Wood County library may pinch pennies – but not on books

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though far from scientific, the popularity of the Wood County District Public Library can be measured in its worn carpet and the long wait-list for Michelle Obama’s new book. And the support for the library can be seen in the library’s ability to buy new carpet and stock up on 10 more copies of Obama’s book, “Becoming.” Wood County District Public Library Director Michael Penrod has more traditional methods for measuring the health of the library. And lately, the vital signs are looking very healthy. For example, the library: Paid off its loan early for the renovations at its Walbridge branch. Created a new capital projects fund to ensure that unexpected repairs would not short the funding for new materials for library patrons. Spends more than most libraries on new materials. Charts continued high numbers of books and other materials being borrowed by patrons. The rule of thumb is that when the economy is good, people buy their own books rather than borrow them from libraries, Penrod said. But Wood County District Public Library has seen no drop-off in usage. “In 2012, we hit a record level in terms of items borrowed by the community. We’ve been able to continue that,” Penrod said. “During the great recession, we were busier than ever.” The library has been able to stave off threats of obsolescence. The internet and e-books have not rendered the facility antiquated. “We can compete against Amazon,” Penrod said with a grin. For example, last week when Penrod was notified by staff that there were 16 holds on Obama’s new book, he decided to not make patrons wait. “We went ahead and bought 10 more,” he said. While the library has to buy e-books, it is able to lease hard copies of books. So there have been times that the library has leased 40 to 50 copies of best sellers, then returned them when they are no longer in great demand. Nationwide, libraries spend an average of 11.5 percent of their budgets on new material. “Bowling Green deserves better than that,” Penrod said. So the Wood County library spends close to 16.5 percent. “We’re very proud we’re spending a lot of money on new material,” he said. “I say ‘thank you’ to the state. I say ‘thank you’ to our voters. I say ‘thank you’ to Schedel,” where the library holds…


Park district peddling mountain biking in 2019 budget

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District may invest some money to attract kids of that awkward age to use their county parks. The park district already has programs that appeal to young children and adults. But the difficulty is getting older kids and young adults to view the parks as a place to spend time. So the draft budget for the Wood County Park District has a tentative $200,000 set aside for an off-road mountain biking training area and a trail off the Slippery Elm Trail. Earlier this fall, the park board voiced support for a proposal to create pump tracks in Rudolph and a mountain bike trail in the savanna area along the trail. Park naturalist Craig Spicer presented a proposal for both concepts. He explained the mountain biking park and trail would help the district attract teens and young adults. A survey conducted earlier this year showed only 6 percent of the county park users were college student age. All parks suffer from the same difficulty luring teens and young adults, Spicer said. “They are one of the most finicky audiences,” he said. According to Spicer, off-road and sport biking are growing in popularity. “This is a good opportunity to ride that wave,” he said. The creation of an off-road biking park in Rudolph, and a trail in the woods north of the community would also be an investment in a county park in the southern part of Wood County. Currently just five of the county’s 20 parks are south of U.S. 6. The proposed park would be located in the one-acre area already owned by the park district along the Slippery Elm Trail, just south of Mermill Road. The park board had already agreed to have unused farm silos removed from the property. A proposal created by Pump Trax USA shows a park with a “strider” track for little kids, a beginner track, an intermediate and advanced track, and a skills trail for mountain biking. The area would have parking for 30 cars, a bike fix-it station, and a covered shelter house. Maintenance of the park would be similar to the neighboring Slippery Elm Trail, since the bike park courses would be constructed of cement or asphalt. Don DiBartolomeo, of the Right Direction Youth Development Program, told the board he would offer programming for free at the bike park. DiBartolomeo is…


