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. 

Ways to Connect

Flickr/Creative Commons/Chris Hunkeler

Many companies in Kentucky say the jobs are out there, but the workers are not. 

The state Society for Human Resource Management released a survey this week of 1,084 companies.

Eighty-four percent of the companies surveyed said they’re having trouble filling jobs.  The survey found the biggest shortages are in healthcare, engineering, and skilled trades.  Most of the businesses are expecting growth in the next few years, increasing the need for qualified employees. 

Secretary Hal Heiner in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says a high school diploma is no longer enough.

"Many of the experts are predicting that in about eight years, 2025, 80 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a credential or some education past high school," Heiner told WKU Public Radio.

A Daviess County lawmaker isn’t surprised by a consultant’s report released this week that shows how Kentucky’s pension systems became the worst funded in the nation. 

A consultant’s report released this week shows the systems combined have seen nearly $7 billion in negative cash flow since 2005, as benefits paid to retirees greatly exceeded appropriated funding. 

State Senator Joe Bowen of Owensboro co-chairs the Public Pension Oversight Board.  He says there are a number of reasons why the retirement plans got into the current crisis. 

For one, the state has been basing contributions to pension plans on a level percent of payroll rather than a level dollar.

"We funded based on an anticipation of payroll growth that never happened," Bowen told WKU Public Radio.  "Instead of just a level dollar funding mechanism, we used a percent of payroll, and the payroll never happened, so we kept getting further and further behind."

WFPL

U.S. Senator Rand Paul says his chamber has a chance to “fix Obamacare after the House didn’t.” 

The Bowling Green Republican and ophthalmologist says the health care plan approved by Republican colleagues in the U.S. House falls short of keeping his party’s promises to lower prices and provide better coverage. 

Paul held a roundtable discussion Monday with members of the Houchens Insurance Group in Bowling Green.  The event was closed to the media, but Paul said afterwards that a health care solution must empower the consumer.

"What I worry about is the local plumber, carpenter, or farmer that works for themselves.  They worry that if they or their spouse gets sick, then all of a sudden their rates will go up," Paul stated.  "If you have to buy insurance by yourself, I'd like to let you join a group like a buying co-op so you can get lower prices."

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Heavy rain today in parts of south central Kentucky has washed out roads and left some bridges impassable. 

Allen County Judge-Executive Johnny Hobdy says it was a tense day after three to five inches of rain fell in a two-hour period.  He says rescuers had to evacuate the Creative Children's Learning Center on Old Hartsville Road.

"Water had started to creep into the building," Hobdy told WKU Public Radio.  "When you've got kids there, you don't want them to get scared, and we wanted to assure their parents that they were okay. Emergency personnel got in there before if got any worse."

Vanderbilt University

A federal judge in Kentucky has cleared a major hurdle in his bid to joins a federal appeals court. 

Amul Thapar of Covington won approval on Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee after being nominated by President Trump for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The district includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. 

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky congratulated Thapar following the vote.

"Judge Thapar has a distinguished record of public service," said McConnell.  "He is a well-qualified jurist, and a man of integrity, who will bring a top legal mind to serve on the Sixth Circuit."

The Daviess County Board of Education has approved a controversial nickel tax to fund school construction and renovation. 

The nickel tax is the equivalent of 5.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value.  By law, the school system can use the revenue only for facilities. 

Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins says the tax will pay to renovate Apollo High School and replace the 85-year-old Daviess County Middle School.

"Daviess County Middle School is categorized as a category five facility, which means it's in the worst condition of those in the state," Robbins told WKU Public Radio.  "Apollo is just the next rung on the ladder as a category four facility. The rest of our facilities are either in a three, two, or one category, which puts it into perspective."

Lisa Autry

A former campus police chief is suing Western Kentucky University after the school commissioned an investigation into his leadership.  Robert Deane says the school created a hostile work environment after the report was released, and forced him to retire. 

WKU Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Kuster and Leadership Strategies Group, which wrote the report, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. 

Deane’s complaint alleges negligence and defamation after a newspaper article was published based on the report. 

A Warren County judge has delayed a ruling in a case between Western Kentucky University and its student newspaper.  WKU requested a stay in its lawsuit against the College Heights Herald over an open records dispute. 

