downtown Bowling Green

Feeling congested? Summer of street closures in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Motorists trying to navigate through Bowling Green this summer have encountered many roadblocks – literally. The downtown is torn up and lanes are shut down as Columbia Gas crews replace natural gas lines. A section of Thurstin was closed earlier this summer for BGSU to work on a utility tunnel. Alternating portions of Manville Avenue have been closed for repaving by the city. And several railroad crossings have been blocked for CSX work this summer. “It’s kind of a perfect storm with Columbia Gas downtown, CSX at the tracks,” along with the city and university projects, said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. When the city notified residents last week that tree trimming on private property would close some spaces in a downtown city parking lot, a citizen responded on Facebook: “If they close any more streets and public spaces in this town, we all need to leave on vacation.” Fawcett understands. “It’s not easy,” getting around some areas of the city this summer, he said. “It isn’t a perfect situation,” Fawcett said. “But we don’t have a choice in the matter.” The city has been issuing frequent notices about which streets and parking areas will be next on the closure list as the work continues. “From the city’s perspective, we’re trying to get the information out so people know how to navigate the work zones,” Fawcett said. All the work is necessary – and will result in a safer and better city for residents once it’s all complete, he said. The gas line work is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but is also extending down some side streets, alleys and into parking lots. The project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines are being replaced with plastic pipes. Initially, the Columbia Gas work was scheduled for 2019. However, since Bowling Green is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next summer, the gas line work was bumped ahead a year. “We wanted them to get in and out before we pave the streets next year,” Fawcett said. Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the downtown project which started in June will not be completed until sometime in October. “We have brought some additional crews in to keep the progress moving,” Colon said on Wednesday. The project is slow moving because there are 110 customers affected and so many individual lines that have to be replaced. Columbia Gas crews are trying to be sensitive to motorists’ needs, Colon said. “We try not to block any roads in their entirety,” she said. However, the workers need clear work zones to complete the project. “There will still be areas where it slows down a bit,” Colon said. The city is just trying to make the projects as painless as possible. “From our perspective, we want to get them in and out as quickly as possible, so the impact to the citizens and the traveling public is as little as possible,” Fawcett said.  

Firefly Nights takes wing with well-received opening street fair

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights, a series of summer festivals spearheaded by a groups of downtown businesswomen, got a huge boost from Mother Nature. Clear skies and temperatures in Goldilocks range, neither too hot nor too cold, set the tone for what organizers and visitors alike declared a success, Friday night. Hundreds of people enjoyed music, shopping, craft booths, activities for children, food, beverages and just hanging out with friends and neighbors, along two blocks of Main Street that were closed to traffic for the evening.. “It was beyond good, it was exceptional. It literally brought tears to all of our eyes to see the overwhelming amount of support we have in the community,” said Stacie Banfield, the owner of Mode Elle Boutique. She along with Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, Kati Thompson, Eden Fashion Boutique, and Gayle Walterbach, of Coyote Beads, banded together early this year to discuss a summer community celebration in downtown. Firefly Nights was launched. Late Friday as they started wrapping up the event, Thompson and Banfield reflected on the first street festival. “This exceeded all our expectations,” Thompson said. “It’s all we could have hoped for and it happened on the first night. Amazing.” The organizers recruited other businesswomen and a mixed-gender crew of 80 to 100 volunteers to help stage the event. Those interested in lending a hand can visit to volunteer. As director of the Bowling Green State University student union, part of Patrick Nelson’s job is to bring visitors to campus. He was impressed by the response to Firefly Nights. “Bowling Green is alive and well tonight,” he said “You couldn’t ask for a better first night.” He and his family, including visitors from New Mexico, came downtown. His family from out of state wondered: “Is it like this every night?” Nelson said he hoped people got a chance to visit the downtown businesses that stayed open late to reacquaint themselves with what’s here. Even as closing hour approached, customers were still coming into Finder’s Records. The store had stayed open an hour later, something it does for Record Store Day and the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and now Firefly Nights. “It’s been very positive for our business,” said clerk Marissa Medley. “It’s really fun.” Zach Baroudi, the owner of Kabob-It, also gave the event a thumbs up He had a food stall out on Main Street. “Everything was perfect,” he said. “Good for the community, good for us, good for surrounding restaurants. We’re very happy with it.” He did a brisk business with a variety of ready to-go Lebanese food selections. His big seller was a chicken combo that won raves from judges during the One-Bite Contest held as a part of Art Walk in April. He was also handing out samples, which helped raise awareness of his restaurant in the 100 block of East Wooster. Photographer Louis Staeble was selling his work on the street. He, too, was using the event to make contacts. And he also sold a number of photos. “It’s fun,” he said, and he hopes after the first festival more people will be know about it and join that fun. “I think it’s cool that they’re supporting all the local businesses,” BGSU student Taylor Kronenberger. She and her friends Tori Dingledein and Kirstyn Reimer had wandered down from campus where they are working and taking classes this summer. They were impressed by the event, especially the musical offerings on four stages. Kronenberger said they were looking forward to the next one. “We’ll bring more people with us.” Jan Gamble and Cindy…

