BG Council split over prioritizing planning in city charter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For the second consecutive meeting, Bowling Green City Council was divided over just how the city charter should be updated. And again, the vote was not according to party lines. The issue Monday evening was city planning. The decision boiled down to which was more important – protecting the integrity of the city charter, stressing the importance of city planning, or trying to do both. When it came to a vote, those wanting to keep the charter pristine while emphasizing city planning in ordinance form were Mike Aspacher, Bruce Jeffers and Greg Robinette. Those wanting to add a longer definition of city planning to the charter were Daniel Gordon, Bill Herald,  Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. Bowling Green voters will make the final decision on the charter change in November. The background on the vote began earlier this year when the charter update committee made a recommendation that a detailed definition for city planning be added to the city charter. Initially City Attorney Mike Marsh shortened the definition to make it more streamlined for the charter. However, he was asked to reintroduce the charter amendment using the longer version. That led to a debate among council members about the need to keep the charter uncluttered, and the need to place more emphasis on city planning. At the last council meeting, East Side resident Les Barber pleaded with council to allow the longer version in the charter. A lack of planning in the past has led to many neighborhood issues on the East Side that have spread to the West Side of the city. The language approved Monday evening lists the planning director’s duties as on-going study, investigation and analysis of all municipal planning functions, including zoning, platting, housing, zoning and subdivision codes, and code enforcement, including how each of the functions impacts the well being of the city’s neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas. Robinette said he listened to various viewpoints, and while appreciating the passion of Barber and others, he still believes the charter is not the place for prioritizing planning. As council members, he said, they must “be rigorous defenders” of the city charter. However, he also proposed that the extended definition be placed in ordinance form in the city’s administrative code. That would allow “every word, every phrase” to be included in an ordinance while protecting the “integrity of the charter,” Robinette said. Jeffers also felt that putting the shorter version in the charter would give planning prominence. He talked about the need for some…


Earlene Kilpatrick leaving BG chamber after decade of service

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News After 10 years on the job as executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Earlene Kilpatrick still gets goosebumps when the awards for individuals and businesses are handed out. The July 20 Mid-Year luncheon will be her last time to preside over such festivities. She’s leaving her job with the chamber on Oct. 1, exactly 10 years from the day she started. That was on the cusp of an economic crisis that gripped the country. Bowling Green wasn’t spared, but it has bounced back. Looking back, Kilpatrick said: “It’s been smooth. It’s been truly a fantastic experience.” That’s despite long hours, and the occasional disappointment. Twice in recent years the Holiday Parade has been canceled. Her husband, Claude Kilpatrick, has teased her that those will be her legacy. That’s hardly the case. “She’s really done an amazing job of growing the chamber to what it is today,” said Jerid Friar, president of the chamber’s board of director. “I would have to say things are more clearly defined than they were. The direction we’re headed is a very positive one.” He praised the way she’s developed new programs, such as the Michael Brown personal development workshops and events such as the business after hours gatherings. This has helped strengthen participation, Friar said. The organization’s annual golf outing, its largest fundraiser raised a record amount this year. Kilpatrick said that overall the membership has increased slightly, though she feels investors’ engagement with the group has increased. “It’s a very intense job,” she said. It can involve 50 to 60 hours a week. “But it’s very rewarding … You create friendships along the way.” She feels satisfaction in working with the chamber’s project teams, or city ad hoc committees, and university town-gown efforts. And she’s proud of the more than 3,400 volunteer hours people devoted to the chamber as well as the efforts of ACT BG raising money for charities. The opening of the Four Corners Center in the former Huntington Bank has lived up to its goals. The building houses the chamber, Downtown Bowling Green, Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. The arrangement allows the agencies to better collaborate and direct business from one to the other. Kilpatrick arrived at the chamber from Main Street BG, now Downtown Bowling Green. During her 10 years leading that group the city completed Heritage 2000, a downtown revitalization project. Her role was to keep open the lines of communication between the city and the business…


