Skateboard, scooter sports teach more than stunts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cautious adults cringed as the carefree youth demonstrated their skate park skills – flipping and twisting in the air – seeming to defy gravity. The kids show up almost every day to use the skate park in Bowling Green’s City Park, riding their skateboards, scooters, BMX and mountain bikes. Last week, the youth demonstrated their skills for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Many of them have been inspired and instructed by Don DiBartolomeo and Matt Bowley, of The Right Direction, a non-profit organization that uses action sports to teach life skills. “He took a childhood activity, riding a bike, and parlayed it into a career,” Kiwanis member Scott Seeliger said of DiBartolomeo. “They’ve affected the lives of young people.” The Right Direction teaches kids far more than stunts on their skateboards and scooters. The organization teaches time management, organization and communication, DiBartolomeo said. The youth learn practical skills, like how to work on their bikes, and community skills like how to create a fundraiser to aid local organizations. Last year, the kids performed 3,500 hours of community service and collected 2,000 pounds of food to donate to local food pantries. “It gives the kids a chance to step out of their little bubble,” DiBartolomeo said, and be part of the bigger community. And the skate park in City Park gives them a safe place to practice their skills. When the skate park was first constructed, some questioned whether it would get much use. But nearly every day, kids are at the park, fine-tuning their stunts. “It gives these kids something to take…


Artist brings color & pride to South Toledo

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Miguel Hidalgo and Vicente Guerrero, heroes of Mexico’s fight for Independence, are riding again, now in South Toledo. The two are the central figures in a mural created by artist David Cuatlacuatl and students involved in the Bowling Green State University mural project. Cuatlacuatl, a Mexican-born, Indiana-raised artist, was the guest for this year’s project. He is the resident artist with the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center. He’s been at the center since last summer, but his connections extend further back. He first visited when his brother Frederico Cuatlacuatl was studying for his Master of Fine Arts in digital arts at Bowling Green State University from 2013-2015. But David Cuatlacuatl was offered the opportunity to come to Toledo when the director of the Quintero center visited an artist-in-residence program that the Cuatlacuatl brothers co-directed in their native Puebla, Mexico. She offered him the position in Toledo. Gordon Ricketts, the BGSU instructor who runs the mural project, knew his brother and approached him to work with a few students to create a mural as part of the summer project. (For a story on the mural project see http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-students-paint-murals-to-animate-toledo-neighborhoods/) So Cuatlacuatl set about designing a mural for a wall two blocks from the Quintero Center. It’s on the back of the building that houses the food pantry run by the Immaculate Conception Church that’s right across the street. In the center he placed Guerrero and Hidalgo on a horse, and in a contemporary touch he has them wearing running shoes, the Nike swoosh evident on Guerrero’s footwear. The general’s presence reflects the ethnic mix of…


Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging…


Constitutional rights (and wrongs) defended for 4th

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to eat ice cream? Well, two out of three beats the national average. While the fireworks were being prepared, and the community band was tuning up for the Independence Day concert, people gathering Monday evening for the festivities in Bowling Green talked about the freedoms guaranteed to them in the Constitution. Some were bona fide Constitutional amendments. Others were rights supported by legislation. And some were just wishful thinking. But overall, the crowd gathered for the July 4th concert was above the national average in their Independence Day and American history knowledge. After all, we live in a nation where some citizens believe “Judge Judy” is a member of the Supreme Court. “Seventy-nine percent of people don’t know who we got our independence from,” lamented Joyce Kepke as she carried her lawn chair for the fireworks viewing. Kepke’s favorite Constitutional amendment gave women the right to vote – the 19th Amendment. Her “biggest disappointment” was that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been enacted. Some of the 27 amendments are more familiar than others. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedoms of speech, press and religion, plus protects the right to petition the government. The 2nd Amendment, another oft-cited one, guarantees the right to own and bear arms for defense. And the 13th Amendment banned slavery. The 18th Amendment banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. But that all changed with the adoption of the 21st Amendment which repealed the ban. Many of the amendments are much more obscure, such as the one stating citizens…


