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Local Red Cross chapter switches gears to aid COVID-19 vaccinations

The American Red Cross southcentral Kentucky chapter has expanded its mission amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the only chapter in the region and one of the few in the country that is assisting with vaccinations.

Chapter Disaster Program Manager Jason Dotson said the organization has been helping at The Medical Center at Bowling Green’s vaccination clinic since the start of 2021.

“Our chapter was asked to support the COVID-19 clinic shortly after Christmas,” Dotson said. “We coordinated with our national headquarters for special authorization to support the clinic effort. Since the start in January, we’ve probably had a dozen volunteers involved in supporting the clinic at The Medical Center.”

Volunteers are helping in clerical roles to free up medical staff so they can administer vaccines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Red Cross to change the way that we carry out our mission, but it hasn’t changed our humanitarian mission to help people in times of need,” Dotson said. “All of our volunteers are passionate about meeting community needs, and it’s a great feeling to know that we can support the community and community partners through this effort.”

Med Center Health Vice President of Corporate Support Services Dr. Melinda Joyce said volunteers from the American Red Cross will continue to work with the clinic while it is open.

“They are so good at a number of different things here at the clinic,” Joyce said. “They are very good at organization and with handling logistics. They have helped us to figure out our workflow and who needs to be prioritized for the vaccine. They are also great advocates in the community for the vaccine.”

Joyce said some volunteers have had to step away at times to deal with other disasters, such as recent flooding in eastern Kentucky, but they come back to the clinic once they have answered those calls.

Volunteers from the Red Cross mainly assist the clinic with registering individuals for their appointments, filling out vaccination cards and scheduling.

“They really have been vital to the clinic,” Joyce said. “The Medical Center has always had a good working relationship with the American Red Cross. Without these volunteers we would not be able to do the high number of vaccinations we administer each day. They really have made a difference here.”

Laura Minnicks of Franklin, who works in disaster services with the Red Cross, has been assisting at the clinic since mid-January.

Minnicks does several different jobs at the clinic, but she said she mainly works to get individuals registered.

The experience has been a transformative one for her. She said she was at first very apprehensive about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. However, her first day at the clinic changed her mindset.

“On my very first day I registered an older man who was crying as he was so happy that he was getting the vaccine,” Minnicks said. “It humbled me. I got my vaccine the very next week.”

The pandemic has also taken a more direct toll on Minnicks. After she began volunteering at the clinic, Minnicks’ sister passed away due to COVID-19 complications Feb. 11.

Minnicks said more than 80 volunteers from a number of different groups are helping at the clinic.

“Just knowing that there are so many people getting the vaccines is great,” Minnicks said. “We have administered over 50,000 here at the clinic. I’m just happy to be a part of it. It touches my heart to be able to help our community and to see how grateful people are to get their vaccine.”

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


News
Connie Smith, John Kelly make Hall of Fame

A health care leader who went from entry level to top executive and a manufacturing leader whose philanthropy has surpassed his business success are the newest members of the Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky Business Hall of Fame.

Connie Smith, president and CEO of Bowling Green’s Med Center Health, and John Kelly, a former senior executive at DESA International and Pan-Oston who was instrumental in establishing the Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, were inducted into the hall of fame in a videotaped ceremony shown on the Junior Achievement Facebook page.

They join 32 previous inductees whose photographs are displayed at Knicely Conference Center.

The JA Business Hall of Fame was started in 1992 to recognize outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the community. Inductees are selected for their entrepreneurial spirit, business achievements and positive economic impact on the region.

Smith started at The Medical Center as a nursing assistant in 1981 and rose through the ranks to lead a 3,800-employee health care organization that today operates hospitals in Scottsville, Franklin, Caverna and Albany in addition to The Medical Center at Bowling Green and the Commonwealth Regional Specialty Hospital long-term acute-care facility on The Medical Center’s sixth floor.

Smith has also played a key role in transforming the Med Center Health campus into a medical education facility.

Today, that campus includes the Health Sciences Complex building that houses WKU’s nursing and physical therapy programs and the 350,132-square-foot Medical Education Complex/parking garage, which is home to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine-Bowling Green campus.

“I have had opportunities to learn and grow in leadership positions throughout the organization,” Smith said in a video message. “I was willing to say ‘yes’ to new challenges.”

Like Smith, Kelly has taken on challenges.

