WWII tanker model in BG headed to Navy museum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Elmer Long’s home for four years during World War II was in the belly of a Navy oil tanker. A small version of that ship, which became a big part of Long’s life, will soon have a new home at the Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis. Betty Long, Elmer’s widow, is donating a detailed replica of the USS Mattaponi tanker to the museum later this month. The model was a Father’s Day gift to Elmer in 1997 from the couple’s sons, Wes of New Rochester, Chuck of Perrysburg Township, and Dana of Gibsonburg. “Elmer would be excited,” Betty said. Elmer and Betty Long grew up in the tiny town of Hoytville, in the southwest corner of Wood County. Elmer enlisted in October of 1942 and served until April 1946. “He was on the ship the whole time,” Betty said. “He was down in the boiler room,” serving as a machinist mate. The oilers, as they were called, were important because they allowed other Navy ships like destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers, to have greater range. The ships could be refueled while underway, rather than having to come into port for fuel, according to Dave Chilson, retired Navy captain from Bowling Green. “He talked about it all the time,” Betty said. “He was proud to have been in the service.” When Elmer returned from the war, he and Betty began dating, and married in February of 1947. The couple moved from Hoytville to even tinier Scotch Ridge. Elmer worked in heating and air conditioning in a federal building in Toledo, and as custodian…


Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates Japanese culture

Fifteen years after Japanese graduates of Bowling Green State University showed their appreciation for the school by planting cherry trees on campus, several are returning. In fall, 2001, eight Japanese alumni came to campus for the planting of the trees. Graduate Masatoshi Emori had spearheaded the effort, inspired by the cherry trees in the nation’s capital. Fittingly then First Lady Hope Taft was on hand for the planting. Her husband’s great-grandfather was president when those trees took root in Washington D.C. as a sign of peace between Japan and the United States. Thanks to the Schedel Garden three of the BGSU trees were cuttings from the originals. The next spring Akiko Jones, an instructor of Japanese, initiated the first Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the plantings. Over the last 15 years, more trees have been planted and the Cherry Blossom Festival has grown. Now there are about 80. In Japan, the blossoming of the cherry trees is celebrated by outdoor hikes and picnics. Given the questionable weather in Northwest Ohio, the ceremony has been moved inside since its damp, very windy inaugural event in 2002. Last year with the event staged in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, more than 800 attended. Jones expects to attract even more celebrants this year when the event is held Saturday, April 16, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the ballroom. Attendance at the event, a celebration of Japanese culture, has increased in every year, outgrowing several venues. Jones credits the involvement of students with keeping the event going. When it started, she said, she never imagined it lasting this long….


Spring snow brings squeals to some, groans to others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By noon today, the Conneaut sledding hill was nearly rubbed raw. Children who had felt cheated by so little snow this winter, threw on their boots, hats and mittens and headed to one of the few sledding hills in flat Wood County. “They’ve been waiting to try out their sled since Christmas,” said Tricia Hastings as her three children repeatedly went up and down the hill. “April 9, who would have thought?” Hastings’ children were making the most of the rare snowfall. “It’s really good packing snow. See, look,” said Jenna Hastings as she threw a snowball at her mom. But while the snowfall brought squeals of delight for sledders, it brought some sighs for spring from others. Lori Tretter, Bowling Green municipal administrator, said the heavy snow brought down several limbs and power lines in the city. Crews worked through the night to keep the roads clear of snow and branches broken by the six inches of snow. “The weight of the snow had a great impact,” Tretter said. “When it came, it was fast and furious.” City road crews reported that at 2 this morning, the snowfall really picked up. “We’re really thankful for those guys,” she said. While some adults grumbled about getting out snow shovels they had packed away for the season, others welcomed the white covering. “I’m rare among my peers. I love snow,” said Steve Colon, of Bowling Green, while he waited for his daughter and her friend as they sledded down Conneaut hill. “So what if it’s April, I missed it this winter.” His children…


Not just kids stuff: Parents talk about strengths and weaknesses of youth rec programs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s park programs for kids may be the envy of other communities – but they need more ballfields, more swimming lessons, and some snowday activities to keep parents from going crazy. The first community focus group for the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department held on Wednesday evening identified strengths and weaknesses of the city’s youth programs. Parents listed off items they liked about the department: Strong summer programming. Well-run starting sports programs. Reasonably priced activities. Tutsy Asmus told of her relatives in Toledo who bring their child to Bowling Green for softball and swimming. “They will come to Bowling Green to sign their daughter up,” she said. Her husband, Mark Asmus, said his coworkers listen with envy and disbelief as he talks about BG park and rec programs. “I work with a lot of people in Findlay who pay twice as much or more for not as much,” he said. Ryan Patton told of his conversation with kids from Oregon using the skate park in City Park. “They drove to Bowling Green for the skate park,” he said. Though the parents had positive comments about the programming, they also would like to see some changes. First, the city needs more softball and baseball fields, Patton said. “It’s been a dire need for years.” There is one field at City Park, and several at Carter Park, but it’s not enough, he said. “We don’t have a dedicated softball field,” so the girls teams have to play on adult fields, which are different, Patton explained. The fields don’t need to be perfect,…


