East Side looks for push from community action plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After being on the wrong side of the tracks for decades, the East Side residents of Bowling Green are gradually working to change that image. And they are hoping the city’s new Community Action Plan will push along the progress. Since 2007, the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group has acted as a voice and unofficial ombudsman for residents on the east side of Bowling Green. In the past decade, the group has grown from a handful of people to more than 100 “dues-paying” members and many more supporters. The group met again on Thursday, this time to hear from city officials like Mayor Dick Edwards, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett and Police Chief Tony Hetrick. Tretter and Fawcett updated citizens about the Community Action Plan, specifically those sections of great importance to the East Side – the creation of a rental registration, bicycle safety programs, and over-occupancy of rental units. “City Council is still looking at the rental registration,” Fawcett said. “They are still examining it. We have been in communication with other communities about what works for them.” The registration is an effort to make sure rental units comply with basic health and safety standards. Participation in the registration would likely be voluntary. While East Side residents welcome standards for rental units, there are some concerns about how effective the program will be if it’s done on a voluntary basis. “We do want to see registration,” said Rose Hess, long-time leader of the East Side organization. “We won’t have 100 percent compliance” if the registration isn’t made mandatory, Hess said. Many East Side resident would like to see a program similar to the one in Amherst, Massachusetts, That registration is mandatory, with the landlords having to pay for the program, Hess said. Concerns have been expressed, Hess said, about absentee landlords. But that isn’t a real issue, she said. The East Side neighborhood group has information on more than 600 landlords in the city. “We have them in a database. We can track them down,” she said. “That should not be an obstacle.” The mayor spoke about positive changes being made along the East Wooster corridor – with Bowling Green State University and landlords helping to clean up problem properties. “There have been significant changes on East Wooster,” Edwards said, stressing the partnerships working together on the East Side. “I wanted to reassure them of the close working relationship with the university” and the new administration under BGSU President Rodney Rogers. Hess agreed. As she and her husband, Gary, drove down East Wooster this week, she remarked, “This used to be a zoo.” But no more. “I think it’s wonderful. You can’t help but notice the absence of what used to be eyesores,” Hess said. “We think it’s a great start.” East Side residents did have questions about the new pedestrian crossings on East Wooster. Tretter explained that while pedestrians from BGSU appreciate the crossings, some motorists aren’t too fond since they have to comply with the new traffic lights. “The city gets calls complaining they have to go slow,” Hess said. “Everybody laughed. That’s the whole point.” Fawcett talked about the city’s “Slow Roll” rides being held to make bicyclists more comfortable riding on city streets….

Comedy in the cards in Black Swamp Players’ ‘Clue: The Musical’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Players has survived. With “Clue: The Musical” the Players start their 51st season, something that seemed in doubt earlier this year. What better way to start that season than killing a character off. And there’s never been a more congenial corpse than Mr. Boddy (Heath Diehl). He serves as master of ceremonies to his own murder, and even after he ends up dead at the end of the first act, he can’t help but return to join the chorus line. Silly? You betcha. And in the spirit of a musical based on a board game, the audience gets to play along. “Clue: The Musical” opens tonight (Friday, Nov. 9) at 7:30 p.m. and continues with shows this and next weekend at first United Methodist Church. Click for showtimes and details. Audience members get game cards and a pencil with their programs.  The goal is to guess who killed Mr. Boddy, where and with what weapon. The solution differs at every show.  At the start Mr. Boddy along with Prop Runner (Katie Partlow) takes a jaunt into the audience to have them select game cards determining each of those elements. The chosen cards are placed in an envelope on stage to await the  big reveal at the end. Then we get to meet the suspects. This being a play, just cardboard cut-out characters won’t do. No, these familiar figures emerge from the box in full two-dimensional glory, and not atallinclined to play by the rules. They are caricatures of the stock characters in murder mysteries. Mrs. Peacock (Karla Richardson) is the much married rich widow with a trail of husbands, all dead under mysterious circumstances. Colonel Mustard (Andrew Varney) is an old lover, who has survived. He was married to Boddy’s mother and lays claim to ownership of the mansion and the scene of the crime. Miss Scarlet (Annelise Mason) is a small time Vegas entertainer, who at one point gave Boddy an encore in his hotel room. Professor Plum (Matt Crawford) is a pretentious intellectual who is writing a book with Boddy and has been on the losing end of some business dealings with him. Mr. Green (Garett Hummel) has also had shady business dealings with Boddy, though he’s been more successful at it. And Mrs. White (Monica Hiris) is the much put-upon domestic, literally the chief cook and bottle washer and suspect. Boddy bailed out her stepson from major trouble with the law, and so she is resentfully in his debt. Such a richness of motives! The detective, a hard-boiled cutie, played by Mac Ramsey comes on in the second act to sort it all out, though the suspects sing “She Hasn’t Got a Clue.” All this is played for laughs. The songs are a pastiche, and nothing really audience members will come away humming. ItThe cast, accompanied by pianist Anna Chowattanakul, gives the tunes their due with Mason showing off a voice that merits being heard in another context. The pianist actually deserves billing with the cast, given her placement on the stage and occasional interactions with Mr. Boddy. The action at times spills off the thrust stage further pulling the audience into the show. The audience at the dress rehearsal was busy at intermission trying to sort out…

