BG Council tackles streets, sidewalks, support for schools and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The city of Bowling Green has its work cut out for 2019. Some challenges are familiar – street construction, neighborhood revitalization and downtown parking. But some challenges presented at Saturday’s strategic planning meeting weren’t on last year’s priority list – sidewalks, side streets and supporting the school district. City Council met for its annual strategic planning session to review the city’s priorities for 2019, and to allow council members to suggest their own goals for the community. “We can see where we’ve been in 2018, and set the stage for activities and goals in 2019,” Council President Mike Aspacher said. Mayor Dick Edwards cautioned that construction downtown and on the roundabouts at Interstate 75 will make this year a little bumpy. “We know it’s going to be an unusually demanding year on many fronts,” Edwards said. “There are things that will put us all to the test.” But the mayor pointed out that unlike some “cities to the north,” Bowling Green officials work well together for the betterment of the community. “I thought we had a very good year last year,” Edwards said. “I think it speaks well for our city government. We work well together.” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter started out the strategic planning process by reviewing progress made on last year’s priorities. The city began implementing suggestions in the Community Action Plan, work on the East Wooster corridor continued, the city’s charter was updated, and legislation was passed to create a historic preservation commission. Tretter then listed the goals for 2019: Implement of the historic preservation commission.Continue East Wooster corridor efforts in cooperation with BGSU.Continue neighborhood revitalization efforts.Update the zoning code.Improve radio coverage for safety operations.Construct new building in City Park.Complete construction of Wooster Green.Scan permanent planning and zoning records.Determine borrowing need, timing and method for various projects.Upgrade police division recruitment and hiring practices to national trends.Begin and complete downtown utility and paving project.Complete East Wooster/I-75 roundabout project.Increase electric sales to lower customer costs.Explore ways to lower electric transmission costs.Implement new billing software and utility customer interface portal.Remove and replace old shelters at Carter Park. “We have a lot of construction going on in this town,” Tretter said. “We will be enduring some challenges while it’s ongoing.” Aspacher talked about the importance of continuing work on the East Wooster corridor, where many people get their first glimpse of the community as they are looking for a place to go to college or a place to establish a home. “We can’t ignore as people are looking at Bowling Green – that environment impacts them,” Tretter said in agreement. Aspacher praised the “significant steps” already made along East Wooster by the city and university. Council members list their priorities for the year. Following is a list of some of the priorities listed by council members for 2019. Side…


Towering elm from sledding hill turned into benches

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The tree that provided shade for soccer teams and challenges for sledders is now providing a place for people to sit and rest. Nearly a year ago, the towering elm tree at the base of the Conneaut sledding hill was removed after it was deemed a hazard. The timber from that tree has been turned into benches by the city public works staff. “There’s a lot of history here,” Mayor Dick Edwards said, as he looked at the new bench in the city administration building. Mayor Dick Edwards looks at bench made from sledding hill elm. The city of Bowling Green tried to stretch out the life of the shapely elm tree at the sledding hill. Years ago, some limbs were braced together in order to shore up the aging tree, but that was only a short-term fix. Cables were installed to hold up the limbs, Public Works Director Brian Craft said. But in February of last year, the city could no longer prop up the elm – and its fate was sealed. “A very large crack has developed in the tree,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter announced last year. “This large part of the tree is separating from the rest of the tree.” The giant tree was examined by Bowling Green’s city arborist and by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources arborist. The two came to the same conclusion. “We couldn’t have children on that hill with that tree there,” Tretter said. The tree was hurriedly disposed of because of three factors – there was snow on the ground, many children wanted to go sledding, and few hills exist in the city. “We didn’t take this decision lightly,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said last year. “Nobody wanted to remove an iconic part of Bowling Green.” But the risk from the rotting tree was too great, he said. “We don’t want to put people using city parks at risk,” Fawcett said. The wood from the iconic elm was saved, and public works employee Rick Beaverson turned the wood into planks. Those planks were then made into benches by fellow public works employees Andy Sergent and Dan Zeigler. One bench will sit in the downtown city building, next to the Tree City display, and another will go to the parks and recreation office, Craft said. A third bench from the elm will be raffled off at the annual Tree City event, Craft said.


