Activists bike across the country to find common ground on climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change activists Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall are peddling across the country, and that’s taken them right through what many would consider enemy territory. The two bicyclists stopped Saturday in Bowling Green to do what they’ve been doing for the last 60 days and 3,400 miles, talk about the need to address global warming. The two started off Aug. 27 in Seaside, Oregon traveling Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. They traveled a route mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association, and adjusted based on suggestions by local cyclists. Along the way they have talked to people. Those included supporters and volunteers who met them along the way. They also met people who skeptical about global warming. “We’ve had these conversations even with people in the fossil fuel industry,” Hall said. “If we can have these conversations, we can find those solutions.” What they’ve found along the trail, he said, is that people care about the environment, even if they disagree on global warming, its causes and solutions. Hall and Ahler met each other this summer. She is a Minneapolis-based activist, who serves as the North Wind Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and co-director of Cool Planet. Hall is just finishing his third year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He met Ahler while working in Iowa weatherizing houses. He’s also spent a year working as a mentor and tutor in the Columbus city schools. Ahler said the most impressive aspect of the trip is the “amazing people” they met along the way. Ahler recalled peddling into a town in Montana, wet and cold, only to discover that the food and camping they expected to find were not there. “We were taken in by Dave, the superintendent of schools,” she said. “He put us up for the night. Dried us out and warmed us up and fed us.” This was an example, she said, of “the kindness of people and complete open hearts even when we disagree on climate change…


Senior levy sought to care for graying population

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Committee on Aging wants local senior citizens to stay independent and involved. That means providing meals, transportation and social activities for the growing gray population of the county. And that means they need voters’ help. The Wood County Committee on Aging is asking voters to support a renewal 0.7-mill, five-year levy for senior services. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, that adds up to $19.31 a year. The levy, which generates about $2 million a year, makes up about 69 percent of the committee on aging’s budget for the county. “We want to make sure the seniors of the county have what they need,” explained Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. That is a weighty goal, considering 19 percent of the county’s population are senior citizens. That number is about 25,400 now, and is expected to explode to 32,000 when the baby boomers reach senior citizen status. The Committee on Aging serves many of those older adults at the seven senior centers in the county, in Bowling Green, Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Rossford, Walbridge and Wayne. Seniors are offered meals, transportation, social interaction and education programs for those who aren’t done learning. More than 126,000 meals are delivered annually to 900 individual homes of senior citizens throughout the county. And for those able to get to the senior centers, about 70,000 meals are provided to more than 2,200 seniors a year. The home-delivered meals provide sustenance and social contact, according to Tom Bamburowski, president of the committee on aging. “They enjoy nutritious food and they enjoy seeing another human being,” he said. “It might be the only other person they see that day.” The meals at the senior centers get older residents out of their homes, mingling with others. “That’s the front door to senior services,” Niese said. “They come in for a meal and they stay for other things,” such as exercise classes, lectures or card games. Transportation services provide…


BG goes for 2-mill levy to maintain parks, programs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department has no grand expansions planned if its levy passes on Nov. 8. It just hopes to maintain the pretty grand properties and programs already in place. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. “That’s very rare,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. “It really is truly amazing what we have here.” But in order to maintain that, Otley explained the citizens are being asked to pass a 2-mill, five-year property tax levy to support the parks. It will take place of the 1.4-mill levy that expired last year. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. Otley has complete confidence that Bowling Green residents get their money’s worth out of the city’s parks and recreation programs. “It’s a quality of life issue,” she said. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we make a difference in people’s lives every day.” Those differences can be seen in the swimming lessons offered in City Park, the colorful flowerbeds at Simpson Garden Park, the rambling trails at Wintergarden Park, and the beginning T-ball classes for kids. “That’s pure joy and learning,” Otley said of the T-ball classes. “It really is pretty phenomenal.” This past summer, 565 children participated in swimming lessons and 625 joined in summer camp programs. The parks and recreation department has not asked for increased levy millage for 16 years. But during those 16 years, the parks have done a lot of growing, with additions such as Simpson Building and Garden Park, City Pool and Waterpark, Community Center, Ridge…


