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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Education
4:20 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Warren County Schools Go Mobile With Communications App

Warren County Public Schools is now offering a mobile application that allows the community to get information in a quick and convenient way.   

The mobile app from School Connect allows smartphone and tablet users to keep track of district news and receive notices from faculty and staff, all in real time.  Much of the information is already posted on the school system's website.

"It just gives us another way for community members to access information about the district in a convenient with mobile apps being the way of the world these days, it seems," says WCPS Spokesman Don Sergent.

The app will provide information such as school calendars, athletic schedules, gradebooks, and lunch menus. 

The free app is available for Apple and Android devices.

Agriculture
1:35 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Hemp Supporters Applaud Federal Farm Bill

Hemp supporters are hailing the federal Farm Bill that Congress will vote on in coming days.  The bipartisan agreement is expected to clear the House and Senate.  The measure contains a provision that allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for research purposes. 

“Hemp has this long history in the United States, but that history pretty much ended in the 1950s, and all the genetics are lost.  We need to have research on new varieties," says Eric Steenstra, president of  the advocacy group Vote Hemp.   "A lot of things have changed in the last 60 years, and there are new markets and opportunities.”

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill last year that allows industrial hemp production if a federal ban is lifted. 

“For months, we have tried to get some assurance at the federal level that Kentucky producers can grow industrial hemp without fear of government harassment or prosecution. This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said in a news release.

Comers hails the Farm Bill provision as a giant step toward restoring the crop, which used to make products ranging from clothes to cosmetics.

Hemp was banned decades ago when the government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Eleven states, including Tennessee, have introduced hemp legislation this year.

Health
9:47 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Bowling Green Woman Credits Dramatic Weight Loss to Employer

Jacinda Jones

At 170 pounds, Jacinda Jones is half the woman she used to be.

“I’d managed to get up to 350, actually I don’t know the exact weight because my scale would not measure my weight," said Jones.

Two years ago, this Bowling Green wife and mother was a size 28.  She lived on fast food and was an admitted couch potato.

“I ate out a lot and it would be a salad, bread, the entrée, and dessert.  It would be all of it," Jones confessed.  "When I got fast food, it would be chicken fingers and fries.  It was just a free for all.  There was no exercise.”

Jacinda had experienced weight problems since her youth, but her life changing moment came on an airplane in 2010.

“I had went to Vegas, and the seat belt buckle wouldn’t and I was too embarrassed to ask for the extender," she said.

Following the trip, she began thinking about gastric bypass surgery.

“My mom told me I needed to have the surgery, and I was so scared of surgery, I told her to give me one more shot to do this, and I told her if it fails this time, I will have the surgery," remarked Jones.

At 32 years old, Jacinda was obese and pre-diabetic. She had high blood pressure and no energy. 

“I also developed what’s called benign intracranial hypertension.  It’s where my body either doesn’t get rid of or makes too much spinal fluid because of my weight," she explained.  "It would give me headaches because I had too much pressure on my spine, and it also pushed on my optic nerves and I could have gone blind.  I went to an opthamologist and he said you’ve got to lose weight.”

And then she turned to an unexpected place: her job.  Jacinda works as a claims specialist for Progressive Insurance in the company’s Bowling Green office.  She began taking advantage of the company’s employee wellness program called Healthy U. 

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Politics
8:53 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Kentucky's Senate Republicans File Amendment to Curb Governor's Power

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), converses with Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, on the floor of the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear created Kentucky’s health exchange and expanded Medicaid without legislative approval, but if Senate Republicans have their way, the governor will not have that luxury in the future. 

The GOP this session plans to push a constitutional amendment that would curtail the governor’s power to issue administrative regulations.  The legislation would keep a regulation from taking effect if lawmakers declared it deficient. 

A legislative subcommittee currently reviews regulations, but has no power to stop them from taking effect.  When asked if regulations should be implemented with full approval from the General Assembly, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he agreed with the concept.

"Allowing seven or eight people that authority is a bit problematic," Stumbo replied.  "Allowing the entire General Assembly that authority gives all of us a better sense of balance."

Governor Beshear told WKU Public Radio that he and future governors need to keep that power.

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Education
1:29 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Kentucky's Universities See Gains, Losses in Governor's Budget Plan

Kentucky’s public universities were requesting an eight-percent increase in operating dollars, but in the governor’s next two-year budget proposal, the schools would instead receive a 2.5% cut in funding. 

