Lisa Autry

Reporter/Producer

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum.  She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years.  Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville.  She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky.  Many of her stories have been heard on NPR. 

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Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s Attorney General is accusing Governor Matt Bevin of “dragging his feet” on returning millions of dollars to the state’s colleges and universities. 

Western Kentucky University is waiting on about $1.5 million that the school is owed following last week’s state Supreme Court ruling.  During a visit Monday to WKU, Attorney General Andy Beshear said the Governor has yet to release $18 million that was withheld from the state’s colleges and universities.

"The funds are sitting in a special account, so there's no reason to delay," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.  "This governor's been about cutting the red tape and the bureaucracy, so let's cut the red tape, the bureaucracy, and provide those funds."

The high court ruled that Governor Bevin did not have the authority to cut university budgets without a budget shortfall. 

The governor has said his office is “looking at our options.”  He has 20 days to ask the Supreme Court to re-consider the case.  Beshear said the outcome is unlikely to change given the 5-2 ruling.

Lisa Autry

Following some high-profile rape cases across the nation, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says Kentucky’s college campuses have not been exempt from sexual violence. 

Beshear was at Western Kentucky University Monday to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.  He spoke of efforts underway to prevent sexual assault on the state’s campuses. 

Beshear's office, in May, transferred $4.5 million to the Kentucky State Police crime lab to ease a backlog of untested rape kits. Beshear called it the most profound moment yet during his nine months in office.

"Why?  Because that was every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel, and penny that they said they needed to hire more people, train them, and buy more equipment so that this commonwealth would never ever have a rape kit backlog again," remarked Beshear.

Beshear said his office is also providing training this week to circuit clerks on how to better handle domestic violence cases in the courts.  Next month, prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates will be trained on how to help prevent domestic violence fatalities. 

Voters in Barren County will go to the polls Tuesday and decide whether to expand alcohol sales. 

Residents on both sides of the issue are working to influence voters ahead of the local option election.  Michael Richey formed a group called Citizens for a Drug and Alcohol-Free Barren County.   As a church pastor, Richey says he has seen the negative effects  alcohol can have on families and communities.

"Statistics are out there that show when alcohol comes into a community crime, tickets, and DUI are known to rise," Richey told WKU Public Radio.

Tim Brown, with the citizens group Move Barren County Forward, says county-wide sales will keep locals from driving to Bowling Green for alcohol and driving back home intoxicated.  Brown attributes a recent increase in local D-U-I's with a greater police presence--not relaxed alcohol sales.

"In Glasgow, a lot of restaurants are treated like bars.  People hang out there and have a good time, and the police watch those places," Brown commented.  "That's one of the reasons DUIs have gone up.  They know where people are drinking.  Before, we didn't know."

Certain restaurants in Glasgow already served alcohol while Cave City allows packaged sales in stores and by-the-drink in restaurants.

WFPL

The U.S. Senate has blocked a measure that would have halted the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. 

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul was one of four lawmakers who forced a vote on the issue.

On a 71-27 vote, U.S. Senators approved continuing to support Saudi Arabia, including the sale of more than a billion dollars in Abrams tanks and other military equipment. 

Senator Paul has called Saudi Arabia an uncertain ally with an abysmal human rights record. 

While the resolution didn't pass, Paul acknowledged the debate was significant in and of itself.

Fort Campbell is hosting a job fair this week for service members who are retiring from active duty.  About 450 soldiers leave the military post each month. 

Harold Riggins is with the Soldier For Life Transition Assistance Program which works with veterans to find education and career opportunities.  He says veterans have skills that make them valuable employees.

"Every soldier is on a team in the military from the day they join to the day they leave, and that's huge in the civilian sector," stated Riggins.

A federal law that took effect in 2012 requires military installations to provide exiting service members with education and job assistance.  Since then, the unemployment rate among vets under age 24 has dropped from 30 percent to six percent.