Pizza Pub 516 ready to cook up good times for diners at former Myles site

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The smell of pizza in the oven is in the air again in the vicinity of 516 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. On Wednesday, Jay and Paula Williams opened the doors of the Pizza Pub 516 in the former location of Myles Pizza, which closed about a month ago. Fans of the iconic eatery will likely feel right at home in the shop’s new incarnation, and that’s by design. Paula Williams said that they will maintain the atmosphere and many of the signature items, while adding their own touches. The Williamses have experience taking over a favorite local dining spot. Three years ago, they bought Trotters Tavern in downtown. The key to taking over a beloved restaurant, she said, is understanding the community. “We’re going to try really hard to make sure that everyone in Bowling Green feels welcome, and know that they’re going to get a good pie in a friendly atmosphere.” She said they hope to grow the dining room business. “We’d like people to think of us when they think about where they’re going to go the watch the game. They can order a pizza and garlic bread and sit down and watch a sporting event with their friends.” The pub will continue to offer the same style of thick crust that Chip Myles offered for 39 years. They’ve also added a thin crust as well as a gluten free crust. The thick and thin crusts are made in house. Myles has refused to sell the recipe for his pizza sauce and the name. The Williamses tried to buy “the whole package,” but when they couldn’t, they went ahead and purchased what they could. Pizza Pub 516 aspires to continue to be the kind of place where someone stopping by to pick up a pizza will likely to meet friends. Regular customers will also find familiar faces among the staff. Williams said they hired everyone from Myles Pizza who was interested in joining the new venture. “The family we inherited”…


Nearly 300 local absentee ballots get lost in the mail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Board of Elections sent out 10,229 absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election. Once they were placed in the mail, the board thought its work was done until the completed ballots were mailed back in. But then they started getting phone calls. Absentee ballots mailed out on Oct. 12 still hadn’t gotten to many voters – primarily those who lived out of state or in the North Baltimore and Fostoria areas. The voters were advised to wait a little bit, that the ballots were in the mail. It now appears many ballots made it to the Detroit mail sorting center in Pontiac, Michigan, but didn’t get any further than that. “Once we drop it in the mail, we lose control,” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said Saturday morning. “We rely on that system to do what it should.” “This happens in every election. It just happened a little bit more in this election,” Burton said. And Wood County is not alone. It appears that many absentee ballots from all over Northwest Ohio have not made it to their intended destinations. “What happened to those ballots? Where they got hung up, we don’t know,” Burton said. “While I would like to rail the postal system – and there may be a time for that – what we are focusing on now is correcting the problem.” So as of Saturday morning, the Wood County Board of Elections has reissued nearly 300 absentee ballots for those missing, and has suspended the initial ballots sent out. Each ballot has an absentee number, so the missing ones can be canceled and new ones issued. “So at least we can make sure they can vote,” Burton said. The majority of the initial absentee ballots went out without a hitch. Some residents in Bowling Green and Perrysburg reported “getting them practically overnight.” And as of Saturday morning, 5,279 completed absentee ballots had been returned to the board of elections. Some of the voters who…


Why do we pay to have bejeebers scared out of us?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kent McClary remembers the first scary movie he snuck into by lying about his age. His mom had warned him that children would be “permanently scarred” by watching “The Exorcist.” That was enough to convince McClary he had to see the flick. Later, he was terrorized by the book “The Amityville Horror,” due to the subtitle, “A True Story,” which he took to be the sworn truth. “I like to get scared,” said McClary, a retired Kenwood Elementary teacher. Janet McClary, his wife, remembers going to “freak shows” as a child, marveling in horror at Lobster Boy and Alligator Woman. The McClarys, like many people, enjoy having the bejeebers scared out of them. Every Sunday evening, Kent McClary shares his love of spooky topics on the “Dead Air” radio show on 88.1 FM. But why? Why do so many people pay to get goosebumps and a racing heart? Especially this time of year, when people stand in long lines at haunted houses and pull out classic terror movies. One popular theory is that we humans have the fight or flight instinct imbedded in us. However, in today’s world most people have very few chances to put that instinct into action. So a scary movie, book or haunted house gives us the opportunity to face fears in a safe environment. We get the adrenaline rush, and the sense of relief once we have survived the imagined danger. Margee Kerr, a sociologist who focuses on the study of fear and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, explained why some humans crave thrills and chills. Her research shows that our bodies’ threat responses trigger chemicals meant to help us survive, flooding our bodies and brains with adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. This response shares similarities with other high arousal responses, like when we’re happy, excited and surprised. The importance is knowing the difference between a real threat or just a thrill. Not everyone likes being scared, even in a safe place. For some people…


