The new year brought a new round of severe weather to a storm-weary community, with Bowling Green again coming under threat of a tornado.
Three weeks after tornadoes devastated large portions of Bowling Green and caused 17 deaths, another tornado warning was issued late Saturday morning for Warren and surrounding counties.
Saturday’s storm proved less catastrophic than the system that passed through in the early morning hours of Dec. 11, but still carried heavy rain and strong winds that battered the area, causing damage along Cave Mill Road and other areas.
Thornton Furniture on Cave Mill Road sustained significant damage, with a portion of the store’s outer wall near the front entrance collapsing, leaving concrete blocks scattered in the parking lot.
Ben Thornton, the store’s vice president and general manager, said he stepped outside a couple minutes before the storm hit to assess the situation, then made sure everyone in the store huddled in a safe place.
Moments later, the storm passed and Thornton said he could see daylight from inside the building, leading him to believe initially that the roof had been damaged.
“It rattled a few of our people at first, understandably,” Thornton said. “It all happened so fast.”
No one in the store was injured.
A tarp was placed over the damaged wall Saturday afternoon, and Thornton said he anticipates the store will reopen early this week.
“The damage looks worse than it really is,” Thornton said. “It’s an inconvenience for the time being but it pales in comparison to what people here have lost and went through a few weeks ago.”
Ashton Parc Apartments on Shive Lane also appeared to sustain storm-related damage, as workers were busy removing downed trees that had struck an apartment building.
Warren RECC reported 6,000 members were without power early Saturday afternoon, though workers managed to restore power to most of those affected as the day passed.
A survey team from the National Weather Service in Louisville planned to visit Warren, Barren and Hart counties on Sunday to evaluate storm damage, and an NWS survey team will travel to Logan County on Monday to evaluate damage there.
Meteorologist Landon Hampton of wxornotbg.com said a strong cold front approaching the area from the west drove the heavy rains early Saturday morning that caused flooding in some areas.
That cold front interacted with the warm air in the area to create the ideal conditions for the severe weather the region experienced late in the morning and into early Saturday afternoon, Hampton said.
“There was a low pressure system that passed that provided just enough spin in the atmosphere,” Hampton said. “There are damage reports stretching from Logan County up north and east through portions of Edmonson County.”
Hampton said he will be on a survey team with the National Weather Service from Louisville to assess affected areas and determine whether damage was caused by straight-line winds or tornadic activity.
While the recent storms the area has faced have occurred outside the spring months considered the peak of severe weather season, they also reinforce the need to be prepared for severe storms, Hampton said.
“We’ve begged and pleaded with everyone after the events of Dec. 10th and 11th that you’ve got to have a safety plan in place,” Hampton said. “You have to be weather-aware.”
Marty Eubanks is a two-time world champion martial artist. However, he is now in arguably the greatest fight of his life after the Dec. 11 tornadoes destroyed his karate academy in Bowling Green.
Located at 1333 Magnolia St., Marty Eubanks’ World Champion Karate Academy was squarely in the path of the EF3 tornado that devastated much of the area surrounding the U.S. 31-W By-Pass near Western Kentucky University.
His dojo was ruled a total loss after half of it was blown away and the other half was severely water damaged.
Not only was his place of business demolished, but around 120 local children are now without the academy they treated as a second home. His wife, Laura Eubanks, also taught classes at the dojo, and now the couple is left picking up the pieces.
Through the devastation, Marty Eubanks still sees a silver lining. Classes were held in the building just six hours before the tornado struck.
“Absolutely no lives were lost here, and that’s all that matters,” Marty Eubanks said. “We can replace this building. It just won’t be here anymore. But I told the kids they are the dojo. They are what makes it great – not a building.”
He has been leading classes at the academy on Magnolia Street for 10 years, but Marty Eubanks has been teaching karate as far back as 1978 when the dojo was on Russellville Road.
His mission ever since has been to teach his students through his karate lessons how to be respectful in everyday life.
“When adults bring their kids in, they know I’m going to teach their kids how to value ethics,” Marty Eubanks said. “Martial arts does something different to these kids. It gives them a level of confidence.”
In the immediate days that followed the tornadoes, the Eubanks saw an outpouring of support they were not prepared for.
So many volunteers arrived at the academy to help clean up and save what was left, they were forced to actually turn people away.
