Flu season packs a punch with a feverish pitch

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This season’s flu strain is packing a punch and is showing no sign of giving up anytime soon. Though no “outbreaks” have been reported yet in Wood County, the flu has many local residents coughing, with fevers and headaches. On top of that, the H3N2 strain that is hitting throughout the U.S. also brings with it vomiting and diarrhea. “It’s a bad flu season, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. Part of the reason is that the H2N3 strain blanketing the country is resistant to the immunizations that many Americans got to ward off the flu. “The vaccine is a little less effective against that strain,” Aspacher said. Doctors’ offices and hospitals are required to report flu cases to the health district. As of last week, 38 Wood County residents had been hospitalized due to the flu. Public health officials realize there are many more local residents suffering from the flu who tough it out and do not seek medical care. No deaths have been reported in Wood County, though Lucas County has seen one child and three adults die from the flu this season. Those…


Volunteers stepping up to serve on MLK holiday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Martin Luther King Jr, Day is a holiday for people to step up and serve their community. Though the city’s King tribute scheduled Friday had to be canceled because of the winter storm, volunteers were out Saturday morning going door to door for the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service “Can” vass Food Drive. Now coordinated by the Brown Bag Food Project, the drive helps stock the shelves for a number of area food pantries. (See related story  http://bgindependentmedia.org/volunteers-needed-to-help-mlk-day-of-service-food-drive-extend-its-reach/) Amy Jeffers, a Brown Bag board member, said as of the noon shift, 75 people had signed in. Groups of volunteers headed out into the northwest quadrant of the city to collect food stuffs. “We’ll move on from there,” Jeffers said. The table in the middle of Grounds for Thought, headquarters for the food drive, was filling up with spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and more. “It’s been nice and steady,” she said. “It’s really starting to grow. … They’re really filling the bags.” The drive will extend throughout the city through Sunday. The cold weather is slowing progress some, but Jeffers said the amount collected is the same or more than last…


Finding the recipe to cure food inspection issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though the Wood County Health District has the power to shut down restaurants, the preferred outcome is that food establishments clean up their acts instead. When health sanitarians come across restaurants with serious issues, many of the violations are corrected on the spot. To make sure the problems have been solved, repeat inspections are often conducted. “It’s based on the severity of the violations,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. Inspectors are sticklers for food temperatures and other issues that can lead to public health risks. The sanitarians’ biggest tool is education. But if that doesn’t clear up the problems, then restaurant owners can be called in for administrative hearings at the health district office. If the violations are serious enough, an injunction or restraining order can be issued. “Ben has the right to order immediate closure,” Glore said of Ben Batey, the county health commissioner. “Our expectation is the food license holders are responsible for knowing the rules,” Glore said. “We hold that license owner responsible for training people.” But before any license is yanked, the sanitarians will make multiple attempts to educate the…


Kids’ Tech infects students with a love of science

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maybe it takes something creepy like a parasite that controls its host to hook children on science. That’s what Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, of Rice University, hopes when she presents “When Sci-Fi Comes to Life: Parasites that Control Host Behavior” at Kids’ Tech University @BGSU. The program for children, 9-12, will be presented at Bowling Green State University in four Saturday sessions, starting Feb. 3 and continuing through March 24, when Weinersmith will present. This is a way, she said, to show “students there’s all kinds of crazy stuff in nature, mind blowing stuff, and you can spend a lifetime asking interesting questions and let them know how much fun it is to be a scientist.” Kids’ Tech is open to 150 students. The cost is $90. For more information visit http://kidstechuniversity-bgsu.vbi.vt.edu/ “We want the children to feel that the study of science is something that they should consider, and that they can be comfortable in a university environment,” said Dr. Paul Morris, who adopted the program from one developed at Virginia Tech. The daylong sessions begin with presentations by the guest scientists in the morning. In the afternoon, the students assisted by BGSU graduate…


BG community groups are awarded annual grants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the help of local grants, middle school girls will get a chance to dissect sharks, a team of hockey players will no longer look like misfits on the ice, and volunteers with Habitat won’t have to worry about falling off roofs. More than $43,000 was awarded Wednesday by the Bowling Green Community Foundation. “Man, that was a lot,” Kristin Otley, a member of the foundation board, said after all the grants were handed out. “We support such wonderful, diverse programs,” Otley said. The local grants are also assisted by the Toledo Community Foundation. “We read your proposals and they were just amazing,” she told the grant recipients. The BG Community Foundation holds a golf outing at Stone Ridge in the summer to raise funds for the annual grants. Following is a list of the programs granted funding for this year: BG American Association of University Women was given $1,020 to fund Tech Trek 2018. The one-week residential science, technology, engineering and math program for eighth grade girls from Bowling Green Middle School allows the girls to spend the week at BGSU. John Roberts Zibbel described how the students get to learn…


