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…


Electric bikes to be allowed on Slippery Elm Trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District is planning to open up the Slippery Elm Trail to a new type of traveler – one that may not sweat as much as they pedal against the wind. On Tuesday, the park commissioners voted to go along with Ohio House Bill 250, which allows electric assist bicycles on bike paths that were previously off-limits to anything with an electric motor. The bill permits electric bikes that hit top speeds of 20 mph, but not the more powerful type that go as fast as 28 mph. The reason for allowing the electric bikes is simple, according to Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. “It opens the trails up to a whole different segment of population,” those who cannot ride regular bicycles, he said. “This will give them an opportunity to get out there again,” Munger said. “Let’s see how it works out.” The electric bikes work using a small battery motor, said chief park ranger Todd Nofzinger. “I don’t see it being an issue at all,” Nofzinger said. “It’s electric, so it’s totally silent.” The bikes are quite expensive, Munger said, costing two or three times as much as a regular bicycle. So they will likely be rather rare on the bike trail. “I don’t see any issue with this as well,” he said. The electric bikes will not cause hazards due to their speed, since many bicyclists can pedal as fast as 20 mph, Munger added. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard a report from Eric Scott, coordinator of the stewardship program, which focuses on managing the park land. The stewardship staff analyzes the park land and then creates plans for the different properties. The park district has a wide range of land types to care for, Scott said, including woodlots, prairie and wetlands. One of the biggest problems in maintaining the land is intrusion by invasive species of plants, like garlic mustard. Also affecting the land is climate change and encroaching development, Scott said. Options for controlling the sites include prescribed burns of the prairies, mowing, weeding, cutting, herbicides, pesticides and water. The district also works on seed collecting and planting. The district relies on volunteers to help with projects like seed cleaning and planting, Scott said. The stewardship goal is to maintain economic prosperity while sustaining the natural systems. “We want to please the public, but we also want to protect nature,” Scott said. In addition to working with plants, the stewardship program also works to introduce quail and honey bees. The public is encouraged to “adopt-a-garden,” and monitoring programs keep an eye on native plants, streams and butterflies. In other business at meeting, the board accepted the lowest bid of $20,648 for a ranger utility vehicle, from Honda East in Maumee….


Presentations to BG school board accentuate the positive

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Meeting for the last time of the school year, the Bowling Green Board of Education had a lot of students to recognize. A few will be among the 217 seniors who will graduate Sunday at 2 p.m., and others are in the early stages of their school careers. The recognition started, though, by recognizing four professional women who volunteer with the Girls Who code program. Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator, said this was the club’s first year at the Middle School. It encourages girls to explore computer and other technology careers. Lexi Marshall, Sarah Beamer, Jami Sunday, and Laura Johns were honored for spending 90 minutes a week working with middle school students and being role models as women with careers in technology. Next up were the participants in the model UN introduced by Mary Kern, the club’s advisor. Members recognized were:  Hannah Bowlus, Kerica Bucks, Alison Cramer, Bob Walters, Matthew Fyfe, Jesse He, Dawson Wohler, Cameron Froemming, Eddy Becker, Elijah Poetzinger, and Dana Kleman. The team competed in three conferences, including sending eight members to Harvard for an international event. The team took the top prize at a Model UN event at Ohio Northern, and did very well in the concluding event at Ohio State University. Seventh Grade science teacher Paula Williams introduced four students who decided to activate their learning. Adam Brian, Jacob Baumgardner, Benjamin Bates, and Zachary Hartman were part of the class that went out to test water on the Portage River. Afterward, they wanted to do something to promote water quality. Jacob and Adam designed t-shirts to promote the issue. Ben and Zach decided, since plastic shopping bags are seen as a scourge on the environment, to design and sell reusable shopping bags with the school’s mascot on them. They even had them for sale at the meeting. Williams also presented seventh grader Emma Ferguson who created an award-winning billboard design in a contest sponsored by the county Solid Waste Management District. Her billboard urged people to be clean water superheroes. Seven students from the Penta DECA program and the marketing class taught by Cara Maxey were recognized for qualifying to attend DECA’s International Career Development Conference. That included Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker who took second place at the conference for their idea for a water filtration system. (See story. http://bgindependentmedia.org/bg-deca-students-runoff-filtration-idea-cleans-up-at-international-conference/) Five other students competed at the international conference including Makai Ruffin, Kloe Atwood, Alyssa Lang, Trisha Stichler, and Ayla Arrington. Ruffin, the BG DECA president, said that traveling to Atlanta for the international conference was a great experience because they got to meet people from around the country and around the world. Maxey said 50 percent of 46 students from BG who competed at the district level earned a trip to the state conference. Laura Weaver, coordinator…


