Black Swamp Players taking late director’s dream play to state conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dennis East had long wanted to stage “The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon,” a dark comedy about dealing with the devil and curling. Years ago he and his wife, Kathy, had seen the play in Canada, and he just felt would be a great show for The Black Swamp Players to perform back home in Bowling Green. East was a veteran of the troupe, having done everything from set construction to acting to serving as president. Finally “The Black Bonspiel,” with a few approved changes to make it more suitable for a local audience and provide more female roles, made it onto the Black Swamp Players’ schedule for fall, 2013. Then East was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The play was scrapped as East battled the disease. Finally last September, still in treatment, East brought Wullie MacCrimmon and his colorful cast of Canadian curlers to the First United Methodist stage. Kathy East remembers it was a strain on him. But he persisted.  “He was just determined he wanted to do it,” she said.  As was his practice he built the sets. “He would spend a lot of time in morning, and afternoons he was napping.” He complained, she said, that he used to be able to construct a set in two weeks. The devil-may-care comedy, in which a shoe repairman played by Lane Hakel bets his soul on the outcome of a curling match, or bonspiel, came off so well that the Players opted to submit it as their entry into the Northwest Region of the Ohio Community Theater Association conference. As the conference, held…


Oath Keepers gathering rallies survivalists in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Oath Keepers spent the weekend learning how to survive all types of disasters including overreaches by the federal government. Approximately 100 members, many dressed in their black Oath Keeper T-shirts, military cargo pants and boots, and equipped with radios and earpieces, gathered for a multi-state rally at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green. Nick Getzinger, of Weston, who is executive officer to the president of the Ohio Oath Keepers, said the organization has grown in the last couple months. “People have found out we’re not a militia,” he said. “If they have a militia mentality, they have to keep that with their group,” Getzinger said. “We’re not going to take a military stance.” Since opening the Oath Keepers Outpost store at Woodland Mall earlier this year, Getzinger has stressed that the Ohio branch of the group is not like others in the nation. If potential members show an anti-government mentality during the vetting process, they are turned down for membership, he said. “We’ve turned quite a few people away,” he said. Getzinger is well aware that the Oath Keepers has been labeled as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I know Southern Poverty tries to throw everybody in the same bucket, but you can’t do that,” he said. “We don’t buy into conspiracy theories, but right now we believe our country is on the wrong track.” While that may be Getzinger’s stance, the mindset of the others at the rally is unknown since they were ordered not to speak to the media. Getzinger said the gag order was due…


Bearing witness to Orlando killings draws mixed response in BG (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Local residents came out Sunday morning to show their support for the victims of the mass killing in Orlando, Fla. An attacker, Omar Mateen, gunned down people in the Pulse, a gay night club. Fifty people, including Mateen, died at the scene. Another 53 were wounded. With a rainbow flag, a handful of people gathered near the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. They were greeted by a show of hands – some gave them a thumbs up, some gave them a middle finger. Bowling Green resident Amy Jo Holland said “it was not a pleasant experience.” There were positives and negatives, she said. Linda Tomajko, of Bowling Green, said some honked in support, others thanked them for being out. A couple “preachers” showed up, she said. “One said he understood why God killed those people because they were sinners.” Another said those at the vigil were destined for hell. One preacher stood in front of them for 30 minutes and “bellowed at the top of his lungs,” said Gwen Andrix, another Bowling Green resident. She said the reaction was “fairly typical” of what happens when members of the LGBTQ community gather to express themselves. Tomajko said she was prompted to act because the attack struck close to home. She learned of it when she first got up this morning. There have been so many shootings in the past months, she admitted the impact on her has dulled. “I have a lot of friends who are gay and trans,” she said, “and when I woke up this morning and saw that stuff… I was…


Horizon Youth Theatre’s “Honk!” delivers important message with smile

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Horizon Youth Theatre is ready to make some noise. This weekend the youth troupe will stage “Honk!” a contemporary musical retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Ugly Duckling.” The musical will be performed at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Visit http://horizonyouththeatre.org/product/honk/. Director Cassie Greenlee said the musical is a perfect fit for the young troupe — a fun show with a message. The script was written for a cast of 12 with most actors playing multiple roles. Instead Horizon cast an actor for every part. That meant a role for all those who came out for auditions. That’s a cast of 37, and there’s plenty for them to do. “The secondary characters may be only in one scene but they have a big song or a big part, so we’re able to showcase the talent Horizon has,” Greenlee said. All the members of the cast “have a chance to shine.” That means they all “have a large chunk of responsibility.” Many are “stepping out of their comfort zone, maybe singing solo for first time.” “It’s important to push them out of those comfort zones a little bit and they’ve risen to the challenge,” Greenlee said. Sky Frishman, 16, auditioned for the show because of that wealth of parts. She wasn’t aiming for a particular role, she just wanted to be part of the show. “There were so many good roles,” she said. She’s…


