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
8:06 am
Mon September 23, 2013

National Cancer Prevention Study Looking for Southern Kentucky Participants

The CPS-3 is looking for Warren County area residents to sign up now for appointments.

The American Cancer Society is looking for participants in the Warren County region to take part in a national cancer prevention study. The group wants 300 people ages 30 to 65--who have never had a cancer diagnosis--to schedule appointments for the enrollment period of Nov. 20-22. 

Those who are interested in participating can follow this link to learn more about what's known as the Cancer Prevention Study 3.

Participants will give a blood sample and have their waists measured, and will fill out a questionnaire about their health history and lifestyle. After that, those involved in the study will report any health changes through either mail or email.

"And from that we hope to learn more about possible links between cancer risks and lifestyle choices that people make, the environment where they live and work, and also even genetics," said Eric Walker, with the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society, Inc., based in Paducah.

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Sports
5:00 am
Fri September 20, 2013

WKU Hilltoppers Looking Forward to First Game in Bowling Green, Hope to Notch Second Win

WKU coach Bobby Petrino spoke to members of the media ahead of Saturday's game vs. Morgan State.
Credit Kevin Willis

After starting the season with three games away from home, the WKU football team is gearing up for its first contest at L.T. Smith Stadium.

The Hilltoppers host Morgan State this Saturday night, and hope to get back in the win column after dropping their last two games.

WKU head coach Bobby Petrino says players and staff are excited to finally play in Bowling Green.

"I'm looking forward to the routine for a home game, and what you do, and how you prepare," the first-year Hilltopper coach said. "I'm looking for a crowd that will come out with a lot of energy and excitement. It's always great to play at home. And hopefully that's something that will really help us and give us energy and help in our preparation."

This will be the first time WKU has played Morgan State, which brings an 0-3 record into Saturday's game.

WKU opened the season with a win in Nashville against Kentucky, but then lost at Tennessee and at South Alabama.

You can see WKU's season schedule here.

Economy
1:58 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau: Kentucky has Fifth-Highest Poverty Rate in the Nation

Over 823,000 Kentuckians-19.4 percent of the state's population--lived in poverty in 2012.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The figures are part of the  bureau’s latest  American Community Survey which was released Thursday.

Kentucky had the fifth-highest percentage of residents living in poverty in 2012, behind only Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  A little more than  823,000 Kentuckians, or 19.4 percent of the state’s population, suffer through poverty. That represents a 0.3 percent increase in the commonwealth’s poverty rate since 2011.

By comparison, Tennessee’s poverty rate stood at 17.9 percent in 2012, an improvement of 0.4 percent over 2011. The poverty rate in Indiana was 15.6 percent, which was also an improvement of 0.4 percent.

There was at least one bit of good news for the Bluegrass State in the latest survey. Kentucky is one of just three states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012.

You can see a report containing the latest American Community Survey data on poverty in the U.S here.

Regional
1:43 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Citing Need for Long-Term Care, Officials Break Ground for Radcliff Veterans Center

Gov. Beshear (near center in green tie) joins veterans in Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking of the Radcliff Veterans Center.
Credit Kevin Willis

A new veterans center planned for Hardin County will be just the fourth such facility in the state, and will offer long-term care in a region known for its close ties to the military.

State and local leaders were in Radcliff Wednesday to honor the official groundbreaking for the center that has been seven years in the making. With a planned opening in June, 2015, the project will feature a dozen ten-person homes, and will provide full nursing services to 120 veterans.

Those who helped design the Hardin County facility say it will offer residents a degree of autonomy not often found in nursing homes.

“They will be able to design their own rooms as far as how they decorate the room,” said Gilda Hill, Executive Director of the Office of Kentucky Veterans Centers. “They are welcome to bring their own furniture if they like, if that will make them feel more at home. They will tell us when they want to eat breakfast, when they want to bathe, and when they want to go out of the building for visits.”

The Radcliff Veterans Center will sit on 195 acres of land donated by the Defense Department.

Speaking at Wednesday’s ceremony, Governor Steve Beshear pointed out there is a great need for the kinds of services that be provided at the Radcliff Veterans Center.

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Business
5:51 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Bowling Green, WKU Leaders Say New Hyatt Place Hotel will Connect Campus and City

Political, business, and education leaders from Bowling Green and WKU broke ground Tuesday on a new 108-room hotel.
Credit Kevin Willis

A new hotel is being called a bridge that will bring WKU and downtown Bowling Green closer together.

City and university leaders Tuesday announced that a 108-room Hyatt Place hotel will be built adjacent to the WKU Augustein Alumni Center. Construction on the four-story building will start this fall, with a scheduled opening in fall of 2014.

WKU President Gary Ransdell described the effort as a "cornerstone" that will help unite the school's campus and the city's downtown.

"This is what begins to marry Western Kentucky University--our physical campus--with downtown Bowling Green. This project is going to be the bridge which begins to bring these two very important variables in our community together."

The hotel will be owned by Dellisart Wellspring, LLC, the same group behind the Staybridge Suites Hotel in Bowling Green at the intersection of Nashville Road and Campbell Lane.

