Zoning change would not take buildings to new heights

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to change the zoning code on building heights – not to raise limits, but to limit the questions raised. An amendment has been proposed that would eliminate the maximum floor limitation for all zoning districts. But the zoning would maintain the maximum height limitations. The number of floors would still be regulated by Wood County Building Inspection, which enforces the Ohio Building Code. According to Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler, the change would alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning which poses limits on the number of floors and the height of buildings. The issue came up again earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. That proposal exceeded the city’s height and story limits, and the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the request for a variance. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed hotel would have been a relatively new Hilton product called Home 2, which offers extended stays. The change in the zoning language would allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet. Sayler said she is unsure if the Hilton hotel project is still a possibility. The developers had submitted a new proposal that reduced the hotel height to 60 feet. The new zoning language would allow the desired five stories, as long as it complied with the 60-foot limit. However, Sayler said the developers have not been in contact with the planning office for months. The modified zoning language could prevent such confusion in the future, Sayler said. The cities of Perrysburg and Findlay took similar actions in the last few years because those communities were experiencing the same problems with dual height and floor regulations. A public hearing on the zoning amendment will be held at the Bowling Green Planning Commission’s next meeting on Oct. 5, at 7 p.m., in the city building, 304 N. Church St. Also at Wednesday’s planning commission meeting, Sayler reported on the number of zoning permits applied for in the city so far this year, compared to the previous year at this time. She listed: 270 total zoning permits this year, compared to 275 in 2015. 25 single family residential this year, compared to 20. 3 commercial zoning permits this year, compared to 0. 1 industrial zoning permit, compared to 0. 1 institutional zoning permit, compared to 0. “We’re stable, as far as development goes,” Sayler said.  


BG picks three streets to make bike-friendly

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Engineer Jason Sisco admitted the city map showing a handful of yellow streets as possible bike routes didn’t look like much. But it was a start – and that’s what bicyclists have been seeking for years. During a Complete Streets meeting held by the Transportation and Safety Committee prior to the City Council meeting Tuesday evening, the first steps were introduced to make a few streets more accommodating for bicyclists. Complete Streets is a concept that calls for roads to be safe and accessible for all modes of travel – including bikes. The city adopted a long range plan in 2007, identifying several streets to become more bike-friendly. But that’s where it stopped when money got tight. “It went on the back burner,” city council member Sandy Rowland said. A community meeting this past summer brought together cyclists talking about the risks of riding in Bowling Green. They identified several streets they would like to see improved for bicyclists. “We certainly had a loud and clear message,” Rowland said. “They were tired of waiting.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed, saying the city needs “at least one street we are working on in earnest.” And council member John Zanfardino said bicyclists have told him they will gravitate to safer roads – and any improvements are better than doing nothing. The Bicycle Safety Commission helped by narrowing down the street list to the top six that should be made more bike-friendly. Those streets were Conneaut, Fairview, Court, Clough, Pearl and Maple. During Tuesday’s Complete Streets meeting, that number was narrowed further to the top three. Conneaut and Fairview were selected because those streets are on the city’s paving project list for next year. Court was selected because of its link between the university and the downtown. “It’s a starting point, something manageable,” Sisco said. But they aren’t cheap. The city applied for funding to resurface Conneaut and Fairview in 2017. However, officials did not include any bicycle accommodations in the project. So, the city will have to pay for those additions. For Conneaut and Fairview, that extra price tag adds up to about $250,000. And the proposal discussed Tuesday evening includes a complicated combination of routes. It starts at Fairview and Poe roads by widening the sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to 6 feet. Then it crosses the street between Liberty and Evers to the west side of Fairview. After the meeting, Sisco said the city rejected the idea to add space for bikes on the west side of Fairview since it could pose a risk to have the riders so close to golfers at the Bowling Green Country Club. Putting a barrier between the golf course and bike lane could be quite costly. On Conneaut, the plan suggests that on-street parking be removed east of Fairview Avenue, that sharrows (bike arrows painted on the pavement) be added to Haskins Road, then a side path from Haskins to Wintergarden Road, then more sharrows west of Wintergarden. “Folks will not be happy about losing parking,” Sisco warned. “Some of these will be hot button items that from an engineering point are easy to solve,” but can be a political hot potato, he said. Gordon suggested that the city also work…


