BG rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council split 4-3 Monday evening on enacting a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. So despite a request from the city attorney and city planner, the moratorium was scrapped. Council members Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino voted against the moratorium, while Mike Aspacher, Bob McOmber and Scott Seeliger voted in favor. After the meeting, City Planner Heather Sayler said her office has received two phone calls from prospective medical marijuana representatives asking where they would be allowed to do business in the city. As it is now, a retail operation could go in commercial zoned areas, a processing operation could go in industrial, and growing could occur in agricultural zoned areas. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But few community regulations have been established, so several municipalities 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 last month when the issue first came before council. 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. Marsh added that the city does not have qualified personnel to set regulations for growing, processing or selling pot. But Gordon said he was not willing to add further burden on ill people who could benefit from medical marijuana. On Monday evening, Gordon reaffirmed his opposition to a moratorium. “I continue to feel the legislation is unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher noted last month that Bowling Green applies rules to tattoo businesses, dance establishments and grocery stores. “I think it would be irresponsible,” to not do the same with marijuana, he said. Sayler said her office is waiting for some direction from the state. “It’s new to everyone. We don’t have any guidance yet.” But Gordon said the greater error would be to deny the drug to people in need.  

Clinton vows to stay true to blue collar Americans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hillary Clinton made her pitch to the blue collar crowd in Toledo Monday – to people who pay their taxes and expect their elected officials to do the same. Clinton hit hard on the latest news that her opponent Donald Trump has likely not paid federal taxes for nearly two decades. She looked at her supporters gathered in the Amtrak station in downtown Toledo, and told them she understands them. “We believe in honest pay for honest work,” she said, mentioning her dad who printed drapery for a living. “He believed in hard work. He passed that on to me.” Those in the crowd appreciated her steady dedication to family and worker causes. Jennifer Rogers, of Toledo, said she likes how Clinton relies on her experience and her heart. “I think Hillary knows more about the world situation than any president we’ve ever had. I think the Republican party has done a real witch hunt and she’s stood her ground.” Larry Robinson, of Bowling Green, admitted he was not a huge Hillary fan. “I’m against Donald Trump,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t trust him to stick to his word.” So Clinton will likely win with Robinson by default. “When it comes time to vote, I’ll probably pull the lever for Hillary,” he said. Andrew Heller, of Toledo, had no doubts. “I think she’s obviously the only candidate qualified for the job.” He then looked at his two young daughters to explain another reason why he wouldn’t support Trump. “It’s despicable how he talks about women.” One speaker suggested it would be fitting for the Glass City to help Clinton shatter the “glass ceiling.” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, joined in heaping praise onto Clinton. “No matter what gets thrown her way, she keeps chugging along,” Kaptur said. “She gets things done.” One of those things was very meaningful to Toledo, when Clinton voted to save the auto industry. Clinton talked about those tough times, when people were losing their jobs, their homes, their savings. “In 2009, you were in the eye of the storm,” she said to the Toledoans. She used Trump’s words against him, reminding the crowd that he didn’t stand for the auto industry bailout. “He would have let you twist and fall,” she said. “But you never gave up,” she said to the crowd, many of them UAW members….

Contemporary Art Toledo on a mission to get people thinking about art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The glass on display at River House Arts gives a clear view of the mission of the newly launched Contemporary Art Toledo. The art on exhibit in HUSH.ex challenges what viewers may expect from an art medium so closely tied to Toledo. The works are more than beautiful objects, but provocations. Jessica Jane Julius intentionally “mars” some of her work, questioning the ideal of perfection. She also created long shimmering panels. Are these glass? Yes, glass-infused paint, normally used to paint stripes on runways. Amber Cowan’s milk glass pieces at first glance seem like they were retrieved from an old aunt’s estate. But they subvert that thought, teasing out the line between art and kitsch. And the work by Megan Biddle and Sharyn O’Mara tests the boundaries between drawing and glass. The work, which is on view through Nov.4, in the show “pushes the medium and pushes the history of glass,” said Brian Carpenter, one of the two founders of Contemporary Art Toledo. The show is the second sponsored by the nascent arts organization. The organization’s roots go back to when Carpenter and Paula Baldoni, the owner of River House Arts, were introduced about two years ago. They found they had similar thoughts about the regional arts scene. “We immediately started talking about artists,” Carpenter said. Both were interested in exposing local viewers to a different kind of work. Carpenter teaches and is gallery curator at the University of Toledo. Baldoni and her husband, William Jordan, founded River House Arts 12 years ago in Perrysburg. Early this year they brought their operation, which includes art leasing and sales, to the Secor building at 425 Jefferson St., in downtown Toledo. “For River House Arts, it came out of this acknowledgement that we were showing more statement shows, more works that were not commercially driven, conceptual work,” Baldoni said. Baldoni, who has presented shows at Owens Community College, worked with Carpenter on Where Light Goes, which looked at new directions in photography. They also collaborated on a show at UT. Carpenter said they started to think about what this would look like as an institution. They studied models in others cities, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis and others. “I spent this summer doing our due diligence on how do those institutions operate,” Baldoni said. “What benefit do they provide the community? Does their community really want it?” They…

