BG serving up local pizza at pool, nature paths in park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local pizza at the pool and nature pathways in the parks are just a slice of what Bowling Green City Parks are offering this summer. Forget the former frozen pizza at the pool in City Park. This year, the concession stand will be selling local pizza, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley announced Tuesday during a board meeting. The city received bids from three local pizza shops, so the decision was made to give each business one month at the pool concession stand. The three pizza shops to sell their slices poolside are Pizza Pub 516, Jet’s and Domino’s. Customers are allowed to order concession stand food without paying for entrance to the pool. The pool is scheduled to open this Saturday for the summer season. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at a shelter house in Carter Park, park naturalist Chris Gajewicz talked about the natural area in the center of Carter Park. While much of the focus at the park is on the baseball fields and Frisbee golf, an area in the park has been allowed to grow up naturally. Paths have been mowed in the woodlot so people can walk through and check out the wildflowers. “It gives Carter Park not just the manicured look,” but also a bit of nature, Gajewicz said. People can often be seen walking through the woodlot. “It shows the power of nature – even the littlest piece of nature can pull them in,” he said. Gajewicz also announced that the recent burn in the nature preserve and birding program offered at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve were very successful. He also talked about the plants sprouting up in Simpson Garden Park and the healing garden there. “Keep coming out to the gardens, because it’s changing all the time,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation coordinator Ivan Kovacevic talked about the start of several summer park programs. Lunch in the Park kicks off on June 1, and continues every Friday through July in City Park. The annual Art in the Park is set for June 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., in Simpson Garden Park. And Concerts in the Park start on June 10 at Needle Hall in City Park. Also planned is a Farmers Market Mile Fun Run and Vegetable Relay 5K Race on June 13 at 5:30 p.m. The next park and rec board meeting will be June 26, at 7 p.m., in the Girl Scout Building in City Park.


BG City Park building plans call for patience

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Kristin Otley drove past City Park on Monday, she almost pulled in to chew out some people doing work in the park. Then it hit her, “Wait, that’s a survey truck,” she said. “Poggemeyer started surveying City Park yesterday,” Otley, Bowling Green’s Park and Recreation Director, said Tuesday during a park board meeting. Otley also announced that the city will be contracting with Schorr Architects for the new City Park building. Schorr specializes in historical-type structures and designed the new building last year. That was the good news of the evening. The bad news is that the timeline has shifted for the project. “There’s no way we’ll have everything designed” and ready to go by August, she said. The original plans were to tear down the three buildings near the entrance of City Park – the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and Depot – then start construction so the new building replacing the aging structures would be ready for use by summer of 2019. However, Otley said that much to her disappointment, that timeline is just too tight and unrealistic. The new timeline calls for the old buildings to be torn down next winter. Construction will be delayed until March of 2019, since the costs of winter construction are much higher and the city does not want to rush the project, Otley told the board. That means the parks and recreation department won’t have City Park buildings to schedule events in next summer. But Otley reassured the board that there are ample facilities in the city’s 11 parks to hold programming. The new goal is to have the City Park building completed by summer of 2020. That also means that the existing buildings in City Park are now available for rentals and programming for a longer period. Originally, rentals of the buildings were cut off in mid-August since demolition was scheduled to occur then. However, the buildings are now available for rentals through Jan. 13, 2019. That extra time will give city residents time for a “farewell tour” of the buildings, Otley said. Though disappointed in the delay, Otley said she is pleased the city is working with Schorr Architects, and that the firm has contracted with the local Poggemeyer Design Group. “I’m excited that it’s moving forward,” she said. “We want to make sure we do everything right.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said the decision to slow down the process was “very prudent.” The contract price with Schorr Architects is $317,500 – a bit lower than the expected cost of $320,000. Earlier this year, city approved the sale of $3.75 million in bonds to pay for tearing down the three old buildings and constructing the one new facility in City Park. The new building will have adequate space for…


