Victory Inn owner’s plan for new hotel rejected

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly five years, Bowling Green officials tried to get Victory Inn to clean up its act. The hotel, at 1630 E. Wooster St., was frequently the source of complaints about bedbugs, plumbing and electrical problems, the lack of smoke alarms and cleanliness violations. After years of wrangling with the owner, Jamal Garmo, of Michigan, the hotel was demolished last October. Wednesday evening, Garmo was back in Bowling Green to talk about his plans to build a new hotel on the old property. But he needed approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, since the hotel he is proposing exceeds the city’s height and story limits. By a vote of 3 to 2, the board rejected Garmo’s request. Voting against were Robert Waddle, Jonathan Jakubowksi and Chris Ostrowski. Voting in favor were Hobart Johnson and Julie Burton. After the meeting, Waddle said the rejection had nothing to do with Garmo’s hotel history in Bowling Green. “All we were considering was the height and number of floors,” he said. City Prosecutor Matt Reger said the zoning ruling was based on the proposal not meeting city requirements, not with Garmo’s past problems. Reger agreed the Victory Inn had been a thorn in the city’s side for several years. “It was a situation we had to deal with, and in the end we did get cooperation from the owner.” Garmo’s request was for a variance to allow construction of a 107-room hotel on the eastern portion of the seven acres that previously housed Victory Inn. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed hotel would have been a relatively new Hilton product called Home 2, which offers extended stays. After having his variance request turned down, Garmo said he needed to think about his next move. He returned to the meeting room after a few minutes to express his displeasure with the zoning board of appeals. “Five stories is a signature from the highway,” Garmo said, adding he originally wanted the hotel to be six stories. “I’m very disappointed, very disappointed,” he said, telling the board the hotel would have been a $10 million investment in the city. “This would be a Taj Mahal in the city – the best thing ever going to happen to your city.” Garmo was assured by the board that the city is not opposed to a new hotel, but it must meet requirements. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has a problem with a hotel coming to Bowling Green,” Johnson said. “We need to have more hotels.” There are multiple times every year when the hotels in the city are packed, some members of the board agreed. On behalf of Garmo, Andy Andre, of Bud Design & Engineering Services Inc. in Grand Blanc, Michigan, explained to the board that Hilton was insistent on the signature “beacon” look of the Home 2 hotels, and that feature pushed the height beyond the city’s limit. “The brands do not want anything less than four stories,” Andre said. And removing the “beacon” part of the structure was out of the question, he said, comparing it to asking McDonald’s to limit its sites…

Ohioans to play a big role in presidential primary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Ohioans watch primary election results roll in from around the nation, they may be wondering if their votes will count for much during Ohio’s primary next Tuesday. Absolutely, say three local political science professors. “It’s definitely not too late to play a significant role in the primary,” said Melissa Miller, of Bowling Green State University’s political science department. Though it’s not Super Tuesday, next Tuesday offers candidates a chance to pick up some big delegate counts. Primaries will be held in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. Both Ohio and Florida are being watched closely, not just because each has a Republican home candidate, but also because both are winner-take-all states. So whoever wins Florida walks away with 99 delegates and whoever wins Ohio takes home 66 delegates. With that in mind, Nicole Kalaf-Hughes, also from BGSU’s political science department, is expecting a big voter turnout in Ohio. “I would hope so,” she said. “I think people are really tuned into the election here.” If Donald Trump were to lose to Kasich in Ohio and Rubio in Florida, he would have to work even harder to get enough delegates to get the Republican nomination outright, according to David Jackson, also from BGSU’s political science department. All three political science professors have been startled by Trump’s success wooing voters. “It’s been a pretty big surprise,” Jackson said. “They think he’s the solution to the country’s problems,” Miller said of Trump supporters. Establishment Republicans, however, view Trump as a threat to their party. So much so that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, laid out a strategy last week for the party to knock Trump off his pedestal. And Ohio is part of that plan. The “anyone but Trump” strategy calls on Ohio voters to cast ballots for Kasich and Florida voters to support Rubio. Neither will gain great ground, but it may be enough to cause a brokered convention, where no one candidate goes in as the automatic winner. “It’s pretty much too late to try to unite behind a single delegate,” to defeat Trump, Miller said. The plan is not a “viable strategy,” but rather an “available strategy,” Miller said. “They were too slow to wake up to the Donald Trump insurgency.” With a new push by the Republican establishment against Trump, the chances of a brokered convention are high. “Right now, it still looks like a strong possibility,” Jackson said. Jackson explained that delegates only have to vote according to the primary electorate on the first ballot. If that ballot does not yield a clear winner with 1,237 votes or more, then the delegates can change their votes. “It’s wide open and messy,” Jackson said. One possibility is that the GOP selects another new alternative to present at the convention. Even if Trump gets the nomination, it’s possible a mainstream nominee could claim the mantle of the traditional Republican party, Jackson said. “The Republicans may sacrifice the election to save the party,” he said. Miller agreed it’s going to get messy. The party is facing a crisis, with a “huge gulf” forming between two sides. “The establishment Republicans are horrified at the prospect” of Trump as their candidate. But none of the other options are neat and tidy….

