Ryland Barton

A group of Republican lawmakers has filed a bill that would ban Kentucky businesses and schools from asking whether employees, students or customers are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The measure would also expand the state’s civil rights code, banning businesses from denying services based on someone’s “immunization status.”

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and one of the bill’s sponsors, said institutions shouldn’t be able to turn people away based on whether they have received the vaccine.

“Overall the intent here is to protect the privacy rights of citizens across the commonwealth. No aspect of this legislation is intended to in any way curtail the efforts at large to encourage people to receive a vaccine,” Maddox said.


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. 

The Creme Coffee House

A coffee shop in Owensboro is among businesses across Kentucky preparing for Friday’s return to full capacity, as the state emerges from the shadow of COVID-19 with vaccines readily available and the number of cases dramatically reduced. 

One young owner took a big risk when she bought a small Daviess County business in the midst of the pandemic and guided it through the economic and emotional turmoil of the past year. 

Brooklyn Patterson became owner of The Creme Coffee House in May 2020. It was a time when many small businesses were wiped out as a result of mandated closures, limited capacity and COVID-19 ravaging families and communities. 

Virtual Location

A major geocaching event in its 18th year is set to be held in Daviess County for the first time. Owensboro is hosting the event in parks and along the riverfront beginning Friday evening.

The Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure, or MOGA, will send visitors on a high-tech treasure hunt to find small containers using a GPS device, or a GPS-enabled mobile phone. 

President and CEO of Visit Owensboro, Mark Calitri, said the event was already planned to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines using the outdoor venues of the Rudy Mine Trail, Yellow Creek Park, and the Riverwalk. 

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. 

Kyeland Jackson

Republican Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is calling on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to set a firm “reopening” date for the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The demand comes as Republican-led states like Tennessee and Florida have almost entirely dropped pandemic-related restrictions and others have set dates when they will reopen further.

It also comes as the virus lingers, vaccination rates have dropped due to lack of demand, and public health experts say the United States won’t achieve herd immunity before this winter, if at all.

But Quarles argues people and businesses should be able to make their own decisions about how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Hardin Co. Chamber of Commerce

The Hardin County Chamber of Commerce has a new President and CEO. 

Following a three-month national search, Margy Poorman has been hired to lead the business organization. 

Poorman previously served as director of economic development for the city of Canton, Ohio.  Most recently, she was the public policy and legislative coordinator for AultCare, a health insurance provider in the Buckeye State.

During an announcement on Tuesday in Elizabethtown, Poorman said she looks forward to promoting a community where Fort Knox plays a significant role.

Jim Beam

The process of making fine whiskey involves aging spirits to a golden brown, but a bourbon producing giant is going green along the way.

Beam Suntory, producer of top-selling Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, both crafted in Kentucky, said Wednesday it wants to cut its companywide greenhouse gas emissions and water usage in half by 2030. The company’s more ambitious goal is to remove more carbon than is emitted from its operations and among its supplier base by 2040.

The spirits giant also is committed to planting 500,000 trees annually by 2030, with a goal of planting more trees than are harvested to make barrels to hold its aging whiskeys. Bourbon ages for years in charred new oak barrels, where it acquires its color and flavor.

John Boyle

For eight months, Hoosiers had to wear masks in public.

That changed last Tuesday when Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed his statewide mask mandate to expire. But several Southern Indiana restaurant owners plan to continue their own in-house mask requirements.

“I think we’ve got a little bit more time before that’s something I’m comfortable with with my staff, especially being in a restaurant where people have to take their masks off to dine and it’s boisterous,” said Dallas McGarity, owner of the Portage House in Jeffersonville.

Restaurant owners are allowed to implement such restrictions under Holcomb’s executive order, and McGarity isn’t the only one doing so. But it’s still a decision he expects to garner some criticism from local residents.

Governor's Communications Office

Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday acknowledged more than 600 previously unreported COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky and pledged to open vaccine eligibility to everyone over the age of 16 by April 12. 

Beshear reported the 604 additional deaths following an audit of death certificates recorded during the worst months of the pandemic spanning from November to January. The ongoing audit is similar to those conducted in Ohio and West Virginia.

“What we will do is update when we get the information to make sure everybody’s loss is counted,” Beshear said.

The state added more than 417 audited deaths to Kentucky’s death toll on Thursday and will add the remaining deaths over the next three days.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a backlog of complaints to the Better Business Bureau of Kentucky.

President and CEO Reanna Smith-Hamblin says the pandemic has made it harder for businesses to respond to consumer concerns.

"A lot of those complaints are due to businesses being understaffed (so) now the complaints are not going to the proper place," she said.  "So, a lot of people are waiting for things like appliances, and they are back ordered for months, and a lot of people are really angry and we’re seeing that in the complaints.”

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.

A national company with deep roots in Kentucky is offering a financial incentive to employees who choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dollar General is offering a one-time payment, equal to four hours of regular pay, to hourly workers after they receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The company wants to encourage workers to get the vaccine when it’s offered to them in the priority distribution schedule. 

In a corporate press release, Dollar General said it is also removing barriers to vaccinations by offering travel time, and assisting with mileage expenses and child care needs.


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.