Jail inmate in hospital after beating in visitation area

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An inmate at the Wood County jail is in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo after being beaten by another inmate last week in the visitation area of the jail. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Sunday afternoon that the two inmates were in the visitation area when one punched the other in the back of the head. “We got the victim medical attention immediately and are pressing felony charges against the inmate who beat him,” Wasylyshyn said. Operations Captain Terry James said this morning that Jesse Perez, 36, Toledo, and Franklin Socha, 26, Berea, were having a disagreement Thursday in the visitation area of the jail, when Perez allegedly punched Socha in the back of the head. James said Perez, who was in the jail for domestic violence, punched Socha “several” times. Socha, who was in the jail for felonious assault, was visiting with his mother at the time. Socha was taken to Wood County Hospital, then transferred to St. Vincent in Toledo. The hospital would not release his condition this morning. No jail staff was in the visitation area when the fight occurred, James said. That is not unusual, according to James, who said two deputies were monitoring the area from the room next door. “They saw it and called for backup,” James said. The staff was in the visitation room “very quickly,” James said after watching video of the incident. “I was pleased with how fast we were in there.” Felony assault charges against Perez will be presented to the grand jury on Wednesday. Almost all inmates at the Wood County Justice Center are permitted visitation. “All inmates, unless they are in discipline, are entitled to visitation,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is hoping to change to video communication in the future, so the inmates stay in their jail areas, and their visitors communicate with them similar to Skype.  

‘Bobcat Basics’ to supply students with toiletries, school items

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like many teachers, Erica Slough often sees students in her classroom who struggle with daily issues that most Bowling Green students don’t have to worry about. They don’t have the basic toiletries, clothing or school supplies they need. So Slough, a high school English teacher, came up with the Bobcat Basics program to provide supplies to students in need. “They do a good job of pretending to be OK. They don’t want to talk about it. But we see kids who are in need and we don’t have anywhere to turn to,” Slough said. “This is a much needed program.” It might be that their families can’t afford to keep supplies of shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, or notebooks. It may be the family has suffered a job loss, or a disaster such as a fire, or has a more ongoing crisis. “If they don’t have their basic needs met, how are they going to focus on academics?” Slough said. “They are thinking about survival. We want to help them out the best we can.” The plan is to supply the Bobcat Basics program by asking parents to donate items and by working with student organizations to collect donations from businesses. Student groups will also be in charge of keeping track of the inventory and making sure the program is stocked. “It’s set up for students to help students,” Slough said. But that is as far as the students and community will be involved, since the program must be discreet so students in need feel comfortable picking up items. “This is for the teenagers,” Slough said. Students will be approached by their guidance counselors, referred by their teachers, or questioned if they receive reduced cost lunches. “We do have a significant amount on that list,” she said. They will be called down to the Bobcat Basics room during study hall. “People get called down for different reasons all the time,” Slough said. The students can pick out the items that they need, bag them up, and put them in their locker without anyone knowing. BGHS art teacher Lloyd Triggs, who designed a logo for the Bobcat Basics program, said he liked how discreet the program was and how it gave the community an opportunity to help. “It seemed like a good fit for the community,” Triggs said. While the program will start…