Robert Burns Night set to dispel the winter chill with food, poetry, song, & whisky

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Between the end of the holidays and Winter Fest, Bowling Green needs something. That’s part of the reason that Scottish enthusiast and bon vivant Elliot MacFarlane and chef Boby Mitov of Naslada Bistro in downtown have teamed up for the last few years to stage Robert Burns Night.  The fourth Burns Night at Naslada will be presented Saturday, Jan. 19, starting at 6 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 419-373-6050.  The event has sold out in past years. The charge is $110, which includes a four-course meal and four flights of top shelf whisky. The dinner is a more intimate affair than other downtown events. A few dozen revelers will gather in the eatery’s cozy confines for a night of poetry, song, traditional Scottish fare prepared with a contemporary International touch, whisky, and the humor, often rude, that the consumption of rounds of liquor often prompts. Boby Mitov carries in the haggis during the 2017 Burns Night. Dinners in honor of Burns, around the time of his Jan. 25 birthday, have been celebrated since the poet’s death in 1796, MacFarlane, a member of the St. Andrews Society, said.  While Burns is the national poet of Scotland, MacFarlane said, his appeal is universal. South African liberationist Nelson Mandela had two books with him when he was imprisoned on Robben Island — a volume of Burns poetry and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” And Abraham Lincoln loved the poet. He recited the Scotsman’s verse as he traveled the circuit from court to court during his days as a lawyer in Illinois. And the night he was shot at Ford’s Theater, he had a book of Burns poetry in his pocket. MacFarlane (aka David Donley) said that Burns’ focus on the lives of common people is the key to his appeal. “I’m surprised at how many people know Robert Burns,” he said. And even those who don’t are aware of the poet’s phrases that have woven themselves into the language. Eliott MacFarlane speaks during 2017 Burns Night. Whether it’s “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men” or “man’s inhumanity to man.” The former comes from the poem “To a Mouse” in which a farmer on discovering a mouse nest while plowing reflects how their plights are similar, both subject to forces outside their control. These works, some set to music, will be central to the Burns Night Celebration. MacFarlane will present the Immortal Memory, a reflection on the life of the poet. At some events this can go on for hours. MacFarlane knows the local audience’s limits. He said this year he plans to focus on Burns’ ties to the United States. During the American Revolution, Burns was involved in raising money to buy cannons for Washington’s army. A piper will be on hand to perform and to lead the procession marking…


Small grants make a big difference to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News To several local non-profit groups operating on shoestring budgets, the annual community grants are lifesavers. This year, the grants will allow books to be purchased for children, playgrounds to add equipment for youngsters with disabilities, wireless microphones to be purchased for a theater group, and nutritious meals to be provided to children whose parents are trying to complete their educations. “This is actually the funnest night of the whole year,” said Emily Dunipace, chairperson of the grants committee of the Bowling Green Community Foundation. On Wednesday evening, the foundation handed out $43,000 in grants to 16 community organizations. The grants aren’t huge – but to the non-profit agencies, they can make a big difference. “It’s the reason we exist,” said Jim Elsasser, president of the BG Community Foundation. “To grow Bowling Green in a number of ways,” whether through the arts, education or community service. “To improve the life in Bowling Green – that’s why we exist,” Elsasser said. The foundation had a record number of applications totaling more than $100,000 for this year’s grants, Dunipace said. “That gives you a sense of the need,” she said. The goal is to reach out to as many in the community as possible – with money raised through fundraising, seed money from the Toledo Community Foundation, and endowments. “It’s probably the best way to give back to Bowling Green in that it touches to many different programs,” said Kristin Otley, who was foundation president last year. The foundation began in 1997 as idea from the BG Leadership group. “It’s very Bowling Green,” Otley said. “It’s just so fun to give this money away.” Kevin Cochrane, president-elect of the foundation, stressed that even the small dollar amounts are big deals for local non-profit groups. “Tonight is the best night of the year,” he said. “It is so cool. It’s a fun way to stay involved with the community.” Following is a list of the groups getting grants this year: ·         1BookBG Literacy Program – Funding for this community wide book club, which serves approximately 2,045 students and their families, will be used to give each student a follow-up book to read for enjoyment. ·         Best Buddies – Strives to promote inclusion through one-to-one friendships between people with and without disabilities in our community.  Funding will be used to plan events to promote and create meaningful, life-long friendships for students in the BGSU community and Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Bowling Green town community. ·         BG Area Community Bands—Funding will provide an educational and interdisciplinary music and dance experience to depict the connections between these two art forms.  Hixon Dance, a professional modern dance company will choreograph three dances. Students from area dance studios will be invited to create some original choreography and join the band for two selections,…


