Bitter cold takes toll on city workers and equipment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents count on city workers to plow snow off the roads, respond to car crashes, and keep the power on during winter weather. Doing that in bitter cold weather takes a toll on city equipment and on the people that operate it. Snow plow blades are more likely to break in this cold, police cruisers have to run continuously during shifts, and fire hoses have been known to freeze. “We subject our officers to being out in the elements for extended periods,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. That’s tough on people and patrol cars. Layering only does so much, and “they run constantly in the cold,” the chief said of the police cruisers. For the Fire Division, the frigid cold means EMS crews must move even faster for outside calls. “We need to move quickly to get patients out of the elements,” Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said. Firefighting is especially tricky in freezing temperatures. “We have to keep them flowing,” Sanderson said of the hoses. But that means the ground quickly gets covered in ice. The city’s public works department often spreads salt at winter fire scenes to try to…


New Year’s resolutions easy to make, hard to keep

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Marcy Collins gave up on New Year’s resolutions long ago. So as 2018 rolls around, her resolution is to not make a resolution. “I quit doing those years ago,” Collins said as she worked at the front desk at the Wood County Commissioners. “None of them come true.” But some people still have hope – even if it’s just a sliver of optimism – that starting a new direction stands a better chance of success when it begins with the turn from one calendar year to the next. Dallas Mohr still clutches to the hope. “I guess I’ll try to lose a little weight,” he said. That may mean a change in eating habits, since he made his 2018 prediction as he waited for his carryout order at Campus Pollyeyes. But Mohr had other goals, too, that do not require cutting back on pizza. “This year I want to strive to be a better person, and to do better in my business” which he is just starting up. A business resolution was also top on the list for Ben and Jen Waddington, of Waddington Jewelers in downtown Bowling Green. As they worked…


BGSU center has spent decade tracking changes in family life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The last few decades have not been easy on the Norman Rockwell portrait of the American family’s holiday dinner. Those neatly delineated generations and family relationships are a thing of the past. The grandchildren may be the products of parents who live together without marriage. Or they may be the children of a same-sex couple. The grown son or daughter still lives at home with mom and dad, who may be contemplating divorce. Grandma has brought along her special friend. They are a committed couple, but live apart from each other, and have no intention of altering that arrangement. All this change, say Wendy Manning and Susan Brown, co-directors of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, may cause some observers to despair. Some take a dim view of the decreasing marriage rate and see it as a sign of the decline of the American family, said Brown. But “if you’re open to a diverse range of shapes a family can take, it has never been better because people can form the types of families they want to form. We’re more accepting of a wide range of family…


BG City Council bids farewell to McOmber and Seeliger

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The last meeting of the year for Bowling Green City Council on Thursday was a bittersweet one. Sweet was the fact that council approved a balanced budget for 2018 – unlike the 2017 budget which had a general fund deficit of $625,000. But bitter was council’s act of bidding farewell to two council members – one who has served steadfastly for 12 years, and another who came forward to fill an opening about 15 months ago. One by one, council members thanked at-large council member Bob McOmber and Fourth Ward council member Scott Seeliger. “I’ve given some thought to how I would handle this moment,” said council president Mike Aspacher, who served on the Bowling Green Board of Education alongside McOmber before serving with him on city council. “He has served as such a great sounding board,” Aspacher said of McOmber, who had the knack of sorting through difficult matters and making them easier to digest. Council member Bruce Jeffers recalled being a new guy on council and learning from McOmber during walks and drives through the city. Council member Sandy Rowland said she might be among those people who still call…


Safe Communities wants happy & safe ending for New Year’s celebrations

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The numbers on impaired driving are nothing to celebrate. This year, 31 percent of the fatal crashes in Wood County involved impaired driving, said Sandra Wiechman, the Safe Communities coordinator for Wood County at a press briefing Thursday. Sgt. Shawn Fosgate, assistant post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Bowling Green Post, said that the percentages of accidents, 30 percent, and arrest related to OVI, 10 percent, remain constant. With more incidents that means “the numbers are going up.” That’s a trend that Wiechman, Fosgate, BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick, and the other partners in Wood County Safe Communities Coalition work year round to reverse. For the fifth time Safe Communities will start the year by sponsoring Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride. Those who feel unable to drive on New Year’s Eve can call 419-823-7765 from 11 p.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 1 and get a ride through the initiative. The program has supplied more than 600 rides in its first four years. Wiechman said three vans – two provided by the Thayer Family Dealerships and one by the Committee on Aging – are available to get people home…


BG moves ahead on roundabouts and City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green rounded out the year Thursday by approving steps for the city’s first roundabouts and a new building in City Park. During its final meeting of the year, City Council voted unanimously to issue a total of nearly $10 million in bonds to finance both projects. For the roundabouts, $6.2 million in bonds will be used to improve the Interstate 75 and East Wooster Street area by constructing rotary intersections. “This is a great piece of legislation to end the year on,” said council member Bruce Jeffers. The city has been working on the East Wooster improvements for years, he noted. Jeffers told Mayor Dick Edwards that he recently visited the community of Carmel, Indiana, which the mayor frequently points out as a community that knows how to use roundabouts. Carmel has 100 of the circular intersections. “The roundabouts are going to be great” in Bowling Green, Jeffers said. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both I-75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street….


Mazey brought a life’s worth of experience to BGSU presidency

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Outgoing Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey admits that when she arrived on campus six years ago, she ruffled some feathers. “In the first few years a lot of people criticized me,” Mazey said in a recent interview. She looked at the campus and where it was and where she felt it needed to go, and took action. That meant a reduction of some 150 positions, three quarters of which were vacant. It meant tearing down the Popular Culture house, a move that still rankles some on campus. That became the site of the new Falcon Health Center, built, owned and operated by the Wood County Hospital. It meant injecting the school colors, orange and brown, into all the buildings as a way of addressing what she was told was BGSU’s lack of school spirit. Mazey, who came to BGSU in July, 2011, is retiring Dec. 31. This was her first presidency, and she says, her last. She’d spent three and a half years as provost of Auburn University. She had served as dean of the college of arts and sciences at her alma mater West Virginia University and before that at…


How to protect people, pets and pipes against the cold

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   We might as well get used to it. The cold dipped down to minus 4 degrees early this morning, and temperatures aren’t expected to get to 20 or above for another week. For some, the frigid temperatures are more than a cause for discomfort. The brittle cold can lead to burst pipes, frozen paws, frostbitten fingers and car problems. Some professionals in Bowling Green accustomed to dealing with the complications of cold weather offered some advice on how to protect people, pets, pipes and vehicles during these frigid temperatures. First, how people can prevent harm to themselves … “I wouldn’t be out more than a half hour at a time,” said Kevin Hosley, registered nurse at Wood County Hospital Emergency Department. And bundle up. “Any exposed skin should be covered.” People with lung problems or the elderly should avoid being out in this brittle cold, Hosley added. The most serious risk to humans is hypothermia, when the body’s temperature drops dangerously low, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. “Basically, your body starts to lose heat faster than it can replace it,” Aspacher said. One symptom of…


BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey owes her life to education

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News As she departs as president of Bowling Green State University, Mary Ellen Mazey is worried about a sentiment gaining currency. “There’s a lot of questions out there about the value of a college degree,” Mazey said during an interview earlier this month. “I just deplore that. We should be providing everybody in this country with the ability to be educated through at least a four-year degree.” Mazey knows the value of education not just because that’s been her life’s work as a professor and administrator; she knows it because “I’ve lived the American Dream because of education.” Mazey is retiring on Dec. 31 after six years as BGSU president. Provost Rodney Rogers has been named interim president. In the past semester, campus audiences have heard the life stories of JD Vance, author of BGSU’s Community Read “Hillbilly Elegy,” Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Clarence Page, and former ESPN personality Jay Crawford about how they rose from modest upbringings to success. Mazey’s story is just as compelling. Mazey, 68, was born, the third of three children, and the first born in a hospital in Ronceverte in southeastern West Virginia. Her two brothers were nine and 10 years…


911 system will take text messages by late next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year at this time, Wood County residents should be able to text messages to “911” to get help during an emergency. Wood County and others partnering in the local 911 system are investing about $1 million to upgrade the current emergency system. Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said the existing 911 system is at the “end of its life,” so the upgrades are necessary. But along with the expensive upgrade comes a valuable addition, the sheriff said. Once completed, the new system will allow people in need of emergency assistance to text a message to 911. “I’m really excited about it,” Wasylyshyn said. “It will allow someone who doesn’t want to be heard to text us.” That could include someone hiding from an intruder or someone who wants to alert law enforcement without others knowing. The texting option will also allow someone to communicate with dispatchers from a very noisy location, he said. “This could be used by someone who is a victim of domestic violence, and texting from a closet,” the sheriff said. “I’m really excited about what this will allow for victims.” Photographs can also be texted to 911, where they…


Lionface Productions sets stage for a rebound in 2018

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Getting together with board members of Lionface Productions is a show in itself. The dialogue flows, scene-setting reminisces abound, and the talk is spiked with wit. The troupe officially launched with a production in City Park of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” in September, 2009 – Chase Greenlee nails down the date based on when he met his wife. Executive director Christina Hoekstra said 2017 is a “rebuilding year.” The troupe is poised for a rebound in 2018. Late in the year for a staged reading of “Much Ado About Nothing” at Grounds for Thought. Stage readings will be more a focus said Ryan Halfhill, a founding member and vice chair of the board. He along with Beth Rohrs, also a founder, are two of the voices behind the podcast, “Shakesbeer,” that’s recorded in Greenlee’s kitchen with his wife, Cassie, serving as “the voice of reason.” (Click here to listen.) The podcast captures the Lionface approach to the Bard, conversational, casual, and even irreverent. Many people are put off by how Shakespeare was taught in high school. “They put Shakespeare on a pedestal,” Halfhill said. “Hamlet is one of the greatest work in English literature,” teachers…


Construction in Wood County is building its way back

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s been a decade since the burst of the nation’s housing bubble. During that time, the construction industry has been slowly building its way back. That growth is being seen in this year’s numbers at the Wood County Building Inspection Office. Mike Rudey, chief building official in the office, reported to the Wood County Commissioners last week that his office is struggling to keep up with the construction. “We’re busy. We are very busy,” Rudey said. Last year, the county saw 240 new single-family homes constructed. This year, the number inched up to 250, he said. “Everything is definitely peaking over last year,” Rudey told the commissioners. The Wood County Building Inspection Office covers the largest geographic jurisdiction of all building departments in Ohio, covering Wood, Hancock and Henry counties for all commercial construction, as well as Wood County for residential construction. The building inspection office is charged with protecting the health, safety and welfare of citizens by ensuring all construction meets requirements set forth by specific building codes. This includes residential and commercial buildings – covering new construction, additions to existing structures and remodeling. In his newsletter, Rudey reported that a…


Rocker Corky Laing taps into fountain of youth at Howard’s show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rock drummer Corky Laing says he’s a “22 year old with 50 years of experience.” Celebrating his 70th birthday at Howard’s Club H Saturday night, he demonstrated the truth in the quip. Appearing with the new edition of Corky Laing Plays Mountain, the veteran drummer performed with the energy of the musician who joined Mountain 50 years ago. And his drumming had the verve, precision and a way of shaping the music that’s honed over decades behind a drum set. Yes, the music is 50 years old, but Saturday night it had the freshness and power of newly minted hits. For the older fans in the mixed aged group, they could have stepped back to the time when that record one fan carried to get autographed were brand new. Laing was joined on stage by two stalwarts of the Toledo rock scene, Mark Mikel, on bass, and Chris Shutters, on guitar and flute. All three took turns singing. They provided an additional jolt of energy earning the applause of the audience and the praise of the leader. More than praise really. He said he wants this to be his last band. Working with him…


Christmas truce was moment of peace in brutal WWI

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wars have always churned out scores of stories, some true, some not. One story that stuck from World War I is the Christmas truce of 1914 – when troops on both sides left their miserable trenches to spend one magical day celebrating the holiday with their enemies. Though many of the details have grown foggy over the decades, there is much truth to the truce saga, according to Michael McMaster, educational program coordinator for the Wood County Historical Center. McMaster recently presented a program on the Christmas truce of 1914 during one of the historical center’s “teas” at the museum which has dedicated its entire site this year and next to WWI and its impact on Wood County. “It’s not a question of if the Christmas truce occurred,” McMaster said. “It is a question of how the Christmas truce occurred.” One of the reasons the details may be so thin, is that the truce was unsanctioned by leadership on either side of the war. In fact, the commanders disapproved of the truce, believing it could soften their troops. But it occurred in spite of censure from the higher ranks. The men in…


Finnish coffee table staple has becomes our family’s holiday tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before I ever met my wife, Linda, I had tasted her Finnish sweet bread. At least, I was supposed to. She’d gone to the home of mutual friend, to bake the bread known as pulla. It was Christmas time, and that friend, Barbara, then my girlfriend, gave me a loaf as a gift. Two days later, she spotted that loaf still sitting on the shelf in my truck. I was right and properly scolded. A Christmas memory. I’m sure, though, that the bread still tasted wonderful toasted. That was the Christmas of 1973. Now it’s the Christmas of 2017, and Linda is still baking pulla. Lots of it. This year 32 loaves for family and friends near and far. For that matter, Barbara, still a close friend, bakes it as well, serving to her fellow cast members in the Christmas Revels held in Hanover, New Hampshire. For all that, Linda will point out: Pulla is not a Christmas treat. In Finland it is a year-round staple. There’s always a loaf in the bread box to serve with coffee. To serve coffee without pulla, is considered “bare coffee.” Noting “bare” about pulla, a white bread…