More levy funds sought for opiate, mental health services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tom Clemons would love to not have to ask Wood County voters for more money. But then he would also love if the opiate crisis weren’t killing people, and if the state and federal government would not have cut funding. So on Tuesday, 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. The board will be seeking a replacement 1-mill levy plus and an additional 0.3-mill levy. The levies will be on the November ballot. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said that the commissioners will have to discuss the levy requests before deciding whether or not they will get their blessing as the levies go on the ballot. “We listened to what he had to say,” she said of Clemons’ presentation. “We’re still at the point where we’re absorbing what he had to say. We’ll be discussing it. We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The new levies will bring in an additional $1.3 million. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs. “First and foremost, we think the opiate epidemic is costing us a little over $700,000 a year,” Clemons said last week. The costs include inpatient and outpatient detox services, recovery housing, clinical services for the Vivitrol program in jail, services for addicted women who are pregnant, help with the Addiction Response Collaboration, short-term residential treatment, help providing medication like Naloxone, outpatient programs, and school-based prevention programs. “It’s touching everyone,” Julie Launstein, ADAMHS finance director, said of the opiate crisis. But it appears that Wood County’s opiate programs are working according to Chris Streidl, manager of clinical programs with ADAMHS, who explained that this county has a significantly lower death rate than those being seen in Lucas and Hancock counties. “We see the numbers,” Clemons said. “This epidemic is not going to go away any time in the near future.” At the same time as the opiate crisis, the ADAMHS board still needs to deal with other mental health, alcohol and drug addiction issues. “We’re going to have to look at doing some more mental health housing,” Clemons said. That will include more 24/7 supervised housing and more independent housing. The agency also sees the need to improve crisis intervention services. “We have had more deaths due to suicide in the last three years than due to overdoses,” Clemons said. In 2016, there were 20 suicides recorded. And the numbers aren’t looking better this year. “We’re on pace for breaking a record.” Turning around those numbers will take programming, he said. “In order to address suicide, you have…


BG school board searches for way forward after defeat at the polls

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’s back to the task forces for the Bowling Green School District. The Board of Education, meeting Tuesday a week after voters went to the polls and decisively rejected a $72 million bond issue that would have changed the face of the district, addressed how it would move forward. And it got some words of advice from some of its critics. Board President Jill Carr said that “the community has spoken.” That leaves the district with a high school and two elementary schools in need of renovation or replacement. “The board is ready to move forward,” she said. To that end it will form two task forces, one to focus on facilities and one to focus on financing. Together they will conduct “a full exploration of our options.” Those task forces will draw from all segments of the community, Carr said. “Their work will not be rushed.” Later in the meeting one of the district’s harshest critics Richard Chamberlain said the district’s facilities needs were so urgent they had to be addressed immediately. HVAC problems are damaging the buildings. Noting the five-year forecast presented at the meeting showed the district had a $2 million fund balance, he said the district should use that. The use of those funds, however, would likely push the district to go to voters for more money sooner than the forecast indicates. Treasurer Cathy Schuller presented the forecast with the usual caveat: “A forecast is what we know today.” School treasurers say that as soon as a forecast is completed, it’s wrong. The numbers are based, she said, on “conservative estimates.” That means assuming the district will receive about the same amount of state aid as it is now, though there’s no way of knowing what the legislature will do in the next biennium budget. District officials can hope that as the economy improves, income tax revenues will grow. On the expense side, the district is at the mercy of how many students decide to take College Credit Plus courses and how many open enroll at other schools. The district, she said, loses more money per student for those going to charters, than it would get if the student stayed in BG. Superintendent Francis Scruci said the district will face an imbalance in kindergarten enrollments. The district has 70 kindergarteners signed up for Crim, 76 for Conneaut, and only 39 at Kenwood. That means that an additional class will have to be opened at Conneaut. The sensory room used to give kids with special needs physical relief during the day will be moved to the gym, which is not ideal. The music teacher will take to the halls in a cart. “Any kind of influx” in other grades “will cause a problem,” he said. “We’re topped out of space at…


