A Bond Stronger Than Blood








A Bond Stronger Than Blood ROUGH By Sarah Bailey



Audio test post

Testing audio upload using SoundCloud. This is a rough draft of Sara’s piece.


Hi, my name is Sara, and I’m an addict.

I’m not addicted to the hard stuff, like meth or cocaine.

No, I go for the soft stuff: chocolate-hazelnut cake with fluffy frosting, pancakes with whipped cream, caramel iced coffee… Heck, even M&Ms will do.

Sugar – that’s my drug. I’ve been battling it all my life.

When I was young, my mom would let us kids have ice cream for dinner sometimes when Dad was out of town. Chocolate sauce, marshmallow topping, maraschino cherries – a smorgasbord of sugar was laid out on the kitchen table.

Later, I developed a habit of dipping Oreos in Cool Whip. In high school, trying to lose weight, sometimes I’d skip lunch – but eat a handful of candy instead.

I had an unhealthy relationship with food in general. Sugar was my greatest weakness. It was comfort food, suggesting all I needed to be happy was a scoop of ice cream. My weight crept up, and one day I found myself alone with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Put down the spoon, I told myself. Food is not your only friend.

I resolved to change my life – and I did. I started exercising daily, radically cut back on portion sizes and threw out most sweets. I lost so much weight I had to buy all new clothes. On 40-mile bike rides, I’d carry snacks like raw almonds and grapes.

Over time, though, sugar began to sift back into my life. Pomegranate-flavored yogurt? Sure, that sounds healthy! Just don’t mind the 13 grams of sugar. How about a granola bar for breakfast? It’s got fiber! And chocolate chips! And 10 grams of sugar.

A peppermint mocha nets 60 grams of carbs. Birthday cupcakes for my son, swirled high with icing like bouffant hairdos – an untold cache of sugar.

I have come to realize I’m not alone in my addiction. Americans eat a huge amount of added sugars – a wheelbarrow full per person each year, according to federal data. This increase in sugar tracks with the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in our society. Some researchers say sugar isn’t just empty calories – it’s actually toxic and should be regulated like tobacco or alcohol.

I decided to go cold turkey about six weeks ago. No more added sugar, period. At first, it was really hard. Sugar is in so many products, from bread to spaghetti sauce – not to mention cookies and cakes.

But now, the natural sweetness of apples stuns me. I don’t crave dessert like I used to, and I eat less packaged food.

In the end, I believe we are what we eat. Sugar wasn’t making me sweet – it was just eating a hole in my life. With less sugar in my diet, I’ve discovered the real treat: a happier me.

BGSU rebuilds Falcon Heights for a new generation

By Max Filby

From the front lobby to the office where Jacob Raderer works, everything is new, giving the new Falcon Heights sort of a “hotel-like” feel to it.

“It’s interesting to hear the residents talk about it like it’s more of a hotel,” said Raderer, a hall director who also lives in Falcon Heights. “They seem to really like it.”

The hallways of the new Falcon Heights residence hall are quiet, with just a few students passing through on a Tuesday afternoon. Although the building may seem quiet to the ordinary observer, it’s become a big conversation at Bowling Green State University this past year.

The building’s name, Falcon Heights, marks the second time since 1945 it has been used as a type of housing on campus, but in a different way.

The old Falcon Heights was a temporary trailer park on campus consisting of 40 units. The trailers, located where Jerome Library now stands, housed veterans returning to school on the GI Bill, according to a 1946 Key Yearbook.

Come fall 2012, the lobby will hold a piece of the old Falcon Heights. Raderer and Sarah Waters, director of Residence Life, plan to hang either a large photo or plaque describing the history of Falcon Heights and how the new hall got its old name.

“It’s nice to see the starting point,” Waters said.

Trailers lined the field in rows where the old Falcon Heights was located, from about 1945 through the mid-1960s, said Dave Kielmeyer, BGSU spokesperson.

“I’m fortunate enough to have lived in this Falcon Heights,” Raderer said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in one of those trailers, but I guess it was the best solution at the time.”

The sense of history the name brings to campus is what makes Falcon Heights special, Raderer said.

“There’s sort of a historical tinge to it,” Raderer said about the two Falcon Heights locations. “It’s cool that we’ve been able to maintain that.”

The new Falcon Heights, a residence hall on campus, is a little bit different than the Falcon Heights that once stood where Jerome Library now stands.

While the new residence hall pulls in an income primarily from its student residents, the old trailer park pulled in revenue from a single Coca-Cola vending machine, according to a 1946 BG News article.

Like the new residence hall, the old trailer park was headed by a council of students who helped to manage the revenue and activities within the “community.”

While the old trailer park may have been like its own community, the council in the new residence hall has been trying to keep that sense of community in a hall where some students have the luxury of having their own bedrooms and bathrooms.

“The hall council is very active over there,” Waters said. “Its definitely got a good sense of community.

Despite being named after a former trailer park, the new Falcon Heights has a few more amenities than its trailer predecessors of the 1940s.

Rather than one, the new Falcon Heights has multiple vending machines, as opposed to a single Coca-Cola machine in the former trailer park.

The new building also has more than 300 bathrooms, whereas the original Falcon Heights had no running water. It has multiple rooms, while a Falcon Heights trailer had one main room, Waters said.

Although population didn’t triple at the start of the 2011 school year, it did welcome in one of the largest freshman classes on record and along with it, a new Falcon Heights.

With its “hotel-like” feel, the new Falcon Heights may be a lot different from the old one, but the idea to name it came about when students started pushing for it back in summer 2010, Waters said.

“The difference in complexity of the two is just an interesting juxtaposition,” Waters said. “It was about resurrecting that name and bringing it back.”

When pushing for the name, students also didn’t realize a similarity between the two Falcon Heights. Similar to recent enrollment, in 1945 housing opened up to an increased student population, according to a 1946 Key Yearbook.

Such a similarity is another reason why the University was “reclaiming something from the past” in bringing back the name Falcon Heights, Waters said.

While the old Falcon Heights welcomed students with an open field rather than a new lobby, the new Falcon Heights does so with a fireplace and a balcony area, right outside of Raderer’s office.

“It’s funny, I don’t know if many students know, but this building has something more than just its hotel-like qualities,” Raderer said. “It’s got history.”

Washington Elementary: Soon gone, but never forgotten

Washington Elementary School. Photo by Erin Cox.

By Erin Cox

The first day of school. Those dreaded words popped up too early on the calendar every year, and the first day of kindergarten had no different feeling for me. I was not ready to go.

I put on my favorite t-shirt, one that looked like a faded American flag. My mom tied my long brown hair back in a ponytail with my bangs combed right on the front of my forehead.

My mom wasn’t ready to see her baby go off to kindergarten and I wasn’t ready to go. The half-mile drive down the street seemed like an eternity.

I was nervous walking up to Washington Elementary. Even though I had my older sister Ashley, a second grader, to show me what to do, I still had a death grip on my pink plastic “Beauty and the Beast” lunch box as my hands and the rest of my body shook nervously.

We walked toward the playground when suddenly Ashley spotted a friend and left my side.

“Ashley, what am I supposed to do?” I cried.

“I don’t know. Go play,” she responded unhelpfully.

There I was, on my own, my first day of school, and I had no idea of what to do. I decided to take Ashley’s advice and go play. But as soon as I reached the top of the steps for the monkey bars, the bell signaling the beginning of the school day rang and I quickly climbed back down.

I picked up my pink plastic lunch box and “Pocahontas” book bag and walked up to where all the other students were getting in lines.

This was it. No turning back now. I followed my line of students and off I went through the doors of Washington Elementary.

That day I became friends with two other kindergarten students, Weston Thompson and Brock Thatcher, whom I still consider my friends today, 15 years later. We have a picture of us sitting together that first day. For me, it tells all there is to know about my elementary school. Washington was that place where friendships and memories were made to last a lifetime.

Soon,though, Washington will exist only in our minds. All first through fifth grade students in Van Wert, Ohio, will go to a new school, Van Wert Elementary School in the fall of 2012. Students and teachers are excited to experience the opportunities the new school will bring. Soon after, Washington will be demolished. The home for so many childhood memories will no longer stand.


Now I’m a junior at Bowling Green State University and when I heard the plans to demolish Washington, I began reminiscing about my days at Washington.

I remembered five years ago when I went with my dad to visit his old elementary school in Arjay, Ky. The school hadn’t been used in years. Weeds covered the playground, and broken windows and graffiti marked the building.

I had thought it must be sad for him to see his school in such a pitiful state. I didn’t know it would be my turn soon.

I called my friend Brock, who I had met that very first day of school, as I wondered if I was alone in this disbelief that Washington would soon be gone.

“I honestly didn’t think they would do it,” Brock said. “I spent seven years of my life here, and now it’s like they don’t even care about it.”

I wanted to visit my elementary school one more time before its doomsday, so I went back to visit one last time.


It was a mild February day when I walked in my old school. The first place I came upon as I walked through the school was the stage that was the location of our music classes and holiday programs when I was a kid.

This is a view of the stage where we performed all our school programs. Photo by Erin Cox.

In second grade, I had the privilege of singing one of the solo parts in the song “The Friendly Beasts.”

“I remember about six or seven people had solos in the song and you were so confident,” Brock said.

I was shy back then, and the nervousness I had of singing a solo had caused me to continuously practice my part from the first day I was assigned it. The dress rehearsal had gone perfectly.

During the show, though, I started singing the wrong part. I quickly realized my mistake and few people probably even noticed.

I instantly started crying and refused to finish my part.The Christmas program went on and I left the stage still in tears when it ended.

Thankfully my friend Weston came to my side and said I had done well. Obviously, I knew I hadn’t, but my friend helped calm me down.

Now the stage looks like it’s being used for storage. All holiday programs in Van Wert are now held at the impressive Niswonger Performing Arts Center near the new elementary school and the relatively new high school and middle school.

The NPAC has a big stage with all kinds of lighting equipment and props, comfortable, padded chairs to sit and air conditioning. At Washington, metal foldout chairs were set up in the cafeteria for programs.

My elementary school programs might not have been in a fancy location, but they were that much more intimate. Being able to see the faces of my friends and neighbors in the audience made my embarrassing moment a little bit easier.

William Wisher, the current principal of Washington, thinks that people will miss this closeness.

“Going to the new building is going to be wonderful because it’s all brand new and there’ll be all kinds of opportunities out there, but it’s going to be larger,” Wisher said. “The smallness is what’s unique here.”

When I was in school, Washington was one of six elementary schools. All had grades kindergarten through sixth and kids went to the schools nearest their homes. Since then, the school number has lessened to four and of those, Washington is the only one that will be demolished after the consolidation.

Washington stands in a quiet, middle-class family residential area. I loved knowing that all the neighborhood kids went to the same school as me. The school was the designated meeting spot for friends to play. It seemed we all got along because we could easily maintain our friendships since we lived right next door.

Wisher also said that he would miss the look of Washington.

Principal Wisher talking to some students at the end of the day. Photo by Erin Cox.

“Each school has its own personality about it,” Wisher said. “I’m going to miss the architecture that’s here. The way its looks with the wood trim, the solid doors. Those are things I like about the school.”


As I continued down the hallway of Washington, past the office, I remembered how we used to call this side of the hallway the “big kid” side. When I was here, kindergarten through third-grade students stayed on one side of the hallway. Fourth grade through sixth grade got to walk on the “big kid” side. All the younger students dreamed of the day when they walked on the much cooler side.

Now the school is only kindergarten through fourth grades, and students from all over Van Wert go to school here, rather than just the neighborhood kids.

Van Wert isn’t the only school that has started doing away with separate elementary schools in different neighborhoods. The trend has been catching on across the state.

View Van Wert Elementary Schools in a larger map

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz said the consolidation of elementary schools in a school district has been happening for quite awhile. This is in part due to the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which works with local school districts to meet their needs, according to Ohio.gov.

For Van Wert City Schools, the consolidation started as a result of the commission offering to put $27 million into building construction for the school district, Amstutz said. The commission would give the school district the money only if one new elementary facility was built rather than rebuilding the separate schools.

When Van Wert City Schools entered into the agreement with the commission to split the $50 million cost of new construction, the school district paid for the building of the new middle school and high school while the state would pay for the new elementary school.

Amstutz said he thought the consolidation of the schools brought numerous advantages. For example, he said that having students together in one grade level together guarantees that all the students in the district are learning the same material. He also said that it is more economically efficient to maintain one school than four.


I wandered out to the playground. I knew from the quietness in the hallways that the students were elsewhere and it was easy to figure out where they were. I was lucky enough to come at the best time of the day – recess time. The screams, laughter and blowing of teachers’ whistles came from the direction of the playground. Recess hadn’t changed.

When I went here, “big kids” had the right to the big swings. I always preferred the bigger swings.

These are the "big kid" swings on the playground. Photo by Erin Cox.

I could go higher and faster, and in sixth grade, my friends and I discovered the ability of the swings to twist in the air as we got as high as possible. We got in trouble during every recess. I wouldn’t say we were troublemakers, but we definitely knew how to push the limits.

As I watched the kids on the playground, I noticed the older kids huddled around the swings. It seemed that the “big kid” swings were still the most popular aspect of the playground.


Fourth graders Alexa Glossett and Ryan Chen both said Washington is where their friends are. That is why they like coming to school every day.

The transition to the new elementary school is exciting for them, even though they are sad that Washington will be demolished.

Fourth-grade teacher Carol Taylor has worked at Washington for 34 years. She went to school there as a child as well.

