BGSU students paint murals to animate Toledo neighborhoods

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art students from Bowling Green State University have left their mark on the streets of Toledo’s Old South End and East Toledo. Each summer since 2010, groups of students, under the direction of instructor Gordon Ricketts, have made their way to these neighborhoods to paint murals that bring a burst of color and inspiration to the residents. This year, they’re at it again working on both sides of the river. In East Toledo, on East Broadway they contributing to a corridor of color started by previous students, visiting artists, and community members. Ricketts estimates the project has completed about two dozen murals in the southern end of the city. Driving down Broadway, headed west, you first encounter Martin Luther King Jr. on a wall, then nearby Cesar Chavez. Further down there’s the comic book character Green Lantern on the Green Lantern restaurant. Closer to the intersection of South Street, the murals multiply. On a recent morning 15 students had gathered on East Broadway in East Toledo. Ladders up, and transforming a drab viaduct into a vivid celebration of the neighborhood. Trains rumble over the nearby overpass. Traffic whizzes by. Sometimes drivers honk approval and give a thumbs up. Passers-by will express their appreciation and offer to pick up a brush. Ricketts points to a short wall where neighborhood children emulated the BGSU artwork. “This is something that’s visual evidence that positive things are going on in their community,” Ricketts said. “These images are respected,” he said noting those done in previous years have not been tagged with graffiti. “They don’t mess with us.” The…


BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is bucking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate control. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he is investigating joining the Climate Mayors national movement. “Several residents have been in touch with me about the possibility of joining with mayors throughout the country in combating climate change and in preparing for global warming,” Edwards said. “The intensifying of the environmental movement among mayors is proceeding on a bi-partisan basis in partial response to some of the proclamations emanating in recent days from Washington,” the mayor said. Edward’s statement earned him an emotional thank you from council member Sandy Rowland, and applause in the council chamber from citizens and council members. The mayor mentioned a recent NPR interview he heard featuring the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. That city, like Bowling Green, has no risk of the global warming risk from rising ocean waters. But the Carmel mayor also believes in the need for climate control efforts. “Mayor (Jim) Brainard’s comments about Carmel could well have been said about Bowling Green and our efforts to be on the leading edge of environmental sustainability,” Edwards said. Both mayors are Republicans and are bucking the trend of some in their party. In the NPR interview, Brainard talked about why his community in Indiana cares about climate change. “We see ourselves as a part of the country and the world. And we realize if there’s that sort of displacement, we’re at risk for all sorts of bad things,” Brainard said. “There’s also the frequency and intensity…


BG Council debates how to boost general fund

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Absence makes the heart grow fonder – even if it’s just the possibility of losing city trash pickup. Bowling Green City Council members held a meeting prior to their regular meeting Monday evening to debate how to keep afloat the city’s sinking general fund revenue. Prior to the meeting, the options had been narrowed down to three basic ideas: Redistribute income tax revenue, which would require a vote by city residents. This option would take money – $500,000 to $1 million – from city utilities and put it in the general fund. Charge a tree trimming assessment on property taxes, which would not require a citizen vote. An owner of a $150,000 home would pay $80 to $100 a year, which would generate about $300,000. Change city trash pickup, either by privatizing collection or maintaining city collection but start charging residents for the service. Privatizing would save the city $800,000 annually. Continuing the city service would cost the average homeowner $12 or $13 a month. This would not require a vote by citizens. Of those options, the one creating most citizen uproar is the privatization of garbage collections. That response came as a surprise to Bob McOmber, who has served on council for 12 years. During that period, trash pickup has been the source of many complaints. “They tell us how lousy our trash collection is,” McOmber said. But now that the service may go to a private company, the feelings have changed. “We love our trash collection,” he said. And many citizens have even expressed a willingness to pay the city…


Pemberville teen Isaac Douglass headed to Sumatra to commune with orangutans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic worlds of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and others fictional heroes weren’t enough for the Isaac Douglass. “I used to read a lot of fantasy books,” Douglass, 14, said. “I enjoyed having little adventures, and I wanted it to happen in real life.” Two years ago the Pemberville teen returned from a Winter Jam concert with a brochure and an idea. He wanted to take a 30-day trip to Australia. His parents, Shawn and Maria Douglass, weren’t ready for that, but as people who traveled themselves when they were young, they wanted their son to have the same opportunity. “We want him to see the world as much bigger than the microcosm of Wood County,” his father said. They found a shorter trip. So at 12 he ventured to Costa Rica where he helped build a road to a farm and painted the house the farmers lived in, and swam and hiked. That’s what he did at 12, now at 14, Isaac is ready to venture further, to Sumatra and Bali. Like the trip to Costa Rica, this trip, offered by ARCC Programs, is both a service trip and a recreational venture. The largest part of the 18-day trip will be working to restore orangutan habitat in Sumatra. The orangutan is the most endangered primate in the world, Shawn Douglass said. Afterward the teens will venture to Bali for some surfing. Isaac will be leaving in late June. Originally the family had looked at the trip, but decided it was financially prohibitive. Then the price was cut because they needed more teenage boys….


