Tuesday, December 5, 2017

College Town At Christmas: 2017, "My Top 10 Crazy Christmas Wish List Items For The City of Bowling Green"

   
I am sorry to admit but I have struggled with getting into Christmas spirit this year so far.
I did not make it to the annual Christmas parade in downtown Bowling Green this past Saturday morning nor to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Fountain Square Park this past Friday night either.  Like most Bowling Green citizens, I've been busy with work and life in general.  However, I have been trying to think of an idea for my annual "College Town At Christmas" blog for awhile now.  But I finally thought of idea today.  I thought, "What about if I wrote a blog based on my "My Top 10 Crazy Christmas Wish List Items For The City of Bowling Green?"  Yes, for our beloved City of Bowling Green located in Southcentral Kentucky! So here it goes.  It's some crazy, far out Christmas wish list items but I hope you enjoy them nevertheless! It's meant to be in all fun and for your amusement! I hope you enjoy them!

10.) An GM Corvette sports car themed Amusement Park like Disney World close to the Corvette plant, racetrack and museum next to I-65.  Bowling Green is the only place in the world where the Corvette is made.

9.)  A six to eight lane loop around the whole City of Bowling Green that will alleviate the heavy traffic problems especially on Campbell Lane and Nashville, Smallhouse, Three Springs and Scottsville roads.

8.) A Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky Rock & Roll Music Museum honoring the likes of Bowling Green based indie rock bands, "Cage The Elephant" and the former indie rock band "Sleeper Agent." Also, the hard rocking Kentucky rock band, "Black Stone Cherry" from nearby Edmonton, Ky., just down the road and Kentucky country cock rockers, "The Kentucky Headhunters," also from Edmonton.   Also, throw in "The Hilltoppers" from the early 50's who were from Western Kentucky University.  The museum would celebrate these bands who made an impact nationally and internationally and who have brought world-wide attention to Bowling Green and the region by national television appearances, newspaper and magazines articles, radio, internet and television interviews, albums, CD's, iTunes,  videos and concert appearances world-wide.  Also, include displays for Grammy winners "Cage The Elephant" and "The Kentucky Headhunters," as well as displays for all local and regional bands who have had an impact on the Bowling Green Music Scene.  And the museum, would feature a local beer brewery spotlighting Bowling Green's own regionally known and popular "White Squirrel" beer with a brew pub, full size restaurant and a large venue for indoor and outdoor concerts with lots of seating.

7.) Give "Cage The Elephant" and "The Kentucky Headhunters" keys to the City of Bowling Green for bringing world-wide attention to our city and region for their musical achievements with winning Grammys.

6.) A museum honoring some of Bowling Green most colorful and most recognized famous citizens, such as "Pauline Tabor," the famous madam who ran a brothel on Clay Street at one time, John Carpenter of Hollywood, Calif.,  the famous horror movie director of "Halloween" and other scary movies and the famous wrestler from Bowling Green, "Hillbilly Jim," just to name a few.

5.) A plaque somewhere downtown Bowling Green to honor and recognize the city's own local billionaire, "Brad Kelley," who likes to fly under the radar, incognito away from the public eye and press but for his founding of his former cigarette factory, "USA Gold" cigarettes and other brands.  As I understand he sold his business to Houchens Industries for a billion dollars and Houchens later sold for several more billions to a company in England.  Kelly is supposedly one of the top five landowners in the country.  We should all be proud he is from here.  "From farm boy to billionaire."

4.) A walkway bridge over University Avenue and the CSX railroad at the Old Morgantown Road entrance for the Western Kentucky University students to cross.  That's a very dangerous intersection for students to be crossing considering all of the automobile traffic and the amount of railroad traffic.

3.) A movie made about Ervin G. Houchens honoring the founder of Houchens Industries, based in Bowling Green, one the nation's largest employee stock ownership plans (ESOP).  It's basically a rags to riches story of a young boy who began working hard early life in rural Barren County, Ky.,  and later left a legacy of tremendous wealth in our community that still lives on today in many aspects and businesses.

2.) A monorail railway system for Western Kentucky University and the City of Bowling Green to alleviate all of the bus traffic.  Since we can't go underground because of karst cave systems, sinkholes and limestone underneath us, let's go above and beyond like Disney world!

