Airing out the arts in Simpson Garden Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art in the Park allows the arts to blossom right along with the flowers in Simpson Garden. For the fourth year, the festival of arts will take place at the garden, at the intersection of Conneaut and Wintergarden, Friday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event packs in a lot of activity into a two-hour span. It features plein air art – artists working in the open air, as well as strolling musicians, theater, at every turn, and children’s activities in the Simpson Building. That’s where performances will happen if the rain comes. But Alice Calderonello, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, urged people not to give up on the weather. Last year the rain threatened all afternoon, but then the skies cleared just in time for art walk. “For some reason heaven smiles on us,” she said. This year, said her husband, John Calderonello, there are more performers than ever. They will be spread from the upper healing garden where strolling performers from the university’s doctorate in contemporary music will do their musical version of plein air art, improvising to suit the mood. Also, new to the event will by the vocal ensemble Inside Voices, also near the healing garden. Down the way in the peace garden the Kaze No Daichi Taiko drum ensemble will perform. In stages closer to the building singer Tom Gorman, the old time ensemble Root Cellar Band, Irish tunes by Toraigh an Sonas, and the Black Swamp Drum Circle will entertain. In the amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theater will stage a preview of its summer musical, “Dorothy in Wonderland,” at 5:15 and 6:30 and in between the Black Swamp Players will read a section of Scott Regan’s original play “Peanuts and Crackerjacks.” The play will be part of the Players’ 51st season. Spread throughout the garden will be artists at work, though not so intently that they won’t take a time to chat with guests. Last year eight artists took part, but organizers are always hoping for more. Jules Webster of Art Supply Depo is again sponsoring a $100 gift certificate to go to one artist voted the favorite by those attending. While artists can sign up on the day of the event, Alice Calderonello encouraged them to register in advance to make sure the council can get their names on the ballot and has contact information should they win. Artists should contact Craig Blair at blair@surrealogic.com. Art Depo is also giving young artist a chance to do plein air painting just like their elders. That will be offered in the children’s garden. The Bowling Green Montessori School and BG Parks and Recreation will have children’s activities inside the Simpson Building. Arts council member Nancy Stonerock is busy baking cookies for the event. Alice Calderonello said that…


BG embraces gazebo built by community dedication and family donation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the band played, and the rain clouds respectfully waited, townspeople wrapped around the new gazebo in Bowling Green’s Wooster Green Friday afternoon with a community embrace. “Four generations of my family graduated from school here,” Wendy Novotny said of the green space that now sprawls where the Bowling Green high school then junior high stood. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Others felt the same way, and by time the dedication began, the walkway surrounding the gazebo was packed with people. The gazebo is the first structure on the 1.2-acre space at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “It’s a great beginning,” said Bob Callecod, who has worked on the Wooster Green project. “It’s really a great send off for the entire project. This is going to be a great addition to our community.” Tom and Dianne Klein believed so much in the value of the town gathering space, that they donated the $50,000 needed to construct the gazebo. Their contribution was in honor of their parents Meredith and Gloria Davis, and Milt and Ruth Klein. Gloria Davis, 92, was there for the dedication. “I think it’s beautiful. I love it,” she said. “I love to hear the band play, and the kids sing. I think it’s lovely.” The generosity was a payback to the community they cherish for Tom, a retired BGSU professor, and Dianne, a retired BGHS teacher. “This has become our hometown,” Dianne Klein said. “We would like it to flourish.” The green gathering place is consistent with Tom Klein’s philosophy, he said. “From the time I was 7 years old, I was an organizer and gatherer of people.” The gazebo and surrounding space will fulfill that purpose, he said. “This will bring people together to talk, to learn, to have fun, to support diversity,” Tom said. He’s hoping the space will go one step further. “Spaces like this make social change happen.” The idea for Wooster Green was born in 2013 with a letter penned by Diane Vogtsberger – another retired BG teacher – to Mayor Dick Edwards. The old junior high had been torn down, and the fate of the open space was unknown. In her letter, which the mayor had saved and displayed on Friday, Vogtsberger wrote about traditional American small towns that are defined by their public spaces. “Creating this town square is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Vogtsberger said at the dedication. And what better place than the former site of a school, so it could be a tribute to all who attended and taught there, she said. “I just want to thank everyone for making this a reality,” she said. Her letter may have planted the seed, but others in the community then started nurturing the idea….


