Ashley Furniture plans to open in BG by November

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ashley Furniture store plans to soon furnish a store here in Bowling Green. On Wednesday evening, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance request from the home furnishings store. Ashley Furniture applied for variance to put up a larger sign than permitted at 816 S. Main St., in the same strip of stores as Big Lots and Subway. The location was formerly a Hallmark store. “They just want a larger sign to be seen from the road,” said Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals questioned Ashley Furniture representatives about the hardship that the sign restrictions placed on the company. Company officials said the larger sign would be proportionate to the 24,000 square foot store, and would be able to be seen from the road, Sayler said. The board agreed to allow the variance. Company officials reported the furniture store may be open by November. Ashley Furniture has had a distribution center in Bowling Green since 2006. The warehouse, located in Bellard Business Park on the north end of the city, is currently undergoing an expansion to double its size, Sayler said. The retail Ashley Furniture site is leasing the South Main Street space from Southwood Plaza LLC/Tolson Enterprises, in Toledo. “Having a filled-in space is wonderful,” Sayler said. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. “It seemed like a nature fit,” Sayler said this morning. Also moving into the same strip of stores is a Rapid Fire Pizza restaurant, which will be located just to the south of Ashley Furniture. The zoning variance for Ashley Furniture was requested by Advance Sign Group, to allow the construction of a wall sign that would be 191.42 square feet in size, which is 79.42 square feet larger than allowed in the city’s B-2 general commercial zoning district. The request also asks for permission for the sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the building, reading “Ashley Homestore Select,” will be the only sign for the new business. Ashley Furniture currently has other area retail locations in Findlay and in Spring Meadows shopping center near Toledo.  


Opiate addictions treated like disease, not choice

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he sat in his mother’s garage with a gun in his mouth. “I just wanted to die,” Bell told an audience at Bowling Green State University Wednesday evening. “The only reason I didn’t pull the trigger is because I didn’t want her to find me like that.” Bell was one of the lucky ones. Every day in Ohio, eight people die from opiate related overdoses. “Those are good people, who got sucked in,” he said during the program on heroin and opiates. The opiate problem has been going on for more than a century, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. But it didn’t seem to matter when Asians used it as they built the railroads across the nation. Or when poor African Americans and Appalachians returned from the Vietnam War using it. But now it’s different. “It’s the first time it’s affected young, white, affluent people,” Boxill said. Ohio has the distinction of ranking second in the nation for overdose deaths. Bell was almost one of those statistics. He grew up with an idyllic childhood in a middle class family in Walbridge. “I went to a good school. I got straight As. I played sports. I went to church.” He had a loving family that ate dinner together each evening. He stayed away from drugs and alcohol and even dumped his girlfriend after he heard a rumor that she had smoked a cigarette. But then he went from his small school to St. Francis, where there was much more competition. His freshman year, his father was diagnosed with cancer and died six months later. With Bell’s hero gone, he looked for one elsewhere. It started with a cigarette, moved on to beer, then liquor, then cocaine. The day he got his driver’s license, he got a DUI in Rossford. But he was still able to function well enough to play three high school sports, get at 4.0 GPA, and get a baseball scholarship to University of Toledo. But one day in college, turning a double play, Bell tore his rotator cuff. The fairly minor surgery would make a major change in his life. “They sent me home with a prescription for 90 Percocets.” He took the first one. “I remember thinking – I want to feel like this the rest of my life.” The pills were gone in a week, between Bell and a few friends he shared them with. Bell was faced with trying to function without that feeling, or buy pills off the street. “I started buying a lot of pills,” he said. “I graduated from Percocets to Oxycontin.” He was averaging five pills at day, at $50 a pop. At that point, breaking…