A native of Canada who moved to Bowling Green with DESA International in 1983, Kelly is the father of an autistic child and has worked to support people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

A past winner of the South Central Kentuckian of the Year award, Kelly helped establish the Kelly Autism Program at WKU, which provides educational and social support for individuals diagnosed with ASD.

Most recently, Kelly has been involved in the development of LifeWorks at WKU, a program that helps young autistic adults transition into independent living and secure productive employment.

“I’m delighted that Junior Achievement selected John for this honor,” former DESA executive Don Vitale said in a video message. “He has helped hundreds of people with autism to lead successful lives.”

Mike Murphy, president of the Scott, Murphy & Daniel construction company, also praised Kelly, saying: “What he’s doing is not for recognition but because it’s what needs to be done.”

Murphy and Vitale are among the 32 previous inductees into the JA Business Hall of Fame, and Kelly said he was proud to be joining them.

“I’m deeply honored to be associated with such an outstanding group that has come before me,” he said. “I’m very moved by this recognition.”

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


News
Two charged with human trafficking in Barren

A two-month investigation by the Barren County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrests of two people on human trafficking charges.

Micah Aaron Keith Manthe, 38, and Danielle C. Cordes, 38, both of Glasgow, were served Saturday with indictment warrants by the sheriff’s office.

Manthe is charged with first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree sodomy, human trafficking (commercial sex activity, victim younger than 18) and six counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

Cordes is charged with human trafficking (commercial sex activity, victim younger than 18) and complicity to six counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

The sheriff’s office was contacted Feb. 5 by the Department of Community Based Services regarding an investigation of Manthe, arrest citations said.

A 12-year-old girl said Manthe exposed her to sexual contact, looked in the shower while she was bathing and sent images of his genitalia to her on a cellphone, Manthe’s citation said.

The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for Manthe’s residence, executed it Feb. 6 and seized several items.

Manthe was taken to the sheriff’s office and advised of his rights. He agreed to be interviewed.

“During the interview he corroborated the female victim’s statements,” BCSO Detective Adam Bow said in the arrest citation.

Manthe was initially charged with a single count of first-degree sexual abuse but continued investigation led to the additional charges brought by the grand jury.

Detectives interviewed Cordes on March 3 as part of the investigation.

“During the interview she stated that she knew Micah Manthe was in possession of a file that contained sexual performances of minors,” Bow said in Cordes’ arrest citation. “She also stated that she knew he had been in possession of the file since before November 2020 and she had not reported it to law enforcement.”

Cordes also told investigators she had discovered and deleted images of Manthe’s genitals and the 12-year-old’s exposed breast on a cellphone and was aware of other text messages and images, according to her arrest citation.

Several electronic devices were seized when executing the search warrant, including a tablet that contained about 1,000 files of child sexual exploitation, according to court records.

Manthe and Cordes are both being held in the Barren County Detention Center under $50,000 cash bonds.

Both were arraigned Monday in Barren Circuit Court and entered not guilty pleas. They are due to return to court May 10.

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


News
Barren industrial projects move ahead

GLASGOW – The Barren County Economic Authority has agreed to put a speculative building out to bid on a Highland Glen Industrial Park site.

The industrial park is on New Bowling Green Road. The site on which the BCEA is looking to construct the speculative building is a build-ready certified site.

The decision was approved at BCEA’s March 12 meeting.

“We also approved moving forward with a proposal for the design and bid document preparation for two sites in the new South Cooper Industrial Park,” BCEA Director Maureen Carpenter said. “We expect the planning and design to take up to four weeks, and then to bid the project in May. All development is speculative and being done in a proactive manner to attract new business and industry to Barren County.”

Carpenter also said she and Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale spoke to the Cave City Council on March 8 about a bond issue that will help fund improvements at Chapatcha Park, which is an industrial park on Mammoth Cave Street adjacent to Cave City Convention Center.

“They are looking to do three 10-acre lots to get them to build-ready certified status,” Carpenter said.

The city council voted unanimously to move forward with the project, she said.

“So that’s a huge partnership between the county and Cave City to get that done,” Carpenter said.

Barren Fiscal Court is in the process of approving an ordinance to do a similar bond issue that will help fund improvements at South Cooper Industrial Park, which is also on New Bowling Green Road.

Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong shared information with the Glasgow City Council on March 8 about partnering with the county on a bond issue to also help fund improvements at South Cooper Industrial Park.


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