intermediate reporting
Facilities Beat
By: Eli Randolph
"Climbing to greater heights"
After more than two years western Kentucky University completes its Hilltop restoration project. The cost of which is a point of contention among students.

The Hilltop Restoration project aimed to make better use of the area where Garrett Conference Center sat and there have been multiple improvements made to accommodate people with disabilities and to create more green space.

“Our main goal with this project is to provide access to everyone on top of the hill by eliminating barriers and creating new and inviting spaces for everyone.” said Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer at WKU. Russell has over seen the project since its beginning in 2019. A large priority of the project is to make it easier for students and the public to traverse through and around campus. The project has given Cherry Hall its first ADA accessible ramp directly into the lobby of the building. It has also made it possible to go from the top of the hill, either next to the road or through the middle of campus without hitting a single stair. There have also been numerous sitting areas added as well for those who might to take brakes during the walk.

To further expand recruitment and retention efforts a fountain with seating will be added as well. “Everyone wants a pretty campus,” Russell said. The new green space provides students with places to relax and come together. These more appealing areas of campus draw newcomers’ eyes and make them more likely to attend the university.

“I like more green since they tore up the other part of South Lawn,” said Zach Flannery, a student at WKU. Flannery’s opinions remained the same about the project until he heard the price. “I understand construction ain’t cheap,” Flannery said , “but, for some sidewalks that sounds like a lot.” Flannery also commented that at first he thought it was just another road project to bring more cars into campus.

Carol Coronado, another student on campus had similar reaction to the project. “I wish they had more seating,” Coronado said. She went on to talk about how she wishes they would have kept more grass at the top of the hill and how some of the sidewalks she feels are pointless. after hearing the price tag on the project Coronado was shocked. They can spend that much on some sidewalks but they cant fix my dorm,” Coronado said.

Even though some thought the new developments were made to bring more car into campus the goal was the opposite. Reducing cars in pedestrian heavy areas was another priority of the project. The 2010 – 2022 Hilltop study update, lists multiple options for achieving this goal such as rerouting Hilltop Drive to exit onto College Heights Boulevard and removing on-street parking on Hilltop Drive and Alumni Drive. With the addition of a roundabout behind the Faculty House traffic will now flow better in the areas that vehicles are permitted.

- Zach Flannery, a student at WKU
- Bryan Russell, Chief Facilities Officer
- The 2010 – 2022 Hilltop study, a pdf attached in the email
Western Kentucky University is set to invest $99.4 million in a new Gordon Ford College of Business building, according to the state budget, bolstering its commitment to education and innovation.

The $99.4 million dollar building aims to better equip and prepare students according to the Gordon Ford College of Business website.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall semester of 2025.

“We hope that the next big CEO is sitting in one of our classes,” said Liz Fogle, Marketing and communications specialist for the college. With the revision of the college of business curriculum two years ago and the new building under construction the college looks to continue supporting the regional business community by preparing new businessmen and women.

“The investment from the state shows that it is willing to support the growth of our college,” said Fogle. The funding for this project comes largely from the state of Kentucky in the form of $74.4 million in bond funds. These funds from the state can be used on capitol construction only. The remaining $25 million in the budget is funded by the university in the form of agency bonds.

The new building is being constructed where Tate Page Hall once sat next to the South Lawn. “It is a very central location on campus,” said Bryan Russel, director of facilities for WKU. The location will allow the college to truly centralize all its resources into one building and in the university as a whole.

One of the big attractions of the new building is the “one-stop-shop student success center,” said Fogle. This will include almost all of the services that the college provides. These services include advising, career coaching, internship management and the clothes closet.
Enterprise 1
By Eli Randolph

Western Kentucky University paid Houston Christian University $325,000 to play football, highlighting the growing trend of lucrative scheduling agreements in college sports.

In the dynamic world of college sports, the term buyout games has become increasingly common in recent years. These matchups, where larger universities pay smaller schools for a presumed victory, have sparked both excitement and controversy.

For some students, the recent agreement between Western Kentucky University and Houston Christian University recognizes the complex complexity of buyout games. Nate Ahern, a junior at WKU, sees these games as a necessary aspect to modern sports. "These kinds of games help keep our teams competitive and provide opportunities for the players."