“It’s going to be bittersweet leaving here,” Taylor said. “I grew up in this neighborhood, so it’s going to make a big change.”

Taylor also said that it is the staff and students that make Washington special.

Washington will house pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students until Christmas break, but come summer 2013, Amstutz said Washington will be demolished.

Amstutz said that some mementos such as plaques will be taken to the new school. However, it is not these mementos that will make me and others who have gone to Washington remember our childhood days there. Instead, it will be friends, like Weston and Brock, whom I met back in kindergarten.

The building will be gone, but the memories will remain.

Washington Elementary School. Photo by Erin Cox

Moonville: a journey to the past

Broken glass and scattered piles of wood litter the ground of the Moonville tunnel. Night-time travelers hold bonfires and graffiti the stone walls as high as they can reach.

Dusk began to set on brick letters spelling out Moonville which poked out of the top of tunnel. Some letters, that is. The M and V are now missing.

Brick letters spell out Moonville at the top of the tunnel. Photo by Lauren Schneider.

Dozens of homes used to line those tracks, tucked away in Zaleski Forest, miles away from any other community. Moonville, a secluded group of coal miners and iron workers, was the archetypal southeastern-Ohio village in the late 1800s.

Now, it’s a ghost town.


I first found Moonville by accident. Searching area counties for a summer fair to visit, I came across Vinton County’s Wikipedia page. The largely uninhabited county features no towns or communities. Scrolling down, I paused at the listings of several ghost towns.

“Seriously? Ghost towns?”

The search for county fairs forgotten, my girlfriend and I packed our bookbags. It was time for an adventure.

View Moonville in a larger map

The story of Moonville’s rise in the 19th century resembles that of dozens of other villages throughout what is known as the Hanging Rock Iron Region. A stretch of land from Hocking County, Ohio, down to the Ohio River and into parts of northern Kentucky, the region had rich deposits of limestone and iron ore. Soon, the area became Ohio’s first chief industrial center.

“The ‘Hanging Rock’ iron…is everywhere celebrated for its superior quality,” J.S. Newberry wrote to then-Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes in an 1870 geologic survey.

Soon, iron furnaces towered all over the wild, forest-inhabited landscape.

An Ohio Historical Marker rests at the steps of the Hope Iron Furnace. The year it closed in 1874, it was one of 65 furnaces in the Hanging Rock region, according to a geologic report of southern Ohio by T. Sterry Hunt, a 19th century Massachusetts Institute of Technology geology professor.

Moonville residents walked miles to work at the Hope Furnace, now an Ohio Historical Landmark and part of the Lake Hope State Park. Photo by Lauren Schneider.

“The charcoal iron industry was responsible for the rapid development of southern Ohio,” a Ohio Historical Marker reads.

A hundred years before, residents of Moonville and other villages walked miles to the flat-topped clay pyramid that was the Hope Furnace, producing iron for the growing railroad system throughout the expanding United States.

Moonville’s iron production expanded rapidly when the Marietta-Cincinnati railroad built its southeast Ohio rail line through the village’s forest, according to the Ohio Exploration Society. In the geographic cross-hairs of the growing railroad and mining industries, Moonville thrived.

* * *

When I first visited the abandoned tunnel last summer, I was aided by an existing drought.

A bridge used to connect the rail line over Raccoon Creek, a waterway at the base of the hill.

By the late 1980s, when the line ended and the tracks were pulled up, the trestle was removed, OES explains.

Fortunately, the rainless summer meant I could cross by foot and climb up the other side.

The existing stone path of the rail line dug itself through the forest. Suddenly, there it was.

The Moonville tunnel lies deep within the Zaleski Forest. Photo by Lauren Schneider.


The Moonville tunnel thrusts its surface into the landscape, as if swallowed by the surrounding mountainside. Even in the daylight, the deep recesses of the tunnel are nearly pitch-black, its length reaching into infinity.

I had heard the tunnel was haunted. If ghosts loomed in the shadows, I never saw them as I traveled in the daytime.

Soon, however, I would learn that Moonville was haunted in a much different way. I couldn’t get the ghost town or the tunnel out of my mind.

In the weeks and months that followed, I read everything I could find about Moonville. My mind was insatiable—I needed to learn more.

With Ohio University in close proximity, I contacted more than a dozen of geology, geography and history professors, to no avail. None had ever heard of the ghost town or knew much of the area’s geologic history. The Lake Hope State Park surrounding the Zaleski Forest provided similarly disappointing results.

Modernity was evidently no help for my historical exploration. The history was deep, and my search became even deeper.

I had to go back to the tunnel.


What was a ghost town like before it earned its distinction?

In 1856, a man named Samuel Coe offered parts of his land for free to the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad company. In exchange for the railroad being routed through Coe’s land, the line would haul coal and clay off his property, according to OES.

In searching through a resource database for information regarding Moonville, I stumbled on a true historical relic—a genealogical tree of Robert Coe, a prominent New England Puritan of the 17th century. Of the dozens of Samuel Coes in the family’s lineage, one listing stood out.

Samuel Coe, born in 1813, “became a farmer and in early manhood settled at Rue, Moonville Twp., Athens Co., Ohio…” the listing read. A seventh generation descendant, his reported home in “Moonville Twp” matches the OES description.

Most notably, his being a farmer fits the motive of the railroad arrangement. A 43-year-old in the back woods of Zaleski Forest wanting coal and clay shipped off his land would certainly make planting crops significantly easier.

Other than the tunnel, the only remnant of Moonville is the village’s cemetery, located on a hill down the road from the tracks. Scattered around the open grass were a dozen tombstones, many unmarked, worn down by a century of erosion and decay.

Unmarked graves fill the Moonville Cemetery, which rests on a hilltop down the road from the tunnel. Photo by Lauren Schneider.

Beside one stone, a small American flag was dug into the nearby dirt. Someone saw fit to honor a Civil War veteran of generations past, despite the cemetery’s location in the heart of the forest and the fact that its most recent burial was in 1914.

“30th Ohio Infantry, Wellington Coe,” the stone read, the flag waving erratically in the sharp February wind.


My mind was spinning. The plot thickened.

“Who was this man?”

Several online databases of Civil War soldiers found a “Coe, Wellington C.” who had served in the 30th Ohio Infantry for the Union Army. The soldier was 38 when he was discharged in 1862, according to one report.

The Coe family tree lists two Wellington Coes, neither of which match the age or the plausible location.

I felt stuck, as if I were wandering around the forest fruitlessly searching for any other existence or remains of the ghost town.
Suddenly, like an abandoned house in the forest, I found it.

A third Wellington, not listed in the database’s index.

It was Samuel Coe’s brother, Lewis Wellington Coe, born in 1824. Lewis Coe would have been 38 years old in 1862 (as described in the Civil War database).

Of the thousands and thousands of names, hundreds of pages of over 500 years of family lineage, the only other connection to the name “Wellington” just happens to lie so close to the man responsible for Moonville’s creation.

“Lewis Wellington Coe…[died] in Ohio, Feb. 28, 1870. History untraced.”

Can forgotten history of 132 years ago ever be traced? It certainly appears so.

If he were the man buried in Moonville Cemetery, he sure never went by the name Lewis. Neither the stone nor civil war database gives that name.

But if this man, hobbled by his “discharged for disability” in Virginia in 1862, decided to travel north 100 miles to his brother Samuel in Moonville rather than at least 700 miles to his home of Windsor, CT., it would seem reasonable. His decision to travel to Ohio rather than return home would also explain why his history was left “untraced.”

The more I looked into Moonville in trying to find the explanation for its decline, the more research took me in a different direction. Searching for southern Ohio environmentalism of the 19th century led to a nightlong quest of finding Wellington Coe as I dug through pages of family records, civil war databases and tried to piece together this historical jigsaw puzzle.

What I thought was the story, the rise and fall of a ghost town in the Hanging Rock Iron Region, turned out to be much more, an expansive search and understanding of our geographic history.

My unquenchable thirst for the truth revealed an unbelievable, historical domino effect.

As I’d learn, Moonville may have been a product of the same theme of unintended consequences.


How, perhaps, did one man unwittingly transform the United States?

Samuel Coe, new to southeastern Ohio, wanted his Zaleski Forest farm to provide for his wife and three children. But his land’s coal and clay got in the way, so a lucrative deal with a railroad company, so he thought, would solve everything.

Suddenly, with the addition of a rail line through the area, towns like Moonville sprung up like iron ore being mined to the surface. Iron furnaces were being built everywhere in the region, and with rail traffic increasing, demand for the area’s resources grew as well.

Then came the nation’s Civil War. Hanging Rock iron makers provided resources during the war for canons and other military equipment, according to the Ohio Historical Markers Committee.

And who used such equipment? The Union Army, the one Samuel’s brother Wellington may have served under in the Ohio 30th infantry, which won the Civil War and dramatically changed our nation’s history.

By the early 1900s, coal mines around Moonville were drying up. The war was over, the mines began to close, and the industry demand lessened significantly, according to OES.

Hope Furnace had been closed since 1874, and by 1916 the Hanging Rock Iron Region industry was dead.

Samuel Coe died in 1883, never knowing that soon, the village of Moonville he created through his farm, would reach its end.

The last family moved away in 1947. Only the tunnel, cemetery and the occasional ghost story remain.

If a ghost town disappears in the forest, does it make a sound?

The history lies somewhere deep in Zaleski Forest. With nothing else left, perhaps it exists mainly in our fantasies.

I’ll return someday for a third trip to the Moonville tunnel, and maybe I’ll even see a ghost or two.

The darkness of the tunnel surrounded me, even with up daylight ahead. I thought I had figured the story out, when in reality the mystery had its grips on me the whole time.

In that sense, Moonville truly is haunted.

This trip, a cold, February journey into the forest, I walked back out the tunnel as the darkness hastily settled over Vinton County. A now-filled creek forced me through the forest towards Moonville, as if I were heading home after a long day at the furnace.

Trudging through the path alongside Raccoon Creek, I noticed footsteps lying below me in the mud.

Either they belonged to fellow tourists, or a tired villager on his way back from the mines.

Even in daylight, the tunnel's darkness encompasses its path. Photo by Lauren Schneider

Oak Grove Cemetery

The gravestones of Oak Grove Cemetery. Photo by Ryan Satkowiak

By Ryan Satkowiak

Outlined by a blue-gray February sky, Oak Grove Cemetery has a particularly eerie feel to it.

It is quiet, except for the passing traffic on Merry Avenue. Standing at the center of the cemetery, its highest point, gravestones cloud the immediate field of vision in all directions.

Very little goes on at Oak Grove. Rolling hills make the cemetery an inviting place to take an afternoon walk, but the overwhelming sense of death turns off many from entering it.

Only about 40 people are buried here each year, according to an estimate by Tim Dunn, co-owner of Bowling Green’s Dunn Funeral Home. Those people are laid to rest on the northern-most end of the cemetery, the only place in Oak Grove that has empty patches of grass. The headstones in that area are often reserved spaces, ones that feature a name and birth year of a person who’s time to leave earth has not yet come.

Winter merely adds to the atmosphere of the cemetery. Trees that beem with life during the warmer months of the year are naked, as barren as the skeletons that rest peacefully in the ground underneath.

But there is something peculiar about the Oak Grove Cemetery. Something sets it apart. It is smack-dab in the heart of the BGSU campus, wedged between Merry Avenue and Ridge Street, right next to Olscamp Hall.

Many people walk past this place every day. The sight of Oak Grove has become so commonplace for BGSU students that many simply are complacent with its presence so close to their everyday lives.

“It’s something that you eventually get used to,” said Brian Hilliard, a junior international studies major who walks by Oak Grove every day to get to classes in Olscamp Hall and the Business Building. “At first it was sort of weird to have a cemetery so close to campus, but after seeing if for a couple of years, you don’t even think about it being there.”

Many gravestones like these flood the grassy hills of Oak Grove Cemetery. Photo by Ryan Satkowiak.

While Hilliard estimates he has walked past the cemetery at least a hundred times, he has never entered it, or even thought about entering it: “I don’t really have a reason to. I don’t know anyone buried there.”

Many students who have attended BGSU would be familiar with Oak Grove’s existence. The cemetery was founded in 1873, about 37 years before the college was ever built.

While Oak Grove is the only cemetery in the Bowling Green city limits, it is not the only place in where people were buried in town.

There used to be two cemeteries in Bowling Green. One was located on present-day South College Drive on the south side of Wooster Street. The other was on the current site of Ridge Elementary School.

The reason for the incorporation of the land Oak Grove sits on has a political background to it.

Back in the early 1870s, Bowling Green was engaged in a political battle with Perrysburg, with each city fighting to be the county seat. During that time, having a rural cemetery was seen as a strong point of the development in the town, according to a 1996 newspaper article by James Kasser.

So in 1873, the City of Bowling Green paid $950 to John and Robert Eldridge for the nine and a half acres of land that Oak Grove Cemetery sits on.

The stones and bodies were transported from the two graveyards and reinterred in Oak Grove. In April 1873, the city began drawing lines and lots to divide up burial plots.

On August 9, 1873 the city began selling plots to citizens. The money made from those sales went to planting trees and other foliage and putting benches in the cemetery in order to give it a “park-like atmosphere,” according to Kasser’s article.

The trees planted in the cemetery, mostly willow and maple trees, give Oak Grove the standard feel of a horror movie setting. The often vicious winds that sail through Northwest Ohio glide through the tree branches with ease. The sounds of tree’s movements encapsulate visitors from all angles, giving the feeling that someone else is there, even though no one else can be seen on the inside parts of the cemetery’s gates.

