The fundamental things apply in the market, even in the time of Trump, analyst says

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Nobody knows what President Donald Trump will do. Even the morning after his first address to Congress where his performance was deemed as more presidential, the new president remains an enigma. Yet when all is said and done, Clint Pogemiller, president of MWA Financial Services, believes the fundamentals of investing for the long term apply – a diversified portfolio and patience to stay the course over the long haul. Pogemiller spoke to local Modern Woodmen of America agents and customers last week for a breakfast time market forecast. “Overall 2016 was a very good year,” he said. The market was up 16 percent for the year. That included the “Trump bump” or “Trump jump” with the market rising 7.7 percent since the Nov. 8 election. That election, Pogemiller reminded the audience confounded the experts. They gave Trump a 1-percent chance of winning, and then when he won they predicted the market would tank. Indeed futures trading was off 1,000 points overnight. But then the day after the election, the market rose 257 points. The market has added $3.1 trillion in value since then. “Things are moving at a much faster pace these days,” he said. “You don’t want to react on a short term basis.” This continues the second longest bull market in history dating back to the recovery following the housing bust in 2007. Pogemiller said that even taking into account that bust and the earlier dotcom crash, if an investor had put money into the market in 2000 and just let it stay there, they would have earned back 9 percent. But many people weren’t that patient. “It’s time in the market, not timing the market,” he said echoing a truism used by J.D. Pugh, regional director for Modern Woodmen, earlier in the morning. “We don’t know for sure what Trump will do,” Pogemiller said. But many are anticipating a reduction in tax rates, especially for corporations, increased spending on infrastructure, and lessening of regulations. While the new president and the Republican-controlled Congress agree on a lot, including tightened controls on immigration, there are differences. Trump favors tariffs while congressional Republicans tend to be free traders. And they will like to focus more on fiscal restraint. Pogemiller said the test of the markets will come when we see how many of his campaign promises Trump is able to fulfill. One promise he made, a return to 4 percent growth in Gross National Product, is unlikely to come to pass, Pogemiller said. GDP is constrained by a lack…


Waterville turns to BG for water supply

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While Toledo is fighting to hang on to its water customers, Bowling Green is adding customers that are jumping ship and looking for more reasonably priced water. Last month, the village of Waterville started getting its water from Bowling Green. “Waterville approached us,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. The village had abandoned its own water plant in the 1980s. “They were a customer of Lucas County, and Lucas County is a customer of Toledo.” But big water rate hikes proposed in 2014-2015 from Toledo led Waterville to search for other sources. “Waterville was looking for different options, to explore what the possibilities were,” O’Connell said. “One of those options was to put a pipe under the river to the Bowling Green Water Treatment Plant.” Bowling Green had the extra water capacity, more reasonable rates, and was willing to give Waterville a 25-year contract compared to Toledo’s offer of a nine-year deal. “We had additional capacity that could meet their need,” O’Connell said. There were no capital costs for Bowling Green since Waterville put the pipeline under the river to link up along Forst Road to a main from Bowling Green’s water treatment plant. “Waterville assumed all the capital costs and the debt,” and Bowling Green just has to treat more water, O’Connell said. “It made sense for both communities to do the project. It’s good for our revenue stream,” he said. The city has a “wholesale contract” to sell the village about 500,000 gallons a day. Bowling Green already treats 4 to 5 million gallons of water a day, with that peaking to 6 to 8 million gallons in the summer. Bowling Green water is already sold to many communities outside the city, some supplied through city lines and others through Northwestern Water and Sewer District lines. Those towns getting BG water include Tontogany, Haskins, Grand Rapids, Portage, Rudolph, Weston, Milton Center, Custar, Jerry City, Cygnet, Hoytville, Bloomdale and Bairdstown. The water treatment plant, which sits on Ohio 65 along its water source, the Maumee River, has some additional capacity remaining. But city officials have not been approached by any other Toledo water customers wanting to switch suppliers. According to O’Connell, the plant could supply roughly 3 million more gallons a day using the plant’s current footprint. The city is looking to expand its microfiltration units so the water quality consistency is greater. An EPA loan is being sought to help with more improvements. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the water plant process,”…


Michael Harris finds BGSU much improved for black students since his days on campus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Michael Harris settled comfortably on the couch in the lounge that serves as home base for Bowling Green State University’s Arts Village in the basement of Kreischer Compton dorm. The 1971 BGSU graduate remembers the dorm well from his student days. His girlfriend lived in the dorm, and she became his wife, then his ex-wife. Looking around campus, Harris said, he saw a lot that hadn’t changed, including the School of Art where he studied with Bob Mazur, Willard Wankelman and Paul D. Running, and the baseball diamond where he played ball. He was the only black on the team, he recalled, and one of fewer than 100 African-Americans in the student body. Harris came back to campus last week as the keynote speaker for the Africana Studies Student Research Conference. His speech was on “Conjuring an Africana Aesthetic,” but now the talk was less formal. A handful of students spread through the launch as his host at the Arts Village art professor Joel D’Orisio occasionally asked a few questions. Harris lived in Harshman, which he was advised he better go see because it was slated to be razed. Harris said he found BGSU much improved from when he was here. He helped found the Black Student Union. Now there were offerings in ethnic studies that would have “brought tears to my eyes back then.” He’d come to BGSU hoping to escape the racism of his native Cleveland. Racism that left innumerable “papercuts and bruises” on his psyche. At BGSU though he couldn’t readily hear the music he grew up on. When he took an African history course it was all about Stanley Livingston and the white colonizers and the treaties they used to divvy up the continent among themselves. Students didn’t learn about any Africans. Harris intended to be an English major, but he had antipathy toward 19th Century English literature, and “I didn’t get Shakespeare at the time,” he said. “African-American writers weren’t being highlighted.” Now the diversity of student population and the offerings “make this pretty nice,” he said. From BGSU, Harris went on to study art, art history and African American studies at Howard University and then Yale. Now on the faculty of Emory University, he built a distinguished career both as an artist and as an art historian. He’s been called one of the top scholars in his field and is an author of several books including the award-winning “Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation.” All that started at BGSU. He noted as he…


BG uses funds to help people repair homes, get to jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year, Bowling Green used grant funding to help low income residents repair their homes, get to work with public transportation, create jobs, and provide transitional housing for people teetering on the brink of homelessness. “One hundred percent of the actions we take are for people of low and moderate incomes,” said Tina Bradley, grants administrator for the city. “The need is still there,” Bradley said after a recent public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant and Revolving Loan Fund program operated by the city. Though the city either met or exceeded its goals, Bradley said there are always unmet needs. “We always have a waiting list at the end of the year,” she said. The biggest problem dealt with by the CDBG program is the lack of affordable housing in Bowling Green. That also means that many residents have difficulty dealing with home repairs. “When a furnace goes out, it can be devastating,” Bradley said. Using the CDBG and RLF funding of $701,640, the city was able to do the following: 8 mobile home repairs. 17 housing rehabilitations. 8 elderly home repairs. 1 home repair. 84 people helped with public transportation. 129 people helped with transitional housing for homeless. 7 jobs created with Revolving Job Creation/Business Assistance Loans. Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Office, spoke up at the public hearing to explain that public transportation is becoming increasingly important for local manufacturers who rely on the service to get employees to work on time. “That is key to keeping some of their employees,” Clark said. Clark also said the city’s Revolving Loan Fund has been very useful in helping local businesses to create jobs. “It’s a powerful tool,” she said. “It’s probably one of the more successful Revolving Loan Funds in the state.” Brent Baer, superintendent of Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said Wood Lane consumers are frequent users of the public transportation services. He also said the board would like to work more with the city on housing opportunities. “We’re always grateful for the opportunity to partner with Bowling Green,” he said. Representatives of the Salvation Army spoke of the need for transitional housing for the homeless. The city originally projected it would serve 75 people last year with those needs, but ended up serving 129. Bradley said the city may be able to serve more people with home repair needs in the future since Bowling Green is now included in Wood County’s Community Home Improvement Program. The…


