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 Jewish customers loved. He learned “to cut a show,” playing for visiting performers, maybe an opera singer or a crooner or a comedian. He also went to Queens College and majored in music and then to Harvard for a year. He worked a musician through the 1950s. Teaching piano and gigging. That included coming out to play with Broadway shows presented under a tent in Detroit and Flint. But when he and his wife, Cindy, had a son, Jason, he decided to take a job teaching music in the New York public schools. On the brink of being settled, the family uprooted to travel to Greece. He was “basically a hippie,” Peslikis said. His roots in the country ran deep. His father, John, was born on the Greek Island of Rhodes to family of peasants who tended an olive orchard. John’s father died young, so after World War I the family mortgaged their land and sent John, then about 20, to the States to earn money. He paid to bring his brother over, and then they worked to establish dowries for their two sisters, so they could get married. That meant John didn’t marry until 1935 when he wed Peslikis’ mother, Helen. John did hard industrial labor, worked in restaurants, and then sold bananas, until…

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 since they have more time to make up for the stunted growth and can benefit from August rains. The verdict is already in for the corn. “The corn already decided the number of kernels and how big around the ears are going to be,” he said. One ray of sunshine in this summer of few rain clouds was the wheat production, Haines said. “On the good side, the wheat yields were phenomenal this year.” Meanwhile, the long dry spell has been good news to the Ohio Department of Transportation which is undertaking a very ambitious construction season. “It’s been great,” said Theresa Pollick, spokesperson for ODOT District 2 in Bowling Green. “Anytime we can have weather like this, it works in everyone’s favor” – the construction workers and the motorists anxious for construction to end. “This weather is great at keeping things on time,” Pollick said. The dry season has been tough on area golf courses trying to keep their greens some shade of green. Tom Garcia, at Bowling Green Country Club, said the golf course in the center of the city benefits from having a constant water source. “We’re fortunate. We have a quarry full of water,” Garcia said. “We irrigate every day. We cool down the greens in the afternoon.” While other golf…

Festival’s other stages offer return of Hutchison & other musical delights (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival listeners will have one more chance to enjoy Barbara Bailey Hutchison, a singer-songwriter and entertainer extraordinaire. The festival’s performance committee has posted lineups for the festival’s Community and Youth Arts stages for Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11. The festival gets underway with music on the Main Stage and concessions, Friday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. Hutchison, a veteran performer, said last year that she was going to stop touring this year. She was leaving the stage to spend more time as an artist and arts educator. Hutchison played two well-received sets on the Family Stage. Those sets included her original songs – humorous and touching reflections on life, family and religion, covers of other alternative folk songwriters tunes, and a medley of her greatest hits – the jingles she sang for TV ads for Hallmark, McDonald’s and other corporations. The Grammy-winning artist also displayed a ready wit and ability in integrate what was happening on the street in the moment into her performance. Hutchison will play a 11L30 a.m. set Saturday on the Family stage and a noon set Sunday on the Community Stage. The Family Stage will also present Grammy-winning and Emmy-nominated artist Tim Kubart. He’s a YouTube sensation as the “Tambourine Guy” on the Postmodern Jukebox. As in the past, festivalgoers will get second, even third, chances to hear Main Stage acts on the more intimate Community and Family stage settings. Top local acts from a ukuleles, Uilleann pipes,  to Japanese taiko drums also are set to perform. Teen fiddler Grant Flick’s trio is both a Main Stage act and a top local performer. He’ll perform on the Community Stage 4 p.m. Saturday following a noon set on the Main Stage earlier in the day. The lineup for the Community Stage, which is located in the atrium of Four Corners Center, is: SATURDAY 11 a.m., Toraigh an Sonas. Noon, Grand Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. 1 p.m., Mariachi Flor de Toloache. 2 p.m., The Rhythm Future Quartet. 3 p.m., Joe Baker Band. 4 p.m., Flick, Turner & Warren. 5 p.m. The Downtown Country Band. SUNDAY Noon, Barbara Bailey Hutchison. 1 p.m., Corduroy Road. 2 p.m., Croy and the Boys. 4 p.m., Ginkgoa. The lineup for the Family Stage, located in front of the Wood County District Public Library, is: SATURDAY 10:30 a.m., The Downtown Country Band. 11:30 a.m., Barbara Bailey Hutchison. 12;30 p.m., Tim Kubart.. 1:45 p.m., Flick, Turner, and Warren. 2:45 p.m., Mariachi Flor de Toloache. 4 p.m., Pokey La Farge. SUNDAY 11:30 a.m., Tim Kubart. 12:30 p.m., The Rhythm Future Quartet. 1:30 p.m., Little Axe. 2:45 p.m., The Suitcase Junket. 4 p.m., Kazenodaichi Taiko. For more festival coverage see: http://bgindependentmedia.org/black-swamp-arts-festival-music-acts-dont-skip-a-beat-in-time-of-change/ http://bgindependentmedia.org/black-swamp-arts-festival-art-show-taking-shape/ http://bgindependentmedia.org/teen-musician-grant-flick-having-fun-fiddling-around-the-country/    