BGSU ReStore sheds light on need to reuse material

Nick Hennessey, director of the Bowling Green State University Office of Sustainability, is all business as he gives a reporter a tour of the ReStore sale. We stroll down a long corridor that starts in the Sundial on the north side of Kreisher dorm, into the dorm’s lounge area. Lining the space are tables of stuff, lots of stuff, a variety of stuff from the makings of a Halloween party to books passed rows of clothes. There are microwaves, lamps, and electronics. This is a college-life version of Ali Baba’s cave. Then Hennessey stops. “I’m digging these green pants,” he said, picking up a pair of trousers from a stack. Setting them back down, he allows they probably won’t fit. Then he gestures to a nearby pile of blue jeans. In previous years, there were many, many more. “We used to get so many pairs of jeans,” he said. This year, “jeans seem relatively low for both men and women.” And that may be a good sign. “Maybe some people are hanging on to things longer. That would please me a great deal. Maybe people are having second thoughts about getting rid of stuff maybe they could reuse.” The ReStore is the culmination of his office’s When You Move Out Don’t Throw it Out (WYMO) campaign. It encourages students when they leave campus for the summer to donate what they don’t want or can’t fit in their vehicles. Some people misinterpret the treasure trove of castoffs, Hennessey said. “One of the things I like to clarify to people because we’re always hearing people come in and see all this stuff and say ‘I can’t believe students left all this stuff behind.’ The reality is they have to make intentional decision to donate it. They made the decision ‘I want to donate something to the WYMO program.’” That means hauling stuff to the lobby of their residence hall and putting it in the appropriate bids, even though the dumpster may be closer.” With the help of interns, Sierra Wilson and Wolfgang Ach, and numerous volunteers, these donated items are organized, cleaned up, and laid out for people to buy. Last year, Hennessey said, the sale netted about $4,000. That money helps support sustainability programs and education. Those proceeds, though, are not the reason for WYMO, Hennessey said. This sale itself is a demonstration of the importance of reusing goods. Last year, Ach, an environmental policy and analysis major, said, the sale kept 17,000 pounds of material from going to the landfill. “That’s amazing.” So everything is priced to go, even if that means it’s free. “I’m not going to charge someone for crutches,” Hennessey said, referencing a dozen pair or so leaning against the wall. Students get injured. They go to the Falcon Health Center, and their insurance provides them with…


Firefly Nights appeal granted for liquor at downtown events

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink. City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request. Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening. Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run. The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said. “We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.” Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said. “We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members. But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the streets, she said. The plan is for beer and wine to be sold at all of the festivals. Organizers have talked with police and fire officials, who supported the permit request. “We really believe we have something special in downtown BG,” Thompson said, noting that the hundreds of people who attended the “Chocolate Crawl” in the downtown earlier this year expressed interest in the variety of shops in the city. “We have to expose them to all we have to offer,” Thompson said. Council President Mike Aspacher complimented the Firefly Nights organizers for their hard work. “Hopefully this will become a reoccurring event” in future years, he said. Council member Sandy Rowland praised the women for the “courage to take on something this big.” After…


Downtown Bowling Green hopes to avoid gas pains at summer events

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Columbia Gas officials gave assurances Monday night that the installation of new gas lines in downtown Bowling Green would not interfere with the summer fun. The $1.3 million project to lay 7,500 feet of plastic pipe is scheduled to begin June 4, and continue until early September. It will extend down Main Street from Clay down to Lehman and Ordway. The existing metal pipes will be replaced by plastic pipes. The project is part of an ongoing effort by Columbia Gas to upgrade its service. The gas service will go from about a quarter pound of pressure to 50 pounds of pressure. “That gives us not only a safer pressure to keep water out of the lines, it allows for homeowners and residents to use more gas appliances,” said Raquel Colon, an external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas. “You’ll have more capacity to have more gas come into your home.” This will include generators for businesses, said Jim Simon, project leader for Columbia Gas. “This project will be a lot of open cut, there’ll be a lot digging, not boring as we’ve done in the past,” Colon said. “What we’re doing is a lot of digging, and it will be a little dirty but the goal is a much safer distribution of gas.” Alex Hann, who is site and logistics chair for the Black Swamp Arts Festival as well as being active in other downtown events, asked about what provisions would be made for the five events already planned. On the downtown calendar are the new Firefly Nights on the third Fridays of June, July, and August, the Classics on Main car show on July 7, and the weekend long Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sept. 7-9 as well as the weekly farmers market. Representatives for all the events were in attendance. Simon said he was aware and sympathetic to the concerns. He lives in Bowling Green and attends the arts festival. “Our goal is to make it as safe as possible.” Hann said he was concerned about tripping hazards as well as conditions that make the area less accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Simon said that unlike in the past where the company has completed large sections of project before going back to do restoration, for the BG work they will do either permanent or temporary restoration as they go along. The idea is to leave things as they were before the work. The project is being coordinated with the city which has a downtown streetscape project planned to start in fall. Columbia Gas will patch some areas up, but try to minimize how much will then be ripped out for the city’s project. The gas line improvement extends further south and north than the city plans to go, so…


