Now OH honors familiar faces on local art scene

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A year ago Aaron Pickens won best of show at the Now OH exhibit with a painting it took him two hours to complete. The painting was a small a landscape painted on location. This year Pickens won Best of Show for a very different piece. “In Da Club” took two years in the studio to complete. It draws on Pickens’ fascination with toys, and serves as a commentary on the contemporary art scene. Pickens said the piece references fashionable trends in painting. In the middle is a small self-portrait that’s slashed by a splash of paint. He also plays with the use of repetition. He also employs social media “love” and “like” icons. These are the tropes he sees in the work that are featured in magazines and are accepted in juried show. “In Da Club” has not been accepted in any juried shows. Pickens said. But the Now OH, is open to all comers from 12 counties in Northwest Ohio. The 11th community art exhibit Now OH opened Friday night in the Bowling Green State University Fine Art Center with a gallery talk by juror Michelle Carlson and the awards ceremony. The show continues through July 28. Gallery hours are: Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The 65 artists who showed work included avocational artists, some who have been at it for decades, and an art professor. The prize winners included names familiar to those who frequent local arts events, such as Art Walk and the Wood County Invitational at the Black Swamp Arts festival. They are stalwarts in those shows, though not necessarily award winners. Painter Craig Blair received the first place in 2D work for his painting “Girl with Balloon.” In her talk Carlson praised Blair’s mastery of spray paint art and the way he used a few simple images – a woman, a balloon, a blimp – to create an evocative effect. Blair said in his 50 years of painting he’d never won an award. He’s been a regular exhibitor at Now OH. “I…


Wood County residents urged to get up and get active

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents are being politely prodded to get up off their sedentary seats. The Wood County Health Department has launched a campaign encouraging local residents to get more exercise using free community parks and trails. Health surveys have shown that too many people are overweight, and too few are getting the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Only 28 percent of Wood County adults surveyed last year said they exercise five days or more per week. Ten percent said they did not have any physical activity in the past week. Inactivity and obesity are tied to many areas of a person’s health and can lead to a variety of serious diseases. And last year’s physical activity and nutrition survey showed that Wood County residents need to do better at both. “It was enough to give us some ideas of where we should prioritize,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that lack of physical activity and obesity are big problems across the country,” Aspacher added. The survey conducted last year showed that not only were many people not getting enough exercise, but many also weren’t aware of local exercise options available to them. So health department officials decided to start a motivational campaign, encouraging local residents to use the exercise options already available throughout the county. “We have great parks. We want to promote what we already have,” Aspacher said. In addition to the county parks, nearly every community in Wood County also has its own park. “You can go to the park in Grand Rapids and see something completely different than you would see in the park in Bradner.” A new website, WoodCountyHealth.org/activity, lists parks and trails in different communities, as well as events such as 5Ks and fun runs, and links to recreation programs, fitness groups, SilverSneakers sites for seniors, and several links to cycling resources. “There is one place to go for the information,” Aspacher said of the website. “This might…


Josh Almanson shares his hoop skills with hometown youngsters

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Josh Almanson was just getting ready to launch his professional career, he decided he wanted to share the skills that had gotten him that far with the kids in his hometown of Bowling Green. So the Josh Almanson Basketball Camp was launched. On Monday the 13th camp gets underway at the Bowling Green Community Center. The camp runs Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day for girls and boys who will be entering grades 2-9. Almanson’s pro career lasted nine years starting and ending in Luxembourg with stops between in Germany, France, and Portugal. But every year, he’d bring home what he’d learned along the way. He’s now a middle school assistant principal in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus, where he also serves as athletic director. Almanson, 36, said the camp taught him lessons as well. It gave him an exposure to working with youngsters that fueled his interest in education. Over the years he’s learned that the campers come in full of energy, and his job is to make sure they expend it before they leave the gym at the end of the day. “You don’t want them to go home with some left in the tank,” he said. Children’s first exposure to basketball often comes from seeing game highlights. He wants to show them what goes into creating those spectacular plays. “What happens when they show up to a tryout and practice? Their exposure may be seeing highlights, this looks completely different.” There’s training in the fundamentals, integrated with a lot of game play. “We have different team competitions or individual competitions. We do a lot of skill work and development. That’s kind of the basis, a lot of skill work and a lot of competition.” The camp draws 60 to 80 kids from all over Northwest Ohio. “They have a good time and meet new people.” Depending on numbers they’ll be broken down into several groups based on age. Some of the students come in with relatively advanced skills and already play…


