Libertarians see opportunity in 2016 elections

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the Republican Convention convening in Cleveland, complete with protests outside and floor fights inside, the Libertarian Party is hustling to give Ohio voters disaffected with both major parties another choice. Because the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Earl of Bowling Green, was bumped from the 2014 ballot, the Libertarians do not qualify to have their presidential ticket Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and running mate Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, on the Ohio ballot this year. So Nathan Eberly, of Bowling Green, and other Libertarians are collecting the 5,000 verified signatures needed for Johnson and Weld to appear as independents. Eberly said it was not a high bar, and he’s heard the state party has more than 3,000 signatures on hand. Still, he was out and about Monday evening, meeting people at Grounds for Thought or visiting people’s homes to collect signatures. That the party is having to struggle to get on the ballot in the key battleground state of Ohio this of all years is ironic, since the fortunes of the Libertarians has never looked brighter. “This year is probably going to be a banner year for the Libertarian Party because of the unpopularity of (Donald) Trump and (Hillary) Clinton,” Eberly said. Some polls, he said, have Johnson gaining 13 percent of the vote, while others have him as low as 8 percent. Still, Eberly said, Johnson is within striking of the 15 percent Johnson needs to join the Democratic and Republican nominees on the stage for the first presidential debate Sept. 26 in Dayton. He dismisses the criticism that voting for the Libertarians or Greens is just going to help a candidate they abhor be elected president as “fearmongering.” That’s based on the assumption that a vote for the Green candidate is a vote that would have gone to the Democrats and a vote for the Libertarian pulls from the Republicans. Eberly said polling is showing that the Libertarians are pulling equally from disaffected Republicans and disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders. They are drawn to the party’s belief in “getting government out of our wallets and out of our bedrooms,” he said. The party stands for “smaller, efficient government and more personal freedom.” That blend of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism is attracting support among LBGT individuals, he said. On the issue of abortion, he said, the party is split. “We need to err on the side of more freedom.” Eberly has set a personal goal of getting 100 signatures this week – he had about half on Monday. The party wants all the signatures in hand by Monday, July 25, so it has plenty of time to verify them. Usually it takes twice as many signatures on petitions to yield the number of verified signatures needed. Eberly said the Libertarians are continuing their appeals of Earl’s removal from the 2014 ballot. Ohio’s ballot access rules “are very confusing,” he said. Despite the patchwork of various ballot access rules and regulations, he said, the party is hopeful to again have Johnson, who ran in 2012 as well, on the ballot in all 50 states.  

BG debates trash bin enforcement – issue fines or confiscate cans?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to make sure that once a garbage bin ordinance is passed, that it is enforceable. So on Monday evening, council debated whether violators should face fines or have their trash cans confiscated. Council member John Zanfardino expressed concerns about the penalty portion of the ordinance. He is in favor of ordering violators to pay fines when problems are spotted. Waiting to confiscate the cans on garbage pickup day would be like arresting someone for walking around with an open bottle days after the violation, he said. He asked that the city warn residents for first violations, then issue fines for additional violations. “To me, that’s a very laborious way to address it,” Zanfardino said of city workers confiscating the cans. Council member Sandy Rowland shared concerns about the city taking away garbage bins from violators. “I just don’t think it’s going to work for enforcement,” she said, voicing concerns about city workers entering private property. But Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the cans would only be removed from property when they are sitting by the street on pickup day. “We don’t want people to go on private property. We own the right-of-way,” City Solicitor Mike Marsh said. The city already confiscates trash cans that are left at the roadside for several days. Residents then have to pay $50 to get them back. Council member Bruce Jeffers said confiscation of a trash bin sends a strong message. Marsh cautioned that fines cannot be levied against residents without a citation being issued. “There isn’t a way to fine someone without citing them first,” he said. Council members suggested that a violation to the new garbage bin ordinance be a civil infraction. Zanfardino said the most egregious trash violators will just tidy up their yard on trash day and continue breaking the rules the other six days of the week. Other college towns, like Kent, fine people for violations, he said. “If we’re serious about this, I sure hope the council considers a civil infraction,” Zanfardino said. “A warning will fix 75 percent of them,” he said. And the rest should be convinced after facing fines. “Unless someone is stubborn as a box of rocks,” having to pay a fine should encourage compliance, he said. Failure to pay will result in the fine being placed on the resident’s taxes. Most of the communities surveyed about their trash bin ordinances found compliance from residents. “Our purpose here is to clean up our town,” Rowland said, adding that enforcement will add value to properties in Bowling Green. “It has been a culture that we let things go.” Council member Theresa Charters Gavarone again voiced concerns about the ordinance going too far. “A lot of people will be impacted by this,” she said. “There are so many houses where people keep their trash cans in the driveway by their garage.” It was estimated that 50 to 100 homes keep their trash bins in front of the living portions of their homes. About 500 store their bins in front of the garage portions of their homes. And 1,500 or so keep their bins to the side of the homes. Council member Bob McOmber said most of the homes with the trash bins in front of the homes could easily move them to the side of the house. Those who cannot for some reason, may apply for exemptions. Tretter was asked if the city was ready to enforce the new regulations. “We don’t know what law it is you are going to pass,” Tretter said….

BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest potential threat seems to be the Asian longhorn beetle. “They like maples, which is unfortunate because maples are good trees,” Jones said. But unlike the ash borer, it appears the longhorn beetle can be stopped by treating trees. “It would be nice to avoid that,” he said. Jones said he’s aware of the controversy last year, when the city lost several mature trees along West Wooster Street to a gas line construction. He understands how people become attached to trees. And his office right now is working to replace street trees and those wiped out by the ash borer. “I’d really like to continue the trend of planting a diverse group of trees,” he said. Later this fall, Jones and the city tree commission plan to hold a couple seminars for the public on trees. The exact topics and times have not yet been determined. Jones encouraged the public to call him if they want trees planted in their tree lawns, the areas between sidewalks and streets. “I’ve met with a lot of people who have questions about their trees,” he said. Jones praised the city for meeting the criteria and being named a “Tree City USA” for 36 years. “That’s a really good number of years,” he said. The city has also met the “growth component” of Tree City USA criteria for 22 years, more than any other community in Ohio, he said. Jones hopes to grow on that success.        

Multicultural Affairs office looks for common ground between campus & community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the 40 people who came out for a #Let’sSupportEachOther gathering last week in the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs were staff members. These counselors and residence life staff are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with students’ concerns. Not only their concerns as students at Bowling Green State University, but the concerns they bring with them to campus. The meeting was called to discuss the recent incidents of black men dying in encounters with police officers, followed by the killing of five police officers on duty during a protest in Dallas. While those in attendance, which included faculty, community members and two campus police officers, need to focus on students’ emotions, they must also deal with their own reactions. Krishna Han, assistant director for diversity, said he found himself in tears on several occasions when watching videos related to the slayings. He had to eventually step back from social media. One black woman spoke of her fears for her son. They live in a suburb of Toledo, and he is repeatedly followed and stopped by police, and he’s been stopped in Bowling Green as well. Some expressed frustration over what they could do; others expressed frustration over the perceived lack willingness of others to take action. Emily Monago, director of the office, said in an interview the next day that she was surprised by the number of people who came out. “We just wanted to provide an opportunity for people to talk.” She said one of the possibilities discussed was how to become more involved with the city’s Human Relations Commission and in the joint city-campus Not In Our Town movement. “How can we do more to promote that and get people involved? Those are some of the conversations we’re having. We’re trying to strategize about how we can make a stronger community connection.” While Bowling Green may seem remote from the settings where these events unfold, the issues are still important for local residents to address, Monago said. “Members of our Bowling Green are impacted by these events. … They have to acknowledge that people are in pain because of these events,” Monago said. Students bring their experience from neighborhoods that are very different from Bowling Green. “I don’t see how as a community we cannot address it. It’s an issue for all of us.” The Office of Multicultural Affairs holds weekly dialogues as a way of “checking in with our students,” she said. In fall it will again host an event where students and police officers have a chance to talk to each other. “We just need to keep those conversations going,” Monago said. “As long as these conversations are happening on a national level, we have to have opportunities for our students to have conversations locally.”

