BGSU art faculty honored for excellence by Ohio Arts Council

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two Bowling Green State University faculty members, Charles Kanwischer and Lou Krueger, were among the artists to receive Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council. For Kanwischer, who was honored for his graphite drawings on panel, said that it is remarkable that Ohio continues to honor individual artists. “It’s such a statement that individual artists are valued. It’s such a nice validation.” Having a state give support to individual artists is becoming rare. Many arts councils only give grants to organizations. Some states have abolished their state arts councils, he said. Kanwischer and Krueger were among 77 artists to receive funding from among the 465 who applied. The council distributed $375,000 in grants, almost all for $5,000. “You have to give credit to the politicians, Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “It’s hard to complain about support for the arts.” Kanwischer’s portfolio features his landscapes. The settings can be rural, suburban or urban. He said he was interested in the cyclical change in the landscape. Some of the drawings now on display at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art in Cleveland, depict road construction. One drawing from 2010 “Route 24 Road Project – Support Columns” shows at once construction while also evoking images of ancient ruins. Kanwischer said his work has not undergone any dramatic shifts. Instead he feels he is able to get deeper and deeper into “landscape that reveals stories.” He’s appreciative that the arts council supports “long-term careers” not just the new and novel. This is his seventh grant in the 19 years since he joined the BGSU faculty. In return for the council’s support, he said, artists should express “a bit of public appreciation about how vital it is to the cultural life in Ohio.” Kanwischer said he plans to invest the $5,000 award in new equipment, a printer and a new camera. He has taken photographs as reference when he is drawing. “I’m becoming more interested in photography as a primary use and in showing the photos as art in and of themselves.” Krueger, a professor emeritus, is a photographer who is expanding into cast glass. His arts council award, though, was for the continuation of his photo montages series “The Temple of Wonders.” The series was inspired by a series of health issues Krueger…


Voters want to see Latta and Trump’s tax returns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every Friday they show up with their signs – fueled by frustration and fear about the future of the nation. This week, constituents of Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District had two main questions for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta at his office in Bowling Green. But as usual, they had to settle for talking to the congressman’s staff. First question – why has Latta refused to meet with his constituents? “Where is Bob Latta. We really want to see him,” said Betsey Davis, of Indivisible Maumee River Progressives. And second, where are President Donald Trump’s tax returns, and why did Latta vote that the president shouldn’t have to make them public? “Where are his taxes? Let’s have some honesty,” Davis said. As some citizens stood out along North Main Street, others went into Latta’s office and voiced their concerns and questions to the congressman’s staff. Despite repeated requests, Latta has not responded to their efforts to meet with him. “We’ve invited him so many times,” said Kathy Bangle, of Fulton County Indivisible. “We want to talk to him. We want to hear what he has to say. We come every single Friday. His aides are wonderful. But it’s not the same as talking with him.” On Friday, the posters again revealed the thoughts of the constituents. “Latta is Lost,” “Wanted for Not Doing His Job,” “MIA.” They periodically broke out into chants of “Where is Bob?” “We need him to listen, and we need him to start protecting us,” Davis said. “It’s not good enough,” to talk with the congressman’s aides each week. “We’ve invited him. He’s declined every single time.” Staff in Latta’s Bowling Green office said any questions about a public meeting during Congress’ two-week Easter break had to be directed to Latta’s office in Washington, D.C. A question left for his director of communications, Drew Griffin, was answered with an email stating, “Thanks for reaching out. We don’t have any town halls scheduled at this time.” Latta has defended his use of telephone town halls as his way of connecting with constituents. But Susan Shelangoski, of NOFA Indivisible, said that format doesn’t allow for effective communication. “I think that’s a very controlled form,” she said. After asking three times to be on Latta’s telephone town hall…