Scientists continue to address harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in an age of satellites, vintage tools have their place in protecting the environment. The research in harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie by scientists from state and government agencies and institutions of higher education is constantly evolving. A new European satellite promises to provide a steady stream of advanced analytics and should allow for the development of 3D models of harmful algae blooms. As scientists monitor the water in Lake Erie and the tributaries that feed it, they also employ a tool that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. As part as a water testing demonstration at the Stone Lab on Middle Bass Island, researchers used the Secchi disc, a basic device that’s lowered into the water to determine how clear it is. The demonstration was part of the seventh Harmful Algae Blooms forecast conference held at the lab. Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that this year’s bloom splits the difference between the smaller bloom in 2017 and the more extensive problem in 2016. The severity was rated at 6, on the open ended scale. The worst blooms, seen in 2011 and 2015, were 10 or greater. Last year was an 8. The forecast for algae blooms is based on six different predictive models, all using different methodologies. Scientists can’t say, though, what the chance is that this bloom will turn toxic like the one in 2014 that left 500,000 customers served by the Toledo system without safe water. Stumpf said that scientists are working on developing techniques to forecast the likelihood of toxicity. The blooms, he said, appear to be developing sooner as the lake warms up earlier. They tend to subside in August, but then last year re-emerged on a smaller scale in September. The earlier onset does not mean the bloom will be more severe, he said. Thomas Bridgeman, from the University of Toledo, noted, there’s also been more healthy algae growth in the lake, and  that could compete with the harmful variety. James…


Pets get all groomed and gussied up for annual show

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like a pageant mom arriving without hairspray, it didn’t take Jordan Cravens long to realize she and bulldog Reggie were going to be out-glamoured at the pet show in City Park Wednesday evening. “We can already see we’re way out of our league,” Cravens said as she looked out over the competition at the annual show sponsored by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Reggie had been signed up for the categories of cutest and best dressed – but both seemed out of grasp with the throng of dolled up dogs waiting to take the stage. “I can see the bow tie is not going to be enough,” Cravens said. How could Reggie possibly compete with the golden retriever dressed as Harry Potter, the German shepherd as football player Johnny Manziel, not to mention the smaller breeds in their tutus and tiaras? “Clearly, these dogs prepare year-round,” Cravens said with a smile. On the plus side, Reggie had not yet puked due to pre-pageant jitters. The pet show featured the furry and funny pets of the community. There were the customary dogs and cats, but also guinea pigs, hedge hogs and hermit crabs. And as usual, the competition was fierce, and the judging was nerve-wracking. Before any animals took to the stage at Needle Hall, judges Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett and BG Police Animal Control Officer Tom Sieving agreed that some categories are always difficult to decide. Take, for example, the cutest dog category. That’s really subjective, the judges said. “The tough part is when the kids are really into it, and you let them down,” Fawcett said. “Some of the parents are really into it, too,” Sieving added. The pets were judged in categories like best pet trick, best dressed, birds that talk or tweet the loudest, and pet that looks most like its owner. There were also categories for shaggiest, longest ears, slimiest reptile and funniest name – which was won this year by Sir Oliver Purrsalot. The feline beat out…