County hears concerns about large dairy farms

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Milk does a body good. No one is disputing that. It’s the byproduct of the dairy cows that local officials are questioning. Last week, the Wood County Commissioners heard from three people about problems associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the county. Those concerns included a full manure lagoon left behind when a large dairy went bankrupt, the damage caused on rural roads not built to handle mega dairy traffic, and the impact on Lake Erie when the manure reaches the lake and fuels algal blooms. Vickie Askins informed the commissioners that when the Manders Dairy went bankrupt about four years ago, it left behind about 10 million gallons of manure it its lagoon. Since then, about one million gallons have been trucked to the Campbell Soup plant and run through its digesters. That leaves about 9 million gallons of manure behind at the dairy, located at the corner of Rangeline and Maplewood roads, southwest of Bowling Green. “It’s been sitting there basically full,” Askins said. Federal law requires that the manure must be taken care of when a CAFO closes, Askins said. And Ohio EPA requires that no manure be applied to farm fields unless up-to-date soil samples and manure analyses are obtained. Askins, a self-motivated watchdog of mega dairies in Wood County, said neither has been done. The lagoon is nearly full, and no field application study documentation can be found. Yet, she has seen evidence of “manure irrigators” being constructed near the site. “Wait a minute,” she said. “No manure shall be applied till you have a valid plan.” Southeast of Bowling Green, another large dairy is causing headaches for Portage Township Trustee Dave Housholder. That dairy, at the corner of Portage and Bloomdale roads, recently received a permit to expand to 2,960 cows, Askins said. The township is already struggling to keep up with the wear and tear on the roads near the dairy, Housholder told the county commissioners. An expansion will create even more financial hardship for Portage Township, he said. And further to the north, it’s the impact of the manure on the health of Lake Erie that has Mike Ferner concerned. Ferner talked to the commissioners about the effort by the Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie to have the Western Lake Erie Basin officially declared “impaired.” “Our goal is to return Lake Erie to a drinkable, fishable, swimmable body of water,” the advocates’ material states. The clean water advocates point to the algal blooms in 2014, which caused Toledo to warn nearly 500,000 people not to drink the city’s water which comes from Lake Erie. The Maumee River drains 6,608 square miles in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. According to the Sierra Club, more than 700 million gallons of manure are spread on fields draining into the Western Basin of Lake Erie just from the 146 registered Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Ferner’s information stated the single largest source of the phosphorus that generates the harmful algal blooms is manure from CAFOs. The Maumee River acts as a pipeline for that phosphorus into Lake Erie. The Lucas County Commissioners have reportedly signed the group’s request that the basin have a “designation of impairment.” The Wood County Commissioners told Ferner last week that they would study the issue and make a decision. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the “impaired” designation would trigger a full-scale investigation of all possible sources of pollution going into the lake, and then require action to reduce that contamination. Askins said if the manure from the former Manders Dairy is allowed…

