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Protesters stand outside the Warren County Justice Center during a protest and march for Breonna Taylor on Saturday hosted by the BG Freedom Walkers. For more photos, go to bgdailynews.com.

Protest for Breonna Taylor seeks peace, answers

Around 100 people gathered Saturday afternoon in Circus Square Park to protest and march in light of the recent decision by a grand jury to not charge any officers directly with the death of Louisville native Breonna Taylor.

The event was organized by BG Freedom Walkers who have hosted a handful of different protests in the Bowling Green area over the past few months.

For group founder Karika Nelson, hearing the grand jury’s decision Wednesday brought on a stream of unfortunate emotions.

“I had a little faith that with the whole nation getting behind what’s going on that she (Taylor) would get the justice that she deserved,” Nelson said. “I was mad. I was sad, and I instantly started crying. I was just filled up with different emotions because it is really ridiculous.”

Nelson said the group will continue to organize protests to keep their message of “peace, love, and diversity” alive in the community.

“Moving forward, we want to be solution-based,” Nelson said. “We want people to get out and vote. I want people to realize that’s how we are going to make changes and fix this system. There is too much hate going around. It’s time for a change from the top to the bottom.”

Saturday’s event saw several speeches by prominent voices in the community. Pastors, city officials, teachers and attorneys all spoke to the crowd. A march downtown followed.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron was often criticized. Cameron conducted the investigation into Taylor’s death. One speaker called for all of Cameron’s findings be presented to Taylor’s family and legal team as soon as possible.

Another point of focus at the protest was an area where people could register to vote. Many of the speakers at the event referenced voting as a way to fix problems in the justice system.

Law enforcement officials including Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower and Bowling Green Police Department Chief Michael Delaney were also in attendance.

Hightower said protests like Saturday’s are a great way for people in the community to express what they are feeling.

“There has been so much going on nationally over the last several months with (the deaths of) George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” Hightower said. “This is the way for our community to come together and for us as law enforcement officers to come and listen. It’s my chance to observe and listen to what people’s grievances are and what issues they have.”

“The more we can get together and talk about these things is what’s better for the community,” Hightower continued. “We need to continue to build relationships. To do this together is positive for our community and it’s good for everyone involved.”

Inaugural Boys to Law Enforcement Day held

Young people and local law enforcement came together Saturday for the first Boys to Law Enforcement Day at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Through the combined efforts of Boys to Men, the Bowling Green Police Department, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Western Kentucky University Police and the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the daylong event aimed to provide a positive environment for kids to interact and build relationships with area law enforcement.

Participants took part in various athletic activities such as playing catch, racing around the bases on the infield, a home-run derby and a flag football game.

The idea first came together when Boys to Men Leadership Group Director and Moss Middle School football coach Tyreon Clark asked local law enforcement to work with the program in the midst of civil rights protests seen throughout the country over the past few months.

“During those times, we were able to create a plan to present this initiative to our law enforcement and (Bowling Green Police Department) Chief Michael Delaney,” Clark said. “He jumped right on it. We didn’t know he was going to be Chief Delaney at the time, but now here we are. It’s pretty special.”

“It just makes everyone comfortable,” Clark continued. “For the officers, it gives them hope when they see our youth, and it gives our youth hope when they see these officers out of their uniform having a good time. It allows everyone to just see each other as people. An event like this is a community changer and more importantly a community builder.”

Boys to Men is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to mold young men into respectful young men by focusing on academic, behavioral, emotional and social development.

Clark’s plan stood out to his good friend and Bowling Green Hot Rods Director of Sales Kyle Wolz, who also saw the event as an opportunity to educate the community through the avenue of sports.

“He came to me with an idea about how we can help foster those relationships in our community with law enforcement,” Wolz said. “He put his idea into action a few months ago in which building those relationships could be done playing catch, running the bases and a flag football game. Creating that fun-loving atmosphere is why this event was created.”

The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with a base-running competition between the two groups, followed by a large game of catch in the outfield.

Afterward, members of law enforcement took part in a home-run derby while an open panel was held that covered the role of law enforcement in the community.

Included in the panel were senior officials such as Delaney and members of the WKU Young Men Leadership Academy as they answered a number of questions concerning the relationship between racial groups and police.

The day would eventually end with a large flag-football game in the outfield of the ballpark.

“It’s a great opportunity to get these kids out and interact with these police officers,” event sponsor Matt Idlett of Edward Jones said. “Both of these groups are doing great things in the community, and it’s just an opportunity to bring them together.”

