The bell may be tolling for Ohio’s bellwether status in presidential elections

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ohio has an enviable record of being on the winning side of Presidential elections. Since 1896, it has voted for the winner in every election, except when it voted for Republicans Thomas Dewey in 1952 and Richard Nixon in 1960, both extremely close elections. Author Kyle Kondik said those bellwether days may well be over. Recently, Kondik, the editor of “Sabo’s Crystal Ball,” the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ newsletter, gave a local history award talk at Jerome Library on the Bowling Green State University campus. He was being honored for his 2016 book “Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President.” Kondik said he may have written the book just in time. The book covers the period from 1896 through 2012. And while Ohio went for Donald Trump by a comfortable margin, the election points to changes that have Ohio out of step with the national electorate. When looking at a state’s predictive power, he said, how closely the winner’s margin of victory in the popular vote in the state matches the national margin of victory must also be considered. Over the years, Ohio has reliably been within 5 percentage points of the national popular vote total.  In 2016 Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points, 51.3 percent to 43.2 percent for Hillary Clinton. However nationally Trump trailed Clinton by 2 percentage points in the popular vote, 46.1 percent to 48.2 percent. This, along with the changing demographics of Ohio and the nation, may…


‘Heroes among us’ honored for extraordinary acts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They were ordinary people, who when faced with extraordinary challenges did the right thing. The four people who heard screaming then gunshots and ran to aid the victim. The two people who stopped to help a man lying in the middle of the road. And the man who tried to save his uncle when a barn collapsed on him. The “heroes who live among us” were recognized Friday evening during the 29th annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards. Since 1989, a total of 412 awards have been presented to people who have made extraordinary efforts to help others. This year’s awards were given to Andrew and Kacie Engel, Chris and Rebecca Jordan, Jared Fouts, Halie Domer and Andrew Wilhelm. Life Risk Award On March 23, the Engels and Jordans heard a woman scream and gunshots being fired. They ran to the aid of a woman lying in the hallway of their Perrysburg Township apartment building – even though her estranged husband who shot her was still in the building. The woman, Kristine Keiser, had been shot four times. “These couples truly put their lives on the line to save mine,” Keiser wrote in a letter to be read at the awards ceremony Friday night. The four people put themselves in danger, Keiser wrote. “They never left my side – even with an armed man on the other side of the apartment door.” “I’m blessed to be alive today because of them,” Keiser wrote….


Toledo Symphony gives voice to BGSU student composers work

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before Tuesday, this music was just a complicated series of marks on score paper, residing on computer hard drives and in the composers’ heads. Then the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Lewanski rolled into Kobacker Hall, and it all came to life in vivid orchestral colors. It filled the hall with brass chorales, tuba solos, swirling clarinets, flute melodies, the drone of double basses, harp glissandi, and swelling waves of strings. Sometimes the music was barely a whisper with the violins scraping their strings tonelessly and the brass players breathing through their horns. The music of future had arrived. Tuesday the sixth Toledo Symphony Student Composer Reading Session was held at Bowling Green State University. Each year five student composers, undergraduates and graduates, are selected to have their short orchestral pieces performed by the symphony. The five composers this year were: Kory Reeder, Graeme Materne, Adam Kennaugh, Chuanhao Zhang, and Ashlin Hunter. “For students to really hear these sounds played by high level professionals is quite exceptional. It’s really quite unusual,” said guest composer Andrew Norman, who would later meet with the composers to discuss their work. The Los Angeles-based composer said when he was asked to come to BGSU, “I expected to hear fabulous new music. “This university is known all over the country for being a center of really interesting progressive new music, and I wasn’t disappointed,” he said. “There was so many different kinds of music being made, such a…


Wood County focuses on serving its 12,895 veterans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares to honor those who served on Saturday, the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center is working to serve the 12,895 veterans living in this county. Mary Hanna, a Vietnam War veteran and executive director of the county office, presented a program this week on veterans in Wood County. Though few in the room were veterans themselves, the majority were descendants of those who served. “Presentations like this are like preaching to the choir,” Hanna said. Over the years, the county has seen the age of its veterans shift. The current stats show the following numbers in each age group: 2,321 ages 17 to 44 3,901 ages 45 to 64 4,903 ages 65 to 84 1,770 ages 85 and older. The biggest share are Vietnam veterans (33 percent), followed by peacetime (23 percent), Persian Gulf (22 percent), World War II (12 percent) and Korean War (10 percent). Women veterans in Wood County total 850, accounting for 7 percent of the veterans overall. The number of veterans to die last year in the county was 111. Meanwhile, the number of new veterans registering here was 1,146. It’s that disparity that worries Hanna, since the federal government is eyeing cuts to the Veterans Administration’s budget. The federal stats put Wood County’s veteran population at 8,100 – but Hanna has proven that the number is actually 12,895. “We’re gaining veterans in this county,” and she wants to be able to give them the…


