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.

Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Some Kentucky schools canceled planned safety reviews in response to Governor Bevin’s state budget cuts. Bevin proposed the 6.25 percent cuts to most state agencies in response to a $200 million shortfall. One of the schools that canceled its safety review is Marshall County Elementary School, which is in the same district as the high school where a deadly shooting took place last month.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Novartis AG

A Kentucky lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require elementary, middle and high school students to be taught what are known as  “soft skills”. The goal of the new curriculum would be to better prepare students for the workforce.

Lancaster Republican Representative Jonathan Shell told House education committee members the bill is needed because students lack adaptability, reliability, communication and teamwork skills.

A liberal-leaning public policy group said Kentucky’s per-pupil spending on public education is lower than it was ten years ago once inflation is taken into account.

During his budget address last month, Governor Bevin promised to maintain per-pupil funding for the state’s K-12 students.

But a report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows that when inflation is taken into account, the amount of money spent by the state on a per-pupil basis has actually decreased by 16 percent since 2008. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with KCEP. She said claims that public school funding has been maintained are misleading.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.


WKU Public Radio

National parks are ready to welcome back visitors after a brief government shutdown.

During a partial government shutdown, maintenance employees, tour guides and most other personnel are furloughed. Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park was one of many parks with limited services and that meant no cave tours over the weekend. Even in winter that’s a big deal. John Garder at the National Parks Conservation Association, said visitors spent more than $30,000 on an average January day at Mammoth Cave in 2016.


Thinkstock

New data show that Kentucky’s incarceration rate is increasing, while the national rate continues to decline.

 

Figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show Kentucky has the ninth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. The commonwealth’s female incarceration rate is more than twice the national average, making it the second-highest in America.

Daviess Co. Public Schools

Superintendents across the state are reacting to governor Matt Bevin’s proposed cuts to transportation spending for school districts. The proposal would require local districts to cover 75 percent of those costs--much more than the 42 percent they pay now.

Pulaski County Superintendent Steve Butcher, is concerned that the proposed cuts would make it difficult to get kids to school.


Creative Commons

Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed budget is drawing mixed reaction from the Kentucky School Boards Association. While the KSBA is glad the governor is promising to maintain per-pupil spending, the group has other concerns.

In his state of the commonwealth address Tuesday night, Bevin suggested schools consider dipping into their reserve funds to make up for any spending cuts they could see in the next year. Director of Governmental Relations for KSBA, Eric Kennedy, said not every school district would be able to follow the governor’s suggestion.

Still from White House video

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an August rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

At a March rally in Louisville the message was the same. “We are going to put our coal miners back to work! They have not been treated well but they are.”


The number of drug overdose deaths in Warren County declined slightly in 2017.

Warren County saw 18 drug overdose deaths in 2017, compared to 19 in 2016.

County Coroner Kevin Kirby said toxicology reports also show an increase in people with methamphetamine in their system. Kirby said while there’s more awareness about the risk of addiction with prescription opioids, that hasn’t dramatically reduced fatal overdoses in Warren County.

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A new survey shows more people moved out of Kentucky last year than moved into the state. About 55 percent of those surveyed by United Van Lines said they left Kentucky because they found a new job somewhere else. People also reported leaving to be closer to family and relocating for retirement.

The biggest age group moving out of the state is those 65 and older. United Van Lines spokesperson Melissa Sullivan said it’s only in the last two years that Kentucky has seen more people leaving the state.

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.


Creative Commons

Braidy Industries released the names of its shareholders over the weekend. The aluminum company is planning a state-subsidized $1.3 billion facility in Greenup County.

 

The move came after the Courier Journal requested a list of investors and shareholders. That request was partially denied. The list the paper received showed only two previously known owners, with the rest of the names blacked out.

Becca Schimmel.

The International Center of Kentucky is hoping to reach their cap of resettling 300 refugees in the next fiscal year. Albert Mbanfu said keeping up with the different refugee bans imposed by the Trump administration has made it difficult to meet his group’s resettlement goals. Mbanfu is the director at the international center in Bowling Green.

He said his group has the capacity to resettle more than three-hundred refugees, but he’s unsure they’ll meet that goal.

Kentucky LRC

A western Kentucky Democrat has pre-filed a bill for the 2018 legislative session to reduce the criminal penalty for drug possession. The legislation would lower the offense for first-degree possession, or personal possession, of a controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah hopes the bill will pass in the next legislative session, especially because he’s not running for re-election. The legislation would require those found guilty of drug possession to complete a treatment program and community service. Watkins said now is a good time to propose this bill because the public’s attitude toward drug crimes is changing.

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