BGHS ’78 grads show their class with new bobcat statue

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Poised to lift the white shroud from the object set in front of Bowling Green High School, Bill York paused to note that he’d been promised “this is not just another class of ’78 prank.” The class, known in the years since they graduated as the worst class ever, has set about turning over a new leaf. “We’re trying to establish a new reputation as the most giving class,” York said. That spirit was represented when the object, a large bronze statue of a bobcat, was unveiled. For Principal Jeff Dever, it will be “a tremendous thing for kids to come to school and see that.” And yes, he heard, the stories about the class as “the worst class that came through these doors.” What he knows is that the class has been “very generous.” “They handled this from start to finish,” he said. The project was spearheaded by Bill York. Classmate Mike Hammer, the city superintendent of public works, enlisted help from city workers to get the base of brick and concrete constructed. York said that after the class held its 35th reunion, some of the organizers talked about creating a more permanent structure. In 2014, the Bowling Green High School Class of 1978 was created. In 2015, the foundation awarded its first scholarship for $1,000 and donated a couple benches that sit outside the school. This year a $2,500 scholarship was awarded, and the bobcat was purchased and placed. The idea for the bronze mascot came from members of the class, York said. They wanted something “unique” and enduring. It should be made as it is of bronze, stone and brick. “It’ll be long lasting,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll outlast us all.” The budget for the project was $8,500. The class raised almost $12,000. York said that may mean benches or other elements could be added to the project. The bronze bobcat was purchased from the Large Art Company, from Baltimore, Maryland. York said that when they first approached the administration about how they could help the school, all the administrators knew of the class was its reputation. “We were rambunctious,” Hammer admitted. In a humorous poem penned for the occasion, class member David Kinney noted that the faculty “pushed us out the doors with cheers.” Those teachers, though, also “motivated us to give back with all our might. Now we know the kids of ’78 are all right.” At least one teacher thought so at the time. Frances Brent, who taught sixth grade, said the class, which included her late daughter Liz, was “wonderful.” “I adored them. I like ornery kids,” she said. The class is continuing its efforts. After the unveiling of the statue, some members were heading off to a golf outing to raise more scholarship money.  

Health center doesn’t turn any patients away

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Navigating health care systems can be a scary process, especially for those people who lack adequate insurance. But local residents who have put off medical care for fear of another bill they can’t afford will not be turned away at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. “We are looking at the whole person” and that includes offering services on a sliding fee scale so they are affordable to all, said Diane Krill, director of the center located inside the Wood County Health District at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. “No one is turned away for services,” Krill said. The health and wellness center provides primary care for all ages, with Dr. Steve Dood as chief medical officer and Katie Barricklow as family nurse practitioner. “It’s care for infants through everyone,” Krill said. The center offers STD testing, women’s health care, senior health care, behavior health services and social work services. An in-house pharmacy allows patients to get their prescriptions filled on site. “They can get all of their needs met,” Krill said. The center is a lifesaver for many patients who have put off dealing with health issues, said Rhonda Stoner, social worker at the site. “They’ve let their health go for so long, by the time they come to us there are a lot of health needs,” Stoner said of some patients. “We see the smiles on their faces now. Before they thought there was no hope,” she said. “We see the healing in that old wound.” The center focuses on treating the entire person, Krill explained. So in addition to tending to physical needs, the center also has a behavior health specialist to help with mental health needs such as anxiety, depression and everyday life struggles. “Evidence shows that physical and mental needs are really integrated,” Krill said. “We do feel behavioral medicine is important.” The services are “patient-centered,” and based on community health assessments of local needs. With its expanded services, the health and wellness center has seen an increase in patients. Last year, the center saw more than 1,000 patients, and so far this year 344 new patients have come in for care. “We’re always accepting new patients,” Krill said. And anyone is welcome – people with high co-pays, people with bad coverage, low income or high income, people from Wood County or from elsewhere. The goal is to reach people who aren’t being helped elsewhere. “I think we are,” Krill said. The next goal is to offer dental care. With the help of grant funding, the health center plans to expand and add five dental chairs, possibly by the end of next year. “Dental care has always come up as a need here,” Krill said. More than 60 percent of the current health center patients have not seen a dentist in the past six months, she added. “It just makes sense for us to add this service.” Unlike most medical services, the health and wellness center has its own social worker who helps patients navigate health care coverage. “We help individuals sign up for the marketplace,” Krill said. “That seems to be scary for people.” As a federally qualified health center, patients can be presumed eligible on the spot, “Which gives them temporary Medicaid,” Stoner explained. Then Stoner can help patients apply for full Medicaid, put them on a sliding fee scale, or set up payment plans if they need care from specialists. As a social worker, Stoner also encourages patients to do follow up care and any necessary testing either at the…

