The feud between Gov. Matt Bevin and his lieutenant governor, Bowling Green’s Jenean Hampton, might be a factor in November’s gubernatorial election, although observers said it’s difficult to determine now how much of an effect it will have in five months.
Hampton got her political start as a member of the local tea party, and many in that organization across the state are taking aim at Bevin’s treatment of his lieutenant governor.
Bevin left Hampton off his ticket as he runs for reelection this year, instead naming state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, to be his running mate.
While Hampton has not outwardly criticized the Republican governor, she did publicly lobby to again be his running mate in an interview with the Daily News in January, saying “I think I’ve done a fantastic job; I think I’d be a shoo-in.”
She has also voiced frustrations at the removal of two of her staff members in recent months. The most recent battle concerns the state’s firing of her deputy chief of staff, Adrienne Southworth.
After Southworth’s dismissal, Hampton went to Twitter asking supporters to pray for her as she battles “dark forces,” and last week she sent an email to state officials saying Southworth will remain on her staff.
Bevin said Wednesday that he had no involvement in Southworth’s removal, according to The Associated Press.
Some tea party leaders across the state have said they will not support Bevin because of his treatment of Hampton, including a dozen tea party leaders who met with Bevin in November to lobby him to keep Hampton on his ticket.
The leaders told Bevin he would lose voters if he ditched Hampton, according to The Courier Journal.
Scott Lasley, political science department head at Western Kentucky University and Warren County Republican Party member, said losing the support of a faction of the state’s Republicans could make a difference in November, but “I think for it to matter, it will have to be a tight race. If it’s close, voter enthusiasm and turnout does matter.”
Perhaps the biggest loss for Bevin would be the grassroots support of tea party stalwarts.
“He has been able to draw on them in past elections,” Lasley said.
But the impact of the schism “is too early to tell,” Lasley said. “There are five months for things to play out.”
Local tea party representative Justin Poland declined to answer questions. Likewise, Hampton’s office and Bevin’s campaign did not respond to interview requests.
On Thursday, another politician who got his start with the local tea party, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, was asked by the Daily News about the rift.
“I’m a big fan of Jenean Hampton. She and I got to know each other through the tea party movement, actually here in Bowling Green,” Paul said. “I think she’s been a great lieutenant governor and I’m a big believer that she’s a great part of the tea party movement in Kentucky. I don’t know anything about the interpersonal relations between the governor and her, though.”
David Graham, chairman of the Warren County Republican Party, said the feud is not likely to change too many voters’ minds.
“I think over the last four years, most people have made their minds up about Gov. Bevin,” he said.
Still, Graham said picking fights with Hampton does not benefit the governor.
“Episodes like this certainly don’t help. ... It’s bewildering why he continues to make it harder for people to support him,” Graham said, adding that with all the positive economic news in the state, Republicans “should be focusing on all the good things going on now.”
Bevin won the Republican primary in May, but garnered only 52 percent of the vote (136,060 votes) in a field where his primary challenger, first-term state Rep. Robert Goforth of East Bernstadt, who has never run for statewide office, garnered 39 percent of the vote. A Smart Politics blog analysis found that Bevin’s 13.4 percent victory margin was the smallest of any Kentucky governor seeking to be reelected since the state implemented a primary system in 1903.
Bevin will face current Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won the Democratic nomination with 37.9 percent of the vote (149,438 total votes), primarily against former state Auditor Adam Edelen and longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook.
Hampton, a Detroit native, is the first African-American to hold statewide office in Kentucky. She has lived in Bowling Green since 2003. Hampton first entered the political scene when she unsuccessfully ran against Democrat Jody Richards for the House District 20 seat in 2014.
When Janet Kay Brown’s father-in-law passed away almost 14 years ago, a good friend gave Brown’s mother-in-law a prayer shawl. Intrigued by the concept, Brown asked her friend to tell her more.
After Brown’s friend explained that her sister had a group in North Carolina that made shawls, Brown began thinking about how special the gift was to her mother-in-law. It wasn’t long before Brown decided to get involved herself.
“It meant so much that someone cared enough to show their love in that way during a difficult time,” Brown told the Daily News. “I found out that was the purpose – a tangible way of showing God’s love to people that are going through difficult times, and I thought, ‘Well I’m retired, I got some time on my hands and God gave me a little bit of talent, I’d better be using it for him.’ ”
Brown soon formed a group of ladies – the First Baptist Church Prayer Shawl team – that has gathered monthly since October 2005, including an annual public meeting that took place Saturday morning at Corner Bakery Cafe.
While the group of 10 or more women usually meets at their church, Brown said the squad has held its June meeting in public for the past three or four years.
The sixth monthly meetings on the calendar now celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day, which is held on the second Saturday in June each year.
According to the global event’s website, its mission is “Better Living through stitching together.” That purpose meshes perfectly with a First Baptist team that has given over 800 knitted or crocheted prayer shawls to people going through the highs and lows of their lives – cancer, loss of a loved one, serious hospitalization or even the birth of a newborn baby.
The ladies get to choose their own patterns, textures, colors and sizes, which adds to the personalized feel of each shawl or lap robe the team makes.
“It’s just a way to show God’s love to people and that there are people out there praying for ’em,” Brown said. “We pray over our shawls when we know who they’re going to, we pray over ’em while we’re working on them and we have a little card that goes with it that just explains what the purpose is.”
The First Baptist team works with Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers, a national group of about 200 small groups that ensure military families get a shawl when a soldier is killed. The team also provides shawls for dignified transfers at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del.
Brown said she has filled about 12 notebooks keeping histories of the group’s work, including a record of who made the shawl, a picture of it, who it went to, the reason and a thank-you note if the recipient sends one back.
“The notes are always so sweet, but even better than that is when you actually hand-deliver one and see the reaction of the people,” Brown said. “There’s tears, there’s laughter, there’s hugs. It’s just a special time.”
But doing paperwork, keeping notes and mailing shawls both nationally and internationally keep Brown pretty busy. “They do more of the shawls than I do,” Brown said as she pointed to her fellow members. “It takes a village.”
Six total members sat around the table, effortlessly weaving needles as they laughed and talked with their friends. One was Glenda White, an original member. White, who’s knitted and crocheted for 30 years, estimated that she’d made as many as 300 prayer shawls with the team.
“This gave me a purpose on how to give my talents to somebody else who needed it,” White told the Daily News. “When somebody gets your throw or your prayer shawl and they write you a note, you’re thinking, ‘Ah, they got it and they loved it!’ It’s real special when you hear from the people that received it.”
B. Kaye Beckner, another member of the team since its inception, said the group doesn’t exclusively give shawls to church members. Brown interjected, “Way more to nonmembers than members.” After Beckner agreed with that assessment, she added, “The giving is as meaningful as the doing.” Teammate Miki Wiseman agreed, noting that she still has the shawl given to her sister, who passed away in 2011 after suffering from ALS.
Betty Wilkerson has gotten involved with the team more recently, but said she helped a co-worker with throat cancer by giving her a shawl and a Bible the friend has since started reading. “She went bananas,” Wilkerson said. “She held me so tight – she was clinging to me like a magnet to the refrigerator.”
Brown was the only woman knitting instead of crocheting, but the difference didn’t make her seem out of place among her friends. Instead, it showcased the mutual love of putting one’s hands to good use that brought the group together and will allow them to continue making shawls for a long time yet.
“The fellowship’s great,” Brown told the Daily News. “When you’re in a big church, you don’t know everyone, and so we’ve been able to form new friendships with people we wouldn’t have known. It’s a big camaraderie, and we couldn’t do it without all these women that give their time and talent and their love of God and their prayers.”
A former Western Kentucky University student serving a four-year sentence in the shooting death of his friend will seek early release.
Peter Gall has filed a motion for shock probation that is set to be heard Monday by Warren Circuit Judge John Grise.
Gall, 22, is incarcerated on a count of reckless homicide stemming from the death of fellow WKU student Alex Davis, who was shot Sept. 3, 2017, at a house on Kenton Street.
According to court filings and prior testimony, Davis was shot in the hip at point-blank range as Gall handled a shotgun.
The two had spent the day tailgating at a WKU football game and were engaged in horseplay when the shooting occurred.
Under Kentucky law, shock probation is available to first-time offenders convicted of most low-level felonies.
A person requesting shock probation has to file the motion between one and six months after the start of that person’s incarceration.
The judge who presided over the criminal case rules on whether to grant or deny shock probation.
When Gall was sentenced in February, he said in court that he did not mean to cause Davis’ death and referred to Davis as his best friend.
In a five-page letter accompanying the motion for shock probation filed last month by Gall’s attorney, Alan Simpson, Gall expressed regret for his crime and said he took responsibility for the hurt felt by Davis’ surviving family.
“I will never be able to say or do anything that will bring comfort to his loved ones,” Gall said in the handwritten letter. “I can only try my best every day to bring light on his name and bring awareness to the trouble and harm a situation like that can bring about. I pray every day to be forgiven for what I caused.”
Gall said if he were to be released, he would maintain sobriety and work at his father’s contracting company.
In addition to Gall’s letter, 24 of his relatives and friends have also written letters of support.
Simpson said in his motion that Davis’ death was the result of poor decision-making.
“This was a tragic, one-in-a-million isolated accident,” Simpson said in the motion. “Peter Gall has never denied responsibility for his actions. ... Not only does he carry around the guilt, grief and remorse for killing his best friend, he will now carry the memories of being incarcerated. Regardless, Mr. Gall will continue to pay the price for his actions for a lifetime.”
Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron had not filed a response to the shock probation motion as of Friday.
At Gall’s sentencing, Cohron argued for the imposition of the four-year sentence reached through a plea agreement, saying that probating Gall at that point would unduly depreciate the serious nature of the offense.
The City-County Planning Commission of Warren County recommended for approval Thursday a zoning change that would allow The Club at Olde Stone LLC to develop nearly 27 acres on Old Scottsville Road with single-family residences, a new golf course and additional uses related to the course.
Olde Stone developer Jim Scott proposed to rezone 26.95 acres at 4031 Old Scottsville Road from agriculture to planned unit development, which would enable Olde Stone to develop the property with a new golf course and a maximum of 15 lots for single-family residences.
“The following represent permitted uses: a par 3 golf course and ancillary uses such as a club house, meeting space, bed and breakfast, and/or maintenance facility; and single-family, detached residences,” the general development plan included in Olde Stone’s application stated.
The eight commissioners in attendance approved the application unanimously after hearing from engineer Brian Shirley and attorney Darrell Price, who clarified a few points about the plan. No one in attendance spoke against the planned development.
Olde Stone’s proposal was unique in that it included a golf course. A golf course is considered commercial, but an unlit golf course is a permitted use in the agriculture zone. Since the course is planned to be unlit, developers were able to start months ago on building the short, nine-hole course called The Sinkhole.
The course will feature a putting green and a course of nearly 24,000 square feet featuring holes between 35 and 125 yards long.
The general development plan says temporary lighting for events on the new golf course “shall be limited to use during the event only” and will be “minimally intrusive” to adjacent properties.
Sales/marketing manager Cayla Rios said Olde Stone hopes the new course – designed by member and architect Jerry Lemons – will be open this fall.
A commission staff member indicated that Olde Stone didn’t have to rezone the entire area, but chose to do so. The residential aspects of the proposed development remained the primary reason for the zoning change application.
According to a site review, the property has frontage on Old Scottsville Road, but a privately maintained roadway called Village Way will provide the only access to the golf course and all residential lots.
The property is seeking annexation into the city of Bowling Green. The Bowling Green City Commission approved on first reading Tuesday an ordinance to annex the property, and a second reading is expected June 18.
“I’m glad to have them join in,” Mayor Bruce Wilkerson told the Daily News. “It’s really wise on their part – it would make it consistent for the whole Olde Stone neighborhood.”
The minimum lot size will be 0.40 acres. All homes will be at least 2,500 square feet, and no structure will exceed 21/2 stories, including any ancillary uses for the par 3 golf course.
The applicants agreed to several conditions in their general development plan, including preserving mature, hardwood tree canopies and trying to not disturb any existing sinkholes and wetlands during the development process. If any sinkhole or wetland is disturbed, it “shall be repaired or restored.”