Wood County asked to join the ‘Big Fix’ for dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has been asked to join the “Big Fix” program to spay and neuter dogs. The pilot program in Lucas County last year resulted in more than 400 dogs being fixed, according to Steve Serchuk, a volunteer with the program. “It will make the county safer,” Serchuk told the Wood County Commissioners last week. “It will save the county money. It will lead to more people licensing their pets.” Serchuk said Lucas County started the spay-neuter program after determining that almost one-third of the 57,617 licensed dogs in the county were not fixed. “We were blown away,” he said. So Lucas County, Toledo and the Toledo Community Foundation chipped in $9,000 each to reach out to the areas with the highest population of dogs that hadn’t been spayed or neutered. The goal was to fix 350 dogs – but the program exceeded expectations and 409 dogs were spayed or neutered. The success led Lucas County to apply for a matching grant of $25,000, and ask Wood County to join the project by chipping in $7,500 to have the amount matched by the grant. Wood County has approximately 21,000 licensed dogs. The funding would provide for 200 to 225 dogs being fixed. Serchuk said the county would benefit from more dogs being fixed. He presented the following information: 60 to 90 percent of dog attacks involve intact male dogs. Spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to roam and their behavior is better. “This will deal with the cause of pet overpopulation, not the result,” he said. The average cost to fix a dog ranges from $100 to $250, with the costs being highest for large female dogs. “People will spay and neuter their dogs if the cost is cheap enough,” Serchuk said. “It’s not a macho thing. They don’t have the money.” The average cost to fix a dog with Humane Ohio is $75. Most people who take their dogs to veterinarians and can afford the cost, already have their dogs spayed or neutered, he told the county commissioners. This program is for those who don’t have the money to spare. “It’s one less dog that can reproduce. It’s one less dog that is probably going to roam,” Serchuk said. Ohio allows counties to charge more…


Audits to save BG homes money and energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Thousands of Bowling Green homes are letting cool air escape in the summer and heat seep out in the winter. So Columbia Gas is giving every homeowner, landlord and renter a chance to keep the air in their houses and money in their pockets. Bowling Green residents are being offered home energy audits for $20 by Columbia Gas, to identify how homes can be made more energy efficient. And if the residents agree to weatherization upgrades, the most they will pay per home is $300. “It’s because of Bowling Green’s interest in energy efficiency,” Jill McGinn, of Columbia Gas, explained last week to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. “Everyone in Bowling Green is eligible.” The subsidies through the program will pay for up to $4,000 in home improvements, but the residents will pay a fraction of that. “The most any Bowling Green resident will pay is $300,” McGinn said. “Those are some pretty huge and substantial savings.” The energy audits take about three hours to complete. An added bonus, McGinn said, is that experts also look for safety problems. McGinn knows all about that, since when she had an energy audit done on her home, it found a gas leak in her basement. “Safety is Columbia Gas’ first priority,” she said. The audits often discover leaks at gas line joints or at the appliance hook ups. The next priority is energy efficiency. The homes likely to benefit the most from the audits are those built before 1975, many which use more than 1,000 cubic feet of gas annually. Those homes are often found with very inefficient furnaces, and insulation that has settled over the years and no longer fills up space between the walls. “We run into a lot of houses that have no insulation whatsoever,” McGinn said of some of the older homes. Bowling Green resident Neocles Leontis is a believer in the audits as a way to say energy and money. “It’s a way to keep more of our money in our pockets and in our community,” he said. Leontis thought he was being smart years ago by replacing windows in his century old home. But the energy audit showed the air inside his home escaping through cracks in the basement and around windows. Many…