Green space plan gets first reading green light

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With so much debate swirling around the marijuana moratorium Tuesday evening, a long-awaited step by Bowling Green City Council almost went unnoticed. City Council gave the first reading to a resolution declaring the city’s property at 215 W. Wooster St. as open public space. With no debate and no fanfare, the property at the corner of South Church, West Wooster and South Grove streets was officially declared as open space. The resolution states the property, formerly the site of the city junior high, is to be developed in consideration of the concept design prepared by the Green Space Task Force. At least seven members of the Green Space Task Force sat quietly in the council chambers Tuesday evening, waiting to see what would become of their plan. They left without comment, knowing that their efforts were not in vain. The task force’s plan was originally presented to city council nearly a year ago. But the plan seemed to stall out at that point, and council decided to do further study on the site in case a new city building could share the property with a community green space. Though a study showed it was possible to combine both a new city building and green space on the acreage, the bulk of the public pressure came from citizens who wanted the site to remain undeveloped, except for a few town square features. Mayor Dick Edwards also threw his weight toward the preservation of a green space for public use. So on Tuesday, in the shadow of the medical marijuana moratorium debate, City Council gave its first reading to the resolution setting aside the location as green space, and supporting the task force’s proposal. The task force’s plan calls for a multi-purpose commons space with wide walkways leading to a large gathering space. The space would include street lighting that would match the rest of the downtown lights, benches, shade options of either sails or umbrellas, a defined brick entrance on the northeast and northwest corners, bicycle racks and trees. The plan also calls for a gazebo sized to accommodate medium-sized groups, with a raised platform and steps open to the front. Future plans call for a sculpture to reflect Bowling Green culture and heritage, and a circular flower bed to hold space for the sculpture. After the site is developed, the resolution states that significant changes would require council review and approval – making time for public input. The task force was also charged with devising a fundraising strategy to pay for development of the green space. The city has already spent $497,401 on the site, with almost all of that going to demolish the former junior high. The estimated cost to complete the design for the green space is nearly $250,000, with the bigger price tags for the gazebo, landscaping and irrigation, brick pillars, lighting fixtures, Victorian fountain or statue; concrete and benches. The task force hopes to raise funds to cover the entire cost in one to two years. Also at Tuesday’s meeting Bowling Green City Council recognized Bob Midden as Bicycle Spokesperson of the Year, at the recommendation of the city’s Bicycle Safety Commission. Edwards referred to Midden as a “dedicated bicyclist,” who takes bike safety very seriously. “I’m truly…


BGSU Jazz Night an enduring downtown BG tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jazz lives in downtown Bowling Green. Even a tornado couldn’t keep the jazz sessions from getting started earlier this semester. For most Wednesday nights over the last 35 years, jazz jamming has been a staple on the Wednesday night scene. Sometimes it’s students, sometimes it’s the biggest names in the business. It just depends on the night. “It’s taken on different shapes and colors over those 35 years,” said bassist Jeff Halsey. What’s now called Jazz Studies Night has settled into Bar 149, at 149 N. Main St. starting at 8:30. The sessions feature the Bowling Green State University jazz faculty quartet of Halsey, David Bixler, alto saxophone, and Ariel Kasler, guitar, and newcomer Dan Piccolo, drums, during the first hour or so. In the second set, student start filtering into the lineup, putting to the test the lessons learned on campus. That on-the-bandstand experience is crucial to their development. “You really have to be here if you want to be a jazz player,” Halsey said. “This is part of the community hang.” Visiting musicians to take part in the action. When internationally known star Branford Marsalis did a residency on campus, he showed up to play a set with the faculty. When guitarist Mike Stern’s concert with the Jazz Lab Band I was canceled in January, 2014, because of a snow storm, it was rescheduled for Jazz Night with the entire big band packed into a corner of the club. And exactly a year later, after a long day of delayed flights, the then 88-year-old Jimmy Heath rolled into the bar round about midnight, pulled out his saxophone and wailed. Jazz history had come to call. “Jazz is an art form that takes shape in a community,” Bixler said. Spending time in the practice room, using play-along recordings is part of learning, he said, “but you really learn how to play by playing.” “On the bandstand everything is different. You learn how to communicate, how to start and end songs, how to keep a mistake from derailing the whole piece, how to react to the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic input of your bandmates,” he wrote in an email. What the students learn in the studios and practice rooms of the Moore Musical Arts Center blossoms in the dim light of the 149 stage. “This is honestly one of the best classes they have,” Bixler said. The sessions started in Halsey’s first year on campus. Vic Pirooz, Easy Street owner, approached him about adding jazz to what was then six nights of music in the room above the restaurant. The place had a full stage and good sound system. Halsey said at that time the sessions were turned over to students to run. Halsey said he’d occasionally drop by to sit in but “they were in charge of it.” That continued for a number of years. Along the way, some students who went on to professional careers including bassist Mike Pope and drummer Mike Petrosino honed their chops at the sessions. When percussionist Roger Schupp joined the BGSU faculty in 1992, he took an interest in the sessions. He knew Pirooz and they worked out a new arrangement. The faculty took center stage. “Roger was the impetus,” Halsey said. It was during this time…