BG High welcomes area bands for adjudicated event this weekend

About 1,800 musicians from around Northwest Ohio will gather Friday and Saturday at Bowling Green High School to test their mettle in the Ohio Music Education Association’s band contest. So in addition to making sure they’re all tuned up and ready to perform their best, band director Bruce Corrigan, colleague Jeremy Sison and their charges as well as their parents, will also be on duty playing host to their counterparts from 34 bands in a six county area. It’s a big job, Corrigan said. Each band has to have a home room assigned. And then six spaces have to be set up to accommodate full bands – two rooms for warm up, two rooms for sight reading, and two spaces for performance. All those spaces must be fitted out with music stands, percussion instruments, and chairs. The high school borrowed music stands and percussion equipment from the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts, which is conveniently on break this week. Corrigan said other area band directors offered to help, but he said he didn’t want to inconvenience them when they were preparing for the event. The host band, Corrigan said, is responsible for handling all the paperwork involving the bands and adjudicators. Arrangements for hotel rooms for those judges must also be made. And then there’s all that traffic to direct. All this and more takes an army of volunteers, both adults and students. It’s been about 25 years, he said, since Bowling Green has hosted the Large Ensemble Adjudicated Event. For most of that time, Sylvania Southview has been the host. Corrigan said the school’s new Performing Arts Center prompted his decision to open Bowling Green’s doors up to the bands. “We have this wonderful facility, this beautiful performing arts stage. … It screamed, ‘let’s host this!’” He noted that the acoustical design for the Performing Arts Center was done by the company that did the work on Carnegie Hall. The event will get underway on that stage Friday at 4:30 p.m. when the Concert Band, conducted by Sison, will perform. The second performance stage will be set up in the high school gym. The Rossford band will open up that stage at 4:30 p.m. Friday performances go late into the night with the final bands taking the stage after 10 p.m. Corrigan will conduct the BG Symphonic Band on the PAC stage at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Performances continue through noon on Saturday. Based on the difficulty of music, bands are ranked from Class AA, most difficult, to Class D, the least. BG’s Symphonic Band is Class A, while the Concert Band is C. Those receiving a superior rating have the option of going on to the state event, but the timing often precludes BG and other bands from participating. Each band also does a sight reading session where they play music they’ve never seen before. Those sessions will be held in the high school and junior high school band rooms. The event is important to band directors and students alike, Corrigan said. “It is our assessment. It evaluates our performance skills, and it evaluates our sight reading skills. Both are very important. … The bottomline is it makes me step up my teaching, and the students step up to play at a higher level of musicianship….

Energy firm wants to test for oil on county park land

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An oil and gas exploration business wants to see if there is some black gold buried under Baldwin Woods, which is part of the Wood County Park District. Sean Haas, of Reserve Energy Exploration, in Chagrin Falls, presented a proposal Tuesday to the county park commissioners. Haas, who noted Wood County’s long history of oil in the Cygnet and North Baltimore areas, said his company has been doing seismic testing along U.S. 6 with permission of private landowners. Seismic testing is a process where an image of the subsurface is created. That data is then used to locate the most optimum place to drill for gas or oil. The company is interested in doing more testing, specifically in the area of Baldwin Woods, a 124-acre preserve, off Euler Road near Weston. “We understand you probably don’t want to have a lot of oil and gas wells on the property,” Haas said to the park board. He explained the seismic testing does not use explosives, but rather shakes the ground to discover gas or oil. If interested, the park district could just allow testing, or could actually allow the extraction of product in which case the district could share in royalties, Haas said. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger expressed concerns about any type of testing. He referred to Baldwin Woods as a “sensitive natural area.” The preserve is a mix of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. “It’s not something I would encourage or something I would support,” Munger said. “I would not recommend it.” Haas said the exploration process follows strict protocols and gets all the necessary permits. He said the process is “non-invasive” and should be thought of as “scientific research” that could be of benefit to the community. No hydraulic fracturing would be done, since that is not required with the shallow limestone in this region, Haas said. The testing could be done without cutting trees, requires a vehicle the size of a “gator,” and can be completed in one day. “We’re very outdoor oriented,” Haas said. “We’re not looking to destroy anything at all.” However, a park district employee asked Haas if he was aware of a recent report by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that states seismic testing is harmful to fish and wildlife. Haas said he was unaware of the report. “It shakes the ground,” he said of the testing. “It doesn’t create any tremors or earthquakes.” If oil or gas are found, the park district could get a portion of the revenue if the well on a neighboring property is drawing from a pool under the park land, Haas said. The landowners in the area would benefit, and they may possibly make some type of donation to the park district. “We want to be fair,” he said. Park board commissioner John Calderonello asked Haas to come back to the board with a proposal that would spell out all the options.  

