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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Business
5:00 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Beshear Cuts Ribbon on Bowling Green Plastics Plant

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear presented a gift to Alpla, Inc. CEO Guenther Lehner.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was in Bowling Green Monday to celebrate the opening of a manufacturing plant.

Austrian-based Alpla began operations in mid-August at its facility in the Kentucky Transpark.  The company invested $22.4 million in the plant and created 72 full-time jobs.

Governor Beshear helped cut the ribbon on the new factory which makes plastic packaging for beverages, cosmetics, and household items.

"Among their customers is Sun Products right here in Bowling Green," explained Beshear.  "You might not know the Aalpla name, but I guarantee you have held in your hand an Alpla-packaged product."

Alpla's Bowling Green plant brings the number of foreign-owned companies in Kentucky to 412.

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Education
9:59 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Deadline Approaching for Kentucky's Adult Learners

Some 15,000 Kentuckians have an important deadline approaching.  December 18th will be the last day to take the current version of the GED test.  People who have passed part, but not all of the high school equivalency exam must complete all portions of it before a new test is rolled out in January and their previous scores are wiped out. 

Reecie Stagnolia is Vice President of Adult Education at the Council on Postsecondary Education.  He says this will be the last chance to take the test using pencil and paper.

“As we look at the age demographics of the population who take the test, we think most individuals use technology in some form or fashion in their daily lives, and those skills will be adaptable to where they will be prepared to take the test using a computer," remarks Stagnolia.

This will be the first upgrade to the GED test since 2002.  The new version will allow test-takers to get their scores the same day, but the cost will double from $60 to $120.   

Regional
4:39 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Military Official: Kentucky Army Posts Will See Another Round of BRAC

Col. David Thompson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs
Credit kcma.ky.gov

As operations in Iraq and Afghanistan come to a conclusion, a top military official in Kentucky says Fort Knox and Fort Campbell, like military installations around the country, might see changes in coming years.  In a speech Wednesday to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Colonel David Thompson said BRAC is coming again to military installations nationwide.

“It’s gonna come with a vengeance in my view," predicted Thompson.  "As we come out of this war effort, the infrastructure that we have out there is clearly unsupportable.  From a business perspective, you can’t have more structure than you have force.  At some point, the math is not going to work.”

In 2005, the military’s Base Realignment and Closure moved an influx of soldiers to Fort Knox and spurred massive growth in the region.  Thompson, who heads the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, expects another round of BRAC changes by 2017.  Recently, Fort Knox learned the post would lose its only combat brigade, which Thompson called a harbinger of things to come. 

Col. Thompson believes Fort Knox and Fort Campbell are both well positioned in the event of another BRAC.  However, he said Kentucky needs to work to increase the value of its two installations before then.

Health
4:40 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Kentucky Official: Thousands Losing Current Health Insurance Plans Will Get Better Deal

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes

About 280,000 Kentuckians will have to trade in their current health insurance policies in the months ahead and enroll in other plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act.  One Kentucky official is confident those affected will get a better deal. 

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes oversees the commonwealth’s online health exchange.  She tells WKU Public Radio that those who don’t get to keep their current insurance plans will get better coverage under the federal health care law.

"There are a lot of plans out there that people claim they love and enjoy, but I assure you, the plans they can receive now are better," claims Haynes.  "They're richer benefits and plans."

Haynes says some current insurance policies don’t meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which grants coverage for pre-existing conditions and expands coverage to a wide range of preventive care services. 

Asked about the Obama administration’s earlier claim that people could keep their current insurance, Haynes says that’s still the case for about 96 percent of Kentuckians.

Health
5:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

American Cancer Society Needs Bowling Green Study Participants

The American Cancer Society is looking to enroll 300 people from the Bowling Green area in a study.  People between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer are eligible to enroll. 

"You fill out an initial survey when you sign up to be part of the lifestyle survey and then you get a survey every year," says Angie Geron, Community Representative for the American Cancer Society.  "It asks you about your daily habits like how long you sit and stand, how much you weigh, how many hours a night you sleep, all those things we take for granted that we don't think influence our life." 

American Cancer Society prevention studies began in the 1950s and have led to discoveries such as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and the role obesity plays in the risk of several cancers. 

"It's a way we can fight back for our loved ones that have been diagnosed," states Geron.  "It's a way we can do something to impact the future as far as cancer research is concerned."

