Brown Bag Food Project has a place of its own

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Brown Bag Food Project has moved into its own place. The project, which provides emergency food and other supplies to people in crisis, has taken up residence at 115 W. Merry St., Unit B, in Bowling Green. It had been operating out of the home of founder Amy Jo Holland’s mother. Now Brown Bag will start holding regular hours for people to drop off food and other household items and for people in need to pick up deliveries. The office will be open Monday and Wednesday, 5 to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Holland said people can still call at other times. The number is 419-960-5345. Brown Bag provides five-days of food and sanitary products. The idea is to step in at a time of most need and to direct families to get more permanent assistance. People can only use the service once in a six-month period. According to the project, about 15 percent of people in Wood County experience food insecurity.   Holland said the project assists about 200 people a month. Gwen Andrix, member of the board, said they get a couple calls a day. Holland started Brown Bag last year when she realized that some of her co-workers at WalMart didn’t have enough to eat. The project received its tax-exempt status in June. “It was always part of our dream to get a place,” said Andrix. The project got some donations that allowed it to have a capital budget and start looking for a place this summer. The West Merry Street location is just about perfect, she said. The building is just outside the downtown area, a block off North Main Street, near Newman’s Marathon. “It’s easy to find,” Holland said. The space seemed a little tight at first, but the board made it work. The office furnishing were all contributed by Bowling Green State University’s Office of Sustainability….


Veterans reminded their service is not forgotten

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County veterans were reminded Saturday that their service to the nation has not been forgotten. That gratitude was shown in the resurrection of a monument in their honor, and in the effort made to give a final salute at veterans’ funerals. Both were explained during a Veterans Day program in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. “None of us who have served consider ourselves heroes,” said veteran David Ridenour. “We are ordinary citizens who may have performed extra ordinary feats.” And those selfless acts for the greater good must not be forgotten. Army veteran Joe Fawcett, who is assistant municipal administrator for the city of Bowling Green, talked about the city’s efforts to restore the veterans memorial at the entrance of City Park. The memorial was first dedicated on Memorial Day 1931, with the etched statement, “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” That statement was the catalyst for Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft to restore the monument to its original glory. Over the years, the monument had become overgrown by arborvitae, and had suffered from neglect. “Unfortunately, it appeared we had forgotten,” Fawcett said. In addition to removing the shrubbery and restoring the monument, the city also put bases in for flags around the site. The city invested more than $20,000 and countless hours in the effort. “Brian’s vision is one that we can all be proud of,” Fawcett said. “We all owe it to them to live up to the words, ‘Bowling Green has not forgotten,’” he added. Local veterans are also being remembered in another way, with a final farewell performed by fellow veterans. Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center and a Vietnam War veteran, talked about the importance of military funeral honors. “It’s the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to a veteran’s family,” Hanna said. In 2009, Hanna worked to put together the Wood County Honors…


Black Swamp Fine Arts School expands music offerings with ensembles for kids & adults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Both Sophia Schmitz and Betsy Williams discovered a passion for music at an early age. Schmitz, of Perrysburg, started playing violin at 3, and was gigging when she was 11. “My mom’s an artist and my family is very musical so I was surrounded by that.” Williams, the youngest of six children, grew up in northern Kentucky with a musical mother who had the entire family singing every morning. Schmitz started teaching when she was in high school, but even before that had a goal in mind. “Since I was 12 it’s been my vision to open a studio.” For her part as the youngest of six, Williams got a late start on violin lessons. The cost of lessons was an obstacle. Her mother had taught her piano and the musical basics. “I taught myself several instruments before I settled on violin.” Those experiences and passion have now taken shape in their new endeavors. Schmitz founded the Black Swamp Fine Arts School in January, realizing her dream of opening a studio. Williams teaches violin, viola and cello at the school. Both are graduate students in the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. As a BGSU undergraduate Schmitz had a minor in entrepreneurship, and in one class she had to put together a proposal for a business. When she started figuring out how much it would take to open a music studio, she realized she could make it work.  So last fall she met with lawyers and accountants, and with help pulled together a studio in space at 500 Lehman Ave. in Bowling Green where she could teach violin, piano and dance, as well as offer a space to other professional musicians associated with the university to teach. She’d already been teaching in the area, but finding a space for lessons was always a chore. Students are not allowed to use university facilities. Williams was teaching as well….