Cats with attitudes taught to be more adoptable

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cats are known for having attitude. While most dogs do their best to please humans, most cats feel no need to perform for their people. But sometimes, that “cattitude” is caused by fear. And at the Wood County Humane Society, that standoffishness can make some cats seem downright unadoptable. Take the cat named “Toothless.” The gray cat was so shy and nervous around people that the humane society staff wondered if he would end up as a barn mouser rather than a house cat. But after going through the Cat Pawsitive training, Toothless was a cat with a new attitude – who now has a new adoptive family. “He was a cat who went from hiding under his bed,” to reaching out with his paw at people passing by, said Megann Smith, administrative assistant at the humane society. “Shelters are pretty scary places, no matter how nice we try to make them,” Smith said. And scaredy cats are very unlikely to make a good impression on people looking to adopt a pet. So when Wood County Humane Society was selected earlier this year by the Jackson Galaxy Project to participate in the Cat Pawsitive Program, the animal-lovers jumped at the chance to make their cats more adoptable. The training program for shelter cats works to increase feline adoption rates as well as educate the shelter staff and volunteers on how to implement it. Jackson Galaxy – star of the television show “My Cat from Hell” on the Animal Planet network – developed Cat Pawsitive Pro with a team of feline behavior experts. Highlights of the program include:   Improving cat “adoptability” and feline social skills, particularly for shy or fearful cats and long-term shelter residents. Enriching day-to-day life for cats in shelters with physical and mental activity.   Promoting the human-cat bond.   Teaching and empowering animal shelter staff and volunteers. The program can help a shy cat learn to feel comfortable coming up to the front of the cage to meet an adopter, a feisty cat learn to play nice, and an outgoing kitty learn to give an endearing “high five” to his visitors to seal an adoption deal. For years, the humane society has focused on socializing dogs to make them more adoptable. It was believed that cats were basically untrainable. But the Pawsitive program is proving the opposite. The first felines to get the training at Wood County Humane Society were two orange tabbies named Stapleton and Upchurch. They were selected because they had been at the humane society the longest and were having a tough time trusting people. By using only the positive stimulus of edible treats and the noise of clickers, the cats were trained to gradually became less fearful, and stop cowering in their kennels. Before long, they were approaching people, and giving “high-fives” with their front paws in exchange for treats. Though the older cats still aren’t like bouncy kittens, they did become more “adorable” and adoptable, Smith said. Being trained now are Chunkie and Asia. Chunkie, who used to spend the bulk of his day glaring at those passing his kennel, has learned to relax around people, to give high-fives and even head-bumps. Asia, who doesn’t like to be picked up, is still working on just…

Faculty senate committee to look at bias in student evaluations

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News  A move to study student evaluations for bias got mixed response at Faculty Senate meeting at Bowling Green State University. With representatives from undergraduate student government on hand, the senate heard from both sides of the evaluation question. Faculty members took the existence of bias as a given, widely reported in various studies. Mary Natvig said there was “incredible bias against women” in the evaluations. Timothy Tierney, a student senator, questioned whether the studies were adequate, questioning the sample size. Natvig noted that in her 30 years of teaching musicology she has been called a “bitch” numerous times, and “a whore.” The ad hoc committee would look at the literature on bias in student evaluations. The issue of the adequacy of those evaluations came up last spring when the administration moved to create a set of uniform questions to ask, which could be used with additional questions.  Juan Bouzat, a faculty member in biology, said the evaluations serve two purposes. On one hand, they provide faculty with feedback on their teaching, Bouzat said he has learned from the evaluations provided by students, even ones that showed clear bias.  They can also be used as a tool by the administration in decisions about tenure and promotion. Administrators in the past have downplayed their role in that process, though Natvig, a full professor, said, they have been used in her case. Marcus Goolsby, the vice president of undergraduate student government, said the way the resolution was worded was “speaking” to students differently than to faculty.  He said  the ad hoc committee should include students. When Nancy Patterson, of the education faculty asked if there was any precedent for students serving on a faculty senate committee. David Border, chair of the senate, said there was. William Albertini, of the English Department, said questioning the evaluations was not aimed at “demeaning” the student voices, but rather making sure that the information they provided was quality data. Anne Gordon, who teaches psychology said faculty members were not saying students were overtly biased, but such prejudice can be subtle. Gordon suggested that the ad hoc committee look beyond bias based on race and gender, but also at that based on age.  The categories were broadened. Montana Miller, of popular culture, said that much of the work of the committee has already been done by a learning community she participated in last spring. That community, led by Lisa Hanasono, looked at the research and made a presentation on its findings. The work done by the learning community and Hanasono should be incorporated in the ad hoc committee’s work. Having a body with more prominence could help disseminate its findings more broadly, Miller said. Peter Blass, of chemistry, suggested that the committee should look at whether the bias found, existed by BGSU. Miller questioned whether that was necessary. Why would BGSU be different? Blass said it would be worthwhile given the evaluations were used to make decisions at BGSU. The resolution to form the ad hoc committee passed. It is expected to report to the senate in spring.