Gardner says Ohio Senate must wait for House action on overriding governor’s vetoes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) is waiting on action for the Ohio House to act on the 47 items Gov. John Kasich vetoed in the $133-billion two-year state budget Friday. “I’m not going to spend an awful  lot of time on any particular item until we find out if the House is going to take action, because if the House decides not to vote the Senate doesn’t have any action to take.” State Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) confirmed the House will convene Thursday to discuss overriding the vetoes. (Gavarone was not available today for an interview. A separate story on her reaction to the budget and vetoes will be published later.) It takes a three-fifths majority to override the governor’s veto. The earliest the Senate would convene would be July 12, he said, and even then it could be as late as August or September. In fact, he said, a measure could be overridden any time during the legislative session, which lasts until August, 2018. Some decisions, though, have to be made sooner. Any override of the governor’s veto of a measure that would have frozen expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, would have to be made before the middle of next year. In the case of the Medicaid expansion freeze, he has concerns about a number of issues. Those include whether provisions making exceptions to the freeze for the drug addicted and mentality ill would be retained. “I wouldn’t even consider voting until I have answers to those kind of questions.” One issue he said he’s “definitely interested in” is the…


BG Girl Scouts get real life government lesson in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares for another birthday, a group of Bowling Green girls will celebrate this Fourth of July with new knowledge about their government. Members of Girl Scout Troop 10799 recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they crammed in as many tours and sightseeing stops as possible in four days. They learned that George Washington didn’t smile for portraits because his artificial teeth would fall out. “He was a great leader, but his teeth … not so great,” said Girl Scout Natalie Hollands. They learned that while the Senate chambers is a serious and somber place, the House of Representatives is raucous and chaotic. “You could hear a pin drop in the Senate,” said Allie Parish. But not the House. “It was really crazy,” Paige Suelzer said. The leader kept banging the gavel for quiet. “They were like little kids.” And they learned that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is no place for giggling – even if one of their little sisters drops a water bottle that rolls close to the feet of the soldier on guard. Thirteen Bowling Green Girl Scouts, who will be entering sixth grade this fall, toured the city with their families. They visited the memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr., the memorials to those who served in the Vietnam War and those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They toured the East Wing of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. The girls all had their favorite sites. For Sophia Nelson, a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, her…


Home sweet Habitat home … with mortgage paid off

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 years ago, James Wenz and his family moved into their newly built Habitat for Humanity home on Walnut Street in Bloomdale. Their home was one of the first built by Habitat in Wood County. On Thursday, Wenz crumbled up his mortgage and lit it on fire. “That’s the sweetest fire I’ve ever seen,” said Wenz. Wenz is the second of the 37 Habitat homeowners in Wood County to pay off his mortgage. So the event was celebrated outside Trinity United Methodist Church in Bowling Green. “This is huge. This is what it’s all about, right here,” said Mark Ohashi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Wood County. “Here we’re seeing the success of the program.” Habitat for Humanity homeowners pay a no-interest or low-interest monthly mortgage payment for a safe and affordable home. “We know that with just a little help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Ohashi said. “James and his family just needed a boost, and they took that opportunity and ran with it. They’re the perfect example of what a home can do for a family.” Wenz raised three children in the home on Walnut Street. “They’ve all left the nest,” he said. “It was a good place to raise a family.” And now that the mortgage is paid off, Wenz has plans for those monthly payments that used to go toward his house. “I’d like to save for retirement,” he said. And remodel his home, he added. Before burning his…


Musical energy comes in lots of flavors at the 2017 Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival will bring back some favorites to the Main Stage to help celebrate its 25th year. Those are favorites from previous festivals including the darlings of 2016 the all-female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache and zydeco rabble-rouser Dwayne Dopsie and his Hellraisers. The festival runs from Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10 in downtown Bowling Green. Performing Arts Committee chairs Cole Christensen and Tim Concannon also are confident some of the newcomers, such as Birds of Chicago and Afrobeat veterans Antibalas from the Broadway show “Fela!” are destined to become festivalgoers new favorite bands. The festival has now posted its full Main Stage lineup on http://www.blackswampfest.org/music-1/ with links to the bands’ websites. The schedules for the Community Stage and the Family Stage are still being put together, though as in the past several Main Stage performers will play second sets elsewhere. The lineups include two acts considered the best in their genres. The Irish band Lunasa, called “the hottest Irish band on the planet,” will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and the legendary gospel quintet Blind Boys of Alabama, who date back to 1944, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday. “They’ve done their thing for 70 years,” Christensen said. The Blind Boys represent the roots of the kaleidoscopic sound now called Americana. “We’re just trying to bring high energy acts from every genre of music,” Christensen said. Those acts can come from across the ocean, or they can come from across the street. Each day of the festival is opening with a local band on the Main Stage. Kicking…