BG duo takes cross-country road trip in 1969 convertible

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It started out as a simple dream. A man and his car. Driving cross country with the roof down. Not a care in the world except what diner to stop at for dinner. But like many dreams, it got complicated when it crossed lanes with reality. Throw in a leaky roof, low oil pressure, and a windshield wiper collision with the video camera perched on the car to record the trek. Now you’ve got yourself a real road trip. Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer at Bowling Green State University, had long wanted to drive cross country from his home in Bowling Green. “It seemed like a good idea. I’ve never driven across country and it seemed like it was overdue,” he said. But Kielmeyer wanted a bigger challenge. He wanted to take the road trip in his 1969 Ford Gran Torino. The light blue convertible is what is referred to in the car collector world as a “survivor car.” It still has its original engine, first coat of paint, old seats, no cruise control, no air conditioning, AM radio, gas mileage of 16 miles per gallon, and no warning if lights are left on (which will come into play later). Riding shotgun on the trip was his son, Jake Kielmeyer, a junior business major at BGSU. “I think it was agreed among the family that he had the best temperament” for the trip, Kielmeyer said of his laid-back son. Jake shared the urge to travel out west – but he admitted having some concerns about the mode of travel and his partner on the journey. “I think everyone my age has reservations about being in the car with their dad for 10 days,” he said. The plan was to drive to San Diego then ship the Gran Torino home. They mapped out a course taking them from Ohio through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The goal was to drive about 300 miles a day, which would give the father-son team a couple days to spend sightseeing at the Grand Canyon. “A lot of smart people expressed reservations,’” Kielmeyer said. But he was determined. So last month, the driving duo took off with a video camera mounted on the outside and a “mix tape” put together by Jake’s friend. “Jake picked some music that I’m not sure I could define,” Kielmeyer said. “It was tolerable.” It was indie rock. “Apparently, Dad’s not a big fan,” Jake said. So they often cranked…


The Beat balances rigor & joy in its dance training

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Colleen Murphy’s mother enrolled her in dance classes in Toledo when she was 3. “I don’t remember not dancing.” Now as the owner of The Beat dance studio she’s the one helping to shape the moving memories of hundreds of young girls, and a handful of boys. The Beat Dance Company just completed its 10th year in business, and its first full year in its new studio space at 1330 Brim Road in Bowling Green. Like the parents of many of her students, her mother wanted to give her an early start. Murphy said she has mothers of children as young as 18 months inquiring about signing them up for dance lessons. The little ones have to wait a year before they can start in the studio’s Mini Movers program. From there they can continue through high school, and beyond. College students who studied at The Beat will return in the summer for classes, Murphy said. She said she can often spot the young students who will stick with dance. “It’s how eager they are to be here. They get here early and don’t want to leave at the end.” The demand for dance, driven by such pop culture phenomenon as “Dancing with the Stars,” remains strong. Despite a number of other studios locally and in the area, The Beat has 250 students. Some dancers take recreational classes in a few styles while others are more serious and audition for the studio’s competitive team. Recent auditions attracted 100 dancers. “Dance is a nice balance between physical activity and the fun of putting on a show and wearing the costumes,” Murphy said. For the youngest they learn basic coordination and “how to take direction from someone other than mom or dad.” She stresses a balance of good technique while having fun, exploring movement working together with their peers, and technique specific to a style. The older dancers work on artistry and, as their schedules get busier, learn to manage their time and see a commitment through. Some dancers participate in their high schools’ dance teams or in theater. “It’s fun, too,” Murphy said. “We’re always having fun in class.” And “for some it becomes their second home, they get really close to their fellow dancers and their teachers,” Murphy said, Her business partner and assistant director Elise Hanson said she likes that they are able to approach teaching dance with a sense of fun, and yet stress technique and discipline. The dancers need to know, she said, that “when you’re…