Contemporary comedy at Clazel puts Players in a different light

   By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Christopher Durang’s comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” has made a quick turnaround from the Broadway stage to the stage of the Clazel in downtown Bowling Green. The Black Swamp Players will present the 2013 Tony winner for best play Nov. 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Tickets available at Grounds for Thought and online at www.blackswampplayers.org.  Seating will be at tables for eight. The play’s quick trip from being a Sigourney Weaver star turn to featuring a cast of Players newcomers and regulars started when Deb Weiser read about the new comedy in the New Yorker. It struck her as a fun show to stage, so she pitched it to the Players’ board. The play seemed a good fit as well for the Clazel. Some of the language is more appropriate for the night club setting than the Methodist church basement where the Players usually work. Besides, the First United Methodist stage is occupied this month with the church’s own production of “Godspell!” Last year when the Players faced the same dilemma, they took an evening of one acts on the road, staging them in three different spots around town, including the Clazel. This year the show will stay put in the downtown venue. The ticket includes a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, dessert and coffee. And the Clazel’s bar will be open. Doors open at 7 p.m. This week the cast was busy off-site rehearsing for opening night. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is in a way a modern sendup of a Chekov play. Multiple references are made his characters and his work. They serve as dramatic tchotchkes, cute but not necessary for appreciating the finely tuned comedy. The play, directed by Weiser, finds two adopted siblings Vanya (Lane Hakel) and Sonia (Deb Shaffer) bemoaning their lives in the old family home where they’ve lived their entire adult lives. Sonia remembers being brought to the home as an orphan. “Everyone pretended to love me….


Author tells BGSU the best answer ends with a question mark

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Warren Berger travels around telling people they should ask more questions. In some circles that could get him labeled as troublemaker; elsewhere, he’d be considered an innovator. As a journalist Berger asks questions for a living, and he’s made them the focus of his work. His book “A More Beautiful Question,” is the common read for Bowling Green State University this year, and the self-described “questionologist” visited campus Wednesday to further proselytize about the importance of questioning. Asking questions, he quipped, “has allowed me to go without a job for 25 years.” Trained as a journalist at Syracuse University, he chafed at the notion of working in a newsroom where his inquiry would be subject to assignments handed out by an editor. So he ventured down the route of independent journalist. And while he asked questions that whole time – “as a journalist questions are the only tool you have,” it has only been in the last few years that the full import of the subject has revealed itself to him. He learned that questioning is not always valued. It challenges the status quo. And over time, people ask fewer and fewer questions. “If you ask questions you can be seen as disruptive,” Berger said. That’s especially true of students in inner city schools. But people are born to ask questions. It starts at age 2, he said, and peaks at about age 4. “A 4-year-old girl is the ultimate question-asking machine,” he said. She averages 300 a day, and boys that age are not far behind. Though questioning falls off afterward, creative people continue ask them, and those questions, he discovered, have shaped our world. The genesis of innovation, whether the internet or Airbnb, the cell phone or Gatorade, is a question. It starts with why? – to understand the problem. Then what if? – to generate ideas. And then how about? – to start solving the problem. These questions unleash a steady stream of what he calls beautiful questions leading to change,…


Creepy reports take some fun out of clowning around

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   These are tough times for clowns. Reports of creepy clowns stalking schoolyards or streets have given well-meaning clowns a bad name. The crazy-haired, red-nosed, big-shoed clowns already suffer from an estimated 12 percent of U.S. population having an irrational fear of the costumed pranksters. There are so many with this clown consternation that the fear has its own name – coulrophobia. Then came the recent rash of creepy clown reports. Bowling Green Police Division saw a “flurry” of clown reports a couple weeks ago, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. The only report that panned out was a couple kids who stole clown masks from a Halloween costume store in the city. But the recent scares have some legitimate clowns concerned. So that led to Doug Kaufman, otherwise known as “Curly Top,” to contact the city police and let them know that he dresses as a clown for “gigs” – with the intent to delight, not demonize. “Professional clowns aren’t the ones engaged in this activity,” Hetrick said. “People who do the clown thing take a long time to put on makeup,” and don’t just pull on a mask. Kaufman plans to alert the police anytime he has a gig, just in case they get calls about a clown around town. “I want to make sure I don’t instigate anything by accident,” Kaufman said. Kaufman is actually a graduate of “clown school,” where he learned such skills as how to apply and remove the heavy makeup, and create a repertoire of balloon animals such as long dogs, tall giraffes and tiny mice. His specialty is writing children’s names backwards on the animals so they appear correct when viewed in a mirror. “I’ve always been a little backwards,” Kaufman said in his corny clown way. He started clowning when he and his wife operated a restaurant in McClure in the 1980s. The restaurant hosted parties, and Kaufman thought offering a clown for children’s parties would be a nice perk. His wife made him a…