Revolving loan fund helps local businesses in a pinch

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 31 years, Bowling Green has been helping businesses in a pinch for financing. The Revolving Loan Fund recently surpassed the $5 million mark in total loans made since the fund’s inception in 1987. The fund was established as a means of offering “gap finance assistance” for those businesses desiring to start up or expand. In exchange for the loan, the businesses must not only pay back the funding, but they must also create employment for people at lower income levels within Bowling Green’s corporation limits. “It’s very helpful to a lot of businesses,” said Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green Economic Development. Traditional bank loans aren’t always fast enough for the needs of local businesses. “We’re the place people can come to get working capital,” Clark said. “We’re much faster.” “And we’re willing to take a second position,” behind existing debt – which many banks will not do, she said. In the fund’s first year, three loans were issued totaling $44,481. Within the fund’s first decade, loans were issued to several businesses still operating today, like Aardvark Screen Printing & Embroidery, Pagliai’s Pizza, SamB’s and the Bowling Green Country Club Pro Shop. Since its inception, the fund has provided a total of $5,047,314 in loans to 168 local businesses. “We just happened to see there was a need,” Clark said. “There are times that we get more demands than we have money for,” she said. Those applicants are then asked to wait for the next round of funding. And some requests for funding are rejected. “We don’t turn a lot away,” Clark said. “But if I see right away that they have no experience and no collateral,” then they may not make the cut. The revolving loan fund five-member board is sensitive to the fact that it is using taxpayer money and makes conservative decisions. “We are very cautious. They really are diligent – that this person will pay us back,” Clark said. During the most recent Community Development Block Grant funding year, a total of $349,000 in loans was made to 11 local businesses. Over the years, the lowest loan amount has been $5,000; with $150,000 being the highest to date. Some of the more recent loans have been granted for the Sleek Academy, J.P. Dough, Dairy Queen and Ziggy’s. Some loans help businesses expand, fix broken machinery, or hire…


Students of children’s literature creating books of their own

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The spirit of Dr. Seuss and other masters of the picture book was alive in the Bowling Green State University’s Technology and Resource Center in the Education Building. The students in the Literature for Young Children course taught by Elizabeth Zemanski and Amanda Rzicznek were busy writing, cutting, and drawing as they created their own picture books. They draw inspiration from the needs of the children they’ll be teaching, from their own favorite books, and from a talk given by published children’s author Lindsay Ward. The goal is to give them insight into the way picture books come to be. Their work will be exhibited for all to see at the Picture Book Showcase Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Pallister Room of the Jerome Library. Samantha Aukerman, an early childhood major, was a little nervous about the prospect of having her work on display. Still the project was fun, she said. Her book is about a shy cactus’ efforts to find a friend. Because of the cactus’ limited mobility, that’s difficult, until he meets a hedgehog. All this stems from the landscape of Aukerman’s life. She has cacti in her room, and her roommate collects stuffed hedgehogs. That was one of the lessons students took away from a talk in October from  Ward. She spoke about all the odd places she found inspiration for her books. Her series on the neurotic dinosaur named Dexter came from her husband’s discovery of a toy dinosaur abandoned in a doctor’s office. In her talk Ward quipped that speaking to the college students was a rare treat. She usually didn’t speak to audiences who were her size and who could read their own books. Aukerman is also drawing Ward’s attention to material. Ward, who works in cut paper, talked about collecting various types paper. For “Please Bring Balloons” she used vintage paper that had discolored around the edges because of oxidation  to create the landscape of New York City. Aukerman is using sponged paints for her minor characters and the landscape, but is using cut paper for the cactus, Calvin, and his hedgehog friend. The art is in service of her message, Aukerman said. “What people say about you really changes how you think about yourself,” she said. That sense of self-image is not talked about, she said. And it should be.  Rebecca Armstrong, also…