Peach Peony shop pops up in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Since graduating in 2012, Ashley Hughes has returned to her old haunts in Bowling Green to shop and eat out. On one trip the Bowling Green State University graduate in tourism and event planning noticed an empty storefront. She didn’t see a vacancy, she saw an opportunity.  Last weekend Hughes opened Peach Peony Co. at 140 N. Main St., just as the shop’s namesake flower were blooming. Hughes reported a good opening weekend, but she won’t pop back up again until June 15 in conjunction with the first Firefly Night event. Hughes sells a variety of crafts and home decor products to appeal to all the senses. She has candles, foodstuffs including jerky, signs, cards and more including her own handcrafted dreamcatchers. While she stocks merchandise that appeals to all ages, her target market is college students and recent graduates. “I saw the opportunity here in BG to tap into the younger crowd,” she said. “They definitely appreciate the handmade quality and shopping small.” She set the time’s she’s open to their needs. Her hours will be coordinated with Flatlands Coffee next door, staying open well into the evening, including until 10 p.m. on Firefly Nights and in the Friday and Saturday of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Hughes knew that she was only going to be open a few weekends this summer, and when she learned about Firefly Nights, that persuaded her to make those the weekends. Starting Aug. 15 she’ll be open every weekend with her grand opening scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25, during move-in weekend. Hughes sometimes organizes her own shows – she had one in Upper Sandusky earlier this month and has another one planned for November. Her recent show included 45 vendors and food trucks. She also sells her wares at fairs around the state, Columbus area this weekend and then Cincinnati. She’s participated in vintage markets hosted by Bowling Green shop Painted Clover. She mixes in some of the merchandise from the shop. Hughes is still adding to her merchandise mix.  She has some screen-printed apparel coming in. The clothing will have Bowling Green and Ohio themes. Hughes was making dreamcatchers while attending BGSU. Her sorority sisters were so enthusiastic that she launched an Etsy shop. “I was always interested in arts and crafts and grew up going to arts and crafts shows,” Hughes said. Now she’s made them her business.    

Firefly Nights appeal granted for liquor at downtown events

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink. City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request. Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening. Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run. The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said. “We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.” Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said. “We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members. But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the streets, she said. The plan is for beer and wine to be sold at all of the festivals. Organizers have talked with police and fire officials, who supported the permit request. “We really believe we have something special in downtown BG,” Thompson said, noting that the hundreds of people who attended the “Chocolate Crawl” in the downtown earlier this year expressed interest in the variety of shops in the city. “We have to expose them to all we have to offer,” Thompson said. Council President Mike Aspacher complimented the Firefly Nights organizers for their hard work. “Hopefully this will become a reoccurring event” in future years, he said. Council member Sandy Rowland praised the women for the “courage to take on something this big.” After the vote, Mayor Dick Edwards thanked council for acting quickly on the liquor request appeal. He noted the success of the first Firefly Night last week. “Everyone had a smile – despite the weather,” Edwards said.