East Siders question self-inspections by landlords

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side residents are worried that the city’s rental registry will bear similarities to the fox and the henhouse. Many homeowners on the campus side of the city have long wanted some type of inspection or registration program for rental housing. But the type of program being considered falls short of what East Siders had wanted. The rental registry proposed in the city’s new Community Action Plan calls for self-inspections by landlords. While that’s a good start, it doesn’t go far enough, the residents agreed during a meeting of their neighborhood association. “I don’t let my students grade themselves,” said Neocles Leontis, comparing the self-inspections to self-grading. An East Side resident questioned why self-inspections would be allowed. “Is it because the landlords have money and we don’t,” she asked. Leontis said that parents of college students often assume that rental units undergo fire inspections in Bowling Green. “They are absolutely shocked to learn the places they rent haven’t gone through fire inspections,” he said. “It’s not only about students. It’s about young families,” Leontis said. “Let’s do something before we have a tragedy in town.” If landlords are allowed to do their own inspections, it was suggested that at least a check-off box be included where landlords can identify if a rental unit has undergone a fire inspection. City Council member and East Side resident John Zanfardino agreed. “The registration is only going to be as good as the information on it,” he said. Zanfardino, plus council members Sandy Rowland and Bill Herald agreed the rental registration program may be the best the city can get. “I don’t see BG moving to inspections,” Zanfardino said. Renter satisfaction surveys are also being planned, Zanfardino said. While BGSU offers renter reviews, much of that focuses on apartment complexes, while this will focus on houses. The questions will focus on rental houses having inadequate heat and air conditioning, structural problems, and other issues. Due to a fear of retribution by landlords, specific addresses will not be published. In other business at the East Side meeting, Zanfardino reported on other priorities selected by council members in the Community Action Plan. Included are zoning changes along East Wooster Street, creation of micro-grants for neighborhoods, and formation of a historic preservation program. Elizabeth Burroughs, who tracks police blotter data on East Side issues reported on the latest numbers for items such as nuisance parties, noise and litter. Burroughs said the number of nuisance parties and noise complaints have dropped in the last few months. Litter, such as Taco Bell sauce packets and pizza boxes, are still a problem. Police Chief Tony Hetrick reported that police officers have not changed their practices. “We haven’t done anything different.” However, Hetrick said the police division is noticing some different trends. In…


BGSU’s mosaics to be removed from Eva Marie Saint Theatre & returned to Turkey

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The mosaics embedded in the floor outside the Eva Marie Saint Theater are going home. Bowling Green State University announced today that it has reached an agreement with Turkey to repatriate the mosaics, which have been in the university’s possession for more than 50 years. The transfer will be made this year according to the agreement signed today (May 14) with Turkey’s Directorate General for Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. They were purchased from a dealer, Peter Mark, legally and in full accordance with the law, the university stated. They were believed at the time to have come from Antioch. Questions about the provenance arose in 2012 through the work of art historians Stephanie Langin-Hooper, then of the BGSU faculty and now at Southern Methodist University, and Dr. Rebecca Molholt, of Brown University and now deceased. They could not find a record of these mosaics in Antioch but found matching patterns in ruins in the area of Zeugma, Turkey, Langin-Hooper said at the time. Those patterns were unique to these mosaics. The BGSU announcement states: “Additional research and consultation with scholars, art experts and representatives from the Republic of Turkey have confirmed that the mosaics are very likely from Zeugma and that the provenance of the pieces prior to BGSU’s acquisition will likely never be known.” The directorate will pay for the cost of the mosaics’ removal and return as well as providing high quality replicas to replace the originals, according to the university press release. Once returned to Turkey the mosaics will be displayed at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the city of Gaziantep. This near the area from which they were removed. That site is now a reservoir. The university says the return “will allow the historic artifacts to be appreciated and studied where they originated and be enjoyed by a much wider audience.” That was an important for the university. “The preservation and care of the mosaics has been a priority for the University for the last 53 years,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers stated. “As a university, we have relied upon the expertise of scholars to guide us, both when we acquired the mosaics and now. It is clear today that the best place for these precious artifacts is back in the Republic of Turkey at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. We greatly appreciate the collegiality of the Turkish Ministry of Culture in working with us to come to an agreement. We look forward to continued collaborations.” In 2012, the university reported that the mosaics were purchased for about $35,000 with the approval of then President William Jerome with the assistance of art professor Hugh Broadley from Peter Marks Works of Art. They, however, were kept in storage until 1979 when the then-curator of the McFall…


