Warren Fiscal Court is moving forward with plans to repair a historic bridge that dates to the 19th century.
At Friday’s regular meeting, fiscal court voted unanimously to put $37,300 toward the inspection and engineering analysis of the Old Richardsville Road bridge, which will be the first part of a three-stage repair process.
Fifth District Magistrate Mark Young, who represents a region of Warren County that includes the Richardsville area, said the bridge has a great deal of cultural value for the community and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“It’s a landmark here in the county and there’s a lot of history with that bridge, so it’s certainly something we want to preserve,” he said.
The bridge has been closed for more than a year following Kentucky Transportation Cabinet inspectors’ discovery of structural deficiencies, he said.
Young said fiscal court wants to repair the bridge rather than replace it, and that the county wants the repairs to last.
“We don’t want this to be a short-term fix,” he said. “We want this to be a long-term fix. We don’t want this to become an issue again the next time it’s up for inspection.”
The bridge is something of a tourist attraction, owing to its age and its unusual bowstring design, Young said.
“We come across people who come here just to drive across the bridge,” he said.
Warren County Public Works Director Josh Moore said $10,000 of the $37,300 will go toward rigging for the bridge to make sure it stays secure while it’s inspected.
Moore said the county is contracting with Glasgow-based American Engineers Inc.
“American Engineers has considerable experience in bridgework and design and I feel like they’re going to be able to come up with a good, balanced project to achieve what we need for safety and get the bridge back open,” he said.
American Engineers has provided a $27,959 estimate for the second phase of the project, which is labeled in a Public Works memorandum as “final structure plans,” though Moore said that could change based on what the Phase 1 analysis finds.
“We’ll definitely know more after they get through this inspection process and I actually don’t know a time frame on that,” he said. “I suspect that they’ll get started pretty soon. Getting the contractor down to rig the bridge will be the first thing, and that may take several weeks.”
While the cost of the actual renovations is not yet known, Moore said there is a possibility of financial assistance from the state’s emergency road fund and Bridging Kentucky program.
“We’ve been in loose discussion, but there’s been no firm commitment,” he said. “Really, what I think what we need to see – and I think what they would want to see from us – is to get a good plan that’s able to be bid and then they can decide whether or not we can have a partnership there or not.”
In another matter, fiscal court granted the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau approval to put $75,435 from the local hotel tax toward projects intended to facilitate Mid-South Conference tournaments and to bring the NAIA conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to Bowling Green.
Sherry Murphy, the CVB’s executive director, said the projects will involve purchasing and installing softball infield tarps at Michael O. Buchanon Park and updates to the gym at Bowling Green High School.
The tarps are intended to prevent rainouts at future Mid-South softball games.
Murphy said the CVB still needs approval from the Bowling Green City Commission to go forward with the plan.
Amy Cardwell, the CVB’s sports sales director, said improvements to the gym at BGHS will include installing shot clocks, backboard lights synced with the shot clocks and the appropriate markings on the court.
Cardwell said Bowling Green has not previously hosted a Mid-South basketball tournament, though it has been the home of other Mid-South postseason tournaments for several years.
Cardwell said she anticipates the addition of the basketball tournaments, scheduled for March 6-9, will have a significant impact by bringing more people to town.
“I feel like it’s going to be tremendous,” she said.
Dressed in her cap and gown, Warren Central High School senior Kayshlyn Cook waited in disbelief Friday as her graduating class lined up in Diddle Arena, preparing to collect their diplomas.
“It’s just a big step in our lives … It’ doesn’t feel real,” said Cook, who would be graduating as a scholarship recipient with the cum laude rank. That honor is reserved for students with GPAs between 3.4 and 3.59 and who’ve met at least one ACT benchmark.
Cook was among Warren Central High School’s 204 graduates, 56 of whom graduated with an unweighted GPA of 3.6 or higher. All told, the class earned $3.8 million in scholarship offers. They’re bound for 28 different post-secondary institutions, with 82 graduates planning to attend four-year schools.
In his farewell remarks to the school’s graduating class, Principal Mike Stevenson encouraged students to carry with them the values of accountability and personal growth drilled into them by the school.
“Reflect on those values from time to time and maybe they will continue to open doors for you and help compel you to be the best that you can,” he said.
Alyssa Corl and Hailey Ausbrooks both plan to serve their country by joining the U.S. Navy.
Corl, who grew up hearing her father’s stories of Navy life, planned to join up early in her high school career.
“It will pay for college if I ever decide to get there,” Corl said.
Corl graduated with the College/Career Ready distinction and as magna cum laude, which is for students with 3.6 to 3.79 GPA’s and at least two ACT benchmarks met.
For Ausbrooks, serving her country provides a way to pay for college and see the world after high school.
“I had family in the Navy so I could relate to it more,” Ausbrooks said.
As a graduate, Ausbrooks earned the summa cum laude rank. The honor is for students with a 3.8 GPA or higher and all ACT benchmarks met.
Cook plans to attend Western Kentucky University and study studio arts.
“I want to become like an artist and have my own studio and everything,” she said. “I’m kind of the artist in the school. People know me for that.”
Reflecting on her high school journey, Cook said she’s come a long way from the shy, uncomfortable student she used to be.
“I grew out of my shell,” she said, adding that her teachers and friends pushed her to become who she is today. “It’s been really a great journey.”
The new permitless concealed carry law is set to go into effect in Kentucky next month, but authorities are encouraging people to complete safety training and educate themselves on the law when it comes to firearms.
Under the new law, people ages 21 and older who are not prohibited by law from owning a gun can legally carry a concealed firearm without a permit, though gun owners may still obtain a permit.
Kentucky will become the 16th state to allow permitless concealed carry.
The bill that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin was backed by the National Rifle Association, and proponents of the bill argued that it would better enable law-abiding gun owners to protect themselves.
The measure passed both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly over opposition from several groups, including the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police and gun-control advocacy organization Moms Demand Action, that cited safety concerns as a reason for their opposition.
Under the permitting process, applicants have to undergo a background check and take a six-hour gun safety and training class requiring them to pass a written test and hit a life-size target with at least 11 of 20 shots from a distance of 21 feet.
Permit holders have also been required to pay a $60 fee, with $20 going to the sheriff in their jurisdiction and the rest going to the state.
Renewals of permits are processed at the sheriff’s office.
Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower has recommended that current permit holders not let their permits lapse.
Thirty-five other states recognize a concealed carry permit from Kentucky, and Hightower said Bowling Green’s proximity to Tennessee, which recognizes a Kentucky permit, should serve to persuade gun owners to keep their concealed carry permits up to date.
“If you choose to carry, I would strongly recommend carrying with the concealed carry permit,” Hightower said.
The next four to six months will bear out whether Warren County will see a decrease in the number of concealed carry permit holders once the new law goes into effect, Hightower said.
“I would guesstimate a 15 to 20 percent reduction in the number of people going in to obtain permits, but I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve said they want to have the permit so they can carry in other states,” Hightower said.
Jerry Corbitt, a Bowling Green firearms instructor at Sherwood’s Guns and Indoor Shooting Range, said he anticipates seeing a “small decline” in the number of people who take his classes, which are held at least once each month.
His next class, scheduled for June 8, is about half full.
“A lot of people want to take the classes because they want to know the laws, which is good,” Corbitt said. “Some customers are paranoid about people carrying with no prior training or information. ... I’ve heard some younger people comment that they’re going to buy a gun and start carrying in July, and I kind of stress upon them to be up on the laws.”
Hightower said that even without going through the permitting process, new gun owners should seek firearms training courses.
“More training is always better,” Hightower said. “Even if you conceal carry without a permit, it’s important to know the legal aspects of gun ownership when it comes to use of force and when it’s appropriate to defend yourself and your property.”
Starting this summer, Warren County Public Schools is joining forces with the county’s parks and recreation department to roll out the new Rec-On-The-Run program, which will bring fun and games to communities in need.
“We figure it’s a really good collaboration between county government and county schools and being able to offer our community some exceptional opportunities that historically have not been there,” said Chris McIntyre, chief financial officer for Warren County Public Schools.
Chris Kummer, director of Warren County Parks and Recreation, introduced the concept Friday during a meeting of Warren Fiscal Court.
“We’re going to be partnering with the Warren County Board of Education, going to their summer literacy sites and summer feeding program sites,” he said.
Three county schools’ staff are supporting the program, Kummer said, and he added that without the school district’s support “we would not be able to do this program.”
Through the partnership, Warren County parks and recreation will send its Rec-On-The-Run van to sites visited by the county schools’ School Bus Cafe and Little Learners mobile preschool classroom. The van is labeled with the Warren County Parks and Recreation logo and provides games such as a cornhole set and a large Connect Four-style game.
“You get a little bit of learning. You get some play time … and then the mobile bus will come around and feed them,” McIntyre said of the services that will be provided at the sites.
Between June 4 and July 30, the Rec-On-The-Run van will visit six locations throughout the county.
Every Tuesday, starting June 4, the mobile unit will visit the Northbrook, Countryside Living and Lee Pointe communities. On Thursdays, starting June 6, it will visit communities in the Rock Creek, Lovers Lane and Blue Lake Way areas.
A full schedule is online with this story at bgdailynews.com.