‘Ka-Bloom’ – Planting flowers therapeutic for seniors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There’s just something rejuvenating about digging in the dirt. Residents of Wood Haven Health Care got a little of that hands-on therapy during the annual “KaBloom” event at the facility last week. Dorothy Betts, who was planting some petunias in baskets in the courtyard, wasn’t particular about the type of flowers being planted. “I like them all,” she said. Filling up the flowering baskets brought back memories to Betts of the flowers she used to plant with her husband – impatiens, coral bells, daylilies, and bleeding hearts. “I think it’s therapeutic,” Betts said. “Then you get to watch them grow.” In addition to the flowers in the courtyard, there will also be tomatoes planted on the patio, where strawberries grew last summer. “It’s a good thing for them to get into the dirt,” said Wood Haven activity leader Cindy Dow. This summer, the residents will also be creating a fairy garden and a succulent garden. Those two garden plots are raised, making it easier for seniors to care for them, Dow said. “They love to nurture them,” Dow said of the seniors and the summer flowers. “There’s something therapeutic about watching them grow.” And spring is the ideal time for people to get outside. “After being cooped up in the winter, it’s so refreshing to come outside,” Dow said. The courtyard flowering benefits those who can’t travel to the courtyard as well. “They can see them from their windows,” Dow said. In front of Wood Haven Health Care, another planting crew was busy at work last week. Wood County Commissioners Doris Herringshaw, Ted Bowlus and Craig LaHote, as well as county administrator Andrew Kalmar and assistant administrator Kelly O’Boyle were digging in to plant flowerbeds with Wood Haven Administrator Jeff Orlowski. They came armed with their own trowels, gloves and sunscreen, to make the job more pleasant. Orlowki said the KaBloom program has several benefits for Wood Haven residents. “It’s been known that gardening has been able to lower blood pressure and increase brain activities and give a good general feel to whoever is doing it,” he said. “We are doing all kinds of different activities. The KaBloom  program pretty much came out of getting the residents outside on nice days in May and to get the employees involved and the families involved. The whole focus of these activities, and this is our overall goal at Wood Haven, is providing an outstanding experience, and activities are so much a part of that.”  


County worried about taxpayer fatigue impact on levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concern about taxpayer fatigue has led to a request that the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board reconsider its proposed levy. The Wood County Commissioners have asked the board to consider other options for its November ballot issue. “We just want to make sure that what they put on the ballot, people will be in favor of,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said on Wednesday. “Our concern is – what if it doesn’t pass?” The ADAMHS board had asked that a 1.3-mill replacement levy be place on the ballot. In order for the issue to appear before the voters, the county commissioners have to certify the need for the levy millage. Last month, Tom Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request. At that point, Herringshaw said that the commissioners had to discuss the levy request. “We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board,” Herringshaw said. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million. According to a letter from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options. Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are: 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year. 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. Replacement levy at an amount between 1 mill and 1.3 mills for 10 years. Two separate levies, with one being a 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, plus a new levy of 0.3 mills for five years. That lower levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $10.50 annually. If the opiate crisis is still creating a big demand for services after five years, the ADAMHS Board can put that small levy back on the ballot, the letter stated. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. At the same time as seeing rising costs for services, ADAMHS is also seeing a drop in help from the state and federal government. A decade ago, state and federal money made up 60 percent of the ADAMHS budget. Now the local levy dollars have to bear the burden of 75 percent of the budget. “We have…


