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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Environment
4:41 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Kentucky is Home to the Types of Chemical Weapons Allegedly Used in Syria

This is a side view of one of the igloos where chemical weapons are stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond, KY.
Craig Williams

Richmond, Kentucky is the last site in the U.S. to continue storing the type of chemical weapons allegedly used in Syria.  The nerve agents Sarin and VX, banned worldwide, are housed at the Bluegrass Army Depot. 

Considered two of the world's most deadly chemical warfare agents, the stockpile is on schedule to be destroyed by 2023. 

One of the people overseeing the destruction is Craig Williams, the Chemical Weapons Project Director at the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.  He spoke to WKU Public Radio about the weapons stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot.

Regional
9:01 am
Sun September 15, 2013

Kentucky's Unemployment Fund on a 'Path to Solvency'

Kentucky has borrowed nearly $950 million from the federal government since 2009 to cover a shortfall in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. 

The commonwealth wasn’t alone when benefits skyrocketed and the commonwealth’s unemployment insurance fund became insolvent in 2009.  At least 30 states borrowed money from Washington to beef up their funds during the recession. 

Kentucky’s balance on a nearly $1 billion loan is expected to be around $675 million dollars by year’s end.  Thomas Zawacki, secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet briefed an interim legislative committee in Frankfort last week.  He told lawmakers Kentucky’s unemployment benefits fund is now on a "path to solvency" and the state is on target to pay off the federal loan by 2017, five years earlier than originally anticipated. 

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Regional
4:39 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Mammoth Cave National Park Hosts Citizenship Ceremony--Inside Cave

Thirty-nine immigrants from 22 countries participated in a naturalization ceremony on Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Lisa Autry

The United States put on an adoption ceremony today at Mammoth Cave National Park. 

In a courtroom made by nature, the U.S. adopted 39 new citizens.  In the depths of a cave, a federal judge presided over the ceremony featuring natives of 22 countries around the world.  Park Ranger David Alexander sang "The Star Spangled Banner," and Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead gave the country's newest citizens and official welcome.

"We are so pleased and honored to have you spend your first few minutes as citizens in a national park," remarked Craighead.  "There's not a more perfect place to have that occur."

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Regional
12:32 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Mammoth Cave Hosting Citizenship Ceremony Friday--Inside Cave

The historic entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park
Credit WKU Public Radio

Nearly 50 immigrants from 23 countries will become U.S. citizens in a ceremony Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky.  The ceremony is possible through an agreement between the U.S.  Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Park Service.

"There have been a number of them at Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty...and of course national parks are so American, and they're public land, so they belong to all American citizens," says Mammoth Cave Public Information Officer Vickie Carson.

The ceremony will take place inside a cave and feature remarks from Mammoth Cave's deputy superintendent Bruce Powell, a naturalized citizen himself. Mammoth Cave last hosted a citizenship ceremony in 2011.

Regional
11:41 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Three Sept. 11 Firefighters and Fire Truck Honored Wednesday at Ft. Knox

Al Wallace, Dennis Young, and Mark Skipper are in Ft. Knox Wednesday, being recognized for their heroism at the Pentagon. The firefighters were assigned to the Fort Myer Fire Department in Arlington, VA on Sept. 11, 2001.
Credit Lisa Autry

The Fort Knox Army post is observing the twelfth anniversary of 9-11 by honoring some of the firefighters who responded to the Pentagon on the morning of the attacks.

One of those being honored is Al Wallace, who says he thinks about 9-11 every day. 

Wallace was assigned to the Ft. Myer Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia, on Sept. 11, 2001. He remembers getting a call from his chief alerting him about what had already happened in New York City.

Within minutes, Wallace and his comrades found themselves on the front lines at the Pentagon.

"Right there, up against the building--it was very difficult,” Wallace told WKU Public Radio Wednesday. “It was difficult to breathe, and we were already hypoxic from running. The smoke was coming out of the building along with the heat and the fire. And the more we worked, the more we got hurt."

Wallace was reunited Wednesday with two of his former fire department colleagues, and the fire truck they drove to the Pentagon on 9-11.

