Bowling Green Parks and Recreation

Bigfoot believers or Sasquatch skeptics? Keep an open mind

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Marc DeWerth gave people the courage to come out of the closet on Saturday – and admit that Bigfoot might really be out there. DeWerth, a Bigfoot investigator for three decades, was a skeptic for many of those years. But then it happened. He was out looking for a badger den when he heard what he thought was a cougar tracking him. He soon realized the creature following him was walking on two feet. To this day, DeWerth remembers everything about the encounter on April 20, 1997, at 4:06 p.m., near Wills Creek in the Coshocton area. He remembers the towering black hairy figure that he had been hoping to find for years. But when he was standing there and made eye contact with the Bigfoot, all DeWerth could do was hope that the creature would leave. On Saturday, DeWerth talked about sightings all over the nation of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti – whatever the regional name is for the elusive creature. A guest of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, he spoke at the Simpson Park Building to a packed room of believers, skeptics and people everywhere in between. “Most people will give you the stink eye,” when he starts talking about Bigfoot, DeWerth said. “Skepticism is healthy.” “I was a skeptic. There was never a shred of evidence,” he said of his early investigation efforts. “I’m thinking these people are lunatics.” But after interviewing 335 people who have claimed sightings, many of them very credible, DeWerth is a true believer. “Bigfoot is alive and well,” he said. But don’t expect to see one in your backyard – unless you live in the hills and hollers of places like southeastern Ohio. Throughout history, many totem poles carved by Native Americans included ape-like creatures, though no such animal is documented in North America. The adult Bigfoot range from 6 to 10 feet tall, and weigh between 350…


Big year at BG parks – bubble soccer, Bigfoot & more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bigfoot, bubble soccer and birthday party packages are part the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department’s plans for 2018. Those, of course, are among the more click-worthy items planned. There are also the more humdrum items like policy reviews, paving, and painting at the pool. On Tuesday evening, the parks and recreation board reviewed accomplishments from 2017 and goals for 2018. The accomplishments included adding more youth and family fitness programs, making parks more accessible to people with disabilities, repairing the stone wall around City Park, paving more trails at Simpson Garden Park, beginning two-acre prairie expansion behind the Community Center, and adding to the splashpad at the pool. “We got a lot done in 2017,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. The goals for this year include: Demolish the Veterans Building, Scout Building and Depot in City Park and replace it with one new building. Expand youth and family fitness programs. Start bubble soccer league. Expand birthday party packages. Start programs for adult birding and adult nature study. Level and reseed turf in open area at Ridge Park. Continue paving trails at Simpson Garden Park. Continue to expand hosta garden to 1,000 different species. Continue to expand outdoor obstacle course behind community center. Offer aqua spinning class at the pool. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley presented numbers of people participating in various park programs. The total number of people attending park and recreation events last year was 18,591. “It’s pretty neat to look at that. I feel great about that,” Otley said. Jeff Crawford, president of the park and rec board, complimented Otley and her team for reaching that number. “Congratulations. I’m actually staggered at these numbers,” Crawford said. Following are some of the events and numbers presented: 3,906 attended community special events, like the Brown Bag Music Series, Frostbite Run, Art in the Park, pet show, concerts and lunches in…


BG Healing Garden to get some doctoring of its own

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some doctoring of the Healing Garden is planned for next year in Simpson Garden Park. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation recently donated $27,500 for concrete work at the Healing Garden to make it accessible to all. That work will be part of a complete redesign of the garden, Park Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz told the city’s park and recreation board Tuesday evening. The Healing Garden is located on the far east end of the Simpson Garden Park, with access from Wood County Hospital. In the past, the garden has had more of a medieval medicine garden feel, Gajewicz said. But next spring, the garden will be replanted to have a more holistic philosophy. “There will be more of a mind, body and spirit approach to it,” he said. “It will be less of a curiosity and more interactive.” For example, the plantings will include some “interactive thyme,” that will generate a calming scent as people walk through or even recline in it. “We want the garden to be less of a walk-by,” Gajewicz said. Programming outside of gardening may include relaxation, Tai Chi, yoga and other forms of exercise that are low impact but would benefit from a garden surrounding. The area will promote peace and calm and will have a collection of healing plants and trees to provide shade in the otherwise open sunlight environment, according to Gajewicz. In other business at the board meeting Tuesday evening, a letter from a soccer coach was read by Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. The letter told of the impact the park and recreation’s D-League soccer program had on one family. The coach said he was recently approached by a mother, who said her foster daughter had come from an exceptionally difficult background, was very shy and rarely spoke or showed emotion. The mother, who was visibly moved, said she wanted to get the girl…


Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log hurdles, trenches full of water, an Army crawling obstacle, a tunnel, and plenty of mud. The “zombified” humans along the course are students from the Bowling Green High School DECA program. Last year there were 35 to 40 of them. But upon request, Kovacevic has boosted the blood thirsty predators. “We’re hoping to have about…


City athletic fields taking shape by community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 20 acres behind the Bowling Green community center are gradually taking shape – with soccer goals to score, obstacles to climb, and soon open grassy fields to play on. Last year, four of the 20 acres just south of the community center were turned into “pristine game fields,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. That was the first goal for that site in the five-year master plan, Otley reported to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board last week. Then an obstacle course was built for those wanting an extra challenge. And a portion of the acreage is being restored as a natural prairie area. Next the remaining 12 acres or so will be leveled and reseeded for an open grassy play space. “The plan has always been to level and seed,” so the site will be “playable for anything.” In time, the space could be used for some outdoor fitness classes, Otley said. Parking for the athletic site is in front of the community center, so a trail will be paved between the parking lot and the fields. And since Newton Road has flooded twice in recent years and required closure of the community center, the paved trail may be wide enough to be used as an emergency roadway from Haskins Road to the community center. Eventually, restrooms and more storage may be added to the athletic fields as well, Otley said. A fence was erected last year along Haskins Road to keep soccer balls from bouncing in the road and kids chasing after them. And earlier this year, a fence was constructed between the athletic fields and the fairgrounds to the south by the National Tractor Pulling Association. The policies approved by the board for use of the fields state that the space is designed for sports such as lacrosse, rugby, soccer and volleyball. The site will be used primarily…


Prices hiked to keep fitness class budget healthy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board wants local residents to be healthy – but the board also has to worry about the health of the park and recreation budget. So last week, the board voted to raise prices of fitness classes at the community center in the fall. The board agreed to stop short of larger fee increases considered earlier in the year. The classes are provided through MindBody, and brought in $30,618 last year. However, the classes cost $44,447 to offer. “Our mission is to get people healthy and fit, so we do operate a little differently from a private club or fitness studio – some subsidy of classes is not a bad thing, but we need to keep it balanced,” Kristin Otley, park and recreation director, said in her report to the board. Following is the list of current and proposed rates approved by the board: Drop-in rate will remain unchanged at $8. Monthly rate will increase from $40 to $44. Quarterly rate will go from $105 to $117. Annual rate will increase from $360 to $396. This will be the first time the rates have changed since the community center switched to the MindBody program in the summer of 2015. The park and recreation department will also start a couple promotions to encourage those with MindBody fitness passes to get a community center pass, and to urge those with center passes to try out MindBody classes. Those signing up for a community center pass would receive a coupon for a free month of MindBody. Those purchasing an annual MindBody pass would be given $40 off a center pass. The rate increases should bring in an additional $2,716 annually. The higher rates initially proposed would have generated $4,458 more annually, but concerns were expressed about losing participants due to the increases. Otley reminded the board that while the community center rates should be less…


Art in the air at Simpson Garden

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Simpson Gardens Friday evening was lush with hosta greens, delphinium and coreopsis complemented by artists scattered about the grounds intent on capturing the images of plants, rocks and water. Along with the sounds of birds, mixed the trill of a Chinese bamboo flute, the rumble of a tuba, and young actors singing a show tune. The occasional plop of a drop of rain provided an accent to the thrum of hand drums. The third annual Art in the Park drew more visitors, as well as more artists, said Jacquie Nathan, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, which sponsors the event, hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Artists took time from creating their art to chat with visitors. Landscape artist Barbara Houdeshell has been painting outside, or plein air, for 17 years. It’s a natural for her. “I like painting, and I like people.” Christie Moser, of Bowling Green, had stopped to chat with the painter. Moser moved to town about a year ago, and when she heard about Art in the Park, she knew she wanted to go. “I can really relate to this,” she said. “I’ve been a musician myself all my life,” Moser said. She plays flute and sings.  “I know the passion that swells within the soul that has to be expressed.” Houdeshell’s passion was emerging before her as she looked over a small pond. This is a study that she will bring back to her studio and may turn into a much larger oil painting. She grew up in Wood County, she said, but this is the first time she’d been in Simpson Garden. “The park is absolutely beautiful,” she said. Plein air painting gives the artist a connection to the place, she said. “I can see the real color in front of me and feel the spirit of the place.” Greg Justus, Maumee, got a lot of questions about his medium, alcohol…


