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Local bladesmith cast in popular TV show

Zechariah Nelson has been forging custom knives since he was 14. On Wednesday night, those talents will be showcased on the TV show “Forged in Fire” in front of a national audience.

The 20-year-old Allen County resident learned the trade of blacksmithing on his own.

After spending the past few years trying to get on the History Channel’s competitive show, he finally got his chance to display his craftsmanship.

“I went on there very excited,” Nelson said. “I love challenges. I really do. And ‘Forged in Fire’ was a great challenge. I work really well under pressure. The environment on the show helped me out a lot. I believed I performed really well, and I had a really fun time doing it.”

The show is described by the History Channel’s website as a chance for “world-class bladesmiths to re-create historical edged weapons in a cutthroat competition.”

“Forged in Fire” features numerous tests for craftsmen to display their abilities.

Nelson said he has been home-schooled for most of his life and picked up the bladesmithing hobby because of how much he likes knives. He started forging them at a shop in his parents’ house.

Nelson studied welding and is now a custom fabricator working largely with metal.

He said he hopes the show will be a way to get his name in the public sphere.

“People told me about ‘Forged in Fire’ and that I should go on it, and I went from there,” he said. “It’s a little exciting. I think reliving the experience will be the best part of it. I had a blast.”

His mother, Elizabeth Nelson, has watched her son work at his craft since his early teenage years, and she said she is looking forward to him receiving recognition.

“I think one of the most rewarding parts of Zechariah is that he is always pushing forward and trying harder,” she said. “He loves to challenge himself. How many kids go on their own whim and try to get on national television and actually accomplish it? It’s been great watching him grow up.

“He is extremely creative,” she said. “He learned this trade on his own, and that’s fascinating to me. He has developed his own metal fabrication business from it. We will be watching the show expecting him to be narrating what happened behind the scenes.”

In fact, Zachariah Nelson said a new building is currently being built for his business and will also act as his new shop for knife-making.

Regardless of where Zachariah Nelson is crafting his works or how much national spotlight he receives Wednesday, he said his hobby will continue to bring him joy.

The episode featuring Nelson was previously filmed and will air Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the History Channel.

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


News
City schools hold firm on COVID rules for now

Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Gary Fields shared a COVID-19 update Monday, briefing the district’s school board about where its response to the ongoing pandemic stands.

“We’re monitoring the data, but right now we don’t see any reason that our protocols need to change, because our protocols aren’t going to stop community spread,” Fields told the Daily News in an interview Tuesday.

About a week after returning to school – with masking as an option for students and staff – both the Bowling Green Independent School District and Warren County Public Schools are seeing an uptick in positive cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon, that number was 73 total positive cases for BGISD and 426 total cases for WCPS, according to each school district’s online case dashboard.

Asked about those numbers Tuesday, Fields said the data show “as community spread begins, it also shows in our schools.”

“We’re not on an island,” he added.

Asked if the school district is considering changing its COVID-19 protocols in light of the surge of cases occurring both locally and statewide – including bringing back a masking requirement – Fields said the increase is likely attributable to individuals who were infected over the holiday break.

Fields also said he believes a masking requirement would be less effective, given that few in the broader community wear masks and practice social distancing.

“We’re trying to manage it the best we can,” Fields said, adding the district’s priority is to “stay in school.”

Fields also shared some initial thoughts about this year’s legislative session, which features no shortage of education-related bills.

Among them is Senate Bill 25, which would extend up to 10 days of “remote instruction.”

These are distinct from nontraditional instruction days because they can be used by school districts “at the school, classroom, grade, or group level for the 2021-2022 school year,” the bill’s summary said.

On Tuesday, the bill passed the Senate and now goes to the Kentucky House.

When asked if he could foresee his school district needing to tap into those remote instruction days this school year, Fields kept the district’s options open.

“We would definitely use it if needed, especially to not call off the whole school district,” he said.

Two years of a pandemic that has exhausted the K-12 workforce both statewide and nationally have not spared Fields’ district. Finding enough classroom teachers and other school staff is an ongoing struggle, he said.

“It’s a constant battle for us,” Fields said.

A 5% across-the-board salary increase for certified school employees that Gov. Andy Beshear recently proposed could help. “When’s the last time that’s happened?” Fields asked.

