All of BG invited to giant community block party

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Citizens of Bowling Green are invited to a giant block party on Saturday, April 22. Actually, it’s a party covering multiple blocks and the entire city is welcome to attend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The idea for “Court Street Connects” was born at a Community Action Plan meeting last year. The concept for a block party was top on the list for local residents wanting to bring about positive changes in city – especially the East Side. Court Street was identified as a great location since it is a natural corridor between Bowling Green State University and downtown. But the party is reaching far beyond that one street, said Heather Sayler, the city’s planning director who has been working on the Community Action Plan. “To improve neighborhoods, you’ve got to bring a lot of people together,” Sayler said. “It’s really exciting.” Those coming together to make the block party a big bash include the city, BGSU, Wood County, fire division, police division, parks and recreation department, bicycle safety commission, BG City Schools, Wood County Historical Society, local businesses, library, bookmobile, the Common Good, county solid waste agency, county park district, Wood County Hospital, East Side Neighborhood Group, Habitat for Humanity and more. “It’s all free,” Sayler said, including many children’s activities. Various types of entertainment will be provided from the Wood County Courthouse steps, including acoustic music, theater and poetry reading. There will also be “pop-up art” along the street. Q’dobe will have a food truck on site. The city will also be test driving  bike lanes, which will be…


Student-run benefit intends to keep the jazz coming to BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Jeff Bouck was looking around for places to get a master’s degree in jazz studies, Bowling Green State University stuck out in part because of the number of guest artists it featured. More than a chance to hear these master musicians, the program offered plenty of time with them to learn the craft first hand. At the end of his first year here, Bouck and fellow jazz graduate student Mitchell Borchardt have organized a benefit for the Student Jazz Association to help ensure that continues. The SJA is a BGSU campus organization which promotes jazz in the community, primarily by bringing in guest artists. Those have included recently vocalist Kim Nazarian, drummer Carl Allen, trombonist and composer Alan Ferber, pianist Jon Cowherd, and many others over the years. These artists provide lessons, master classes as well as rehearsing and performing with students. This means students get to experience playing music with the guidance of the composer. The benefit for the Student Jazz Association will be held Thursday, April 27, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Clazel in downtown Bowling Green. The event will feature a show by the BGSU Lab Band I giving the premier performance of pieces by Borchardt and Bouck as well as performing work by Duke Ellington, Sammy Nestico, and others. They along with Ian Palmer will conduct the band, BGSU’s premier jazz ensemble. In addition to the music there will be card games and raffle baskets. A $2 cover charge will be collected at the door. The student composers penned their charts specifically for this show. Bouck’s is a…


Park district takes aim at archery range and other projects

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District’s board approved eight projects last week to spruce up the parks – including one taking aim at the new archery range. The bids on all eight projects came in at or below the estimated costs. Among the projects approved was archery range construction costing $9,973, awarded to K&K Construction, of Weston. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said there is a lot of community interest in the “long-awaited” archery range located on Linwood Road behind the county historical center. The project approved Tuesday is a concrete slab floor for the shelter where archers will stand when they shoot at targets. The entire archery range project is estimated at $46,500. Besides the 76-foot concrete slab, the rest of the project will be done in-house by park district staff. The 10-lane range is expected to be done in July or the beginning of August. An Eagle Scout candidate is building targets to be placed in different length lanes. Following is a list of the other projects approved: Beaver Creek concrete work costing $9,355, awarded to K&K Construction. The work will replace part of the walkway and patio leading up to the retreat center, and put a concrete pad in for handicap parking next to the sidewalk. Bradner Preserve boardwalk lighting costing $7,425, awarded to Gross Electric. The LED lighting will be installed along the boardwalk between the parking lot and the nature center. The center is scheduled to be open to the public on May 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. North Baltimore parking lot at the south end…


BGSU art faculty honored for excellence by Ohio Arts Council

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two Bowling Green State University faculty members, Charles Kanwischer and Lou Krueger, were among the artists to receive Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council. For Kanwischer, who was honored for his graphite drawings on panel, said that it is remarkable that Ohio continues to honor individual artists. “It’s such a statement that individual artists are valued. It’s such a nice validation.” Having a state give support to individual artists is becoming rare. Many arts councils only give grants to organizations. Some states have abolished their state arts councils, he said. Kanwischer and Krueger were among 77 artists to receive funding from among the 465 who applied. The council distributed $375,000 in grants, almost all for $5,000. “You have to give credit to the politicians, Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “It’s hard to complain about support for the arts.” Kanwischer’s portfolio features his landscapes. The settings can be rural, suburban or urban. He said he was interested in the cyclical change in the landscape. Some of the drawings now on display at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art in Cleveland, depict road construction. One drawing from 2010 “Route 24 Road Project – Support Columns” shows at once construction while also evoking images of ancient ruins. Kanwischer said his work has not undergone any dramatic shifts. Instead he feels he is able to get deeper and deeper into “landscape that reveals stories.” He’s appreciative that the arts council supports “long-term careers” not just the new and novel. This is his seventh grant in the 19 years since he joined the BGSU faculty. In return for…


Voters want to see Latta and Trump’s tax returns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every Friday they show up with their signs – fueled by frustration and fear about the future of the nation. This week, constituents of Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District had two main questions for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta at his office in Bowling Green. But as usual, they had to settle for talking to the congressman’s staff. First question – why has Latta refused to meet with his constituents? “Where is Bob Latta. We really want to see him,” said Betsey Davis, of Indivisible Maumee River Progressives. And second, where are President Donald Trump’s tax returns, and why did Latta vote that the president shouldn’t have to make them public? “Where are his taxes? Let’s have some honesty,” Davis said. As some citizens stood out along North Main Street, others went into Latta’s office and voiced their concerns and questions to the congressman’s staff. Despite repeated requests, Latta has not responded to their efforts to meet with him. “We’ve invited him so many times,” said Kathy Bangle, of Fulton County Indivisible. “We want to talk to him. We want to hear what he has to say. We come every single Friday. His aides are wonderful. But it’s not the same as talking with him.” On Friday, the posters again revealed the thoughts of the constituents. “Latta is Lost,” “Wanted for Not Doing His Job,” “MIA.” They periodically broke out into chants of “Where is Bob?” “We need him to listen, and we need him to start protecting us,” Davis said. “It’s not good enough,” to talk with the congressman’s aides each week. “We’ve…


Young conductor brings Mahler masterwork to BGSU stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)” the composer Gustav Mahler tried to trick fate. Diagnosed with a health ailment, and emotionally reeling from the death of his eldest daughter, he didn’t want to write what would be his Ninth Symphony. For other composers the ninth symphony was their last. So he wrote “The Song of the Earth,” a six movement work of symphonic proportions, but didn’t call it a symphony, said Bowling Green State University musicologist Eftychia Papanikolaou. The piece also called for a large orchestra so was difficult to perform. But in the early 20th century a group of Viennese musicians including Arnold Schoenberg decided this work should be performed more often. So a reduction of the score for 14 musicians was created. Conductor Mercedes Diaz Garcia, a doctoral student at the College of Musical Arts, was drawn to the piece and decided that she wanted to present it to the Bowling Green community. So she recruited the musicians and the two vocal soloists. They’ve been rehearsing the difficult hour-long work for weeks and will present it Wednesday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on campus. The project is an act of love for all concerned. Diaz Garcia can’t pay anyone, and the project is not part of her doctoral studies. “‘The Song of the Earth’ is not about the physical earth but about the inner world, it’s about the depth of the human soul. So it’s very deep, it’s very exhausting,” the conductor said. For all its challenges she found musicians who are up to…