Music rings out up & down BG’s Main Street

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music brought people together in downtown Bowling Green Friday night. On South Main Street more than 100 people gathered at Grounds for Thought for “Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song” a protest song singalong led by three of the four members of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. A couple blocks north more than 100 people celebrated the ageless power of rock ‘n’ roll with The Welders, who for more than 30 years have been staging a spring break show at Howard’s Club H. Mary Jane Saunders, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, opened “Singing for Our Lives” at Grounds by explaining her rationale for suggesting the event. Many are feeling stressed and uncomfortable in the current political climate, she said. That’s been expressed in several rallies, most held in the green space next to the Presbyterian Church.             The sing-along of classic songs was offered as an occasion “to have fun together” while not forgetting the cause that has united so many in the community. “Music has the power to empower and to energize us,” she said. Pop music historian Ken Bielen gave a brief introduction to protest music, much of it by simply quoting memorable lines. He recalled that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who urged Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. “When people get together in the right combination, history is made.” He then recalled Country Joe McDonald’s admonition to the throngs at Woodstock singing along to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” “I don’t know how you expect the stop the war when you can’t sing any better than that.” And at first the singing at the Grounds event was, let’s say,  dutiful. But humor, another unifier, helped pull everyone in. After singing the Holly Near song that gave the event its title, Jason Wells-Jensen joked about the setting of the microphone, saying all short people were the same height to him. At which point bandmate Anne Kidder, started singing “we are tall and short, together” with the audience spontaneously picking up the tune and continuing even after Kidder had stopped singing. From then on, the singing grew more enthusiastic, even as some of the lyrics were tough on the tongue or the music was in 5/4 time and the audience was supposed to clap on the fourth and fifth beats. The sound ranged from Don Scherer’s seismic bass to the jangle of percussion. The GRUBS…


Something to chew on: Senior congregate meals serve up food and friendship

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s more than the meatloaf and lemon meringue pie that draws senior citizens to congregate meals at community centers across the nation. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the daily menu. And it’s something that many seniors can’t get their daily dosage of at home. Almost as important as the nutrition served up at senior centers is the conversation shared around the dinner tables. Robert Blancato, executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, is going across the nation doing research on the value of congregate meals for senior citizens. On Friday, he was in Bowling Green at the Wood County Senior Center for lunch with local citizens. “We know there’s a growing problem of isolation of older people,” Blancato said. So he is surveying seniors about the values of casseroles and conversations. “I’ve decided to sit with older adults and ask them myself.” Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, said much research has been done on how home-delivered meals help seniors remain independent in their own homes. “We know the value of home-delivered meals,” Niese said. But until now, no one has surveyed the value of congregate meals. As Blancato chats with seniors over chicken or lasagna, he finds a common thread in the conversation. “They use the word socialization,” he said. They talk about the opportunity to get out of the house, to volunteer, and to learn from others. On Thursday, Blancato sat down for a meal in East Cleveland and heard the same comments. “They’ve been verification of the importance of these programs.” His favorite comment came from an older woman at a center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Because we love to gossip,” she told him. “Every time I talk to older adults, they provide the proof,” Blancato said. However, while Blancato is gathering up research supporting the value of congregate dining programs, the federal government is threatening massive funding cuts. The Older Americans Act has already been lagging in funding for years, he said. “It is nowhere near enough to meet the needs.” But Blancato pointed out that the average age of seniors showing up for congregate meals is in the upper 70s, and the average age for those getting home-delivered meals is the lower 80s. The lack of the nutrition provided by those meals would result in far more people living in nursing home facilities. “Look how much this is saving Medicare and Medicaid,” he said. But the future of funding for…


Alberto Gonzalez finds distinction close to home

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Professor Alberto Gonzalez has come a long way and not far at all. The first time Alberto Gonzalez set foot on the Bowling Green State University campus was when he and his twin brother, Gil, arrived to move into Kohl Hall. Sons of a Mexican American worker from nearby Sandusky County, they hadn’t done college visits. For them even heading 30 miles west to Bowling Green was a major move. In a way it was their generation’s migration. Their grandparents had been born in Mexico. Their parents were born in south Texas. They grew up in rural Riley Township near Fremont, and now they were attending college. Alberto Gonzalez graduated from BGSU in 1977 before continuing his graduate work in communications at Ohio State where he earned a doctorate. He ended up returning home to teach, and at its February meeting the university’s board of trustees named him a distinguished university professor. Gonzalez, who has taught at the university since 1992, was pleased with the honor for more than what it said about him. “For me it brings attention to the School of Communications and speaks to the quality of work, the quality of research done in this school,” he said on a recent interview. “You never do anything isolation. All the things I’ve been able to accomplish is because of having great colleagues around me and having great doctoral students. I learn from them and publish with them.” In the resolution approved by trustees one of his former students, Eun Young Lee, was quoted as saying: “He provides me with a model for what it truly means to be an academic, which I am now trying to pass on to my students. … He has made me genuinely believe in and adopt the pedagogical value that each student in college deserves hearty and sincere guidance.” Gonzalez said that the honor for him is also gives affirmation and encouragement to faculty of color and students of color. Gonzalez has built his career on the scholarship in intercultural communication studies. He’s written books and articles and is the co-author of one of the most prominent texts “Our Voices: Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication,” now in its sixth edition with a seventh in the works. Gonzalez learned early what it is to be ethnic. His mother died when he was 5, so he was raised by his father. His father, who worked for Whirlpool, had firm ideas about assimilation. Though Gonzalez said he only spoke Spanish until he was 4, his father…


Renters’ guide rates landlords and housing units

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 1,000 apartment and house renters in Bowling Green have filled out a survey ranking their landlords and living units. The results were compiled into a first-ever BGSU Renter’s Guide, intended to help students make more informed decisions before they sign leases in Bowling Green. The information is pulled from direct responses from students surveyed on their satisfaction with different rental agencies in the city. The BGSU Renter’s Guide is a joint project of the Undergraduate Student Government, the Graduate Student Senate and Off Campus Student Services. Such a guide has been offered for Ohio State University students for years. A total of 25 landlords are listed in the survey along with the ratings by their former renters. The highest number of survey responses came from renters of Greenbriar, Copper Beach, Falcon’s Pointe, Mecca Management and John Newlove. The rental costs range from the lowest of $100 to $199 a month for 19 respondents, to the highest of more than $1,000 a month for three respondents. The most common rental cost was between $300 and $399 a month. The renters were asked about how easy it was to contact their landlord with concerns. The responses ranged from 40 percent who strongly agreed it was easy, to 16 percent who strongly disagreed. Landlords  were ranked on whether or not they answered questions prior to the students moving in, whether students were given the same apartment they toured, whether students were satisfied with the apartment when they first moved in, and whether or not landlords maintained the interior and exterior of rentals. Less than half, 48 percent, strongly agreed that their landlords maintained the exterior of their homes. Even fewer, 39 percent, strongly agreed that the landlords maintained the interior. Renters were also asked how quickly their landlords responded to emergency maintenance issues. Renters from some landlords said they always responded with 24 hours. But other landlords took more than two weeks to respond, according to the survey. The renter’s survey can be found on the BGSU off-campus student services website. The guide also advises renters to ask basic questions before signing a lease, such as: What are the lease terms? What is included in the rent? Can I decorate my apartment? What is your maintenance and emergency repairs policy? How long does it take to repair a leaky faucet or replace a torn window screen? What are safety and security policies? The guide also give renters tips on rental insurance, how to mediate roommate conflicts, how to…


BG students speak up without making a sound

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the students in Laura Weaver’s class last week practiced a new language, there were no new words coming from their mouths. They were talking with their hands. The fifth grade students in the PACE gifted and talented class held at Kenwood Elementary were learning American Sign Language. They fired off words, asking for their signs – please, thank you, hello, family, numbers – and the necessities like cookie, ice cream and popcorn. Marta Crow, a retired Penta Career Center teacher for hearing impaired students, kept up with their requests. The theme in Weaver’s class this year is “communication,” so she thought it would be good for the students to learn unspoken language. “I wanted them to understand the foundation of it,” she said. And the lessons went beyond the words themselves. “You have to understand diversity and adversity,” Weaver added. “It just seemed like the right thing to do with these kids.” “We’re so used to speaking language, when you don’t hear it, it’s a whole different world,” she said. Weaver planned to take the sign language lesson further later in the week, with students putting in ear plugs and trying to communicate. They would also be creating clay hands forming a sign language symbol. “I’ve got 50 pounds of clay waiting,” she said, smiling. And then they might give Braille a try. “That could be something cool to try,” Weaver said. Meanwhile, the students were mastering some simple sentences in sign – many having to do with cookies and popcorn. And they were learning that placement of the hands is quite important, so “please” isn’t confused for “hungry.” Crow, who had a deaf roommate in college at Bowling Green State University, said that sign language is misinterpreted no more often than verbal communication. “It’s such an expressive language,” she said. Unlike verbal communication, in which most people use just their mouths, sign language involves the face, the entire body and the space around it. “It’s not just the hands,” Crow said, using sign language to tell a short story to the students. “I use the space around me. It’s the whole package.” Crow has interpreted events using sign language for BGSU graduations, BGSU freshman welcome programs, the inauguration of BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, and a funeral. She has to edit some portions, she explained, since sayings like “raining cats and dogs” would not make sense in sign language. Despite some hearing people feeling the need to shout around deaf people, people without hearing are…


Pretend emergency becomes real learning experience

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It all started Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., when a pretend train accident in Perrysburg started leaking pretend hazardous materials in the city. There were pretend road closures, pretend evacuations and pretend injuries. And if that wasn’t enough, a truckload of pigs overturned on Interstate 75, sending pretend pigs running throughout the city. The scenario was pretend, but emergency responders were tasked with coming up with real answers to the crisis. The Wood County Emergency Management Agency and the Wood County Local Emergency Planning Committee coordinated the exercise as mandated every four years. Perrysburg officials were stationed on the fifth floor of the county office building, while county officials staffed the emergency operations center on the first floor. Though pretend, the participants felt the pressure of a real hazardous material accident requiring the evacuation of Woodland Elementary School and Grace United Methodist Church to the BGSU book depository in Levis Commons. The workers were bombarded with phone calls – some with valid information, others from people seeking information on where they should go, where they can take their pets, and why there were pigs running around the neighborhood. “Communication is always the first victim of a disaster,” said Wood County EMA Director Brad Gilbert. But Gilbert said emergency exercises like this are designed to highlight strengths and weaknesses. And while communication needs improvement, he said the teamwork was impressive among governments and agencies representing fire departments, police departments, utilities, Red Cross, EPA, ODNR, health district, schools, road engineers, animals control and others. “We started off and this room just erupted with interaction and chatting,” Gilbert said of the county emergency operations center. Tammy Feehan, disaster services supervisor for the Ohio EMA Northwest Region, said the teamwork in this county is notable. “It’s always a learning experience. But Wood County has such good relationships between first responders, elected officers and the EMA,” Feehan said. “The collaboration that takes place strengthens the coordination and the communication.” When the exercise was over – with the pretend patients being treated and the pretend pigs being corralled – the next challenge was to hold a mock press conference. Perrysburg Municipal Administrator Bridgette Kabat described the hazard material incident, the evacuations, the decontamination efforts at area hospitals, and the symptoms that city residents should be on the lookout for – respiratory distress, skin rashes, dizziness. She gave the media a hotline number to get out to the public. Perrysburg Assistant Fire Chief Rudy Ruiz explained CSX was on the scene, taking care of the…


Local boy unleashes a lot of love for shelter dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Drake Stearns turned 8 last recently, he got some unusual birthday gifts – giant bags of dog food, old blankets, and pet toys. Drake, a second-grader at Elmwood, had decided that he had enough toys himself and wanted his birthday party guests to bring gifts for the four-legged lodgers at the Wood County Dog Shelter. “We looked at all his toys,” and discussed a different option this year, his mom Christina Stearns said. “I wanted to do it. I wanted to make these dogs happy,” Drake said as he sat at the dog shelter next to King, who was wagging his tail furiously at meeting a new friend. So his mom sent out birthday party invitations, asking that in lieu of presents for Drake, that guests bring dog food, treats, towels or toys. The party netted nearly 200 pounds of dog food, plus lots of collars, leashes and other items. “Parents said they had a tough time not getting him toys,” Drake’s mom said. But Drake had no reservations. As he dropped off more items at the dog shelter last week, he quickly bonded with King. “He’s chosen me,” Drake said to his mom as King licked him. “He wants me. Can I get him?” Drake – who has big plans to be either a dancer, magician, artist or pet store worker – has a big heart for animals. “He actually said he wants to do this every year,” his mom said. Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said in his 12 years at the dog shelter, he can remember less than a handful of times that a child has made such a generous gesture. “It’s just not that often that someone his age will be that thoughtful and give up his gifts,” Snyder said. The stacks of dog food were especially appreciated since donations from local stores are down this year. “This was the first year we’ve had to buy dog food,” Snyder said. The dog treats also come in handy, since dog shelter staff on the road are always armed with treats to win over canines they come upon. “We all keep treats in our vehicles,” he said. The toys are used in a meet-and-greet room for people trying to get to know a dog they are considering adopting. And the collars and leashes are helpful to send home with the new dog owners who hadn’t planned ahead for their adoption. As for King, Drake’s mom reminded her son that he already has plenty…


BG writer adds her voice to “The Nasty Women Project”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Kirsty Sayer, the rise of Donald Trump was personal. The Bowling Green woman was just starting to emerge from a complex Post-Traumatic Stress when Trump started his general election campaign. What she felt was more than political disagreement. His inescapable appearance triggered something deep inside. Emotions that she was just starting to come to grips with. Deep trauma that had controlled her life. Now Sayers saw in Trump a reflection of the older family member who has sexually abused her. And the candidate’s dismissive attitude toward the women who accused him of sexual improprieties, including assault, reminded her of how her abuser treated her. They were cut from the same cloth, both domineering narcissists. So Sayer was one of so many other women who “gritted our teeth” as the election approached, waiting for it to be over. Hopeful, even confident, that after Nov. 8 they’d be done with Donald Trump. Then the votes were counted, in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. “There was a sense of great helplessness,” Sayer said. “We were just unmoored. Nobody was really expecting it. … Now what?” For Sayer and about 80 other women, the answer to that question includes bringing their written reactions to Trump’s election together in a book “The Nasty Women Project,” available today (March 1) through the website http://nastywomenproject.com. All the proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood. “This is a labor of love. Nobody’s taking any money,” Sayer said. “Women particularly feel better when they have something to channel their energies into, and when they are connected with other people in well doing. It’s therapeutic.” For Sayer, who blogs and  has published in magazines, it was “a difficult time.” “I needed a project,” she said, and she had a story that was demanding to be told, but she didn’t feel quite ready. She connected with the project’s editor Erin Elizabeth Passons. They agreed her piece would fit within the parameters of the project. Sayer sent a draft, a self-of-consciousness story, overflowing its narrative bounds. A naturalized citizen as of this summer, Sayer had just two years ago let her family back in South Africa know about the abuse she suffered, and it caused a severe rift in the family. The revelation also caused internal turmoil. Her identity was built on keeping this secret, and in doing so protecting her family. “It was my cross to bear.” She found herself emotionally crippled, and only through the help of her immediate family, friends and almost daily therapy was she starting…


Residents to lift voices in protest song at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When people are frustrated, sometimes the only thing to do is sing. Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, of the First Presbyterian Church, knows many people are concerned about the current state of affairs, and she decided to help organize an event that will enable them to give voice to their frustrations. She was inspired in part by a video of Pete Seeger, Holly Near and others who use music as a form of activism. So Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ‘Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song’ will be presented at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Saunders enlisted the local ukulele quartet the GRUBs – Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp – to be the house band for the event. Sheri Wells-Jensen, of the GRUBS, said the set list will include both old and new material. The GRUBS have already dipped their toes, or ukuleles, into current issues when they recorded “Where’s Bob?” a humorous song about Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s unwillingness to hold a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen and her husband, Jason Wells-Jensen, added their voices to last Sunday’s rally to support immigrants. They have written a call and response blues number “Send Them All to Me” for “Singing for Our Lives,” she said. “The purpose is to reintroduce people to the power of singing together and why people do that,” Wells-Jensen said. The event seeks “to reclaim the label ‘protest music,’ and to give people permission to ditch that label if it gets in the way.” “We Shall Overcome” has to be on the setlist, Wells-Jensen said. They will also include “This Land Is Your Land” with all the verses. The Woody Guthrie classic has come to be perceived as a harmless ditty, but taken in its entirety it is “a marvelously rich and wide-ranging song that includes a lot of people,” she said. “We’ll sing patriotic music, too,” she said, “because these folks are patriots.” So “America the Beautiful” will be on the program. Even if a song doesn’t connect with their concerns, it may mean something to the person sitting next to them. “The thing is you don’t have to love all the songs,” Wells-Jensen said. “These are not songs for the individual these are songs for the community. … Any time people share a concern, .they get together, and sing about it, it can make things better.” She and Saunders hope this will be the first of a series of gatherings. While the GRUBS will be…


