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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Regional
8:18 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Update: Road Closings, Reopenings Following Weekend Rain

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued this updated road closing report. Several roadways in our listening area have been closed due to the high water brought on by weekend rain. Here is the latest, as of Monday at 10:30 am.

Allen County:

KY 585/Old Franklin Road closed between MM 6-7.

KY 1533/Meador Post Oliver Road closed between MM 0-1.

Breckinridge County - KY 261, between 15-16MP - Closed

NOW OPEN - Breckinridge County - KY 2779, between 3-4MP

NOW OPEN - LaRue County - KY 583, between 1-2MP

Butler County:

KY 2713/Dexterville Road closed between MM 0-1.

KY 1153/Dallam Creek Bridge Road closed between MM 5-6.

Reed's Ferry (KY 269) and the Rochester Ferry (KY 369) closed due to high water.

Edmonson County:

KY 655/Segal Road closed between MM 3-4.

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Regional
9:08 am
Sun January 13, 2013

Fort Knox Soldiers Reunite with Families After Tour in Afghanistan

Nearly 200 Ft. Knox soldiers are back home and reunited with their families following a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Courier-Journal reported on the homecoming for soldiers from the 3rd Sustainment Command, who were stationed at an airfield in Kandahar.

This was the first deployment for some of the soldiers, while for others it was their fourth of fifth deployment overseas since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Business
9:46 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Kentucky Supreme Court Wades into Instant Racing Controversy

The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal concerning Instant Racing games being used at two racetracks in the listening area of WKU Public Radio.

Instant Racing uses videos of old horse races, with the identities of the horses, jockeys, and trainers concealed. Participants place wagers after seeing a brief video clip of the race in the corner of the screen. The games are currently being used at Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson.

The Courier-Journal reports it remains to be seen whether the Kentucky high court will decide, once and for all, whether Instant Racing games can operate in the Bluegrass State. The ruling being appealed was technical in nature, did not address the legality of the game and returned the case to the first court to hear the matter.

Health
2:19 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Federal Motion Against Tennessee DCS Seeks Records on Child Fatalities

A national advocacy organization is asking a federal judge to force the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to hand over child death records. The New York-based Children’s Rights first sued the Volunteer State in 2000 over youth safety concerns.

Children’s Rights has filed a new motion in federal court saying two children died inside the same Tennessee foster home within six months, and that the response to the incidents by the Department of Children’s Services raised, what it called, “serious concerns.”

The Tennessean reports the New York group wants the DCS to provide child fatality records for children who died in 2011 and 2012 and who had prior contact with the department. There has been no formal response by DCS to the federal motion.

The department in the past has said it will provide records before ultimately deciding it was against releasing case records due to confidentiality concerns. The court filing by Children’s Rights says the few internal records and summaries filed by DCS in December made it “impossible to determine what transpired in those cases.”

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.

Politics
1:55 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Tennessee House: Only 15 Bills Per Member

The Tennessee House of Representatives

The Tennessee House has voted to cap the number of bills members can introduce, a move GOP leaders think will help streamline business in the chamber.

The Tennessean reports the House passed a 15-bill limit for each member. House Speaker Beth Harwell initially wanted a ten-bill per member limit.

Supporters say the limit on legislation will lead to an increase in the overall quality of bills brought up in the chamber. But opponents describe the move as an effort to muzzle them. Representative Joe Towns of Memphis denounced the limit, saying “this is not the chamber of a communist country.”

The Tennessee Senate, meanwhile, finished their weekly business without deciding whether to bind the chamber to the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Education
9:55 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Former President Clinton to Headline Fundraiser in Owensboro

A view inside the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro
Credit Wendell H. Ford GEC

Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Owensboro this spring for a benefit fundraiser. The Messenger-Inquirier reports the event will raise funds to support the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center.

Ford served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999, and was Democratic Whip the first six years of Clinton’s presidencies.

President Clinton has appeared in Daviess County before—in 2000, he presented an education award to Audubon Elementary School, and he campaigned at Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2008 on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Ford Government Education Center is located downtown in the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, and has displays of pictures, artifacts, and documents from Ford’s political career.

Politics
8:17 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Right-Wing Group Running Ads Against McConnell

Sen. Mitch McConnell

Kentucky's senior U.S. Senator finds himself the target of online ads run by a conservative group. The ads, bought by the group ForAmerica, criticize Republican Mitch McConnell for his role in the recent negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

Politico reports the ads read "Mitch McConnell: Whose side are you on?", along with a picture of McConnell wedged between President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Last-minute negotiations between Biden and McConnell reportedly helped break the impasse between Democrats and Republicans as time was running out to get a deal in place before huge spending cuts and tax increases went into effect.

Politico previously reported McConnell viewed the recent fiscal cliff deal as a way for Republicans to gain future leverage against Democrats and the White House.

Sports
3:44 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Several WKU Athletes Can Relate to NFL Superstar's Knee Injury

Robert Griffin III was one of the most exciting players this season in the NFL.

Robert Griffin III, the star rookie quarterback with the Washington Redskins, had his torn lateral collateral ligament repaired and a "re-do" of his previous anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. ESPN is reporting a full recovery is expected.

Griffin III is just one of the latest athletes to suffer a knee injury involving the ACL.

WKU Public Radio recently reported on the surgical and recovery process involved in ACL injuries. We profiled WKU senior wide receiver Marcus Vasquez, a wide receiver on the football team who came back this past season from a torn ACL.

Two other WKU athletes recovering from torn ACL's are sophomore basketball player Nigel Snipes, and women's freshman basketball player Kendall Noble.

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Health
3:21 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Kentucky Senate Chair Wants Legislative Approval for Health Exchange, Medicaid Expansion

The chairman of a Kentucky Senate committee is promising to file legislation aimed at preventing Gov. Beshear from setting up two major pieces of the federal health care law without legislative approval.

The Courier-Journal reports Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair and Louisville Republican Julie Denton says she doesn’t want the Governor to be able to unilaterally establish a new statewide health care exchange or expand Medicaid services to more Kentuckians. Denton and other Obamacare opponents say the state can’t afford the exchange or expanded Medicaid offerings.

Denton’s bill would make such moves contingent on General Assembly approval. Gov. Beshear has already taken steps to create a statewide health care exchange by 2014, which would allow those who don’t get insurance at work to buy a plan from a private company and receive government subsidies in the process.

The Medicaid expansion would allow those earning less than 133 percent of the poverty rate to qualify for the program. Beshear says he is still considering the Medicaid expansion, while House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he fully supports the move.

Environment
2:03 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Kentucky Ag Commissioner: No New EPA Rules on Farm Runoff

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner is leveling criticism against the Environmental Protection Agency regarding a pollution control plan in Jefferson County.

In an interview with the Courier-Journal, James Comer came out swinging against water quality sampling conducted for the Floyds Fork Pollution Control Plan. The waterway serves as a focal point for Louisville’s newest string of parkland, but it currently fails to meet federal water quality standards. Comer says he’s worried that water quality sampling done at the site could result in new EPA regulations.

The Monroe County native says he’s especially concerned at the prospect of the EPA imposing new rules on how much fertilizer farmers can spread on their fields. But EPA officials and the Kentucky Division of Water both say the federal government doesn’t have the authority to impose limits on fertilizer applications and farm runoff.

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