The Sheepdogs: Rain or shine rockers

DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Sheepdogs proved their rock ‘n’ roll mettle at last year’s Black Swamp Arts Festival. They took the stage as the closing act Friday night in a downpour that would have scared off many other artists. The Canadian quintet rocked out in the rain for a hard core crowd of several hundred that danced in the front of the stage, seeking refuge from the storm in the unrelenting backbeat and driving guitars. That’s just part of the deal when you’re a traveling rock ‘n’ roll band, said Ewan Currie, the lead singer and songwriter. “There’s a lot of sweat equity, a lot of travel, a lot of sucking it up… playing 10 shows in 10 days in unpredictable weather. That’s the price you pay for following the dream and playing in a rock ’n’ roll band.” The Sheepdogs will return to the festival this year as the Saturday night closing headliner. Currie hopes for better weather, but is ready to deliver “a good dose of rock ’n’ roll.” “We’ll come out with guns blazing,” he said. The festival runs Friday, Sept. 9. through Sunday, Sept. 11, in downtown Bowling Green. The band hasn’t had any off time since it last passed through Bowling Green. The Sheepdogs have been logging the miles in a tour to promote its latest album “Future Nostalgia.” The BG stop was at the beginning of a tour that will extend into November. That’s running close to 300 shows. “That’s missing a lot of weddings and other mundane life things,” Currie said. That’s being a rock ’n’ roll band. “The touring rock ’n’ roll band in 2016, we’re like the blue collar, working class musicians in a way,” he said. The music gets hardly any air play or coverage. “We’re almost like a boutique commodity.” But this is what Currie, his brother Shamus Currie, who plays keyboards and trombone, and bassist Ryan Gullen nd drummer Sam Corbett dreamed of growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They ditched their school band instruments, and learned rock listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, The Kinks and other 1970s groups popular in their parents’ youth. Starting as teenagers they wrote their own songs, but also played a lot of covers to learn all the tricks and turns of the trade. Those…


Lt. Gov. makes it her business to help Ohio businesses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was right at home talking to the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce members, sharing their disdain for governmental red tape that bogs down businesses. “I was with you, fighting the bureaucracy,” Taylor said, speaking of her time as a CPA prior to entering government. That frustration led her to cross to the other side. “I discovered what I really wanted to do was serve,” Taylor said during the mid-year chamber luncheon this past week. “I wanted to be a part of writing the laws.” She started out small, running for a position in city government, then worked her way up to state representative, then state auditor, and finally to her current position as lieutenant governor under John Kasich. In government, Taylor said, she has been able to fight for taxpayers, bringing about regulatory reform. “The status quo is never acceptable for me. We hold every state governmental agency responsible for their regulatory impact on business,” she said. “If the answer is – ‘That’s what we did before’ – that is not acceptable.” Taylor described her approach as a “common sense” strategy, to look at how regulations such as those protecting the environment were affecting businesses. State rules were reviewed with a special emphasis on looking at the impact on business, she said. That analysis led to 60 percent of the rules affecting businesses being rescinded or amended, Taylor said. “We have to understand, what we do in government does affect business and job creation,” she said. Consequently, Ohio’s unemployment is down and wages are rising faster than the national average, Taylor said. “Everywhere we go, we are using common sense.” As lieutenant governor, Taylor sees her other role as making a sales pitch for Ohio. “My responsibility is to sell Ohio.” And that can be a tough job sometimes. “We don’t have a beach.” If people examine Ohio’s work record, they often take a second look at the state. “Once you get here, what a wonderful place it is to live,” she said. “They are taking a serious look at us and making decisions to come to our state.” But Ohio faces some challenges, like the opiate/heroin crisis, and infrastructure costs above and below ground, Taylor said. “We have made progress, but there…


Medium has a message about the complexity of delivering the news

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’s hard to get away from the gaze of the four-sided column of mirrors planted in the entryway of the Kuhlin Center. The artwork, Medium, will have students and professors reflecting on their vocations. Medium is a four-sided pillar with two-way mirrors on each side, and a projector as a hidden presence within. The mirrors will capture on the buzz of activity in the lobby of the center, and scrolling down the center of each mirror will be a randomly selected statement starting with either “we” or “they.” Recently artist Erik Carlson, who created the piece, was in the lobby putting finishing touches on the work in the new home for Bowling Green State University’s School of Media and Communication.  At this point what’s reflected is the mess of construction, ladders, buckets, drop cloths, packing boxes and the like. Assisting him is Nicholas Hanna, a Los Angeles computer programmer. Carlson, whose studio Area C is in Rhode Island, said the concept is to mediate the media experience and have students consider what their role as future professionals is in the process of gathering, disseminating and consuming information. The “we” is those who produce and deliver the news. And the “they” are those who are the subject of the news and the consumers. Smack in the middle will be the “I,” the students and faculty learning and teaching about this process. As they read the statement they can consider themselves on both sides. All the while they will be staring themselves in the face. Carlson said that the concept came about as he thought about what the building would be used for. When he discovered that the University Library had a digital archive of The BG News dating back to 1921, he knew he wanted to tap that rich resource. The archive became one of two sources for those “we” and ‘they” phrases. The other is the closed-captioning for the live feed of whatever is going out over WBGU-TV’s main station. On this Saturday, the station is broadcasting a show about beer making. The phrases “WE GET IN ALL THE WORT” and “WE DON’T WANT TO GRIND IT DOWN” scroll from bottom to top on a screen, the words, starting with “WE” slowly becoming visible. They blink a little, a…


