Bowling Green

International Center of Kentucky

The Warren County based International Center of Kentucky is expecting an influx of refugees in the next few months. 

Resettlement programs have struggled to help refugees enter the U.S. because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cuts to admissions made by the Trump administration.

Executive Director of the International Center, Albert Mbanfu, said during a community meeting Wednesday that the center has resettled 111 refugees so far during this federal fiscal year, and is expecting more. 

"June has been a very busy month for the international center, and I think it’s a busy month for all resettlement agencies across the country," Mbanfu said.

Alana Watson

On June 19, hundreds of people gathered in Bowling Green to celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as a federal holiday

In January of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation declared “all persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free.” Unfortunately, this only applied to states that had seceded from the United States during the Civil War.

 

It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that the remaining enslaved people in Texas learned they were freed. Juneteenth marks that moment of history.

 

One of the many communities celebrating Juneteenth was Bowling Green. There were numerous free events, including block parties and concerts. The Bowling Green-based group “Essence in Harmony” sang at a local NAACP pre-Juneteenth event. Through the songs they sang, the group showcased what makes Juneteenth a different type of holiday than what we would normally see on Memorial Day or 4th of July. Those holidays celebrate a collective national history. 

 


Lisa Autry

City leaders in Bowling Green have passed a $122 million budget that increases spending without tax hikes.

The city commission gave unanimous, final approval to the spending plan during a meeting Tuesday night. The budget is for the 2021-22 fiscal year beginning July 1. 

Coming off spending cuts in the current year’s budget due to uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, the next one boosts funding thanks to increased revenue projections. 

The spending plan also increases wages for the city’s lowest paid employees to $15 an hour.  Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said the minimum wage increase was given “out of necessity” as the nation faces a pandemic-related worker shortage.

“We’re in the same competition to get people to work," Alcott told WKU Public Radio. "We’ve got to entice people to come work for us just like everyone else.”

Facebook/ConCon's

It's the first full week that businesses across Kentucky reopened with no mask, social distancing or capacity requirements.

Some changes made to meet the challenges of the pandemic turned out to be good for business. 

Along Russellville Road in Bowling Green, one visible change made during the pandemic is a white tent installed in front of a little diner named ConCon’s

Owner Connie Blair said she had to adapt quickly to the requirements of the pandemic. She didn’t have any indoor dining for nine months

“I never shut the doors, not at all. I put in the drive-up window in six hours after it started and I put a PA system outside,” said Blair. “You know, they just cracked their window and waited for me tell ‘em to pull up to the window and pick their food up.”

She said the changes that saved her business are going to stay. 


Public Theatre of Kentucky

As arts organizations across Kentucky struggle to rebound after the pandemic, a theater in Bowling Green is now dealing with one more annoyance.

The side of the blue building that houses Public Theatre of Kentucky has been spray painted with what Producing Artistic Director Amber Turner describes as childlike faces with big eyes.

She said the graffiti is "frustrating." 

We recently received a grant and we redid our dressing room. And then, because we were making the inside look so wonderful, we decided to freshen up the outside," said Turner. "That included painting the front of the building and we did some touchups on the side of the building, but now we’re going to have to completely repaint the whole side of the building.” 


Lost River Cave

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the state will mirror CDC guidelines on COVID-19 announced this week, that people who are fully vaccinated do not need a mask or social distancing in most places.

Beshear said that on June 11 the state will return to 100% capacity for businesses, and no masks will be required for those who have had their shots. 

One popular tourism destination in Bowling Green is preparing to get back to normal.

Lost River Cave has had a silver lining during the pandemic. People flocked to the walking trails as outdoor spaces became a welcome , and safe, change from isolation and indoor restrictions. 

Rhonda J. Miller

Spring is blossoming across Kentucky and refugees who have resettled in Bowling Green are planting seeds of vegetables common in their native countries.

A greenhouse is a welcoming place to  bring together people - and plants - from Asia, Africa and America.

The greenhouse at Bowling Green Housing Authority is vibrant with the shiny leaves of butterhead and romaine lettuce, and beans with bright magenta shells.

On a recent spring day, Angele Niyonzima was in the greenhouse planting seeds in small trays.

“It’s almost times to grow, so we come here to start getting ready,” she said. 

Niyonzima was raised in Burundi until she was 14. Then she was in a refugee camp for 10 years in the Central African Republic. She’s 38 years old, has lived in Bowling Green for 14 years, and works at Dart Container in Horse Cave.


Colin Jackson

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary since Louisville police killed EMT Breonna Taylor during a raid on her home.

Several Bowling Green area residents gathered Saturday at the SoKY Marketplace to hold their own remembrance of Taylor's Life.