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Arts & Culture
9:03 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Owensboro is the Scene for a Summer Camp All About Bill Monroe's Mandolin Music

Richard Brown leads a class for intermediate players at the 8th annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp in Owensboro.
Credit Kevin Willis

Kevin's audio feature about the 8th annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp in Owensboro

On an unseasonably cool Friday afternoon in Owensboro recently, the sounds of an unusual summer camp were being heard in the city's downtown.

About 50 campers from across the country--and some from other countries--were in Daviess County to learn the finer points of one of the great instruments of bluegrass music during the eighth annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp.

Held at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the camp is a three-day affair focusing exclusively on the instrument Bill Monroe played as he gained the reputation of being the "Father of Bluegrass Music."

"This is the only camp that I know of that specializes specifically on mandolin style. And it's no other instruments--it's all mandolin players, all Bill Monroe, all the time," says Mike Compton, the camp's director.

Compton is a Mississippi native who now lives in Nashville. He says it's an honor to be a part of a camp that pays tribute to an American musical genius.

Even those who don't consider themselves bluegrass fans are likely familiar with the name Bill Monroe. The Rosine, Kentucky, native gained acclaim for his technical wizardry on the mandolin, inspiring legions of fans throughout the U.S. and beyond.

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Education
6:00 am
Sun September 15, 2013

New Scholarship for WKU Alumni and Area Teachers Offers Discounted Grad School Tuition

Gary Ransdell Hall, where the WKU College of Education and Behavorial Sciences is located

A new scholarship program sponsored by the WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is aimed at cutting the cost of graduate school for area educators.

The Topper Educator Graduate Scholarship is aimed at WKU alumni and those who are educators in school districts within the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative.

"The ones that we are specifically focusing on would be individuals who are classroom teachers and those who are aspiring to become school principals," said  Sam Evans, Dean of the WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

He says the scholarship is non-competitive and can allow graduate students to save over $8,000 on the cost of a graduate education degree.

"It is a non-competitive scholarship. If you are a graduate of WKU, you are eligible for this scholarship, although you do have to certified as a classroom teacher, or eligible for the certification," Evans said.

Scholarship recipients would receive a discounted rate of $395 per credit hour regardless of changes in overall tuition.

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Agriculture
2:52 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Kentucky Hemp Panel Tells Washington It's Moving Forward with Hemp Production

The year 2013 has seen a huge push by states like Kentucky to get hemp production legalized.

Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Commission is serving notice to the federal government that it plans to move forward with creating regulations for hemp production in the commonwealth.

A news release from the state agriculture department says staff members have been instructed to begin the process of writing rules for the development of the long-banned crop. The state’s industrial hemp commission is calling for Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and U.S. Senator Rand Paul to write a letter to the U.S. Justice Department to “make Kentucky’s intentions known.”

Recent changes to state law have opened the door to future hemp production in Kentucky, although growing the crop is still technically illegal under federal rules.

But Commissioner Comer is pointing to recent statements by a Justice Department official who said the federal government has no intentions of prosecuting hemp farmers.

"Surely...no entity will seek to throw up a government obstacle to moving forward with another opportunity for Kentucky farmers and for manufacturing jobs."

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Regional
7:59 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Replica, The Wall That Heals, Now on Public Display in Grandview

The Wall That Heals is being displayed at the Grandview Ball Field in Spencer County, Indiana, through Sept. 15.
Credit Barbara Richey

A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is now on public display in Spencer County, Indiana.

The Wall That Heals contains the names of every U.S. military member killed in the Vietnam War. It can be seen at the Grandview Ball Field through Sept. 15.

Bringing the replica memorial to southern Indiana was the idea of Vietnam veteran and Spencer County resident Frank Richey, who told WKU Public Radio that he hopes those who haven't been able to see the Vietnam Memorial in Washington will come see The Wall That Heals.

"Not everybody gets the chance to go to Washington, D.C., and see the real wall. And a lot of kids don't get a chance to go. This way, I'm bringing the wall to the people in my community of Spencer County," Richey said.

Regional
1:00 pm
Sun September 8, 2013

Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Public Display in Spencer County, Indiana

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica, known as The Wall That Heals, will be on public display in Grandview, IN., starting Sept. 11.
Credit www.vvmf.org/twth

A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is making its debut in Spencer County, Indiana, Monday morning. The 350-foot-long wall contains the names of all U.S. military personnel killed in Vietnam.

It's being escorted by motorcyclists from the Denny's in the town of Dale starting at 9 a.m Monday, and is scheduled to be brought down Main Street in Granview at 9:30.

Vietnam War veteran Frank Richey led the effort to bring the replica--known as The Wall That Heals--to Spencer County. He told WKU Public Radio that he hopes those who haven't been able to see the Vietnam Memorial in Washington will come see the traveling replica.

"Not everybody gets the chance to go to Washington, D.C., and see the real wall. And a lot of kids don't get a chance to go. This way, I'm bringing the wall to the people in my community of Spencer County," Richey said.

The Wall That Heals will be on public display at the Grandview Ball Field in Spencer County from September 11 through the 15. Richey says he'll be staying in a trailer nearby, and will be on site 24 hours a day during the time the wall is on display.

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