BGSU prof tries to shatter silence around miscarriages

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dr. Lisa Hanasono and her husband were thrilled to see their “baby spud” on the sonogram screen. “We were elated. We got to hear the heartbeat,” which put their dreaming and planning for their baby into overdrive. But at 12 weeks along, a second sonogram could find no heartbeat. “Her face fell,” she said of the medical technician doing the sonogram. “I am so sorry, we lost the baby,” the technician said. That day in 2015 changed Hanasono’s life, and led to her interest in “Shattering the Silence on Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss.” Hanasono, an associate professor in the School of Media and Communication at BGSU, recently talked about the “M” word during a lecture on campus. Since the age of 3, Hanasono had two goals in life – to be a teacher and to be a mom. “I always wanted to have babies in my life,” she said. When she had the miscarriage, she not only lost the baby, but she also suffered from the silence so many women encounter after pregnancy loss. “For a while, I coped in silence,” Hanasono said. At some point she started talking – and found a “secret society” of women grieving by themselves after miscarriage. As a communications professor, the light bulb went off. “Why aren’t we talking about this,” she said. “Why are miscarriages and pregnancy losses still taboo topics?” Hanasono went beyond talking and started studying the subject. She discovered a startling statistic. According to the American Pregnancy Association, one in four known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Hanasono knew she had to dig deeper. “Each statistic has a story,” she said. For her research, Hanasono has been collecting those stories for her study, “The M-Word: An Interview Study.” So far, she has listened to the stories of women aged 17 to 74, who have experienced anywhere from one to five miscarriages. She would like to talk to 40 women for the study. Hanasono has heard common themes. Many times women blame themselves for the miscarriage. They wonder if they exercised too strenuously. They question if the alcohol they drank before knowing they were pregnant could have caused the loss. Hanasono remembered those feelings herself. “Most of the time, the women blamed themselves. I felt bad for my partner. I felt like I failed him.” Often the women get no concrete reasons for the miscarriages, so the shame may be magnified. “Sometimes there are no answers,” she said. And that makes it difficult to move onto the next pregnancy because of the anxiety they might make the same mistakes. Couples often wait until about 12 weeks into the pregnancy to tell friends and family that they are expecting. So if a miscarriage occurs, it’s difficult to ask for support for the loss if no one knew about the pregnancy. And hurtful comments about the loss being less significant because it was so early, do not help with the grief, Hanasono said. Many of the women have a hard time with the cultural taboos of talking about miscarriages. In many cases, the loss of a pregnancy is an “ambiguous loss,” where the parents don’t get to say goodbye, don’t get to have a memorial service, don’t get to visit a gravesite. And the lack…

BGSU on track to take over Mercy College by fall

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University’s acquisition of Mercy College is on pace to be completed by fall. Interim Provost John Fischer told Faculty Senate Tuesday that BGSU officials have been meeting with the nursing and health  college’s officials and students. On Monday, he said, Mercy faculty and staff received letters from BGSU assuring them that they will remain employed when BGSU takes over operation of the college. Pending state approval that will occur next fall. Completing the integration of the two institutions is expected to take up to three years. BGSU soon will file its application to transfer Mercy’s operations to the Higher Learning Commission. That application process will involved site visits to both Mercy and BGSU. In June the HLC will vote on whether to approve the transfer, If it approves, the transfer will happen within 30 days. Mercy will then become part of BGSU. But then it will take years to integrate its operations — financial aid, billing, course registration, email, and more — with the university. Fischer said that Mercy students are “very passionate” about being part of that college. Many are post-traditional students. Mercy students expressed concerns about what their diplomas will say when they graduate. BGSU officials said one of the attractions of the deal is Mercy’s success working with non-traditional students, something that’s essential for the university’s future health given the decline in the number of high school graduates. Fischer said that one change will be that senators from Mercy College will be seated in Faculty Senate next fall. How that happens will be driven by the Mercy faculty.  Fischer said that given enrollment is up at Mercy College, the transfer of operations should benefit BGSU financially. The transfer of operations was first announced in September. Mercy College has 1,300 students in Toledo and another 200 in an associate’s degree program in Youngstown.  BGSU is ending its nursing education consortium with the University of Toledo. That arrangement was ended, officials said, so each institution could explore other options that will result in the education of more nurses. The nation, they say, is facing a shortage of nurses and other health professionals. Students enrolled in that consortium will not have their studies interrupted.

Voters pass two countywide levies by wide margins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The willingness of Wood County voters to help those in need resulted in the easy passage of two countywide levies on Tuesday. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ 2.45-mill levy walked away with 72 percent of the vote (34,546 to 13,172), and the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services’ 1-mill levy passed handily with 67 percent of the vote (32,061 to 15,901). Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer said voters clearly responded to the need. “We’re so appreciative of the support,” he said Tuesday evening. “We’re looking forward to getting back in the office tomorrow and doing what we love to do.” Baer was pleasantly surprised by the margin of the levy’s victory. The last time the levy was on the ballot in 2013, it passed with 57 percent of the vote. The increased support may be because of a decrease in the millage, and in the spike in demands for Wood Lane services, Baer said. “I do believe people really responded to the information,” that requests for services are at an all-time high, he said. “They agreed the need is there.” Tom Clemons, executive director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, spent a great deal of time traveling to communities in the county to educate voters prior to the levy vote. But he found that many county residents were already aware of the services. “I think we have really improved our community education over the past several years,” Clemons said. And the ongoing opiate crisis has helped spread the word. “The opiate epidemic certainly increased awareness,” he said. Clemons said he was worried that people would be so tired of hearing about the opiate crisis, that they might shut out the message about the levy. He is also weary of hearing the horrors, “but closing my eyes to it doesn’t make it go away,” he said. “We’re making a difference. We’re saving people’s lives. But we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. As he promoted the levy, Clemons also talked about the need for more suicide prevention efforts in the county. “The high rate of suicides we’re seeing has really sobered people up,” he said. Voters responded to the need, Clemons said. “Wood County residents really do have care and compassion, and they come together to help their neighbors,” he said. “I’m very grateful.”

Here’s how Wood County voted in Tuesday’s election

Wood County voters elected Republicans to local races, and passed two county-wide levies on Tuesday. Following are the unofficial results from the Wood County Board of Elections. Absentee ballots received as of close of polls were included in these results. Valid provisional ballots will be included in official count to be held no later than 21 days after the election. State Representative, Third District Theresa Gavarone: 29,759 (62%) Aidan Hubbell-Staeble: 18,058 (38%) Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich: 28,102 (59%) Buddy Ritson: 19,164 (41%) Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw: 34,602 (100%) Common Pleas Judge Molly Mack: 33,745 (100%) Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, 1-mill replacement levy Yes: 32,061 (67%) No: 15,901 (33%) Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, 2.95 mills with 0.5 reduction Yes: 34,546 (72%) No: 13,172 (28%) Bowling Green City Charter review process at least every 10 years: Yes: 5,684 (73%) No: 2,063 (27%) Bowling Green City Charter to replace vacancies on council with citizen vote at next election: Yes: 4,237 (61%) No: 2,655 (39%) Bowling Green City Charter creating department of planning: Yes: 4,846 (61%) No: 3,076 (39%) Bowling Green City Charter Civil Service Commission rule changes: Yes: 6,038 (75%) No: 2,005 (25%) Following are the unofficial Wood County vote totals in other races: Governor Richard Cordray (D): 22,230 (46%) Mike DeWine (R): 24,687 (51%) Constance Gadell-Newton (Green): 640 (1%) Travis Irvine (Libertarian): 1,131 (2%) Ohio Attorney General Steve Dettelbach (D): 22,567 (47%) Dave Yost (R): 25,307 (53%) State Auditor Robert Coogan (L): 2,343 (5%) Keith Faber (R): 24,308 (51%) Zach Space (D): 20,664 (44%) Secretary of State Kathleen Clyde (D): 21,602 (45%) Frank LaRose (R): 24,506 (52%) Dustin Nanna (L): 1,376 (3%) State Treasurer Rob Richardson (D): 21,045 (44%) Robert Sprague (R): 26,281 (56%) U.S. Senate Jim Renacci (R): 21,629 (45%) Sherrod Brown (D): 26,624 (55%) Congress, 5th District J. Michael Galbraith (D): 20,488 (42%) Don Kissisk (L): 1,235 (3%) Bob Latta (R): 26,840 (55%) 6th District Court of Appeals Joel Kuhlman: 19,774 (49.66%) Gene Zmuda: 20,043 (50.34%) State Issue 1 Yes: 18,189 (38%) No: 30,300 (62%)  

