International Bluegrass Music Center

A new home for the International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame in Owensboro is one step closer to reality.

A groundbreaking for the facility is being held on Thursday, June 23.

The new 50,000-square-foot building will have more space for bluegrass luminaries honored in the Hall of Fame, as well as lots of other activities. 

"It  will encompass expanded museum exhibit space, " said Museum Executive Director Chris Joslin. "It will also have a 450-sea performance venue, as well as a rooftop restaurant and an outdoor performance venue that can accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 folks."

The $15.4 milion music center is being built with a combination of city, state and private funding. Construction is scheduled to be finished by spring 2018. 

Bill Hughes

This piece was produced in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

The energy that lights up, turns on, cools and heats our lives leaves a trail of waste. Natural gas is no exception. The waste from the gas drilling known as “fracking” is often radioactive. The gas industry produces thousands of tons of this “hot” waste and companies and state regulators throughout the Ohio River valley and Marcellus Shale gas region struggle to find safe ways to get rid of it.

Last August a convoy of trucks carrying a concentrated form of this waste traveled from northern West Virginia to Irvine, Kentucky. The small town in Estill County lies near the Kentucky River, where Appalachian hills give way to rolling farm country.

The trucks were headed for a municipal waste facility called Blue Ridge Landfill. Just across Highway 89 from the landfill is the home where Denny and Vivian Smith live on property where their ancestors have lived since the 1800s.

“This is our home place,” Vivian Smith said from her sun porch. “This is roots for us.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Only six months into his first term in office, Gov. Matt Bevin is involved in an array of lawsuits, some of which may have ramifications long beyond his administration.

Executive orders made by Bevin have raised legal questions about the limits of the executive branch’s power in the state — power that has been flexed more by some governors than others.

Former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson said Bevin is set on reestablishing the “preeminence” of the governor’s office.

“He seems to be trying to assert power in a way that the last couple governors didn’t,” said Grayson, now CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

That assertion of executive power has drawn plenty of critics, some of whom are suing the administration.

Lisa Autry

It’s opening day for a substance abuse treatment center in Bowling Green.  Recovery Kentucky will begin accepting clients at its new men’s campus on Old Louisville Road. 

Former heroin addict Chris Thomas is director of the 107-bed facility.  He says treatment centers are an addict’s best chance at success.

"For every dollar we spend on these programs it's saving the taxpayers about three dollars.  It's a big difference in terms of breaking the cycle and sending them straight from jail back into society or giving them six or seven months of treatment where we phase them back into society, and they become a lot more successful that way."

Some of the clients will be referred from the Department of Corrections while others will voluntarily report to the facility.  Despite concerns from a nearby domestic violence shelter, Thomas says the center will not house violent or sexual offenders.

Alix Mattingly

University of Louisville’s president and its entire governing board are out.

With scandals mounting and dissent growing, Gov. Matt Bevin announced the major shake-up at the University of Louisville Friday morning. U of L President James Ramsey agreed to resign, the governor said, and Bevin used an executive order to dissolve and reconstitute the state-appointed Board of Trustees that oversees the institution.

What is going on at U of L?

Ramsey and his governing board have been at odds for months.

The U of L board has been floating a no-confidence vote for Ramsey, but a legal battle over the racial composition of the board prevented them from taking any action.

J. Tyler Franklin

A major shakeup in leadership is taking place at the University of Louisville.

Governor Matt Bevin today announced that University of Louisville President James Ramsey is stepping down and the school’s Board of Trustees is being reorganized.

Bevin said the school needs a change in oversight and a “fresh start.”

Ramsey has led U of L since 2002.

He’s come under increasing criticism as the school has faced several high-profile scandals, including an FBI investigation into its top health care executive, and an NCAA investigation into allegations that men’s basketball players and recruits were provided with prostitutes.

The Council on Postsecondary Education will nominate new trustees for Bevin to consider for appointment.

Health experts in western Kentucky are considering a needle exchange program to curb the spread of H-I-V and Hepatitis C. 

Kentucky lawmakers voted in 2015 to give health departments the authority to set up the exchanges amid the state's heroin epidemic.

The exchanges would let any IV drug users anonymously swap out dirty needles for clean ones. 

"Kentucky is the number one state in the nation with high Hepatitis C rates and we want to protect our citizens from the spread of these diseases," remarks Public Health Director Deborah Fillman at the Green River District Health Department.  "It's not enabling a drug user.  It's about getting resources for these folks such as available treatment options."

Fillman has been taking some cues from Louisville, the first city in the state to implement a needle exchange program, but she says the exchanges would be tailored to best meet the needs of western Kentucky. 

The Green River District Health Department serves Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster counties.  Upon approval from the district’s board of health, it would be up to local cities and counties to decide whether to create needle exchanges.


While Republicans and Democrats differ wildly on firearms issues in Congress, opposition to gun control measures transcends political parties in Kentucky.

Like most mass-shootings in recent history, the Orlando rampage that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub provoked cries for limiting access to guns.

In Kentucky, State Rep.-elect Attica Scott called for a ban on assault weapons, registering firearms and allowing local governments to pass their own gun laws.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo — the leader of the Democratically-led chamber that Scott is about to join — opposes the proposals.

“After 36 years in public office, I still have a 100 percent voting record in support of the Second Amendment and the NRA,” Stumbo said in a statement provided to Kentucky Public Radio. “As tragic as the events in Orlando were, I think these changes would be an over-reaction.”

Bowling Green PD

A man killed in a shoot-out inside a Tennessee home has been confirmed as the same man who robbed a Bowling Green bank this week.

Bowling Green police say Eddy Connor was hiding inside the home after escaping from a police chase Tuesday. He was discovered when the homeowner returned home Wednesday morning. Both Connor and the unidentified homeowner were killed in an exchange of gunfire.

Connor reportedly had an extensive criminal record in his native Florida and was featured on a 2012 episode of the TV show “America’s Most Wanted”. He reportedly escaped from jail more than half a dozen times.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s export totals are on the rise.

Kentucky exported nearly $7 billion in goods and services during the first quarter of the year. That’s a 1.2 percent increase over the same time period last year.

Many Kentuckians would likely be surprised at the state’s number one export. It’s not bourbon or automotive parts.

Instead, it’s aerospace products.

Kentucky exported more than $2.6 billion in aerospace parts between January and March.

That’s an increase of nearly 23 percent over last year’s first quarter.

The state’s top five international trading partners are Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Brazil.

International Bluegrass Music Center

The International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame is about to break ground on a new $15 million facility in Owensboro next week.

City leaders including Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge executive Al Mattingly are attending the June 23 event at 311 West 2nd Street.

The property takes up an entire block in a revitalized section of downtown. It will have a 450-seat concert hall, recording studio, an outdoor concert area, gift shop and a rooftop restaurant. Museum officials say it will house "the world's foremost collection" of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia and music recordings.

Peyronnin Construction of Evansville, Indiana, is building the museum. It is expected to be finished in 2018.


Former Louisville Metro Councilwoman and state Representative-elect Attica Scott said Kentucky needs to do more to combat gun violence in the wake of the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub that killed 49 people.

Scott called for having gun owners register their guns, increasing the $60 application fee for concealed carriers and banning assault weapons like the one used in the Orlando shooting.

“That is not something that somebody should be able to purchase and use here in the state of Kentucky,” Scott said. “It’s unnecessary. Absolutely unnecessary. We should have a ban on certain types of guns.”

Scott recently won the Democratic primary for the 41st House District in West Louisville, defeating 35-year incumbent Rep. Tom Riner. She has no challenger in the general election.

Scott previously served for three years on Louisville Metro Council. The city is currently experiencing a spike in gun violence, with shootings up about 40 percent compared to this time in 2015.

J. Tyler Franklin

Over the past few days, top Republicans have given hints that they are considering some gun control measures in the wake of the mass-shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. That’s a sea change for GOP leaders who have typically blocked any new restrictions on gun ownership, citing Second Amendment rights.

The chief proposals include gun-purchasing restrictions for those on the FBI terrorist watch list and expanding background checks for gun buyers.

On Tuesday, several media outlets quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he was “open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful.”

And on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”

Creative Commons

The number of overdose deaths in Kentucky continues to rise and a new report shows it’s largely due to a powerful opioid drug that dealers are secretly mixing with heroin.

Over the past year, more drug dealers have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, an opioid that the Drug Enforcement Administration says is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin alone.

The results of this are evident in the state Office of Drug Control Policy’s latest report, which found that there were nearly 300 more fentanyl-related overdoses last year than in 2014.

Director Van Ingram said many overdoses happen because users don’t realize they aren’t taking pure heroin.

“Often people are buying what they think is heroin, which is heroin mixed with fentanyl or just fentanyl itself in a powdered form,” said Ingram.

Creative Commons

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates say heated political rhetoric and policies dealing with sexual orientation in recent years are partly to blame for violence like the Orlando shootings at an LGBT night club.

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, said the rhetoric has created an atmosphere that allowed the shooting to happen.

“I feel like everyone who has stood against LGBT rights is in a way complicit in the atmosphere that’s been created that suggests LGBT people are ‘less than,’ that they deserve to be victims of violence or prejudice or discrimination,” Hartman said.

Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. Authorities are still investigating the motive of the attacks and whether the rampage was fueled by Islamic extremism, homophobia or some combination.