Bowling Green

WKU Public Radio

A Bowling Green group is again seeking expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The Bowling Green Fairness Coalition Tuesday night delivered the signatures of over 1,000 residents asking the city commission to amend the local civil rights ordinance. The group wants to outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Bowling Green landlord Don Langley was one of three speakers to address the commission on behalf of expanding the city's Fairness Ordinance, which currently bans discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and disability. Langley says his experiences with LGBT renters led him to believe that discriminating against them is wrong.

“They pay their rent on time, they work hard, they have jobs, and they’re tax paying citizens," Langley said after he addressed the commission. "I think they should be treated fairly.”

This is the third time the Fairness Coalition has asked the Bowling Green City Commission to vote on an expanded civil rights ordinance. So far, it hasn’t come up for a vote.

The mayor of Bowling Green says the city continues to examine how it conducts hiring for all of its departments.

The move was prompted by a federal investigation into how the city makes hiring decisions related to its police force. A Department of Justice investigator is scheduled to visit the city on August 13.

A letter from the DOJ to the city said only five-percent of Bowling Green’s sworn police personnel are African-American.

Speaking Wednesday following a speech to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Wilkerson said he’s in favor of a “color blind” hiring process for all city departments. The mayor believes it’s important for the city’s minority communities to see a police department they can relate to.

“How better to gather trust in that community than if they see someone who looks like them, or who can speak their language,” the mayor said.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it is investigating hiring practices at the Bowling Green Police Department.

The Daily News reports the Justice Department has sent a letter to Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson saying it is looking into whether the city "is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans with respect to employment opportunities."

The letter says the city should have more black officers based on its population. Out of 113 sworn police personnel, six, or 5.3 percent, are black. The 2010 U.S. Census showed the city is made up 13.9 percent black residents.

Wilkerson says the department has used a pre-employment exam from McCann Associates since at least the 1970s. He says the city "clearly thought we had a colorblind hiring process at the police department."

Fairness Campaign

A Kentucky group that advocates for the LGBT community is hoping to expand Bowling Green’s civil rights ordinance.

The Fairness Campaign wants the city to become the ninth in the state to pass a fairness ordinance that would prohibit LGBT individuals from being discriminated against in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The campaign’s western Kentucky regional organizer, Dora James, says the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage isn’t the last hurdle for LGBT rights.

“There are no state or federal enumerated laws that protect against LGBT discrimination, so a lot of people are surprised to know that it’s 2015, but you can totally be fired from your job, or denied housing, or kicked out of a restaurant or park for being gay or transgender.”

The Bowling Green chapter of the Fairness Campaign is seeking signatures for a petition to present to the Bowling Green city commission in support of a fairness ordinance. They’re also holding an event Thursday night in the city’s downtown called “Love Takes Over: LGBT Fairness on Fountain Square.”

The goal of the event is to get signatures on a petition encouraging city government to add the LGBT community to the current civil rights statute covering the town. Those that sign will get a pin allowing them entrance to several concerts around town, as well as other specials at supportive businesses.

Adam Edelen, Facebook

Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen announced the launch of an investigation into issues surrounding Bowling Green’s Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district Wednesday at the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

The TIF program allows local governments to use tax revenues they would get in the future to fund current improvements.

In Bowling Green, $25.5 million in bonds were issued for construction of business properties surrounding a parking garage. But Edelen said it’s not clear where that money has gone.

“The project collapsed this year after restaurants in the commercial wrap of the parking garage in Block 6 of the Bowling Green TIF district, and contractors alleged they hadn’t been paid.”

Edelen said two auditors have been assigned to examine all the parties and contracts  involved in the project.

A Japanese corporation is planning a $15 million expansion at its manufacturing site in Bowling Green.

NHK of America Suspension Components Incorporated (NASCO) is adding a new building next to its existing facility in Warren County. The new location will manufacture automotive suspension coil springs, and is expected to be completed within two years.

NASCO employs 280 people, and its  Japanese parent company owns another operation in Warren County (Topura America Fastener), Franklin (New Mather Materials), and Louisville (NHK Spring Precision of America). In all, NHK International Corporation employs about 1,000 Kentucky workers.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A new farmers market slated to open this spring in downtown Bowling Green hopes to attract customers who don’t normally visit such establishments.

The new market—which will be known as Southern Kentucky Fresh--will be located near the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center on College Street.

Megan Bailey, with the Warren County Extension Office, says the location is within walking distance of many residents who might not otherwise have access to fresh, locally-grown produce.

“That was one of the purposes of this downtown market—to be able to serve an audience that may not have been able to go to the farmers market before. It’s going to be closer to some of our communities that are using SNAP benefits, and they’ll actually be able to utilize those at the market.”

Bowling Green will be the host of the tournaments for the next five years in a partnership announced at the Bowling Green Ball Park Wednesday morning. The city will host eleven tournaments this year and as many as 15 beginning next year.

The conference will also hold at least six league meetings in Bowling Green throughout the year.

The NAIA conference includes Campbellsville University, Lindsey Wilson College and the University of Pikeville as well as schools in five other states. They'll kick off the partnership February 6th and 7th wil the conference bowling tournament at Southern Lanes in Bowling Green

Conference commissioner Eric Ward said they were afraid the championships might fall under the public's radar in a city larger than Bowling Green. He said the conference was looking for a neutral site that was big enough to handle several tournaments back to back or even at the same time at different facilities.

He also said they wanted a site with a variety of things for players and fans to do when their team isn't playing.

Amy Cardwell with the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau estimates each tournament will bring about 250 participants to the city and twice that many family and fans.

Bowling Green City Schools

The superintendent of Bowling Green Independent Schools has announced plans to retire. 

Joe Tinius has worked in the city school system since 1977 in a number of roles, including teacher, coach, and principal.  He became superintendent in 2005. 

In a letter submitted to the Board of Education, Tinius said after 37 years in education, he had reached the point in his life where he wanted to spend more time with his wife, children, and grandchild. 

He tells WKU Public Radio that while technology and education reforms have had major impacts on Kentucky’s classrooms, a teacher’s ability to connect with students remains vital.

“It is still, at the end of the day, that personal relationship that teachers develop with students that ultimately determines how much of an impact and effective the learning process is.”

Tinius says one of the biggest changes he’s seen over the years is the increasing diversity of the area’s student population, with major growth seen in the number of students who speak English as a second language. Tinius said school administrators have to be willing to connect with students and parents from international communities.

The U.S. Postal Service says it will open post office locations in Bowling Green and Evansville on two Sundays this holiday season to reduce wait times and allow customers to get a jump on holiday shipping. 

The Bowling Green General Mail Facility on Scottsville Road along with the Lawndale Station on S. Green River Road in Evansville will open on December 14th and 21st.  The facilities will be open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. those days.

The Postal Service says 607 million pieces of mail will be processed on Dec. 15th, making it the busiest day of the season.