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. 

Pages

Regional
4:22 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Investigators Turn to Arrest Records of Slain Bardstown Officer

Officer Jason Ellis
Credit Bardstown Police Department

A newspaper's review of Nelson County court records shows that a slain officer arrested more than 350 people in his seven years on the force, but few involved violent crimes.

The Courier-Journal reported Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis had made 52 arrests that ended up as felony indictments in Nelson Circuit Court. There were some convictions for manufacturing methamphetamine that had long prison sentences, but only a few cases involved violent crimes and there were no homicides.

Investigators are pouring over those arrest records looking for clues into Ellis' murder.  Kentucky State Police detectives have interviewed friends and family of a local gang, in part because of comments some members made on social media sites following Ellis' death.   KSP Spokesman Norman Chaffins says the investigation is in no way limited to the gang. 

"It doesn't matter if they're a member of a gang or a member of the AARP.  We're going to follow up on every lead.  If we receive a tip on somebody, we're going to come knocking on their door," says Chaffins.

This has become the largest investigation ever for the KSP Elizabethtown post.  Chaffins says all eight detectives and 40 troopers at the post are working the case. 

Ellis was gunned down in the early morning hours of May 25th as he removed debris deliberately placed on a Bluegrass Parkway exit ramp.  Since KSP announced this week the debris was tree limbs, the public has offered more than 100 tips, but no information solid enough to name a suspect. 

Regional
12:40 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Furlough Notices Go Out to Fort Campbell, Other Army Posts

Furlough notices began going out this week to Defense Department workers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.  The furloughs are part of the across-the-board cuts required under a budget bill that took effect March 1. 

For 11 days between July and September, it will not be business as usual at Army installations, although the most impacted will be those who work for the military in support roles.  From custodians to school teachers, about four-thousand employees at Fort Campbell will work fewer days.

Funding for uniformed personnell and combat operations is exempt from the cuts.  However, Fort Campbell Public Affairs Director Bob Jenkins says training will be impacted.

"Let's say we have one unit and they're only going to deploy a portion of that unit, the portion that's deploying will receive their training first," explains Jenkins.

Read more
Regional
5:04 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Body Found Near Lindsey Wilson College

A body was found Tuesday in the back seat of a truck near Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia.  The truck was in the parking lot of Grider Apartments, which are leased to students on the edge of campus. 

Lindsey Wilson Spokesman Duane Bonifer says the body was found by a college employee.

"The truck had tinted windows that you couldn't see through, and it wasn't until someone approached the truck while they were cleaning the parking lot, that they saw a body inside it," explains Bonifer.

Adair County Coroner Todd Akin says the man's body appears to have been in the truck for several days and was decomposed.  The man's identity and whether foul play is suspected will be determined following an autopsy Wednesday in Louisville.

Regional
4:20 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Kentucky Senators McConnell, Paul Meet with Energy Secretary on Future of Paducah Site

Pictured from left to right are Congressman Ed Whitfield, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mitch McConnell, Secretary Ernest Moniz and Assistant Secretary Poneman.
Credit Office of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield on Tuesday met with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Assistant Secretary Daniel Poneman to discuss the long term future of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Still reeling from the DOE’s recent announcement not to extend the United States Enrichment Corporation’s (USEC) operation, the delegation, stressed the importance of DOE's commitment to cleanup and utilizing the tails and other assets located in Paducah to secure a long term future for the site.

“The Department of Energy must act quickly to maximize long term job retention and job growth in Paducah, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that happens,” stated McConnell, Paul and Whitfield.  “There is significant private sector interest for utilizing the site’s assets in Paducah, so any plan by the DOE to ship the tails out of the area is unacceptable to us.”

Read more
Education
3:08 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Senator McConnell: Congress in 'Relative Agreement' on Student Loan Interest Rates

Without congressional action, interest rates on federal student loans will double starting July 1. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says the GOP and Democrats agree that interest rate decisions should be taken out of the hands of politicians, and that interest rates should be based on economic factors.  However, disagreements remain over specifics, like how fast and high the rates could rise. 

On the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell said young Americans already have enough to worry about without Washington creating more problems for them.

"The youth unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year olds is over 13 percent," asserted McConnell.  "In Kentucky, it’s more than 14 percent. And once many students graduate college, they face a highly uncertain future."

Rates on all federally-backed student loans are set to jump from 3.4% to 6.8% next month. 

Under a Democratic proposal, interest rates would be left alone for two years as Congress works on permanent reform.  The extension would be funded through the elimination of some tax breaks. 

Republicans have put forward a bill that would employ a variable market rate, like a mortgage, that doesn't change over the life of an individual student's loan.

Regional
12:25 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Supreme Court Ruling on Collecting DNA on Arrestees Could Change Kentucky Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed a major victory to law enforcement. 