Paralympian Jessica Long tells fans only a negative attitude can sink their dreams

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shoe shopping can be a problem when you don’t have any feet. Double amputee Jessica Long said she dreaded trips to the shoe store because of it reminded her she didn’t have legs. The way the clerk would look at her and her prosthetic legs and feet made her feel disabled. She just wanted shoes that were comfortable and cute. Long wondered if she’d ever be able to wear high heels or flip flops. Now at 25 new developments mean she can wear flip flops and has high heel prosthetics. She considers her prosthetic legs as “really tall shoes.” She loves to show her legs. And, along the way, she’s won 25 medals, 13 of them gold (the only ones she counts,) at the Paralympic Games. Long, the second most decorated Paralympic athlete, was in Bowling Green this week, as the special guest of We Are One Team Bowling Green. She met with athletes on the Bowling Green State University campus, addressed a crowd of 500 in the Stroh Center Wednesday night, and talked to fourth graders from Crim and Conneaut at the Wood County Library on Thursday morning. As WA1T president and founder Yannick Kluch said at both events, the organization was created to promote diversity and social justice through sports. Long’s mission is to encourage everyone, regardless of their situation, to strive to excel and persevere. “I believe the only disability in life is a negative attitude,” she told both crowds. Long…


BG Council action to help Betco create 20 new jobs

 By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council helped pave the way Monday evening for a local manufacturer to add approximately 20 jobs. Council agreed to vacate about 90 feet of right-of-way adjacent to Betco Corporation on Newton Road. The vacating of the right-of-way will allow the company to proceed with construction of an additional facility at its location. Betco is planning a 20,000 square foot warehouse for the relocation of operations from another state – which will create an estimated 20 new jobs. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards declared Nov. 25 as “Small Business Saturday” in Bowling Green. “Small businesses employ over 48 percent of the working population of the U.S.,” he said. Mary Hinkelman, managing director of Downtown Bowling Green, asked those present to remember the “Holly Days” and “Downtown Dollars” promotions while they do their holiday shopping. “We are working hard to promote our downtown,” Hinkelman said. “It’s so important for our downtown merchants.” According to Hinkelman, when people spend their shopping dollars locally, 68 cents of every $1 stays in the local economy. She also noted that local businesses are frequently giving back to the community. “They make a huge investment in our downtown and it vibrates out to our whole community,” she said. The mayor also recognized Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, for her efforts in the city being named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns of the Year. This is the second…


Muslim students at BGSU dedicate themselves to social justice

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Many people serve others because of the dictates of their religions. For Adam Smidi, it was his desire to serve others that led him to rededicate himself to Islam. As he read the Koran and about the prophet Mohammad, he found a calling. At the recent Muslim Student Association Convention at Bowling Green State University, Smidi said:  “I wanted to learn more about my religion that I was so far away from. I found that there was this element of social justice, like a pillar, or a backbone of the religion … treating yourself with dignity and treating others with the dignity that everyone deserves.” The Muslim Student Association has dedicated this year to reaching out to the community through service, Toghrul Alakbarov, president of the group, said. They will collaborate with others including plans to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service next year. The convention is attended both by members of the association and community members invited for a free dinner, conversation, and entertaining lessons about Islam as well as presentations on weighty matters. Smidi, now a doctoral student in organizational communication at BGSU, was born in West Virginia, making him a self-described “Muslim hillbilly” and grew up in Toledo. His family, though, frequently traveled back to Lebanon to visit. He was “growing up with two cultures, two identities, and loving them both, my American and Muslim identities.” He now runs his family’s car dealership. “What’s most important to…


