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Med Center Health now offering COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 16 and older

The Medical Center at Bowling Green’s vaccination clinic took another step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and is now offering vaccines to anyone who is at least 16 years old.

Med Center Health Vice President of Corporate Support Services Dr. Melinda Joyce said the clinic made the move Wednesday after receiving approval from the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

“We started to see the number of applicants start to drop for people 60 years or older,” Joyce said. “That’s been what has let us move through the different phases. We are ahead of schedule right now, but we have been very fortunate to have multiple vaccination sites in the area who have assisted in vaccinating the public.”

Joyce referenced sites such as the Kroger clinic at the former Sears location in Greenwood Mall, the Barren River Area District Health Department and area pharmacies as sites that have helped in the vaccine rollout.

As of Wednesday, Med Center Health’s clinic had administered 45,704 vaccines, with more than 18,000 people being fully vaccinated. Currently, The Medical Center is only giving the Pfizer vaccine.

To set up an appointment at the clinic, text COVID to 270-796-4400. If you need to cancel an appointment, text CANCEL to 270-796-3200. To reschedule, text RESCHEDULE to 270-796-3200.

Joyce said people shouldn’t text the number multiple times to set up an appointment, as doing so will move them back to the bottom of the waiting list.

“Since we made the announcement Wednesday, the wait list is back up to being very long,” Joyce said. “Our appointment schedulers are working around the clock to get everyone scheduled while also still giving priority to those in the most vulnerable categories.”

The wait time for a person’s first appointment is expected to be about seven days. Appointments for the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled on site when coming in for the first dose.

Joyce said the clinic has seen a sharp uptick in appointments for people in their 30s and 40s who did not fit into previous phases of vaccine distribution.

If any Kentucky resident over age 16 is having a hard time finding a vaccine, they are free to text the number above to set up an appointment with The Medical Center. Joyce said one person came from Louisville for a shot last week.

“This is just great,” Joyce said. “As we get more and more people vaccinated, we get closer and closer to herd immunity, which is when 60% to 70% of the population is vaccinated.”

Joyce also gave some tips for people who might be nervous when coming in for their shot.

First, she recommends eating something and being well hydrated before arriving. As with most injections, not eating or drinking beforehand could cause the recipient to not feel well.

For those who are feeling anxious or scared, bringing a friend along for emotional support is also encouraged.

After receiving the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, Joyce said, many people report experiencing general fatigue, while others say that they have experienced headaches and mild fevers.

However, all symptoms went away within 48 hours. Results vary from person to person, and Joyce said many have experienced no significant symptoms.

– More information about registering for an appointment is available at The Medical Center website.

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

Railpark has food vendor as temporary renter

For Tieraney McFadden, it’s a good temporary home while she’s waiting for permanent quarters to be ready.

For Jamie Johnson, it has proven to be another draw for the Historic Railpark and Train Museum, one that might spark some future changes at the Bowling Green tourist attraction.

McFadden set up shop this week for her Chopped by T business specializing in custom-made salads, chicken salad and brownies in a vacant space at the former L&N Train Depot on Kentucky Street.

“The restaurant is taking a little longer than expected, so I’m going to use the train depot for the next six to eight weeks,” said McFadden, whose business was one of the first two to receive low-interest business loans through a new Housing Authority of Bowling Green initiative called POP-UP (People’s Opportunity Program for Underserved Populations).

McFadden intends to use that $10,000 loan to move her business out of her home and into the 305 Graham Drive building that is owned by the Housing Authority and was once a branch of the Warren County Public Library.

But with that building still being renovated, McFadden has been utilizing space at the railpark as a carryout or sit-down restaurant open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and has now started making deliveries from that space.

On Wednesday, as she prepared two salads for a customer, McFadden said the move has worked well so far. “This space allows me to sell more salads per day,” she said. “With delivery only, you can only do so much. This is a great central location for the city as well as The Medical Center and Graves-Gilbert Clinic.”

Johnson, executive director of the railpark, said having McFadden’s business in the depot has been beneficial for her as well.

“It’s unusual, but it’s exciting for us,” Johnson said. “Our facility rental has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows us to rent the space, and it drives traffic to the railpark. It offers something for our travelers.”

Johnson said she responded to a social media post by McFadden expressing interest in renting space while the Graham Drive location is being renovated.

“She was kinda in limbo and needed some space,” Johnson said. “We were happy to accommodate her.”

The timing was good, Johnson said, because the railpark is starting to emerge from the pandemic. The tourist attraction had cut its days of operation to Wednesdays through Sundays, but now Johnson said she is back to seven days a week.

“We’re just now getting into our spring break season,” Johnson said. “We’re seeing our tour numbers creep back up. If business stays steady, we’ll stay open seven days a week.”

And maybe those extended hours could mean a permanent restaurant presence in the future, Johnson said.