Downtown Bowling Green hopes to avoid gas pains at summer events

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Columbia Gas officials gave assurances Monday night that the installation of new gas lines in downtown Bowling Green would not interfere with the summer fun. The $1.3 million project to lay 7,500 feet of plastic pipe is scheduled to begin June 4, and continue until early September. It will extend down Main Street from Clay down to Lehman and Ordway. The existing metal pipes will be replaced by plastic pipes. The project is part of an ongoing effort by Columbia Gas to upgrade its service. The gas service will go from about a quarter pound of pressure to 50 pounds of pressure. “That gives us not only a safer pressure to keep water out of the lines, it allows for homeowners and residents to use more gas appliances,” said Raquel Colon, an external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas. “You’ll have more capacity to have more gas come into your home.” This will include generators for businesses, said Jim Simon, project leader for Columbia Gas. “This project will be a lot of open cut, there’ll be a lot digging, not boring as we’ve done in the past,” Colon said. “What we’re doing is a lot of digging, and it will be a little dirty but the goal is a much safer distribution of gas.” Alex Hann, who is site and logistics chair for the Black Swamp Arts Festival as well as being active in other downtown events, asked about what provisions would be made for the five events already planned. On the downtown calendar are the new Firefly Nights on the third Fridays of June, July, and August, the Classics on Main car show on July 7, and the weekend long Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sept. 7-9 as well as the weekly farmers market. Representatives for all the events were in attendance. Simon said he was aware and sympathetic to the concerns. He lives in Bowling Green and attends the arts festival. “Our goal is to make it as safe as possible.” Hann said he was concerned about tripping hazards as well as conditions that make the area less accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Simon said that unlike in the past where the company has completed large sections of project before going back to do restoration, for the BG work they will do either permanent or temporary restoration as they go along. The idea is to leave things as they were before the work. The project is being coordinated with the city which has a downtown streetscape project planned to start in fall. Columbia Gas will patch some areas up, but try to minimize how much will then be ripped out for the city’s project. The gas line improvement extends further south and north than the city plans to go, so those areas will be fully restored. Workers have already been out marking where underground utilities are with color-coded flags and spray paint. “The flags are an indication of what’s under the ground,” Colon said. “The flags are there so we know what’s there.” The markings, however, do not signify where crews will be digging. She advised home owners who have underground sprinkler systems or invisible fences to let the company know to avoid damage. The service representatives will then reach out to property owners and residents to gain access to property to upgrade the service to the building and move the meter. While in residential properties meters have been moved outside, that’s not possible in the Main Street business district. Where businesses now have meter out back those will be…

Firefly Nights set to begin a summer of fun in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights, a new series of street festivals in downtown Bowling Green, got off to a running start Friday night. About 200 runners and walkers toed the starting line on North Church Street near the library and at the signal marked what organizers hope will be a summer of fun in the business district. The 5K race and one mile walk started at 9 p.m. The participants in fluorescent shirts and glow bracelets. The evening start was meant to set it apart from all the other charity runs, said Stacie Banfield, one the organizers. “We wanted to make it a fun event for kids.” The after-dark start was also fitting given it promoted and raised funds for evening events Banfield, owner of Mode Elle, was one of a quartet of women business proprietors – Kati Thompson, of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought – who organized Firefly Nights. Thompson said to get 200 registrants for a first time race was a great response. “A hundred is considered a success.” Banfield said it was exciting to watch the registrations increased as race time approached, Banfield said. That included folks who signed up on Friday night. She and Thompson are optimistic that this is a sign of the enthusiasm for the three scheduled street festivals. The race will help fund three nights of downtown activities set for the third Friday of each month – June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17 – from 6 to 10 p.m. Main Street will be blocked off from the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington with music stages at each end. Four bands will play alternating sets each night. All the bands have been booked, Banfield said. The lineup of talent from Northwest Ohio will be announced on June 1. Thompson said that 30 downtown businesses have signed up to participate and be sponsors. They will have sidewalk sales, a farmers market, and artisans will sell their wares. They are still talking with restaurants about how they will take part. Several will set tables out on the sidewalk. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown Bowling Green, was on hand as a participant in the walk. She’s excited by the prospects for Firefly Nights and sees it as a part of a growing interest in downtown activities. The farmers market, which opened for the season on Wednesday, drew a good crowd, and the One-Bite restaurant crawl held during Art Walk has drawn raves from the restaurants. “I see lot of great things happening downtown,” Hinkelman said. “Everybody’s pulling together.”    

