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

One week from Kentucky’s primary election, the four Republican candidates for governor still have some convincing to do.

A survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling shows only three points separate three of the four GOP contenders.  The poll puts James Comer in the lead with 28 percent support, followed by Hal Heiner at 27 percent, and Matt Bevin at 25 percent.  The survey did not include former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott. 

Despite accusations that he abused his college girlfriend, Comer maintains the highest favorability rating of the three candidates.  While he emphatically denies the abuse allegations, 50 percent of voters have a positive opinion of him.  Bevin is close behind at 48 percent.   Heiner is in last place with his 44 percent favorability rating. 

The poll questioned 501 Republicans and was funded by the Democratic PAC Kentucky Family Values.  The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.

The winner of next Tuesday’s primary will likely face Democratic frontrunner Jack Conway in the November election.

Nationwide, a majority of emergency room physicians report an increase in the number of patients since the Affordable Care Act took effect. 

The law was intended to cover the uninsured and steer more of them into primary care rather than the ER, but that hasn’t happened, according to a report issued last week by the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

"We're seeing many more people coming in now with coverage needing service," said Michael Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association.  "A lot of the folks are having access issues in areas of the country and state where there's not enough primary care physicians to handle everyone that has new coverage."

Kentucky had a doctor shortage even before the ACA took effect.  Compounding the situation is that most of the newly insured in Kentucky are on Medicaid, and some physicians won’t accept Medicaid because of its low reimbursement rates.

Kentucky voters who plan to go to the polls this month for the primary election can get a lot of their questions answered online. 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says doing a little homework beforehand can make for a smoother election day. 

"Kentucky has truly embraced technology in the office of Secretary of State, as well the state Board of Elections," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.  "We want to encourage all eligible Kentuckians to check their voter registration status, and if they're not sure where to go to vote, they can do all of that online."

Voters can also research candidates and view sample ballots online. 

Voter information can be found on the websites www.sos.ky.gov and www.elect.ky.gov

An online portal is also available for military and overseas voters to request and receive absentee ballots. 

Voters in the May 19 primary election will choose their nominees for governor and other constitutional officers.

The search for a new president of Owensboro Community and Technical College  is down to three finalists. 

They include Dr. Larry Ferguson who is the interim vice chancellor of academic affairs in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 

Dr. William Rule comes from Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia where he serves as vice president of student affairs and technology advancement. 

Dr. Scott Williams serves as vice president of academic affairs for Owensboro Community and Technical College. 

The three finalists will be interviewed next week.  The new president of OCTC will start work on July 1.

Lisa Autry

A federal law championed by First Lady Michelle Obama is up for reauthorization later this year. 

At Plano Elementary School in Warren County Thursday, Kentucky’s 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie solicited feedback on the Healthy  and Hunger-free Kids Act which became law in 2010. 

Following a roundtable discussion, Guthrie said he learned that schools want more flexibility in preparing meals.

"Everyone wants kids to eat healthy, but when you write a single rule that comes out of Washington, DC, that goes into every cafeteria of every school, they don't always work," Guthrie told WKU Public Radio.

While the federal act has brought more nutritious meals into school cafeterias, much of the food is wasted. 

"If a kid doesn't pick up an apple, the school won't get reimbursed from the federal government if the kid is on free or reduced lunch," Guthrie explained.  "A lot of times they have to make the kids pick up an apple and walk out with it knowing that it's going in the garbage."

Cafeteria managers says the healthy food has resulted in more children bringing their lunch from home.  Most of the children not eating cafeteria food are from middle and upper class families that pay full price for their lunch.  It hurts schools monetarily when those children who pay full price bring their lunch from home. 

Some Henderson County teachers will not be returning to the classroom next school year. 

Faced with a $6.7 million shortfall, the school system is cutting 80 positions.  Layoff notices are going out this week to teachers at every school, but district spokeswoman Julie Wisher says students should expect the same level of education.

"Our student-teacher ratio isn't going to increase over the maximum size allowed," Wisher tells WKU Public Radio.  "We have dedicated and passionate teachers that will continue to work toward excellence."

