the Wood County Landfill, the county commissioners noticed the screens around the landfill caked with plastic bags. “It was incredible. There were bags in every tree, in every bush,” Kalmar said. So the commissioners asked the Wood County Solid Waste District to help the region clean up its act. And that has led Amanda Gamby, environmental educator with the county, to start a campaign called “Got Your Bags?” “We’re finding them in pretty large quantities when we go out to pickup,” Gamby said of the plastic bags. “It’s a horrible litter problem,” Kalmar said. “Everybody uses them, but we have to do better.” So local residents are being asked to either take their own reusable bags to stores, or bring their used plastic bags back to the stores to be recycled. If recycled, the plastic can have a new life as composite lumber, pallets, containers, crates or pipes. In talking to local residents, Gamby has found that they don’t object to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store – it just hasn’t become part of their routines. “It’s not that they don’t want to use the bags, they forget them,” she said. So Gamby has been handing out “Got Your Bags?” decals to put on car windshields to remind shoppers to either take their reusable bags or return their used plastic bags since most stores have bins to recycle them. Most local stores also sell…


BG considers increased cemetery fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants to dig itself out of its losing rate system that doesn’t cover expenses at Oak Grove Cemetery. So on Monday, council gave first reading of new regulations for the cemetery, which sits north of Bowling Green State University. The goal is to set rates that more reflect the actual cost to maintain the site. “It would get us closer to that,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett explained. “But even the proposed changes wouldn’t get us to that point.” The city is taking care to keep the rates lower for city residents, with no price change recommended for the purchase of a plot for an adult resident. “We are giving the benefit to city residents,” Fawcett said. Some of the rate changes include: Grave lots for adult non-residents will increase from $425 to $850. Infant grave lots will increase from $115 to $150 for residents and $130 to $250 for non-residents. Adult internment for adult residents will increase from $350 to $600, and $460 to $800 for non-residents. Infant internment for residents will increase from $150 to $200, and for non-residents from $200 to $300. Rates are also set to increase for weekend burials, holiday burials, cremation burials, disinternments and reburials. Some of the other changes in the cemetery regulations include: Total height of new monuments may not exceed 36 inches. Any violation may result in the city issuing an order to remove. Prohibited items around the graves were expanded to ban mulch, glass objects, solar powered lights, wind socks, pinwheels, mailboxes and stepping stones. No grave blankets or flower containers may be placed where they impede mowing or maintenance. No shrubbery or rose bushes may be planted on lots. No trees or shrubbery will be planted in the cemetery except by the city. No additional graveside benches will be permitted after June 15. Existing benches may remain and are encouraged to be placed in a position that promotes ease…


River House Arts takes up residence in historic Secor building

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News River House Arts, an art gallery that has enlivened the area art scene for six years, has now taken up residence on the left bank … of the Maumee River in the Glass City. Paula Baldoni who owns the business with her husband, William Jordan, said that move from the house on the river in Perrysburg to the sprawling new space in the Secor Building at 425 Jefferson Ave. has taken more time than anticipated. But even as Jordan works on the floors in the 9th floor office space, the gallery is ready to open its newest show, “Immigrants, Outcasts, and Other Heroes,” oil paintings and drawings by Cuban artist Augusto Bordelois. The show of more than two dozen works opens with a reception Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The show continues through June 4. For details visit: http://www.river-house-arts.com/#!immigrants-outcasts-and-other-heroes/cbtc The exhibit is well in keeping with what River House Art has been about all along. Its exhibits have featured forgotten American masters such as Clay Walker featured in the gallery’s first show in November, 2009; international artists such as Mexican painter Veronica Leiton, creator of surreal abstract cityscapes; important contemporary Americans such as Swinomish and Tulalip photographer Matika Wilbur, who is using fine art photography to produce powerful and positive images of contemporary indigenous people; and local artists both young, jeweler Amy Beeler, and more established, photographer and digital artist Lou Krueger. Bordelois, Baldoni said, has been living in Cleveland since 1999, but he regularly returns to Cuba. His paintings are bold, with robust, heavyset figures. They lounge in the tropical heat, or at least it looks like that. One painting is actually a homesick Cuban on the beach of Lake Erie, Baldoni said. “Each painting has an incredible story.” And they are full of mythological images. While they are full of color and wit, they also have an emotional heft to them. The show will be displayed in the ground floor gallery…


