In the surgery wing of Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center named after her late husband, Nedra Thomas has been putting smiles on children's faces for over two decades.
Thomas began making sock monkeys to give to young patients heading into surgery at the Leithfield hospital. The project grew over the years and she now has a small team of volunteers who help in the effort. The group has become like a second family to the members, who look out for one another during sickness and loss.
WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham paid a visit to Leitchfield to meet with Thomas and learn about how the sock monkey program impacts both patients and volunteers.
A new NBC News-Marist poll puts Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at the top of the list of 2016 Republican White House hopefuls in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Paul has a one percentage point lead (14 percent to 13 percent) over New Jersey governor Chris Christie in the Granite State. In a hypothetical general-election match up with Hillary Clinton, Paul trails the former Secretary of State by three points, 46-43 in New Hampshire.
Meantime, in Iowa, Paul is tied with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 12 percent of support from likely GOP voters there.
Paul hasn't formally declared his intention to run for president in 2016.
A summer tradition returns to Bowling Green September 4-7. It’s the 24th annual Balloons, Tunes, and BBQ Festival that raises money for charity.
Organizers held a kickoff celebration Thursday at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport.
All proceeds from the event will benefit United Way of Southern Kentucky, which puts the money back into the community.
"It literally goes to help people from cradle to grave, whether it's Wee Care Nursery that provides affordable daycare so that a mom can go to school or work or all the way up to Hospice at the end stages of your life," said United Way Marketing and Communications Director Mandy Hicks. "This is a great opportunity to have some fun and give back."
The event, which features hot air balloons, music, food, rides, and competitions raised more than $60,000 last year.
This year’s concert lineup includes Nashville recording artists David Nail, Jana Kramer, and The Farm.
Centre College knows a few things about hosting political debates, having performed twice before national audiences.
The Danville school now is offering to host an exchange between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes before the November election.
Centre hosted the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates.
"We're excited at Centre that the most important election in the nation is taking place in Kentucky this fall," Dr. Richard Trollinger, Vice President of College Relation, told WKU Public Radio. "We think, in a sense, it would be an opportunity missed if we didn't offer to make our team and facilities available to the candidates to take their message to the people of the commonwealth and beyond."
The proposed debate would take place September 3 from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. before a live audience on campus. Centre has also secured a network of TV and radio stations to broadcast the debate to a statewide audience.
Both candidates have received multiple invitations, but so far the two sides have not reached any debate agreements. Centre has requested a response from the campaigns by August first.
A new law that went into effect this week in Kentucky is changing the way the state views faith-based mental health counselors. Kentucky is now licensing such counselors, which means their services will be covered by insurance policies.
One of the faith-based counselors impacted by the new law is Joe Bob Pierce, who works with Cornerstone Counseling in Owensboro. He says the change in state law could encourage potential clients who might have been put off by having to foot the entire bill.
“Clients that otherwise might have to pay out-of-pocket to see a pastoral counselor now will be provided a bit of subsidy, or help, or in some cases their entire fee for counseling will be handled by the insurance company.”
Pierce’s counseling service is located inside Third Baptist Church in Owensboro. He says while many of his clients are deeply rooted in traditional Baptist beliefs, he has also counseled individuals who don’t claim any religious affiliation.
He says his clients are interested in receiving help from someone who will take into account the spiritual aspects of their lives,
“It may not necessarily be a dimension that is religious in terms of being attached to a particular faith. But I think it’s very much a part of our make-up as people.”
To be licensed by the state, pastoral counselors must have a master’s degree in the field and meet the same qualifications as other licensed counselors.
Kentucky horse racing authorities have approved a plan for Ellis Park to increase the purses for many of its thoroughbred races starting in August, helping make it more competitive with other tracks.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted Wednesday to authorize the Henderson racetrack to use $300,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Ellis Park initially hoped to use half of that money to help fund a pair of new stakes races for two year olds this summer. The track's Director of Operations, Bob Jackson, said that wouldn't be possible this year.
The Commission authorized the track to use $200,000 to bolster purse money for Kentucky-bred horses competing in maiden and allowance races this summer. The Commission also agreed to allow Ellis Park to hold the remaining $100,000 until next year.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an order to cover a $91 deficit in the state's $9.5 billion state budget.
State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order cuts $3 million in state spending. He made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent.
Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects.
This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.
The 134th Fancy Farm Picnic is now just a little more than two weeks away and the line-up of speakers is almost complete.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, are expected to face off for the second time in as many years on August 2. Fancy Farm political chair Mark Wilson says, unlike Grimes, McConnell has yet to confirm his appearance, but expects the five-term Senator will make the trip.
Wilson said the picnic’s attendance could swell to as many as 20,000 people.
“Normally we’ll do 10-12,000 or so," Wilson said. "But with all the heightened interest in the McConnell/Grimes race and then you’ve got U.S. Sen. Rand Paul with some presidential aspirations and then we’ve got Jack Conway and James Comer, both sitting state officials who have gubernatorial aspirations.”
Comer has yet to actually declare himself a candidate for governor. The lone Republican to officially enter the race, Hal Heiner, will not be invited to speak, according to Wilson, because he’s not a sitting public official. McConnell's primary challenger, Matt Bevin, ran into the same problem at last year's event, but was eventually invited to speak.
WKU is beginning to prepare its employees for likely changes to the school’s health plan. At a forum Wednesday afternoon, representatives from the school’s Human Resources Department told workers that WKU’s self-funded model is coming under significant strain.
The school says it saw a 13.3 percent increase in medical expenses in 2013 compared to the previous year, with expenses exceeding revenue by more than $2 million.
WKU is predicting that unless changes are made, the school’s health plan expenses could increase by 8 to 10 percent in 2015.
No definitive announcement was made, however, about whether employee premiums or deductibles will be increasing. Speaking to WKU Public Radio after the forum, Assistant Director of Human Resources Kari Aikins described the school’s timeline for announcing any changes.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate and model these options financially over the next month, month-and-a-half, and then start making some formalized recommendations to our leadership and President--through our benefits committee--and hopefully have something set in stone by the end of August,” Aikens said.