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.

Ways to Connect

Glasgow Independent Schools

Glasgow Police have made two arrests in connection with a Wednesday shooting incident.

Twenty-three year old Jaleel Wood was arrested at his workplace Thursday night and charged with attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Ash was charged with attempted murder after turning herself into police Friday morning.

Both Wood and Ash are from Glasgow.

Police have an arrest warrant issued for 22-year old Anthony Wood of Glasgow, and are actively searching for him.

Three Glasgow city schools were placed on a soft lockdown Wednesday after 911 callers reported passengers in two cars exchanging gunfire.

No one was injured, and the lockdown was quickly lifted.

WKU Public Radio

The leader of the Kentucky AFL-CIO says labor groups are ready to fight future efforts to pass what supporters call right-to-work laws.

Union groups scored a major legal victory Wednesday when U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled that county governments can’t enact the rules on a local level.

Right-to-work laws prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment.

Twelve Kentucky counties enacted local right-to-work ordinances last year after efforts to pass a statewide version failed in the legislature. Hardin County was one of the dozen that did so, and labor unions filed a suit against the county challenging the legality of the move.

Kentucky AFL-CIO executive director Bill Londrigan says unions know the legal battle isn’t over, despite this week’s court victory.

“We fully expect the defendants to file an appeal on this case, and with the strong, strong ruling by the U.S. District Judge David Hale, we feel that they’re going to be unsuccessful at that level, as well,” Londrigan said.

Supporters of right-to-work say the laws make states more attractive to businesses. This week’s ruling against county right-to-work efforts could mean supporters redouble their efforts to get a statewide law passed.

NPR: 50 Years of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map

Londrigan says unions are ready for the challenge.

Glasgow Independent Schools

Three Glasgow city schools were placed on a soft lockdown Wednesday afternoon after police received calls about passengers in two vehicles exchanging gunfire.

Several callers to 911 said the gunfire took place on Columbia Avenue, not far from Glasgow High School, Middle School, and Highland Elementary.

No students were harmed.

Police were not able to locate the vehicles, but recovered evidence from the scene of the shooting.

The vehicles believed to be involved in the incident are a black Ford Crown Victoria, and a goldor tan Chevy Malibu.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Glasgow Police Department, at 270-651-5151.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Kentucky’s March Republican presidential caucus won’t feature an active candidate from the Bluegrass State.

Senator Rand Paul announced Wednesday that he is ending his run for the White House.

The move came two days after Paul’s fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in statement released to the media Wednesday morning. “I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The Paul campaign helped convince the Kentucky Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in March instead of its normal May primary, so that Paul could run for both the White House and re-election to the U.S. Senate.

NPR: Why Rand Paul Failed to Capture the Libertarian Movement

Paul’s exit from presidential contest a month before the Kentucky caucus will likely raise questions about the maneuver.

Kentucky State Government

The leader of the Kentucky Youth Advocates is renewing his call for state lawmakers to pass an Earned Income Tax Credit.

Terry Brooks points out the federal government and 32 states offer the program.

The refundable credit is aimed at low-to-moderate working individuals and couples, and is based on income and number of children.

Brooks says the program has gained bipartisan support throughout the years.

“What I love about it from a political perspective is that the EITC was invented by Richard Nixon, and its three biggest fans were Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.”

Brooks says an Earned Income Tax Credit would be an effective tool in fighting poverty in the Bluegrass State.

A report issued by the Kentucky Youth Advocates last fall showed 26 percent of the state’s youth live in poverty.

“Unless, and until, we as a commonwealth begin to address that aspect of what it means to grow up in Kentucky, health outcomes, academic achievement outcomes, safety outcomes are all going to be tamped down,” Brooks said.

WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University students struggling with mental health issues can now tap into an on-campus support group.  

The National Alliance for Mental Illness is starting the free and confidential program which is available to students in all degree programs.