BG trims fat off proposed food truck ordinance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some of the leftover crumbs from the food truck discussions were tidied up by Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole Monday evening. The ordinance allowing food trucks to operate in the city will be ready for City Council to vote on at its next meeting. The decisions made Monday evening favored making the ordinance the least restrictive as possible – with the understanding that if a problem occurs, council will then handle the issue. But council member Bill Herald, who was head of the committee tackling the food truck issue, brought up several issues that weren’t addressed in the ordinance, just to make sure they should not be included. In most cases, the Committee of the Whole preferred to keep the recipe for food trucks as simple as possible. For example: Trucks in the downtown area Herald noted that the ordinance did not require food trucks in the downtown area to have “visibility triangles.” Council member Sandy Rowland reminded that the goal was to “keep the regulations as free as possible. Those are things we can change as we live through the implementation.” Council president Mike Aspacher agreed that council can “adjust as needed,” when problems arise. If a food truck were to park in an unsafe location, the city will discuss the problem, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said. The city has a history of working with people and coming up with solutions that are agreeable. “We really do try to employ diplomacy,” she said. Hours and days of operation Herald pointed out that the ordinance does not limit food trucks to certain days or hours of operation. Aspacher said the city’s goal is to not place such limits. “My feeling is we should not do so,” he said. Council members Rowland and Bruce Jeffers agreed. Several food vendors have attended city meetings to explain that they only set up on days and times when they can get plenty of customers. Appeals process for those opposed to food trucks The proposed ordinance allows food vendors to appeal if their permit request is denied. However, there is no appeal process for the public if the permit request is granted, Herald said. This addition would allow more freedom to the process, he said. Jeffers agreed. However, Aspacher and Rowland saw no need for the appeal language. “I just feel this is unnecessary,” Aspacher said. Rowland pointed out that the city doesn’t allow the public to appeal other businesses in the community. “I don’t know why we should do it with a mobile vendor,” she said. Herald suggested there would be no harm in adding the appeal provision, but Aspacher stressed that there was no need to complicate the ordinance. Since the issue was at a stand-off, the topic was brought up again…


Community survey gives high marks to public library

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A community survey done for the Wood County District Public Library turned out to be a love letter. “Levels of satisfaction were pretty high across the board on all the services we surveyed,” said Shannon Orr, whose public policy class at Bowling Green State University conducted it. “There is very high customer satisfaction for the Wood County Library system, and they would be willing to support the next levy.” That was true even among the majority who only use the library a few times a year. They still felt that the library was an important community service. Orr presented the results to the library’s Board of Trustees Monday. The library’s levy, which brings in $1 million a year, about 40 percent of the budget, will need to be renewed November, 2020. Orr added, that “children’s events were cited over and over again very highly.” On the other hand, “the level of dissatisfaction is almost nonexistent.” “We do a lot of these,” she said. “I run more than 100 community projects with my classes, and this level of satisfaction is very unusual.” Orr’s students sent surveys to 2,000 registered voters in the library’s service area. They got 346 back, or 17.3 percent. That’s an adequate response rate. An online survey with identical questions was sent to about 1,500 email addresses the library had on file. Those responses matched the random sample, but were not figured into the results. The answers to the open-ended questions included in the online survey were provided to the library. People did cite a few areas of improvement. Given the aging population, more large print books are needed. Also, people wanted better guidance on what the library offers, whether books or programs. Arts and craft programs would be nice. And the library needs “freshening up,” particularly the carpet on the stairs. “I might have written that myself,” said Library Director Michael Penrod. He said he’s also ready gotten some carpet samples, and is consulting with a decorator. He said he still thinks of the facility as the “new library,” but it has been 15 years since the expanded and renovated library opened, and is showing its age. Customer services was singled out both for accolades and a few complaints, but was overall a strong point. “What came out is that the people are being served by people who really care,” Trustee Becky Bhaer said. The library is seen as more than a place that loans out books and materials, Orr said. People see it as a community center. A safe, clean, warm, inviting place. “No single person talked about not being welcome,” Orr said. If you’re looking for a place to hold a meeting or have a class, there aren’t a lot of other options,” Trustee Ellen Dalton said. “We realize…