BG makes pitch to county to help with I-75 interchange

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green city officials are trying to sell the Wood County Commissioners on helping with the new I-75 interchange. But it remains to be seen if the commissioners are buying. Mayor Richard Edwards explained the value of improving the I-75 interchange at Wooster Street, by making it safer and smoother for traffic. He mentioned the manufacturing businesses on the east side of I-75, and the large employers on the west side including BGSU, Wood County government and Wood County Hospital. A traffic study in 2009 showed that 15,429 vehicles used the interchange daily. “We’re seeing dramatic increases in traffic flow,” the mayor said. The interchange ranks among the top in the state for being accident prone, according to the mayor. “It’s been a major point of concern,” so much that the state is chipping in some safety funding. Bowling Green is now looking at the county to help pay a share of the $5.1 million interchange. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s contribution of $1.7 million leaves the local portion at $3.4 million. “I’m hoping very much you will consider working with us in some small but significant way,” Edwards said. Specifically, he would like to see the county chip in $750,000, though “obviously we would welcome more.” But Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman questioned how the county could rationalize helping Bowling Green with a bridge project. “How does this affect everyone else in the county?” Kuhlman said. What would the county say to other communities with I-75 interchanges that may need help, he asked. “We have to report back to Perrysburg, we have to report back to North Baltimore, to Northwood.” The mayor responded saying that Bowling Green is the capital city of Wood County, with the county’s largest employers. “Admittedly I’m biased, but these are facts.” During annual meetings with industry leaders, traffic backups are often mentioned as a concern, the mayor said. And the two roundabouts proposed at the southbound and northbound interchanges would make the bridge much safer, Edwards said. Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote noted that the county has helped with projects at the Crossroads development and the Buck Road roundabout. Kuhlman questioned the frequency of traffic backups at the current I-75 interchange. “How does this actually impact economic development?” he asked. Edwards said the potential for economic growth on the east side of I-75 is enormous. “Any enhancements will stimulate economic development there.” Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter also pointed out that the new interchange design will take pedestrian traffic into consideration. Kuhlman also asked if Bowling Green State University is helping foot the bill for the interchange, since events on campus often lead to the most traffic there. “We know so many university events contribute to the traffic volume there,” Edwards said. BGSU jointly funded the study on the East Wooster Street corridor, and will likely help with that project. However, the university has declined to help with the interchange, the mayor said. “They are more interested in a new entryway to campus. I’m personally hopeful they will be able to do something down the line,” Edwards said. The county commissioners said they would discuss the city’s request. “You certainly have given us lots to think about,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said.    

BGSU sheds light on why it’s taking a pass on city solar project (updated)

