downtown Bowling Green

BG Council votes to buy downtown property for parking, restrooms, Four Corners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council voted Monday to move ahead with buying land to create more metered parking downtown, provide restrooms for Wooster Green, and preserve the location of the Four Corners Center. Council approved an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. “These are all things necessary to keep our downtown moving forward,” said council member Bruce Jeffers after the vote. The purchase covers four properties. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building restrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials to discuss the building. The landowner also owns a nearby parking area behind Ben’s and the building at 130 S. Main St. – the current home of the Four Corners Center. Four Corners downtown While city officials are not interested in owning the Four Corners Center building, they recognize the community value of that site. Located there are the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG, and Economic Development office. The lease for that building expires on Dec. 5, 2020. So, by acquiring the LLC that owns the building and holds the lease, the city can take ownership of the lease – ensuring no changes for the tenants. City officials then plan to sell that building prior to its lease expiring, with a provision that the Four Corners Center be given a lease arrangement for the building with a rental amount set. The cost for the mini-bank area, parking lot behind Ben’s, and building at 130 S. Main St. will be $730,000. Also being sold are the building at 123 S. Church St., currently housing Bowling Green Mirror and Glass, owned by the Bortel family, plus the parking lot to the west of that building. An unspecified downtown business owner has decided to purchase that building and the parking spaces to the south of that building. However, the buyer has no interest in the other parking area located between the Huntington ATM location and parking lot behind Ben’s. So the prospective new owner is willing to work with the city so that the purchase can be split, leaving the city with the large parking area that will connect the other two property purchases along South Church Street. The cost will be $325,000. In other business, council voted to issue bonds not to exceed $1,010,000 for the new park and recreation building in City Park. The bonds will pay for constructing, furnishing and equipping the new community building, including the landscaping, paving an entry drive and parking lot, and construction of a patio. Also at Monday’s meeting, Council President Mike Aspacher read a proclamation recognizing the sixth anniversary of…

Annual walk gives art lovers a chance to check out local wares

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News In an effort to make it easier for visitors to check out the exhibitors in the 2019 Art Walk, the organizers turned to the library. Each of the artists of the artists who will have their work judged will display a favorite piece in the Wood County District Public Library, which will be the focal point of this year’s event. That, said Tony Vetter, executive director of Downtown Bowling Green, will give viewers a chance to look at the entire field, and then head out to find their favorite artists who will be exhibiting their wares as usual in shops throughout the downtown. That way they’ll be able to plan to get out to some of the displays on the edge of the downtown. Art Walk 2019 will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a reception and awards ceremony to follow in the library at 3:30 p.m.  The Bowling Green Arts Council and Downtown BG are partners in presenting Art Walk. More than 30 artists have signed up for the show. The show’s judges will base their decisions on the work exhibited in the library, Vetter said. Winners will receive cash prizes. People’s Choice Awards will also be presented. Work by artists from local schools will also be displayed in store fronts throughout the downtown. Vetter is hoping the shorter show hours mean people will have a little more energy at the end of the day to come and participate in the reception. The reception will feature grazing stations with food provided by Qdoba and Kabob-It. Pianist Mary Claire Miller, a Bowling Green State University student, will play the library’s Steinway grand. Music will be a part of Art Walk, Vetter said. This year it will be concentrated in specific venues. Local bands will play in Grumpy Dave’s, upstairs above Easy Street Cafe. Details are still being worked out for students from BGSU to perform. The changes are a way of fine tuning an event now in its 27th year. Community members have been invited to decorate metal gnomes. Seventeen of the gnomes have been distributed, and they’ve started coming back into the Downtown BG office, upstairs in the Four Corners building. “It blew me away what they did with them,” Vetter said. Decorators have until Monday to return their creations. The gnomes will be raffled off. Visitors will be able to buy raffle tickets, and then use those tickets to vote on their favorite gnome. The winner will get a prize in Downtown Dollars. Then one ticket from each gnome’s ballot box will be drawn with the winner getting to take the gnome home. The proceeds of the raffle will benefit the Downtown Foundation Flower Fund. One element will not change. Members of the Black Swamp Quilters Guild will display their work, and demonstrate their craft in the lobby of the Four Corners Center. The guild will raffle off a quilt.

