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Beasley Brown, Morris lead fundraising race

An incumbent Bowling Green city commissioner and a challenger are leading the pack when it comes to fundraising for the city commission election Nov. 3. A write-in mayoral candidate is also the top fundraiser in that race.

Ten candidates, including all four incumbents, are seeking election to the city commission.

According to 30-day pre-election filings with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, incumbent Commissioner Dana Beasley Brown is the top fundraiser, with total campaign receipts of $15,195.

Challenger Francisco Serrano was the only other candidate with campaign receipts in five figures, with $11,206.

They were followed by incumbent Sue Parrigin, $7,993; Melinda Hill, $7,700; Rick Williams, $7,118; Carlos Bailey, $5,494; and David Witty, $5,200. Williams and Hill are former commissioners.

Candidates who intend to spend less than $3,000 on their campaign are not required to fill out the finance reports.

The city commission candidates who did not file reports were incumbents Brian “Slim” Nash and Joe Denning and challenger W. Paul Carter.

In the mayoral race, Todd Alcott is the only candidate on the ballot after Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson ended his reelection bid in September, citing health issues.

Alcott, a JROTC teacher at Warren East High School, reported receipts of $3,089. He faces two write-in candidates, with local businessman Tom Morris leading the fundraising battle by a wide margin with $10,530 in campaign receipts.

The other write-in candidate, Shake Rag Barber Shop owner Chris Page, filed a 30-day finance report but listed no receipts.

Wilkerson endorsed Alcott when he withdrew his election bid.

100-year-old WWII vet celebrates birthday, 'charmed life'

Celebrating his 100th trip around the sun this weekend, the secret to Elmo Lincoln Martin’s longevity may be his optimistic attitude. That, and his sense of humor.

The World War II veteran and Bowling Green native was drafted into the Army in his early 20s and remembers the day he queued up for a doctor’s inspection along with all the other recruits.

“When he got through with me, he yelled up and down the lines and to all the rest of the doctors, ‘You want to see a perfect specimen?’ ” said Martin, who later earned the rank of sergeant. “Being perfect is all right. Being a specimen, I wasn’t sure.”

In an interview ahead of a planned birthday celebration Saturday, Martin recalled his experience in the decisive Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the western front during WWII.

Born in Bowling Green on Oct. 10, 1920, Martin grew up on his mother’s farm in Butler County and lived through the heights of the Great Depression. He takes his quirky name – Elmo Lincoln – from the actor best known for his silent film role as the first Tarzan, Martin said.

Before joining the Army in November 1942, he was an orderly and later staff sergeant in the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, and before that, Martin was “in the moonshine business,” he said.

Martin married his wife, Ruth Louise Benson, on Dec. 22, 1943, and together they raised four children – Sharon, Linda, James and Richard – before Ruth passed away in 2006. Martin’s worked for most of his years, not retiring from a career in sales until after his 88th birthday. At 98 years old, he returned to his roots in Kentucky.

“I’ve lived a charmed life, I think,” Martin said, adding he feels “grateful” to be celebrating his 100th birthday.

Still, Martin’s had his share of close calls, especially during his days on WWII battlefields.

“Anybody who tells you they’re not scared is lying to you. In the beginning, I wasn’t scared, but later on, when a lot of my friends were killed, you’re frightened. Courage is something that you have to call on sometimes,” Martin said of that time in his life. “Some people fail, but you still have the courage to do it.”

One close call came while Martin’s division, the 99th infantry, was staying near a railway station along the western front. Martin remembers making a cozy makeshift bed for himself beside a window, leaving and then returning, only to find “a shell had blown my little bed to pieces.”

“Good thing I wasn’t sleeping there!” Martin joked. Then his tone turned serious: “God was looking after me.”

There were other near-misses. One morning, when the Germans attacked, Martin and his band returned fire while taking cover behind a low log pile.

“We were pouring the bullets into them up there, and they turned the machine gun on that log pile trying to get rid of us,” Martin recalled.

He remembers a young man next to him who happened to be carrying a spoon with him from his mess gear.

“The belly of the spoon was sticking up and a bullet hit that belly of that spoon and he thought he’d been killed,” Martin said, recalling the smell of singed wool coming from the young man, who was otherwise unharmed.

Along with the near misses, there was loss, too.

“I was talking to a friend of mine from Louisville, and this machine gun was giving so much trouble to us. He said to me ‘I’m going to go over there and try to eliminate those guys,’” Martin recalled. “I think I was the last guy that he talked to … He was killed.”

Asked what he attributes his longevity and independence to, Martin said: “The secret to that is don’t give up, keep doing something. Don’t get cantankerous because you’re old, or mad because you’re not going to live too long. I don’t even think about that. It doesn’t worry me a bit,” he said, adding he’s been blessed with “the greatest family anybody’s ever had.”

In the end, a habit of practicing gratitude could be Martin’s secret.

Martin said he likes to live by the following words: “As long as we have memories, yesterday remains. As long as we have hope, tomorrow waits. As long as we have love, today is beautiful. As long as we have God, anything is possible.”

Trucking companies promoting BG with rolling billboards

Trucking companies, which have played a big part in Bowling Green’s economic growth in recent years, will now be used to promote a city that has picked up speed like a downhill-rolling 18-wheeler.

Hundreds of tractor-trailers that originate in Bowling Green are now sporting signs on their rear doors that promote the city with the message: “Bowling Green, Kentucky – Voted Best Place to Live by Time Magazine.”

