Strutting down a long “Purple” carpet rolled out in the school’s gym, teachers at Bowling Green Junior High School high-fived students standing on both sides, welcoming them back to school with a BGJHS tradition.
Earlier, the school’s incoming sixth graders crowded around and took their own turns walking the carpet. Some were shy, while others did funny dances, hoping to get laughs from their friends.
As the school’s new principal, Robert Lightning was also a newcomer to the tradition. He traded high-fives with students as he worked his way around the gym.
“We want to make sure that they feel a part of this unique Purple family,” Lightning said. “This is just our way of formally introducing them and inviting them to be a part of our family.”
Hired in May to replace retiring principal Cynthia West, Lightning is one of several new principals in the Bowling Green Independent School District. Others include Kyle McGraw at Bowling Green High School and Keith Brown at Potter Gray Elementary School. Lightning stepped up from his previous position as the leader of Bowling Green High School’s freshmen LEAD Academy.
“The thing I’m most excited about is just this amazing faculty and staff that I have the opportunity to work with and lead and then getting to know this amazing body of students and parents,” Lightning said.
The school is expecting about 950 students to start school this week, Lighting said, with about 330 of them incoming sixth graders.
Sixth, seventh and eighth graders attend the district’s junior high school.
Paul Rigsby-Tinch and Leah Olmsted were among the school’s class of sixth graders starting school Thursday. After coming from Bowling Green’s Montessori School, it was a big change for both students. Both students admitted to feeling a little nervous.
“I’m nervous that I’m not going to get to classes on time,” Paul said, adding he was “kind of stressed about that.”
For Leah, it was also a big leap.
“This (school) has so many more people and we have lockers,” she said. “It’s much different.”
On the other hand, sixth grader Addie Day was excited.
“I’m excited to see my friends and see my new teachers of the year and learn new things,” she said, adding she’s most excited to get a locker and start classes. After walking down the school’s carpet, she said “I thought it was really fun.”
Asked about his vision for the school this year, Lightning said he wants to promote teamwork.
“We’re really going to focus on working together as a team this year with our faculty and staff and making sure that we’re supporting our students and parents,” Lightning said.
Kenneth “Dusty” Bowlin pops the hood on Nyle Fields’ Honda Civic, checking the oil and other fluid levels while he tops off the gas tank. He banters with this longtime customer even as he checks tire pressure and cleans the windshield.
It seems like just another day at Bowling Green’s Dusty’s Auto Care, the Marathon service station that is a throwback to the days when Bowlin started working at gas stations in the 1970s – except that this day includes a few more concerned comments from regulars such as Fields.
Dusty’s is closing, ending Bowlin’s 42-year tenure at the 1200 Broadway Ave. location that has been a full-service gas station since it opened as a Standard Oil in 1960.
The news that Bowlin has a contract to sell the station and that it will probably be demolished to make room for an oil change business or converted to some other use is greeted with considerably less enthusiasm than the discounted gas prices he is hyping as he aims to empty his storage tanks by Friday’s closing.
“You’re closing up?” asked Alderson Clark, a regular customer who was paying for the gas he had pumped at the self-service section. “What am I going to do?”
That’s not an easy question to answer for those who have relied for their gas and auto maintenance on this station along one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.
One such customer, Mary C. Steele, gave Bowlin a hug Wednesday morning after paying what will surely be her final bill at Dusty’s. “Dusty’s is more than a filling station,” Steele said.
“The people who have been running hometown businesses are like family. As they disappear and aren’t replaced by other hometown businesses, it changes the culture of the city and we lose something in the process.
“Dusty is an icon here. I don’t know what we’re going to do without him.”
Bowlin didn’t set out to become an icon back in 1977 when he began working the night shift at the Standard Oil that Allen Stewart was running. Bowlin and Stewart became partners in 1992, and Bowlin bought out Stewart to become sole owner nine years ago.
Through all those years of pumping gas and changing oil at the same location, Bowlin has earned more than a few loyal customers, many of whom have sent their children and grandchildren to Dusty’s.
A steady stream of those customers were stopping by Wednesday as word leaked that Bowlin was selling the place. He greeted them beneath the faded, cracking “Dusty’s Auto Care” sign and the peeling paint that were visible reminders both of the station’s long history and its familiarity for those who had been coming since the days when the sign was pristine.
“It seems like all I’ve been doing for the last three weeks is saying goodbye to people,” Bowlin said. “They’re more like friends than customers.”
Fields, who said he has been coming to Dusty’s since Bowlin took it over, is one such friend.
“You don’t find this kind of service at very many places,” Fields said. “I’ve known Dusty for years, and he has always done anything I’ve needed for my cars. He has good mechanics, and they’ve done a lot of work on my cars over the years.”
One of those mechanics, Ray Miller, said Wednesday that the only full-service gas station remaining in Bowling Green after Dusty’s closes will be Shipley’s Chevron on Center St. As he hustled between serving customers at the full-service pumps and working on cars in the station’s two service bays, Miller reflected on the loss to the community.
“I hate it,” he said. “A lot of older people and disabled people can’t pump their own gas. We do it for them. A lot of great people come through here. They’re like family.”
Miller, who has been at Dusty’s for 25 years, said he already has a couple of offers and will continue working as a mechanic. The future for the 65-year-old Bowlin is not so certain.
“I know everybody that comes in here, and that makes it hard to walk away,” he said. “I’m retiring, and I don’t plan to do too much for the first month or so.”
Bowlin does have one concrete plan that will take him out of his comfort zone.
“My wife and I are going to Florida the last week of the month,” he said. “We’ll go to Disney World. I don’t often go on vacation. I haven’t had a week off in 30 years, I guess.”
SCOTTSVILLE – With the trial of Timothy Madden a month away, attorneys on both sides indicated they anticipate being ready to proceed on the scheduled date.
Madden is accused of murder, kidnapping, first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy in the Nov. 14, 2015, death of 7-year-old Gabriella “Gabbi” Doolin.
Madden, 42, of Scottsville, faces the death penalty if convicted as charged.
At a pretrial conference Wednesday in Allen Circuit Court, Madden’s attorney, Tom Griffiths of the state Department of Public Advocacy, said he has been informed by his retained expert witnesses that DNA testing of certain evidence and a psychological evaluation of Madden have been completed.
Griffiths said he is awaiting the results of both analyses and expects to receive the results through the mail in the near future.
Madden’s trial is scheduled to start Sept. 4 in Hardin County, where it was moved because of pretrial publicity and other factors.
In court Wednesday, Allen Circuit Judge Janet Crocker said 146 Hardin County residents have been summoned as potential jurors for this case.
Jury selection will entail individual questioning of each juror to determine whether they are able to consider the death penalty as a possible punishment.
Allen County Commonwealth’s Attorney Corey Morgan said he believed the jury pool was large enough to empanel a jury of 14 people, including two alternate jurors.
After the hearing, Morgan said he anticipated jury selection would take about a week.
“The judge has been steadfast on making sure that we are going to trial on Sept. 4,” Morgan said.
Griffiths said he felt he would be ready to proceed to trial on schedule and believed the jury pool would be sufficient to find a jury.
“It would depend a lot on the reach of the publicity up there,” Griffiths said, referring to Hardin County.
Pretrial conferences have been scheduled for Aug. 24 in Allen County and Aug. 30 in Hardin County.
Gabbi’s body was found in a wooded area near Allen County-Scottsville High School, where a youth league football game was taking place on the night of the incident.
Authorities allege that results of preliminary DNA testing linked Madden to the crimes.
He is being held in Christian County Detention Center.
The Housing Authority of Bowling Green and several of its partners unveiled 20 new affordable housing units in Fort Webb Manor, a growing collection of duplexes and fourplexes designed for elderly people in Warren County.
“We’re so blessed to go home to a house we can afford,” Abraham Williams, executive director of the Housing Authority in Bowling Green, said to a small crowd of local leaders and project backers during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday. “We have to start looking at people paying 50 percent of their paycheck to housing.”
In Kentucky, the average wage needed to rent is $13.34, which translates to about $694 per month, and $14.84 for a two-bedroom household. The minimum wage worker earns $7.25 an hour and $377 per month, so to afford a one-bedroom apartment at minimum wage, a person would need to work 65 hours per week, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s latest “Out of Reach” report.
Both Warren County and the city of Bowling Green exceed the state average for the number of renters and monthly rental costs.
The $2.7 million Fort Webb Manor development covers 2.4 acres off Double Springs Road and sits adjacent to a cornfield and a small wooded area that will be cleared for further development of affordable housing, according to Katie Miller, special projects director at the housing authority.
“Nearly 20 years ago, this tract of land that we stand upon today was acquired by the housing authority,” said Brad Howard, chairman for Live the Dream Development, a nonprofit that sprouted from the housing authority to address housing instability in the community and the official facility owner. “Back in 2011, it began with the completion of 36 one-bedroom units, and you can see how well they’ve held up over the past nine years.”
The 20 new units mirror the first 36 units, but this phase included four two-bedroom units to address a need for extra bedrooms for caretakers. The monthly rent is $555 for a single-bedroom unit and $675 for two-bedroom units.
Under Warren Fiscal Court, the Barren River Area Development District secured a $1 million Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Franklin Bank & Trust provided additional financing for the project.
“I’m confident that the ongoing rental assistance will assist seniors 55 and older,” said Peter Jackson, the newest HUD field office director for Kentucky. “But it’s the beautiful projects like Fort Webb that magnifies that assistance for seniors into both a cozy home and a sense of community.”
Michael Wells, an architect in Owensboro, designed the development to comply with accessibility standards and building requirements for elderly citizens.
The new homes feature glossy vinyl floors, beige walls, walk-in closets and Frigidaire appliances in a semi-open kitchen, which connects to a small living room and patio slab. There were also wide, wheelchair-compatible bathrooms.
As ceremony attendees toured the homes Wednesday, the company line seemed to be “wow, this is so nice.”
“We’re all very proud to be here,” Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said. “Affordable housing is something we take for granted. You can’t drive any direction without seeing new housing going up … but you see so few of them that are affordable to people in our community.”
Buchanon acknowledged that units marketed as affordable housing are often unclean and substandard. But that’s not the case with the new facility.
“It’s not just something that keeps the rain off their heads, but something they can take pride in,” he said.