BG prepares for $1 million in water, sewer line work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As city water and sewer lines age, Bowling Green is faced with sinking money in the ground to repair and replace old lines. The city is currently preparing for nearly $1 million in water and wastewater line improvements. The city has identified several water and sewer mains that are aging, of inadequate size, or that require regular maintenance, according to Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. So on Monday evening, the Board of Public Utilities approved the city advertising for bids and entering into contracts for some of the work. Already planned for in the 2017 budget, and first on the list to be fixed are the following: Water line on Manville Avenue, between Napoleon Road and Wooster Street for $376,000. Water line on Liberty Avenue, between Fairview Avenue and North Grove Street for $70,000. Manville sewer relining between Napoleon Road and Wooster Street for $364,000. Darlyn Drive sewer relining for $55,000. The board of public utilities also approved advertising for bids for utility vehicles and equipment already approved in the 2017 budget. In some cases, existing vehicles will be traded or sold. And when possible, the city will use the State of Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program and the Ohio Department of Transportation Purchasing Program to cut down on costs. Following are the vehicles sought and the amount budgeted for them: Electric division bucket truck to replace 1995 truck, $250,000. Electric division equipment to replace substation transformer and upgrade the substation on Dunbridge Road, $1.1 million. Water distribution division replacement of service body, $64,500. Wastewater collection, new service truck with crane, $144,000. Water treatment division, replace two touch screens, $70,000. Water pollution control division, replace furnaces, fans and lighting, $70,000. Also at Monday’s meeting, the board agreed to the hiring of a consultant to conduct a GIS joint use pole audit. Several electric poles in the city are used by companies such as Buckeye or Frontier, O’Connell explained. Currently, those firms are charged $4.09 per attachment per year, which generates between $30,000 and $35,000 for the city. The information from the audit will be integrated into the GIS system to enable identification and location of city owned poles. It will also be used to help resolve pole ownership disputes and improve joint-use billing accuracy. In the past, companies have requested GIS data to verify the accuracy of the billing for pole attachments. The audit will also help identify pole attachments that have been performed without city permission. In other business, it was reported the city has experienced about eight water main breaks since the beginning of winter. That is not an uncommonly high number due to freezing and thawing conditions. It was also reported that the wastewater plant had three sewer overflows in 2016, all during periods of above normal rainfalls.

Child abuse cases increase locally by 25% last year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   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. The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic. The numbers were presented Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases. “The drug cases are much more difficult,” and take longer to resolve, according to Sandi Carsey, director of Wood County Children’s Services. “It’s normal for people to relapse,” added Brandy Laux, assessment supervisor at Wood County Children’s Services. When investigators arrive at homes with drug problems, “there are bigger issues,” of finances, eviction, utilities and loss of employment. Nearly every month last year saw more child abuse reports than the year before. “Every month last year, except for December, we increased,” Carsey said. And this January is seeing the same uptick. “I would hope we wouldn’t have as big of a spike, but we never know,” Carsey said. In expectation of the increases, the county commissioners approved an additional staff person in Children’s Services last year. “That helps with the load for the workers,” Laux asid. Children’s Services will once again be trying to raise awareness by placing a field of pinwheels out in April, with one pinwheel for each case investigated last year. This year, however, separate pinwheels will be placed in communities throughout the county where child abuse or neglect have been investigated, Carsey said. Those pinwheels are intended to make people aware of abuse occurring throughout the county. Following is a list of the number of cases investigated in each community in the county in 2016: Bowling Green – 210 Perrysburg – 186 Northwood – 80 North Baltimore – 73 Weston – 50 Rossford – 47 Walbridge – 26 Fostoria – 26 Bradner – 24 Grand Rapids – 22 Millbury – 21 Pemberville – 17 Rudolph – 15 Custar – 12 Wayne – 12 Cygnet – 11 Bloomdale – 10 Risingsun – 9 Luckey – 9 Toledo (LCCS) – 8 Jerry City – 8 Portage – 7 Hoytville – 5 Haskins – 3 Milton Center – 3