Huffine offers software consulting with a personal touch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Susan Huffine brings a personal touch to computer software issues. Huffine has launched HSC Services – Huffine Software Consulting Services – as a full-time business in August. She started the business in March as a part-time endeavor. Now the 1982 graduate of Bowling Green High School is offering knowledge acquired over several decades to area businesses. The software consultant offers a range of services, all customized to the customer’s particular requirements. That includes finding just what software a company needs and how to adapt it to its operations “so the software can work for their company rather than them working for the software.” Huffine also consults on how best to manage systems and analyze a business’s processes. She can set up a basic website and creating advanced databases and spreadsheets for companies. That wide range of services is all delivered with a personal touch. “I need to listen to them,” she said. “I need to ask them questions before I can get to the nitty gritty of what they really need. I cannot create database without them, constantly meeting with them asking questions.” Huffine comes from family of business people. Her father, Bob Huffine, ran a car repair shop in Custar, and her mother, Kay, did the books and continues to work part time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the village. “My mother taught me my love for numbers.” She’s proud to have the Huffine name on another business and feels her father, who died in January, is “watching me.” That family background in small business also gives her insight in what it’s like to operate a business, including how tight finances can be. She tries to set her fees accordingly. Huffine, though, didn’t set out to operate a business. She has always loved music and influenced by long-time high school choral director Jim Brown she went to Bowling Green State University to study vocal music. “But life didn’t direct me in that way.” She switched to business education. “I was floundering.” As a student worker in the Career Center at a time when computers were first taking hold, three counselors noted her high tech skills and advised her to go into business. She graduated with a business degree with specialization in Management Information Systems in 2000. Twelve years later she got her master’s in organizational development. With her degrees in hand, Huffine turned her sights to starting her own business. “Education was my goal, now my business is my goal.” She worked for more than 20 years at BGSU and taught her first computer classes there in 2000.  At BGSU she worked with Carl Dettmer. When he moved to Owens Community College, Huffine started teaching one-day classes there, both in Perrysburg Township and Findlay. She also worked part-time for Gail Mercer…


Park district to preserve farm, restore wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt sat on the porch of their farmhouse as people started showing up for the Wood County Park District meeting Tuesday. They gazed out on their cornfield as they talked about their plans to donate their property to the park district to preserve it for future generations. “We didn’t want it to turn into that,” Doug Pratt said, pointing at the roofs in a nearby housing subdivision. They guaranteed that won’t happen by turning over 160 acres of fields and farm homestead to the park district. Bob Hawker, park board president, praised the Pratts for their generosity and appreciation of parks. After Tuesday’s park board meeting, the board members toured the land and house that the Pratt’s were leaving to local citizens. For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. The 160 acres of fields and farm homestead are split by Hull Prairie Road, just north of Roachton Road. The farmland is almost completely surrounded by housing developments, and will soon be neighbor to the newest Perrysburg school. The Pratts asked that the park district dedicate about 40 acres for sports fields, then use the remaining 120 acres for trails, trees, a pond, cross country skiing and picnic areas. The couple asked only that the park district be good stewards to their land. “Preserve it as open land and provide a place for recreation for years to come,” and preserve the family name, Mary Ellen Pratt asked. The 160-acre park area will be the second largest county park, next to the Bradner Preserve, and is estimated to be worth millions of dollars to the district. In addition to the acreage, the couple is also leaving their historic Hull Prairie home to the park district. The land and home will remain in the Pratts’ hands as long as they live. In other business, Park District Director Neil Munger reported that the park district will be working to restore a small portion of the Great Black Swamp with a grant received from the North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts. The grant will be used to help transform a 40-acre portion of Reuthinger Park off Oregon Road into a wetlands. The park district is the first recipient of such a grant in Ohio, Munger said. Work will begin next year. “I’m really excited to get this up and running,” he said. The program helps replace wetlands areas in regions where wetlands have been disrupted. The process entails taking the topsoil off the area, excavating a “pan,” then putting the topsoil back so the original plant species return. Dikes with paths will allow people to walk through the wetland, according to Jeff Baney, the park district assistant director. “These generally…


