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Officials continue assessing damage

Amid the tornado debris covering much of Warren County, more than 800 structures are also adorned with small red, yellow and green signs.

The signs are part of the city and county governments’ efforts to assess damage after three tornadoes tore through the community Dec. 11.

City Neighborhood and Community Services Director Brent Childers said department staff members and volunteers started canvassing the worst-hit areas of the city and county as early as the day after the tornadoes.

The assessments aim to help government “calculate what is the loss,” he said, as well as a way to reach out to impacted residents.

Homes were assessed visually to determine how much structural damage there appeared to be.

Red signs were placed on buildings with apparent severe damage, such as missing roof members or other severe structural issues, yellow signs were placed on those with moderate damage and green on those with slight damage.

Childers emphasized that a red sign doesn’t mean the city is condemning a property.

“That’s a whole other process,” he said. “We are not condemning your house.”

The red signs were more of a warning to residents “that you need to be very careful in there,” he said.

Generally it will be up to property owners and their insurance companies to determine whether to repair or tear down structures.

The signs also serve as a reminder that repairs need to be undertaken by city-licensed contractors and building permits may be required.

All told, 11,000 properties were assessed and 242 structures were tagged with the red signs, 223 with yellow and 380 with green.

Of the 845 structures tagged, 92 were commercial structures.

Other entities do their own assessments using various criteria, so estimates of the number of structures damaged in the county by the tornadoes will vary.

The assessors did not go into areas with minor damage, and there are still a few smaller areas to assess, Childers said.

Childers said more in-depth assessments of structural damage will be undertaken soon.

The process “helps us with long-term planning,” Childers said. “The goal is to rebuild the community.”

– Information about resources for those impacted by the tornadoes can be found at https://www.we arebgstrong.com.

– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdaily news.com.


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F45, new fitness gym, comes to Bowling Green

It’s 5:30 on a Thursday morning, and Ashley Stotts is already hard at work. She hasn’t punched a time clock, and the work she’s doing won’t bring her a paycheck, but Stotts is still looking for a big payoff.

She and seven other clients are putting in work at F45 Training on Cumberland Trace Road, Bowling Green’s newest fitness center.

Getting a head start on their New Year’s fitness goals, Stotts and her colleagues follow video instructions that lead them through high-intensity interval training.

F45, so named because of its 45-minute functional workouts, was brought to the commercial center in front of the Cumberland Trace Village apartment complex in October by franchise owners Quentin Hunter and Janae Morelli. It’s catching on with clients like Stotts.

“I have friends in North Carolina who go to F45, and they told me it was a challenging workout,” Stotts said. “I work from home, so this is a chance to get out of the house. It helps my mental health, too.”

Another F45 client, Leslie Priest, also came to the new fitness center after hearing about it from out-of-town friends.

“I learned about this from my brother in Louisville, who has been doing this for years,” Priest said. “As soon as it opened, I wanted to try it.”

Stotts likes the high-tech nature of the workouts that incorporate weight training with a variety of aerobic exercises.

“It’s good because all the workouts are programmed ahead of time and are up on the screen,” she said.

Not that clients are left to simply watch a video screen. Hunter and Morelli insert themselves into the routines, giving instructions and encouragement while correcting problems with form.

Morelli and Hunter, both Western Kentucky University graduates, met while working as nurses and decided to pursue their shared passion for exercise.

Although new to Bowling Green, Texas-based F45 Training is a fast-growing fitness franchise that has expanded to more than 1,750 locations worldwide since its launch in 2012.

Morelli said she was attracted to F45 largely because it offers a wide variety of exercise routines.

“It’s set up differently each day,” she said. “We have a bank of more than 4,000 exercises.”

Both Morelli and Hunter were members of an F45 location in Hendersonville, Tenn., leading them to buy into the franchise that counts actor Mark Wahlberg among its investors.

Hunter, a U.S. Army veteran who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said his military background led to his love of fitness training.

“In the Army, If you’re not fit they’ll make you fit,” he said.

Although the F45 routines are far from a “boot camp” environment, Hunter said they still allow him to pursue his desire to help people meet their fitness goals.

“Over the years, fitness became my passion,” said Hunter, 37. “Now I’m making a living doing what I love. I could do this 12 hours a day.”

Hunter believes the workouts at F45 can bring benefits beyond physical fitness.

“I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), accompanied by anxiety and depression,” he said. “I did not want to take anti-depressants.

“It wasn’t a conscious thought that exercise could be therapeutic, but it worked out that way. I’m glad I found this.”

Morelli is glad that she and Hunter found a way to open an F45 location in a growing part of Bowling Green.

“We’re both WKU graduates,” she said. “I really love this community. When we were looking for a location, I thought this would be the perfect spot.”

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


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Stuff the Bus crosses $200K raised for tornado relief

A push for donations from the Stuff the Bus Foundation after the Dec. 11 tornadoes devastated parts of Bowling Green has raised more than $200,000 for local relief.

Much of the funding has already been distributed to local school systems that have families in need, as well as some local businesses.

Foundation President Kyle Wolz said the focus is now on accepting monetary donations, since the initial need for food and other items has been met.

Wolz said the foundation is working with family resource centers in the county and city school systems to understand which families still need assistance. From there, the resource centers distribute the checks to the community.

“It’s been amazing,” Wolz said of the public response. “Not only just in our community, but all over the country, folks have helped out. We have talked with people from different places all over, but we have seen local businesses step up as well.”

He said the idea for the foundation to call for tornado relief donations was sparked by Gary Fields, superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District, and D-93 WDNS-FM morning show host Tony Rose, who helped start the foundation.

“The idea is that we already had the process in place,” Wolz said. “We had the opportunity to step up. It was an easy transition to lean into that. It became a bigger thing for us. Support just kept rolling in.”

Wolz said as long as a need exists, the foundation will continue to answer the call – not just in Warren County, but in surrounding counties that were also hit hard by the tornadoes.

The Stuff the Bus Foundation is a recognized nonprofit organization raising money for local schools 12 months a year. Earlier this summer, the annual Stuff the Bus event raised more than $40,000.

Wolz said the best way to donate money for tornado relief is by visiting the foundation’s website at stuff thebusky.com/donate.

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


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