Whipple resigns; BG school board needs new member

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Ed Whipple got his first teaching job, teaching English and French in Chicago Public Schools, he didn’t think too highly of the board of education. “You remember Welcome Back Kotter?” he asked. “I was Kotter. I had the Sweathogs.” But times changed, and so did Whipple, who has come to appreciate that school boards perform a valuable service. And now times are changing again, and Whipple submitted his resignation Tuesday evening from the Bowling Green Board of Education. He will be moving back to Salem, Oregon, where his life in education first began. Whipple practically grew up on the Willamette University campus, where his father was alumni affairs director.  His father later became the school’s first vice president of student affairs in 1967 – the job Whipple will be filling on June 1. But that means Bowling Green Board of Education now must find a person to fill Whipple’s seat here. “He did a fantastic job,” Board President Paul Walker said. Whipple’s resignation was accepted, “reluctantly” and “begrudgingly” by fellow board member. “It’s been a great honor and privilege to serve as a board of education member,” he said. “I thank you for the opportunity to serve.” Whipple, who was vice president for student affairs at BGSU, said as his son went through school in Bowling Green, he was pleased with staff, school leadership and the community support. “I’ve been so impressed.” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Whipple’s leaving is a hard hit for the board. “It is a tremendous loss to our district,” Scruci said. “Those are big shoes to fill. He’s as good a board member as I’ve ever been around.” Whipple’s departure means just two of the remaining four board members have much experience. Paul Walker and Ellen Scholl have served multiple terms, but Jill Carr and Ginny Stewart are new to the board this year. “There’s something to say about the experience piece,” Scruci said. “This is a…


Fire will bring new life to park prairie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier today, the bright orange flames devoured the tall prairie grasses and left behind several acres of charred ground.  But in a matter of days, life will start bursting through the blackness. “Within three or four days new life pops up,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. As Stutzman watched the prairie burn in Wintergarden Park on Tuesday, she talked about the reason for the occasional controlled burns. “We are trying to minimize the amount of woody plants and invasive species,” she said. And that will help flowers germinate and grow in the prairie area. Without the burns every one to three years, the blackberry and sassafras plants take over, she said. The fire crew was led by Tim Mason, who has been doing controlled burns like this since 1970. To get rid of the woody plants, the crew was doing a backburn, followed by flash fires up the sides. “The fire has to work backward,” Stutzman said. Once new life starts returning, there should be sunflowers and a variety of other wildflowers in the meadow. “There will be lots of great wildflowers that are great for pollinators and butterflies,” she said. The meadow was designed with pollinating plants in mind. “The grasses are the backbone of the meadow,” and the flowers are the mosaic, Stutzman said. “The majority of the meadow has been reintroduced with a grass and flower mixture.” The acreage of the entire Wintergarden Park is about 100 acres, with approximately 30 of that being field and meadow. “I’ve been working pretty hard on this meadow for 15 years,” Stutzman said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to work on this meadow.” Now all the public has to do is visit Wintergarden and enjoy the rebirth of the meadow. “I hope the people of Bowling Green come out to see their flowers and butterflies this summer,” she said.  


Wood County Library sets limits on unattended children

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The library is a great place for kids, a safe space for kids, but it’s not a day care center and the staff members are not babysitters. The Wood County District Public Library approved a policy Tuesday that clarifies just how employees will deal with unattended children. The policy, said Library Director Michael Penrod, was drawn based on guidelines from Child Protective Services. The library staff needs to know, he said, what to do if they have a 6-year-old running around and the parent is two miles away at home. Penrod said that in discussions with parents, staff has been told that there are no guidelines. Now there are. From birth to age 7, the parent or guardian, must be “in the immediate vicinity.” There was some discussion whether that should be more precisely defined, but Penrod said short of getting measuring tape out, that may prove to be too restrictive. “You’ve got to be able to see them,” Board president Brian Paskvan said For children 8 or 9, Penrod said, the parent needs to be in the building. Those 10, 11 and 12 years old can use it on their own. Here the issue becomes transportation. “If a child is not able to leave the library without an adult, they should not be in the library without an adult,” Penrod said. Also, if a child needs to wait for a ride at closing time, the staff will call the police to provide transportation if the ride hasn’t arrived within 15 minutes. Penrod said there have been instances when a staff member has had to wait 45 minutes for a parent to pick up their child. If a sibling is watching the children, that child must be at least 13 and know they are responsible. Teens over 13 can use the library on their own, and are treated as adults and are expected to act as adults. The board also set rates for the…