BG residents urged to shop locally at small businesses for holidays

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials suggested local resident go big and shop small. With holiday shopping season officially starting on Friday, Bowling Green officials urged local residents to spend some money with local small businesses. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and new Downtown BG Director Tony Vetter took to the podium at the City Council meeting Monday evening to promote “Small Business Saturday” which follows this week’s “Black Friday.” The “Small Business Saturday” moniker is an annual reminder of the need to support small businesses, Edwards said. The annual shopping promotion started in 2010 in response to the recession. It was intended to help small businesses recover, Vetter said. In the U.S., 28.8 million small businesses account for 99 percent of businesses, employing more than 48 percent of American workers, the mayor said. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a very important day in the life of many small retailers. “It is a break even day for a lot of small businesses,” Edwards said. Downtown Bowling Green retailers are counting on local residents spending some of their holiday shopping money here. “Downtown Bowling Green is so important to our economy,” the mayor said. And Vetter noted that “Small Business Saturday” is not just about downtown and not just about this weekend. “Shop small is not just this weekend. It’s all year round,” Vetter said. Also at Monday’s meeting, City Council approved a solar project easement and lease agreement with the Wood County Commissioners and Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The city is researching the viability of building a community solar field on property owned by those two entities on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, just east of Interstate 75. Council also heard from a Bowling Green State University graduate student in public administration, who has been researching the financial history of the city in the 1970s when the city budget was very stretched. He mentioned that he has been unable to access some records, and urged council to preserve such records for safekeeping. Council President Mike Aspacher assured the student that the city complies with all record retention rules, but said council will take the request under advisement. Council members Bruce Jeffers asked the student to send council a copy of his research, and Bill Herald asked him to report back to council on his research. In other business at…


Guion Family loves to share its sweet holiday tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Keith Guion’s family gathers at his mother’s house for the Thanksgiving dinner, the big meal will be a respite from the sweet toil that occupies them the rest of this week. More than a dozen members of the Guion family are continuing a candy making tradition that goes back four generations. The Guion family will be busy this week making up to 300 pounds of fudge, caramels, creams and toffees. Those will be packed in half-pound and pound boxes and shared with friends.  It’s a tradition that dates back to the Depression in Indiana when Guion’s grandmother and a friend decided they wanted to learn to make dipped chocolates, said Cassie Greenlee, Guion’s daughter. But the chocolates came out gray and streaky instead of smooth and glossy. So she approached a local candy maker to ask advice. Greenlee’s great-grandmother ended up getting a job as a window dipper, Greenlee said. She dipped chocolate in the shop’s window to lure people into the shop for a closer look. And because the family needed money, she and her husband started making chocolate, 300 pounds of it,  and sold it door to door, accompanied by their son, Guion’s father.  With the Depression passed, Greenlee said her great-grandmother said she’d had enough of the peddling.  “I never want to sell this again. I just want make it and give it away as gifts to friends.” That spirit of giving has continued for almost 90 years. Guion’s grandfather taught his wife the candy making craft, and they passed it along to their five children, including Keith. The Guions still love making candy, and still love sharing them. They’ll even teach others the craft. Earlier this month Guion and Greenlee presented a workshop on candy making at the Wood County Library. They set up shop the historic Carter House with Guion getting an early start making the fudge by boiling cocoa, sugar, corn syrup, and milk to bring it to 238 degrees.  Then he poured it onto a marble slap with a frame around it. Let it cool, but not too much, before using a putty knife he worked in butter then vanilla extract, and the secret ingredient, Sucrovert. He admitted that at this phase of the process, he always wonders: “Is this going to be an absolute disaster? I never now until it’s done.” He works it until…


