Bowling Green

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."


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.

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.”

Colin Jackson

As COVID-19 cases surges, it's tempting to look back at other epidemics the country has faced, including HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 90s.

Since COVID-19 is especially dangerous for those with pre-existing conditions, the care HIV and AIDS positive individuals receive is vital. One western Kentucky-based organization is continuing to provide as many services as possible during the pandemic.

In non-pandemic times, Matthew 25 AIDS Services, Inc. health educators LaDeirdre Mumford and Jenika Soni's job would involve going out into the community. Their normal duties range from holding testing events to attending activities like health fairs or even drag shows, and just about everything in between. 

Lisa Autry

Bowling Green voters will soon have a new mayor for the first time in nearly a decade. 

On September 1, the local mayor’s race got more interesting.  Incumbent Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson announced he was withdrawing from the contest due to medical reasons.  That’s also when he endorsed retired Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Alcott, who is the only candidate on the ballot.  Businessmen Tom Morris and Chris Page are running as write-in candidates. 

Morris and Page are making their first bids for public office. Alcott entered politics two years ago when he ran for State Rep. Jody Richards’ seat in the legislature. Alcott lost the Republican primary in that race.

"No one wants to lose a campaign, but when you lose, you persevere and you grow from it," Alcott told WKU Public Radio.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Refugee resettlement officials in Bowling Green believe the international community should be among the first to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available. 

Executive director of the International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green, Albert Mbanfu, said the refugee community is at high risk because of their living arrangements and because many are essential workers. Most refugees that the International Center has helped place in jobs were working in processing plants where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred. 

City of Bowling Green

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson is facing an ethics complaint over his use of City Hall to endorse mayoral candidate Todd Alcott. 

Speaking to media inside the City Commission chambers last month, Wilkerson announced he was withdrawing from the mayor’s race for health reasons and endorsing Alcott. 

The anonymous complaint says the mayor doesn’t have the right to use city property or city resources for political purposes.  City Clerk Ashley Jackson says the complaint can’t be made public at this time.

Lisa Autry

Refugee resettlement in Kentucky has been significantly lower over the past 12 months than what was seen during the previous federal fiscal year. The number of refugees arriving in the Commonwealth has decreased by more than 50 percent according to the Warren County based International Center of Kentucky. 

The United States temporary suspended resettlement programs in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Center of Kentucky based didn’t have any new arrivals from March until early August. This year, the center was only able to resettle 162 refugees during the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30. Many of those refugees are from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As demands for racial justice play out in Louisville and across the nation, community members from Warren County are tackling racial issues closer to home. 

A new group called Gamechangers is working to bring African-Americans equal opportunities in the local job market.  Attorney Alan Simpson is a member of the group, and says communities can discriminate unintentionally.

“There is systemic racism everywhere. It doesn’t mean everyone is wearing a hood and burning crosses in people’s front yards, but you have to be thoughtful about your actions," Simpson said. "If you want to employ someone who’s African-American, then seek them out. They don’t necessarily come in and apply for a job if they think, 'Well, everyone is white and they’re not going to want me there.'”

Flickr/Creative Commons/Jeremy W. Osborne

The deadline to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census form is Sept. 30. That means counties like Warren are stepping up their door-to-door efforts to count every resident.

In the spring, the bureau started sending out surveys through the mail. As of Monday, 67.6% of Kentucky households had completed the census form on their own.

In Warren County, that estimated number is only 66.4% of estimated households. It's a number the Bowling Green-Warren County Complete Count Committee would like to see move higher.

WKU Public Radio

Bowling Green will have a new mayor next year.

Bruce Wilkerson announced Tuesday that he's dropping out of the race for re-election.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports Wilkerson said the move was because of what he called “a prior health condition” that he needs to address.

The announcement was made prior to Tuesday's meeting of the city commission. Wilkerson said he planned to serve out the remainder of his current term, which expires at the end of this year.

Colin Jackson

The Bowling Green Police Department honored Ret. Chief Doug Hawkins on his last day Friday with a luncheon at the SOKY Marketplace Pavillion.

Local law enforcement, county and government officials, gathered to celebrate Hawkins' 30 years with the department.

Hawkins said he's most proud of brining a police training academy to Bowling Green.

"Establising the Bowling Green Law Enforcement Academy is going to be, I think, a pivotal moment in the history of the department, and I think it is going to pay dividends for many, many, many years to come," Hawkins said.

Tom Morris

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread anxiety about what used to be common daily activities, like going to the grocery store and getting a haircut.

Now, Bowling Green area residents are using social media to share information about businesses that are using safety precautions, and others that are not following guidelines for masks or social distancing.

The public Facebook group is called 'Safe Places to Patronize in Bowling Green, KY.'

Retired engineer Tom Morris, who created the group,  said it’s grown to more than 2,500 members in two months.

“Actually, it kind of started on a whim," said Morris. "Somebody had posted something about, you know, it would be nice to know where we can go that’s safe. And I said, ‘Well somebody ought to start a Facebook group about safe places to patronize, you know.’ And I said, ‘Well, heck, I’ll start it'."

Colin Jackson

Around 100-150 south central Kentucky residents met in Bowling Green's Circus Square Park Sunday evening to voice their concerns about discrimination, policing and city government. Meanwhile, a handful of city leaders listened on a nearby panel.

The discussion and a candlelight vigil that took place afterward are the latest events in Bowling Green to stem from a recent wave of activism that started with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.