BGSU closes the book on reading center, for now

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Martha Gesling Weber Reading Center has packed up and is ready to move. The center closed after 72 years at the end of this semester. A shifting mission and budget deficit is forcing the College of Education and Human Development to reconsider the center’s role. For now the materials will go to the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor of Jerome Library while its future is pondered. The center has been offering one-on-one reading tutoring for a modest fee for school children. Now it will be up to parents, with some guidance for university personnel, to arrange tutoring with students. Dean Dawn Shinew, of the College of Education, said that modest fee, attractive to parents, was a large part of the problem. This year the center served about 30 children, she said. Previously it served as many as 60 children. It typically brings in $25,000 in fees. That falls short of the $200,000 it costs to operate the center. “That’s not a sustainable model,” Shinew said. One parent called to express concern about the closing and said that a similar service would cost $300 a month at Sylvan, Shinew reaction was: That’s probably what it costs to provide the service. Founded in 1946, the center is one of the oldest the country. It was named after one of its founders Martha Gesling Weber in 1997. “It’s a great center and has such a potential for outreach, but it’s tucked the fifth floor of the Education Building, and unless you’re a parent who uses it you wouldn’t know that it’s there,” Shinew said. The existing parking problems will get worse because of some spaces will be lost as Hanna Hall in expanded and renovated into the new Maurer Family Center, the new home for the College of Business. “At same time I’m looking at the mission of the reading center because what we were doing was not financially sustainable,” Shinew said. Originally, she said, the center was more oriented toward research. “It was a place where faculty and graduate students could research the process of learning how to read and try different strategies to see which would be more effective. … Over time it became more of tutoring center.” That tutoring was appreciated. Lindsay Moore said her children, a daughter in kindergarten and son in first grade, lacked confidence in their reading. She learned about the center through the Wood County Public Library, and enrolled the children there. They loved it. Her daughter thought of herself as “going to the university” and proudly wore her lanyard to kindergarten. “It was amazing,” Moore said. “It was like a transformation. They definitely turned corner in a few weeks. The environment there was so authentic, so pro-child.” Her children wanted to return they liked it so…


Park farmland may be allowed to revert to wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Twenty acres of farmland north of Bowling Green may be allowed to return to its former state as part of the Great Black Swamp. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger is excited about the park acreage becoming a piece of history and a habitat for wetland wildlife. But the man who has farmed the acreage for four decades isn’t sold on the change. Tom Carpenter doesn’t need the 20 acres for his livelihood. But as a farmer, it just grates on him that well-drained land will be forced back to its wetland roots. And during an open house on the wetlands plan last week, Carpenter didn’t mince words. “Our goal is to keep it farmland,” he said. The 20 acres sit in the back property of the Carter Historic Farm. Other acreage on the farmstead will continue to be farmed. The wetlands project, as proposed by the Black Swamp Conservancy and designed by Hull and Associates, would render 20 acres of farmland unfarmable in the future. The wetlands would have several benefits, according to Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy. It would filter runoff before it goes into the nearby Toussaint Creek. It would provide habitat for wetlands habitat. And it would give the public a place to view swamp-like conditions that once covered this region. The drain tiles currently in the 20 acres would be blocked to allow the land to flood, explained Jordan Rofkar, of Hull and Associates. Dirt would be moved to create low areas for water and mounds for native trees and shrubs. “The intent is to create a mixture of habitats,” Rofkar said. The small open ponds should attract turtles and frogs, along with birds like herons, ducks and woodcocks, Coulter said. The wetlands should also benefit the water quality for one of the streams that flows into the Maumee River “area of concern,” designated by the U.S. and Ohio EPA, she said. “Wetlands are known to do a lot of water filtration,” she said. For Munger, showing park visitors the historic farm’s previous state and “recreating the Great Black Swamp” is a great opportunity. The park district’s trail through the nearby wooded area may be expanded into the wetlands – possibly as a boardwalk, he said. He is hoping the bulk of the estimated $300,000 cost to transform the area into wetlands will come from grant funding. The proposal will be presented to the park district board of commissioners next for their decision to proceed or not. Carpenter hopes the park board will reconsider. He believes that Sally Loomis Carter, who gave her family’s farm to the park district, would not have wanted the farmland to return to swamp. After all, her family worked hard to drain the acreage so it could be fertile…