Bicyclists feel they are spinning their wheels in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The roomful of bicyclists was asked how many considered Bowling Green to be a bicycle friendly community. No one raised a hand. Instead, the 40 or so bicyclists shared stories of how unwelcoming the city is to two-wheel travelers. They told of streets marked as bike routes that have no berm for bicyclists, of road repairs that leave streets layered with loose gravel, of storm sewer grates positioned so they snag bike tires and of motorists hostile about sharing the road with bicycles. And they discussed bicycle plans adopted by the city nine years ago – with very little progress made to improve bicycle travel in the community. That transportation master plan update from 2007 recommended that the city consider bicycle facilities as part of all new or re-construction road projects, that all bike routes have improved signage, and that the city consider eliminating parking on streets for bicycle routes. When the bicyclists in the library meeting room were asked to identify the streets they would most like to see accommodate bikes, they listed the same streets that had been designated in the 2007 plan. Many felt that they were just spinning their wheels. Tuesday’s meeting was a joint effort of the city’s Bicycle Safety Commission and the City Council Transportation and Safety Committee members Daniel Gordon, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. The goal was to gather input from bicyclists on what streets they would like modified in some way to improve safety for cyclists. The group also discussed options for making the streets more accommodating to bikes. Those options include: Widening some streets by extending the pavement. Giving bicyclists room by narrowing the width for motorized vehicles. Banning parking along some streets. Turning some streets into one-way routes. Many of the cyclists said the city’s current signage stating “share the road” with the image of a bicycle is worthless. If there isn’t some space dedicated for bicycles, most motorists don’t feel the need to share, they said. The number of car-bicycle accidents in the city is low, with an average of 12 a year, and most not causing serious injuries. However, many of the cyclists said they have learned to ride defensively, and avoid streets that they feel are particularly dangerous for bicycles. Streets identified at…


Gold Star mother tells Democratic convention about how she was inspired by Obama

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Sharon Belkofer, of Perrysburg Township, addressed the Democratic National Convention Wedmesday night, she didn’t feel alone. She could feel the presence of her son, Tom. A lieutenant colonel in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, he died in Afghanistan in May, 2010, when a convoy he was in was attacked. His parents hadn’t even realized he was in Afghanistan. “I could see him smiling with his dimples,” Belkofer said, “and saying: ‘Go get ’em mom.’” And since his death, he and the president she met as a result of the tragedy have spurred her into action. Belkofer, a retired nurse whose two other sons also served in the military, gave a short introduction to a biographical video that introduced President Obama’s speech at the convention. In it she spoke of her encounters with Obama. The first was after her son’s death. At an event at Fort Drum in upstate New York where Tom Belkofer was based, the president asked to greet the Gold Star families. When he gave Belkofer a hug she told the convention audience, “I cried all over his suit. Tom would have been so embarrassed.” After that time, she got to meet the president twice more. Two more hugs. She attended his inauguration. “So warm and kind. So compassionate,” she said. “I was so inspired. Maybe this old lady could still make a difference. I knew my community’s schools needed more resources, so at age of 73 I took a leap of faith and ran for my local school board.” When going door-to-door in cold and dreary weather got tough, she told the convention, “I thought of my son Tom who never gave up and I thought of our President who never gives up. Why should I be any different?” She won the election last fall and received a handwritten note of congratulations from the president. “I don’t think any of this would happen since his death if it wasn’t for losing him,” she said of her son Tom in an interview on Thursday. “I think of these as gifts from him, though I had to lose him to get them.” Wednesday night’s speech was the latest of these gifts. Belkofer said she received the call Friday morning from a presidential aide whom she’s met through her…


