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
12:11 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Kentucky State Employee Faces Child Porn Charges

Gordon Bowers
Credit Kentucky Attorney General's Office

A Kentucky state worker has been arrested on child pornography charges. 

According to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, 49-year-old Gordon Bowers was arrested Monday afternoon at his office in London, Kentucky.  He worked as an environmental scientist for the Department for Natural Resources Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement. 

The investigation, which began last November, revealed that Bowers, using a file sharing software program, downloaded images and saved them to his state office computer.

Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Department for Natural Resources told WKU Public Radio that Bowers has not been fired and the state is cooperating with the investigation.

Bowers is facing four felony counts of possessing matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.  Each count carries one to five years in prison.

Regional
2:49 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Kentucky Addiction Treatment Center Settles Fraud Claims

Two doctors and a chain of addiction recovery centers operating in Kentucky have reached an agreement with the federal government to settle fraud allegations. 

SelfRefind, as well as its owners Dr. Bryan Wood and Dr. Robin Peavler will pay $15.7 million dollars to resolve allegations that they fraudulently billed Medicare and Kentucky’s Medicaid program for unnecessary and excessive urine tests. 

The business required clients to take urine tests to make sure that they weren't abusing drugs and that they were using treatment medication as prescribed. 

According to federal prosecutors, the chain submitted reimbursement claims for tests that were medically unnecessary or more expensive than the actual tests that were performed.

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Regional
9:25 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Western Kentucky Community Remembers Family Killed in Fire

Pallbearers carry the nine caskets following the funeral service.
Lisa Autry

Several hundred mourners filed into Muhlenberg County High School Saturday to remember a mother and her eight children who died in a house fire. 

Among them was Charlotte Groves, who had a firsthand account of the tragedy.

“I lived next door to them, I’m the one who called 911,” she said.

Charlotte Groves was awakened in the middle of the night on January 30 to screams coming from her neighbor’s home engulfed in flames.  Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter Kylie escaped the burning home, but his wife Larae and his eight other children did not.

“He kept it together for his daughter.  He kept saying 'God is a good God, they're in a better place.'  He was remarkable,” said Groves.  “He tried to go back in there three times but he told us the fire was so hot every time he tried, he got burnt.”

Inside Muhlenberg County High School, nine closed white caskets were lined up on the stage of a packed auditorium.  Propped up on easels behind the caskets were large pictures of each family member: 36-year-old LaRae Watson, and her children, 15-year-old Madison; 14-year-old Kaitlyn; 13-year old Morgan; 9-year old Emily; 8-year-old Samuel; 6-year-old Raegan; and 4-year-old twins Mark and Nathaniel.

“In the 27 years I’ve been in the ministry, I’ve never had anything that has devastated me and touched me anymore than this,” said Tim Burden.

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Education
11:32 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Bowling Green, Warren County Ready for Mediation on Student Cap Dispute

A dispute between the Bowling Green city and Warren County school systems will go before a mediator Saturday. 

The two school systems are at odds over a non-resident student agreement for next school year and beyond.  Warren County wants to keep more of its students and the state funding that comes with them.  The county last year lowered the number of students who could transfer to city schools. 

For Bowling Green Schools Superintendent Joe Tinius, it’s not about money, but school choice.

"The SEEK dollars that follow students are spent on students," says Tinius.  "It doesn't create a windfall or a pot of discretionary money for any school district."

Warren County Superintendent Rob Clayton argues that cutting the number of transfers doesn’t stifle school choice.  

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Regional
4:28 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Church Leader: Muhlenberg County House Fire Survivors Improving

A note from 11-year-old Kylie Watson to a relative who visited her at the hospital.
Credit Watson Family Fundraiser Facebook Page

A tight-knit community in western Kentucky is preparing to say goodbye to a mother and eight of her children who perished last week in a house fire. 

Thirty-six-year-old Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter Kylie were the only ones who made it out of the house alive, but they won't be at the funerals.  They are still being treated for lung damage and severe burns.   

A spokeswoman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville said Thursday that both remained in critical but stable condition.

Jimmy Rager is a deacon a Calvary Baptist Church in Central City where the family attended.  He says that dad and daughter are improving daily.

"Kylie has been able to write on a white board with a marker, she's been asking questions on the board," states Rager.  "Chad hasn't been able to talk at all because he's been sedated and has tubes in him, but hopefully he'll get to speak just any time."