Park board takes the plunge with gradual pool rate hikes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Instead of making a big splash with swimming pool rate hikes, the Bowling Green Park and Recreation Board agreed to make gradual changes Tuesday evening. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley suggested the board make incremental changes that aren’t such a “shock to the system,” to users of the aquatic facility in City Park. The board voted to raise the daily fees for non-residents by 50 cents. The board also agreed to raise the annual pass rates for residents and non-residents by $5 – unless current passholders renew them by May 18, before the pool season rush begins. That means the daily admission for non-residents will increase to $7 for adults, $4.75 for children, and $6.50 for youth. The annual fees not purchased by May 18, for residents will jump to $150 for families, $105 for adults, and $95 for seniors. The annual passes for non-residents will be hiked to $185 for families, $125 for adults, and $115 for seniors. Otley reported that the pool was not closed for any full days last summer due to weather or “fecal incidents,” – which is quite unusual. “Now is the time to look at those fees,” she said, noting that rates were not increased last year. “It was such a value this past summer.” Jeff Crawford, chairperson of the park and rec board, said even with the increased rates the pool is “in the ballpark” with other area facilities. He also noted that the increased non-resident rates are “pretty reasonable” since city residents already support the pool with tax dollars. The pool operated at a slight loss last summer, when the debt service for the five-year-old facility is factored in. “We’re just trying to be efficient with tax dollars,” Otley said. City Council member Sandy Rowland said she appreciated the board weighing the pool rate increases so carefully. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley talked to the board about aging structures in City Park – especially the Veterans Building. “It needs to be addressed,” she said. An architectural firm looked at the Veterans Building in 2014, with three options considered of tearing down the building, remodeling the building, or tearing down and replacing the building. Simply tearing down the building is “not really an option,” Otley said. “That building has served us well for over 100 years.” It is one of the most cost-effective rental spaces in the community, she added. The Depot and Scout Building are also suffering from age and use, so Otley said she would like to…


Trump ruling won’t change BG Schools’ transgender policy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite President Donald Trump revoking restroom rights of transgender youth in public schools, Bowling Green City Schools plans to continue accommodating the students. The Trump administration recently withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. That change won’t affect Bowling Green schools, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. “We were already accommodating kids before” President Barack Obama’s ruling, so they will continue doing so now, Scruci said on Monday. “We’re going to do what’s right for kids,” he said. Scruci referred to a non-discrimination policy adopted by the board of education in 2014. That stands, regardless of an attempt by Trump to revoke rights of transgender students. “We’re still going to protect kids and give them a safe place and a non-threatening environment,” he said. Last year, when the Obama administration issued the restroom order, Bowling Green High School was already accommodating transgender students. Principal Jeff Dever said last year the high school already had taken steps to make transgender students feel safe and welcome – by allowing students to use the restroom for the gender they identify as, and by calling students by their chosen names and pronouns. “What I have heard from students is their greatest angst comes from using the restroom,” he said. “I understand that completely.” The school also tries to accommodate transgender students in other ways. As soon as the student identifies as the other sex, the staff is instructed to use the student’s chosen name and matching pronoun. “I’ve been told anecdotally that we handle it pretty well,” Dever said. “As a public school we have a moral obligation to serve everybody,” the principal said. If a student identifies with a different gender, “we’re going to support them as much as we can.” Most of the student body at the high school is similarly accepting, Dever said. The BGHS Gay Straight Alliance was honored last year by the city’s Human Relations Commission for its work in making all students feel safe and welcome at school. “They are students who support their friends and classmates,” Dever said. But the principal realizes that while many of the students are accepting, some are not. “I think for some of our students, it’s always going to be an issue,” he said. “I just have to keep my eyes and ears open.” The same can be said for staff, most who are sensitive to student needs. “I’m not so naïve to think that some…