“Bowling Green came together so well,” Marty Eubanks said. “There was too much help in the days after. It got a little crazy there. As I looked down the street, one person came up with a chainsaw, and they didn’t stop coming.”
A public GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/wcka-rebuild-fund was also started in the immediate aftermath to help rebuild the academy.
Since Dec. 13, around $10,000 has already been crowdsourced from the community.
“I’m a giver not a taker. I just happen to give through martial arts,” Marty Eubanks said. “That GoFundMe has touched me a lot. I don’t like to ask, but at this point it’s great. Rebuilding this isn’t about me – it’s about the kids.”
Kevin Brassell’s son Nash Brassell attended classes at World Champion Karate and has learned under Marty Eubanks for the last few years.
As a father, Kevin Brassell has been able to watch the noticeable impact Marty and Laura Eubanks have left on all their students.
“He runs a pretty tight group, and it’s a family environment. They act as co-parents in a way,” Kevin Brassell said. “Marty is an old-school guy and is a go-getter. He is a good servant leader, a strong communicator, a strong Christian husband and a mentor to many.
“A lot of times, these types of true leaders and champions aren’t always going to ask for help,” he continued. “The people who he has impacted will do that for him.”
Kevin Brassell said the academy was a friendly, welcoming place to anyone who entered.
Now, he hopes something comes out of the efforts to rebuild so dozens of local children can keep attending classes.
“Marty knows this is a test, and he realizes people watch what happens when we are tested. We don’t want him to go through that alone,” Kevin Brassell said.
For the time being, Marty Eubanks World Champion Karate Academy will tentatively operate out of the old Family Video site at 560 31-W By-Pass until a new location is found.
Until then, Marty Eubanks says he is going to keep fighting for his students.
“I want to throw my hands in the air right now and give up, but I just have to stay strong and focus on what’s right and what’s needed,” he said.
With the filing deadline for local offices in the 2022 election fast approaching, a couple of Warren County magistrate races are getting crowded – at least on one side of the political spectrum.
Republicans Kelcey Rock and Bryan Franklin recently filed to run for separate magistrate seats, and each brought the number of GOP candidates in those races to three.
Rock, who lives on Old Greenhill Road in the Alvaton community, is the latest candidate for the sixth district magistrate seat now held by Ron Cummings.
He joins Cummings – a longtime Warren County Realtor who is serving his first term on Warren Fiscal Court – and retired law enforcement officer Shawn Helbig as candidates for the Republican nomination.
No Democrats have yet filed to run for sixth district magistrate.
A Metcalfe County native and University of Kentucky graduate, Rock brings a background in financial services to the race.
Having worked with business owners and farmers seeking loans, Rock believes that experience will translate well to fiscal court.
“Over the last two years, during COVID-19, I’ve had the opportunity to work with small business owners and farmers through the (federal) Paycheck Protection Program,” said Rock, 37. “I want to continue serving the community.”
A former part-time entrepreneurship instructor at Western Kentucky University, Rock believes his familiarity with the business community will be an asset.
“With the expansion going on in the county, I think it’s important to have someone deeply rooted in the business community,” he said.
Franklin, who is running for third district magistrate, is like Rock a newcomer to politics who is familiar with local businesses.
During his 13 years with Bluegrass Cellular, Franklin worked with local businesses on their phone and internet plans. He is now doing a similar job with the Spectrum internet and phone provider.
“I’ve always worked with businesses to find solutions to problems,” said Franklin, 53. “I think that translates well to fiscal court.”
Franklin, who grew up in Butler County but has lived in Warren County for 18 years, said he became interested in running for office when the incumbent third district magistrate, Tony Payne, announced he wasn’t running.
“Tony let me know that he wasn’t running again,” Franklin said. “I would’ve never run against him, but I saw this as an opportunity to carry on what he did for the district.”
Franklin says continuing the county’s rollout of high-speed internet service and managing the county’s rapid growth are among his priorities.
He is joined in the race for the Republican nomination for third district magistrate by Rick Williams and Scott Bledsoe. No Democrats have yet filed for the seat.
The deadline to file for office is Jan. 7, but the Kentucky General Assembly is expected to consider extending that deadline to allow more time for completing work on redrawing political districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau numbers.