Art Walk, set for April 27 in BG, seeks exhibitors

From BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL Bowling Green Arts Council, in partnership with Downtown Bowling Green, is proud to announce Art Walk 2019, an art show in which businesses though out historic downtown Bowling Green will host artists’ displays and performances. Art Walk will occur on Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year, the Art Walk will feature an exhibition of one piece by each individual artist at the Wood County District Public Library in addition to the displays at businesses, so visitors will have a chance to start out with a tempting preview. Artists living within 50 miles of Bowling Green are eligible to participate and may display works in any size or medium as space and amenities of the chosen venue allow. Artists are encouraged to find a venue, but help will be provided if needed by contacting The entry fee for individual artists is $20. Non-profit organizations can pay one entry fee of $20 for any number of affiliated artists if profit from any sales exclusively benefits the organization and not the individual artists. No commission or fee on sales is taken. Brochures with all artist locations will be distributed throughout the area. Entry procedures – online, by mail, or in person – are available on the BG Arts Council Website or from the Downtown BG office in the Four Corners Center, 130 S Main St, Bowling Green The deadline for registration and payment is April 1st. All paid Art Walk participants (excluding non-profits) will be eligible to receive one of six monetary awards: three Juror’s Awards and three People’s Choice Awards.  The awards sponsors are Jeff and Inge Klopping, Alice and John Calderonello, the BGSU School of Art, Dick and Nadine Edwards, and Bowling Green Arts Council. Awards will be announced at the After Art Walk Party, 3:30-4:30pm at the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N Main St, Bowling Green. Art Walk is sponsored by Downtown Bowling Green and the BG Arts Council.

BGSU architecture students aim to teach downtown’s Dog Leg Alley some new tricks

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News All it took was an unassuming alley in downtown Bowling Green to spark the imaginations of architecture students at Bowling Green State University. The class in urban architecture taught by Sara Khorshidifard studied the alley, called Dog Leg Alley, just south of Finders Records on the east side of North Main Street. The goal was to improve the use and look of the alley. What they came up with impressed people from the city who viewed their designs during a recent display on campus. “Who would have thought you could have this many concepts for one alley,” said Tony Vetter, the executive director of Downtown Bowling Green. Khorshidifard said she worked with Vetter’s predecessor, Mary Hinkelman, to come up with the idea for the project. Hinkelman, Khorshidifard said, was interested in developing the alley, especially for use during the Black Swamp Arts Festival. The designs ranged from the elaborate, including lights, trellises, and even projectors, to simple seating, and maybe a mural. Dog LegFrom left, Mayor Richard Edwards, Greg Halamay, and Tony Vetter look at students’ ideas for Dog Leg Alley. Lauren Schmenk, one of the students whose designed drew praise, said her goal as to make small changes to create a more appealing space. That included lighting, some greenery, and murals. “You don’t have to make big changes to have an impact,” she said. Greg Halamay, who owns Finders and chairs the Downtown BG board of directors, appreciated that approach. While the more dramatic ideas were “terrific,” he was looking for more modest suggestions that could actually be realized without a major expense. Mayor Dick Edwards also appreciated the students work and the possibility of a project that “opens up that alley that’s rarely used, that brings it to life.” This was a two-three week long project for the students, Khorshidifard said. The students are all seniors, and this is the first class where they deal with the concept of urbanism. They studied issues such as the interaction of urban and rural areas and the idea of utopia. They looked at cities from different cultures. The main project looked at concepts for The Junction neighborhood in Toledo — that’s the neighborhood west of downtown and southwest of the Toledo Museum of Art. It has greater problems than downtown Bowling Green. The neighborhood suffers from deteriorating housing stock and lack of places to buy food. The Dog Leg Alley project, Khorshidifard said, was a good transition. It offered a smaller scale project meant to find ways to attract people to the area. She urged students to come up with 10 reasons people might visit the alley.  Maybe it’s just to sit and read or to stroll or to look at art displayed there. Dog Leg Alley “Overall make it safe and walkable,” she told them. Nick Gatsos said that he was “generally familiar with the area.” He was struck by  “how secluded it was. It isn’t easily accessible.” That lends itself to designs that make it stick out from the surroundings, he said. Eric Phlipot said he enjoyed looking at the space and imaging what could be done, not just in the alley but with the neighboring buildings. When he noticed the large garage door down toward the end near the parking lot, he…