BG joins the nation in rallying for immigrant families

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 250 Bowling Green citizens sweltered in the sun Saturday to add their voices to the national cry for justice for families seeking refuge in America. They gathered on Wooster Green to be counted among the 800-plus rallies held across the nation today with their top message being – families belong together. They held signs saying “Resist Hate,” “Reunite Broken Hearts,” and “The Pilgrims were Undocumented.” They came to say their country doesn’t treat people with such cruelty. And their Christianity doesn’t turn away people in need. They listened as Dr. Bill Donnelly, a psychologist who specializes in the care of children, talked about the traumatic effects the forced separations will have on children taken from their parents as they cross the southern U.S. border. “There will be devastating consequences for children and their family members,” Donnelly said. Decades of research show that children forcibly taken from their families are likely to suffer long-term problems of anxiety, depression, panic and grief, he said. “There is nothing more important for the mental health and physical health of a child,” than being with family, Donnelly said. Children crossing the border with their parents had already undergone great stress making the dangerous trek into the U.S. “They’re not coming in a luxury train,” he said. “Children rely on their parents for support in difficult times.” Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order that children no longer be separated from their parents at the border, very few families have been reunited. More than 2,000 children are still being held in detention centers, and it appears that in many cases, the federal government does not know where some separated children are so they can be reunited with parents. “This policy is needless and cruel,” Donnelly said. “We know children are not reunited with their parents.” It’s that image that brought Sheila Brown to Saturday’s rally. “I’m here to help support immigrant families,” Brown said. “I can’t even fathom having my children torn from me just because I’m looking for a better life for them.” The rally began with Tim Concannon’s singing of “This Land is Your Land,” a folk song written by Woody Guthrie scolding Americans who didn’t want to share their country. Despite national policy, Bowling Green City Council members Bruce Jeffers and John Zanfardino talked about local efforts to make immigrants feel comfortable in Bowling Green. “Bowling Green has welcomed immigrants naturally forever,” Jeffers said. “Then Trump was elected.” So City Council considered how to “help with the new reality,” he…


BG getting closer to building community solar project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is getting brighter for the proposed community solar project in Bowling Green. On Thursday, the Wood County Commissioners entered an agreement with the city to allow 50 acres of county land to be studied as a potential site for a solar field. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has also agreed to allow 20 acres of its neighboring land to be part of the project. The 70 acres sit on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane facilities. The property is currently leased for farming. “This is meant to be a community project,” said Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities. “Everybody is talking about doing their best to make this succeed.” The next step will now be to get the approval from the city’s Board of Public Utilities and then from City Council. Both of those entities have already shown strong support for solar power, by backing the city’s solar field on Carter and Newton roads. That field, at 165 acres, is the largest solar field in Ohio. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. This new project, on East Gypsy Lane, would be different in that it would be a community solar field, which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. All of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green. The community field could produce up to 10 megawatts, which is about half of the power generated at the Carter Road site. The panels would likely rotate with the sun during the day to maximize the energy generated. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said earlier this year. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would…


New justice likely to swing U.S. Supreme Court further to right

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Abortion rights and gay marriage are two issues that could hang in the balance with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The 82-year-old justice announced his retirement on Wednesday. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, said two political scientists who teach at Bowling Green State University. Melissa Miller said that Supreme Court Justices have lifetime appointments, and they most often decide to retire when a president of the same party that appointed them is in office, she said. Niki Kalaf-Hughes said some have opined that the timing of Kennedy’s retirement, giving President Donald Trump a second chance to nominate someone for the high court, sullies his reputation. That all depends, she said, on who eventually assumes the bench and how they rule. Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, is considered the court’s swing vote. He wrote the majority decision in Obergefeld v. Hodges that found that same sex couples had right to marry. He also wrote the opinion for the conservative majority to Citizens United that said political spending was protected speech under the First Amendment. If he is replaced by a more conservative justice then some rights that had been assumed to be settled matters, including the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy and the right of same sex couples to marry, could now be in jeopardy. Some in the women’s movement have been warning, Miller said, that “we shouldn’t one shouldn’t take Roe v Wade for granted.” State legislators in conservative states continue to push bills that cut into those rights. “I don’t think that will stop in very conservative states,” she said, “because politicians are rewarded by their conservative voters for passing such laws.” Trump promised when he campaigned that he would appoint more conservative justices. And by some measures, his first appointee Neil Gorsuch is more conservative than the justice he replaced, the late Antonin Scalia, though not as conservative as Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Because of actions by Senate Republicans, who said they were reacting to changes instituted earlier by Democrats for lower court appointments,  it now takes only a simple majority to ratify the president’s nominee to the high court, not a 60-vote super majority. And without the filibuster “it makes it easier for a president to get the most ideological extreme person on the bench,” Miller said. That’s true whether the Republicans or the Democrats are in control, she said. That raises the stakes for this year’s mid-term elections in November. Kalaf-Hughes thinks there’s…