Rager says the father and daughter are aware that the rest of the family is gone.

"I know Kylie asked a question on the board 'Is my dad and myself the only ones remaining?'  Chad was aware of that even at the fire.  He made the statement at the fire 'My family is now in the hands of a loving God.'"

The funeral for Larae Watson and her children will take place Saturday at 1:00pm at the west campus of Muhlenberg County High School.

Education
4:16 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Glasgow Woman to Join Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame

Golda Pensol Walbert
Credit WKU Media Relations

A retired educator from south central Kentucky helps make up the 2014 class of the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame. 

Golda Walbert of Glasgow will be inducted in a ceremony in Frankfort Thursday. 

She began her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse in Rockcastle County in 1943.  Walbert later taught in Harlan County before spending most of her career in Barren County schools.   

The Teacher Hall of Fame, housed at WKU, was created in 2000 through a gift by former Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn.

Find out more on the 2014 inductees here.

Regional
10:34 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Warren County School System Fires Employee Over Sexting Allegations

The Warren County public school system has fired a custodian and volunteer assistant football coach. 

The employee, whose name hasn’t been released, is accused of sending sexually inappropriate text messages to several male students. 

"Some of the students said their were allegations of the suspect sending photographs of his genitalia area to the students," explained Detective Robert Kitchen with the Warren County Sheriff's Office.

Kitchen says investigators are examining the man’s cell phone and computer because evidence suggests he was also contacting students on Facebook. 

He was employed by Ohio-based GCA Services, which has a janitorial contract with the school system.  He worked as a night-time custodian at Warren Elementary and also served as a volunteer assistant football coach for Warren Central High School. 

The school system learned about the sexting allegations last Friday and immediately terminated his employment.  He is no longer permitted to be on school property or have contact with any students, according to a news release from the school system.

"The school system is committed to ensuring the safety of our students and is cooperating fully with law enforcement officials as the investigation continues," the release stated.

So far, charges have not been filed. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the claims.

Regional
4:02 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Donations and Needs Great for Survivors of Muhlenberg County House Fire

A collage of Chad and Larae Watson and their nine children.
Credit Watson Family Fundraiser Facebook Page

Donations continue to pour in from around the country for the two survivors of last week’s house fire in Muhlenberg County. 

The country music group “The Band Perry” has paid for the funerals of Larae Watson and her eight children, but the surviving father and daughter will have many needs. 

Jamie Wells is Senior Vice President of Old National Bank, which has set up a fund in conjunction with Calvary Baptist Church in Central City. 

"When you consider the fact that the two survivors in this family have not only lost all of their belongings and the structure that they called their home, but everything that gave it life, it's hard to wrap your mind around that," remarks Wells.  "There will be clothing and shelter provisions that will need to be made, they'll be long term educational needs, just all kinds of support."

Wells says donations have come from as far away as Japan and can still be made at any Old National Bank branch in the U.S.  Those interested in donating can call (270) 338-1000 or mail a contribution to:

Old National Bank

P.O. Box 198

Greenville, KY 42345

Regional
3:12 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Kentucky's Federal Delegation Mounts Pressure to Raise Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland at Wolf Creek Dam

Kentucky’s congressional delegation is urging federal officials to restore the water levels at Lake Cumberland, even as an endangered fish found in headwaters threatens to keep the lake lowered for an eighth year in a row. 

A letter sent Monday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says “it is well time for the lake to return to its full capacity.”  The letter, signed by Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Congressmen Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield, says the matter is "of great concern to the economic well-being of the Lake Cumberland area in southeastern Kentucky." 

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Politics
9:41 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Beshear to Discuss Tax Plan with Kentucky House and Senate Leaders

Kentucky’s legislative leaders will meet Monday with Governor Steve Beshear who will offer up his plan to reform the state’s tax code. 

Beshear argues a more modern tax system will generate new revenue and make Kentucky more competitive with other states.  Still, he acknowledges lawmakers' reluctance to tackle the issue.

"All of the House members are on the ballot for election, or re-election and half of the Senate.  That is always in the back of their minds obviously and affects sometimes what you can get the legislature to address."

There's been no movement on comprehensive tax reform since a commission chaired by Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson offered recommendations in 2012.  The group suggested raising the cigarette tax, expanding the sales tax, and allowing local governments to levy a sales tax on special projects, among dozens of other recommendations.

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