County voters support child, elder protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters responded to the increasing numbers of child abuse and neglect in Wood County by passing the 1.3-mill renewal levy for Human Services on Tuesday. The Wood County Human Services levy passed with nearly 68 percent of the votes (19,126 to 9,151.) That wide margin of approval was welcome news to Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. “I think that people understand that child protection and protection of the elderly is very important,” Carsey said. “Wood County has always been very supportive,” she added. Since the levy was last passed 10 years ago, Wood County has seen six deaths of children under 3 years old due to abuse. Five suffered from head trauma, and one was smothered. There are no plans to use the levy funding to add staff. A pressing need is to provide safe placements for children removed from their homes. “The number of kids in care has gone up drastically,” Carsey said. Wood County is on its way to setting a record for 2017, as the numbers of child abuse and neglect cases continue to grow. Since 1987, the Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services portions of the agency have relied on the 1.3 mills to support their work. The 10-year levy generates $3.7 million a year, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $36 a year. The funding provides for child abuse and neglect investigations and, if needed, placement of children in foster homes…


BG voters reject anti-pipeline charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Many Bowling Green residents distrust pipelines, but they also disliked the charter amendment intended to keep the lines off city land. The charter amendment, proposed by Bowling Green Climate Protectors, failed on Tuesday by a vote of 2,145 (39 percent) to 3,408 (61 percent). “I’m grateful to the voters of Bowling Green for protecting the integrity of the city charter,” Mayor Dick Edwards said as the results came in. The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment was intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that was the intent, critics said the words went far beyond those reasonable rights. Despite defeat on Tuesday, the group behind the charter amendment is not daunted, said Brad Holmes, of the Climate Protectors organization. “We’re going to keep our options open,” Holmes said. And while the issue failed at the polls, it succeeded at making people more aware of the threats from pipelines, he said. “We raised awareness about the severity of these type of issues in Bowling Green,” Holmes said. “We hope to inspire other communities to do such initiatives.” The Bowling Green Climate Protectors, saw the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. The charter amendment would have given citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant in Middleton…


BG elects 6 City Council members from field of 13

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green voters elected six City Council members from a field of 13 on Tuesday. Despite the busy ballot, there will be no big changes on council. Four incumbents were returned to their seats. The other two winners had previously served on council years ago. The make-up of council will now be five Democrats and two Republicans. And still, only one seat is held by a woman. That woman, Sandy Rowland was the top vote getter in the race for at-large candidates. Following is a list of the vote tallies for the council candidates, with the winners in bold. The unofficial vote totals for the At-Large race are: Holly Cipriani (Democrat): 1,958 (21 percent) Nathan Eberly (Independent): 936 (10 percent) Beverly Elwazani (Green): 717 (7 percent) Carolyn Kawecka (Green): 265 (3 percent) Gregory Robinette (Republican): 2,680 (28 percent) Sandy Rowland (Democrat): 2,971 (31 percent) First Ward unofficial totals: Daniel Gordon (Democrat): 254 (76 percent) Hunter Sluss (Republican): 79 (24 percent) Second Ward unofficial totals: Kent Ramsey (Republican): 248 (32 percent) John Zanfardino (Democrat): 531 (68 percent) Third Ward unopposed race: Michael Aspacher (Democrat): 1,274 (100 percent) Fourth Ward unofficial totals: William Herald (Republican): 1,470 (52 percent) Scott Seeliger (Democrat): 1,358 (48 percent) At-large winner Rowland said she was honored to get the top voter support. “It’s all about Bowling Green and the people who support me,” she said. “For six years, I’ve listened to the people. They put me here and I…


BG school levy fails; board ponders next attempt

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green school officials were disappointed but not dissuaded by Tuesday’s defeat of the 6-mill levy for school buildings. The levy was rejected by a vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “I feel bad for the kids. I feel bad for the staff. I feel bad for the community,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said as he stood surrounded by levy supporters as the election results came in. But Scruci and the school board don’t plan to waste much time moaning about the loss. They have some decisions to make. Do they go back on the ballot in May or November? Or do they try to patch up buildings with permanent improvement funds and add more modular classrooms? “We’re not going to stop doing what’s right for kids,” Scruci said. “We’re disappointed this is 20 months of work that came down to one day,” he said. The 6-mill levy, lasting 37 years, would have raised $72 million for buildings. The plan was to consolidate the three elementaries into one centralized building, and to renovate and add new sections to the high school. The levy failure was not due to lack of communication, since Scruci made nearly 100 presentations on the levy and building plans since September. However, in the last couple weeks, opposition to the levy came out with “a lot of misinformation” that didn’t help, he said. The superintendent had said that if the levy failed, the district would come…


