BG residents asked to conserve electricity Monday

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a weekend of blasting air conditioning, Bowling Green electric customers are being asked to cut back on their electricity use on Monday afternoon. The city utility department is asking residents to voluntarily hold off on doing laundry, cooking and set air conditioners at a higher temperature. It’s not that the electric system can’t handle the demands, according to Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. And it’s not that there are any risks of blackouts or rolling brownouts due to the peaking power usage. It’s not about the power. It’s about the money. Customers are being asked to conserve power Monday from 2 to 6 p.m. so the city can save on electricity costs next year, O’Connell said. “There’s plenty of power available and the grid is in good shape, but if we can conserve during these peak hours, the city can save on transmission and capacity costs next year,” the city released in a statement. “Lowering the peak demand will help keep the city’s electricity rates low.” Though the temperatures are expected to be higher on the weekend, residents are being asked to conserve on Monday, when industries will be an additional pull on the electric grid. Bowling Green’s electric rates are based on a transmission charge and a capacity charge, O’Connell explained. The transmission charge for next year will be calculated based on the city’s peak energy consumption this year. “So what we are paying this year is based on last year’s peak,” he said. The capacity charge is based on the average of a particular hour of electric usage during the top five peak days. “When customers can cut back on…


Arps Dairy milks its story to secure its place in the market

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lambert Vandermade milks cows for a living. He bottles milk for hobby. And that means he also has to tell a story. Vandermade, president of Arps Dairy, told his story of how a Netherlands-born dairyman came to own a long-standing Ohio business and what he envisions for the future at the July Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum Thursday morning.  The event was hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation. Vandermade came to Northwest Ohio with his family from the Netherlands 16 years ago as they searched for a way to grow their family dairy business. In the Netherlands, he said, land is a scarce resource. The country is a third the size of Ohio. In the Netherlands, the family had 60 cows and raised 200 sows.  They did the work themselves with no employees. The European quota system, now ended, meant they were assured of making a small amount of money from the milk. The pigs provided more chance for profit. When they came to Ohio, after investigating other areas of the country, they started with 600 cows, “created 10 jobs” and were introduced to a federally regulated system so complex, Vandermade said, “I still understand about half of it.” The Vandermades now milk 1,400, cows on two farms in Defiance County, one devoted to maintaining older cows. “Dairy is a very complicated market,” Vandermade said. “The market has shrunk down to a very few, very large companies.” That puts a particular burden on the milk processor. Large retailers use milk as a loss leader. Low milk prices lure shoppers in the door. But that makes it hard for…


City makes slow and steady progress on land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Progress on land use issues in Bowling Green is a marathon – not a sprint, according to City Council member Bruce Jeffers. For those who doubt that progress is being made by the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, Jeffers reported otherwise during Monday’s council meeting. “We are continuing to move forward, slowly and deliberately, with planning a variety of improvements for Bowling Green,” he said. The council, mayor, administrative staff and citizens are helping to implement actions listed in the land use section of the city’s comprehensive land use plan. “I wanted people to know we are not sitting on our thumbs,” Jeffers said. So far, the efforts have focused on zoning, streets, neighborhoods and general aesthetics. Jeffers listed proof of this as the rezoning of properties along East Wooster Street in the downtown area, street improvements further east on Wooster Street with roundabouts planned at the I-75 interchange, and Complete Street enhancements being discussed all along East Wooster. The city is also working to revitalize neighborhoods, and has selected a consultant to help devise a plan. That plan will include public/private partnerships, coordinated financial incentives and the changing of some subdivided homes back into single-family owner occupied houses. Residents will be asked to participate in those plans. Jeffers also mentioned the garbage bin issue being worked on now by council. “Aesthetic regulations are more elusive than we might first expect,” he said, listing future aesthetic issues to tackle such as building maintenance, landscaping and excessive clutter. “A very thorny issue, which many people mention, is signs,” he said. Signs have been discussed by city officials for at least 40 years….


