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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Health
9:48 am
Thu July 10, 2014

WKU Regents Vote to Privatize Health Services Clinic, with Graves Gilbert Taking Control Aug. 1

Graves Gilbert will begin operating the WKU Health Services clinic on Aug. 1.
Credit WKU

The WKU Board of Regents has voted to privatize the campus Health Services center. Graves Gilbert Clinic will take over operations ahead of the fall semester.

The idea of giving up control of the health center was first announced by WKU President Gary Ransdell in March. Privatizing the health center that serves students, faculty, and staff gave the school nearly $1.1 million in relief for the budget that went into effect July 1.

None of the three doctors or one nurse practitioner currently employed by the school will be kept on after the health center changes management.

WKU Vice President for Finance and Administration said at Thursday morning's regents meeting that Graves Gilbert will make decisions on whether or not to retain the center's remaining employees within 10 days of the contract being finalized.

Mead added both parties have a lot to do in a short amount of time.

“We’ll be moving into helping Graves Gilbert transition to opening on Aug. 1. We want to facilitate Graves Gilbert’s family practitioners to be able to meet our leadership on campus, and start having the campus understand what services are going to be provided at our on-campus facility.”

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Immigration Debate
4:46 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

In Bowling Green, Coalition of Eclectic Groups Speaks Out for Immigration Reform

Albert Mbanfu, Executive Director, Bowling Green International Center; Dalton Workman, Chairman, WKU College Republican; and H.H. Barlow, Owner, Barlu Farms, Presidential Appointee to US Board for International Food & Agriculture Development speak in favor of national immigration reform during the press conference at the International Center in Bowling Green, Ky.
Credit Abbey Oldham

A coalition of business, political, and refugee-rights groups in south-central Kentucky is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.  

As part of a so-called national “Day of Action”, representatives from various backgrounds spoke Wednesday in Bowling Green about the need for Congressional  leaders and the Obama Administration to get reform passed this year.

Barren County dairy farmer H.H. Barlow, a presidential appointee to the U.S. Board for International Food and Agriculture Development, said many Americans don’t understand the impact immigrant labor has on sectors such as the agriculture industry.

“I hate the word ‘criminals’, or ‘illegal aliens’—I don’t like that term. They’re workers. They’re performing an essential service to our country,” Barlow said.

The Barren County farmer said he speaks to his elected representatives about the need for immigration reform each time he sees them. Barlow believes that reform will not only benefit immigrants, but also the U.S. economy.

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Regional
2:38 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Former Law School Classmates Seek to Honor Slain Somerset Attorney

Classmates of a murdered Somerset attorney are honoring his memory by seeking to create an endowment in his name. Mark Stanziano, 57, was shot and killed June 27 outside his law office in downtown Somerset. A suspect charged with the murder has pleaded not guilty.

Shortly after news of the killing broke, a group of Stanziano’s former University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law classmates decided to begin a fundraising campaign towards an endowment that would benefit the school’s moot court team.

U of L development officer J.P. Davis says the team offers law students the chance to practice what they’ve learned in a mock courtroom setting.

“The competition actually provides students with the opportunity to practice traditional appellate advocacy, mock trials, and alternative dispute resolution skills. It basically gives them an experiential opportunity to hone in on those skills,” Davis told WKU Public Radio.  

Davis says the school is setting a $25,000 goal for the endowment.

Health
11:53 am
Thu July 3, 2014

WKU Regents Put Off Vote on Privatizing Health Services, Ask for More Information

WKU Health Services facility on the school's campus
Credit WKU

The WKU Board of Regents is delaying a vote to privatize the campus Health Services Center.

At a meeting Thursday morning, board members requested that the university provide them with more information about the proposed agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic. Regents specifically asked for copies of the “request for proposal” that was submitted to those interested in bidding on the health services contract.

The university announced earlier this year it would seek to privatize its health services operation, in an effort to save nearly $1.1 million in the 2014-15 operating budget.