Not many of the names on the headstones are recognizable. The deeper one walks into the cemetery, the older the monuments become. One cites a date of death in 1887, another in 1883. As the sun begins the set along the horizon, the few lights that are in Oak Grove turn out. Visiting hours are listed as “dawn ’til dusk,” although the front gates rarely close.

This usual all-hours access has led to some problems at Oak Grove.

Oak Grove's memory wall, which was recently replaced after it was destroyed by vandals. Photo by Ryan Satkowiak.

Vandalism at the cemetery has been an issue, given its proximity to a college campus. Perpetrators have caused damage to gravestones and other nuisances.

Vandals did their most recent damage in October 2010. The memory wall near Oak Grove’s entrance was destroyed, knocked out of the ground and broken into four pieces. Cost of replacing it was between $6,000 and $8,000, according to an article in the Toledo Blade.

However, those instances are becoming less frequent.

“I think since I’ve worked here, I can’t remember more than three or four instances in a year for the past 20 years,” said Tim Hammer, the cemetery’s sexton for the past 12 years.

Hammer handles the everyday care of the cemetery, including selling graves and preparing them for burial. He estimates that there are around 700 burial plots remaining in Oak Grove, leaving it at about 93 percent capacity.

BGSU expansion negatively impacted Oak Grove because as the university got bigger, it land-locked Oak Grove. Buildings surround Oak Grove’s east, west and south sides, while parking lots are on its north side. This prevents Oak Grove from ever expanding.

Additionally, the city of Bowling Green granted BGSU land that had at one point belonged to the cemetery, including the area now occupied by Overman Hall.

“There used to be a mausoleum on the southwest corner of the cemetery that the city had to tear down,” Dunn said. “We removed 332 deceased from that mausoleum and moved them to other areas of the cemetery that the city donated properties for or other cemeteries that the families paid of have them moved to.”

Plots of land at the cemetery cost $325 per grave, according to the Bowling Green finance department. Because of space in the cemetery running low, people are only allowed to buy two plots in the cemetery, Dunn said.

Dunn added that his funeral home has had preliminary talks with the city to find new burial grounds ince there is simply no room for Oak Grove to expand. This is to accommodate the citizens of Bowling Green when Oak Grove eventually reaches capacity.

“We’ve had some light discussions with the city to where they would develop new land and they’re thinking west of Bowling Green,” Dunn said. “Everyone needs to be assured that Oak Grove will not be disturbed; that cemetery will always be an ongoing cemetery that the city will maintain.”

While students rarely enter Oak Grove just to observe, the mere presence of it still induces spine-chilling sensations. Walking along the outside of Oak Grove’s gate, along Merry Avenue, the atmosphere of the cemetery still lurks. The unseasonably mild weather has created a thick layer of fog descending on Bowling Green. Visibility decreases, and the inner-most parts of Oak Grove can no longer be seen. The sound of the breeze echoes out from the cemetery, almost as if the deceased are calling out for living company.

View Oak Grove Cemetery in a larger map

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo shines as a place for faith and education

By Sarah Bailey

Draped in colorful head scarves and covering clothing in respect for their religion, Muslim women gather with their children for a Friday afternoon service,

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Photo taken by Sarah Bailey.

listening like attentive students as the words of their spiritual leader echo throughout the circular room.

Men assemble on the other side of a wooden fence-like structure. Farooq Aboelzahab faces them capturing their attention with his words. Aboelzahab is their imam, the head of their Muslim community who leads them in their practice of Islam.

“We need brothers and sisters,” he says. “Civilization means humanness.”

While many local residents pass the mosque on their daily commute to or from Perrysburg, they may not know the history and meaning behind the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Located right off Interstate 75, the mosque is home to 500 families from more than 23 different nationalities.

Members come to worship Allah, or God, most popularly on Friday afternoon “Jumaa,” or “gathering” prayer services. Muslims believe in Islam, an Arabic word meaning “surrender.” They believe someone can find peace with God, one’s self and with humanity by “surrendering to the will of God,” according to the center’s website. Muslim belief is based off the six primary principles: God, the prophets, angels, holy books, the day of judgment and fate and predestination, according to the website.

Approximately 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, or 1.8 million people, are Muslims, according to the CIA World Factbook 2011. Toledo and its surrounding region represent a place where about 7,000 Islamic men and women live and practice their faith daily, said Aboelzahab.

Dressed in black and gold robes, Aboelzahab leads the service with his words and quick hand gestures. He projects his voice periodically. People bow, sit and stand before him, listening to his prayers and lessons. Behind him a large bookcase with a temple-like structure holds a small library of red, green and gold Islamic texts. Stained-glass windows draw in sunshine and cast a warm glow on his face, placing a spark in his eyes.

View Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in a larger map

The center is the third Mosque to ever be built in America, according to toledomuslims.com, a Northwest Ohio Muslim information providing website. The first Muslim immigrants came to Toledo from Syria and Lebanon in the late 1930s, according to the center’s website. They established the Syrian American Muslim Society, and in 1954 Toledo’s first Islamic Center was built on East Bancroft Street.  There was a need for a larger building as the community grew in the 1970s and 1980s. The new center, now located in Perrysburg, was opened in October of 1983. The center now has a full-time school with about 100 students, according to the website.

When the current imam and director Aboelzahab came from Egypt to work at the center in 1989, he was planning on staying only a few years.

Quickly, he became very close to members of the community, Aboelzahab said. He decided to stay longer and had his family back in Egypt join him in Toledo.

“It has been a very rich experience here,” he said. “I have learned more than I’ve taught.”

Since then he has enjoyed working, preaching and exchanging ideas on a daily basis with members of the center and outside community.

“I love communicating with people and talking about issues of mutual concern,” he said.

Imam Aboelzahab holds and explains the Quran. Photo taken by Sarah Bailey.

Aboelzahab leads weekly Friday services and Sunday sermons for about 500 people.  He also gives tours to surrounding schools and people of different faiths, he said. From time to time, speakers from outside the community also come to the center.  Recently a nutritionist talked about how to use food as medicine. In March, a visitor from Canada will focus on misconceptions about Islam, he said.

“This place is a center of learning. It is not just a mosque,” he said. “The mission is to talk about our differences, to celebrate our community and to learn from one another.”

As Aboelzahab leads this Friday service, he looks directly into the eyes of the members. A metallic clock hangs high above him, reflecting the stained-glass window colors and highlighting the tapestries on the walls. Five chandeliers hang from a piece in the center of the ceiling, reflecting the natural light from outside onto each person’s face. Each crystal shines like ice on a bright winter day. Some stand in worship. Others kneel or sit. An occasional child cries but is quickly held and hushed by its mother.

Aboelzahab also participates in Interfaith, a religious group consisted of Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists,  which meets at least two to three times a year to talk about civilization and differences between faiths.

“If we have faith, we should acknowledge that religion has the utmost respect for all mankind, regardless of your religion,” he said.

Aneesa Shaheen, secretary of the center and a Toledo native, has been working and a member of the mosque for over 20 years.

“This is a part of my whole life,” she said.

As a girl, Shaheen grew up going to the old mosque and then started working there. She has known Aboelzahab during his entire time as the imam, and knew the previous imam before he died. She used to teach Sunday school and has seen her students grow up before her eyes, she said.

“I love being with my religion, people and culture here,” she said. “I’ve seen people grow from children to adults.”

Inside the main service area of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Photo taken by Sarah Bailey.

In order to experience the community for what it is, she welcomes people to visit.

“Come here and understand the religion and culture for what it is, not from the examples of what other people have said,” Shaheen said.

Tabassum Ruby, a Muslim and professor from the women’s studies program at Bowling Green State University, said she is happy knowing there is a place like the
Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

“To see such a big area dedicated to that place is something I am definitely very pleased with,” Ruby said.

Ruby, who has visited the center but is not a member, said the mosque showcases Islamic architecture and design.The calligraphy on the stained-glass windows and verses of the Quran written in Arabic on the carpet pieces are details she appreciates.

Ruby said that when general discussions on discrimination come up in her classroom at BGSU, she tries to educate her students on the stereotypes associated with Islam.

Muslim communities’ histories go far back in the historical make-up of this society, she said.

“Why do Muslims constantly have to justify their religion?” she said. “It’s a part of the stereotypical environment that we live in. We keep telling particular people and communities that they need to justify their actions.”

While facing Islamic stereotypes can be difficult, Imam Aboelzahab still has hope.

“Islam has a lot to offer,” he said. “We have to start talking about it in a positive and realistic way.”

The entrance to the main service area of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Photo taken by Sarah Bailey.

As the imam ends his service, members respond promptly in unison, their Arabic prayers blending into a soft humming sound. Each person repeats specific physical praying positions:standing, bowing, and leaning into a deep bow on the floor. When they finish their prayers and bowing motions, they head towards Aboelzahab to hug him and shake his hands. A young girl, covered from head to toe in a bright floral pattern, runs to him and he picks her up. She giggles with delight.

Members exit slowly, lingering with one another. They put their shoes back on, get in their cars, and return to their daily Friday work schedules. Light continues to drift through the stained-glass windows and illuminate the empty room.




Local Feminist Bookstore More Than Books

By Kelsey Klein

The first time I visited People Called Women, I met a woman with a lizard. It was Valentine’s Day and she had come in the shop looking for a lesbian love card; the lizard was incidental. The mohawked woman took it everywhere with her, she said.

Another woman, wearing a multicolored striped hat, was in the store that afternoon as well. She had stopped in while doing errands and found herself venting to the owner of the shop. The two women talked familiarly about politics as the patron browsed the store.

People Called Women, an independent, feminist multicultural bookstore in Toledo, Ohio, is a place owner Gina Mercurio strives to make an accepting atmosphere. From children’s books to “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism,” People Called Women has something to interest many different people. And that’s the way Mercurio wants it.

Gina Mercurio sits behind the counter at People Called Women. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

“To me, feminism includes all sorts of things,” she said. “That’s part of what feminism is.” Feminists should support all manner of social justice efforts, including multiculturalism and anti-poverty work, Mercurio said.

Patron Sharon Barnes thinks People Called Women truly supports her. “I know I can find material here that’s not racist, not sexist and not homophobic,” she said.

That diversity is what People Called Women aims for. When the store opened in 1993, Mercurio decided to keep books by women of color in the front window instead of letting white authors dominate the space. She still keeps that policy.

Not even the lizard—a bearded dragon, by the way –was looked at strangely at People Called Women. If anything, the unexpected pet was met with interest and curiosity, Mercurio and I both petting his spiny sides.

The idea of People Called Women first came to Mercurio as a senior at the University of Toledo. The first wave of feminist publishing was happening and Mercurio wanted a feminist bookstore in Toledo. At the time, however, she did not have the resources to open the store.

Years later, Mercurio was living in Boston. She had saved some money, her family contributed some money and she decided it was time to open the store in Toledo.

“Big cities have all these different kinds of cultural opportunities that smaller cities like Toledo don’t have,” she

said. “In terms of a feminist bookstore, I thought it would be perfect in Toledo… I know I would have appreciated it when I was growing up.”

People Called Women is now the only feminist bookstore in Ohio, according to Mercurio.

Great American Women. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

When I wandered in to People Called Women, I was greeted by a blanket depicting “Great American Women of the 20th Century.”

To the right inside the door I found a small children’s section. The room opened up into a space lined with bookshelves. I found a rack of t-shirts with feminist slogans and handmade jewelry hanging on small racks throughout the store. Bumper stickers with slogans like “Come Out” and “Stop Blaming the Victim” caught my eye.

The main room of People Called Women, as viewed from the back of the store. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

Toward the back of the store I discovered a small hall full of literature from the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, pamphlets of women’s health information and event flyers. I was stunned by the mass of information vying for my attention.

A community room, which also houses the store’s used books, has a deep couch, comfortable chairs and cookies on the coffee table. It feels homey and comfortable, a place to meet and catch up with friends.

The bookstore has become a meeting place for organizations like Toledo’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Toledo Take Back the Night collective, and the Agnes Reynolds Jackson Fund, a fund that assists women seeking abortions.

“It’s a resource beyond what’s on the shelves here,” Anita Rios, president of Toledo NOW said. It is a meeting

A NOW sign sits on a case full of used books. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

place, a safe space, and a place for education, she said.

Mercurio agreed. “I’d have to say it’s as much of a community center as it’s a bookstore, and I think that’s what feminist bookstores do very well,” she said.

“It’s a place to meet. It’s a place for people to organize around social justices issues and where else can you do that? At universities. But this is an actual place in the community where people can come together and do important things.”

During a Toledo NOW meeting, Barnes sprawled out on the couch. Rios, across from her, sat in a cushioned chair with a pillow. Another woman sat with her legs curled under her. Mercurio was present, sitting in sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt with the line “Hey Mister Keep Your Hands Off My Sister” printed on it.

The women were discussing a recent NOW protest of the Catholic Church’s birth control stance. They passed around a newspaper article about the protest outside of Toledo’s Mercy St. Anne Hospital. A photo of Rios holding a sign with the slogan “Birth Control is a Human Right” garnered excitement.

The group threw themselves into planning a second protest. The energy and feminist ideology in the store that

day was as thick as some of the books.

Members of Toledo NOW in the community room of People Called Women. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

The ideology in People Called Women is almost palpable. I feel surrounded by feminism in the store and encouraged to take a stand for what I believe. Sitting in the room with the members of NOW, I was ready to jump into the meeting.

Barnes and Mercurio jumped during the NOW meeting when Sarah Balser came into People Called Women unexpectedly.