After 33 years in Statehouse, Gardner going back to school as chancellor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner’s dedication is unquestionable. Some may be critical of his politics – but many of those will confide that Gardner’s commitment is indisputable. During his 33 years in the Ohio House and Senate, he has never missed a vote. Since 1985, he has logged 10,423 consecutive roll call votes on bills, amendments and resolutions in his self-described “second home.” And as Senate Majority Leader, he was beginning his 20th year in service to elected leadership positions in the General Assembly – more than any other Republican in Ohio history. Come Monday, Gardner’s voting streak will end. But his service to Ohioans will continue as he is sworn in as the next chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The decision to switch roles was made after great deliberation, Gardner said on Thursday afternoon. “I have not had a job change since I’ve left the classroom at Otsego High School,” where he taught history. “It’s been a privilege of a lifetime serving the people of northern Ohio,” he said. But with term limits, Gardner faced just two years left as State Senator. “I still have a great passion for serving,” he said. “I looked at my opportunities to make a difference in the state,” he said. “It’s not because I’m rejecting what I’m doing now. I’ve enjoyed being Wood County’s voice at the Statehouse for more than 33 years.” And the chancellor position pairs Gardner’s passions for education and public service. He has served as chairman of the higher education subcommittee in the House and Senate for the last eight years. “That’s at least one strength I bring to the job,” he said. Gardner’s move may unleash a flurry of interest in the Senate seat left vacant. The opening will be filled by the majority caucus in the Ohio Senate – for the remainder of the two years left on his term. The Senate district covers all of Wood, Ottawa and Erie counties, plus portions of Lucas and Fulton counties. Gardner leaves office with the hope that work he left unfinished will be completed in his stead. “In the last few weeks, I’ve been increasingly concerned about school bus safety,” he said. “I’m hopeful that will be worked on in the next General Assembly.” Then there’s his work on cleaning up Lake Erie, with water advocates, business, agriculture and local government leaders. “To bring everyone to the table – that wasn’t done before,” Gardner said. The work resulted in plans for a bond issue supporting Lake Erie. “I’m certain that will be part of the agenda in next year,” he said. “Obviously, I still have a lot of interest in a lot of issues.” Gardner has a reputation for doing his homework and completing projects once he’s begun. During public meetings, he has been praised…


Latta: $5.7 billion will pay for more than a wall

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) is standing behind President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund border security. That money, Latta contends, isn’t just for a wall. Latta, in an interview Thursday, called the proposal multi-layered, and said Trump “is willing to negotiate.” It’s the Democratic leadership that’s not putting a counter proposal on the table, and that’s what’s needed to move toward an end to the stalemate that has idled some federal workers, while others are working without pay. National parks, if open, are filling with trash while assistance to farmers and those eligible for SNAP benefits are endangered as the partial federal government shutdown drags on. Latta said he has not collected his pay since the beginning of the shutdown. Latta described the $5.7 million as “a multilayered approach,” not “just a contiguous wall.” He said the plan would construct about 250 miles of barriers.  It would also pay to construct all-weather roads and purchase technology, including sensors and cameras. “It’s not just for one thing.” Most importantly, he said, it would pay for the personnel needed to guard the border. Latta praised those federal agents working on the border. Based on a trip to the border last July, he was impressed how they handled those coming over. He described a former big box store that has been transformed to house immigrants. Conditions on the border, he said, need to be addressed. A funding bill passed by the House, once the Democrats took control, did not have adequate funding, so he voted against it. The bill went nowhere because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it up, saying Trump would veto it. It was “a show piece,” Latta said. The Bowling Green Republican said that in the past prominent Democrats such as then Senator Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and current Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer backed a wall. That’s a reference to 2006 legislation that called for  fencing along the border, which Schumer and Obama did support, though Pelosi did not. Those barriers were built. As Latta noted in an interview before the November election, he believes there’s a lot of bipartisan cooperation that doesn’t get attention. On Dec. 31 a bill that he sponsored intended to find ways to combat vehicular terrorism was signed by Trump after bipartisan support in the House and Senate. He also cited legislation on providing more broadband service to rural areas to support precision agriculture, cyber security, and the recently passed farm bill as examples of legislators working across the aisle. Currently he’s working with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) on self-driving vehicle legislation. It’s important that the United States develop this technology and not let China become the dominant player. Ohio has a facility for testing autonomous vehicles. “We want that technology developed here…


BG schools task force weighs in on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Using clickers, the Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force members Wednesday weighed in on heavy questions about the district’s buildings. The majority of the 54 people voting supported a bond issue for schools, preferred one K-5 elementary, and supported the educational vision of the district. However, the significance of those results was questioned by task force members who wanted more options to vote on. Some suggested that there be a “do nothing” option for school buildings. “We need to have an option of ‘do nothing’ till we’re out of debt,” Grant Chamberlain said. Others asked for different configurations of which schools stay and which go. And Bud Henschen questioned how many of those members voting on Wednesday evening were teachers, who are biased about the issue. It was also pointed out that the task force, of 60 members or so, is a minute portion of the voting public in the school district. Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa leads tour of school for task force on Wednesday. Following are the questions and results of the surveying Wednesday evening. Bowling Green City Schools needs to pursue a bond issue that will address the needs of elementary schools: Strongly agree, 68%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 5%; Strongly disagree, 4% What is the preferred size of the elementary schools? One school with 1,350 students: 41%Two schools with 675 students: 29%Three schools with 450 students: 29% What is the preferred grade configuration of the elementaries? One pre-kindergarten through fifth grade: 78%Two, with one being pre-kindergarten through second, and the other third through fifth: 6%Three, with one being pre-kindergarten and first, one being second and third, and one being fourth and fifth: 16% I could support one consolidated elementary school: Strongly agree, 41%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 6%; Strongly disagree, 30% I could support renovating all three elementary buildings: Strongly agree, 25%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 16%; Strongly disagree, 39% I could support a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood and a renovated Crim: Strongly agree, 27%; Agree, 30%; Neutral, 5%; Disagree, 9%; Strongly disagree, 29% I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Conneaut site: Strongly agree, 15%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 22%; Strongly disagree, 35% I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Kenwood site: Strongly agree, 9%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 11%; Disagree, 20%; Strongly disagree, 39% I could support two buildings, with one on the Crim site and the other either at Conneaut or Kenwood: Strongly agree, 20%; Agree, 13%; Neutral, 15%; Disagree, 13%; Strongly disagree, 40% Which of the following options could you support (could vote for as many as wished): One consolidated elementary: 35Renovate all the elementaries: 17Build new Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and renovate Crim: 29Two building…