Art bus makes stop in Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Just out of graduate school metalsmith Autumn Brown had a problem finding a place to call home as an artist. Studio space to work and display her work was hard to find, expensive and came with landlord issues. “I was always trying to put my studio wherever I could.” Her own work focused on the combination of metalsmithing with ceramics. After working as a production jeweler, she decided to do her own venture making traditional jewelry “to pay the light bill.” Her business was Blue Onion, a tribute to her family that had roots in Vidalia, Georgia, the home of the sweet onion variety. She traces her interest to jewelry back to them. Her great-grandparents had a jewelry store and great grandmother who loved porcelain. She set up shop in an old restaurant, a studio with an “extremely rude” landlord, and shared space with other artist. Never settled, her jewelry and gear had to be ready to move with her to the next location. She notice as she moved around “all these buses” parked on farms. It was like schools “themselves” of their fleets. That got her thinking. About two years ago, she finally located a bus, on eBay, a 1985 International Harvester with less than 50,000 miles on it. She paid $2,600 for it. The bus had a varied history – a transport vehicle for the Air Force, a senior citizens bus, a hunting lodge and a home for a young couple. Her boyfriend and parents, “thought she was crazy.” Undeterred she set about transforming it into an artistic home on wheels, a place to work, teach and display her own and other artists’ jewelry. Now the Blue Onion Bus, BOB, is visiting Bowling Green. Brown was brought to campus by Bowling Green State University metals instructor Marissa Saneholtz, who knew her from graduate school. Brown gave a workshop on campus, and then set up a display of…


Attack, hate speech reported after election ‘whitelash’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a long election season laden with hate speech, the results of Tuesday’s vote have left many populations feeling vulnerable and targeted. On Thursday, a BGSU student reported on Facebook that as she volunteered to collect election signs from yards on Crim Street, she was physically attacked and called racial slurs by men shouting they were “making America great again.” Bowling Green police are investigating the incident. On Wednesday evening, as a peaceful rally was held in the green space in downtown Bowling Green for those troubled by the election, Krishna Han said three teenage boys walked by yelling, “Black lives do not matter.” On Tuesday evening, a BGSU student from Tunisia explained during a city-university relations commission meeting, that international students are reporting threatening incidents to her, and worry about the climate created by the election. After years of inching toward inclusion, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign “whitelash” is being blamed for legitimizing hatred toward many populations – Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women and more. “It was a pretty traumatic day,” BGSU student Allie Dyer said Thursday during a Not In Our Town meeting. “We are in very real danger now. We have to watch our backs now.” In response to the student reporting the attack on Crim Street, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Thomas Gibson released a statement to all students. “BGSU is committed to ensuring that we have a welcoming and safe climate for all members of our community. We believe in the value of respecting one another, promoting diversity and being inclusive in making Bowling Green State University a place we can all be proud of and where our community members can thrive,” Gibson wrote. Gibson encouraged students to report incidents in person, online or by phone. He also urged that students attend a town hall meeting on Monday, at 6 p.m., in 101 Olscamp Hall, on…


Flat finances: BG city income remains stable

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s city income is steady – and that’s good … well, kind of. “The good news is, it’s very stable,” said City Finance Director Brian Bushong. “The bad news is, it’s very stable.” Bushong gave the pre-budget overview for 2017 to council members Monday evening. Moody’s has again given the city a strong credit rating of Aa2, which is slightly higher than the Aa3 rating given to most cities nationally. And due to state changes in due dates for income tax, Bowling Green is experiencing a one-time windfall in that revenue placing them about $1.5 million ahead of where planned. “This is a wonderful year for income tax,” Bushong said. Since much of the city’s income tax revenue is already divvied up, these one-time dollars will benefit each of those funds. The income tax collected is distributed as follows: 37.5 percent for general fund. 25 percent for sewer and water capital fund. 18 percent for fire fund. 7 percent for police fund. 6.25 percent for capital fund. 3.75 percent for street repair fund. 2.5 percent for recreation fund. Income tax revenue has continued to grow in the city, increasing an average of 4.89 percent annually since 2011.  The city benefited from new and expanding businesses, such as Betco, Cooper Standard and Kroger. “The economic outlook from an income tax standpoint looks very positive,” Bushong said. However, the general fund revenue paints a less positive picture. That average growth in the general fund revenue was just 0.65 percent since 2011. The factors leading to the miniscule growth include loss of various sources of state funding, declining or flat court fines and other revenue, ambulance fees, kilowatt tax, and the upcoming loss of the cable franchise fee. “The general fund has been flat,” Bushong said. The city has managed the flat revenue and increasing costs through financial and debt policies, healthcare increases for employees, prioritizing projects and deferring…