On a five to four vote, justices ruled Monday that collecting DNA samples of arrestees prior to proving their guilt or innocence, does not violates the Constitution.  In the high court’s ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that DNA cheek swabs are “a legitimate police booking procedure” like fingerprinting or photographing. 

More than two dozen states already take DNA samples from people arrested on felony charges.  In Kentucky, State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, Democrat from Louisville, sponsored a bill in this past session that would have allowed DNA collecting on felony arrestees without getting a court’s permission. 

The bill stalled after clearing the House Judiciary Committee.  Some state lawmakers expressed concern about collecting DNA on people only accused of a crime.  Other lawmakers feared DNA collection would be too costly for the state. 

Rep. Marzian could not be reached by phone Monday and it's unclear if she will bring up the legislation in the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly.

Read more
Education
12:00 pm
Sun June 2, 2013

Public Invited to Meet Warren County Superintendent Finalists

Allen Barber

Warren County parents and teachers will have the chance Monday night to hear from the three men vying to be the next schools superintendent.  A public forum will start at 7 p.m. at Greenwood High School. 

Allen Barber is a Warren Central High School graduate and currently works in school administration in Eagle Point, Oregon.  Rob Clayton is a middle school principal in Oldham County, Kentucky, and Dr. Franzy Fleck is a superintendent in Burbank, Illinois. 

Community Relations Coordinator Don Sergent says the next chief of schools in Warren County will face a couple of challenges.

"We're a growing district and a very diverse district, so they're probably looking for someone who can handle the issues that arise out of that growth, which a lot of times means building, and we've done a lot of that, and then the diversity dealing with ESL, the English as a Second Language population," explains Sergent.

The Warren County Board of Education will hold interviews with the finalists later this week, and a new superintendent will be named by June 21.

Regional
4:54 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Slain Bardstown Police Officer Remembered as Fun-Loving Family Man

A K-9 officer and dog from Allen County came to Bardstown Thursday for the funeral of slain Officer Jason Ellis.
Credit Lisa Autry

Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis has been buried at a Nelson County cemetery following an emotional funeral service Thursday.

Ellis was shot to death last Saturday after he got out of his cruiser to pick up debris on the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County. The murder remains unsolved, with investigators not publicly identifying any suspects or motives in the case.

Hundreds of mourners--many of them police officers from across the state and nation--came to Bardstown Thursday for Officer Ellis' funeral. Friends remembered Ellis as a fun-loving family man who was proud of his work taking drugs off the street with his canine partner.

During the funeral service, a friend spoke of Ellis' previous life as a minor-league baseball player who decided to hang up his cleats and pursue law enforcement once he got married and became a father.

Ellis leaves behind a wife, Amy, and two sons, ages six and seven.

Meanwhile, a Louisville businessman is giving $50,000 to a reward fund set up to find the person or persons responsible for killing Officer Ellis.

Gus Goldsmith is also giving $10,000 to a fund to help the Ellis family.

Goldsmith says Ellis' death "hit home". Goldsmith's brother was murdered during a pawn shop robbery 38 years ago, and police never found the killer.

Read more
Regional
5:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Bardstown Police Chief Vows Justice as Slain Officer is Laid to Rest

Officer Jason Ellis
Credit Bardstown Police Department

A slain Bardstown police officer will be laid to rest Thursday, even as the person responsible remains undetected.  Colleagues will bury Officer Jason Ellis who investigators say was ambushed on the job. 

The 33-year-old Ellis was on his way home from work Saturday morning when he stopped to move debris on the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County.  He was shot multiple times after getting out of his cruiser.  Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin believes Ellis was targeted, saying the planning and execution of the attack was "methodical and precise." 

Compunding the sadness of Ellis' colleagues is the fact there remains no suspects or motive for the crime.  Chief McCubbin says he will not rest until there is justice.

"The happiest day will be, cause this is certainly the worst day, but the happiest day will be when we've got this person or persons, in whatever fashion we get them.  We will get them," says McCubbin emphatically.

Ellis leaves behind his wife and two sons, ages six and seven.  Following the funeral Thursday morning, a procession will go through Bardstown on the way to the cemetery for the community to pay respects along the route.  

The Fraternal Order of Police has set up two accounts at a local bank.  Wilson and Muir Bank and Trust is accepting donations to a memorial fund for the officer's family and a reward fund for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Regional
12:44 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

KSP: Female Body Found off I-65 in Hardin County

Kentucky State Police say mowing crews discovered a woman's body along Interstate 65 in Hardin County Wednesday morning.  Trooper Norman Chaffins says the body was found on northbound I-65 in a grassy area near the 99 mile marker. 

"We do know the body had been there for some time.  We don't know the exact time the body had been there.  That's something we'll determine with some accuracy once the body has been examined by the medical examiner," said Chaffins.  "Once we get a description of the body, we'll be able to put that out and compare with any missing persons reports."

Investigators do suspect foul play.  As police process the scene, the right lane of I-65 from mile marker 98 to just pass mile marker 99 will be closed for several hours.

Pages