BGSU employee suggests amendment to allow sick time sharing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A phone call from a Bowling Green woman resulted in one sentence inserted in the state budget bill that could make a difference for many Ohio residents. On Wednesday, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, stood up in chambers and read off an amendment, which he dubbed the “Faith Olson amendment.” The change is one paragraph in a more than 4,000-page budget bill. “Still in this big state, one person can make a difference,” Gardner said from the floor. Olson, a Bowling Green State University employee since 1978, reached out to Gardner about employees at state universities not being eligible for a paid leave donation program. Previously, state university employees could save up their unused sick time, and put it in a “bank,” where other employees could use the time in case of critical or chronic illnesses. Gardner met with Olson, fiscal officer for the BGSU College of Education and Human Development, at Frisch’s on North Main Street to discuss her concerns over breakfast. Olson explained that under an interpretation from Attorney General Mike DeWine, the unused sick time could no longer be donated to fellow state university employees in need. DeWine’s unofficial opinion stated that unless the program was in a union contract, or involved faculty, that the paid leave could not be given to others with chronic illnesses. That troubled Olson. “There were people still in need,” she said. So she reached out to Gardner, who she felt has been supportive of higher education issues. “I think it’s a valid request,” Olson said. So did Gardner, who decided to put…


Local artists promote awareness through book “Migraine365”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel doesn’t take her migraines lying down. Migraine disease may immobilize her at times, but she’s resolved to be a voice for others who suffer. It means being active on social media as Lady Migraine at ladymigraine.com. It means writing for migraine.com, and appearing in videos being the face for the many tormented by the silent demon. It means teaming with her husband John Roberts-Zibbel to write a graphic journal, “Migraine 365,” that looks at daily life for someone with migraine disease and their loved ones. In their case that includes two daughters Isobel, 8, and Alexandra 12. The book was self-published and can be purchased at blurb.com. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have them,” she said of the severe headaches and array of symptoms that accompany them. She was diagnosed when she was a child and remembers always having at least one per week, but the headaches didn’t become chronic, fifteen or more per month, until she was 30. “It was always a big problem,” Roberts-Zibbel said. “It took me a lot longer to get through college.” She persisted, but so did the migraine disease. Her first pregnancy was debilitating, and her second even worse. “Sometimes the pain gets so bad you want to shoot yourself in the head.” The disease forced her out of jobs. Now as a partner in Zibbel Media, she is a key player on the BG Independent News team, handling advertising, posting obituaries, and occasionally contributing articles. John Roberts-Zibbel got the idea for “Migraine 365” in 2014 while the family was on vacation in Cape May,…


Animal cruelty calls to go through sheriff’s office

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To prevent animal cruelty cases from slipping through the cracks, Wood County residents will soon have one place to call to report animal abuse. After a meeting between the Wood County Commissioners, the Wood County Humane Society, the Wood County Dog Warden and the Wood County Sheriff, it was decided that the sheriff’s office will soon take over as a clearing house for animal cruelty complaints. As the county commissioners prepared to give the humane society its annual $30,000 check to support the position of a humane agent, Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar suggested that the roles of the various agencies involved be outlined. “We want to make sure that is clear,” Kalmar said of the role of the humane agent. “What can law enforcement expect?” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn voiced his concern that cruelty calls could be going unanswered. “Are things slipping through the cracks,” the sheriff asked. “Is there tracking? Is there accountability with the calls.” The problem is the humane society has one humane agent to investigate cruelty complaints. She cannot work 24/7, so some calls don’t get immediate responses. The sheriff’s office also gets a share of the phone calls about animal abuse. So Wasylyshyn offered to have sheriff’s dispatchers take all the animal cruelty complaints to improve the tracking and the responses. That suggestion was welcomed by Erin Moore, the humane society shelter manager, and Heath Diehl, the humane society board president. “I think we’re missing things because people don’t know who to call,” Moore said. And with one agent, help is needed, she added. “That…


