Park levy need not questioned, but more millage may pose problems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BG officials did not question the need for a new parks and recreation levy Monday evening. They did, however, question the chances of the millage increase passing on the November ballot. City council’s finance committee listened to BG Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley as she made the pitch for a 2-mill property tax levy lasting five years. Since the proposed levy is an increased amount from the current 1.4-mill levy, the council committee felt the need to scrutinize the request. Otley explained that the parks and rec program has not seen a levy increase in 16 years. In the meantime, the program has grown in acreage, facilities and programming. “We’ve added so much in 16 years,” Otley said. “The things we added were all things the community was asking for and wanted to see.” Also during that 16-year period, several maintenance projects were deferred. “A lot of things have been put off,” Otley said. For example, the Veterans Building in City Park is in great need of repairs. The parking lot at Simpson Garden Park has serious pothole problems. The park land has grown to 333 acres, including the new Ridge Park. And the 10-year-old community center is in need of maintenance. The three members of the finance committee, Robert McOmber, Michael Aspacher and Theresa Charters Gavarone, did not dispute the need for the additional millage. But they expressed concern that if voters don’t support the levy, that the department will be left with no levy revenue since the current levy…


Every home in BG to be part of housing survey

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Now might be a good time to touch up that peeling paint, tuckpoint that chimney, and firm up that sagging front porch. Starting in April, a housing inspector from the Wood County Health District will be making the rounds in Bowling Green, checking out residences – all 5,524 or more. It’s time for the housing exterior survey which the city contracts for every five year from the county health district. The contract is a “unique arrangement,” according to Lana Glore, of the environmental division of the health district. In most cases, health districts respond on a complaint basis. “You’re kind of putting fires out,” she said. But in Bowling Green, the city tries to keep those fires from ever starting by having the surveys done every five years. “To me, it looks like it works,” Glore said. The inspector will go from home to home, April through August, looking at exteriors that can be viewed from public property. “Every house is looked at,” Glore said. The data collected will be compiled in September through November. Then the results will be reported to council in December. Each home will be surveyed for 14 primary categories: Roofs, siding conditions, stairs and railings, windows, foundations, driveways, public walkways, chimneys, porches, doors, accessory structures, soffits and roof edging, private walks and exterior sanitation. They will also be surveyed for 10 non-primary categories: Paint, attached garage, grading and drainage, yard maintenance, siding type, gutters and downspouts, garage condition, dumpsters, starlings and pigeons, and whether or not an…


Once & future Falcons: BGSU presidents discuss achievements & challenges facing higher ed

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The recent history of Bowling Green State University was gathered on stage of the Bowen Thompson Student Union Monday afternoon. Two past presidents, Sidney Ribeau, 1995-2008, and Carol Cartwright, 2008-2011, and Mary Ellen Mazey, who has been president since 2011, discussed past achievements and the challenges facing the university. Ribeau said that educators, whether those on the stage with him or the faculty and administrators in the audience, need to advocate for the value of higher education. “The criticism higher education is taking, that we need to change this way and that way and be more like Fortune 500 companies, is not well founded,” he said. “Higher education in America is still the envy of all the world. … When you travel to other countries, they are modeling their universities after our universities.” He noted that during the economic downtown when so many sectors of the economy were suffering a meltdown, higher education continued to do well. He dismissed those who say colleges need to graduate students faster and need to make radical changes. “We need to graduate students who want jobs. They need to be able to think, to be able to analyze. They need to have character. They need to stand for something. They need to be leaders so we don’t have the fiasco like we’re seeing in our current presidential campaign. “Higher education has real role to play in our society,” Ribeau continued. “We need to speak to the value of higher education as a difference maker in our society. We’re…


Small ensembles compete for cash & bragging rights at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the list of winners in hand Connor Nelson didn’t waste any time making the announcement everyone was waiting for. He’d been in this situation many times before, the flutist said. So he announced the 10th class of winners in The Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts Chamber Music Competition. Nelson with fellow faculty member Susan Nelson coordinated this year’s event. The event was founded by Douglas Wayland in 2007 to give instrumentalists a chance to hone their skills in a way only having to perform before a panel of judges and having their performances ranked among their peers will do. The event now bears the name of the founder, who died in November, 2013. The Wayland competition is sponsored in his honor by Pro Musica. The competition took its place with the Competitions in Music for concerto soloists and the Conrad Art Song Competition for vocalists and pianists. So this weekend, musicians in ensembles of three to six members competed. Each is coached by a faculty member or graduate student. This year eight undergraduate ensembles with 26 musicians and seven graduate ensembles with 28 musicians competed. The semifinals were held Saturday. For both rounds panels of outside musicians were brought in to judge. Four undergraduates and three graduate finalists were selected to move on to Sunday’s final round where they performed up to 18 minutes of music. The finals got underway with a torrent of saxophone sound from Enohpoxas, that is “saxophone” spelled backwards – the names of the ensembles are…