Wood County ‘park rangers’ changed to ‘park police’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The shouted command, “Stop, park ranger,” just doesn’t carry the same authority as “Stop, police.” For that reason and others, the Wood County Park District’s rangers asked the park board Tuesday to change their title from rangers to police officers. The park board voted unanimously to do so. In the past, the county park rangers had law enforcement and maintenance roles. That has changed, and the rangers now perform strictly law enforcement duties. The park rangers are certified Ohio Peace Officers, and the name change would clarify their authority. “In making this change, we are hoping to clarify exactly what we do as certified peace officers working in the park district, and to help our employees, visitors and neighbors feel more secure while being in or near our properties,” the rangers’ proposal stated. “As rangers, we constantly encounter people who have no idea what a park ranger is or that we are law enforcement officers,” the proposal continued. “We have had people question our need for carrying a gun, if we have the same authority as law enforcement, and challenge us when we try to enforce park rules and laws.” The rangers also said when working with multiple agencies and dispatchers, it takes time to explain their authority. When rangers formally make a criminal charge in court, they sometimes have to remind court employees that they are certified peace officers. “We believe that because of the public’s inability to distinguish exactly what we are or what we do, eventually an incident may escalate the need for force and thus escalate the liability of the park district,” their proposal stated. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said Delaware County’s park system has changed the title of its rangers to police. “It clears up any vagueness to what their responsibility is,” Munger said. Ranger Mark Reef agreed. “This is so the public can identify that we have law enforcement authority.” Toledo Metroparks still refers to its officers as rangers, according to Scott Carpenter, head of public relations for…


Turning the game on its head will give American soccer a leg up in the World Cup

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News As the sporting world turns its gaze toward Russia and the final games of the World Cup, the United States is on the outside looking in. The U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the tournament at all after a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago last year. That’s the first time the team missed out on soccer’s biggest showcase since 1990. Yet even then only once did the U.S. advance as far as the quarterfinals. The failure of the men’s team (the women’s team, a dominant force in the world’s game. is another story) has cause plenty of head scratching and advice on how to improve. Most focus on training at the elite levels. Two local men Nathan Richardson and Carlo Celli, both on faculty at Bowling Green State University as well as youth soccer coaches, administrators and parents, have other ideas. Those ideas sprang from their experience here in Bowling Green as well as around the world. Celli is a native of Italy, where he continues to summer, and Richardson’s scholarship has meant stays in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. The result of their passion for the game and frustrations with its state in the U.S. have resulted in a broad prescription in book form, “Shoeless Soccer: Fixing the System and Winning the World Cup.” The book has garnered attention on Fox News and the authors wrote an opinion piece in USA Today. The epiphany came in Bowling Green. Richardson was leading winter training sessions for Bowling Green Soccer Club players at the Community Center. During one practice, one of the young players’ shoe “exploded.” There was no way to fix it, so rather than exclude the boy, Richardson suggested they all play barefoot. Setting fear of stubbed bruised, even broken, toes aside, the kids played on and Richardson realized being shoeless forced the youngsters to play with more care, and with more technique. No toeing the ball with a bare foot, rather they were forced to have the soft touch every soccer player wants to…


Poggemeyer has been building up region for 50 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 50 years, Poggemeyer Design Group has left its mark on the region’s roads, buildings, water and sewer projects. “We’re proud of them all,” said Jack Jones, who has been with the company for 46 of those years. The firm started small in a downtown office on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green, under the leadership of Lester Poggemeyer. Since then, it has gone big – filling up its sprawling 33,000-square-foot office building on North Main Street. And it hasn’t stopped there. The firm also has offices in Las Vegas, Reno, and Monroe, Michigan. Earlier this year, another office opened in Savannah, Georgia. The 200 architects, engineers, surveyors and planners average about 200 projects a month. They range from small jobs to major projects – like a $180 million water and wastewater system in Las Vegas, and the $140 million jail in Lucas County. “It’s somewhat unusual to be as multi-disciplined as we are,” said Jones, who is chairman of the board and one of the partners. Jones, a civil engineer, bought out Lester Poggemeyer with other partners in 1987. Originally from Toledo, Jones has chosen to stay at the Bowling Green location. “I think there is a sense of pride working in your own community,” he said. Over the years, Jones and others have used their skills to build projects like the Bowling Green Municipal Courthouse, the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy, the Ottawa County regional water system, plus improvements to North Main Street and East Wooster Street. Between 70 and 80 percent of the jobs are government projects, and the rest are private, Jones said. Though the staff handles huge projects, it also takes on small grant-funded jobs in local villages. When Wood County hands out Community Development Block Grants, engineers from Poggemeyer are frequently the ones making pitches for the small towns. “We try to represent small communities and give them the same expertise the big communities have in-house,” Jones said. “We want to help them secure as much grant money as possible.”…