Gas line project gets ready to dig into downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News During the next four months, Columbia Gas will be replacing natural gas lines in the downtown Bowling Green area – affecting more than 110 customers and disrupting traffic along Main Street. In an effort to explain the construction project, Columbia Gas officials will hold a community meeting with Bowling Green citizens on Monday, May 21, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St. The work area is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but will extend down certain side streets, alleys, and into parking lots. The gas line work will begin in early June, and is expected to be completed by October. Cheri Pastula, communications manager for Columbia Gas, said the project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines will be replaced with plastic pipes. The Bowling Green project was moved up to this year, Pastula said, since the city is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next year. “We decided to do it this year before the city does its roads,” so the street work will not need to be disturbed, she said. During the community meeting, Columbia Gas officials will address how the project will affect residents: Columbia Gas contractors will work street by street to install new main lines and service lines up to each customer’s home or building. Gas service will not be impacted until it is time for Columbia Gas to connect the customer to the new gas system at their meter. For most customers, gas service will be interrupted for approximately two hours. Customers will get advance notice of this service interruption. If the gas meter is currently inside, it will be moved outside. Any surface that has to be disturbed will be repaired by Columbia Gas. This includes sidewalks, driveways, lawns and landscaping. Once this work is complete, customers will have a gas system with state of the art safety features. During the construction, Columbia Gas will make efforts to not shut down any streets. However, lanes will be reduced and flaggers will be on hand, Pastula said. “There most likely will be some traffic disruption,” she said. “But we try not to close down the roads.” Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities around the state to replace aging gas lines over the last decade. This is paying off in safety, with leaks reduced by 40 percent, according to the company. Residents can contact Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, with questions or concerns at 419-351-8398 or Visit for more information on the construction process.

Massage therapist Audrey Leslie lends helping hands to people with a variety of needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Audrey Leslie was helping a friend when she found her mission. The friend had a sore back and asked Leslie for a massage. Leslie obliged. “You’re really good at this,” the friend said. “It wasn’t at until that moment that I realized I could do this for a living,” Leslie said. “That people would pay for me this.” That was in 2011. She was at an occupational stalemate. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but “I wanted a career where I could help people.” She attended what was then the Healing Arts Institute in Perrysburg (now the Orion Institute.) “I absolutely fell in love. I’ve been doing that for the last six years,” she said. Leslie, after working inside a salon, is venturing out on her own, opening a studio within Blush at 100 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green this week. She sees clients by appointment only. Call 419-806-9317. Leslie said it was time to hang out her own shingle and take advantage of tapping into the business acumen of veteran entrepreneur Lee Welling, owner of Blush. “My passion is helping people with pain and fatigue,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at. … Massage is the oldest form of medicine.” Some are recovering from injuries, some dealing with chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia. A mother of three, she’s also certified to do prenatal massage. “I always had a plan in future to have classes for mothers of newborns on how to massage their babies.” Aroma therapy and essentials oils, which she is also certified in, play a big part in her practice. Leslie does CBD massage using oil made from hemp – it’s 100 percent THC free, she notes. “It’s amazing for auto immune disorders, fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog,” she said. She can use it as part of a massage. She also has products she can sell. Leslie, 34, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. She attended Bowling Green State University for two years. She worked in preschool until she had her first child.  “I became a mother and realized I just wanted to be a mother.” She was looking around for options when she had her epiphany about massage therapy. She noted that Ohio has some of the strictest regulations on massage therapy. She sees about 20 clients a week. Some come weekly, some every six week. Some show up just when they have an acute problem. One has been coming three times a week to deal with a chronic problem. “People do massages for all sorts of reasons,” Leslie said. “I see a lot of people who are really stressed and looking for a way to alleviate that stress. Some people like to treat themselves,” she said. “A majority are working toward a goal of better health.” They may be seeking relief from chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Leslie sees people who need “that affirmative touch,” she said. Often they are elders, or single moms. “To get that touch is so healing and protective to your overall being. That’s something I’m trying to stress to people to have a positive touch. I want people to leave feeling elated, relaxed, and wonderful.”  