Tony Vetter jumps right into leading Downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tony Vetter hit the ground running as executive director of Downtown Bowling Green. He had no choice. This, he said, is the busiest time of the year. He has to find volunteers to help spruce up the downtown for the holidays. Then there’s the holiday tree lighting, collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce on the holiday parade, and after that the kickoff to Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Vetter started in his new position, taking over from Mary Hinkelman, on Oct. 29. Hinkelman switched offices in the Four Corners Center to become director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “I’m just getting up to speed.” Though Vetter has recently started, he’s familiar with the various entities that call the Four Corners Center home. As director of Destination Toledo he worked closely with Wendy Chambers who heads up the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. Though Vetter has been working in Toledo,  he’s lived in Bowling Green for the past 24 years with his wife, Cheryl, co-owner of Hagemeyer Fine Photography. Vetter said he’s always done his shopping in Bowling Green and has taken part in the various events, including the Black Swamp Arts Festival, that fill up the city’s calendar. The 26-year-old festival like the newly hatched Firefly Nights are staged by independent groups. They add to the luster of downtown, along with the lineup of events that Downtown Bowling Green presents, including Art Walk and Winterfest Chillabration.  “It’s a collaborative effort,” Vetter said. “It’s a very vibrant community. Some other cities that would give their eye teeth for what Bowling Green has.” A healthy downtown isn’t just important for the merchants and downtown businesses, but for the health of the community as a whole. A company trying to recruit new employees does not want have them see a downtown full of empty or boarded up store fronts. Downtown Bowling Green works to keep that from happening. The Special Improvement District is funded by a tax imposed on property owners. Vetter was attracted to the job in part because of the passion of the members of the Downtown BG Board. “They want what’s best for this city. That’s here their hearts are. Same with the mayor. They’re all on the same page.They want to make Bowling Green a better place.” Greg Halamay, who chairs the Downtown Bowing Green board, said that Vetter stood out from the other applicants because he offered fresh ideas. “That made the critical difference in our decision making. … That’s what our board was looking for.” Halamay said that the job posting drew a strong field of applicants, including about half from outside Bowling Green. Vetter’s ties to the community were also a plus. The historic district is small. “He displayed the desire to reach out beyond those six or eight blocks to the rest of the community,” Halamay said. “He wants to create a stronger outreach.” Asked about any plans he has for downtown, Vetter demurred. He’s still setting in. Ask in six months, he suggested. Vetter grew up as one of 10 children on a farm in Hicksville, in Defiance County near the Indiana border. He first came to Bowling Green in the 1980s to spend a year at the St. Aloysius Parish as part of…

Tony Vetter named new director of Downtown Bowling Green

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Tony Vetter has been selected as the new Director of Downtown Bowling Green and The Downtown Foundation. He started on October 29, 2018. Downtown Bowling Green is a Special Improvement District within the downtown area. It serves the downtown as a liaison with government offices, other merchants and the media. Downtown BG strives to enhance and stabilize the economic vitality of the Central Business District through long-term improvement projects and ongoing promotional activities that benefit the community and surrounding area. Downtown Bowling Green hosts the Art Walk, Classics on Main Car Show, Farmers Market, the new Winter Market, Community Tree Lightning, Downtown Beautification, Holiday Decorations, and Holly Days along with sponsoring Firefly Nights, Fall Festival and Shop Small Business Saturday. It also supports other events promoted by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, BG Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bowling Green Economic Development (all located in the Four Corners Building) and the city of Bowling Green.  Volunteers for these events shows the strong support the community provides to Downtown Bowling Green. Working with Bowling Green State University and providing internship opportunities has benefited both organizations. Downtown Bowling Green promotes Downtown Dollars which are gift certificates that can be used just like cash in downtown businesses. It also furnishes enhanced maintenance for the downtown business district.   “Mary Hinkelman, new Executive Director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, has done an excellent job as Director of Downtown Bowling Green and I wish to continue that same level of service along with implementing new ways to serve downtown and the community”, said Tony Vetter. Tony has over 27 years in leadership, sales and marketing experience. Recently he was Director of Sales and Interim President for the Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau promoting our region to state, regional, national and international groups. Tony earned the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation in 2016, the only integrated executive program specifically designed for the destination marketing industry. The focus of the program is on vision, leadership, productivity and the implementation of business strategies. “Tony Vetter, as CDME graduate, has been awarded the profession’s highest educational standing.” said Richard Nachazel, past President and CEO of Destination Toledo. Tony graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Journalism and Public Relations and started his own business to pay his way through college. He and his wife, Cheryl ,have lived in Bowling Green for over 24 years.  Cheryl has been a business owner in Bowling Green for over 31 years operating Hagemeyer Fine Photography with her sister Kathy Wilhelm. Tony is the son a farmer and grew up in a family of 12 near Hicksville, OH.  