“Little Mermaid” performed swimmingly by 3B youth troupe

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With temperatures topping the 90s, a trip to the sea seems just the thing. Local theatergoers don’t have to go far for that. This weekend 3B Productions is staging “Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the Musical,” based on the 1989 animated film. This is 3B’s annual summer youth musical. It’s a great idea. Pull together talent from area high schools and give them a chance to work together and give the audience a chance to see some of the best young thespian talent in the area. Given the size of the cast, 65 in all, with its sailors, maids, cooks and all manner of sea creatures, real and imagined, the show has plenty of roles for youngsters, some maybe getting their first exposure to musical theater. The result is a bracing sea adventure, powered by youthful energy. “The Little Mermaid,” directed by Joe Barton with musical direction by Jennifer Bollinger and choreography by Bob Marzola, is on stage at the Maumee Indoor Theatre Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Saturday matinee will feature understudies including several members of the Horizon Youth Theatre. Tickets, which are going fast, are $15 available at: www.3Bproductions.org. The production meets the challenge of bringing animated antics to life, and fleshing out the characters. Using the energy of live theater performed by a youthful cast as a substitute for the magic of animation, “Little Mermaid” has a spunky summer camp joy to it. Particularly impressive is the way Andrew Nauden keeps his character Sebastian, the court composer turned a mermaid princess’ minder, from being a caricature. Sebastian has all the makings of…


Protesters in BG take Donald Trump to task

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Donald Trump prepared to take the podium at the National Republic Convention Thursday, others in Ohio were taking makeshift stages across the state to protest the presidential candidate. Anti-Trump rallies criticizing his “dangerous and hate-filled agenda” were held in 15 cities from Akron to Zanesville. In Bowling Green, the rally started out slowly, with the protesters almost being outnumbered by the security personnel outside the Wood County Courthouse. Dick Teeple, of Bradner, was one of the first to show up, carrying a toilet seat with Trump’s photo in the center. “I have grandchildren. I care about what kind of future they have,” Teeple said, listing his top concerns as the environment, women’s rights, equal pay and climate change. “What they stand for, I’m against,” he said of Trump and his vice presidential pick Mike Pence. Teeple was wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt, but said he would be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. “I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about Hillary. But she’s not going to sell out the environment.” As he stood on the courthouse steps, Teeple said he is mystified by Trump’s ability to win supporters. “I can’t understand it. I think there is some anger, but I think they better get over that and see what he’s going to do.” At its height, the Bowling Green rally had eight protesters. While their numbers were few, their concerns were many. “I just absolutely think Donald Trump is wrong for America,” said Kristie Foell, of Bowling Green. “I’m so disgusted by the attacks on Hillary.” Foell sees the Republican candidate as morally bankrupt, and his party as being motivated by an opportunity…


Abby Paskvan delivers with the nation watching

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The day after singing the National Anthem on a national stage, Abby Paskvan was still soaking it all in. The Bowling Green singer delivered the anthem at the opening of Wednesday night’s session of the Republican National Convention. The performance was broadcast on several networks including PBS. She said her rehearsal earlier in the day was also broadcast nationally on Fox News. Paskvan said she was “a little nervous” and as a result it was “not my best performance.” There’s “always room for improvement,” she added. Not that anyone listening could tell. Those who missed it can hear it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHlHvix4YiM. “I really love that song, and it was a cool environment to sing it in,” Paskvan said. “You have to love that song.” And the audience doesn’t matter. Asked by Jerry Anderson of WTOL I she’d sing for the Democratic convention if asked, she said, of course. “It’s so much fun. I’m not thinking about who I’m singing for. I’m just in the moment.” The performance just before 8 p.m. capped what Paskvan, 20, called a “crazy day.” She and her parents, Brian and Becky Paskvan, left Bowling Green at 10 a.m. to go to Cleveland. They arrived, via a backway, without incident and settled into a hotel where they waited for the transportation that would bring them to Quicken Loans Arena where the convention is being held. The level of security was high, she said. They had to pass through three security checkpoints before they even arrived at the gates of the arena. She had her run through and that went “great.” Then it was off for hair and makeup. Afterward she…


Recycled tire material tried on buckled sidewalks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying out a new product that may put a slight spring in the step of walkers as well as help trees along city sidewalks. Buckled up sidewalk pavement is being replaced by a product made from recycled tires. The first experiment with the rubber surface sidewalks is being tried on a small section of Eberly Street, where  tree roots had buckled up the paved sidewalks, said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Craft explained to city council Monday evening that the recycled tire product is flexible with expanding tree roots, and with the ground as it freezes and thaws in the winter – “where concrete will break.” The rubber will not only help trees by allowing their roots to grow without buckling the concrete, but it will also be beneficial to walkers. It should reduce the trip hazards of broken pavement, and it will allow the water to run into the ground rather than gathering on the pavement and freezing in winter. “It’s a way to save the trees and not damage the roots,” Craft said. The city may try the rubber material next on some sidewalk sections on North Maple Street. The recycled tire product costs about $6 a square foot, which is comparable to concrete. However, the rubber takes more labor and time since it has to be mixed as it is applied. “The pace is slower,” Craft said. But it is probably worth the expense, “if it saves you from taking down a perfectly healthy tree,” whose roots are causing upheaval with concrete sidewalks. The city may also try the rubber material in the downtown…


Making migrant workers feel at home in Wood County

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The workers who come into Wood County to pick crops may be here for just a few weeks, but La Conexion de Wood County wants them to know they have a friend while they are here. On Sunday La Conexion and the First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green welcomed migrant workers at an event held at a camp in Bloomdale. They didn’t go empty handed. The Brown Bag Food Project came with boxes of food to tide them over until their first paycheck. The Wood County District Public Library staff was on hand with books and activities for the children. The Cocoon Shelter was there to offer its support. The event, now in its third year, was initiated by the church as a way of working with La Conexion, which works out of the downtown Bowling Green Church. Beatriz Maya, the managing director of La Conexicion, said that about 200 workers “at most” are now in Wood County. The numbers of migrants arriving has been declining as agriculture has mechanized and the mix of crops grown locally has changed. Now the demand is for people to pick cucumbers. Those jobs last for about six weeks, then the workers will be off to Michigan to pick apples or to Georgia or Florida to harvest other crops. As the number of crops in a region diminishes it becomes less worthwhile for workers to travel at their own expense to a place to harvest. Though their numbers are down they still have needs, she said, and La Conexion wants to help meet them either directly or by connecting them with other service groups. Maya said she has…


County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to look at it,” LaHote said. “This abatement is unique,” he said. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before, but this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since there will be no jobs beyond the construction period. “It’s been hard for us to get…


Library board accepts low bid on Walbridge project

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The price tag of the addition and renovation of the Walbridge Branch of the Wood County District Public Library is coming in under budget. The library’s board Tuesday accepted a general contractor bid of $849,000 from Midwest Construction of Holland. The board also accepted the company’s bid of $3,350 for shades. The administration has decided not to pursue a second alternate bid for benches and plantings. Library Director Michael Penrod said they will wait until the project is finished to do that work. The estimated cost for the bid was $1 million. Of the 10 bids submitted seven were under that number. Tom Stuckey, the project administrator, said to have that number of bids submitted was “phenomenal.” The one concern with the Midwest bid was how much under it was the others. The unsuccessful bids ranged from $929,800 from Spieker to $1,165,777 from Cross renovation. Penrod said he was pleased so many area firms were interested in the project. Several board members questioned the low bid. Stuckey said he did go back to talk to company officials, and they assured him they “capable and confident that they are ready to proceed.” Stuckey said he’s worked with the company on other projects. “They’re a capable company. They’ve been around a long time. They have the wherewithal to do this project.” Ellen Dalton wondered if they might cut corners, or if they were hiring cheap labor. Stuckey said he will be on the site monitoring construction. The company hires union labor, and all workers must be paid prevailing wage. He said that sometimes how low a bid comes in is determined by what the subcontractors say…


Libertarians see opportunity in 2016 elections

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the Republican Convention convening in Cleveland, complete with protests outside and floor fights inside, the Libertarian Party is hustling to give Ohio voters disaffected with both major parties another choice. Because the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Earl of Bowling Green, was bumped from the 2014 ballot, the Libertarians do not qualify to have their presidential ticket Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and running mate Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, on the Ohio ballot this year. So Nathan Eberly, of Bowling Green, and other Libertarians are collecting the 5,000 verified signatures needed for Johnson and Weld to appear as independents. Eberly said it was not a high bar, and he’s heard the state party has more than 3,000 signatures on hand. Still, he was out and about Monday evening, meeting people at Grounds for Thought or visiting people’s homes to collect signatures. That the party is having to struggle to get on the ballot in the key battleground state of Ohio this of all years is ironic, since the fortunes of the Libertarians has never looked brighter. “This year is probably going to be a banner year for the Libertarian Party because of the unpopularity of (Donald) Trump and (Hillary) Clinton,” Eberly said. Some polls, he said, have Johnson gaining 13 percent of the vote, while others have him as low as 8 percent. Still, Eberly said, Johnson is within striking of the 15 percent Johnson needs to join the Democratic and Republican nominees on the stage for the first presidential debate Sept. 26 in Dayton. He dismisses the criticism that voting for the Libertarians or Greens is just going to…