"It feels like we're taking advantage of smaller schools like HCU just to get more wins," said Zachary Flannery, a junior at WKU. Although these games do not have a set in stone winner there is an expected winner going into the game.

With an operating budget of $ 7.1 million for the 2024 fiscal year according to the WKU budget. It is safe to say that WKU’s football team is not small. This is another contributing factor to the moral dilemma of these games.

However, it's important to remember that the financial benefits of buyout games for the small school involved. These payouts can serve as a lifeline for universities with limited resources. Smaller universities usually have less attendance and therefor less revenue from students and less funding from the sate. These funds can provide critical equipment for the team and give them the opportunity to be better in the future.

These buyout game also provide opportunities for smaller universities to play on a bigger stage. The exposure gained form these games sometimes helps players go on to bigger and better things.
Beat Article 3
By Eli Randolph

Western Kentucky University unveils a new soccer and softball complex, offering teams convenient access to state-of-the-art facilities close to their respective fields.

The softball and soccer fields are located behind the Creason parking lot at the edge of WKU’s campus. With sport technology and recruiting becoming more important than ever WKU seeks to bolster its athletics programs with new and updated facilities.

“The softball and soccer teams needed an indoor facility badly,” said Kerra Ogden, the project manager for the new facility. The new facility will house both team’s offices as well as locker rooms for the teams. Currently the soccer teams offices are in Houchens Industries L. T. Smith Stadium and the softball offices are in E. A. Diddle Arena. This posed logistical struggles for student-athletes and coaching staff alike.

Previously the teams had no access to adequate shelter during inclement weather close to their fields. The location of the facility helps to make games and practices alike as seamless as possible by having most if not all the team’s resources in one place.

The most notable inclusion in the new facility is a shared dedicated film room and indoor turf field with an automatic netting system. These new additions promote improvements within the programs and help to boost recruitment efforts. With schools becoming more and more competitive each year it is very important that schools keep up with the times.

“The completion of this complex now marks over 14 million dollars we have invested into our sport programs since the year 2014,” said Todd Stewart, director of athletics at WKU, to the public during the ribbon cutting for the facility on Thursday. The total project cost was about 5.2 million according to Ogden with the total proposed budget being 5.5 million according to the capital plan proposal.

“The majority of the funding came from the Conference USA buyout money,” said Ogden. After teams such as Marshall and Old Dominion bought their way out of the conference in 2022 the money that the conference received was redistributed to teams that stayed in the conference.

Kerra Ogden
Todd Stewart
  • (270) 745-5276
2022-2028 Capital Plan Proposed Capital Project Form
  • attached in email
Robert Ballard extra credit.
By Eli Randolph

WKU hosts renowned marine geologist as the first speaker in the presidential speaker series.

Dr. Robert Ballard, the man behind the finding of the R.M.S. Titanic, spoke to students and community members about his life and accomplishments on Tuesday Oct. 10 in Van Meter Hall.

The presidential speaker series was introduced by WKU President Timothy C. Caboni in the fall of 2023. The series aims to bring influential voices from diverse fields of study including science, arts, technology and public policy to campus according to WKU’s website.

“I wanted to be Captain Nemo,” said Ballard. Ballard’s love of the sea and submarines came to him early in life when he saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Later in life he was able to accomplish this by commanding his own submarine in the United States Navy.

It was during his time in the navy that he found the R.M.S. Titanic in 1985. The expedition to find the R.M.S. Titanic was a cover story for a top-secret mission to find two U.S. submarines lost during the cold war. Ballard explained how his commanding officer was upset that he actually found the R.M.S Titanic.

Ballard touched on the 2023 Oceangate submarine incident saying, “they crossed a line they shouldn’t have crossed.” He went on to explain how all the submarines that he and his team use and have used in the past are all tested to failure unlike the underdeveloped Oceangate submarine.

“He (Ballard) was one of the people who inspired me to do what I do today,” said Salley Tooley. Tooley is a professor of linguistics at WKU and was one of the middle schoolers who got to participate in the JASON project, a non-profit founded by Ballard. The JASON project provides curriculum and learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for K-12 students according to the organization’s website.