Downtown Farmers Market moving indoors

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN One of the many tell-tale signs of summer and favorite for all locals in Downtown Bowling Green is the Downtown Bowling Green Farmer’s Market. For years this annual event has brought hundreds to downtown to sample, purchase and enjoy local vendors and artisans from the area, and spend more time in our voted Best Small Town! Downtown BG is so thrilled to announce we are not done yet! On October 24th, with new winter hours of 3-6 p.m., Downtown BG will open their first Winter Market for the community! The cozy indoor space is directly attached to Calico, Sage, and Thyme & the new Tea Room along Clay and Main Street. While the weather is willing to cooperate, vendors will also be placed outside around the gorgeous iconic tree! What vendors are coming along you may ask? Can produce still be purchased this time of year? We’re happy to say YES! 10-15 market vendors will be present each week providing everything from fresh produce including; squash, pumpkins, mushrooms, microgreens, asparagus, and more! On top of that, there will be baked goods from both Bella Cuisine & Country Grains- and sweet treats and bars from 2 Sharp Cookies! River Valley Pasta will be back with a variety of difference flavors to try each week, and Viking Coffee will have fresh roasted options for all the caffeine enthusiasts! There will also be amazing artistic vendors like Bottles by Ada, providing soy candles and recycled wine bottles with succulents, stunning holiday wreaths from Clay Hill  and tie dye clothing from Magical Mystery Shop! Vendors will constantly be changing as each week goes by, so make sure to stop in an see who is new to the lineup! Riehm Produce Farm will have their CSA bags available for pick-up at our new location through the holiday as well! Great Lakes Custom Sharpening will not be sharpening tools on site, but our market location will be a drop off/pick-up for your sharpening needs each week! WIC and SNAP programs will also continue into our Winter Market season with vendors who are eligible for them. Downtown Dollars can still be purchased and used for market shopping from our market manager Sam. BGSU Dining & Training Kitchen will also play a fun role during our market. Each week a new chef will utilize local ingredients from our vendors and make a fun new free sample for market customers to try the following week! This partnership is a wonderful connection to campus for us, and we hope to see an increase in students for this new winter event! The market also recently brought on a student representative, Nicole Lembo, who will be showing students each week the perks to shopping local and fresh even with her crazy student schedule! Make sure to follow her on instagram for weekly updates at @niclem_fit. COSTCO has committed to have a fun festive corner every week at market with complimentary sweet treats and drinks like christmas cookies, hot chocolate and MORE! Huge thank you to COSTCO for partnering with us this season- make sure to stop by their table and say hello! We’d also like to give a huge thank you to State Bank for jumping on board as a featured sponsor for this market. Their very generous donation…

Kiddie tractor pull set for fall Firefly Nights

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN The Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull will take place on South Main St. in front of the H20 Church Friday, Oct. 19,. Registration for the pulls is from 6-7 p.m. and is free for ages 4-11 in conjunction with Firefly Nights- all Festival on Main Street. The Kiddie Pedal Pulls will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Each child will receive a ribbon and frisbee for participation. The top three children will earn trophies as well as qualify and move on to the state pulls with Gary Daiber(Owner of Buckeye Pedal Pullers). Following the Kiddie Pedal Pulls there will be an Adult Pedal Pull. The Adult Pedal Pull is a $5 per person donation. Proceeds will go to benefit Downtown Bowling Green, as well as helping Firefly nights expand for the future. Adult participants may choose to compete against a friend or enemy or we will be happy to choose a competitor. Downtown Bowling Green thanks The National Tractor Pulling Championship Organization for sponsoring the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull. We are very excited to kick off the Pedal Pulls event and hope to continue to make this event a tradition. Contact our office with any questions about the event. Please,  email us at or call 419-354-4332.  