SPLICE Ensemble brings heart & soul to electroacoustic music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even music that relies on circuitry needs the human touch.  “It’s really that live concert that can make music live and breathe and survive the test of time,” said Keith Kirchoff, of the SPLICE Ensemble. “It’s the performer that’s going to take this music into the next generation.  We still need to go to concerts, and it’s this concert experience that’s driven by a compelling performer … that makes it an immediately relatable art form.” The SPLICE Ensemble will headline the SPLICE Festival  this week at Bowling Green State University. The festival convenes Thursday, Nov. 8 on the Bowling Green State University, and continues through Saturday, Nov. 10. SPLICE will perform a free concert on the last night at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. The festival is devoted to electroacoustic music. Kirchoff defines electroacoustic music as classical music using electronics that’s “designed for the concert stage, for concentrated listening, intentional listening as opposed to being in the background or for dancing.” The festival, Kirchoff said, is a mix of performances and workshops. “We wanted to create a ground where  the education is an intrinsic part of the festival.” The festival is one branch of the umbrella SPLICE organization. It started as a one-week summer institute, branched out into the festival, and soon will have an academy program. The ensemble grew out of the institute, Kirchoff said. SPLICE was launched about five years ago by composer Christopher Biggs and Kirchoff, a pianist. “I felt there weren’t very many, if any, opportunities for performers to become comfortable integrating electronics into their performances,” Kirchoff said. The ensemble is an outgrowth of the festival. Kirchoff and Biggs  “wanted to have a performance faculty that was really good at their instruments and really good at electronics.” That, Kirchoff said, turned out to be himself, Kirchoff and fellow institute faculty, Adam Vidiksis, percussion, and  Sam Wells, trumpet.  “We really enjoyed working together,” the pianist said. They realized that they had a distinctive sound. Only one composition existed for their particular instrumentation.They set about soliciting composers to write for them. That process was facilitated by the institute and the festival. The SPLICE Festival is in its second year. Last year it was presented at Western Michigan University where Biggs teaches. Bringing it to BGSU was a natural. Elainie Lillios, of the BGSU composition faculty, teaches at the SPLICE Institute. She’s been “the boots on the ground” to coordinate the event. “BGSU is fertile ground for a lot of new music,” Kirchoff said. “It’s awesome to me that there’s so much going on.” Thanks to the Fromm Foundation, Lillios will be writing a major piece for the SPLICE Ensemble. The trio will perform six pieces on its Saturday recital. Most of them were commissioned specifically for the festival. Flannery Cunningham’s “Eh/k/oh” has the percussionist and pianist singing in harmony with the trumpet.  Jeff Herriott’s “eyes, sewn, await the sun” started life as a duo for percussion and piano. The composer integrated the trumpet into the work at SPLICE’s request. “It’s very slow and with a lush sound and really gorgeous atmosphere in electronics,” Kirchoff said. The trio came worked with Iranian composer Bahar Royaee at the institute. “Kücha-lar” explores an Iranian folk song in meditative fashion with Kirchoff plays inside the piano. Robert…