Ben’s drops the Franklin from its name

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The name Ben Franklin is a thing of the past on Main Street, Bowling Green. What that name represented, though, lives on under another moniker, Ben’s. “That’s what everyone calls it,” said owner Floyd Craft. Ben Franklin Crafts has been a fixture in downtown for 42 years, since Craft and his wife, Charlotte, brought their young family to town to buy and operate a Ben Franklin franchise. For many years though, the only connection to the chain has been the name – a privilege Craft had to pay for. Back in those early days the iconic American chain was a going concern. It served as the wholesaler for stores as well as providing business services such as accounting and insurance for store owners. All that changed in 1996 when Ben Franklin went into bankruptcy, the first of a series. While that was fatal for many of the stores, especially smaller, more rural operations that relied on the chain for its stock, the Craft family’s business continued. Craft said Tuesday that he realized soon after opening his store that he couldn’t solely use Ben Franklin as a wholesaler. He said he realized he was paying more to Ben Franklin for some items than his competition Rink’s Bargain store was selling them to customers. Now with Ben Franklin having its third owner since the bankruptcy, Craft decided it was time to change the name. So he notified Ben Franklin that he would not renew, and in June the Franklin disappeared from the store’s front, leaving Ben, a shadow of Franklin, and Crafts. The problem is the name doesn’t mean anything to anyone under 50, Craft said. Maybe a college student’s grandma will know what it is. The new sign was designed by Amy Karlovec, who is known for her many award-winning posters for the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Flanking the name will be icons letting customers, especially younger customers, know what the store sells. That merchandise has changed over the years. The store no longer sells underwear. Changing with the times…


Search for water extends west to wells, north to Detroit

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Lake Erie starts to take on a green tint again this summer, entities north of Bowling Green are  scouting for quality, affordable water – with no clear source in sight. So the search continues, now shifting west to an underground water source, and north to Detroit. Proposals change by the week, according to representatives of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, who recently updated the Wood County Commissioners on the issue affecting much of the northern half of the county. The district provides water to 6,500 customers in Northwood, Rossford, Walbridge, Lake Township, Perrysburg Township and Troy Township. The water is purchased from the city of Toledo – and future contracts with the city are on shaky ground. The proposed Toledo Area Water Authority – which many had pinned their hopes on as a solution that would work for the entire region – appears to be dead in the water, according to Jerry Greiner, executive director of the district. Toledo balked at the idea of sharing ownership of its water plant, even though it meant other entities would then help with the towering expenses to update the plant. “Whether you’re the city of Toledo or Bloomdale, cities don’t want to give up their utilities,” said Rex Huffman, attorney for the district. But the district, Huffman said, sees the water customers as the owners – not the city. With the sinking of the TAWA plan, Toledo is now offering another possible option. Last week, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz talked about establishing a regional water commission with representatives from each community that buys Toledo’s water. The commission would then set water rates for all customers based on the true cost of service and would make decisions about capital improvements. The district is willing to consider any viable option, Greiner and Huffman said. “Some easily dismiss it, and say ‘I don’t want to deal with Toledo.’ But I think that’s a mistake,” Huffman said. The district may support this concept if it meets the long-term goal of reasonable, uniform,…


Rising blues star Samantha Fish ready to connect with Black Swamp Arts Festival audiences