Columbia Gas agrees to alert fire division immediately about dangerous leaks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Columbia Gas officials have agreed to immediately notify Bowling Green Fire Division if gas leaks in the downtown construction area get close to dangerous levels again. “We’ve come to an understanding that they will call us immediately if there is a leak of significant levels,” Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said Monday morning. Eleven days ago, a leak occurred in the downtown area of South Main Street, where Columbia Gas is replacing old natural gas lines. By the time the fire division was notified, the leaking gas had reached explosive levels, Moorman said. Last Friday, Columbia Gas officials agreed to meet with Moorman and Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. City officials wanted to make sure if a similar incident occurred in the future that it would be handled differently by the gas company. “We wanted to make sure we are called immediately,” Moorman said. “If we’re not needed, we can just go home” back to the fire station. When the leak occurred on the evening of Sept. 13, Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to reduce the risks. After the leak, Columbia Gas defended its response. “They followed all their protocols,” Moorman agreed. But city officials are not satisfied with those protocols. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” However, after Friday’s meeting with city officials, Columbia Gas officials agreed to go beyond their protocols and immediately call the fire division in the case of a significant leak. The work to replace aging gas lines downtown has been going on all summer. The work should be wrapping up sometime in October, said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. The meeting between city and gas officials should result in an improved response in case a leak occurs again, he said. “They made a mistake, obviously,” Fawcett said. “I’m happy that they saw the importance of meeting with the city staff,” he said. “And they were willing to modify their procedures.”

BG still waiting to meet with Columbia Gas about leak

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green city leaders are still waiting for a meeting with Columbia Gas officials about explosive levels of gas leaked into the downtown Thursday evening leading to the evacuation of several businesses and apartments. City officials have concerns since the fire division was not notified until hours after the leak was noticed. By time firefighters arrived on the scene, the gas levels were at “lower explosive limits.” Gas employees working in downtown Bowling Green held a “safety shutdown” meeting today for the crews working in the downtown to discuss Thursday’s leak. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” However, city officials have not yet had a chance to express their concerns. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene until about 11:20 p.m. “It was a dangerous situation. It was handled well by police and fire,” Moorman said. However, city officials do have some concerns about how the leak was handled by Columbia Gas. So city officials want to be heard. “We’ve got concerns like everybody else,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said on Friday. “We want to share the concerns of the public.” Moorman is also anxious to discuss how leaks can be handled in the future. “We need to come up with a better procedure if it ever happens again,” he said.

Downtown BG announces change in trick or treat event

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Downtown Bowling Green, OH is excited to announce there are big changes to its annual Downtown Trick or Treat event. Mark your calendar for October 19. Last year about 2,000 children filled the sidewalks to collect treats from the local businesses. It’s an incredible sight to see so many young children dressed up. It also raised some concerns about keeping all the children safe. The best solution was for us to close the street this year. When this was talked about at the Downtown Merchants meeting it was very apparent that if the street was closed we should consider the possibility of having another Firefly Nights. Talks with the Bowling Green Central Business Special Improvement District dba Downtown Bowling Green and the Firefly Nights creators were agreeable and we are moving forward. This will be the Firefly Nights Fall Festival and you can expect to experience music, food, kids activities, and so much more. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of treats for the children too! This will all happen October 19th, 6-10 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Bowling Green and is taking the place of what was planned for October 26th, not the regular city wide trick or treat. Expect more details to be announced soon.