Volunteer Guardians needed to advocate for adults

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rocky Ramos and Denise Niese are buddies. When they talked Thursday morning, Niese reminded him she was bringing some Costco rotisserie chicken to his apartment for dinner. They talked about Ramos’ favorite sports teams. And he asked again about getting a “Hawaii 5-0” tattoo in honor of his favorite TV show. Though separated by several years, the two are tight. But they are more than friends. Niese is a Volunteer Guardian for Ramos. She is one of 20 volunteers in the county who work with a program established by the Wood County Probate Court to help adults who are unable to look out for themselves. The needs of the program are outgrowing the number of volunteers, according to Jennifer Robeson, office manager for the probate court. The Volunteer Guardian program pairs up volunteers with adults declared incompetent by the court. Many of the adults are referred to the court by local nursing homes, Adult Protective Services, Behavioral Connections or Wood Lane. Some of the older adults are no longer able to look out for their best interests and don’t have family members to help. Some of the younger adults have developmental disabilities and lack family to take the role. “They are mostly strangers,” Robeson said of the volunteers matched with adults in need. They range from teachers and nurses, to attorneys and retirees. The guardians represent the person, not the estate. “They are an advocate or a friend they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explained. The guardians might have to give permission for medical procedures or be with the person at the end of their life. “On the other hand, they might take them to a movie or dinner,” Robeson said, explaining the wide range of needs. “The volunteers provide a quality of life to these people who wouldn’t have it otherwise,” Robeson said. “This is a fantastic reminder there are still great people in the world,” which is not something that is frequently seen by those working in the court system, she added. Wood County Probate/Juvenile Judge Dave Woessner has been a strong supporter of the guardian program. “I truly believe this is an invaluable program for the county. It fills an ever increasing need in the county,” Woessner said. “They do an excellent job assisting people who can’t help themselves.” And the work benefits the volunteers as well, the judge said….

Zombie Mud Run planned on BG obstacle course

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green parks officials are looking at the “undead” as a way to breathe new life into park programming. The first BG Zombie Mud Run is being planned for Nov. 20 on the new obstacle course being built behind the community center on Newton Road. The plans for the event were explained to the Parks and Recreation Board earlier this week by Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator. Participants will run through the 1.5-mile obstacle course wearing flag football belts. Along the route, they will encounter obstacles, mud and, of course, zombies. Kovacevic promised natural and man-made obstacles that the runners will have to hurdle, crawl through, climb over and run through – with plenty of water and mud along the way. And as the name implies, there will also be “zombies” along the course trying to pull the participants’ flags and “infect” them. To successfully finish the race, a runner must navigate through the obstacles and past the zombies to the finish line with at least one flag still intact. “If they make it, they survive. If not, they’re infected,” Kovacevic said. The zombie event may attract some teenage participants, who are hard to attract to park and recreation programs, he said. But the popularity of the “Walking Dead” and all-things zombie, may just be enough to draw in teenagers. Students with the DECA program at Bowling Green High School will be teaming up with the parks and rec department to help with the event. Revenue from the Zombie Mud Run will be directed toward further development of the new obstacle course trail and toward the BG Parks & Recreations Camps for Kids program, which helps subsidize programs for youth and families in need. Also at the park and recreation meeting, the board: Heard from board chairman Jeff Crawford that efforts are gearing up to promote the 2-mill park levy on the Nov. 8 ballot.. Voted to increase non-resident fees for one-day and multi-day camp programs for youth. City Council will review the small fee increases in October. Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley explained that this would be a good time to revisit the non-resident fees since city residents are being asked to approve a tax levy for the parks. Listened as Cheryl Windisch reported on the success of the annual Wine and Cheese Fundraiser for the Parks and Recreation Foundation….

BGSU sees slip in student retention rate

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU’s student retention rate slipped this fall, sending officials scrambling to find ways to help students stay at school. It’s not enough for Bowling Green State University to attract new students to come to school. The university has to keep them coming back for more – until they graduate. That’s because universities in Ohio no longer get state funding per student headcounts. Now they get paid if students return to school each year and earn diplomas. So the recent dip in returning students at BGSU was concerning Friday to the BGSU Board of Trustees. Last fall, the retention rate was 77.5 percent. This fall, the rate of returning students had dropped to 75.8 percent – creating a bigger gap between reality and the retention goal of 80 percent. “Obviously, we’re not satisfied,” said BGSU Provost Rodney Rogers. “The goal is 80 percent, so we will continue to work on that.” Retention rates dropped for on-campus students (78.4 to 76.5 percent) and for commuter students (67.9 to 64.7 percent.) Meanwhile, several other universities in Ohio were meeting their goals of 80 percent or higher retention rates, Rogers said. Rates at Ohio University, Ohio State University, Miami University and Kent State were all higher than BGSU, while the University of Toledo’s rate was lower. But Rogers assured that BGSU could achieve the higher rate. “That 80 percent is a very appropriate goal for us,” he said. BGSU Trustees President David Levey questioned how the university would meet the goal. “Everybody’s focused on retention and our numbers are slipping,” he said. “What are we going to do this year?” However, Trustee Dan Keller cautioned the board to not over-react to one slip in the retention rate. If the one-year blip turns into a trend, then it will be time to worry, he said. Rogers and Tom Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost, explained that several efforts are already underway to improve the rate. “The two of them are taking this very, very seriously,” Keller said. Among freshman, the highest risk groups for non-returning students are commuters, first-generation students, and Pell-eligible students. “For each of these, we have strategies in place,” Rogers said. “We’re very much focused on these sub-populations.” “We’re seeking to better understand their needs,” Gibson said. Commuting students sometimes don’t feel fully engaged with the university. So advisers to these…