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Just because Bowling Green State University is taking a pass on a solar power offer from the city doesn’t mean it’s not pursuing alternative energy options. In a letter sent to the campus environmental activists, university officials explain why they are turning down an offer to place a solar array on campus, and what other efforts are underway to meet the terms spelled out in a national agreement to reduce carbon emissions on college campuses. The letter by Bruce Myer, assistant vice president for campus operations, and Nick Hennessy, sustainability coordinator, was sent to Matthew Cunningham, president of Environmental Action Group, and Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, in response to a letter sent by them and signed by dozens of other student leaders, questioning the university position on a city solar project. The city is planning to construct a large solar array and offered to place some solar panels on a plot of land on the campus. On Monday Bowling Green City Council heard from Daryl Stockburger, of the city utilities department, that AMP-Ohio had reached a joint development agreement for Bowling Green’s solar field. Stockburger said the solar array should be ready to construct this year. The agreement, the university’s letter states, would tie up the property, which has frontage on East Poe Road, for 30 years. The university does not have plans for that site, where construction debris was dumped, but using it for a project and equipment not owned by BGSU “was deemed to provide too many restrictions on its potential use.” The letter also states that since the electricity generated by the array goes into the grid, BGSU benefits whether the solar panels are on campus or off. It shares in the power from the grid, and reaps the benefits of being able to report that it gets some power from solar energy “helping us reach our carbon neutrality goals.” The students in their letter touted the learning possibilities of having a solar array on campus. Those same opportunities will be available at the city’s site a short drive from campus on Carter Road, the university’s letter stated. A couple weeks ago, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said BGSU’s refusal to join the city in its solar project was “disappointing.” City officials spoke with university officials about doing a small demonstration project, but got shot down. “We’ve had pushback, and not from the top,” Edwards said, adding that the project would not have required a major financial commitment from the university. “All they had to do was share one or two acres.” Council president Mike Aspacher said the solar project seemed like a “natural fit” with BGSU. Faculty and students also seemed to support the idea, Edwards said. “It’s hard for us to get our heads around the reasons” why BGSU doesn’t want to join in the solar project. “There is the potential for other renewable energy and sustainability projects on campus that may be even more beneficial to reducing our carbon footprint,” the university’s letter stated. BGSU is embarking on a Renewable Energy Feasibility Study that will look at solar and “many other forms of renewable energy.” “Student involvement will be very important in determining and pursuing that potential,” the letter states. Students will be members of the study…

BG police change uniform style after 40 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Division had probable cause for junking their old style uniforms. Their motive – give the officers something more functional and durable on the job. Police Chief Tony Hetrick explained to city council Monday evening that the department had not updated its uniforms for 40 years. And the French blue pants and old style navy or white shirts were just not functional, and needed to be retired, he said. To show the changes, Sgt. Paul Tyson and Officer Ryan Rosacrans modeled the new navy blue uniforms for council. “It’s a lot more functional uniform,” Hetrick said, noting that reflective portions of the uniform were an added safety feature. And unlike the current uniform rules, which require the sergeants to wear white shirts, the new uniforms will be all navy for all members of the department. White is just too hard to keep clean while patrolling the streets, the chief said. The new uniforms will no longer have the same type of gold buttons, that have to be removed from the shirt after wear, and replaced on a new shirt. That process can take 20 minutes, the chief said. The design was the creation of input by several in the police division. “We wanted something that looked more modern,” Hetrick said. The new uniforms will hit the streets on all police officers by the end of May. Also at Monday’s meeting, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter announced that “Coffee with a Cop” is being hosted by the Not In Our Town organization on March 23, from 8 to 10 a.m., at Tim Horton’s in Bowling Green.      

BG needs input from bicyclists before peddling Complete Streets plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Before Bowling Green peddles out its Complete Streets proposal, officials want to hear from those who pedal the most through the city. Complete Streets is the name given to a national effort to make streets safe for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. “They consider all modes of transportation,” explained councilman John Zanfardino. “They are created with not just cars in mind.” But the difficulty in cities like Bowling Green is that the streets were planned and constructed with motorists in mind. So retrofitting the streets for all modes of transportation will mean some extra costs for the city and some compromises for motorists. Council chambers was full Monday evening of citizens who had questions about how to make city streets more friendly to all users. The streets committee presented an example of a “Complete Streets Network” that mapped out routes to various destinations in the city. The network covered sections of such streets as Clough, Court, Campbell Hill, Manville, Thurstin, North College, Pearl, Wintergarden, Conneaut, Lafayette, Poe, Maple, Fairview, Van Camp and Newton. But city officials need to know from bicyclists if this network includes the best streets for the plan. “We really do need to come up with a map,” Zanfardino said. “I think bicyclists should have a lot of communication with the city about what they need,” said council member Sandy Rowland. The lack of a plan not only leaves bicyclists without better routes around the city, but it also leaves the city’s engineering department in limbo. City Engineer Jason Sisco said most “Complete Streets” language used across the nation includes vague generalities. There are no specific standards, “which is what we live by in the engineering world,” he said. Some cities, such as Piqua, have plans that consider 25 mph streets as safe for cars and bikes to co-mingle. By that standard, several streets in Bowling Green then already qualify. And that means when the city repaves South Church Street this year, it does not need to make any special accommodations, Sisco said. “So we may think that is a Complete Street. But what we think and what you’re thinking might be two different things,” he said. And city officials don’t want to repave a street one year to find out the next that it should have been modified for the Complete Street plan. The council committee discussed narrower streets where sharrows could alert motorists to possible bicyclists with the use of painted bike graphics on the pavement edge. Sharrows are not like bike lanes, in that they don’t offer extra space for the pedaling traffic. “Essentially, it’s a reminder to not be a bad driver,” council member Daniel Gordon said. “That is the cheapest way to go,” Rowland said. Sisco pointed out that bike lanes on some streets would require widening that would impact trees, utilities and fire hydrants. On some streets, such as North Grove, which is planned for repaving this year, it could require the elimination of street parking. To implement a Complete Streets program, the city needs to know if items like trees and parking can be eliminated to make room for bikes. “What are items off the table,” Sisco asked. Gordon said he didn’t want…