Vintage shirt fundraiser a perfect fit for Finders & Downtown Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Finders Records having a vintage-theme t-shirt made in the store’s honor was a perfect fit, especially when shop owner Greg Halamay decided the store’s share of the profits would benefit Downtown Bowling Green. The shirt will be created by BG Memories, a local spirit ware company founded by Ryan Fowler and Kevin Goldner, both 2003 Bowling Green State University graduates. As of midnight, the green and gold shirt can now be ordered. Ordering will continued through Sept. 9. Laura Fredericks, manager of Finders, said it hasn’t been determined whether they will be available after that. Fredericks is a faithful customer of the company’s shirts that offer designs celebrating aspects of BGSU life, including the now-gone Harshman Quad and its dining hall. Local businesses, current, Campus Pollyeyes, defunct, Mark’s Pizza Pub, and somewhere in between, the Corner Grill, also have their own BG Memories attire. When BG Memories approached Finders, Fredericks and Halamay had a rather short conversation, he remembers. The decision was to go with the shirt and donate the store’s share, which probably will be in the neighborhood of $10 a shirt, to the Downtown BG. Halamay serves on the board of the special improvement district. “Everything the SID does downtown contributes to the health and well-being of our retail operation.” That includes clearing snow in the winter, hanging flowers in warmer weather, and sweeping sidewalks year round. It has sponsored the local Farmers Market and worked with the independent groups that stage the Black Swamp Arts Festival and Firefly Nights. Many people, he said, assume that what the SID does is paid for by the city. Downtown BG’s activities are funded through a special tax levied on property owners, who voted it in. Downtown BG also gets private donations. “As a property owner, a business owner, I thought it was a good idea and very, very appropriate” to donate the proceeds to Downtown BG, Halamay said. The shirt will be distinct from Finders’ own classic t-shirts. Those shirts, designed by Tony Duda, have been around with a few tweaks for about 35 years. The logo is familiar to anyone who works in the store. It’s based on the old sign from the campus store that is still displayed in the back office. The new shirt harks back to an earlier time, the first Finders shirt. Halamay designed those, and a few were screen printed. Like that one, the BG Memories version will be green with a gold design – the colors inspired by those of the high school Halamay attended in Akron. Those colors are still used throughout the store. Fredericks said she and BG Memories also did research into old store ads to fine tune the design. Fredericks said that she and BG Memories decided that initially at least the shirts will not be printed on demand as are the company’s other products, but screen printed once the orders are in. The shirts will be printed on premium Bella+Canvas blend shirts. Finders has been a mainstay in the downtown since 1971. Halamay said he came to BG in 1969 to attend college. He liked the historic downtown then, and for all the changes, is still a fan. The store has remained dedicated to selling recorded music, but the formats have changed…

BG at a crossroads with downtown parking

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is searching for just the ticket to solve its parking problems downtown. The city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots. Initially, a proposal was made to double the parking rates from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour. But on Monday evening, City Council’s Finance Committee discussed options ranging from offering all free parking, to charging more for tickets, to charging citizens a special assessment. Some downtown business owners and one citizen shopper weighed in on the issue. The discussion will continue Sept. 4, at 6 p.m., in the City Council chambers. “Probably everybody needs a little time to discuss this report,” said Bruce Jeffers, head of the finance committee. “I think we all understand there’s no parking that is free. It has to be paid by somebody,” Jeffers said. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter explained the options Monday evening to the council committee members Jeffers, Mike Aspacher and Greg Robinette. The city’s downtown parking lots are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. So the options are increasing the parking revenue, sharing the costs of maintaining the parking lots, or getting rid of some of the expenses. Other Ohio college communities such as Kent and Oxford charge up to $1 an hour for parking. Toledo charges at least 50 cents per hour. However, no parking meters are used in Perrysburg, Defiance, Waterville, Findlay or Maumee. Tretter presented the following ideas under each option. Increase parking revenue: Moving all the parking violation fees into the parking fund rather than sharing them with the city’s general fund. That move, however, would negate council’s efforts from last year to make up the general fund deficit with a garbage fee. Add parking meters and charge a premium rate for on-street parking on Main and Wooster. Increase the current parking rate as high as $1 per hour. Share the costs: Allocate the cost of maintenance to the downtown property owners. Share the costs with all city property owners through a special assessment. Reduce the costs: Remove meters and enforcement, resulting in all free parking. This still leaves maintenance costs. Go back to all meters. Use meters for parking at premium rates on the street, with free parking behind the stores, which would reduce enforcement needs. Out-source parking operations to a private entity. Sell property for development and/or parking operations. “We really feel we’re at a crossroads here,” Tretter said. Two years ago, the city attempted to move toward the newer trend of parking kiosks. While some like the change, others have difficulty using the kiosks and avoid that parking lot. “We’ve gotten pretty mixed reviews,” Tretter said. “We feel really torn.” Aspacher asked about the cost sharing among downtown property owners. Tretter said the closer a property is to a parking lot, the more money would be charged. The average annual assessments ranged from $27 to $2,000 for owners of several properties in the downtown. Aspacher also said he was intrigued by the possibility of all free parking in the downtown. Some business owners shared that interest. However, some expressed concerns that they had never been approached about the options being considered. Kati Thompson, owner of Eden Fashion Boutique, suggested there is a disconnect…