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When the Main Stage acts for the 2018 Black Swamp Arts Festival were first posted, a number of music fans lit up social media at the sight of Samantha Fish’s name as the festival closer. Two months from now, on Sunday afternoon, rising blues star Fish will take the Main Stage to round out the weekend’s performances. The 26th Black Swamp Arts Festival runs from Sept. 7 through 9 in downtown Bowling Green. Since the Kansas City, Missouri -based artist emerged on the blues scene about 10 years ago, she’s caught the eye and ear of blues lovers. Last year she released her fifth solo album on Ruf Records. Those records are important, she said in a recent telephone interview, even in today’s changing music business landscape. “An album is a marker of growth. It’s a legacy …. People need something to take home to listen to.” But a recording can only capture so much. The real connection between listener and performer comes in person. “There’s something about seeing someone live,” Fish said. “You see the passion. These guys sweating it out, really living in the moment, and delivering a song that connects to your life. You don’t get that from listening to a record.” Hearing live shows, whether at a festival in Arkansas where she first heard the rawer version of Delta blues or a Kansas City club, where she heard the legends of the music, is what hooked Fish on the music. That was when she was in her late teens. “I was looking for something real, and I found it there.” Fish said she’d also had her eye on doing something in the entertainment business since she was a child. To those around her dancing and theater were “pipe dreams.” She started playing drums at 13, and then picked up guitar at 15. Later she started going to jam sessions to hone her craft. “I didn’t know how to go from wanting to do something to making it happen,” Fish said. “In those clubs, I saw…


Giving the gift of gab – Volunteers sought to visit with seniors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More senior citizens are living independently in their homes, thanks to physical modifications to their houses and home-delivered meals. But some of those seniors are missing a vital component to a happy life – human contact. They may go days without engaging in a conversation, said Lisa Myers, director of social services at the Wood County Committee on Aging. “We’ve noticed a need from our seniors who are homebound or on meal deliveries,” Myers said. Many seniors really enjoy the brief contact with those delivering meals. “But sometimes that’s just not enough.” So efforts are underway to create a volunteer “Friendly Visitor” program for senior citizens in Wood County. The goal of the program is to reduce loneliness and isolation in older adults. Social isolation has been shown to increase rates of depression and mortality, Myers said. “People need that social interaction, or it can lead to a decline in their mental and physical health,” she said. The role of the volunteers is simple – just talk and listen. They are not there to cook or clean. Just engage in conversation. Volunteers will be asked to visit their senior’s home at least one hour a week, to just sit and chit-chat. “We’re just looking to connect people,” Myers said. “We’re hoping these are lasting friendships.” Senior citizens can qualify for the visits if they live alone, receive the home-delivered meals, if they can’t drive to one of the county’s senior centers, or if they are on the Wood County Adult Protective Services client list. So far, four seniors have signed up. So now, the Friendly Visitors program needs volunteers to sign up. The program will be available throughout Wood County, so volunteers and seniors will be matched by geography. Volunteers will go through a brief training with Myers, and will be asked to submit a quarterly report on their time with their senior. The volunteers will also be asked to be the “eyes and ears,” and observe any problems the senior might be having. “This should be…


