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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Regional
6:23 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Beshear: NCM Motorsports Park a 'Gem' Among Kentucky's Attractions

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (center) helped cut the ribbon on the National Corvette Museum's Motorsports Park in Bowling Green.
Credit Lisa Autry

The National Corvette Museum’s new Motorsports Park held an official grand opening Tuesday in Bowling Green with Governor Steve Beshear in attendance.  Beshear helped cut the ribbon on the 3.1-mile track, which he said completes the Corvette trifecta.

"We have the plant, we have the museum, and now we have the motorsport park," Beshear stated.  "You can watch your car being built, you can pick up your car at the museum, and you can learn how to drive it at maximum capacity right here at the park."

Motorsports Park General Manager Mitch Wright stressed the track is open for all kinds of business besides recreational.

"We are more than a Motorsports Park," Wright said.  "You really need to think of us as an events facility that happens to have a couple of race tracks and large amounts of asphalt, so anything you need a lot of space for, we can accommodate it."

Wright told the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board on Monday the track is reserved for 189 days so far. 

The next phase of construction is starting that includes a control tower and garage complex.

Health
6:00 am
Sun September 14, 2014

Kentucky Poison Control Issues Caffeine Warning

With a new school year underway, students and their parents are being warned about the effects of too much caffeine in the body.  Students might turn to energy drinks, caffeine tablets, or caffeine powder while playing sports or studying for tests. 

Poison control centers around the country are seeing an increased number of calls related to caffeine poisoning. 

"The most common symptoms we see early on in caffeine poisoning are nausea and vomiting, but if enough caffeine is consumed, we can see a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and in worst case scenarios, seizures, heart arrhythmias, and death," says Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center Director Ashley Webb.

The highly-concentrated caffeine powder, sold primarily online, is perhaps the most dangerous.  According to the FDA, just one teaspoon of the powder is equal to drinking about 25 cups of coffee. 

Although death from caffeine poisoning is rare, it has occurred.  Earlier this year, a high school student in Ohio died after consuming the powder.

Regional
2:01 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

GM Addressing 2 Safety Issues With New Corvette

GM Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green
Credit General Motors

General Motors says it is delaying shipments of thousands of 2015 Corvettes and telling dealerships that already have the new models to stop selling them for the time being.  A spokesperson at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant says two safety issues are at the heart of the decision.

One issue concerns rear parking brake cables, the other with the part used to connect the airbag and steering wheel.

Bill Visnic, senior analyst with edmunds.com says the entire auto industry, not just GM, has learned lessons in the last year about disclosing potential safety problems.

“There’s definitely erring on the side of caution in this case,” said Visnic. “But at the same time, it’s just more-or-less simply the right thing to do, particularly when you’re talking about a high-performance model where someone might be using the car in fairly extreme conditions, you want to make sure you have all the requisite safety items where you need them to be.”

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Agriculture
4:25 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Harvesting Underway on WKU Hemp Crop

WKU Assistant Gardener Jenny Comer assists agriculture student Corinn Sprigler with cutting down hemp plants on the WKU farm.
Credit Lisa Autry

Another milestone is being reached in Kentucky’s effort to grow and market industrial hemp. 

One of the state’s first legal hemp crops was harvested Thursday at the WKU farm in Bowling Green. 

Agriculture professors and students gathered among the thin, leafy plants grown in a half-acre plot, one of nine locations around Kentucky.  What began as seeds in early June were towering 12-foot tall plants. 

WKU worked with the state Agriculture Department to grow hemp for research under a provision in the federal farm bill.

WKU Agriculture Professor Dr. Paul Woosley assessed the inaugural crop.

"It's grown pretty well, the plants that got established.  "Because of the hold up with the DEA, we didn't get the seed when we would have liked, so it was about a month late," Woosley explained.

The seeds, imported from Italy, were held up for several weeks following a dispute with the federal government.

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Politics
11:00 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Comer Hosts Rally in Monroe County in Support of Gubernatorial Bid

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate James Comer

 Update: 12:50 p.m. 

James Comer has selected Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel as his running mate. McDaniel's Northern Kentucky district covers part of Kenton County.

Original Post:

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner will go home to formally kick off his 2015 campaign for governor.  James Comer will roll out his campaign and announce a running mate Tuesday in his native Monroe County.

"I want to be a governor for all Kentuckians and there are so many parts of this state that are forgotten about by Frankfort," Comer told WKU Public Radio.  "I'm proud of Tompkinsville, I'm proud to be from a small town,  and I'm proud of my friends and family.  I think if you want to know something about a candidate, go to their hometown and see the people they grew up with, their former teachers, friends, classmates, and business partners, and ask 'What kind of guy is this?'"

Comer served as a state representative for 11 years before being elected Agriculture Commissioner in 2012.  Many of the reforms he brought to the troubled Agriculture Department will be part of his gubernatorial platform.