Young conductor brings Mahler masterwork to BGSU stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)” the composer Gustav Mahler tried to trick fate. Diagnosed with a health ailment, and emotionally reeling from the death of his eldest daughter, he didn’t want to write what would be his Ninth Symphony. For other composers the ninth symphony was their last. So he wrote “The Song of the Earth,” a six movement work of symphonic proportions, but didn’t call it a symphony, said Bowling Green State University musicologist Eftychia Papanikolaou. The piece also called for a large orchestra so was difficult to perform. But in the early 20th century a group of Viennese musicians including Arnold Schoenberg decided this work should be performed more often. So a reduction of the score for 14 musicians was created. Conductor Mercedes Diaz Garcia, a doctoral student at the College of Musical Arts, was drawn to the piece and decided that she wanted to present it to the Bowling Green community. So she recruited the musicians and the two vocal soloists. They’ve been rehearsing the difficult hour-long work for weeks and will present it Wednesday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on campus. The project is an act of love for all concerned. Diaz Garcia can’t pay anyone, and the project is not part of her doctoral studies. “‘The Song of the Earth’ is not about the physical earth but about the inner world, it’s about the depth of the human soul. So it’s very deep, it’s very exhausting,” the conductor said. For all its challenges she found musicians who are up to the difficult task and willing to take it on. “I think they are very interested to play this because it’s Mahler. Mahler for orchestral musicians is a huge challenge. It’s so intense and so emotionally powerful.” And because of the small number of musicians, Diaz Garcia said. “Everyone’s a soloist so it’s very demanding and very exposed for everyone. That’s something musicians like.” It gives them more freedom to express their concept of the music than being in a section playing the same part as other musicians, she said. And as a conductor Diaz Garcia sees her role as working with allowing musicians to have a say in shaping the music. “It’s not a dictatorship,”…


Drone gives city new view for infrastructure work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sounding like a distant swarm of mosquitoes, the city’s drone took a test flight down Pine Valley Drive on Thursday afternoon. The flight showed why Bowling Green intends to start using a drone to help with its infrastructure projects. The drone can provide up-to-date images for roadwork, water, sewer, or other utility projects. In the past, the city has relied on aerial photographs taken for the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The problem, though, is that the photos are taken every two years. “In between things change,” said Jason Heyman, the city’s Geographic Information System coordinator and unmanned aircraft system pilot. For example, the street being surveyed from the air on Thursday was still under construction when the aerial photos were taken. “This is a huge advantage to us,” Heyman said. Now, he will no longer have to answer the question, “Why aren’t these roads on your maps?” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said Google Earth satellite images show roads under construction long after they have been completed. “It’s night and day,” Fawcett said. The drone came at no cost to the city. Bowling Green Police Division seized three drones during a reshipping fraud investigation, according to Major Justin White. The fraud involved a Bowling Green resident having merchandise shipped to him using hacked credit card numbers, then reshipping the merchandise elsewhere. The scheme was like money laundering for merchandise, White said. The police and fire divisions kept one of the drones for each of their operations.  The police are still working on developing a policy and looking into FAA requirements. The fire division is considering the use of the drone during major fires, to give firefighters a bird’s eye view, Heyman said. The drone, a Dji Phantom 4 Pro, which is approximately 6 inches tall with a wing span of 12 inches, is designed to take video or photographs. For the city’s GIS program, the drone will take a rapid series of photos that are then stitched together to make a smooth mapped image. The process involves first identifying the area to be mapped – where an infrastructure project is planned. Then with a device, such as a smart phone or tablet, a rectangle is created around the area needed and set to a desired altitude. The…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first time they get to do it in front of an audience.” The story began as the best children’s stories do – with “Once upon a time…” It went on to tell the tale of two best friends, frog and toad. With the help of an animated chorus and able narrators, the friends navigated the seasons, playing in the summer, raking leaves in fall, sledding in winter, and waking up from hibernation in spring. The young audience members sat with their wide eyes glued to the stage. They applauded heartily went the cast took their bows at the end. “What great singing you did,” Crim Principal Melanie Garbig announced to the cast. “I am so proud…


Bill Mathis ready to move arts at BGSU into a new era as music dean

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News William Mathis takes charge as dean of the College of Musical Arts at a crucial time for arts education. Focusing on the traditional paths of performance and music education will not be enough for higher education music programs. “It’s a different arts and musical landscape then when I was coming up,” said Mathis, 56. While making sure students continue to achieve “technical and musical mastery,” the college needs to broaden its offerings. “We talk a lot about musical entrepreneurship, and I’ve been thinking about citizenship in the arts, arts advocacy and the connection to communities, and how the arts can impact the life of society in our local community,” he said. “The skills that requires are not part of a traditional music curriculum. How can we give that to them? I’ve been thinking about this a lot this year.” Music programs, and arts programs in general, need to prepare their student for a new entrepreneurial environment. “Twenty years from now the schools of music adapting to this will be around,” Mathis said. The fate of those sticking to the more traditional approach is less certain. Mathis wants BGSU to in the forefront of those that survive. Mathis stepped into the role of interim dean last July after Jeff Showell announced his retirement. After a national search, he was named dean in February. Mathis said he felt his administrative background made him a prime internal candidate for the permanent position. He’s served as chair of the Department of Performance Studies and as the college’s graduate coordinator. “I have a disposition that lends itself to this kind of work,” he said. “If I may, the kind of balancing, the level of ambiguity that kind of exists all the time… doesn’t scare me.” The key is “to be able to navigate through this with some kind of strategic vision and action because there’s so many external forces we don’t have control over. …. I have a higher tolerance for that where others may get frustrated. …It’s not work for everyone.” Mathis’ predilection for the administrative side may stem to his upbringing. Raised in Wichita, Kansas, his father was a band director who worked his way up to become associate dean of the College of Fine Arts at Wichita State. Mathis studied both…


BG may spend $478,000 to stop stink from sewage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not easy – or cheap – to make sewage smell like roses … or at least less like sewage. Bowling Green officials are considering spending about $478,000 to take away the foul odor that sometimes emanates from the city’s water pollution control facility on Dunbridge Road. The plant is the source of many complaints, primarily from Bowling Green State University and from nearby businesses. “It’s a sensitive issue for us,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. “We’ve had numerous complaints from businesses in the area.” The facility staff believes the two likely sources of the stench are the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it has had limited success. The septage station has no odor control. “The odors can be quite foul,” O’Connell said. “We’ve tried to get this problem licked in the past,” but the fixes always proved to be temporary. So that sent the city’s utility staff on a field trip last year to a wastewater plant in Pennsylvania, according to O’Connell. The plant installed a carbon filter system to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to the plant, O’Connell said. The permit for the plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter,” said Doug Clark, superintendent of the Bowling Green plant. “We want to be good neighbors,” O’Connell said. So on Monday, O’Connell asked the Board of Public Utilities to approve the purchase of a larger exhaust fan, additional air piping and two carbon filter vessels for the biofilter. The two tanks would allow for one to serve as a backup. To combat odors from the septage station, two exhaust fans and carbon filter vessels were also proposed. The cost to sweeten up the septage station is estimated at $190,512. The cost to fix the biofilter odors is estimated at $287,403 – for a total of $477,915. That cost is over the $300,000 budgeted last year for the project, O’Connell said. But the Water & Sewer Capital Improvement Fund can cover the additional costs, he told the board. O’Connell…


Changing of the guard for courthouse security?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After 20 years of securing the Wood County Courthouse, there may be move for changing of the guards. Upon the retirement of Tom Chidester, chief constable at the courthouse complex, a debate began over whose job it actually is to protect the courts. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. A court security office was created and staffed, and now performs several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But now Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners, in a memo to the judges, sheriff and prosecutor, suggested that the current system be retained. “It is a cooperative plan that has served the courts, the courthouse complex, and the citizens of Wood County well,” the memo stated. “We are troubled by the premise that we are being asked to undo the work of many previous elected officials, and that the result of our decision, either way, will be disagreement, argument, and animosity where there has been little or none for over two decades,” the commissioners stated. The system was well thought out, has evolved over the years and works very well, the memo continued. Wasylyshn said his only motivation is to ensure that his office is meeting statutory requirements for court security. “The question I’ve had was what are my obligations?” the sheriff said. Wasylyshyn said he posed the question before to the commissioners about a decade ago. A meeting is planned between the judges, county commissioners, prosecutor and sheriff to discuss the matter. “We’re all kind of looking at it,” Wasylyshyn said. “I’m just trying to figure out what my obligations are as sheriff.” A memo from the four county judges, Reeve Kelsey, Alan Mayberry, Dave Woessner and Matthew Reger, appears to support sticking with the current system. “The courts believe there is no reason to change a system that has worked well for more than 20 years,” the judges’ memo stated. The judges stated that the court security office is compliant…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s a lack of adequate placement beds,” Wigent said. “In a perfect world, all the kids would be here in Wood County.” The closest facility found for a girl with some psychiatric problems is in Missouri. More than 50 facilities turned down the child before the Missouri facilities accepted her. Again, she must be visited by a staff member at least once a month. “Physically laying eyes on the child is so important,” Wigent said. Children’s Services workers try to visit youth in custody at least twice a month, if they live in Ohio. Tragedies can occur when licensed facilities aren’t checked on regularly, he said. Wood County has two group homes that are almost always…


‘All Politics is Local’ and some is pretty nasty right now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If you want to make your words count with politicians, forget the form letter. Face-to-face conversations are best. Personally written letters and phone calls also carry some weight. But email form letters are next to worthless – especially if you forget to put your name in the “insert your name here” slot – which oddly enough, many people do. “Personal contact is best, if you can,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said Saturday during the second in the three part series on “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” Gardner was joined in the “All Politics is Local” program by former State Rep. Tim Brown, Bowling Green City Council members Bob McOmber and Sandy Rowland, and Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner. The “Civics 101” project is the brainchild of local citizens who were moved by the last election to become more engaged in the workings of government. “I know people are cynical about politics,” Gardner told the crowd. But individuals can make a difference in government. And despite what many people think, it’s not about the money for many politicians, he said. “That’s not true for most,” Gardner said. It’s the chance meeting with a physician at a Kiwanis pancake breakfast about the need for children to carry their asthma inhalers at school, or an emotional plea from a mom about the need for children to have comprehensive eye exams. “Sometimes it’s just one person” who starts the ball rolling on new legislation, Gardner said. When he was just new as a county commissioner, Brown remembered a campaign donor calling him about a job opening in the commissioners’ office. The donor gave Brown the name of a person he felt was perfect for the job. Brown offered to submit the person’s name for the standard hiring process. But that wasn’t good enough for the donor, who asked Brown what good his donation was if it couldn’t buy him some sway in the office. Brown offered to send the donation back and never heard from the man again. Local constituents are politicians’ bosses – based purely on their residency, not on their donations. “Regardless of your politics – you are my boss,” Gardner said. Gardner told of a talk he gave to…


St. John Passion in its element as Good Friday offering

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Liturgy and drama are one in Bach’s St. John Passion. The theatrical elements – a narrator, dialogue, and the evocative underscoring for small orchestra—are undeniable. Yet the message and the story almost demand the setting of a church. Yes, it is presented in a concert hall, but that’s akin to a staged reading of a play as opposed to a fully staged production. The St. John Passion was fully in its element on Palm Sunday afternoon in Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo. The Passion, one of two that have come down to us from Bach, the other being the monumental St. Matthew, was presented by musicians from Bowling Green State University. The performance brought together the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr, the University Choral Society directed by Mark Munson, who also conducted the work, organist Michael Gartz, and voice faculty taking on the principal roles and solos. Munson said he’s been waiting for Easter to fall late enough in the semester to be able to prepare the Passion for presentation during Holy Week. So on Good Friday, April 14, the St. John Passion will be presented at 7 p.m. in First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green as the community commemoration of the day. The Passion was first performed in 1724, revised over time, though the final version reverted to much the same as it was originally performed. As presented in Bach’s time, a sermon would be preached between parts one and two. Those in attendance Sunday were advised not to applaud between the two movements. Spohr read several verses of the gospel in Martin Luther’s German translation between the sections. The Passion develops on several fronts. The Evangelist, sung by Christopher Scholl, tells the story, with the direct quotations sung by other vocalists, including Lance Ashmore as Jesus. Interposed in the narration are reflections – chorales sung by the 40-voice choir and arias sung by four soloists alto Ellen Scholl, soprano Chelsea Cloeter, tenor Christopher Scholl, tenor, and bass/baritone Ashmore. Underneath the orchestra provides musical commentary and sets the scene. The opening passage with woodwinds and restless strings, musical establishes the theme that contrasts the degradation and horror of the passion with the glory of the redemption. The belief that Jesus is brought so low to…


Pipeline to reroute around protesting landowners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local landowners who dug in their heels against eminent domain have won the battle to keep a pipeline from crossing their properties. Kinder Morgan, the company building the Utopia pipeline, has filed a motion to give up its appeal of a court order that denied its right to use eminent domain. Instead, the pipeline company has decided to reroute the line. “We are continuing to refine the route to have the least impact from the landowners’ standpoint, from the environmental standpoint,” Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, said Monday. The exact route of the Utopia pipeline is still being determined, and Fore would not say if the pipeline route was avoiding Wood County all together. However, he did state the new route would steer clear of the Wood County landowners who would not budge in their opposition to the pipeline. The use of eminent domain is the “last resort” for Kinder Morgan, Fore said. In some cases, the company uses it as part of the negotiation process. “That’s not at all unusual,” he said. The pipeline company has 95 percent of the property in Ohio needed for the line through voluntary acquisition, according to Fore. “We’re confident we’re going to get to 100 percent. We’re pleased with where we are with our progress.” “We’ve been successful in finding alternative routes,” Fore said, adding that the new route will be announced “very soon.” Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represents 26 Wood County landowners, said it is unclear if the rerouting will just avoid the landowners covered by the court ruling or all of those opposing the pipeline in Wood County. “Everything we’ve heard is their intent is circumventing Wood County entirely,” Thompson said Monday. It has been suggested that Kinder Morgan may be shifting south to use a pre-existing pipeline in Hancock County. “That’s what we’ve argued all along,” Thompson said. “Use existing pipelines instead of taking more land.” Last year, Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan does not have the authority to use eminent domain since the Utopia pipeline would be transporting ethane for a private company – not for public use. The ruling came as welcome news to many landowners in Wood…


Library board gets down to the nuts & bolts of strategic planning

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When the Wood County District Public Library approves Director Michael Penrod’s next three-year “to-do” list, going to the hardware store probably won’t be one of the chores included. But the board may embrace a notion that Penrod shared from a recent library conference: “If our city is the best in the world then the library is its hardware store.” Penrod offered assurances though that he didn’t want to compete with Floyd Craft owner of ACE Hardware. The library will have plenty else on its agenda, which will be set by a new Strategic Plan for the years 2018-2020. Penrod and the board will have that plan ready by the beginning of next year. The plan is important because it brings the library through November, 2020, when it will have to be on the ballot to renew its levy. That levy generated almost $1 million in 2016, about 40 percent of the library’s revenue. When the strategic plan is done, Penrod said, its message should be simple enough to explain to an 11-year-old. Little will be simple about the process of getting to that point. The library is planning for an uncertain future, operating within an environment of constantly changing technology. Board Chairman Brian Paskavan posed the question: “Is the organization flexible enough to move when we need to move?” He admitted that “that’s a tall order.” Penrod presented the board with demographic data and library statistics that will guide the process. Those statistics show a shift toward greater use of digital materials, and less circulation for physical books, except from the bookmobile and at the correctional center library. The shift to eBooks is so great, libraries are typically reducing the space devoted for shelving books by 40 percent when they do construction projects, he said. That was not the case, he noted, for the renovation of the Walbridge branch. Those eBooks, Penrod said, are expensive. A book that costs $17 for a hard cover can cost $85 as an eBook, and after 50 or so uses, the license has to be repurchased. Though digital borrowers need not visit to get their material, foot traffic at the library is up. Penrod said programs continue to be popular. Regardless of how they are reading, he said, people still like to get…


Velasquez finds his fight for immigrant laborers to be more urgent than ever

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Toledo area has anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 undocumented immigrants. But every week, more are rounded up and shipped out from the Toledo airport, according to farm labor leader Baldemar Velasquez. “Every Tuesday morning, there are more men and women in shackles being boarded onto planes,” Velasquez said Sunday afternoon. Many are being sent back to Mexico through expedited deportations, without being allowed to see an attorney and without being given their due process, he said. “I don’t know how they are getting away with that,” Velasquez said about ICE and border patrol. “One-hundred years from now, people will look back at us like they do the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” when the law required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, he said. “The fact that we are accommodating such a practice is un-American.” Velasquez grew up as a migrant farm laborer, born in Texas and traveling from field to field in the Midwest. Based on those experiences he went on to create the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, in response to the poor treatment of farm workers. That organization, celebrating its 50th anniversary, still works to achieve justice for migrant workers. Velasquez, who spoke Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church north of Bowling Green, grew up dirt poor, with a work ethic stronger than most of his white classmates, and with stamina that just didn’t quit. “You always have to finish the job,” he said. “You start that row, you’ve got to finish it. You start that field, you’ve got to finish it. When you’re a farm worker, it doesn’t matter” if you are tired. As an adult, Velasquez has fought for decent pay for farm laborers through FLOC. “Give us a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. That’s all we want.” Using boycotts and other strategies, FLOC fought in the past for the laborers in the fields and scored victories over giants like Campbell Soup, Vlasic and Mount Olive pickles. Velasquez is still fighting for farm workers – now working to allow them to stay in the U.S. He has heard it all from the other side. “What don’t you understand about illegal?” he has been asked. If Americans don’t want Mexicans here, then maybe they should reconsider policies such as…


Beautiful singing takes precedence over competition in BGSU’s Conrad Art Song event

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Yes, the final round of the Conrad Art Song Competition at Bowling Green State University was, as the name makes clear, a competition. More than that it was a night of beautiful singing. That was the assessment of Kevin Bylsma, the coordinator of opera activities at the College of Musical Arts. The 18th annual competition featured 11 duos of vocalists and pianists in the undergraduate division and 12 duos in the graduate division. (The division is determined by the singer.) Honors go equally to the singer and the pianist. They must prepare a program of a half a dozen songs from different periods, including at least one selection from a living composer, with one song each in English, German, Italian and French. Regardless of the language, the 10 duos, five in each division, selected for the finals delivered emotion-packed performances, sometimes touching, sometimes coquettish, sometimes even funny. The power of drama was demonstrated in the first set by soprano Hannah Stroh with pianist Xiaohui Ma singing “He is Dead and Gone” in Russian. Even Russian wasn’t up to the task of expressing anguish, as Stroh leaned back against the piano, and began humming. The sound of her voice disembodied, as if emanating from the air itself. Then the song’s emotion swerved, ending with a demonic laugh. You didn’t need to speak Russian to be taken aback. A few hesitant claps were heard, then full blown applause. The decorum of the night – applause are usually reserved for the end of a duo’s performance – was disrupted, not to be regained. And Stroth had set the mark for the rest of the singers. Stroth and Ma ended the evening as the winners of the undergraduate division. The graduate division was won by soprano Savanah Stricklin and pianist Paul Shen. Other undergraduate winners were: tenor Luke Schmidt and pianist Yuefeng Liu, second, and baritone Daniel Baumgartner and pianist Adam O’Dell, third. Other graduate winners were: soprano Amanda Williams and pianist Hannah Bossner, second, and soprano Hillary LaBonte and pianist Zach Nyce, third. Stricklin, who studies with Sujin Lee, said the drama is an essential part of performing an art song. “Art song is about finding its own drama. In opera we have a scene set for us. That’s the challenge of…