The deadly tornadoes that tore through Bowling Green on Dec. 11 were the main focus of Bowling Green city commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.
Meeting for the first time since the tornadoes killed 17 Warren County residents, commissioners took several actions related to the storm.
The first was ratifying a declaration of a local state of emergency. City Manager Jeff Meisel said the declaration was needed to ensure the city gets Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.
The state and federal governments also declared states of emergency for Warren and other counties.
The city also approved a $1 million contract with Tetra Tech to help monitor the cleanup of debris across the city left from the tornadoes and a separate contract for cleanup efforts with CrowderGulf of Mobile, Ala., for $3.9 million. Meisel said the city will be reimbursed for the expenses by FEMA.
City Public Works Director Greg Meredith said the debris is being taken to a 20-acre area at the closed Glen Lily landfill.
In answer to a question about why local contractors weren’t being utilized for the cleanup, city Environmental Manager Matt Powell said local contractors will be needed for rebuilding efforts, and the non-local companies have the specific equipment and expertise needed for the massive task.
Residents and businesses are asked to pile the debris at curbside, and Powell said the cleanup trucks will keep going through the county until all debris is removed.
The vegetative debris being picked up is getting mulched, and the city is still determining what to do with the mulch.
A related cost-sharing agreement with Warren County to cover those tornado recovery efforts, as well as other costs, was also approved by commissioners.
Commissioners also approved extending the city property tax filing deadline by 90 days to March 31.
Before the meeting, several faith leaders gathered at City Hall to offer prayers and invocations.
Mayor Todd Alcott then began the meeting by addressing the devastating tornadoes.
“Where we are as a city is incredible, because of the love and the commitment shown across our community. ... I’m humbled. We appreciate you, we love you and we feel you,” he said.
He later added that “it was truly one team, one fight ... it’s something we will never forget.”
Meisel said the city saw an “unprecedented event and time” and he was heartened by the outpouring of support for the city.
“We could not have done this without our community,” he said of recovery and aid efforts.
City officials also reminded residents that the weare bgstrong.com website is now the central portal for information related to the tornadoes.
On first readings, commissioners also approved the following rezonings: 55.91 acres at 0 Porter Pike from planned unit development to light industrial for Holley Performance Products; 9.86 acres from highway business to multi-family residential at 0 Cooksey Lane for the HUB development; and 3.9 acres at 0 Thames Valley Way from highway business to multi-family residential for Thames Valley Property LLC.
Commissioners also approved the city being part of a national opioid settlement, with an undetermined amount of money expected next year.
– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdaily news.com.