Ohio swing state status comes with privilege & pain

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio is just a face in the crowd of 50 states most years. But every fourth year, we have bragging rights that our votes truly count. As Ohioans, we get showered with attention every presidential election – and unlike citizens in New York or California, we matter. That’s because Ohio has picked winners in presidential elections 28 out of 30 times since 1896. “Ohio, hands down is the most important,” said Melissa Miller, political science professor at Bowling Green State University. “We have the best record of swinging to the winner.” Ohio isn’t just a bellwether state, it is THE bellwether state, Miller said Tuesday. And this year, we may well be the swingingest of the swing states. “We could be the Florida of 2000,” she said. Miller will be giving a presentation for the public about Ohio’s status as a swing state, Wednesday at 7 p.m., at Zoar Lutheran Church, 314 E. Indiana Ave., in Perrysburg. Miller will talk about Ohio’s role as a battleground state – which puts its residents in the bulls eye for both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s campaigns. The latest polls which include all four candidates – Clinton, Trump, the Libertarian’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein – show Clinton and Trump incredibly close in Ohio. “They’ve been neck and neck for a long time,” she said. And the campaigns know more about Ohio than many Ohioans do. They know that Ohio most closely maps the national popular vote. The average deviation has only been off by 2.2 percent in the last 30 elections, Miller said. They know Ohio most often puts the winner over the top in the Electoral College. “That’s huge,” she said. “We provide the last little edge” to push the winner over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. “That to me is just stunning.” Other battleground states are important. But none of them – not Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Iowa or New Hampshire – have the long history of picking winners like Ohio. With our battleground status comes some privileges and some pain. We have more power, and are listened to more by the campaigns. The saying, “one person, one vote,” may hold true – it’s just that our votes count more. “Ohio voters have more influence,” than true blue or red states, Miller said. “That gives Ohio a privileged position.” It’s not that those votes come cheap. We pay for those with endless campaign commercials, robo calls, knocks on our doors, and candidate visits to our communities. “We are so privileged to be the picker of presidents. Not only do we have undue influence, but you don’t get a front row seat if you live in North Dakota or Massachusetts.” So we are more pampered than voters…


BGSU setting sights on rising in U.S. News college rankings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University continues to hover just above the 100 mark for the Top Public National Universities by U.S. News and World Report. That’s down a bit from last year, when BGSU was 101 in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges”, and lower on the list than President Mary Ellen Mazey would like to be. “There’s always room for improvement,” she said. Still she said she was pleased. The ranking puts BGSU in the top tier of national public universities, along with three of its sister Ohio institutions – Miami, Ohio University and Kent State. BGSU placed 194th on the overall National University list. The top 20 schools there are all private institutions, Mazey said, with large endowments. “We do compete with them,” she said. She feels BGSU holds its own, probably because of cost. The university was ranked 184th in the Best Undergraduate Business Programs category. Some do question the value of the rankings. “There’s a debate about it,” Mazey said. “I know some of my predecessors here didn’t put as much emphasis on it. But our parents and students look at these rankings, so therefore I think it’s important.” BGSU has been in the 90s and lower 100s for a number of years. Mazey said she was impressed with BGSU’s 92nd ranking when she arrived in 2011. “If you place an emphasis, you can move,” she said. “But then again, everyone’s trying to do that. It’s a very competitive environment. We’re going to have a greater emphasis on it this year.” The rankings are based on perceptions of administrators at other top universities, and high school guidance counselors. But looming larger are other factors. Most of those the university has already been working on. Student graduation rates, either in four or six years, count for 20 percent of the score. Attracting top quality students also is an important factor and has been an emphasis in recruiting. This fall the university boasted the best academically prepared freshman class in its history. Faculty salary and degrees, and student-faculty ratio all play a part; as do the number of small classes under 20 students, and large classes over 50. Mazey said BGSU has relatively few large sections, and she said she wants an administrator to look at the data for small classes to make sure the university is submitting the correct data. Alumni giving is a another relatively minor factor. Seven percent of BGSU alumni give money to the school. That compares to 21 percent for Miami and 4 percent for Kent. University initiatives in all these areas have been underway for several years, and were the focus of Mazey’s State of the University address early this month. “I think about this over and over and over,” she said. “My only goal is…


