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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A Bowling Green group is again seeking expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The Bowling Green Fairness Coalition Tuesday night delivered the signatures of over 1,000 residents asking the city commission to amend the local civil rights ordinance. The group wants to outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Bowling Green landlord Don Langley was one of three speakers to address the commission on behalf of expanding the city's Fairness Ordinance, which currently bans discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and disability. Langley says his experiences with LGBT renters led him to believe that discriminating against them is wrong.

“They pay their rent on time, they work hard, they have jobs, and they’re tax paying citizens," Langley said after he addressed the commission. "I think they should be treated fairly.”

This is the third time the Fairness Coalition has asked the Bowling Green City Commission to vote on an expanded civil rights ordinance. So far, it hasn’t come up for a vote.

Seven Republican Kentucky House members are asking the state to look into how taxpayer funds are used by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

The lawmakers have mailed the state Auditor and Treasurer a letter asking for an audit of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

According to a statement from the Cabinet, health departments in Louisville and Lexington received about $330,000 in federal funds this fiscal year for Planned Parenthood services.

Republican Representative Tim Moore of Hardin County says if the state refuses to audit the group’s funding, he’ll sponsor a bill to halt all taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood.

"The General Assembly, to our understanding, has never approved that kind of expenditure that would support Planned Parenthood, and that has not been forthcoming," Moore told WKU Public Radio.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says all public funds that support Planned Parenthood were approved by lawmakers in the last two-year budget.

The GOP request for an audit comes as abortion opponents continue to criticize Planned Parenthood’s family planning services. The group says those services are vital for low-income women, and points out federal law prohibits taxpayer money to fund abortions.

Kevin Willis

A new support center at WKU will provide help to the more than 2,000 students with military backgrounds.

The Military Student Support Center at the WKU-Glasgow campus was officially opened at a ceremony Wednesday. Military Student Services Director Tonya Archey says the center will assist students from all over the world who are enrolled in WKU classes.

“We have Coast Guard students in Florida right now, we have active duty Navy in Hawaii right now, and we have students serving all over the world, in Europe and Asia. It’s hard to get admitted when you’re stationed in Korea, for example. It’s hard to navigate the admissions process from overseas. So they call us and we help them through that process.”

Archey says completing college admissions and financial aid forms can be complicated for any student. But she says it can be especially daunting for military students, who face additional paperwork related to admissions and benefits they are entitled to based on their service.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Pete Prodoehl

The Hancock County Judge-Executive says he feels “helpless” following the announcement that a major employer plans to sharply reduce operations in late October.

Century Aluminum announced Tuesday that it will idle its smelter in Hawesville unless there is a major rebound in the price of aluminum on the open market.

The smelter employs 565 people. In an email Wednesday, Century Aluminum Human Resources Manager Kenny Barkley said the company would keep “around a dozen” workers at the Hawesville plant if it’s idled this fall.

Hancock County Judge-Executive Jack McCaslin said there’s nothing anybody in the region can do about the market forces impacting the price of aluminum.

“It’s a commodity. Metals are just like soybeans and corn and everything else. So the markets dictate how much stuff is worth. I can’t change the markets.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/John Bratseth

Dozens of counties in Kentucky are in need of volunteers to serve on foster care review boards.

The boards consider the cases of children placed in foster care because of dependency, neglect, and abuse. State law mandates that there be at least three volunteers on each board, although more are often needed due to heavy caseloads.

Dolores Smith, an Owensboro-based supervisor with the Department of Family and Juvenile Services, says the state laws creating the foster care review boards cast a wide net in terms of who is qualified to serve.

“(The statutes) mention folks with backgrounds in education, medicine, law, social work, and psychology,” Smith said. “But the overwhelming area they mention is that volunteers should have a genuine concern for child welfare.”

The goal of the foster care review boards, Smith said, is to find a safe, permanent home for children placed in the state’s custody.

Caverna Memorial

A Hart County hospital is being acquired by The Medical Center of Bowling Green.