Thanksgiving feast is about far more than the food

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Raymond Schmeltz scraped the last bit of pumpkin filling off the pie crust. “I don’t like the crust,” he explained. He closed his eyes and smiled – completely content after filling up on the Thanksgiving feast. “They do a wonderful job with all of this,” Schmeltz said. That’s probably because the volunteers from Christ’s Church in Bowling Green have been serving up the Community Thanksgiving Feast a couple days before the holiday for 27 years. They have the meal preparations and serving working like an assembly line. The meal features the traditional turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls and dessert. Renee Baker has been volunteering at the annual feast for its 27-year history. She knows just how important the meal is for the community. “We had a line out the door already at 2:30 p.m.,” and the meal wasn’t scheduled to start until 3 p.m., she said on Tuesday as she took a brief break in the kitchen of the Bowling Green community center. About 50 volunteers worked to prepare the meal with all the trimmings, and another 40 served it up. The church members were prepared for up to 600 diners over the four-hour meal this year – roasting 30 turkeys for the feast. “That’s five more this year than last year,” since they came close to running out last year, Baker said. To complete the meal, more than 50 desserts were also prepared – with the pecan pie proving to be the most popular. Many who come to the feast are in need and this will be their only Thanksgiving dinner this year. But for others, Tuesday was just the first round of big dinners this week. And that’s just fine with Christ’s Church members. “Absolutely anyone is welcome,” Baker said. Making a feast for so many can be exhausting, but Baker and the other volunteers would have it no other way. “We love serving,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have an opportunity to have a good Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings.” To many eating the turkey and dressing, it’s about far more than the food. “It’s helping the community. It gets everybody together in the community. I see all my friends from school,” said Sharon Bechstein as she took a break from working and ate dinner herself. Her favorite part? “All of it….


Mike Aspacher announces plans to run for mayor of BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Democrat Mike Aspacher announced his desire to become Bowling Green’s next mayor Tuesday evening, he was joined by some unlikely supporters – Republicans. But in an era where party divisions have become cavernous, this is the hallmark of Bowling Green City Council – and of Aspacher, its president. “I believe that our city government functions well, and that it does so because we don’t let politics divide us,” he said. “Here, we set our differences aside and focus instead on what can bring us together.” And Aspacher – a true “townie” – would like to be at the helm as that work continues. “I owe a lot to the Bowling Green community. This is where I grew up, where I went to school, where I got married, and where I raised my family,” he said in front of a packed room in the nature center at Wintergarden Park. Aspacher, a retired project manager for Dunbar Mechanical, began his public service in the 1990s when he was approached by the bipartisan power team of Dick Newlove and Mike Marsh to run for a seat on the board of education. “They gave me a subtle push toward public service,” Aspacher said. “I had no clue what I was getting into.” He served on the school board for eight years. Then was approached again to run for City Council, where he has now served for nine years. With the fire crackling in the background in the lodge, Aspacher told his supporters why he’s not done yet. “I believe cities should be measured primarily by the quality of life that they provide for the people who live there. By this measure, Bowling Green is a great city and we owe our gratitude to those who have laid the foundation for our community,” he said. “I’ve never been more optimistic about Bowling Green’s future than I am today. I know where this city has been, and I have a vision of what it can become,” he said. “I’m convinced that we can work together to develop creative ideas that will help our community grow and improve.” Aspacher listed the qualities he believes are needed for a strong community: – Responsive and transparent local government – Sound financial management – Well-trained public safety force – Effective and efficient public works department – Efficient and forward looking public…


Heart Association speaker serves up food for thought about healthy holiday eating