Diving head first in no-hands pie eating contest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six grown men tested their stamina and their stomachs Saturday during a no-hands pie eating contest at the Heritage Farm Festival held at the Wood County Park District’s Carter Historic Farm. James Benschoter put his beard in a ponytail. Dylan Thomason starved himself ahead of time. And Joel Kuhlman thought he was prepared. “I was actually looking forward to it all week – until I got here,” said Kuhlman, a Wood County commissioner. The rules were simple, but strict. No utensils. No hands. The first person to finish and stand up won $20. “The rest of you get to finish the pie we gave you,” said Bryan Bockbrader, the park district’s stewardship coordinator. “If you pass out in your chair, you are disqualified,” he added. The men were thanked for sacrificing their dignity, then told to begin. The apple pies went down easy to start, with the men occasionally lifting their heads to breathe. All the contestants were given large bandana handkerchiefs to use as bibs. But most were employed to get apple pie out of their noses. As they labored to inhale the desserts, Bockbrader egged them on. “This is muskrat pie, we found it along the road.” Thomason, the youngest of the group, was going strong right up till the end. “No more pie for me for a year,” he said after he walked from the table and slumped down to the ground. John Dalton, the eldest of the group, gave it a noble effort, rarely lifting his head from the pie plate. But in the end, the first man…


County housing analysis reveals lack of affordable rentals and lack of public transportation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A new analysis of housing in Wood County revealed the same problems as past studies – too few affordable rentals and a lack of public transportation which doesn’t allow people to access less expensive housing. Dave Steiner, director of the Wood County Planning Commission, shared the latest Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing with the county commissioners on Tuesday. The study is required every five years in order for the county to get Community Block Grant Funding from HUD. The massive report digs into the county’s demographics, and looks at areas where fair housing opportunities can be furthered. Steiner said the report points out three areas needing improvement. First is the lack of affordable rentals, which are limited primarily to Bowling Green. Few low rent properties are available outside of the city, he said. Second is the lack of public transportation, which is especially detrimental in small villages. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw mentioned the new Net Plus transportation program which should be in operation by the end of last week. However, that program is to provide rides to doctor’s appointments, not to the grocery story or social visits. “It does keep people in small towns kind of isolated,” Herringshaw said of the lack of public transportation. With Wood County being the seventh largest county geographically in the state, efforts to provide comprehensive public transit have stalled. “There’s no easy solution to that,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. Steiner agreed. “I have yet to find a solution,” he said, adding that the need for public transportation will continue to grow. “With…


BG ready for algae season in river water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s that time of year, when the recipe for algal blooms starts cooking in the Maumee River. Spring rains run nutrients from soil into waterways and the sun’s rays warm up the water to create algal blooms. “All those ingredients in the water that promote algae growth start to happen,” said Brian O’Connell, utilities director for the city of Bowling Green. Last week, an algal bloom in the Maumee River near Defiance’s water treatment plant prompted a “no contact” advisory. Defiance is located upriver from Bowling Green’s water intake which sits between Grand Rapids and Waterville. “Swimming and wading in the Maumee River is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets,” a Defiance news release stated, according to the city’s newspaper. But Defiance officials said the drinking water supply was safe. The water is currently being drawn out of the city’s reservoir, not the river, they reported. And water from the reservoir had been tested, showing safe levels. Bowling Green’s drinking water is also safe despite algal blooms in the river, according O’Connell. Bowling Green draws its water from the Maumee River near its West River Road plant, and pumps it into a reservoir where it is treated for any algal blooms. That is just the first step, O’Connell explained earlier this week. “To top that off, there’s a small UV light system,” he said, and then chlorine treatment just in case anything slips past the processes. “Our finished water samples have always shown a ‘no-detect,’” level of algae, O’Connell said. Throughout the treatment…