Middle ground hard to find in discussion over gun violence & gun rights

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tom Klein opened the panel on gun violence Thursday night with a caveat. The panel, organized by a group of local residents concerned about gun violence, wasn’t as balanced as they had hoped. They planned to have two representatives from those advocating the broadest gun rights, instead the panel had one, Michael Temple, a part-time NRA instructor.  The NRA put the kibosh on the appearance of another representative, and the organizers’ attempts to find someone else proved futile. So Temple was joined by Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence, and three academics who study aspects of gun violence. Before the panel really got underway, though, it became evident that the beliefs in the audience of more than 120 would provide a counter to those of the majority of the panel. Where’s the American flag, a man up front called out. Why no Pledge of Allegiance? That us-versus-them attitude burst into full view after the panel had its say and the floor was open to questions. The organizers were hoping for a dialogue not a debate. If there was any middle ground to be found in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library where the panel was presented, it was over the benefits of training. Gun owners touted the value of training as did members of panel. But still they didn’t feel because some people didn’t bother get training or practice was no reason their rights to own a gun should be denied. But those on the panel pointed out the limits of training. Even police who train and practice only hit the target 25 percent of the time. And Phil Stinson, of BGSU who studies police shootings, said he’s struck by how many times in the incidents he looks at that police do not follow their training. He said later that he suspects Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, either from trauma experienced as a police officer or during military service, played a role in these incidents. Still Temple asserted the value…


Stinging and sweet … job of the county apiarist

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Few people probably know what an apiarist is. Fewer still know that Wood County has one on the payroll. But this morning, the county commissioners hired a new apiarist – a beekeeper – to keep an eye on the honey bee hives in the county. Why does the county need a beekeeper? Well it turns out that a lot of crops raised locally rely on honey bee pollination – like pumpkins, apples, tomatoes and strawberries. The role was filled for years by Fritz Gehring, who retired earlier this year. The new apiarist is Michael Horst, who works in the heating and air conditioning business, but who has gardened for years. “As a gardener, it led into that naturally,” Horst said of beekeeping. In fact, he was named Michael after his great-grandfather, who was a beekeeper. He not only inherited the name and the inclination, but also the 50-year-old beekeeping equipment. Horst has already started his rounds in the county, visiting first some of the bee hives in the Perrysburg area and the Wood County Park District. “It’s a lot of education for the newbies, and catching up with the older ones,” Horst said of the local beekeepers. Horst has been inspecting for mites, which are the biggest problem plaguing honey bee hives right now. He also looks for bacterial diseases, which are spread to healthy hives by bees raiding other less healthy hives. “Bees will rob weaker colonies and carry diseases,” he explained. And if diseases aren’t caught, the colony’s health may be threatened. Horst can also inspect commercial bee businesses, to make sure they aren’t selling sick bees. Many of the hives in the county are registered, which enables Horst to offer his help. Many farmers bring boxes of bees to their farms to help with orchards or other crops. “Natural pollinators are out there, they exist in the environment. But sometimes, it’s not enough,” Horst said. “Every gardener, every park system benefits from the pollination.” “I think our food web…


Barbara Waddell worked for fairness at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Barbara Waddell was 14, her mother was passed over for a promotion. Her mother worked in a union shop in the Toledo area, and the job should have gone to her because she was next in line in seniority. She was the only woman of color on the line, and the job went to a white woman with less seniority. The union did nothing. The company did nothing. When she got home she was upset and shared her disappointment with her daughter. Waddell remembers her reaction.  “That’s not fair. They can’t do that. …. I was just incensed that this could happen to her.”  So they wrote a letter. They said they were going to retain an attorney. Of course, Waddell said, they didn’t know the family didn’t have money to hire a lawyer. “They got the letter, and she got the position she was entitled to based on their own rules and policies,” Waddell said more than 40 years later. Her belief in fighting for justice was already well developed as a teenager.  “There are so many people who don’t have a voice to speak for themselves, and if there’s ever an opportunity to be that voice I want to be that person,” she said. After 28 years of putting that philosophy to work at Bowling Green State University, Waddell is retiring at the end of the month as chief equity and diversity officer. In that time she has been instrumental in promoting diversity and diversity training on campus and beyond. “I think diversity and inclusion has been part of my DNA.” Waddell grew up in Toledo. She opted to attend Start High School, instead of her neighborhood Scott High. Graduating in 1978, she went on to college to become an elementary school teacher. Then she came home to Toledo, married her childhood sweetheart Perry. When their son was born, she stayed home with him. About the time he was 3 she decided he needed the company of “people his own size.”…