Barren County Detention Center

A Cave City dentist and former Barren County magistrate was in federal court in Bowling Green on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers agreed to allow Chris Steward to undergo a mental competency exam before he is sentenced.  That evaluation will be done in the next 60 days.  Alan Simpson of Bowling Green, one of the attorneys representing Steward, declined to say if he has a mental illness.

"Dr. Steward's been through a lot in his lifetime, the most of which, since he began being prosecuted, he's been going through, an acrimonious would be a nice way of putting it, divorce," Simpson stated.

Steward entered a guilty plea in May to multiple federal charges , including prescribing controlled substances outside the course of a professional medical practice.  Prosecutors say he conspired with patients to obtain pain and anti-anxiety drugs.  The scheme involved Steward writing prescriptions in patients’ names and instructing the patients to fill the prescriptions, which would them be given to him.  

Steward faces up to 30 months in prison.  He is due back in court in November.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Steve Johnson

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against the Warrick County School Corporation, accusing the district of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The lawsuit is on behalf of Mycal Ashby who argues she was excluded from attending her child’s Christmas program two years in a row because the venue did not accommodate her wheelchair.  Ashby’s son was a choir member at Loge Elementary School in Boonville.  For the past two years, the school held a holiday program at the Warrick County Museum, which is not wheelchair accessible. 

After being denied access to her son's Christmas program during the 2014-15 school year, Ashby says she and her husband contacted school officials about the program being held at the same location during the 2015-16 academic year.  She claims she was assured the museum had been made wheelchair accessible, but found out accommodations had not been made to open the venue to people with disabilities.  

"Having been disabled my entire life, my son and I have become very close. He's always been my little soldier and my little helper, and we were very excited to attend the concert," Ashby said in a news release from the ACLU. "So when we discovered that the venue would not accommodate my wheelchair, even though we'd been told otherwise, we both broke out in tears."

Creative Commons

A vacant judgeship in Daviess County will remain unfilled until the November election. 

The state budget approved by Kentucky lawmakers this year funded Daviess County’s first family court judgeship.  Monday was the deadline for Governor Matt Bevin to appoint someone to the bench.  The governor’s office issued a statement confirming the position will stay vacant but declined to say why. 

"We have no comment but can confirm the governor passed on making the appointment," Press Secretary Amanda Stamper told WKU Public Radio.

The position won’t be filled until the November election.  Four local attorneys are vying for the judgeship.  They include Angela Thompson, Clifton Boswell, Julie Hawes Gordon, and Susan Montalvo-Gesser.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky educators will be trained this week on how to administer a heroin antidote.  The drug Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is being made available to high schools who voluntarily choose to participate. 

Bowling Green Superintendent Gary Fields says he still hasn’t decided if his district will stock Narcan, which can also reverse the effects of prescription drug overdoses.

"I think anytime we ask lay people who aren't health care professionals to administer medicine, that's always a scary moment, but if we feel like it's going to possibly save the life of a student down the road, then I think we're going to have to move in that direction," Fields told WKU Public Radio.

The south central Kentucky region has not seen the rise in heroin experienced by Lexington, Louisville, and northern Kentucky.

On a peaceful hillside in Hardin County stands Kentucky's September 11th memorial.

It was first unveiled on the tenth Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. With some additions, the memorial is now complete for the fifteenth anniversary this weekend.

Chuck Heater is director of the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff which is home to the memorial. “It’s a reminder that the freedoms that we enjoy every day—we don’t always sit back and think about where they come from, and we sometimes taken them for granted. But this is a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy have been paid for by a great price.” 

The latest additions to the memorial include a pair of winged walls.

“The right one depicts the scenes from that day, and the far left is a granite wall with names inscribed of all the Kentucky veterans who have been killed in action since 9/11 defending America against terrorism," Heater said.

Kentucky's 9/11 memorial will be dedicated Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff. The public is invited to attend the event.

Harman International

An auto parts manufacturer in Simpson County is shedding jobs as it looks to streamline operations and remain competitive.

