BG honors Tim Dunn for going to bat for kids, and police officer for helping save life

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green honored two people Monday evening – a man who has spent several summers giving kids the chance to play ball, and a police officer who help save the life of overdose victim. Tim Dunn, or “Mr. Baseball” as the mayor called him, was recognized for more than 40 years working to grow Little League in Bowling Green. Dunn started on the grounds crew in the early 1970s, moved into the role of umpire, and then worked his way up to leadership in the baseball program, Mayor Dick Edwards said. Dunn was instrumental in moving the former Pee Wee ball park from its two diamonds off Mercer Road, to Carter Park where it had room to grow. The ball fields have room for beginning T-ball players to adults who don’t want to give up America’s national pastime. The well-maintained fields at Carter Park have become “a regional attraction,” with several teams traveling to Bowling Green for tournaments, Edwards said. “You have clearly been the driving force,” the mayor said to Dunn. Several of the council members had personal stories to share about the ball fields and Dunn’s involvement. Council president Mike Aspacher said he has spent a lot of time at the ball park. “A number of families and a number of kids have been affected in a positive way by BG baseball and Tim Dunn,” he said. Every spring, the ball park seems to be on automatic reset and ready for kids to step up to the plate. “That’s because all of the work Tim does behind the scenes,” Aspacher said. “The city of Bowling Green is a better place because of his efforts.” Council member Bob McOmber said his son starting play ball out at the park at age 9. He continued, “till they tore the uniform off of him.” “He’s made Bowling Green a better place for a lot of kids,” McOmber said of Dunn. Like many parents watching games in the bleachers, council member Theresa Charters Gavarone said she spent many a cold, windy night out at Carter Park. “It was a great experience,” for the kids playing ball, she said. Council member Sandy Rowland said her grandchild played ball at Carter Park and loved the experience. “You play a major role in making the community the fine place it is.” Public Works Director Brian Craft, who coached kids’ teams at Carter Park, said the ballplayers didn’t know how good they had it till they traveled to other ballparks and found there was no running water, no restrooms, no concession stand. They quickly realized how lucky they were to have Carter Park. “Hats off to you, Tim,” Craft said. Dunn accepted the award, but passed on the credit to all the volunteers, coaches and parents who help run the league. He also…


Old tunes find new listeners at concert for young & young at heart

With an audience made up largely of kids age 4 through 7, the line between moving to the music and fidgeting is pretty fine. It didn’t matter that the music was not only before their time – because everything is before their time – but before their parents’ time, and likely even before their grandparents’ time. The beat was good. A few youngsters broke out the dance steps, a few swayed in rhythm in their seats and a few fidgeted. Teachers know the difference. For its Young and Young at Heart concert Friday, the Bowling Green bands threw open the doors of the Performing Arts Center to senior citizens and pre-school, kindergarten and first graders from Kenwood, Conneaut and Crim. The older listeners mostly took up the back rows, while the front of the house was packed with kids, and their outnumbered teachers. After some preludes on marimba, the concert got underway with the high school’s jazz band, the Jazz Cats. Their short set was devoted to swing classics from the 1930s and 1940s. But what’s 70 years when one of the songs is named “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which is deliciously funny to say. During the switch between the Jazz Cats and Symphonic Band, Band Director Bruce Corrigan demonstrated how that bugle boy blew those notes. More funny sounds, more laughs. Corrigan knew his audience. Then the Symphonic Band stepped forward with Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” a fantasy on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” then a bit of musical magic, a piece featuring a flute solo by Lilly Rakas, and a musical tribute to bugs that included a couple of comically cavorting butterflies. The time just flew until the show ended up in a galaxy a long time ago. First graders trooped up to the stage to take positions within the band, and don the visages of Stormtroopers, Ewoks and Wookiees. Then with their masked associates at their feet,  the musicians played music from “Star Wars,” a preview of a May 10 at 7 p.m. concert when the winds will join the string orchestra to play music from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Now it was time for the youngsters to troop out to waiting buses, and for the elders to convene in the atrium for cookies… sorry, kids. Emma Cook was on hand with her husband and two young grandchildren. The youngsters’ sister, who was there with her class, encouraged them to attend Cook was more than willing to make the outing. She has fond memories of being in band and choir in Bowling Green High and Otsego. It helped her, she said, when she went on to Bowling Green State University and studied to be a teacher. These musical programs are valuable, she said. Concerts show young kids what they’ll be able to do when they get older. “Kids need to be…