Massage therapist Audrey Leslie lends helping hands to people with a variety of needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Audrey Leslie was helping a friend when she found her mission. The friend had a sore back and asked Leslie for a massage. Leslie obliged. “You’re really good at this,” the friend said. “It wasn’t at until that moment that I realized I could do this for a living,” Leslie said. “That people would pay for me this.” That was in 2011. She was at an occupational stalemate. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but “I wanted a career where I could help people.” She attended what was then the Healing Arts Institute in Perrysburg (now the Orion Institute.) “I absolutely fell in love. I’ve been doing that for the last six years,” she said. Leslie, after working inside a salon, is venturing out on her own, opening a studio within Blush at 100 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green this week. She sees clients by appointment only. Call 419-806-9317. Leslie said it was time to hang out her own shingle and take advantage of tapping into the business acumen of veteran entrepreneur Lee Welling, owner of Blush. “My passion is helping people with pain and fatigue,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at. … Massage is the oldest form of medicine.” Some are recovering from injuries, some dealing with chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia. A mother of three, she’s also certified to do prenatal massage. “I always had a plan in future to have classes for mothers of newborns on how to massage their babies.” Aroma therapy and essentials oils, which she is also certified in, play a big part in her practice. Leslie does CBD massage using oil made from hemp – it’s 100 percent THC free, she notes. “It’s amazing for auto immune disorders, fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog,” she said. She can use it as part of a massage. She also has products she can sell. Leslie, 34, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. She attended Bowling Green State University for two years. She worked in preschool until she had her first child.  “I became a mother and realized I just wanted to be a mother.” She was looking around for options when she had her epiphany about massage therapy. She noted that Ohio has some of the strictest regulations on massage therapy. She sees about 20 clients a week. Some come weekly, some every six week. Some show up just when they have an acute problem. One has been coming three times a week to deal with a chronic problem. “People do massages for all sorts of reasons,” Leslie said. “I see a lot of people who are really stressed and looking for a way to alleviate that stress. Some people like to treat themselves,” she said. “A majority…


BG to push pedaling as way to navigate city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants residents to become more comfortable shedding their four-wheeled transportation for the two-wheeled type. But since bike lanes are so expensive, the city is focusing on changing the culture on city streets. That will involve regularly scheduled “slow roll” group rides in the city, to make people more comfortable bicycling in the city. And it will involve the offer of individual training for people who want to start biking to work or school. The efforts will hit full speed this month, which is Bicycle Month. Bowling Green students will attend an assembly by Right Direction BMX team on May 15. The second annual Ride of Silence will be held May 16, 6:30, starting in City Park. The worldwide ride is in honor of those killed or injured in bike accidents. Ride to Work and School Day will be held May 18. And the city’s bicycle “spokesperson” will be named on May 21. On Monday evening, the Bicycle Safety Commission and City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee held a joint meeting. Steve Langendorfer talked about the Yay Bikes initiative to support safe bicycling in Bowling Green. The Yay Bikes program sent consultants to BG to train local bicyclists to become more comfortable riding city streets. Those people will soon be working to spread that awareness to other bicyclists in the city, Langendorfer said. The five people trained locally will offer development bike rides for individuals or for groups. They will cater the training to meet the needs of the riders. Regular community bike rides will also be scheduled to get more people involved. The particular days and times of the rides have not been determined yet. But they will not be strenuous, and will have stops along the route. City Engineer Jason Sisco said that “theme” bike rides are being considered – such as rides that stop at ice cream shops along the way. The goal is to make cyclists more comfortable and motorists more accustomed to sharing the roads. In Columbus, where Yay Bikes is located, changes are being seen, according to Langendorfer. “Traffic has changed. Motorists actually are more accepting of bicyclists,” he said. At the same time, bicyclists are working to obey traffic laws. “Cars have responded,” Langendorfer said. The number of beeping horns at bicyclists, “suddenly started diminishing.” City Council member John Zanfardino mentioned that weekly bike rides used to be held in Bowling Green, organized by a group called Bikers for a Better BG. He was pleased that regular rides might be returning. Zanfardino was one of several citizens and city officials training two summers ago by Yay Bikes staff. It took a while to get used to the suggestion that bicyclists not hug the curb, but rather ride about where the passenger side tire of…