Area musical acts set the stage for Firefly Nights

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Michelle Elson won’t play favorites. When asked if she’s particularly excited about any of the action is booked for Firefly Nights, she says, “I’m truly stoked about everyone I could get into the lineup.” The lineups for the three summer street festivals on Main Street Bowling Green nave been announced. Firefly Nights runs 6-10 p.m. the third Friday of June, July and August with music, food, a farmers market, kids activities, and arts and craft vendors. Main Street will be closed from Court to Washington, with east-west traffic still able to cross at Four Corners. Stages will be set up on each end with performers alternating sets. Acts booked to perform in order of appearance. June 15 Boo Lee Crosser Sam Dell Chris & Shellby Amelia Airharts July 20 Vester Frey Dooley Wilson Ryan Roth & The Sideshow Minglewood Labor Camp August 17 A.S. Coomer Craig James Groove Canoe Freight Street Elson got involved when the organizers started asking around for support. She was enthusiastic about the idea and offered to help. She took on booking the music. That assignment was a natural. Elson operates Twin Owls Photography, specializing in photographing bands. She’s started branching out into promotion and booking. And she’s married to a musician. So she has a lot of connections on the scene. “Many of my friends are musicians in the 419,” Elson said. As soon as she started asking around for bands wanting to play Firefly Nights, she got an immediate response. “Everyone was very excited.” She said a lot of regional performers are interested in breaking into the Bowling Green scene. Elson wanted a variety of performers and leaned toward acts that performed at least some original material. “When someone does their own songs the art is coming from their soul,” she said. She’s passionate about music, and to see that same passion expressed by performers “is a great thing.” The June 15 lineup illustrates her pursuit of variety. It opens with Bowling Green singer-songwriter Boo Lee Crosser, who Elson described as “an up and coming musician.” He composes all his own material and has a distinctive delivery to match his original music. Next up will Sam Dell from Bryan. He will play a solo set. Elson described him as a “good old country singer” who will mix a few covers in with his original songs. The duo of Chris Sayler and Shellby Messmer will present more country, though with a more contemporary pop flair. Sayler who had been working with a band has been gigging more with Messmer, who sings and plays bass. Wrapping of the night will be the Amelia Airharts, a classic rock five-some. The all-female band won two rounds of the battle of the bands at Hollywood Casino. Elson felt they’d had the right energy…


New dental site won’t turn away uninsured patients

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of this year, people without dental insurance will have a place to turn for help in Wood County. “To be able to finally offer services is huge for us,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said as he prepared for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new dental services expansion to Wood County Health Department’s Community Health Center. The dental clinic will have five exam chairs, offering services such as X-rays, minor surgeries and preventative care. Community health assessments have repeatedly shown unmet dental needs as a top health problem for local residents. The health department was able to secure nearly $900,000 from the federal government to cover the construction costs for the facility that extends off the east end of the health department at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. More than a decade ago, local officials who cared about public health and about children met at the county health department to discuss the lack of dental care for local children. At that point there was one dentist in the county who freely accepted Medicaid patients – Dr. Jack Whittaker. The problem wasn’t an easy fix with a clear culprit. Dentists are reimbursed at a lower rate by Medicaid than through private insurance. And the Medicaid patients often have significant dental needs because they have delayed treatment due to the expense. They often wait till the pain is unbearable, and the cost is escalated. Since then, the county offered a Band-Aid solution that has been a lifesaver to some residents. Once a month, the Smile Express parked its RV-size mobile dental unit outside the Wood County Health District to treat patients who otherwise would go without care. Though it made a difference in many lives, it was just scratching the surface of the unmet dental needs in the county. Every time the health district conducted an assessment of the county, the lack of dental services for low income residents ranked high on the list of needs. Wood County was not alone. In 2015, dental care was the top unmet health care need for nearly 157,400 children of all family incomes across the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Almost 486,000 children in the state lacked dental insurance, and nearly 340,000 had never been to a dentist. In Wood County that same year, 21 percent of children had not had a dental appointment in the past year, while more than 9 percent had never been to the dentist. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children 6 to 11 years old, affecting about a quarter of all kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It worsens as they age, affecting almost 60 percent of those aged 12 to 19 years. The Ohio Department of…


BGHS gets good grade for preparing students for future

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green High School has been recognized by a national organization for preparing its students for life after high school graduation. “It was good news this morning,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said of the award from GreatSchools, a national nonprofit organization that provides parents with information about pre-kindergarten-12 schools and education. The website provides ratings based on test scores and a variety of other factors for schools in all 50 states. The recognition was based on college-readiness and how well the students do once they are in college. “They follow that data,” Scruci said of the information collected for the awards. “I think it speaks to the things going on in Bowling Green High School and the Middle School,” Scruci said. A total of 814 schools in nine states were recognized. “It’s a nice feature in the district’s cap to be included,” the superintendent said. Other area schools to make the list are Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Sylvania Northview, Sylvania Southview, and Toledo School for the Arts. “That’s a pretty good group to be a part of,” Scruci said. All were honored for having a successful track record of helping their graduating students succeed in college. GreatSchools reported it selected high schools based on college preparation, enrollment and performance. The award-winning high schools stood out based on school-level post-secondary data collected and shared by each state. The organization compiled data including college entrance exam scores and participation rates, college enrollment rates, the percentage of students enrolled in remedial courses in college, and college persistence rates. “We’ve put more emphasis on college-prep curriculum,” with more classes added, Scruci said. “We want to get them as well prepared for their futures, whatever that might be,” he said. As of July 2017, the GreatSchools database contained information on more than 138,000 public, private, and charter schools in the U.S. With the list of College Success Award winners, GreatSchools had the following statement: “A high-quality public education should empower today’s young people with the skills they need to forge a path to bright futures. With this in mind, GreatSchools is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 College Success Award. This honor recognizes 814 high schools across nine states that have a successful track record of going beyond simply graduating students to helping them enroll in college and succeed once they get there. “The College Success Award-winning high schools stand out based on school-level postsecondary data collected and shared by their states. This data tells us whether students enroll in college, are ready for college-level coursework, and persist on to their second year. The award-winning schools are located in nine states where this postsecondary data is available: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.”  