“We’re always looking for new ideas and ways to offer more at the railpark,” she said. “Having a restaurant on site has been discussed before. This might give us something to think about.”

Johnson said the railpark “managed to eke by” during the pandemic, thanks in large part to federal stimulus money. She is starting to see business pick up as COVID-19 infection rates decline and vaccinations ramp up.

“In the last 30 days we’ve been overwhelmed with phone calls for wedding showers and birthday parties,” said Johnson, who has been adding to her staff as business improves.

McFadden said she will be at the depot for six more weeks, but she isn’t sure what direction Chopped by T will take after that. She may have options other than moving into the Graham Drive site, she said.

“I’m leaning toward a food trailer,” she said. “I’m weighing the pros and cons.”

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

WKU cuts ties with Lost River Pizza Co. after owner pictured wearing blackface

Western Kentucky University cut ties with Lost River Pizza Co. after a photo surfaced online Thursday showing the local restaurant’s owner, Keith Coffman, wearing blackface.

“I’m sorry for it. I did it,” Coffman told the Daily News on Thursday, confirming that the photo is authentic.

The development was announced by the WKU Restaurant Group in a tweet Thursday afternoon, though the announcement did not mention the photo.

“We have learned that the local brand, Lost River Pizza Company, has some background that is inconsistent with our values. As a result, the WKU Restaurant Group has decided that the brand would not be a good fit within our restaurant portfolio. We are working to add another brand to the program and look forward to making that announcement soon,” the WKU Restaurant Group said in the tweet.

Earlier this week, WKU revealed Lost River Pizza as one of several local eateries that would headline its new WKU Commons study and dining venue, which is set to open for students in the fall.

The photo appears to show Coffman with his skin darkened while wearing a pair of white, Aviator-style sunglasses and a necklace. Coffman is pictured making the peace sign while clutching a golden, glittery microphone.

Reached Thursday, Coffman said the photo is from 13 to 14 years ago, back when singer-songwriter and rapper CeeLo Green appeared on “The Voice” with fellow music artist Christina Aguilera as vocal coaches on the show.

Coffman said he was motivated to dress up as CeeLo Green for a costume contest that year after several people told him he resembled the five-time Grammy Award-winning artist. His wife dressed as Christiana Aguilera, and together they won the contest, he said.

Coffman said that, at the time, he wasn’t aware of what blackface was and that “nobody was offended, and it wasn’t a big deal at all.”

“I didn’t realize that was anything at the time. … I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

Coffman also said that he has a diverse friend group and that the photo does not represent who he is. The photo has circulated online because people are “trying to run my name through the mud,” he said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdaily news.com.

City OKs agreement for multi-use path under River Street bridge

The Bowling Green City Commission has entered into an agreement with the state Transportation Cabinet that will pave the way for construction of a long-planned multi-use path under the River Street bridge to connect two sides of parkland.

The project has been “in the works for several years,” City Manager Jeff Meisel said, and will be done in conjunction with a project to stabilize the riverbank.

As far back as 2016, the state Transportation Cabinet began studying ways to stabilize the bank, which has been slowly eroding for decades. The stabilization effort has stalled several times because of funding issues but is back on the cabinet’s agenda.

The agreement approved unanimously at Tuesday’s commission meeting is part of the KYTC’s plan to bid out the bank stabilization engineering contract.

“This will be a state project, but we are going to piggyback with them on this,” Meisel said.

The same engineering firm selected will work to fix the erosion problem and design the path. The city will reimburse the state for the portion of the project related to the multi-use path.

City Public Works Director Greg Meredith said he thinks the project could start this year with a probable summer start.

“I look for it to be constructed this year,” he said.

The path would link two park areas, being dubbed Riverfront Parks East and West, that are slated for large improvement projects. To get from one side of the area to the other currently entails crossing River Street.

Last year, the city was awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Park Service as part of a more than $2 million effort to turn the area into what city officials have called “an outdoor adventure area” with fishing piers, walking paths, rock climbing areas, a dog park and disc golf course.

Meredith said the path would be high enough above the Barren River that it would probably not flood very often.

It “would take an extreme flood” to reach the elevation of the path, he said.

Commissioners also approved on a second reading rezoning 49.31 acres at the rear of The Hub residential and commercial development on Lovers Lane from agricultural or highway business to multi-family residential.

David Chandler, developer of the $200 million The Hub project, previously said the rezoning will allow him to increase the number of multi-family units by 216 for a total of 806.

Already built at the Hub is a 22,000-square-foot American Bank & Trust corporate center. A three-story, 32,727-square-foot office building on an adjoining 1.83-acre parcel is being built and will be home to a Morgan Stanley financial services office and other tenants. A 195-room Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel is also now under construction and is expected to open in spring 2022.

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