1.) And finally but not least, let's create the world's largest dog park with hotels, swimming pools, cabins, lakes and pontoon boats with fishing included among other recreational things to do.  Since we have one dog park already in the city let's add new one out in the county somewhere.  Also local dog food manufacturers, Hills Pet Foods and Champion Pet Food Auburn could be major sponsors.  We could draw people in from all over the world!

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful 2017!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Story Behind The Story: 'Metros' Cars And Center Street In Bowling Green, Ky.

BOWLING GREEN, KY _ I had been working in the newsroom at the Bowling Green Daily News for almost two half years by the time, that former Managing Editor, Don Stringer and Roger Jones, former advertising director, decided to create a local car section tabloid insert loaded with car stories and advertising for our popular daily newspaper.
   Back in those days, the Bowling Green Daily News and local television station, WBKO, dominated as the top media outlets in our community.  It was long before the days of the internet, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Although, I was probably one of Don's least favorite writers or employees of the newsroom, he did actually utilize my writing skills from time to time.  This story "'Metros' Man's Fascination Of Bowling Green" was an easy story to write.  It was simple, clean, cut and dry.  It was written in November of 1993, so that was 24 years ago this month.  But I can't remember if I interviewed the main subject in person or on the phone.  Most likely it was over the phone because that's how we wrote most of our stories at the time because of a "lack of time."  We had a noon deadline in our newsroom.  But with the special insert tabloid sections, we always had a lot more time to get our stories done.
    Looking back now, I think this how I wrote this story. I interviewed Mr. Ken Marshall, the main subject, over the phone and then he had invited me to his wholesale and salvage warehouse that was located on Center Street at the time near Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.  One of our newsroom photographers drop by and took some pictures for the story.  We used the best shot of Mr. Marshall using his elbow to lean up against one his blue and white Metro cars.  His warehouse used to be across the street from the old, former Jr. Food Store on the corner where the new High Tops Sports Bar and Grill is now located.  Of course, all those old houses and buildings have been torn down in the last few years and new fine brick structures have been rebuilt such as a hotel, a WKU alumni center, fraternity houses, apartments, restaurants and storefront shops.  And if I remember correctly, I did take up Mr. Marshall's invite to drop by to sneak a peek at his 'Metros' cars.  They weren't running but he had some really cool ones under covers and a couple stored up on some racks inside his warehouse.  Mainly, I just remember all the junk he had stored in his warehouse and that he was a real friendly fellow with a big smile.  I bet it took forever for whoever to get all that junk and cars out of that warehouse before they sold and tore down the building.
    Besides being an easy to write, it was a fun story with some interesting facts regarding the unusual cars and Mr. Marshall and his the junky warehouse. Also, reading the story over again, makes me take a trip down memory lane, remembering those long gone days of what Center Street in Bowling Green used to look like back in the early 90's. Very cool!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Young Classic Rock/Led Zeppelin Retro Sounding Band: Michigan's Greta Van Fleet Is Causing Black Smoke To Rise Everywhere

   I was at a Pizza Hut in Bowling Green recently and I struck up a conversation about music with a young man who was listening to Pearl Jam while he worked.
He said he really loved the sound of Eddie Vedder's voice, the lead singer of the band, and we talked about the fact that this young man was also a musician. Then he pulled out his iPhone and showed me a Youtube video of new young rock band who is exploding on the music scene currently called "Greta Van Fleet" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Van_Fleetc and they hail from Michigan.
    I was blown away by the video who showed me especially since I am a baby boomer and I love classic rock and Led Zeppelin like millions of other people do in the world.  Greta Van Fleet formed in 2012 and they have that incredible sound of classic rock/Led Zeppelin to be exact and to be such a young musicians in my opinion.  Their style of music appears to us old timers especially.  Even the lead singer sounds exactly a young Robert Plant.  They have apparently tapped into a unique music niche market in order appeal to the masses of all age groups with their sound, music and style.
      The band members are Josh Kiszka, Jake Kiszka, Sam Kiszka, and Danny Wagner and in April of this year, the band released their debut studio digital EP on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/black-smoke-rising-ep/id1226696489 called, "Black Smoke Rising."  The debut single, "Highway Tune," has topped the Billboard US Mainstream and Active Rock stations this past September. Currently,  Greta Van Fleet is touring the country to sold out clubs and venues everywhere. http://gretavanfleet.com/ 
      It appears that if Greta Van Fleet keeps stoking the fires that's causing black smoke to rise everywhere, they will stay on a fast track to fast fame and fortune.  They will go far in this brave, new digital world that we live in if they keep it up.  Greta Van Fleet's already quick success on the internet and in the social media realm of the globe, kind of reminds me of Van Halen's fast rise to world-wide recognition and instant riches in the late 70's during the vinyl record and analog recording days of that time era.  Great Van Fleet better fasten their seat belts because it looks like they are in for one hell of a ride!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