Peach Peony shop pops up in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Since graduating in 2012, Ashley Hughes has returned to her old haunts in Bowling Green to shop and eat out. On one trip the Bowling Green State University graduate in tourism and event planning noticed an empty storefront. She didn’t see a vacancy, she saw an opportunity.  Last weekend Hughes opened Peach Peony Co. at 140 N. Main St., just as the shop’s namesake flower were blooming. Hughes reported a good opening weekend, but she won’t pop back up again until June 15 in conjunction with the first Firefly Night event. Hughes sells a variety of crafts and home decor products to appeal to all the senses. She has candles, foodstuffs including jerky, signs, cards and more including her own handcrafted dreamcatchers. While she stocks merchandise that appeals to all ages, her target market is college students and recent graduates. “I saw the opportunity here in BG to tap into the younger crowd,” she said. “They definitely appreciate the handmade quality and shopping small.” She set the time’s she’s open to their needs. Her hours will be coordinated with Flatlands Coffee next door, staying open well into the evening, including until 10 p.m. on Firefly Nights and in the Friday and Saturday of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Hughes knew that she was only going to be open a few weekends this summer, and when she learned about Firefly Nights, that persuaded her to make those the weekends. Starting Aug. 15 she’ll be open every weekend with her grand opening scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25, during move-in weekend. Hughes sometimes organizes her own shows – she had one in Upper Sandusky earlier this month and has another one planned for November. Her recent show included 45 vendors and food trucks. She also sells her wares at fairs around the state, Columbus area this weekend and then Cincinnati. She’s participated in vintage markets hosted by Bowling Green shop Painted Clover. She mixes in some of the merchandise from the shop. Hughes is still adding to her merchandise mix.  She has some screen-printed apparel coming in. The clothing will have Bowling Green and Ohio themes. Hughes was making dreamcatchers while attending BGSU. Her sorority sisters were so enthusiastic that she launched an Etsy shop. “I was always interested in arts and crafts and grew up going to arts and crafts shows,” Hughes said. Now she’s made them her business.    


BG gets county lease option for community solar field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green already has the largest solar field in Ohio. Now it’s working on building the largest community solar project in the state. If all goes as planned, this solar field will sit on 70 acres just west of Wood Lane, just north of East Gypsy Lane Road near Interstate 75. The project requires teamwork, since 50 acres are owned by the Wood County Commissioners, and 20 acres are owned by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This project is intended to be a “community solar project,” which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. “It would allow you the lease of the output for a year,” said Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of the Bowling Green Public Utilities Department. That would make this project different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The East Gypsy Lane site is appealing because it is close to existing city facilities that can be tied into. There would be no need to build several miles of power poles and wires. “We have the infrastructure near there,” O’Connell said. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. “Instead of putting solar on rooftops, this could be done at a lower cost,” O’Connell said. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said Tuesday. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would be an ideal location for this,” Stockburger said. So on Tuesday, city officials asked the Wood County commissioners to give them a three-year lease option, which will allow the city to discuss the project with solar developers. “If you don’t have the land, they can’t give you an accurate price for the layout,” O’Connell said. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has already signed off on the lease option for its acreage. “We would be glad to move forward,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said about the…


Toledo Federation of Art Societies celebrates its tradition & looks to the future