Medical marijuana moratorium fails to get enough votes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council needed six votes Tuesday to enact a moratorium on medical marijuana growing and sales. It got five. So on Thursday, it will be legal for people to get zoning permits to sell medical marijuana in the city – with no state regulations on the growing, processing and retail sales. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. State officials assured that regulations would be in place by the time the bill went into effect – which is this Thursday. But as of Tuesday, there were still no standards set by the state. So several communities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said. “There still aren’t any.” So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. But to have that in place by Thursday, when medical marijuana becomes legal, city council needed to give the resolution three readings on Tuesday evening. And that required support by six council members. Since Bob McOmber was absent from the meeting, that meant all the council members present had to support the three readings. Five supported the moratorium, but one – Daniel Gordon – did not. “I don’t feel comfortable rushing this through tonight,” Gordon said. But some others on council saw it differently. “I don’t want to rush through and put something in place with no regulations,” Scott Seeliger said of marijuana businesses. Seeliger said he was “sympathetic to people who could use it this week. But are we ready to handle this the right way?” The topic evoked a lot of emotion from council members. Sandy Rowland said she recently lost a brother who might have benefitted from medical marijuana. “I just saw my loved one die about 10 days ago, and he would have been with us longer,” she said. “It really hurt,” Rowland said. “It hurt to think that there are people who are suffering,” who won’t be able to access the drug if a moratorium is passed. She spoke of children who have up to 100 seizures a day, who can be helped with marijuana. Bruce Jeffers shared that concern. “I will feel really bad if we set some impediments to people getting medical marijuana.” They will be able to access the drugs in communities without the moratorium, but that means asking sick people to travel to get their medicine. Marsh said he understood those feelings, and said he is not opposed to medical marijuana. “I get that,” he said. “I don’t have anything against the intent.” However, he cautioned that without any regulations in place, legalized marijuana sales are risky. “All of us were caught by surprise that no rules were in the pipeline,” Marsh said of the state dropping the ball. “There are no rules. I know it’s stunning and it doesn’t make any sense. I’ve been doing this 29 years and I’ve never seen it.” There is no quality control, no safety testing. “There isn’t anything,” he said….


BGSU enrollment on the upswing (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News New facilities are translating into more faces on the Bowling Green State University campus. BGSU officials announced today that 15 days after class started, that enrollment on the Bowling Green campus is up 4.4 percent to 17,4649. The headcount for both the Bowling Green and Firelands campuses is up 640 students, or 3.3 percent, from last year, and almost 1,000 more than two years ago. That was helped by a freshman class that is larger than last year’s and, according to Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, the most academically prepared ever. Those 3,542 students have an average grade point average of 3.42 with an ACT score of 22.8. Retention of those students who entered last fall and are back this fall is just under 76 percent. That’s lower than last year, by about a percentage point. But because the class was bigger, the sophomore class is larger than last year’s. One reason students are attracted to BGSU, she said, is the new facilities. “I would say overall our new facilities and renovated facilities are continuing to attract students because it really aligns with our quality and innovative programs,” Castellano said. “The facilities are just strengthening what’s taught.” That means more students in architecture and environmental design, which is housed in a brand new home that used to be a warehouse. It means a modest growth in media and communications majors with the opening of the new Kuhlin Center. Castellano expects even more growth in those programs next year. The building wasn’t open when this class of students was touring campus, but those prospective students looking to enroll in fall, 2017 are “floored” by the possibilities of the new building. Overall the sciences, including the university’s new forensics science program, business majors and education majors are also seeing growth. First and second year science instruction will get a boost when the renovated Moseley Hall opens a year from now. And a new home for the College of Business is in the planning stages. The College Credit Plus program has also increased by 35 percent, both with high school students taking college courses at their home school and those taking courses on the BGSU campus. More graduate students have enrolled as well in computer science, business and the new data analytics programs being strong draws. This semester there are 2224 graduate students on campus, up 5.3 percent from 2015. The graduate and undergraduate enrollment also reflects a shift in the way the university is handling online courses. While distance learners, those who take semester-length courses, is down for both graduates and undergraduates, the numbers are offset by the growth of the E-Campus program. The E-Campus program offers courses in eight-week increments. That works better for adult students, Castellano said. The university’s is also attracting more international students. The number is up 15 percent to 1,190. Bringing in students from around the world has been one of President Mary Ellen Mazey’s goals. China and India are the largest source of these students, with a slight decrease in students from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East and an increase in students from Vietnam. Speaking later before Faculty Senate, Mazey said: “This was good news for our finances and budget.” They are attracted especially by business programs,…


