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.

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.

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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.


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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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