BG asked to monitor pipeline crossing of Maumee River

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One of the strongest voices against the Nexus pipeline was back at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. He lost his battle to stop the pipeline with a charter amendment – so he is now hoping to make sure construction of the line is monitored for safety. Brad Holmes asked for confirmation that the city will keep its commitment to monitor the pipeline underground crossing of the Maumee River. City officials assured that they would. The natural gas Nexus pipeline will run from eastern Ohio to Canada, and be buried just 800 feet from Bowling Green’s water treatment plant along its route. So Holmes said he was asking for the line to be monitored on behalf of all the people who rely on the city’s water. Holmes mentioned the poor environmental record of Rover Pipeline, which has spilled drilling fluid during its construction process in southern Ohio. The Nexus line is currently under construction and will likely be done by the end of summer. Mayor Dick Edwards said he has every intention to work very closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “They are the ones who will be doing the monitoring” since they have the equipment and knowledge, he said. Edwards said he will keep council and the public in the loop on when the river crossing work is scheduled. Council President Mike Aspacher said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler promised his agency would be very hands-on during the river crossing construction. “We’re very well on the record with our concerns,” he said. And the Ohio EPA was responsive. “They are very mindful of the lessons they learned in southern Ohio,” from the Rover spills, Aspacher said. Council member John Zanfardino agreed. “They were going to be heightening their monitoring,” he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Aspacher congratulated council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and Zanfardino for coming up with a food truck ordinance. City…


BG DECA students’ runoff filtration idea cleans up at international conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two DECA students from Bowling Green poured in on, and scored a second place finish at the International Career Development Conference in April with a pitch for a product to address Lake Erie’s algae problems. Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker, both Bowling Green High School juniors, placed second in the entrepreneurship idea contest at the DECA conference held in Atlanta with their idea for a filter that would address the runoff from farm fields that’s polluting Lake Erie. They were the top U.S. team with first place going to students from Ontario. And the pair says they’re not stopping there. “This is a huge market and could provide a future for us and families, and better future for people around the world,” O’Donnell said. They see the technology they are working on as being the foundation for a business. For that reason, they asked for a certain amount of discretion when describing the details of their idea. The have applied for provisional patents. Simply put, it is a filtration system that goes on the end of the piping from field tiles that removes the nitrates, phosphorus, and sediment that run into the Lake. That runoff messes with the lake’s ecosystem and can cause the kind of toxic algae growth that turned off the tap for much of the region during the Toledo water crisis in 2014. O’Donnell and Stucker have known each other since middle school. It was in seventh grade that they learned about the problem facing Lake Erie. But it was more recently when Stucker was having a conversation with a friend that the idea started to hatch. His friend, from Colorado, said she was headed west over winter break to go skiing. He lamented they had nothing so exciting here in Ohio. When she brought up Lake Erie, he said, it was too cold part of the year and toxic in the summer. This got him thinking about what could be…


Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are…


Poli sci prof’s life stories are the last word on getting things done

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Every year the Mortar Board honor society at Bowling Green State University selects a professor to deliver a “last lecture,” a speech to culminate the university experience. The speaker should be an “accomplished professor” distinguished for scholarship, leadership and service. That’s what the email that Melissa Miller, professor in political science, received early one January morning said. She accepted the honor with little thought, or the assistance of her morning coffee. She was, she said, “putty in the hands” of Mortar Board. It was only after some questions from her husband and political science department colleague Neal Englehart that the magnitude of the task at hand dawned on her – probably about the same time the sun dawned on her Perrysburg home. He wondered: How long should lecture be? What is the lecture supposed to be about? “I’ve got nothing,” Miller realized. She related this dilemma to those attending her “last lecture” recently. “Nine Lives Later: What I Learned about How to Get Things Done” encapsulated what she would say if this was the last lecture she’d ever give. In the end, Miller addressed this challenge the way she had so many others in her life and career dating back to her undergraduate years at Cornell University. Those challenges could be finishing her doctoral dissertation or making a Halloween costume for her 3-year-old. They occurred while competing on a college forensics team and climbing a mountain in Alaska. “I always find a way,” she said. “I always come through. I have a pretty good grasp of how to get things done.” When faced with daunting tasks, Miller explained in her lecture that she relies on three basic techniques – use what’s at hand; start the caffeine drip; and call a friend. When she was on the speech team at Cornell she found herself competing in impromptu speaking for the first time. She failed miserably in her first attempt. Then her coach explained that all…


Another plat approved in Stone Ridge subdivision

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Stone Ridge subdivision, on the west edge of Bowling Green, is experiencing a growth spurt. The new homes will be maintained by a homeowners’ association – meaning no planting, mowing, mulching or shoveling by the homeowners. Last week, the city planning commission approved preliminary plans for Plat 8 with 26 new homes in the golf course development. The plans received unanimous approval, and will not need City Council’s blessing. Stone Ridge currently has 208 occupied residential homes, according to Bob Spitler, with the development. Nine new units are under construction, and 16 lots are available for sale. The growth at Stone Ridge comes on top of already healthy housing additions in Bowling Green this year. According to Planning Director Heather Sayler, the city has requests for 19 new single-family homes so far this year, compared to 14 at this time last year. This newest plat in Stone Ridge will consist of a new road called Winterwood Court, with 19 lots on 7.2 acres that will be included in a separate homeowners’ association which will maintain the yards, landscaping, snow removal for each lot, and the common area. There will also be five additional lots on the extension of Pine Valley Drive. The developer of the new lots is Stone Ridge Partners of Bowling Green Ltd. The builder for Winterwood is Tony Buff Custom Builders. The planning commission gave a waiver for Winterwood Court, which exceeded the length allowed for cul-de-sacs in the city. The extra length had already received approval from the city fire division. Dave Saneholtz, of Poggemeyer Design Group, explained that the 19 homes on Winterwood would be positioned using a “building envelope” on the lots. There will be no common walls, as in another section of Stone Ridge, where two homes share the walls between them. “We believe this will work out great,” Saneholtz said. “I’ve seen some of these in Perrysburg, and that’s where we’re losing some…


BGSU graduates told to make their voices heard

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Beth Macy got her start as a writer in a stand of lilacs near her home. The youngest, late arriving, child in a family of four, she spent a lot of time alone. She would hide among the lilacs and listen to those who came by. She heard the “strange and beautiful, about justice and injustice.” That’s what Macy would write about years later as a journalist, winning national honors for her books, magazine articles, and newspaper reporting. Macy told the graduates at the Saturday morning commencement ceremonies at Bowling Green State University that after spending four years or so “honing your distinctive voice, now it’s your turn to be heard.” She continued: “Don’t forget to see your corner of the world with your slant, that tilted way of looking at life that only you and you alone can provide. Find your own stand of lilacs and be still among them. Look up and reach out.” If Macy at 53 could whisper in the ear of her 22-year-old self, she tell her to “remember the lilacs.” Interim Provost John Fischer said Macy has made a career writing about “the outsiders and underdogs.” She’s authored three books, including a forthcoming exploration of the opioid epidemic. Macy recalled her graduation day when she was likely concerned about how she was going to move all her belongings to Columbus in a 20-year-old VW Beetle. Would the car even make it? The only thing holding the battery in place was a cutting board wedged in the back seat. Awaiting her was her first job, a $200 a week position with a city magazine that largely involved updating the publication’s restaurant guide. The idea for becoming writer stemmed from a fourth grade teacher giving her the book “Harriet the Spy.” Here Macy said she found a kindred spirit. At BGSU, she found people to help her shape her own talent advising her she should be able to come back…


BG proposed city charter changes whittled down

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The citizens working on the Bowling Green City Charter review have narrowed down the number of changes voters will have to decide this coming November. Rejected from the list were changes that would have likely been controversial, such as: Make all council terms four years. Currently, the ward candidates serve two years and the at-large serve four. Change council races to non-partisan. Currently, candidates must declare a party such as Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Independent. Make all council seats at-large. Currently, one candidate is elected from each of the four wards, and three are elected to serve at-large. Change the filing date to August, as is done by most area communities. Possibly change the ward reapportionments, based on population but keeping neighborhoods intact. But several other proposed changes made the cut last week, and will next face City Council before they go before Bowling Green voters. The citizen committee working on the Bowling Green City Charter review initially discussed nearly 20 possible changes to the charter during a public meeting last month. The group’s members were very aware that they must decide not only if the changes belong in the charter – but also if city voters are likely to support the proposals. The committee voted down one more proposed change last week – this one allowing the city administrator to live outside the city, on a case-by-case basis. “I think it sends an alarming message to citizens,” said John Fawcett, a committee member and a retired city administrator. Though a model charter used by the committee included such language, “I think the model is wrong, dead wrong,” he said. Chet Marcin, a committee member and attorney who has worked with village governments, agreed. “It was deeply resented if they didn’t live in the town,” he said of his experiences in other communities. Some charter review members said this change would allow the city to hire a clearly superior candidate for…


As BGSU aviation program reaches new heights, trustees approve expanding flight center’s footprint

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The aviation program at Bowling Green State University is flying high. Friday Board of Trustees voted to double the size of the property the university leases to North Star Aviation, the firm that provides flight training for BGSU aviation students. That property will be used to build a hanger to house the additional four planes that will be purchased to serve the growing student body. The Bowling Green Flight Center will also expanded, including room for a new jet flight simulator. “We always hoped we would need this action, but we didn’t expect it to come so soon,” Sherideen Stoll, the university’s chief financial officer, told the trustees. In fall, 2014, 70 students were enrolled in Flight Technology and Operations. That program now has 194 students. The original lease for the center, which opened spring, 2015, was for four acres. The new lease expands that to 8.2 acres. Groundbreaking on the hanger will be able to start immediately. The flight center expansion is still in the planning stages. The trustees also approved new fees that will be charged as the center moves toward training on multi-engine planes. Stoll indicated that further expansion will occur off-site. The air space can only be used for a limited number of flights, and the Wood County Airport is approaching that limit. In another public-private partnership, the trustees approved a joint use agreement between BGSU and Cedar Fair, the company that owns Cedar Point, related to the construction of an academic building in Sandusky to support the university’s new degree in resort and attraction management. The state is providing $800,000 for the academic building for what’s expected to be 200 majors once the program is launched. The building will provided living space, classrooms, conference spaces, and offices. The degree-completion program will be open to employees of other companies, beside Cedar Fair. Students can take the first two years of the program on the Firelands campus. The trustees also approved…


BGSU trustees set tuition for first Falcon Guarantee class

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The incoming freshman class at Bowling Green State University will pay 5.9 percent more in tuition and fees than students are now. The trustees approved the increase as part of the Falcon Tuition Guarantee through which students are guaranteed that their costs for going to BGSU will not change over four years, except for some program specific fees. The incoming students will pay $5,610 a year, in tuition and fees. The out-of-state surcharge for undergraduate and graduate students is also increasing 6 percent, or  $452 a year. An out-of-state student will pay $9,604. This is the first time since 2013 that tuition has increased. Sherideen Stoll, the Chief Financial Officer, said the increase in tuition will boost university income by $2.2 million annually. The increase in the out-of-state surcharge will generate an additional $900,000. The out-of-state surcharge for graduate students will bring in $275,000 in more revenue. Stoll said even with these tuition increases “our relative total cost position has not changed” among other state universities. BGSU is the fifth least expensive. The tuition guarantee increases do not apply to distance learning students nor those enrolled on the Firelands campus. Interim Provost John Fischer reported earlier in the meeting that at this point the university is looking at an incoming class of 3,700 students. Thomas Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost, reported that the university has started “to move the needle” on retention. The goal is to retain 80 percent of students from their first to their second year. As it stands the retention number is 79.87 percent. That’s five students short of hitting 80 percent, he said. He cautioned that there are several key events that result in “summer melt.” One is when grades come out. The university, he said, has been reaching out to students on academic probation, to assure them their performance can be turned around and there are programs on campus to help them. Another critical point…


Foster family opens home and hearts to 19 children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some parents dream of becoming empty nesters. Quiet dinners, no pediatrician appointments, less hectic households. But Chris and Melanie Feather, of Grand Rapids, felt something was missing when their four boys grew up and moved on. So they took a bold step – bigger than buying an RV or a warm weather winter retreat – they became foster parents. “We had empty rooms,” Melanie said. “We really felt that was something we needed to do.” That was seven years and 19 children ago. “I love kids. I could probably do this forever,” Melanie said, giving a sideways glance at Chris to check his reaction. It took a few seconds, but then her husband’s straight face broke into a big silly grin. The couple, who was recently named Wood County Children Services Foster Parents of the Year, has taken in children ranging from newborns to 17-year-olds. So they now have four adult children, one adopted, plus six biological grandchildren, and “a lot of honorary” grandchildren. “I always think there’s somebody else out there who needs us,” Chris said. “There are a lot of kids who need love,” Melanie said. “They come in as strangers and leave as family.” “Or they don’t leave,” Chris said, referring to all the kids that stay in contact with the Feather family. “It makes my heart happy,” Melanie said, smiling. The Feathers readily admit the job of foster parenting isn’t easy. It ranges from fun and a blessing, to frustrating and nearly maddening – and that can be all in one day. But they try to stay focused on the goal. They are in this to get kids through rough patches in their lives that are no fault of their own. Some children don’t want to be removed from their families, no matter how bad that environment might be. “Some of the kids are mad they are in foster care,” Melanie said. She and Chris explain to the…