Clean Lake 2020 Plan earns bipartisan support

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A perfect storm of sorts has led to the latest effort to fight for the health of Lake Erie – including weather projections of a moderate to bad year for algal blooms. So far this year, the lake has been the focus of a federal court order, U.S. EPA emphasis, Ohio EPA impairment declaration and a less than ideal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast. “All these factors created a sense of urgency that perhaps should have already been there,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said. And others in the state legislature seem to agree, showing strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly as a bill and a proposed statewide bond issue was introduced Wednesday in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan, introduced by Gardner and State Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, includes funding of up to $36 million in 2018 for efforts to reduce algal blooms through conservation practices and other Lake Erie initiatives. Also proposed is a Clean Water Ohio Bond Issue that would appropriate $100 million per year for 10 years after statewide approval by voters. Gardner believes that even those Ohio voters at the southern end of the state will support the bond issue since it involves help for more than just Lake Erie. The Ohio River has also seen its share of algal bloom problems. But the primary focus will be on Lake Erie, since an estimated 5 million people rely on the lake for drinking water, and tens of thousands of jobs depend on the lake. “That demands that the priority be on Lake Erie,” he said. The Ohio EPA’s declaration that the open waters of Lake Erie are impaired means little if the state doesn’t act, Gardner said. “The most important thing is – what do we do about it,” he said. “It’s what we do from now.” “Almost everyone realizes there’s a lot of work to be done to help the lake,” he said. One of the biggest factors in the algal bloom issue is something state legislators can’t control – heavy rainfall events. “It just means we have to be more aggressive and spend more on the right strategies to get it done,” Gardner said. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan has not only garnered bipartisan support in the state legislature, but also support from farm, environmental and business groups. They all seem to realize that since the lake is worth millions of dollars to the state, it’s worth spending money to defend it, Gardner said. But voters’ support will also be needed to provide long-term funding to fix the lake. “We’ve been reluctant to go to the ballot before now,” he said. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan includes the following provisions: Ohio State Sea Grant/Stone Lab:…


Data science adding up for BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is ahead of the curve when it comes to data science. A week ago, the Board of Trustees approved a PhD and a master’s program in the rapidly expanding field. These degrees will make BGSU the only college in the country to offer a full range of programs from a bachelor of science through a PhD. Only one other university, IUPUI, has a similar pathway, and its undergraduate program is a minor. Michael Ogawa, BGSU vice president for Research and Economic Engagement, said the data analytics program addresses an expanding need. “Data is truly exploding now, and it will continue to do so,” he told trustees at the board’s educational session. “Because of this explosion of data and the utility of data and knowledge that the analysis of that can bring, there’s a tremendous need for data scientists.” In 2015 there were 3.35 million jobs advertised, he said. And that’s expected to grow by 15 percent in the next five years. Those positions are difficult to fill, and stay open longer than average. Starting pay for someone with a master’s degree, Ogawa said, is $80,000 a year. Jong Kwan “Jake” Lee, professor of computer science, said BGSU “is leading the way” in the field. Companies, he said, started collecting data about 15 years ago to see if the data would be “useful.” What they found out is the data itself “is not useful at all unless they get useful information out of it.” Now they need people who can ferret out what’s meaningful. That requires having the computer, statistical, and analytics skills to crunch that data and the ability “to present data in way others can understand,” Lee said. BGSU launched its effort with a gathering in 2010. By 2012 it had its data analytics program. That program now has 72 students, including 23 from Tianjin Polytechnic University in China, said Associate Dean Arthur Yeh. He expects about a dozen of those Tianjin students to continue on to do graduate studies at BGSU. Yeh recalled his early conversation with entrepreneur and data technology pioneer Michael Hoskins, a BGSU graduate. Hoskins spoke of the growth of data analytics and how BGSU had an opportunity to make a mark in the field. “He felt we should be taking a much more aggressive approach.” The university was in a good position to act. “At BGSU we have a huge and deep talent pool,” Ogawa said. Only Ohio State has more statisticians on its faculty. OSU has two more. The discipline draws on statistics, business analytics, math, and computer science, spread over three departments. Jim Albert, one of the faculty instrumental in launching the program, noted that the first undergraduate class had 10 students. It now has 27. “I anticipate the number of majors…