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Library now in charge of Capitol Arts Center

One of Bowling Green’s most historic and iconic buildings, the Capitol Arts Center, may again see the type of activity that made it a magnet for the city’s residents in the early 20th century.

After approvals in recent days from Warren Fiscal Court and the Warren County Public Library Board of Trustees, the county-owned Capitol will be leased to the library in a move that local officials see as a potential boost for a once-vibrant venue that had been mostly quiet even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an opportunity to fully utilize the Capitol,” said Doug Gorman, Warren County First District magistrate and chairman of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority. “I think you’ll see us get back to having two or three events per week at the Capitol.

“It will be good for the community. I think everyone is excited to have the pandemic in our rear-view mirror. The library has some great ideas that should bring more people downtown.”

Once used for vaudeville shows and then as a movie theater, the Capitol on East Main Avenue facing Fountain Square Park has been largely dormant in recent years.

Gayla Warner, chairperson of the library’s board of trustees, said the possibilities for the space could now fill volumes.

“For years, we’ve had to rent space to accommodate the crowds for big events,” Warner said. “The Bob Kirby branch of the library (along Scottsville Road) is good for medium-sized events. Now this will give us a whole new level of event space that we’ve had to pay for in the past.”

The lease approved by fiscal court and the library’s board allows the newly formed Arts of Southern Kentucky organization to lease the Capitol from the county for $5 per year and sublease the 20,000-square-foot building to the library for $400,000 annually.

Arts of Southern Kentucky President and CEO Jeff Reed said the sublease to the library fits with his plans for an organization formed last fall and charged with overseeing the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center and the Capitol.

“They (library) needed a space for some of their activities, and they had a need for a theater,” said Reed, also conductor for Orchestra Kentucky. “I wanted to focus on making SKyPAC more successful fiscally.”

Lisa Rice, the library’s director, has already been dreaming up ways the library can utilize the Capitol.

“I’ve always looked at that building and thought it would be the perfect place for our needs,” Rice said. “People think of the library as books and videos, but we are here for the entire community.

“Making that space available will allow us to do so much more. Our community loves to gather, and it loves that building.”

Although the library’s leaders have only this week signed the papers to lease the Capitol, Rice already has some uses in mind.

She envisions holding author visits and Southern Kentucky Book Fest events at the Capitol, along with live music, drama workshops and even a used book store in what had been a small art gallery.

“It opens up so many opportunities,” Rice said. “We want it to be a community space where everybody has access to it.”

Rice said some “sprucing up” will be needed before the library can fully utilize the building, so she’s grateful that the lease payments won’t start until 2022.

Warner called the Capitol a “treasure on our downtown square” that she believes the library will enhance and preserve.

Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon is equally enthusiastic about the new arrangement.

“The library has big plans to utilize the facility,” Buchanon said in a text message. “The new activities will help to spark new life into Fountain Square and help downtown restaurants and businesses.”

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

Group marches against rape culture

Carrying signs and advocating on behalf of survivors, a group of marchers took to the streets Tuesday to call for a change in social attitudes that allow sexual assault to pervade.

The Cancel Rape Culture Coalition-sponsored march began at Circus Square Park, continued through Fountain Square Park and ended outside the Warren County Justice Center.

Chelsey Mather of Bowling Green said the idea for the march came about after someone posted about the alleged sexual assault reported last month at the Sigma Nu fraternity house at Western Kentucky University on a Facebook group page to which she belongs.

During chats online, Mather said she and some other friends realized it was important for them to speak out about what they were witnessing.

“As a survivor and a sister and friend to people who are also survivors, I think if we were to bring more awareness to rape culture, then I think more aggressors would be held accountable,” Mather said.

The term “rape culture” originated in the 1970s as a way to describe societies in which sexual violence proliferates due in part to behaviors such as victim-blaming, trivializing rape and minimizing the harmful effects of sexual assault on its victims.

More recent events like the #MeToo movement have empowered survivors and advocates to raise awareness of sexual assault, hold perpetrators accountable and promote efforts to reduce violence.

“Part of prevention and canceling rape culture is to unlearn all the behaviors that have been passed down, like victim-blaming and making light of sexual assault,” Mather said.

Mather said that since the Cancel Rape Culture Coalition started an online Facebook group, she has heard from a number of survivors who have shared their experiences.

“This (coalition) is for all victims and all survivors, and it’s not exclusive to women,” Mather said.

Outside the justice center, Krystal Sims of Glasgow sat at a table giving out information about the coalition to people and waiting for the marchers to join her.

“We really just want everybody to get on board and fight for change,” Sims said. “We just want them to either support us and share our stuff (online) or get out and be a voice.”

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

KYTC begins project to improve traffic on Scottsville Road

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has started a project to improve traffic on a section of U.S. 231 (Scottsville Road) in Bowling Green that sees an average of 30,000 vehicles a day.

The improvements will be done between Three Springs Road and the Greenwood Mall entrance at Bryant Way, which is in front of Longhorn Steakhouse and Pizza Hut.

The construction is scheduled to be completed by late fall this year.

KYTC District 3 Public Information Officer Wes Watt said the project’s goal is to improve safety, efficiency and overall traffic flow in the area. There will be multiple intersection improvements and traffic signal changes.

“Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Bowling Green knows how busy Scottsville Road is,” Watt said. “This won’t solve all of the traffic problems in this part of town, but the scheduled improvements will help.”