BG wastewater rates not keeping up with costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wastewater is not exactly viewed as a prized commodity, like water or electricity. But Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening that they aren’t charging enough for their wastewater services. “Wastewater is kind of a weird animal,” Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said Monday afternoon. Unlike water and electric, for which customers are charged more when the city delivers more – with wastewater the city charges for taking away a used product.  “There’s little ability to grow sales.” The city recently hired a consultant to look at the current wastewater rate structure, and look at the expenses to operate the city’s wastewater plant. The study found that the city is undercharging its customers. “We not currently collecting enough to fund the utility,” O’Connell said. The results of the study were presented to the city’s board of public utilities, with recommendations that revenues need to increase by about 21 percent in order to meet the projected 2020 revenue requirements. “We need to have a rate adjustment,” O’Connell said. The rate hikes will be spread out over four years, with 5 or 6 percent increases each year. The wastewater study also noted that the city’s residential and industrial customers are currently subsidizing the commercial and wholesale customers. Consequently, the commercial and wholesale customers will see larger increases than the residential and industrial users. “You don’t want those numbers to get too far out of whack,” O’Connell explained. As is typical, the board of public utilities will be given some time to digest the wastewater report before voting on any rate increase plan. O’Connell expects the board to make a decision at its Oct. 10 meeting. “It gives the board time to think about it,” he said. O’Connell sees the proposed rate increases as reasonable, especially since they will be spread out over a period of four years. “They can plan for it. It’s a more moderate increase for them,” he said. The study listed typical wastewater bills for each type of customer in Bowling Green. The average monthly residential bill is currently $17.30. Over the next four years, the proposed rate increase would bump the average monthly residential bill to $18.21 in 2017, $19.12 in 2018, $20.03 in 2019, and finally $21 in 2020. The report also compared wastewater bills in Bowling Green to those in other municipalities in the region.  Those monthly residential averages were $65.29 in Napoleon, $34.08 in Perrysburg, $30.94 in Fremont, and $26.41 in Findlay. The average commercial bill for wastewater in Bowling Green right now is $89.75. The proposed rate increases would hike those another $4.31 per month each year until 2020 when they will reach $107 a month. That compares to commercial monthly rates of $206.69 in Napoleon, $204.46 in Perrysburg, $162.44 in Fremont, and $97.36 in…


BG recycling efforts trashed with 35% garbage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ken Rieman is accustomed to handling some pretty disgusting stuff. But lately, his job is enough to test even the toughest of stomachs. Last week, as he sorted through items at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, he came across raw hamburger squirming with maggots, dirty diapers and used feminine hygiene products. In the past, the amount of trash placed in residential recycling bins has averaged anywhere from 7 to 18 percent. But in the last couple weeks, that amount has jumped up to 35 percent. “That’s totally insane. We can’t handle that,” Rieman said. “That’s what I call abusing the system.” Rieman thinks he knows the reason behind the increase. He believes it’s an unintended consequence of the city’s new trash bin rules. He suspects the city requiring garbage bin lids to be closed is leading people with overflowing trash bins to sneak their extra garbage into their recycling bins. “The only explanation I have is the city trash rules,” he said. “They’ve said the lid has to be closed, so where does the trash go now?” On Friday, he stood at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, hand sorting items from bags that city residents had placed in their recycling bins. He sifted through cigarette butts, a filthy towel, footstool, used kitty litter, disc brakes, a broken scooter and rocks. “Anyone who thinks I ought to be sorting for recyclables is welcome to take my job,” Rieman said. But Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft isn’t jumping to any conclusions that the new trash rules are causing the problem. “Trash in recycling has always been a problem,” particularly at the beginning of every fall semester as Bowling Green State University students return, Craft said. Every August and September, city workers visit neighborhoods near campus to educate students about trash and recycling rules. And this year may require even more education with the city’s new trash rules in place. The worst problems are occurring on Wednesdays, when the recyclables are picked up on the east side of Main Street, where most of the student population lives. “There are always people who won’t follow the rules,” Craft said. “You’ve got to give us a chance to educate people.” Since the recycling bins are dumped into city trucks with an automated arm, there is no way for workers to see trash in the containers. “There’s really not a whole lot we can do,” besides try to educate residents, Craft said. As Rieman picked through the trash with thick gloves on last week, he pulled out papers showing violators’ addresses to turn over to the city to contact the offenders. “We’ve got to get a handle on this. It’s a matter of do it right or don’t do it at all,” he said. Rieman isn’t…


