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Bowling Green man to run in relay across America

Logan Locke of Bowling Green will be one of 19 participants in the 2021 MS Run the US national relay, which works to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis.

Locke’s portion of the run will take place July 20-24. He will run one of the last legs of the relay, which will cover 141 miles from Indiana to Ohio over the course of five days.

Locke, 24, is assistant director of marketing for Western Kentucky University’s athletics department and was previously a cheerleader for the Hilltoppers during his undergraduate years.

He first got into running upon graduating as a way to stay active. However, after completing his first half marathon two years ago, Locke said he “got into a zone” and never stopping running.

Locke ran next in the Bowling Green full marathon, where he first learned about MS Run the US. The event caught his attention, and he knew he wanted to participate.

“I thought it was a really cool idea,” Locke said. “I wanted to push myself both mentally and physically while also making a difference.”

The MS Run the US event is a 3,260-mile relay across America to raise awareness and funds to help cure multiple sclerosis.

The relay will begin in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 9 and finish in New York City on Aug. 20.

While long-distance running is still fairly new to him, Locke has been training in Bowling Green during the last few months.

“My official training will begin in February,” Locke said. “Right now, I’m running around 40 miles a week during the morning time here in Bowling Green. Once February comes, that will increase to about 60 miles a week.”

While Locke has not been personally affected by multiple sclerosis, he has been in contact with other participants in the relay – several of whom have multiple sclerosis.

“I’m just representing those that can’t do everyday activities due to this disease,” Locke said. “I just want to raise awareness about what exactly this is, and I want to raise as much money as I can.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system – the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. This can lead to numbness in limbs, loss of vision and in severe cases, paralysis.

Any individual can sponsor Locke on his run or donate to the cause by visiting his webpage at msruntheus. org/loganlocke. He can also be reached through his personal email logan.locke@wku.edu.

All proceeds for his run will go directly to multiple sclerosis research and accommodations for those battling the disease.

Lock said the name of any person or business that wants to sponsor him will be placed on the back of his shirt as runs in the relay.

So far, Locke’s message has been spread throughout the community thanks to social media posts that detail his run and how to donate to the cause.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Locke said of the widespread support. “The Bowling Green community has been awesome. People have reached out through social media in so many ways. It’s been really great to see. It feels good to know that at the very least I’m raising awareness.”

Locke’s run will start in Valparaiso, Ind., on July 20 and end in Van Wert, Ohio, on July 24.

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

County clerk budget includes funds for office upgrades

Buoyed by high 2020 activity that runs counter to the perception of a coronavirus pandemic slowdown, Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates has been approved for a 2021 budget that includes cost-of-living raises for her staff and money for possible upgrades to her offices.

The budget, which was approved Dec. 18 by Warren Fiscal Court, shows the clerk’s office with receipts for recording fees of $3,187,128 in 2020, a big jump from the previous year’s total of $2,341,169.

“I knew it would be up, but I didn’t know how much,” Yates said. “This is much more than anticipated.”

Like other county clerks’ offices in the state, Yates’ office benefited both from a fee increase approved in 2019 by the state legislature and from historically low interest rates that have driven home-buying and mortgage refinancing activity.

“I think half the town refinanced,” she said. “That was one positive thing from 2020.”

The spike in fees, plus some retirements among her staff, allowed Yates to include a 2% raise for the 25 full-time and four part-time employees of the clerk’s office and to budget for some possible upgrades to her offices in the courthouse.

But Yates isn’t counting on the kind of hyperactivity that drove receipts up in 2020 to be repeated in the new year.

“I look for us to go back to more of a normal level,” she said.

Yates submitted a budget of $2,751,978 that included a payroll line item of $2,089,778 and $120,000 for possible office upgrades.

“If I can get it in this year, I would like to keep going with office updates,” said Yates, who had renovations done to the motor vehicle department in 2020. “I would like to update the recordings department.”

If it happens, that update won’t be the only change coming to the county clerk’s office in 2021. Yates said the experience of altering how voting was conducted during the pandemic will lead to some permanent changes.

“The face of elections will change forever,” said Yates, who utilized the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center this fall for early in-person voting and expanded absentee voting for both the primary and general elections.

The county clerk said changes in voting will “probably be similar” to what happened in 2020, when people could vote at SKyPAC during the three weeks leading up to Election Day and at six total locations Nov. 3.

“I’d like to see more early voting, but not as extensive as what we did this year,” Yates said. “Maybe seven to 10 days.”

Yates said having six polling locations on Election Day worked well, so she expects a repeat in the next election.

“We’re going to vote centers and will have fewer sites,” she said. “Warren County is going to scale back on the 88 precincts.”

Yates expects the state legislature to take action during its session that begins Jan. 5 to make permanent changes in how elections are conducted. “There are several bills to be introduced that will make changes,” she said. “We’re still figuring it out.”

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

Desmond Bell and his wife, Rozalind Bell, visit the site of the 22-unit Bell Vue Heights development Bell is putting together to rehabilitate the aging African American neighborhood along Kenton Street and Greenwood Alley.

Trump's $2K checks stalled in Senate, GOP blocks vote

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s push for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks stalled Tuesday in the Senate as Republicans blocked a swift vote proposed by Democrats and split within their own ranks over whether to boost spending or defy the White House.

The roadblock mounted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may not be sustainable as pressure mounts.

Trump wants the Republican-led chamber to follow the House and increase the checks from $600 for millions of Americans. A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections Jan. 5 in Georgia, have said they will support the larger amount. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.