Regent John Ridley of Bowling Green says today’s move by the board should not be seen as a vote of no confidence in either the proposed contract or the school’s administration. Instead, Ridley says the regents want to make sure they’ve had time to thoroughly review the proposal and have any questions answered before a vote is taken.

“The issue is that we have a board responsibility when we’re about to enter into a contractual arrangement, and if anyone has a question we need to get it answered, and then everybody’s happy,” Ridley said after the meeting.

Faculty Regent Dr. Patti Minter said it’s important that the regents make sure any and all concerns are addressed before conducting a vote on such an important matter.

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Health
2:30 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Pet Owners Should Take Steps to Make Sure Animals are Safe During Fourth of July Holiday

What, me worry? Some pets can be especially sensitive to the sounds and lights associated with fireworks around the Fourth of July holiday.
Credit Kevin Willis

Local animal shelters are warning pet owners to take extra precautions heading into the Fourth of July holiday. The loud sounds and flashing lights associated with fireworks can frighten and disorient pets, and they often bolt from their owners or yard trying to get away from the noise.

“The best thing to do is to put them in an interior room, somewhere where there isn’t a window,” says Kendall Paul, executive director of the Vanderburgh Humane Society. “Dogs have been known to bust out screens, or even bust out glass windows if they’re that freaked out about the noise and light.”

Paul advises dog owners to leave their pets at home during holiday events featuring loud noises like fireworks.

For animal shelters around the country, the coming days are usually extremely busy ones.

“Usually the business day following the Fourth of July is one of our busiest days for lost and found reports for animals,” Paul told WKU Public Radio. “So make sure that your animal has proper identification on. We highly recommend that you microchip your animal. We also recommend that they wear collars with tags that have your cell phone number on it.”

Paul says having your personal phone number on the tag is much better than having the number of the pet’s veterinarian or shelter on it. If the pet is lost after hours, having an owner's phone number increases the chances of getting the animal back to its owner sooner.

Health
9:16 am
Wed July 2, 2014

WKU Board of Regents to Vote Thursday on Health Services Privatization

Graves Cilbert Clinic would take over operations of WKU Health Services no later than Aug. 1 under a plan to be voted on Thursday by the WKU Board of Regents.
Credit WKU

Members of the WKU Board of Regents will vote Thursday morning on a contract with Graves-Gilbert Clinic to run the school's Health Services.

WKU announced earlier this year it was seeking to privatize the campus facility that serves students, faculty, and staff. The university estimates such a move would cut nearly $1.1 million from the 2014-15 operating budget.

Under the agreement to be voted on Thursday, GGC would use about 47 percent of the facility, with WKU continuing to utilize the remainder of the building.

The special called meeting of the WKU Board of Regents begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, in the Cornelius A. Martin Regents Room on campus.

In a campus-wide email sent earlier this week by WKU Health Services, it was announced that the three doctors and one nurse practitioner on staff would not be retained by GGC.

The last day those employees will see patients is July 24.

Education
12:08 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

WKU Regents Pass $392 Budget, with Two Dissenting Votes

The WKU Board of Regents has approved a budget that gets nearly half of its funding from student tuition and fees. By a 9-2 vote Friday morning, regents passed a $392 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

The new budget contains a $3.1 million dollar cut to Academic Affairs, which includes the elimination of 26 vacant faculty positions.

WKU History Professor and Faculty Regent Patti Minter was one of the two who voted against the budget. She said while some can argue it makes sense that academic departments face the toughest cuts since they have the largest overall piece of the budget, such decisions are harming WKU’s ability to attract and retain the best teachers and researchers.

“All of this would impact the students negatively,” Dr. Minter told WKU Public Radio. “Because this is the core mission, this is why Dr. Cherry built this college on a hill in 1906. And as he said in the depths of the depression, in these times we have to cut out all the extracurriculars, and we have to get back to the basics, which if the academic mission.”

Less than 19 percent of the next WKU budget comes from state funding, with nearly 49 percent made up of student tuition and fees.

As part of the budget, the Regents also approved a 4.8 percent tuition increase for resident undergraduate students, who will now pay nearly $4,600 per semester. The spending plan also includes a one percent cost-of living adjustment for WKU employees, with a minimum increase of $500 per worker.