Marissa Saneholtz makes her mark as a woman artist to watch

By DAVID DUPONT BG independent News Marissa Saneholtz only has two smallish tattoos. The women she depicts on her jewelry, though, are covered with ink. Yet these women are depictions of the artist, proud assertions of her feminism. The copper and enamel broaches with decals fired into the surface that mix of social commentary, aesthetic grace, and technical mastery, have earned the Bowling Green native a place in Women to Watch Ohio – 2018. The show is now on exhibit in the Riffe Gallery in Columbus. The exhibit, which features the work of 10 women artists working in metals, is a collaboration of the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Saneholtz honed her skills close to home, first in the Bowling Green High and then at Bowling Green State University, before heading to East Carolina University to earn her Master of Fine Arts. After stints in Italy, Vail, Colorado, and at Appalachian State University, she’s back home as an instructor in the metals and jewelry program at BGSU’s School of Art. Saneholtz, 32, said her art activity started from the time she came out of the womb. Her mother, Karen, did the arts projects for Plan, Do, and Talk. And when her daughter was a preschooler, she served as her “Guinea pig.” If she could do a project, the other kids could as well. When Saneholtz was older, she’d help her mother by demonstrating the projects. At Bowling Green High School, she started in art inspired by teacher Becky Laabs. As a freshman, Saneholtz won a prize in a state competition. She thought, “I can do this.” Academics came easily for her. “Art was good because I could challenge myself and research anything I wanted and turn it into art.” Metalsmithing was a good fit. The process jibed with her talents in science and math. It takes logic and organization. It’s “very planned out,” Saneholtz said. Science meets art as she deals with patinas, melting temps and alloys. “That’s all really exciting.” Using glass for enameling, she also has to consider fusion temperatures and expansion rates. “Not everyone wants to think about those things when they’re making art.” When it came to going to college, she didn’t consider BGSU at first. “I didn’t want to be a townie.” But looking around at metal and jewelry programs, BGSU’s program, directed by internationally recognized artist Tom Muir, rose to the top. Saneholtz enrolled as an art education major. “I wanted to be exactly like Becky Laabs.” But Muir talked her switching her major to metals. Muir’s sense of humor and penchant for telling stories were a good fit for Saneholtz, who displays the same qualities in her work. That’s evident in the three broaches on display in Columbus, and it’s part…


Firefly Nights set to begin a summer of fun in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights, a new series of street festivals in downtown Bowling Green, got off to a running start Friday night. About 200 runners and walkers toed the starting line on North Church Street near the library and at the signal marked what organizers hope will be a summer of fun in the business district. The 5K race and one mile walk started at 9 p.m. The participants in fluorescent shirts and glow bracelets. The evening start was meant to set it apart from all the other charity runs, said Stacie Banfield, one the organizers. “We wanted to make it a fun event for kids.” The after-dark start was also fitting given it promoted and raised funds for evening events Banfield, owner of Mode Elle, was one of a quartet of women business proprietors – Kati Thompson, of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought – who organized Firefly Nights. Thompson said to get 200 registrants for a first time race was a great response. “A hundred is considered a success.” Banfield said it was exciting to watch the registrations increased as race time approached, Banfield said. That included folks who signed up on Friday night. She and Thompson are optimistic that this is a sign of the enthusiasm for the three scheduled street festivals. The race will help fund three nights of downtown activities set for the third Friday of each month – June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17 – from 6 to 10 p.m. Main Street will be blocked off from the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington with music stages at each end. Four bands will play alternating sets each night. All the bands have been booked, Banfield said. The lineup of talent from Northwest Ohio will be announced on June 1. Thompson said that 30 downtown businesses have signed up to participate and be sponsors. They will have sidewalk sales, a farmers market, and artisans will sell their wares. They are still talking with restaurants about how they will take part. Several will set tables out on the sidewalk. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown Bowling Green, was on hand as a participant in the walk. She’s excited by the prospects for Firefly Nights and sees it as a part of a growing interest in downtown activities. The farmers market, which opened for the season on Wednesday, drew a good crowd, and the One-Bite restaurant crawl held during Art Walk has drawn raves from the restaurants. “I see lot of great things happening downtown,” Hinkelman said. “Everybody’s pulling together.”    