Sun sets the stage for Art in the Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News All kinds of artists turned out for Bowling Green’s second annual Art in the Park in Simpson Garden Park. Artists were drawing, painting, doing needle work. Adult and budding actors staged shows. Performer Nick Zoulek blew saxophone; Michiko Saiki blew bubbles. And, of course, there were those who expressed their artistic inclinations by snapping photos with their smart phones. Jacqueline Nathan, president of the Bowling Green Arts Council, said the Art in the Park was a success, drawing at least as many attendees as last year’s inaugural event. Sunny weather in the 80s certainly helped. Aaron Pickens, of Grand Rapids, was painting a line of arbor vitae. Painting outdoors is way of taking a break from his highly detailed and realistic paintings of toys. Those can take 500 hours to complete. But if painting outdoors is fun, it’s serious fun. Painting outdoors is a challenge. There’s so much detail, he said. “You have to learn what to leave out. The landscape taught me how to paint.” Denise Carter was working on a rag rug that will serve as a wall hanging. She pulled brightly colored fabric through the weave of a coffee bean sack. The fabric became flowers, but Carter wasn’t depicting the blossoms in front of her. For her working outside was enjoyable because the colors were so much brighter in the full sun. Nearby in the amphitheater the sun served as stage lighting for theater. The Black Swamp Players offered the all-too-topical political satire “The Spot” about the filming of a candidate’s television commercial. The one-act play cast light on a process…


When collecting crosses the line to become hoarding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The line between collecting and hoarding is not as fine as some might think. That news seemed to comfort some of the ladies dressed in wide-brimmed hats and lace gloves who had just finished sipping tea and eating scones Thursday at the Wood County Historical Center’s tea titled “When Collections Go Wild.” “I don’t want to be a party pooper, collecting is great. But sometimes it goes bad,” said speaker Dr. William O’Brien, a psychology professor at Bowling Green State University. As he addressed hoarding, O’Brien suspected that his audience members were thinking, “I wonder if this is going to be about me?” But there are distinct differences between collecting and hoarding, he said. Collecting is common and enjoyable. Those who collect feel proud of their collections and share them with others. “People don’t hoard out of joy,” O’Brien said. Collecting rarely interferes with social functioning, and those who do it are able to acquire items carefully and discard items they no longer want. In contrast, hoarders are often ashamed of the items they have compulsively accumulated. “They don’t want people to come over to their house.” Hoarders have great difficulty discarding things even if they have no value. They become anxious just thinking about getting rid of things, O’Brien said. Collecting to compulsion can be a slippery slope, he said. “The line is when the home environment is interrupted.” At that point, hoarding can lead to marital and family strife. “The non-saver tries to sneak things out of the home” to make it livable, which may only add to the stress….


Police seek information in Glanz homicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than three years after being found dead in her Bowling Green home, the homicide of Dawn Glanz is still unsolved. Investigators want anyone with a possible piece to the puzzle to step forward. Bowling Green Police Division issued a release Thursday asking that anyone with information about her death come forward – even if that information seems insignificant. Glanz, 66, a professor of art history at Bowling Green State University, was found dead in her home on Kensington Boulevard in Bowling Green on May 9, 2013. She was the wife of Robert A. Brown, of Toledo, and stepmother to Josh Brown, of Sylvania. In December 2013, Glanz’s death was ruled a homicide by the Wood County Coroner. The autopsy found that she suffered a sharp force injury of the scalp and was stabbed by an assailant. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that no new information has surfaced about the case, and that the police believe someone has details that could help them solve the case. “We want to keep this in the forefront,” Hetrick said. “We don’t want people to forget we have this unsolved homicide.” “We believe someone has information and for one reason or another hasn’t shared it,” the chief said. Hetrick said the police division will not give up on finding Glanz’s killer. “We’re not going to give up on this case. It’s been a couple years, but we’ve had cases go longer and then solved them,” he said. “Somebody out there knows something,” Hetrick said. “It may seem insignificant, but it might be…


NextGen enlists young voters to go to polls to fight climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the primary season all but over and the Democrats and Republicans settled on their presumptive nominees, a national effort is under way to turn out young, environmentally aware voters in November. NextGen Climate has been reaching out to college-aged voters since early this year urging them to pledge to vote for candidates who will take action to address climate change. The effort started on campuses in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus and expanded to a dozen more campuses throughout the state, including Bowling Green State University. By fall the effort hopes to be on 60 campuses in Ohio. “Our goal is to help young voters turn their passion for climate action into votes for climate champions,” said Joanne Pickrell, state director. “We want to harness the energy brought out by the primary and harness it to this important issue. “ Ohio is one of seven states NextGen Climate is focusing on. The others are Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Illinois, and Colorado. The states were chosen, she said, because they are important to the presidential contest and because they have contested senatorial races. “The response on college campuses has been great,” Pickrell said. “We believe that young voters want to vote on important issues in their lives like climate changes. Young voters want to see action on climate change. … We think this a huge issue for a large voting bloc.” Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two largest voting blocks. A poll by USA Today/Rock the Vote found that the percentage of 18 to 34 year olds who say they are likely to…