WKU President Gary Ransdell told reporters after Friday’s regents meeting that declining state funding for higher education is a trend that has to be reversed soon.

“If we can get to the point we’ve gotten beyond state budget cuts, that would be a modest satisfaction. The victory will be if we can finally get Kentucky to invest in higher education, because it’s been now six years.”

WKU Health Services Deal Imminent

In addition to passing a budget, WKU regents were also told the school is close to signing an agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic to run the campus Health Services operation which serves students, faculty, and staff. The school announced in March it would seek to privatize the campus facility, with an estimated savings of $1.1 million dollars.

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Health
8:12 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Pet Owners Warned to Avoid Leaving Dogs Inside Cars on Hot Days

The increasingly high summer temperatures are bringing the normal reminders to avoid leaving children alone in vehicles.  But an Evansville animal shelter says pet owners also need to be aware of the dangers of leaving dogs inside hot vehicles.

Vanderburgh Humane Society Executive Director Kendall Paul says many dog owners make the mistake of thinking it’s OK to leave their pet in a vehicle with the windows cracked. She says the temperature inside that vehicle increases very quickly.

“I always recommend to people—try it yourself. Go out there on a hot and sit in that car for a few minutes with the windows rolled up, or even with them cracked a little bit, and you’re going to start to see what kind of temperatures very fast you’re putting your animal in. But we just recommend that you don’t do it.”

Paul adds that pet owners often tell themselves they’ll only be gone for a few minutes, and that their animal will be fine inside the car without any air conditioning.

“And often times if you just run in for a few minutes, you think it’s just going to be a few minutes in the store, but then it takes a little bit longer, or something delays you,” Paul said. “It only takes a short  amount of time—once the temperatures outside start hitting in the 70s and 80 degrees, the temperature inside that car is going to climb even higher than that.”

Published research shows a car in 84-degree weather reached an interior temperature of 110 degrees in about 18 minutes. In 88-degree weather, the car reached 110 in about 14 minutes.

The research also found that cracking a window had little effect on the car's temperature.

Bourbon
2:50 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Bardstown to Add Fifth Bourbon Distillery in 2016

Bourbon distilling contributes nearly $2 billion in gross state product each year in Kentucky.
Credit Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s bourbon capital is set to grow even stronger.

The Bardstown Bourbon Company announced Thursday plans to build a new distillery in the Nelson County town that will create 35 jobs and represent an investment of $25 million. The company says it will also build a visitor’s center and warehouses, in addition to the 45,000-square-foot distillery.

The company will produce bourbon as well as other spirits using local ingredients. Construction on the project is expected to begin this summer, with the facility opening in 2016.

It would mark the fifth distillery in Bardstown, joining Barton 1792, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, and Willett. Maker's Mark is also close by, in the town of Loretto.

The Bardstown Bourbon Company has hired Steve Nally to serve as its first master distiller. He has over 40 years of experience in the industry and is a member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Politics/Education
10:00 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Elizabeth Warren to Visit Kentucky in Support of Grimes Campaign

U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren is visiting Kentucky in June to support the Senate bid of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Credit elizabethwarren.com

Kentucky’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is hoping to capitalize on the recent defeat of a bill addressing student loan debt.

The Senator who sponsored the measure is coming to Kentucky to back the campaign of Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The Grimes campaign announced Thursday that Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren will join Grimes for multiple events in the commonwealth this month. Warren championed a measure that failed in the Senate this week that would have allowed borrowers to refinance federal and private student loans at lower interest rates.

That bill would have raised taxes on the country’s wealthiest earners to cover the costs. The Democratic-backed measure Wednesday failed to gain the 60 Senate votes necessary to move forward.

Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell was one of 38 “no” votes.

The Grimes campaign says Warren’s visit to the Bluegrass State will help highlight how many college graduates are suffering under the burden of high amounts of student loan debt.

McConnell says the Warren bill didn’t do anything to address the rising costs of college or the amount of money students have to borrow to pay for their education.

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