President Trump At His Best During One Of The Worst Days In America After Vegas Mass Shooting

     
I think most of us in America as well as those around the world were probably shocked when saw the news yesterday morning when we woke up that over 50 people were slaughtered by a lone gunman shooting out of a Las Vegas hotel room with rapid fire at a Jason Aldean's outdoor country music concert on Sunday night.
    We were dumbfounded and thinking, "What the hell is going on?"  We were all searching for a meaning that such a horrible and senseless act of evil could take place in a place like "Vegas" where everybody is suppose to have fun and a good time.  The shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, ended up killing 59 people and wounded over 500 more at the country music festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where the shooter had a room and where he was shooting from.  Police stormed his 32nd floor hotel room and found that he had killed himself after committing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
 
 However, a lot of us found comfort in President Trump's speech about the tragedy during his speech at the White House yesterday whether you watched it on television or on the internet. I watched President Trump's speech yesterday evening on Youtube (see video posted below).  In spite of President Trump's flaws and character defects, he is a man of conviction, passion and a believer and not afraid to use the words, "God, love, prayer, care" in his sentences. This is the kind of leader we need during times like these. He gives us hope for America and a feeling of security regardless of what's going on in the world.  After President Trump visit to hurricane devastated Puerto Rico today and he will fly to Las Vegas to visit with the victims and family members of the mass shooting on Wednesday.  We pray for all the innocent concert goers who lost their lives on Sunday night and for those who were injured.  We also pray for the victim's family members.  God Bless President Trump and America.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Citizens And Taxpayers of Bowling Green and Warren County In Kentucky Have A Right To Know The Absolute Truth Of The Downtown Parking Structure Wrap Financial Disaster



"We the citizens of Bowling Green and Warren County charge our political leaders and law enforcement officials to get to the bottom of this financial disaster regarding the downtown parking structure wrap. We trust that they will fulfill their obligations to do so and find whoever is guilty of misuse of public monies whether by indictment and jury trial or other means. On the other hand, we depend on the legal system to find those accused not guilty if that be the case. Regardless, we the taxpayers deserve the absolute truth."-Galen A. Smith Sr.


Suit outlines alleged effort to appropriate tax dollars (A Top Front Page News Story Published By The Bowling Green Daily News)


By WES SWIETEK wswietek@bgdailynews.com
Sep 13, 2017





Clinton(from left), Chris and Ed Mills pose for a photograph June 21, 2012, on the downtown parking garage. The city filed a federal civil lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green regarding the development. It names as defendants Mills Family Realty and its predecessor MR Group; the officers of that group, Ed Mills, Chris Mills and Clinton Mills; and Bowling Green businessman Rick Kelley. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.Miranda Pederson/Daily News

A lawsuit filed by the city of Bowling Green regarding the initial development of the wrap around the downtown Bowling Green parking garage, then known as Hitcents Park Plaza, paints a picture of businessmen looking to pad their pockets with taxpayer money.


The defendants, however, call the suit frivolous and a waste of taxpayer money.

The city filed a federal civil lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green regarding the development.

It names as defendants Mills Family Realty and its predecessor MR Group; the officers of that group, Ed Mills, Chris Mills and Clinton Mills; and Bowling Green businessman Rick Kelley. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

A civil complaint represents only a plaintiff’s claim, and the defendants have the right to file a response in court. No formal responses had been filed as of Wednesday morning, according to court filings.

The suit accuses the defendants of “fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy and conversion. Defendants, engaged in – and conspired to engage in – a pattern of racketeering activity intended to defraud the Plaintiff out of millions of dollars. Defendants also committed fraud, violated their fiduciary and contractual duties to Plaintiff, and engaged in a civil conspiracy to enrich themselves at the expense of the Plaintiff.”

The suit alleges that “as a direct result of Defendants’ tortious and fraudulent conduct, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer several million dollars in damages.” The suit alleges that the defendants “wrongfully diverted and illegally used bond funds ... to establish and operate their own private businesses.”