A Toledo area native now living in Akron, Balser makes a point to visit People Called Women whenever she’s in the area. When living in Toledo, Balser volunteered at People Called Women.

“PCW is home,” she said. “I can’t imagine Toledo without it.”

The feeling of home is something repeated by the women I spoke to.

“It’s kind of like coming to your friends’ house in some ways,” patron Stacy Jurich said. “I came in the door and started venting to Gina, like I think a lot of women do.”

I felt like I was at a friend’s house when Mercurio left the counter for a moment and asked me to answer the phone if it rang.

“Stall them if someone calls,” she shouted as she walked through a doorway.

With no choice in the matter, I lamented my lack of reason to refuse. Lucky for me, the phone never rang and I didn’t have to test my stalling skills.

As our interview was winding down, Mercurio suggested we step outside for a smoke. Lighting her cigarette, she blew smoke into the bitter wind. We talked for a few minutes about the impact of young feminists and feminist organizations at Bowling Green State University before the cold became too much for us and we parted—Mercurio into People Called Women and me to my car, to blast Riot Grrrl music the whole way home, empowered and feeling quite feminist.



View People Called Women Bookstore in a larger map

Harboring History, Creating Legends: The Legacy of Howard’s Club H

Phillip Keck, trumpet player for Texas Pete and the Revolution, sounds his horn into the microphone during the band’s sound check. The reverberation of the trumpet blast, along with the remnants of smoke from the fog machines and the crowded room, make the stage feel like a pre-modern warfare battlefield.

However, Howard’s Club H (http://howardsclubh.com) is more than just a band’s battleground in the war of popularity — it is also a band’s great ally.

Because of the economic downturn and diminished demand for live music, owner Jim Gavarone has seen a fall in attendance, despite being one of the only remaining clubs in downtown Bowling Green that offer live performances. Gavarone scoffs at his competitors and what they find to be amusement.

Howard's Club H offers its visitors live music, pool tables and alcoholic beverages. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“I’ve seen what kids spend their money on these days and it’s not real entertainment,” Gavarone said. “They could pay $3 to see a band here. Instead, they’ll go next door [to Skybar] and pay $10 … to listen to the same eight songs.”

There are not many places for bands to perform downtown anymore. Howard’s is the only place that has kept its stage open to traveling and local bands said disk jockey Brian Scavo.

“We have been here for over 80 years,” Gavarone said. “Ten years ago, half of these bars weren’t here. Cla-Zel, Skybar, none of them were here. Now, they are our main competition.”

On the outside, Howard’s Club H looks like a basic downtown bar, but on the inside, with its graffiti-covered tables, mural-covered walls and legendary stage, is where the club harbors its history and sets itself apart from the others.

Howard’s has been in business for more than 80 years. The establishment has seen wars, the Prohibition and thousands of students come and go each year at Bowling Green State University. Gavarone and general manager Jennifer Snyder look to preserve the culture behind Howard’s while annually bringing in a whole new crowd of students.

“No matter what you do with your life, you can come back here,” Snyder said. “You can walk through our door and it will always be Howard’s. We have people who come back as alumni and they look around for their names on the wall. They are looking for a little bit of their history. They know that they are a part of this place.”

The operators of Howard's allow patrons to write on the walls of the bathroom and to carve their names into the tables. Photo by Stephan Reed.

Gavarone and Snyder allow patrons to write on the walls of the bathroom and carve words into the tables as they have for years. The bathroom looks like a vandalized train, almost completely covered in bright, nearly illegible writing.

Performers like Keck cite the writing on the walls as one of Howard’s most distinctive characteristics.

“We always joke about the graffiti,” Keck said. “There are some questionable messages in there. We also look around for our old stickers on the walls. We feel like we really are a part of the culture there.”

"I just don't have the heart to cover up these walls," Gavarone said. "These murals are what makes this place." Photo by Stephan Reed.

The club looks rough around the edges, with its graffiti and low lighting, but it holds some lifelong memories for many people, including the owner.

“I get a lot of pressure from people who want me to clean this place up,” Gavarone said. “I am a sentimental guy. I do not have the heart to shut this place down. In fact, I kissed my wife for the first time against the pole near the stage.”

That stage is where Howard’s differs from all the other clubs downtown. Bands like Panic! At the Disco and The White Stripes played there when they were first starting out, while Method Man, Andrew W.K. and David Allen Coe performed to maximum capacity crowds.

“I had Fall Out Boy play here in 2003, and people were bitching at the door about paying $3,” Gavarone said. “A few years later, they were selling out stadiums nationwide. Bands are nobodies here and then they become somebodies out there.”

Scavo agreed, adding that Howard’s is where many artists come to get noticed and bask in the light of the stage.

"I kissed my wife for the first time against the pole near the stage," Gavarone said. Photo by Stephan Reed

“Howard’s has its own character and its own stories,” Scavo said. “Bands coming through Bowling Green always go there. It has such a great reputation. It’s one of the only places left in Bowling Green that gives our downtown diversity.”

The club also played part of the famous blues tour known as the “Chitlin’ Circuit” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitlin’_circuit) during the late 1950s, providing a place for blues artists to perform. The tour consisted of blues guitarists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“This place had legends play here every weekend back in the day,” Gavarone said. “Howard’s would get the big name blues guys who were on their way from Chicago to Cleveland.”

Deeper in Howard’s history is the tale of confectioner and founder Freddy Howard, a candystore operator turned bar owner.

“Legend has it that this candy store sold liquor out the back,” Gavarone said. “He was famous for his parties because he would have the entire football squad out here. The coaches began calling him Freddy the Falcon. The day Prohibition was overturned, he was one of the first ones selling [legally].”

Currently, the bar caters to anyone who walks through the door by providing food in-house and next door at Mr. Spots. Gavarone is also the owner of Mr. Spots (http://www.mrspots.com), which is how he received his liquor license.

The club is separated into two parts connected by a wrap-around bar. One side is more laid back, complete with a few TV screens playing sports games and the majority of the beer taps, while the other side is focused on recreation with four pool tables, a soundboard and a stage.

Snyder said she thinks of Howard’s as the town hangout, as well as the final stop during a weekend bar crawl.

Howard's operators hang pictures of past memorable live performances behind the bar. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“We have always been the closing bar,” she said. “We are open seven days a week and everyone seems to come here for their final round of the night. It’s been like that for decades.”

Whether it’s a night of just hanging out and shooting pool with the regulars or it’s a night of rocking out with the next band preparing for its big break, Howard’s and its operators look to keep the stage open and to continue to aid bands in the fight for stardom.

View Route from BGSU Campus to Howard’s Club H in a larger map

Blazing personality triumphs over fiery memories

Zack Wilkins sits in his living room with his family showing off his scars. Photo by Nikia Washington

By Nikia Washington

Like any average pre-teenage boy would be, Zack Wilkins is quieted by a game on his mother’s tablet for most of the ride to Cincinnati. Occasionally, he is heard asking his mother a question, or chatting with his grandmother who is sitting a row up from him, but for the majority of the trip he is silent. A stranger would guess nerves kept the 14-year-old in a hushed state, as he is the sole reason for the three hour ride to the  Shriners Hospital for Children. However, worries of the day’s events are the furthest thing from Zack’s mind. Its 9 a.m. in the morning and Zack is simply tired.

Stepping out of the van doors, and into the hospital lobby, the energetic, talkative Zack is now fully alert. He is joking and smiling as he strides nonchalantly into the treatment center – a silent insult to the other children who fear entering this building.

Just a year and half ago Zack could relate to those kids. Being recently traumatized by the event that would change his life, this would have been the last place he wanted to be.


In July of 2010, Zack and a younger cousin attempted to construct a bonfire in their grandmother’s backyard.

“It just felt really hot and I thought I was too close,” said Zack. Moments after feeling the heat, his cousin pointed out his pants had caught fire.

In the next minute and thirty seconds the two boys attempted to put out the fire by hand and water – neither were successful as the fire fought back. Zack eventually ran into the house and hopped in the tub, as instructed by his panicked grandmother, seizing the flames.

“With older kids, you’ll see misusing of gasoline or campfires” said Louise Hoelker, Shriners Director of Volunteers and Public Affaris. “Especially with boys.”

Zack believes gas from the can he used to ignite the bonfire dripped onto his pants, allowing the flame to catch easily.

“[Firefighters] said if I was on fire for any longer, it would have been to the bone,” Zack said. After an ambulance ride to Tiffin Hospital and a life flight to Toledo St. Vincent’s, Zack and his family were informed he had severe third degree burns.

“Burns severity is measured by how long a person is on fire,” said Tresa Wilkins, Zack’s mother. “Anything after a minute is usually third degree.”

Zack’s parents were not present at the scene of their sons injury, but arrived at the hospital soon after. Steve Wilkins, Zack’s father who instantly booked a flight back home from a North Carolina business trip upon hearing the news, said he didn’t know what to expect.


“It was rough,” he said, of when he finally reached Zack. “Seeing him all bandaged up was hard.”

Tresa, who arrived first at Tiffin Hospital and then had to travel to Toledo after Zack was life flighted, waited hours to know the severity of her son’s injuries.

“The nurse said ‘It’s bad, that’s all burnt skin,” she said, recalling the first time she saw Zack after the fire. His legs were under a thin white blanket and Tresa could make out the black skin underneath.

“If it’s first or second degree it will heal on its own,” said Hoelker. “If it’s third degree it won’t.  Eventually they need to take [the dead skin] off and put good skin on.”

Zack Wilkins' right leg received the most of the burn during the bonfire accident. Scars from the skin grafts starting mid calf and extend to his upper thigh. Photo by Nikia Washington.

Zack’s skin grafts took place soon after his arrival to the hospital. He still grimaces at the thought of the procedure.

“They said all they were going to do is take skin from my left leg and move it over to the burns,” he said. He remembers complying with a simple ‘O.K.,’ naïve of the intensity of the surgery.

“I didn’t know how bad it was going to hurt.”

Days, weeks, and months after that first surgery, frequent occurrences which would leave painful memories flooded Zack’s healing process.

“I lost my voice in the hospital from a lot from screaming,” Zack said, with the sense of accomplishment a boy his age would use when announcing he caught his first fish or scored his first touchdown.

Tresa, much less enthusiastic about the traumatic experiences, vividly remembers Zack being extremely vocal during his first shower where nurses scraped off the dead skin.

“That was one of the times where we had to walk out and leave him with the nurses,” she said. Seeing him in that amount of pain was unbearable.

Steve said Zack would calm down when he and Teresa were not around. Zack responded that whenever they left the room he felt like there was no point in screaming – there was no longer anyone there to save him.

Due to the severity of his injuries, Zack was rehabilitated during his initial three week hospital stay, and following his release. One of the skills he had to relearn was how to walk.

“The first time they sent him out to walk around the ward he almost collapsed,” Steve said.

Zack’s burns wrapped around his right knee, an area that is commonly known as one of the most difficult burn areas to heal and one of the most painful.

Occurrence likes these defined Zack’s life for at least a year after the bonfire accident; his rambunctious personality was affected as well. Zack’s younger sisters, Cheyenne, 12, and Madison, 10, would normally describe Zack as playful, funny, sometimes annoying, and protective.

“He was a lot quieter and didn’t smile much anymore,” Madison said, reflecting on Zack’s first weeks back home.

Cheyenne agreed saying his sense of humor was not the same. The two girls, along with Zack’s older brother, Nick, helped out with Zack when they could, but did not like seeing their brother in so much pain. Zack said one of the worst parts of the healing was when his dressings had to be changed.

“I had never heard him scream like that,” Cheyenne said.

“We had to go next door and tell the neighbors we weren’t hurting him,” Steve said. “That’s how bad it was.”

When Zack returned to school from summer break, he was still undergoing the healing process, which also caused complications at school. Some teachers did not understand Zack had a temporary physical disability and that he could not participate in activities such as gym class. Others did not comply with restrictions that were made to assist his healing.

“His injury did distract him from learning,” Steve said. During the healing process, Zack missed several days of school for checkups and appointments. However, with after school tutoring, Zack stayed caught up with the curriculum.

Other than the academic struggles at school, students were aware something had changed Zack over summer break. He had to wear compression stockings everyday to keep his bandages in place and he was obviously receiving special treatment in classes. But when his friends or other classmate asked questions, Zack had no problem answering.

“They asked how painful was it and did I scream,” Zack said. He chuckled slightly when he said he responded, “Yeah, I screamed a lot!”

Zack was also comfortable showing his wounds to friends.

“Some of them thought it looked cool, some of them thought it look weird,” Zack said confidently. It’s evident none of his physical changes bother him.

Zack’s parents agreed that throughout this entire process Zack has been as positive as a kid can be for someone who has endured an experience of such magnitude. Last year, he was invited by Toledo St. Vincent’s Hospital to attend the National Burn Conference in Galveston, TX based on his optimistic outlook during his hospital stay. Zack and his mother enjoyed the all expense paid trip, where Zack met many celebrity burn survivors.

Zack Wilkins, and his younger sisters Cheyenne (left) and Madison (right) joke around in their family room while watching T.V. Photo by Nikia Washington

Still, a year and half after his accident, the healing process continues for Zack. He and his mother came to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, a Verified Burn Unit by the American Burn Association, in hope of finding an alternative surgery for the skin behind his right knee which is not healing correctly.

After Zack’s appointment he sits down for lunch with his mother, grandmother, and a few gentlemen from the Zenobia Shriners, which support the funding of the hospital. While eating, Zack casually discusses the results from the consultation he had today and, somehow, the conversation gets on the topic of scars. He and his mother laugh about something his father told him – chicks dig scars.