BG high’s “Footloose” is about more than fancy footwork

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This is not just some footloose and fancy free musical. The stage musical version of “Footloose,” a story told twice on the big screen, touches on some serious issues, said Jo Beth Gonzalez, who directs the theater program at Bowling Green High School. “There’s domestic violence,” she said, “loss of family, and death. … I actually think the stage play is richer.” And, of course, lots of dancing. It is, after all, called “Footloose.” “It’s a big dance show,” Gonzalez said.                     The musical will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the center’s box office Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The dancing is one of the reasons senior Logan Brown wanted to audition for the lead. He loves to dance and used to perform with his sister Lauren. Brown was excited that he would work with Bob Marzola, who is serving as choreographer. Brown has been in all the musicals during his high school career, he said.  He’s said he was “super excited” to be taking on the role of Ren Mac Cormack, a teenager from the east who ends up in a southern town where dancing has been banned. He’s an outsider “with daddy issues,” Brown said. He’s more than willing to push back against rules “that don’t make any sense.” “You just need to have fun with it,” Brown said. “There’s a lot going on.” When it was selected last spring, the musical team was in transition, Gonzalez said. Shawn Hudson was ready to take a sabbatical, so they would have to work with a new musical director. The technical director Carmen Rowlands was also leaving, and they didn’t know who would replace her. Ryan Albrecht, with lots of theater experience at the university where he studied and in community…


BG looks at plan to put city building and town square in same space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the click of a power point, half of the green space planned for the city’s “town square” was gobbled up by buildings. The site analysis presented to Bowling Green City Council Monday evening showed a new city building and the current green space cohabitating on the 1.6 acres which formerly housed Bowling Green Junior High School at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. The 35,000-square –foot building left vacant 35,000 square feet of open green space – turning the “town square” into a “town triangle.” “Our charge was to integrate a beautiful building with a beautiful green space,” said Bill Steele, of Poggemeyer Design Group, which did the study. The plan wasn’t intended to be a building plan but rather a spatial concept to show if the two purposes could be happily wed on the site. “Is it possible for these two entities to co-exist on the site?” Council president Mike Aspacher said. To help envision the possibilities, the plan included office space, a glass atrium facing the green space, an overhead canopy which would create a natural amphitheater for music, theater or speaking programs, plus a building with public restrooms and storage for tables and chairs. “There were certain things we felt were worth saving,” Steele said, such as views of First Presbyterian Church and the historic house next to the site on West Wooster. On the remaining green space could include design elements planned by a task force for the site, such as a statue, gazebo, brick pavers area by the canopy, and walkways crisscrossing the grass. “The building is a background for the landscaping,” Steele said. The parking lot for the city building would be just south on South Grove Street, where the former Central Administration Building stood. The good news to green space supporters is that the park-like area could be made soon and not be disturbed when and if the city came up…


Singers come from near & far to honor Jim Brown

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Those who knew Jim Brown will go the distance to honor his memory. Linda Gullufsen, who will direct the singers at a memorial for Brown Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green, now lives in Tennessee. Others, such as Brandy Tell Mann who is now living in Youngstown, are traveling from far corners of the state. Others are coming from the East and West coasts and places in between. Gullufsen said that one singer arrived at the first rehearsal with an apology. She’d flown in from New York, but she was not able to come to the memorial service. Was it all right if she participated in the rehearsal? She wanted to do at least that to pay tribute to her former choral director. “That speaks volumes about the man being honored,” Gullufsen said. “He was revered enough in his life that they would make any sacrifice they could to be part of this choir,” she said.  And everyone comes with a story. Of course, many others are coming from Bowling Green where Brown was the high school choral director from 1966 to 2004 and an active member on the arts scene.“He was Mr. Music in this community,” said Ed O’Donnell who coordinated the music for the memorial service. Last Friday a handful of singers got together for more rehearsal on the music that will be sung. The four pieces, three sung by the full choir, were all chosen because they were closely connected to Brown. “Sing Me to Heaven” by Daniel Gawthrop is the most difficult piece and will be sung by alumni of Brown’s Yuletide Singers as well as alumni of the high school madrigals who sang it before. Brown had the piece performed at his mother’s and father’s funerals, Gullufsen said. Gullufsen, who worked with Brown as the junior high choral director, said the traditional Irish tune “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” has a special…


Citizens want Wintergarden Park to stay wild; Simpson to continue gardens

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City residents want Wintergarden Park to stay wild, and Simpson Garden Park to get some more gardens. Overall, both parks are giving residents exactly what they need – places of peace and natural beauty. Citizens came together to talk about the city’s natural parks and programs last week as part of a series of public forums to help with the strategic plan for the parks. The consensus for Wintergarden Park was – leave it alone. “We want to keep it as a nature preserve,” said Martha Mazzarella. And for Simpson Garden Park – manage its growth as the funds become available. Citizens said Wintergarden is ideal for nature observation, multi-generational programs such as nature walks, and has great diversity with a prairie, swamp woods and oak savannah. The strengths at Simpson Garden Park include the diverse gardens, its accessibility to those unable to navigate wooded trails, its link to the hospital so people there can easily seek peace in the park, and its educational value with labeling of plants. Programming isn’t heavy at Simpson, but that’s OK, said Frances Brent. “Just its being is the most important part,” she said, explaining its value as a passive park. Both sites make good use of volunteers, including master gardeners at Simpson. Some citizens wanted to make sure Wintergarden wasn’t changed, while other wanted faster development of Simpson. “Don’t screw it up,” Lee Rockett said about Wintergarden. “We need a natural area.” Rockett questioned the use of pesticides in the park and the removal invasive plants like the black raspberries. “When you affect the flora, you affect the fauna,” he said. Others supported the removal of non-native invasive plant species, and complimented the park department for its efforts. All seemed to agree that no more trails were needed through the woods. Jeffrey Cullen said Simpson Garden Park is a secret to some city residents, since most of it stretches back behind houses, off Wintergarden Road,…


State kicks in funds for BGSU construction, curling club

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The state’s capital budget includes $25,440,325 for projects in Wood County. More than $17 million is earmarked for work at Bowling Green State University. The budget includes $7,164,200 for campus-wide electrical upgrades and $8,418,500 for campus wide heating ventilation and air conditioning upgrades. BGSU is in the process of renovating two of its oldest buildings, University Hall and Moseley Hall. Another $500,000 is going toward the completion of the renovation and extension of South Hall into a new School of Media and Communications and the integration of WBGU-TV into the program. The state is also contributing $1 million to the university’s development of forensic science programs. Those programs were jumpstarted by the construction of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab on campus in 2014. Another $80,000 is going to the Bowling Green Curling Club toward its new facility on Ohio 25 just north of Bowling Green. State Rep. Tim Brown said that the money stems from the fact that changes at the university’s ice arena to improve hockey facilities there eliminated designated curling ice. That means the curling club has been less able to compete on the national and international level. He said the hope is with the new facility that the club may be able to host a national or international tournament for its upcoming 50th anniversary. Brown said this was less than requested, but that’s the case for most of the awards. Owens Community College received about $7.2 million for various projects. Those include: $2,250,000 for renovation of University Hall; $2 million for the renovation to the former Penta building; $1.4 million for the transportation technology building and site renovation; $1 million to remedy water infiltration to the administration building; $550,000 for access improvement projects; and $20,000 to replace the HVAC system in the math and science building. The county Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections received $257,625 for a community-based correctional facility. And the county Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services received…


Armed walkers’ aim to get concealed guns on campus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 35 people with firearms expressed their Second Amendment rights Saturday in Bowling Green as they walked across the campus to downtown and back. Their purpose was to have a dialogue with people about allowing concealed carry on campus. But very few people engaged in conversation with those armed with handguns and rifles. The organizer of the walk, Jeffry Smith, from Cincinnati, towered above the group with his white cowboy hat on top of his 6-foot nine-inch frame. He calmly instructed the group on safety measures – keep long gun muzzles under control, keep chambers empty and safeties on  – and explained the purpose for the walk. “We want to advocate for concealed carry on campuses and spur conversations on gun rights,” Smith said. He has organized similar walks at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Akron University, and plans one soon at Miami University. “Right now students don’t have a legal choice to carry on campus,” he said. “People ought to have that choice.” But not everyone on campus believes concealed carrying of guns will make it more safe. “I’m here to protest people who I believe are coming to intimidate this community by carrying guns,” said faculty member Richard Anderson, who stood by quietly holding a sign reading, “Remember Trayvon.” “I don’t feel comfortable with people carrying guns on campus on a routine basis,” unless they are law enforcement, Anderson said. Some of the armed walkers tried to engage Anderson in conversation. “I’d be happy to dialogue with them if they came back without guns,” he said. None did. Armed walkers said they attended to protect their rights. “I just want to promote awareness and support the Second Amendment,” said Phil Hodges, of Toledo, who was armed with a WWII handgun and an AR-15. Chris Chapin, of Fostoria, was wearing his Glock 9mm as he carried his 2-year-old son and pulled his 5-year-old son in a wagon. “I’m here…


Mills Jewelry closing shop after 69 years

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Saturday afternoon was like many others at Mills Jewelry on 192 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Someone stopped in to pick up earrings from her grandmother that had the posts reattached. Another woman picked up a necklace that had been repaired and was looking at rings. Another customer needed a battery for an older watch. And David Mills and his sister Diane Mills Haslinger were there to help them just as members of the Mills family have been for the past 69 years. On May 7, though, Mills and Haslinger will close up shop. A chapter of Bowling Green retail history will close. While the siblings agree they’re ready to take a break from the day-to-day grind of running the shop every day except Sundays and holidays. Haslinger said she’s looking forward to traveling and visiting grandchildren. Still she admits some mixed feelings. She raised her children here, she said. “It’s bittersweet.” As of Monday, the store will offer customers a last chance at the merchandise at sale prices for up to 50 percent off. The Mills family got into the jewelry business before World War II. Glee Mills learned watch repair working at Norm Crosby Jewelry in downtown Bowling Green in a storefront now occupied by the Busy Thimble. Glee Mills went off to serve in the Navy during the war and when he returned to Bowling Green he got back into watch repairs, working out of his home. When Norm Crosby decided to sell the business to move to California, Glee Mills and his mother, Clara, bought the jewelry store. In 1952 the jewelry store moved to 188 S. Main Street and became Mills Jewelry. It operated there until the 1970s when it moved a few doors south into the current location in the mini-mall built by Doug Valentine. Both David Mills and Haslinger went to work for the business in the 1970s. She had worked for Huntington Bank, and he’d come…


Mosquitoes with Zika virus not in Wood County…but health district will monitor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Northwest Ohio’s less than ideal weather may be its saving grace when it comes to the Zika virus. The shaded areas on a U.S. map showing states with the mosquito species carrying the Zika virus come very close to Wood County. The latest Centers for Disease Control maps don’t show the Zika carriers this far north. “I don’t think Northwest Ohio has enough heat,” said Connor Rittwage, epidemiologist with the Wood County Health District. The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, and has spread through much of the Caribbean, Central America and South America. So far, there have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquito bites in the U.S. However, cases have been reported in travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected countries – including nine cases in Ohio. “There is no risk for Wood County residents just by being in Wood County,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. That means local residents can go about their normal summer activities without undue worry, Batey said. “People shouldn’t be concerned about limiting their summer activities,” he said. However, if traveling to affected areas, local residents should do some research first. “I’ve gotten questions from people planning their honeymoons,” Batey said. Those couples who may want to have children soon, might want to not visit areas where Zika is common. “I’d look at what country and what the risks are.” The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that the Zika virus is much more concerning than initially believed. It is the first time a mosquito bite can serious brain injuries to babies, including microcephaly, a birth defect which causes the infant’s head to be small and the brain to not develop properly. A majority of the adults who get Zika virus will not experience symptoms. “A lot will get it and never know it,” Batey said. But in some adults, the virus has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a…


Young musicians put down roots in Americana sounds

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This could be a folk song. Jared Lucas used to play his favorite old time music at home alone. He didn’t know that other people in Bowling Green shared his love of bluegrass, folk, old country. Then one day at Jimmy John’s he spotted a flyer for the Roots Music Club on campus. It looked interesting, so he checked the club out. “I went to the meeting who found like-minded musicians who played the same music I did. We just hit it off. It was like a dream come true.” Well, that happy ending may disqualify it as a true folk ballad, but it does capture the spirit of the Roots Music Club at Bowling Green State University. The club has about 60 musicians who share a devotion for that broad swath of music called roots, or Americana, music. They get together regularly, a classroom in Moore Musical Arts serving as their coffeehouse, front porch or smoky bar. They play their own songs, strum traditional tunes and entertain musical guests. The club has even devoted an evening Beatles covers and another to members doing impersonations of some of their favorite performers. Much of this year, though, they’ve been in the proverbial woodshed, working out the music for the club’s second CD. The Roots Music Club will perform at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green, April 23 at 8 p.m. as the official release party. It’s the second recording by the club, said founder Mike Bryce. He said he thought about recording just about the same time he pulled the club together. That was two years ago. Bryce who likes old Hank Williams and the Punch Brothers said the burgeoning roots scene in the last few years made the club possible. In the 1990s, he said, it probably wouldn’t have happened. He encountered various fellow travelers at jam sessions at Café Havana and the Hump Day Revue at Stones Throw and decided…