Horizon kids play out Aesop’s immortal lessons

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Horizon Youth Theatre’s production “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop” begins in chaos. We have 10 kids talking at once, as fast as they can. They are trying to tell all of Aesop’s fables, and this is the only way they think that they can accomplish the feat. That’s a hilariously real moment. Kids acting like kids. They do realize telling all the tales, about 600 at last count, even in that chaotic way would be impossible. What the Horizon Troupe does, using director Keith Guion’s script, is introduce us to the ancient fabulist’s world with a handful of those tales, little more than anecdotes, that continue to resonate to this day. Our language is spiked with phrases and lessons from the Greek storyteller’s fables, standing with Shakespeare and the Bible as a source for aphorisms and turns of phrase. Horizon Youth Theatre is staging “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop” tonight (Nov. 11) and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the auditorium for Otsego High School. Tickets are $5. Visit horizonyouththeatre.org. Beside its exploration of the tales of Aesop, the script offers a look into what it’s like to stage a youth theater production. Starting with chaos, the actors go through all the various chores they need to right on stage. The setting is simple a few blocks that the actors themselves mostly move into place from tale to tale. A table is located at the rear of the stage where they collect props and the costumes. The opening dialogue even talks about scripting, how Aesop’s large output of fables will need to be trimmed down to a manageable number. They seemingly cast on the spot. As the moral of the first fable explains, they are stronger working as a team. That’s the message conveyed by a farmer (Lauren Carmen) to his brood of children, who learn a bunch of sticks is harder to break…


BG students salute veterans for their service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With patriotic band music playing and a sea of more than 400 American flags waving, the veterans marched into the auditorium. Some rather slowy, with canes. Some in uniform. All with dignity. One by one, they walked to the microphone, introduced themselves and gave shout-outs to the student audience members who invited them to the Veterans Day program. And one by one, the children, grandchildren or neighbors who brought the soldiers to the program, stood up, beaming with pride. “It melted my heart,” Mike Meeker, an Army veteran, said after the program as he hugged his daughter, Jasmine. “It means a lot.” Meeker was one of nearly 70 veterans honored during the annual Veterans Day program hosted by Kenwood Elementary on Thursday. “It was nice to have the recognition of my service,” Navy veteran Jeremy Prisk said as he reunited with his children in the lobby. “It was nice that my children got to take part.” Army veteran Chad Smith agreed. “It’s a really good celebration of a lot of hard work. It’s good to know that people still celebrate this.” Retired Kenwood teacher Kent McClary introduced the veterans before they paraded in. “These are the people, men and women, who when called to duty for their country, they all went,” he said. These were the fortunate ones who made it home, he reminded the children. “They all gave of themselves. They all love their country.” McClary spoke of the value of military service members. “We’ve needed help to maintain our freedom. When we needed them, they were there,” he said. “I’m surrounded by heroes,” McClary said as he looked at the stage full of veterans. “It’s a great honor to have you here today.” To show their appreciation, the kindergartners sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and the band and all the students performed an armed forces medley of songs for Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast…


Park district eyes $1 million in park improvements

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District plans to invest more than $1 million in capital improvements next year. The money will be spent on items like new restrooms, trail surfaces, playground equipment and an archery range. A draft of the park district’s 2017 operating budget was presented to the park board Tuesday afternoon by Wood County Park District Executive Director Neil Munger. The draft also calls for the addition of part-time staff, including an adventure position, farm specialist and farm history intern. Among the larger capital improvement projects in the draft budget are: $160,000 for new restrooms at William Henry Harrison Park. $72,000 for roof replacement of the Otsego Park Stone Hall. $46,500 for an archery range and parking at the Wood County Historical Center. $108,650 for surface treatment on the Slippery Elm Trail. $59,000 for parking lot construction at Baldwin Woods. $60,000 for field tiling at Carter Historic Farm. $171,000 for parking lot and driveway at Bradner Preserve. $30,000 for playground equipment at Cedar Creeks Park. Being put on hold are renovations to a house at Sawyer Preserve since the bids came in far too high, Munger said. The equipment costs increased a bit in the draft budget. In the adventure programming area, costs will be incurred for the new archery range and river kayaking program. Board member Christine Seiler suggested that the river kayaking program should be made more available to people. Currently, only groups of 10 or more people may reserve the kayaks a week in advance. “If we’re going to add to that program – and I think it’s a terrific program – I think it needs to be more friendly to all constituents,” Seiler said. Outdoor exercise equipment is also being considered, possibly along the Slippery Elm Trail. However, space is an issue, Munger said, since it requires playground safety treatments. Seiler complimented the park district for reducing expenses in some areas of the…