The group’s first meeting is Feb. 1 from 6:00-7:30pm in room 211 of the Academic Complex. Meetings will be held twice a month.

WKU Social Work Professor Jay Gabbard is the faculty member overseeing the group, along with trained NAMI staff.

He wants students to know that having a mental illness doesn’t mean they can’t succeed in school and in the workplace.

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 20, and through management of the illness over the years I’ve managed to have a successful life,” Gabbard said. “But I think it’s best to utilize a three-pronged approach: medication, therapy, and support resources.”

WKU

Governor Matt Bevin wants to influence any performance-based funding model used by Kentucky universities.

The leaders of the state’s public schools and the Council on Postsecondary Education have been working for 18 months on a proposed formula for any new funding they receive.

But not only are universities not in line to receive new funding in the next state budget, they’re facing significant cuts.

Western Kentucky University Vice President of Public Affairs Robbin Taylor says Bevin has indicated he wants any such model to be based largely on how well schools help address workforce development needs.

Taylor says she thinks schools now have to re-evaluate what they’ve been working on.

"I don't want to say this negates all that, but it sort of puts all that on hold. As the Governor has indicated, he didn't think it went far enough, and he'd like to be a part of making those decisions, and has indicated his desire to work with the university presidents and the Council on Postsecondary Education to come up with those measures."

Abbey Oldham

As U.S. Senator Rand Paul prepares for a Republican presidential debate Thursday night, a former Kentucky House Speaker says Democrats could benefit from Paul’s White House bid.

Glasgow attorney Bobby Richardson was a state Representative from 1972-1990, and served as House Speaker during the 1982 and 1984 General Assembly sessions.

Richardson says whoever emerges as the Democrat’s nominee for U.S. Senate should remind voters Paul is seeking two offices at the same time.

“I think he needs to say he’s running for the United States Senate, and I’m going to be a Senator. I’m not going to be running for President, and I’m not going to be running for anything else. I’m going to be there taking care of business.”

The Kentucky Republican Party is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul can run for re-election to the Senate and seek the White House simultaneously.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is filming a video aimed at helping students and employees handle active shooter situations.

The video will include scenes of university police entering a building as if a shooting had taken place inside. Filming will begin Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Mass Media and Technology Hall.

The video is based on a training program created by the city of Houston called, Run, Fight, Hide.

"The basic premise is, in a situation like that, is if you can run and put distance between you and the shooter--safely do so, “said WKU Media Relations Director Bob Skipper. “If you can't, you hide and barricade yourself in. And if all else fails, then you take a stand and try to fight."

Skipper says WKU students and workers have asked for more information on how to handle violent encounters following several high-profile mass shootings in the U.S.

William Merideth had just finished grilling dinner for his family when he saw a drone hovering over his land. So he did what he said any Kentuckian might do — he grabbed his Benelli M1 Super 90 shotgun, took aim and unleashed three rounds of birdshot.

flickr/creative commons/Shayne White

A Bowling Green resident who has been an instructor for concealed carry permits says President’s Obama’s executive actions on guns announced Jan. 5 are unnecessary. 

Mark Dunnegan  says stricter background checks on gun sales aren’t needed, especially in Kentucky.

“I feel very confident that Kentucky has a very good system of background checks," says Dunnegan. "The NCIC check is a sufficient method, in my opinion, of making sure that those who shouldn’t have guns, don’t have guns.”

He believes increased background checks will hurt law-abiding gun owners.

"I do believe the push to regulate guns is not the solution," he says. "I know the general public and the citizens here in the U.S. are upset and concerned. However, stricter regulations on law-abiding citizens wouldn't be the answer. It would only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect their homes, protect their land, and protect their families."

Dunnegan and his wife both previously taught classes for those who want to get concealed carry permits.

Meanwhile, a Bowling Green woman whose son survived a gunshot wound is praising President Obama’s speech on guns.

WKU Public Radio

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.”

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