Wendell Mayo brings his “lonely ones” into the spotlight

By DAVIDDUPONT BG Independent News Writing stories can be a lonely job. Maybe that’s why fiction writers populate their stories with so many lonely souls. So when award-winning fiction writer Wendell Mayo took the stage last week in what was billed as the first in the Spotlight on the Arts series, his theme was All My Lonely Ones. But as a professor in the Bowling Green State University Creative Writing Program, he’s certainly not alone in his pursuit. Eschewing the usual introduction, he spent the first few minutes of his presentation singing the praises of BGSU Creative Writing Program. And as a former engineer, he did it with a string of numbers including 415 books published by graduates of the program and 226 awards bestowed on their work. And that includes the big one, a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for Anthony Doerr. The program’s importance, though, is unquantifiable. “What we do here is bring authors from all over the world out of isolation,” he said. Together they share insights and learn the craft of writing.  Mayo said he started writing in the 1980s when he was living in the San Francisco and commuting by train to his job as a chemical engineer. There surrounded by people, his first lonely ones first stepped out onto the page. Mayo then presented four examples of his own craft. “I introduce you to some of my lonely ones.” Mayo offered a few words telling how each story came about, each a fictional elaboration on a real world situation, an example of how germ of inspiration from daily life can be spun into a fictional construct. Then he stepped aside as the stories were read by either F. Daniel Rzicznek or Jackie Cummins. The first story, from early in Mayo’s career, grew out of a mystery about his mother. When his father died, she started signing checks including “Soledad” as part of her name. The checks bounced. He wondered where the name came from. In the story, it is the character’s mother who had died, and the narrator goes to Texas to discover the meaning of the name, Soledad. The second tale grew out of a tragedy, though the story itself has comic moments and only hints at tragedy. While teaching Indiana Purdue University, Fort Wayne, a colleague told Mayo about a woman who had written something troubling in a paper. He was afraid she was the victim of domestic abuse. The teacher arranged to meet with her hoping to broach the subject, but before the meeting she was beaten to death by her spouse. Out of this grew a story about a “scream queen,” a young man who dresses as the heroine a reenactment of the climatic scene in “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Touched when he realizes one of those in the wealthy audience has been beaten, his scream is far too real, far too terrifying. The third tale grew out of Mayo’s stint teaching in Lithuania after the Iron Curtain had collapsed. Despite the new freedoms, the remnants of state control remained as people struggled with the new realities. In the story, this ends up resulting in a horrifying “massage” for an American visitor. The final story, one he later said is part of a collection now making the rounds of publishers,…


Police & firefighters to be thanked with barbecue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sometimes a good barbecued dinner says “thank you” like nothing else can. So next Sunday – the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks – local police, fire and sheriff employees will be thanked for their service to the community with a free barbecued chicken dinner in Bowling Green City Park. The dinner is being offered by Modern Woodmen as part of its Everyday Hero initiative. “This year marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Modern Woodmen’s Be an Everyday Hero project remembers and honors those lost … and recognizes the brave first responders, military members and others who continue to serve our community every day,” said D.J. Deiter, managing partner with Modern Woodmen. A couple hundred police, fire and sheriff employees and their families are expected to attend the barbecue in the Veterans Building at the park. “I thought it was important to invite their families as well,” Deiter said. This is the first time the local first responders will be honored this way. Deiter said now is an important time for the community to show its appreciation for law enforcement and firefighters. “With all the negativity that’s going on against the police, we wanted to do something special for them,” he said. The dinner will give first responder families time to sit down to eat and socialize together. As of last week, nearly 200 were signed up for the barbecue. “Every department has been very gracious,” Deiter said. “I’m not a military person myself,” though several of his family members have been in the service, Deiter said. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for what they do. We should do whatever we can to say thanks and show we appreciate them.” This will be the second time in a few weeks that Modern Woodmen has recognized local law enforcement. Bowling Green Police Officer Robin Short was recently given the Hometown Hero Award for working with children in the community. Short was honored at a Bowling Green High School football game, and given stacks of letters from her young fans and their parents. She is a DARE officer in Bowling Green City Schools, teaches Safety Town for kids, and coaches a variety of youth sports for the city parks and recreation department. “I was very surprised,” she said of being honored as a Hometown Hero. “I’m very honored. It’s heartwarming to see how the community feels.” Short has had a chance to read several of the heartfelt letters and check out the colorful sketches of her from young students. “It’s been a lot of fun. They are so adorable,” she said, adding, “my table’s a disaster.” Last week, Short was at the school district’s fifth grade camp. One of her jobs was teaching tomahawk and knife throwing. “It’s safer than it sounds,” he said, laughing. She got roped into helping at the school district’s fifth grade camp a few years ago. She went down for one day, but upon arrival found that flu had gone through one of the dorms, knocking two teachers out of commission. She was asked to help fill in. “If you get me a toothbrush, toothpaste and bedding, I’ll stay,” she said. She’s been helping out ever since. The Hometown Hero Award let Short know that…