BG Council approves plan for largest solar field in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is looking pretty bright for Bowling Green’s solar field project, with city council voting unanimously Monday evening to approve plans to install the largest solar field in Ohio. Concerns were expressed by a neighbor of the site about the loss of prime farmland. But her concerns were not enough to throw shade on the project. “This looks like a really good addition to the Bowling Green energy portfolio,” said council member Bob McOmber. “I don’t see any minuses with this.” The solar project had been stalled since last summer. Now, if all goes as planned, an estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight starting next year. “I appreciate the project moving forward. Environmentally, it’s a good thing,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “I’m really happy to see this happen.” The solar field is expected to produce more power than originally planned. The initial plan called for 110 acres to be used on the city’s 317 acres located at the southeast corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of the city limits. The city was in line to get 10.5 megawatts from the solar field, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for BG. However, instead of fixed mounted panels, the new plan calls for single axis tracker panels, which will rotate and follow the path of the sun as it moves through the sky. The rotating panels will take up 35 more acres and cost more to install, but they will increase power production, he said. The solar field will generate 20 megawatts, with Bowling Green getting 13.74 megawatts of the power for its customers. With the addition of the solar power to the existing wind and hydro sources already used by the city, Bowling Green will get close to 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources starting in 2017, O’Connell said. “It certainly is a good thing for the city,” council president Mike Aspacher said. The solar field was initially planned for the western section of the city’s farm acreage. However, to reduce disruption and concerns for neighbors, the solar panels will be constructed in the middle of the acreage, with farmland left on both the east and west ends. However, neighboring farmer Carol Riker expressed concerns about the loss of quality farmland, the route of the transmission lines, noise, lighting and drainage. “We’re not against solar,” she explained, but questioned the need to take 145 acres of quality farmland when other acreage may be available. “We’re sad to see good farmland going.” Jeffers sympathized. “Loss of farmland is a significant issue,” he said. O’Connell said other sites were considered, but land in the nearby industrial park has already had infrastructure improvements so it is ready for future manufacturers. The city did not consider smaller split up acreage for…


BG named among top 10 best cities for families

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has been named one of the 10 Best Cities for Families in 2016. The rating was given by Livability.com, which ranks America’s cities on scales for golf, foodies, college towns, most accessible and more. Mayor Dick Edwards announced the ranking Monday evening during a council meeting. “That bodes well for us,” he said, listing the parks, schools and safety services as some of the reasons for the city’s high rating. “I’m going to start using that tomorrow,” said council member Sandy Rowland, who is a Realtor. Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the city did not apply for the award – the website selected it. “It communicates what kind of community we have,” Fawcett said of the award. Livability.com used specific criteria to select the cities considered best for families. “The communities we choose to live in as we raise children are arguably the most important, as they tend to be some of the places we live the longest,” Livability.com stated. So the website created this 10-best list to offer examples of cities that are good places to raise children. “Many of the key reasons Americans move revolve around doing what’s best for their families. We move at certain key stages – as we get married, as we have kids, as our kids become old enough for school, and as our kids head off to college,” the website said. The rankings are based on several criteria. “We crunched the data. We looked at the quality of the schools, the crime rate, and measures of the quality of healthcare and economy. We gave points to communities that are walkable, diverse, have lots of parks and active children’s sections in their libraries. We favored communities with shorter commute times (so working parents can be home more and on the road less) and larger populations of other kids to play with.” Bowling Green was also given high marks for affordability and accessibility. The city is “surprisingly affordable.” The average cost of a house is a little more than $129,000, compared to the national average of $188,900, according to Livability.com. The city’s cost of living is also lower than the national average. Bowling Green’s unemployment rate is 2 percent lower than the national rate, and job growth is on the upswing, the website stated. The city also has one of the shortest average commutes of the cities on the list, which means parents can spend more time with their families and less time on the road. The city is just a 30-minute drive from Toledo, where families can access the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Zoo and Imagination Station. Closer to home, Bowling Green families can partake in the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival, the Classics on Main Car Show, and downtown trick or treat. Bowling Green State University offers family events…


