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Land near Russellville Road rezoned for industry

Speculation that the Southwest Parkway leading from Bowling Green’s South Central Kentucky Industrial Park would spur more development is now reality.

Acreage along Kobe Way that connects to the new 5,500-foot-long road was approved Thursday by the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County for a rezoning expected to lead to development of four light industrial sites.

The planning commission voted 5-0 to approve rezoning 20.45 acres owned by David Alford’s Westen Apartments LLC. Only eight of the planning commission’s 12 members were eligible to vote on the rezoning under the body’s new rules limiting input from representatives of the county’s four small cities, and three of those were absent.

The rezoning will go to the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval, but Alford already has a plan in place that would take advantage of the improved transportation from the industrial park along Nashville Road to Russellville Road.

Alford’s plan calls for developing four sites with what he calls “non-smokestack companies” that will complement the many manufacturers already in the industrial park.

In a narrative included with the staff report presented to the commission Thursday, Alford wrote: “As the subject property is adjacent to the South Industrial Park, the zone change will provide for the orderly expansion of industrial property and facilitate further economic development and job creation in our community.”

Alford’s plan for the 20.45 acres that includes warehousing and other light industry is only the beginning of his plan to develop a total of 160 acres he owns in the area.

He said he would like to develop some of the property for heavy industrial use and some acreage near Russellville Road for commercial and retail use.

“I just want to create businesses that are good for the city and improve that area,” Alford said. “This is where I grew up.”

The planning commission also approved in a 5-0 vote the application of New Cingular Wireless PCS – doing business as AT&T Mobility – to locate a 199-foot telecommunications (cell) tower on property owned by Freda F. Davis at 1080 E. Henry Goad Road near the Rich Pond community.

David Pike, a Shepherdsville attorney representing AT&T Mobility, explained in the application that the company exhausted efforts to find an existing tower for “co-location” of its antenna.

“Because there are no suitable towers or other tall structures located within the search area where the antenna site must be located to remedy the growing coverage and/or capacity gap, construction of a rawland site is necessary,” the application reads.

Pike said the new tower will not provide 5G (fifth generation) mobile technology initially but will have the capability of being upgraded to that state-of-the-art cell signal.

The tower will be equipped to provide the new FirstNet broadband communications platform that is dedicated for use by first responders and others in the public safety community.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the planning commission approved a rezoning application expected to lead to development of 40 apartments on Enterprise Court near Russellville Road.

The application made by Matt and Nick Fuqua of MNM LLC and property owners Wayne and Elva Overholt will rezone a 1.6358-acre tract on Enterprise Court from light industrial to multi-family residential.

Expected to lead to development of five buildings and 40 total apartments, the rezoning was approved 5-0 by the planning commission and will go to the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval.

Hospital officials 'encouraged' by lower number of COVID-19 patients

Officials from The Medical Center at Bowling Green and T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow said Friday both facilities had the lowest COVID-19 patient numbers in more than two months.

Med Center Health Executive Vice President Wade Stone said the hospital had 27 COVID-19 inpatients, while T.J. Regional Health Executive Vice President of Marketing Stacey Biggs said they only had 18 such patients.

While Stone said the The Medical Center at Bowling Green and its critical care unit were still at capacity, the number is a drastic decrease from the 79 individuals with the virus at the hospital Sept. 10.

Biggs said the Glasgow hospital had 44 COVID-10 patients just one month ago. The last day they saw numbers in the teens was on Aug. 6.

“We still have patients holding for placement right now,” Stone said. “But, as our COVID records have come down, we are very encouraged by that trend. Although we are still at capacity, we are very encouraged by these numbers.”

“Needless to say we are feeling very hopeful at this point,” Biggs said. “It’s a palpable feeling that things are looking up. There is a much more positive vibe in the hospital. It just feels like things are truly moving in the right direction.”

Of The Medical Center at Bowling Green’s 27 COVID-19 patients, 18 are unvaccinated, 12 are in critical care and 11 are on ventilators. Two individuals on ventilators are vaccinated.

Only one of T.J. Samson Community Hospital’s COVID-19 patients is vaccinated, and that person is also in the ICU. Altogether, seven individuals are in the ICU and five are on ventilators.

Another positive trend noticed by both officials is the influx of staff returning from absences related to the virus.

Stone said they have less than 30 workers out due to COVID-19, and that number was in the 90s just a few weeks ago.

Biggs said as of Friday, the hospital only had 10 staff members out with illness. The positivity rate at T.J. Samson Community Hospital also went down from 18.4% last week to 12.4% this week.