Women march on to make sure their voices are heard in Washington

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Millions marched last Saturday across the nation last Saturday, their signs and hand-knit pink headwear sending a message that women will not be silent. Now back home from marching in Washington D.C., Ann Arbor or Toledo, local participants and their supporters are ready to take the next step. Thursday Kathy Pereira de Almeida set up shop at Grounds for Thought in downtown Bowling Green armed with 1,000 postcards and the addresses of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The organizers of the Women’s March have called for people unhappy with direction the Trump Administration is moving the government to take 10 actions in the first 100 days of his administration. This is the first. She doesn’t know what the next will be. She’ll be at Grounds all day Friday as late as she needs to be to get as many postcards mailed as possible. Pereira de Almeida said she’s has not been an activist in the past, but “we can’t remain silent anymore.” She’s contacted all three congressional representatives at least twice. “It’s little steps that will have bigger impacts,” she said. “I’m doing it because I’m thinking about my daughters’ future.” Pereira de Almeida’s daughters joined her marching in Ann Arbor, wearing the pink “pussy hats” that have become the iconic symbol of the movement. “They are a nice way of letting our thoughts get out that we’re not happy with the language our new president is using.” On returning after the march she heard from other women who had participated. They wanted to keep the energy going and form a local group. Pereira de Almeida volunteered, and they set up a secret Facebook group – the intent is to keep the trolls at bay – and within a day had 700 members, and now has 1,000. “There’s a voice out there that wants to be heard and wants to hold our new administration accountable,” she said. On the cards, the senders are letting their elected representatives know just what their concerns are. For Pereira de Almeida her chief concern is preserving the Affordable Care Act. As a cancer survivor, she has a pre-existing condition, so without the protections afforded by the ACA, she faces the threat of not being able to get health insurance. Her family did go through a year of not having insurance after they spent a year abroad tending to her father-in-law who was dying. When they returned home, no insurance company, for no amount of money, would cover them. At another point one of her daughters was kicked off the family’s insurance plan because of a medical condition. Later under the ACA, they were able to keep their daughters on the family plan until they were 26….

As FCC auction nears end, future of WBGU-TV hangs in balance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fate of WBGU-TV may be known by early spring. After more than a year, the Federal Communications Commission’s incentive auction of spectrum is drawing to a close. The auction, which began last March, is nearing the end of its four-stage of bidding. This is expected to be the final stage. After that in about a month there will be another auction to determine what stations land where. Only after that is completed will we know where stations, including WBGU-TV, will land. In summer, 2015, officials at Bowling Green State University, which holds the WBGU’s license, announced they were considering participating in the process that is designed to reallocate broadcast spectrum for use by wireless companies. After a couple months of public forums, where the comments were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the station, the administration said it favored participating in the auction while still keeping the station on the air. That commitment to maintain WBGU was backed by the university’s trustees. That could mean the public TV station moving to the less desirable VHF part of the spectrum, or partnering with another station to share its spectrum. Charles Meisch, Jr., a senior advisor to the Incentive Auction Task Force, said doing that has required the FCC to come up with a unique auction format. The process started with each station being given an initial bid price. That was $188.4 million for WBGU. That would be a price if the station gave up its license, which the university has said it would not do. The price would be lower depending on where in the VHF spectrum the station ended up. And those are opening bids go down as the auction progresses. Industry media have reported that there was less demand for the broadcast spectrum than anticipated. Once the auction was underway, station representatives were not allowed to comment at all on the procedure, a stance recently reaffirmed by Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer, who as part of his position oversees WBGU. Meisch said he could not comment activity for a specific station, but could talk about the process in general. Each stage of the auction has involved two rounds. In one, the reverse auction, the FCC tried to find the lowest price at which stations would relinquish spectrum. In the forward auction it determines what carriers are interested in buying the spectrum acquired in the reverse auction. Once the FCC determines that there is no more spectrum to be had in the top 40 markets, it moves onto the next stage. In the final stage the forward auction will continue until there is no spectrum demand in every single market, no matter how small. It’s matter of finding balance between what broadcasters are willing to sell and what wireless carriers are willing…

