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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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.

Business
5:00 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Kentucky Congressmen Hold Field Hearing on ObamaCare

Two Republican Congressmen from Kentucky will host a field hearing in Lexington Tuesday titled "Health Care Challenges Facing Kentucky's Workers and Job Creators. 

"This is an official Congressional hearing where witnesses will offer testimony that will become part of the Congressional record," says U.S. Representative Andy Barr of Lexington.

Representative Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is also hosting the hearing that will focus on the Affordable Care Act.  The federal health care overhaul requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance or pay penalties.  Last month, the Obama administration pushed back implementation of the employer mandate until January of 2015.

Politics
10:11 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Paul: GOP Can Court Minorities and Support Voter ID Laws

Rand Paul, R-KY

As new voter ID laws take effect across the county, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is maintaining his position that asking voters to produce identification before casting their ballot has no racial overtones. Paul told WKU Public Radio that voter ID provisions are needed to combat voter fraud and not doing so is a disservice to those who fought for the right to vote.

"Forty, 50 years ago when people were fighting for the right to vote, there were people beaten with clubs, there were people who fought for the Voting Rights Act, and at that time, African Americans weren't voting and weren't allowed to vote," said the Bowling Green Republican.

More states are enacting voter ID laws since the U.S. Supreme Court in June gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that gave the federal government oversight of states with a history of voter discrimination. Sen. Paul says he hasn't seen any evidence that minorities are facing obstacles in voting.  In fact, he says in the last election, African Americans voted at a higher percentage than White Americans in states that were under special provisions of the federal government. 

His comments come as he urges the GOP to do more to attract minorities, and as opponents of the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act point to various voter ID laws they say are designed to discourage election day turnout in minority communities.

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Education
2:05 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Kentucky Education Chief Affirms Enrollment Cap Decision for Bowling Green, Warren County

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is affirming a decision to allow 750 Warren County students to attend Bowling Green city schools this academic year, according to a posting on the city schools' website.

Earlier this year, the Warren County school board lowered the cap on the number of county-zoned students allowed to attend city schools.  The city appealed the county’s decision to the state education commissioner. 

Following a three-day hearing last month, the hearing officer recommended to Holliday that the student cap be increased to 750 in the 2013-14 school year and the 2014-15 school years. 

Holliday’s order received Friday by the city school system only addresses this year.

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Business
1:09 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Kentucky Hospitals Announce Partnership to Strengthen Pediatric Care

Kentucky's two largest children's hospitals are partnering to provide better pediatric care across the state.  Kosair Children's Hospital and U-K Children's Hospital have signed a letter intent to join forces and will spend the next few months working out the details. 

"Bottom line is, we can do more together than separately," says Stephens Williams, CEO of Norton Healthcare, which owns and operates Kosair.  "Our goal is to continue to expand services, certainly allowing us to better compete with children's hospitals in our border states." 

Williams says the collaboration will allow the hospitals to recruit more specialty pediatricians to handle some of the chronic diseases that plague Kentucky children such as obesity and diabetes. 

The partnership will also build upon collaborations the two hospitals already have with their cancer and transplant programs. 

Politics
2:06 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Redistricting Plan Moving in the Kentucky House

(From left) Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown; Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington; Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville; and Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, discuss legislation prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A House committee in Frankfort passed the chamber's redistricting plan Tuesday on a 25-4 vote with the support of many Republicans. The lone Democrat who voted against the bill was Representative Jimmie Lee of Elizabethtown. 

The proposed map splits Hardin County among six districts, with only Lee's district--the 25th--remaining entirely within Hardin County. 

"With the other counties involved, someone that would seek the seat living in Hardin County in these various districts will never have enough votes in Hardin County to ever win an election," explains Lee.  "Basically, this map has precluded the northern end of Hardin County from ever having someone who lives there serve as their representative."

The bill is expected to easily win approval from the full House on Wednesday. 

The House map pairs eight incumbents, four Republicans and four Democrats, against each other in elections next year.  It varies quite a bit from a 2012 House proposal that pitted nine incumbents against each other, eight of them Republicans.  That plan was thrown out by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Education
9:28 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Kentucky Pediatricians Feel Reading is Good Medicine

Noah Newman, 5 and brother Brady, 3 get new books from Dr. Billie Galyen at the Community Health Center in Muhlenberg County.
Credit Lisa Autry

Studies suggest reading to children early in their development enhances their vocabulary, helps them identify letters and become better readers.  Yet, less than half of U.S. children are read to on a daily basis. 

To counteract that problem, reading is being doctor-prescribed in certain parts of the commonwealth, like Muhlenberg County.

Dr. Billie Galyen sees about 6,000 kids a year at her pediatric clinic in Greenville.

Five-year-old Brady and three-year-old Noah are there for check-ups. Every child six months to five years old leaves the office with a new book to take home and a prescription to read.

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