Cinco de Mayo is a loud & proud celebration of Mexican heritage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Gloria Pizana and her family didn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo when they grew up in Pemberville. Their celebrations of the Mexican heritage were private – birthdays, holidays, all had their own Latin twist. Now Pizana, as a member of Bowling Green’s Human Relations Commission, organizes the Cinco de Mayo celebration which was held Sunday. As she spoke the sound of Mexican music echoed through the corridors of the Woodland Mall. “I never had this,” she said. “Having grown up in Northwest Ohio you think you’re the only one. You have a few cousins. No one ever talks about your culture, who you are. You’re isolated, and the history books never mention it.” That’s why she feels it’s so important that Bowling Green has held this celebration for 24 years. It started, Pizana said, when then Mayor Wes Hoffman approached Marsha Oliveraz about what the city could do to recognize Latino culture. The result was the Cinco de Mayo celebration. That’s a bit ironic because, as Pizana notes, the holiday that celebrates the Mexican repulsion of a French invasion in 1862, isn’t really celebrated much in Mexico. Still this became a time for area Hispanics to celebrate their roots and culture. That’s important, Pizana said. “I say it’s the most important history. To know who your ancestors are is to know who you are today because of what they went through. It’s showing respect and appreciation for your ancestors. You need to take pride in who you are. The more you know about your family the more there’s that self-pride. That’s why we do this. I want my grandchildren to know, I want everyone to know.” Everyone should celebrate their ethnic heritage, and she’d like to see Bowling Green host powwows and events to celebrate other ethnic groups. Her great-grandparents were from Mexico. Her parents traveled back and forth between Northwest Ohio and Texas to harvest crops for many years before settling here in 1954. The display tables included her family tree among those of several other families. That included the Estrada family. Jacob Estrada led the band that opened up the festivities with a variety of Mexican pop tunes. Pizana’s brother Juan Enriquez had organized the tables, about half of which were devoted to Latinos, including himself and his brothers, who had served in the military. He is on a mission to celebrate winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor of different ethnicities, those who don’t fit the John Wayne stereotype. That’s not meant as any disrespect to any Medal of Honor winner, but just broadening how people see the nation’s war heroes. People of all backgrounds sacrificed, he said. That includes Marcario Garcia, who is a cousin and the godfather of his brother Shon. Garcia, a native of Mexico who lived in Sugar Land, Texas, received the Medal…


City office building bursting at its ill-fitting seams

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city administration building is a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. No, it’s more like several square pegs trying to squeeze into that circular space. The building, at 304 N. Church St., started its life more than a century ago as a school, then was molded into a library, and in 1976 became the city administration building. So while its age poses some problems, the bigger issue is that the building was designed for educating children, not for administering city services. The result is a 17,000 square foot building with cramped offices, maze-like spaces and cobbled together technology. For years now, city leaders have discussed the possibility of a different municipal building, with the debate continuing on whether it should be a new building or a renovated existing site. Most seem to favor the offices staying downtown. But one conclusion that doesn’t get much debate is the need for different space. First, there’s the age issue. About 20 noisy air handlers are crammed between the original ceilings and the drop ceilings. Ultraviolet lights and air purifiers are used to reduce the mold problem. “It’s good mold, but mold none the less,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. Workers often find a powdery white coating from the drop ceilings on their desks, according to Public Works Director Brian Craft. “I thought it was snowing in my office the other day,” Fawcett said. Across the hall in the personnel and clerk of council office, sloping floors cause a problem. One employee couldn’t use a plastic sheet under her office chair because of the uneven floor. “She’d roll backward” and had to constantly pull herself back to her desk, said Personnel Director Barb Ford. And power access is less than ideal, with masses of cords plugged into inconvenient locations. The old construction is not energy efficient, with the south side sweltering in the afternoon sun while the north side of the building is freezing, Craft said. “There are literally days when the air conditioning is running when the boiler is on,” he said. And speaking of the boiler, “Big Bertha,” as she is nicknamed, is “horribly inefficient,” Craft said. He likened the 60-year-old boiler to a Model T car. And like other areas of the city building, officials are reluctant to invest money in updates if the building will be scrapped for another site. “It’s like peeling the onion back,” Fawcett said. “Once you start, where do you stop?” Next, there’s the space issue. The lack of enough square footage for the 50-plus city employees in the building is one problem, but it’s magnified by the poor design that may have worked for the original school and the subsequent library – but does not work for city offices, Fawcett said. “The functionality of the space…