BGSU School of Art sees new role for itself

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The School of Art at Bowling Green State University is changing by degrees. Last week the faculty senate gave unanimous approval to a change in the school’s core degree, the Bachelor of Fine Arts. Until now students have received their BFA in either two-dimensional art – drawing, painting, photography and printmaking – or three-dimensional art – sculpture, glass and ceramics. If approved by the university’s Board of Trustees later this spring, the school will offer just one BFA, regardless of discipline. That is just one change of several that marks a shift in philosophy in the school, said interim director Charles Kanwischer. “This is a big step for the school.” “We are a collection of disciplines. … We’ve been pretty good about maintaining the autonomy of those disciplines and giving students and faculty a lot of independence within them.” But forces are pushing them together, he said. For one, the media are blending together. Kai Lee Liu, the student who won best of show honors at the recent Undergraduate Exhibit, won the top prize with an installation that employed video with glass sculptures. Another of her pieces, which was also honored, was a sculpture made of ceramics that included a recording of the artist reading a poem. The disciplines “are bleeding together,” Kanwischer said. Enrollment in the traditional disciplines is declining, a trend seen nationwide. At the same time more students were enrolling to study digital art and graphic design. The changes do not affect the BFA in Graphic Design nor BFA in Digital Arts. The enrollment in the school is actually up. The change in degrees will give students greater flexibility as well as a more early exposure to the traditional disciplines. In the past, depending on what track students followed, they took introductory courses in three of four disciplines, now they will take introductory courses in five of the eight traditional disciplines – painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, metals and jewelry, glass and ceramics. “We’re giving students more choice across those disciplines,” he said. The change also increases the number of credits in art courses to get a BFA from 73 to 75. That brings in school in line with accreditation requirements. The change in the BFA, though, is just one. The changes in studio art requirements applies to those who receive a BFA in Art Education. They also received either a 2-D or 3-D degree, depending on their studio work. Those degrees are merging. Barbara Bergstrom, who chairs the art education division, said the changes also will allow art education majors to concentrate in digital art and graphic design. Also, the school is instituting three new art minors: art education, digital art, and photography. Bergstrom said that the art education minor is open to students outside the School of Art. While open to all majors, to date most of the response has come from the College of Education and Human Development, particularly early education majors. She sees the new minor as useful for those interested in community art education, working with the elderly or in nursing home settings or for arts commissions. She hopes the minor will lead to a BA in art education. This would also be for those in community art education, who want art training but don’t need to…

Scruci likes Samoas, Mazey prefers Toffee-tastics….local celebrities name their favorite Girl Scout cookies