Senators will be back at it Wednesday as McConnell looks for a path out of the political bind, but the outcome is highly uncertain.

“There’s one question left today: Do Senate Republicans join with the rest of America in supporting $2,000 checks?” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said as he made a motion to vote.

The showdown is preventing action on another priority – overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill that has been approved every year for 60 years.

Saying little about Trump’s proposal, McConnell signaled his preference for an alternative approach.

The GOP leader filed new legislation late Tuesday linking the president’s demand for bigger checks with other Trump priorities – restrictions on tech companies like Facebook or Twitter that the president complained are unfair to conservatives as well as the establishment of a new commission to review the presidential election.

“The Senate will begin a process,” McConnell said.

He said only that he would bring the president’s demand for the $2,000 checks and other remaining issues “into focus.”

The president’s push for bigger checks deeply divides Republicans, who are split between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional conservative views against government spending. Congress had settled on $600 payments in a compromise over the year-end relief bill Trump signed into law.

The GOP blockade is causing turmoil for some amid the virus crisis and as Trump amplifies his demands.

The two GOP senators from Georgia, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, said Tuesday they support Trump’s plan for bigger checks as they face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

“I’m delighted to support the president,” Perdue said on Fox News.

Loeffler said in an interview on Fox that she, too, backs the boosted relief checks.

Trump repeated his demand in a tweet ahead of Tuesday’s Senate session: “$2000 for our great people, not $600!”

Following Trump’s lead, Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, among the party’s potential 2024 presidential hopefuls, are pushing the party in the president’s direction.

“We’ve got the votes. Let’s vote today,” Hawley tweeted.

Other Republicans panned the bigger checks, saying the nearly $400 billion price was too high, the relief is not targeted to those in need and Washington has already dispatched ample sums on COVID aid.

“We’ve spent $4 trillion on this problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The House vote late Monday to approve Trump’s request was a stunning turn of events.

Just days ago, during a brief Christmas Eve session, Republicans blocked Trump’s demand for bigger checks as he defiantly refused to sign the broader COVID-19 aid and year-end funding bill into law.

As Trump spent days fuming from his private club in Florida, where he is spending the holidays, millions of Americans saw jobless aid lapse and the nation risked a federal government shutdown Tuesday.

Dozens of Republicans calculated it was better to link with Democrats to increase the pandemic payments rather than buck the outgoing president and constituents counting on the money. House Democrats led passage, 275-134, but 44 Republicans joined almost all Democrats for a robust two-thirds vote of approval.

It’s highly possible that McConnell will set up votes ahead on both the House-passed measure supporting Trump’s $2,000 checks as well as his own new version linking it with the tech company reforms and the presidential election review.

It’s a process that almost ensures neither bill will pass.

Trump’s push could fizzle out in the Senate and do little to change the COVID-19 relief and federal spending package Trump signed into law.

But the debate over the size and scope of the package – $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies – is potentially one last confrontation with the president.

The new Congress is set to be sworn in Sunday.

For now, the $600 checks are set to be delivered, along with other aid, among the largest rescue packages of its kind.

The COVID-19 portion of the bill revives a weekly pandemic jobless benefit boost – this time $300, through March 14 – as well as the popular Paycheck Protection Program of grants to businesses to keep workers on payrolls. It extends eviction protections, adding a new rental assistance fund.

Americans earning up to $75,000 will qualify for the direct $600 payments, which are phased out at higher income levels, and there’s an additional $600 payment per dependent child.

President-elect Joe Biden supports the $2,000 checks and said Tuesday the aid package is merely a “down payment” on what he plans to deliver once in office.

Economists said a $600 check will help, but that it’s a far cry from the spending power that a $2,000 check would provide for the economy.

“It will make a big difference whether it’s $600 vs. $2,000,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody’s.

The president also objected to foreign aid funding that his own administration had requested and vowed to send Congress “a redlined version” with spending items he wants removed. But those are merely suggestions to Congress. Democrats said they would resist such cuts.

Regional communications recover after bombing

Communications in southcentral Kentucky have almost fully recovered after a Christmas morning bombing damaged an AT&T central office in Nashville.

Bowling Green Police Department spokesman Officer Ronnie Ward said Tuesday that the city’s 911 center communications are back to normal. The center had been forced to reroute calls after the bombing scrambled the system.

“From the public’s perspective, everything is doing well and we are glad to be back to normal,” Ward said. “Our system went back online on Monday, and we are very appreciative of AT&T for their tireless work the past few days.”

Ward said some minor technical items must be fixed, but everything is currently working as it did before the blast.

Area hospitals also experienced communication troubles after the explosion.

TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital’s phone systems went down Saturday but are now back online.

“We had a phenomenal crew come in and fix the problems we had, and everything is back to normal now,” Marketing and Communications Specialist Andria McGregor said. “We had limited to no interruptions, and patient care was not affected in any way.”

The Medical Center at Bowling Green did not see its communications go down. But people did have some trouble calling in while using their cellphones, Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations Corie Martin said.

Those problems have been resolved.

Kentucky State Police Post 3’s phone lines are also back in proper working order, according to a statement from the Kentucky Justice & Safety Cabinet.

The Associated Press reported that 911 systems as far as Knoxville, Tenn. (180 miles from Nashville) experienced issues after the bombing.

In that time, residents who needed assistance in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Simpson and Warren counties were asked to call emergency backup phone lines.

AT&T said the majority of services have been restored in Nashville. Nearly all home internet and video customers have been restored, and business customers are back online, AT&T said.

The company said it will waive data overage charges for customers in impacted states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31.

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