BG to view more ‘user-friendly’ parking kiosks for downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As part of the continuing debate over how to pay for downtown parking, a more “user-friendly” kiosk will be demonstrated for downtown and city officials next week. Mayor Dick Edwards expressed some reservations about the new kiosk at Monday’s City Council meeting, but said he is looking forward to seeing a model that is easier for motorists to use. A committee of downtown property owners and business owners has been meeting to study the options of how to pay for parking. The committee is charged with looking at whether the city should continue to charge for parking, or if the property and business owners want to work on a shared cost approach. The cost of parking meters will double in the downtown area if a solution isn’t found. The problem is that the city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots and enforcing parking rules. But the fear is that doubling parking costs will discourage customers from patronizing downtown businesses. The city’s downtown lots – with their 600-plus parking spaces – are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. Under a shared cost program, the downtown property owners would be assessed based on their front footage and the benefits to their parcels. The average property owner would pay $220 a year for 20 years. The lowest amount charged would be $30 a year. The highest – to the owner of multiple properties – would be $2,000 a year. Those assessments would generate about $20,000 a year. The concept of the downtown property owners picking up the tab for parking expenses was not supported by the landowners during a meeting earlier this year. However, the business owners have stated they would be willing to share in the expenses if it meant customers wouldn’t have to pay for parking. The benefits of getting rid of parking meters would be multi-faceted. It would be a marketing opportunity for downtown businesses, it would eliminate the need for meter or kiosk replacements, and it would mean the city would no longer have to pay property taxes on the parking lots since they would not be generating revenue. That alone will be an annual savings of about $35,000. The parking committee includes the following downtown property and business owners: Dick Newlove; Greg Halamay, owner of Finders Records; Kim Thomas, owner of the H&R Block Building; Kati Thompson, owner of Eden Fashion Boutique; Ben Waddington, owner of Waddington Jewelers; Floyd Craft, owner of Ben’s and Ace Hardware; and Garrett Jones, owner of Reverend’s. Also attending the parking meetings, representing the city, are Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, Director of Finance Brian Bushong, Police Chief Tony Hetrick and City Councilman Bruce Jeffers. In other business affecting the downtown, Public Works Director Brian Craft reported to council that bids for the waterline project for Main and Wooster streets will be opened on Nov. 15. The waterline work will be on the heels of the Columbia Gas line replacement in the downtown, Craft said. “This is the next phase of getting the downtown put back together,” Craft said. Following the waterline work, street and sidewalk repairs are planned. Also at Monday’s meeting, council heard that as the city…

Hollenbaugh chosen to fill vacant First Ward City Council seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Bowling Green City Council went with the tried and true option Monday evening – voting unanimously to name Mark Hollenbaugh to the First Ward seat vacated by Daniel Gordon. Hollenbaugh beat out four other candidates who promised qualities such as youth, diversity, fresh ideas from other communities, and a scientific commitment to renewable energy. But what Hollenbaugh brought to the table was consistency, dedication even in the face of failure, and his ability to work with anyone regardless of party. Some council members are “rock stars,” one member said, but Hollenbaugh has proven to be rock solid serving his constituents. He was sworn in at the beginning of the council meeting Monday, and took his seat with the other council members. Hollenbaugh, a Democrat, served as the First Ward member of City Council from January 2010 to December 2011. “When Mark was on City Council before, he was faithful and effective performing his duties,” said council member Bill Herald. When Hollenbaugh lost the election to return to the First Ward seat, he didn’t let that discourage him. “Some disappear. Others redouble their efforts and seek other ways to serve,” Herald, a Republican, said. Hollenbaugh volunteered to serve on city planning commission and on the East Side Residents Association. A government and history teacher at North Baltimore Schools, Hollenbaugh has also served on several city boards, such as the City Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Committee, Charter Review Committee, and is involved in the Community Action Plan. “He has been consistently serving in ways he can contribute,” Herald said. “I stay involved because I care about my community,” Hollenbaugh said. Each of the candidates to fill the First Ward seat was given five minutes to present themselves to City Council. One of the applicants, Hunter Sluss, dropped out from the race earlier on Monday. The others under consideration were: Connor Goodpaster who has earned two degrees from BGSU, is expecting a baby with his wife in March, and who has served with community organizations like United Way and the Wood County Continuum of Care trying to solve problems within the community. Goodpaster said he has a good understanding of the issues of poverty that affect local residents. Neocles Leontis has been a professor of chemistry at BGSU since 1987. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate classes, he carries out scientific research funded by the National Institutes of Health. He is involved in several community organizations including Bowling Green Kiwanis, East Side Residential Group, League of Women Voters, Black Swamp Green Team, and Peace Lutheran Church. Leontis has been an advocate for making Bowling Green more energy efficient and sustainable. Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup works as a non-medical case manager for Equitas Health, making sure people living with HIV/AIDS can access the services they need. He has volunteered with Bowling Green community organizations like the Cocoon, La Conexion, Not In Our Town, It’s On Us, and serving on the city’s Human Relations Commission. Ochoa-Kaup said he would amplify the voices of Latino, transgender and queer residents of the community. Madison Stump is a BGSU student working toward a degree in environmental policy and analysis. Stump is director of governmental relations for BGSU Undergraduate Student Government, where she has served as liaison between the city, USG and…

Tony Vetter jumps right into leading Downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tony Vetter hit the ground running as executive director of Downtown Bowling Green. He had no choice. This, he said, is the busiest time of the year. He has to find volunteers to help spruce up the downtown for the holidays. Then there’s the holiday tree lighting, collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce on the holiday parade, and after that the kickoff to Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Vetter started in his new position, taking over from Mary Hinkelman, on Oct. 29. Hinkelman switched offices in the Four Corners Center to become director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “I’m just getting up to speed.” Though Vetter has recently started, he’s familiar with the various entities that call the Four Corners Center home. As director of Destination Toledo he worked closely with Wendy Chambers who heads up the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. Though Vetter has been working in Toledo,  he’s lived in Bowling Green for the past 24 years with his wife, Cheryl, co-owner of Hagemeyer Fine Photography. Vetter said he’s always done his shopping in Bowling Green and has taken part in the various events, including the Black Swamp Arts Festival, that fill up the city’s calendar. The 26-year-old festival like the newly hatched Firefly Nights are staged by independent groups. They add to the luster of downtown, along with the lineup of events that Downtown Bowling Green presents, including Art Walk and Winterfest Chillabration.  “It’s a collaborative effort,” Vetter said. “It’s a very vibrant community. Some other cities that would give their eye teeth for what Bowling Green has.” A healthy downtown isn’t just important for the merchants and downtown businesses, but for the health of the community as a whole. A company trying to recruit new employees does not want have them see a downtown full of empty or boarded up store fronts. Downtown Bowling Green works to keep that from happening. The Special Improvement District is funded by a tax imposed on property owners. Vetter was attracted to the job in part because of the passion of the members of the Downtown BG Board. “They want what’s best for this city. That’s here their hearts are. Same with the mayor. They’re all on the same page.They want to make Bowling Green a better place.” Greg Halamay, who chairs the Downtown Bowing Green board, said that Vetter stood out from the other applicants because he offered fresh ideas. “That made the critical difference in our decision making. … That’s what our board was looking for.” Halamay said that the job posting drew a strong field of applicants, including about half from outside Bowling Green. Vetter’s ties to the community were also a plus. The historic district is small. “He displayed the desire to reach out beyond those six or eight blocks to the rest of the community,” Halamay said. “He wants to create a stronger outreach.” Asked about any plans he has for downtown, Vetter demurred. He’s still setting in. Ask in six months, he suggested. Vetter grew up as one of 10 children on a farm in Hicksville, in Defiance County near the Indiana border. He first came to Bowling Green in the 1980s to spend a year at the St. Aloysius Parish as part of…

BG holds vigil for Jewish and black victims of hatred

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eighty people sought refuge and peace in a place of worship Sunday evening in Bowling Green. They remembered the 11 people killed a week ago while seeking sanctuary in their place of worship near Pittsburgh. And they remembered the two people shot down a few days earlier while grocery shopping in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. They were killed for being Jewish, and killed for being black. People of all faith and all races gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green to be “agents of justice” in a world where that seems to be lacking. “We are here as people who believe that hatred and evil cannot have the last word,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders. “Violence against people of any faith should alarm people of all faiths,” she said. “Violence against any person should alarm all persons.” Rev. Gary Saunders noted the frequency of vigils held in recent years, sponsored by Not In Our Town Bowling Green. “Unfortunately over the years, we’ve had a number of events where the community just needs to come together,” he said. Mary Jane Saunders cautioned those gathered once again to not be overwhelmed by the work ahead. “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief,” she said. One by one, the stories of the Pittsburgh and Jeffersontown victims were read aloud. Killed in the synagogue, there were grandparents, doctors, a retired accountant, a couple married more than 60 years, and two brother who were developmentally disabled. They were remembered for their devotion to the synagogue, their generosity, their humor. And now they will be remembered for the “special horror” of being killed in their place of sanctuary. At the grocery store, one of the victims was shopping with his grandson to get poster board for the 12-year-old’s school project. “They were going about the most mundane task of life,” in a grocery store, Mary Jane Saunders said. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards talked about the origin of the Not In Our Town movement after the defacing of a synagogue in Bloomington, Indiana. He talked about the “massacre of the innocents” at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. Edwards asked those present to take a stand and denounce the spreading of hatred in any form. The mayor ended his comments with a message from the late public television star Mr. Rogers, who once lived in Squirrel Hill. “Love thy neighbor. No exceptions,” he said, quoting Rogers. Chris Bullins, dean of students at Bowling Green State University, spoke on behalf of the university community. “Senseless acts like these have no place in our schools, our churches, our communities,” Bullins said. He finished by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” Joe Jacoby, representing the Jewish community, read the 23rd Psalm. Ethan Glassman, student president of the Hillel organization on campus, read the Mourners Kaddish as candles were lit for the victims. And Ginny Stewart read Langston Hughes’ poem, “I Dream a World.” Also speaking was Imam Talal Eid, from the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. “I pray our gathering today will be a gathering of healing,” the Imam said. The…

