Kevin Willis

News Director

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio.  He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.  

He is a broadcast journalism graduate of WKU, and has won numerous awards for his reporting and feature production. 

Kevin grew up in Radcliff, Kentucky and currently lives in Glasgow.

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WKU

Three people who have dedicated their lives to educating others have been selected to be inducted into the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame.

A statement from Western Kentucky University, which houses the hall, says the current or former teachers selected are Opal T. Sibert, Ron Skillern and Joe Westerfield. All three will be inducted during a ceremony on March 8 in Frankfort.

The statement says Sibert was an influential educator for 30 years in Laurel County before retiring in 1986 and was known for her persistence.

Westerfield taught history and government in Daviess County schools for 33 years before retiring in 2002 and was known for his enthusiasm.

Skillern, who is still teaching social studies after a 30-year career in Bowling Green and Warren County schools, has been described by former students as a great motivator.

WKU

The Western Kentucky University presidential search committee is meeting in closed session Thursday and Friday in Nashville.

The group is considering candidates to replace WKU President Gary Ransdell, who is retiring next summer after 20 years at the school.

The school has issued an agenda for the meeting saying that the search committee will meet in closed session at the Nashville Airport Marriott to discuss applicants for the presidential position.

Kentucky law allows the search committee to conduct the hiring process behind closed doors,without members of the public or media present.

Some WKU employees have asked the search committee to conduct open meetings, and allow members of the community to meet with finalists before a decision is made.

J. Tyler Franklin

The head of the Warren County Republican Party says his party’s huge gains in the state House are more evidence of how the GOP has expanded its influence in Kentucky.

Scott Lasley, who is also a political science professor at Western Kentucky University, says the 17 seats Republicans picked up Tuesday are the result of the party’s increased focus on selecting quality candidates.

He says the party is now competitive in parts of the state where it used to not even put up a challenger against Democratic incumbents

If you go back and look at the data and the evolution of open seat races and uncontested races, it’s always that you had a bunch of Democrats that are running uncontested. Now it’s a bunch of Republicans that are uncontested,” Lasley said.


Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

An announcement this week from the Oxford University Press landed like a bombshell in the laps of Shakespeare fans and scholars.

The prestigious publisher revealed that its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare will credit the 16th century British poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays.

There have long been debates and controversy over whether the many plays, sonnets and other works attributed to Shakespeare were, in fact, written by him. The decision by Oxford University Press will likely further stoke the discussion.

WKU Public Radio spoke with Western Kentucky University English Professor and Shakespeare scholar Gillian Knoll about her reaction to the decision to credit Marlowe as co-author of the Henry VI plays.

Webmd.com

Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency are partnering together in an effort to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

Take Back locations will be set up at fifteen K-S-P posts this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Trooper Josh Brashears, a public affairs officer with the state police, says the Take Back initiative has led to the destruction of thousands of pounds of drugs across the state.

“We do it semi-annually. We did one in April of this year, and it netted about 1,010 pounds of prescription drugs,” Brashears said.

Nearly 10,000 pounds of medicine has been collected since the program began in 2010.

All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in containers will be accepted at the Take Back locations across the state.

Whitney Jones/WKMS

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is predicting 2017 will be the biggest year yet for the state’s hemp program.

The commonwealth is now accepting applications for those who want to take part in the pilot research project next year.

Ryan Quarles wants to build on the increasing amount of hemp that’s been planted since the program began in 2014.

“In the first year, about 30 acres were planted. In the second year, about 900. This year, over 2,000. And we fully expect there to be substantial growth in 2017,” Quarles said.

More information on Kentucky's program, including the 2017 policy guide and a downloadable application, can be found here.

Kentucky is running its program under a federal law that allows industrial hemp pilot projects.

Creative Commons

A new study shows fewer Kentucky adults are delaying or skipping medical care because of cost concerns.

The report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky says a little more than 20 percent of Kentuckians who are 18 and older put off treatment this year because they couldn’t afford it.

That’s a big improvement over the 32 percent who skipped or delayed medical care in 2009.

“It’s still too high a figure, and we’re still higher than the national average,” said Foundation President and CEO Ben Chandler. “But it’s certainly better than what it was, and it’s a good sign and a step in the right direction.”

Chandler says the increasing number of Kentuckians who have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act has made a big difference. He points out income level is also a big predictor of whether Kentuckians had to put off getting medical care.

Art Smith, EPA

Thousands of tons of arsenic-contaminated material have been removed from a site in Ohio County.

The state dug up contaminated soil and replaced it with dirt and loose stones.

Kentucky inspectors believe that containers of arsenic were dumped in a wooded area of Ohio County between 50 and 60 years ago.

The arsenic leaked out of those containers, made its way into a culvert, and showed up on two residential properties.

John Mura, spokesman with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, says the state removed the contaminated soil.