School custodians clean up where others fear to go

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They are the first to get to school and the last to leave. They are the ones who rush to clean up after a sick child, and the ones stuck cleaning out gross lockers. “They are often overlooked in a building,” head custodian Chuck Martin said to the Bowling Green Board of Education last week as he presented some details about school custodians. “Everyone expects a building to magically become clean.” The custodians are charged with opening the schools early, emptying trash, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning toilets and sinks, replenishing supplies, making minor repairs, cleaning windows, removing snow, setting up for extra activities, unloading trucks, assisting with fire and tornado drills, and closing up at the end of the day. They arrive at school around 6 a.m., and at the high school the last one leaves around 11:30 p.m. “We can’t have public in the building without a custodian there,” Martin said. To give some idea of the scope of the responsibilities, Martin said the district’s custodians have almost one mile of hallways to mop, 232 toilets and urinals to clean, and more than 175 sinks to scrub. There are 18 custodians in the district – two in each elementary, five and a half in the middle school, and six and a half in the high school. Since the district has 452,000 square feet of building space, that means each custodian is charged with keeping 25,115 square feet clean. “This is every day, five days a week,” Martin said. During the summer, while students and staff are gone, the custodians’ jobs continue. They clean the furniture and all the surfaces in classrooms, “from the ceiling down,” Martin said. They refinish floors, scrub carpets, and at the middle school and high school, they have the unpleasant task of cleaning out whatever students left behind in their lockers – “which is quite a task,” Martin said. The custodians take a lot of pride in the condition of their buildings, he said. “Everyone who works in their building takes their building seriously,” Martin said. As Martin wrapped up his presentation, the last Power Point screen sang the praises of the school district’s “quiet hero” – the school custodian who cleans messes no one else dares to touch, and who befriends everyone who passes by.    

Survey to check your eating and exercising efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Public health officials want to know if you are eating your broccoli and carrots, or if you are more of a couch potato. So last week, people from various health and service agencies sat around a table at the Wood County Health District and talked about what kind of questions to pose to local residents to get a pulse on their health. Specifically, they want to know what you are eating and how much you are moving. Are there barriers to you eating fruits and vegetables – access, cost, transportation? Are there barriers to you exercising – no parks or trails, can’t afford a gym membership? The Northwest Ohio Hospital Council is coordinating efforts to check on the nutrition and activity of residents in several counties. Locally, the survey will look at the health opportunities and challenges here in Wood County. Brittany Ward, with the Northwest Ohio Hospital Council, is hoping to get at least 1,000 responses in Wood County, covering young, old, rural and urban populations. The group meeting last week was trying to narrow down questions so the online survey is manageable and not so long that people give up before they finish. The survey is intended to take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Plans are for the survey to be sent out to the community in February through early April. The survey will ask questions about: Are bike or walking trails accessible? How far do kids have to walk to school? Do you have access to farmers markets? Are there Weight Watchers programs offered near you? Are there “food deserts” where healthy food is not available? Do you feel safe to walk in your neighborhood? Are there sidewalks in your community? How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat each day? How often do you eat at restaurants? What type? Do you garden? Have you had to choose between paying bills and buying food? How often do you exercise? Are parks in your area handicapped accessible? Does your employer provide worksite wellness? Do schools in your area promote nutrition and physical activity? The hope is that once data is gathered, the information can be taken to elected officials and other leaders to support healthy changes in communities. The survey results will give credence to communities adopting policies and practices to promote healthy lifestyles. The survey will also ask local residents about the types of community improvements they would support to provide better nutrition and exercise opportunities. Those options might include farmers markets, community gardens, sidewalk accessibility, bike and walking trails, neighborhood safety and healthier foods at local groceries.

Community Center to trim Friday night hours

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’ll be Friday night lights out a littler earlier at the Bowling Green Community Center starting Feb. 3. At Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Director Kristin Otley announced the center will close at 7 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. A census of usage found an average of eight people using the facility from 7 to 8 p.m. and two using it from 8 to 9 p.m. Few people use the facility at that time, but the lights still have to be on and three staff members have to be on duty. It costs the center $91 an hour to stay open. The change will save the department about $8,100 annually. This will mean the center is open 91.5 hours from January through the day after Memorial Day, and 87.5 hours a week during the summer. Tim Stubbs, facilities coordinator, said the change “has been on the backburner for years,” and the administration finally decided “pull the trigger.” Some people question the reduction given the department just passed a levy, but Otley said “we still need to be good stewards of those tax dollars.” Mayor Dick Edwards asked if the department was looking at ways to increase usage. He noted that income is down even though the center always gets “glowing reports” from the public. Otley said that competition has increased as other fitness centers have entered the market, and “Bowling Green is the same size it was.” Ivan Kovacevic, the recreation coordinator, said a drop off in attendance is evident whenever a new center opens.   Stubbs said sometimes other facilities offer reduced rates to start. Once the rates return to normal, some people leave. “In my experience we’ll pick some of these people back up,” he said. Otley also said that the Silver Sneakers program, which encourages older people to exercise, is a good deal for the participants, but it can cost the recreation center revenue. If a senior citizen buys a pass to the Community Center, the center gets the money no matter how many times the member visits. With Silver Sneakers, the center only gets the $2.50 reimbursement whenever the senior swipes their card. If the senior visits eight times a month, that’s fine, but if they only come twice a month, that’s lost income. Otley said the department is looking at increased programming to attract seniors to the facility. Stubbs said that with the first phase of the improvements at Wintergarden completed, planning is underway on the second phase. The initial building plans didn’t have what the department was looking for so new plans are being drawn up. Otley handed out the schedule of fees for the aquatic center with the intent of having a discussion about fees in February. City Council would have to approve any changes in…