Dunn hits home run with Hometown Hero award

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Playing ball at Carter Park is a rite of passage for many Bowling Green children. It’s where they learn to run for first base, not third after hitting the ball. It’s where their families fill the bleachers to root them on. It’s where they grab a handful of gummy worms and a slush after hot nights on the field. So Modern Woodmen recently honored the man who has devoted 41 years to the BG Youth Baseball program as a “Hometown Hero.” Tim Dunn was recognized at the Carter Park diamonds last month, and the fans seemed to appreciate the honor, since Modern Woodmen paid for hot dogs and drinks for anyone interested. “About 400 people took them up on it,” Dunn said. Many of the young ball players may be unfamiliar with Dunn and this enduring role with the youth baseball program. He started in 1976 by taking care of the grounds as a kid. He went on to umpire in high school, became Pee Wee League commissioner, then president of the BG Youth Baseball and BG Pee Wee League. Dunn has held that position since 1982. He coached teams for years, but now focuses on more administrative items like the scoreboards, sponsorship contracts, and organizing eight tournaments a year. Dunn still enjoys watching games from the stands, but now he usually has a pen and pad, so he can take notes on issues that need fixed. He knows a lot of people are counting on him and the program. This year there are nearly 400 children in the youth baseball program….


Young entrepreneurs counting on ZERO deodorant, other products, adding up to success

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Reid McEwen and Todd Platzer met while working up a sweat playing club tennis as kids in Bowling Green. Now the tennis buddies have launched a business selling a product they probably could have use back then – Odor Erasure, a natural deodorant. Like their friendship, the product also first started developing in Bowling Green. Now based in Wilmington, North Carolina, their original product ZERO deodorant is making an impression in the market. The all-natural product is even sold in a shop in Budapest, Hungary. The deodorant uses oxygenated African shea oil not just to mask body odor but to eliminate it by killing the bacteria that causes it. Now the partners have launched a Kickstarter campaign(tinyurl.com/zerocares1) to begin marketing an expanded line of skin care products – Odor Erasure, lotions, sun block, and bug repellant. These like the original ZERO deodorant will have a few simple ingredients, all easy to pronounce – shea butter, ozone, beeswax, essential oils, coconut butter. No baking soda, a common ingredient in other natural deodorants. And no aluminum that’s a common in traditional skin care products. Aluminum has been linked numerous health problems, including cancer, Platzer said. They noted that the federal Food and Drug Administration does not regulate skin care, deodorants, makeup and personal hygiene products. The skin, McEwen noted, soaks up whatever is put on it. As much as 64 percent of what’s rubbed on the skin ends up in the blood stream. ZERO’s marketing, he said, has a large educational component about all the harmful things in skin care products. According to McEwen: “Skin absorption should be…


Reading takes flight with launch of 1,000 Book Before Kindergarten

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Reading a 1,000 books to a child before they enter school seems on the face of it a daunting task. Those little ones who attended the kickoff for the Wood County District Library’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten got five books under their belts just listening to Denise Fleming. Fleming’s book “Alphabet Under Construction” was the free book given to each child signed up for the program. Since it was a day made for gardening, as Fleming declared at the beginning of her presentation, the books she read were inspired by nature. Before started she planted a flower in the hair of Children’s Librarian Maria Simon, and then donned a ringlet of flowers. Then she set about cultivating a love of reading in children. She did it by turning the letters in her name into a parade of creatures and flowers. She offered a simple drawing lesson turning a series of ovals into faces of different ages. She stretched the kids’ imaginations when she asked them what they saw in an oval inside a squiggly circle. It could be an egg, a flower, a flat tire, a pancake with a pad of butter in the middle – Fleming added a pool of syrup around the edges. It could be a hot air balloon in a cloud, or the reflection of the sun in water. It could be, the author illustrator said, a story if you sewed those elements together with a narrative thread. Fleming is a big believer in the goal of the 1,000 books initiative. Literacy is essential. Yes, there’s the fun of stories but there’s also…


BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds that the district already has, so it will not be part of the bond issue in November. The three options being considered for the bond issue were: Renovations of Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries (Crim was renovated recently) and major high school additions: $54 million. Build new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries, plus the…


Organizers set gears in motion to stage Project Connect

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shannon Fisher, co-chair of Project Connect, said someday she’d like the program to go out of business. Project Connect is one-day program that provides direct services and connections for the community’s most vulnerable residents. She told 30 or so people attending the kickoff meeting Thursday morning: “We would love not to do Project Connect Wood County because that would tell us everyone in our community has a safe place to live, enough food, and a job to support their family. Until we get there, though, we need to do this.” This is planning. This is putting the gears in motion to stage the multifaceted festival of community care. The kickoff meeting was held at St. Mark’s Lutheran where four and half months from now guests needing a plethora of services will arrive. Project Connect will be held at the church Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. When people arrive, Fisher said, they are not “clients” or “patients,” they are “guests.” Each guest is assigned a host, who helps guide them through the array of services. The aim is to breakdown the usual formality of a client on one side of a desk, covered with paperwork, and the service provider on the other side soliciting information. Project Connect takes a more personal approach to determining what someone needs, and then meets those needs if possible on the day of the event, as well as helping guests make connections that will assist them for the rest of the year. Jamie Brubaker, who chairs the provider committee, said, Project Connect is about being more than a…


East Siders tired of landlords not maintaining rentals

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side resident Rose Hess is always armed with a roll of Scotch tape. “That’s just in case she needs to post something on an East Side home as she goes by,” explained John Zanfardino. Hess has taken it on as her duty to notify student renters in her neighborhood of such information as garbage rules, nuisance party issues, or just tips on how to be a good neighbor. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” she said. University student behavior is often a topic at the East Side neighborhood meetings. But on Thursday evening, much of the discussion was on the landlords who rent to students. Neocles Leontis, a BGSU faculty member and East Side resident, noted the large number of students living off campus and the growing number of rentals in the community – an estimated 60 percent of the housing units in Bowling Green, he said. “We’re also concerned when landlords violate safety and health standards,” Leontis said. He asked for help from the group’s guest speaker, Dr. Tom Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost at BGSU. Leontis sought Gibson’s support working with the city, “so all housing units meet minimal standards. We are woefully behind.” Gibson offered to help. “You have my support,” he said. The issues range from rental homes in disrepair, absentee landlords and poor energy efficiency. Gibson said while he was working at Ball State, he chaired a campus and community coalition for landlords and homeowners. Students got involved by developing a list of landlords to avoid. It functioned similar to “Yelp,”…


BGSU adds academies to its summer offerings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Patrick Nelson and Bowling Green State University’s Conference and Events Services staff didn’t get the usual break after graduation this year. No sooner had the caps and gowns been packed away, then the university hosted three major events – Fire School, Alumni College, and the New Music Gathering. As Memorial Day approached, they did get something of a respite, but not for long – the BGSU campus will be a busy place this summer. Nelson, who serves both as director if the Bowen Thompson Student Union and Conference and Events Services, said despite the loss of Buckeye Boys State, he expects the university will host as many visitors this year as last. Nelson estimates campus will welcome about 5,000 guests. That, he noted, does not include those who come for weddings. This summer eight weddings are scheduled for campus, twice as many as last year. This year the university is launching a Summer Academy program. These academies will bring high school age students to campus to experience some of the new programs the university offers. Two will be offered in June – Forensic Science and Health Career Exploration – with two robotics camps – BGSU Robotics and Art and Robotics, a collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art – offered in July. (See http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-offers-range-of-summer-camps-in-science-the-arts/) Assistant Vice Provost Andy Alt said: “These are exciting new programs we want to introduce to potential students locally and across the state.” “The university has facilities and great faculty and experts around in the summer,” he said. This allows the university to extend its offerings beyond the usual degree-oriented…