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To get the scoop on what type of Girl Scout cookies are most likely to be found hiding in the desk drawers, glove compartments or lockers of local celebrities, several were asked to confess their weaknesses for the annual treats. Samoas are a solid favorite, ranking at the top for Bowling Green School Superintendent Francis Scruci, BGSU Hockey Coach Chris Bergeron and Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick is also most likely to stash away some Samoas, commenting, “They look like tiny donuts and taste fantastic.” Clint Corpe, host of Radio 88.1 FM, struggled making a selection. “I never met a Girl Scout cookie I didn’t like,” he said. But when asked what he would choose if stranded on an island with only one box, Corpe got serious, kind of. “Samoas – they are like a party in your mouth.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and his wife, Nadine, are firmly split on the subject. The mayor stands by Samoas, while his wife voted for Thin Mints. State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, jumped on the same cookie bandwagon as the mayor. “I’m a Samoas fan. Crunchy, chewy, coconut with dark chocolate to make it a healthy option, right?” State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, tried to play it safe asking, “What do the polls say the people like?” But pressed for an answer, Gardner revealed his favorite to be the traditional shortbread cookies, called Trefoils. Also on the Trefoils team are Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson and Wood County Auditor Mike Sibbersen. Wood County District Public Library Director Michael Penrod couldn’t make up his mind, straddling the fence between Samoas and Tagalongs. The new Toffee-tastic cookies are the favorite of BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey because they are gluten-free. A call to the city offices started an inner office debate, with Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter backing Tagalongs, Assistant Administrator Joe Fawcett supporting Samoas, and Administrative Secretary Jackie Dubler preferring Thin Mints. Tagalongs were the top choice for Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn and Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson. “I am a peanut butter and chocolate junkie, so Tagalongs are my walk away favorite, then Thin Mints,” said Dobson. “Great. Now I’m hungry for Girl Scout cookies.” The lone vote for the peanut butter sandwich cookie, called Do-Si-Dos, came from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. Thin Mints are the top choice for Wood County EMA Director Brad Gilbert and BGSU Women’s Basketball Coach Jennifer Roos, though she prefers her Thin Mints chilled. BGSU Head Football Coach Mike Jinks threw his support behind Caramel DeLites as his favorite. That happens to be the name for a very close cousin to the Samoas. Since Girl Scouts of the USA use two bakeries to mass produce their cookies, there are some slight differences depending on the geography. People who have compared the cookies swear the Samoas have darker chocolate and less crunchy cookies, while Caramel DeLites have more coconut and are slightly less sweet. Both, no doubt, are like a party in your mouth. Failing to make anyone’s list were the Savannah Smiles and the Rah Rah Raisins. (To read about local Girl Scout cookie sales, read previous story at titled: Girl Scouts make cookies irresistible.)

Girl Scouts make cookies irresistible

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They peddle their sweet goods with high-pitched little voices, dressed in their Girl Scout sashes laden with badges and pins. They aren’t high-pressure hucksters – just incredibly cute and committed. And how could anyone resist the temptation to stock up on this year’s Girl Scout cookies and please the young peddlers at the same time? “These girls could sell anything,” said Julieanna Armstrong as she picked up her seasonal cookie quota from the Brownies brokering their goods in front of Ace Hardware in downtown Bowling Green on Friday. The next sale went to John Carty, of Bowling Green. “I was sent up here specifically to get the lemon ones,” and a box of the newest gluten-free cookies called Toffee-tastic. He limited his purchase to just two boxes, though he confessed, “I’ve got more boxes coming from other people.” As the Brownies hawked the cookies, parent Jennifer Codding explained the secret to cookie sales. “Girl Scout cookies are one of those historic things. People look forward to them every year,” said Codding, of Bowling Green Troop 10320. “They sell themselves.” Codding said their troop traditionally sells about $1,000 in cookies, which is then used for camping activities. The cookies can be addictive for some buyers, who look forward to feeding their need each year when the Brownies and Girl Scouts hit the streets. “They wait for them. It’s the known relationship,” Codding said. The most popular of the cookies nationwide are the Thin Mints, she said. Other cookies being peddled this year are Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Savannah Smiles, Rah Rah Raisins and Toffee-tastics. Down the street a bit Friday afternoon was another group of scouts trying to broker their sweet treats in front of Grounds for Thought. Brownie Jessie Bohaczenko, from Perrysburg Troop 10507, revealed her secret for snaring sales. “I kind of say, in a cute voice, ‘Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?’” You could almost taste the sugar in her high-pitched appeal. Her mother, Rhonda Bohaczenko, said some buyers get impatient to make their cookie connections each year. To ensure they have enough to get through the off-season, some order mass quantities. The biggest buyer so far this year purchased two cases – 24 boxes. “They do stock up,” she said. The cookies are so good that sometimes it doesn’t even require the young scouts to make the sale. Jen Colony said she once peddled the cookies for her boyfriend’s sister. “I was the middle man. I was the dealer,” she said. But Colony was careful not to get too hooked herself. She tried to show restraint this year by buying just one box each of her favorites, Samoas and Thin Mints. “I make them last. I kind of ration them.” As if the temptation wasn’t great enough, the Girl Scout cookie campaign has now gone high-tech. To find the nearest cookie booth for a fix, people can just visit There is also a Girl Scout Cookie Finder App available on most smart phones. (Another story will be posted soon on the Girl Scout cookie favorites of local celebrities.)  