BG policy makes sure city won’t get stuck with bills for political rallies in community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As a swing state much sought after by the presidential candidates, Ohio may become a second home for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the next three months. In preparation for campaign visits prior to the November election, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday adopted a new fee for candidates wanting to hold events at the city’s community center. The new fee is intended to help pay the actual costs, since security for presidential candidates requires that the entire center be closed to the public. The $750 fee will be added on to existing rental fees for the gym, classrooms and floor coverings required for a campaign event. In the past, the community center has been used for campaign rallies by Mitt Romney in 2012 and Bill Clinton campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2008. “We essentially had to close the whole building,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s park and recreation department. The community center brings in about $500 a day in the summer, and up to $1,000 a day during other times of the year from admission and class fees. So the new fee splits that in half, and asks campaigns to pay $750, Otley explained. “If we need to shut down the entire center,” then at least the city won’t be shorted on revenue, she said. The city will also require that campaigns pay the fee in advance of any rally being held at the center. In the past, the city has not required that, Otley said. Bowling Green did receive payments from the Romney and Clinton campaigns, but some cities have been stiffed by political campaigns in the past. “That’s what got us thinking,” Otley said. The Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University is the other site in the city with the capacity to hold large campaign events. And that venue is capable of holding more spectators, but the community center is better situated for security since it is also a National Guard center, Otley said. The city has not heard yet from either the Clinton or the Trump campaigns about rallies in Bowling Green, she added. “We have not been contacted by anyone,” Otley said. But with the new fee in place, the city is prepared. “If we…


Murder prompts calls for violent offender registry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The murder of a 20-year-old University of Toledo student last week has spurred a call from Northwest Ohio citizens for a violent offender registry in the state. So State Senators Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, have begun working on a system that could better inform and warn the public about violent offenders in their midst. Citizens in the region asked legislators to consider such a registry following the murder of Sierah Joughin in Fulton County.  James Worley, the man charged with Joughin’s murder, was convicted of abduction in 1990 and served three years in prison. Gardner said he and Hite, who both represent portions of Fulton County, are responding to people outraged and horrified by the murder and the similarities to the previous abduction. “We are considering concerns and anxieties of citizens,” Gardner said. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had signed the petition asking for the registry. “This person obviously is a sick, disturbed individual,” he said of Worley. “The question is, are there any other unsolved murders around the state.” A violent offenders registry would at least make citizens aware of such offenders residing in their neighborhoods, Gardner said. To determine the best way to set up such a system, Gardner said he has spoken with four sheriffs, the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and county prosecutors. “We’re doing our homework,” he said. “We are thinking about the most practical, best way to do this.” The system would probably work similarly to Ohio’s existing sex offender registry law. Several other states have violent offender registries, including neighboring Indiana. The senators will gain information from Indiana and other states as they begin working on an effective public registry process for Ohio. In Indiana, anyone classified as a sex or violent offender must register for 10 years. Those classified as sexually violent predators must register for life. According to Gardner and Hite, Ohio lawmakers have taken significant steps to address the issue of violent crime by strengthening penalties for repeat violent offenders and conducting a comprehensive review of that state’s criminal justice laws. Last year, the General Assembly approved Senate Bill 97, known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, which classifies any adult convicted of at least two violent…


Costs to cool BG schools too hot to handle

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Three of the five Bowling Green city school buildings have no air conditioning – meaning the first and last weeks of the school season can be brutal for students. Superintendent Francis Scruci has referred to the sweltering students as pools of butter sitting in the heat. “We know our buildings are hot. We know our kids melt,” Scruci said during a meeting held earlier this month. At that same meeting, high school teacher Jeff Nichols said his classroom on the second floor of the high school reached 108 degrees one day last year. And Principal Jeff Dever asked people to come experience the temperatures. “I invite any Bowling Green resident to come to our school the second day of the school year,” Dever said. The sauna like temperatures don’t make for a good learning – or teaching – environment. Cooling the schools is one of Scruci’s goals as he talks about new or renovated buildings. “That certainly is one of the obstacles we have,” he said during Tuesday evening’s board of education meeting. The superintendent has been looking for a temporary solution that might provide some relief until school buildings are renovated or replaced. But fixes are few since no ductwork exists at the high school, Conneaut or Kenwood schools. “That presents a huge challenge,” Scruci said. But Scruci had heard of a district with a similar situation that cooled its schools with temporary air conditioning units. The company that handled the project was asked to calculate how much it would cost to cool Bowling Green’s schools for the first weeks at the beginning and end of the school year. The estimate for Kenwood Elementary called for 25 1.5-ton air conditioning units in the windows, costing $20,000 per month. That amount didn’t include the $3,500 for set up and tear down, or the added electric cost to run the air conditioning. The total for cooling the high school, Conneaut and Kenwood reached $101,500 a month. “I don’t think that’s a reasonable option,” Scruci said. “That’s not a doable number.” Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board learned the new bleachers in the football stadium are nearly complete. “We were fortunate to be on the front end of their schedule,” said Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. “Some of…