Northwest Ohio gets its close up in NowOH art exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A portrait of Northwest Ohio is now on display in the galleries in the Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Center. Friday the 9th Northwest Ohio Community Art Exhibition exhibit opened featuring work by 56 area artists. Entry into NowOH is open to all artists who live in 12 Northwest Ohio counties. “Everything that got sent in got included in the show,” said the Detroit artist Sarah Rose Sharp, who served as the exhibit juror.  “Something that’s really beautiful about that is it paints kind of a collective picture of a community which is great to see.” Art, she said, is “subjective” and when so many works are brought together “you can get kind of an aggregate of a community’s experience.” Roxanne Shea’s “Ariel View,” which Sharp selected for Best of Show honors, reflected that vision. Sharp praised the work for its blend of an archaic printing technique with references to geo mapping. Shea’s portrayals of the trailer park where her grandfather lived are rooted in the Rust Belt experience. Shea, who received her Master of Fine Arts in 2-D Studies this spring from BGSU, said her grandfather died right before she started these prints. Shea, who grew up in a low-income family in Grand Rapids, Michigan said: “I was trying to understand where I came from, where I’m at now and how I feel a little distance from my family because I’ve gone through college.” The winning work is an overview of the park, while another print shows a few trailers. She used the collagraph technique that involves employing found materials. In her case that was wood and 24-inch masking tape. She build up the surface and then cut away material to create the images. “Growing up I didn’t have much, so I had to use what I had around me,” Shea said. “The collagraph process involves grabbing what you can and applying it to the plate. Finding the materials is a big part of the process for me, bringing it back and showing its beauty.” Using salvaged materials, Sharp said, is becoming a common practice among Rust Belt artists. “Finding use for discarded objects… has become a metaphor for redemption.” At Friday’s awards reception, Sharp took viewers through the collection and commented on those pieces she chose as award winners. George Clemans’ ceramic piece “When Irish Wedding Bells Chime” was given the first place in three-dimensional work. Sharp said it reminded her of the way objects can serve as “place holders” for experience. The objects crafted by Clemans serve as a representation of the place God fits into the Irish tradition. Aaron Pickens’ small painting “Existential Planking” was given the first place award for two-dimensional work. “It’s really funny,” Sharp said of the miniature painting. In that small frame, Pickens makes reference to the history of art, toys and the contemporary fad of planking. “It’s a nice piece that wove together so many different elements, and some mad painting skills,” she said. “Well played, Aaron.” Clara Gabriela Delgado’s black-and-white photograph “Lucky” won the Bowling Green Noon Kiwanis Youth Award. Delgado, who just completed her first year as a BGSU art student, took the photograph in a Bowling Green neighborhood. It shows a dog in a ramshackled enclosure with a sign saying “Lucky” in the background. Maybe this wasn’t the luckiest dog, Sharp speculated. She said Delgado’s work was “really clever and really sophisticated.” “As an artist you have an ability to observe your situation then have a perspective on it,” she said. Delgado said her interest in photography began as a student at Start High…

Water study searches for non-Toledo options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The suspect quality and high price of Toledo water has prompted Wood County to search for other sources of water for its customers now dependent on Toledo. A study paid for by the economic development commission identified three alternate sources of water for Wood County users. The three primary scenarios identified in the study, which was released Friday, were: City of Bowling Green’s water system with expanded reservoir space. Maumee River regional water plant with an intake and reservoir. Maumee River/Lake Erie Bayshore water intake, with a regional water plant and reservoir. Wood County customers have long questioned the price of Toledo water, but also began to doubt the quality after the water crisis in the summer of 2014, when people were warned to not drink water from Toledo due to the algal blooms. So a study was conducted to look at other options. “The Wood County Economic Development Commission believes the national attention on the water crisis brought into question the potential impacts on future economic development attraction and retention effects for Wood County,” a release on the study results stated. The cost of Toledo’s water to users outside the city limits also prompted the study. “There’s a big upcharge for the suburbs,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director for the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “We asked, are there other alternatives that are economically feasible?” “The answer is – yes,” Gottschalk said. The options would relieve Wood County customers’ dependency on Toledo water, said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. The contract between many Wood County users and Toledo for water expires in 2024. So this study gives time for action to be taken to create other sources. “A water plant might take five or six years to get up and running,” Gottschalk said. “Ideally, we’d like to see some sort of regional water agreement.” The current Wood County usage from Toledo is approximately 5.5 – 6.8 million gallons per day with projected maximum usage to increase to 12.3 – 14.25 million gallons per day. To meet these demands, a 10 to 20 million gallons per day water treatment facility is required. The Wood County study considers the capital costs, operational costs and probable rates for the three options identified. The first scenario has Bowling Green’s water plant supplying all of the northern end of the county. The plant would have to add reservoir space, Greiner said. The second possibility has Bowling Green adding a second water intake and expanding its plant. And the third scenario looks at the possibility of a regional effort drawing water out from the Lake Erie Bayshore area, and building a treatment plant. No reservoir would be needed. The results of this study are being discussed and no final recommendation has been developed. But the study is a starting point, Greiner said. “Now we have some facts to work with,” he said. The results of the Wood County study will be presented Monday afternoon to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.      