Mills Family Realty was chosen in 2012 as the developer of the project, which was financed by about $22 million in county bonds.

Mills Family Realty hired Kelley, the former owner of Mariah’s restaurant, as a consultant for the development. Mariah’s eventually moved into Hitcents Park Plaza.

The suit alleges that Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson in May 2013 asked members of the Mills family whether Kelley was involved in the restaurants in the development, with Wilkerson expressly stating “that the bond funds are not a ‘Rick Kelley Bankruptcy Bailout Fund,’ ” according to the suit. In response, Wilkerson was assured that Kelly wasn’t involved in the project, according to the suit, but that “in fact, upon information and belief, Rick Kelley eventually earned as much as $2.07 million dollars from his involvement with the Project.”

The suit alleges that the defendants improperly commingled various revenue in the project, altered an operating agreement without the city’s knowledge to operate their own businesses and used and overspent Tax Increment Financing District revenue “on working capital for their own benefit, resulting in the project’s collapse.”

Ed Mills and his sons Clinton and Chris Mills are also affiliated with the project’s initial namesake tenant, the Hitcents technology firm.

Mills Family Realty had a subsidiary subtenant known as MR Group to operate restaurants in the development.

“MFR ultimately spent over $12.7 million on tenant improvements for restaurants and banquet space leased and operated by its subsidiary, MR Group. (An amount over $9 million more than the total allowance in the construction agreement, and over $7 million more than that allowed in the sublease agreements.) This was done for the sole benefit of Mills Defendants, who are all owners and operators of both MFR and MR Group,” the suit alleges.

The alleged mismanagement led to the project’s troubles and the city “did not discover – nor could it reasonably have discovered – this fraudulent conduct ... until sometime in 2014-15, when the Project unraveled and Defendants’s fraudulent conduct came to light.”

The defendants’ actions, the suit argues, amount to a violation of the federal racketeering statutes, common law fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy and five other related offenses. It asks for damage amounts to be determined, but says damages are “believed to exceed $500,000” on each of the nine counts.

Clinton Mills said Tuesday the Millses feel “confident that the city’s basis for the claim are inaccurate.”

It is “unfortunate that the city is wasting taxpayer money on such an exercise. We look forward to defending our position,” he said.

Kelley’s attorney, Alan Simpson, called the suit “frivolous” and “an outrageous waste of taxpayer money.”

The suit stems from issues related to the development of the wrap around the downtown parking garage, which became public when contractors filed more than $2 million in liens in February 2015 on the almost-complete project, saying they were not being paid for their work. Restaurants in the building also closed and several lawsuits followed. Ultimately, the county issued a new $30 million bond to pay contractors and finish the project with a new developer.

A review conducted by then-state Auditor Adam Edelen and released in December 2015 concluded that there was overspending on the project of $9.7 million, resulting in a $4.5 million deficit; poor oversight on the project by elected officials; and numerous, often contradictory, agreements guiding the project.

“The city, especially the mayor, have been trying to vilify Rick Kelley for years now. This is the latest attempt to do so,” Simpson said Tuesday. “This lawsuit is frivolous and they know it. Every one of the expenditures was approved by the bond counsel ... there is no mistake in that. Why wasn’t the city’s bond counsel sued? The city all along knew bond proceeds were being used for working capital.”

Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said in December 2015 that his office is reviewing the state audit, but he has not since provided an update on the status of his investigation.

Simpson said Tuesday that the FBI had also reviewed the case “and has taken no action. For the city to file (a suit claiming violation of federal laws) flies in the face of law enforcement.”

Last month, the Bowling Green City Commission in a 4-1 vote approved allowing the Keating Muething & Klekamp law firm of northern Kentucky to file the civil action, with only Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash voting no. Nash said he did not believe the city could recoup any money through the suit and that it would place a black cloud over continuing downtown development.

The case was assigned to the docket of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., according to court records.