“You have to dig up the ground that is contaminated. And we have very sophisticated measuring devices that we can tell when we’ve removed enough. In total in the site, we removed 4,833 tons of material.”

The state doesn’t know who is responsible for dumping the arsenic containers in Ohio County decades ago.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is taking steps to create places where LGBT students will feel comfortable talking about gender and sexual identity.

Two Safe Zone trainings are being held Tuesday, Oct. 11.  

WKU counselor Brian Lee says the goal of the trainings is to educate employees, students, and community members about creating an environment that’s open and accepting toward LGBT individuals.

J. Tyler Franklin

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says many Kentuckians are just now starting to pay attention to the state’s U.S. Senate race.

Gray is the Democratic nominee who is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green.

The race isn’t receiving the same kind of national attention as several other U.S. Senate campaigns across the country, including Indiana’s.

But Gray says he’s not worried about perceptions that Kentucky’s race is uncompetitive.

“I’m accustomed to being in an underdog position. Every time I’ve run, I’ve been behind when I started the race—and I won the race.”

Gray says Congress currently lacks the ability to solve the nation’s most pressing problems. The Lexington Mayor says he would work as a bridge-builder between Republican and Democratic Senators, in an effort to find compromise on issues like job creation, infrastructure, and national security.

Administrative Office of the Courts

During his annual State of the Judiciary address on Friday, Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton asked lawmakers to raise salaries for the state’s 284 judges and justices.

Minton said the state compensates judges at the lowest rate compared to surrounding states, which he said makes judges feel discouraged and undervalued.

“It also provides little incentive, really, for the best and brightest lawyers to leave a lucrative law practice to mount an expensive campaign for election to judicial office,” Minton said.

Salaries for judges and justices range from $112,668 to $140,504 per year. Minton proposed that during the 2018 budget-writing session, lawmakers grant a 5 percent pay raise each year for two years. The total cost would be about $5.7 million.

Bowling Green International Festival

Downtown Bowling Green will be a showcase for more than 50 international cultures this weekend.

The 27th annual Bowling Green International Festival is being held Saturday at Circus Square Park.

The event will feature information booths, musical performances, and food from more than 50 cultures. Festival board member Hannah Barahona says it’s a showcase for the many refugee and immigrant communities in Bowling Green.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to come learn about other cultures, and experience new things and new foods, and new music. But at the same time, we’re really unique in that we offer the international community here in Bowling Green an opportunity to showcase and share the things that are most special from their cultures.”

Barahona says the event has seen major growth since she started volunteering eight years ago.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is changing course on its plans for a new campus sports medicine complex.

WKU announced in August it was partnering with The Medical Center of Bowling Green to build the facility. The medical provider Western Kentucky Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates filed a protest against the school last week.

The group said WKU awarded contracts to The Medical Center in violation of state procurement laws and regulations.

The school issued a statement Tuesday saying it will issue a Request for Proposals next week for bids on all parts of the sports medicine complex.

The statement says the decision to formally bid the project came after WKU officials went before the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight committee in Frankfort Tuesday.

The group that filed the complaint against the school is part of Graves-Gilbert Clinic.

Here is the complete text of the statement issued Tuesday by WKU:

WKU

The president of Western Kentucky University is announcing several initiatives following a pair of incidents on campus involving hate speech.

Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff in an email Tuesday that the school will create a President’s Committee on Diversity and Embracement.

The group will focus on strengthening “campus civility and respect” and deal with any issues on campus involving racial intolerance.

An African-American WKU student found a racial slur carved into her car last month following a dispute over a parking space. An African-American assistant dean reported earlier this month finding three threatening messages containing racist language in her office.

Both incidents are being investigated by WKU Police.

Ransdell also said in his email that the school will increase the number of campus events it holds that center on the themes of "civility, respect, and the embracement of everyone in our campus community."

Here is the full text of Ransdell's email:

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said Wednesday that his recent speech containing remarks about shedding blood was a warning against American apathy.

Bevin made the controversial comments Saturday during a speech in Washington at the Value Voters Summit hosted by the conservative Family Research Council.

During that speech, Bevin said it might be necessary for “patriots” to shed their blood and the blood of “tyrants” if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Here is some of what Bevin said during his Values Voter Summit speech:

"Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview, 'Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive, that we’d ever be able to recover as a nation?' And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots.

Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something that we, through our apathy and our indifference, have given away. Don’t let it happen."

After several Kentucky Democrats criticized Bevin for encouraging political violence, the Republican Governor issued a statement saying his speech was aimed at the dangers of “radical Islamic extremists.”

Speaking Wednesday to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Bevin said his speech in Washington was targeting the indifference he believes many Americans feel towards the political system.

“We have an opportunity to battle ideologically, politically, spiritually, morally, economically—we have the ability to have these levels of debate. Because, if in fact, we don’t, we will ultimately be forced to fight physically. That’s the point I made. That’s exactly what I said.”

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