Mode Elle Boutique makes presence known in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Stacie Banfield started off by taking fashion into customers’ homes. Now the business has a home of its own, and in a prime piece of Bowling Green real estate. Mode Elle Boutique opened for business Friday on the northwest corner of the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. The shop reflects Banfield’s long passion for fashion. It offers a collection of young contemporary, missy and women’s clothing, accessories and handbags. The emphasis is on fun, affordable and distinctive fashions. Banfield travels to apparel markets Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Dallas to personally select merchandise for the shop. And because she wants her customers each to have her own look, she stocks only a limited number of the same items. The shop offers more than a clothing buying experience. Because of its collaboration with the Golden Vanity Salon, next door on West Wooster, the shop can offer “full styling experience… from top to bottom.” The partnership between Banfield and Golden Vanity owner Haley Reese goes back to the start of both enterprises. Banfield, a 2006 graduate of the University of Toledo with a degree in communications, started Mode Elle as a mobile boutique, “style on demand” in late 2012. She would do home parties and trunk shows for “working women and busy moms.” That business was a way for Banfield to get a foot into fashion with the flexible schedule she needs as a mother. The 2000 Rossford High School graduate and her husband Josch now have two sons Kellan, 7, and Grayson, 4. The family lives in Lambertville, Michigan. Reese worked as an assistant buyer for the enterprise. When Reese opened Golden Vanity a year ago, she had Banfield bring the rolling boutique into the shop for the ribbon cutting festivities. That was met with so much enthusiasm that Reese welcomed Banfield into a corner of the shop to offer her wares as a featured vendor. Banfield also has an online presence at: www.shopmodeelle.com. From the start they talked about the possibility of expanding if the retail space to the east with frontage on Main Street ever became available. At that time, it was home to Mosaic, a clothing consignment shop. When that business closed in spring, Banfield made her move. Within a few weeks of Mosaic vacating the space, she and her husband were busy taking down the wall that separated the salon from the retail space. The soft opening – a ribbon cutting will be held later – was timed to coincide with Golden Vanity’s celebration of its first anniversary. But having a place to call home doesn’t mean the boutique is giving up on its party roots. The boutique and salon will collaborate on private events. And the boutique offers Style Me Pretty sessions, “where we set aside around 45 minutes to an hour working with individuals to customize their wardrobes.” “One of the biggest things when we launched, that we’ve continued through the duration of the business, is to be able to provide fun fashion pieces at affordable price points.” The target market is women 18 to 45, but customers younger and older will also be able to find pieces that suit their needs. Banfield said she was surprised when doing business in Bowling Green that the market is not dominated by the college-age buyers, but had a broader market. It’s a market she’s ready to serve. “We really try to provide different styles that can really cross a lot of age ranges.”

BG residents asked to conserve electricity Monday

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a weekend of blasting air conditioning, Bowling Green electric customers are being asked to cut back on their electricity use on Monday afternoon. The city utility department is asking residents to voluntarily hold off on doing laundry, cooking and set air conditioners at a higher temperature. It’s not that the electric system can’t handle the demands, according to Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. And it’s not that there are any risks of blackouts or rolling brownouts due to the peaking power usage. It’s not about the power. It’s about the money. Customers are being asked to conserve power Monday from 2 to 6 p.m. so the city can save on electricity costs next year, O’Connell said. “There’s plenty of power available and the grid is in good shape, but if we can conserve during these peak hours, the city can save on transmission and capacity costs next year,” the city released in a statement. “Lowering the peak demand will help keep the city’s electricity rates low.” Though the temperatures are expected to be higher on the weekend, residents are being asked to conserve on Monday, when industries will be an additional pull on the electric grid. Bowling Green’s electric rates are based on a transmission charge and a capacity charge, O’Connell explained. The transmission charge for next year will be calculated based on the city’s peak energy consumption this year. “So what we are paying this year is based on last year’s peak,” he said. The capacity charge is based on the average of a particular hour of electric usage during the top five peak days. “When customers can cut back on peak days, that can reduce the charge for next year,” O’Connell said. This is first time since O’Connell became utilities director in 2011 that the city has made such a conservation request of its residents. Customers are being asked to: Shut off lights when not needed. Unplug small appliances and electric chargers. Raise air conditioner thermostats a degree or two. Close curtains, drapes and blinds. Hold off on laundry and other household chores requiring electricity. Turn off televisions, computers, gaming consoles and other electronic devices when not being used. More conservation requests will likely be made this summer if other heat waves hit the region. “We will try to hit the high ones,” O’Connell said. “This is a possible way to reduce those charges for next year.” Joe Fawcett, the assistant municipal administrator, also predicted the city may ask for similar conservation efforts a handful of times during the summer. “When it’s a perfect storm – if it’s really hot and people are running their air conditioning and other appliances, and industries are operating,” Fawcett said. ”As a municipal electric system, owned by its citizens and customers, it is contingent upon those same citizens and customers to keep the electric rates for themselves and all other customers of Bowling Green Municipal Utilities as low as possible,” the city’s press release stated. “Our citizens and customers have the opportunity to make a difference in their system and their rates by conserving energy during the periods stated for the upcoming days. As forecast dictates, we will most likely be asking our citizens and customers to again conserve energy at additional times this summer.”    