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News First the good news on the holiday eating front — scientific studies find people are not likely to gain 10 pounds over the holidays. A few people might, though. And some may very well might feel like they did. Those were some of the takeaways from “Finding a Heart-Heathy Balance for the Holidays,” a presentation at he Wood County Library by Jessica Hover, of the American Heart Association. “People do not gain significant weight over the holidays,” Hover said, though they may pick up three or four pounds, and feel bloated. She added their moods worsen and the incidence of heart and other diseases increases. “So it is time to rethink some of our habits.” The holiday rush and stress lead to heightened emotions. “How can we take care of ourselves?” Hover said it’s not just about the heart, but about the brain, which she likened the brain to an engine that must be fueled.  “We have to fuel it with high quality foods that have vitamins and minerals that our neurons need. That protects us from all the stress. The healthy nutrition protects our brains.” Hover added: “Heart disease is the number one killer of men, women and children.”  One person every 80 seconds dies of heart disease, she noted. “But  80 percent of heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes, exercise and diet. We need to start addressing health. As Americans were not doing a great job of that.” On the diet front that means more fruits and vegetables, four to five servings of each daily. A serving can be a cup of raw greens, a medium size fruit or vegetable, or a half-cup of cut up raw or cooked. A good measure is that a dinner plate should half full of veggies or a half cup of chopped vegetable or fruit, with the rest protein and starches. Incorporating more whole grains, nuts and legumes, and fish is also recommended. Using healthier preparation— roasting, sautéing, stir-frying, blanching, and steaming — helps as well as using a healthy oil such as olive oil, or Hover’s favorite, avocado oil. But don’t overcook the vegetables. Vegetables can be slipped into soups, stews and omelets to help increase intake. She advised “experimenting with things like different spices, or vanilla or peppermint extract, that add flavor without affecting health.” The holidays pose a particular calling for…


Looted artifacts are making their way home to Turkey

By JAN LARSON  McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 2,000-year-old artifacts looted from Turkey and sold to BGSU are being carefully packed up for their trip home. Officials from BGSU and Turkey shared the stage Tuesday morning to talk about how history is being righted with the return of the ancient art. “It is clear today that the best place for these is in the Republic of Turkey,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. The Turkish officials were grateful. “I know BGSU could have prolonged this process if they wanted to,” said Umut Acar, consul general for Turkey. The story of the mosaics is part history, part mystery. Dr. Stephanie Langin-Hooper, one of the people who solved the mystery of the mosaics, pieced together their story. About 2,000 years ago, a Roman family built a home in the area of Zeugma on the banks of the Euphrates River, said Langin-Hooper. They had a luxurious dining room floor created with custom mosaics of handcut stone and glass. The mosaics were a “marvel of artistic creation,” with intricate images of Bacchus the God of wine, theater masks and exotic birds. “Fast forward to the early 1960s,” Langin-Hooper said. “Zeugma and all of its glorious villas had long since fallen into ruin and been buried by the sands of time.” The artifacts were lost – except to looters, who were interested in profits not preserving art. Using crude methods, like pickaxes and sledgehammers, the looters removed at least 12 of the mosaic images and smuggled them out of Turkey. They were shipped halfway across the world. They ended up in an antiquities gallery in New York City, where they were fraudulently labeled with the provenance of a legal excavation in Antioch. It was there that BGSU officials spotted them and legally purchased them for $35,000. When the mosaics made a re-debut in 2011 at the newly constructed Wolfe Center for the Performing Arts at BGSU, a new professor on campus – Langin-Hooper – started researching the artifacts. She was assisted by Professor Rebecca Molholt of Brown University. “Together we began to suspect the truth,” said Langin-Hooper, who is now at Southern Methodist University in Texas. The mosaics were not artifacts delicately removed and sold with legitimate documentation – but rather art that had been illegally looted and smuggled out of Turkey. It has been seven years since the discovery. “Today is a triumph,” Langin-Hooper…


Menards files with city for site on South Main Street

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Menards has filed paperwork with the City of Bowling Green Planning Department. The company is looking at building a store on the south end of the city – south of Walmart and across the road from Home Depot. The paperwork filed with the planning office is seeking variances from three city sign regulations, according to Heather Sayler, planning director for the city. The company, which specializes in home improvement products, has not yet applied for a zoning permit to build on the property, Sayler said. “I think they want to check off the boxes,” with getting signage variances being one of those boxes, she said. Sayler said her understanding is that the company wants to start working on the new site early in 2019 if possible. According to the paperwork filed with the city, Menards would like a sign along South Main Street that exceeds the city’s maximum height of 25 feet. Store officials will be asking for a variance allowing a 40-foot tall sign. Store officials have also asked for a variance to the city ordinance that allows up to three signs on the exterior of the building. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review the store’s requests during its meeting on Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. The application lists the owner of the property as B.G.V.H. Co., represented by Anthoni Visconsi II. Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, said last month that Menards had been scouting out possible locations in the city. “They have been looking at the community for eight months or so,” Clark said. Initially, the company was looking at a site on East Wooster Street near the Holiday Inn Express, she said. Store officials then shifted to the location on South Main Street. “We plan to build a new store in Bowling Green, OH at some point in the near future,” Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson stated in an email last month. “We are still in the planning phase and have not yet finalized when we might start construction.”