Painful loss turned into pleasure at pool for children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Part of Leah Pekarik was dreading Wednesday. That was the day a new splash pad creature was being dedicated in honor of her daughter, Clara, who died last year at just 10 weeks old. But the other part of Pekarik was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community to turn her family’s pain into pleasure for other children in Bowling Green. With the help of community members who love Leah, her husband, Scott, and their son, Bobby, the day of dread turned into a day of joy surrounding Clara’s short life. “Everyone in this community knows Leah and loves her,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “So many community members contacted us and said, ‘We want to do something.’” So the park and recreation program came up with a plan. “We asked people to help us remember Clara and give other children in the community something to smile about,” Otley said. When the new aquatic center was built in City Park, there were not enough funds to furnish the “splash pad” area with “creatures” that spray water on children. The idea was to add a frog creature to the area for $6,000. “We started just with that,” Otley said of the original plan to add a frog to the splash pad in honor of Clara. “We got an outpouring of support from people who knew her and from people who didn’t know her.” So the plan grew, with the Wood County Park District donating money for a “snake” creature spitting water at the splash pad, and the Bowling Green Community Foundation and Bowling Green Parks Foundation paid for “flowers” that dump water onto squealing children. “She had such an impact,” Otley said of Pekarik, who worked for the city parks for 11 years. “People wanted to do something to bring smiles to kids’ faces.” And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday…


BG Arts Council invites artists to get some fresh air

From BG ARTS COUNCIL The Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Avenue, on Friday, June 9th from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Artists of all ages are invited to bring their easels and art supplies to the park to paint in the gardens for this event. Artists can register to participate by sending an email to blair@surrealogic.com. No sales can be made on Park premises; however, artists may bring a sample finished work and are encouraged to bring business cards to distribute. To encourage artist participation, The Art Supply Depō in Bowling Green has donated a $100 gift certificate for the artist voted “People’s Choice” by those in attendance. In addition to the artists at work, Art in the Park will feature hands-on arts activities for children. There will also be local musicians, music by students of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and performances by the Black Swamp Players and Horizon Youth Theatre. Some light refreshments will be provided.


It’s official – spring has sprung in BG city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If the warm temperatures didn’t give it away, the activity at the city’s parks is proof that spring is here. The prices have been set for concession stand hot dogs and ice cream cones at the city pool. The skate park has been repaired and is ready to roll. The outdoor restrooms are open for business. And the invasive garlic mustard weeds are being yanked out by the handfuls. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board heard Tuesday evening about all the preparations underway for summer. At the pool, new splash pad creatures are being installed. And the board voted to raise some prices in the pool concession stand. “Any slight raise will help our bottom line,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley. Postcards will be sent out next week to season pass holders at the pool, to remind them to renew their passes for this summer. Also in City Park, Ivan Kovacevic, the recreation coordinator, is preparing for day camps that keep kids busy every summer. This year will be a little different, he said, with the mornings again following certain themes, but later in the day kids will spend three afternoons in the pool and two playing sports. The summer activity brochures can be found online and in several city and park locations around town. May 1 is the start of signup for city residents, and May 15 is the start for non-residents. Also in City Park, the annual Friday lunches and concerts in the park are being scheduled. And repairs to the skate park have been completed. “That is used so heavily,” Otley said. Over at Wintergarden Park, the renovations to the nature center are progressing, and volunteers are returning to try to get rid of the invasive garlic mustard plants which are finally losing the battle in the 108-acre woods and prairie. “It can come back and take over,” Natural Resources…


BGSU Arts Events, through Jan. 25

Jan. 11—The Faculty Artist Series begins the semester with a performance by cellist Brian Snow. Snow has earned a reputation as a gifted and versatile performer in chamber music, orchestral and solo settings after spending the past decade performing and teaching in the New York City area. His recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 12—The reading series hosted by the Creative Writing Program and the Mid-American Review begins with BGSU graduate students Nick Heeb and Roseanna Boswell. They will present their work at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Jan. 18—The Faculty Artist Series features Conor Nelson on flute. Nelson has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Flint Symphony, among others. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 19—The 59th annual Honor Band and Directors Clinic will feature the BGSU Wind Symphony in performance at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Free Jan. 19—Poet Bruce Weigl will read from his work as part of the Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writer Series. Weigl is the author of “The Circle of Hanh”and more than a dozen other books of poetry, including “The Abundance of Nothing”(2012) and “Song of Napalm”(1988), both of which were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Jan. 20—The Brown Bag Music Series will feature a musical theatre extravaganza by students and faculty from the College of Musical Arts. The program will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., Bowling Green. Free. Jan. 21—The 59th annual Honor Band and Directors Clinic will feature all Ohio Honor Bands. The concert will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 25—The Faculty Artist Series presents pianist Robert Satterlee. He has appeared on the Dame Myra…