Arps Dairy milks its story to secure its place in the market

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lambert Vandermade milks cows for a living. He bottles milk for hobby. And that means he also has to tell a story. Vandermade, president of Arps Dairy, told his story of how a Netherlands-born dairyman came to own a long-standing Ohio business and what he envisions for the future at the July Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum Thursday morning.  The event was hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation. Vandermade came to Northwest Ohio with his family from the Netherlands 16 years ago as they searched for a way to grow their family dairy business. In the Netherlands, he said, land is a scarce resource. The country is a third the size of Ohio. In the Netherlands, the family had 60 cows and raised 200 sows.  They did the work themselves with no employees. The European quota system, now ended, meant they were assured of making a small amount of money from the milk. The pigs provided more chance for profit. When they came to Ohio, after investigating other areas of the country, they started with 600 cows, “created 10 jobs” and were introduced to a federally regulated system so complex, Vandermade said, “I still understand about half of it.” The Vandermades now milk 1,400, cows on two farms in Defiance County, one devoted to maintaining older cows. “Dairy is a very complicated market,” Vandermade said. “The market has shrunk down to a very few, very large companies.” That puts a particular burden on the milk processor. Large retailers use milk as a loss leader. Low milk prices lure shoppers in the door. But that makes it hard for small companies like Arps to compete, he said. Vandermade’s frustration with the marketplace led him to wonder: “Can we lay a better link between the farmer and the consumer? The consumer is becoming further removed from the farmer and were not doing anything to bridge that gap.” With that in mind, Vandermade approached the Arps Dairy, which still maintained that link. Nothing came of those initial talks, so the Vandermades pursued another project, building the spread for older cows, about five years old, as a way of extending their productive life. It is good for the business, which pays $1,800 to raise a cow to the point she starts producing milk, and good for the animal. Then with that project well underway, he got a call: Arps Dairy was for sale. “It figures,” he said ruefully.  He and his wife joined several others including Ida Arps, “the last of Arps family,” and purchased the dairy. Vandermade said he knew they would not be able to compete on a large scale with the major retailers. “We’ve really been trying to work on our story,” he said.  “People want to know where their food is produced. We tell a truthful story.” Arps milk comes from 15 local farms, all within 25 miles of Defiance. The farms range in size from 12 cows to 400. That’s part of the Arps’ story. Doing business locally, Vandermade said, 68 cents of each dollar stays in the local economy. None of the milk at this point comes from the Vandermade farms. When he bought the business, people were concerned the Vandermades would have enough milk they would “boot” the local operations. It’s been 18 months, and they haven’t, he said. He said he would like to grow the business enough at some point to send some of his milk to Arps, but for now he sells it through a coop. His milk goes into Kroger’s store…

City makes slow and steady progress on land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Progress on land use issues in Bowling Green is a marathon – not a sprint, according to City Council member Bruce Jeffers. For those who doubt that progress is being made by the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, Jeffers reported otherwise during Monday’s council meeting. “We are continuing to move forward, slowly and deliberately, with planning a variety of improvements for Bowling Green,” he said. The council, mayor, administrative staff and citizens are helping to implement actions listed in the land use section of the city’s comprehensive land use plan. “I wanted people to know we are not sitting on our thumbs,” Jeffers said. So far, the efforts have focused on zoning, streets, neighborhoods and general aesthetics. Jeffers listed proof of this as the rezoning of properties along East Wooster Street in the downtown area, street improvements further east on Wooster Street with roundabouts planned at the I-75 interchange, and Complete Street enhancements being discussed all along East Wooster. The city is also working to revitalize neighborhoods, and has selected a consultant to help devise a plan. That plan will include public/private partnerships, coordinated financial incentives and the changing of some subdivided homes back into single-family owner occupied houses. Residents will be asked to participate in those plans. Jeffers also mentioned the garbage bin issue being worked on now by council. “Aesthetic regulations are more elusive than we might first expect,” he said, listing future aesthetic issues to tackle such as building maintenance, landscaping and excessive clutter. “A very thorny issue, which many people mention, is signs,” he said. Signs have been discussed by city officials for at least 40 years. An existing city ordinance states, “without adequate regulations and design standards, signs are a nuisance.” But Jeffers said that the city needs to pursue goals that are attainable. “We have to pick the items we can most likely be successful with,” he said, suggesting the city “focus on big picture housing revitalization.” The 2009 update of the housing section of the city’s master plan includes the following goals: Worker incentives to buy houses in Bowling Green Revolving loan fund Senior housing Housing trust fund Code enforcement Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation loans Neighborhood associations Student involvement Affordable housing Historic preservation Aging apartment buildings Green initiatives Conversion of rental properties Maintenance standards “A lot of good people have worked to improve neighborhoods for a long time,” Jeffers said. “Many residents and businesses have made tremendous improvements at great expenses over the years as well.”  