Paranormal policy spelled out – and not on Ouija board

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Few public institutions have to adopt official paranormal policies. But then few local buildings are featured in the “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted Ohio.” The Wood County Historical Society recently adopted a policy on paranormal investigations at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. There have been times over the years when ghost hunters have been allowed to spend the night in the museum in an effort to stir up spirits of the past. So Dana Nemeth, director of the historical center, said a consistent policy was in order. “We were starting to have people request to rent the museum for paranormal investigations,” Nemeth said. So the board spelled it out – and not on a Ouija board. No special arrangements will be made for paranormal investigations. No spooky overnight outings, and no sanctioned supernatural postings about the museum. There are multiple reasons to halt the channeling of so-called spirits at the museum, Nemeth said. First, the employees at the museum are county workers. “It’s not appropriate use of county employee time to supervise such activity,” she said. Second, there is already enough stigma associated with the people who once inhabited the former county poorhouse. The Wood County Historical Center and Museum is the site of the former County Infirmary, which operated from 1869-1971. After the last of its residents were moved to the new Wood County Nursing Home, the building was slated for destruction, but with support from the community, the building was repurposed into a museum, which is managed jointly by the Wood County Commissioners, the Wood County Historical Society,…


BGSU researchers find virus may have been accomplice in Toledo water crisis

By BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In August 2014, toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie shut down the city of Toledo, Ohio’s water supply, leaving half a million residents without potable water for more than two days. A new study co-authored by Bowling Green State University researchers shows that a virus may have been involved in the crisis and suggests methods for more stringent monitoring of water supplies. Michael McKay, Ryan Professor of Biology, and George Bullerjahn, Professor of Research Excellence, both at BGSU, worked with a team of 25 researchers to examine the physiological traits of Microcystis, the cyanobacterial organism responsible for scum-like algal blooms in Lake Erie. They found that it was consistent with algal blooms from 2012 and 2013 except for one thing – the Microcystis cells had a viral infection. Typically, toxins from algal blooms are trapped within the cell until the cell dies. But virus infections can cause cells to break open, leaking the toxin into the water and subsequently into water facility intake pipes and treatment centers. The viruses analyzed in this study infect only bacteria and do not infect humans. “The study changes the way we think about how the toxin moves around aquatic systems and gets into water supplies,” said Steven Wilhelm, Mossman Professor of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who led the study. “It may help us understand how these organisms persist in nature.” The study was published recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Co-authors included Wilhelm and his team from the University of Tennessee; Tim Davis of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great…


‘Isms’ give power to prejudice by labeling people

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Racism. Sexism, Ageism. Classism. Those “isms” tacked onto the ends of words stand for prejudice combined with power. The words define systematic prejudice – made easier by lumping people under a label. Earlier this month, Not In Our Town Bowling Green held another workshop at the library – this one specifically on “isms.” Everyone at the workshop could identify as a victim of at least one “ism.” There were “foreigners” and “feminists.”  There were people who stood out due to their color or their politics. The workshop was led by Dr. Krishna Han, assistant director of the BGSU Office of Multicultural Affairs. Han, originally from Cambodia, speaks five languages. Sometimes he can’t immediately find the English word that he is searching for. So, his strength sometimes appears to be a weakness when people judge Han’s intelligence by his occasional halting English. That and the color of his skin mean that Han may forever be looked upon as a foreigner in the U.S. – no matter how many years he had been here or the fact that he is an American citizen. “Generalization is dangerous – period,” Han said. Han tires of hearing people say, “Worry about your own country … This is my country,” he said. Even stereotypes that paint favorable pictures of people – such as all Asians being smart and hardworking – are harmful. “Any stereotype is negative,” said Ana Brown, a member of NIOT and BGSU administration member. Han asked the group to identify the hurtful comments directed to them in the past. “What do you never again want…


Sense of community blossoms in Common Good’s garden

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Common Good’s community garden at Peace Lutheran Church grows the usual beans, tomatoes, lettuce and eggplants. It also grows a sense of community. The produce that grows in the 3,500-square-foot plot can nourish a body. It can also nourish a sense of being connected to the earth. A core group of 15 people cultivate the plot so what grows there can be shared with everyone. The community garden was inspired by a cultural immersion trip to Mexico in 2008, said Megan Sunderland, director of the Common Good, a community and spiritual development center. The students came back stuffed with food for thought about globalization, access to land for gardens, and access to nutritious food. They also were committed to doing more than thinking about the issue. They were ready to get their hands dirty planting the seeds of action locally. The idea for the community garden grew from that. Sutherland said they approached Pastor Deb Conklin of Peace Lutheran about using some of the space on the church’s property between Pearl and West Wooster streets. The church was interested in the collaboration, providing the garden space, a tools and a place to store them, and access to the church. All this is in keeping with the creation care that’s a central tenet of the church’s mission. The core of about 15 people who regularly show up for planting, weeding and harvesting have a variety of motivations. Some are interested in sustainable agriculture, others in providing space so anyone can garden, and others providing quality food to the community. On Memorial Day Weekend, the…