BGSU closes the book on reading center, for now

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Martha Gesling Weber Reading Center has packed up and is ready to move. The center closed after 72 years at the end of this semester. A shifting mission and budget deficit is forcing the College of Education and Human Development to reconsider the center’s role. For now the materials will go to the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor of Jerome Library while its future is pondered. The center has been offering one-on-one reading tutoring for a modest fee for school children. Now it will be up to parents, with some guidance for university personnel, to arrange tutoring with students. Dean Dawn Shinew, of the College of Education, said that modest fee, attractive to parents, was a large part of the problem. This year the center served about 30 children, she said. Previously it served as many as 60 children. It typically brings in $25,000 in fees. That falls short of the $200,000 it costs to operate the center. “That’s not a sustainable model,” Shinew said. One parent called to express concern about the closing and said that a similar service would cost $300 a month at Sylvan, Shinew reaction was: That’s probably what it costs to provide the service. Founded in 1946, the center is one of the oldest the country. It was named after one of its founders Martha Gesling Weber in 1997. “It’s a great center and has such a potential for outreach, but it’s tucked the fifth floor of the Education Building, and unless you’re a parent who uses it you wouldn’t know that it’s there,” Shinew said. The existing parking problems will get worse because of some spaces will be lost as Hanna Hall in expanded and renovated into the new Maurer Family Center, the new home for the College of Business. “At same time I’m looking at the mission of the reading center because what we were doing was not financially sustainable,” Shinew said. Originally, she…


Park farmland may be allowed to revert to wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Twenty acres of farmland north of Bowling Green may be allowed to return to its former state as part of the Great Black Swamp. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger is excited about the park acreage becoming a piece of history and a habitat for wetland wildlife. But the man who has farmed the acreage for four decades isn’t sold on the change. Tom Carpenter doesn’t need the 20 acres for his livelihood. But as a farmer, it just grates on him that well-drained land will be forced back to its wetland roots. And during an open house on the wetlands plan last week, Carpenter didn’t mince words. “Our goal is to keep it farmland,” he said. The 20 acres sit in the back property of the Carter Historic Farm. Other acreage on the farmstead will continue to be farmed. The wetlands project, as proposed by the Black Swamp Conservancy and designed by Hull and Associates, would render 20 acres of farmland unfarmable in the future. The wetlands would have several benefits, according to Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy. It would filter runoff before it goes into the nearby Toussaint Creek. It would provide habitat for wetlands habitat. And it would give the public a place to view swamp-like conditions that once covered this region. The drain tiles currently in the 20 acres would be blocked to allow the land to flood, explained Jordan Rofkar, of Hull and Associates. Dirt would be moved to create low areas for water and mounds for native trees and shrubs. “The intent is to create a mixture of habitats,” Rofkar said. The small open ponds should attract turtles and frogs, along with birds like herons, ducks and woodcocks, Coulter said. The wetlands should also benefit the water quality for one of the streams that flows into the Maumee River “area of concern,” designated by the U.S. and Ohio EPA, she said. “Wetlands are…


Massage therapist Audrey Leslie lends helping hands to people with a variety of needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Audrey Leslie was helping a friend when she found her mission. The friend had a sore back and asked Leslie for a massage. Leslie obliged. “You’re really good at this,” the friend said. “It wasn’t at until that moment that I realized I could do this for a living,” Leslie said. “That people would pay for me this.” That was in 2011. She was at an occupational stalemate. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but “I wanted a career where I could help people.” She attended what was then the Healing Arts Institute in Perrysburg (now the Orion Institute.) “I absolutely fell in love. I’ve been doing that for the last six years,” she said. Leslie, after working inside a salon, is venturing out on her own, opening a studio within Blush at 100 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green this week. She sees clients by appointment only. Call 419-806-9317. Leslie said it was time to hang out her own shingle and take advantage of tapping into the business acumen of veteran entrepreneur Lee Welling, owner of Blush. “My passion is helping people with pain and fatigue,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at. … Massage is the oldest form of medicine.” Some are recovering from injuries, some dealing with chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia. A mother of three, she’s also certified to do prenatal massage. “I always had a plan in future to have classes for mothers of newborns on how to massage their babies.” Aroma therapy and essentials oils, which she is also certified in, play a big part in her practice. Leslie does CBD massage using oil made from hemp – it’s 100 percent THC free, she notes. “It’s amazing for auto immune disorders, fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog,” she said. She can use it as part of a massage. She also has products she can sell. Leslie, 34, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from…