Enrollment for this latest study begins November 20.  You can learn more information by clicking here.

Education
5:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Kentucky Governor Defends New Science Curriculum

Like most other states, Kentucky is moving forward with implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.  Governor Steve Beshear decided in September to adopt the new science requirements even though a legislative subcommittee found them to be “deficient.”  Beshear told WKU Public Radio he’s supporting the requirements to keep Kentucky students competitive.

“My job, Commissioner Holliday’s job, and the Kentucky Board of Education’s job is to make sure our children are college and career ready when they leave high school," said Beshear.  "Part of getting them college and career ready is to make sure they study all the different scientific theories they are out there that everybody else in the world will be studying.”

The General Assembly might consider legislation in January that would kill the new teachings.  Opponents have criticized the standards claiming they treat evolution as fact rather than theory, and put too much emphasis on climate change. 

The new standards are slated to be in the classroom next fall.

Agriculture
5:00 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Sees Automakers as Industrial Hemp Customers

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says, realistically, Kentucky is two years away from growing industrial hemp. 

In the meantime, he’s been talking with processors and companies interested in using hemp in their products.  Toyota has two plants in Bardstown and Lebanon that manufacture dashboards and door panels.  Comer says Toyota would most likely become a hemp customer.

"They use a fiber similar to industrial hemp called kanaff.  Kanaff is a subtropical plant and it will not grow in Kentucky," explains Comer.  "The factories in Bardstown and Lebanon import the kanaff fiber from Indonesia.  They would rather grow it in Kentucky next to their factory than import from Indonesia."

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill this year that sets up the regulatory framework for growing hemp if he becomes legalized on the federal level. 

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Regional
5:00 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Owensboro Convention Center Nears Completion

Owensboro's convention center contains 60 feet of glass.
Credit Global Spectrum

Owensboro's new convention center is three months away from opening. 

The nearly 40-million-dollar facility overlooks the Ohio River on the site of the old Executive Inn and is expected to be an economic engine for the downtown. 

Convention Center Manager Dennis Dean says the first customers are booked.

"Our first event is January 29 and we're supposed to have the building on January 27, so it's going to be very fast as we approach these final days of getting everything done."

Dennis says about 75 events are already booked for 2014 and he expects that many more will be added once the convention center is open. 

The 45,000 square foot exhibition space will be the largest in western Kentucky or Evansville. 

Regional
5:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Why Did Kentucky's Health Exchange Work Better?

Kentucky continues to get high marks for its health exchange, despite the state outsourcing its design to the same Canadian contractor that’s facing blame for the technical problems with the rollout of the federal exchange. 

Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio that, for one, the contractor facing criticism was not Kentucky’s primary contractor.  He also credits the smooth rollout to the website’s user-friendly design.

"We allow people to go on the website and plug in their information, view plans, and check eligibility without opening an account," explains Beshear.  "I think on the federal exchange you have to open an account before you can get much information, and that I think, stalled matters for them."

Kentucky’s exchange, known as "kynect," ran into a few problems on its opening day, but technical workers were able to add new servers, which solved the problems. 

Kentucky was one of 17 states that chose to run its own exchange.

Regional
5:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Kentucky Lawmaker Hopes 2014 is the Year for Domestic Violence Legislation

State Representative John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville
Credit Legislative Research Commission

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and one Kentucky lawmaker is observing the month by pre-filing legislation for the 2014 General Assembly. 

Representative John Tilley is crafting a bill that would allow dating partners to obtain protective court orders.  Current state law extends protection to those who are married, live together, or share a child.

"Right now, the most vulnerable population, the most at-risk population are girls ages 16-19, and they most often are not married, living together or have a child in common," states Tilley.  "We know, in some cases, they are four times more likely to be victimized either physically or sexually, or both."

Representative Tilley chairs the House Judiciary Committee.  The Hopkinsville Democrat plans to bring the measure to his committee on January 8th, two days after lawmakers convene. 

Earlier this month, Governor Beshear called on state lawmakers to approve the legislation, which has failed in past legislative sessions.  Some lawmakers have expressed concerns that couples might take out protective orders to gain an upper hand in divorce or child custody cases.

Kentucky is one of just three states that provides no protection for victims of dating violence.

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