BG sewer treatment plant now smelling much sweeter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The plant that treats Bowling Green’s sewage isn’t accustomed to getting compliments from its neighbors about smells emitted from the site. But recently, the plant superintendent got some thank you notes about the lack of foul odors. That was welcome news to Doug Clark, superintendent of the Water Pollution Control Plant on Dunbridge Road. And that means that the recent investments made by the city in odor control are working. In the past, the wastewater plant made several attempts to sweeten the smells emitted. It uses an aerobic digestion process with bacteria that helps consume the waste. To lower the ammonia content, the wastewater is run through filters layered with large rocks, then smaller porous rocks, then root material. That process gets rid of some odors, but “quite frankly, not the most offensive ones,” Clark said in 2016. The complaints continued – primarily from neighboring businesses and Bowling Green State University. So Clark and Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city, visited the wastewater plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which uses activated carbon to take out all the remaining odors that aren’t stopped by the aerobic digestion process. “It’s the belts and suspenders part of the equipment that takes care of the odors that get through the biofilter,” O’Connell said after their visit. “We’re hopeful it will benefit us the same way.” The Bowling Green facility staff believed the two likely sources of the stench were the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it had limited success. The septage station had no odor control. “The odors can be quite foul,” O’Connell said. “We’ve tried to get this problem licked in the past,” but the fixes always proved to be temporary. The Pennsylvania plant installed a carbon filter system to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to that plant, O’Connell said. The permit for the Pennsylvania plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter,” Clark said. So Bowling Green purchased a larger exhaust fan, additional air piping and two carbon filter vessels for the biofilter. The two tanks would allow for one to serve as a backup. To combat odors from the septage station, two exhaust fans and carbon filter vessels were also installed. The cost to sweeten up the septage station was about…


BGSU faculty union leader decries Supreme Court’s Janus ruling

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News David Jackson, president of the BGSU Faculty Association, said the union is still trying to figure out the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday forbidding public sector unions from charging non-members fees to cover services. The court rules 5-4 in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 that non-members cannot be forced to pay “fair share “ or “agency” fees to cover the costs of a public sector union negotiating contracts and representing individual employees in disputes with the employer. The decision, which Jackson characterized as “rotted, reprehensible, illogical,” was “not a surprise.” Jackson, who teaches political science, was speaking in his role as faculty association president, not as an unbiased analyst. “We knew five corporate justices on the court were inclined to accept this completely bogus argument and side with wealthy special interests. That’s what they’re there for. That’s why the seat was stolen in the first place.” Jackson was referring to Republican senators’ refusal to act on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Instead the GOP left it up President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy with Neil Gorsuch, who sided with the majority in the Janus case. The lead plaintiff, Illinois state employee Mark Janus, said that the fee was a violation of his First Amendment rights because it forced him to support speech he didn’t agree with. While the decision is complicated, it’s clear the faculty association cannot collect fees from non-members. Still, Jackson said, “the good work we do problem solving and representing faculty will continue.” He said the association’s attorneys are still trying “to digest the decision and figure out all the different meanings of it.” The decision written by Justice Samuel Alito possibly left open the option of charging non-members if the union represents them in personnel disputes, Jackson said. State law, Jackson said, requires the union represent all members of the bargaining unit, not just union members. They in turn could charge a fair share fee “to account for the cost of negotiating, interpreting and enforcing the terms of the contract” as well as representing them in disciplinary procedures. Jackson declined to give specific numbers, but said an “overwhelming majority of faculty” are members of the BGSU-FA. The faculty voted to unionize in fall, 2010, and reached its first contract three years later after contentious negotiations. Negotiations for the union’s third contract will begin in fall. Unlike the first contract talks, the negotiations for the second contract were…


