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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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.

Education
12:41 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Embracing the Role of "Campus Mom", a WKU Student Reflects Rising Number of Non-Traditionals

Samantha Johnson and her 15-year-old son, Drew
Credit Kevin Willis

Kevin's profile of WKU-Glasgow's Samantha Johnson, one of a growing number of non-traditional students across the nation.

Glasgow resident and full-time college student Samantha Johnson could serve as “exhibit A” of a growing trend being seen throughout America’s colleges and university campuses.

When Johnson enters a classroom at WKU-G, as the campus is known, she brings with her a lifetime of experiences that the average 18 to 22 year old lacks.

Johnson is a 45-year-old single-mother who knows what it’s like to brave the job market with only a high school diploma. She has raised two sons, experienced divorce, and survived a bout with cancer.

After all that, a 100-level psychology class looked like a piece of cake.

Non-traditional is Now the Norm

More than ever before, the face of the average U.S. college student looks more and more “non-traditional.” According to U.S. Education Department data, only 29% of the country’s 18 million undergraduates are what’s known as “traditional students”—those who graduated from high school and then enrolled full-time in four-year public or nonprofit colleges or universities.

Nearly one million undergraduates were at least 25, and nearly half a million were in their 30s or older.

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Politics
2:52 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

McConnell to Make Syria Decision in "Coming Days", Feels Certain about No Boots on the Ground

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday.
Credit Kevin Willis

Sen. Mitch McConnell's response to a question about his position on a possible military strike on Syria.

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says while he hasn’t made up his mind on a possible U.S. strike in Syria, he’s certain American military forces won’t be placed inside that country.

Republican Mitch McConnell spoke to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, and said even those in Washington who are advocating for U.S. involvement in Syria are stopping short of calling for boots on the ground.

“I’m not just instinctively opposed to military action,” the Louisville Republican said. “I supported the Afghan war, and I supported the Iraq war. Certainly we need to be careful about doing it. I don’t think anybody supports putting any American military personnel there at all.”

McConnell said he would announce his position on Syria “in the coming days.”

The Senate Minority Leader said there’s no way to be certain which political or religious group would take over Syria if the current regime was toppled.

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Politics
11:23 am
Wed September 4, 2013

For Kentucky's Senators, the Issue of Syria has Different Implications

A WKU political analyst says the ongoing debate over possible U.S. military action in Syria comes at an opportune time for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Political Science Professor and Warren County Republican Party Chairman Scott Lasley says Paul has long talked about the U.S. needing to adopt a less aggressive foreign policy. Sen. Paul--who is considering a presidential run--has been a vocal opponent of U.S. military involvement in Syria, saying it’s not in America’s interest to get involved in another nation’s civil war.

Professor Lasley says Paul’s position is something that could attract voters who wouldn’t normally side with the Bowling Green Republican.

“Particularly with younger voters, where Republicans have struggled the last couple of election cycles. A lot of time there’s not a huge difference between younger voters and older voters, but one of the areas that you do see a difference is the aggressiveness of foreign policy.”

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Health
6:00 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Kentuckians Urged to Dispose of Unused, Expired Prescription Drugs

Kentucky has 149 permanent prescription drug disposal locations in 97 locations.

Law enforcement groups across the commonwealth are urging residents to do away with their unused and expired prescription medications.

Kentucky now has nearly 150 permanent prescription drug disposal locations throughout the state, housed at police and sheriff's departments. The program is aimed at getting old prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets, where they can be stolen or discovered by children.

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Politics
10:45 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Transcript of Sen. Paul's Conversation on Syria, War Powers, and Blurring of Normal Partisan Divide

Sen. Paul's interview with WKU Public Radio about possible military action in Syria

U.S. Senator Rand Paul spoke to WKU Public Radio Friday about the possibility of U.S. military action against Syria following the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Bowling Green Republican talked about what the Constitution says about war powers, how the Syria issue is uniting those on the left and right, and he took a not-too-subtle jab at Hillary Clinton, in what could be a preview of a possible 2016 Presidential contest.

Here is the transcript of Sen. Paul's interview with WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis:

Is a U.S. military strike against Syria inevitable?

"Maybe, maybe not. I'm trying very hard to prevent that from happening. The Constitution is very explicit. The Constitution says Congress gives the authority to declare war, not the President. The President, when he was a Senator, acknowledged this. He said no President should unilaterally go to war without Congressional authority."

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Politics
9:32 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Paul: No U.S. Strike on Syria Without Congressional Authorization

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says the Obama administration has so far not articulated a "clear-cut objective" related to possible military action against Syria.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Friday morning, Sen. Paul said no U.S. strike should occur unless it's approved by a Congressional vote.

You can read the transcript of the Senator's conversation with WKU Public Radio here.

The Bowling Green Republican said that until he sees the evidence gathered by the U.S. on the chemical weapons attack that allegedly occurred in Syria, he can't be sure who was behind the assault.

"One commentator recently asked the question--it's a Latin phrase--'cui bono?' Whose benefit is this? To whom does the benefit accrue if you have this attack? Well, it doesn't seem to be helping Assad any, it seems to be united the world against him," said Sen. Paul.

"So there is a possibility that maybe the rebels instigated this chemical attack. I would at least want to see the evidence before launching a war."

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Regional
3:23 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Bowling Green Veteran Receives Purple Heart--44 Years After War Wound

Rep. Brett Guthrie awards Eddie Miller his Purple Heart Thursday in Bowling Green. Also pictures is Mr. Miller's wife.
Credit Mark Lord, Rep. Guthrie's Office

It took over four decades for a Bowling Green Vietnam veteran to receive his Purple Heart, but Eddie Miller says it was worth the wait.

Miller was wounded in Vietnam in 1969, but never received a Purple Heart because his military records were lost. The 66-year-old Miller says a friend recently encouraged him to contact Congressman Brett Guthrie's office, which intervened on Miller's behalf and got the necessary paperwork through the Defense Department.

Miller and several family members were on hand Thursday when Rep. Guthrie presented the Vietnam veteran with his Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart is a combat decoration that is awarded to men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are wounded in times of war.

Asked to describe the incident 44 years ago that led to his award, Miller said his base camp came under rocket attack.

“We were running and scrambling, and I felt pain,” he said.

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