County prosecutor sets up opiate response team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has its first employees assigned specifically to battle the opiate crisis. Sixteen people died of opiate overdoses in the county last year, according to the Wood County Coroner’s Office. In response to a survey of local first responders, 16 departments said they responded to 83 opiate overdoses last year, and administered the life-saving drug Naloxone 60 times. And in an 18-month period, the county prosecutor’s office saw about 130 drug cases. Getting addicts in treatment, and getting them back after relapses are important, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said during a meeting with the county commissioners. The average person experiences seven relapses during their three to five years of trying to get free of opiates. On Tuesday, Dobson and Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn announced the implementation of a new program in the prosecutor’s office to battle the opiate and drug epidemic. The program has been named the Addiction Response Collaborative, or ARC. Earlier this year, Dobson – who lost a stepson to opiate addiction – introduced his four-tiered plan for dealing with the opiate epidemic in Wood County. The plan called for the creation of a quick response team, a pre-trial diversion program in the prosecutor’s office, an intervention in lieu of sentencing program in the courts, and the establishment of a drug docket in the courts. The program team includes a Drug Addiction and Abuse Response Coordinator hired by the prosecutor’s office through funding from the Wood…


Last pitch made for BG charter amendment proposal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the eve of the Tuesday’ election, proponents of the Bowling Green charter amendment made one last big pitch for the proposal to City Council Monday. And city officials, whose efforts had been questioned and criticized by the proponents for the past year, ended up thanking the college students behind the proposal for their passion and sincerity. The evening ended with a handshake between Mayor Dick Edwards and Brad Holmes, one of driving forces behind the charter amendment. On Tuesday, Bowling Green voters will determine whether or not the anti-pipeline amendment becomes a part of the city charter. Three BGSU students stood up Monday to defend the charter amendment. Alex Bishop, who is originally from Mansfield, said the Rover pipeline runs about a half mile from her home and spilled thousands of gallons of hazardous material that destroyed a wetlands. She doesn’t want to see something similar happen near her “second home” of BGSU. “This issue is really important to me,” Bishop said. “I wanted a chance to come here and talk about it.” Holmes said the charter amendment proposal had to jump through several hoops to even get on the ballot. “I’m just very happy we made it this far,” he said. Though the wording of the charter amendment has been criticized, the purpose of the proposal is to empower city officials and the community to reject plans for a pipeline that could be potentially dangerous, he said. “We’re very confident,…


Cameron’s Comics turns the page with shop in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jonathan Smith said he was something of a nerd when he was a kid. He loved Calvin and Hobbes and Mad Magazine. When Smith’s wife died three years ago this coming February, he needed something that he and his son, Cameron, could do together. Before then Smith traveled a lot selling and racing quarter-scale race cars. Reading comic books was just the thing. Together they’d travel to different shops in southern Michigan and Toledo, checking out what was available. That bonding experience blossomed into a store selling comic books and named after Cameron, 16, which opened in Adrian, Michigan, last year. The success of the Cameron’s Comics & Stuff took Smith, 42, by surprise. At first, he worked days at a factory and ran the store at night. But he found he could quit his factory job and devote himself to the store. Now Smith has opened a second Cameron’s Comics at 175 N. Main St. in Bowling Green. The shop officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting. Over the weekend, Smith said, customers flocked to the store. Many were pleased to have a store devoted to comics and related literature, toys, and games back on Main Street. Though the store is open, it’s still a work in progress. More merchandise is coming in to fill the shelves that Smith built himself. He also plans to put a game room in the back. The main wall has the comics on white shelving. “They’re presented…


BG gets tips on how to become ‘welcoming community’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has declared itself a “welcoming community.” But what does that really mean? And how exactly can it be accomplished? Earlier this year at the urging of the city’s Human Relations Commission, Bowling Green City Council adopted a resolution stating the city was welcoming. “All communities say they are welcoming,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, co-chair of the Human Relations Commission. “We always know any community can be better.” The commission wants Bowling Green and its residents to view immigrants as a benefit – not a detriment to the community – and to realize the economics of immigration. Several cities in the “rust belt” have started looking at immigrants in a different light than some areas of the nation. In many Midwest cities, immigrants are now seen as a solution to critical labor shortages and as ways to strengthen the local economy Several manufacturers in Bowling Green have expressed concerns recently about the labor force being too small to fill their needs. So last week, Bowling Green welcomed home Steve Tobocman, whose great-grandfather immigrated to this community in the beginning of the 20th century after fleeing the persecution of Jews in Russia. Tobocman is executive director of Global Detroit, which works to leverage international talent to fill businesses’ unmet needs, help immigrant entrepreneurs, revitalize neighborhoods, and build an inclusive region. Tobocman, an attorney and former Michigan state legislator, complimented Bowling Green for taking the first step to becoming a truly welcoming…