Trying to keep Lake Erie water from going green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After Lake Erie turned green with algal blooms in 2014, and local residents were cautioned not to consume tap water from Toledo, officials rushed to make changes to keep this crisis from happening again. But too little has been accomplished, and the threat still looms over the lake as summer approaches again, according to a Waterkeepers conference held Friday at W.W. Knight Preserve near Perrysburg. Speakers blamed a good portion of the problem on the amount of manure being created, and the amount of fertilizer being spread on fields. “We are producing more shit than we have land to put it on,” speaker Dr. Earl Campbell, of Perrysburg, said during a break in the program. “We’re not understanding the source and the amounts,” of the phosphorous from manure and fertilizers running into the lake, said Sandy Bihn, executive director of the Waterkeepers organization. “We’re not following the Clean Water Act.” Two speakers from the agricultural community praised farmers for trying to reduce runoff, but also pointed fingers at them for not doing enough. Estimates vary, but agricultural runoff is blamed for 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients creating harmful algae in Lake Erie. The problem has worsened as small farms have been replaced by large farms with more concentrated livestock operations, according to Ron Wyss, a Hardin County farmer. The building of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, sometimes referred to as mega-farms, has led to over application of manure on fields nearest the CAFOs. Recent studies have shown that less phosphorous from…


BG schools to hold monthly talks – on drug testing, charter schools and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new school superintendent is not shy about communication – and not just Twitter and Facebook – but old-fashioned face to face time. Francis Scruci been hosting regular coffee klatches with citizens, but now he’s looking at narrowing the focus of the discussions and drawing more input. So once a month, Scruci plans to host public workshops. Each will focus on a specific topic, such as drug testing, delivery of instruction, school funding or the impact of charter schools. “I want open and honest dialogue,” he said. The superintendent has asked that all the school board members also attend the workshops. So the gatherings will be like a second meeting a month for the board, but one with more interaction with the public than is possible at regular board meetings. “The community, staff felt disconnected from our board and schools,” Scruci said. Anyone will be allowed to speak at the workshops and no decisions will be made during the meetings. “There will be a climate of collaboration,” he said. “It’s not adversarial.” Scruci presented the idea last week during the first such workshop, this one focusing on the future of school buildings in the district. “We want interaction with our community,” he told the audience. “We want dialogue.” “We have to have the entire village working together for the good of our schools,” Scruci said. The superintendent stressed that anyone wanting to talk to him need not wait until the monthly workshops. In addition to the coffee klatches, he said citizens…


Home sweet home…107 BG families use housing vouchers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Housing Agency has little to do with the actually housing and a lot to do with the people who need it. Members of the volunteer board managing the agency’s work in the city met last week to discuss the latest numbers. As part of the HUD Section 8 voucher program, the agency is currently helping 107 local families by offering rental assistance based on income. Those in the voucher program in Bowling Green include large families, senior citizens and young individuals. The agency does not offer emergency help, and has a waiting list of about 90 families in need. Federal funding is about $31,000 a month, which is used for rent on any appropriate home. Unlike federal housing projects, this program allows the families to choose their own apartment, trailer or house to rent. The landlord must agree to the arrangement, and the home must pass a HUD inspection. There is no limit to how long a family can receive the rental assistance, as long as they still qualify, according to Brian Horst, director of the Bowling Green Housing Agency. The group keeps track of why families leave the program. “What we do like to see is ‘assistance no longer needed’ as their reason for leaving,” housing agency board member Tom Knox said. “Often it means a job has been gotten where there was none before.” The Bowling Green agency is allowed to pay for rental vouchers for up to 119 families. However, the $31,616 in federal funding doesn’t go…


The Hart of the matter: Jazz saxophonist shares passion for music at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Antonio Hart first took the stage at Bowling Green State University, he had some stern advice for the music students in the audience. Ask me questions. Citing his experience playing with some of the greats in jazz, he said students needed to take advantage of having him among them for a while. Then he played demonstrating the mastery students could aspire to. That was Wednesday night when Hart performed with the jazz faculty, arriving shortly before from Thailand. He was in town through Thursday before leaving on an early morning flight back to New York before heading back east to China. Hart is a man on the move, squeezing as much as he can during his sabbatical from Queens College in New York City where he teaches. Still when Adonai Henderson took him up on his offer to ask a question Thursday after a coaching session with small bands, it was as if time stopped. As the crew reset the Kobacker stage for the Lab I rehearsal and concert, Hart sat at the piano and gave Henderson a lesson. During the session before, Hart had drilled the quintet Henderson was a part of on the proper execution of the melody to Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple.” It’s a bebop standard many fans and even players may take for granted. Something to set the stage before the improvisation. But Hart brought such notions up short. It’s the beginning and end of a tune that stays with the listener. He spent a good half…


