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Portion of 31-W By-Pass to be closed starting Monday
 Don Sergent  / 

The price tag for upgrading capacity of the Bowling Green Municipal Utilities water treatment plant, estimated at $47 million, now includes a non-monetary cost: weeks of inconvenience for travelers along a portion of the U.S. 31-W By-Pass.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 3 Public Information Officer Wes Watt announced this week that a “long-term lane closure” on the bypass between Park and State streets will start Monday and continue for up to 60 days as a result of work related to the water treatment plant.

A news release from KYTC said motorists “should expect extra congestion and slow-moving traffic during this time period, particularly during peak travel times.”

“The northbound right lane (the one closest to the BGMU water treatment plant) will be closed,” Watt said. “Motorists need to be aware that it will be a disruption. If they can find an alternate route, it will greatly improve travel.”

Watt said KYTC will install message boards and detour signs to alert motorists of the lane closure.

Mike Gardner, water/sewer systems manager for BGMU, said the 60-day, one-lane closure is one part of the road disruption brought about by the water treatment upgrade.

A second part, to come later in the 60-day period, will result in the complete closure of that section of 31-W for up to 14 days.

“It’s all driven by the need to relocate a very large storm sewer line,” Gardner said.

Gardner explained that the storm sewer line is being relocated and must cut across 31-W to connect to the water treatment plant that is near the intersection of the bypass and Chestnut Street.

Gardner said the complete closure may not last the full two weeks, and he indicated that access to The Medical Center and the Kroger shopping center will not be restricted.

“More information will be coming out as we get closer to the date for the complete shutdown,” Gardner said.

The disruption of the traffic flow on 31-W is part of the price of progress, Gardner said. The upgrades that are now underway will boost the water treatment plant’s capacity from 30 million to 45 million gallons per day.

“It’s all about the growth in Bowling Green and Warren County,” he said. “We’re trying to stay ahead of that growth.”

Sen. Paul honors fallen soldier with flag presentation
 Don Sergent  / 

Presenting an American flag to the widow of a fallen soldier was more than a symbolic gesture for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul on Friday. It was tangible evidence of the cost of going to war, something he has cautioned against for years.

Paul presented the flag to Lisa Henderson II, whose husband – Army 1st Lt. Robert Henderson of Alvaton – was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. The flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington in May to honor Henderson on the 15th anniversary of his death.

Lisa Henderson appeared with the senator only briefly, telling him “I appreciate this very much,” but Paul took the opportunity to honor Robert Henderson’s sacrifice and use it to reinforce his feelings about U.S. involvement in foreign wars.

“We live in a time when only a few of us are affected by war,” Paul said. “This is a reminder that people are paying the ultimate sacrifice.

“Robert Henderson was a great hero who gave his life for his country. It’s important for us to make it personal what happens in war. Unless we remember it, we don’t fully think about the ramifications of war.”

Knowledge of those ramifications is important, Paul said, in light of the tensions arising from an attack on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities.

He said he has already let President Donald Trump know his feelings about committing U.S. troops to combat without following procedures mandated in the Constitution.

“I don’t know that there’s an easy answer (to the Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict),” Paul said. “I recognize the ravages of war, but I also recognize that Iran is making it hard to avoid.

“I think we should remember that our founding fathers said that only Congress declares war. We should go through that process and have a full-blown debate.”

The senator even suggested that letting the Middle Eastern countries work out their problems between themselves might be a better tactic than committing more U.S. troops to the area.

“It was Iran that attacked Saudi Arabia, not us,” he said. “Would it be more appropriate for Saudi Arabia to respond?’

Despite his misgivings about going to war, Paul emphasized that it’s important to honor those like Robert Henderson, who was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart as well as a Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal.

“An important part of our job is taking care of our veterans,” Paul said. “It’s important to know that someone in our community paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Kentucky governor faces pushback over use of state aircraft

FRANKFORT – Kentucky’s Republican governor has run into turbulence over his use of taxpayer-owned aircraft, creating another distraction for a reelection campaign already dogged by feuds with teachers, struggles over state pensions and a legal fight with his lieutenant governor.

Gov. Matt Bevin tried to defuse the air travel controversy late Thursday by having his office release a log disclosing the purposes of his official trips on state-owned aircraft. Bevin’s office said the disclosure goes beyond what Kentucky law requires.

But the state Democratic Party called it a stunt, because it doesn’t address his use of state aircraft for political and personal trips.

Reflecting his pugnacious style, Bevin’s office also criticized media coverage of the matter.

But the controversy has put Bevin on the defensive, especially when he told the Bowling Green Daily News that his flights were none of taxpayers’ business if they weren’t for state business.

“The fact that he responded with this log shows that they’re feeling the heat,” longtime Kentucky political commentator Al Cross said Friday.

Bevin has worked to make himself a national player in conservative Republican circles, and he’s in a tough reelection fight against Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of Steve Beshear, a former two-term governor who preceded Bevin in office.

In recent days, Bevin’s handling of the aircraft issue has been criticized by a conservative talk radio host, lampooned by a cartoonist and ridiculed by Democrats.

The log shows the purposes for more than 140 flights Bevin has taken as governor. The reasons include business recruitment, policy conferences, community forums and meetings with White House officials. Bevin’s office called it an “unprecedented move to further transparency.”

“Since the start of our administration, we have been 100 percent committed to financial integrity and to ensuring that we are good stewards of taxpayer resources,” Bevin said in a statement.

Bevin’s critics said the list failed to document trips taken on state aircraft by the governor for political purposes and other reasons unrelated to his duties as governor.

“The governor needs to stop hiding the ball and show Kentuckians the respect they deserve,” Kentucky Democratic Party spokeswoman Marisa McNee said in a statement. “This is our plane and we deserve straight-forward answers about where he is flying it and why, including all personal and political travel.”

Looking to capitalize on the controversy, Andy Beshear said Friday that, if elected, he’ll disclose the purpose and funding for every trip he takes on state aircraft, telling Kentuckians: “It is your property and your business to know how your governor uses it.”

Bevin’s office said Thursday that his use of state-owned aircraft has fully complied with state law, including reimbursements for unofficial trips. His office said the law does not require that the purpose of unofficial travel be disclosed, but records can be accessed to show the flight destination, cost and name of who reimbursed the state. Bevin’s critics say the public deserves to know the reason for any of his flights on state aircraft.

Past governors also used state-owned aircraft for personal or political purposes, with the same reimbursement requirement.

The Lexington Herald-Leader noted that in 2011, Steve Beshear refused to disclose why he took certain trips on the state plane that were reimbursed by the Kentucky Democratic Party. Andy Beshear took trips on the state plane when his father was governor, including a trip to the Final Four, the newspaper reported. Bevin supporters said Friday that Andy Beshear was being hypocritical by attacking Bevin on the matter.

Meanwhile, Bevin used a state-owned plane to fly to Wisconsin, Chicago and Miami in July and August for reasons that haven’t been disclosed, the Courier Journal reported, citing state police flight logs and other public records. Based on flight records, Bevin’s list also doesn’t include the purpose of more than 10 trips taken from late February through April, the Louisville newspaper reported.

Bevin has said that he either paid for the reimbursement himself or had outside organizations pick up the tab in compliance with the law when he used state-owned aircraft for personal reasons.

“The information is out there,” Bevin told the Bowling Green Daily News. “The people can see all of the flights that have been taken and can see where the money came from.”

But the governor inflamed the issue when he added: “The real question is: Why does it matter what the purpose (of the trip) is? Did taxpayers pay for it? If they did, then they should know the purpose. If they didn’t pay for it, it’s none of their business.”

Those comments reinforced Bevin’s reputation for picking fights, which has loomed over his campaign.

“He seems to with great regularity remind people of that” image,” Cross said Friday. “He keeps digging himself a hole.”

Bevin has feuded with teachers who opposed his efforts to revamp public pension systems and allow charter schools in Kentucky. He criticized teachers who used their sick days to rally at Kentucky’s Capitol, forcing some school districts to cancel classes. In 2018, he asserted without evidence that a child who had been left home alone was sexually assaulted on a day of mass school closings as Kentucky teachers rallied. He apologized, but then doubled down earlier this year, connecting a young girl’s shooting in Louisville with school closings caused by more teacher protests.

Bevin was sued this summer by his lieutenant governor, Jenean Hampton, over the dismissal of her top two aides without her consent. Bevin dropped Hampton from his ticket early this year.

In seeking a second term, Bevin has played up his ties to President Donald Trump, who remains popular in Kentucky, as well as the state’s job growth and his opposition to abortion. He has the advantage of running in a state that has trended heavily toward the GOP in recent years.

Century-old NAACP branch plans full slate of events
 DN Intern  / 

The Bowling Green-Warren County branch of the NAACP has a calendar packed full of events for the next few weeks, including a Unity in the Community event, Run for Freedom 5K and a Freedom Fund Gala to celebrate the branch’s 100th anniversary.

The Unity in the Community event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School.

“It’s a day for the community to come together and give them information that is pertinent to them now and for their future,” said Carl Whitfield, an NAACP event coordinator.

The event will have people from different organizations informing others about topics such as health services, providing blood pressure screenings, voter registration, legal matters, insurance, finances and more.

The NAACP will also host its first Run for Freedom 5K and 1 Mile Walk from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Oct. 12 at Kereiakes Park.

“We’re always raising money and finding different ways to give back. People get a chance to come out and run, and the proceeds will go toward the scholarship fund for students in the area,” said Ryan Dearbone, president of the Bowling Green/Warren County NAACP.

Past scholarship recipients have used the money to help offset the cost of going to schools such as Harvard University, Cornell University, Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville.

“We just ask people to come out and support and hopefully continue growing our chapter of the NAACP,” Dearbone said.

Registration for the 5K costs $30 and the mile walk costs $15. People can register at www.active.com or at Shake Rag Barbershop, 301 State St.

The annual Freedom Fund Gala will celebrate the 100th year of the Bowling Green-Warren County NAACP branch as well as recognize members of the community for their contributions to humanitarian issues and education. The branch will also honor scholarship recipients at the gala.

“It’s really exciting to think about the fact that we’re gonna celebrate 100 years of serving this community. We’ll get to celebrate and focus in on the work for the future of the NAACP,” Dearbone said.

The gala will be at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center on Oct. 26. Tickets are $50 individually and $85 for couples and can be purchased at naacpbgwc.org.