Downtown BG Farmers Market opens May 16

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Take some time to come out and enjoy an evening at the Farmers Market in Downtown Bowling Green.  The market starts May 16, 4-7 pm and will run through October 10th.  But don’t wait; every week brings new produce, delicious cottage foods, some handcrafted items and music too.   The new Farmers’ Market manager, Samantha Beane has organized an amazing slate of vendors and is excited to start the season.  Huntington Bank has generously allowed us to utilize the parking lot on the corner of S. Main and Clough Streets.  This a wonderful location and it gives the market room to grow.    We’ve been able to bring back the Frequent Buyer program, thanks to the support of Newlove Realty and Thayer Family Dealerships and their partner company AllState Insurance.  Each time a shopper spends $5 at a stand, they get a stamp on their card.  When the card is full the card will be turned in for $5 in Downtown Dollars.  For those not familiar with the Downtown Dollars program, more than 70 Downtown businesses accept them for goods and services.  You can get a frequent buyer card and redeem a full card at the market info booth.  Last year, about $2,000 in Downtown Dollars were awarded to shoppers.  All completed cards that are turned in will be eligible to win $100 in Downtown Dollars through a sponsorship by Banfax Pest Control, a local business serving our area for over 30 years. Live music at the market has really been enjoyed by many.  The tradition continues at The Stone’s Throw Stage from 5:30 – 7pm.   Thanks to The Stones Throw Restaurant for sponsoring the stage and to Tim Concannon for making the arrangements and all the musicians who donate their time to perform from 5:30 – 7 pm.  To start off the season, Tim Tegge & The Black Swamp Boys will be bringing some original folk music to the market! This is a pre-show to the Hump Day Review at The Stones Throw every Wednesday evening. This season we will also have some special events including the Zucchini 500 races and a fun run with the support of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation.  There will also be a bike awareness program and a kids fun night through the Bicycle Safety Commission. A full schedule of all the music and special events at the market will be available very soon on our website at  The schedule will be updated as other special events are added to the season.   As special thanks to Julie Martini and Martini Creative for hosting and updating the website as a part of a sponsorship with the market. The Kiwanis Club has also provided sponsorship monies to the Downtown to make this years market possible.   We will continue to work with our farmers to provide the SNAP program for shoppers and our market is a designated pick up location for the CSA program.  To learn more about this program visit the website for Riehm Farms at    This year’s vendors include Anderson’s Farm Fresh Products, Bella Cuisine, Clay Hill,The Cookie Fairy, COSTCO, Dirty  Feet Farms, English Gardener, Flatlands Coffee, Friends of the Wood County Parks, Garden View Flower Farm, Garry’s Kettle Corn, Great Lakes Custom Sharpening, In Every Season Calligraphy, Just Jammin & Stuff, Kings Berries, Kitten Pants LLC, Little Orchids Garden, The Magical Mystery Shop, Maumee Greens, Qdoba Mexican Eats, Riehm Produce Farm LLC, The River Bee, River Valley Pasta, Ron’s Concessions, So Bee Honey, Steven’s Gardens, Uncle Steve’s Sauces and Z Farms. Plan to come to the market and spend the evening in our beautiful historic Downtown….

Art Walk helps downtown BG blossom (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A Walbridge painter who stepped out for her first Art Walk in downtown Bowling Green won top honors in the annual spring event Saturday. Shirley Frater won the first place Juror’s Award. She said she decided to do the event after exhibiting in the 50+ Shades of Grey Exhibit at the Wood County Senior Center. The second place award went to photographer Flannery Murnen, a junior at Bowling Green State University, and another first time participant in the show. Richard Gullet won third place for his detailed pen and ink drawings. Gullet, who showed his work in Qdoba, also won the People’s Choice award. Emily Metzger’s charcoal self-portrait, shown in Murder Ink Tattoo Company, won second place in People’s Choice, and Gail Christofferson won third place for her art guitars, which were on display at Finder’s Records. Following the event, the judges Sara Busler and Lauren Canavan issued a statement, about their choices. Of Frater’s work they wrote: “Shirley draws inspiration from a variety of materials. These materials include found objects such as medallions, old book pages, napkins and photos. Through the use of these found objects she creates an intricate composition that tells a narrative. The arts pays attention to all the fine details of her work from production to presentation. Each frame is found and repurposed to complement the work enclosed within.” Frater said that exhibiting at the senior center inspired her to show her work more, as well as become more involved in the Bowling Green Arts Council, who co-sponsors Art Walk with Downtown BG. Frater said she was a little concerned that she was in Biggby’s Coffee, which is a block off Main Street. But foot traffic at the shop was good, and a couple of the pieces she sold were to people who had just stopped in a buy a coffee. O f Murnen’s work, the judges wrote: “Through the use of traditional film cameras, Flannery’s work is at the mercy of the moment. Pairing her love of history and talent in photography, she captures images for posterity. One photo captures a quick glimpse of the crowd on the Woman’s March on Washington, while another documents a woman in Cuba carrying clean water, a basic amenity often taken for granted in other countries.” Murnen is not a complete newcomer to the show. She works at Coyote Beads where her photos were displayed, and has worked during Art Walk. Also, while in high school, she participated in Art Walk projects, though she said she never had the time to actually attend. Now a junior at Bowling Green State University, Murnen is a double major in history and photography. The two merge in her work. She shoots film, not digital, and despite what some people think, this is not a waste of time. “There’s a glow in a silver gelatin print that you can’t get from an ink jet print,” she said. “So if you’re looking for real beauty put it in silver. … It’s great to meet people who also have passion for the craft. Film photography doesn’t get its due.” She likes exhibiting as a way to showcase her work but also to draw attention to the photography program at the BGSU School of Art. “The work Lynn Whitney does is phenomenal and deserves more attention. She’s my mentor and inspired me, teaching me how to use photography to find meaning in my life. This medium can help me think through my life.” Murnen is interested in preserving art. She’ll travel to Italy this summer as part of the…

Art Walk in downtown BG is a sure sign of spring

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Art Walk is here! It’s a sure sign of spring when the artist come out after the long winter to wake us from the gray and whites of that season to the vast array of colors that will be the focus of the weekend. April 28th, Downtown Bowling Green in cooperation with the BG Arts Council will present the 26th Annual Art Walk. This year, there will be 31 “walking galleries” featured at the businesses that offered space to the local artists. So much wonderful art to take in, but this is not all there is to the Art Walk experience. There is also a Quilt Show and Exhibit, performing artists and a culinary art component. Each of the gallery artists’ work will be judged for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize as well as 3 People’s Choice Awards. Brochures with a listing of each artist and gallery location will be available at participating merchants and the Four Corners Center on the day of the Art Walk. All the galleries and the performing arts are free and open to the public. Art Walk is really a community event as it features 25 local artists, 20 plus quilters, a multitude of performing artists, 14 casual artists and charities in Project Chair-Art-Y, BG local schools as well as BGSU art departments. One of the galleries, located at 157 N. Main St., features BG Elementary school students’ art and a hands-on activities for visitors to partake in. BG High School students will display metal work at Waddington Jewelers and other artwork at Grounds for Thought. The Quilt Exhibit and Demonstrations, located at the Four Corners Center, is another major highlight of the Art Walk. Over 20 quilters will display their work and several will be demonstrating techniques. This exhibit is sponsored by the Busy Thimble and the Black Swamp Quilters and organized by Connie Miller. This year marks the 5th year for this exhibit. A beautiful quilt that will be raffled has been donated by the Black Swamp Quilters. The proceeds of this raffle will benefit the Downtown Foundation Flower Fund. The featured quilt is 70” x120” done in a log cabin pattern and machine stitched with a feather pattern. The donated quilt is currently on display at the Busy Thimble so people to get a peek of this fantastic piece before the Art Walk. On the day of the Art Walk, the quilt will be on display at the Four Corners Center. You can buy raffle tickets now at the Busy Thimble or the day of the Art Walk. Winner will be announced at the After Party. The Art Walk is one of the ways the Downtown Foundation raises funds toward the Flower Fund. Each summer about 1,000 plants are purchased to fill the 43 commercial pots and 38 hanging baskets in the Downtown Special Improvement District. The Downtown Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations to our foundation are tax deductible. Other features at the Four Corners Center are a variety of performing artists, including Julie’s Dance Studio performances, a fine art raffle and Project Chair-Art- y. The fine art raffle will be a donated original art work from local artist Lonnie Rosenberg called “The Box Turtle.” The piece is framed and ready to hang for the lucky winner of this beautiful piece! Tickets for this raffle are $1 for a single ticket or 6 for $5. The proceeds will benefit the flower fund. Project Chair-Art- y is a charity raffle where artists decorated a chair in the theme of “The Best Hometown”….