First-term Bowling Green City Commissioner Carlos Bailey was among those who spoke at the memorial.

He said proposals like a ban on no-knock search warrants like the one that led to Taylor's death can protect both citizens and officers.

"We want to protect people but also want to protect law enforcement as well. But we also want to make sure that people are held accountable when things do go awry. So hopefully, we've been talking behind the scenes and hopefully those conversations have been productive," Bailey said.

Taylor family

A Saturday event is giving residents in the Bowling Green area the chance to gather in solidarity to mark the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death during a police raid in Louisville.

The rally organized by the group Bowling Green Freedom Walkers plans to honor the 26-year-old paramedic’s life with guest speakers, coat and jacket collections, and a banner to be presented to Taylor’s mother.

Karika Nelson, a founding member of the group, says she’s seen some progress since Taylor’s death, but would like to see more.

“I think Kentucky, since this whole movement with Black Lives Matter and after Breonna Taylor, that it has opened a lot of people’s eyes,” Nelson told WKU Public Radio. “But just saying, or seeing, or coming to a protest is not good enough—just agreeing with the theory. You have to be able to change somebody else’s mind, or stand up whenever it’s not the popular thing to stand up for.”

greenwoodmall.com

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has announced four new regional vaccination sites, including one in Bowling Green and one in Glasgow.

The Bowling Green vaccination site is at Greenwood Mall at the former Sears building.  That site will be open weekly Thursday through Saturday.

The location is through a partnership with Kroger. Scheduling an appointment can be done online.

An appointment at the Greenwood Mall site can also be made by calling 866-211-5320.

The second site is in Glasgow at the T.J. Health Pavilion. The schedule for vaccinations has not yet been released. Information is available online, or by calling 270-659-1010.

Material Handling Systems Facebook

A new manufacturer is coming to Bowling Green and creating 200 jobs.  Material Handling Systems, based in Bullitt County, is expanding its operations by adding a new facility in the Kentucky Transpark. 

MHS produces conveyor systems for companies, including UPS, FedEx, and Wayfair. In a virtual news conference on Thursday, CEO Scott McReynolds said Bowling Green is a good fit for the company.

“Of course, the access to major transportation routes, proximity to our other operations, and it’s a growing population center with a strong workforce and a great quality of life for our employees," McReynolds said.

Lisa Autry

The city of Bowling Green is beginning 2021 with a new mayor for the first time in a decade. 

Todd Alcott was sworn into office in December after winning the mayoral race over two write-in candidates. Alcott succeeded Bruce Wilkerson, who dropped out of the race for re-election last year after serving as Bowling Green mayor since 2011. 

Alcott brings a military background to his new role. In an interview with WKU Public Radio, the retired Air Forice Lt. Col. said the skills he acquired in the military translate to running city government.

"I was never a flier. I was always in charge of personnel, people, facilities, manpower, and finances, Alcott said. "This is a government by the people. That was a government for the people. I feel like people are the same. We want to make sure our taxes, our revenue, go to the things that make us a better quality of life."


MoneyThinkStock

Some minority and low-income business start-ups are finding help through a new program administered by the Housing Authority of Bowling Green.

Since August, the People's Opportunity Program for Underserved Populations or POP-UP, has awarded micro-loans, business consulting, and mentoring to three new businesses. The program’s goal is to level the playing field for members of underserved populations interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Dawn Bolton is the small business consultant for the POP-UP program.


visitbgky.com

As hundreds of restaurants across Bowling Green scale back or temporarily close due to COVID-19 restrictions, the city is offering grants to help them survive the pandemic.

Bowling Green has designated $1,885,000 to assist businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

Bowling Green City Manager Jeff Meisel said code enforcement officers who are currently bringing information on COVID-19 regulations to dining establishments are also providing details about the BG CARES program.

"That’s why we want to get out, too, and publicize that we do have CARES money that we would happy to help with small businesses here in Bowling Green," Meisel said. "And we’re going to pass out information on that as we’re out and about with these businesses and restaurants and bars that have really been probably hit the hardest.”


Bowling Green Neighborhood & Community Services

The city of Bowling Green is beginning to send out code enforcement officers to assist in monitoring restaurants and bars for compliance with Kentucky's COVID-19 regulations. 

The four officers will serve only in an outreach and education capacity to assist the Barren River District Health Department.

Bowling Green City Manager Jeff Meisel said that will include site visits to provide bars and restaurants with information on requirements for masks, social distancing and outdoor dining.

“A lot of restaurants are trying to still do outdoor dining with putting up some tents and enclosing some areas," said Meisel. "But with that, there are still rules of leaving two sides open and things like that, so there’s air circulating and it doesn’t become indoor dining with a tent.”


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