Earth Camp gives kids peek at the wild side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the day, nearly 250 kids left William Harrison Park – some wearing paper butterflies with pipe cleaner antennae in their hair, some with dirt on their hands, and some with new ideas in their heads. Elementary age children from throughout Wood County gathered at the park in Pemberville for the annual Earth Camp Tuesday organized by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for kids in the Community Learning Centers STARS program. “We get every single one of the Community Learning kids outside for the entire day,” said Amanda Gamby, who coordinated the event. A parent herself, Gamby said sometimes after a long day at work, parents just don’t have the energy to take kids outside to play. So for the 18th year, the Earth Camp gave them a full day to explore nature. This year’s theme was wildlife. “It’s pretty great,” said Jamie Sands, with the Wood County Park District, which partnered on the camp. “This is for kids to be active in nature while learning about wildlife.” Children went from station to station, learning about the declining Monarch butterfly population, “habitracks” using a map to explore habitat components for animals, the importance of pollination, local amphibians, and Nature’s Nursery. “Then they get to go down to the river and see some critters,” Sands said. “They go home and they are probably all exhausted.” At one station, the children learned about the efforts of Nature’s Nursery to help nurse wildlife back to health and return them to the wild. Some of the lessons focused on what the…


Young Africans leaders congregate at BGSU to learn from Ohio & each other

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The future of Africa is at Bowling Green State University. The university is hosting 25 organizers and activists as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The institute hosts 1,000 fellows at institutions across the country. (http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-hosting-young-african-leaders/) A conversation with nine of fellows included men and women from Mauritania and Niger in the northern end of the continent to Zimbabwe near the southern tip. The issues they were concerned with were similarly broad, from helping those caught up in the sex industry, education, and environmentalism. And they said they were finding ways of addressing those issues here in the Northwest Ohio meeting with civic leaders and during outings as close to home as the farmers market and as distant as Columbus and Detroit. Tuesday they toured the Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab and crime scene building. Jon Sprague, the director of the Governor’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at BGSU, also spoke about the opioid crisis. Yet their greatest source of support and knowledge, they said, was each other. “I think the best art of this program was my colleagues,” said Chibuzor Azuuike, of Nigeria. “Africa has to move forward .So meeting people who are of like-mind, who are very passionate about making an impact back at home, is important. I’ve learned a lot from them, and we hope to partner on projects.” Loice Kapondo, of Zimbabwe, said in the week they’ve been at BGSU “we’ve been sharing stories formally and informally. … Their strategies are easy to adapt to my country because of the similarities.” While Africa is…


New state budget expected to eliminate BGSU undergrad tuition increase

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the conference committee wrapping up work on the Ohio budget, it appears that undergraduate tuition will not increase at Bowling Green State University in the fall. At its June meeting the BGSU Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by 2 percent for undergraduate in-state tuition and general fees. The 2.5-percent increase for graduate students will still take effect. That vote was taken pending the resolution of a new state budget. Now with the budget just about ready for Gov. John Kasich’s signature, BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey said the tuition increase will not be allowed at least for this year. The tuition hike would have generated $2.4 million in additional revenue. Nor will the university receive more state aid. “You never know what will happen, that’s certainly what it looks like coming out of the conference committee.” This is a case where the House version prevailed despite, she said, the efforts of State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowing Green) who “worked very diligently” to try to get more favorable funding for universities. Mazey said that tuition increases would be allowed next year, but only if a university adopts the Ohio Guarantee program. Through that program schools promise that students’ tuition will remain the same throughout their four years. If BGSU adopts the tuition guarantee it would be allowed to raise tuition as much as 8 percent for incoming students in fall, 2018. However, Mazey said, that could be reduced to 6 percent by the governor. Mazey said while the budget is not good news, it could have been worse. Other agencies are taking…


BG Community Center to fine tune fitness class fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Changes are being considered at the community center that will help pay for fitness instructors and help people stay fit at the same time. But it also means people will be paying a little more for fitness classes. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday discussed new fitness class pricing for the fall, and offering a discount for community center members who want to take classes, and for those who take classes who want to join the community center. “Our mission is to make sure people are healthy,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. The price increase will be voted on next month, and go into effect in September. The following rates are being considered: Drop-in classes: $8 now, $10 proposed. Monthly: $40 now, $45 proposed. Quarterly: $105 now, $117 proposed. Annual: $360 now, $396 proposed. The last time rates changed was 2015, and Otley said she would rather see “small incremental price increases” than putting it off and needing big rate hikes. “Minimal increases is our philosophy,” Otley said. No increase will go into effect until the fall. “We want to be able to give people a heads up,” she said. “We want to be as transparent as we can.” In the past, people taking classes could only go to the specific class they signed up for. But now, people can pay monthly, quarterly or annually and pick from a variety of classes, such as spin, step or zumba. That makes it more appealing for people who want to try different classes, Otley said. But…