Hold the mower, Simpson Garden Park tries natural look

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No, the city lawn mowers are working just fine. No, the recent rains haven’t created an abnormal growth spurt in these grasses. The city parks and recreation staff is fielding questions about the new tall grasses being tried out in Simpson Garden Park. To those with perfectly manicured lawns, the new experiment at Simpson Garden Park may be jarring and offend their sense of order. But to the park staff, the new tall grasses are an experiment that could lessen the human impact on the environment. Chris Gajewicz, the city’s natural resources coordinator, talked about the new grass Tuesday evening during the monthly meeting of the city parks and recreation board. The new grass getting the attention is a fescue called Scottish Links, growing near the amphitheater in the park. It is drought resistant, so it does not need to be irrigated, and does not need fertilized. Once established, the fescue out-competes weeds like dandelions and thistle, so there is little to no need for chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, Gajewicz said. The Scottish Links is a low-mow grass variety, so the staff may mow it as little as once a year – which will use less fossil fuels and produce less carbon emissions. A sign will be posted by the fescue to explain its purpose. Gajewicz realizes the tall grass may look unkept – particularly to people with perfect lawns. But this is an “experiment in sustainability” that can help reduce the city’s environmental footprint, he said. Besides, some people appreciate a more natural look. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Gardens are always in a state of change,” Gajewicz explained. Since Simpson Garden Park was first created 13 years ago, it has undergone a lot of changes. The healing garden is now designed to nourish visitors’ minds, bodies and souls – instead of just displaying medicinal plants. New bridges and concrete paths have been installed to make the site accessible to people with physical disabilities. And now the park staff wants to make the park more sustainable and responsible, he said. The efforts were praised by Mayor Dick Edwards and City Council member Sandy Rowland. “I so agree with what you’re doing,” Rowland said to Gajewicz. “I like your philosophy on this.” Edwards said he appreciates the Scottish Links. “It’s a constant reminder to me what real golfers have to deal with.” The mayor mentioned that his wife’s first reaction to the tall grass was not exactly positive. However,…


BGSU camp leads young women down the path of business

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sitting in the classroom in the college of business, 35 high school seniors seemed poised to develop the next big idea. For now they are trying to turn trash into musical instruments. The students are at Bowling Green State University for the Young Women in Business Leadership Camp being held this week. Kirk Kern, the director of the entrepreneurship program on campus, is cheerleading their efforts and aspirations. Entrepreneurs aren’t just men like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford, he tells them. Their ranks also include Isabella Weems. When Weems was 14, younger than the campers, she decided she wanted to save to buy a car. Her parents told her she’d have to earn the money. She had a choice: She could get a job or start her own business. With her parents backing, Weems started Origami Owl, making personalized pendants. The product took off. She earned more than enough to buy a car. By 2016 the company had sales of $25 million. Susan Kosakowski, the recruiting manager for the College of Business, said the residential camp has two goals. The first is “to help young ladies develop their leadership skills so they can take those back to their high schools and then continue them through their college years.” The other is to make them aware of the opportunities in business for women, she said. Even though about 55 percent of the undergraduate students at BGSU are female, in the College of Business two-thirds are. The college, Kosakowski said, would like to see more diversity, not only in gender but ethnicity and culture as well. “We have so many opportunities we want the women to start taking advantage of them,” she said. “People get very closed minded about what’s involved in business. Every time you walk in a store you’re engaged in business.” The camp aims to show young women how business impacts their lives. The entrepreneurship program is one draw for women, she said. Students from any major can minor in entrepreneurship. The program’s signature event The Hatch, where budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors, attracts as many women as men – six of 10 participants this year were women. The Hatch also draws interest from across the university, from photochemical science to music, including graphic design, apparel merchandising, and early childhood education. The students attending the camp had a similarly wide range of interests. Madelyn Krueger, Pettisville, is interested in being a chef, and she envisions opening her own restaurant someday. Nadia Jeelani, Cincinnati, is interested…