Zack grins big.

“Well I’m gonna have a lot of chicks,” Zack says. “Because I have a lot of scars.”



Most burns that occur are preventable.

February 5- 12th, 2012 is National Burn Awareness Week.

Celebrate, Practice Fire Safety, and Raise Awareness.

Bowling Green hot spots

By Max Filby

The new location of Mister Spots at 206 N. Main Street, in downtown Bowling Green, Ohio. Photo by Max Filby

Hot wings weren’t hot when Jim Gavarone opened his store in 1985.

Gavarone is a local businessman whose restaurant, Mister Spots, has heated up enough to boost his business into new locations and through an early rivalry with a big wig in the wing industry.

Gavarone developed the idea to open his original shops, and now his new one, after moving from Philadelphia to Bowling Green for college. Even after years of business, Gavarone says he “accidentally backed into,” his business.

“A few friends just double-dog dared me into it,” he says.

When Gavarone opened his store on Court Street on Feb. 17, 1985, his chicken wings quickly became one of a kind in the fast food market.

“We’ve done wings from day one,” Gavarone says. “We were kind of pioneers in that industry.”

Trying to wing it as a pioneer in the industry during the‘80s meant Gavarone was going up against another restaurant in Columbus, Ohio —Buffalo Wild Wings.  At the time, Mister Spots and Buffalo Wild Wings were two of the only places in the area that regularly sold wings, Gavarone says.

“It really became an intense rivalry,” Gavarone says.

The rivalry heated up even more when Gavarone later opened another Mister Spots in Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, Ohio State’s biggest rival. The move made Mister Spots and Buffalo Wild Wings even bigger rivals, Gavarone says.

After opening his second Mister Spots in Ann Arbor in 1986, Gavarome also catered at University of Michigan athletics events until about 2009.

“It gets to be too expensive after a while, they just keep wanting more and more of your profit,” Gavarone says. “It’s even harder to do when the teams aren’t winning anymore, too.”

Eventually, wings became more mainstream as Buffalo Wild Wings started to expand its franchise, Gavarone says.

Although he is still thinking about further expanding with the help of some Michigan alumni, Gavarone is just focusing on the new store in Bowling Green, for now. Gavarone still maintains Mister Spots’ Ann Arbor location by checking in with store employees at least once a week.

While hot wings may have been a rarity during Gavarone’s rivalry, about 33 percent of all wings are now ordered at “casual dining restaurants” such as Mister Spots, according to the National Chicken Council’s 2012 Chicken Wing Report.

“Wings used to be sort of disposable,” Gavarone says. “They used to cost 30 cents a pound, you know, and now they cost something like $3.30. They’ve just gotten so big.”

Although Gavarone may not be the man of a million locations or menu items, for the past 26 years, his sauce has been “spot on.”

“We make our own sauce,” Gavarone says. “It’s no garden secret though. We don’t have 82 flavors or any sort of nuclear sauce, but it’s pretty good. It’s basic.”

When Gavarone bites into a wing or sandwich at his shop, he’s so satisfied that the only word he can find to describe it is as basic as his sauce recipe.

“Deliciousness,” he says. “I truly eat this crap all the time.”

Although Gavarone’s sauce is “basic,” he won’t give away ingredients other than some peppers, pepper seeds and margarine.

At the original location, currently in operation, Gavarone tells his general manager not to give anything away, but he’s not talking about free food.

“Don’t give away any secrets,” Gavarone says as he laughs with Mark Koldan.

Gavarone nods and walks to the back of the restaurant.

“It’s great not just working with my best friend, but working for my best friend,” Koldan says. “My kids call him ‘Uncle Jim’.”

Koldan first met Gavarone when they played together on the club lacrosse team at Bowling Green State University back in the early ‘80s. When Gavarone played, Koldan was his backup goalie.

“Essentially, he’s my backup at Mister Spots, too,” Gavarone says.

Since being put in charge in 1986, Koldan has been “steering the ship” at Mister Spots, Gavarone says.

Although Gavarone is now more of a “behind the scenes kind of guy,” he sometimes still makes his own sandwiches and wings.

“Sometimes I’ll climb right behind the counter,” Gavarone says.

While Gavarone may not always be behind the store counter, customers such as five-year patron Michelle Crook still love his products.

“It’s on par,” Crook says as she finishes her dinner. “It’s local, casual and is pretty reasonably priced.”

As customers like Crook leave Gavarone’s old restaurant location, something similar will ‘mark the spot’ at 206 N. Main Street, his new location.

The doodle of Gavarone’s cat, Spot, wearing sunglasses, hangs on a sign above the doorway at each location. Gavarone did the doodle on the back of a textbook while sitting in a class at BGSU in the ‘80s.

“I caught a lot of flack for naming the business after him,” Gavarone says. “My land lord called it Mister Flops … he thought we wouldn’t last six months there.”

Beneath the sign at the new Main Street location, people peek in to ask if the new Mister Spots is open for business. They thank Gavarone as he sends them down to the Court Street location.

Gavarone nods

“Welcome,” Gavarone says as they walk away.

Inside his new restaurant in downtown Bowling Green, Gavarone plays around with Netflix on a newly installed TV as his electrician watches. With a few wires hanging below the screen there’s still some work to be done before Mister Spots officially moves to Main Street.

Gavarone nods as he talks with the electrician.

Everything inside the restaurant is new, from the pictures on the wall to the black table where Gavarone sits. Different from its Court Street location, the new Mister Spots is still “spotless.”

Although Gavarone never planned to settle down in Bowling Green, he’s glad his customers will continue to have the opportunity to taste something “authentic” at Mister Spots. Gavarone and his friends weren’t impressed with the edible options the city had to offer back in the ‘80s, a tradition he tried to break by opening his stores.

“I thought the food here was garbage for the most part,” Gavarone says. “If you want to eat pizza, then you want to eat pizza, but we were looking to offer customers something a little different and a little better.”

Gavarone sends another potential customer down to his Court Street location.

“The best part of all of this is the people,” he says. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”



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A Player from Unlikely Territory

By Ryan Satkowiak

It’s the first game of his collegiate career and BGSU freshman Ryan Carpenter is skating his second shift of the night.

A shot from the blue line deflects wide of the net and into the left corner. A brief scrum ensues before the puck is dug out by a University of Connecticut defender. However, the UConn player doesn’t get far as BGSU forward Cam Wojtala strips him of the puck at the bottom of the left circle. He drops the puck to a well-covered Carpenter, who curls the puck slightly to the left and shoots.


The sound of a train horn goes off, a red light flashes behind the net, the approximatly 1,300 fans at the BGSU Ice Arena spring to their feet in celebration. Just three minutes and 29 seconds into his college hockey career, Carpenter has scored his first goal, a quick wrist shot that beat Connecticut goalie Garrett Bartus six-hole — the area between the right arm and torso.

In the ensuing jubilation, Carpenter is mobbed by his teammates. The referee picks up the puck and skates it to the Bowling Green bench. He tosses it to one of the team’s trainers, who will later present it to Carpenter, a memento to forever remind him of that first goal.

While it was a moment he will fondly look back on, it still doesn’t change his opinion on how to play transpired.

“It was a pretty ugly goal, and I probably did the most embarrassing celebration after,” Carpenter said of jumping into the glass following the goal.

Carpenter added an assist later in the game and notched two more assists the following night for a four-point weekend. That effort was good enough to earn him Central Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Week honors. But, it was just taste of what Carpenter would bring to the table for the Bowling Green hockey team.

Despite being a first-year player, Carpenter leads the Falcons in points and is fourth in the conference in freshman scoring. In fact, Carpenter is one of only two freshmen in the CCHA who leads his team in scoring.

His journey to get to where he is at is just as unlikely as his early-season success. Born and raised in central Florida, Carpenter grew up in an area crazed about high school football, not a hotbed for hockey players. What got him into hockey was his father, a New York native and hockey fan, even though he never played the sport.

“My cousins would always play roller hockey, and when I would got up to New York for Christmas, I would have a pair of roller blades and we’d be skating around in the basement,” Carpenter said.” That’s when I first started liking it.”

Carpenter said he started playing hockey on roller blades. Then, a semi-pro ice hockey team moved to town, opening up a sheet of ice in his area. He moved on to ice hockey when he was seven years old. That stroke of chance helped kick-start a career that would take him more than 1,000 miles away from home.

Ryan Carpenter skates with the puck during a game against Notre Dame earlier this season. Photo courtesy BGSU Athletics.

No matter what surface he was playing on, Carpenter has always been driven by being successful. In his case, success has been measured by scoring goals.

“Having that fire to put pucks in the net is something I’ve always had,” Carpenter said. “I always have that focus to try to get pucks to the net and help the team.”

That fire is something that motivates him to get better. Generally, Carpenter is one of the last players to get off the ice after a team practice ends. Whether it’s working on his shooting or doing extra conditioning, Carpenter has put in the extra effort in order to help improve his game.

Playing a cold-weather sport like hockey in a warm-weather state like Florida isn’t all that irregular. However, the level of success Carpenter has been able to achieve is rare. In the CCHA, the conference which Bowling Green competes, he is one of only 32 players, out of 289, who are from traditionally warm-weather states. These players range from states like California to Texas to Florida.

Carpenter knew the depth of the competition in the South was not as good as it is up north. To get recognized on a larger scale, he would have to make a move.

And move he did. When he was 16 years old, he went up to the Metropolitan Detroit area in Michigan to play Triple-A midget hockey for two years. While he said it was difficult to leave home and his friends, he was ultimately happy he made the decision.

And, according to Carpenter, the biggest adjustment for him was something most southerners have to deal with when first moving north.

“I had been up north but had never lived there, so the biggest thing for me was driving in the snow,” he said with a chuckle. “The first couple of times I got stuck, and there was drifting, almost hitting stuff. Luckily I didn’t get into any accidents.”

While avoiding accidents off the ice, he maneuvered his way up the competitive ladder on it. He played for the Victory Honda midget team in Detroit, before ultimately making the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League, the premier junior hockey league in America.

In his final season with Sioux City, he was elected the team’s captain, an honor for any player. Serving as captain generally requires a high level of accountability, something that Carpenter’s coach sees on a daily basis.

“He’s got so many different layers that he brings to the table,” said Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron. “He’s a great student. He carries himself like a professional. This isn’t something that he does when he wants to. It’s a lifestyle for him.

“There is leadership in Ryan. I believe he is going to be a guy who is going to be a leader, officially, in this program over his time here. There are a lot of things that he brings to the table and we couldn’t be happier to have him here.”

Part of that leadership comes from being the oldest of three children. Carpenter quickly learned that his younger siblings — Kelsey and Chris — looked up to him as a role model. That helped shape who he was as he grew up because he wanted to make sure to set a good example for them.

“Sometimes growing up I wasn’t the best example for them,” Carpenter said. “Being the oldest one, you eventually learn that if you do something wrong your younger sister or brother might follow you, so I wanted to try to do the right things.”

Carpenter committed to play at Bowling Green in June 2010. He said he liked everything about the school and the coaching staff on his recruiting visit. Bowling Green’s rich history — winning a national championship in 1984 and graduating multiple alumni to the NHL — and the chance to help rebuild the program were also big selling points for him. He enrolled for the fall 2011 semester.

Adjusting to college life is usually difficult for any incoming freshman. Add in the wrinkle of being a full-time student-athlete, it’s easy to see how some players struggle to maintain good grades. However, academics have not been an area of struggle for Carpenter.

Majoring in finance, he maintained his grade-point average above a 3.0 during his first semester. He said the busier schedule of college has it’s advantages.

“It seems that there’s not much down time, which is good and bad,” Carpenter said. “You stay busy and the day goes by quick. Sometimes it lets you get your mind away from the rink, which is good.”

On the ice, Carpenter quickly proved to be a key player on the team. During the first 13 games of the season, he lead the team in scoring, putting up 13 points for the Falcons.

His quick start caught the eyes of his teammates. Even though he’s only a freshman, Carpenter’s teammates hold a level of respect for him that is often saved for an upperclassman.

“His work ethic is great; he’s always in there fighting,” said Bryce Williamson, a forward who has played the majority of the season on Carpenter’s line. “He’s hard on the puck and he creates good chances for your line.”

Despite the early season success, Carpenter has run into the type of inconsistency and adversity that is often synonymous with first-year college players. Even though he still leads the team with 19 points on the season, he has only accumulated six points over his last 17 games played.

Even though Carpenter is now no longer a secret to opposing teams, Bergeron feels the reason for his recent struggles is something that is typical among young players, not a result of opposing teams focusing more energy on shutting him down.

“You just get [inconsistencies] with young guys. It’s a long first year both academically and hockey-wise and regardless of how prepared you are, you aren’t prepared enough,” Bergeron said. “Ryan is one of those guys that when he’s on, he’s difficult to stop, whether you’re keying on him or not.”

A devout Christian, Carpenter participates in on-campus religious activities, such as the h2o church. His faith is strong, as he participates in the group’s Fusion bible studies, and he offers thanks to Jesus Christ following games, thanking him for being blessed with the ability to play a sport he loves.

A career in hockey is his first choice for his post-collegiate endeavors. But no matter what he ends up committing his life to in the long run, Carpenter said that he just wants to help people in whatever way possible.

“I’d love to get a job after college, but I think just helping people is a goal,” he said. “I’ve grown in my faith my first semester here, and that’s something I’d like to do, helping people day in and day out, showing the love to others.”