“The vaccination rate is improving a little bit every day,” she said. “To be honest, it’s still not improving at a rate that we would hope. But it is getting better. As long as it continues to get better – that’s a good sign.”

Both Biggs and Stone are still worried numbers could rise in the future due to disappointing vaccination numbers and many families currently traveling for fall break.

“Our concern right now is people will see the hospitalization numbers come down and take that as a sign people can become relaxed, and there is no reason to get vaccinated,” Stone said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s even more reason to go and get vaccinated. Everyone’s concern is that we find ourselves dealing with another variant at some point.”

“We are definitely not letting our guard down yet,” Biggs said. “Spikes tend to happen after holidays and breaks where people are gathering. As more people keep getting vaccinated, hopefully that keeps another spike from happening.”

Stone said Med Center Health has now administered 95,646 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. That number includes 3,004 booster shots the corporation recently began providing as well.

The CDC recommends the following groups should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series: People aged 65 years and older, residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings and people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions.

The booster shot is available by appointment only and is administered at The Medical Center-WKU Health Sciences Complex. To make an appointment, text COVID to 270-796-4400.

T.J. Samson Community Hospital also recently began a pilot program so COVID-19 patients can have visitors. The program provides chaperone visitation, and visitors are given full personal protective equipment to visit with their loved ones.

The latest update from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services on Friday showed all but 16 counties in the state are marked red for having a “critical” COVID incidence rate.

Of the 10 counties in the Barren River region, only two had a vaccination rate of at least 50%: Simpson and Logan. Butler, Warren, Barren, Monroe and Allen counties all have a vaccination rate of at least 40%.

Southcentral Kentucky filled with ghost lore
  • 5 min to read

Ghosts may or may not be real. But what is undeniable is that there is a widespread interest in the supernatural.

It’s an interest that spikes during the Halloween season when, according to folklore, the veil between the worlds of the living and dead is thinnest.

And when it comes to alleged ghosts and hauntings, southcentral Kentucky is rich in spooky tales.

Steve Miller takes the interest to another level. The founder of Bowling Green’s Evermore Paranormal Research, he developed a passion for the paranormal at a young age.

“When I got older I decided to delve a little deeper,” he said. Since 2010, he has been actively investigating supposedly haunted locations, with a special emphasis on one of the most famous local haunted locations – Octagon Hall.

The eight-sided house in Franklin was built from 1847 to 1859 by Andrew Jackson Caldwell and housed both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. The home, now a nonprofit museum that regularly hosts ghost hunts each fall, is reportedly haunted by Civil War soldiers and the spirit of Mary, a young girl who burned to death sometime in the 1800s after her dress caught fire. The home has been featured on several ghost hunting shows on national television.

“The creepiest thing that happened to me was at Octagon Hall,” Miller said.

He was doing a special ghost hunt for a friend and they were the only ones in the building.

“About 3 in the morning we were trying to wrap up ... as we were sitting there watching the cameras all of a sudden I hear this woman talking in the background,” he said. “And it was creepy because you couldn’t understand what she was saying, but she was right between me and him ... about a minute later this little girl started singing right behind us too .... that was pretty terrifying.”

On a recent ghost hunt at Bowling Green’s historic L&N Depot, Miller brought out the tools of the ghost hunting trade – audio recorders, devices that measures electrical fields, a “spirit box” that scans radio waves at very fast intervals and a laser grid camera.

By the end of the night, observers heard a few unexplained knocks and a motion detector activated in (seemingly) empty rooms.

The spirit box produced a few responses that seemed to fit the situation – once when Miller asked what happened at the depot, a voice seemed to answer “trains park”; another voice later seemed to say “you’re dead.”

(See the video and hear the spirit box audio at www.bgdailynews.com.)

Another local individual immersed in the ghostly folklore of southcentral Kentucky is Debbie Eaton.

By day, Eaton is group sales coordinator at the National Corvette Museum. But on many nights, she trades in being surrounded by Corvettes for being surrounded by corpses at local cemeteries. Eaton is a regular tour guide for the Unseen Bowling Green walking tours presented by the Historic RailPark & Train Museum.

Spooky and unusual “history has always been something I’ve been interested in and it’s kind of fun to see how people’s belief and what they thought about ghosts from all the way back before the Civil War to modern times,” she said.

On a recent night at the (purportedly haunted) Pioneer Cemetery in Bowling Green, Eaton recounted some of her favorite local ghost stories.