Jeff Fearnside delivers short stories worth the wait

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jeff Fearnside has his new year’s goal set out for himself – finish his novel. And he’s hoping that novel, when finished, won’t take as long to see print as his first book of fiction, “Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air.” The Bowling Green native who now lives in Corvallis, Oregon, completed that manuscript in 2005. The stories had already won awards including the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award. The collection was a finalist for the New River Press MVP award. Publishing, he thought, at the time “was just around the corner.” But what was right around the corner was frustration. “Then it didn’t go to the next level,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “I lost faith and stopped sending it out. Something I now really regret. That put me behind.” He advises other writers not repeat to that mistake. “Keep the faith.” When he decided to start submitting the manuscript again, it wasn’t long before he struck a deal with Stephen Austin State University Press. The book was published in 2016. “It all worked out in the end,” he said. “Making Love” brings together 13 short stories,…


Park district to maintain solar sanctuary for birds, bees and butterflies

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District has agreed to play a role in a local sanctuary for butterflies, bees and birds. The park board voted unanimously Tuesday to maintain the 13.4-acre “solar sanctuary” planned around the solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. The project fits nicely into the mission of the park district, according to Neil Munger, executive director of the district. In exchange for maintaining the site, the park district can use the wildflower sanctuary as an educational tool. “It’s been an ongoing issue around the country – the loss of pollinator habitat,” Munger said. The city of Bowling Green is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the new 165-acre solar field. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed…


BG school board to discuss going back on ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education will hold a workshop next week to discuss the direction the district should take as it prepares to go back on the ballot. The meeting will be held Monday at 7 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street, and will be open to the public. The board faces a Feb. 7 deadline if it decides to try again to pass a levy for school buildings. “We have not made a decision,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Tuesday evening after the school board’s organizational meeting for 2018. Voters rejected the district’s request last November for a 6-mill bond issue for a new consolidated elementary building and improvements to the high school. Last year, school officials said if the levy failed, the district would return in 2018 with the same request. The need will still exist, they stressed. That will be part of the discussion on Monday. The only new school board member, Norm Geer, said he supported the levy last fall. “I voted for it,” he said. As part of his orientation for the board, Geer has toured all the district buildings – which reinforced his support…


Optimal Aging Institute launching initiative to tackle opioid problems among older population

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in retirement, Nancy Orel stuck by some of a gerontologist’s favorite reading – obituaries and the coroner’s report. In the listing from the coroner’s office, she noticed something interesting. Of the six people listed as dying from opioid overdoses, three, were over 50. Yet when she went to see what programs were available to help address the toll the opioid epidemic is taking on older Americans, she couldn’t find any. She mention it to those engaged in the battle against opioid addiction, and they would not have given older Americans any thought. True the greatest number of addicts are under 50, but the rates of addiction and abuse are raising faster among those 54 and older. The federal Center for Disease Control doesn’t even keep tabs on how many older Americans die from opioids, she said. (The Wood County Health District does a better job, she said.) So when interim Dean Sue Houston, of Bowling Green State University, called Orel in to see if she maybe wanted to come out of retirement, she said “yes.” She’d retired as associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services less than a year before….


BG man linked to crimes by stolen panties and DNA on pizza crust

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hundreds of bras and panties, DNA from a pizza crust and intricate handwritten notes have allegedly helped link a Bowling Green man to at least seven burglaries committed in the city over the last five years. Bradley Feasel, 33, of 236 S. Grove St., was indicted last week on 11 counts of burglary and one count of breaking and entering. Police believe there will likely be more charges as they continue to go through the evidence found at Feasel’s home. “It’s pretty alarming,” said Bowling Green Police Major Justin White. Police reportedly found a folder of handwritten notes at Feasel’s home, listing dates with names of females. Under the names were notes indicating the items that were taken and the method of entry into the residences. In one note under “Manville House,” it reportedly reads “all rooms masturbated.” At a home on Byall Avenue, a bullet point mentioned “red panties.” In some cases, women were sleeping at the homes when Feasel allegedly entered. On a few incidents when Feasel was seen by the residents, he was barefooted. Many of the victims reported to police that they believed their homes had been entered…