Perrysburg thirsty for answers – touring BG water plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The water deal with Toledo is seemingly sunk, so it looks like Plan B for communities searching for quality water may be Bowling Green. Perrysburg city officials are touring the Bowling Green water treatment plant on Wednesday. “We’ve tried to answer questions for them,” Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said Monday evening to the city’s utilities board. “I’m not sure where it’s going to go,” O’Connell said. “They are in an information gathering phase.” Concerns about water quality, quantity and costs had resulted in a possible regional water system with Toledo in the center. However, that plan – called the Toledo Area Water Authority – was torpedoed by Toledo officials who weren’t happy with the terms. An earlier study conducted by the Wood County Economic Development Commission had identified Bowling Green as the top option for a regional water source. However, O’Connell said Bowling Green didn’t pursue any talks about expanding its customer base. “We didn’t want to look like we wanted to torpedo the TAWA,” O’Connell said. Bowling Green already sells water wholesale to Grand Rapids, Tontogany and Waterville. O’Connell has heard that with TAWA being sunk, Bowling Green water is being studied as an option by Perrysburg, Maumee and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. For decades, those entities have purchased water from Toledo. However, the status quo was disrupted in the past few years by several concerns about Toledo water quality and cost. Toledo has been ordered to make many water system improvements, with the costs being passed on to customers who already pay large surcharges. Complaints from communities have shown growing dissatisfaction over the rates and the water quality since the Toledo system went through the algal bloom crisis of 2014. The TAWA agreement focused on providing economic savings and environmentally safe water. The proposal called for a redundant water supply source, so the 2014 water crisis would not be repeated. And it called for transparency in the pricing structure. In the last decade, water rates from Toledo doubled the rate of inflation. Bowling Green’s water became a topic of interest for neighboring entities when Poggemeyer Design Group studied water options at the request of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. The commission asked for the study a couple years back when Toledo was a less than willing partner in the regional negotiations. So Poggemeyer Design Group identified three options including Bowling Green water, a water intake at the Bayshore power plant, and a Maumee River intake. During the collection of…


ODOT paves way for road, bridge work in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGLIN BG Independent News   Summertime – the season of vacations, longer days, and often long delays or detours due to road construction. “Orange barrels. Everybody’s favorite,” said Phil Senn, area engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 2, as he told the Wood County commissioners Tuesday about projects planned in the county. “We’ve got a lot going on,” Senn said. Following is a list of ODOT bridge projects in Wood County this year: Waterville bridge replacement at Ohio 64 and Ohio 65, costing $14 million, with a completion date of September 2020. A 45-day closure of the bridge began on June 18 for construction of a roundabout on the Wood County side. Wooster Street over Interstate 75, in Bowling Green, with plans to convert the intersections to roundabouts, costing $9.6 million. The project, which includes redecking the bridge over I-75, and sanitary sewer and waterline work, will be completed November 2019. Ohio 281 over I-75, south of Bowling Green, involving a bridge deck replacement, costing $1.1 million. The bridge is open now, and all work should be completed next month. Ohio 579 bridge replacements over Dry Creek and Cedar Creek, costing $1.6 million, to be completed this October. CSX railroad bridge by the Ohio Turnpike will be demolished, costing $2.2 million, to be completed June 2019. Road resurfacing projects in Wood County this year include: U.S. 20 paving from East Boundary Street to Lime City Road, costing $3.4 million, to be completed in August; a new traffic signal at Thompson Road; sidewalk extension from Holiday Inn to Heartland driveway. The Route 20 paving work is complete except for land striping. Ohio 25 paving from Jefferson Street to south of Roachton Road, costing $3.4 million. The paving is complete, but striping must be finished. Ohio 199 paving from Ohio 105 to Niederhouse Road, costing $664,000, to be complete in October. Route 579 paving from Ohio 51 to Ottawa County line, costing $1.6 million, to be done in October. ODOT is planning the following intersection construction work in Wood County: Left turn lane to be added on eastbound Route 20 to Route 163, costing $850,000, to be completed in November. Roundabout on Route 199 at Carronade Drive, costing $1 million, was completed in March. Roundabouts on Buck Road at Lime City Road, and Buck Road at Penta Center Drive, costing $3.3 million, to be completed in October 2019. Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said the roundabouts in the northern part of the county seem to be working well. “I think people are…