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head take up residence at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mr. Potato Head has had a storied career. The pop culture icon has been a beloved toy, a movie star, a “Spokes-spud” for physical fitness and the Great American Smokeout. He’s encouraged consumers to buy Burger King fries and citizens to vote. Now, Mr. Potato Head and his wife, Mrs. Potato Head, have become Bowling Green State University Falcons. Thanks to a donation by Matthew Wilson, of Michigan, a collection Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys have taken up residence in the Popular Culture Library on campus. In February, Nancy Down, head of the Popular Culture Library, and Alissa Butler, a doctoral student in American Culture Studies, gave a talk at the Women’s Center on campus to discuss the history of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and their roles in popular culture. Mr. Potato Head was born, the brainchild of inventor George Lerner, fully formed with bushy mustache in 1952. “Mr. Potato Head is the best friend a boy or girl could have,” the original ads promised, Down said. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television. His wife arrived a year later followed by offspring, Spud and Yam. At first they were sold as disembodied features, noses, eyes, mustaches, hair, and shoes. Kids had to supply their own potatoes or other vegetable of their choice. The plastic body was introduced in 1964. The spud couple were epitomes of 1950s consumer culture. They had two cars – his with a boat trailer, hers with a shopping cart. They had a boat and a plane. They even had a train. “How many couples in the ‘50s had their own locomotive?” Down wondered. They stuck to the established gender roles. Mrs. Potato Head was her husband’s dutiful helpmate. She had her ever present purse, and fancy hat. He had a jack hammer, she had a feather duster. Though the accessories and detachable parts were interchangeable, the packaging was color coded to make clear which gender the toys were intended for, Down said. Only Mr. Potato Head was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2000, the third class of inductees. Given her character, though, his wife surely would have been proud of him, but would have cautioned him not to let it go to his head. By then the Potato Heads had emerged from the toy chest. He ditched his pipe for the Great American Smokeout. Urged people not to be couch potatoes for the Presidential Council for Physical Fitness and promoted the importance of voting to kids in a campaign sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Wal-Mart. He also appeared in political ads in the 1988 campaign after vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle famously misspelled “potato.” The Potato Heads landed a television show, but their most famous screen time came in the “Toy Story” movies. Mr. Potato Head, voiced by Don Rickles, played a major role in the first movie. He was, explained Butler, a fully formed, if static character. He was the “surly, sarcastic” member of the gang in Andy’s room (and the only licensed product), quick with a cutting remark, and always expecting the worst. Butler said that while not completely free of problems, the Pixar movies had a more enlightened view of gender roles than typical of…

No time like the present for making a time capsule

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Talk about planning ahead. The Wood County Historical Center wants to get a spot on local citizens’ calendars, so it is sending out “Save the Date” cards – for 2075. That is when the historical center’s time capsule from this year will be opened. The museum is asking local residents to submit items or ideas of what exactly should be placed in the time capsule. “We’ve put a call out for people to make suggestions and provide content,” said Dana Nemeth, director of the historical center. The capsule will be filled this summer when the elevator at the museum is completed and the grand reopening is held. To people thinking about what items they would like to share with future generations, the historical center is also offering people a chance to make their own time capsules. Nemeth suggested the best items to enclose in the capsule may be family photos, children’s letters to themselves, predictions about people, videos, information about pets and grandparents. “The more personal the better,” she said. Items to avoid would be favorite foods – even if they are canned since they can explode. Nemeth suggested food labels instead, such as favorite candy wrappers. And don’t bother with general historic information such as who is president right now. That information can be found anywhere – make your time capsule personal. “Reflect on your everyday life,” she said. During a recent visit to the historical museum, George Stossel and Vicki Knauerhase, of Bowling Green, joked about items they might put in their own time capsule. “I could put a thumb drive in and see if they could read it,” Stossel said. “By then, they’ll have computer bits buried in their heads,” Knauerhase said. And what might make a safe, airtight container? Stossel suggested Tupperware. “The everyman’s time capsule,” Knauerhase joked. Following are some suggestions for time capsules from the historical center: Burying time capsules can be risky. The best place may be in a closet in your house. It should be a location with a stable temperature and humidity. Aluminum or stainless steel containers will be the most stable, but can be expensive. A photo storage box made of acid-free paper materials would be less costly. Keep a record of when the capsule should be opened and label the box. Avoid rubber, wood, and fabrics made of wool, silk and nylon. Cotton and polyester are OK. Include photos of family, friends and pets. Print photos on fiber-based papers. Avoid newsprint. Photocopy clippings instead. Don’t store food. Have children write letters to themselves. Do a family questionnaire to add to the capsule. Don’t let items touch each other inside the capsule. Place them in conservation quality storage bags or wrap in acid-free tissue paper. Place coins and other metal objects in tarnish-reducing enclosures. Place computer equipment and electronic date media in corrosion and static-intercept enclosures. Place heaviest items on the bottom of the time capsule.

