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Politics
2:00 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Rep. Embry Considering Run for Kentucky's 6th Senate Seat

A Butler County state Representative says he's strongly considering a run for a Senate seat following today's signing of new redistricting maps. The newly drawn boundaries place Morgantown Republican C.B. Embry, Jr., in the same district as Warren County Republican Jim DeCesare.

Embry gave his reaction to WKU Public Radio earlier Friday afternoon.

"Now I'm not fixing to announce or anything, but I'm leaning toward running for the sixth Senatorial district next year. That would be Butler, Ohio, Muhlenberg, and Hopkins counties," said Embry.

The sixth Kentucky Senate district is currently represented by Madisonville Democrat Jerry Rhoads. Embry admits it would be a tough challenge to take on Rhoads, given that the voter registration in the sixth Senate district is majority Democratic.

Warren County Representative Jim DeCesare told WKU Public Radio today that he plans to run for the 17th District House seat.

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Business
1:09 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Kentucky Hospitals Announce Partnership to Strengthen Pediatric Care

Kentucky's two largest children's hospitals are partnering to provide better pediatric care across the state.  Kosair Children's Hospital and U-K Children's Hospital have signed a letter intent to join forces and will spend the next few months working out the details. 

"Bottom line is, we can do more together than separately," says Stephens Williams, CEO of Norton Healthcare, which owns and operates Kosair.  "Our goal is to continue to expand services, certainly allowing us to better compete with children's hospitals in our border states." 

Williams says the collaboration will allow the hospitals to recruit more specialty pediatricians to handle some of the chronic diseases that plague Kentucky children such as obesity and diabetes. 

The partnership will also build upon collaborations the two hospitals already have with their cancer and transplant programs. 

Education
10:59 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Ransdell Emphasizes Retention, Attracting High-Achieving Students During Convocation

WKU President Gary Ransdell addressed faculty and staff at the opening convocation on Aug. 23 at Van Meter Hall.
Credit WKU's Clinton Lewis

WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff that it's unlikely that significant new state funding for higher education will come from the next Kentucky budget.

Speaking at Friday's annual convocation, President Ransdell said the recent state funding declines make it all the more important for the school to attract the highest-achieving students possible, and do everything possible to see them through to graduation.

Ransdell said WKU is challenged by a drop in the number of high school graduates in the commonwealth.

"The number of U.S. high-school graduates peaked at 3.4 million in 2010-2011 and is projected to fall to 3.2 million by 2013-14, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Kentucky is projected to have a 6.1 percent decline in the number of high school graduates by 2020," said Dr. Ransdell. 

"An era of aggressive tuition increases and enrollment growth strategies that carried us from 1998 to 2008 cannot serve us well going forward. We have penetrated well the Kentucky market place, but the paradigm has shifted. The numbers in Kentucky just are not there in the future."

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Politics
10:59 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Governor Signs Redistricting Bill

Governor Steve Beshear

**UPDATE: Gov. Steve Beshear has signed new legislative maps into law.  The Kentucky House voted 79-18 to approve new redistricting maps. It follows a 35-2 approval by the Senate earlier Friday morning.  The bill took five days during a special session to pass.

Original Post:

A legislative redistricting bill that steamrolled through the House is scheduled for a Senate vote Friday morning.

Gov. Steve Beshear said he stands ready to sign the measure into law on Friday, after lawmakers finish up their work of redrawing boundary lines around House and Senate districts.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously approved the proposal Thursday.

Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate to comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate. The state's overall population rose from 4 million to 4.3 million while shifting largely from rural communities to urban areas.

Sports
7:14 am
Fri August 23, 2013

KHSAA Commissioner Says He Likes Having High School Football Finals at WKU

WKU's Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium
Credit Kevin Willis

The leader of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association says he’s pleased with the job WKU has done in hosting the state football finals. That might quiet any talk about the finals moving from Bowling Green to Louisville.

WKU has hosted the state high school football finals since 2009, and is under contract to remain host through 2014. Before that, the city of Louisville hosted the events stretching back to 1979.

In a text message to a Courier-Journal sports reporter, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said his group is happy with Bowling Green as the location for the football finals, saying WKU’s L.T. Smith Stadium gives fans and player a more intimate setting than the larger Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Tackett says WKU “appears to maximize all desired factors.”

The U of L Cardinals’ upcoming move to a new athletic conference means the team won’t be playing at home the first weekend in December, the weekend the high school football finals are traditionally held. Because of that availability, some have speculated the KHSAA might consider moving the high school finals back to Louisville.

Economy
6:24 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Kentucky Reports County Jobless Rates

Kentucky officials say unemployment rates fell in 72 of the state's counties between July 2012 and last month. They say the jobless rate rose in 42 counties and stayed the same in six.

The figures were released by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

The report says Woodford County had the state's lowest jobless rate at 5.8%. It was followed by Fayette County at 6.4%, Oldham County at 6.5% and Scott County at 6.6%.

Harlan County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 17.2%. Next was Leslie County at 16.9%, followed by Magoffin County 16.8% and Letcher County at 16.3%.

The statewide unemployment rate was 8.5% last month.

Politics
5:55 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Lawmakers To Receive Sexual Harassment Training

Kentucky House lawmakers would have to undergo annual sexual harassment sensitivity training under a resolution approved Thursday after three legislative staffers filed sexual harassment complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The allegations against Democratic state representative John Arnold of Sturgis triggered a public outcry, forcing House Speaker Greg Stumbo to address the matter on the floor Thursday evening. He assured angry colleagues the matter "will be dealt with responsibly" and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the charges are proven to be true.

Arnold, who represents parts of Union, Daviess and Henderson counties. refused to answer questions about the allegations Wednesday and was absent from the legislature on Thursday.

In the complaints, first reported by Louisville public radio station WFPL-FM, the staffers alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and had made vulgar comments over a period of years.

Education
3:25 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center Officially Opens

Inside the WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center
Credit Joe Corcoran

The new WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center in Bowling Green will double the number of new nursing and physical therapy students graduating and entering the work force.

The first class of 80 nursing students begins classes Monday, Aug. 26.

WKU President Gary Ransdell told an audience at Thursday morning's official opening of the complex that as many as 360 students will be going through a variety of programs.

"This new building will house a bachelor's, master's, and a doctoral degree program in the WKU School of Nursing. And is will allow us to double the number of nursing students we accept every year, and the impact that will have on health care across our entire region is just profound," said Dr. Ransdell.

The first class of 30 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program began in June and just finished their first semester.

Politics
2:32 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Debate over Health-Care Law Breaks Out at Kentucky Ham Breakfast

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Steve Beshear squared off in a heated debate about the federal health-care law at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast.

The Democratic governor said Thursday the Affordable Care Act will work in Kentucky.

Beshear said the law will improve Kentucky's health problems, which include some of the nation's worst rates for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

McConnell, the Senate's top-ranking Republican, said the law is driving up health insurance premiums and forcing employers to reduce working hours for many employees. McConnell said the law should be repealed.

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Education
2:23 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky Launches Kindergarten Screening Statewide

Kentucky is implementing a statewide screening system for kindergarteners this year.  Governor Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday made the announcement in Frankfort Thursday.

"As a former teacher, I understand how getting to know a student's needs and abilities early in the school year can make a big difference in helping that child to succeed," said Mrs. Beshear.

Every school district in the state will use the Brigance Kindergarten Screener, a tool used by many states to gauge a child's school readiness.  Courtney Daniel in the Governor's Office of Early Childhood says a student cannot fail the screening.

"The screener is a moment in time snapshot of the child's development," Daniel explained.  "It's not an entrance exam for kindergarten, and it's not going to be used to track or label children."

The screening system was piloted in 109 Kentucky school districts last year.  Data collected from those districts indicate that a majority of children are socially and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten.  However, many students did not achieve at high levels in the areas of cognition, language, and motor skills.

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