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

A former Monroe County physician is headed to prison for over-prescribing pain medicine that resulted in patient deaths. 

Clella Hayes was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bowling Green. 

In testimony before the court, the 42-year-old mother of two was hailed by her family and colleagues as someone whose life was devoted to serving others.  Her sister, Sarah Higgins, asked for leniency.

"When we were little, all I ever remember hearing her say was that she wanted to become a doctor," Higgins said.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Brent Moore

The city of Bardstown is not expected to venture far in its search for a new mayor.  Councilman Dick Heaton says one of the six council members will likely be appointed to the office in a special meeting Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. 

Heaton says the new mayor will be tasked with moving the city forward, following the ouster of John Royalty.

"That's going to be our priority," Heaton told WKU Public Radio.  "We've got to work to regain the trust and confidence of the people of our community, and also rebuild the morale among employees at city hall."

Royalty was removed from office immediately following a two-day hearing last week.

Western Kentucky University students and faculty have a new funding source to tap into for things like research, travel, and equipment. 

SpiritFunder will allow the public to contribute money to various projects and initiatives at WKU, much like GoFundMe and KickStarter. 

Similar platforms are being implemented at universities across the nation as a way to bring attention to small projects that might otherwise go unfunded.  Typical campaigns will range between $2,ooo and $10,00o.

"When you're talking about two thousand dollars, a gift of five dollars or ten dollars really adds up," said Heather McWhorter, Director of Leadership Annual Giving at WKU.  "Even if you can't make a major gift to the university, you can still make a difference."

Flickr/Creative Commons/Floyd Wilde

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has vetoed a portion of a bill that will help fund a veterans nursing home in Bowling Green. 

Part of the bill would have required the state to pay back bonds supporting the project before it spends money on another debt.  Bevin vetoed that language, saying it sets a bad precedent. 

The bill was co-sponsored by State Representative Michael Meredith.  The Brownsville Republican says the vetoed portion contained language added by a Senate committee.

Phillip Bailey

A new poll suggests Governor Matt Bevin is gaining more approval from Kentuckians after getting off to a rough start early in his tenure. 

The poll by Morning Consult ranked the nation’s most and least popular governors.  Registered voters were questioned from January through March of this year.  Fifty percent of Kentuckians approved of Governor Bevin’s job performance, up from 33 percent in early 2016. 

The same poll ranked Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell as the country’s least popular senator.  Forty-four percent of Kentucky voters said they approved of the 30-year Senate veteran. 

City of Radcliff

Radcliff Mayor Mike Weaver is working with some local entrepreneurs to put together a proposal to build a new veterans hospital in Hardin County. 

Weaver says a new law allowing public-private partnerships would reduce the cost and expedite the construction schedule. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated its preferred location in Louisville would cost around $900 million and construction would take ten years.  Weaver says some veterans don’t have that long to wait.

"The youngest World War Two veteran is 90, the youngest Korean War veteran is 80, and the youngest Vietnam veteran is 62," Weaver told WKU Public Radio.  "You know and I know that those people can't wait ten years for a hospital."                

Weaver says investment groups would build the hospital under budget and within four years. 

Lisa Autry

The attorney for a man charged in the death of a young Allen County girl wants the trial moved out of the region.

Attorney Travis Lock filed a change of venue request Friday afternoon in Allen Circuit Court on behalf of Timothy Madden.  Lock previously told WKU Public Radio that his client couldn't get a fair trial in Allen County due to publicity surrounding the case.

"I think it's going to be tough to impanel a jury in any contiguous county," stated Lock.  "I'm sure that's something the court will address in due time."

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has approved a three to five percent limit on tuition increases for the upcoming school year. 

During a meeting Friday at Northern Kentucky University, the board said tuition hikes were needed to help schools offset less state funding, as well as increases in operating costs and retirement fund contributions. 

Even with the additional tuition revenue, campuses will face an $11.5 million shortfall for the 2017-18 year.

CPE President Bob King said it’s important to consider the net price of going to college as opposed to the sticker price.

"Even though the sticker prices go up, the net price to our students actually over the last five years has been relatively flat," King told WKU Public Radio.  "That's because the campuses have been able to provide significant amounts of financial aid, either through tuition discounts or scholarships."

David Brinkley

Kentucky is making progress in addressing a backlog of untested rape kits.  A 2015 audit revealed the commonwealth had more than three-thousand untested kits, which include physical evidence collected from sexual assault victims. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear says about 1,500 of those kits have now been examined and the DNA entered into a national crime database.

"We have active investigations going on right now," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.  "The hits suggests there is at least one serial rapist that has been identified and this is an absolute critical step that we are going to follow through with until every single victim has their kit tested."

Kentucky Court of Justice

The Logan County Justice Center is expected to reopen this afternoon following a suspected bomb threat. 

A bailiff who was opening up the building Monday morning noticed what appeared to be an explosive device strapped to the rear door of the justice center. 

The Kentucky State Police’s Hazardous Devices Unit determined the device was a hoax.

The threat was reported before the justice center opened for business, and no evacuations were necessary.  Some nearby streets were closed as a precaution but have since reopened.

Lisa Autry

The parents of a young Scottsville girl murdered in 2015 are keeping her memory alive by helping students pay for college. 

The Gabbi Doolin Memorial Scholarship Fund was announced Thursday at Allen County-Scottsville High School.  Gabbi was a second-grade student at the Allen County Primary Center when she was killed.  Amy Doolin says her seven-year-old daughter wanted to be a teacher.

"I believe she would have done great at that.  She was very smart.  She loved to read and even do homework," Doolin told WKU Public Radio.  "I believe she would have went to college one day.  We want to give some other child that opportunity to further their education and do it in her memory."

Warren County Sheriff's Office

A 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s department is preparing to become Warren County’s next jailer.  Stephen Harmon will officially take over operations April 11. 

Current Jailer Jackie Strode is retiring March 31 after more than 20 years at the helm.  Harmon says he has big shoes to fill, but is up for the challenge.

"There's about a 100-person staff, around 600 inmates in custody, and then a seven-million-dollar approximate budget, so there's a lot for me to learn," Harmon explained.

Harmon currently serves as the sheriff’s department’s public information officer while also overseeing the dispatch and records units. 

Harmon will serve the remainder of Strode’s term that ends December 31, 2018.  He then plans to run for a full term as jailer.

Fostering an Unconditional Love

Mar 21, 2017
Melanie Watts

WKU Public Radio partnered with WKU PBS and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to produce a radio series and television documentary on foster care and adoption.

More than 400,000 U.S children are in foster care, removed from their families when their parents are in crisis and can’t take care of them.  There’s a group of people who unselfishly answer the call by becoming foster parents. 

One of them is Melanie Watts of Bowling Green.  She didn’t give birth to any of her three children, but loves them just the same.  She adopted them through foster care, a journey that began while working as a captain at the Bowling Green Police Department.

“Maybe I hit the age, maybe it was just that point of my life where I thought something was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I thought to myself, I just need a child.  'One would be great,' I kept thinking. So I went through the foster care program," explained Watts.  "I was working one afternoon and got a call to check child welfare.  We get there, and there’s a child laying in a stroller wearing a white onesie, or at least it had been white at one time. It was now brown, her diaper was brown and almost dragging, and the mom, you know, is upset that social services is there."

A former Barren county dentist is headed to prison for illegally obtaining prescription drugs for his personal use.  Dr. Chris Steward was sentenced Monday in federal court in Bowling Green. 

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers handed Steward an 18-month prison term.  According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky, Steward was charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud, for knowingly and intentionally distributing and dispensing controlled substances outside the course of professional medical practice, and health care fraud while he was a practicing physician.

Prosecutors say the former Cave City dentist and nurse practitioner pleaded guilty to conspiring with patients to obtain pain and anti-anxiety drugs. 

Flickr/Creative Commons/David Duran

A case of avian influenza has been detected in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky. 

A national veterinary lab confirmed the presence of H7N9, a low pathogenic avian flu.  The virus was detected last week at a Christian County commercial poultry operation during a routine pre-slaughter test. 

State Veterinarian Robert Stout says there were no clinical signs of disease in the birds.  The affected area is under quarantine and the flock of about 22,000 hens was euthanized as a precaution.  Flocks within a six-mile radius of the farm are also under surveillance. 

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