Drone gives city new view for infrastructure work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sounding like a distant swarm of mosquitoes, the city’s drone took a test flight down Pine Valley Drive on Thursday afternoon. The flight showed why Bowling Green intends to start using a drone to help with its infrastructure projects. The drone can provide up-to-date images for roadwork, water, sewer, or other utility projects. In the past, the city has relied on aerial photographs taken for the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The problem, though, is that the photos are taken every two years. “In between things change,” said Jason Heyman, the city’s Geographic Information System coordinator and unmanned aircraft system pilot. For example, the street being surveyed from the air on Thursday was still under construction when the aerial photos were taken. “This is a huge advantage to us,” Heyman said. Now, he will no longer have to answer the question, “Why aren’t these roads on your maps?” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said Google Earth satellite images show roads under construction long after they have been completed. “It’s night and day,” Fawcett said. The drone came at no cost to the city. Bowling Green Police Division seized three drones during a reshipping fraud investigation, according to Major Justin White. The fraud involved a Bowling Green resident having merchandise shipped to him using hacked credit card numbers, then reshipping the merchandise elsewhere. The scheme was like money laundering for merchandise, White said. The police and fire divisions kept one of the drones for each of their operations.  The police are still working on developing a policy and looking into FAA requirements. The fire…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first…


Bill Mathis ready to move arts at BGSU into a new era as music dean

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News William Mathis takes charge as dean of the College of Musical Arts at a crucial time for arts education. Focusing on the traditional paths of performance and music education will not be enough for higher education music programs. “It’s a different arts and musical landscape then when I was coming up,” said Mathis, 56. While making sure students continue to achieve “technical and musical mastery,” the college needs to broaden its offerings. “We talk a lot about musical entrepreneurship, and I’ve been thinking about citizenship in the arts, arts advocacy and the connection to communities, and how the arts can impact the life of society in our local community,” he said. “The skills that requires are not part of a traditional music curriculum. How can we give that to them? I’ve been thinking about this a lot this year.” Music programs, and arts programs in general, need to prepare their student for a new entrepreneurial environment. “Twenty years from now the schools of music adapting to this will be around,” Mathis said. The fate of those sticking to the more traditional approach is less certain. Mathis wants BGSU to in the forefront of those that survive. Mathis stepped into the role of interim dean last July after Jeff Showell announced his retirement. After a national search, he was named dean in February. Mathis said he felt his administrative background made him a prime internal candidate for the permanent position. He’s served as chair of the Department of Performance Studies and as the college’s graduate coordinator. “I have a disposition that lends itself to this…


BG may spend $478,000 to stop stink from sewage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not easy – or cheap – to make sewage smell like roses … or at least less like sewage. Bowling Green officials are considering spending about $478,000 to take away the foul odor that sometimes emanates from the city’s water pollution control facility on Dunbridge Road. The plant is the source of many complaints, primarily from Bowling Green State University and from nearby businesses. “It’s a sensitive issue for us,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. “We’ve had numerous complaints from businesses in the area.” The facility staff believes the two likely sources of the stench are the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it has had limited success. The septage station has no odor control. “The odors can be quite foul,” O’Connell said. “We’ve tried to get this problem licked in the past,” but the fixes always proved to be temporary. So that sent the city’s utility staff on a field trip last year to a wastewater plant in Pennsylvania, according to O’Connell. The plant installed a carbon filter system to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to the plant, O’Connell said. The permit for the plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter,” said Doug Clark, superintendent of the Bowling Green plant. “We want to be good neighbors,” O’Connell said. So on Monday, O’Connell asked…


Changing of the guard for courthouse security?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After 20 years of securing the Wood County Courthouse, there may be move for changing of the guards. Upon the retirement of Tom Chidester, chief constable at the courthouse complex, a debate began over whose job it actually is to protect the courts. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. A court security office was created and staffed, and now performs several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But now Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners, in a memo to the judges, sheriff and prosecutor, suggested that the current system be retained. “It is a cooperative plan that has served the courts, the courthouse complex, and the citizens of Wood County well,” the memo stated. “We are troubled by the premise that we are being asked to undo the work of many previous elected officials, and that the result of our decision, either way, will be disagreement, argument, and animosity where there has been little or none for over two decades,” the commissioners stated. The system was well thought out, has evolved over the years and works very well, the memo continued. Wasylyshn said his only motivation is to ensure that his office is meeting statutory requirements for court security. “The question I’ve had was what…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s…