PathStone paves way to success for young adults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amber Wild arrived in Bowling Green last year. Pregnant with no place to go, she headed east from Washington State to stay with a friend. She didn’t have a permanent place to live, had a juvenile record and was pregnant. She was “couch surfing.” Then Wild contacted PathStone in Bowling Green. The private social service and employment agency helped her get a place to live, she said. They helped her find an obstetrician. Helped her find a fast food job and set her up with training to become a State Tested Nursing Assistant. Helped her sign up to get food assistance. PathStone helped with the day-to-day needs as well, providing her with mattresses and dishes. All that she needs, Wild said, “so I can raise my kid correctly.” “They’re definitely more laid back,” Wild said. “They tried to help with everything you might need help with. They don’t limit themselves. I think that’s a good thing. They helped put me on the right path, so I could do what I wanted to do.” PathStone, which is part of a national non-for-profit human services and community development organization with headquarters in Rochester, New York, opened up shop in Bowling Green in January. At first the office was open part time and shared space behind Panera Bread with the Children’s Resource Center. As of Sunday, PathStone has taken over the lease and is open full time, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. off the parking lot behind 143 S. Main St. Operating with a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, PathStone aims to provide a range of services for Bowling Green residents age 14 through 24. Niki Schroeder, regional administrator, said residency extends to university students, teens in foster care and inmates incarcerated at the Wood County Justice Center or Juvenile Detention Center. PathStone now has 54 participants, she said. It has funding for 125 through the end of December, when the program hopes to get renewed funding for another two years. For those 17 and under, she said, the emphasis is on education. That could mean help completing high school. The center provides correspondence courses through the Wood County Educational Services Center for students who need to make up courses they failed. Computers are available onsite, so students can work on the online courses that Bowling Green and Otsego offer for students who need to retake courses. “We help get them back on track for graduation,” Schroeder said. PathStone employs a certified teacher, Clayton Lutz, who tutors in the detention center and in schools as well as overseeing students taking correspondence courses. For those 18 and older, the educational focus shifts. PathStone provides tutoring for the GED and helps pay the cost of taking the test. Or if a participant has an eye on college, PathStone…


Plant exchange helps gardeners blossom

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The tables lined with plants were like a smorgasbord for people hungry to start their spring planting. The fifth annual Wood County Plant Exchange this morning at the county fairgrounds offered gardeners a chance to trade plantings that may have overgrown in their yards, and pick up new plants to try. There were trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, berries, seeds, bulbs, ground covers, grass, daylilies, hostas and vines. There were plants that are fast spreading, and those that thrive in shade and sun. “I’m very excited. This is really cool,” said Pat Snyder, of Grand Rapids, who was stocking up on canna lilies and a spider plant. “And my daughter is dragging something around.” Some of the plants weren’t much to look at. But people with green thumbs were able to look beyond the scraggly appearance to see the potential of the plants. “I had no idea it was this big of a deal, and it had this many kinds of plants,” said Jan Lyon, of Bowling Green.  She brought hostas that she traded for myrtle. “I’ve been giving them away to everyone I can think of,” she said of the hostas. Lyon said she would definitely return next spring for more. “I’ll build up my muscles for next year.” With her arms, bags and boxes full of plants, Yvonne Martinez, of Bowling Green, had her day cut out for her. “My husband’s getting started already. He’s digging holes,” Martinez said as she finished rounding up the blackeyed susans, lilies, cactus, marigold seeds and much more. She traded in several cannus plants, which her husband grew tired of, and enlisted the help of her sister and mom for planting her exchanges. Lyn Long, of Bowling Green, came to the exchange looking for dahlias. She didn’t find any, so she settled on some daisies, blackeyed susans, a tomato plant, and three different kinds of pepper plants. “When they start producing, I’ll figure out what they are,” Long said, smiling. David Ingmire, of Wood County Master Gardeners, said the plant exchange gives people an opportunity to share their extra plants and find something new for their yards. It’s also a chance for budding gardeners to learn from experts on which plants and live peacefully together and which ones fight for space. They also heard from experts on topics such as fairy gardens, terrariums, succulents and bee keeping. “It’s a chance to give back to the community through sharing plants and educating,” Ingmire said. The goal is to get people out and planting. “We’re giving you a mixture of plant materials,” said Ken Lewis. “We’re trying to get more people involved in planting, so they appreciate the world more.” Craig Everett, of OSU Extension Office, said the exchange is a way to help gardeners blossom. “It’s a good way for the…


Water and sewer lines stretched to most of county….now challenge is maintaining them

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years now, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District has stretched water and sewer lines to the last communities to get services in Wood County. Now, the problem is maintaining all those miles of underground lines. This year, the water and sewer district has identified $8.5 million in water projects and $17 million in sewer projects that need work. Most of those costs for sewers are for maintaining existing lines and pump stations. And much of the water costs are for increasing water quality by looping lines and putting in aeration, according to district engineer Tom Stalter, who gave a report Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. “They don’t bring us anymore customers,” but the improvements strengthen services, Stalter said of the maintenance projects. The district is currently working on extending Bowling Green water to Bloomdale, in the southeastern corner of the county. “So we can abandon that decrepit water plant,” Stalter said of the aging Bloomdale plant. The village is plagued with very high sulfur, he said. Recently, a water line break occurred while Stalter was in Bloomdale. “You could smell where the water break was.” The waterline is currently under construction, and will make Bowling Green water available to people along the route. “We’ll reach out to all the folks along the line to see if they want to connect,” Stalter said. With the increasing concerns about water quality, the district is also planning to add more bulk water stations in the county, in places like Middleton Township and near the Chrysler plant in Perrysburg Township. “We sell a lot of water that way,” Stalter said. One of the major waterline maintenance projects this year involves the aging East Broadway line in northern Wood County. The problem area is 13 miles of concrete waterline in Perrysburg Township and Rossford. The concrete line is about 40 years old, “and it does start to rot and corrode.” Stalter said a lot of leaks are occurring along the line. “This could be a large liability for us if it failed.” The plan is to insert a hardening liner inside the concrete line to keep it from leaking. Overall the district is experiencing a 20 percent water loss from its lines, so a program is being set up to address the problems. Since the district doesn’t have its own water treatment system, but buys water from other entities and distributes it in district lines, the water loss adds up to about $1 million a year for the district, Stalter said. Stalter also updated the county commissioners on the latest sewer projects. An extension of sewer lines along Rudolph Road is meeting the order from the Environmental Protection Agency. “I’ve never had a project where people are so happy and agreeable,” Stalter said. Efforts are also being made on a…


Protest: Too many students don’t feel safe on campus & downtown

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The social media reaction after an alleged assault on campus this weekend literally added insult to injury. About 70 students gather Friday at noon to protest what many believe was an anti-gay act, and the social media outburst of homophobic and sexist comments that followed. For Luna, a BGSU student who uses one name, this “exposed the attitudes that people really have.” Those are “very unwelcoming, very uncomfortable.” Luna told those people assembled in the University Oval that: “Here on Bowling Green campus there’s been a severe lack of acceptance, tolerance and civility. … We learn to navigate a world that would rather erase us, but we shouldn’t have to. We as a community need to hold each other accountable. If we begin to hold each other accountable, we can begin to move toward true acceptance, true tolerance because everyone deserves to feel safe on this campus. Everyone deserves to feel safe downtown. … No one should feel unsafe in their own home.” The incident reportedly happened in the early morning hours Saturday. It was first mentioned on the Twitter account BG Crushes, and said four members of a fraternity had attacked a person believed to be gay. However, nothing was reported to neither city nor campus police. Instead the rumor mill began to churn, and the vicious commentary erupted. The university’s dean of students issued a statement saying the university was seeking any information on the assault. BGSU Police Chief Monica Moll was on the scene of Friday’s protest to try to find out what she could. The Bowling Green City Police are investigating an assault at 2 a.m. Sunday in the 100 block of North Main Street when a group of men and women, both black and white, accosted an individual. One suspect struck the victim.  (http://www.bowlinggreenpolice.org/?m=201604) Moll said she didn’t know if this was the assault, or if there was a second incident. In any case she said the comments on social media “are something we should be out here to be upset about.” Beatrice Addis Fields said that she and others have heard was “a lot of rumors.” “We’re focused on people’s feelings and people are feeling uncomfortable,” she said. Many people are not comfortable on campus or downtown. She said her mother lived in Bowling Green in the 1970s and when she talks to her daughter they find not much has changed. Fields said she’d like this to be a place “we’re proud to come back to, a place we’re safe. A home my mom can come back and say ‘things have changed.’” A couple speakers made a point of saying that the Greek community should not be blamed. “We need to stop putting blame on Greeks,” said Natasha Ivery.  “We’re all in this together.” It’s everyone’s responsibility to confront hate speech whether it…


Giving the gift of music to unlock memories

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Music is being used to unlock the memories of some senior citizens in Bowling Green. And with the help of some young college students, many more of the seniors will soon be listening to jazz, gospel, classical, or whatever they please. “For those who have dementia, sometimes they have a hard time communicating,” said Brooke Harrison, administrator at Bowling Green Manor. But music can be the magic that allows them to grasp some of those missing memories. “There are a lot of memories tied to music,” said Andrea Daley, resident service coordinator at BG Manor. “You can actually notice an immediate change” in some seniors when they put on headphones and listen to tunes. A Human Development and Family Studies class at Bowling Green State University focused on adult development and aging this past semester. With professor Laura Landry Meyer, the class learned about music and memory, and heard about an innovative therapy approach at BG Manor which used music. The students were moved by the program and wanted to help it grow. So they collected iPods, headphones and monetary donations with the original goal of raising $250. They far exceeded their goal – collecting $713, nine iPods and 10 headphones for the senior facility. Erica Rybak, a student in the class, explained that she and her classmates were so moved by a video they watched of a man with dementia whose memory was unlocked by music from his past. “This man totally lit up. He was so happy. He had tears streaming down his face,” Rybak said. “It was very special.” Though non-communicative for years, the music allowed him to talk about those he cared about. “He spoke about his family,” she said. “That was the inspiration behind all this.” Meyer said using music in such a way can allow seniors to reach back and find long lost memories. “It increases the quality of life for residents,” she said. Meyer explained that Alzheimer’s Disease eats away at connections in the brain, and somehow music can bridge those gaps. “Music jumps over dead pockets to reconnect places in the brain,” she said. The gift of music to BG Manor residents on Thursday also included a performance by some members of the BGSU Marching Band led by classmate Tiffany Payne.


Kappa Sigma marks return to campus with camp out to aid Wounded Warrior Project

Kappa Sigma wants to reintroduce itself on campus, so the brothers this week are braving rain and wind to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Kappa Sigma had a chapter on campus until 2013, when code of conduct violations forced it to close. Now, said Isaiah Vazquez, the public relations director for the chapter, they are seeking a second chance. Organization started last fall, and this campout for wounded veterans is their first philanthropic effort. “We’re hoping to bring the name back,” he said. The chapter will promote the ideals of leadership, service to the community and helping others. Vazquez said the group decided to support the Wounded Warrior Project despite recent allegations of the misappropriation of funds. Vazquez said those responsible have been fired. “Now the money’s going into the right pockets.” The fraternity has supported the Wounded Warriors Project in the past. Many of the fraternity’s alumni have served in the military, and a recent pledge has enlisted. Vazquez said that in a way both the fraternity and the charity have taken “similar routes” to try to make up for mistakes. Kappa Sigma, which will get its charter later this year, will have a 12-member house in the new Greek Housing complex, now nearing completion on campus. He said the prospect of living in the new housing is “incredibly exciting.” He expects the new residence will help the chapter with recruitment. The fundraising effort will continue through today at 11:30 p.m. and resume Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. The brothers, who have a tent set up on the Union Oval, had planned to sleep out at the site, but didn’t realize they had to request permission from the university 45 days in advance. Pearse Scudder, one of the brothers on hand Thursday morning, said the paperwork saved them from waking up in a puddle. As it is, they are hopeful the bad weather doesn’t hinder their fundraising efforts. They’ll take what they can get, he said. “From a penny to a million dollars,” Vazquez said. The Armed Forces Career Center in downtown Bowling Green gave the fraternity flags, water bottles and other items to give away, and The Cookie Jar is donating cookies.


BG strong and ready to take on challenges of 2016

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is making great strides in sustainable energy, has seen consistent job growth, and is making progress on some of the stickier issues in the community, Mayor Dick Edwards told the audience at the annual State of the City held this morning. And though some difficult issues await the city this year, the community is up to the challenge. “I often find myself reflecting why the mechanisms and processes of government in Bowling Green seem to work so well over the years,” Edwards said at the chamber sponsored event in the county library. “In my view, and one that is commonly held, it is the continuing ability to work together, to find solutions to perceived needs that seem to work and to think ahead, to anticipate needs.” The mayor praised the economic health of Bowling Green. “Our job growth continues to be one of the most robust of any city in the region and is integrally related to the city’s fiscal health,” Edwards said. He spoke of progress in the city’s effort to use renewable energy, saying the city will soon have “the largest solar field of any city in Ohio.” But challenges lie ahead. “We have a very full plate these days and some special challenges.” Those include: The “absolute must” passage of the park levy. The East Wooster Street corridor plan. Housing and neighborhood revitalization. Vehicular and pedestrian safety and the “new face” for the city at the new Interstate 75 interchange. Maintenance of a vibrant downtown. Finding a new home for municipal government offices in the downtown. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter talked about the safety and quality of life in the city – much of it funded through the city income tax. The 2 percent income tax, which supports the general fund and the sewer and water capital fund, has grown from $15.6 million in 2011 to $19.2 million this year. “Bowling Green businesses are doing well and employment is robust,” Tretter said. But the increase in the income tax revenue has been countered by the decrease in Local Government Funds and the elimination of estate taxes. Tretter asked City Finance Director Brian Bushong to characterize the health of the city finances, to which he replied, “the outlook is stable with cautious optimism.” The city has several projects planned for 2016, including utility improvements and other infrastructure work. “There will be a lot of community improvements,” she said. Tretter noted the city’s philosophy of fixing problems before they get too costly. “Allow the roads to crumble and you will spend significantly more to repair them.” Council President Mike Aspacher spoke of the city’s future land use plan update which shows a “clear blueprint for the community.” The top three priorities in the plan are the East Wooster corridor, the green space area downtown,…


