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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Regional
5:11 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

FOP Organizing Benefit for Family of Slain Bardstown Officer

The Louisville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is planning a fundraiser to help the family of a slain Bardstown police officer.  Jason Ellis was gunned down on the Bluegrass Parkway on May 25, leaving behind his wife and two young sons. 

"All the proceeds from the benefit will go to the Ellis family just for every day expenses like food, lights, the mortgage," says River City FOP Lodge President Anita Simkins.  "In the case of Jason's  family, his wife doesn't work and they have a special needs child."

The benefit is scheduled for June 22 at the River City FOP Lodge in Louisville.  The FOP is requesting donations of items to be auctioned or raffled.

Regional
2:51 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

NWS Confirms EF2 Tornado in South Central Kentucky

Credit Michael Cook

Surveyors from the National Weather Service were in Logan County Tuesday, assessing damage from a tornado that touched down on Highway 96 Monday.  An EF2 tornado was confirmed with wind speeds up to 135 miles per hour. 

According to Terry Cole, deputy emergency management director for Logan County,  seven homes are in ruins.

"One of the families was in Florida when their home was totally destroyed," says Cole.  I haven't been able to talk to them, but I talked to some of their kinfolk, and they're on their way back."

Several grain bins and barns were destroyed, as well as some tobacco and corn crops. 

Cole says only two people were sent to the hospital and their injuries were minor.

Education
4:36 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Kentucky's Graduation Rate Among Most Improved in the Nation

A national report shows Kentucky double digit gains in the last decade in the number of high school graduates. 

The Commonwealth’s graduation rate moved from 63% for the class of 2000 to 77% for the class of 2010.  The increase of 13.5 points makes Kentucky the third most improved among all states. 

The data is reported in a special issue of Education Week, a national publication that focuses on P-12 education.  The report called “Diploma Counts” finds the upward trend in the graduation rate continues to be driven by improvements among minority students. 

“While we have shown drastic improvement in the graduation rate, we still have a long way to go,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Our goal is that every student not only graduates from high school, but also graduates ready for college and career.”

The report indicates more than 11,000 students in the class of 2013 will fail to earn a diploma.  That translates into 64 students dropping out each day.  Dr. Holliday is optimistic that a new state law will help keep students in school by raising the dropout age from 16 to 18.

Education
5:00 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Board to Consider Hiking Tuition at Kentucky's Community and Technical Schools

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Board of Regents meets this week to consider tuition rates for the next academic year.  The board will vote on a recommendation to raise tuition 2.8% for the 2013-14 school year. 

The Council on Postsecondary Education has authority to determine tuition rates for Kentucky’s state-supported universities and the KCTCS.  At its April meeting, the CPE set a tuition parameter of three-percent for all schools. 

Under the $2.8% hike, in-state students would pay $144 per credit hour.  Out-of-state students from contiguous counties would pay $288 while other out-of-state students would be charged $504 per credit hour. 

The Board of Regents is expected to approve the tuition increase at its meeting Friday at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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