Flavorful e-cigs target vulnerable teen users

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Decades ago, public health officials realized the lunacy of using a cartoon character to promote cigarettes. That was the beginning of the end for Joe Camel, the cool pool-shooting, cigarette-puffing character. The big colorful camel had become as easily recognizable as the Disney logo to youth, according to Dr. Megan Roberts, from Ohio State University, who spoke about adolescents and new tobacco products to the Wood County Prevention Coalition last month. As the use of traditional cigarettes has dropped among teens, the use of alernative tobacco products is up. Those new products include vaping – the inhaling and exhaling of aerosol produced by e-cigarettes or similar devices like vape pens. While cartoon characters have been banned from tobacco marketing, fun flavors are allowed – 7,764 flavors in fact – ranging from chocolate, to “mango tango,” to “cinna-MMM.” “Adolescents respond to tobacco marketing,” Roberts said. Despite restrictions, tobacco products are advertised heavily in places like convenience stores or gas stations. “They are plastered with tobacco ads.” The tobacco industry spends more than $9 billion a year on marketing, she said. A study of adolescents and cigarette advertisements showed that flashy tobacco ads increase activity in youths’ brains. Ads for flavored tobacco created brain activity in kids who weren’t tobacco users. An eye-tracking study showed kids focused longer when flavored tobacco ads were shown. The colorful ads combined with the fruity flavors create the perception that e-cigarettes are harmless, cool, even fashionable, Roberts said. “These are chemicals that can be dangerous when inhaled,” especially for developing brains, she said. Though smoking regular cigarettes is no longer as popular with adolescents, there are many other options out there for them now – cigarillos, e-cigs, hooka, juuls. In 2014, e-cigarette use surpassed cigarette use in middle and high school students in the U.S., Roberts said. Many teens and adults consider these newer options as safe, but Roberts disagreed. Hookah, she said, which involves tobacco being smoked through a water pipe, has the same risks as cigarettes. “With every puff, the user is inhaling carcinogens,” she said. “It’s not a harmless water vapor.” The same goes for cigarillos, which are tiny cigars. E-cigs, devices that deliver nicotine and other additives through inhaled aerosols, are not only flavored, but are also shaped like everyday items that adults don’t realize are e-cigs, Roberts said. “There are many different shapes and sizes,” she said. “Some look like pens and some look like USB drives.” “Those are extremely popular among young people,” Roberts said. “Parents don’t know what they are.” In some cases, teens can be vaping from the smaller devices in class, without teachers realizing, she said. Many youth and their parents don’t realize that some of the cigarette alternatives still contain addictive nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and volatile…


Conversation about being a welcoming BG shows the work to be done

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The community conversation on how to make the city’s Welcome BG promise a reality had a lot of aspirations and some practical goals. It also had a number of reminders that for some people Bowling Green has a long way to go. The focus often is on welcoming immigrants. Judith Jackson May, who teaches at the university, though, said she was born in the city, grew up here. Still as a black woman when she goes into Walmart she’s always followed. She wonders why they think she’s going to steal something. And she stopped shopping at Kroger because of the unfriendly attitude she faced there. She loves her walk to work every morning, except for the black jockey figure decorating the lawn of a home on Haskins Road. And she and her husband seem to get stopped by police a lot. Still May said she loves Bowling Green. There’s something that keeps her there. Nicolas Cabanillas, who is of Hispanic descent, echoed May’s love of his hometown. Still as he’s walking, trucks will pull up next to him and then accelerate so then vehicle spews exhaust. Melba Conway, who recently moved here, said she’s been struck by how whatever activity she attends, whether a Tai Chi class or a service club meeting, all the faces she sees are white like hers. That lack of diversity, she said, leads to casual expressions of racism like a sign in the library’s women’s room that offered diapers “for those in need.” The baby depicted is black. Why associate the child “in need” as black, she wondered. Christina Lunceford, a special assistant to president for diversity at BGSU, said that the university needs to recruit a diverse faculty. Students are being educated as global citizens and need faculty who represent that reality. Those faculty are encouraged to live in Bowling Green. People want to live in a community where they can be engaged, she said Still, she said: “We have to be realistic. We still have a lot of work to do.” Being more welcoming to people of all backgrounds is more than good intentions, it’s an economic reality. Margaret Montague, of the Welcome BG Task Force, spelled out the demographic trends. The population of Bowling Green is at once growing older, and at the same time growing more diverse. Sue Clark, executive director of the BG Community Development Foundation, said that there’s an increasing shortage of workers. There are 9,200 jobs ranging from laborers to engineers available within 20 miles of Bowling Green. With the unemployment rate declining, those jobs get harder to fill, and when they are the newly hired workers often quit within a week. Clark said the task force recommends connecting employers with “identified labor pools” – millennials, international students, immigrants, and refugees. That…