Sign language – variance granted for hotel LED sign

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A variance was granted Wednesday evening which will help a local business owner compete with the big flashy signs closer to the interstate. The Bowling Green Zoning Board of Appeals voted to grant a variance for a new larger LED sign for the Best Western hotel at 1450 E. Wooster St. The variance was requested by Harmon Sign to allow an 18-foot tall and 58.8-square-foot sign, which would encroach 17 feet into the 25-foot front yard setback. Nelson Pixler, of Harmon Sign, said the new electronic message sign is all part of a rebranding effort at the Best Western location. The new sign will not be any taller than the current sign, and will allow the owner to use the existing foundation. “It certainly will spruce up the area with the new look,” Pixler said. The hotel also has a very tall pole sign that was granted a variance in 1991, according to City Prosecutor Matt Reger. Paul Bishop, the son of Best Western owner Jake Bishop, explained the effort to rebrand the hotel, locally called the Falcon Plaza. Approximately $400,000 has already been spent on renovating the common areas, conference rooms, lobby and breakfast area. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” Bishop said. Next on the list is upgrading of all the individual hotel rooms, which should be completed next year. Though part of Best Western, the hotel will retain its local flair as the Falcon Plaza. “We intend to keep that as part of the identity,” Bishop said. Not only will the new LED sign be more noticeable to…


New $70 million Rossford project ties into casino

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media ROSSFORD – A new $70 million project will provide hotel rooms, conference space, restaurants and shops across from the Hollywood Casino Toledo. Project RED, for Rossford Entertainment District, was announced this morning inside the casino by officials of NAI Harmon Group. Dallas Paul, the broker for the project, said it will include a 150-room hotel with connecting conference center. A major focus of the 100,000 square feet of retail space will be fine dining and fast casual restaurants with cuisine that complements what is offered across Miami Street in the casino. There will also be some boutique shopping available. ED Harmon, the company president, said the Toledo-based firm has the global connections to find the right tenants for the development. The project will take about two and half years to complete, Paul said. The land is currently an open field owned by Hunger Manufacturing. The first step will be a $1.3 million connector road that will be constructed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. That road has a completion date of spring, 2017. The project will also have a people mover transit system, which will be called the RED Skyway, to take people between Project RED and the casino. Paul said when completed the project will employ about 1,000 people in service jobs. Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon said the development furthers Rossford’s evolution into “a new live, work, play community.” The development that’s so closely linked to the casino, which is in Toledo, only strengthens Rossford’s ties to its neighbor to the north, especially the attractions in Toledo’s downtown, MacKinnon said. Beth Genson, the…


Green space still in limbo; BG offered Wood Lane home for expansion of city site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city of Bowling Green is still looking for a home for municipal offices. That’s what worries some residents, who don’t want to see the city’s new home built on the green space where the old junior high used to sit. City council has not addressed the issue since mid-April, when a consultant presented plans for a new city building sharing the green space area. So Monday evening, citizen Carol Kinsey asked council where the plans stand for the open space. Council president Mike Aspacher explained that there had been “no development.” The mayor and city administration are looking at all the alternatives for a new city building. He asked that citizens “be patient,” and added that the citizens’ support of saving the green space has not gone unnoticed. “We get that. We understand that,” Aspacher said. Council member Sandy Rowland assured that once the issue moves out of the council committee, public input will again be sought. “There’s a lot of interest in what’s happening,” Rowland said. One option to give the city offices more space occurred recently when Wood Lane officials asked if the city would be interested in buying the house just to the north of the city building on North Church Street. The house is used as a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities. “That house is certainly available,” said Mayor Dick Edwards. But the city has no plans to purchase the property, he added. “We have no immediate need for it.” Aspacher said “a very brief conversation” was held about the property and an appraisal was…


Communities compromise to get block grants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In an era of political bickering and obstinance, Wood County Planning Commission saw a rare example of compromise and cooperation Tuesday evening. As usual during the annual awarding of Community Development Block Grants, the planning commission had far more requests than there was funding. Seven towns asked for a total of $307,800, but the county had just $162,000 to hand out. Each town described its request, with the mayor or other official giving their best pitch. “Now’s the hard part,” Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission, said of the selection process. “The state puts us in the position of only selecting four and the money is finite,” said commission member John Alexander. The commission weighed the value of the projects and the amounts the towns were willing to pay on their own. And then they tried to shuffle the projects around to meet the winning combination of $162,000 – but with no success. So instead of digging in and defending their requests, the four towns on the top of the funding list all agreed to shave some money off their requests and try to come up with more funding own their own. So when the math was done, the following communities got funding: Bairdstown, through the efforts of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, will get $40,000 to help low and moderate income homeowners pay for sewer lateral installation costs. The town had asked for $50,000. Bairdstown is the last village in Wood County to get public sewers for its 50 homes. “There are a lot of low income and…