A promise to study abroad

Danielle Alviani. Photo by Tia Woodel

By Tia Woodel

Hit with nerves, Danielle Alviani boards the airplane. She sits down in her seat without a family member or friend in sight. She is alone and traveling overseas for the first time in her life but is still excited for the road ahead. Being shy and quiet may have worked for her in the past, but Alviani will soon partake in a positively life-changing experience.

Alviani was in high school when her two cousins, Emily and Sarah Wichryk, studied abroad in college. With an interest in Renaissance art, Alviani made a promise to herself that she would study abroad somewhere she could experience art and fashion in new ways. Less than 10 percent of undergraduate students from Bowling Green State University study abroad according to BGSU’s Education Abroad website, and because Alviani was so shy, family and friends were skeptical.

Alviani grew up in a household with her parents, older sister, and younger brother in the small town of Beaver, Pa. Alviani, very close to her mother and family, said traveling when she was younger always included the entire family, and going outside of the country was never their desire.

Alviani, on the other hand, had other ideas about traveling.

“All through high school I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t graduate college until I studied abroad,” she said.

Alviani said her parents were supportive but didn’t actually think she would stick to it. Alviani’s best friend, Abby Perza, said she remembers Alviani talking about studying abroad, but like Alviani’s parents, she didn’t take it seriously.

“In high school, she was so shy,” Perza said. “I didn’t picture her doing something that big.”

Alviani was so close to her family that when she chose to attend BGSU, she was going to be leaving home alone for the first time. After two years as a fashion merchandising major, Alviani realized if she really wanted to keep this promise to herself, she was going to need to start taking some action. She went to the study abroad office, where she was given her many booklets on places to go.

BGSU offers students the option to study abroad in 20 cities, in 16 different countries on five continents, according to the University’s official study abroad video. With this many options, Alviani used her passion for art and fashion to help make her final decision.

“I learned a ton about the Renaissance and fell in love with the art from that period. Florence is known as the Renaissance city, so it just seemed meant to be for me to go there,” she said.

Alviani finished the application process and was finally on her way to studying abroad. Now she would be able to prove she was serious and tell her friends the news.

“When I told my friends that I was studying abroad, they all were very excited for me and I think a little shocked at the same time,” Alviani said.

Her best friend, Perza, was thrilled for Alviani but was troubled that she wasn’t going to see her for four months. Alviani did admit that leaving for four months, not knowing how much she would be able to talk to friends and family, made her sad. Perza remembered times when Alviani was homesick just being at BGSU and worried about her being gone for so long. Alviani said she went into the trip with an open mind, though, and was excited for the semester abroad.

The start of her trip helped Alviani recognize this was going to be something completely different from what she was used to. When first arriving in Florence, she remembers the chaos of the airport and getting to the apartment. As she stepped away from the group, Alviani called her mother.

“When I called her, I realized I was actually gone,” she said. “My mom wasn’t there to do anything for me; I was on my own.”


Danielle Alviani's study abroad group in Florence, Italy. Photo provided by Danielle Alviani

Alviani said it was great how quickly everyone got along the first night there, and even referred to the new group of roommates and other students in the apartment as “friends who became a family.” Alviani also remembers how intrigued she was exploring the city for the first time.

“I instantly saw how different everything was,” she said. “The buildings were so incredible. We would stop to look at one building for 10 minutes before staring at the next. Over here, everything is so modern, but the buildings there have been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. …the art and architecture all throughout the city of Florence… I was blown away every day that I stepped out of my apartment. It was a dream living in such a beautiful, ancient city.”
Alviani did miss her family and friends at home, but was able to keep in contact with them through Skype, Facebook and cell phones provided by StudentCell, which made it easier to be so far away.
“I talked to family and friends more than I expected,” she said. “I missed my mom; I’m definitely a momma’s girl.”
Alviani’s mother, Susan Alviani, said her daughter was always excited when she called home, talking about how much she loved the European way of life and the group of friends she had made.
“The trip was life-changing for her,” her mother said. “She gained an independence knowing she can do her own thing.”
Because of her daughter’s courage, Alviani’s mother even took a trip overseas for the first time to visit.
When Alviani wasn’t catching up quick with family and friends, she was absorbing as much art and culture as she could during her trip. This included visiting the statue of David six times and observing other countries’ fashions. She visited Germany, Scotland, England, Switzerland, Spain and Ireland.
Alviani said she thinks her trip will help her career one day now that she has a better knowledge of fashion outside the U.S. Her classes taught her the designing aspect of the fashion industry. She even said this experience made her think about possibly moving to Florence for a few years in the future, just to get a better glimpse of the industry there.

Danielle Alviani in Florence, Italy where she studied abroad Fall 2011. Photo provided by Danielle Alviani

Alviani explained her study abroad experience was like visiting a completely different world. She found it interesting to see how other people live and what they’re passionate about. It made her appreciate how Americans live and the experience changed her for the better.

“I came home with a different mindset,” she said.

Perza said she thinks studying abroad helped Alviani get over some of her shyness after being thrown into an environment where she was constantly meeting new people and making new friends. Perza also said Alviani was less reserved after her trip.

“She’s definitely a different person in a better way,” Perza said.

Regardless of being a shy momma’s girl, Alviani never let the doubt of friends and family get in her way of experiencing another culture’s art while studying abroad. She said she made the best decision of her life to study in Florence.

“It gave me a whole new outlook on life,” Alviani said. “I don’t think anything in my life will ever be comparable.”

Passion for Potter

By Erin Cox

Alexis Moody grips the broom handle. A drip of sweat rolls down her forehead before she catches it with the back of her hand. She looks down the field at her six teammates as they all begin to mount their brooms. She listens as the commentator begins to count from 10.


Her breathing quickens.


She feels a rush of excitement.

“Three…two…one…Brooms up!”

Off she goes, broom in hand, running down the field.

Moody is playing the game she loves – quidditch.


Moody is not just another “Harry Potter” fan. She has made “Harry Potter” a part of her everyday life.

Alexis Moody

Alexis Moody reads a trivia question during a BG Marauders sponsored event. Photo by Erin Cox.

Moody’s fandom didn’t stop with reading the books, watching the movies and discussing the differences between the two like many “Harry Potter” fans. Now that Moody is at Bowling Green State University, she has turned her fandom into a way to make friends by starting a “Harry Potter” club and a quidditch team.

“I wanted to be able to meet other ‘Harry Potter’ fans and create a place for people who in high school may have been ostracized for it,” Moody says.


Quidditch is the game played by witches and wizards in the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling. The books, which were also made into movies, broke records in sales with the final book selling 8.3 million copies in 24 hours making it the fastest selling book in history, according to Scholastic.com.

Quidditch has transitioned from the beloved sport of the magical world to a beloved sport of Potter fans across the non-magical world, or muggle world as the series refers to it.


Moody made that transition for fans at BGSU and is helping others in the state make quidditch teams of their own too.

Moody started the BG Marauders, a “Harry Potter” fan club, in September 2010, and the quidditch team developed at the same time.

The BG Marauders meet once a week to discuss different topics, play games and watch videos relating to “Harry Potter.”

The BG Quidditch team plays quidditch. A team consists of seven players who hold broomsticks while they try to score points through one of the three goals. They usually practice twice a week and play against other college quidditch teams in Ohio and the surrounding states throughout the year.

Moody says she knows 40 people on campus just because of their shared love of “Harry Potter.”


Along with all this, Moody works on campus with classroom technology services. She also plans to graduate with a major in theater specializing in design technology in December 2012, so she has to leave her “Harry Potter” club and quidditch team in the hands of others.

“It’s been a struggle getting things situated and going well, but I feel confident that when I graduate, it will continue and do well,” Moody says.

Heath Diehl, the faculty adviser for the BG Marauders, credits Moody’s passion as instrumental for making the club and quidditch team possible.

“Her passion is rare,” Diehl, an instructor in the honors program where he teaches a class about “Harry Potter,” says. “She’s a bit fanatical, which is a good thing. She knows the series really well, inside and out, particularly in regards to quidditch.”

Moody loves the game and plans to keep playing as long as possible, but injuries happen on the quidditch pitch far too often, and Moody has suffered a few herself. It’s a rough contact sport.

“You don’t have to like ‘Harry Potter’ to love this game,” Moody says. “I want to keep it in my life as long as I can.”


Moody didn’t jump on the “Harry Potter” broom right away.

“I started hearing about it from all my friends in elementary school. I hated it. I didn’t want to conform,” Moody says.

Moody’s aunt, Barb Loehr, however, bought her the third book as a gift.

“Someone had loaned me the books on CD and I thought when I listened to them that Alexis might like it,” Loehr says. “We had always exchanged passions of books and games back and forth, and she was the right age for ‘Harry Potter.’”

Moody’s boredom led her to pick up the book in the summer of 2001 when she was 11.

Moody says she instantly became a fan. She had started reading the books near the time the movies came out, so all the hype thrust her into fandom and she wanted to learn all she could.

Moody’s dad, Darryl Moody, says her love for “Harry Potter” was obvious as soon as she picked up the books.

“Her passion and knowledge is far superior to any other ‘Harry Potter’ fan I know. It’s almost like she lives a ‘Harry Potter’ lifestyle and she truly understands and lives it,” Darryl Moody says.

Moody says when she read the books she felt she could really connect with the main characters Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Their stories were relatable for Moody because she is biracial and comes from a divorced family.

Moody felt different, and Hermione and Harry were different than other students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“I thought, ‘This is my life,’” Moody says.


Moody has used her love for “Harry Potter” to connect and build relationships with many of her friends.

Amanda Godfrey met Moody at her first quidditch practice last year and is now co-captain of the team.

“You could definitely tell Alexis was passionate about it. The way she talked about it, she had a twinkle in her eye,” Godfrey says.

Moody went with Godfrey to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, a theme park that embodies the magical world of the books by having all the famous establishments of the series for people to explore. Some of the popular places the park includes are Ollivanders, the wand shop; The Three Broomsticks, the home of Butterbeer and Hogwarts the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Moody had already been to the park when it first opened. That summer she was working at Disney’s Epcot through the BGSU Disney College Program, and although she was scheduled to work, Moody went to the opening day of The Wizarding World anyway. She stood in line for six hours starting at 5 a.m. to get into the park that day. She visited The Wizarding World a couple more times during that summer.

“Each time I went, it was still exciting, and I was still entranced by it,” Moody says.


The “Harry Potter” franchise has millions of fans around the world who live, breathe and dream about “Harry Potter,” and Moody’s passion for Potter has put her in contention with some of the biggest Potter fans around the world – literally.

According to the International Quidditch Association’s website, nearly 300 Quidditch teams exist worldwide, and all can participate in the Quidditch World Cup.

As captain of the BGSU quidditch team, Moody led her team onto the pitch to compete against teams from all across the United States and Canada at the World Cup in November 2011 in New York.

Moody also holds the position as the Ohio state representative of the International Quidditch Association, which means if anyone in the state wants to make a team, he or she should contact her.

“I’m actively looking for teams, and I’d say I’ve been pretty successful,” Moody says. “Since I’ve been working in this position, Ohio went from having four teams to 14 in a year.”

Moody was also recently chosen for the organizing team of the Quidditch World Cup. The organizing team has 12 positions and she is the Team Communications Director, which means she will work with all the teams planning to come to the World Cup.


Even though the book series has ended and the final movie has been released, Moody knows her passion for Potter will not stop anytime soon.

Moody says some states have an adult “Harry Potter” fan club and she hopes to find a similar one in whichever state she lives in. Moody plans to work as a lighting designer for a theater in Chicago when she graduates.

She also thinks one day she might be able to apply her major to her passion for Potter.

“Maybe I’ll be the designer for a Harry Potter musical. Who knows?” Moody says.

Moody does know her love for “Harry Potter” will not end.

“The reason I am so passionate and involved with ‘Harry Potter’ is because I need it,” Moody says. “I need the people, I need the love and maybe the attention a little too. I literally can’t imagine my life without ‘Harry Potter.’”


Alexis Moody

Moody wrote all the trivia questions for the Harry Potter Trivia Night sponsored by the BG Marauders. Photo by Erin Cox.


Voice on Fire

Frankie’s Inner-City of Toledo, Ohio, has hosted its fair share of rock legends over the years. Since the bar’s opening, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Barenaked Ladies, Coheed & Cambria and more have rocked the walls of this humble midwestern hotspot.

On this night, it is cold outside Frankie’s, but the environment inside is that of a sweltering jungle. The members of the crowd crawl over one another in an attempt to get as close to the stage as possible, patrons at the bar lean against the railing, distorting themselves in order the best view. As the lights dim and the music begins with an epic guitar solo, the fans, clad in their bright blue, green and pink shirts, begin to scream and welcome in the next generation of Frankie’s talent, the band they love. Burn the Ships, with front man Kenan Smith, have taken the stage.

*  *  *

Burn the Ships perform their song "Sona Gratia" at a show in Toledo, Ohio.

Smith started the band back in 2006, when he, Dustin Gilbert, Adam Johnson, Cannen Hodgson, and Adam Chippewa were just out of high school in Brooklyn, Mich. Today they’ve performed at more than 100 shows, and released their debut album, and they are in the studio working on their second.