First-year programs aim to turn high school students into college scholars

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University has been holding onto more students in recent years. Keeping students once they are recruited is as important as recruiting them in the first place. That boost in retention – making sure students who come in as freshman end up leaving as BGSU graduates – is crucial to the university’s financial health. The state funding formula demands it. That increased retention is no accident, Provost Rodney Rogers told faculty senate this week. Much of the credit goes to the first-year initiatives designed to integrate new students into the BGSU academic culture from their earliest days on campus. When Vice Provost for Academic Affairs John Fischer took his turn at the podium to spell out those programs, he said he wished he had the scroll used at this year’s Oscar ceremonies where the names of agents, publicists, hairdressers, and moms that the stars wanted to thank ran at the bottom of the screen. The programs designed to keep freshmen around for the spring semester and beyond are built on a foundation of collaboration with the faculty. Some colleges and universities are opting to take a more economic look at education, for example, by having students take more online courses, Fischer said. BGSU, however, “has put its flag in the sand that we’re going to put the quality of the experience ahead” of those other considerations. “That’s what we are going to measure and count and pay attention to and argue about.” That seems to be working. Students, for example, who take linked courses are more likely to continue at BGSU. Linked courses are one of several approaches the university takes. The program enrolls groups of students in the same course sections. That way they see familiar faces in a couple of their classes. Having students take the same two course sections also has the collateral effect of students sometimes ending up together in other classes since it narrows the other scheduling possibilities. Fischer said faculty see this working when students arrive at class buzzing with talk about another course. Giving students more opportunities to talk to fellow students and a chance to communicate with faculty are key goals of the first-year programs. When the linked courses are offered for the third year next fall, he said, the goal is to have more communication between those teaching the courses, so they can better connect the course material. He said this will not be required, but the administration is looking into what kind of incentives can be put into place to encourage it. Another way to engage students is for them to take the first course in their major in their first semester. In Creative Writing, he said, there’s a correlation between students who do this and whether they will continue at BGSU. Students arrive, he said, anxious to launch their careers. “How do we engage that excitement that they feel and help steer them to both deepen what we expect of them and raise their expectations of what we expect from them.” First year seminars are specifically designed to inculcate them to college academic life. Seminars are offered on a variety of topics including being an engaged citizen, how a statistician reads the sports papers, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, and…

Bill allows terminally ill to use drugs awaiting FDA approval

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A bill has passed the Ohio House that would allow terminally ill patients to use drugs still in the trial period by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, co-sponsored House Bill 290, which is also known as the “Right to Try” legislation. The bill passed the House after testimony was presented by people whose dying family members may have benefited by having access to the drugs, he said. The law will allow Ohioans who are suffering from a terminal illness to have increased access to investigational drugs, biological products, or devices that have passed Phase I of an FDA clinical trial and will remain in ongoing trials. The access must come with the recommendation of their treating physician and another physician. “We’re not talking about something that’s not tested,” but rather drugs that are still in the lengthy trial periods with the FDA, Brown said earlier this week. “The drugs we’re talking about have already gone through the first rounds of FDA trials.” If the Ohio Senate passes the bill, Ohio will join 24 other states that already allow access to such medications. Currently, Ohio citizens can travel to those other states to get the drugs, but cannot access them here in Ohio. “This bill will expand treatment opportunities for Ohio’s terminally ill residents.  Far too often, patients who were previously unable to access potentially lifesaving medications in Ohio sought medical assistance in other states.  This bill will eliminate additional financial and emotional burdens and will provide options in Ohio for patients who desperately need it,” Brown said. Currently, the FDA offers an expanded access program, which allows terminally ill individuals to access investigational medications. However there are only about 1,000 annual participants and the application process is burdensome. This legislation does not require doctors to provide their patients with investigational drugs, but creates an opportunity not previously available to terminally ill patients and their physicians. House Bill 290 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.