BG debates trash bin enforcement – issue fines or confiscate cans?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to make sure that once a garbage bin ordinance is passed, that it is enforceable. So on Monday evening, council debated whether violators should face fines or have their trash cans confiscated. Council member John Zanfardino expressed concerns about the penalty portion of the ordinance. He is in favor of ordering violators to pay fines when problems are spotted. Waiting to confiscate the cans on garbage pickup day would be like arresting someone for walking around with an open bottle days after the violation, he said. He asked that the city warn residents for first violations, then issue fines for additional violations. “To me, that’s a very laborious way to address it,” Zanfardino said of city workers confiscating the cans. Council member Sandy Rowland shared concerns about the city taking away garbage bins from violators. “I just don’t think it’s going to work for enforcement,” she said, voicing concerns about city workers entering private property. But Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the cans would only be removed from property when they are sitting by the street on pickup day. “We don’t want people to go on private property. We own the right-of-way,” City Solicitor Mike Marsh said. The city already confiscates trash cans that are left at the roadside for several days. Residents then have to pay $50 to get them back. Council member Bruce Jeffers said confiscation of a trash bin sends a strong message. Marsh cautioned that fines cannot be levied against residents without a citation being issued. “There isn’t a way to fine someone without citing them first,” he said. Council members suggested that…


BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest…


Multicultural Affairs office looks for common ground between campus & community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the 40 people who came out for a #Let’sSupportEachOther gathering last week in the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs were staff members. These counselors and residence life staff are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with students’ concerns. Not only their concerns as students at Bowling Green State University, but the concerns they bring with them to campus. The meeting was called to discuss the recent incidents of black men dying in encounters with police officers, followed by the killing of five police officers on duty during a protest in Dallas. While those in attendance, which included faculty, community members and two campus police officers, need to focus on students’ emotions, they must also deal with their own reactions. Krishna Han, assistant director for diversity, said he found himself in tears on several occasions when watching videos related to the slayings. He had to eventually step back from social media. One black woman spoke of her fears for her son. They live in a suburb of Toledo, and he is repeatedly followed and stopped by police, and he’s been stopped in Bowling Green as well. Some expressed frustration over what they could do; others expressed frustration over the perceived lack willingness of others to take action. Emily Monago, director of the office, said in an interview the next day that she was surprised by the number of people who came out. “We just wanted to provide an opportunity for people to talk.” She said one of the possibilities discussed was how to become more involved with the city’s Human Relations Commission and in the joint city-campus Not In Our…


BGHS ’78 grads show their class with new bobcat statue

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Poised to lift the white shroud from the object set in front of Bowling Green High School, Bill York paused to note that he’d been promised “this is not just another class of ’78 prank.” The class, known in the years since they graduated as the worst class ever, has set about turning over a new leaf. “We’re trying to establish a new reputation as the most giving class,” York said. That spirit was represented when the object, a large bronze statue of a bobcat, was unveiled. For Principal Jeff Dever, it will be “a tremendous thing for kids to come to school and see that.” And yes, he heard, the stories about the class as “the worst class that came through these doors.” What he knows is that the class has been “very generous.” “They handled this from start to finish,” he said. The project was spearheaded by Bill York. Classmate Mike Hammer, the city superintendent of public works, enlisted help from city workers to get the base of brick and concrete constructed. York said that after the class held its 35th reunion, some of the organizers talked about creating a more permanent structure. In 2014, the Bowling Green High School Class of 1978 was created. In 2015, the foundation awarded its first scholarship for $1,000 and donated a couple benches that sit outside the school. This year a $2,500 scholarship was awarded, and the bobcat was purchased and placed. The idea for the bronze mascot came from members of the class, York said. They wanted something “unique” and enduring. It should be made as it is of bronze, stone and brick. “It’ll…