BG School District considers building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green school officials are facing four major decisions – and none of them are easy. Does the district want to fund building projects locally or use some state funding? Should the district consolidate the elementary schools or stick with neighborhood buildings? Should the district renovate, construct new or do nothing with its buildings? And lastly, how can they get the word out to more people in order to get more educated input. “We want to know what our taxpayers are thinking,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said during another public meeting Thursday about building options. The options are many, but none will move quickly. The earliest the district will put a levy on the ballot is May of 2017. “I like May elections,” Scruci said. “I’ll tell you why. People tend to be a little more positive.” And the earliest a new school might be constructed would be three years after getting the approval from the school board. The most expensive option calls for the consolidation of the three elementaries into one central building, and major renovations to the high school. That option has a price tag of $54 million. It’s unsure how much millage that would require, but if that is the option selected, the district would not piecemeal it over different elections. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it,” Scruci said. A less expensive option calls for a new Conneaut Elementary, and renovations to Kenwood, Crim and the high school – estimated to cost $44 million. But that brings up the question, “how much good money do we put into old buildings,” Scruci asked. Doing nothing is not a very realistic option since the school buildings are bursting at the seams, with modular classrooms being added to Conneaut this year and likely at Kenwood next year. “We are at capacity,” Scruci said. “Our class sizes aren’t getting smaller.” Projections call for enrollment to grow by 100 to 150 students in the next decade. Earlier this year, the district received the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission survey which looked at 24 systems – such as heating, electrical or lighting – at each of the five school buildings and attached renovation and replacement dollars to them. The survey found Conneaut Elementary to have the greatest needs, followed by Kenwood Elementary, the High School, Crim Elementary and then the Middle School. If the cost to renovate a school exceeds 66 percent of the cost to build a new school, then the commission considers it wise to build new. Conneaut is the only school to exceed that two-thirds threshold, though Kenwood and the high school are close. Though some school districts in the area have received significant financial help for constructing new buildings from the OFCC program, Bowling Green would not, Scruci said. The district’s acreage and college population makes it look wealthier than it actually is, Scruci said. The 118-square-mile district is mostly farmland which saw an increase in valuation, plus the district’s population includes “phantom” numbers of transient college students. Those two factors mean Bowling Green would get just 11 to 14 cents for every $1 spent on new construction. Working with state money comes with state strings, Scruci said. “Do we give up local control for 11 cents on every dollar?” An emphasis would be on making the buildings energy efficient, and cooling the high school, which does not have air conditioning. “We know our buildings are hot. We know our kids melt,” Scruci said. “I invite any Bowling Green resident to come to our school the second day of the…

Solar project faces more questions from county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners threw some shade on Bowling Green’s plans Thursday to build a solar array to help power the city and other communities. Work was to begin on the largest solar field in Ohio in a couple days. But that is unlikely now since the county has not yet approved the 30-year tax abatement requested for the $43 million project. The commissioners continued to question the rushed timeline of the project, which would build a 20 MW solar array on city acreage northeast of the city. “How necessary is this aggressive timeline?” Commissioner Joel Kuhlman asked. “Critical,” responded Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. “There can be no delay.” If the county does not approve the tax exemption, the solar project will be unaffordable for NextEra Energy and AMP, which are working on the project, according to O’Connell. “It is likely that this project will be canceled due to the increased costs,” he said. “This project is bigger than just a Bowling Green site,” O’Connell said. There are 26 proposed sites in AMP member communities across five states. Six of those sites, including Bowling Green’s, are planned to be completed by the end of 2016. “It is difficult to make solar generation projects cost effective without utilizing all of the tax advantages available,” O’Connell said. So the state is allowing projects like this to be exempt from property taxes as long as they meet criteria. If the city were to own the solar power generating system, it would not pay property taxes, it was noted. But Kuhlman pointed out that the tax breaks will be benefiting a private company – not the city in this case. “This is a private entity that is going to be operating the solar field,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking these questions.” “We are talking about a private entity that is asking for a substantial tax break, that is trying to make money,” Kuhlman said. The city could have constructed its own solar field, but it would not have been nearly as large nor would it have provided as much energy savings, explained Megan Newlove, president of the city’s Board of Public Utilities. 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. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from now to Dec. 31. And 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – but there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards pointed out that the project would benefit people well beyond the city, with 30 percent of Wood County’s population served by the utilities. He also noted that the building of Ohio’s largest solar field will reinforce the city’s reputation for green energy started years ago with the wind turbines west of the city. “Clearly Bowling Green’s continuing pattern of growing sustainability will greatly benefit all of BG’s utility customers including its rapidly growing industrial base where more than 1,500 jobs were added over the past four years,” Edwards said. The mayor said he understood the county’s hesitation. “I don’t fault you at all. I commend you for asking these questions.” However, the city officials stressed that without a tax deal, there may…