BG high students get in the act as directors in this weekend’s showcase

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Claire Wells-Jensen is trying to block a quartet of actors on the stage of the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. The arrangement of actors just doesn’t seem to be coming together quite like she and co-director Lily Krueger envisioned. “This is the most stressful thing I’ve ever done,” she says. Maybe as frustrating as a mom trying to hustle a teenage daughter off to school. Maybe as frustrating as herding cats… on the internet. Wells-Jensen and Krueger are directing “The Internet is Distract – Oh Look A Kitten!” That’s one of four one-act plays on the bill Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7 p.m. at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. The school’s Improv Troupe will also perform. Tickets are $8 and $6 for students and senior citizens. Seniors with a Bobcat Pass get in free. Jo Beth Gonzalez, the advisor for the Drama Club, said the program of one-act plays gives students a chance assume the director’s role. “Kids think directing is easy until they do it. They learn so much,” she said. Certainly that was the case for Krueger and Wells-Jensen. “It was not what I expected,” Krueger said.  “We’ve been in one acts directed by students, and you think you know what they’re going through, but it completely different.” The responsibility for the play from selection to staging falls on their shoulders. Wells-Jensen and Krueger realized their young cast needed a little more help concentrating so they did four focus exercises before each rehearsal. The other plays on the bill are: “Windmills and Millstones” by Louise Wade, directed by Meagan Worthy, a thought-provoking play about characters whose playwright has abandoned them. “Action News: Now With 10% More Action” by Jonathan Rand, directed by Rachel Amburgey, a comedy that spoofs local TV news. “Life as a Techie or Something Like It” by Christopher Fleitas, directed by Natalie Avery and Jessica Wilson, a comedy in which a student must decide which faction to belong to – the theatre techies or the actors – of a hilariously bad high school musical. Gonzalez said students must make a proposal explaining why they want to direct and what script they’ve chosen. She said she can give them some guidance as far as scripts, and they see some at the annual state thespian conference. But they often go online to find plays. “They’re sleuths,” the drama teacher said. “This is just a play that really spoke to us,” Wells-Jensen said. “It’s very relatable.” In Ian McWethy’s comedy, a teenager is trying to complete her paper on “The Great Gatsby” while wrestling with all the distractions of the internet. “We have definitely done papers in the last minutes before school,” Krueger said. Gonzalez then reviews the plays for appropriateness. Sometimes students select material that they best wait until…

Cancer- this time it’s personal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The last time I wrote something personal, I got fired. Since then, the closest I’ve come to putting something personal on our local news website is when I used my dog Charlie’s photo as the art accompanying dog license reminders. But I’m feeling like getting personal now. Cancer has a way of doing that to someone – at least to me. I’m a sucker for the old “Law & Order” episodes. That may seem like an odd way to start this, but the other night Lt. Van Buren told the male detectives in her office that there are two types of women in the world – those who have had breast cancer and those who are afraid of getting it. I have moved to the category that has it. I know breast cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. And I know that my chances of a great recovery are because of all the women who came before me. It’s just that breast cancer spreads beyond the chest – and I’m not talking about the cancer cells themselves. It’s that the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability and lack of control. It’s the middle of the night feeling – that doesn’t dare raise its head in the glare of daylight – that cancer is spreading like tentacles through my body.  And no matter how close my husband holds me, it’s that unsettling feeling that something is festering inside me that has no purpose other than to harm me. I initially joked around that I didn’t have cancer, just my boob has cancer. I didn’t even want to dignify it by using a more genteel term. We laugh at home when I use the “C” card to get out of taking out the trash or other household chores. The worst is the waiting. My family has always tried to tell me that I am impatient – which of course I denied. But they are right. Every step forward seems to move so slowly. I’m accustomed to deadlines and making sure I meet them. But none of this is in my control. The mammogram then waiting for results, the biopsy then waiting for results, the MRI, meeting a surgeon, then waiting for the surgery. Then after the surgery – which is today – there will be more waiting for more results. My family has been patient with my impatience. My husband listened calmly last week when I broke down over feeling helpless handling computer problems and cancer. My teenage daughter sneaks me chocolate and seems to realize that I find comfort in her hanging out with me even if I’m just watching another old “Law & Order.” And my daughter in Kansas calls more than the average five times a day, and is…

BGSU enrollment on a roll

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University continues to see increases in enrollment. The university reported today (Jan. 23) that total headcount 15 days after classes started is 16,507, up 2.9 percent from the same time last year. That growth comes because of strong undergraduate enrollment on the Bowling Green campus. This spring there are 13,539 students taking courses through the Bowling Green campus. That’s up 3.1 percent from 13,127 in spring, 2016. Those numbers include secondary school students taking courses through the College Credit Plus program. Growth in that program has been strong, said Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning. She said enrollment on both Bowling Green and Firelands campus was up 27 percent. The program allows students to take college courses that are presented in their home schools as well as to take courses on campuses that are not offered there. Castellano said growth was strong for both. College Credit Plus is also creating growth on the graduate level, said Graduate School Dean Peggy Booth. In order to teach the college-level courses, secondary school teachers must have a master’s degree and at least 18-credits in the subject they are teaching. That accounts for much of the growth in BGSU’s E Campus, she said. The Graduate College has put together programs for these teachers in biology, English, Spanish and history. Programs in art and math are in the works. She said they are also encouraging students who earn the needed 18 credits, to continue on to earn a subject master’s degree. The E Campus on the graduate level has grown dramatically from 134 students last year when it was new to 297 this spring, a 121.6 percent increase. The students are “primarily working professionals,” Castellano said. The E Campus offers eight-week sessions. Some of that growth is because students taking the more traditional 15-week distance learning programs are moving to the E Campus. Distance learning has 209 graduate students, down from 304 a year ago. Booth said that some graduate students are now moving to the E Campus. Some programs are moving to the E Campus, she said, while others are offering an online option. All new online programs will be offered through the E Campus, they said. Graduate enrollment is down to 2,140 from 2,201, 2.8 percent. Some of that is students moving to the E Campus, Booth said. That trend is evident as well on the undergraduate level where 154 students are enrolled in the E Campus, up from 21, while distance learning has declined to 168 students from 249. The Graduate College, Booth said, is looking for a boost with two new master’s degree programs, a Master of Social Work with a specialty in gerontology and a Master of Forensic Science. Castellano said both on the undergraduate and graduate level, the…

Questions grow about education secretary pick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci couldn’t help but think of a comedy sketch when Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education Secretary, testified last week that guns may be needed in schools to defend against grizzly bears. “I looked at a lot of the testimony and all I could envision is a Saturday Night Live skit,” similar to the Sarah Palin “I can see Russia from my backyard” sketch, Scruci said. It would be funny – if it weren’t so scary. When the Bowling Green Board of Education met last week, it was a sobering thought that DeVos’ confirmation hearing was going on at the same time in Washington, D.C. “She is definitely not a friend of public education,” Scruci said. “Her appointment would change the landscape for public education.” DeVos is a multi-billionaire, who never attended public schools, has been a cheerleader for charter schools, and reportedly owes the state of Ohio $5 million for campaign issues. At the school board meeting, Scruci asked anyone who cares about public education to write letters and make phone calls expressing their concerns to legislators about her appointment. “I became even more concerned during the hearings,” Scruci said later last week. Scruci said his comments about DeVos have led to at least one suggestion that he be careful about expressing himself on political issues. “My feelings have absolutely nothing to do with politics,” he said Friday afternoon. “This is strictly from an education point of view. Her track record has been anti-public schools. To replace public education with for-profit options is not a good thing.” DeVos’ testimony last week showed some serious gaps her in education about education. Her answers reflected an unawareness of federal laws providing education for children with disabilities, and protection against harassment and bullying. She consistently said that many decisions are best left to the states – seemingly unaware that they were federal laws providing for these children. Scruci was also troubled that DeVos was unaware of basic education terms regarding performance assessments. She did not know the difference between growth (how much students have learned over a period) and proficiency (which measures how many students reached a specific score). “To not know the difference between proficiency and growth further emphasizes what she doesn’t know,” Scruci said. “How can some be confident that she can lead education in the U.S.?” DeVos’ background is strictly in charter school systems. Many public education officials see charter systems as schools that take away public funding but don’t have to meet the same standards as public schools. DeVos did, however, make substantial financial contributions to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. “I’m sure there was a reason she was nominated, but I can’t believe it was based on her education,” Scruci said. DeVos has never worked in schools,…

Local readers pick their choice as best picture book (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News And the winner is… “What To Do With a Box” by Jane Yolen. That was the book selected about a dozen folks, kids through grandparents, who gathered to consider what should win the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book of 2016. The winner of the actual Caldecott Medal announced Monday morning at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting is “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” by Javaka Steptoe. Kathy East, retired children’s librarian at Wood County District Public Library, said Sunday during the Mock Caldecott Election that the real committee has already made its choice. The press release was being drafted, and first thing in the morning the winner of the medal and honor books will get a telephone call. East has been through this before. She served  on the committee in 1987 when Richard Egielski won for “Hey, Al” and chaired the committee in 1998 when Paul Zelinsky won for “Rapunzel.” The award goes to the illustrator. The committee that awards the prize can start with a field of as many as 500 books. By the time they gather in January that’s been whittled down to 100 or so. Then each of those books must get a simple majority to stay in contention. East said usually 30 make the final draw. From there the best books rise to the top. The eventual winner, she said, must have more than a simple majority. It must have a significant margin of victory. That requires a number of rounds of balloting. “You want to make sure everyone on the committee is able to go out and say ‘this is the most distinguished children’s book,’” East said. Not that there aren’t those who later who will later kvetch about the choice. “There’s conversation,” she said. The rewards for having the image of the Caldecott Medal affixed to the front of the book are significant. “The guarantee for the artist is the book will always stay in print.” Those gathered at the public library Sunday had a much abbreviated version of the selection process. Library staff had pulled 49 picture books published in 2016. They split into two groups, each looking at a random sample of half the books. Each group picked their four favorites from what they had. Then they cast ballots. “What To Do With a Box” and Terry Fan’s “The Night Gardener” were locked in a virtual tie. After another ballot, Yolen’s book was the clear winner. The book shows the wonders a simple box can provide. Alice Walters, a second grader who was the youngest casting a ballot, said the book was her favorite because all the illustrations were actually drawn on cardboard. Besides she loves playing with boxes, and Yolen captured what it felt like. “You can use…

BG foundation gives grants to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Community organizations were given grants earlier this week to bring music, sports, reading and more to Bowling Green. The grants, from the Bowling Green Community Foundation, are intended to help the very young to the very old, and everyone in between. The annual grant program began after the 1993 BG Leadership class started the foundation in order to help local groups serve the community, explained Cal Bowers, president of the foundation. “What you’re doing speaks to the vibrancy of our community. You’re at the core of it,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. This year’s grants total $29,000 for 14 different projects. “That’s an impact to this community,” Bowers said. Following is a list of all the projects awarded grants. BG Area Community Bands – $2,250 for a community band festival. “This is our 10th year as a community band. We feel we have become a staple in the community,” said Ardy Gonyer. “We’re very grateful for the support of Bowling Green.” Thom Headley explained the grant will help the band put on a concert with a guest conductor on May 6. BG City Schools – $1,000 for One Book BG literacy program. Two third grade teachers, Jeni Niekamp and Jonelle Semancik explained the grant will help the schools purchase books for every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade student. The reading program unites families and the community around one common book. “It’s created to promote a love of learning,” Semancik said. BG Parks and Recreation Department – $5,000 for the natural obstacle course. Ivan Kovacevic, of the parks and rec department, said the outdoor obstacle course behind the community center has already been the site of the Zombie Mud Run last fall. BG Parks and Recreation Department – $5,000 for waterpark splashpad creature. The splashpad additions help complete the area for the youngest pool users. “They are both really true community projects,” Kovacevic said of the pool and obstacle course. BG Youth Hockey Association – $1,100 for rink system upgrade. The hockey program involves 315 kids, ages 5 to 15, said Jennifer Bowers. “It’s a really big asset for the community,” she said. “It’s a team of people volunteering a lot of hours. The problem is we don’t have enough equipment.” The grant will help replace orange cones and upside-down buckets with real hockey goals. Bobcat Advocates – $1,310 for downtown banners. The Bobcat banner that stretched across the downtown has worn out, so this grant will help with the purchase of six banners to hang on downtown light poles during the school district’s Bobcat Week, said Lee Hakel. The advocates program was created after the school district lost a levy a few years ago. “It really was hard on the teachers and the administrators,” Hakel said. So the advocates group started a…