No Bravo! at BGSU this spring

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Bowling Green State University announced its premier arts events for the spring semester there was one particularly notable event, and one notable absence. Oscar-winning actress and BGSU alumna Eva Marie Saint will return to campus on March 29, a year after her last visit. Eva Marie Saint (left) speaks during a question and answer session moderated by Lesa Lockford at the 2018 Bravo! BGSU. The Oscar-winning actress will return to campus March 29 for the re-dedication of the Gish Theatre. During that 2018 appearance, she took part in Bravo! BGSU, an arts gala that raised funds for scholarships in the arts. Bravo! Is no more. While the event was successful in raising annually  just under $60,000 for scholarships that benefit dozens of students, the cost of staging the event was disproportionate to what it raised. “Each year it got better,” said Dean William Mathis, of the College of Musical Arts. “We got better at it. It really hit its stride. … Artistically it really started to flow.” The event had been initiated by President Mary Ellen Mazey, and remained a presidential event. Mazey expressed the hope that it would become the premier arts event in the region. But the organization fell more and more to the arts units on campus. “The event started take on some tradition and people started to recognize it. We were very proud of the content and the quality,” Mathis said. “It was really started on a shoe string … and as it gained more momentum and got more people involved, we really needed to sit back and analyze what we were doing.” That analysis by the arts coordination committee co-chaired by Mathis and Dean Ray Craig of the College of Arts and Sciences started last summer, now with a new president, Rodney Rogers, at the helm of the university.  “Because of the time and resources that it took, we weren’t sure we were getting return on the investment,” Mathis said. Later, Mathis added that “Bravo! wasn’t expanding our audience.” Some who attended were regulars at university arts events, but Bravo! didn’t encourage those who weren’t to come for other performances or exhibits. The decision was made to focus more on the premier arts events that were already built into the schedule. Here’s what’s scheduled for spring semester. ° Apollo’s Fire will present “A Night at Bach’s Coffeehouse” on Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall as part of the Cleveland-based ensemble’s Hansen Musical Arts Series residency.  ° A reception and special appearance by Eva Marie Saint will be held March 29 at 7 p.m. in the new Gish Film Theater, 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The event will mark the re-dedication of the theater following its relocation from Hanna Hall. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. The event is free but …


County park district programs think outside boring boxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District’s programs extend outside the box – way beyond anything remotely resembling a box. Take for example the black frog beer and trivia event, the “M-archery Madness” and program on the Valentine’s Day view from the perspective of wildlife. “Those are a little more non-traditional programs,” said Jim Witter, park district program coordinator and the brainchild behind many of the less conventional looks at nature. Public surveys about the park programming have shown appreciation for the variety of activities offered. Some programs draw in crowds, such as the eclipse program that attracted 70 people, and the upcoming owl program that was capped off at 100. “We continue to get incredibly positive responses,” about programs, Bob Hawker, vice president of the park board, said Tuesday during the monthly park board meeting. Part of the attractions come with the particular parks – rock rappelling at Sawyer Nature Preserve, canoeing at W.W. Knight Preserve, and bicycling on the Slippery Elm Trail. “There’s a whole variety of adventure activities that continue to be liked,” Hawker said. But it goes beyond making the most of the rocks, water and trails in the parks. Much of the popularity is based on the park district programming staff’s ability to take a wacky look at wildlife and a non-conventional view of nature. “The staff continues to embrace what our constituents want,” Hawker said. “So far the results are overwhelmingly positive.” Some people are just naturally attracted to nature – so no creativity is needed. Those “nature nerds” will show up for programs on plants and animals. But others require a little ingenuity to lure them in. That’s where Witter and the programming staff gets to wander off the beaten path. Some programs teach skills – some more useful than others – such as how to use a compass, how to build a fire, or how to make a fly for fishing, “We try to think of things more outside the box to get more non-traditional folks out there,” Witter said. “We just have to decide how far outside the box.” The theory is, if a wacky programs gets people to the parks, they just might come back again. Some of the programs offer more “domestic” skills – like making Native American moccasins and reviving the lost art of mending clothes. Then there’s cooking – the old-fashioned way – like pickle making, and the upcoming class on making (and tasting) ricotta. Like many classes, that one is already full but has a waiting list. For the artistic types, there have been programs on decoy carving and painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin carving, and the upcoming program on snowman art – which could be difficult this season. For animal lovers, the list is long. There are chances to participate in frog monitoring, to learn to…