Not just spinning their wheels – bicyclists to meet with city engineer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Squeaky wheels don’t always get the grease. But members of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission will soon have a chance to have their concerns heard as the city works on its Complete Streets plan. The commission learned Tuesday evening that it will have an opportunity to meet with City Engineer Jason Sisco on April 5 at 6 p.m. “They want to hear more from bicyclists,” explained Kristin Otley, city parks and recreation director and a member of the bike commission. The Complete Streets project is an initiative to make city streets more accessible and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians – not just motorists. When a Complete Streets meeting was held last week, there was a consensus that more input was needed from those in the community who pedal along city streets the most. The bicycle group is realistic. “We don’t imagine that we’re going to have bike lanes everywhere,” member Eileen Baker said. In some cases, just a shoulder along the roadway would be nice, she added. She noted the narrow width of Napoleon Road, which leaves no room for error. “I’m happy to ride in the shoulder,” Baker said. In other cases, it would be helpful to just have a berm area with a bicycle painted on it. Part of the Complete Street concept is to link bicyclists with “destinations” in the city, giving them useable routes to places like Bowling Green State University, all the city schools, park areas and downtown. Baker pointed out how difficult it is to…


State testing survey raises questions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With school districts across Ohio getting less than stellar grades on their recent state report cards, some further investigation has revealed some disturbing discrepancies, according to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci. Scruci explained at Tuesday’s school board meeting that a survey about the state tests was conducted with all the district superintendents in Ohio. The superintendents were asked one question – if their district tests were conducted online, on paper, or a combination. A total 450 superintendents responded. Of those, 250 had online tests, with 175 getting an F for the value-added overall grade, and just 47 getting an A. Just 95 districts gave all-paper tests, with 85 of those getting an A. “There is some suspicion in the state that the tests were not equal,” Scruci said. Due to the rash of low scores, there is a possibility of legislative action which would make the most recent scores invalid. However, Scruci said he wasn’t using the discrepancies as a crutch, and he still considers the district responsible for state testing scores. But he also said that a two-hour test should not be used to make a valid assessment of a student. That small “snapshot” is not a true indicator of what the student is learning. Scruci said he is working on a blueprint that will “drill down” to work with each student and take the pressure off teachers when it comes to test scores. “We have to make some changes. We have to do things differently,” he said. Scruci proposed that…


Residents protest pipeline compressor station

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Waterville area residents are sick just thinking about the toxins that a pipeline compressor station could pump into their air. More than 500 showed up Wednesday evening to say they won’t sit by quietly and let the facility be built as part of the proposed Nexus pipeline. The natural gas pipeline would run 255 miles from eastern Ohio, across the state, to Michigan and end in Canada. Along its route, it will pass through Wood County, north of Bowling Green, then through Waterville. When it gets to Waterville Township, a compressor station is proposed off Moosman Road, south of Neapolis Waterville Road. Compressor stations are used to pump natural gas through the pipelines, and are located at intervals along the line to pressurize the gas to keep it moving. Residents packed a school in Waterville Wednesday evening to protest plans to put the station in their community. There were so many people who wanted to testify at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hearing, that the EPA skipped the program and went straight to the public comments. “This is one of the larger crowds we’ve ever had at an EPA hearing,” said Mike Settles, of the Ohio EPA. Settles explained that his agency only has authority over the station’s air emissions. FERC is the agency that must approve the actual pipeline. “Safety is not our issue. I know that’s not what you want to hear,” Settles said. The air pollutants typically released from the compressor station include such items as nitrogen oxide, carbon…


Young entrepreneurs poised for revamped Hatch at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fledgling entrepreneurs at Bowling Green State University hatch all kinds of ideas, and every year at The Hatch they get to test how those ideas will fly with a panel of possible investors. The fourth Hatch event, modeled on ABC’s “The Shark Tank,” will be presented April 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the ballroom in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union on campus. The event culminates E-Week, a week-long series devoted to entrepreneurship. This year eight ideas, ranging from a solution to a dorm room space problem to a solution for a type of water pollution, will be among the ideas pitched by individuals and teams to a panel of BGSU graduates with money to invest. Kirk Kern, director of the Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, said that the major changes for the event are adding graduate students and students working in teams to the mix. “What we’re trying to do is get a better quality of ideas,” he said. Kern said the vision is to expand even further to include faculty, staff and alumni. Already, he said, graduates will approach staff at the Dallas-Hamilton Center for help developing their business ideas. “That’s a logical extension,” he said. The event is also moving back to the ballroom after one year at the Stroh Center. Last year, Kern said, with 3,500 people attending, the event seemed too overwhelming. The focus is on the business ideas. The eight pitches were culled from 130 applications. Those students selected are then paired up with business mentors who help…


Something to cheer about – BG buys new bleachers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green fans have something to cheer about – and soon they will have something new to sit on while doing so. The board of education voted Tuesday evening to spend $542,000 for new bleachers in the football stadium. A section of the current bleachers was deemed unsafe last year after serious rusting was discovered. The board voted to spend an extra $14,000 to add slip resistant decking. “I think $14,000 is a very good deal compared to the lawsuit from somebody slipping,” board member Ed Whipple said. The district will use its permanent improvement levy revenue to pay for the new bleachers. However, that levy generates $525,000 a year, so general fund monies will also have to be used for the bleachers. District treasurer Rhonda Melchi cautioned the board that the permanent improvement funds may be needed elsewhere. The $542,000 pays for new bleachers on both the home and visitor sides, handicapped accessible restrooms and pays for the old bleachers to be torn down and taken away. Kent Buehrer, the engineer on the project, said the bid actually came in 11.3 percent below estimate. Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, Kenwood Elementary Principal Kathleen Daney talked about all the “Community Connection” programs at the school. Daney listed such programs as: Students painting city snow plows. One Book BG program, which included the community in the book, “The World According to Humphrey.” Thanksgiving canned food drive. Caroling at Heritage Corner Nursing Home. Dear Santa, a district-wide program adopting 20 families with 55 children…


Wood County voters support Kasich and Sanders; Reger wins Republican primary for judge seat

By BG Independent News Wood County voters joined the rest of Ohio in helping hand Ohio Gov. John Kasich a win in his race for the Republican presidential nomination. On the Democratic side, Wood County voters gave more support to Senator Bernie Sanders, though Hillary Clinton captured the state overall. Of Wood County’s 89,280 registered voters, 36,640, or 41 percent, cast ballots for the primary . Here is how Wood County voted in the primary election. DEMOCRATIC BALLOT President (delegates-at-large and alternates-at-large to national convention) Hillary Clinton: 6,108 (45.76%) Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente: 75 (0.56%) Bernie Sanders: 7,165 (53.68%) United States Senate Kelli Prather: 1,628 (13.47%) G. Sittenfeld: 3,006 (24.86%) Ted Strickland: 7,456 (61.67%) Fifth U.S. Congressional District James Neu Jr.: 9,346 Justice of Ohio Supreme Court John P. O’Donnell: 8,383 Justice of Ohio Supreme Court Cynthia Rice: 8,584 Second Ohio Senate District Kirk W. Halliday: 8,473 Third Ohio House District David Walters: 8,585 Sixth District Court of Appeals Jack R. Puffenberger: 8,278 Sixth District Court of Appeals Mark L. Pietrykowski: 8,697 Wood County Common Pleas Judge Steve Long: 8,569 Wood County Commissioner (term commencing 1/2/2017) Edward A. Kolanko: 7,902 Wood County Commissioner (term commencing 1/3/2017) Joel M. Kuhlman: 8,754 Wood County Recorder Julie L. Baumgardner: 9,232 Wood County Sheriff Ruth J. Babel-Smith (write-in): 684 Wood County Treasurer Jason Hartigan: 8,708   GREEN PARTY BALLOT United States Senate Joseph R. DeMare: 74   REPUBLICAN BALLOT President (for delegates-at-large and alternates-at-large to national convention) Jeb Bush: 74 (0.33%) Ben Carson: 190 (0.84%) Chris Christie: 31 (0.14%) Ted Cruz: 3,718 (16.44%)…


Musical specters come to life in string quartet concert on campus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Spektral Quartet lived up to its name when it performed a Music at the Forefront concert Monday at Bowling Green State University. The Chicago-based quartet summoned plenty of specters with its ghostly, translucent sounds. The program included two pieces, Hans Thomalla’s Bagatellen and the formidable Third String Quartet by Beat Furrer. Both robbed the graves of bygone composers to create pieces that entranced and intrigued listeners. Little of the music was made using traditional violin sounds. Both pieces called for the virtuosity of unlikely techniques. The string players – Clara Lyon and Austin Wulliman, violins, Doyle Armbrust, viola, and Russell Rolen, cello – summoned snaps, crackles and pops from their instruments. Those sounds, though defying conventional notions of tunefulness, were strangely captivating. In Bagatellen, made up of nine brief episodes, Thomalla used odd bits of classical quartets by Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn to construct the piece. Not recognizable melodies, but a scale, or a harmony part or a trill. These wafted through the work. Thomalla exploited silence, and near silence, and the hint of silence, and very, very soft sounds to draw listeners in. At one point, the musicians bowed their instruments without making contact with the strings. At other times, they rubbed the bodies of their violins with the bows and then stroked the tuning pegs. The slightest sound from the audience, even the scratching of a pencil on a program, crackled loudly. When the piece ended, it resolved not on any harmonic tonic but in silence. Furrer’s quartet also called for…