Abby Paskvan booked to sing anthem at GOP convention

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The National Anthem is Abby Paskvan’s favorite song. The 20-year-old singer has been performing “The Star Spangled Banner” since she was 8, when she opened a Bowling Green State University basketball game. On Wednesday, July 20, she’ll have the chance to perform it on her biggest stage yet, the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (She is scheduled to sing at 7:45 p.m.) And she’s thrilled. “I’m super excited,” the Bowling Green resident said. She was already considering going to the convention as an observer. She has several friends involved in organizing events in conjunction with the convention, so she was hoping a get tickets. Paskvan said she’s interested in politics and with a national convention nearby “it would be awesome to see it up close.” To be able to sing there is “a once in a lifetime experience.” She expects to take the stage at about 7:45 p.m. She will sing without accompaniment. She assumes she was approached by convention officials because someone heard one of her previous performances, such as her recent appearance at a Cincinnati Reds game. She has sung the anthem at numerous sporting events, including the National Tractor Pulling Championships. “It’s my favorite song to sing,” Paskvan said. “It takes a lot of power.”  That’s a quality she’s had since she first appeared in public as a little girl with an astonishingly large voice. The singer was confident enough that when organizers asked if she wanted rehearsal, she at first deferred. They convinced her to take a trial run in Quicken Loans Arena. Her approach to singing the anthem is to stick to its roots. Sing the melody with no embellishment and “not over sing… not adding your own twist that it’s not supposed to have.” Paskvan is a junior studying marketing at BGSU. More and more, she said, she is considering making music a career.  Her business training, she said, will help her manage that career. She has studied voice for about six years with Tina Bunce. “I would definitely not be where I am without her,” she said. She hopes to fit in a lesson before her convention appearance. The young singer already has a thriving career as a gospel singer. She is a regular at Christmas in the Smokies in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and has also performed at Dollywood, Gatlinburg Gathering, and on a Carnival Cruise to Alaska. Paskvan, the daughter of Brian Paskvan and Rebecca Martin-Paskvan, has five recordings to her name, with a sixth on the way. Those recordings have had steady airplay on Christian radio and have earned her a number of honors.

BGSU is a step ahead in new state policing initiative

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University Police Department has become the first in Wood County, and one of the first in the area, to be certified for meeting new standards promulgated by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. The department which had gotten provisional certification received its full certification after a recent site visit by the chief of the Coldwater police. BGSU Police Chief Monica Moll said the new initiative was established to set best practices in police interactions with citizens. The program, she said, is voluntary. All those who receive certification will be listed by the state. Most departments will want to make that list, Moll said. Each year two standards will be added that departments have to meet. This year the standards address equal opportunity in recruitment and hiring and policies on the use of force. Moll said that her force had a leg up since it had just completed its Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies paperwork, which she described as “the gold standard” for law enforcement accreditation. The Bowling Green City Police Department also has CALEA accreditation, she said. The CALEA standards align with the best practices advocated by the Ohio Collaborative. BGSU officers have to report any time they use force even if it’s only applying a wristlock. Every one of those reports, Moll said, is reviewed. The department also conducts an annual review of its use of force. BGSU officers seldom use force, and it’s a low level of force, maybe tackling someone who is attempting to flee. “We do a lot of training on de-escalation,” she said. Officers must also report whenever they draw their weapons. Officers working the midnight shift are more likely to use force, Moll said. The standards also cover more severe uses of force, including using deadly force. That policy is guided by Constitutional guarantees and Supreme Court rulings. Officers can only use deadly force if their lives or the lives of others are threatened. In addition, the BGSU department has policies pertaining to mental health calls. Officers receive 40 hours of training a year on alternatives to the use of force or arrest when dealing with a person suffering a mental health crisis. The hiring standards require that the department spell out its procedures and standards ahead of time, so they are not change during the hiring process and that all communication to applicants is the same. Departments have until March, 2017 to be certified in the first round. Standards on the use of body cameras and on fostering positive community relations will be the focus for the next year. “The idea is to roll out a couple new standards each year,” Moll said.  