BG voters to decide on Sunday sales at Sunset Bistro

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters in a section of Bowling Green’s west side will get to decide one ballot issue next week that won’t cost them a penny – except later when they order a drink while dining out. On Tuesday’s primary election ballot, voters in Precinct 110 will vote on allowing Sunset Bistro to serve wine and liquor on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to midnight. The citizens included in this vote are surrounded by Foxgate, Meeker Street, Wooster Street and Conneaut Avenue. Sunset Bistro, owned by Prudy Brott, at 1220 W. Wooster St., has been open now for three years. The restaurant serves beer, wine and liquor on every other day of the week, but on Sundays can only serve beer and Verdi, a type of sparkling champagne. “We’d just like it to be like the rest of the days of the week,” Brott said. Restaurant employees went door-to-door to collect petition signatures to get the issue on the ballot. “We had such a great response,” Brott said. Customers at the bistro often ask for wine or liquor on Sundays, during the restaurant’s weekly brunch or later during evening dinners. “They want to have a glass of wine or a cocktail,” she said. There have been times when diners have left the restaurant when they find out that wine and liquor are not available on Sundays. And one regular group of diners often goes to one of their party’s homes for a drink then return to Sunset Bistro for dinner, Brott said. The lack of liquor sales was particularly detrimental this past New Year’s Eve that fell on a Sunday. People were reluctant to make reservations, she said. “It limits what we can do here,” Brott said. Even if the voters pass the Sunday sales issue, Brott will still have to apply to the State Liquor Control for the proper license. “It wouldn’t be immediate,” she said. But people have been very supportive. “We serve…


Route 6 project steering toward fewer fatal crashes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   U.S. 6 offers few challenges to drivers. It’s about has flat and straight as they come. But the route that stretches east-west just south of Bowling Green is the site of many fatal crashes. “It’s the number one deadly killer road in Wood County,” said Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. In the past three years, there have been 18 fatalities on Route 6 in Wood, Henry and Sandusky counties. During that same period, there have been 252 injuries and 745 property damage incidents on the roadway. So the route is now the focus of “Safe 6 Initiative,” which will coordinate law enforcement agencies to target aggressive driving behaviors on Route 6. The top causes for crashes on the route have been identified as failure to yield, failure to keep assured clear distance, going left of center, unsafe speeds, and improper passing. Route 6 is the second largest federal highway in the U.S., second only to U.S. 20, Wiechman said during a gathering Tuesday of area law enforcement, Ohio Department of Transportation and AAA officials. On its route from California to Massachusetts, Route 6 travels across Ohio farmland in the west, up to Lake Erie, and then through wooded areas of Ohio’s east. “It cuts through the heartland of Ohio,” Wiechman said. The roadway is used by many area residents for their daily commutes. Traffic increases in the summer, as motorists use the route to get to Lake Erie or other vacation destinations. Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Angel Burgos, of the Bowling Green post, said Route 6 is known for being a dangerous road, high in fatalities. Burgos has had to make death notifications to families of the victims. “The driving behavior just needs to change,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make Route 6 a lot safer this summer.” The high number of crashes on the route is a “head-scratcher,” according to Staff Lt. Jerrod Savidge, of the Ohio…