Time’s up for parking meters replaced by kiosks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lilly Hinebaugh stood in front of the parking kiosk, reading the instructions. “Oh my God,” she said in response to the command that she enter her license plate number on the digital pad. So she sent her friend back to the car. “Can you go over and yell it to me?” “This is annoying,” said Hinebaugh, a BGSU student from Huron. She wasn’t alone. Monday was the first day that the new parking kiosks were in operation in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks have taken the place of the individual parking meters, and require the motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. Rebeca Olivarez also was caught off guard. “I didn’t know my number. I had to go back. It was kind of a hassle,” she said. “It was easier to use a meter.” However, Olivarez said she liked the option of using a credit card with the kiosk. “That’s good if you don’t have change.” And she realized that like anything different, it takes time to get accustomed to it. “It’s just new,” she said. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot now to notify people of the changes. That didn’t help Traci Rodgers, one of the drivers unlucky enough to end up with a ticket on her car. “I didn’t know I had to pay,” she said, as she walked around the lot with the yellow ticket that will cost her $5. “It’s crazy. This is a big pain in the butt.” Bowling Green parking technician Jamie Cook spent most of her morning Monday walking people through the kiosk system. “It’s the questions we get all the time about parking,” she said. “Trust me, it’s a learning curve.” Motorists are pleased about a couple features of the system, Cook said. “People are very thankful they take credit cards,” she said. And if drivers input their cell phone number, they will be texted 10 minutes prior to their time expiring. They can then renew their parking time on their smart phones. The city’s parking technicians will still patrol the parking lots, but now they will carry hand-held devices that will tell them which cars have expired time. City officials spent time in the parking lot this afternoon, and have plans to change a couple prompts on the kiosk for tomorrow, said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “We’re asking people to remain patient,” Fawcett said. “It’s going to be a learning process for all of us.” Bowling Green officials chose between three types of parking payment kiosks – pay…


Black Swamp Arts Festival Update: Closing time

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS (This is  the last of our blog posts about the Black Swamp Arts Festival. See you next year.) Every year I get that wistful feeling when Main Street in downtown Bowling Green reverts to its workaday self after the two and a half days of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. It’s like seeing the first discarded Christmas tree on the curb. The festival came off well. All those weather worries proved for naught. Saturday had intermittent showers, and late in the afternoon there were sudden hard gusts of wind, that had artists and helpers scurrying to better secure their booths. But that passed. If they gave a best of show honors for weather, Sunday would certainly be a top contender. One thing artists have consistently noted is that when it rains at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, the crowds seek cover in shops and booths and then return as soon as the rain stops. They don’t just go away. The result was Saturday wasn’t a bad day for art sales, and Sunday was far better. Ceramicist Jan Bostwick said she and her partner were “clicking our heels” over the amount of pottery she moved, and fabric artist Becca Levenson gleefully compressed her remaining stock into less than two feet of rack space. Now they’ll be back to work, producing more merchandise for their next fairs. Others didn’t fare as well. Jeweler Amy Beeler said hers were all right. That’s been true the entire season. She’d been told by veteran exhibitors that sales always get slow during presidential election years, especially when there’s no incumbent in the race. Most artists said their sales were good. Amy Craft Ahrens, co-chair of the concessions committee, said that sales in the beer garden were up dramatically on Friday, and just a little off on Saturday night. Speaking just as the festival was closing down, she said she was optimistic about Sunday given the length of the lines. Certainly the crowds seemed larger than usual for Sunday, which is not surprising, since it was a break, not just from Saturday’s showers, but the oppressive humidity late last week. It was a great day to be outdoors, noshing, looking at and buying art and taking in some great sounds. Homegrown talent was evident more than ever this year. Two Bowling Green musicians made their Main Stage debuts, Corey Baum with his country band from Austin, Texas, Croy and the Boys and Grant Flick playing with his buddies, Josh Turner, guitar, and Jacob Warren, bass. Baum’s band added a wry approach to classic country with originals that held their own next to covers of songs by artists such as George Jones. Having heard Flick before with his dad in Acoustic Penguin, his set on the Community Stage, demonstrated why he has such a…


180th Fighter Wing shares tribute video created for local 9/11 memorial

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Anyone old enough to remember the Sept. 11 attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives in New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, remember where they were when news broke of the terrorist attacks. As part of a memorial to those lives lost, members of the 180th Fighter Wing tell their stories of that day. One was still in school, in shop class, another was in a meeting at Wood Lane offices. One was serving in Saudi Arabia, another in New York City. And one was at the 180th, and piloted one of the many military jets scrambled that day. The 180th Fighter Wing is the site of Northwest Ohio’s 9/11 Memorial, currently under construction. Members of the 180th Fighter Wing were able to collect artifacts for the memorial, including steel beams from the World Trade Center, limestone from the Pentagon and soil from Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed. The memorial, designed as a sun dial, will also include locally, hand-blown glass pieces representing the 2,977 lives lost in the attacks. The memorial should be completed by Sept. 11, 2017.