The budget deficit is largely blamed on personnel costs.  About 85 percent of the budget is spent on personnel.  The school system’s goal is to get that amount closer to 75 percent. 

While teachers will bear the brunt of the budget reductions, a few positions from the central office are also being eliminated.

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing family from Glasgow.  The family of three has not been since Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Missing are 49-year-old Raymon Ingram, his wife, 40-year-old Cynthia, and their eight-year-old daughter Danica. 

The family’s vehicle has been found in a vacant lot of the Golgotha Fun Park, which has been out of business for quite some time, in Cave City. 

Raymon Ingram is 5’ 2” tall, weighs 125 pounds and has sandy blonde hair.

Cynthia Ingram is 5’ 1” tall, weighs 113 pounds and has long black hair.

Danica Ingram is 4 feet tall, weighs 65 pounds and has long dark hair.

The Glasgow Police Department isn’t releasing any other information at this point. 

Anyone with knowledge of Ingram family's whereabouts is asked to call the GPD at 270-651-5151.

An effort underway in Southern Indiana seeks to produce 10,000 college or technical degrees by 2020. 

The region has more than 40,000 adult workers with unfinished degrees. 

Bridgett Strickler heads a new initiative called Education Matters Southern Indiana.

"We know that working adults need an efficient path to a degree or certification because they're balancing work, life, and family obligations, Strickler tells WKU Public Radio.  "What we hope to do is bust the barriers for those adults by connecting them with opportunities for financial aid, scholarships, and programs they may not know about."

Research shows that only 25% of residents living in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington counties has an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree compared to 38% nationally. 

Strickler says by increasing the number of degree-holders, southern Indiana will have a better workforce and economy.

The Henderson County public school system is preparing to lay off teachers for next year. 

The exact number of positions affected is unknown, though cuts are planned at every school.

Public Information Officer Julie Wisher says the school system is over-staffed.

"What we've done is realign ourselves with the staffing formulas that are set out by the Kentucky Department of Education," adds Wisher.  "In the past we had gone over those formulas."

Wisher says the school district has also absorbed the cost of programs previously funded by grants. 

In order to balance next year’s budget, Henderson County schools must reduce expenses by $6.7 million. 

Official layoff notices will be going out at the end of next week.  The cuts are expected to affect only non-tenured staff.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education will meet in special session Thursday morning to discuss the budget and cost savings.

Less than a month shy of the primary election, three of Kentucky’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates debated Tuesday night in Bowling Green. 

The event at WKU featured Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner. 

If elected, all three pledged to dismantle the state’s health insurance exchange known as Kynect. 

Comer said the state took on a lot of responsibility that it can’t afford.

"Eighty-two percent of the people who got on Kynect ended up on Medicaid," Comer explained.  "What Kynect became for Governor Beshear was a way to greatly expand Medicaid to the point to where we have 25 percent of the state on Medicaid, one out of four people.  That's not sustainable."

As governor, Comer said he would get more Kentuckians into private health coverage while changing eligibility requirements for Medicaid. 

Matt Bevin said he would transition those who signed up on Kentucky’s exchange to the federal exchange.

"Frankly, it's a level of redundancy we can't afford.  It's as simple as that," Bevin suggested.  "We were lured into participation through the use of federal dollars."

Starting in 2017, the state must begin bearing a share of the cost of expanding Medicaid.  Currently, the federal government is picking up the entire tab.

Hal Heiner suggested tying the Medicaid expansion to workforce training so people could get a job, get off of Medicaid, and obtain private insurance.  He criticized the Medicaid expansion for lacking any level of personal responsibility.

"It doesn't have what you're seeing conservative governors in other states adopt in their plans which build in incentives to use preventive care, to use primary care providers rather than emergency care, and to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the overall cost," Heiner stated. 

The candidates were mostly in agreement on range of economic topics from making Kentucky a right-to-work state to protecting the coal industry. 

The other GOP gubernatorial candidate, Will T. Scott did not attend the debate, citing a scheduling conflict.

Pages