Visiting master demonstrates how art & words come together in Japanese calligraphy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kyoko Fujii started studying calligraphy when she was 6 growing up in Hiroshima, Japan. It was a popular after school activity, she said. Most students after a few years move onto other hobbies. Fujii however continued to study. For her doing calligraphy was like eating or breathing. She took weekly lessons for many years with a master calligrapher. Despite her abiding interest, she didn’t reflect on her art much. It was only when she was 24 and her employer, a securities and banking firm, sent her abroad to the southern United States that she realized that what she did was something special, something beautiful, a way to reach out and connect with people. Now a master instructor herself, Fujii visited Bowling Green State University on Saturday to teach the art as part of the opening of an exhibit of calligraphy scrolls given to the Asian Studies Program by the Japanese counsel general in Detroit. “Shodo Way of Writing: Calligraphy Scrolls from the BGSU Asian Studies Collection” will be on display in the Willard Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center through Nov. 18.  Fujii, who now lives in Novi, Michigan, said it was an honor to demonstrate her art amidst so many fine examples of both traditional and contemporary calligraphy. She has mastered both kohitsu (pen writing) and mohitsu (brush writing) techniques,and demonstrated both. She started by writing out the lyrics of a popular children’s song about maple trees in fall. She had painted yellow and red maple leaves in the margins of her paper beforehand. Then as the song played on her iPod, the Japanese characters appeared. More than a simple letter, each character is a combination of images that together create the meaning of the word. And the character is executed with a flourish that’s a visual representation of the meaning. Fujii said her American husband always wants to know what the words and meanings are of her paintings, she said. This came through in the second part of Fujii’s presentation. Taking individual words, she painted them, and explained how they are constructed. The word “work” included symbols for human, heart, and power. When writing the word for wind or breeze, the way the character is drawn shows the kind of wind it is. She concluded her demonstration by switching to a gold pen to write out a Buddhist prayer. The entire prayer would take a day to copy, so she did the beginning lines. When asked, she chanted prayer in Japanese. Raymond Craig, dean of the College of Arts and Science, said this is an important part of what the college does. More than exposing students to other cultures, it gives them first-hand knowledge and hands-on experience in elements of that culture.

22 local heroes among us to be recognized for acts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For three decades, Wood County has been honoring the heroes among us. The tradition will continue later this week as the Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards are again handed out. On Friday, 22 Wood County residents will be recognized for performing heroic acts – in many cases to save someone they didn’t even know. Dinner reservations for the awards evening can be made until Wednesday by emailing requests to Dean King at deankingbg13@gmail.com. Tickets are $18. The reception begins at 6 p.m, followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m., at Nazareth Hall, near Grand Rapids. Following are the people to honored on Friday: Kellie Johnson, Julie Haynes, Michelle Welling, Kerry Hite, Teri Gregg and Shellie Garver for performing life-saving measures on a Perrysburg school worker who had a medical crisis while serving lunch. Bryant Switzer and Peyton Switzer, of Bowling Green, who saved a toddler from possible drowning while they were on vacation in Florida. Steve and Dawn Tyda who stopped a man from jumping off I-75 overpass in Bowling Green. Denica Motz, Sgt. Michael Bengela and Officer Ryan Sehlhorst for saving an apartment maintenance man who collapsed on the job in Bowling Green. Janet Smith of Perrysburg, who responded to her neighbor’s calls for help after her neighbor fell and broke her leg. Sgt. Brian Bonnough and Deputy Patrick Mormile who performed life-saving measures on a man in cardiac arrest near Weston. Tom Wilhelm, Anthony Soto, Larry Miller Jr., and Brian Bonecutter, who helped at the scene of an accident in the Milton Center area. Joe Mettler, who stayed with the victim of a car accident near Tontogany until help arrived. Darla Baker, who noticed a fire as she was driving near Luckey and notified the owners so they could escape. Family or friends of those being honored may join in the awards ceremony by contacting Dean King. The first Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards dinner, held in 1989, was organized by former Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Betty Montgomery, and the late David C. Miller. Since 1989, more than 400 awards have been presented to individuals in recognition of their heroic deeds. To be nominated for an award, the nominee either must be a Wood County resident at the time of the event or the event had to occur in Wood County. The awards being presented range from Good Samaritan Awards, Life Risk Awards, Beyond the Call of Duty Awards, and Service to Others Awards.