Republicans hold veto-proof supermajorities in Kentucky’s House and Senate, so Beshear’s ambitious education spending plan is not likely to pass in its current form.

“I believe our staff deserves a 5% raise,” Fields said, but he seemed skeptical about that prospect becoming a reality through legislative action this year.

Fields asked Kentucky’s lawmakers to level with K-12 leaders about what’s feasible this budget cycle: “We just need them to be honest with us … that’s my hope.”

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.


Washington_post
Biden on voting rights passage: 'I'm tired of being quiet!'

ATLANTA – President Joe Biden challenged senators Tuesday to stand against what he called voter suppression in some states, urging them to change Senate rules and pass voting rights legislation that Republicans are blocking.

Biden said he’d been having quiet conversations with senators for months over the two bills – a lack of progress that has brought his criticism from activists in his own party.

“I’m tired of being quiet!” he shouted. “I will not yield. I will not flinch.”

Current rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation – a threshold that Senate Democrats can’t meet alone because they only have a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. Republicans unanimously oppose the election bills.

Not all Democrats are on board with changing the filibuster rules. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on the idea Tuesday, saying any changes should be made with substantial Republican buy-in.

Biden spent decades in the Senate, and he spoke of how much it’s changed for the worse, calling it “a shell of its former self. It gives me no satisfaction to say that as an institutionalist.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has set Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a deadline to either pass voting legislation or consider revising the rules around the chamber’s filibuster blocking device.

Biden told his audience: “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. ...

“Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch,” he said. “I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign, yes and domestic! And so the question is where will the institution of the U.S. Senate stand?”

When asked what he was risking politically by speaking out when there aren’t enough votes to change the rules, he said: “I risk not saying what I believe. That’s what I risk. This is one of those defining moments. It really is. People are going to be judged on where were they before and where were they after the vote. History is going to judge us.”


News
Monday's MLK Day celebration altered by COVID

Honoring the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during a global pandemic has proven challenging for leaders of Bowling Green’s MLK Day committee, but they have come up with a way to celebrate the day while staying safe this year.

A year after Bowling Green’s MLK Day celebration was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee will hold a virtual celebration that will include music and a message from author and leadership consultant Pierre Quinn.

The celebration will be nothing like past MLK Day events that have included a march from the Warren County Justice Center to State Street Baptist Church, where a packed house would hear musical selections from a full choir and messages from various speakers.

“We’re going to have a virtual program, nothing big,” said Shannah Dixon, chairperson of the MLK Day committee. “We typically have 450 to 600 people there. It’s in our best interest not to try to do something like that.”

Dixon said the committee came up with a plan for a virtual event on the Jan. 17 holiday and for a kickoff event on the Wednesday before the holiday.

The Wednesday event has been pre-recorded at local churches that are part of the MLK Day committee and will be shown on the Facebook pages of the MLK Jr. Planning Committee and State Street Baptist Church.

The kickoff event can be seen at 6 p.m. Wednesday and again at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Monday’s event will be live-streamed from State Street Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on the same two Facebook pages. It will include music by the Rev. Chris Whitney and a choir of “four or five” members, Dixon said.

The event will include a message from Chris Page, owner of Shake Rag Barber Shop, and from Bowling Green City Commissioner Carlos Bailey.

Keynote speaker Quinn, now based in the Washington, D.C. area with his The Cardell Group consulting firm, is familiar to many in Bowling Green. He is a former pastor at Cottage Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bowling Green.

Quinn is now chief executive of The Cardell Group, providing leadership strategies training to businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

He is the author of “Leading While Green: How Emerging Leaders Can Ripen Into Effective Leaders” and “Leading While Scared: How To Find The Courage To Keep Going.”

Dixon said the decision to go to a virtual event was made after consulting with the national MLK Day board and learning what other communities were planning.

“Just about everyone is doing a virtual event this year,” she said. “We talked about doing a march, but we didn’t think it would be in the best interest of those involved.”

Dixon, project manager for the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, said in-person attendance at Monday’s event is not expected to exceed 30 people.

“We’ll try to keep the crowd to a minimum,” she said. “We’re trying to keep people safe.”


Bowling Green Independent Schools superintendent Gary Fields speaks Monday, May 21, 2018, during a groundbreaking ceremony at the school. (Bac Totrong/photo@bgdailynews.com)


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