The Bowling Green Daily News, along with Mayor Bruce Wilkerson, seems compelled to blame Rick Kelley for recent developments downtown. Well, I for one would like to jump on that bandwagon – so here it goes.
If you’ve ever participated in the Medical Center 10K, blame Rick Kelley. You see, in 1988, when the Wendy’s Classic was destined to end because the race director moved to Florida, my husband stepped in and took over. As a volunteer. For 20 years. Not because he is an avid runner, it's simply a wonderful event for Bowling Green.
Rick Kelley also volunteered when he spent 10 years as a member of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, ultimately serving as board chairman. The beautiful building that is now the home of the chamber of commerce was built during Rick's tenure as chairman. So blame Rick Kelley for taking run-down and abandoned lots and making them appealing to the new businesses looking at our wonderful community.
If you are upset that $250 million in capital investment has taken the place of dilapidated buildings and crack houses, blame Rick Kelley, because he’s responsible for getting Bowling Green designated as a signature TIF district, a 34-block area that keeps 80 percent of tax revenues in Bowling Green rather than sent to Frankfort. The TIF district starts at the Western Kentucky University Alumni Center and ends at the riverfront. The businesses, hotels, apartments and office spaces add vitality and jobs to a once dilapidated area.
If you have the opportunity to study at the new state-of-the-art nursing school at WKU, then blame Rick as it would not have been built without the ability to capture TIF revenue dollars. And for that matter, if you’ve enjoyed Broadway productions like "Beauty and the Beast" at SKYPAC, blame Rick Kelley, another project that relies on TIF revenue dollars and brings high-quality entertainment for all ages.
Have you been to a Bowling Green Hot Rods baseball game, perhaps last week when several UK basketball superstars were there? Blame Rick Kelley. His love of baseball combined with a desire for wholesome, economical family fun in Bowling Green gave us Bowling Green Ballpark. And if you ever played, coached or watched Little League at Kereiakes Park, then you already know Rick Kelley; he’s starting his 36th year of coaching the Mets. Again, as a volunteer.
So yes, I want to blame Rick Kelley for loving this community so much that he has given countless hours away from his family, volunteering to see these additions and improvements. He built a highly successful business with Mariah's that spanned 34 years and served BG well. If you were a charity asking for gift card donations, you were never turned down. Mariah’s catered numerous events, many times at cost, to benefit or promote local charities, schools, churches and businesses.
Yes, he made a horrendous business decision in 2009 by opening a restaurant in Nashville during the recession. But if you've owned your own business, you know that you're always one bad decision away from financial problems. However, to portray him in a false light as Mayor Wilkerson and BG Daily News have done is despicable and frankly litigious. He is a private citizen and his private life is not worthy of bullying or abuse. No one in the private sector deserves such scrutiny and Mayor Wilkerson and the Daily News should be ashamed for their willingness to promulgate this character assassination of a man with integrity and honesty that Bowling Green should be proud to have in its community.
— Tori Kelley is the wife of Bowling Green businessman Rick Kelley.