The university has denied requests from the newspaper to turn over redacted documents from sexual misconduct investigations involving campus employees.  WKU argues the documents are protected under federal law and not subject to disclosure under the state’s Open Records Act.

WKU had requested its lawsuit be put on hold until the state Court of Appeals issues a ruling on a similar case from the University of Kentucky.

Lisa Autry

Members of the LGBT community and their supporters want a judge in south central Kentucky to resign over his opposition to gay adoptions. 

Judge Mitchell Nance, a family court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties, has recused himself from presiding over adoptions by homosexual parents.  He said he believes allowing gay couples to adopt is not in a child’s best interest.  His announcement has drawn a range of opinions, some calling for him to step down from the bench.

In a rally outside the Barren County Courthouse, Chadwick Shockley of Glasgow said he knows Judge Nance personally and was surprised by his recusal.

"It was like a kick in the head for him to infer that I was not fit to be a parent," Shockley told WKU Public Radio.  "I've raised two sons and a daughter with my husband."

Kevin Willis

A Kentucky Congressman is speaking out against what he calls misconceptions about his party’s proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Brett Guthrie, a Bowling Green Republican, says that under the American Health Care Act, everyone with pre-existing conditions will have coverage. 

In an interview with WKU Public Radio Tuesday, Rep. Guthrie said the GOP plan would put people with pre-existing conditions who are priced out of the market into a subsidized high-risk pool.  Guthrie added that states can then apply for waivers to lower costs for those with pre-existing conditions.

"People with pre-existing conditions will be in a pool together, which takes them out of the insurance pool, so it lowers premiums for people buying on the individual market," Guthrie explained.  "The high risk pool will be subsidized and we just added another eight billion dollars to the subsidy."

Barren River District Health Department

Kentucky ranks first in the U.S. for its rates of Hepatitis-C, a liver disease that can be deadly.  Despite that, only about two dozen Kentucky communities have needle exchange programs that allow intravenous drug users to anonymously swap dirty needles for clean ones at local health departments. 

A 2015 CDC analysis of 220 counties in the nation found 54 Kentucky counties were vulnerable for an outbreak of Hepatitis-C and HIV. 

"That right there tells you that the state as a whole is in terrible shape," said Ben Chandler, President and CEO of The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  "Almost a quarter of the counties in the country as a whole are right here in Kentucky."

Lisa Autry

Bourbon, horses, and caves all helped Kentucky’s tourism industry post its strongest economic growth rate in more than a decade. 

Tourism had a $14.5 billion impact on Kentucky in 2016, up more than five percent from the previous year. Officials say it's the strongest overall economic impact growth rate since 2005, with each of the state's nine tourism regions showing increases. 

Following the announcement Monday at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum credited the increase to marketing Kentucky as an ideal location for short getaways.

Kentucky's attorney general is asking a court to deny Western Kentucky University’s request for a stay in its lawsuit against the campus newspaper. 

WKU is suing the College Heights Herald after the school denied the newspaper's open records request for documents related to sexual misconduct investigations involving university employees.  The university maintains the records are not subject to disclosure under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

WKU is asking for a stay until a similar case is resolved involving the University of Kentucky and its student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Ava Randa

A southern Kentucky education leader is issuing a warning to parents about a controversial new series on Netflix.  The superintendent of Warren County schools is worried about the way the show handles the issue of suicide and young people.

The series “13 Reasons Why” chronicles the suicide of a young woman who leaves behind 13 messages to people in her life that she blamed for her death.  The drama also addresses bullying, substance abuse, rape, and depression. 

Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton says he doesn’t recommend young people viewing the series.

"I do think that if a parent finds that their child is going to watch it, it would be best if they would watch it with them," Clayton told WKU Public Radio.  "The one benefit of that is that it would open up some potential dialogue."

Louisville VA Medical Center

A new veterans medical center in Louisville is another step closer to becoming a reality.  The U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration released its final environmental impact study on Friday.

According to the study, property near Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway is the preferred site to build the hospital that will replace the outdated one on Zorn Avenue.  The study also looked at a location on Factory Lane near I-265. 

The report says there could be negative effects on air quality, noise, utilities, and traffic, but adds that measures can be taken to minimize the environmental impact.

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