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Doug Adams-Arman remembers attending the “May” Show, the once annual Toledo Area Artists exhibition. Presented by the Toledo Federation of Arts Societies at the Toledo Museum of Art, it showcased the work of the best regional artists, from the elders who helped put Toledo on the artistic map to students from Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo. “To know that Toledo art could be in the museum was fantastic,” Adams-Arman, who has just be elected to his second term as the TFAS president, said recently. “It just gave me a sense of that I was living in a city with living artists. It was very exciting.” Now that show is history. Its tradition is celebrated in the current exhibit “Decades in the Making: Highlights from the Toledo Federation of Art Societies” at the museum through June 24. The show features more than 20 works, from the about 300 that the TFAS purchased from those shown in the area show. That collection is now being housed at the Toledo School for the Arts, where Adams-Arman works as a major gifts officer. The work spans almost 70 years of the show from early representational paintings, “Still Life with Pheasant” by Jeannette Doak Martin and “Spanish Girl” by Miriam Silverman to the most recent purchase, “Slaughter of the Innocents” by K.A. Letts, an Ann Arbor-based painter. Letts, Adams-Arman said, has a rising reputation in the art world and “it’s privilege” for TFAS to own one of her works. “Slaughter” was exhibited in the 95th annual show, and the last one presented. Change was afoot in 2014. The boundaries for entries were expanded, but fewer artists, just 28, were included. Those exhibiting got to show more work. The painting mixes Letts’ concern with current issues expressed through myth and primordial iconography. Religious iconography plays an understated role in Sister Jane Catherine Lauer’s 1952 painting “Afternoon Collation.” With its use of straight lines and geometric blocks of color, it evokes a stain glass window. Yet the scene it depicts is a slice of everyday life in the Ursuline convent. The piece Adams-Arman said was painted for the Toledo area exhibit. The show also has iconic names from the Toledo scene. That includes Edith Franklin, a ceramicist who also participated in the studio glass workshop at the museum that launched at the art glass movement. Adams-Arman, worked with Franklin and credited her with getting him involved in TFAS. Two of the driving forces behind the glass workshop have work displayed, glass pioneer Dominick Labino and ceramicist Harvey Littleton. The show, which was curated by Halona Norton-Westbrook, offers an excellent representation of the work exhibited over the years. While this marks an end to a tradition, Arman-Adams said that the relationship between TFAS and the museum is “still…


BG remembers those who gave their all for the nation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As other veterans marched past in the Memorial Day parade through downtown Bowling Green, John Barnes stood on the sidewalk. A U.S. Marine Corp veteran of the Korean War, Barnes makes a conscious decision every year to not march. “I just watch. I think people who put on the parade should have someone observing them,” said Barnes, of Bowling Green. “They should not be neglected.” Others along Monday’s parade route were also there to show their respects. “I just feel like I need to honor the veterans,” said Tony Aspacher, who rode his bicycle downtown. Betsy Grey was there to see her grandson lend a beat to the parade on the quad-drums with the Bowling Green High School Marching Band – and to pay her respects. “It’s not very long, but what’s in it is enjoyable,” she said. American flags had been posted along Main Street, and children stood curbside waving small versions of Old Glory. Most of the adults were hugging shady spots as the temperatures soared – but they felt compelled to be there. “I wanted to honor the people who sacrificed for our country,” said Norma Stickler, of Bowling Green. As is tradition, the parade traveled from downtown to the front of the Wood County Courthouse for a gun salute by Civil War re-enactors. Then it headed to Oak Grove Cemetery, where a program was held, with the annual reading of General Logan’s Orders, the Gettysburg Address, and the laying of the wreaths for veterans of every war. World War II veteran Silverio Gonzalez was again able to place the wreath representing those who perished in that war. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Hopingardner reminded those present that Memorial Day was born from the ashes of the Civil War. Families of the 620,000 Americans killed in the war wanted some way to memorialize their fallen loved ones. “In those dark times, it was the families honoring their dead,” said Hopingardner, a professor of military science at Bowling Green State University, who has served three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. “We continue to honor our troops,” he said, urging those present to listen carefully to hear the voices of those who served and their families. “There are children without parents, mothers and fathers, siblings” – all who can still hear the voices of those who they lost. “It’s up to us to hear the voices of these families” and honor them, he said. “Many didn’t even volunteer for service,” Hopingardner said. “They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways.” The long-standing tradition of Memorial Day – initially called Decoration Day – is to position the flag at half staff until noon. Then it is to be raised to the top of the flag pole, he stressed. “We…