Sheriff wants to buy drone to aid in searches

  By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is hoping to add an eye in the sky to help in searches in the county. The sheriff’s budget requests for 2017, presented to the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday, included a drone with thermo camera. Wasylyshyn said there were 10 times just this past summer when a drone would have been useful to the sheriff’s office. The drone would be useful in helping to search for missing children, suspects hiding in cornfields, or seniors with dementia who wander off, he said. The equipment could even help when livestock escapes, he added. The drone would cost $13,580, and a thermal nightvision monocular would cost $3,833. The infrared camera would make the drone useful in night searches. The training of staff to operate the drone is included in that amount. Wasylyshyn said the drone would pay for itself since it would be less expensive than sending groups of officers out on searches. The sheriff said he is hopeful the department can share the equipment with neighboring law enforcement in need of help with searches. The biggest ticket item on the sheriff’s budget request was the expansion of the booking and medical areas of the county jail. The expansion has been on the list for a couple years, and was ranked top on his list for next year. The estimated cost is $4.8 million. Also on the list were seven new Ford Explorers for $189,000. The sheriff’s office previously used Chevy Impalas, but those are no longer being built for law enforcement use and the greater expense of  Chevy Tahoes could not be justified, Wasylyshyn said. Also requested were more body cameras for officers, and more cameras in the jail to eliminate any blindspots in the facility. The sheriff also asked for $10,000 for the installation of new doorway from the body scanner room to the booking area. The body scanner, which is new this year, has so far identified three incoming inmates with drugs hidden in body…


BG to earn revenue from pipeline, antennae

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is set to benefit from a pipeline buried on city-owned property and antennae put high on its water towers. The Bowling Green Board of Utilities learned Monday that Nexus Gas Transmission wants a 50-foot permanent easement and a two-year temporary easement to install the Nexus natural gas line on city acreage located north of Bowling Green. The gas line is making its way from southeastern Ohio to Canada, and has the power of eminent domain, explained Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green. The 29 acres owned by the city are located in Middleton Township, a few miles east of the city water plant. The installation of the pipeline would have no impact on the operation of the water plant, O’Connell said. The city has no long-term plans for the property. The acreage is rented out for farming right now, which will have to be halted during the construction of the pipeline. The pipeline company will pay $9 per foot for the permanent easement, plus $25 per foot of damaged farm tile. That will add up to at least $151,000. An estimated four acres of the entire site will be affected by the pipeline. The board of utilities approved the easement. The board also approved two lease agreements with Amplex Electric Inc. Amplex is an internet service provider in Northwest Ohio. The company wants to use city water tower space to mount antennae, and will pay $250 a month for each attachment. Amplex plans to put three antennae on the Newton Road water tower and one on the west side tower near Sand Ridge Road. That adds up to $1,000 a month. The company has also requested to use fiber optic cable owned by the city, O’Connell said. That lease would be for $90 a month per mile of cable being used – or $1,584 a month. The antennae income will go to the water department, and the fiber optic lease income will go to the electric department,…


Parents told not to just dump kids at football games

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Friday night football games are supposed to be loud and busy and energized. But they are supposed to be controlled chaos – not risky for young students. So at this Friday’s game, parents will not be allowed to drop off young students by themselves. And those who do, will be called to come pick up their children. After the last home Bowling Green High School varsity football game on Oct. 7, Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci expressed some concerns about the “free-for-all” atmosphere at the game. “Parents are dropping kids off at the game” as young as fourth-graders and not accompanying them. “Nobody’s watching these kids,” he said. Throughout the games, it turns into a “mosh pit of kids,” Scruci said. “There’s no supervision. There’s no accountability. We’ve got to tighten up what we’re doing.” Scruci was so troubled about the unsafe situation, that his normal jovial “Friday Message” videotape to students and parents took on a serious tone. “We want you kids to come to the game,” he said in the videotape. “But it’s important that they’re supervised by you, the parents.” When contacted after his video message was released, Scruci said that some changes would be enacted before the last home game, which is this Friday. The policies will continue to the next week if Bowling Green hosts a playoff game at home. Following is the letter being sent out today to school families: Dear parents and guardians, As I alluded to on the Friday Message two weeks ago, we have made some changes for student attendance at our home football game this Friday. This has been necessitated due to the growing concern for student safety and school liability. The following are the new procedures and expectations.  All students will only be admitted through the West Gate. Signs will be visible to direct them to the appropriate gate.  (The west gate is the gate on the left as you enter the stadium from the parking lot) Students will be prohibited from…