Ballard was paid $42,000 to speak for the series. The university also provided a one-night hotel stay and round trip transportation to the event according to his contract with WKU.

- Dr. Robert Ballard
- Salley Tooley
- Contract for Ballard to appear
Enterprise article two
By – Eli Randolph

Bowling Green commissioners accept roughly a million dollars in funds from the EPA to reduce emissions.

The Bowling Green city commissioners and mayor voted unanimously to accept municipal order no. 2023 – 233 during their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The order authorized acceptance of grant funds from the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program for Phase one Planning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the amount of $999,742, according to the meeting agenda.

“This is for us to plan for our growth with what we’ve got ahead of us to come up with ideas such as maybe roundabouts, traffic mitigation type things,” said Jeff Meisel, city manager for Bowling Green.

The CPRG program provides $5 billion in grants to states, local governments, tribes and territories to develop and implement ambitious plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollution, according to the EPA.

Cities participating in the program must use the planning grant funds to create a priority climate action plan (PCAP), comprehensive climate action plan (CCAP) and a status report. Recipients of the grant must use the funds to create these plans based around six key sectors: electricity generation, industry, transportation, buildings, agriculture/natural and working lands and waste management, according to the EPA.

The timeline for the action plans and status report lasts for the next four years, and is set to finish in June 2027 according to Bowling Green’s timeline. The PCAP is set to be published in March 2024 and the CCAP is set to be published in June 2025.

“This will help us get our foot in the door for the larger $4.7 billion grant,” said Matt Powell, environmental manager for Bowling Green. Powell discussed how this grant is purely for planning and the preparation for the more competitive grant.

40% ($400,000) of the planning grant is going towards hiring an external consultant to help with the planning process. The consultant will be paid $100,000 a year for four years and will be hired by nominations from the city’s coordinating entities and stakeholders according to the grant application filed by Bowling Green.

According to the final budget for the grant funds, the budget also accounts for a new temporary staff position to work as project coordinator on community engagement, timeline management, project administration. This new position will be paid $30,000 year one, $32,000 year two, $35,000 year three and $38,000 year four. The grand total pay for the position for four years of work is $135,000.

Possibilities for Bowling Green include but are not limited to, urban tree-canopy actions to reduce heat and stormwater risks, riverine flood mitigation through increased flood storage, access to floodplains and structural projects, coordination with large private institutions around emergency sheltering, cooling, and other opportunities, and actions targeting drinking water resilience and reliability according to the grant application.
Final Beat article
Eli Randolph

Hilltopper hall undergoes repairs due to shift in the stone façade of the building.

Scaffolding was set up around the building early in the fall semester. The shift in the facade can be seen on the corner of the building around the stairwell closest to Gilbert Hall according to Housing and Residence Life.

In a statement Dr. Jace Lux, spokesperson for WKU said, “this isn’t related to the building’s foundation.”

Katie Corbin, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications echoed a similar statement and added, “Facilities Management, HRL and the Student Life Foundation have been working with engineers and additional building contractors to make assessments and repair the area,” said Corbin.

A common cause of shifting facades is shifting soil. This is due to oversaturation of water in the soil or a shift in the soil itself. Shifting soil can be a sign of a sinkhole forming and the soil onto top moving to take the bottoms place.

“Sinkholes are extremely common in BG,” said Nick Lawhon, Bowling greens Environmental Compliance Coordinator and a registered professional geologist. There are two main types of sinkholes to deal with. Cover collapse sinkholes are caused when you remove grass and expose bare soil, it creates an environment conducive to the formation of these kinds of sinkholes. Dolines are used like drainage ditches most of the time since they naturally carry water into the subsurface.

There are multiple sinkholes on WKUs campus, such as across the street from the first year village and some that act as storm drains under Mimosa Alley according to Lawhon. These sinkholes and others are spread around WKU and are monitored.

If sinkholes are present during construction of a building the design for the foundation must change to accommodate this situation. Some building are built like this in mind for the future in areas that are know to have sinkholes.

“Sinkholes can also form when natural water-drainage patterns are changed,” The U.S. Geological Survey said. This includes any building or other wise changing of the ground.

- Nick Lawhon
- Jace Lux
- Various attached documents provided by Mr. Lawhon
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