Winter break doesn’t chill BGSU’s building plans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A “whirlwind” doesn’t take a break. “If you like it where there’s a lot going on, a lot of action, it’s a great place to work,” said Bruce Meyer, the interim director of capital planning and campus operations. “It’s just a whirlwind.” Meyer stepped into his new role, after the death this fall of Steve Krakoff. Meyer had been assistant vice president for campus operations. That puts him at the center of implementing Bowling Green State University’s master plan. While most of campus may have been dormant and in a deep freeze over the holidays, work on the master plan continued apace. Crews tore up Lot A, just east of Hanna and University halls. The work is the first step in transforming Hanna Hall into the new home for the College of Business. Meyer said that crews relocated water and gas lines as well as some fiber optics cables. By the first day of classes, though, the lot was open again, shy a few spaces. “I was a little concerned about the weather,” he said. The cold was more problematic than the snow. “Hats off for the team who worked on Lot A. They…


Girl Scouts prepare their pitches for annual cookie sales

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eighty gung-ho Girl Scouts got a crash course in cookie sales on Saturday in Bowling Green. It’s not like the cookies need much of a sales pitch. Customers already find the young salespeople and their products are irresistible. But the girls got some tips on making a solid spiel for Samoas and peddling the popular Thin Mints. The young salespeople, who gathered at First United Methodist Church, stoked the excitement over Girl Scout cookie sales season with chants and songs. (Yes, there are songs about the cookies.) If that wasn’t enough to inspire their sales, there was a “cookie tasting station.” Led by Jen Codding, the girls pledged to “make the world a better place.” …. And what better way than through cookies. The cookie kickoff was held so the older, more experienced Girl Scouts could coach the younger members on the skills of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. The young scouts spent time at several stations learning about the products they are selling, how to talk to potential customers, and how to make change once the sale is complete. The scouts in sixth grade and…


Divas dive into downtown scene to bring opera & art song to new listeners

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News An ensemble of young vocalists wants listeners to belly up to the bar and drink in the beauty of song. The Black Swamp Opera Ensemble will perform Cocktails & Cadenzas, a variety of operatic arias, art songs, and musical theater pieces, on Friday, January 12, at 9 p.m. at Two Foxes Gastropub. All six singers recently earned Masters of Music in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. Now on the cusp of careers, they are taking their art to the places they like to hang out, according to sopranos Kate Pomrenke and Kyle Schreiber. Pomrenke said she got the idea for the ensemble after performing at Toledo on Tap, an event celebrating beer brewing. “Why can’t we do something like that here? There are so many singers here that have graduated,” she said. “We’re all young singers looking for whatever opportunities we can to perform, and this is a good way bring our art to the community.” “We’re just a group of friends,” Schreiber said. “We graduated, and we’re all in the area.” Other members are Jarrod Davis, tenor, John Mink, baritone, Savanah Stricklin, soprano, and Brett Pond, baritone….


Not In Our Town digests concerns about area hunger

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town monthly meetings normally focus on standing up against hatred and discrimination. On Thursday, the members talked about standing up for those who are hungry. A recent survey showed that college campuses across the nation are seeing a great deal of “food insecurity.” “We should think of how we’re going to meet that need,” said Christy Lunceford, campus chair of the Not In Our Town Bowling Green organization. “I don’t think the initiatives are meeting the need right now.” While most of that hunger may be faced by students, faculty and staff members aren’t immune, Lunceford said. “We need to keep that on our radar,” she said. An open forum on hunger problems is being planned, she added. “If a student says, ‘I don’t have food for the weekend,’ what do we do,” Lunceford said. The problem reaches beyond college campuses, said Heather Sayler, a member of Not In Our Town. “Let’s be honest. That happens at our city schools.” Sometimes the barrier is not distance but attitudinal. Some BGSU students whose driver’s licenses don’t reflect their residency here in Bowling Green, are turned away for not having the…


BG high students breaking in ‘Newsies’ musical for school productions

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The young thespians and their adult mentors at Bowling Green High School are ready to set the pace for their peers across the country by piloting the Broadway musical, “Newsies.” Their mission, shared by about a half dozen other schools, is to stage the popular show. Director Jo Beth Gonzalez and the rest of the staff will then share their insights into what it takes to produce the musical with a high school cast. That could result in the production company, Musical Theater International, tweaking certain aspects that prove too difficult for young actors and crews. Their input will also be shared in production notes that will be included when other high schools rent the script. The Bowling Green High School theater is no stranger to this process. They did their first pilot production with “Mary Poppins” in 2014, followed by “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Those projects gave choreographer Bob Marzola an idea. He loved the musical “Newsies.” He became a fan of the original 1992 film starring Christian Bale when he saw it on television. Hat film was a flop at the time of its release, but became a cult classic when it…