Toledo Museum exhibit dissects the emotional manipulation of political ads

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News As someone who began his political education at the family dinner table, walking through the Toledo Museum of Art’s exhibit “I Approve This Message: Decoding Political Ads” is like strolling through a chapter of my autobiography. Politics made an early entry into my consciousness, and even the few election cycles beyond my actual memory – pretty much the Eisenhower campaigns – had a certain resonance. The elegantly dressed housewives with their crisp East Coast collegiate accents could have been sisters of June Cleaver, the mom on “Leave It To Beaver.” That Lena Dunham, the creator of “Girls,” pops on the screen right after in an ad built on a double entendre about losing her virginity and voting for the first time only highlights how much has changed. In a way. Listening to the issues – guns, poverty, crime, unemployment – that run through the discourse, a viewer would be right to despair about whether we’ve made any progress at all. But for exhibit creator Harriet Levin Balkind, the issues aren’t what matters when it comes to convincing voters how to cast their ballots. It’s all about emotion. Television advertisements are carefully crafted works of art intended to evoke those emotions. The same tools used by artists, are used by political hucksters. That’s why, TMA Director Brian Kennedy said, the exhibit belongs in the museum. “We’re a museum that’s has always been predicated on art education. We’ve been about educating people to see through works of art, and political ads are works of art of a kind. It’s really important we understand them.” With the Republican Party set to hold its convention in Ohio, and another presidential election underway the timing of the exhibit couldn’t be better. “I Approve This Message” is the brainchild of Balkind, the founder of Honest Ads. An expert in brand marketing, she started her research into what drives people to vote in 2014 after her agency was sold. What she found was people often vote for candidates who lie to them. This was behavior they would not accept from their spouses, kids, friends or co-workers. This was behavior that is illegal in advertising for consumer goods but is perfectly legal in political ads because of the First Amendment. As she read about cognitive psychology, neuroscience and political science, she came to the conclusion that people don’t vote based on the issues, but on emotions.  As they start to focus on the campaign and who to vote for late in the process, that’s when the attack ads really start to proliferate. Even when presented with facts, our opinions are unshakeable, not just among those who are less educated, but also and even more so among the most educated, Balkind said. As she synthesized these ideas, she thought of ways she could reach out to voters. She sought out avenues outside the usual political channels, libraries, schools, museums, where people really live. Balkind discussed this with Adam Levine, an assistant director at the Toledo Museum and an expert in visual literacy, and together they brought “I Approve This Message” to fruition. The exhibit breaks down ads, looking at them through the lens of anger, fear, hope and pride —each emotion getting its own theater within the Canaday Gallery. In bold graphics, the exhibit dissects classic ads including the “Daisy” ad that was created by Lyndon Johnson’s campaign to attack Barry Goldwater and the “Willie Horton” ad used by George H.W. Bush to attack Michael Dukakis. These and other ads play on screens throughout the exhibit. The earliest is from 1952, a spot…

Charters Gavarone to fill Statehouse seat, vacate BG Council seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Theresa Charters Gavarone has been selected by a Statehouse screening panel to take the state representative seat vacated by the resignation of Tim Brown. That means the statehouse will gain a member and Bowling Green City Council will lose a member. Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, announced this evening that the screening panel for the 3rd House District seat unanimously recommended Charters Gavarone for the appointment. She will fill out the remainder of Brown’s term through the end of this year. Other Wood County Republicans who were screened for the seat were Haraz Ghanbari, of Perrysburg, and Ed Schimmel, of Northwood. “I believe Theresa Charters Gavarone is an incredibly solid choice to represent the citizens of Wood County in the Ohio House of Representatives,” said Brown, who is leaving the Statehouse for the top job at the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. “As a member of city council, she has already established herself as someone capable of working in a bipartisan manner for the benefit of Wood County’s citizens.  Her experience as a small business owner, an attorney, and an elected official will enable her to represent the people of Wood County extremely well.” The screening panel decision is the first step toward filling the seat. The Ohio House Republican Caucus will vote on the screening panel’s recommendation and swear in the new member on Aug. 2. The Wood County Republican Party’s Central Committee is meeting this Thursday evening in Bowling Green to pick the name to appear on the November ballot in place of Brown’s. Bob Mack, head of the Central Committee, expects that person to be Charters Gavarone. “That would make the most sense,” he said Wednesday evening. In cases like this, the other candidates not selected often “show solidarity” and back out of the race, Mack said. Brown agreed. “I would expect that the committee will replace my name with hers.” And that means Charters Gavarone would have to give up her seat on city council once she is appointed on Aug. 2. According to City Solicitor Mike Marsh, Bowling Green City Council will have 30 days to appoint a replacement. If they fail to do so, the mayor will appoint a new member representing the Fourth Ward. The replacement does not need to be a Republican, Marsh said. “I would guess it wouldn’t be,” he added, considering the current makeup of city council. With Charters Gavarone’s appointment to the Statehouse, council will be left with one Republican member, Bob McOmber. After being selected by the screening panel Wednesday, Charters Gavarone said she is looking forward to the challenge. “I’m very thankful,” she said, adding that she is ready to begin campaigning. “I’m feeling really excited. I really can’t wait.” The appointment of Charters Gavarone will make her the second woman to serve Wood County as a state representative. The first was Myrna Hanna, an ancestor of the Hanna brothers who practice law in Bowling Green. She served as representative from 1929 to 1932. Charters Gavarone said she is interested in mental health issues, drug addiction, education and economic development. As an attorney for 22 years, Charters Gavarone said she has first hand experience with the justice system. “The impact of mental illness and drug addiction on both adults and children is devastating on both a personal and community basis. Although a lot is happening to improve services, there is more work to do to make services available to those in need.” As co-owner with her husband of the Mr. Spots restaurant in downtown…

Park district’s historic farm looking to grow

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Deer and raccoons have long been residents of the Wood County Park District. But chickens and goats? “Welcome to the farm,” Tim Gaddie, historic farm specialist with the park district, said to the park district board members Tuesday as they held their monthly meeting at Carter Historic Farm. The farm, located on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, is unlike any other park site in the district. The site is intended to take visitors back to the 1930s, when area farms were on the verge of big changes. “It was a big transition from hand powered and animal powered farming to machine-based,” Gaddie said. The historic farm programs focus on skills that families of the era relied on for survival – food preservation, vegetable and herb gardening, rug making and woodworking. Family campfire programs are also offered. This week, a group of kids aged 7 and 8 are attending farm camp there. Next week, 9- and 10-year-old kids will be learning at the farm. But Gaddie would like to do more to make Carter Historic Farm a working farm. Last year, chickens were added to the farm, with many of the eggs being used for programming. Soon, he would like to add some goats, then gradually work his way up to sheep, dairy cows, a draft horse and mules. Gaddie can picture a time when the sheep on the farm will be sheared to create yarn that will then be used for weaving. To accomplish these goals, Gaddie is trying to grow farm volunteers. “We’re working on building the volunteer base to do that,” he said. The farm currently benefits from help from inmates of the Northwest Community Correction Center, and may soon be offering a place for juvenile offenders to volunteer. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without volunteers,” Gaddie said. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger complimented the progress at the farm site. “I can’t say enough for the work Tim has done,” Munger said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board approved the last of the pay increases that will bring park district employees up to the minimum level as determined by an outside compensation consultant. The raises range from 16 cents to $1.47 per hour. “This takes everyone up to the minimum for their positions,” Munger explained. The board also approved the park district’s 2017 statutory budget. The budget, with estimated resources of $7.14 million, set aside $1 million for capital improvements to parks and $715,000 for land acquisition. Board member John Calderonello noted the amount set aside for land acquisition, and questioned if there is a limit to how much land the park district resources can adequately maintain. Munger said before property is purchased or accepted through donations, the district evaluates the maintenance costs. “Everything has a cost,” he said. The $715,000 is the same amount the district budgeted last year for land acquisition, and most of it was carried over to this year. But Munger said the park district wants to be prepared to purchase property when available. “It might be a one-time opportunity to preserve these areas,” he said. Also at the meeting, the board approved spending $3,400 to purchase a large tent to replace a structure at Buttonwood Park located on the Maumee River in Perrysburg Township. “It was completely destroyed in the ice floes last year,” Munger said of the previous structure. The tent would be used each year at the Pow Wow event held at Buttonwood, but it could also be moved to other events when needed. Board…