That reference to Time magazine’s 2019 ranking of the best places to live in all 50 U.S. states is part of a “Bowling Green Best Place to Live campaign” that originated with former Bowling Green Mayor Johnny Webb. The campaign is being funded for now by the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau and Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve been working on this for a couple of years,” said Webb, who served as Bowling Green’s mayor from 1992 through 1995. “Through knowing Jake Simic (owner of the La Gala event venue), I started meeting a lot of Bosnian people and learned that a lot of them have gravitated to the trucking business.

“These trucks are traveling all over the United States, so I started thinking: Why not put something on those trucks to promote Bowling Green?”

That seed of an idea quickly sprouted as trucking company owners like Tahir Zukic of TAZ Trucking jumped on board.

A native of Bosnia who came to Bowling Green in 2000, Zukic has grown his company from a single Volvo truck to an operation that now has 120 tractors and 180 trailers at its 53-acre headquarters off Nashville Road.

Friday’s announcement of the “Best Place to Live” campaign was held at TAZ Trucking, where Zukic said he and his fellow trucking company owners are happy to be a part of the promotion.

“Me and Johnny talked about what was the best idea for giving back to the community,” Zukic said. “A large number of Bosnian immigrants have gone into the trucking business. Through hard work, we have found success. Bowling Green has been good to us, and I hope we’ve been good for Bowling Green.”

Zukic, who read from a list of 25 transportation companies that he estimated had more than 1,500 trucks, said his fellow business owners were happy to turn those vehicles into rolling billboards.

“People were excited to show that they appreciate Bowling Green,” Zukic said.

With trucking companies on board, the convention and visitors bureau invested more than $6,700 to pay for the first 500 “Best Place to Live” signs produced by Bowling Green’s Signature Signs & Ad Specialties.

But, Zukic said: “We quickly saw that 500 was not enough.”

Webb, who has continued his involvement post-retirement with Warren County’s Operation PRIDE organization that aims to beautify the area, said the chamber of commerce invested $4,350 to purchase 300 more of the signs.

Webb said more signs may be purchased as needed. The former mayor said the weather-resistant signs should last “four or five years” before needing to be replaced.

Sherry Murphy, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau, sees the traveling signs that include the CVB’s website as a good investment.

“We are excited for this campaign and appreciate the local companies who are helping spread the word about how great our city is,” Murphy said in a news release. “Bowling Green is an amazing destination, and our hospitality industry thrives on welcoming visitors each year. We hope this campaign drives visitor traffic to experience Bowling Green.”

Current Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson hopes the signs can help continue the momentum for Bowling Green, which was recently included in the Livability.com website’s ranking of the top 100 places to live in the U.S.

“Bowling Green has been growing by about 1,000 residents per year over the last 15 years,” Wilkerson said. “Advertising our community in this way is a wonderful idea. This community has received recognition after recognition. That’s something we should be proud of.”

The “Best Place to Live” signs were on display Friday on many of TAZ Trucking’s trailers, and current chamber of commerce board Chairman Eric Walker said he’s anxious to see them on the road.

“It’s going to be fun when you’re in another part of the country and you see one of these signs,” he said.

A lineman works to restore power Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, after Hurricane Delta knocked out power in Gloster, Miss. (Matt Williamson/The Enterprise-Journal via AP)

White House virus aid offer is panned by Pelosi, Senate GOP

WASHINGTON – A new White House coronavirus aid offer got bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected the most generous Trump administration plan to date as “one step forward, two steps back.” The Republicans who control the Senate dismissed it as too expensive and a political loser for conservatives.

Pelosi said she is still hopeful that progress can be made toward a deal but it’s as clear as ever that GOP conservatives don’t want a deal on her terms.

The White House had boosted its offer before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi spoke on Friday afternoon. President Donald Trump is eager for an agreement before Election Day, even as his most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

“Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Trump said Friday on Twitter.

The new offer totals about $1.8 trillion, aides familiar with it said, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer before that was about $1.6 trillion. The aides were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

In a letter Saturday to colleagues, Pelosi said, “This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back. When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold.”

She said that while his administration attempted to address some of the Democratic concerns, disagreement remained on many priorities and Democrats are “awaiting language” on several provisions.

“Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday’s developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families,” Pelosi’s letter said.

Mnuchin’s latest offer also got a roasting from GOP senators, who weighed in on a conference call Saturday morning, according to a Republican familiar with the call who was not authorized to discuss the call publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Many conservatives are skeptical of so much deficit-financed aid in the first place, and Pelosi-sought provisions such as expanding eligibility for the Affordable Care Act landed with a thud.

Pragmatists such as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and politically endangered Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appear willing to “go big” as Trump wants. But rank-and-file Republicans – Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rick Scott of Florida, and John Barrasso of Wyoming, for example – are adamantly opposed to another relief bill that’s so generous.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains skeptical of the chances for an agreement, having told an audience in Kentucky on Friday that he didn’t see a deal coming together before Election Day.

“I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said Friday. He said later that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court,” suggesting there isn’t time to process both a relief bill and the high court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been all over the map, first as one of the forces in favor of a deal, then killing the talks on Tuesday, only to revive them by weeks’ end.

{a target=”—blank” href=”https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-donald-trump-amy-coney-barrett-courts-mitch-mcconnell-ed5453fa2078982dba31919b8c1e274f”}On Tuesday, he ordered an end{/a} to the weekslong talks after being told that few Republicans in Congress would end up voting for a possible Pelosi-Mnuchin deal. Now, after a political beating, Trump is pressing hard for a deal, motivated by the prospect of sending $1,200 direct payments to voters before November.

It’s clear from Saturday’s Senate GOP conference call that the skepticism or outright opposition hasn’t changed.