“Little Mermaid” performed swimmingly by 3B youth troupe

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With temperatures topping the 90s, a trip to the sea seems just the thing. Local theatergoers don’t have to go far for that. This weekend 3B Productions is staging “Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the Musical,” based on the 1989 animated film. This is 3B’s annual summer youth musical. It’s a great idea. Pull together talent from area high schools and give them a chance to work together and give the audience a chance to see some of the best young thespian talent in the area. Given the size of the cast, 65 in all, with its sailors, maids, cooks and all manner of sea creatures, real and imagined, the show has plenty of roles for youngsters, some maybe getting their first exposure to musical theater. The result is a bracing sea adventure, powered by youthful energy. “The Little Mermaid,” directed by Joe Barton with musical direction by Jennifer Bollinger and choreography by Bob Marzola, is on stage at the Maumee Indoor Theatre Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Saturday matinee will feature understudies including several members of the Horizon Youth Theatre. Tickets, which are going fast, are $15 available at: www.3Bproductions.org. The production meets the challenge of bringing animated antics to life, and fleshing out the characters. Using the energy of live theater performed by a youthful cast as a substitute for the magic of animation, “Little Mermaid” has a spunky summer camp joy to it. Particularly impressive is the way Andrew Nauden keeps his character Sebastian, the court composer turned a mermaid princess’ minder, from being a caricature. Sebastian has all the makings of being the show’s Jar Jar Binks, but Nauden makes us feel his character’s frustrations, and developing concern for Ariel. He’s equally good at leading the feel-good production number “Under the Sea” as he is the sensitive “Kiss the Girl.” Not surprisingly he’s already won state honors for his roles in other 3B shows and will head off to study in Ithaca College’s well respected musical theater program. Ariel played by Joelle Stiles is a heart-strong mermaid. She’s obsessed with the land of humans and immune to the grave warnings of her father, the sea god Triton (Noah Halaoui). She’s always venturing to the surface to spy on people, and getting instruction in their ways from the bird-brained seagull Scuttle (Max Lay). Her misunderstandings add much of the humor, though those fish-out-of-water antics never get in the way of the romance. Her ignorance of people most comes out in the big song “Part of Your World” when she declares that she longs to be “where they don’t reprimand their daughters.” Somehow I always found that line a hoot. In true fairy tale fashion, she falls in love on sight with a prince (Jonathan Chambers), who in turns falls in love with her voice. That voice, though, gets traded to the sea witch Ursula, played with oily charm by Sarah Matlow, for a pair of legs. So a mute Ariel must get Prince Eric to yield to her charms. The palace scenes add plenty of opportunities for physical comedy with the head chef (Will DuPuis), who loves to cook fish of all varieties, chasing Sebastian during a banquet scene. Madi Wojtowicz is endearing as Ariel’s sidekick Flounder, yet another character caught between her loyalty to Ariel and Triton’s concern for his daughter’s safety. Flounder is balanced by Ursula’s comic henchmen Flotsam (Erica Harmon) and Jetsam (Bobbi Baranek). They seem to get far too much joy out of their thuggery. Somehow I suspect…