Soprano Stacey Mastrian honors Italian heritage with art song recital

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Comic timing brought composer Christopher Dietz and singer Stacey Mastrian together. Dietz, who teaches composition at Bowling Green State University, heard the Seattle-based soprano perform on a contemporary music concert. She sang a comic piece, and Dietz also had a comic piece performed on the same bill. Two funny pieces on one contemporary music recital is extraordinary, Dietz said. “I should talk to this person,” the composer said. He was impressed by her musical technique, “impeccable intonation” as well as her “sure sense of the personality of the piece.” “She sold it with such confidence,” he said. That she was able to execute a difficult contemporary piece and perform it in an engaging manner, set her apart, Dietz said. “This is a special kind of singer.” They’ve been in touch ever since then, and now with funding and timing falling in line, Mastrian is now visiting BGSU. She’s working with students, both composers and singers. Mastrian will perform a recital, Post-Puccini: The Contemporary Voice, Saturday at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall on campus. She will perform vocal works composed between 1923 and the present by Luciano Berio, John Cage, Alfredo Casella, Thomas DeLio, Bruno Maderna, Stephen Lilly, and Luigi Nono. The recital has ample selections representing Mastrian’s own particular specialty, art songs from Italy. She always loved art songs, but she wondered why there were so few from Italian composers. “People may know Respighi.” Mastrian is of Italian extraction. The family name was Mastroianni “until a few letters got chopped off” during the immigration process in the early 20th century. “Italian has always resonated with me,” she said. She started studying the language when she was in high school. This meshed well with her growing interest in contemporary music. She did her undergraduate work at Catholic University in Washington D.C. where she had limited exposure to contemporary music. She did not care for what she heard in music history class. But during the orientation period at the start of her graduate studies at the University of Maryland College Park, she met composers her age. Mastrian, the daughter of an engineer, was fascinated by the spectrographs they were studying. So she got to know them and their work. She performed in a piece for four voices and found percussion. Then other student composers started writing for her as did faculty. Within the wide range of music she sings from Monteverdi to now, contemporary music, especially from Italy and America, has a special hold on her. On Saturday’s recital she will sing a rarely performed major work by Luigi Nono for electronics and voice from 1964. The piece incorporates recordings of factory workers and factory sounds. In these recordings the workers talk about the toll their jobs took on their mental and physical health as well…


State Democrats point out difference between tax cuts and tax shifts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tax cuts sound great – until communities realize the “cuts” are just shifts from the state to them. A group of Ohio House Democrats swung by Bowling Green during a statewide tour on Thursday, telling citizens to not fall for the “tax cut” promises. They joined up with House of Representatives candidate Kelly Wicks at Grounds for Thought to share their message. In an effort to reduce taxes, the state merely shifted responsibilities to local communities and schools, the Democrats said. It works like this: the state looks like the good guy by collecting lower taxes from residents and businesses, then the state slashes the money it previously sent to local governments and schools. That means schools need to pass more levies to pay for equipment and buildings. Libraries need to pass more levies to pay for books and bookmobiles. Municipalities need to pass more levies to pay for fire trucks, parks and roads. And college students have to pay fees for services that were previously part of the tuition, and walk away with degrees and debts up to $80,000. Meanwhile the state still looks like the good guy, and citizens are angry with local government, schools and colleges for asking for more money. The city of Bowling Green took an annual $1.3 million hit with cuts in the Local Government Fund and loss of estate and CAT taxes. “That doesn’t make sense that we are putting that much pressure” on local government and citizens, Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn said. “We want to make government in Columbus work for you, not against you.” This week on Labor Day, while the nation celebrated the contributions of workers who built America, state Democratic leaders are looking out for the next generation of workers, Strahorn said. The country has recovered from its recession – with automakers back to making a profit, the housing market making a rebound, and Wall Street recouping just fine. But the average worker has not enjoyed the same recovery, Strahorn, of Dayton, said. “People are working harder,” but not taking home any more money. The American dream seems unattainable for many. State Rep. Nick Celebreeze, D-Parma, talked about a state tax cut that saved the average family about $40 a year in taxes. That same tax cut led to Local Government Funds being slashed by $1.7 billion, resulting in roads in disrepair, and schools and cities dependent on their already struggling citizenry to pass tax levies. “It was not a tax break for everyone,” Celebreeze said. “It was a tax shift.” Wicks talked about a tax cut from the state that was sold to communities and businesses as a way to grow the economy. But the end result netted about 11 cents an hour for Wicks’ business, Grounds for…