How to make New Year’s fitness resolutions stick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The same phenomenon occurs each time the new year rolls around. Gyms are suddenly full of fresh bodies trying desperately to stick to their New Year’s resolutions to get fit. Meanwhile the workout regulars are grumbling and waiting for the newbies to give up. “It’s a madhouse,” said Matt Steck, recreation administrative assistant, as he sat at the front desk of the Bowling Green Community Center on Monday morning. In the first hour of business in the new year, Steck had already sold $1,500 in passes to the center. “The people who have been here forever can’t stand it,” Steck said. But if the trend goes as is customary, many of the new exercisers will fall off the “fitness cliff” by Feb. 18. After that date, the New Year’s resolutions weaken to their breaking point. However, the crew upstairs at the community center said there are some ways to make exercise more bearable so people don’t give up. First, set short term goals – like showing up to the gym three days a week – not running a marathon and losing 50 pounds, said Josh Chatfield, aquatics and fitness manager for Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Second, try to make it enjoyable, not torture. “Do the things you like, and don’t do the things you don’t like,” Chatfield suggested. If using a treadmill, riding a stationary bike and lifting weights sound like drudgery, then play a sport. Play a game of basketball with buddies, “something that is still active,” said fitness specialist Lindy Donaldson. Next – and this one might sound odd – avoid reading stories trying to convince you of the latest and greatest exercise strategies. “Stop reading health magazines,” Chatfield said. “It’s junk.” The articles often focus on the latest buzzwords. “They glaze over what’s important. Flashy and interesting isn’t what’s going to work.” Stay away from the newest trends – such as the “stupid…


“Support our fine Parks and Recreation program” – Gary & Ann Jones

Bowling Green Parks and Recreation: there is so much that can be said in support of our city’s parks and facilities. My wife and I (now in our 70’s) have spent the major portion of our lives living in Bowling Green. And without a doubt, the parks and their facilities have always been an important part of our lives here. We have enjoyed with our friends the Friday summer lunches in City Park with good food provided by local vendors and good musical entertainment. We have enjoyed the excellent Sunday night music from the Needles stage. Our friends from Whitehouse and Findlay bring their children to our pool facility and the well maintained park and playground. And the skate park and the “hockey” rink seem always in use. As we walk the park, I love to look at the beautiful stonework in the stone wall built in the early 1940s. My wife and I have also made good use of Wintergarden, St. John’s, and Tucker woods. The paths wind through so many varieties of trees and plants. We walk the woods daily with our dog Gunnar, and before Gunnar with our dog Abby, and before Abby our dog Lady. What a treat for both us and the dogs. We see deer (almost every trip), fox, raccoon, turtles, frogs, toads, geese, ducks, woodcocks, so many varieties of birds and much more. No two days are the same. And the Bordner Meadow reproduces a meadow of the early 1800s. Once, we met a man from Missouri who asked us if we knew how lucky we were to have all of this within our city limits. We do know! I have only mentioned two of our parks that my wife and I love. There are others just as important. Try to picture Bowing Green without them. How sad it would be.The current levy amount has remained the same for 16 years. But much has changed in those sixteen…


Sun sets the stage for Art in the Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News All kinds of artists turned out for Bowling Green’s second annual Art in the Park in Simpson Garden Park. Artists were drawing, painting, doing needle work. Adult and budding actors staged shows. Performer Nick Zoulek blew saxophone; Michiko Saiki blew bubbles. And, of course, there were those who expressed their artistic inclinations by snapping photos with their smart phones. Jacqueline Nathan, president of the Bowling Green Arts Council, said the Art in the Park was a success, drawing at least as many attendees as last year’s inaugural event. Sunny weather in the 80s certainly helped. Aaron Pickens, of Grand Rapids, was painting a line of arbor vitae. Painting outdoors is way of taking a break from his highly detailed and realistic paintings of toys. Those can take 500 hours to complete. But if painting outdoors is fun, it’s serious fun. Painting outdoors is a challenge. There’s so much detail, he said. “You have to learn what to leave out. The landscape taught me how to paint.” Denise Carter was working on a rag rug that will serve as a wall hanging. She pulled brightly colored fabric through the weave of a coffee bean sack. The fabric became flowers, but Carter wasn’t depicting the blossoms in front of her. For her working outside was enjoyable because the colors were so much brighter in the full sun. Nearby in the amphitheater the sun served as stage lighting for theater. The Black Swamp Players offered the all-too-topical political satire “The Spot” about the filming of a candidate’s television commercial. The one-act play cast light on a process where the best kind of authenticity is the totally fake variety. Horizon Youth Theatre offered up an excerpt from their upcoming musical “Honk!” The open air setting seemed quite fitting for the mother duckling played by Sky Frishman to sing about the trials and joys of being mother to a feathery brood. She lamented that…