BG to push pedaling as way to navigate city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants residents to become more comfortable shedding their four-wheeled transportation for the two-wheeled type. But since bike lanes are so expensive, the city is focusing on changing the culture on city streets. That will involve regularly scheduled “slow roll” group rides in the city, to make people more comfortable bicycling in the city. And it will involve the offer of individual training for people who want to start biking to work or school. The efforts will hit full speed this month, which is Bicycle Month. Bowling Green students will attend an assembly by Right Direction BMX team on May 15. The second annual Ride of Silence will be held May 16, 6:30, starting in City Park. The worldwide ride is in honor of those killed or injured in bike accidents. Ride to Work and School Day will be held May 18. And the city’s bicycle “spokesperson” will be named on May 21. On Monday evening, the Bicycle Safety Commission and City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee held a joint meeting. Steve Langendorfer talked about the Yay Bikes initiative to support safe bicycling in Bowling Green. The Yay Bikes program sent consultants to BG to train local bicyclists to become more comfortable riding city streets. Those people will soon be working to spread that awareness to other bicyclists in the city, Langendorfer said. The five people trained locally will offer development bike rides for individuals or for groups. They will cater the training to meet the needs of the riders. Regular community bike rides will also be scheduled to get more people involved. The particular days and times of the rides have not been determined yet. But they will not be strenuous, and will have stops along the route. City Engineer Jason Sisco said that “theme” bike rides are being considered – such as rides that stop at ice cream shops along the way. The goal is to make cyclists more…



Clean Lake 2020 Plan earns bipartisan support

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A perfect storm of sorts has led to the latest effort to fight for the health of Lake Erie – including weather projections of a moderate to bad year for algal blooms. So far this year, the lake has been the focus of a federal court order, U.S. EPA emphasis, Ohio EPA impairment declaration and a less than ideal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast. “All these factors created a sense of urgency that perhaps should have already been there,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said. And others in the state legislature seem to agree, showing strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly as a bill and a proposed statewide bond issue was introduced Wednesday in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan, introduced by Gardner and State Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, includes funding of up to $36 million in 2018 for efforts to reduce algal blooms through conservation practices and other Lake Erie initiatives. Also proposed is a Clean Water Ohio Bond Issue that would appropriate $100 million per year for 10 years after statewide approval by voters. Gardner believes that even those Ohio voters at the southern end of the state will support the bond issue since it involves help for more than just Lake Erie. The Ohio River has also seen its share of algal bloom problems. But the primary focus will be on Lake Erie, since an estimated 5 million people rely on the lake for drinking water, and tens of thousands of jobs depend on the lake. “That demands that the priority be on Lake Erie,” he said. The Ohio EPA’s declaration that the open waters of Lake Erie are impaired means little if the state doesn’t act, Gardner said. “The most important thing is – what do we do about it,” he said. “It’s what we do from now.” “Almost everyone realizes there’s a lot of work to be…


Data science adding up for BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is ahead of the curve when it comes to data science. A week ago, the Board of Trustees approved a PhD and a master’s program in the rapidly expanding field. These degrees will make BGSU the only college in the country to offer a full range of programs from a bachelor of science through a PhD. Only one other university, IUPUI, has a similar pathway, and its undergraduate program is a minor. Michael Ogawa, BGSU vice president for Research and Economic Engagement, said the data analytics program addresses an expanding need. “Data is truly exploding now, and it will continue to do so,” he told trustees at the board’s educational session. “Because of this explosion of data and the utility of data and knowledge that the analysis of that can bring, there’s a tremendous need for data scientists.” In 2015 there were 3.35 million jobs advertised, he said. And that’s expected to grow by 15 percent in the next five years. Those positions are difficult to fill, and stay open longer than average. Starting pay for someone with a master’s degree, Ogawa said, is $80,000 a year. Jong Kwan “Jake” Lee, professor of computer science, said BGSU “is leading the way” in the field. Companies, he said, started collecting data about 15 years ago to see if the data would be “useful.” What they found out is the data itself “is not useful at all unless they get useful information out of it.” Now they need people who can ferret out what’s meaningful. That requires having the computer, statistical, and analytics skills to crunch that data and the ability “to present data in way others can understand,” Lee said. BGSU launched its effort with a gathering in 2010. By 2012 it had its data analytics program. That program now has 72 students, including 23 from Tianjin Polytechnic University in China, said Associate Dean Arthur Yeh. He expects about a dozen…