Review of BGPD shows very low use of force, few citizen complaints

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News There were enough chairs set up in the Simpson building Tuesday to seat every citizen who had filed a complaint against the Bowling Green Police Dvision in the past three years. And there would be room for more. None of them showed up when a visiting accreditation team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.  set up shop to receive citizens’ comments. City Councilman Bruce Jeffers was there. He said the police force is “positively engaged with the community.” In a time when there are so many reports of clashes between police and citizens with violence “going in both directions,” he is “amazed” how the BG officers “deal with large number of partying students … without losing control or using excessive force.” Planning Director Heather Sayler was there as a resident to praise the department, especially the D.A.R.E. program. Fire Chief Tom Sanderson was there to lend his support to Chief Tony Hetrick and the officers. He and his crews see first-hand BG police officers’ ability to de-escalate tense situations, which allows EMS crews and firefighters to feel safe doing their jobs. That camaraderie between the fire and police divisions is not always the case, said Robert Johnson, a retired Illinois State Patrol lieutenant colonel. Also on the CALEA team was Capt. Brad Fraser, from Shelby, North Carolina. Lt. Daniel Mancuso serves as the BGPD’s accreditation manager. That wasn’t the only surprising thing they found in reviewing the BG police’s performance from 2013 through 2015. Over that period, Johnson said, Bowling Green officers never used their firearms, nor did they use their batons. He called that “pretty surprising… given the climate the police operate in.” “This is far better than I expect to see,” Johnson said. “I’m more used to seeing force used more frequently and use of greater force.” In that three-year period, BG police made 8,000 arrests, and used force in 71 of those. Not a single lawsuit related to use of force was filed against the department. In the same period, the police issued 26,000 traffic citations and warnings. They made 89,000 calls for service. And they received 54 citizen complaints. The accreditation process is voluntary. CALEA is the only national and international agency. Johnson said 5-10 percent of law enforcement agencies opt to…


BG School’s state scores less than stellar

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education got the bad news first Tuesday evening. The latest state scores for the district looked dismal, with none of the grades meeting state standards for English or math. That report was quickly followed up by good news about students building robots and programming computers in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math) program. The pairing of the good news/bad news was intentional, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. “We’re going to own our score,” Scruci said about the state grades that were far from acceptable. But he wanted to make sure people also saw the great learning taking place in the district, and not put too much weight on the state scores. “It’s reckless for a community to judge a school based on a one-day snapshot,” he said. “Please don’t judge the district based on a one-day snapshot.” Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for BG City Schools, had the job of breaking the bad news. None of the grades met state standards for English. Aside from a middle school algebra class, none of the grades met standards for math. The district saw some success in social studies and science scores. McCarty did not make excuses, but she did try to explain how the low scores could have happened. First, the English and math tests were new. “You will see scores drop,” when the tests change, she said. Second, the state rubrics were released after the school year had started, making it tougher on teachers. Third, the district did not have a comprehensive assessment process to monitor programs. And finally, the district didn’t find out two of its school were in the Ohio Improvement Process until later in the year. To bring up the scores – and more importantly, improve the learning, McCarty said the district is taking several steps to: Identify instructional trends for at-risk groups of students. Create a viable curriculum for all students. Create Google sites as resources for teachers. Implement assessments for reading and math. Hold weekly teacher team meetings to discuss data and instruction. “We want to focus on academic achievement,” McCarty said. “When the learning occurs, the test scores follow.” The district’s goal is to close the achievement gap between special education and…


Pastors Mary Jane and Gary Saunders honored for working to make BG better for everyone

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News On receiving the I Love BG Award with his wife, Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, Pastor Gary Saunders sounded what could have been the keynote for the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year Meeting and Awards Program. “We’re better together,” he said. And that in one way or another was a message that came through in all the award presentations. Fitting for the award that she and her husband were receiving, Pastor Mary Jane Saunders said that when they first moved to Bowling Green to  assume the pulpit at First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, they “immediately fell in love with the community and wanted to become involved.” “We were called by a church dedicated to justice and inclusion,” she said.  “This church has been supportive, not just supportive but encouraging. It’s because of First Presbyterian that we’ve been able to be active.” Sheilah Crowley, last year’s I Love BG award winner, detailed that involvement in her introduction. They have been leaders in the BG Ministerial Association, the campaign to stop the repeal of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, Not In Our Town, the city’s Human Relations Commission, the interfaith breakfast and the Presbytery of Maumee Valley. Gary Saunders said that guiding “our life journey together” has been a belief that “diversity is an opportunity not a problem.” “To the extent we can grasp that and live it out, we can all step forward together,” he said. After the luncheon, held at Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids, Mary Jane Saunders said it was the people who made the couple fall in love with Bowling Green. “There are people who share a vision of wanting the community to be better for everybody, and they’re willing to work for it, not just talk about it.” Not In Our Town embodies that. “It’s a grassroots thing,” Gary Saunders said.  It bubbled up both on campus and in the community.  “It’s a vehicle to gather together and express what our best self is. That’s what Not In Our Town is all about.” NIOT prompts community discussions of “the important issues we really need to talk about. Sometimes issues are tragic events, or issues swirling about like Black Lives Matter and Islamophobia. We need a place to talk about it. We have a long way to…