Protesters in BG take Donald Trump to task

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Donald Trump prepared to take the podium at the National Republic Convention Thursday, others in Ohio were taking makeshift stages across the state to protest the presidential candidate. Anti-Trump rallies criticizing his “dangerous and hate-filled agenda” were held in 15 cities from Akron to Zanesville. In Bowling Green, the rally started out slowly, with the protesters almost being outnumbered by the security personnel outside the Wood County Courthouse. Dick Teeple, of Bradner, was one of the first to show up, carrying a toilet seat with Trump’s photo in the center. “I have grandchildren. I care about what kind of future they have,” Teeple said, listing his top concerns as the environment, women’s rights, equal pay and climate change. “What they stand for, I’m against,” he said of Trump and his vice presidential pick Mike Pence. Teeple was wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt, but said he would be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. “I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about Hillary. But she’s not going to sell out the environment.” As he stood on the courthouse steps, Teeple said he is mystified by Trump’s ability to win supporters. “I can’t understand it. I think there is some anger, but I think they better get over that and see what he’s going to do.” At its height, the Bowling Green rally had eight protesters. While their numbers were few, their concerns were many. “I just absolutely think Donald Trump is wrong for America,” said Kristie Foell, of Bowling Green. “I’m so disgusted by the attacks on Hillary.” Foell sees the Republican candidate as morally bankrupt, and his party as being motivated by an opportunity to legislate restrictions on abortions and same-sex rights. “My mother said to me, ‘I would vote for a monkey over Hillary, and now I have that chance,’” Foell said of her mother, who is almost 80 and a lifelong Republican. Sage Rozzel, of Bowling Green, held a sign saying “Dump Trump,” showing the likeness of the candidate in a pile of poo. “I do not agree with Donald Trump at all. He’s not aware of climate change. He’s racist,” Rozzel said, also listing off Trump’s views on immigrants, Muslims and Hispanics. “It’s very scary because people are voting for him. It’s insane.” “He’s feeding off of people’s fear. Feeding off of fear is not going to make it better. It’s going to make it worse,” Rozzel said. The rally outside the courthouse did draw some attention from pedestrians who snapped photos and motorists who honked their horns. Carla Patterson, of Texas, was doing research at the courthouse when she decided to check out what was going on. She shared the feelings of the protesters. “Trump’s a jackass,” she said. “Not that I’m real crazy about Hillary.” Two others working in the courthouse complex stopped to check out the signs during their break. They both expressed concerns about Trump. “It’s going to be a very divided country if we don’t get it together now. We can’t go on like this,” said Venus Robinson. Besides, Robinson added, “I think it’s time for a woman.” Alexandria Clark said Trump has no understanding of average Americans – people who struggle to feed their families, keep a roof over their heads and shoes on their feet. “I don’t support Trump at all,” Clark said. “He doesn’t know about being a regular person.” One of the handmade signs protesting Trump used the candidate’s own words against him. The quotes included: “Black people are lazy.” “My father gave me a small loan of $1 million.” “You know,…

Abby Paskvan delivers with the nation watching

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The day after singing the National Anthem on a national stage, Abby Paskvan was still soaking it all in. The Bowling Green singer delivered the anthem at the opening of Wednesday night’s session of the Republican National Convention. The performance was broadcast on several networks including PBS. She said her rehearsal earlier in the day was also broadcast nationally on Fox News. Paskvan said she was “a little nervous” and as a result it was “not my best performance.” There’s “always room for improvement,” she added. Not that anyone listening could tell. Those who missed it can hear it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHlHvix4YiM. “I really love that song, and it was a cool environment to sing it in,” Paskvan said. “You have to love that song.” And the audience doesn’t matter. Asked by Jerry Anderson of WTOL I she’d sing for the Democratic convention if asked, she said, of course. “It’s so much fun. I’m not thinking about who I’m singing for. I’m just in the moment.” The performance just before 8 p.m. capped what Paskvan, 20, called a “crazy day.” She and her parents, Brian and Becky Paskvan, left Bowling Green at 10 a.m. to go to Cleveland. They arrived, via a backway, without incident and settled into a hotel where they waited for the transportation that would bring them to Quicken Loans Arena where the convention is being held. The level of security was high, she said. They had to pass through three security checkpoints before they even arrived at the gates of the arena. She had her run through and that went “great.” Then it was off for hair and makeup. Afterward she and her family got “to chill” and take in the atmosphere and the speeches. She felt that vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, was the best speaker. “He killed it.” Paskvan said she was confused at first about the negative reaction to Sen Ted Cruz’s speech until someone explained the crowd was angry that he didn’t endorse Donald Trump. She was surprised to hear someone booed. Paskvan said she was overwhelmed by all the greetings and compliments flowing her way over the social media. The Fox video of her performance quickly garnered 20,000 views. The family arrived back in Bowling Green in the early morning hours of Thursday morning, and now she’s slipping back into her normal life. The Bowling Green State University junior has a couple interviews for Wednesday, but otherwise she’s planning a birthday party for a friend. Next week she’ll be back at her summer job at Thrivent Financial in Perrysburg, after the office gave her the week off. Looking further down the road, Paskvan is considering a career in music.  A marketing major, she said she’d normally think twice about an entertainment career but given “all the recognition and support I’ve gotten it makes me think: ‘Could I make this a career?’ More and more, I’m thinking, ‘yes.’” If she did, she sees herself shifting from Southern gospel into more contemporary Christian, which has a fan base closer to her own age. “That’s where I would head.”