Zoning change would not take buildings to new heights

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to change the zoning code on building heights – not to raise limits, but to limit the questions raised. An amendment has been proposed that would eliminate the maximum floor limitation for all zoning districts. But the zoning would maintain the maximum height limitations. The number of floors would still be regulated by Wood County Building Inspection, which enforces the Ohio Building Code. According to Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler, the change would alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning which poses limits on the number of floors and the height of buildings. The issue came up again earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. That proposal exceeded the city’s height and story limits, and the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the request for a variance. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed hotel would have been a relatively new Hilton product called Home 2, which offers extended stays. The change in the zoning language would allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet. Sayler said she is unsure if the Hilton hotel project is still a possibility. The developers had submitted a new proposal that reduced the hotel height to 60 feet. The new zoning language would allow the desired five stories, as long as it complied with the 60-foot limit. However, Sayler said the developers have not been in contact with the planning office for months. The modified zoning language could prevent such confusion in the future, Sayler said. The cities of Perrysburg and Findlay took similar actions in the last few years because those communities were experiencing the same problems with dual height and floor regulations. A public hearing on the zoning amendment will be held at the Bowling Green Planning Commission’s next meeting on Oct. 5, at 7 p.m., in the city building, 304 N. Church St. Also at Wednesday’s planning commission meeting, Sayler reported on the number of zoning permits applied for in the city so far this year, compared to the previous year at this time. She listed: 270 total zoning permits this year, compared to 275 in 2015. 25 single family residential this year, compared to 20. 3 commercial zoning permits this year, compared to 0. 1 industrial zoning permit, compared to 0. 1 institutional zoning permit, compared to 0. “We’re stable, as far as development goes,” Sayler said.  


BG picks three streets to make bike-friendly

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Engineer Jason Sisco admitted the city map showing a handful of yellow streets as possible bike routes didn’t look like much. But it was a start – and that’s what bicyclists have been seeking for years. During a Complete Streets meeting held by the Transportation and Safety Committee prior to the City Council meeting Tuesday evening, the first steps were introduced to make a few streets more accommodating for bicyclists. Complete Streets is a concept that calls for roads to be safe and accessible for all modes of travel – including bikes. The city adopted a long range plan in 2007, identifying several streets to become more bike-friendly. But that’s where it stopped when money got tight. “It went on the back burner,” city council member Sandy Rowland said. A community meeting this past summer brought together cyclists talking about the risks of riding in Bowling Green. They identified several streets they would like to see improved for bicyclists. “We certainly had a loud and clear message,” Rowland said. “They were tired of waiting.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed, saying the city needs “at least one street we are working on in earnest.” And council member John Zanfardino said bicyclists have told him they will gravitate to safer roads – and any improvements are better than doing nothing. The Bicycle Safety Commission helped by narrowing down the street list to the top six that should be made more bike-friendly. Those streets were Conneaut, Fairview, Court, Clough, Pearl and Maple. During Tuesday’s Complete Streets meeting, that number was narrowed further to the top three. Conneaut and Fairview were selected because those streets are on the city’s paving project list for next year. Court was selected because of its link between the university and the downtown. “It’s a starting point, something manageable,” Sisco said. But they aren’t cheap. The city applied for funding to resurface Conneaut and Fairview in 2017. However, officials did not include any bicycle accommodations in the project. So, the city will have to pay for those additions. For Conneaut and Fairview, that extra price tag adds up to about $250,000. And the proposal discussed Tuesday evening includes a complicated combination of routes. It starts at Fairview and Poe roads by widening the sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to 6 feet. Then it crosses the street between Liberty and Evers to the west side of Fairview. After the meeting, Sisco said the city rejected the idea to add space for bikes on the west side of Fairview since it could pose a risk to have the riders so close to golfers at the Bowling Green Country Club. Putting a barrier between the golf course and bike lane could be quite costly. On Conneaut, the plan suggests…