‘Saved by the Belt’ more than just a slogan for some

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last October, Richard “Fuzzy” David was driving a dump truck down U.S. 6 for his job with Jim Palmer Excavating when he was struck head-on. His truck was rammed so hard, it was turned sideways, the cab started to tear off the frame, and the driver’s door was pried open. David’s seat belt was credited with keeping him from flying out of the dump truck. He was injured, but was able to return to work – thanks to be buckled up at the time of the crash, said Sean Brennan, a friend and safety coordinator at Jim Palmer Excavating “He was saved by his belt,” Brennan said last week during a “Click It or Ticket” promotion organized by Wood County Safe Communities at Thayer Ford in Bowling Green. “There’s no way you can brace yourself,” Brennan said. “There’s no way you can get a seat belt on at the last minute.” Not only is wearing seat belts the law, it’s common sense, he added. Overall, Wood County motorists do pretty well at wearing their seat belts, according to Ohio State Patrol Lt Angel Burgos and Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. Motorists’ use of seat belts in the county is 93 percent, compared to 84.3 percent in Ohio. Stops at various checkpoints in Wood County showed differing levels of compliance by drivers. The highest seat belt use (100 percent) was found in northern Wood County at Ohio 795 near the Interstate 75 interchange. The lowest compliance (83 percent) was found in southern Wood County on Ohio 18 at the I-75 interchange. Since 1975, seat belts have been credited with saving more than 300,000 lives in the U.S., according to Edgar Avila, president and chief executive officer of AAA. Last year, the Midwest ranked second in the nation for highest seat belt usage. “Let’s shoot for first place next year,” Avila said. Avila also stressed that it’s the driver’s duty to make sure everyone in the vehicle is belted in. “You are responsible for everyone riding in your vehicle,” he said. “Don’t be a casualty. Please wear your seat belts.” In Wood County, 38 percent of the fatal crashes in 2016 involved unbelted drivers and passengers. That number dropped in 2017 to 33 percent. “We need to do better,” Wiechman said. She suggested that motorists make it automatic to buckle up anytime they get into a vehicle. “Just like brushing your teeth,” she said. “It only takes one time for a tragedy to happen.” Friday’s “Click It or Ticket” event was held at the beginning of the nation’s big driving Memorial Day weekend at the start of summer. Also receiving a “Saved By the Belt” award, but not present, were Levi Colley and Emily Sattler. The two were on Eckel Junction…


BG to hand out micro-grants for neighborhood projects

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is ready to offer money to citizen-led projects to help neighborhoods. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter announced last week to City Council that the city is launching a micro-grant program. This will be the first priority put in place from the city’s newly adopted Community Action Plan. The micro-grant program will allocate $500 to $5,000 annually to proposals that meet the goals of the CAP by improving neighborhoods. Applications for the first round of funding will be due June 15. A total of $5,000 will be available. Tretter said money was already set aside for the CAP this year – so this would be a good use of that funding. “I think we’re all interested in seeing something move forward,” she said to City Council. The money can be used for a variety of projects, such as the Connect Court Street event that was held last year, the Firefly Nights that just started downtown, or projects such as neighborhood tool sharing or home improvements, said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “There are probably things we haven’t even thought of yet” that would qualify, Tretter said. The plan will be to offer the micro-grants twice a year, with the deadlines for applications being Jan. 15 and June 15 each year. These grants are not intended to compete with the Community Foundation grants, which serve different purposes, Tretter said. Those receiving the micro-grants will be accountable for the funding, and will be asked to come before City Council to explain the impact of the grants, she added. Other items on the list to be worked on soon for the Community Action Plan include: Work on the city zoning code and land use issues. This might include such efforts as more training for the zoning board of appeals, and forming a committee to review city parking regulations. Work on bicycling grants and infrastructure improvements. Study of potential improvements to Carter Park. Also at Monday’s meeting, Police Chief Tony Hetrick explained changes in the city’s emergency dispatching system. The work began three years ago to blend the fire and police dispatching into one center. The change allows police to access county-wide and regional records systems. It gets rid of the duplication of services, and allows the fire department to use all its staff for emergency responses rather than assigning one person to dispatching. And most recently, it allowed for an expansion to more 911 dispatching consoles. Hetrick thanked the city’s public works and public utilities departments for doing nearly all the work in-house. The project cost $60,000, but probably would have been double that otherwise, he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, the city named Jennifer Karches as its “Spokesperson of the Year.” Chairman of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission, Dr. Steve Langendorfer said Karches…