Youngsters share the stories of Hispanic heroes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Joan Medina was a little intimidated by portraying his character during the Celebrate Dia! literacy program Monday evening. Medina was called on to portray Cesar Chavez, “an icon in the culture.” Nerves or not, the 17-year-old Penta student, dressed in a white shirt, stood up and told the farm labor leader’s story, first in English and then in Spanish. He was proud to do it. Chavez fought for the rights of farm workers, but he did so non-violently, inspired by the methods of Gandhi. “He showed that people are people, and they deserve to be treated fairly.” Medina said. He was one of eight young people, portraying seven notable Latino figures at the Wood County District Public Library. El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Dy) is a national event initiated by the American Library Association. Children’s Librarian Maria Simon said she was grateful the library could hold its own celebration in partnership with La Conexion. This is the fifth year the library has hosted the celebration. Each year a book is selected to build the program around. This year it was “Bravo!” written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Beatriz Maya, the director of La Conexion, said the event was a way to help young people learn more about their Hispanic heritage and then to share it with the community. Also, some may be encouraged to learn or maintain their Spanish when they see their peers using it in their presentations, she said. The figures offered a wide range of characters from a diplomat to a baseball star to, fittingly given the setting, a librarian. Beside Medina’s portrayal of Chavez, other presentations were: Adolfo Martinez Alba portrayed Juan de Miralles, a Spanish messenger to the early American Congress. Shanaia Cellis portrayed Juana Briones, a Mexican rancher and healer. Jonathan Ortega portrayed Louis Agassiz Fuertes, an ornithologist and painter. Eduardo Matta portrayed Arnold Rojas, who chronicled the life…


BG State of the City address forecasts busy year ahead

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green saw a record number of 32 ribbon cuttings for new businesses last year, and more ribbons and orange construction barrels are forecasted for this year. “The ceremonial scissors are already working overtime since the start of the new year,” Mayor Dick Edwards said during the State of the City address hosted by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning at the Wood County District Public Library. “We are not ‘Boring’ Green,” Edwards said as he listed off last year’s accomplishments and this year’s plans. The financial health of the city is “rock solid good,” with the community earning a healthy bond rating last year. City Council addressed the shortfall in the city’s trash pickup program last year, by adopting a fee in line with other cities in the region, the mayor said. Edwards said he believes that the hardships caused by cuts in Local Government Funds from the state will not continue. “I now feel confident that the next governor of Ohio will not be indifferent to the continuing challenges before most political subdivisions,” he said. Unlike other communities, Bowling Green has no shortage of citizens willing to get involved in the operations of their city – either by helping to update the city charter, serving on city boards and commissions, or donating to the new Wooster Green gathering place, the mayor said. “Bowling Green is distinctively a city marked by an involved citizenry, a city with a lot of residents who feel passionate about issues,” Edwards said. “I cannot imagine being mayor of a city where the citizenry is passive, non-involved and not caring,” he said. The city received accolades last year by being selected by Ohio Magazine as one of “Ohio’s Best Hometowns.” The municipal utilities department was ranked number 7 nationally on the solar list by Smart Electric Power Alliance. And on June 1, at 4 p.m., the city will dedicate the new gazebo and launch…


GOP challengers come at 5th District incumbent from both sides

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Latta was not available for an interview for this story. In response to a request by BG Independent News, his campaign spokesman Drew Griffin wrote: “We’re not going to be able to do an interview on the primary.” That Latta again was not available explains in large part why on May 8, he’s facing a primary challenges from two fellow Republicans, Robert Kreienkamp, a retired engineer, from Wayne, and Todd Wolfrum, an attorney and county commissioner, Middle Point. In interviews both referred to his lack of responsiveness. Latta is able to “hide from every debate, from every argument,” Wolfrum said. This approach is possible because conservatives have given up hope that Latta can be beaten. Kreienkamp contrasted Latta’s lack of accessibility to how accessible the representative’s father, Del Latta, who represented the district for 30 years, was. Kreienkamp recalls going to see the elder Latta about his concerns about the inheritance tax that was causing some families to sell their farms to settle up with the government. Kreienkamp, who still lives on his family farm, said Latta was straightforward in telling him that he agreed, but that a solution was unlikely at the time. Kreienkamp appreciated his candor. In contrast, he sent a letter to Bob Latta with his concerns about President Trump’s plan to build a border wall. In response he got a two-page letter filled with facts and figures. But “I didn’t have a clue if he supported it.” “People want a change,” said Wolfrum who has knocked on more than 20,000 doors. Todd Wolfrum Wolfrum said he and a lot of conservatives are tired of politicians telling them what they want to hear when campaigning and “then go to Washington and act like liberals.” He said his biggest issue is conservative representatives go to Washington to cut spending and limit government. But though the Republicans have controlled Congress for four years, government has grown and the spending…