Never too young to start fighting off effects of old age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Age may only be a number, but as one ages, a number of things start breaking down.  Bones get more brittle, memories may start fading and mobility may lessen. But rather than giving up to the effects of aging, seniors in Bowling Green were invited Wednesday to “Your Highway to Health, 50-plus Health and Wellness Expo” at the Community Center. “We want to encourage people to be as active as they can be,” Andrea Miller, an intern with the Parks and Recreation Department, said as she checked in registrants. The more active and involved people are, the more they experience a better quality of life and a longer life, Miller said. Some of the exhibitors at the expo offered items to help keep people in their homes as they age, such as walk-in bath tubs and hand bars for bathrooms. There were booths that encouraged seniors to continue full lives, like the library exhibit with books on walking and hiking, and the County Parks exhibit that touted the health benefits of being outside in nature. There were stations that checked up on medical issues, such as blood pressure and nutrition. And there was information on fitness activities offered through City Parks and Rec, like the “Silver Sneakers” program, pickleball, yoga and Zumba. “It’s a good time to get started,” for any age senior, said Ivan Kovacevic, Recreation Coordinator with the City Parks and Recreation Department. The expo also looked at other needs for seniors, such as social and emotional. Rita Betz, of the Wood County Committee on Aging, said services are offered to keep seniors involved in life. “We’re always providing programs that keep people mentally active, physically active and socially active,” Betz said. “Isolation is what kills people.” The Committee on Aging also assists seniors who want to remain independent in their own homes. “We provide resources for them to stay home, which is where they want to be,” she said. Christen Giblin, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, talked about the emotional needs of seniors. “Depression can happen at any age. Substance abuse can happen at any age. Suicide can happen at any age,” Giblin said. In fact, suicide rates in men over age 40 are seeing an increase, she said. People should be aware that depression is not a side effect of aging, and it should not be ignored, Giblin said. Jennifer Van Vorhis, a volunteer coordinator for Senior Independence, said people also need to be aware that caregivers of seniors may need some help themselves. “If you’re a caregiver, make sure you’ve got someone taking care of you,” she said. The health expo was sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, Wood County Committee on Aging, Wood County Hospital, Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center, and Bowling Green State University Gerontology…


Meeting special needs of children in BG schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Children with learning disabilities used to be removed from regular classrooms, away from regular curriculum, away from regular kids. When Lorraine Flick started teaching 30 years ago, children with special needs were tucked away from her classroom. “They went away to some other teacher. I never saw them.” That is no longer the case. Those children are taught in the “least restrictive environment.” So many of those students with special needs are now in regular classrooms. “Over the years, we have found that students who are segregated or separated from their peers,” can learn in regular classrooms if given a little extra support, said Flick, a former elementary principal who is now director of children’s services at Wood Lane. How Bowling Green schools meet the needs of these children was discussed Monday evening during a panel discussion on special education for the League of Women Voters. Schools are legally bound to offer education in the “least restrictive environment,” said Bob Yenrick, executive director of pupil services for Bowling Green City Schools. If a child can “access the curriculum” with the extra help of being paired with a “para-professional” in the classroom, then that child does not need to be put in a different class. “We need to make sure we are honoring that least restrictive environment at all times,” Yenrick said. That change has consequences for schools, and challenges for teachers as well as for the children. But those challenges are worth confronting, according to the panel. Schools still have special education teachers, but now they are referred to with the politically correct name of “intervention specialists,” according to Christie Walendzak, special education coordinator with Bowling Green City Schools. The specialists look at every student to make sure they are keeping up with curriculum, and identify the areas a child may need extra help. They try to intervene early so children never qualify for special education services. Those who qualify for special education services are give Individualized Education Plans, addressing their specific needs, Walendzak said. Approximately 535 students in the Bowling Green school system have IEPs. Some families choose to send those students to private schools, which Bowling Green schools then have to fund. Bowling Green tries to reach children early who might need extra help. That means getting to kids before they start kindergarten. “We start when children are 2 ½,” Yenrick said. “We want to develop strategies to develop positive outcomes for them.” Suspected problems are reported by pediatricians who notice young children aren’t hitting milestones, or by day cares, parents, grandparents, or anyone with concerns. Reporting has become more common since autism diagnoses have “exploded,” Flick said. Programs such as Help Me Grow evaluate the children, and go to families’ homes to work with the parents. “Who better than mom and dad to serve…