News

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

The leader of Bowling Green city schools says the district will adhere to federal guidance concerning transgender students while at the same time keeping  all students safe. 

In a letter on Friday to public schools across the nation, the U.S. Department of Education said federal law requires them to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their chosen identity. 

Superintendent Gary Fields says those issues are handled on an individual basis between students, their parents, and school administrators.

"We have to have those discussions to see where students are at that time, based on whether it's a younger student or an older student.  What is best for one child may not be best for other children," Fields told WKU Public Radio.  "We make decisions that are in the best interests of those students and all of our students."

Seth Wenig/AP

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are turning their attention to the general election, and to one of the most important decisions they will make —choosing a vice president.

Picking a vice president is the first "presidential level" decision any candidate makes. Although vice presidential candidates have rarely, perhaps never, determined the outcome of an election, the choice tells voters a lot about the candidate.

The two most important criteria are always the same:

1. Pick someone who's would ready to be president, if necessary, and
2. DO NO HARM

Here's a look at the potential VP short lists for Clinton and Trump. For the purposes of this exercise, we will restrict the names to those who have indicated they would be open to the possibility or at least have not ruled out joining the ticket.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Kentucky entomologists have created a website to provide information on the Zika virus, with mosquitoes starting to show up in the state.

Extension entomologist Lee Townsend says mosquito populations will peak in mid- to late summer. He said in a news release the website will include information on Zika cases as they appear and on mosquitoes that are potential virus carriers in the state.

Zika can be transmitted sexually, but it is primarily spread through mosquito bites.

The website can be found here.

All confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S. are from travelers bitten by mosquitoes while in another country, including six in Kentucky.

The virus causes mild, flu-like symptoms but can cause severe birth defects in babies whose mothers contract the virus during pregnancy.

Creative Commons

Kentucky Democrats will decide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election, and members from both parties will vote in elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and state House. Some state Senate districts will also be on the ballot.

Republicans won’t vote for president because in March the party conducted a caucus election, which Donald Trump won handily.

Voter turnout is expected to be low on Tuesday — about 20 percent, according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She says Republicans might be less inclined to show up to the polls since their presidential contest has already taken place.

Here’s a look at the federal offices on the ballot and the candidates running for them.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Riding a wave of notoriety from his failed presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul has returned to Kentucky, relatively unscathed, to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

Paul has an easy path to securing the nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. With no major challengers this year, he hasn’t run TV ads or participated in public debates. Paul has appeared in a series of town hall meetings across the state, touting his platform, which is essentially the same as it was during his 2010 race.

A vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and intervention in foreign wars, Paul voted against budget compromises that would have avoided a government shutdown in 2013. On the campaign trail in Kentucky this spring, he defended the move.

“My point is that maybe it needs to shut down so we can fix it,” he said. “We have to do something about it.”

There are two Republicans running against Paul — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Louisville engineer Stephen Slaughter. Both are political newcomers and haven’t run high-profile campaigns.

SKyPAC

The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center in Bowling Green is looking for a new leader.

SKyPAC Foundation Board Chair Katherine Sikora released a statement Friday afternoon saying Jan Zarr was no longer the group’s executive director.

Zarr took the position in March of 2014.

The statement gave no reason behind his departure.

"Jan has seen SKyPAC through a period of transition and we appreciate his efforts," Sikora said in the statement.

Sikora says the board of directors has named former WBKO Television Vice President and General Manager Rick McCue interim executive director.

Zarr helped open the Bowling Green-based arts center before taking a job as director with the Topeka Performing Arts Center in Kansas. He then returned to Bowling Green to take the SKyPAC executive director position.

Woman's Body Found in Ohio River Identified

May 13, 2016

Officials say a woman whose body was found in the Ohio River a day after two other bodies were recovered has been identified.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Corey King said in an email Friday that the woman was 51-year-old Darcy L. Hess of Cannelton, Indiana. He said the case is still being investigated but that detectives don't suspect foul play and believe the death is unrelated to the other two.

Hess' body was found Thursday outside the city limits of Owensboro.

Daviess County Sheriff's Department officials told media outlets earlier that one of the bodies found Wednesday had been shot in the back of the head and had ligature marks around the neck.

The bodies found Wednesday were badly decomposed. Neither has been identified.

Marshal Ray

Southern Kentucky is seeing a huge boost in tourism spending. A new study shows a 10-county region including Barren, Logan, Simpson and Warren Counties had a nearly seven percent increase in tourism receipts last year.

The numbers come from the annual Kentucky Tourism Economic Impact Report released this week.

Telia Butler is a spokeswoman for the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says the spike in regional tourism is due in part to several new Warren County attractions and events.                     

“We’ve got the Mid-South Conference athletic  championships,” says Butler. “They announced their partnership with Bowling Green to host all kinds of their championships with sports at the beginning of 2015 and they’ve been here all year.”

She says new motor sports events also added to the growth in tourism. The first full year of operation for the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park drew a large number of visitors.

