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

The next President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce won’t have to go far to begin her new job.

The chamber announced Thursday that Candance Brake will lead the organization beginning March 16.

Brake was most recently Executive Director of the Green River Area Community Foundation in Owensboro, which shares a building with the Chamber of Commerce.  She served as an Owensboro City Commissioner from 2004 until 2010, and was previously an executive vice-president of the chamber.

Brake earned her bachelor’s degree from Brescia University in Owensboro, and has a Masters of Public Administration from WKU.

WKU Public Radio

Fee increases set to go into effect next month at Mammoth Cave National Park will be used to renovate the park’s hotel.

Superintendent Sarah Craighead  announced Thursday that the new fees will  begin March 14.

Most cave tours will increase by $1 or $2, with the Wild Cave tour increasing by $5. Camping fees will jump from $3 to $5, and the cost of reserving picnic shelters will increase $25.

Craighead predicts the fee hikes will bring the park an additional $350,000 this year.

Eighty-percent of the fees collected at Mammoth Cave are used to fund facilities and services at the park. The remaining fees support national parks that don’t charge entrance fees, such as the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Hodgenville.

Mammoth Cave accepted public comments about the proposed fee increases from Nov. 14-Dec. 5, 2014. The park says it received 17 comments—12 in favor of the fee hike, and five opposed.

Eater has this look at a number of wineries in the WKU Public Radio listening area, including some in Cumberland, Pulaski, and Wayne counties.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet issue the following traffic advisory impacting I-65 Northbound Wednesday afternoon:

Corrective work continues between Exits 58 and 65 (Northbound Rest Area to the Green River Bridge). Crews are milling and paving the inside and outside lanes along with the joint where the northbound rest area on ramp connects to the interstate.

One lane is open to traffic but with volume increasing into the afternoon, delays are now being reported upon approach to the work area.  Delays are also likely for those wishing to leave the rest area and merge onto Northbound I-65.

Work should be completed by the end of the day.

Rick Toomey, National Park Service

Researchers say the discovery of a deadly fungal disease in a Warren County cave spells more trouble for the region’s bat populations.

A team of National Park Service scientists found evidence of White Nose Syndrome in Crumps Cave in northern Warren County, near the town of Smiths Grove. WKU owns several acres of land around the cave and operates a research and education preserve there.

White Nose Syndrome, for which there is no known cure, is blamed for the deaths of millions of bats in North America since its discovery in 2006.

The team of NPS researchers observed 53 Tri-colored bats inside Crumps Cave on Feb. 10, with a dozen of them displaying signs of White Nose Syndrome. The disease causes bats to prematurely awaken from their hibernation and leave the cave, which exposes them to freezing conditions. Affected bats use up vital energy and nutrients that are necessary for their survival.

The syndrome was discovered in 2013 in Mammoth Cave National Park, and has led to an 80 percent decline in some bat species found there.

Watch a video about efforts to combat White Nose Syndrome in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Office of Ky Governor

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the national Democratic Party is paying the price for not putting enough resources into winning Congressional and state legislative races.

Beshear made the comments over the weekend during the release of draft recommendations made by a task force charged with helping the party prepare for the 2016 election cycle.

Beshear is one of the 11 members of the task force, and says the Democratic National Committee needs to implement a “National Narrative Project” that will gather input from party leaders and members to create a “strong values-based national narrative that will engage, inspire, and motivate voters to identify with and support Democrats.”

Beshear also called upon the party to rebuild “its bench” by recruiting stronger candidates for state legislative seats over the next three election cycles, something he said would help Democrats influence the redrawing of Congressional districts after the next Census is completed.

WKU

WKU is hosting a debate featuring Kentucky’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The event is being sponsored by the Kentucky chapter of the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by the billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch.

Other sponsors are the conservative political publication National Review, and the WKU Department of Political Science.

The event is being held at the Downing Student Union auditorium on the school’s campus April 28, and will focus on health care; taxes and spending; and jobs and the economy.

Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner, and Will T. Scott have confirmed they will attend the event.

Tickets to the debate are free and will be made available to the public beginning April 3.

WKU is mourning the loss of a man who spent nearly five decades teaching economics at the school.

Dick Cantrell passed away this week after a battle with cancer. He was a WKU Professor Emeritus of Economics and taught 47 years.

Arrangements for Mr. Cantrell are pending.

Kentucky ranks next-to-last in a measure of each state’s overall well-being.

It’s the sixth straight year Kentucky has come in 49th in the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which was released Thursday.

The rankings are based on 176,000 phone interviews across the nation, and measure five different categories:

Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals

Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life

Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security

Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community

Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Kentucky finished 49th in two of the five categories, social and physical activity, and was 48th in the category of purpose. The state ranked 46th in financial well-being.

The commonwealth's highest ranking was in community, where it finished 28th.

Lisa Autry

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer says passing a statewide right-to-work law would be his first priority if elected as Kentucky's next governor.

Comer, Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner and a Monroe County native,  predicts the issue will be hotly debated during the general election, given that Democratic front-runner Jack Conway opposes such a law.

Right-to-work laws prohibit private-sector workers from being forced to join labor unions. Critics maintain they’re being used as a tool to crush labor organizations and drive down workers’ wages.

Comer says becoming right-to-work would help Kentucky compete for jobs against its neighbors.

“If you want to be considered a business-friendly state, one of the first things you have to do in your state is become right-to-work," Comer says.

Several Kentucky counties have passed, or are in the process of passing, local right-to-work ordinances. Marshall County this week became the first county in the state to pass a resolution denouncing right-to-work measures.

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