Ice Arena investment skates by BGSU Trustees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six years ago, the Falcon hockey program was teetering on the edge of the BGSU budget chopping block. But today, the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to spend $2.7 million to keep the operation on ice. The money will pay for a new ice plant and replacement of the concrete floor under the main and auxiliary ice at the Ice Arena on Mercer Road. There was no debate about spending the money – with it being noted that the BGSU hockey team is ranked 14th in the nation this year. The concrete floor and ice plant are original to the Ice Arena, which was built in 1967. The facility saw its first upgrade in 1989 with expansion of the seating area, then in 2001 with some office and lounge space being added. In 2010, some roof, gutter, restroom, humidity and lighting changes were made, and later the parking lot and sound system were improved. There were upgrades to the locker rooms, concession area and awnings added out front. And this year, hockey fans will notice a new video score board in the arena. The ice plant and concrete will have to wait until next summer to be replaced, so the work doesn’t interrupt hockey season. Sheri Stoll, BGSU vice president of finance, stressed the need for the improvements. “Our operating costs will increase significantly” if the work isn’t done, she told the trustees. Though the university is prepared to pay for the projects, Stoll said donations are always welcome. “We’d be happy to accept any private donations for this,” she said. Also at Friday’s meeting, the BGSU Trustees approved $9.4 million in improvements to the East Campus and central electrical load centers. Stoll described the project as “mission critical.” The work will remain “invisible” to the public, but failure of the 60-year-old electrical load centers would be “extremely” bad, she said. Stoll said the state is expected to pay for $7.2 million of the project, $750,000 would come from residential life funds, and $1.5 would be long-term debt. The trustees also approved a $3 million ductwork project in the Moore Musical Arts Center, which would improve humidity levels and qualify the building for a “Steinway” designation. The work will require that no staff or students be in the building at the time, so it is planned for May…

Kids with special needs benefit from challenge of sports through Rally Cap

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The turf room in Field House at Bowling Green State University is full of voices on Sunday afternoon. Lower voices of parents murmur from the bleachers along the wall near the door. Spread across the green before them are the encouraging, sometimes cheering, voices of college students. Rising above it all are the high, happy chatter of children at play. All this is punctuated the sounds of balls bouncing and being kicked. Welcome to a new season of Rally Cap Sports. The program, now in its fourth year, offers individual sports experiences in a non-competitive environment to children with a range of special needs, said Melissa Wilson, a BGSU senior who directs the program. Sunday’s kickoff marked the start of the program’s fourth year on campus. A few dozen kids are spread out around the turf room, each working with two or three college students. This kickoff, Wilson said, serves as an introduction for new participants, and a welcome back for participants from previous years. After Sunday there will be a basketball league this fall as well as a couple dances. For information contact: The program serves children with a wide range of needs, she said. Some are non-verbal, while others have mild learning disabilities. About 70 have participated to date. For all of them, sports in another setting is not a possibility. Jodi Clifford said her children are unable to play sports either at school or in private programs because of a variety of disabilities including bilateral coordination issues. “But coming here they enjoy it. They look forward to it. They don’t feel left out. They feel part of the team.” Cicely Watkins said her sons “tried traditional sports and they were very discouraged. They hated sports.” One has cerebral palsy and all have sensory processing issues. Now they will gladly talk about all the sports they play at Rally Cap, and how good they are at them. Shelley Davis said her daughter who participates has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, with symptoms similar to autism, and low IQ. Her daughter proudly displays all her Rally Cap trophies. “They’re discounted at school, but not here,” Davis said. That the program is run by students makes it all the more appealing the mothers said. “You can tell the students love it, and it makes my child feel special,” Watkins said. “They look up to…

