Becca Schimmel

Multimedia Journalist

Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.  She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green. 

Becca was born in Charleston, SC but grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. You can often find her behind a book or near a cup of coffee. In her time away from the newsroom she enjoys running and lifting weights. She’s a sucker for unintentional puns, a good cup of coffee, a nice craft beer and a story.

Becca earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University with a minor in psychology. She interned with The Paducah Sun in Paducah as a general assignment reporter. From there she went on to become Morning Edition producer and general assignment reporter for WKMS in Murray.

MSHA

The U.S. Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, 52 to 46, to narrowly confirm President Trump’s  nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. The country’s top mine safety position has been vacant since January as coal mining fatalities have risen to a two-year high. Trump’s choice to fill the post is facing opposition from congressional Democrats and safety advocates. 


Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.

WalletHub

A new study shows Kentucky is the sixth fattest state in the nation. The study by WalletHub examines three areas--the number of obese and overweight people in each state; health consequences; and food and fitness. Kentucky ranked fifth for the highest percentage of adults with type two diabetes. The Commonwealth also ranked in the top five with the highest percentage of physically inactive adults.

Tennessee is the third fattest state in the nation and Indiana ranked tenth. WalletHub used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mary Meehan

When a Madison County jail task force examined overcrowding in their jails, they found that about 80 percent of the inmates were there on drug related charges. This led the county to look at how a public-private partnerships could help fund a new substance abuse treatment center

Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said the county’s jail is overcrowded and building a new one would cost about $50 million. He said a new jail would need to have 800 beds and it would probably be full or overcrowded in about ten years. Taylor said he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to build a new jail without looking at what they could do to reduce recidivism.


Rhonda J Miller

A group of education officials representing districts across the country will be touring a Warren County elementary school Friday to get a close-up look at an energy-saving material used in construction. They’re visiting to learn more about the construction of net zero schools, or schools that produce enough energy on site to cover their needs.

Jennings Creek Elementary will be a net zero ready school, meaning it’s built in a way that allows it to eliminate the cost of energy. The school is one of a many in Kentucky using insulated concrete forms, or ICF, to reduce energy costs. Warren County is home to the nation’s first net zero school--Richardsville Elementary, which opened in 2010.

A high school that pulls students from both Barren and Hart counties is partnering with Western Kentucky University to create a part-time work and dual-credit program similar to the Learn and Earn program.

Learn and Earn sets college students up with part-time employment with local businesses upon completing the program. Caverna Independent’s program is called Transforming Outcomes through Performance and Scholarship, or TOPS.

Reports of child abuse and neglect in Kentucky have increased by about 55 percent in the past four years. A child is at higher risk for developing a substance abuse problem is they’ve suffered from an adverse childhood experience. That can be the death or incarceration of a parent, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or living with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem.

 

Pam Darnall is CEO of Family and Children’s Place. She said some organizations that support children and families are struggling just to stay in business.

flickr creative commons

Kentucky’s children have experienced--on average-- more Adverse Childhood Experiences than children nationwide.

An Adverse Childhood Experience, or ACE, can be the death or incarceration of a parent, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or living with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem.

 

According to a recent report from The National Survey of Children’s Health, about 53 percent of children in Kentucky have had at least one ACE. That’s significantly higher than the national rate of about 46 percent. The report adds those experiences can increase the risk of smoking, alcoholism, depression and other illnesses or unhealthy behaviors.

The Tax Foundation Business Tax Climate Index

A new report from the Tax Foundation ranks Kentucky’s Business tax climate 33rd in the nation. The foundation hopes the report will serve as a guide while both the state and federal governments consider tax reform.

The Business Tax Climate Index examines how competitive a state’s tax code is, and how well it encourages businesses to locate in that state.

“When we look at Kentucky, the reason the state ranks a little below average on our index, isn’t, say, the corporate income tax rate. It is things like the fact that Kentucky has an inventory tax," said Jared Walczak, lead author of the report.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is urging U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Bowling Green to support passage of the federal budget.

In a letter to Sen. Paul, the Chamber advocated lowering the corporate tax rate and simplifying the tax code. Spokesperson Kate Shanks said they wanted to make it clear that the business community supports making these steps toward tax reform, and the chamber is hoping the Bowling Green Republican will join them in those efforts.

Becca Schimmel

Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC.

Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky, for about 15 years. Daulton said her daughter would like for her to move closer to Bowling Green, but Daulton likes her community and has no intention of leaving.


Governor Matt Bevin has been outspoken about overhauling Kentucky’s tax system. Bevin said he wants to get rid of the inventory tax, which is placed on a company’s inventory that is held in the state. That tax is used to fund local school districts, and some worry that eliminating the inventory tax will have a negative impact on education. Little detail has been released about what would replace that revenue.


Becca Schimmel

A bipartisan Congressional group from the Ohio Valley and beyond introduced a new bill to save pensions for retired union coal miners throughout the region.

The American Miners Pension Act, or AMP, would secure pensions for about 43,000 miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia whose retirement benefits have been undermined by the decline of the coal industry.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Congress acted to protect miners’ health benefits last year but pensions got kicked down the road.


flickr creative commons

Some refugees who have resettled in Kentucky are facing a challenge to their independence. Many refugees aren’t able to get their driver’s licenses because they don’t have access to an interpreter.

 

Court approved interpreters are allowed to assist refugees with the written portion of the test, but cannot be in the car to help during the driving exam.

 

Maria Koerner with The Kentucky Office of Refugees says this presents a challenge for refugees who have limited conversational English skills, especially if they’re nervous. She said state law currently prohibits a third person from being in the vehicle during the driving portion of the test.  

Becca Schimmel

Refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky are waiting for the official word on how many refugees will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. during the current fiscal year which began this week. President Trump is expected to set the cap at 45,000 refugees. That would be the lowest limit set since the Refugee Act was signed in 1980.

 

Maria Koerner with the Kentucky Office for Refugees said while the limit of 45,000 was expected, it’s still disheartening. She said a decline in the number of refugees allowed into the country has--and will continue to--negatively affect funding at refugee resettlement agencies around Kentucky. Koerner said nearly half the cases she works involve reuniting refugees with family members already in the U.S.

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