Sit in promotes love, peace in a post-election time of fear

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News More than 200 students, faculty and community members gathered Thursday outside the Bowling Thompson Student Union on the name of peace and love. The event, organized after Tuesday’s tumultuous election, was by design a non-partisan event. The winner, Republican Donald Trump’s name was not spoken. But the words he spoke during his successful campaign still resonated with this crowd. Some were afraid for themselves or for their friends. Jacqueline Adams, graduate student in American Culture Studies, said she initiated the event because “a lot of folks on campus feel the need to create a loving and caring space. BGSU is a loving space we just want to sit here to remind ourselves of that.” Joanna Murphy, who was busy passing out cardboard and markers to make posters, said “we all just need to take a deep breath and be together, and promote solidarity or love” after a “volatile” election. The hope was to bridge the divide. Joey Sturgis said he was there to celebrate that BGSU was open to diversity and offered a spot for students to express themselves. “We’re very conscious about everything that’s going on in the country.” This gathering “was more intense,” he said. Beneath these expressions of peace and love was an undercurrent of fear. Murphy said she learned through social media that a black woman she knows was attacked early Wednesday morning by three men. The victim was wearing an Obama Hope t-shirt. The assailants were white. Murphy said, she didn’t know the motivation behind the attack. That wasn’t the only incident, she said. “A number of my friends who identify as Moslem, trans and people of color have experienced everything from death threats to harassment in the last 24 hours.” Adams noted recently that a racial slur was scrawled on the university’s Spirit Rock. “A lot of people who are hurting at our university,” said Shayna Swerdlow. She came to the sit in…


Housing crunch at BGSU changes plans for some juniors & seniors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Juniors and seniors planning on living on campus next fall may have to make other arrangements. And some students with campus housing will be living across the tracks in an apartment complex in the 500 block of North Enterprise. The university is leasing the complex for five years from Greenbriar Properties. Because of the planned closing of Harshman Quadrangle, the university cannot guarantee on-campus housing to juniors and seniors, though it will be able to accommodate first year students and sophomores. “We won’t have enough beds,” said Sarah Waters, director of Residence Life. The closing of the last two buildings in the Harshman Quadrangle and the leasing of the Greenbriar complex will give BGSU beds for about 6,100 students, that’s about 400 less than this academic year. And no new dorm construction is in the wings. The university will take another look at its housing master plan next year with new construction maybe in 2020. Waters said about 600 juniors and seniors wish to live on campus. About 100 of those are residence hall advisors, and they will have rooms. “We want upper class leadership in the residence halls,” Waters said. About another 130 are in fraternities and sororities, and they can live in the Greek Village. The housing crunch comes as BGSU has started enrolling larger classes, and is striving to retain more of those students. That’s good news, she said. Older students won’t be completely shut out, however. Waters said the university knows that some students need to live on campus beyond their sophomore year. It may because of scholarships they receive or because of a disability. Students can apply for housing, and the university will try to accommodate them. She encouraged students to reach out to the Residence Life office. “We encourage students to fill out the application so that we can make decisions regarding their housing by early December. “ “BGSU recognizes that these changes to…


BG studies school building options and costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is taking baby steps toward putting a bond issue for buildings on the ballot. Before school officials take the plunge – maybe as soon as next November – they want to know what district voters want for children, and what expense they are willing to support. “I don’t like to go to the ballot with a hope and a prayer,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Wednesday evening to a group of parents, teachers and community members gathered in Kenwood Elementary School’s gymnasium. This was one in a series of meetings Scruci is holding throughout the district to present information on the school building needs. While the audience had questions of the superintendent, he also had questions for them. Before putting any issue on the ballot, the district needs to know: Is there support for consolidating the three elementary schools into one building? How much are citizens willing to pay for improving school facilities? “We’re all ears at this point,” Scruci said. After community meetings earlier this year, the district is leaning toward paying for any building renovations or new construction with local funds. “Accepting state money doesn’t make a lot of sense for us,” Scruci explained since the state share would be 11 to 14 percent. “We’d have to play by their rules,” he added. “If we do this project as a community, we make all the decisions,” Scruci said. School officials are also favoring building a new consolidated elementary building on district land north of the middle school, rather than renovating the three existing elementaries. Another option is renovating Crim and Kenwood, and building a new Conneaut where it stands now. The final option is do nothing, and risk the chance of costs escalating more. The earliest a bond issue would appear on the ballot is November 2017. If it passes, the new school could be open three years later. For the first…


Immigrants take oath of citizenship in wake of bitter election

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The day after the son of an immigrant was elected president, 10 people took their oaths of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony at Bowling Green State University. It was the second year that Federal Judge James R. Kneff convened his court on campus to hold the naturalization session. Kneff said the timing of the ceremony was fitting. “This ceremony is a day to take a deep breath after an election cycle with a fair amount of acrimony – that probably doesn’t do it justice. Part of what happens after each election is … we have a period of healing and figuring out we agree about more than we disagree.” Those becoming citizens Wednesday and their counties of origin were: Iffat Almas, Pakistan; Adnan Hani Assaf, Lebanon; Barbara Gilchrist, Germany; Mohammad Sameh Kayed, Jordan; Hiba Kishli, Lebanon; Morgan Vincent Lee, People’s Republic of China; Deborah Carol Lynn and Robert Peter Schankula, Canada; and No Thi Tran, Vietnam. Kneff said that they were “exhibit A of why immigration, when done right, is important. We’re a nation of immigrants and I’m so proud to call you all my fellow citizens today.” A few months ago, Juan Pablo Bes, a BGSU math professor from Argentina, took the oath of citizenship. Those months though seemed longer because of the election. “It was a major experience.” He talked about how immigrants helped shape the country. Some like Alexander Graham Bell, from Scotland like President-Elect Donald Trump’s mother made notable contributions. Bell invented the telephone and founded the company that became AT&T. Immigrants founded other “iconic companies” including Procter and Gamble, DuPont, and Google, Bes said. “No less important is the impact of millions of ordinary Americans who through their work every day and their cultural diversity contribute to this society.” Bes said he and others becoming U.S. citizens feel an internal conflict.  He said they may feel that they are renouncing their culture, their place…


Voters support BG parks and county seniors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local voters proved once again Tuesday that they appreciate their parks and they care about senior citizens. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation 2-mill, five-year levy passed by a healthy 69 percent, with a vote of 8,545 to 3,802. And the Wood County Committee on Aging’s renewal of a 0.7-mill, five-year levy for senior services passed by a solid 76 percent, with a vote of 46,428 to 14,760. “We’re very thankful for our citizens who have traditionally supported parks,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “They understand it’s a quality of life issue.” Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department plans to use the levy funds to maintain the park lands, facilities and programs already in place. Passage of the levy will allow the city to catch up with maintenance work, like replacing roofs on park buildings. “Now we know for the next five years what we have coming in,” Otley said. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. The parks and recreation department had not asked for increased levy millage for 16 years. But during those 16 years, the parks have done a lot of growing, with additions such as Simpson Building and Garden Park, City Pool and Waterpark, Community Center, Ridge Park, Skatepark, Dunbridge Soccer Fields, BG Athletic Fields, Black Swamp Preserve, more trails at Wintergarden, and expanded programming for fitness, aquatics and other events. “We’re feeling great,” said Jeff Crawford, president…


Republicans sweep Wood County contested races

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County elected only Republicans in contested races Tuesday. The victorious and the defeated gathered in downtown Bowling Green as the results rolled in – separated by the brick wall between Mr. Spots and Howard’s. The mood among the Democrats at Howard’s was subdued and disbelieving. The atmosphere among the Republicans at Mr. Spots was joyous and confident. After victory speeches by the Republicans, the Northern Wood County Republican Party Chairman Aram Ohanian told the party faithful as they left, “you can wave at Howard’s where the Democrats are.” There were no tight races. Theresa Gavarone solidly beat Kelly Wicks for the state representative seat. Dr. Ted Bowlus unseated Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman – meaning for the first time in several decades the three commissioners will all be Republicans. Matt Reger won the judge seat, Mark Wasylyshyn was re-elected as sheriff, Craig LaHote was returned as county commissioner, and Jane Spoerl won handily as county treasurer. The only Democrat to win was Julie Baumgardner who ran uncontested for the county recorder’s seat. Wood County voters also re-elected Republicans Bob Latta to the House of Representatives, Randy Gardner to the Ohio Senate, and swung their weight for Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate, and Donald Trump in the White House. “What a big night,” Latta said. “I saw candidates work 110 percent. It paid massive dividends here.” In particular he praised Gavarone. “She gave everything of herself and the results tonight prove it,” Latta said, as Fox News was broadcasting election results on the big TV screen behind him. The most bitter fight was won by Gavarone, who took the race with 59 percent of the vote. She credited hard work for her victory. “I had so much support. We knocked on over 32,000 doors since Aug. 11,” she said. “I’m so honored the people of Wood County have put their faith in me, and I can’t…