Fewer BG residents stashing trash in recyclable bins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying to use the carrot and not the stick to teach residents about the new garbage rules. But it turns out they are also having to explain that carrots and sticks belong in the trash, not in recycling. The problem came to a head a few weeks ago, when the Wednesday recyclable collection route on the east side of the city consisted of 35 percent trash, according to Ken Rieman, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. It was believed that the increase in the garbage in recyclable bins was an unintended consequence of the new city ordinance requiring that garbage bins be closed when being picked up. Rieman surmised that residents with overflowing trash bins were stashing the trash in the recyclable bins instead. However, as of last Wednesday, the trash in the recyclable bins had dropped to 20 percent from the peak of 35 percent, Rieman said. “It appears the city education efforts have had some success,” he said. Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the 35 percent was “an alarming rate.” So the city started a strong education push for residential areas close to BGSU, where it was thought that students might not realize the difference between the green garbage bins and the blue recycling bins. Bright green stickers are being placed on bins that are being used improperly. However, if the education isn’t enough, the city can cite citizens for putting trash in their recycling bins. “Obviously, that is a last resort for the city,” Fawcett said. “We’d rather work with them than fine them.” The new rule requiring the lids to be closed on garbage bins was to prevent pyramids of trash from becoming litter in neighborhoods, and to prevent the garbage bin lids from being broken off by the automatic arms that pick up the bins and dump them in the truck. In cases where city residents need extra space for garbage, additional bins may be acquired from the city public works office, Fawcett said. “The city is willing to work with people. You just need to reach out to us and tell us what you need,” he said. Though the amount of trash in recyclables has dropped in recent weeks, Rieman pointed out that 20 percent trash is still an unacceptable amount. More than 30 bags of garbage were removed from recyclable materials on…

BG solar project faces scrutiny over hiring practices

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A shadow of doubt has been cast over the hiring practices at the massive solar field being built northeast of Bowling Green. Claims have been made that the project is not adhering to the requirement that 80 percent of those employed at the site be Ohio residents. That percentage was a primary factor in the Wood County Commissioners approving a tax abatement for the project. And concerns have been expressed by city officials that there was an expectation that the project would pay prevailing wages. Officials from the electric subcontractor at the site, Blattner Energy, and the contractor for the project, NextEra Energy, both strongly defended their compliance with the 80 percent rule. However, they also clarified that the project has no requirement to pay prevailing wages. The giant solar project has been welcomed as good for the environment and good for the area’s reputation since it will be the largest solar field in Ohio. The project is located on 165 acres owned by the City of Bowling Green at the southeast corner of Carter and Newton roads. The solar array will consist of 85,680 panels that will track the sun from east to west everyday for maximum power generation. But from the beginning, the solar project stirred up a bit of controversy. The Wood County Commissioners initially refused to grant the requested 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. The tax abatement request for the solar field was unlike those that normally come before the commissioners. First, the amount is massive, giving a tax break of $7.3 million over just the first 15 years. Second, the abatement duration is 30 years, compared to the customary 10 to 15 years. Third, there is no ongoing employment, which is the basis for most tax breaks. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from July 18 to Dec. 31. And while 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Fourth, regular tax abatements require that school districts be “made whole” by the business getting the tax break, but this agreement does not. The company will pay some money to local taxing authorities “in lieu of” the tax breaks, but not the entire amount. The commissioners also voiced concerns that the solar…

3B’s “Young Frankenstein” laughs off Halloween spooks

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Get a jump on Halloween with shrieks of laughter rather than shrieks of fear. The folks at 3B Productions will present the musical stage version of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” this weekend with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 at the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St., Maumee. Joe Barton, the show’s director and a founder of the troupe, said the inspiration to stage this Mel Brooks classic came from last fall’s Halloween-themed show, “The Addams Family.” Seeing Randy “Beef” Baughman as Lurch, he and others thought he’d make a great Frankenstein’s monster. Perfect casting, aside from the challenge of finding a tux that fits him. In “Young Frankenstein,” Mel Brooks imagined Frederick Frankenstein following in his grandfather Victor’s footsteps and creating a monster of his own. Brooks, as was his wont, turned the horror of the original and its multiple retellings, on its head and into a relentless comedy. “There’s not sad moment in the show,” Barton said. “Even the love songs are comedic.” Baughman’s son, Will, was cast as Frederick. They’ve shared the stage before, most recently in a very different seasonal musical. In spring Will Baughman played Jesus in “Jesus Christ Superstar” while Randy Baughman played the high-strutting high priest Caiaphas . “Young Frankenstein,” Barton said, gives the younger Baughman a chance to play a lighter, comic role. “It’s fun to watch them work together,” the director said of the father-son duo. With Janine Baughman, Randy’s wife and Will’s mother, as musical director the show as much a family affair for the Baughman’s as it is for the Frankenstein’s. Brooks did a seamless translation of his hit movie to the stage, adding a few musical numbers. Usually when doing a show that has a movie version, Barton advises against watching the film. Actors can pick up the tics of the screen performers. But in this case he told them to go ahead because he wanted to capture the anarchic energy of the original. Brooks wrote all the songs, music and lyrics, except for Irving Berlin’s “Putting’ on the Ritz,” which is used in the show’s tap dance scene. That move from screen to stage requires some stage magic to pull off effects like the operating table that lifts into the air while Frederick and Inga, played by Kristin Kekic, make love on…

BG parks and rec sets course for next five years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The five-year master plan for the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation is not “sexy.” But what it lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in substance. Much of the plan focuses on maintaining the current parks – paving parking lots and fixing roofs. Nothing too flashy. Woody Woodward, executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, complimented the park and rec board Tuesday evening for its new plan. “It matters. It helps set a course for you for the next five years,” Woodward said. He disagreed with the description that the plan lacked pizzazz. In fact, the plan has a quality that several communities neglect. “This plan gives you some time to breathe,” and take care of what the city already has, he said. “We spend so much time thinking what the next thing is, that we forget to take care of what the last thing was.” “It ensures that this community has the facilities necessary to make lives better,” Woodward said. The master plan was completed after a series of public forums was held earlier this year to collect community input on the parks. The forums were led by Shannon Orr, political science professor at Bowling Green State University. Orr said she has led forums many times in the past, but encountered something unusual at the park and rec meetings. “I’ve never run a forum where people were so enthusiastic and positive,” she said. The participants praised the friendliness of the park staff, variety of programs, reasonable prices, and clean facilities. “I hope you appreciate how unusual that is,” Orr said. “What really came out of these forums is how the community feels about parks and rec.”   The forums covered youth programs, nature parks, garden parks, active parks, fitness and aquatics. Three items repeatedly asked for by residents were an indoor pool, a walkway to the community center, and more activities for ages 12 to 16. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley presented the five-year master plan, explaining it is a “living, breathing, fluid document.” The goal is to “focus on maintaining and taking care of our parks, programs and facilities, while being aware and open to new opportunities.” The plan identifies needs at the 11 parks, at all the buildings, and with the programs. Not all of the improvements will come out of the budget, since there…

Face It exhibit at BGSU takes intimate look at portrait photography

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Photographic portraits have always had their allure. Think of those ghostly images staring back at you from 19th century daguerreotypes. Viewers will find the contemporary descendants of those models in Face It: Reimagining Contemporary Portraits now on exhibit at the Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Building on the Bowling Green State University campus. Recently this reporter was treated to a tour of the show accompanied by the three curators and two photographers who have work in the exhibit. The seed for Face It was planted with a passing remark by Jacqui Nathan, the gallery director, to Lynn Whitney, who teaches photography at BGSU. How about a portrait show? Nathan asked. That casual suggestion took a couple years to gestate, but with the help of art historian Andrew Hershberger it has now come to fruition. Photo portraits are “very common,” he said, “Very familiar.” We carry them around with us in our wallets, on our telephones. We have identification cards with portraits on them. And we treasure them. In the event of a disaster, after family and pets are safe, people will grab the family portraits. “Arguably this is most common type of photography ever,” he said. “Yet they remain mysterious.” Back in the days of daguerreotypes, “people were frightened of these portraits,” Hershberger said. “The kind of impact portraits can have is pretty dramatic.” That pull is evident in Face It, whether it is the tightly cropped images of photographer Nicholas Nixon and his wife, who in a couple images peers surreptitiously out at the viewer or Greg Miller’s photos of children waiting for the school bus in Connecticut. Those photos were taken near Sandy Hook not long after the horrific school shooting there. Hershberger quotes Miller as saying: “How can anyone not see children, all children, as their own, as nieces and nephews, or even as themselves?” In putting together the show, the curators drew mostly on contemporary works with a few iconic images to set the stage. Three portraits on loan from the Toledo Museum of Art include a portrait of a pastry cook from 1928 by August Sander. Sander’s work inspired that of Daniel McInnis, who teaches at BGSU. A Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective of Sander’s Face of Our Time series, which included thousands of images, was “a leaping off point” for McInnis’ series of portraits of artists….