$5 license tax goes unchallenged at public hearing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Talk of raising taxes normally raises the dander of local taxpayers. But when the Wood County Commissioners held a public hearing Thursday morning on a proposed $5 license tax, no one showed up to complain. The commissioners took that as a sign that local residents realize the poor condition of county roads and bridges. The public will have one more chance to voice opinions during the second public hearing on the tax set for May 17, at 10 a.m., in the county commissioners’ hearing room. The new tax was requested by Wood County Engineer John Musteric, who is tired of just spinning his wheels on endless road and bridge repairs. The $5 permissive vehicle license tax will be used only for road and bridge expenses, Musteric said. “Every little bit helps,” he said on Thursday. According to local county officials, state and federal government have no appetite for raising gas taxes themselves. And the revenue brought in by gas taxes isn’t growing to meet expenses, since more fuel-efficient cars mean less gas is needed to traverse the state. But the state has given local governments the option of tacking on the new tax. “They recognized the stagnant funding of local transportation systems and that counties were struggling to keep up with the need for bridge replacements and road repair,” Musteric said. The proposed $5 increase is projected to bring in an additional $632,660 annually for road and bridge repairs. Musteric pledged to the commissioners that the additional funds would be used only on capital expenses, not on personnel or operating costs. Currently the state registration fee is $34.50, and the local permissive fees are between $15 and $20, depending on the community. The federal gas tax of 18.4 cents has not been increased since 1993, and the state gas tax of 28 cents has not been increased since 2005. “Our revenues have been stagnant,” Musteric said. Meanwhile, the cost of building and…


Vietnam vet dogged for half a century by memories of his year at war

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like most of his fellow Americans, Warren E. Hunt wanted to forget the Vietnam War. “You don’t want to think about it. You want to be done with it.” That was his attitude when he returned to Toledo after serving a year as a communications specialist in South Vietnam. The war wasn’t done with him though. “It doesn’t go away,” Warren, 70, said in a recent interview. It dogged him. The memories of what he experienced would surface at “inappropriate times.” “I was depressed a lot,” he said. “I never thought it was because of the war. I never put two and two together.” Warren came anxious to pick up where he’d left off when he was drafted in 1967. He was going to spend some time at home in rural southern Michigan where he grew up, and then attend the University of Toledo on the G.I. Bill. He did that, and went on to get a graduate degree in German. He wound up teaching German at Bedford High in Michigan. Still the war was always there.  “I just wanted it to go away. I didn’t think about it a lot until it was intrusive.” It wasn’t until later that he grasped the fact that “I had lived an entire year in a hostile environment where my life could have been extinguished at any moment.” Hunt confronts that experience in “Reflections on the Vietnam War: A Fifty-Year Journey” published in 2017 using CreateSpace Publishing. A part of “Reflections” was published in a special section put out by USA  Today.. Hunt will read from the book Monday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. The book was prompted by a high school assignment. His goddaughter, Meghan Cremean, was given an assignment in high school to interview a Vietnam War veteran in 1998. She turned to Hunt. That planted the idea of his writing more extensively about his…


Gazebo is taking center stage in BG’s Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amish builder Merle Yoder has built many a gazebo – but never one quite like the structure going up now on Wooster Green. “This is definitely bigger than normal,” Yoder said as he climbed down from his ladder. “It’s been challenging.” Yoder and the rest of the crew from Mt. Hope Fence are erecting the gazebo under the curious eyes of pedestrians, dog-walkers, bicyclists and motorists that pass by the Wooster Green at the corner of West Wooster, South Church and South Grove streets. The crew started by setting posts two weeks ago. They hope to have the 28-foot by 28-foot structure done by the end of next week. Yoder, from Sugar Creek, said the open gazebo will have a metal roof and four sidewalks leading to it. As the structure takes shape, it’s been the focus of much gawking – especially when the nimble workers scamper on top of the gazebo. “I’m excited about it. It looks pretty cool,” said Nadine Edwards, a member of the Wooster Green planning committee. The Mt. Hope firm was hired because of its expertise with such projects. “They’ve done gazebos and pavilions all over,” Nadine Edwards said. But this one is different, Yoder said. “This is the first one so big,” he stressed. “I really enjoy the challenge of something out of the ordinary.” Mayor Dick Edwards is one of the many people keeping an eye on the construction. “They’ve been sticking right with it. We’ve really enjoyed working with them,” he said. Once the work at Wooster Green is completed, the gazebo is intended to be used for community gatherings, small-scale musical events, and other events. The official launch of the fundraising for the location is scheduled for June 1, at 4 p.m. Though the campaign hasn’t started yet, city residents and businesses have already helped with the expenses. “People have stepped forward in advance of the public fundraising campaign,” the mayor said. One…


Solungga Liu performs musical treasures at Mother’s Day recital at Toledo Museum

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Solungga Liu remembers the day well. A hot, rainy afternoon in her native Taiwan, and she was bored. So she randomly pulled a score from the shelf in her studio. It was the music of Charles Tomlinson Griffes. She did not know his work much beyond his piece “The White Peacock.” She sat at her piano and began to sight-read through the music. She played through the entire book. “Right at that moment I couldn’t stop,” she remembers. “I fell in love with his works.” That passion for the music of Griffes, whose work sits at the intersection of Romanticism and Impressionism, will be on display Sunday at 3 p.m. when Liu performs a Great Performances recital in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Great Gallery. The program will include Griffes’ transcription of “Les Parfums de la nuit,” the second movement of Ravel’s orchestral piece “Iberia,” a piece she premiered after its discovery. Music by Cesar Franck and Amy Beach, another little appreciated American composer, will also be on the program. Two years after Liu’s discovery of Griffes’ music, she recorded “The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan: The Piano Works of Charles Tomlinson Griffes” on Centaur Records. By that time Liu had joined the faculty of the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. The Toledo concert will be similar to the one she presented last November at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. It was there that the Debussy transcription had been discovered. Liu said that Griffes, who was born in Elmira, NY, had studied for four years in Berlin. He heard an early performance of Debussy’s “Iberia.” He was so taken with the piece, that he faithfully transcribed its intricacies for solo piano. Back in the United States he taught music at the high school in Tarrytown, NY, a job he hated. But it did give him access to New York City. He traveled to the offices of the publisher G….


Neighborhood voters say cheers to Sunset Bistro’s request for expanded Sunday liquor sales

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The folks at Sunset Bistro were celebrating election night as early returns showed that the west side eatery had easily won a liquor option for Sunday sales. Owner Prudy Brott, her staff, and customers will still have to wait before they can toast expanded liquor sales with a glass of champagne during Sunday brunch. Brott said that she’s heard it takes from 30 days to three months for the Ohio Liquor Control Board to approve an application for Sunday sales. Tuesday voters in precinct 110 gave the bistro their approval, voting 545-114. Sunset Bistro has only been able to serve beer and a lower alcohol sparkling wine on Sundays. “I’m excited,” Brott said Tuesday night. “And we are too,” chimed in customer Ellen Sharp, who said she’d helped collect signatures to get the option on the ballot. Brott said that it will be good to be able to offer a glass of wine or cocktail on Sunday. She expects that will boost her Sunday business. New Year’s Eve was a dramatic display of the impact the limited alcohol options had on her business. People would call to inquire about reservations and be told the limited alcohol options, then go to celebrate at another establishment, she said. That happens on other Sundays, as well. Sharp, a loyal customer, said she’s been in the same position. Some Sundays when they’ve had guest they’d opt to go somewhere else where they could have a mimosa or a glass of wine. That’s why Sharp helped with the campaign, and being a resident of precinct 110, voted in favor of it. The support from the neighborhood is “quite humbling,” Brott said. She people in the neighborhood as well as the staff got behind the campaign. Brott said she had lawyers tell her that usually restaurants fail in their first attempts to get Sunday sales. So she was very pleased that her request was approved overwhelmingly on the first try….


Voters reject BG School’s bond issue for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was left bruised and battered Tuesday evening – from both a bitter levy campaign and a biting defeat at the polls. The district’s second attempt to pass a 5.7-mill bond issue for 37 years went down by a bigger margin than its first loss. The unofficial total on Tuesday night was 2,845 (40 percent) to 4,218 (60 percent). That compares to November’s vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “We are very disappointed,” school board President Jill Carr said late Tuesday evening. “We’re so committed to getting our facilities back to the high quality they were,” Carr said of the $72 million plan to consolidate the three elementaries, plus renovate and add onto the high school. “We wanted the best for students, teachers and community as a whole.” But many did not like the plan – either because of its effect on their pocketbooks or because it meant the end to “neighborhood” schools. Steve Bateson, one of those leading the opposition to the levy, issued a statement after the election results were in. “The voters joined together and spoke, defeating the bond issue for a variety of reasons. Some voters believe neighborhood schools are important, others felt that the additional tax was unfair,” he wrote. “This bond issue has been defeated twice and we hope the school board respects the decision of the voters and moves forward with a new plan that all members of our school district family can support for the success of our students and community,” Bateson stated. But finding a plan that all members of the district can support may be difficult. The school board brought in a school taxation expert who said the board’s request for a property tax was the best decision for the majority of the district residents. Principals at the schools offered Saturday tours to the public so show the poor condition of the buildings. But…


County parks levy takes a hike with levy victory

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As voters where casting their ballots, the Wood County Park District board was holding its monthly meeting in the Bradner Preserve. It was a perfect day to be in a park. Sun was shining. Trees were budding. The park board was hoping that feeling would continue into the evening when the votes were counted. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said park board president Denny Parish. There was no need for caution, since the voters showed that they supported the county park district’s mission by approving the 1-mill renewal levy by 74 percent. The unofficial count was 14,462 to 5,207. The park board was worried of other financial competition on Tuesday’s ballot. “We were concerned there would be several financial issues on the ballot,” Parish said. “But it’s obvious tonight that people who support the parks, support the parks.” The key to such overwhelming support could have been that the park district stuck with its 1-mill levy, rather than increasing its millage. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. Or it could have been all the park district offers for residents. The county park district has grown to 20 different parks, with 1,125 acres, open 365 days a year. “I think it’s just the good work that the people I work with everyday do for the parks,” said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. The park district may have also won such support by showing voters that it listens to their suggestions. Based on resident requests, new programming has been added – both educational and adventure activities, Munger said. “Everybody likes what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ll keep listening to the public to see what they want to see for their parks.” Park district adventure activities include archery, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, geo-caching, hunting, rock rappelling, bicycling and bouldering….


Courthouse tour lays down the law for BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a bit of disorder in the courts  Monday as Bowling Green sixth graders got a close-up view of “Lady Justice.” They sat in on a court case, they offered ideas for new laws, and they met with the sheriff. And as a bonus, they learned a bit on how the county handles emergencies. The kids were awestruck by the court proceedings, and suitably impressed by the grand Wood County Courthouse. But kids being kids – they sometimes found a different focus than the intended. For example, as architect Heidi Reger pointed out the intricate stone work on the front of the 1896 courthouse, she asked the students to find the faces and animals carved into the stone. “They liked to tell a lot of stories in the stones,” she said. But during one group’s tour, Reger had some competition from above when one of the Peregrine falcons roosting in the courthouse clock tower snatched a bird for breakfast. It wasn’t long before a burst of feathers came floating down from the clock tower. Once inside the courthouse, the students got to listen to cases presented to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The lesson there might have been that real court cases aren’t necessarily as exciting as those portrayed on television. But the students sat respectfully with little fidgeting as a case was argued about who was responsible for paying for roadwork and causeway maintenance for Johnson Island. Though the legal arguments were tedious, technical and long-winded, the students sat quietly. One court constable suggested that the sixth graders were likely intimidated by the panel of three robed judges, or by the ornate courtroom with its stained glass ceiling. After sitting through the governmental arm that rules on the law, the students heard from state legislators that make the laws. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, talked about their routes to the statehouse. Gardner…