The truck--known as Foam 161--was damaged by the fire and destined for demolition. But last year Ft. Knox acquired the truck for its permanent collection at the George Patton Museum and Center for Leadership.

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Regional
3:27 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Sept. 11 Fire Truck to be Unveiled at Fort Knox on Anniversary of Attacks

Foam 161 was severely damaged after responding to the Pentagon on 9/11. The truck has been restored and will be on permanent display at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.
Credit Fort Knox Public Affairs

A fire truck damaged by the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon is being added to the Patton Museum at Fort Knox. 

The truck, known as Foam 161, will be unveiled at the museum Wednesday on the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. 

Colonel Thomas Edwards, the Garrison Commander at Fort Knox, tells WKU Public Radio the truck is one of the museum's new exhibits on leadership.

"It's going to be a great opportunity to showcase their leadership on 9/11 when we lost over 400 first responders, mostly in New York, but these were true heroes at the Pentagon that helped fight the fire there," says Edwards.

For Edwards, the truck rekindles personal memories of September 11, 2001.

"I was actually in the Pentagon on 9/11 when the plane hit, and I remember getting out of the building and seeing this particular fire truck, and the fire truck itself was on fire because it was so close to the point of impact," recalls Edwards.

On Tuesday, the fire truck will be loaded onto a flatbed trailer and driven down U.S. Highway 31W from Fort Knox, around the Elizabethtown roundabout, and back to Fort Knox. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the community is urged to line 31-W to pay their respects to this piece of history.

Politics
2:13 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Plea Deal Could Mean Two Years in Prison for Richie Farmer

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer
Credit Kentucky News Network

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is likely headed to prison for about two years.  His attorney says Farmer has reached a plea agreement in his government corruption case. 

The plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission would resolve all pending and potential charges related to Farmer’s illegal activities while head of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture from 2004 to 2011.  Farmer was headed to trial in federal court next month on a five-count indictment, as well as a 42-count charge brought by the state ethics panel. 

“This decision comes after much soul-searching and risk assessment by Richie and his family,” said Farmer’s attorney Guthrie True in a news release.

True acknowledged that federal prosecutors were planning to bring a second indictment, and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office intends to file charges against Farmer and his sister alleging campaign finance allegations.

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Regional
4:19 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Native Syrian Living in Kentucky Talks about Possible U.S. Military Strike

Huda Melky left her native Syria in 1976, but visited family every year before the country's civil war started in March 2011. She hasn't returned since.
Credit Lisa Autry

For one Warren County woman, the conflict in Syrian hits close to home. 

Huda Melky grew up in Syria and several members of her family are still there. She spoke to WKU Public Radio in her office where she serves as WKU's Equal Opportunity Director. 

In this interview, she talks about the long-running civil war, the Washington debate over military action, and fears for her family's safety.

Politics
5:28 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Judge Upholds Kentucky Medicaid Expansion

A Tea Party activist says he will appeal a circuit court's decision that allows Kentucky to expand Medicaid and create a health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act. 

On Tuesday, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that Governor Steve Beshear had the power to expand Medicaid to an additional 300,000 Kentuckians.  The judge also upheld the governor's creation of a health insurance exchange, an online marketplace where consumers can shop for coverage. 

In both lawsuits, Tea Party activist David Adams argued Beshear needed legislative approval.  Adams remains confident he can win on appeal.

"I'm just glad to get the show on the road," remarks Adams.  "We were headed to the Kentucky Supreme Court from the outset."

Expanded Medicaid will be available starting January 1, and the uninsured can start signing up on October 1.

Regional
12:52 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

One Dead in Apartment Shooting in Bowling Green

Bowling Green has seen its second fatal shooting within a week.  A man died following a robbery Monday night at Green Haven Apartments on Rock Creek Drive. 

Bowling Green Police say 20-year-old Larry Thomas was airlifted to a Nashville hospital where he died.  Officer Ronnie Ward says the victim may have been a WKU student.

"Right now I don't know.  We're doing a little research into that to figure out if he was a Western student," says Ward.  "I understand there was some rumor he may be taking classes, but we're not certain if it was for Western or another school."

Police do not have a suspect or even a description of the shooter at this time.

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