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.

Becca Schimmel

Refugee resettlement agencies across Kentucky are waiting to hear how many refugees President Donald Trump will approve for the next federal fiscal year. The president has to make that determination by the end of September.

Maria Koerner with the Kentucky Office for Refugees said if the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. is further reduced, funding for refugee resettlement agencies will also decrease. She said anything impacting those agencies will negatively impact services and programs offered to refugees already in the U.S.

Creative Commons

The Hardin County School district is adjusting its spending habits in anticipation of budget cuts at the state level. The News-Enterprise reports it's in reaction to Gov. Matt Bevin telling state agencies to cut 17 percent from their budgets.

 

Hardin County schools are temporarily freezing spending for professional development. Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt doesn’t expect the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding to be affected. That funding makes up a large portion of the school’s revenue. State lawmakers haven’t increased SEEK funding in several years.

Becca Schimmel

A family-owned German manufacturer is beginning operations at its facility in Bowling Green. Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel expects to employ about 110 people at its plant.

The company creates thin pieces of steel for a variety of industries. Construction on the Warren County plant began in 2015. CEO Mark Loik said about 85 percent of their material will be sourced domestically, including some suppliers in Kentucky. He says Bilstein looked at about four states but decided to locate in Bowling Green because it’s a growing community and the quality of the infrastructure.

Lisa Autry

A refugee resettlement agency in Bowling Green is seeking private funds to educate refugees on reproductive health. There’s been an increase in refugees getting pregnant or needing help locating contraceptive resources and information.

The International Center of Kentucky says its clients need reproductive health education. Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said cultural differences are also contributing to the problem.

Mbanfu, a native of Cameroon, said having a lot of children is considered a blessing in many African cultures. He said it’s a challenge explaining to refugees the difference in how expensive it is to raise children in the U.S. compared to Africa.

Creative Commons

A new program is aimed at making it easier for Owensboro residents to quit smoking. The plan will provide nicotine supplies for free to those interested.

The Green River District Health Department is in charge of the program and is responsible for giving out supplies. The Messenger-Inquirer reports up to eight weeks of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges will be given to those who sign up for the smoking cessation program through the website Quit Now Kentucky.

Becca Schimmel

U.S. Senator Rand Paul said Congressional Republicans are shifting their focus away from health care after several failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The Bowling Green Republican said healthcare is taking a backseat to tax reform this fall.

Sen. Paul expects tax reform to be at the forefront of Congress’ agenda. He said lawmakers need to figure out what government can do to allow businesses to grow and thrive.

“My goal is basically to have more money return to its rightful owners, the people who earned it. We have to have some taxes, we gotta have some government, but I think we need more money to remain in the economy,” Paul said.  

US Army Corps of Engineers

Locks and Dam 52 on the Ohio River in western Kentucky is open to traffic after a week of being closed. The Corps of Engineers reports water is rising and expects the river to return to normal summer levels by the weekend.

The wickets at Dam 52, function like a bathtub to keep water in and establish a navigable level of water. During times of low water, wickets have to be raised individually.

Last week the corps was unable to raise about five wickets near Paducah, creating a hole and further lowering the water to an impassable level. Communications Director Carol Labashosky said they’re continuing work on Dam 52 but a more permanent fix is in progress.

MSHA

Lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s practices amid an increase in coal fatalities.  

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin asked MSHA for more information after receiving what he calls “alarming” reports about how the agency is implementing its new Compliance Assistance Program.

In a September 7th letter, Manchin wrote that he’s heard of miners being denied the ability to assign a representative to accompany MSHA inspectors and that those inspectors have been instructed to leave their credentials behind before inspecting a mine.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jon Fleshman

Another breakdown at an aging lock and dam has halted river traffic on the Ohio in western Kentucky. It’s the second such interruption in less than a year for a stretch of river that carries some 90 million tons of cargo annually.

“A lot of commerce does go through that section and delays cost the industry money,” Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District public affairs officer Carol Labashosky said. “That’s a very, very important, crucial spot on the Ohio River.”

Nicole Erwin

The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is reigniting talk about national infrastructure needs. Parts of southern Kentucky recently saw flooding after Harvey moved inland. Kentuckians are facing billions of dollars in water infrastructure needs, and uncertainty on a federal infrastructure spending plan.

 

President Trump has mentioned the need for a one-trillion-dollar national infrastructure investment, but no details have come out. Most of the projects on Kentucky’s infrastructure wish list deal with highways and roads, not water.


Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Daviess County Fiscal Court has unanimously passed a resolution that supports separating the County Employees Retirement System, or CERS, from the Kentucky Retirement System. A vote at Thursday night's fiscal court meeting in Owensboro.

There are 250 Daviess County employees enrolled in the County plan. The resolution doesn't result in any change in law, but calls on the state legislature to break CERS away from KRS.

MSHA

A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates.

Already this year 12 miners have died on the job in the U.S., compared to eight fatalities in all of 2016. Two miners were killed in Kentucky and six in West Virginia.

Becca Schimmel

Approximately 2,000 people gathered at Western Kentucky University’s football stadium to view the total solar eclipse, with the much-anticipated  event bringing in school students from around the region.

Keith Brown, principal at Western Elementary in Ohio County, said he was looking forward to viewing the totality and having his students there to see it as well. 


A Bowling Green clinic that evaluates potential organ transplant patients will not be impacted by the decision to put Jewish Hospital in Louisville up for sale.

The Bowling Green Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center outreach clinic opened in June. Jewish Hospital is the second largest organ transplants locations in the state, and is being sold by its parent company--KentuckyOne Health. David Lewis is the director of transplant services at Jewish Hospital.

Becca Schimmel

President Trump’s call to cut legal immigration by half over ten years would have a significant impact on Kentucky’s economy. Immigrants and refugees in Kentucky are more likely to start their own business than native born Kentuckians.

Trump said the U.S. has a history of taking in too many low-skilled workers from other countries. Anna Baumann, with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a left leaning research institute, said a lot of skilled labor in Kentucky actually comes from immigration. Baumann noted one of every twenty immigrants in Kentucky is a small business owner.

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