Rebecca Singer, new leader at Center for Innovative Food Technology, is rooted in farming

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In her new position as CEO and president of the Center for Innovative Food Technology, Rebecca Singer has to deal with the entire spectrum of the food industry, from seed to package. She brings just the right mix of experience the job requires. Singer, who took over the leadership role about a month ago, has a degree in agri-business and applied economics from Ohio State, and she managed the state’s Ohio Proud program before taking a position with CIFT 15 years ago. All that is grounded on the farm. She grew up on a farm in Defiance County, and when she moved back to Northwest Ohio to join CIFT, she decided settle back there. She and her brother now manage the operation while their father stays involved in the chores he enjoys like driving the tractor. They grow soybeans and ponder all the issues that farmers face. Do they have enough acreage for a viable soybean operation? Should they transition into vegetables and specialty crops? “It lends a lot of authenticity that these are the kinds of things that go through our minds on our operation,” Singer said. Like Ohio’s weather, the agriculture sector is ever changing. Recently “there’s been such a tremendous amount of interest in local foods,” she said. This effects the farmers who grow the food those who process it. That’s been seen at CIFT’s Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen outside of Bowling Green on Ohio 582.  The facility serves as a launching pad for local food products. “A lot of people enjoy making food for other people,” Singer said. “They enjoy sharing recipes that’s been passed down for generations.” The cooperative kitchen has the equipment and expertise to help that make that happen. CIFT can serve as “a one-stop shop” for producers, helping them identify sources of ingredients, fine-tuning their processing to make it as cost effective as possible, and adhering to food safety procedures. Interest in using the kitchen increased with the local food movement. “It’s really exploded,” she said. More and more people want “a clean label,” she said. They don’t want to see an ingredients list laden with artificial additives and preservatives. Tastes will shift. It’s all about hot and spicy now. The desire for local ingredients is here to stay, she said. Growers are straining to meet that demand. Finding labor for those few weeks when they need to harvest is a challenge, one they share with larger processors. “We hear all the time that they can’t find help,” she said. Finding folks who want to work hard, in the heat of summer is increasingly difficult. Mechanization can help, but harvesting still needs the human touch, she said. The ag incubator located at the cooperative kitchen site demonstrates new technologies and methods for growing food, as well…

What’s that smell? Could be unshowered athletes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   That unpleasant odor may not be a rotting sandwich in the bottom of your teen’s backpack, or a sweaty pair of gym shoes under the bed. It could be emanating directly from your student. Bowling Green Board of Education was notified Tuesday that the high school boys locker room showers have been out of commission since last year. According to head custodian Chuck Martin, the bar joist under the floor of the shower area is starting to collapse. So the showers have been off limits to boys in physical education classes and varsity sports. Martin attributed the problem to poor design when the locker room showers were built in the early 1960s. Moisture and steam leaks are causing supports to bend. “There are cracks in the walls that are three-quarter inch wide,” he said. The locker rooms are safe to use – just not the showers. Board members asked where the boys are showering at school after gym or athletics. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci answered –  they aren’t. Scruci compared the problem to the football bleachers that were replaced last year after the district became aware of rusting issues. “They are rusting from the inside out,” he said. “Outside the building looks great,” Scruci said of the high school. But a closer look inside reveals some problems. Like the bleachers, the fix for the shower room won’t be cheap. A new floor will need to be put in, Scruci said. Preliminary estimates for fixing the problem are somewhere in the $200,000s or $300,000s. A presentation of the project will be given to the board of education during the February board meeting. Scruci said he hopes the district can go out for bids on the project in March.