Recycled tire material tried on buckled sidewalks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying out a new product that may put a slight spring in the step of walkers as well as help trees along city sidewalks. Buckled up sidewalk pavement is being replaced by a product made from recycled tires. The first experiment with the rubber surface sidewalks is being tried on a small section of Eberly Street, where  tree roots had buckled up the paved sidewalks, said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Craft explained to city council Monday evening that the recycled tire product is flexible with expanding tree roots, and with the ground as it freezes and thaws in the winter – “where concrete will break.” The rubber will not only help trees by allowing their roots to grow without buckling the concrete, but it will also be beneficial to walkers. It should reduce the trip hazards of broken pavement, and it will allow the water to run into the ground rather than gathering on the pavement and freezing in winter. “It’s a way to save the trees and not damage the roots,” Craft said. The city may try the rubber material next on some sidewalk sections on North Maple Street. The recycled tire product costs about $6 a square foot, which is comparable to concrete. However, the rubber takes more labor and time since it has to be mixed as it is applied. “The pace is slower,” Craft said. But it is probably worth the expense, “if it saves you from taking down a perfectly healthy tree,” whose roots are causing upheaval with concrete sidewalks. The city may also try the rubber material in the downtown area next to the bricks around trees. The material may work well to slope up around the trees, Craft said. “It’s good for the environment,” he said. And “it’s really going to wear well.” Craft does have some concerns about snow removal on the rubber, but will wait and see how it goes over winter. The rubber comes in different colors, with the city using a dark gray on Eberly Street. In other business, Mayor Dick Edwards reported that city officials attended a meeting on water issues with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Monday. “This ended up being a very positive meeting,” unlike some previous meetings on the topic, Edwards said. “Toledo is coming to the realization,” that very few major cities rely on just one water intake, the mayor said. Also at the meeting, Edwards encouraged city residents to take advantage of the home energy audit program being offered by Columbia Gas. The energy audits identify ways that homeowners can make changes to save energy and money. In other business, it was announced that the Bowling Green Police Division will soon be going through an onsite assessment as part of the accreditation process. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter reported the onsite assessment will look at the police policies, administration, operations and support systems. A public information session will be held July 26, at 5:30 p.m., in the Simpson Garden Park building. The public is also welcome to call in their comments on July 26 from 1 to 3 p.m., by calling 419-352-7459. Tretter said the city’s fire and police divisions are both accredited, which is a point of pride for Bowling Green. Also at Monday’s meeting, City Council, Learned from Craft that the city’s downtown Lot 2 will be striped on Friday, and then open again for parking. An emulsion has been placed on it that will help the surface last longer, but it must sit for…

