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
11:38 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Kentucky Meets Threshold Needed to Mandate Higher Dropout Age Statewide

Ninety-six school boards across Kentucky have voted to raise the high school dropout age.  The 96 districts put Kentucky at the 55% threshold needed to make the higher age mandatory statewide within four years.

A news release from the governor's office, dubbed the so-called 'Blitz to 96' a success.

“After five years of hard work by Commissioner Holliday, the First Lady and others to implement raising the compulsory graduation age to 18, I am overwhelmed by the support our school boards have shown by racing to adopt this policy,” said Gov. Beshear.  “We know that keeping our students in school will not only offer them a better future, but will ensure that Kentucky has a better-trained, better-prepared workforce that will benefit the state for decades to come."

Legislation approved in this year's Kentucky General Assembly made adoption of the higher dropout age voluntary until 55 percent—or 96—of the state’s school districts adopt the policy.  Since that threshold has been reached, the remainder of Kentucky’s 173 districts must now adopt the policy no later than the 2017-18 school year.

Regional
10:22 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Furloughs Begin at Fort Knox, Other Military Posts

Military posts all over the country began scaling back operations this week under furloughs ordered by the Department of Defense. A total of 11 days must be taken before September 30th due to across-the-board cuts in the federal budget. 

At Fort Knox, about 5,900 civilian workers will be impacted. Fort Knox Spokesman Kyle Hodges says work weeks will be shortened to 32 hours.

"In large part, the furloughs will take place on Mondays or Fridays. However, depending on the office, there may be some exceptions."

Some positions, like medical and combat, are exempt. 

Fort Knox is the largest employer in the Hardin County region. The local economy could feel the pinch of furloughs as the civilian workforce earns less money between now and the end of the fiscal year.

Business
1:40 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

KY Chamber Praises Decision to Give Businesses More Time to Adjust Under Health Care Law

The Obama administration is giving businesses a break under the Affordable Care Act.  The federal health care law requires companies with 50 or more workers to provide full-time employees insurance coverage or pay fines.  

The employer mandate was supposed to take effect January first, but in a decision announced Tuesday, implementation is being delayed one year to 2015. 

"We feel like this is the number one issue for businesses right now.  There's a lot of uncertainty that comes with the law,"   says Ashli Watts with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  "There's tens of thousands of pages of regulations to sift through."

Watts adds that making sense of the law is especially difficult for smaller companies.

"For larger businesses, they have HR people, attorneys, CPAs that can help them navigate through this.  Mom and pop businesses may not have those resources," explains Watts.

Businesses have complained the employer mandate is too complicated.  For example, the law created a new definition of full-time workers, those putting in 30 hours or more.  

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says businesses they've heard from are most concerned with what the federal health care law means to their bottom line.

Arts & Culture
9:41 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Retiring Owensboro Tourism Leader Takes Symphony Job

Karen Miller Porter
Credit Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitor's Bureau

The retiring head of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau won’t be retired for long.  Karen Miller Porter has been named executive director of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. 

She tells the Messenger-Inquirer she wasn’t looking for another job when she decided to leave the CVB, but the opportunity was “too good to pass up.”  Porter says the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra is one of the best-run symphonies at a time when other symphonies are struggling. 

Porter will start work for the OSO August 1, the same date as her official retirement from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Regional
5:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

July 1 Means Less Child Care Assistance for Kentucky Families

Starting Monday, Kentucky will be offering low-income families less help with daycare costs.  Income guidelines are being changed for the Child Care Assistance Program. 

More than 14,000 children live in families who will earn too much to qualify but too little to pay for child care and still make ends meet.  Catharine Kaiser of Louisville is a single mom working and going to school full-time.

"The child care assistance program is the backbone to getting me where I need to be,” says Kaiser.  “It helps me get through school.  I'm at the end of my two-year degree.”

The 23-year-old Kaiser only has six months before she graduates, but worries without child care, she may not be able to finish her associate's degree.  Kaiser says she feels as if she's being punished for trying to get off of government assistance.