BG, BGSU lay out plans to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Service projects in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will continue this year, though on a smaller scale. This will be the 11th year for Bowling green State University to encourage students to have a day on, rather than a day off, on the holiday honoring King, said Paul Valdez, associate director for the BGSU Center for Community and Civic Engagement.  In the past decade hundreds of students to participate in projects in the community.   This year, however, because of winter session few students are on campus. Undeterred the center, Valdez said, encouraging students who are able to participate in the “Can”vass,  food drive which is now coordinated by the Brown Bag Food Project. And one group of students who are on campus — athletes — will be spending Monday, Jan. 21, working with local high school athletes. Details for  local commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. were  discussed during a taping for the WBGU-PBS program “The Journal.” The public affairs program, hosted by Steve Kendall, will air Thursday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m. then Friday at noon, and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. as well as online at wbgu.org. The King commemoration will begin with the city’s program at the Wood County District Public Library, Friday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Christina Lunceford, Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at Bowling Green State University.  The Drum Major for Peace Award will also be presented during the ceremony. The tribute to the civil rights leader hosted by the city’s Human Relations Commission began 30 years ago, Mayor Richard Edwards said. Then the ceremony was held in city council chambers. Now it is presented in the atrium of the library, and includes musical performances. This year, Edward Duling, organist at the First Presbyterian Church, will play the piano. “It’s an uplifting event,” Edwards said. The “Can”vass food drive will take place Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20, each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The drive started in 2009 when a group of local residents responded to newly elected President Barack Obama. Brown Bag Food Project has been coordinating the effort for the past three years.  The food collected will be distributed to a half dozen food pantries in the community. Last year about 200 students and community members volunteered. Most went out into neighborhoods soliciting donations of non-perishable food items. Others stayed back at Grounds for Thought, and sorted and checked the items collected, said Brown Bag founder Amy Jo Holland. That wasn’t enough to reach all neighborhoods, said Amy Jeffers, a Brown Bag board  member who has participated in the food drive since its inception. Marty Sears, who works in the BGSU Center for Civic and Community Engagement, said that with fewer students…


Federal shutdown may squeeze more than furloughed workers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News As the federal government shutdown drags into day 17 on Tuesday, the number of people caught up in the gridlock grows. If the stalemate continues, it could affect local residents relying on food assistance, those needing help paying for utilities and transportation, and farmers who were promised some relief from tariffs. Initially, the shutdown over funding for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico affected an estimated 800,000 federal employees. On this Friday, those workers will go through their first payday with no checks being given. But as it continues, the stalemate will impact far more than those 800,000 workers. Originally, the shutdown would have also halted tax returns to Americans. But the unpopularity of that prospect led to an announcement Monday afternoon that tax refunds will go out despite the government shutdown. Prior to that announcement, local tax preparers were in a land of limbo. “We haven’t heard when the actual filing season might open,” said Leah Jenne, of Stott CPA in Bowling Green. Jenne and others in the tax business had been told that when returns are accepted, taxpayers will have to pay the amounts they owe – but they will have to wait on their refunds. “You can file your returns, but you’re not going to get a refund,” Jenne said of the original tax season plan during the shutdown. Jenne said she had one important question – “Are you going to attach some interest to this?” Then she added, “I know the answer.” The Internal Revenue Service is among the federal agencies affected by the government shutdown, and is reportedly operating with only 12.5 percent of its workforce, or fewer than 10,000 federal employees. Stott CPA will be ready when taxpayers are – regardless of the IRS. “At this point, it’s business as usual as far as we’re concerned,” Jenne said. But while a lifesaver has been tossed out for those citizens due tax returns, that same provision hasn’t been extended to those in need of food assistance. Over at the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services, there are 5,843 people who depend on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). So far, those citizens don’t have to worry, according to Dave Wigent, director of the county agency. “The state saw the situation coming, so they drew down money from the feds pretty aggressively,” Wigent said. But if the shutdown lingers and that funding runs dry, then the state will be in a very difficult position, Wigent said. “The state will then be in crisis to support the county operations,” he said. “There is a tipping point.” If the state can’t supplement, then it will be not only the food assistance facing cuts, but also the program that helps people with utility payments and transportation. Next door at the Wood County Health Department, a…


