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. She’s a UK men’s basketball fan and enjoys watching any wildcats game she can. She has been known to eat nine bananas in the morning to get the day started. 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.

US Army Corps of Engineers

Kentucky is receiving mixed reviews in a new report card looking at the nation’s aging infrastructure. The report was issued Thursday by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

One of the major challenges cited in the report is the $6.2 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs in Kentucky over the next 20 years. The state also needs a more than $6 billion investment to meet its wastewater infrastructure needs in the next two decades.

Kentucky motorists on average pay $331 a year due to driving on roads in need of repair. That’s actually a slight improvement since the last infrastructure report card, issued in 2013.

Becca Schimmel

Retired coal miners face a one-two punch to their health benefits that could leave many of them in the lurch. A repeal of Obamacare and the expiration of miner’s health protections could make it hard for any coal retiree to get health care.

Ohio Valley retirees have been meeting one-on-one with congressional leaders to talk about the risks to their benefits. Some provisions of the Affordable Care Act are especially important to miners. The so-called Byrd Amendment deals with benefits for miners suffering from black lung, and miners hope it will be restored if the Act is repealed. Miners are also concerned about the Act’s pre-existing condition provision.

United Mine Workers communications director Phil Smith said the nature of the work makes every retired miner a “walking basket of pre-existing conditions.”


Kentucky Hospital Assoc.

Since the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act the health care sector has grown by more than 19,000 jobs in the Ohio Valley region. And some economists who focus on health care policy are warning that many of those jobs could well hang in the balance as Congress considers changes to the Act.

One of the ACA’s effects in the Ohio Valley region has been to sharply reduce costs for what’s called uncompensated care — that’s the cost of caring for the uninsured.

Dustin Pugel is an economist at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a nonpartisan research center. He said in Kentucky’s rural hospitals there’s been about a $150 million decrease in uncompensated care costs just in the first quarter after Medicaid expansion. He worries that if the ACA is repealed more people will lose their health insurance, and hospitals will have to cover that cost again.

  

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is announcing a video contest aimed at raising awareness of sexual assault on college campuses. He was at Western Kentucky University Wednesday to promote the effort.  

College and university students can submit a 30-second video encouraging the reporting of sexual assault. One winner will be determined by a panel of sexual assault survivors and advocates, while another winner will be based on which video gets the most online views. Both winners will receive a $500 prize.

 

Beshear said the goal is to make campuses safer.

 

“Because of a lack of transparency in reporting, I don’t think that college students understand or know the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses,” Beshear said.

Becca Schimmel

  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who  is pushing a plan to replace the federal Affordable Care Act,  Paul met with medical professionals at a Bowling Green hospital Monday to discuss his health care ideas.

Medical professionals gathered at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital for an invitation only, town hall style meeting to hear details about Sen. Paul’s replacement plan. The Bowling Green Republican is proposing a tax credit of up to $5,000 per person to use as part of a Health Savings Account. His plan would also remove the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that every American get coverage.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

The Ohio Valley region once helped give rise to the labor movement. Now it’s shifting toward what’s known as right to work. West Virginia and Kentucky have passed right to work laws, and Ohio is considering a similar bill. One of the big selling points for right to work proponents is that the law can attract new businesses. Opponents argue that potential comes at too high a cost to workers.  

Mike Mullis is a site selection consultant who has spent 25 years helping global corporations, such as Toyota, pick the places where they will build major projects. He said some companies – particularly in manufacturing – will perk up when they hear the words “right to work.” However, that doesn’t mean businesses will come flocking to a state.


becca schimmel

Congressional Democrats say they won’t allow a vote on President Trump’s nominee for U.S. trade representative unless lawmakers pass a bill helping coal miners.

The Miner’s Protection Act includes healthcare and pension benefits for coal miners and their families. World Trade Online reports that Robert Lighthizer cannot be confirmed as U.S Trade Representative without a waiver, because of his representation of foreign governments in the 1980s. Senate Democrats say they’ll support the waiver only if it moves out of committee alongside--or after--the miner’s bill.