Piano stylist Michael Peslikis plays the music of the American experience

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Michael Peslikis describes himself as a piano stylist. He likes to play a variety of styles and that fluidity has served him well in his more than six decades as a professional musician. He played square dances at a dude ranch when he was 15. Played for silent movies, for musicals. He’s played ethnic music, his own Greek, and  Jewish, Irish, Italian, polkas as well as blues and ragtime – the soundtrack of the American melting pot.  He studied classical composition with Walter Piston at Harvard. This Wednesday Peslikis turns 80 in style. After 65 years as a professional he’s still intent on getting better. He’s flipped back the pages of time to return to the classical masters he studied as a youngster. You can still catch him around the area playing jazz and standards at Degage, serving up tunes for a brunch on holidays at the Hilton Garden Inn in Findlay, and jazzing up hymns at a church service on Sunday at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran in Toledo. Peslikis started out playing in his native Queens, New York. There was a piano in his home, and his father a Greek immigrant businessman had a few friends over to play some music from their native land. The young Michael bragged he could play that music on the piano. They dismissed him. He was undeterred. “I sat down and played it anyway, and they said ‘give him lessons.’” Despite this early display of keyboard skill, his early musical success was as a singer. He sang in an all-city choir. Traveling by train weekly for rehearsals. He assumed he would pursue singing, but he ruined his voice by straining to sing high parts after his voice changed. In high school he formed a small band that played dances. At 15 he got his chance for his first union job, a gig at Thousand Acres Dude Ranch in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. He was actually too young, so he had to get dispensation from American Federation of Musicians strongman James Petrillo. Peslikis got the card, and spent the next summers playing resorts in the Catskills, the so –called Borscht Belt.  A musician had to be flexible and skilled at switching gears. He played Jewish music and the Latin music that the…


Dry summer taking toll on crops, lawns, tempers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County is parched after getting half its normal summer rainfall this year – leaving yards brown, corn stalks scrawny, and some farmers short on patience. Every once in awhile, the dark clouds build and rain starts hitting the thirsty earth, but most hints of precipitation have turned into a tease. Rainfall for May, June and July in Bowling Green added up to 5.64 inches, according to records kept at the Bowling Green Wastewater Treatment Plant. That is about half of the average 10.7 inches seen here during those three months. The stunted crops and crunchy lawns are the most obvious victims, affecting local farmers and grass mowing businesses. But the hot dry summer has been good for others, like ODOT’s road construction schedule, local swimming pool attendance, and ball seasons that haven’t been disrupted by rain. Bowling Green’s water supply has not been adversely affected since the Maumee River watershed covers a huge area, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for the city. “Even under severe drought conditions, there’s a lot of water that drains into the Maumee River,” O’Connell said. However, the rainfall on individual farm fields has left corn and soybean crops hurting, according to Jonanthan Haines, of the Farm Service Agency. The spring started out strong, he said. “We had the rainfall in April and May. We were actually a little too wet.” Farmers were itching to get their crops in the fields as summer got near. “They had a window to plant at the end of May,” Haines said. There were a handful of dry days, followed by forecasts for spring showers. “Everybody raced to plant.” But the forecast was wrong. “The rain never came,” Haines said. “The spigot was turned off after that.” Some spots in the county have fared a bit better than others, with the driest fields in the southwest corner, he said. The corn may have finally shot upward and started tasseling – but that is somewhat deceptive. It doesn’t mean a healthy crop. “The corn is chest high and tasseling out,” but it should be much higher by this time of the summer, Haines said. Haines is predicting “substantial less” bushels of corn at harvest time this year. Soybeans may be a little more drought resistant…