BG advised to stay calm about wily coyote sightings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It’s that time of year, when Bowling Green Police Division gets calls about wily coyotes being spotted in some city neighborhoods. The rule of thumb is this – don’t worry, coyotes are much more fearful of humans and are likely to skidaddle at the least warning from people. “People have seen them in their neighborhoods,” primarily on the north side of the city and in the area around Wintergarden Park, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “It’s normal to see them, and they’re not normally a threat,” Hetrick said. Hetrick recalled his first coyote sighting in Bowling Green when he was working a midnight shift 12 years ago, and a coyote ran in front of his patrol car on Poe Road. “They do range freely in Wood County,” he said. “There are probably a lot more than people realize because they are so good at hiding.” The police division is asking that city residents only call to report a coyote sighting if it is threatening or in the very, very rare incident of a pet being attacked. “They are nothing to be alarmed about,” Hetrick said. “They are pretty afraid of people.” Quite often, coyotes are mistaken for dogs – and vice versa. Coyotes are slender animals, very similar in appearance to medium-sized dogs and much smaller than wolves, a species not currently found in Ohio. The majority of coyotes are gray, though some show a rusty, brown or off-white coloration.They have bushy tails which are usually tipped with black. Coyotes are most active at dawn and dusk, but may be seen frequently throughout the day. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, with dropping temperatures comes increased coyote activity in Ohio. Coyote activity builds in January and continues through March due to breeding season. During the months of April and May, coyotes tend to actively protect their litters as well, which could lead to potential conflicts with humans and pets. Keeping the following guidelines in mind when you encounter a coyote will help to prevent or reduce problems. Understand that coyotes are established in all of Ohio’s 88 counties and are regularly spotted within city limits. Read more about coyotes at wildohio.gov. If you spot a coyote on your property, make sure to remove all “attractants” to deter the coyote from returning. “Stash your trash” by properly securing garbage and removing outside pet food primarily before nightfall. Remember to clean up around the grill as well. Do not feed coyotes directly.Typical foods consumed by coyotes include small mammals (voles, shrews, rabbits, mice), plant matter, nuts, and dead animals such as road-kill. However, interactions with domestic pets do occur sometimes. Keep small dogs and cats inside (especially at night) or on a six-foot leash when outside. Retractable leashes are of little help since it is very difficult to…


Collab Lab director Jerry Schnepp tunes into the forces of innovation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jerry Schnepp reached this stage of his career taking an unusual path. That’s fitting for someone who leads the Collab Lab, an initiative to spark creative thinking. The rocker by night and innovation initiator by day recently received the Faculty Excellence Award for 2018 from the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering. Schnepp, 42, splits his time between teaching courses in visual communications technology and directing the Collab Lab at Bowling Green State University. The lab opened just over a year ago. “We call the Collab Lab an idea accelerator, not a maker space,  not a business  incubator, an idea accelerator. It’s a place people can get together with people from other disciplines and develop prototypes. It’s a place we can try things out and not be afraid of failing, and build on that learning experience to develop innovations.” To date the lab helped launch an opioid teach-in on campus, which was both an academic and a civic endeavor. The lab also put together an electronic art summer workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art. Schnepp said the lab has been hosting creative thinking workshops for classes, student organizations and industry partners. A design team from First Solar did a creative thinking workshop with the lab. “It was really valuable to them,” Schnepp said. “This is something we’ll offer to other industry partners.” Schnepp was invited to make a presentation at Epic Toledo’s leadership summit. Epic Toledo is an organization of young professionals and young entrepreneurs who are involved in the community. That invitation, Schnepp said, was gratifying because it recognized that the Collab Lab is viewed as a regional resource, not just a university program. He expects in the future the lab will be able to tell stories about ideas hatched there that have grown into thriving businesses. “That’s what we envision it to be,” he said. “More importantly it’s helping to create a culture of innovation on campus and in the community.”   Schnepp marched to his own tune to get to this point. He grew up in Chicago, and started playing rock music as a 12 year old. That proved his entry into the digital world. This was a time when multi-track recording software and graphics programs including Photoshop and Illustrator were appearing on the market, and he put them to good use. “I just got interested in using computers to make music and do graphic design for my band and other bands.”  It was the last days of dial-up internet service.  “People started using the internet in everything.” He attended the University of Illinois Chicago in Communications, graduating in 2000. He didn’t find a job to his liking, so he pursued graduate studies in human computer interaction at DePaul University in Chicago. The program combined art, psychology, and computer science to study of how…