Harman International announced Wednesday that it will eliminate 215 jobs over the next two-and-a-half years.  Some of the work will be relocated to Mexico. 

Simpson County Judge-Executive Jim Henderson says the jobs news isn’t all bad, however.  He told WKU Public Radio that Sumitomo is preparing to hire 100 workers at its new plant by the end of the year.

"If there is such a good thing as a good part to a company having to lay off some employees is that there are opportunities for those employees to find work still in our community, and I think good jobs," commented Henderson.

Another auto part supplier, Fritz Winter, is building a manufacturing plant and looking to hire up to 350 workers over the next five years. 

Layoffs at Harman will begin at the end of the year.  The company’s Franklin workforce will be left with 110 employees, compared to the 335 who are there now.

Cheyenne Mitchell

An African-American student at Western Kentucky University says a recent act of vandalism has made her become more aware of her surroundings. 

Cheyenne Mitchell’s car was keyed with a racial slur this week while parked on campus.

"I was really scared and upset, honestly, because I just couldn't believe somebody really put that on my car, Mitchell told WKU Public Radio.  "It made me cry."

Mitchell took pictures and posted them on Facebook, prompting a response from WKU President Gary Ransdell who said the incident does not reflect the school’s values and commitment to diversity.  Dr. Ransdell pledged to fully investigate and take appropriate action.  Mitchell has praised the university’s response and says the school even offered to help pay to repair her car. 

The Lexington senior says the vandalism could have been spurred by a dispute over a parking spot.

With local dignitaries on board, Contour Airlines made its inaugural flight out of Bowling Green Monday. 

Before boarding the 30-seat plane bound for Atlanta, anxious passengers passed through a temporary terminal building that included TSA screenings.  The terminal building was one of several infrastructure upgrades that were made to accommodate the first commercial service out of Bowling Green in 44 years. 

Just before boarding, Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said he’s excited about commercial service and what it could mean for economic development.

"Many of the industries here look for direct to a major airport, and this I think, will give us a leg up on the next opportunity to bring a business to town," Wilkerson commented.

Tennessee-based Contour Airlines announced in May that it would begin offering daily trips to Atlanta and seasonal flights to Destin, Florida. 

LRC Public Information

Republican members of the Kentucky House are planning to boycott a meeting on the state’s under-funded pension system.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo has called lawmakers to return to Frankfort Tuesday, but the GOP is calling it a trick. 

Representative Jim Decesare says it’s no coincidence that a Democratic caucus fundraiser is being held the same evening.  The Warren County Republican says Stumbo is essentially asking taxpayers to foot the bill for Democratic members to travel to Frankfort for a political event.

"Thirty thousand dollars is our best estimate of what it will cost the taxpayers of Kentucky to have a meeting where really no action can take place and not involve the governor or the Senate," DeCesare told WKU Public Radio.  "It just seems like bad government."

Representative Decesare says the House could have acted last session and blamed Democratic House leadership for killing legislation that would have brought more transparency to the pension system. 

Stumbo says he called the meeting after receiving more bad news about the state-managed retirements funds, including a 1.3 percent loss on returns into the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Doug Kerr

Owensboro is joining the federal interstate system.  The Natcher Parkway will become an interstate spur connecting Owensboro to I-65 in Bowling Green. 

Mayor Ron Payne says the designation has been years in the making and will be a major boost to tourism.

"We have an international bluegrass music center and museum that's under construction, and with our riverfront and all the conventions we're having, I think to finally get Owensboro on that interstate map is really going to be a boost to economic development here," Payne told WKU Public Radio.

Governor Matt Bevin will make the official announcement Friday afternoon at the Owensboro Riverport Authority.  Signage will be unveiled designating the Natcher Parkway as a future interstate spur connector. Bevin is expected to offer more details in the news conference, including a start and end date for the project.

The state budget includes $66 million in construction funds for Daviess, Ohio, Butler, and Warren Counties for upgrading the Natcher Parkway to interstate standards.

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