Comer announced last month that he was running for Governor, and is joined by fellow Republican Hal Heiner and Democrat Jack Conway as candidates who have formally announced gubernatorial intentions.

Warren County Republican Party Chairman Scott Lasley says Comer’s time as Agriculture Commissioner gave him the opportunity to travel the state and build up contacts that could benefit him during his run for governor.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Ford to Celebrate 90th Birthday with Exhibit Opening

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

Former U.S. Senator Wendell Ford turns 90 years old Monday, and to celebrate, the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro will unveil a new exhibit called “Cracking the Whip.” 

Ford Center Director Bruce Kunze says the exhibit focuses on the time Ford spent as whip of the U.S. Senate during the 1990s.

"It goes through the brief history of the whip's position and how Senator Ford was elected to that position unopposed," Kunze told WKU Public Radio.  "It also talks about how he operated as a senator and how skilled he was at the art of compromise and at working with both parties."

Ford, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, is scheduled to attend the exhibit’s opening Monday evening.

The Ford Center in the Owensboro Museum of Science and History opened in 1999, the year he retired from the Senate.

Politics
11:34 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Right-to-Work Legislation Central to Kentucky House GOP Agenda

Left to right: State Representative Michael Meredith, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, and State Representative Jim DeCesare appear in Bowling Green to introduce priorities if Republicans win control of the Kentucky House in November.
Credit Lisa Autry

Republicans in the Kentucky House are aiming to end the nearly 100-year reign of Democrats this November. 

As part of that effort, GOP leaders are talking up the legislative agenda they plan to pursue should the party pick up enough seats to take control of the state House. 

Currently, Democrats hold a narrow eight-seat edge over the GOP.  Republicans would need a net gain of five seats to take the majority. 

The number one focus of what Republicans are calling their "Handshake with Kentucky" will be jobs and the economy. 

At a stop in Bowling Green Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover vowed to make Kentucky more business friendly by passing right-to-work legislation.

"Right-to-work may be the single most important thing we can do to open Kentucky for business and create new private sector jobs," stated Hoover. 

According to a Bluegrass poll released last week, a majority of Kentuckians support right-to-work legislation that would give workers the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union. 

Meanwhile, the head of a major labor organization in Kentucky says the plan championed by Kentucky House Republicans is a "bad faith deal" that puts corporate interests ahead of the state's workers. 

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Regional
5:00 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Vote Nears on Owensboro Smoking Ban

A proposed smoking ban in Owensboro will be up for a final vote Wednesday. 

An amended version of the ordinance, which appears to have support from the entire city commission, allows smoking to continue in bars already in operation.  New businesses would have to be smoke-free. 

City Commissioner Jeffrey Sanford acknowledges some might find the compromise unfair.

"The people that are already in business that have already made the investments in time and money, I think it would hurt their businesses.  Some people have asked me if it gives them an unfair advantage.  It may or may not," Sanford told WKU Public Radio.  "Sometimes you can't get everything you want, but you have to compromise for the parts and pieces you stand for, and that's what I've done."

With the exception of the 18-and-over establishments and e-cigarettes, the rest of the original ordinance is unchanged.  Smoking will be banned in all public  places, including parks, private outdoor dining areas and all city-owned properties.

Politics
11:26 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

McConnell, Grimes Spar at Owensboro Picnic

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell attended the Red, White, and Blue Picnic in Owensboro.
Lisa Autry

One of the nation’s most closely watched political horse races played out in Owensboro Tuesday.  Kentucky’s U.S. Senate nominees met at the Red, White, and Blue Picnic on the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse.

"Our first speaker, please give a warm Daviess County round of applause for challenger and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes," announced emcee Kirk Kirkpatrick.

Before a crowd of several hundred, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes utilized a classic campaign strategy: it’s time for change.

"This election comes at a critical time because Mitch McConnell's Washington is not working for Kentucky," suggested Grimes.

Wearing a red dress with cowboy boots, Grimes spoke forcefully as she painted McConnell as the embodiment of all that is wrong in Washington.

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Education
12:48 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Kentucky's Education Commissioner Calls for Public Review of Common Core

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday asked for a public review of the Common Core education standards during an announcement at Woodford County High School in Versailles.
Credit Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky was among the first states in the nation to adopt the Common Core education standards for English and math.  Four years later, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is looking for feedback. 

In a news conference Monday at Woodford County High School, Holliday asked the public to review the standards and suggest changes.  He acknowledged that Common Core has become a polarizing term across the U.S. and asked that politics be put aside.

"The focus should be on what our children in Kentucky need to know and be able to do, so they can graduate high school ready for college, career, and life," Holliday remarked.

A 2009 law passed by the General Assembly mandated new, more rigorous academic standards.  Kentucky implemented the Common Core standards in 2010.  The state began testing on them in 2012, and since then, Holliday said ACT scores, graduation rates, and college and career readiness rates have all improved. 

The state has created a website for the public to review the standards and comment until April 30, 2015. 

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