– Follow News Director Wes Swietek on Twitter @BGDNgovtbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Will Be The Biggest Thing That Hits Bowling Green, Ky., Since American Idol Came To Town

     
Reading Sunday's Bowling Green Bowling Green Daily News, it appears that our state, county and city is again making some last minute preparations for the onslaught of hordes and throngs of people predicted to arrive and stay to our local hotels and eat at our local restaurants bringing in thousands of dollars for our local economy to view the total solar eclipse which is due to be here one week from today.  Although, emergency responders from the state, county and city did actually start making plans for the big event in the early Spring according to the Bowling Green Daily News which is a good thing.
      When I found out that all of our local hotel rooms were booked up from a customer who works in our hotel industry last week, I posted something about it on Facebook and the next thing I know, word is getting around in our community that we are going to be loaded down with people coming to our town on Aug. 21.  It's even all over the news now. I think for a lot of us here in Bowling Green, reality is just now setting in on how big this thing is going to be for us since American Idol came to town seeking local talent.  Or the time President Ronald Reagan came to town at the last minute in 1988 to stump for Vice President George H. Bush at Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University or the time President Bill Clinton came to town in 1984 to attend longtime Congressman's William H. Natcher's funeral.  Natcher was from Bowling Green. 
      However, I think American Idol was a bust for Bowling Green because they only showed a disappointing couple short second clips of our hometown on the show.  Our city and county government spent hundreds of dollars providing security for the American Idol crew for the couple of days while they set up downtown on Fountain Square with their roped off areas and tour bus.  Yes, hundreds of singers showed up but was it worth it?  I think the city and county thought that we were going to get some good publicity out of the deal which did not happen as we all know now. 
     
 But no, this total solar eclipse thing appears that it will be much, much larger than American Idol will ever be.  I don't we really can imagine how big it's going to be.  Bowling Green is in the 100 mile wide band that runs across the nation where you are suppose to be able to see the total eclipse and it will start locally at 1:27:23 p.m. and end at 1:28:39 p.m.  So for just a little over a minute, this will be a historic, once in a lifetime event for a lot of us.  Supposedly, everything will go dark, just like it will be night time during this short time period frame  I would think if it's cloudy or raining, it will still go dark outside for this amount of time. Be sure to have your iPhones plus eye protection, to video the event, so that you can post it on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Instagram!
     Remember also, experts are saying to keep your vehicles fueled up, have plenty of water on hand (Huh? I'm not sure about this one. Maybe if you get stuck in traffic?) and be prepared for heavy traffic.  Also, have the right eye protection.  I am just a little concerned here.  I'm starting to think maybe I should take the day off work and wait it out on my front porch with my vehicles parked in the driveway, safe and tucked away.  Of course, I'll make sure that I have plenty of water, food and supplies.  But I don't have a generator.  Will I need a generator?  I hope not. But I will probably just work in the morning (if I can get around town in the Bowling Green heavy predicted traffic), come home, eat lunch and then go outside to view the total solar eclipse with my wife and Aussie dog. After the celestial event occurs and if I am bewildered enough or totally in awe, I just may take the rest of the day off until traffic dies down before I venture out into the streets of Bowling Green.  Because I surely do not want to get caught in traffic!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ole Miss Needs To Get In Front Of The Eight Ball And Extinguish The Public Relations Disaster And Media Fires Over Former Football Coach Hugh Freeze Abrupt Resignation

   


We're all worthwhile fallible human beings. Although, I have been living away from Mississippi for 30 years now, I try to keep up with my Mississippi friends and my Alma Mater at Ole Miss mainly on social media these days. I am still a fan of Ole Miss football somewhat and I try to keep up with the program through the media and watch the games on television while living in Kentucky for all these years. I depend on the media to tell me what's happening with the program whether it be television, radio or social media. Being a former journalist and currently a blogger, I try to see the issues in an unbiased and objective fashion. It's what I learned in journalism school at Ole Miss in the early 80's. However, because I have to depend on the media these days to get my information of what's happening, a lot of times I will get the biased opinions. I feel sorry for

Coach Freeze and his family as well as the Ole Miss community, alumni and the major Ole Miss football donors and supporters. But obviously this is a major, big, world-wide news story and it's not going away anytime soon. Yes, the Christian element is there and a lot of people are bashing him over it including other Christians. But the university has to deal with this public relations disaster, get in front of it and try to get it under control so it will die down. Also Coach Freeze will have too somehow also. He will have to face the media again eventually. Whether the whole truth comes out of what's been going on for sure, I don't know. You have good journalists and bad journalist out there. By the time this thing is over with, I don't think it's going to be pretty either way. We all need to keep praying for Coach Freeze and his family. And also for the Ole Miss and its football program including team, coaches and players.