Bus driver shortage to affect BG students again this week

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After last week’s plea for bus drivers by Bowling Green City Schools, 14 people contacted the district to express interest in transporting students to and from school. But people have to go through training and background checks before they get behind the wheel of a school bus – so the school district is short on drivers again this week for some of the 1,700 students who rely on bus transportation. “Remember that it is a process from being interested to getting certified, but if everything goes well by the end of the month things should be in better shape. We will still continue to search for additional drivers,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Monday evening in an email to parents. “With that being said, this week we still face a shortage of drivers,” Scruci wrote. So this week, the following routes will be affected: Bus #22, Tuesday morning and afternoon. Routes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Bus #3, Tuesday Routes that will be delayed are 2 and 17. Bus #22, Wednesday Routes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Bus #22, ThursdayRoutes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Any time a driver can’t be found for one route, it affects other routes that have to compensate for the missing driver. That means some students are getting to school and returning home late. The district has 21 full-time drivers and 11 substitutes. The problem is that 23 full-time drivers are needed, and seven of the subs have other jobs. “They are substitutes for a reason, because they don’t want to work full-time,” Toby Snow, interim co-director of the school transportation department, said last week. The shortage isn’t just affecting regular bus transportation to and from school, but also the shuttling of athletic teams to competitions. The district is also responsible for transporting students to and from non-public schools and Penta Career Center. Bowling Green isn’t alone with its driver shortage. “We’re experiencing the same issues that a lot of schools are having,” Scruci said last week. “There are not a lot of people who want to do it.” The job pays $14.62 to $16.08 an hour, depending on the person’s experience. The driver must go through background checks with BCII and FBI, and have to get a commercial driver’s license. “It’s going to cost you before you ever get paid,” Snow said. New drivers must have a minimum of 20 hours of on-board instruction, plus attend a four-day class. “There’s a lot to it,” Scruci said. But people should not be intimidated by the size of the buses, Snow said. “If you can drive a full-size pickup truck, you can drive a bus,” Snow said. “It’s not as complicated as it looks.”          


On this Labor Day, it’s laborers that the region is lacking

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On this Labor Day, as many of the nation’s workers take a day off from the job, the Northwest Ohio region is facing new type of labor problem. This region is short on workers. Help wanted signs and ads linger longer now as employers struggle to find people to fill openings. It’s no longer that workers aren’t trained for the job openings – it’s that there just aren’t enough workers to fill them. “There are gaps in the workforce, as we all know,” Carolyn Rodenhauser, talent acquisition manager for the Regional Growth Partnership, said last week during a meeting with the Wood County Commissioners. In recent years, the big labor issue was the lack of people trained for the right jobs – truck drivers, welders, mechanical and industrial engineers, and other skilled manufacturers. But that is no longer the case, according to Mike Jay, director of strategic networks with Regional Growth Partnership. The region responded to those shortages by setting up training opportunities, so people have the necessary skills. “Now it’s we don’t have enough bodies,” Jay said. Part of the problem is the exodus from the Northwest Ohio region by high school and college graduates. Chase Eikenbary, regional project manager with JobsOhio, suggested that retention could be improved if graduate tracking data is collected, possibly by Bowling Green State University. “How do we keep them here,” Rodenhauser said of students after high school or college graduation. “Ideally, that helps all of us if they stay in the region.” Efforts are being made to attract more workers to the region, then streamline the process to get them into the system. Rodenhauser said she has been working with Mary DeWitt, of Wood County JobSolutions, to come up with answers. “How can we make the system in Ohio better – that’s the goal,” Rodenhauser said. “Getting more people in the funnel, better trained – so that we can expedite things when we get a major employer.” Also at the meeting with the county commissioners, the Wood County Economic Development Commission was praised by the Regional Growth Partnership and JobsOhio representatives for taking an extra step that none of the other 16 counties do in the partnerhip’s region. When Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, makes business retention visits to companies, he takes along at least one county commissioner. That lets the industries know that the county values their presence here. “I tell them, Wood County is doing it right, in my opinion,” Jay said. Most county economic development officials don’t do regular updates with elected officials, Eikenbary said. “Wood County is unique in that. I think we should give kudos to Wade.” Eikenbary, who works on Wood County projects with JobsOhio, said Rossford, Bowling Green and North Baltimore are getting a lot of interest by developers. “Just last week I received a new lead for a Wood County company,” she said. “There’s a lot of activity that’s keeping me very busy with Wade. In the next few months, I think we will have some great stories to tell about Wood County.” According to stats from the Regional Growth Partnership, 2015 was a solid year for Northwest Ohio, with 4,367 new jobs, 17,743 retained jobs, and $1.9 billion in capital…


Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg offers place for book lovers to congregate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like most booklovers, Denise Phillips can name her favorite bookstores. In Chicago, where she and her family lived until moving to Perrysburg five years ago, there is the Book Table. In Ann Arbor, where they’ve made regular trips in the past several years, there’s Literati. But until earlier this summer, she didn’t have one close to home. So Phillips, and her husband, Brian, took initiative and opened Gathering Volumes at 196 E. South Boundary in Perrysburg. “We’ve been searching for an independent bookstore,” she said. One that sells new books. Used bookstores are plentiful. “I think a bookstore is such a community hub,” Phillips said.  “You just feel at home, no matter if you’ve ever been there before.” With a stock reflecting local customers’ interests, book clubs geared to popular genres, and events featuring area authors, that’s just what she envisions Gathering Volumes to be. The store marks a career switch for her. She was a project manager for an information technology firm. When her father died, Phillips said, “I decided I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing, and this was something that was always there for me.” So two years ago she started researching the book trade. And she tapped the expertise of those who ran the kind of bookstore she loved. “The owners of independent bookstores were incredibly helpful and lovely.” The demographics of the Perrysburg area, with higher than average number of college graduates and lots of families with kids, was a promising market. Phillips knows it’s a gamble. “It’s a huge risk,” she said. “There’s no guarantee it will be here in three years.” It was a bet, though, her family was willing to place. With a small business loan, some savings and help from family the business was launched. Her own two children Isaac, 7, and Mackenzie, 10, are two of the stores biggest fans, preferring to come to the shop after school rather than go home. Mackenzie will even “play” bookstore with friends. “I don’t think the bookstore will replace the income I had,” Phillips said. “But I enjoy my days, and I enjoy the families that come in.” Figuring out what those families want is a key. To stock the more than 8,000 volumes now in the store, she tapped in national analytics, about what would sell. That doesn’t always jibe with local demand. She concedes she probably overstocked mysteries and thrillers and has too little science fiction and fantasy. Both those genres are the focus of book clubs in which members all read a common book and then get together to discuss it.  There are also clubs focused on general fiction and juvenile literature.  Coloring book fans also gather bringing along whatever book they are working on at the time. Phillips said her and her husband’s tastes also are reflected in the shop.  “There’s a lot of my husband and I in this store,” she said. They stock a bit more non-fiction, social, biography, health and sport. And she knew she wanted a section for literary essays and poetry. Ernest Hemingway is a favorite of her husband’s, and she loves the poetry of Charles Bukowski. “I was worried I’d stock too much, but it’s been a pretty popular area,” Phillips said. Brian Phillips is the…


Juvenile offenders garden harvests more than food

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The community service garden being grown by juvenile offenders is helping kids clean up their lives as they get their hands a little dirty. The Wood County Juvenile Court garden, now in its fifth year, is harvesting benefits for the youth, local food pantries and families in need of fresh vegetables. As of last week, this year’s harvest was up to 3,140 tomatoes, 2,000 banana peppers, 750 mini bell peppers, 58 zucchini and 35 squash. But more importantly, the community service work garden is planting seeds in the youth working it. “It’s the ‘teach a kid to fish idea,’” said Ronda Downard, who cultivated the gardening idea with Lora Graves, both co-directors of the juvenile probation department. “It’s educating them as they are doing something for the community,” Graves said. For years, the juvenile court’s community service program offered offenders a chance to put in their hours by picking up trash. But the value of that was pretty limited, said Wood County Juvenile Court Judge Dave Woessner. “This has a benefit that reaches out to a lot of learning,” the judge said of the garden. So every Saturday, spring through early fall, juvenile offenders who were ordered to pay fines, court costs, or restitution, show up at the garden next to the juvenile court and detention center, to put in their hours. These are kids in trouble for offenses like truancy, unruly behavior, theft, underage consumption, drug offenses and delinquency. More than 80 youth have worked on the 40-foot by 32-foot garden so far this year. “A lot of these kids had never been in a garden,” Downard said. “They had no idea when they saw the food, where they came from,” Graves said. But the youth quickly picked up skills and voiced their preference for gardening over picking up trash. “They are a lot happier doing it than trash work ,” Graves said. “Even when we had them shoveling manure, they were happy.” As the season progresses, the youth feel success being able to reap the rewards from their work. “They really enjoy just being able to see it grow and being a part of it,” Graves said. The harvest is given away to local food pantries or churches, with the youth being allowed to taste the results of their efforts. “They have been allowed to sample it,” Downard said. The vegetables were first donated to the Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry. But the ample harvest overwhelmed the pantry. “They asked us to stop because we had literally overstocked their shelves,” Downard said. So next, more than 1,000 tomatoes, squash and peppers went to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church to be used for a community meal. Some of the harvest was also given to First United Methodist Church to put out for people to pick up when they attend the weekly Martha’s Kitchen meal on Fridays. The youth help deliver the vegetables to the food pantry. “I think it’s good for them to go to deliver it too,” Downard said. “Not everybody gets to shop at Kroger. There’s a line of people waiting at the pantries. That’s good for them to see. Not everyone is as fortunate as them.” To make the garden a success, several donations were made by the community….


Music with a political message on the side

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The taco truck invasion came to Bowling Green last night. Earlier this week a supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign warned that of Hillary Clinton was elected there would be an influx trucks.  Since then social media has been full of mocking references to the remark. So Next Gen Climate, a group mobilizing young voters to vote for politicians in favor of taking action to combat global warming, brought a taco truck to downtown Bowling Green and was handing out free tacos and other food items. They also offered to register voters. Among the most enthusiastic was Kirsty Sayer, a native of South Africa, who recently became a U.S. citizen. She happily posed with her voter registration form and a sign that declared “Stop Trump, Vote Climate.” The taco truck was there in conjunction with a Concert for the Climate held across the street at Grounds for Thought. The concert was billed as a mix of activism and music. As promised the music took the upper hand. Singer-songwriter Justin Payne, encouraged people to register to vote during his set. “That’s as much as you’ll hear me say about politics in public,” he told the audience. Dustin Galish, who is a field organizer for Next Gen and the leader of the band Tree No Leaves, urged those in attendance to vote for candidates who support environmental causes. They need “to make sure the environment didn’t suffer because you didn’t vote.” And with that he turned over the spotlight on the first act Tim Concannon, who evoked an earlier generation of activists with a rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer.” He also made the only explicit pitch for a candidate, singing a song in support of Kelly Wicks, the owner of the coffee shop and a Democratic candidate for the State House. Certainly Mechanical Cat, a musical project of John Zibbel, wove environmental messages in his intergalactic tales about a visitor from the planet Trifenderor. (Zibbel is a BG Independent business partner.) Otherwise the mostly college age crowd of about 100 heard an evening of mostly original music. Payne’s original pieces drew heavily on the blues and folk tradition, evoking working folks up against the industrial machine. He said that earlier this year while on tour, the rash of violent incidents discouraged him so much he almost stepped away from music. But he didn’t. Balance Bird from Toledo delivered a set of animated alternative rock, full of catchy hooks. Tree No Leaves closed with a set of songs built on driving drums and fluid bass churning under layers of guitar, keyboard and vocals. The show ended with songs about making love and making babies, but the subtext of the evening was still making a difference by voting.


Campus Fest, BG Independent and the acoustic typewriter

By ELIZABETH ROBERTS-ZIBBEL Zibbel Media/BG Independent News On Thursday, the staff of BG Independent News sat (and stood) at a table near the Education Building in the middle of the bustling, somewhat controlled chaos of Campus Fest. John, always full of ideas, had suggested finding an old typewriter to display, and if it worked, we could have students type on it and we’d compile their thoughts in a BG Independent piece. The four of us were discussing this via text, our primary means of communication. David seemed the most likely to have one, but he responded, “I don’t know if I have an operating acoustic typewriter.” But David did have one, though the ribbon was nearly worn out. It had belonged to his 94-year-old mother-in-law, Vi Brown, when she was a graduate student at the University of Michigan in the 1940s. As we handed out our blue bookmark us bookmarks and chatted with people and squinted into the sun, we offered students the chance to type a sentence or two about their hopes for the coming year. John optimistically started us off with “I am looking forward to a great year. _John Z” The first brave volunteer typed “to have good grades.” Next was a professor. “All my students will use APA and earn awesome grades. -Dr. LLM.” “Get a better GPA,” and “have a good semester” were next, followed by the more expansive “to be successful in all i do” (complete with lower case I). David, always thinking, realized we’d have a problem if we couldn’t read the sheets later and began scribbling what was being written into his reporter’s notebook. The typed words were becoming increasingly difficult to decipher. The next several lines, however, didn’t make it into his notes: i lik chicken hoping to graduate from el chooo to be the best i can be omg i love this hello. I would love to think that someone was hoping to graduate from elf school, but decoding these thoughts isn’t made any easier by the fact that when typists realized the keys were barely imprinting the paper, many probably stopped trying to make sense, which seems like a metaphor. If a sentence is typed but can’t be read, does it still have impact? “BG Independent News!” Jan spoke hopefully to a group of students. “Online local news and arts coverage, check us out.” “I follow you on Twitter!” a young woman responded, tucking the bookmark Jan handed her into the bag of freebies under her arm. “Oh! That’s me! I’m the tweeter,” I blurted before I could stop myself, glancing sheepishly at the accomplished veteran journalist next to me who has published nearly 500 articles on our site since its inception. “Well good job,” the student said as she walked on. Jan smiled and patted my arm. i want to make the Dean’s list again. i just want to graduate… i would like to get all a’s in my classes to get an a in hdfs 4500 iwant to get all as and graduate The next several lines appear to all have been typed by one person, Anna, who took the prompt quite seriously. hello my name is anna i hope to achieve a 4.0 this semester i hope to better utilize my resources i hope to stop…


BG to try for medical marijuana moratorium

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier this year, state legislators approved a medical marijuana bill, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But when House Bill 523 goes into effect next Thursday, city officials hope to have their own medical marijuana restrictions in place. On Tuesday, Bowling Green City Council’s agenda shows the first reading of a resolution imposing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities in the city. When the legislation was passed in June, the state cautioned it could take up to a year to be fully implemented. “Like the state, the city of Bowing Green also needs time to work on its regulations as they relate to medical marijuana,” the resolution explanation states. The city resolution would impose a year-long moratorium on medical marijuana growth, processing and sales. The moratorium will also cover the submission, consideration and approval of all applications for special permits, use permits, building permits and other permits from the planning or zoning departments for cultivating, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana. House Bill 523 includes a provision allowing municipalities to adopt resolutions to prohibit or limit the number of cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries licensed under the new law. The city planning department will be directed to begin research and come up with recommendations “necessary to preserve the public health, safety and welfare through regulatory controls for medical marijuana growing, processing or sales.” The resolution is proposed to go into effect immediately as an emergency measure and to be in place prior to House Bill 523 going into effect on Sept. 8. “Note that implementing this legislation is not a long-term decision for the city,” according to the legislative package that went out to all council members for Tuesday’s meeting. “It simply provides the time that we need to fully vet this issue. As stated, there are many issues the city needs to consider related to this matter. If this is not passed, there will be no regulations on Sept. 8 and could be problematic for planning and zoning.” House Bill 523, was supported by State Sen. Randy Gardner and former State Rep. Tim Brown, both Republicans from Bowling Green. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the bill includes the following provisions: Timeline and Regulatory Authority:  Regulatory oversight will be shared among three agencies, which will write rules following the effective date. The Department of Commerce has until March 6, 2017 to adopt rules to oversee cultivators and testing labs. The Board of Pharmacy, which will oversee the patient registry and dispensaries, and the State Medical Board of Ohio, which will oversee physicians, will both have until Sept. 6, 2017 to create and adopt rules. Qualifying Medical Conditions: Ohio includes several qualifying medical conditions in its program — including AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic or intractable pain, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis. The state medical board may add other diseases or medical conditions. Certifying Physicians: To qualify for the program, a patient must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and…