At an announcement in Horse Cave Monday morning, the leadership of Caverna Memorial Hospital said it had agreed to the deal, which will be complete by the end of the year. Under the plan, Caverna Memorial will be known as The Medical Center at Caverna.

Caverna Memorial has been independently operated since 1967, and is a 25-bed, non-profit critical access hospital.

The Medical Center executive vice-president Wade Stone says the increasingly complex and expensive nature of health care is making it tough for rural hospitals to remain independently-operated.

“It’s making sense for hospitals like Caverna—small rural hospitals—to start looking for options in terms of partnering, or being part of an acquisition, to make sure they have the resources they need to survive long-term.”


WKU President Gary Ransdell informed faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon that Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Gordon Emslie is stepping down from his administrative roles and returning to teaching.

An email sent by President Ransdell said Emslie will take a sabbatical and teach in the WKU Physics and Astronomy department beginning in January.

Dr. David Lee will take over as Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Monday. Lee, currently the Dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters, will serve a two-year appointment, with a search for a successor beginning next summer.

Dr. Emslie has served five years as Provost and VP of Academic Affairs.

“I support Gordon’s decision and offer my sincere appreciation to him for his loyal and dedicated service,” said WKU President Gary A. Ransdell.  “I have appreciated his sound financial acumen, tenacious support of the faculty and his teamwork with our colleagues on the Administrative Council."

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s distillers want to be able to sell drinks by the glass, just like wineries and breweries.

Current state law prohibits distilleries from selling drinks to visitors, something spirits producers say costs them money. Distillers can offer guests a tasting as part of a tour, but each person is limited to a total of one ounce of liquor.

Kentucky Distillers’ Association Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs Kristin Meadors says her group has been speaking with lawmakers and is prepared to help craft legislation ahead of the 2016 General Assembly.

Meadors believes allowing distilleries to sell to visitors the bourbon, rye, vodka, and other spirits they produce on site would help elevate the Kentucky distillery experience to what is found in other parts of the country.

“When you go to a winery in Napa, what do you do? They provide you with a flight, and you purchase a flight for sometimes 20, 30, or 50 bucks. And so you sit there and enjoy it, and you pair it with some wonderful foods,” Meadors told WKU Public Radio.

“So we want you to linger a little bit more, experience a distillery, and pair the bourbon with some great Kentucky Proud products that we have across the state.”

The changes sought by the KDA would allow a distillery visitor to purchase a shot of a small batch spirit, a flight of spirits, or a cocktail.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor is pledging to defund Planned Parenthood operations in the state if he’s elected.

Matt Bevin’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying he would order the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to stop distributing federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in Lexington and Louisville.

Bevin said he would order the money returned to the federal government.

Politifact Sheet: Eight Things to Know About the Planned Parenthood Controversy

Planned Parenthood has come under fire from conservatives in recent weeks after an anti-abortion group released videos showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing aborted fetuses. The group behind the videos accuses Planned Parenthood of selling aborted fetuses for a profit, a charge Planned Parenthood strongly denies.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood says it’s a longtime provider of healthcare for low-income women.

In a statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky sent to WKU Public Radio Wednesday, the group said its two centers in Kentucky helped more than 4,700 patients last year.

“Banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women, men and families—especially those in medically underserved communities and with low incomes —for preventive care, including Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams," said the statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum.

Flickr/Creative Commons/EC-JPR

The American Red Cross chapter serving southern and western Kentucky is trying to avoid an emergency shortage of certain blood types.

The Red Cross Tennessee Valley region is running extremely low on donations of O-negative, B-negative, and A-negative blood types.

Spokeswoman Lindsay English says the regional chapter has received about 1,400 fewer donations in June and July compared to the previous ten months.

“This time of year is always really challenging for blood collection, just because of people being so busy, and having different schedules and vacation plans. And now people are thinking about back to school.”

The Red Cross is also seeking donations of type AB blood, which can be given to patients of all blood types. The group is also putting out the call for donors of platelets, a key clotting component in blood used to help cancer patients, surgical patients, adn blood marrow recipients.

Here are some blood donation events being held in southern Kentucky: