Bowling Green

Bowling Green International Festival

Downtown Bowling Green will be a showcase for more than 50 international cultures this weekend.

The 27th annual Bowling Green International Festival is being held Saturday at Circus Square Park.

The event will feature information booths, musical performances, and food from more than 50 cultures. Festival board member Hannah Barahona says it’s a showcase for the many refugee and immigrant communities in Bowling Green.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to come learn about other cultures, and experience new things and new foods, and new music. But at the same time, we’re really unique in that we offer the international community here in Bowling Green an opportunity to showcase and share the things that are most special from their cultures.”

Barahona says the event has seen major growth since she started volunteering eight years ago.

City of Bowling Green

A former Bowling Green firefighter is seeking compensatory damages in a federal lawsuit against the fire department and city. 

Jeffrey Queen claims he endured a hostile work environment based on his sex and religion.  His attorney is Michele Henry of Louisville. She says during his five years at the department, Queen also overheard derogatory comments towards Muslims and African-Americans.

"He was greatly disturbed by that, and tried to complain on a number of occasions and was never able to resolve the situation," Henry told WKU Public Radio.  "The fire department never took those complaints seriously, never investigated them, or took any action to resolve this problem."

The city has acknowledged that one firefighter was placed on administrative leave for burning a copy of the Quran.  He retired before receiving any further discipline. 

City of Bowling Green

Bowling Green officials say a firefighter has retired after a video surfaced showing him burning a copy of the Quran.

The Daily News of Bowling Green reports the incident surfaced as part of a lawsuit filed this week by a former city firefighter. In a statement to the newspaper, city officials acknowledged receiving a complaint and a video of the incident in April.

City officials said they placed the firefighter depicted in the video on administrative leave. But officials say the firefighter, who has not been identified, retired before they could take other disciplinary action.

The incident was part of a lawsuit filed this week by former firefighter Jeffrey Queen, who says he faced a hostile work environment. Bowling Green officials say the allegations in no way represent the city's values.

Lisa Autry

Following a 44-year absence, commercial flights will soon take off from Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport.  Contour Airlines announced in May that it would begin offering flights out of Bowling Green to Atlanta, Georgia and Destin, Florida.  Airport Manager Rob Barnett discussed the service in this interview.

Autry: I know, for you, attracting commercial service has been a labor of love for the past eight years.  What do you think this will mean for the region?

Barnett: Access to air transportation is critical for a community to sustain and grow its economy and allow those visitors and business people to come into the community seamlessly rather than driving up the interstate an hour and 15 minutes to Nashville and dealing with parking and rental cars.  It's an incredible benefit to our community, not just Bowling Green and Warren County, but to our ten-county region, Barren River Area Development District.  We see this an an opportunity for a business traveler, but also for that leisure traveler.  We see this as a convenience and an economy boost for both types of travelers.

Kevin Willis

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center is holding a town hall meeting to gather suggestions on ways to improve arts education.

SKyPAC is hosting the meeting Thursday, Aug. 4.

SKyPAC education outreach coordinator Joshua Miller says the goal is to get feedback from community members, educators, and artists about the center’s outreach efforts aimed at young people.

“What you’re investing in is potentially the citizen for the next 30 years of where you’re living. I think it’s just important that we pore into them, and create opportunities for the youth--as well as the community--to express, to collaborate, to be together in spaces, especially with everything going on in our society today.”

Miller says those attending will be asked for input on the following questions:

Flickr/Creative Commons/Eric Molina

The leader of Bowling Green-based health group says a needle exchange for intravenous drug users is the best way to fight the state’s addiction problems.

Dennis Chaney, director of the Barren River District Health Department, is applauding the Bowling Green city commission’s decision Tuesday to approve a needle exchange program.

The exchange must now be approved by Warren County Fiscal Court. It has already been authorized by the Warren County Board of Health.

Chaney said he understands those who feel a needle exchange will enable drug users.

But he thinks it’s the best way to break down barriers and start the healing process.

“The opportunity is for those folks who would participate in the program, the responsibility is for us to try to develop a relationship with those folks just like what you may have and you may enjoy with your primary care physician,” Chaney said.

City of Bowling Green

The Bowling Green Police chief says his department has been training for a mass shooting situation since the 1999 Columbine High School attacks.

Police preparation for mass casualty events has once again come into focus following the Orlando nightclub shootings.

Chief Doug Hawkins spoke to WKU Public Radio about the BGPD’s ability to handle catastrophic incident like the one scene at the Pulse nightclub. Hawkins says Bowling Green police have access to high-powered rifles that can penetrate body armor worn by attackers.

“One of the added pieces of equipment that we’ve added over the last few years is a patrol rifle. The Bowling Green Police Department, like a lot of other police agencies, used to utilize shotguns. But shotguns do not defeat body armor.”

Hawkins says his department is putting a lot of effort into building relationships with community members, especially Bowling Green’s immigrant and refugee populations.


Kentucky officials say General Motors Corp. plans to invest $290 million at the automaker's Corvette plant in Bowling Green.

The company's North American manufacturing manager, Arvin Jones, said Friday the investment includes technology upgrades to improve the plant's manufacturing process. It could also create as many as 270 new jobs.

The investment announcement was made by Gov. Matt Bevin's office in Frankfort.

Bevin's office says the investment includes a $153 million project aimed at improving vehicle assembly line processes. The latest investment follows a series of upgrades and expansions in recent years at the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green.

To encourage the investment, Kentucky officials recently gave preliminary approval for GM to qualify for up to $3 million in tax incentives, based on the level of investment and job creation.

Barren River Area Safe Space

A Bowling Green-based domestic violence shelter wants to empower women who are trying to land jobs in office settings.

Barren River Area Safe Space—or BRASS--is holding its Dress for Change event May 31-June 15.

The shelter is giving women donated clothing and accessories they can wear for job interviews and while at work.

BRASS Executive Director Tori Henninger says the project can be valuable for low-income women and victims domestic violence.

"They are able to feel a little more confident, a little more secure, and a little bit better about their appearance, especially when they're trying to prepare themselves for work outside of a--say--fast food restaurant."

BRASS serves Warren, Barren, Simpson, and seven other southern Kentucky counties.

Lisa Autry

The Bowling Green Police Department is preparing to outfit its officers with body cameras. 

In a presentation to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Chief Doug Hawkins said agencies that already use body cameras have seen a reduction in complaints against officers.

"If you know everything we're doing is being recorded, you tend to behave a little better and so does the police officer.  Not that we have a lot of complaints, but we think this will mitigate complaints," Hawkins told the audience. "When a citizen has a justifiable complaint, we're going to capture that, as well."

Hawkins said the department is investing in body cameras now because prices have dropped and the technology has improved. 

Bowling Green Police plan to purchase 95 body cameras at a cost of nearly $160,000. 

The cameras will be deployed by the end of the year.

Creative Commons

Bowling Green Police now say as many as 26 businesses have reported broken windows following a late night vandalism spree.

Reports of vandalism have come in from several different parts of the city late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

Bowling Green Police spokesman officer Ronnie Ward says investigators are looking at security camera footage from area businesses in an effort to identify the culprits.

Ward says police think the damage to the windows were caused by shots from a high-power BB gun or possibly a slingshot.

“Two of the businesses that got hit last night were open at the time their windows were broken out. Someone could be injured or killed just by whatever device they’re using,” Ward said.

Some of the impacted businesses include the Waffle House on Russellville Road, Pier 1 Imports on Scottsville Road,  and Steamer Seafood and the law firm of English, Lucas, Priest, and Owsley, LLP in the city’s downtown.

Creative Commons

The federal Department of Justice is closing its investigation into the hiring practices of the Bowling Green Police Department.

Last summer the DOJ said it was looking into the low number of African-American police officers on the force.

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says federal investigators have told the city they found nothing out of the ordinary.

“They went through the process and what we understand, there was a statistical anomaly regarding the number of minorities that have been employed over the last couple of reviews and they wanted to examine our practices to determine that we weren’t setting up any artificial barriers to the hiring of minority applicants”

Bowling Green conducted its own investigation into the police department’s hiring practices.

Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

A Warren County lawmaker is asking the state to put a traffic signal at a location where a younggirl was killed last month.

Bowling Green Representative Jody Richards has written a letter to Kentucky’s acting Transportation Cabinet secretary, requesting a signal be installed at the intersection of Gordon Avenue and Scott Way.

That’s where 10-year-old Giselle Arias died after being struck by a car March 30.

Richards says a traffic signal with a pedestrian crossing button is needed to avoid future tragedies.

"While I understand that other options are being considered to remedy the danger at this intersection, they are either inadequate or impractical," Richards wrote in the letter. "A traffic signal like the one I have described is practical and will be effective in allowing people of all ages, particularly children, to safely cross at the intersection. I am confident it will reduce injuries and perhaps prevent other fatalities."

Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

Grief counselors will be at the Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School in Bowling Green Thursday following the death of a 5th grade student Wednesday evening. 

Ten-year-old Giselle Arias was struck by a car on Gordon Avenue near her home. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Warren County Coroner's Office.

Bowling Green Police Department Spokesman Ronnie Ward said the car that hit Arias was driven by 36-year-old Angela Clark of Bowling Green. Three juveniles were in the car. No one inside the vehicle was injured.  Ward added that he doesn't expect any criminal charges to be filed.

Kentucky State Police are investigating how two inmates from the Warren County Jail walked away from a work detail this week. 

Twenty-five-year-old Bates Cole was captured the same day, while 23-year-old Anthony Embry was taken into custody after a two-day search. 

Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode told WKU Public Radio that all inmates who work outside are considered low-risk offenders.

"Nobody can be on it that has assaultive-type charges. Nobody can be on it that has sexual-type charges. It has to be lower felonies such as child support, forgery, maybe DUI-4th, that kind of thing."

The inmates eligible for work release are serving a five-year sentence or less.  Cole was in jail for violating parole. Embry was also serving time for a parole violation, as well as charges of Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Giving an Officer False Name or Address.

Asked how Embry was considered low-risk, Jailer Strode said the Kentucky Department of Corrections determines what classification level inmates are assigned.