Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Bowling Green Daily News on preserving local history during community growth:
Among the challenges faced by thriving communities is ensuring the future does not blot out the past. As cities grow and evolve, it is common for the threads of local history to become frayed or even severed. Sometimes, once-prominent contributors to a city’s character are simply lost to the march of progress.
That’s why we welcome creative ways to breathe new life into old community cornerstones, and the recent news that the Capitol Arts Center will be leased to the Warren County Public Library is a perfect example of this concept.
Newer Bowling Green residents are certainly familiar with the Capitol, the venerable theater that stands formidably on Fountain Square. But the facility’s intermittent usage in recent years belies its rich history as a vibrant anchor of the local art and performance scene. If the library is successful in its plans for the Capitol, though, contemporary Warren Countians should experience the theater in something closer to role it was always meant to play.
The lease agreement clearly has the potential to benefit all involved. A new organization, Arts of Southern Kentucky, was formed to oversee both the Capitol and the larger and more modern Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center. Arts of Southern Kentucky will lease the Capitol from Warren County for $5, then will sublease the theater to the library for $400,000 annually. As the region emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, this arrangement will allow Arts of Southern Kentucky to focus on guiding SKyPAC toward financial success, according to the organization’s chief executive, Jeff Reed.
Meanwhile, the library gets full access to the Capitol and the opportunities that come with it: Among the possibilities already mentioned by WCPL Director Lisa Rice are author visits, Southern Kentucky Book Fest events, live music, drama workshops and even a used book store. The scale of some such events could grow as well, since the library will less often need to seek special accommodations for major bookings. Rice also said the library plans to make some functional and aesthetic improvements to the building, which dates to the late 1890s.
Doug Gorman, a Warren County magistrate and chairman of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, told the Daily News that the Capitol could eventually host as many as three events a week. Should that come to fruition, it’s difficult to imagine a bigger boon for a downtown area aching for a resurgence following the pandemic.
A revived Capitol Arts Center acting as a reliable magnet for downtown traffic will undoubtedly boost the fortunes of the entire downtown district, and it will allow a vital piece of local history to be preserved – and to better serve a new generation of residents and visitors.
The State Journal on the tulips that grow outside the Capitol:
It is no secret that the thousands of colorful tulips that emerge from the flowerbeds leading up to the Capitol make a beautiful backdrop for spring photos. And yet it happens every year: Someone gets the bright idea that they can get a better shot if their subjects stand in the middle of the circle of flowers and the tulips get trampled.
Not only does this kill the flowers and make the grounds less aesthetically pleasing, but it takes valuable funding from community food banks and organizations in need, such as ACCESS Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter.
You see, for the past 10 years when the state takes up the tulips during the week before the Kentucky Derby, which falls annually on the first Saturday in May, it donates the bulbs to nonprofits that sell them to raise money for food pantries and service projects.
“Tulips are symbolic of the renewal and beauty of spring, and we are pleased to share the bulbs previously planted at the Capitol with community food banks and charitable groups,” said former First Lady Jane Beshear, mother of current Gov. Andy Beshear, who started the program in 2011 after she found out the tulips were being discarded.
“This recycling effort is an easy and effective way to extend the life of the tulips for a good cause and encourage others to help pay it forward.”
The bulbs displayed in the Capital Avenue flowerbeds are selected for their growth habit, color and time of bloom. After the first year, they still produce flowers but are not consistent in growth habit or bloom time.
These specialty tulips, which usually cost $6-$9 per bulb and are a part of history since they were previously planted outside the Capitol, are donated to nonprofit organizations that sell them for $1 each.
In addition to ACCESS Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter, other groups who have benefited from the bulb sale include the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Morehead Community Soup Kitchen and Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.
While enjoying the beauty on the Capitol grounds please don’t trample the tulips. Their value is priceless to those in need.
The News-Enterprise on the reopening of the General George Patton Museum of Leadership:
After a COVID-related closure, the General George Patton Museum of Leadership reopens Thursday.
Yes, that happens to be April 1 but this is no joke.
Once one of Kentucky’s 10 most visited tourist sites, the museum is an important component of the local economy. Since open most definitely is better than being closed, it would be wonderful to celebrate this news.
Mike Martin, director of fundraising for the museum, certainly sounded upbeat in a recent interview in which he called 2021 a “rebound year” for the museum.
“We have been closed way too long and the conditions are finally right for reopening,” he said.
Martin went on to recount several upbeat details about new exhibits of various military leaders, tie-ins with Fort Knox’s connection with ROTC, an improved social media presence and fundraising efforts including the selling of honor bricks to recognize service members, veterans, first responders, essential workers and museum patrons.
Also on the calendar July 5-10 is the first official Patton Week. It includes events on and off post including a screening of the 1970 film “Patton” at Crowne Pointe Theatre in Elizabethtown, a speech by Museum Director Nathan Jones at American Legion Post 113 and activities at Boundary Oak Distillery in Radcliff, which has affirmed the lasting global recognition of the general’s legacy with the success of its Patton Armored Diesel product.
All that sounds exciting and deserving of praise.
Yet there’s one component missing. And we’ll withhold applause until that’s resolved.
Fort Knox still has not agreed to allow direct access to the museum property from U.S. 31W.
This facility faces the north-south highway artery and had an entrance gate off Dixie Highway until security concerns led to its closure. The parking lot remains and the traffic signal to accommodate exiting traffic could be returned. A previous post command staff spent tax dollars to erect a fence separating the museum property from other parts of the post, but the gate remained closed.
Visitors must enter and leave by the post gates in order to pass through security. Some tourists always will be turned off by this welcoming process as well as having to meander around the post to find their destination.
Here’s hoping for all concerned that the museum’s return is a boost to the local hospitality industry.
But we’ll reserve its gold star welcome for the day when direct highway access also returns.