BG School Board takes back seat to citizen task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education handed the car keys over to the community Monday evening. After two failed attempts to pass a $72 million school bond issue for buildings, the board has now put the community in the driver’s seat. Approximately 150 citizens met in the school’s performing arts center to listen to where the district goes from here. Board President Jill Carr invited citizens to sign up for one or both of two task forces being formed – one to study school facilities and the other to study finances. The task forces will set their own meeting schedules, decide what information they need, and report back to the board. “This will be a community-driven process,” Carr said. “The board will step back.” Though the administration and board will make requested information available to the task forces, they will take a back seat in the process, Superintendent Francis Scruci said. The goal is to come up with a “solution that the community can support,” Scruci said. “Regardless of which side you stood on in November and May.” The district is at a “critical juncture,” the superintendent said, urging the community to work together, and refrain from name calling and personal attacks. “We need to rise above for the good of all,” Scruci said. The process of putting the community in charge of building projects and funding is quite unusual, according to David Conley, an expert in school finance hired by the district earlier this year. But it has been done by about 10 of Ohio’s 600 school districts, Conley said. In those 10 cases, most of the districts ended up winning at the ballot, he added. The task forces will identify the needs of the district, then decide how to pay for those improvements. Conley will act as facilitator for the finance task force. The facilitator for the facilities group has not yet been selected. “You’re being given the power to make the decisions for the district,” he said to the audience. Conley cautioned that anyone joining a task force should make a commitment of at least six months, with one or two meetings each month. He also warned that those unwilling to work on the project have no right to complain later. “Don’t criticize the result of the work of the committees after the fact,” he said. “Don’t sit at home and expect someone else to do the job for you.” Conley talked about the duties of each task force, which will start their work in…


Students at BGSU robotics camp engineer summer fun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Games of cornhole are on the summer fun agenda of many young people. Earlier this month, a dozen teenagers from Northwest were looking at ways to make the game more exciting using robotics. The students, one from as far away as Antwerp, attended robotics camp for commuters at Bowling Green State University. It’s the second year BGSU has provided a robotics camp. Last year, one session was held at the Toledo Museum of Art targeting students from the Toledo Public Schools. That program continues, but teacher Mohammad Mayyas, an associate professor of engineering technologies, said he wanted to offer one on campus for other students. They decided to have the camp for students on campus “to help our program to grow,” he said. “We want to expose future students, prospective students, to what we can offer,” Mayyas said. “The university is paying attention to robotics and advanced manufacturing.” Northwest Ohio needs a workforce trained in robotics and automaton, and the state recognizes this. That’s helped BGSU land grants to develop its program. “We have very good equipment,” he said. “It excites them to see the actual equipment used in industry.” Employing open source software, the students learned to integrate hardware with software to make sensors so cornhole is more interactive. That can mean keeping score, or having lights or sounds go off in response to scoring tosses or misses. Maybe it’ll play a song or show a hand waving. Ekumjyot Kaur, from Perrysburg, said she was enjoying the camp. “It’s really in-depth. You wouldn’t think you’d go to robotics camp and learn so much,” she said. “Here they focus on the on software as opposed to the moving parts.” This was her first real exposure to BGSU, she said, and for other interested in engineering she’d recommend the camp. Sisters Chloe and Mia Wegener, from the Anthony Wayne district, were working with Kaur. The work consisting of tossing bean bag toward a cornhole board trying to activate a light. The light should be going on when the beanbag goes into the hole, but the vibration of a miss also caused the light to go on. Chloe Wegener, a rising senior, is no stranger to campus. She’s taken College Credit Plus courses on campus. She’s planning on majoring in engineering. Her sister, who will be a sophomore, said she’s also interested in the field and has participated in Girls Who Code program. Claire Heilman, from Columbus Grove, said she had an interest in engineering and felt the camp would be…