It’s Smith, though, who remains the driving force behind the Burn the Ships movement.
Smith has poured his heart and soul into the band from day one, getting the members together and ultimately deciding to turn a dark period in his life into a neon-bright experience for fans.
“I live for this band. It’s been my passion and almost my guidance throughout the past five or six years,” Smith said.
The “dark period” in Smith’s life came when Smith and his brother, Kyle, were growing up in Wisconsin and eventually Brooklyn, Michigan.
When Smith was 15 years old, he noticed a change in his mother. The woman who had been a great parent to her four children for years suddenly seemed distant.
“I guess I’ll just say that she pretty much became a physically present absentee parent,” said Smith.
To listen to Smith’s brother tell the story, it happened quite suddenly.
“She just decided to check the hell out one day. Wanted to live in some fantasy world I guess,” said the younger Smith.
The drastic change in his mother took Kenan Smith to a dark place. Like most teenagers faced with a life altering event, he had trouble processing. He began having trouble finding meaning in his day-to-day life. He found it next to impossible to feel passionate about anything or even communicate with his peers.
After about a year of this, Smith started writing music in his garage.
He suddenly rediscovered his voice. He became excited to get up in the morning, and began scribbling notes and lyrics on anything that was handy.
“It might sound corny, but it was like being reborn when I started writing the music,” said Smith. “I had something to be happy about again.”
Not only was he writing, Smith believed, he was writing with a purpose.
“Kenan went through some things, we both did, and whereas I channeled it into my stuff, he channeled it into his music,” said Kyle Smith. “He wanted to help people get from where he had been to where he was.”
To Smith this meant a few things, beyond just making a band.

Kenan Smith, in the garage where he began writing music as a teenager. Photo by Benjamin Romaker.


First, he wanted the band to be an outlet for people who might be going through some kind of their own trouble. Personable interaction with their audience followed.

“All of us had some moment when we were younger where these bands advertise being able to hang out with them backstage, but we always thought that was kind of an elitist thing,” said Smith.
In response to this, Smith intsructed the band to start doing the opposite. So instead of having fans try to come see them backstage after the show, they began walking into the crowd following their shows.
The second thing Smith came up with in an attempt to help get potential audience members from dark places such as the one he had been in, into the bright place he now found himself in, was a slightly more literal one.
“When we had those t-shirts made we almost went black. Then one of us, I can’t remember who, thought it would be cool for us to use some obnoxiously bright colors instead,” said Smith. “I loved it.”
Suddenly the band came upon their signature look. A handful of guys playing powerful music, wearing neon colored t-shirts and jumping in the crowd to hang out with their fans.
“They’re just a different experience,” said Meghan Crossman, a Burn the Ships fan. “When you go see them, you get an upbeat show with bright lights and really good crowd interaction, and it’s great.”
“We’re only getting started right now, we’re going to continue to grow and mature as a band. I think we owe it to our fans,” said Smith.
*  *  *
Back inside Frankie’s Inner-City, the band plays a half hour long set, during which Smith is high-fiving fans in the front rows, sporting a painfully bright yellow t-shirt, and pouring every ounce of himself into the performance.
Smith’s relationship with his mother still appears to be broken, but he learned to live with it, and rise above it.
When the show is finished, they jump off the stage and into the audience. After a while things settle down. Gilbert and Johnson try to show a younger fan how to play the introduction to one of their songs, while Hodgson and Chippewa share drinks with three fans who have become friends. Smith sits back, taking in the scene. He is in a good place.
“I could honestly care less if we’re the next Goo Goo Dolls or if we’re just little old Burn the Ships form Brooklyn. This, this right here, this has to be better than anything else,” said Smith.

Occupy: The fire of peaceful protest

By Tyler Buchanan

Gilbert Bentley waited patiently in the first row of Bowling Green Municipal court amid half a courtroom of supporters.  They wore orange armbands with the word Occupy on them in protest of Bentley’s trial.

Within a few minutes, it was over.  Bentley and his friend Taylor Johnson both pled no contest to charges of obstruction of justice and were sentenced to 15 hours of community service.

Bentley has had a long history of political activism.

At an age when most are uninvolved and disinterested in politics, Bentley attended a Farm Labor Organizing Committee rally in Toledo at age 14.

Six years later, he joined over 200,000 others to Washington D.C.’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a satirical protest headed by comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Now, Bentley sees his sentencing as the easy part.

“It was a lot harder being out there than it was dealing with court stuff,” he said.

For him, “out there” meant a small alleyway on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he and countless others camped out for six weeks in peaceful protest.

When his trial ended, Bentley knew this part of Occupy Bowling Green was over, but his fight was only beginning.

* * *

Bentley says it’s always hard to pay attention to politics and not get involved.  He credits a love for politics to an early “obsession with history and literature.”

His influences, political and literary, range from authors Oscar Wilde and Jack Kerouac to philosopher Noam Chomsky, and leave Bentley with a rich blend of social skepticism and desire for direct democracy.

His interests in Egyptians and Mayans may have been out of his reach, but the Toledo streets were much more physically and ideologically accessible.

The creation of Occupy Toledo satisfied both his political philosophy and his need for democratic activism.

The Occupy movement began in September of 2011 in New York City as Occupy Wall Street, a non-violent, civil disobedient protest.  Angry over wealth inequality and corporatism, protesters took over Zuccotti Park, a plaza near Manhattan’s Financial District, according to Occupy Wall Street’s website.

Many other concerned activists realized these themes elsewhere. Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, protesters in cities around the globe set up tents and created their own Occupy movements.

Traveling to and from Toledo to participate, it wasn’t long before he said he wanted to “bring that sound home.”

“We have a responsibility to our home town,” he said.

He and others assembled a march at Bowling Green State University’s Student Union to the Happy Badger, a local business.  It was there, he said, that the protestors decided to create Occupy BG.

The idea was simple.  No one person spoke for or led the group.  From the very first decision to form Occupy BG, every idea has been discussed and decided upon by the entire group.

They chose to set up camp in an alleyway in downtown Bowling Green known colloquially as “Fight Alley” due to its proximity to bars where some customers settle their differences outside.  Violence at Occupy BG, however, was never an option.

“We needed to display that we’re not a violent group,” Bentley said.

Public perception of the group became as important as their message itself.  Bentley and others knew that if the media and public could not respect those protesting, they would in turn shy away from the message Occupy BG protested for.

While Occupy protesters welcomed a variety of perspectives and opinions, its goals were to provide factual information and spread awareness of social issues.

Scott Hevner, a BGSU Firelands teacher who frequents the Bowling Green coffee shop where Occupy BG holds its meetings, said that while different ideologies are acceptable, it doesn’t make them more correct.

“People have this twisted sense of what constitutes equality,” Hevner said. “Democracy doesn’t mean everyone’s voice and speech is equal and ‘right’…people unfortunately interpret democracy this way.”

Day and night, there were usually at least one or two protesters camped out in the narrow alleyway, stopping any passersby to raise awareness of wealth inequality or to simply have a civil conversation of politics.

“It’s not a case of getting the message out, but getting more people to admit how they already feel or live,” Bentley said.

Bentley likes telling people about the approximately one in three children who are raised in low-income families, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Or perhaps he will remind them that 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined, a fact corroborated by PolitiFact, a non-partisan fact checking website.

For six weeks, Bentley repeated these arguments and many others to the hundreds of people who walked by, with mixed results of support and disapproval.

He worked to get his messages through to everyone who walked by in the hopes that awareness and knowledge of political and social issues would rally support in the fight against what the Occupy movement stood for.

Many at first were not receptive, shouting to him “This isn’t Wall Street” or “Why are you here?” he said.

Taylor Johnson, another protester, remembers an early encounter when a person driving by told the occupiers to get a job like the “successful businessmen” who pay for the sidewalks they stand on.

“I thought to myself, I have a good opportunity and duty to pass onto these ignorant people who don’t know their taxes pay for these sidewalks,” Johnson said.  “It’s sad when victims don’t even know they’re victims.”

Bentley believes all Occupy movements, no matter how small, have their place in civic discourse, because the issues they fight for exist everywhere.

“You have to have Occupy in every small town, every nook and cranny, every dive bar, everything all around the country at once,” he said.  “You infuse people into a movement where they’re actively talking one on one.”

That’s why he was there, through rain-soaked nights and sunless days: for the ability each day to stop a person on their way to work in the morning or to the bars at night.  All the devotion, the weeks of time spent on the streets, all to make a person think, maybe even care if just for a moment, about wealth inequality or corporate greed.

Support and assistance came in ideological agreement, but also in tangible donations.  From financial contributions to donated food and supplies, Occupy BG continued to grow, its message of social equality beginning to take shape.

Then came the eviction notice.

Dated Nov. 29, 2011, the city of Bowling Green sent a notice to Occupy BG, giving protesters until noon, Dec. 1, to remove their tents, tables, chairs and other personal belongings.

“The First Amendment protections of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech do not include a right to use public property as a storage area,” the eviction notice said.

While city police ordered their belongings and materials to be removed, the protestors themselves were allowed to stay.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the nearby city clock tower struck noon as over a dozen reporters waited for a potential confrontation, but the police never showed up. It was a small victory for Occupy BG, but Bentley knew what was coming.

Choosing to stay in the tents after the eviction deadline, Bentley went to sleep every night with a mass text to dozens of protesters and other supporters upon a police raid already typed out.  The police waited, and when the cameras weren’t running and no one else was watching, they moved in.

Bentley was ready.

* * *

Four days after their ordered eviction date, Bentley and Johnson awoke suddenly to the sound of steel pans hitting one another.  The pans were tied to the tent’s opening as a makeshift alarm.

As one police officer ripped the tent down, another poked his head inside and read the city’s eviction notice.

“When I saw him, I clicked send,” Bentley said.

Before the officer could finish the notice, other officers began cutting the tents with shears, he said.

Bentley and Johnson were given two minutes to leave the premises or be arrested.  Days before, the two had already made their decision to stay.

Amidst police shouting and threatening them, Bentley says that when their time was up, the police gave them one last chance to leave.

Johnson stepped back inside the tent.  Bentley stood his ground.

They were soon handcuffed and walked down the alley where they had lived in peaceful protest for a month and a half.

According to BGPD’s police report, 27 officers were involved in the raid that resulted in the arrests of Bentley and Johnson for obstruction of justice, who were “taken into custody without any issues.”

When he thinks about his decision to stand up peacefully to the officers, Bentley says he’s never been more proud of himself.

In all, Bowling Green spent two weekends and almost $10,000 training police for the Occupy BG raid, according to the Sentinel Tribune.

Public reaction, Bentley said, has only driven more support for Occupy BG.

“I’ve gotten a lot of free drinks.”

Ultimately, Occupy BG carries on, finding new ways to bring awareness to its fight for social equality.

“It’s surreal how much we accomplished,” Johnson said.

For six weeks in downtown Bowling Green, Bentley and others challenged citizens on the issues.  The alleyway now sits empty, as it did before their occupation.

While their camp is gone, their spirit and drive for working for a better, fairer America continues on.

“When the people are informed, they will make the better choice.”

Dreams of Jewelry

By Kelsey Klein

The silence of the art gallery was interrupted when a woman, rushing, bounced into the room. Spotting an acquaintance sketching, she called cheerily across the empty space between them. Her black and white polka dot jacket, blue and green checkered shirt, bright green bag, and heavy boots contrasted sharply with the polished floor and sparkling glass walls surrounding her. She sat down and began to spread her work on the table in front of her. She picked up a necklace and laid it on a display. Another necklace was carefully placed on the table beside the first one. The woman unwrapped a ring from a soft cloth, placing both the ring and cloth down. Soon came several more necklaces, two bracelets, and a curved vessel depicting a shark-mouth silhouette. The woman smiled at the things she had made and began explaining their meanings.

Jessica Baker, a 19-year-old sophomore at Bowling Green State University, has known her career path since she was a small child. Many people’s dreams shift as they grow. Instead of astronauts, they become bankers. Instead of dancers, they become teachers. Some swear they will be artists and become baristas at coffee shops. Baker, however, has not let go of her dreams.

Baker began making jewelry on a road trip in fourth grade. She and her cousin made bracelets in the

Baker explains a concept for a new piece of jewelry she is working on. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

car and Baker, hooked, asked her mom for more beads. Soon, Baker was hooked on working with wire as well, making and selling bracelets on her Minister, Ohio, elementary school playground. Her playground business continued, even during the winter months, until Baker was making custom bracelets for peers—an elementary school version of artistic commissions.

Baker continued to make jewelry throughout high school. Her free time was a process of discovery, vision and new ideas for her work. When it was time for college, Baker knew she wanted to attend BGSU.

“This was… the only destination I had in mind,” she said. “It was the only place I applied to. I didn’t do any tour here. I just knew I was coming here.”

Kim Zeigler, Baker’s cousin from the fourth-grade trip, was instrumental in Baker’s assurance that she was attending BGSU. Zeigler graduated from BGSU in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in art education and is currently a full-time jewelry artist. Baker and Zeigler have always had a strong relationship centered around art, Zeigler said in an email.

Baker was equally certain about her degree path: 3D fine art with a focus in jewelry and metalwork.

“I didn’t really think of anything else. I was just like, oh, I’m in college, I like making things, so I’ll major in making jewelry,” she said, shaking her long, dark hair. “It was that thing that I was destined, I guess you could say. The thing that I would always go back to.”

Baker was not sure, however, about how she would work with metal. Since materials and machinery for metalwork are extremely expensive, Baker did not have an opportunity to try making art with metal before she came to college.

Baker explains the process of working metal into a vessel shape. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

Last semester was a process of figuring out how to work with metal, according to Baker. Now that, as she puts it, she is friends with metal, she is more focused on using metal.