Ancient anxieties … students study & exhibit objects from Toledo Museum of Art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University Art history students got to rummage around in the Toledo Museum of Art’s attic … figuratively speaking, that is. The 18 students in Sean Leatherbury’s Professional Practices in Art History class had the opportunity to select objects from the museum’s collection that are not on display to present in an exhibit of their own. Leatherbury said that Adam Levine, curator of ancient art, pulled out about 100 objects, most probably never exhibited, for the students to peruse. They each selected one or two, and then as a class narrowed down what would be included in the show. They returned to the museum to study the objects and did research on them. Working with a graphic design class taught by Todd Childers, the students assembled the exhibit “More Than War and Wine: Anxiety and Relief in Antiquity.” The exhibit is on display in the lobby of the Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Building through April 15. Leatherbury said that the students wanted to show that there was more to ancient society than the stereotypical images of wine and warriors, though the exhibit does include some of that as well. What they wanted to show, Leatherbury said, was that 2,500 years ago Greeks also suffered from anxiety. The objects were grouped to represent aspects related to that theme. There are objects related to: gender issues; myth as a way to cope with anxiety; and worship and ritual as a way to resolve anxiety. The students, he said, didn’t actually get to handle the objects. Instead Toledo Museum staff brought them to…


Showtime for ideas for a better world at BGSU’s The Hatch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Surrounded by music, lights, a wise-cracking master of ceremony, video projections of tweets, 11 university students got down to the serious business of pitching ways to make people’s lives better. During Hatch 2016 Thursday night, those students presented eight projects to a five-member panel of Bowling Green State University alumni, who were ready to invest thousands of dollars to help these budding entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Just about all those projects ended up walking away with an initial offer of money in exchange for a stake in the company, and a step closer to solving problems large and small, for people from preschoolers to elders, and everyone who uses water. For Kiersten Castner and Collin Newton, their Trace Case would help people prone to losing their credit cards keep track of them. For Alyssa Batch, her Comfort Covers would employ key words and symbols to foster conversations between people suffering from dementia and their families, friends and caregivers. For Jarrod Cain, his StuPro Match would help college students find the professor who best matches their learning styles. For Baqer Aljabr and Ryan Murphy, their Park Shark would lower costs for airports, universities and others managing massive parking lots with a robot that gives tickets and provides video surveillance. For Meredith Moore and Khory Katz, their Easy-Loft Beds would help college students expand the living space in their dorm rooms. For Sophia Schmitz, her Play-to-Play interactive board game will help music students as young as preschoolers learn their note names and other basics. For Austin Farrington, his Trac Band would allow elders more freedom of…


Branch of extremist group plans summit in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A summit of the “Oath Keepers” organization could bring a thousand members of the “pro-American” survivalist group to Bowling Green this summer. News of the proposed multi-state summit had several local officials researching the Oath Keepers group today. The organization has been referred to in some national media as having extremist anti-government views, with an emphasis on protecting Second Amendment rights to own guns. But calls to the FBI and Homeland Security by Bowling Green Police Division revealed no criminal behavior, according to Deputy Chief of Police Justin White. During foot patrols at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green, officers had noticed the new “Oath Keepers Outpost” store being constructed. The mall is the site for the proposed summit on June 10. The store and the summit for the “Not On Our Watch” organization then came to the attention of the “Not In Our Town” organization which supports diversity and fights hate in Bowling Green. “We had concerns directed toward us from campus and community,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, co-leader of NIOT. But little was known about the Oath Keepers. “So we’re going to learn more,” Saunders said. “We would like to find out more and get to know them.” “We’re the folks who stand up for an inclusive and welcoming community,” Saunders said of NIOT. “There’s no question there’s some concern around the group, but we have no basis for making any judgments.” Nick Getzinger, state executive officer to the president of Ohio Oath Keepers, said the public has nothing to worry about. “We’re not crazy people,” said Getzinger, who lives…


BGSU adopting new budget process

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is changing the way it budgets its operations. Forums have been held recently on Performance-Based Budgeting, and this week President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers gave a presentation to Faculty Senate on how the institution-wide process would affect academic units. With the change, the budgeting, specifically that covering faculty, will move to the college level with deans having more control over the money. “We’re trying to align resources with the activities going on on the collegiate level,” Rogers said. But that will come with more scrutiny of individual academic units, whether colleges, schools, departments or programs. Mazey promised the new budgeting process would be “open and transparent.” “What we are trying to achieve is to align the budget with the vision and mission of this institution,” she said. That vision is all about “student success.” That means recruiting students and then keeping them until they graduate. Financial resources will be allocated based on how well programs do that. But Rogers noted, not all units are the same. He said the administration will proceed cautiously to avoid unintended negative consequences. Rogers said in light of the new state oversight through House Bill 6, which requires universities to look at what programs and courses have few students and low enrollment, this approach makes sense. “It’s not a new model,” Rogers said. “It’s a new model for us.” Data will be collected annually, then rolled into a three-year average to smooth out any one-time divergences. That data will be compared to data from a group of 33 peer institutions. The administration…


Library not a place that shushes new ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Michael Penrod remembers the doomsday predictions for libraries, with the internet and electronic books rending them obsolete. “Locally, the numbers don’t bear that out,” said Penrod, director of the Wood County District Public Library. It could be because the library is always looking for the next chapter on how to reach out to readers, he said during his annual “state of the library” presentation to the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The library continues to add to its collection of electronic books for people who want to access a good read anytime, anywhere. It offers job coaching and one-on-one help accessing its 24-7 virtual library. And instead of shushing children, young patrons are encouraged to read aloud. This is not a library where new ideas are met with “Shhhhhh.” Last year, the library saw a 3.8 percent increase in borrowing, a 10 percent increase in program attendance, a 25 percent increase in patrons asking staff for assistance, and a 19 percent increase in foot traffic in the building – averaging 4,839 visitors per week. Borrowed books, ebooks, audiobooks and other items totaled 602,463 last year. The most growth was seen in borrowing of electronic books. When first hired at the library, Penrod recalled thinking he would spend a couple years at the library before moving on to something “bigger and better.” “Bigger and better is here,” he told the commissioners. Penrod said he had just received calculations from the state showing return on investments at the library. For every $1 invested at the library, the community gets $4.14 in return, he said….


Kenwood closed again Thursday; water test results not complete

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kenwood Elementary School will be closed again Thursday since complete test results are not back on water at the school. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci closed the school on Wednesday due to discolored water at a drinking fountain in the school. Initially it was believed the greenish colored water was due to a back flow valve failure. However, Scruci said this evening that the water problem appears to more likely be the result of the older pipes in the building going unused over spring break. The pipes went unused for 10 days during break. After being run, the water was clear this morning, Scruci said. Tests conducted this morning showed the water being fine but the full scale contaminant test results will not be available until after noon on Thursday.  Therefore, Kenwood Elementary will be closed again Thursday. All other schools in the district will be open. “Our first responsibility is to keep our students safe,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents.  “I am not willing to take any unnecessary risks and want to err on the side of caution.” Water samples were taken to a testing site in Toledo from Kenwood school and other schools in the district for baseline data. Initially the testing facility said the results would be complete in eight to 10 days, but Scruci said it was made clear that was unacceptable. “We cannot wait eight to 10 days,” he said. The district has one more calamity day left due to few snow days this past winter, but Scruci would really like the students back at…


BG shifts gears to map out bike routes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City Engineer Jason Sisco was troubled by the lack of bike route rules in the Complete Streets concept. “Engineers, we like standards,” he said. So Sisco shifted gears and did the next best thing – talked to people who frequently bicycle on Bowling Green streets. The city’s Bicycle Safety Commission met with Sisco Tuesday evening to work on the Complete Streets project, with the goal of making transportation safe for all modes of traffic. The commission discussed two main topics in order to create a new map designating bike routes around the city. First, which streets should be designated bike routes? “We can’t build bike paths everywhere,” Sisco said. And second, what type of accommodations should be made for bicyclists on those streets? The options include bike paths, which are paved areas separate from the roadway; bike lanes, which are lanes specifically for bikes along the edge; or sharrows, which use paint on the pavement to remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists. Sisco presented four different maps that already designate various “bike routes” across the city. The Complete Streets concept is intended to take that a step further and make the streets safer for cyclists. The new map will focus on getting cyclists to destinations, like schools, parks, the university, and shopping. “Let’s try to do something that makes sense and is attainable,” Sisco said. The routes will be designed to get a 10-year-old to school, a family to the park, and a college student to classes, suggested Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. Many roadways in the city have…


BGSU faculty to get 3% raises in each of next three years

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University faculty would receive 3-percent pay raises in each of three years under terms of a tentative labor agreement. The new contract, the second negotiated by the BGSU Faculty Association, was reached last week following months of bargaining. The existing pact expires June 30. If approved by union members and university trustees, the contract goes into effect July 1. Stephen Demuth, one of the lead negotiators for the faculty union, told Faculty Senate Tuesday that conducting the talks using Interest Based Bargaining proved very helpful. He described it as “a very collegial effort.” “We’ve built up a lot of good will to solve problems and push the university to higher levels,” he said. In her remarks, President Mary Ellen Mazey said that BGSU’s union negotiations could serve as a model for other institutions. Demuth handed out a sheet explaining highlights of the contract. Among those are: • The contract includes new incentives to professors who secure external grants. • Premiums for health insurance will remain unchanged. • The same-sex domestic partner will transition to spousal benefits in Jan. 1, 2017. • The cost of parking will gradually increase to $135 a year in the third year of the contract. • A number of committees to address specific concerns will be formed, including for labor-management issues, professional development, and better integrating the Bowling Green and Firelands campuses. Forums will be held next week on both campuses to go over the details of the agreement. Members of the union will vote during the third week of April. The trustees will consider the contract…


Kenwood Elementary closed Wednesday due to discolored water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Discolored water in a drinking fountain at Kenwood Elementary School has resulted in the school being closed Wednesday. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said this afternoon that the water fountains were all shut off after greenish colored water was noticed. City utility workers were called, tested the water, and found no bacteria in it, Scruci said. As a precautionary measure, a water testing company was called, but was unable to get to the school today. “We have the company coming tomorrow to ensure that the water is without question safe,” Scruci said. Boiler technicians and plumbers are also working on the issue to identify and correct the original cause for the discoloration, he added. Because the water was clear on Monday, it is believed the problem was caused by a boiler backflow valve malfunction. “We believe that we know the cause of the problem but until we are 100 percent certain that the water in the building is safe, we cannot put students and staff at potential risk,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents. Scruci is hopeful the school will be open again on Thursday. But that will only take place if he can be assured the water is safe for students and staff to drink, he said. “If they can’t guarantee me tomorrow that the water is safe, I will cancel school again,” Scruci said. Since the school district did not use all its snow calamity days during the mild winter, the elementary has some “wiggle room,” he said.  


BG mayor honors those who make community better

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green recognized a roomful of people who have made life better for others – whether it be families with autism, people seeking fair housing, or a woman who put her all into a small business for four decades. The council chamber was overflowing Monday evening with people who were being honored for contributing to their community. Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Barbara Rothrock for her constant dedication to small business in Bowling Green. Rothrock is retiring as owner of the “much loved and respected” Calico Sage and Thyme store. Rothrock was praised for leading by example, with 40 years of “grit, grin and outright perseverance.” When called up to the podium, Rothrock continued her push for local businesses. “Small business is important,” she said. “Support the businesses you love.” Edwards also recognized April as Autism Awareness Month and honored local families who are “living with the realities of autism and who are helping ever so many others deal with autism.” The mayor called to the podium Mary Murray, a “trailblazer” in the area of autism at Bowling Green State University, and the John Titus family. With his arm around young Ian Titus, who would one day like to be mayor himself, Edwards read a proclamation for autism awareness. Edwards also recognized Fair Housing Month in Bowling Green, calling up members of the Human Relations Commission. “Apart from its symbolic value, it is an important reminder about the basic provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968,” he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, city council: Learned from Utilities Director Brian O’Connell that plans…


Showell stepping down as music dean at BGSU (update)

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Jeffrey Showell is stepping down as dean of the College of Musical Arts after five years in the position. The announcement was made Tuesday morning in a letter to faculty by Provost Rodney Rogers. Rogers wrote: “In his five years at BGSU, Dr. Showell has led the college in notable accomplishments, including raising the academic profile of its student body and the renovation of facilities. He also facilitated an important new partnership with WGTE-FM, ‘New Music from Bowling Green,’ which has provided a showcase for the college’s talented faculty and students on public broadcasting stations across the country.” The university has appointed William Mathis, professor of trombone and chair of the Department of Music Performance Studies, as interim dean. Rogers said that Mathis, who has been on the faculty since 2000, had “strong support” from the faculty. Rogers wrote that Mathis “has held a variety of leadership roles that have given him administrative and budget experience as well as an intimate understanding both of the college and of the University as a whole.” Rogers told faculty senate Tuesday that the search for a new dean will begin next week. Showell in an email said he will take administrative leave and then return to serve as a special assistant in the provost office working on special projects for a semester. After that semester he will be 65 and will retire. He said he plans to continue to live in Bowling Green, and devote himself to volunteer work. Showell has worked 38 years in academy, including the last 17 as an administrator. From 1982-1990, he also was the…