Making migrant workers feel at home in Wood County

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The workers who come into Wood County to pick crops may be here for just a few weeks, but La Conexion de Wood County wants them to know they have a friend while they are here. On Sunday La Conexion and the First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green welcomed migrant workers at an event held at a camp in Bloomdale. They didn’t go empty handed. The Brown Bag Food Project came with boxes of food to tide them over until their first paycheck. The Wood County District Public Library staff was on hand with books and activities for the children. The Cocoon Shelter was there to offer its support. The event, now in its third year, was initiated by the church as a way of working with La Conexion, which works out of the downtown Bowling Green Church. Beatriz Maya, the managing director of La Conexicion, said that about 200 workers “at most” are now in Wood County. The numbers of migrants arriving has been declining as agriculture has mechanized and the mix of crops grown locally has changed. Now the demand is for people to pick cucumbers. Those jobs last for about six weeks, then the workers will be off to Michigan to pick apples or to Georgia or Florida to harvest other crops. As the number of crops in a region diminishes it becomes less worthwhile for workers to travel at their own expense to a place to harvest. Though their numbers are down they still have needs, she said, and La Conexion wants to help meet them either directly or by connecting them with other service groups. Maya said she has been trying to help facilitate the workers signing up for Medicaid. Though a federal program, the health program for children and the poor is administered by states, so whenever the workers move to new fields, they must give up Medicaid coverage in one state and sign up again in a new state. That means more detailed paperwork, submitting documents and waiting periods, that in Wood County can take longer than a family’s residency in the county. Last summer, she said, a child was hurt while playing, and had to go to the emergency room, but the family had no medical coverage. “We’re working with Jobs and Family Services to see if we can change the scheduling a little bit,” Maya said. That’s the kind of service La Conexion provides to Latinos in the county throughout the year. She said the forms needed to register for school are daunting enough for native English speakers, but for non-English speakers they can appear nearly impossible. La Conexion has worked with the school district to translate many of those forms. Maya said the group also advocates for services such as the hospital to provide translation services as required. Those services are provided online using Skype. She said the Bowling Green police employ such an online service. The migrants in Bloomdale, she said, are mostly from Guatamala, in the country on H2A visas. On Sunday those from the church, La Conexion and other groups shared pizza and stories, and offers of help for whatever problems they may face. This welcoming is appropriate for a place where so many residents of Mexican heritage first arrived as migrant workers. Most of them, Maya said, actually were already residents of the United States, and living in Texas. Over the years some stayed. Maybe they didn’t have enough money to move on. Or maybe they found permanent work here. The flow of Mexicans and others into the United States…

County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to look at it,” LaHote said. “This abatement is unique,” he said. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before, but this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since there will be no jobs beyond the construction period. “It’s been hard for us to get numbers,” LaHote said. Consequently, it was difficult to weigh the impact of the tax abatement. “The more we looked into this, the more questions came up.” LaHote said the delay on the tax abatement might have been avoided if the commissioners had been given more time to consider the request. “I wish we had been brought into the process a little sooner.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw also defended the time taken to review the request for the tax exemption. “It has been difficult to get answers to all of our questions,” she said. Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said the board likes to reference historical criteria when making decisions. But in this case, no criteria existed since this request is unlike most. “It’s being driven by a public entity,” but a private entity will profit, he said. Last week, Bowling Green officials met with the commissioners to convince them of the need for quick action on the tax exemption. “It put us in a bit of a rush,” Kuhlman said. “We are being put in a position that there’s almost an expectation that we approve this.” It was made clear by city officials that without the tax break, the solar fields would not be built by NextEra and AMP. “So we do feel some pressure,” Kuhlman said. However, by time they voted Tuesday, all the commissioners felt they had enough information to approve the project. “We can’t say we totally agree with everything,” but enough to approve, Herringshaw said. The solar field is planned on 320 acres owned by the city of Bowling Green at the southeast corner of Carter and Newton roads. The city will retain ownership of the land and lease 165 acres for the solar development. The remaining acreage will continue to be leased for farming. The solar array will consist of 85,680 panels that will track the sun from east to west everyday for maximum power generation. One other…

Library board accepts low bid on Walbridge project

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The price tag of the addition and renovation of the Walbridge Branch of the Wood County District Public Library is coming in under budget. The library’s board Tuesday accepted a general contractor bid of $849,000 from Midwest Construction of Holland. The board also accepted the company’s bid of $3,350 for shades. The administration has decided not to pursue a second alternate bid for benches and plantings. Library Director Michael Penrod said they will wait until the project is finished to do that work. The estimated cost for the bid was $1 million. Of the 10 bids submitted seven were under that number. Tom Stuckey, the project administrator, said to have that number of bids submitted was “phenomenal.” The one concern with the Midwest bid was how much under it was the others. The unsuccessful bids ranged from $929,800 from Spieker to $1,165,777 from Cross renovation. Penrod said he was pleased so many area firms were interested in the project. Several board members questioned the low bid. Stuckey said he did go back to talk to company officials, and they assured him they “capable and confident that they are ready to proceed.” Stuckey said he’s worked with the company on other projects. “They’re a capable company. They’ve been around a long time. They have the wherewithal to do this project.” Ellen Dalton wondered if they might cut corners, or if they were hiring cheap labor. Stuckey said he will be on the site monitoring construction. The company hires union labor, and all workers must be paid prevailing wage. He said that sometimes how low a bid comes in is determined by what the subcontractors say they can do their parts of the projects for. Some companies may have a single preferred subcontractor, and therefore don’t get a lower price. Stuckey praised the board for its work on the project. “There will be great pride in this. I’m looking forward to the groundbreaking.”