BG school board debates how to reduce number of levy attempts on ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education finds itself wedged between a rock and a hard place. The rock being that four levies are coming due, and a possible building bond issue, in the next three to five years. The hard place being that efforts to consolidate those levies may be difficult for voters to digest. The school board, superintendent and treasurer spent more than four hours on Saturday trying to get a grasp on the difficult climb ahead – and trying to find an option that voters will support. Leading the work session was David Conley, the district’s financial consultant from Rockmill Financial Consulting, who tossed out numbers examining the differences between property tax and income tax, comparing Bowling Green to other districts, and studying the levy history for the district. “This isn’t something that happened because people made mistakes,” Conley told the board. “It’s just a result of circumstances.” But the result of those circumstances is made even more difficult because the clock is ticking. The next opportunity to put a levy on the ballot is May. If the board decides to put an issue on in May, the filing deadline is Feb. 6. Though there was no consensus reached, the board will meet again on Thursday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m., in the administrative offices, to continue the levy discussion. Like many school districts, Bowling Green relies on levies that have time limits. The theory is that voters like to retain some control – rather than have continuing levies. And school boards, while preferring to have continuing levies, introduce time limited levies with the belief that voters will be more likely to support them. But since school expenses always increase, rather than decrease, that puts districts in the difficult position of having to go back to the voters for money when the levies run out. Bowling Green currently has three levies that are set to expire within the next three years: 4.2-mill current expenses levy, raising $2.4 million annually, ending in 2020.1.6-mill emergency levy, raising $1 million a year, set to expire in 2020.0.5 percent income tax, raising $3.4 million annually, ending in 2022. Failure to at least renew those amounts “would be a disaster” for the district, Conley said. Further complicating the situation is that in addition to those three renewals, the district also needs additional operating funds, plus is working toward some type of funding for building renovations or construction. “This is a very complicated set of circumstances,” Conley said. The district will soon need to secure some type of funding for its buildings, he said. “Our facilities are sucking money out of our bank account,” Conley said. If allowed to continue, it “will screw up long-term plans for operations.” The thought of asking the voters for funding five times in three years is more…


BGSU winter session lifts off

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With only about 350 students enrolled in classes on campus, a visitor would be forgiven for thinking the Bowling Green State University is on break. But on Wednesday BGSU welcomed the new calendar year with the newest twist in its calendar, winter session. Despite appearances the new short session has exceeded enrollment expectations. Assistant Vice Provost Paul Cesarini said based on other schools’ experiences with a winter session, the university expected 600-700 students to enroll. Instead the final number came in at 1,076. “It’s going really well. We didn’t know what to expect going in,” he said. Those students just aren’t in Bowling Green. Emily Alderman leads a tour of campus. They may be off in China or New Zealand or other foreign and domestic locations on study abroad trips. Or they may just be at home in their pajamas catching up on a course or getting ahead through an online class. Cesarini said the face-to-face classes were always expected to be a small part of the session’s academic package. “That is not a bad thing.” The expectation was never that a lot of students would spend the session on campus.  Graduate students also are using the break to work on their dissertations. Betsy Winters, eCampus program coordinator, said that courses that fill the BG Perspective requirement are the most popular. Those include writing and math, and a number of other disciplines. An Italian course attracted enough students to be offered, she noted. It fulfills two BG Perspective requirements. While a number of courses were proposed, many were not offered because too few students expressed interest. About 700 students are taking online classes during the session. Overall, junior and seniors represent more than 60 percent of the students enrolled during winter session. Not every course is conducive to being offered in the shorter winter session window, Cesarini said. That would be true for lab-based science courses, he said.  Students had about a dozen study abroad opportunities. Those included studying marine and aquatic sciences in Curacao, architecture and design in Spain, art and the environment in New Zealand, and culture and mathematics in China. In all, 116 students are participating in study abroad. While Cesarini is hesitant to gaze into the future, he expects the growth in winter session will be in online learning and experiential learning, which includes domestic and international travel as well as practicums, and field experience. When the change was proposed administrators said the longer break in January will give students who elect not to enroll for winter session course more time to work.  He noted a couple new study abroad trips are already well on their way through the system to be approved for winter session, 2020. He said it is important winter session study abroad opportunities do not duplicate and compete with those offered…