Baker’s relationship with metal is more than a friendship, according to Tom Muir, head of the Jewelry and Metalsmithing Department at BGSU and a mentor of Baker.

“She has a real sensitivity for the material,” Muir said. “You can see if someone really cares and nurtures something, and I think that was really evident in her work, too.”

Baker, according to Muir, respects the metal to the point of reverence for what it can become under an artist’s hand. She treats the material with love. Baker finishes her work properly, fixing errors she makes until her work is perfect.

Working to finish her art properly, however, involves much trial and error for Baker. Her first idea, she said, isn’t always her best idea. She experiments, changes her work and starts over in her quest to translate her artistic vision.

“When I decide I’m going to make something, I put my heart into it and I set my mind.” she reflected. “It becomes almost like a puzzle that I have to break and solve… I can’t stop until I figure it out.”

Life is art for Baker. She finds inspiration in the details of life.

“Jessica is constantly abstracting the everyday real world and turning it into jewelry,” Zeigler wrote in an email.

Baker once saw a brick wall that inspired some necklaces. She also finds inspiration in colors and in trees she sees.

One of Baker’s necklaces depicts brightly colored hand shapes laced with chain. The necklace, she says, was inspired by her feeling that time sometimes chokes her.

Techno-whale-shark. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

Another of Baker’s necklaces, one she refers to as techno-whale-shark, was inspired by techno music and the patterns on whale sharks‘ skin.

A necklace of Baker's, inspired by the way she occasionally feels choked by time constraints. Photo by Kelsey Klein.

Baker’s biggest dream is to open her own jewelry and metal business, much like Zeigler, though the two have distinctly different styles.

“Her jewelry reflects her positive attitude because it is very bright and funky,” Zeigler wrote. “Jessica’s jewelry is jewelry you would want to wear to fun events and around happy people.”

Saving the Second Amendment

By Stephan Reed

Since the age of 10, Hofacker worked with guns. His grandfather was a gunsmith and he eventually picked up the trade of repairing firearms. He later joined the Fostoria police force in 1988 until he retired in 2005.

Hofacker and his business partner, Steve Doe, have owned and operated their gun store in Fostoria since August of 2010 and look to expand their business, using their own space and the Internet (www.s-sfirearmstraining.com). Besides selling guns, they teach concealed weapon classes, book international hunts, create their own ammunition by hand and operate a target range. Neither man takes gun control advocates seriously.

Hofacker and Doe offer a list of services to their patrons. Photo taken from the company's business card.

“We bump into people periodically that are so tremendously anti-gun and anti-hunting that they make negative comments to us,” Hofacker said. “The people who do that sort of thing are uninformed and uneducated. A lot of the people will see things our way after talking to them for a bit. Animal rights activists and gun control lobbyists, or freaks if you will, they don’t look at the big picture.”

In 1989, while working as a police officer, Hofacker responded to a domestic violence call. When he arrived, him and his partner found a man, under the influence of PCP and alcohol, striking his brother in the body with a hatchet. The suspect proceeded to chase the two officers while wielding the hatchet. In an effort to save his life, Hofacker discharged three bullets into the chest of the suspect. At the end of the day, all the men involved were alive and the suspect was in custody.

“We run into people who say, ‘I don’t think you should own a gun,’ and they have never been victimized,” Hofacker said. “They are so far removed from the fact that we have guns in the first place is for hunting and self-protection, self-protection more commonly nowadays.”

The gun store is home to a variety of prize animals Hofacker and Doe killed during hunts in the United States, Canada and South Africa. Photo by Stephan Reed.

In early 2010, while enjoying a beer with his best friend after a hunt in Nevada, Hofacker presented the idea of the gun store in Fostoria. Immediately, Doe complied and was willing to follow through with the plan. Hofacker’s wife, Michelle, was on board as well, motivating him by saying “If you don’t do this now, then you never will.”

Hofacker and his partner continue to run the gun shop, despite gun control controversy.

The Brady Campaign, a nationwide gun control organization, works to apply stricter gun laws to the country in an effort to cut back on gun violence. According to statistics from BradyCampaign.org, more than 97,000 U.S. citizens were injured by gun-related violence last year, and among those involved, 31,593 were killed.

The Brady Campaign ranks Ohio as one of the least restricted gun control states in the nation because Ohio does not have a ban on assault weapons and does not have a “One-gun-a-month” law.

The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (ohioceasefire.org), another group dedicated to gun law reform, focuses on the people who buy guns legally but resell them illegally. To fix the problem, group leaders are looking to pass legislation that would make background checks more extensive and gun show transactions better documented.

“Forty percent of guns bought are secondary guns. You can buy them from the dealer and sell it to me the next day,” Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the group, said.  “It’s a popular thing because you’re selling to people who can’t pass the background check. That’s against the law, but it still happens. It’s common all over.”

Doe and Hofacker keep up with the gun control debate and have already faced restrictions. For every transaction and every concealed weapon permit, the two owners report to the FBI and perform a background check on behalf of the receiving individual.

Hofacker tweeks the action on an M4 pistol in his office February 3. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“There needs to be regulations on who can own guns,” Hofacker said. “We want to stay away from ‘sensible gun laws.’ That’s the term politicians like to say. We have thousands of laws on guns. We only need a few. Nobody could know everything inside the law book. The only reason they make it so difficult is to convolute and brainwash us.”

"Gun laws are only as good as the people who follow them," Doe said. "Like any other law, like murder, people break them everyday. People rob stores with guns, but is it the gun's fault? I could set this gun out on the table and it won't do it for 100 years if no one touches it." Photo by Stephan Reed.


Inside S and S Firearms, Hofacker and Doe converse around an office desk, which contains a bag of hand-packed bullets, a weathered book of gun laws and a poorly hidden flask of whiskey. Hofacker begins working on an M4 pistol and gives Doe a history lesson on each part of the gun and Doe shares his common defense for their business.

“A gun is nothing more than a tool, like a car,” Doe said. “If a person does something dastardly with a gun, then punish him. There are all kinds of rules in the book for that. If you took your car and ran over five people with it, that doesn’t mean they should take cars away from everyone.”

Hofacker and Doe are lifelong members of the National Rifle Association and are co-chairmen of their local chapter. They cite the NRA as the primary reasoning behind their business, their rationale for selling firearms to the public.

According to NRAila.org, a website dedicated to the review of new gun legislation, “Private citizens benefit from handguns for the same reason that the police do: handguns are easy to carry, and they are effective defensive tools. Handguns are used for protection more often than they are used to commit violent crimes, and two of every three defensive uses of firearms are carried out with handguns.”

Law requires Hofacker and Doe to call in background checks to the government before sales are final. They also perform checks on patrons trying to purchase ammunition and those attempting to obtain concealed carried permits.

In 1994, while Hofacker was working as a police officer, he was doing paperwork on a man who had been arrested on domestic violence charges, violating parole, resisting arresting and possession of a loaded .25 auto pistol. In 2011, the same man was in Hofacker’s gun class. The man was later rejected for his permit for having a felony on his record, just as Hofacker predicted.

Hofacker and his wife agree that their children should be introduced to firearms early.

“My kids started shooting at 4 years old,” Michelle Hofacker said. “A lot of people say that’s too young, but I say you’re never too young to be educated.”

There may be those who question the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but as long as laws permit, Hofacker will wear his gun rights on his sleeves — and even on the back of his truck.

Hofacker keeps a decal of the Second Amendment on the back window of his truck. Photo by Stephan Reed.

He has a decal with the words of the Second Amendment printed on the back window of his truck in the form of the American flag.

“Some people may think I’m a crackpot or a radical,” Hofacker said. “The Second Amendment is the one that allows for the first one to work properly.”

From left, Doe and Hofacker pose with their prize mountain lion during a hunting expedition in South Africa during the summer of 2011. Photo provided.

On fire for Christ

Development director exemplifies alternative lifestyle and passion for his work

Rob Hohler sits in his office at St. Thomas More University Parish. Photo by Sarah Bailey

By Sarah Bailey

When Rob Hohler first came to Bowling Green State University as an undergraduate student, he wasn’t sure about his faith.

In fact, he even said his path was a bit crooked.

“I kind of came to college with the hopes and aspirations of becoming a millionaire,” he said.

In a world and culture where many businessmen, political candidates and entrepreneurs may center their idea of success on wealth, Hohler’s journey reflects his alternative lifestyle. As an undergraduate student, Hohler started at BGSU as a business major hoping to obtain a degree that he could make as much money as possible with. Now, he is a church employee who lives a life concentrated on praying, working and living his faith.

In his office, decorated with Christian quotes and crosses, many wouldn’t assume the Catholic-raised 24-year-old had swayed from his faith at some point in his life. While he currently works as the development director at St.Thomas More University Parish, when Hohler first came to BGSU he said he was “spotty” even going to Mass.

As an undergraduate, Hohler considered himself isolated. He had friends, but not true companionship, he said. He spent his time playing video games, sleeping too much and feeling introverted.

“Though I had direction in life, I didn’t know why I was going there,” he said.

In the first semester of his sophomore year, Hohler found his way. He attended a semi-annual retreat at St. Thomas More after being repeatedly invited by the Rev. Michael Danduarand, he said. At the retreat he made friends and deepened his desire to be a part of the parish’s community.

“It was pretty easy for me to see that this is the life I wanted to live, and this is what my life would be about,” he said. “It’s a focal point, the purpose of life.”

He then went away for a semester to California in order to grow as a person. In searching for himself, he discovered that there was more in the world beyond him. During his journey, he said there were times where he simply couldn’t be on his own. That’s when he realized God, who was greater than himself, was with him. When he came back, he moved straight into the Newman center, a housing option available for BGSU students who want to share a prayer-based schedule. During the next two years, he became very involved at the parish, grew in his faith and continues to live at the Newman center.

This is a photo of Rob Hohler with Ryan Moninger, Kyle Moninger, Martha Gutierrez and Brittany Smith on an alternative spring break trip in 2011. Photo provided by Kyle Moninger.

“When I moved in here, I just encountered an incredible community,” he said.

Ryan Moninger, a junior who currently lives with Hohler in the Newman center and has known him since the fall of 2010, said he valued his friendship with Hohler.

“Next to my twin brother, Kyle, he’s my best friend here in college,” said Moninger, a junior majoring in architecture.

Moninger bonded with Hohler over “Halo,” a popular Xbox video game, when they began living together. He said Hohler has faced past issues, but has since risen above them.

“He’s always a source of encouragement for me and an example that I can look up to,” he said.

Along with encountering a new community came adjustments also, Hohler said. While he now lives a life focused on morning, evening prayer, mass and planning retreats, when he first moved into the Newman center it was a transition, he said.

“I was redefining what I thought about life and how I approached things,” he said. “It was like a new discovery.”

While other development directors at different churches may focus their jobs solely on raising money, a sign on Hohler’s wall in his office shows his approach is a different one.

On his bulletin board hangs a quote by Mother Theresa with a dollar bill that says,

“God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful.”

Hohler received the dollar from a friend. Before the quote was on the board, he had posted a “million dollar goal” with the dollar, he said.

“It was a bit of a sarcastic goal,” he said. Anytime someone would see it, the sign would seem very far from achieving the goal. It’s a joke that shows how someone just has to be faithful to God to find true success, he said.

Hohler graduated with a degree in business administration in 2010. Now, while he could be making more money than he is, Hohler looks at his degree as a way to serve the Lord, he said.

While simplyhired.com lists the highest annual salary of a church development director as $73,000, according to allbusinessschools.com, annual salaries in marketing and sales management can climb up to $151,260.

“I certainly could’ve made a lot more money than what I’m making now, so it definitely wasn’t the money,” he said.

Now Hohler organizes retreats twice a year, arranges the development efforts of the parish, does marketing and has various other responsibilities. One of the most fulfilling aspects of working with the retreat program is seeing the mission of the church, which is to bring people in, come alive, he said.

“The sort of life I’ve been blessed to live became really natural to me. It’s what I wanted to do. I don’t feel like I’m making a great sacrifice to be here. I feel like this is a gift to me,” Hohler said.

Tegan Gahan, a junior who has known Rob for four years, has seen him develop over the years.

“His role for me was a spiritual leader and showing me what the Catholic faith was about,” said Gahan, an exercise science major.

Hohler has always been very passionate about his Catholicism and his personality makes him an interesting person to get to know, she said.

“As you get to know him, you realize he will go out of his way for anyone,” she said. One time Gahan said she lost her car keys on a retreat and Hohler had her car towed to her apartment so that it wouldn’t get taken away.

“You couldn’t count the things that he’s done over the years to help other people,” she said.

When it comes to Hohler’s faith and how he sees himself now compared to four years ago, one aspect has changed, he said.

“I have always been a child of God,” he said. “God has always been there. The difference between now and then is that I know that.”

Max Filby

I’m Max Filby and I’m from Sylvania, Ohio, about 30 to 45 minutes North of Bowling Green.

I’m a junior studying print journalism at the University with minors in Italian and Political Science. I work at The BG News as the News Editor, a page designer and a reporter. I’ve worked at The News since I transfered to the University from OU in January 2010.

I’m interested in reporting on almost anything related to controversy. Some of the bigger articles I’ve worked on for The News include one about rats and other pests in the dining halls, one about University leadership related to the former USG president vomiting at an away football game and one about students who had PEDs to get into residence halls they didn’t live in.

I also do some freelance work for a magazine based out of Sandusky, Ohio called Health Matters. It’s a monthly magazine that just started this year.

Aside from reporting, I’m a big fan of movies and premium cable TV shows like “Weeds” and “Dexter” on Showtime.

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