Wood Lane makes preliminary pitch for November levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Many groups come to the Wood County Commissioners to get the board’s blessing before putting a levy on the countywide ballot. Very few are able to report that they will be asking for lower millage than in the past. Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer explained the situation to the county commissioners on Thursday. Over the last decade, the agency serving people with developmental disabilities has been able to trim back its levy collections. The board has rolled back its current 2.95-mill levy on multiple years – including collecting just 50 percent of the millage this year. However, more people with developmental disabilities are seeking more services to live their lives. That means the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities will likely be on the ballot this November. But instead of going for the same millage, Wood Lane will likely ask for a lower amount, possibly 2.45 mills. “We believe that allows us to be fiscally responsible” and continue to provide quality services, Baer said to the commissioners. The Wood Lane board will discuss the millage at its June 21 meeting, then come back to the county commissioners to get their blessing for the ballot. “Your services certainly do make a difference to families in Wood County,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “We hear that over and over.” As of earlier this year, Wood Lane was serving 1,007 people. Broken down into age groups, those served are: 114 age 0-2; 95 age 3-5; 316 age 6-22; 171 age 22-30; 124 age 31-40; 74 age 41-50; 86 age 51-64; 27 age 65 and older. Baer explained that Wood Lane has seen “significant growth” in those being served, especially among the very young. “We start at birth with early intervention services,” he said. More people needing services means more staff to serve them. “We’ve had pretty significant growth in the overall level of staff,” Baer said. More early intervention is needed for children with autism, and for children affected by the opioid crisis, he added. As the children age, Wood Lane School gets involved for youth up to the age of 22. “Anyone who runs a school for people who have significant developmental disabilities has additional costs,” Baer explained. But Wood Lane has no intention of not offering school services. Without them, children would be placed back in their home schools – which would just shift the costs to those districts. Or they would be cared for at home, where little socialization is offered. “We just can’t let that happen,” he said. Wood Lane School does have extra costs due to its student population, Baer said. For example, during a recent performance of the “Princess and the Pea” opera for students, three individuals had significant seizures within an hour. Adequate staff with proper skills must be…


Operatic ‘Big Bad Wolf’ starts summer reading program on a high note

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon, the children’s librarian at the Wood County District Public Library, wanted to get the musically inclined summer reading program off on a high note. So, of course, she brought in a soprano. And the soprano rolled in with a mezzo-soprano, a pianist, and a bass to play the bad guy. Libraries Rock! The summer reading program got under way with a visit by Toledo Opera on Wheels. The four-member troupe had enough scenery and hand puppets, not mention musical talent, to bring to life a couple of classic fairy tales. “Who’s Afraid of the Big Band Wolf?” blends the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. The original script was set to music from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” This is what the public library is all about, said Joy Torres, who was there with her four children age 3 to 10. “It introduces us to a lot of new things, we wouldn’t have a chance to experience if it wasn’t here. They always seem to bring in something new and exciting.” One year it was a magician, she said, and this year the opera. Later this year a local rock band, Mindless Matters, will play a show in the library on June 27 at 7 p.m. Crystal Swaisgood, a mother of three who like Torres home schools her kids, said she’s at the library all the time taking advantage of the diversity of activities offered. This summer Lubrizol will present a STEM Sound Lab and young local musicians will come in play what they’ve been practicing and serve as reading buddies. The full schedule of activities is available in the library’s Connect Family Magazine. Click for more details. “It helps keep the excitement of learning alive,” Torres said of the summer reading program. The young musicians in the Opera on Wheels program hope that their 30-minute opera will spawn future opera listeners and maybe performers. Janani Sridhar, the soprano who sang the part of Little Red Riding Hood, said with the arts being cut in so many schools, programs like this are all the more important. She believes very strongly in bringing opera to these young listeners as a way of cultivating an audience. This was the last day for the troupe, all resident artists at the Toledo Opera. After 85 performances, they had one more show, and then they would be off pursuing their professional careers. Carolyn Aquirre who plays the third little pig, that is the one who builds her house from brick, said she loves the question and answer session and seeing how involved the young listeners get. The audience Thursday was pre-schoolers through second graders from St Aloysius School with a coupl dozen more kids with their parents. They wanted to know why the…