‘All Politics is Local’ and some is pretty nasty right now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If you want to make your words count with politicians, forget the form letter. Face-to-face conversations are best. Personally written letters and phone calls also carry some weight. But email form letters are next to worthless – especially if you forget to put your name in the “insert your name here” slot – which oddly enough, many people do. “Personal contact is best, if you can,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said Saturday during the second in the three part series on “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” Gardner was joined in the “All Politics is Local” program by former State Rep. Tim Brown, Bowling Green City Council members Bob McOmber and Sandy Rowland, and Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner. The “Civics 101” project is the brainchild of local citizens who were moved by the last election to become more engaged in the workings of government. “I know people are cynical about politics,” Gardner told the crowd. But individuals can make a difference in government. And despite what many people think, it’s not about the money for many politicians, he said. “That’s not true for most,” Gardner said. It’s the chance meeting with a physician at a Kiwanis pancake breakfast about the need for children to carry their asthma inhalers at school, or an emotional plea from a mom about the need for children to have comprehensive eye exams. “Sometimes it’s just one person” who starts the ball rolling on new legislation, Gardner said. When he was just new as a county commissioner, Brown remembered…


St. John Passion in its element as Good Friday offering

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Liturgy and drama are one in Bach’s St. John Passion. The theatrical elements – a narrator, dialogue, and the evocative underscoring for small orchestra—are undeniable. Yet the message and the story almost demand the setting of a church. Yes, it is presented in a concert hall, but that’s akin to a staged reading of a play as opposed to a fully staged production. The St. John Passion was fully in its element on Palm Sunday afternoon in Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo. The Passion, one of two that have come down to us from Bach, the other being the monumental St. Matthew, was presented by musicians from Bowling Green State University. The performance brought together the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr, the University Choral Society directed by Mark Munson, who also conducted the work, organist Michael Gartz, and voice faculty taking on the principal roles and solos. Munson said he’s been waiting for Easter to fall late enough in the semester to be able to prepare the Passion for presentation during Holy Week. So on Good Friday, April 14, the St. John Passion will be presented at 7 p.m. in First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green as the community commemoration of the day. The Passion was first performed in 1724, revised over time, though the final version reverted to much the same as it was originally performed. As presented in Bach’s time, a sermon would be preached between parts one and two. Those in attendance Sunday were advised not to applaud between the two movements. Spohr read several verses of the…


Pipeline to reroute around protesting landowners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local landowners who dug in their heels against eminent domain have won the battle to keep a pipeline from crossing their properties. Kinder Morgan, the company building the Utopia pipeline, has filed a motion to give up its appeal of a court order that denied its right to use eminent domain. Instead, the pipeline company has decided to reroute the line. “We are continuing to refine the route to have the least impact from the landowners’ standpoint, from the environmental standpoint,” Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, said Monday. The exact route of the Utopia pipeline is still being determined, and Fore would not say if the pipeline route was avoiding Wood County all together. However, he did state the new route would steer clear of the Wood County landowners who would not budge in their opposition to the pipeline. The use of eminent domain is the “last resort” for Kinder Morgan, Fore said. In some cases, the company uses it as part of the negotiation process. “That’s not at all unusual,” he said. The pipeline company has 95 percent of the property in Ohio needed for the line through voluntary acquisition, according to Fore. “We’re confident we’re going to get to 100 percent. We’re pleased with where we are with our progress.” “We’ve been successful in finding alternative routes,” Fore said, adding that the new route will be announced “very soon.” Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represents 26 Wood County landowners, said it is unclear if the rerouting will just avoid the…