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Education
10:23 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Kentucky School Districts Race to Increase Dropout Age

In the first 48 hours since a new law took effect, 54 school districts in Kentucky have voted to raise the high school dropout age to 18. 

Ninety-six districts need to act in order for the higher age to become mandatory statewide.  Already halfway there, Governor Steve Beshear says he's confident the goal will be met by the end of the year. 

For those districts that do act early, Beshear says they'll receive $10,000 grants to implement programs for students at risk of dropping out.

"Virtually every student I know who drops out doesn't do so because they just don't want to be there or they're just not smart enough to do the work," suggests Beshear.  "They drop out because they're just not interested.  We haven't found a way to prick their interest in completing an education."

Senate Bill 97, known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill, passed this year and phases in an increase in the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18, amending the school attendance law created in 1934.

Education
4:18 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Kentucky School Districts Vote in Higher Dropout Age

The Warren County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18.  School Board Chairman Kerry Young says it was simply the right thing to do.

"We are in the business of educating kids and this gives up the opportunity if we have someone struggling to have them in the system at least two more years to be able to get them either college or career ready," Young remarks.

School systems all over  the state are quickly voting to raise the dropout age, which qualifies them for $10,000 in grant money.  Taylor and Simpson counties also approved the higher age this week, as well as the Bowling Green city school system. 

Under a new state law, once 96 of Kentucky's 176 school districts act, the higher age becomes mandatory statewide.   Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio Wednesday that he's confident the 55% threshold will be met by the end of the year.

Regional
1:39 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Beshear: Kentucky Must Tap Fort Knox's Potential Amid Planned Brigade Loss

Governor Steve Beshear says he will be working with Kentucky's Congressional delegation to hopefully soften the loss of a brigade at Fort Knox. 

The cuts announced Tuesday will deactivate the Third Brigade Combat Team, which has about 3,500 soldiers.   The number of active duty combat brigades is being slashed as the military returns to pre-9\11 troop levels.

Beshear says not much can be done about the federal decision, but the state can continue to position Fort Knox as a vital resource to the Defense Department.  He suggests building on changes the post made under the military's base re-alignment some five years go.

"We ended up building the biggest office building in this state on Fort Knox to house the Human Resources Command that handles all human resources for the Army," Beshear remarks.  "Why not move human resources for the Air Force, Marines, Navy to that location?"

Beshear claims having human resources for every military branch at one location could be an efficiency measure for the Department of Defense.  In addition, he says officials will be looking at other ways to maximize the use of Fort Knox.

Politics
9:33 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Rand Paul: History Will Judge NSA Leaker

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Credit Lisa Autry

U.S. Senator Rand Paul says he has sympathy for Edward Snowden, the man who leaked information on the National Security Agency's surveillance operations. 

In Bowling Green this week, Paul was asked how history will judge Snowden, who's facing espionage charges. Sen. Paul said  Snowden never lied to anyone, unlike National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who lied under oath to Congress.

“He says 'I lied in the name of national security.'  On the other hand, Edward Snowden told the truth in defense of privacy, but broke his national security clearance.  When you work in government you take a pledge not to reveal secrets, but you also take a pledge to the Constitution," explained Paul.  "The question becomes 'Is it a type of accepted civil disobedience to break your security pledge in defense of the Constitution?'"

If it turns out he leaked secrets to foreign governments, Paul said Snowden would be judged harshly, but history would judge him kindly as a defender of privacy.

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Regional
10:55 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Law Enforcement Expert Weighs in on Anniversary of Bardstown Officer's Murder

Tuesday marks one month since a Bardstown police officer was ambushed on the job and those responsible have not been caught. 

Officer Jason Ellis was shot several times May 25th while removing tree limbs from a Bluegrass Parkway exit ramp in Nelson County.  The case remains unsolved, despite enlisting the help of multiple police agencies. 

Alex Payne is a retired Kentucky State Police Sergeant who now works as a law enforcement specialist with the Kentucky League of Cities.  He says it's a trying time as investigators work on behalf of one of their own.

"There is and will continue to be a lot of emotion involved in this case," says Payne.  "In reality, there's a separation between what we want and the time it may actually take, and that's not unusual when investigating homicides."

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