Food truck talks continue to simmer in slow cooker

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The food truck discussions in Bowling Green may be cookin’ but they are still far from complete. During the seven meetings held so far on the topic, there’s been talk about peeling back the layers of an onion, putting meat on the bone, taking the issue off the back burner, and peppering the ordinance with certain language. Yet, the food truck issue remains simmering in a slow cooker. “It’s just the nature of Bowling Green to be cautious,” said City Council member Sandy Rowland, who is working with council members Bill Herald and John Zanfardino on the food truck regulations. But time is running out if the city wants food trucks to operate in the community this summer. “I think seven meetings is an awful long time,” Rowland said during last week’s food truck meeting. Rowland suggested that an ordinance be drafted by the city attorney and presented at next week’s City Council meeting. But Herald balked at that idea. “We’ve been meticulous, we’ve been balanced,” Herald said, urging his two fellow committee members to resist rushing to the finish line before the ordinance is ready. The varying work styles of committee members became even more apparent last week, with Herald referring to his 168-page report, and Rowland presenting a one and a half page draft permit for food truck vendors. “I’m hoping we can do something to attract them before 2019,” Zanfardino said, with some frustration. “I believe in the benefit they bring to the entire city.” But Zanfardino echoed Rowland’s description. “Bowling Green is very cautious and very slow to move,” he said. During last week’s meeting, like the six before, the council committee members listened to concerns from food truck vendors, brick and mortar restaurant owners, and citizens. Max Hayward questioned why the food truck proposal did not allow vendors to set up anywhere along Main or Wooster streets in the downtown area. He called that an “unnecessarily restrictive rule” that could doom food trucks to failure. Bowling Green is being “needlessly conservative and cautious,” Hayward said. Phil Barone, who owns a food truck and the restaurant, Rosie’s Italian Grille, said hiding food vendors will not work. “Food trucks need to be seen,” he said. But Herald said there is not enough room and too much traffic to allow food trucks in the area of the downtown four corners. “One of the main things we have to be concerned about is safety,” he said. Owner of the Qdoba restaurant on South Main Street downtown, Nadya Shihadeh, suggested that food trucks not be allowed to set up too close to restaurants that are “paying the taxes, paying the rent.” “I would still be OK with food vendors parking out back, but I don’t want it right in front of my store,” Shihadeh said. “It’s been hard to make it in the downtown as a restaurant owner.” Zanfardino said some cities have no distance requirements for food trucks, and others require them to set up at least 1,000 feet away from a restaurant, which is “ludicrous,” he said. Hayward said allowing the food trucks in the downtown will bring customers to the area and help other businesses as well. Citizen Ann Beck said the food trucks could keep local residents from heading out of town for dining opportunities. “Nobody wants to put restaurants out of business,” she said. Barone said local food truck owners don’t set up right in front of restaurants. “I would never do that, nor would anyone in my association,” he said. “That’s just tacky.” Barone also stressed…

‘Chocolate Crawl’ proves to be a sweet success

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Downtown Bowling Green has seen its share of bar crawls. But Friday’s crawl was different – this one was for chocolate craving patrons. “We’re getting chocolate wasted tonight,” Brenda Rausch said with a smile, as she and friends left a store after gathering a chocolate treat. The Chocolate Crawl, which kicked off Bowling Green’s Winterfest Chillabration weekend, involved 18 downtown stores, and raised money for United Way of Wood County. Since this was the first Chocolate Crawl in Bowling Green, the thought was to start out small. But once the word was out, the tickets went like – well, candy. The goal to sell 200 tickets was quickly surpassed, with the sales finally cut off at 400. “We could have sold a lot more tickets,” said Sue Clanton, director of the United Way in Wood County. Participants were given golden tickets promising “chocolate treats beyond your wildest dreams.” They were also given downtown maps with red hearts signifying each of the 18 businesses handing out chocolate delicacies. The stores participating in the Chocolate Crawl provided their own treats, Clanton said. “They came up with whatever they wanted to serve,” she said. For Waddington Jewelers, that meant a chocolate fountain. For the Cookie Jar, that meant chocolate cookies warm from the oven. And for Reverend’s Bar & Grill, that meant choco-tinis – at least for those crawlers over age 21. “Everybody’s come up with something unique,” Clanton said. As Brenda Rausch, Pam Irwin, Jolynn Feather and Erika Harris made their way on the crawl, they visited shops they had not been in before. “I’m going to come back here,” Rausch said about the Painted Clovers shop. “It’s a great thing for the community to bring people downtown,” Irwin said. About an hour into the Chocolate Crawl, the women’s favorite was the chocolate cupcakes from Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro. Later along the chocolate tour, the group had a new favorite – the chocolate martinis. “This is worth every hot flash we’ve had this evening,” Irwin said. Elsewhere on the crawl, Kelly Driver and Tara Barker came prepared with bags to carry home their chocolate goodies. “Our favorite so far is the Eden brownies,” from Eden Fashion Boutique, with the chocolate doughtnut holes and hot cocoa from Grounds for Thought coming in second, Driver said. At Waddington Jewelers, people lined up to drench marshmallows and strawberries in the chocolate fountain.  Waiting his turn was Zach Durliat, a Bowling Green State University student from Arlington. “We’re college students, so we love free food,” or at least very inexpensive food, Durliat said. “Free food – we’re there. Plus, it’s a good thing to do on a Friday night.” The chocolate fountain proved to be so popular that the store staff had to run out to resupply the strawberries and skewers. Nearby at the Farm Girls Vintage shop, owners Michelle Charniga and Jennie Reynolds stocked up by making more than 250 cupcakes and 200 cookies – chocolate, of course. At Art-a-Site! Studio, the chocolate éclairs were a hit with Yaohan Chen, who was using the “crawl” as a way to get chocolate and learn about the downtown. “I like chocolate,” he said. “And it seems like a good idea to learn about the businesses.” As she went from store to store Friday evening, Mary Hinkelman, of Downtown BG, was pleased with the popularity of the event. “For the first time out, this is great,” she said. Downtown stores participating in the Chocolate Crawl were Art-a-Site! Studio, Ben Franklin, Beckett’s Burger Bar, Call of the Canyon, Cookie Jar,…

BG eyes 2018 goals – neighborhoods, food trucks, downtown cameras and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighborhood revitalization, food trucks, more cameras in the downtown bar district, and code enforcement by police made the list of 2018 goals for Bowling Green city officials. City department heads listed their top priorities for the year during a work session held Saturday morning for city council. Mayor Dick Edwards set the tone. “This is going to be a very ambitious year, and if we think otherwise, we’ll get smacked right in the face with it,” Edwards said. The mayor repeated some of the projects he mentioned at last week’s council meeting, including progress on Wooster Green, East Wooster corridor, and new City Park building. Unlike those highly visible projects, the city will also be updating its charter – making sure the effort is “citizen-driven,” Edwards said. And efforts will be made to define the city’s goal of being a “welcoming community.” The mayor talked about the city’s goal to become more diversified industrially. Sue Clark, the city’s economic development director, has reported increased interest in the city. “The phone has been ringing off the wall,” Edwards said. “It spells a very promising picture for 2018,” Edwards said, noting the importance of economic growth to city services. Edwards revisited a topic that consumed much of last year – the Nexus pipeline.  “That was gut-wrenching at times for all of us. That’s going to be a special challenge for us in 2018,” he said. City officials still have not been given a timeline for the pipeline construction. Concerns continue, the mayor said, about state legislation that could have negative effects on municipalities. Edwards has talked with State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, about the state’s plans for 2018. “They keep talking in very positive terms about supporting local government,” Edwards said about state officials. “All the words coming out of Columbus are encouraging, but the proof is in the pudding.” The mayor also took time to try resurrecting the city historic preservation effort that was started and then dropped. “I would at least like to get something before you that you can address,” he said to council. Cities like Toledo are taking advantage of tax credits to revitalize downtown historic areas. Bowling Green could do the same, Edwards said. “Other communities have really been benefitting from this,” he said. Each of the city’s department heads also listed some goals for 2018. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said she would like to work on updating city regulations for permitting peddlers, solicitors and itinerant merchants. That includes regulations for food trucks. “We get many, many calls about this,” Tretter said. The current rules require 150 feet of right-of-way between food trucks and the roadway. “This ordinance has not been updated in a very long time.” Finance Director Brian Bushong will be working on bond rating and issuance for the I-75 interchange roundabouts and the City Park building. Bushong said the city will likely have to borrow money again in 2019, since efforts will be made to stay under $10 million in 2018. The city’s finance office is also working to replace its paper timecards for hourly employees. The new “Executime” process will eliminate paper and streamline the process, Bushong said. Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley talked about the new City Park building which will replace the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and the Depot. Construction is expected to begin this August and be completed by late spring in 2019. “We’re very excited about that,” Otley said. The parks and rec department also plans to level and seed the…