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Three dead in I-65 crash

A crash Monday night on Interstate 65 in Warren County killed three people and closed a section of the interstate near the Cemetery Road interchange for several hours.

First responders from multiple agencies were on hand to assist at the scene of the crash, which involved three vehicles, including a box truck and tractor-trailer.

Kentucky State Police said troopers received a call about the crash at 9:23 p.m.

An investigation determined a 2012 Freightliner box truck driven by Donald Kabwenge, 36, of Georgia, was traveling south near the 26-mile marker and failed to see a 2020 Nissan Altima that had slowed in the road because of merging traffic for road construction.

The box truck struck the Nissan, driven by Alyssa Aldrete, 22, of Auburn, in the rear bumper, sending the car into the back of a 2018 Freightliner tractor-trailer that was also slowed in traffic, according to KSP.

The box truck crashed into the tractor-trailer as well.

Kabwenge, Aldrete and a passenger in the Altima, Alexis Coker, 21, of Auburn, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured, according to KSP.

The vehicles involved in the crash came to a stop just past the Cemetery Road underpass.

A number of onlookers traveling on Cemetery Road pulled over and stopped along the bridge before law enforcement was requested to clear the overpass.

Southbound traffic was rerouted off Exit 26, and a portion of I-65 remained closed for about four hours.

KSP was assisted at the scene by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Bowling Green Police Department, Medical Center EMS, Bowling Green Fire Department and Warren County Coroner’s Office.

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

Texas Roadhouse opens Bowling Green location

A fast-growing steakhouse restaurant chain with Kentucky roots has finally landed in Bowling Green.

Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse, which specializes in steaks in Southwestern cuisine style and its signature free dinner bread rolls with honey cinnamon butter, opened a location Monday on Nell O’Bryan Court between Sam’s Club and Cabela’s.

The 7,525-square-foot restaurant, decorated inside with murals and memorabilia featuring Corvettes and other Bowling Green-specific scenes, went up quickly but has been years in the making.

“We’ve been talking about a Bowling Green location for about five years,” said James Walrath, managing partner of the Bowling Green Texas Roadhouse, at the grand opening that featured the Andy Armadillo mascot and line-dancing staff members. “We just had to find the perfect location.”

Travis Doster, senior director of communications and public relations for Texas Roadhouse, said last summer that the Nell O’Bryan Court site was ideal.

“It has lots of visibility from the highway (Interstate 65),” Doster said shortly after it was revealed that the restaurant chain was coming to Bowling Green.

Like Walrath, Doster said a spot in Bowling Green has been talked about for years.

“That’s the No. 1 location in Kentucky that I’ve been asked about,” he said.

Now the speculation is over, and Walrath said the buzz about the new location is palpable.

“There has been a lot of excitement,” he said. “We’re glad to be opening in Bowling Green.”

Walrath said the restaurant has filled more than 180 full- and part-time positions and will eventually have a staff of about 200 in a restaurant that will have a seating capacity of 290.

The restaurant also has a large section for handling carryout orders, a concession to the coronavirus pandemic that altered the chain’s operations but didn’t stifle its growth.

“It (the pandemic) hasn’t really been a struggle for us,” Walrath said. “We adapted to the to-go service.”

Neither Walrath nor Texas Roadhouse Market Partner Lynda Snedeker expect any more locations in the Bowling Green area, but Snedeker said the chain’s growth strategy will continue.

“We are looking at other Kentucky locations,” said Snedeker, who oversees seven Texas Roadhouse locations. “We won’t have another one in Bowling Green, but we’re glad to be in the fastest-growing city in Kentucky. The community has been so welcoming, and I’ve met some of the nicest people.”

Texas Roadhouse, which features burgers, barbecue, chicken and salads along with its extensive steak offerings, was founded in the Louisville area in 1993 by the late W. Kent Taylor.

The chain now has more than 600 locations across 49 states and several foreign countries. It has a number of locations in Kentucky, including eateries in Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro, Somerset and Elizabethtown.

Ranked No. 1 among full-service restaurants in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index in 2018 and 2019, Texas Roadhouse has seen its annual revenue grow from $900 million to $2.8 billion over the past decade.

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

Colson retiring as fire chief
  • Updated

Bowling Green Fire Department Chief Jason Colson is retiring at the end of the month after a 26-year career with the city.

Colson, a Bowling Green native, told the Daily News he is retiring to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

Colson started his career as a firefighter in Henderson in 1993. Two years later, he joined the Bowling Green Fire Department. He steadily rose in the ranks before being promoted to assistant chief in 2014 and then fire chief in 2016.

“After 28 years in the fire service, it kind of reached that point to pursue other opportunities,” he said. “I’m going to miss the people, the relationships, the co-workers.”

He said he is most proud of the work the department has done to expand and improve services in the growing city during his tenure.

“We were successful in putting together a solid strategic plan,” he said, pointing to among other things the new Lovers Lane fire station under construction as ways the department “has improved our level of services.”

The department “has been chipping away for the last four or five years,” to get to this point, he said.

Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said the new fire chief will “have big shoes to fill” as Colson has been a visionary in leading the department. “We wish him well,” Alcott said, adding that Colson "tremendously cares about his firefighters and their families."

Colson, a graduate of Warren Central High School, said he plans to remain in the Bowling Green area.

According to a job posting for the fire chief position on the city website, the department has 142 employees, and the position has a starting salary of $113,878.

Alcott said the city will look at both external and internal applicants in an effort to find the best fit for the position.

K-12 students have until May 1 to apply for 'do-over' year

Kentucky students have until May 1 to apply to their local school board to use the 2021-22 school year to retake or supplement courses they’ve already taken, according to a new law that grants students a “do-over” year.

The Kentucky Department of Education said in a guidance document Monday that local school boards will then have until June 1 to decide whether to grant all the requests or none.

The new Supplemental School Year Program is only available to K-12 students enrolled as of May 1.

“Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic affect education in ways we have never seen before, but it also altered the education landscape going forward,” Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass said of Senate Bill 128, which Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law March 24.

“This bill is an example of that. We want to ensure our districts have all the necessary resources to provide students, families and school officials with relevant information as they make these significant decisions,” Glass said.

The law also gives high school senior athletes fifth-year eligibility if they choose to repeat a year, The Associated Press said.

The Kentucky Department of Education said eligible courses include “those the student previously was enrolled in or bear a reasonable connection to previous courses to be supplementary in nature.”

For example, students cannot use the program to retake or supplement courses from any school year before the 2020-21 school year or to explore courses they otherwise didn’t have the opportunity to take.

Students also cannot earn duplicate credits for required courses; taking Algebra I twice, for example, and earning two of the four required credits for the same course content is not allowed.

If the student failed the course during the 2020-2021 school year, the student is eligible for earning credit due to that failure.

For graduated students, any credits they earn cannot be used toward graduation or be included in the student’s final GPA, which remains fixed after graduation.

Students must continue to work toward the minimum 22 credits to graduate and fulfill any local graduation requirements.

For graduated seniors, local school districts may establish policies on grades, schedules, classifications, graduation ceremonies and other operational issues in offering the supplemental school year, the guidance said.

The program will have an immediate impact on school funding if a school district decides to opt-in: Students in the Supplemental School Year Program – including graduated students – are eligible for inclusion in the district’s average daily attendance, which is a crucial factor in determining school funding.

For graduated students, schools can only get the associated per-pupil funding for each of the two semesters the student is enrolled, and it is tied to the completion of courses during the semester and enrollment during the entirety of the semester, the guidance document notes.

If a district does decide to join the program, it has until June 16 to submit its implementation plan to the Kentucky Board of Education for review.

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