BG City Council votes 6-1 to make parks smoke-free

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s city parks will be smoke-free starting in 2019. The decision to do so was one vote shy of unanimous by City Council. Council member Bruce Jeffers was the sole vote opposing the smoke-free ordinance. While Jeffers supports the existing ban against smoking inside park buildings, he believes the expansion of the ban to all park property is going too far. It’s “reasonable” for people to be able to smoke in parking lots at the parks, Jeffers said. “If a person chooses to smoke there, in my view they are not really bothering anybody,” he said. But council member Sandy Rowland said the smoking ban is appropriate for all park property. “There are children outside playing. Those children are inhaling the smoke,” Rowland said. Rowland, who serves as city council’s representative to the parks and recreation board, said the decision to expand the smoking ban was the right one. “I laud the park board for making this decision of what’s best,” she said. “We know we’re doing what’s right.” After all, Rowland said, the parks department supports healthy lifestyles. “The parks promote health. It’s a brave move,” she said. Council member John Zanfardino asked if the vote for the smoking ban by the park board was unanimous. Rowland confirmed it was unanimous. Council member Mark Hollenbaugh asked if smoking in a car on park property would be a finable offense. City Attorney Mike Marsh replied that he did not believe it would be. When it came up for the vote, Jeffers was the only council member to vote against the ordinance. The smoking ban will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. Kristin Otley, parks and recreation director, said most park visitors obey with the current ordinance. “Most people have been accommodating,” she said. Otley said the parks department will post signs explaining that smoking will not be allowed anywhere on park property. After the council meeting, Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said his officers will start out by just issuing warnings during a “grace period” while people become acquainted with the change. After a certain period, citations will be issued. “You don’t want to be heavy-handed, but you want to send a message,” Hetrick said. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the…


County to preserve courthouse murals before too late

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than a century, the murals on the top floor of the Wood County Courthouse have caused heads to tip back in admiration of the artwork. The county commissioners would like courthouse visitors for years to come to have that same experience. So the commissioners are planning to spend nearly $70,000 to restore the works of art. “That building is on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. And the murals are an integral part of the structure. “They depict scenes from Wood County a century ago.” The county commissioners are expected on Tuesday to enter into a contract for $21,980 to lease scaffolding for the restoration project. Earlier this fall, they had approved a contract for $47,390 to hire McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory Inc., from Oberlin, to restore the murals. The work will be laborious and tedious – taking an estimated four weeks for each towering mural. The scaffolding will go up on Nov. 26, with a tentative completion date of Feb. 1, 2019. Putting up the scaffolding in itself is a difficult job. “We’ve had it done before, for painting the trim,” on the courthouse’s third floor, Kalmar said. “Unfortunately, that’s a major portion of the costs for whatever we do there.” The commissioners were told earlier this year that the aging murals were at a critical point. A painting restoration expert said it’s now or never for the massive murals. “You’re at the turning point,” Kalmar said the county was informed. “If we don’t do restoration now, they are going to start coming off the walls.” The murals depict Fort Meigs in 1813 on the east wall, and an oil field in 1904 on the west wall. The murals were painted in 1910 and 1911 by I.M. Taylor, an artist and mayor of Bowling Green. A couple years ago, workers restoring plaster at the courthouse noticed some paint flaking on the murals. So the county contracted with ICA Art Conservation, a non-profit center in Cleveland for advice. Andrea Chevalier, a senior painting conservator, visited the courthouse to get a close look. She saw large areas where the paint is peeling, yet still precariously hanging onto the surface. There are also a few areas where the paint is gone altogether. The surfaces of the paintings are actually quite clean, without a film of dirt,…