"We took a smaller reduction in his proposal than other state agencies, but it's substantial," remarked Robbin Taylor, VP of Public Affairs at WKU.  "It's about $1.8 for us, and on top of all the other reductions since 2008, that's going to be fairly painful."

On the other hand, the governor’s budget plan funded WKU’s top capital project request.  The proposal sets aside $48 million to complete the science campus renovation, which includes renovating the Thompson Complex Center Wing, demolishing the North Wing, and building a new planetarium. 

The Gatton Academy for Math and Science also received funding to expand the number of students from 120 to 200.

Politics
10:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Beshear Optimistic Coming Off Budget Speech

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

In his budget speech Tuesday night, Governor Steve Beshear told Kentucky lawmakers to expect in the coming days his plan for reforming the state’s tax code.  It's a perennial issue that's seen little movement in the General Assembly. 

However, the term-limited governor told WKU Public Radio that not being up for re-election is an asset.

"Members of the legislature, particularly in the other party, don't view me as a threat in the upcoming statewide elections in 2015 and I think that helps them sit down and work with me in a more productive way," said Beshear.

On the other hand, all of the House is up for re-election this year and half of the Senate.  Still, Beshear said he is sensing a willingness to take a hard look at the tax structure.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Barren County Judge-Executive Announces Retirement

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer
Credit Barren County Government

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer will not seek re-election to a fourth term. Judge Greer says her family had a lot to do with her decision to retire.

"My family doesn't want me to run again, so I just gave in and said okay," admits Greer. "I've loved what I've done and if I was 20 years younger, I wouldn't think twice about running again and again."

During her three terms heading Barren County government, Greer tells WKU Public Radio that the highlight was building the correctional center. 

Greer's retirement leaves no shortage of potential successors. 

Barren County Magistrate Chris Steward is seeking the judge-executive post, as well as five others. They include Brian Taylor, W.R. Tarry, David Honeycutt, Don Gossett, and Rob Strickland.

Agriculture
5:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Issues Ten Percent Challenge

Homemade jams are on of the offerings at the Community Farmer's Market in Bowling Green.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is asking you to add one more New Year’s resolution to your list.  James Comer wants families to spend at least ten percent of their food dollars this year on locally grown food.

There are several ways to buy Kentucky Proud products.  Jackson Rolett with the Community Farmer’s Market in Bowling Green says the indoor market provides consumers with fresh produce even in the winter.

"Some of the things we can offer are a lot of squash and greens, a lot of root crops, turnips, beets, carrots, potatoes," explains Rolett.  "We also have a lot of farmers who are diversifying into high tunnel production and greenhouse production, so we have some producers here with red tomatoes.

Another way to buy Kentucky Proud is by visiting certain grocery chains, including Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods. 

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Environment
2:50 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Western Kentucky Utilities Monitor Chemical Spill in Ohio River

Credit Henderson Water Utility

In western Kentucky, Henderson is taking steps to ensure the safety of drinking water as some pollutants move down the Ohio River. 

Last week’s chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia has water utilities downstream taking precautions.  The plume is expected to reach Henderson Monday morning. 

Henderson Water Utility is collecting data from monitoring stations along the Ohio River and staying in contact with upstream water utilities, including Evansville and Louisville.  Treatment Manager Kevin Roberts says no decision has been made on whether to close intake valves.

"We are going to take the greatest step we can to ensure the community is protected and that we supply water," adds Roberts.  "If that includes shutting the intake then we certainly will do that."

A decision may not come until Sunday night, but the utility is working to build up the drinking water inventory just in case the intake valves are closed. 

Contaminant levels in the Ohio River are currently below the threshold for any risk to the public.

Education
12:48 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Grant to Help WKU Steer Early Learners into Math, Science

WKU has been awarded a $150,000 grant to support early childhood education. 

The funding from the PNC Foundation will be used to produce videos that will expose children to the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math.  The videos will be distributed to places such as libraries, housing authorities, and preschools in Kentucky and Tennessee. 

"The hardest thing about changing the number of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in Kentucky relates to the fact that unless you stimulate interest early and students are really prepared to be successful when they go to college in those areas, then it's not going to happen," said Dr. Julia Roberts, executive director of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at WKU.

Kentucky will need to fill 74,000 STEM jobs by 2018, yet only 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the state are in STEM fields.

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