Kentucky Association of Food Banks

A Kentucky program that increases the amount of produce in food banks is paying farmers more for their crops.

The Kentucky Farms to Food Banks program wants to make sure farmers can cover the cost of growing, picking and getting their produce to food banks.

So the program is compensating farmers based on wholesale produce prices in Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis, instead of on Kentucky markets.

Tamara Sandberg is executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. She says farmers will likely be paid 46 cents a pound for tomatoes this season, up from 30 cents a pound last year.

“Another real popular crop has been yellow squash. Last year we paid an average of 25 cents a pound and this year it will be closer to 39 cents a pound,” says Sandberg.  “Sweet corn went up a lot, too, yes. Last year it was 17 cents a pound and this year we should be paying closer to 43 cents a pound.”

The Farm to Food Banks programs buys produce that farmers can’t sell to grocery stores because it has minor blemishes. The program increases the amount of produce available for Kentucky food banks. 

Even though it’s early in the season, Farms to Food Banks has already begun expanding this year.  Last year 302 farmers took part in the program, and they are likely to continue in 2016. So far this year, 26 new farmers have signed on.

Sandberg says farmers from 58 counties are taking part in the program. 

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has appointed a special prosecutor to handle the case against his former deputy.

Former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge last month. Last week, Beshear announced he would file state charges against Longmeyer. At first, Beshear said he would prosecute the case himself. But Thursday he said he would hand the case to Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland.

Cleveland said the attorney general's office asked him to take the case on Wednesday, citing a conflict of interest.

Longmeyer pleaded guilty to using his influence as the state Personnel Cabinet secretary to steer contracts to a public relations firm in exchange for kickbacks. He also directed some of that money to Beshear's 2015 campaign for attorney general.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

A mayor, a filmmaker and an army veteran are the frontrunners in the seven-man Democratic primary for Kentucky U.S. Senate.

Though no public polling has been conducted on the race, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray appears to be the favorite—having secured an endorsement from the Lexington Herald-Leader and amassed a respectable campaign war chest.

Gray raised $1.75 million in the first quarter of this year—$1 million of which was his own money.

During a debate on Wednesday between Gray, filmmaker Sellus Wilder and army veteran Ron Leach, the candidates reserved their punches for the likely Republican nominee—incumbent Senator Rand Paul.

Gray criticized Paul for devoting too much time to his failed presidential bid, which extended from early 2015 through February of this year.

Lisa Autry

When Kentucky voters head to the polls Tuesday, May 17, for the sstate's primary election, they’ll help choose the Democratic presidential nominee. 

While Hillary Clinton is ahead in the delegate count, she doesn’t have enough to lock up the nomination yet. Both Clinton and Sanders are battling for Kentucky’s 60 delegates at stake. 

On a weekday afternoon, Michelle Thomas and a few of her girlfriends get together at Thomas’ Bowling Green home, which has turned into a makeshift campaign headquarters for Hillary Clinton.

“We have yard signs and some bumper stickers and buttons," Thomas said.

The ladies were phone banking, trying to drum up support for Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s primary.  It was the middle of the day and Janet Gouvas has been getting lots of answering machines.

Win McNamee (L)/Getty Images and View press/Corbis (R) via Getty Images

Donald Trump arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to meet with his party's congressional leaders to hash out their differences and talk GOP unity ahead of what is likely to be a pitched general-election battle against Hillary Clinton.

First up was a private meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The two arrived around 9 a.m. ET at the Republican National Committee in a session orchestrated by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Swarms of journalists, protesters and onlookers crowded around the building just behind the U.S. Capitol. The crazy scene included a Trump impersonator in a huge piñata mask mocking Trump on a megaphone, immigration activists, signs that read "Trump is a racist" and "Islamophobia is un-American," and chants of "GOP RIP, GOP RIP."

public domain

More Kentuckians are gaining health insurance coverage, a trend that has continued since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2014, according to a report released Wednesday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The fourth quarter 2015 snapshot of the impact of the ACA in Kentucky indicates that the rate of uninsurance was 7.5 percent as of December 2015, down from 9 percent in June 2015.

Nationally, 11.7 percent lacked health insurance as of December; the rate was 10.2 percent for the eight states surrounding Kentucky.

“Lack of insurance is a significant barrier to getting necessary health care and preventive services timely,” said Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Owensboro Bar-B-Q Festival

Organizers with the International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro are hoping to build on an increase in attendance over the past few years.  

The annual event is being held tomorrow and Saturday along the city’s riverfront area. Festival co-chair Sharon NeSmith says about 30,000 people showed up last year.

NeSmith, who has lived in Owensboro since they age of four, says she’s been attending the festival since it began in 1979.

She thinks the festival has managed to stay true to its roots.

“I like the way it was described in the first brochure that ever came out about the festival—that it was taking the atmosphere of a country church picnic to the downtown urban area. And that basically really describes what we do,” NeSmith said.

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