County park district shares funding to help local parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District made a commitment years ago to share its tax dollars with community parks around the county. When Neil Munger, director of the county park district, visits communities throughout the county, he is frequently reminded of the value of that sharing. “There have been a lot of times, going out and looking at some of these communities, I see that 90 percent of the improvements in the parks are made with these grants,” Munger said. “It’s really heartwarming to see that.” This year, the Wood County Park District again set aside $100,000 to disperse to local community parks. Fifteen requests for funding were received, with 13 being granted. “The board likes to spread it out as much as we can,” Munger said. “It’s all judged on merit,” he said. Applicants willing to share in the costs or donate labor are viewed favorably. One was rejected for an incomplete application, and the other because it was too large of a request, Munger said. Following is a list of how the grant funding will be used: Bowling Green: $19,640 to replace Bellard and Perkins shelter houses in Carter Park with one larger shelter that will be ADA compliant. Custar: $2,538 for tree and shrub planting. Cygnet: $4,346 for replacement of bleachers. Luckey: $3,915 for playground resurfacing. North Baltimore: $12,394 to replace basketball goals. Perrysburg: $10,463 for replacement of playground equipment. Perrysburg Township: $7,702 for playground resurfacing, replacement of swingset chains, and picnic table. Portage Township: $3,252 for concession stand equipment (commercial refrigerator and popcorn popper.) Rossford: $11,103 to resurface pickleball courts. Tontogany: $4,245 for disc golf course. Walbridge: $9,674 to replace fencing. Wayne: $7,522 for playground equipment (ADA swing and merry-go-round.) West Millgrove: $3,205 for park benches and funnel ball.


Bus safety – dealing with defiant & distracted motorists

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local bus drivers fear their routes are just accidents waiting to happen. One driver, whose route travels U.S. 20, decided to keep track one year of the vehicles that illegally passed her bus when it was stopped for students. “I quit counting at 77,” she said. Bowling Green school bus drivers have reported 44 motorists illegally passing so far this year. Perrysburg has reported 38. “It’s just a blatant disregard for the law,” one bus driver said. State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, met on Friday with local school superintendents, school transportation directors and bus drivers at Bowling Green High School. Gardner had heard concerns about drivers illegally passing stopped buses, and decided to talk to the people who deal with it daily. “We ought to talk to the people on the roads,” he said. Attending the meeting were representatives of Bowling Green, Eastwood, Elmwood, Otsego, Lake, Perrysburg, Rossford and Anthony Wayne school districts. They discussed changes that might make drivers more likely to comply with the law – stiffer penalties, cameras catching them in the act, or more education. School buses are a safe mode of transportation, according to the National Highway Safety Board, Gardner said. School buses log about 5.7 billion miles a year, and are 50 to 70 times safer than other forms of transportation, he said. “It’s the safest way to transfer your children to school and home again,” Gardner said. However, defiant and distracted drivers sharing the road are posing risks for buses. “Obviously, it’s a nationwide problem. Everybody here knows it,” said Toby Snow, transportation director for Bowling Green City Schools. Bus drivers talked about motorists that speed up to pass buses preparing to stop. “They don’t want to wait, so they increase their speed and run your yellow lights,” one driver said. Another driver said it’s almost a daily problem – and she’s too busy watching the road and children to identify the offending vehicles. “I don’t have time to look at that license plate.” The offenders range in age from 16 to 96. They pass stopped buses on sunny days and snowy days. “Motorists are just not following the law,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. Gardner, the administrators and the drivers discussed ways to reduce the incidents – whether through equipping the buses with more cameras and lights, passing legislation that would increase…