One involves a woman named Mary, who lived decades ago in a second-floor apartment above what is now 440 Main restaurant in downtown Bowling Green.

Eaton noted that Mary was not historically documented, but according to the legend, was a lover of books. According to one account, she was leaning too far out of a window to catch remaining daylight while reading a book and fell to her death. Another account has Mary committing suicide after being jilted by her fiance.

“Nobody agreed on how she died, but they all agree on how she behaved after she died,” Eaton said.

Some of Mary’s beloved books had reportedly been left in a corner of a closet. When the books were moved, “strange things started to happen. They would have items move to the edge of the shelf and then they would drop to the floor. Other times things would go sailing through the room as if they had been pitched,” Eaton said.

There would also be other mischief – until the books were returned to the shelf.

Eaton also recounted one of the best-known ghostly tales of southcentral Kentucky involving a young woman in Russellville and her apparition reportedly etched forever in glass.

According to the version of the story recounted by Eaton, the young woman was the daughter of the cemetery sexton (the caretaker of a cemetery) at Maple Grove Cemetery. The sexton’s house was at the front of the cemetery.

The daughter had been seeing a young man and was expecting a marriage proposal at a Fourth of July picnic. She and her mother made a white dress for the occasion. But as she awaited the picnic, she looked out of her upstairs bedroom window and saw a thunderstorm moving in.

She shook her fist at the sky, Eaton said, and cursed God. At that moment, a bolt of lightning struck and killed the girl. She was buried in the white dress.

Then her family “started noticing that on certain nights, when the weather conditions were just right, people were gathering on the front yard of the sexton’s building and gawking up at that window,” Eaton said. “Turns out that on certain nights, they could still see this young lady, her fist in the air, cursing God,” Eaton said. “It drove the parents crazy. They just wanted to forget about it and move on. But people kept coming, so they replaced the glass, but that didn’t work. You could still see her with her fist raised. So they painted the window, but it still bled through ... finally they could take it no more and they boarded up the window, and they moved. But people kept coming to see the girl in the window.”

A1981 Daily News article said the home’s owners did indeed board up the cupola windows. But it wasn’t because of the apparition of the young woman, it was because they were tired of the endless stream of gawkers on their front lawn.

The home’s owner said the story of the apparition in the window was just a “tale that somebody started ... there’s nothing to it.”

But the legend of the Russellville ghost window lives on, as do the many other ghostly legends in southcentral Kentucky. Even the campus of Western Kentucky University is supposedly riddled with haunted locations.

Pearce Ford Tower and Van Meter, Potter, Barnes-Campbell and Cherry halls all have ghost stories associated with them.

At Van Meter, an apparition is variously reported as being that of a construction worker or a student who died in accidents in the building, according to WKU’s website.

The most colorful version of the Van Meter ghost legend is that there was a hermit living in caves underneath College Heights who “found a secret passageway into Van Meter,” according to the website. “When he visits, he carries a blue lantern, which explains the blue light that is associated with the ghost.”

At Potter Hall, a ghost nicknamed “Penny” supposedly leaves pennies for workers in the building.

WKU has an entire section of its website dedicated to the alleged hauntings (https://www.wku.edu/ghosts/) and in 2012, the popular “Ghost Hunters” TV show made a stop in Bowling Green to investigate the stories in an episode titled “Higher Dead-ucation.”

Along with stories repeated from generation to generation about the area’s legendary haunts, some ghost stories are more recent.

Eaton has had her own, more modern, experiences at the Corvette museum.

The ashes of Zora Arkus-Duntov, an automotive engineer known as the father of the Corvette who died in 1996, are housed at his beloved Corvette museum, as are those of his wife.

Eaton said museum employees have reported pieces of cars inexplicably missing, only to have them turn up later, as if hidden by a prankster.

One early morning, Eaton said she was in a museum restroom alone when she heard the sound of someone washing their hands. She looked out to see the water running, but no one there.

One late night, she and another employee were locking up the museum. They were walking back to the offices when they distinctly heard someone clearing their throat.

“Both of us looked. We called out,” Eaton said. “We acknowledged Zora, and we didn’t hear anything else. He just wanted us to know he was still back there.”

– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdaily news.com.

Arianna Drounett, 8, of LaFayette stands with her brother Zaiden, 3, as he plays with his inflatable gun during the Logan County Tobacco and Heritage Festival in Russellville on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Grace Ramey/photo@bgdailynews.com)