Becca Schimmel

Supporters of refugees and immigrants in Bowling Green hope a weekend unity walk and prayer vigil helps bring the community even closer together.

More than 500 people marched in downtown Bowling Green Saturday afternoon.

Many participants said they were especially excited since a U. S. District judge in Seattle ruled President Trump’s ban on travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries illegal just hours earlier.

Becca Schimmel

A Bowling Green refugee and business owner says comments made by a senior advisor to President Trump about a so-called “Bowling Green Massacre” are hurtful to him and other refugees.

Kellyanne Conway used the expression in an interview Thursday to describe the 2011 arrests of two Iraqi citizens in Bowling Green on terrorism charges.There were no deaths related to the case. Conway said Friday that she misspoke and meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists”, not “massacre.”

Wisam Asal, an Iraqi refugee living in Warren County, says the “massacre” comments cast Bowling Green in a negative light.

Becca Schimmel

A Bowling Green refugee says his life has been turned upside down by President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Trump’s executive order bars travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Hayder Hadi, an Iraqi refugee living in Warren County, is worried about his wife, who lives in Iraq and has been hoping to come to the U.S. to live with her husband and two sons. Hadi says he doesn’t know what to tell his children about their mother's future.

“My sons ask me what we doing with the issue of mom? I tell them, 'I don’t know.' What we will doing in the future? Dad? What you will be doing? I don’t know, my sons,” Hadi said.

Hadi worked for the U.S. governmental nonprofit focused on bringing relief and development to vulnerable communities. He said he was threatened by terrorist organizations because of his work. According to Hadi, it was that high risk work that helped him gain refugee status and a new life in the U.S.

flickr creative commons Brent Moore

The Bardstown City Council has unanimously passed a new law to protect whistleblowers. The law will be similar to the one that protects state employees.

 

Bardstown City Councilman John Kelley explained the city ordinance allows criminal penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a $500 fine for those who retaliate against whistleblowers.

 

“We wanted to afford the city employees the same protections that the state employees have,” Kelley said.

Becca Schimmel

Tens of thousands of retired coal miners and their families in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia face another deadline on expiring healthcare benefits and pensions. A temporary extension Congress funded late last year expires in April.

 

A regional Senate Republican and Democrat have offered competing bills to address the issue. The two measures differ sharply in the support offered for miners’ benefits and in the strings that would be attached to the funding.

 

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has reintroduced the Miners Protection Act with bipartisan support. The bill, which would include protections for health benefits and pensions for miners, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee last year but did not get a full floor vote before the end of the session.


Owensboro Convention Center

Construction on a new hotel in downtown Owensboro will begin next summer. The new hotel will hold 110 to 120 rooms. The Owensboro Messenger Inquirer reports it will bring the number of rooms within a block of the convention center to about four hundred.

One of the project’s partners, Jack Wells, said the brand of the new hotel will be announced in a few months. The project should includes up to 160 new apartments but those plans are flexible. Wells said the estimated cost will be more than $33 million. He expects construction to be complete in the summer of 2018.

Creative Commons

A level one drought issued for Kentucky last month has been lifted due to the recent rainfall. Drought and high winds contributed to wildfires in eastern Kentucky that burned about 50,000 acres.

The state Division of Forestry expects the timely precipitation and cooler temperatures will significantly reduce the risk of wildfires. Farmers are still expected to feel the effects of the drought for months to come.

Adam Hatcher

Students at Kentucky’s first international high school are preparing to finish their first semester. Gateway to Educational Opportunities International is located on Warren Central High School’s campus in Bowling Green.

About 65 percent of the school’s 180 students are refugees. Assistant Principal Adam Hatcher said some students know four or five languages, with most able to speak at least rudimentary English.

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