Firefly Nights announces a Halloween-themed encore festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even after a wet start to the evening, the more than 200 people who were around at the end for Friday’s Firefly Night festival, still wanted more music from the closing act Freight Street. So the local folk-rock quintet, fronted by Boo Lee Crosser with singer Flannery Murnen, drummer JP Stebal, bassist Devonte Stovall, and violinist Kathleen Schnerer, obliged. This was to have been end of the three-event community festivals for the season. But organizers also have an encore planned. The businesswomen who spearheaded and organized Firefly Nights in downtown Bowling Green announced at the end of the night that there will be one more festival this year on Oct. 19. The October event will feature the same mix of music, food, kid activities, and shopping, only with a Halloween theme. Working with Downtown Bowling Green, the Firefly Night fest will take the place of downtown treat or treating. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown BG, said that the festival was a way to continue the trick or treating while adding more activities both for youngsters and the whole family. Kati Thompson, one of the Firefly founders, said the idea came up through discussions by the organizers. Hinkelman responded favorably to the possibility, and suggested using it to replace downtown trick or treating. With about 2,000 kids taking part last year, the event is becoming unmanageable, she said, with kids having to wait in long lines to get their treats. They then approached the city about the possibilities of staging another festival, which requires closing Main Street in downtown off to traffic. City officials approved. In announcing the event, Thompson said: “Don’t worry we’ll still have plenty of treats for the children, but we’ll combine that with fun for the entire community.” What Halloween activities will be offered and how the treat or treating will be handled is still being discussed. Possibilities include hayrides, a kiddie parade, Halloween and fall themed activities, doughnuts and cider, and even a costume contest for children and adults. Thompson said details will be forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Firefly Nights festival will be held 6-10 p.m., same as the summer events. Friday’s event got off to a soggy start with a downpour shortly after it began. Festivalgoers sought shelter under awnings, and in shops and restaurants. Laura Wicks and Gayle Walterbach, two of the founders, said they expected restaurants did well. Boosting local business is part of the mission of Firefly Nights, they said. But the food trucks that stayed had lines by closing time. Other vendors, however, probably suffered. That’s the nature of an outdoor festival, Wicks said. Both were upbeat at how the summer events had gone, and enthusiastic about the encore to come.  

Chase is banking on former Jed’s site downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years after Jed’s served up its last chicken “fireball” in Bowling Green, the site at the downtown four corners is being remodeled to be used as a bank. Chase Bank has signed a lease with owner Bob Maurer for the old Millikin Hotel property at the southeast corner of South Main and East Wooster streets. “They have committed to the site and are actively remodeling it,” Maurer said this morning. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank National Association is still waiting for state and federal approval of the location, but bank officials are confident those approvals will be forthcoming, Maurer said. The site, with its bright yellow storefront, has been sitting vacant for two years. “It needed a lot of work,” Maurer said. “It had been a bar for many years, and it needed a major facelift.” The site gets a lot of vehicular and foot traffic, but no real bites until Chase bank. “We had inquiries, but nothing panned out until Chase came along,” he said. The bank is planning a major remake for the site – investing about $3 million, according to Maurer. “It will be completely new,” he said. Maurer said the downtown location, with no room for a drive-thru window, seemed like an unusual site for a bank. “We did give them numerous alternatives, but they definitely wanted to be downtown at the four corners,” he said. Chase will have a walk-up ATM on the Wooster Street side. The main entrance will be off South Main Street, and will open up into a different type of banking business, Maurer said. “It will almost be like walking into a very nice living room. It won’t be like a typical bank. It will be very formal.”