Event organizers plan on making the event an annual celebration so more children in the community will be able to take the opportunity to interact and communicate with area police officers.

“Of course, with the protests going on and the Breonna Taylor decision this past weekend, it’s hard for any person of color to experience that,” Clark said. “But we have kids out here of all colors, and my hope is that they see we are going to be all right. This is a tough time, but we have to show our world and our community that we are going to be alright. For us, to be able to do something like this just shows that our Bowling Green community is in a great place.”

Fiscal court approves more 'fogging' systems to fight virus

Warren County is getting more weapons in its fight against COVID-19.

Fiscal Court magistrates approved Friday purchasing three Path-Guard dry-fogging systems for use by the county’s parks and recreation department.

The three devices, being purchased from local Path-Guard distributor Bobby Rabold at a total cost of $12,008.20, will be used at the Phil Moore, Michael Buchanon and Ephram White parks as an additional sanitation tool.

County Parks and Recreation Director Chris Kummer explained that the Path-Guard devices use a plant-based disinfectant that will allow for better and safer disinfecting of indoor areas.

“We have a pretty good system already,” Kummer said, “but with this equipment we will be able to cover a whole lot more space.

“We’ll be able to deep-clean restrooms and lockers and also use it to clean equipment and vehicles. It’s a safer product than some that we’re using currently. I think this is a great investment.”

It’s not the first investment the county has made in the Path-Guard systems. The devices are already in use at the Warren County Justice Center and at the county courthouse.

“We’ve used it for a couple of months,” said Justice Center Superintendent James Marcrum. “It’s supposed to kill everything. We have an air handler unit, and we spray this inside of that.”

Rabold, a veteran Bowling Green businessman, explained that Florida-based Path-Guard uses a “fogger” device that atomizes the Path-Guard solution to create micron-sized droplets that adhere to virus, bacteria, mold and yeast particles as part of the disinfectant process.

“It’s capable of disinfecting enclosed spaces and is able to attack airborne viruses attached to human droplets that have been expelled by sneezing or coughing,” said Rabold, a Path-Guard distributor in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower said he has used the Path-Guard device to disinfect a work area after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

“Each department has had good experiences with the ease of use of the Path-Guard system, and we have a high level of confidence in the effectiveness of the fogging on viruses and germs,” Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said. “With the solution being plant-based, they all have a comfort level that it’s safe for all our employees.”

Buchanon said the cost of this and many other coronavirus-fighting measures the county has invested in can be reimbursed through federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

Also approved at Friday’s meeting was the financing for the $8.2 million indoor tennis and multipurpoise sports facility being built at Buchanon Park.

The magistrates approved on first reading issuing up to $23 million in general obligation bonds, with the bulk being a refinancing to take advantage of current low interest rates.

A groundbreaking was held Friday evening for the 82,000-square-foot multipurpose sports facility that will connect to the existing gymnasium at Buchanon Park.

Plans call for the structure to have six indoor tennis courts, four racquetball courts, an indoor playground and meeting rooms in addition to six more outdoor tennis courts. It will also have the capability of converting some of the tennis space to basketball or volleyball and putting down turf for indoor football or soccer.

The magistrates Friday also approved spending $4,165 with Swiftwater Rescue Specialists for training the Warren County Technical Rescue Team.

Also approved was a $5,737.42 expenditure to Henry’s Plumbing of Owensboro for replacement of a transformer at the county courthouse.

Buchanon announced that the two October fiscal court meeting dates had been changed because of conflicts with other events. The Oct. 2 meeting has been moved to Tuesday, Oct. 13, and the Oct. 16 meeting has been moved to Wednesday, Oct. 28. Both will start at 9 a.m.

Trump taps 'eminently qualified' Barrett for Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, capping a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that will resonate for a generation and that he hopes will provide a needed boost to his reelection effort.

Barrett, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said she was “truly humbled” by the nomination and quickly aligned herself with Scalia’s conservative approach to the law, saying his “judicial philosophy is mine, too.”

Barrett, 48, was joined in the Rose Garden by her husband and seven children. If confirmed by the Senate, she would fill the seat vacated by liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It would be the sharpest ideological swing since Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago.

She would be the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Republican president, and the third of Trump’s first term in office.

Trump hailed Barrett as “a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” saying he had studied her record closely before making the pick.

Republican senators are lining up for a swift confirmation of Barrett ahead of the Nov. 3 election, as they aim to lock in conservative gains in the federal judiciary before a potential transition of power. Trump, meanwhile, is hoping the nomination will galvanize his supporters as he looks to fend off Democrat Joe Biden.

For Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged in large part on reluctant support from white evangelicals on the promise of filling Scalia’s seat with a conservative, the latest nomination in some ways brings his first term full circle.

Even before Ginsburg’s death, Trump was running on having confirmed in excess of 200 federal judges, fulfilling a generational aim of conservative legal activists.

Trump joked that the confirmation process ahead “should be easy” and “extremely noncontroversial,” though it is likely to be anything but. No court nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with early voting already underway. He encouraged legislators to take up her nomination swiftly and asked Democrats to “refrain from personal and partisan attacks.”

In 2016, Republicans blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the election-year vacancy, saying voters should have a say in the lifetime appointment. Senate Republicans say they will move ahead this time, arguing the circumstances are different now that the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote “in the weeks ahead” on Barrett’s confirmation. Barrett is expected to make her first appearance Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where she will meet with McConnell; Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Judiciary Committee; and others. Hearings are set to begin Oct. 12, and Graham said he hoped to have Barrett’s nomination out of the committee by Oct. 26.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that a vote to confirm Barrett to the high court would be a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Schumer added that the president was once again putting “Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs” even while the coronavirus pandemic rages.

Biden took that route of criticism, as well, framing Trump’s choice as another move in Republicans’ effort to scrap the 2010 health care law passed by his former boss, President Barack Obama. The court is expected to take up a case against it this fall.

The set design at the Rose Garden, with large American flags hung between the colonnades, appeared to be modeled on the way the White House was decorated when President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg in 1993.

Barrett, recognizing that flags were still lowered in recognition of Ginsburg’s death, said she would be “mindful of who came before me.” Although they have different judicial philosophies, Barrett praised Ginsburg as a trailblazer for women and for her friendship with Scalia, saying, “She has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all across the world.”

Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Trump made clear he would nominate a woman for the seat. Barrett was the early favorite and the only one to meet with Trump.

Barrett has been a judge since 2017, when Trump nominated her to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime University of Notre Dame law professor, she had already established herself as a reliable conservative in the mold of Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s.

She would be the only justice on the current court not to have received her law degree from an Ivy League school. The eight current justices all attended either Harvard or Yale.

The staunch conservative had become known to Trump in large part after her bitter 2017 appeals court confirmation included allegations that Democrats were attacking her Catholic faith. The president also interviewed her in 2018 for the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, but Trump ultimately chose Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump and his political allies are itching for another fight over Barrett’s faith, seeing it as a political windfall that would backfire on Democrats. Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Biden, also Catholic, is trying to recapture.

While Democrats appear powerless to stop Barrett’s confirmation in the GOP-controlled Senate, they are seeking to use the process to weaken Trump’s reelection chances.

Barrett’s nomination could become a reckoning over abortion, an issue that has divided many Americans so bitterly for almost half a century. The idea of overturning or gutting Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, has animated activists in both parties for decades. Now, with the seemingly decisive shift in the court’s ideological makeup, Democrats hope their voters will turn out in droves because of their frustration with the Barrett pick.

“Justice Ginsburg must be turning over in her grave up in heaven, to see that the person they chose seems to be intent on undoing all the things that Ginsburg did,” Schumer said.

Trump has also increasingly embraced the high court – on which he will have had an outsize hand in reshaping -– as an insurance policy in a close election.

“We don’t have to do it before, but I think this will be done before the election,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “I think it’ll send a great signal to a lot of people.”

Increases in mail, absentee and early voting brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have already led to a flurry of election litigation, and both Trump and Biden have assembled armies of lawyers to continue the fight once vote-counting begins. Trump has been open about tying his push to name a third justice to the court to a potentially drawn-out court fight to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said Wednesday of the election. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

No Democratic senators are expected to vote to confirm Barrett before the election, even though some did support her in 2017.

Two Democrats still serving in the Senate who voted to confirm Barrett in 2017, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, now say it’s too close to the election to consider her nomination.

Meanwhile, outside conservative groups are planning to spend more than $25 million to support Trump and his nominee. The Judicial Crisis Network has organized a coalition that includes American First Policies, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the group Catholic Vote to help confirm Barrett. The Republican National Committee has launched a $10 million digital campaign of its own, in conjunction with Trump’s reelection campaign.