Gas line project gets ready to dig into downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News During the next four months, Columbia Gas will be replacing natural gas lines in the downtown Bowling Green area – affecting more than 110 customers and disrupting traffic along Main Street. In an effort to explain the construction project, Columbia Gas officials will hold a community meeting with Bowling Green citizens on Monday, May 21, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St. The work area is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but will extend down certain side streets, alleys, and into parking lots. The gas line work will begin in early June, and is expected to be completed by October. Cheri Pastula, communications manager for Columbia Gas, said the project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines will be replaced with plastic pipes. The Bowling Green project was moved up to this year, Pastula said, since the city is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next year. “We decided to do it this year before the city does its roads,” so the street work will not need to be disturbed, she said. During the community meeting, Columbia Gas officials will address how the project will affect residents: Columbia Gas contractors will work street by street to install new main lines and service lines up to each customer’s home or building. Gas service will not be impacted until it is time for Columbia Gas to connect the customer to the new gas system at their meter. For most customers, gas service will be interrupted for approximately two hours. Customers will get advance notice of this service interruption. If the gas meter is currently inside, it will be moved outside. Any surface that has to be disturbed will be repaired by Columbia Gas. This includes sidewalks, driveways, lawns and landscaping. Once this work is complete, customers will have a gas system with state of the art safety features. During the construction, Columbia Gas will make efforts to not shut down any streets. However, lanes will be reduced and flaggers will be on hand, Pastula said. “There most likely will be some traffic disruption,” she said. “But we try not to close down the roads.” Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities around the state to replace aging gas lines over the last decade. This is paying off in safety, with leaks reduced by 40 percent, according to the company. Residents can contact Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, with questions or concerns at 419-351-8398 or rcolon@nisource.com. Visit www.columbiagasohio.com/replacement for more information on the construction process.


Perrysburg Musical Theatre hits high gear with ‘Hands on a Hard Body’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Perrysburg Musical Theatre is taking a detour with this summer’s musical. In previous summers, the troupe has presented big shows, often classics, musicals that employ large casts, including contingents of kids. This year, though, the troupe, moves to a different venue, the Owens Performing Arts Center instead of the Perrysburg High School auditorium, and a smaller, lesser known, but not lesser, show, “Hands on a Hard Body.” The musical runs Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15. Based on a documentary film of the same name, the musical, with book by Doug Wright and lyrics by Amanda Green who collaborated on the music with Trey Anastasio, of Phish fame, tells of 10 everyday Texans competing in a car dealership contest to win a car. The one who can keep a hand on red hard body of a Nissan truck the longest will win it. That truck becomes an embodiment of their aspirations. Ronald (Brian D. Jones) wants to win it so he can start his own landscaping business. He imagines it emblazoned with the name McCowan and Son. “First I get the truck, then I’ll work on the son,” he says. And as it becomes evident later in the show, there’s a few females vying for the role of mother. Greg (Jackson Howard) wants the truck so he can head off to California and become a Hollywood stuntman, and in fellow contestant Kelli (Eryn Brook), he thinks he’s found a traveling partner. Jesus (C. Jordan Benavente) wants it so he can get the money to complete veterinary school. A Texan of Mexican heritage, he faces the casual bigotry of many of the others. Cindy (Cynthia Blubaugh), the office manager of the dealership, informs him in broken Spanish that she’ll need to see a green card if he wins. He’s already made it clear, he speaks English perfectly well, and having been born in Laredo, the title of his big number, he is as much a Texan as the rest of them. This is not the only social issue the musical confronts. Brendan Coulter as Chris, an Iraq War veteran, gives a powerful performance as a young man adrift. This is a group portrait a hard scrabble community in the midst of a downturn that’s as much social and psychological as well as financial, the musical is true to its documentary roots. In that way it evokes “Working,” or even “A Chorus Line.” As in that latter classic, the characters get to tell their life stories in a song. The lyrics are straightforward and blunt and lifted by melodies and rhythms that blend country and western and Broadway balladry. The score also includes powerful ensemble harmony that reverberates deep inside the…


County approves $5 hike in license plate fee

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Commissioners unanimously Thursday (May 17) voted to increase the cost of getting a license plate by $5. This will bring the county portion of the fee to$20 or $25 depending on the community. The state fee is $34.50. County Engineer John Musteric said the Permissive License Fee increase will generate an additional $632,660. That money will all go to road and bridge projects, he said, not for personnel or operating expenses. The county, he said, is facing a shortfall of about $3.7 million meet the needs of county road and bridges. “This will only be a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps,” Musteric said. After a study of road conditions, the engineer’s office determined 74 percent of the county roads are in marginal or worse conditions. To address all that work, would take about $6 million a year. The office now spends $2.3 million. Also, 52 of the county’s 441 bridges, which have an average age of 41 years, are in poor or worse conditions. To catch up, the county would need to replace nine bridges annually, at about $400,000 each. That’s double what it can do. This comes at a time when the cost of materials is increasing. Musteric said his office has tried to make cost savings where it could, including not replacing employees who leave and doing in-house work that had been outsourced. One county resident Wade Kemp commented on the license fee increase. He said he supported it but wondered why he had to pay the same amount for his motorcycles as for his truck or his neighbor had to pay for a recreational vehicle. That is set by the state, assistant county prosecutor Linda Holmes said. Commissioner Craig LaHote noted that if the state allowed the county to levy an additional 3.2-cent-a-gallon gas tax, it would provide the revenue needed to fully fund the road and bridge repairs. Given the fluctuating price of gas, people wouldn’t even notice it Musteric said. Kemp noted that as federal fund economy standards go up, and people use less gas that will take a bite out of revenues from the gas tax. Musteric said that’s especially true with the increasing popularity of electric cars, and hybrids. LaHote said some states charge more for a license plate for an electric vehicle. California, Musteric said, charges by weight for registering vehicle. Board President Doris Herringshaw said that the commissioners did receive a couple telephone calls on the issue, both in favor of the increase. This was the second of two public hearings on the issue. The first hearing was held last week. The fee will go into effect sometime around the first of the year after it is reviewed by the state.


BG water rates hiked 6 percent annually for next 5 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green will see a 6 percent bump in its water rates each year for the next five years. The increase was approved by the Board of Public Utilities earlier this week as a way to keep the water expenses afloat. The new rates, which go into effect in June, are based on a rate study by Courtney & Associates found that revenues need to be hiked by 32 percent by 2022. While the 32 percent hike may sound big, even with the proposed rate increases, Bowling Green’s water rates will be much lower than those in some other communities in the region, according to the rate study. The average homeowner currently pays a monthly water bill of $11.46. With the five-year increase, that bill will be $16 a month. That compares to monthly bills more than $50 in Perrysburg, Napoleon and Fremont. John Courtney, who presented the water rate study, said Bowling Green has been able to keep its water rates low because city officials decided years ago to use money from income tax revenues to help fund the city water system. “Your rates are still the lowest on the list,” Courtney told the Board of Public Utilities. But the income tax fund made up 40 percent of the water rate expenses 10 years ago. That shrunk to 33 percent five years ago, and is now about 23 percent. “Your costs are going up,” Courtney said. The city has seen some growth in wholesale water sales to communities outside Bowling Green, but very little growth in water demands in the city. “Your sales have been fairly stable over the last several years,” Courtney said. The city has not increased its water rates since 2016. Meanwhile operating expenses continue to increase. At current rates, the different categories of water customers generate the following annual revenues: Residential, $1,025,800 Commercial/industrial, $2,307,100 Wholesale, $2,178,900 Hydrant, $35,900 The proposed rate changes called for: Phase-in increases over the next five years. Increase rates to result in an increase in revenue of approximately 6 percent each year. Increase the residential customer charge to recover projected billing and collection costs. Transition outside surcharge to 50 percent by test year 2022. “In your case, there’s justification for the outside surcharge because of the income tax,” Courtney said. Following is a breakdown of Bowling Green’s rates compared to other cities in the region. The average monthly water bill for residences in Bowling Green is $11.46. After five years of incremental increases, the average monthly bill will be $16. That compares to current monthly rates of $51.63 in Perrysburg, $50.55 in Napoleon, $50.50 in Fremont, and $19.16 in Findlay. The same is true of commercial water bills. Right now, the average monthly commercial water bill is $58.55 in Bowling Green. Five years…