The city of Bowling Green Ethics Board voted unanimously Wednesday to hire attorney Stacey Blankenship to investigate possible ethics violations by Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash.
Last month, board members agreed they did not have all the facts surrounding Nash’s arrest May 23 on a charge of alcohol intoxication and the related issues, and decided to hire a special counsel to look into it.
Nash was arrested and charged after a Warren County sheriff’s deputy witnessed him leave the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center “in an intoxicated state,” according to an arrest citation. On May 28, Nash pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine plus court costs.
The board has received 24 complaints regarding the incident, several of which demanded Nash be removed from office.
Nash has issued a public apology both on social media and in person at the previous board meeting.
His attorney, Alan Simpson, said Wednesday that Nash is doing OK, “and it’s just unfortunate that this minor incident is garnering this much media attention and taking up this many peoples’ time. And of course he’s had to weather all the hateful comments on social media, and it’s hit home with his family, and he’s committed to never have another issue like this.”
As special counsel, Blankenship has 60 days to create a report regarding whether Nash’s public intoxication violated the city ethics code which prohibits “(engaging) in illegal or unethical behavior, whether committed on or off duty, including, but not limited to ... conduct that violates a federal, state or local law or ordinance, (excluding traffic violations) whether or not the violation relates directly to the duties of the public official.”
Blankenship is a partner at Paducah-based law firm Keuler, Kelly, Hutchins, Blankenship & Sigler LLP.
“The attorney that we’ve chosen for special counsel has come with several recommendations,” said Barry Pruitt, ethics board chairman. “She has experience in this type of area, and I think (she) will serve the city well in her task.”
City Clerk Ashley Jackson said the city has funds set aside to pay Blankenship’s $165 an hour rate.
Based on the findings, if the board determines that Nash committed a violation, it can issue a written reprimand or recommend that Nash be disciplined or removed from office.
If the board sends a removal recommendation, the city commission would then vote on whether to remove him. Simpson said that would require a unanimous vote from the four other commissioners.
Simpson said the best possible outcome would be a reprimand.
“We’ve indicated a willingness to take some type of an admonition or something like that in his record. He’s not disputed anything, so if that’s what happens, he’s OK with that. But if it’s some type of suspension or trying to be removed from office, then we would have an issue with that, clearly.”
The five ethics board members present at Wednesday’s meeting were Pruitt, Joanna Futrell, Debby Peeples, Joanne Powell and Mike Riggs.
More than 40 volunteers lent a helping hand to The Ethan Foundation at Phil Moore Park on Wednesday, assisting organizers with construction of this year’s BG Gauntlet Mud Run obstacle course just days before the yearly event.
The eighth annual BG Gauntlet Mud Run will take place Saturday. CrossFit Old School has been the race director in the past, but The Ethan Foundation has taken the reins this year and will now be the sole beneficiary of the event’s proceeds, according to Caitlin Greenwell, the nonprofit’s executive director.
The mission of The Ethan Foundation is to raise awareness and promote a proactive, healthy lifestyle for youth, according to the organization’s website.
Greenwell, who’s currently in her first year as director of the foundation, posted a message to her personal Facebook page Monday night asking the community to help out with obstacle construction Tuesday and Wednesday since the original builder event organizers were counting on “backed out.”
“We just needed more assistance more so than anything,” Greenwell said Wednesday. “All of this lumber is donated by Kight, which used to be Carter Lumber, and we are able to reuse it for a couple of years. Everything is already cut to size and we build it with screws. We have the plans, we have photos and basically it’s just getting it put together.”
Locals were asked to bring tools – namely battery-powered drills, gas-powered augers, tillers and weed eaters – water and a good attitude to the park, where Greenwell and Erin Richter, co-founder of The Ethan Foundation, planned on working to make sure the mud run could go off without a hitch.
Greenwell said 40 to 45 volunteers showed up to build the course Wednesday, including her personal friends, several people from CrossFit Old School and “about 30 guys” from Men’s Addiction Recovery Campus.
A new contractor also came on board Wednesday – J Trapper Construction, a construction company owned by Bowling Green native Trapper Pendleton.
“I think they are going to prove to be a big help today,” Greenwell said about the construction professionals. “They came through last minute. This morning was the first time I’d ever met them, so we’ve had a lot of support from the community. It’s humbling to know that there are so many people that care for the cause of The Ethan Foundation and want to see it be successful.”
Andrew Swanson, a member of The Ethan Foundation board of directors, said volunteers were tasked with creating roughly 24 obstacles. “It’s digging holes, making sure things are square, building things, hanging ropes, doing slides – really just constructing more than anything,” Swanson said.
Swanson said he was appreciative of the opportunity to get out of his office, especially since it meant “contributing to something bigger” than himself.
“I think one of the greatest things about the Bowling Green community and the Warren County community is when you need help, people will step up and they will come out here and they will give everything that they possibly can,” Swanson said. “Everyone on the board has a full-time job – some people have two jobs – and they still make time to come out here ... hopefully with the people who attend the event and participate, they can kind of see that love, passion and dedication that we’re putting into this.”
The “premier adventure challenge” will be a 5K run featuring walls, mud pits and other obstacles that participants can enjoy for $65. “It all goes toward The Ethan Foundation and we put scholarships back into the community and we put on after-school exercise programs and health programs and different things for children and children’s families,” Greenwell said.
BG Gauntlet recommends participants be 13 or older, although those under 13 can run with a parent or guardian present, according to the event’s website. Pre-registration will be available online until noon Friday. Participants can also register on the day of the event, but Greenwell said those runners should show up at least 30 minutes prior to their heat with cash or check.
The first heat, for competitive runners only, begins at 7:30 a.m. General heats are scheduled for 8, 8:30, 9 and 9:30 a.m. Greenwell said the event already has over 270 people registered, but organizers anticipate 350 runners total.
Festivities are slated to begin early Saturday morning at the rain or shine event. In addition to pride and a little extra mud on their shoes, runners will also walk away with a goody bag, an event T-shirt and a post-race snack.
“There have been obstacles – no pun intended – to hurdle, but it’s nothing that we can’t work through this first year, and everything will go a lot smoother in the years to come,” Greenwell said. “We are definitely the original here in Bowling Green. We’ve had eight years of experience, so we make our obstacles larger, we’ve made the course larger and it’s just a lot of fun.”
For more information and to register, visit www.bggauntlet.com.
SOMERSET – A Kentucky pilot who died along with three passengers in a 2017 plane crash likely became disoriented in bad weather before the aircraft went down, federal investigators said.
According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, pilot Scott T. Foster wasn’t rated to fly by instruments alone and entered an area where the weather conditions – typically clouds that obstruct views – would have required flying by instruments.
Attorneys for Foster’s widow have raised the potential that icing on the plane’s wings was a significant factor in the crash, The Herald-Leader reported. But the NTSB didn’t cite icing as a potential cause of the accident.
Foster, the plane’s owner; his 15-year-old son, Noah; dentist Kyle P. Stewart and Somerset police chaplain Doug Whitaker died in the Nov. 12, 2017, crash in Barren County.
The group was returning from a hunting trip in western Tennessee when the plane nosedived and hit trees in a heavily wooded area near Fountain Run.
The report said Foster was trying to climb to a higher altitude for better visibility, but the plane instead made shallow turns to the left and right.
Less than a minute after saying he would climb to 8,000 feet , Foster’s plane was at an altitude of 5,675 feet. “We’re going down,” he said on the radio.
The NTSB said it believed a contributing factor in the crash was Foster’s “self-induced pressure to complete the flight.”
The crash was among the worst air accidents in the state since an August 2006 crash at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington that killed 49 people.
Suicidal thoughts, planning and attempt rates for 10th graders in southcentral Kentucky were among the highest in the state last year.
That’s according to the Kentucky Incentives for Prevention State and Regional report, which surveyed 128,759 sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grade students on a wide range of drug abuse and related issues.
For Sheila Barnard, a prevention specialist with LifeSkills, the high rates aren’t a surprise. Between training school staff and educating students, she and other LifeSkills employees are on the front lines of local suicide prevention efforts.
“People need to be educated so that they can look for the signs and symptoms and then try to do something to deter those,” Barnard said, adding that early intervention can save lives.
Nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. die from suicide annually, or 1 person every 13 minutes, according to the KIP report. Among high school students, more than 17 percent – about 2.5 million ninth through 12th graders – have seriously considered suicide. More than 13 percent have made a suicide plan and more than 8 percent have attempted to take their lives.
In Kentucky, the survey found, 15.7 percent of the state’s 10th graders reported having suicidal thoughts within the previous year.
The southcentral Kentucky LifeSkills region reported the second highest rate of suicidal ideation among 10th graders, jumping from 13.2 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent in 2018. The region includes schools in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe and Simpson counties, but Warren and Logan counties had zero participating school districts.
Southcentral Kentucky was also a state leader in numbers of students reporting they had either planned or attempted suicide during the previous 12 months.
Barnard, who regularly works with schools to coordinate prevention programming, sees this year’s passage of Senate Bill 1 as a positive.
The school safety legislation passed in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Marshall County stresses adding more school counselors, expanded suicide awareness and prevention training and anonymous school safety reporting tools, among other changes.
“This legislation that has been passed is really going to help,” Barnard said.
The legislation lacks funding for the school safety improvements it requires, however.
Todd Hazel, director of student services at Warren County Public Schools, said his district has already been implementing some of the practices the bill highlights.
The eight mental health counselors and two social workers the school district employs “have been through district funds,” he said, adding the district plans to add two more social workers and an additional counselor through grants.
Since adding a tool for reporting bullying a few years ago, Hazel estimated the district has received between 3,000 and 4,000 comments seeking help with such issues.
“We’re trying to be as proactive as possible to meet the needs of our students before it becomes an issue,” Hazel said.
Hazel points to social media and the constant bullying that can come with it as one potential factor influencing the high suicide ideation, planning and attempt rates in the region. The days of leaving a bully behind at school are over, he said.
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, shares that view, hoping the new legislation means students will have more supportive voices in their lives, both in and outside of school.
Should communities wait until students are referred to a school counselor, “I worry that it may be too late,” he said.
The full Kentucky Incentives for Prevention State and Regional report is online with this story at bgdailynews.com.
– If you are thinking about suicide, or are worried about a loved one, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.