Poetry in motion – Sandra Faulkner explores link between women & running

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Sandra Faulkner wanted to study women runners, she used poetry as well as footnotes. Earlier this year, Faulkner, a professor in the School of Media and Communication, published “Real Women Run: Running as Feminist Embodiment.” The book is deeply personal scholarship. Early on Faulkner traces her own history as a runner, starting when she was 11 years old, growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta. She ran so hard her nose started bleeding. She didn’t notice until she finished the race, and won third place. But she missed the awards ceremony because her mother couldn’t staunch the bleeding. Her life as a runner has been full of small triumphs, injuries, and frustrations – sometimes at the same time. Though Faulkner says she doesn’t race to place, she’s still competitive. After one race she saw that she was fourth in her age group, but she thought there were only four runners in that class. Only later didn’t she learn there were more than that. Her life as a runner is told in brief journal-like entries, and each is paired with a haiku. One reads: “Don’t call us a girl / don’t call us a girl jogger / fierce women running.” The personal stories are “in service critiquing, discovering, uncovering larger social patterns,” she said. They take us up to Sept. 3, 2016, when Faulkner is 44 and has a daughter of her own, who cheers on her mother and herself has started running. “She’s more of a sprinter,” Faulkner said. This was the right time for Faulkner, an ethnographer, to research women and running. She would never have done this as a dissertation. When she used interviews for her dissertation on Sex and Sexuality at Penn State, where she studied interpersonal communication, it was considered unconventional. But when “Real Women Run” was starting, Faulkner had tenure and was taking the next step of applying for promotion to full professor. She had already completed a much cited book on poetic inquiry, “Poetry as Method: Reporting Research through Verse.” “I’m convinced…


Stadium View fills housing niche in BG for 50 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Fifty years ago, the property where Stadium View Apartments now stands was an empty field. Cattle grazed at the neighboring Carter Park property. Nearby, Bowling Green State University was growing, and was running out of housing for students. So Norm and Barb Holley had a vision. “This was just a field,” said Ryan Holley, grandson to Norm and Barb. “BGSU was going through a boom and didn’t have places to put students.” So the couple built an apartment complex off Clough Street near Campbell Hill Road. “They called it Stadium View because at the time you could see the stadium,” Ryan Holley said. That view is no longer there, being blocked by commercial buildings. But the apartment complex is still owned by Norm and Barb Holley, who continue to live next door. Taking over management from the founders were their children, Rob Holley and Cindy McCarthy. Now managing the complex is their grandson, Ryan Holley. On Wednesday, July 11, Stadium View Apartments will celebrate its 50th anniversary, from 4 to 7 p.m. The apartment complex, with 224 units, now specializes in non-student housing. “We saw a need for housing not just for students,” Ryan Holley said. “That’s been our niche ever since.” The strategy has worked for the family. “We almost always have a waiting list,” Holley said. “Our business model is all about the retention, not the turnover.” “We’ve had residents here for 40 years, 30 years,” Holley said, noting that one resident knew him as a baby. The average resident’s stay is eight years. The secret, he said, is taking care of the apartment complex and changing with the times. “We take a lot of pride in our property,” he said. “It’s a reflection on us. We love this community.” Stadium View offers residents an indoor and outdoor pool, fitness center, playground, plus easy access to Carter Park, BGSU and Interstate 75. Capital improvements are frequently being made at the complex, such as new boilers, windows, ceiling fans, and LED conversion as the complex “goes…


New hotel going up in BG where Victory Inn came down

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A new hotel is being built on the site of the defeated Victory Inn in Bowling Green. The owner of the Victory Inn – Jamal Garmo of Michigan – is building a new Home 2 Suites by Hilton, which specializes in extended stays. The old Victory Inn was demolished in 2015 after nearly five years of Bowling Green and Wood County Health Department officials trying to get hotel to clean up issues. The hotel, at 1630 E. Wooster St., was frequently the source of complaints about bedbugs, plumbing and electrical problems, the lack of smoke alarms and cleanliness violations. Garmo approached the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in 2016, since the new hotel exceeds the city’s height and story limits. His request was for a variance to allow construction of a 107-room hotel on the eastern portion of the seven acres that previously housed Victory Inn. The proposed hotel is 65 feet tall, five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning The request was initially turned down. By building upward, the 107-room hotel would have a much smaller footprint than the two-story Victory Inn which had 103 rooms, the developer said. The developer also said the smaller footprint of the taller hotel will allow for other businesses on the seven-acre site. He said the remainder of the property could possibly be “mixed use” with some retail, office and residential. Garmo filed an appeal of the city’s decision, stating the denial was “unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious and an unreasonable exercise of discretion.” The appeal also stated the denial posed an “unreasonable hardship” against Garmo. In November of 2016, the city changed the zoning language to allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet.