A1 A1
State's first Rita's Italian Ice location opens in BG

For two decades, David and Erin Smith have lived without their favorite dessert stop. Now, the Bowling Green couple has done something about it.

The Smiths opened last week on Christian Care Way near Living Hope Baptist Church a Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard location, bringing to Bowling Green the sweet treats they enjoyed while growing up in Pennsylvania.

“Rita’s was our go-to destination for treats,” Erin Smith said. “I was surprised when we moved here that there wasn’t a Rita’s.”

The Smiths, along with Erin Smith’s mother, Christine Hillard, have now filled that void in Bowling Green’s dessert restaurant offerings.

Together, they are owners and operators of a Rita’s franchise that is not only new to Bowling Green but is the first in Kentucky.

It’s also a first for the Smiths, who have no experience in the restaurant business but said they believe in the Rita’s products enough to gamble on opening one here.

David Smith, in fact, was willing to give up a 30-year career in automotive refinishing to start serving up Italian ice, frozen custard and the myriad concoctions made from those base ingredients.

“It was emotional at first because I put my heart and soul into doing quality work,” David Smith said Monday in between waiting on customers. “But I can do that here.”

He is such a fan of the Rita’s products that David Smith said he and his wife looked into opening one of the restaurants shortly after moving to Bowling Green in 2002.

“But they didn’t offer franchises back then,” he said.

Not only does Rita’s offer franchises now but it has grown from a single location in Bensalem, Pa., to a chain with more than 600 locations across 30 states.

“It’s very popular,” said Erin Smith, who was working at the new Rita’s Monday while on fall break from her job as a special education teacher. “People know about it from the Northeast and from down in Florida.”

Erin Smith said she, her mother and her husband started looking into the franchise “about a year ago” and finally landed at what she sees as a great location that’s near busy Campbell Lane.

The 1,500-square-foot space in a building that’s also home to a State Farm insurance agency has indoor seating for 14 people and will eventually have some outdoor seating.

“We like this space,” Erin Smith said. “It was a bank branch, so it already had a drive-through, which is hard to find.”

Although the new Rita’s isn’t visible from Campbell Lane, Erin Smith is confident customers will seek it out after sampling a product mix that includes a custard/Italian ice blend called a Gelati, another blended treat with fruit and other toppings called a Blendini, and custard cookie sandwiches.

“Once you taste it, you’ll find the location,” she said.

“People have been very excited about the products,” David Smith said. “I think we have some regular customers already.”

One of those regulars, Bowling Green resident Renee Hale, said: “We found Rita’s by accident while on a family vacation in Chattanooga, Tenn. When we heard that one was opening in Bowling Green, we were excited.

“We love the product, and it’s at a price point that families can afford.”

Erin Smith said the local Rita’s now has 14 employees and is open from 1 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

While this Rita’s is brand-new, the Smiths said they are already looking into expanding the franchise by opening another location in a different part of town.

“We opened the first Rita’s in Kentucky,” David Smith said. “We’d like to open the second one as well.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

Biden pushes plans as key to keep US from 'losing our edge'

HOWELL, Mich. – Claiming that opponents of his plans are “complicit in America’s decline,” President Joe Biden called Tuesday for his ambitious building and social spending proposals by framing them as key to America’s global competitiveness.

With his plans in jeopardy on Capitol Hill, Biden visited a union training center in Michigan, declaring that he wanted to “set some things straight” about his agenda and cut through what he dismissed as “noise” in Washington.

“America’s still the largest economy in the world, we still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world, but we’re at risk of losing our edge as a nation,” he said.

Biden spelled out his plans in greater detail than he has in some time, after spending the past week deep in the details of negotiations on Capitol Hill. He highlighted individual parts of the plan, including funding for early childhood education and investments to combat climate change, rather than the expensive topline. And he said the trillions in spending would be drawn out over a decade and paid for by tax increases on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Polling suggests some elements in the bill such as expanded child care opportunities and infrastructure projects are popular with large parts of the public.

But even some of the White House’s closest allies have worried that the West Wing has not done enough to sell the spending. That brought Biden back on the road Tuesday, hitting the red-leaning district of Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin to sell his policies.

“These bills are not about left vs. right or moderate vs progressive,” Biden argued. “These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency.”

Back in Washington, negotiations continue on a pair of bills to boost spending on safety net, health and environmental programs and infrastructure projects.

While there is cautious optimism about recent progress, no deal has been struck to bridge stark divides between moderates and progressives in the Democratic Party on the size and scope of the social spending package. In recent weeks, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worked unsuccessfully to secure passage of the bills, Biden stayed in Washington to cajole lawmakers.

Now, he’s trying to put the public focus on popular components of the bills rather than their price tags. While progressives and moderates grapple over the contours of the $3.5 trillion social spending package, Biden has sought to reframe the debate around the eye-popping number. He claims that because the spending is to be paid for with tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, the bill’s price is actually “zero.”

Speaking to reporters after his remarks Tuesday, Biden acknowledged that the overall $3.5 trillion number will decline but insisted he’ll “get it done.”

The president was joined by Slotkin during a visit to a union training center in Howell, a reflection of the importance of securing moderates’ votes.

Biden, she said, understands “that if we’re going to make these investments we have to be able to pay for them.”

Next to Biden, the Democrats with the most on the line over the shape and success of his spending plans are House members from swing districts whose reelections are essential if his party is to retain control of Congress.

Many of those targeted moderates – including Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran, Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger and nine other vulnerable Democrats – joined Biden for a virtual meeting Tuesday. He held a similar session the previous day with a dozen progressives.

Democratic legislators have warned that Biden’s bold ideas are getting lost in the party’s infighting and procedural skirmishes over the legislation.

The visit to Slotkin’s district, narrowly carried by Republican Donald Trump in 2020, is part of the sales effort.

Biden was met by hundreds of flag-waving, sign-toting protesters as he arrived at the union training center in Howell.

“I think this is very reflective of how residents, not only here in Livingston County, but real Americans, when you leave the Washington, D.C., bubble, feel about the out-of-control spending between our president and Congress,” said Meghan Reckling, chair of the county Republican Party.

Reckling said 800 people signed up to attend a “Stop the Spending Rally.”

Social media clips lead to man's arrest on rape charges
  • Updated

Police investigating a rape allegation against a Bowling Green man arrested him after reviewing footage on the man’s Snapchat account that authorities said appears to show an assault in progress.

Anthony A. Kelsey, 24, was arrested Friday on two counts of first-degree rape and a count of video voyeurism.

Kelsey appeared Tuesday in Warren District Court with his attorney, Alan Simpson, who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Kelsey had been the subject of a rape investigation by the Bowling Green Police Department. During the investigation, police obtained a search warrant for a Snapchat account registered to Kelsey, an arrest citation said.

After executing the warrant, BGPD Detective Sean Johnson found 15 videos of the woman identified as the alleged victim in which she appears to be unconscious, the arrest citation said.

The videos feature a date-stamp of March 16 and appear to take place from 4:33 a.m. to 4:41 a.m. on that date. The videos appear to show Kelsey penetrating the woman, according to court records.

“The victim observed these videos and recalled hanging out with Kelsey at his home during this time and she confirmed she was unconscious in the videos,” Johnson said in the arrest citation. “She stated she did not consent to the acts that were recorded.”

Each first-degree rape count is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison, while the video voyeurism charge is punishable by one to five years in prison.

Kelsey is in the Warren County Regional Jail under a $25,000 cash bond.

“We were agreeable to sitting down with the detectives and being interviewed, but they decided to arrest him and now that won’t happen,” Simpson said after Tuesday’s hearing.

Simpson said he has not seen the videos referenced in the arrest citation.

A request to modify Kelsey’s bond is pending, and Simpson said he plans to request a date for a preliminary hearing.

Prior to his arrest on the two rape counts, Kelsey was arrested Sept. 26 by the BGPD on suspicion of violating an emergency protective order that had been taken out against him, and he was served with an arrest warrant on Sept. 29 charging him with fourth-degree assault, third-degree terroristic threatening and menacing.

Those cases are pending in Warren District Court.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

SKYCTC funding scholarships through annual golf scramble

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College’s Golf Scramble for Student Scholarships will return Oct. 22 at CrossWinds Golf Course.

The event was canceled last fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the scramble will be open to the public this year while also featuring closest-to-the-pin, longest drive and putting contests.

SKYCTC Foundation Executive Director Heather Rogers said the golf outing is one of the foundation’s largest annual fundraisers.

Over the past eight years, the SKYCTC Golf Scramble for Student Scholarships has raised $500,000 to assist students in completing their educational goals, she said.

“This is one of our largest events where we can reach out to the community and we can get multiple folks involved,” Rogers said. “In 2014, the foundation brought in over $168,000. This past year, we have raised nearly $675,000. That’s with all the donations we brought in, not just through the golf scramble.”

She said all proceeds raised through the scramble go to scholarships for students at the college.

“The more scholarships that we have to offer – that obviously helps enrollment,” she said. “Overall, our scholarships through the foundation have had a large growth in scholarship funds available to our students.”

Rogers said that during this academic year, SKYCTC increased scholarship dollars awarded by 39% over the prior year, and 78% of students receive some type of financial aid such as scholarships, Pell or Cap grants and KEES awards.

The scramble, which consists of a full round of golf, costs $100 a person in four-person teams.

Individuals will be paired with team members, and check-in for the event will be at 7:30 a.m. A shotgun start will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Rogers said the scramble will be Oct. 22 rain or shine.

Cash prizes will be awarded for first-, second- and third-place finishers. There will be drawings for door prizes.

“We are just happy to have the event back,” Rogers said. “We will have the same great opportunities for the players. Even if folks aren’t great golfers, there are still opportunities to have a lot of fun and support the foundation. I think it is very exciting to see the community really embracing SKYCTC.”

People can register online at southcentral.kctcs.edu/scholarship-scramble or pay on the day of the event.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.