The project will include new dual left turn lanes at Scottsville and Cave Mill roads. New left-turn lanes will be built for Scottsville Road motorists who are turning onto Cave Mill Road, and the state also plans new dual left turn lanes for Cave Mill Road motorists turning onto Scottsville Road.

“One of the major issues with the corridor is getting traffic through the intersection,” Watt said. “By adding multiple lanes, we can push through more vehicles.”

Another part of the project will be at the Greenwood Mall entrance near Longhorn Steakhouse, which will be widened to include a dedicated left turn lane, a dedicated right turn lane and a left/straight through lane.

At the intersection with Ken Bale Boulevard and Three Springs Road, the median will be reworked to improve the alignment of the left turn lane from Scottsville Road to Ken Bale Boulevard.

A new concrete median safety feature will be built on Scottsville Road from Three Springs Road to Pascoe Boulevard. Entrances between the signals in this section will become right turn only.

Finally, changes will be made to the traffic signal at the Scottsville Road intersection with Greenwood Square Shopping Center and the frontage road. All left turns will be eliminated except the northbound Scottsville Road left turn into Greenwood Square. Exits from the frontage road and Greenwood Square will be right turn only.

“We will be eliminating some turn phases at the signal as less phases will equal more time for other phases, which should help the traffic flow,” Watt said.

Watt said the bulk of the work will take place during the overnight hours to limit traffic impacts as much as possible. However, there will still be some construction during daytime hours.

“Roadways will be open at all times during this construction period,” Watt said. “There will be some lane closures, which could cause some traffic delays. For some people, it may be better to find alternative routes. People just need to pay attention when they are traveling through the area and utilize some patience.”

Scotty’s Contracting & Stone LLC was awarded the contract Dec. 18 in the amount of $4,075,899.

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

Officials: Gun in supermarket shooting bought 6 days earlier

BOULDER, Colo. – Police on Tuesday identified a 21-year-old man as the suspect who opened fire inside a supermarket, and court documents showed he purchased an assault weapon less than a week before the attack that killed 10 people, including a police officer.

Supermarket employees told investigators Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa shot an elderly man multiple times Monday outside the Boulder grocery before going inside, according to the documents. Another person was found shot in a vehicle next to a car registered to the suspect’s brother.

Authorities said Alissa was from the Denver suburb of Arvada and that he engaged in a shootout with police inside the store. The suspect was being treated at a hospital and was expected to be booked into the county jail later in the day on murder charges.

Investigators haven’t established a motive, but they believe he was the only shooter, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.

In Washington, President Joe Biden called on Congress to tighten the nation’s gun laws. “Ten lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” Biden said at the White House.

The suspect purchased the assault weapon six days before the shooting, on March 16, according to the arrest affidavit. It was not immediately known where the gun was purchased.

The shooting came 10 days after a judge blocked a ban on assault rifles passed by the city of Boulder in 2018. That ordinance and another banning large-capacity magazines came after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

A lawsuit challenging the bans was filed quickly, backed by the National Rifle Association. The judge struck down the ordinance under a Colorado law that blocks cities from making their own rules about guns.

A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the suspect’s family told investigators they believed Alissa was suffering some type of mental illness, including delusions. Relatives described times when Alissa told them people were following or chasing him, which they said may have contributed to the violence, the official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The attack was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting since a 2019 assault at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people in a rampage that police said targeted Mexicans.

The Colorado gunfire sent terrorized shoppers and employees scrambling for cover. SWAT officers carrying ballistic shields slowly approached the King Soopers store while others escorted frightened people away from the building. Customers and employees fled through a back loading dock to safety. Others took refuge in nearby shops.

Multiple 911 calls painted a picture of a chaotic, terrifying scene, according to the affidavit.

One caller said the suspect opened fire out the window of his vehicle. Others called to say they were hiding inside the store as the gunman fired on customers. Witnesses described the shooter as having a black AR-15-style gun and wearing blue jeans and maybe body armor.

By the time he was in custody, Alissa had been struck by a bullet that passed through his leg, the affidavit said. He had removed most of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts. Inside the store, he left the gun, a tactical vest, a semiautomatic handgun and his bloodied clothing, the affidavit said.

After the shooting, detectives went to Alissa’s home and found his sister-in-law, who told them that he had been playing around with a weapon she thought looked like a “machine gun” about two days earlier, the document said.

A tapestry and a pillow blocked a narrow window next to the front door at the Arvada home believed to be owned by the suspect’s father. No one answered the door after several knocks, but young children occasionally pulled the pillow aside and peered out of the window. The two-story home with a three-car garage sits in a relatively new middle- and upper-class neighborhood.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold identified the slain officer as Eric Talley, 51, who had been with the force since 2010. He was the first to arrive after responding to a call about shots fired and someone carrying a gun, she said.

Homer Talley, 74, described his son as a devoted father who “knew the Lord.” He had seven children, ages 7 to 20.

“We know where he is,” his father told The Associated Press from his ranch in central Texas. “He loved his family more than anything. He wasn’t afraid of dying. He was afraid of putting them through it.”

The other dead ranged in age from 20 to 65. They were identified as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jodi Waters, 65.

Leiker, Olds and Stong worked at the supermarket, former co-worker Jordan Sailas said.

Olds’ grandmother choked up on the phone as she described the young woman she played a large role in raising.

“She was just a very kind and loving, bubbly person who lit up the room when she walked in,” said Jeanette Olds, 71, of Lafayette, Colo.

The attack in Boulder stunned a state that has seen several mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.

Monday’s attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

It follows a lull in mass killings during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of such attacks in eight years, according to the database, which tracks mass killings defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter.