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. 

Ways To Connect

Some Henderson County teachers will not be returning to the classroom next school year. 

Faced with a $6.7 million shortfall, the school system is cutting 80 positions.  Layoff notices are going out this week to teachers at every school, but district spokeswoman Julie Wisher says students should expect the same level of education.

"Our student-teacher ratio isn't going to increase over the maximum size allowed," Wisher tells WKU Public Radio.  "We have dedicated and passionate teachers that will continue to work toward excellence."

The budget deficit is largely blamed on personnel costs.  About 85 percent of the budget is spent on personnel.  The school system’s goal is to get that amount closer to 75 percent. 

While teachers will bear the brunt of the budget reductions, a few positions from the central office are also being eliminated.

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing family from Glasgow.  The family of three has not been since Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Missing are 49-year-old Raymon Ingram, his wife, 40-year-old Cynthia, and their eight-year-old daughter Danica. 

The family’s vehicle has been found in a vacant lot of the Golgotha Fun Park, which has been out of business for quite some time, in Cave City. 

Raymon Ingram is 5’ 2” tall, weighs 125 pounds and has sandy blonde hair.

Cynthia Ingram is 5’ 1” tall, weighs 113 pounds and has long black hair.

Danica Ingram is 4 feet tall, weighs 65 pounds and has long dark hair.

The Glasgow Police Department isn’t releasing any other information at this point. 

Anyone with knowledge of Ingram family's whereabouts is asked to call the GPD at 270-651-5151.

An effort underway in Southern Indiana seeks to produce 10,000 college or technical degrees by 2020. 

The region has more than 40,000 adult workers with unfinished degrees. 

Bridgett Strickler heads a new initiative called Education Matters Southern Indiana.

"We know that working adults need an efficient path to a degree or certification because they're balancing work, life, and family obligations, Strickler tells WKU Public Radio.  "What we hope to do is bust the barriers for those adults by connecting them with opportunities for financial aid, scholarships, and programs they may not know about."

Research shows that only 25% of residents living in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington counties has an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree compared to 38% nationally. 

Strickler says by increasing the number of degree-holders, southern Indiana will have a better workforce and economy.

The Henderson County public school system is preparing to lay off teachers for next year. 

The exact number of positions affected is unknown, though cuts are planned at every school.

Public Information Officer Julie Wisher says the school system is over-staffed.

"What we've done is realign ourselves with the staffing formulas that are set out by the Kentucky Department of Education," adds Wisher.  "In the past we had gone over those formulas."

Wisher says the school district has also absorbed the cost of programs previously funded by grants. 

In order to balance next year’s budget, Henderson County schools must reduce expenses by $6.7 million. 

Official layoff notices will be going out at the end of next week.  The cuts are expected to affect only non-tenured staff.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education will meet in special session Thursday morning to discuss the budget and cost savings.

Less than a month shy of the primary election, three of Kentucky’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates debated Tuesday night in Bowling Green. 

The event at WKU featured Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner. 

If elected, all three pledged to dismantle the state’s health insurance exchange known as Kynect. 

Comer said the state took on a lot of responsibility that it can’t afford.

"Eighty-two percent of the people who got on Kynect ended up on Medicaid," Comer explained.  "What Kynect became for Governor Beshear was a way to greatly expand Medicaid to the point to where we have 25 percent of the state on Medicaid, one out of four people.  That's not sustainable."

As governor, Comer said he would get more Kentuckians into private health coverage while changing eligibility requirements for Medicaid. 

Matt Bevin said he would transition those who signed up on Kentucky’s exchange to the federal exchange.

"Frankly, it's a level of redundancy we can't afford.  It's as simple as that," Bevin suggested.  "We were lured into participation through the use of federal dollars."

Starting in 2017, the state must begin bearing a share of the cost of expanding Medicaid.  Currently, the federal government is picking up the entire tab.

Hal Heiner suggested tying the Medicaid expansion to workforce training so people could get a job, get off of Medicaid, and obtain private insurance.  He criticized the Medicaid expansion for lacking any level of personal responsibility.

"It doesn't have what you're seeing conservative governors in other states adopt in their plans which build in incentives to use preventive care, to use primary care providers rather than emergency care, and to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the overall cost," Heiner stated. 

The candidates were mostly in agreement on range of economic topics from making Kentucky a right-to-work state to protecting the coal industry. 

The other GOP gubernatorial candidate, Will T. Scott did not attend the debate, citing a scheduling conflict.

Gregory Bourke

A same-sex couple from Louisville will be in Washington Tuesday Kentucky’s gay marriage appeal is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon married in Canada in 2004. 

The couple, along with their teenage daughter and son, will be in the courtroom as the nation’s highest court considers whether Kentucky’s gay marriage ban violates the Constitution. 

State law prevents both Bourke and De Leon from adopting the children.  Only De Leon is listed on their birth certificates.

"This is a potential problem for them because if the adoptive parent were to pass away, then they would not have a legal parent," Bourke tells WKU Public Radio.  "Their life would go into chaos and the stability of the whole family would be at risk."

After raising his children for the past 15 years, Bourke says he wants to legally be recognized as one of their parents.

Bourke and De Leon were the first Kentucky couple to file a federal lawsuit requesting their marriage be recognized in the commonwealth.  It was a family decision, so Bourke says that’s why it’s important for the family to have a seat at the historic hearing.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky says a lot is at stake, including the validity of the Supreme Court should it overturn the majority vote of the people who support traditional marriage. 

"Thirty-nine states have voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman.  That's 51 million people," says Family Foundation founder Kent Ostrander.  "Only 33 million wanted to redefine it."

Ostrander fears that should the court "misjudge" the issue, it could become another Dred Scott or Roe versus Wade decision and further divide the country. 

The Supreme Court hearing comes after a federal appeals court ruled last year to uphold marriage restrictions in Kentucky and three other states.

Pointing to strong tax collections, state budget officials say Kentucky will likely avoid another budget shortfall. 

Revenues are expected to increase more than three percent in the budget year that ends June 30.  The state ended the 2014 budget year $90 million shortfall. 

While the revenue picture this year is much brighter, House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards of Bowling Green says there are a lot of pent up needs.

"We've not be able to fund public education properly and we certainly haven't been able to fund our universities properly," Richards tells WKU Public Radio.  "The retirement systems are very challenging."

Starting in 2017, the state must also start contributing to the cost of expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. 

Despite more revenue, Richards says it will be difficult to balance all the needs as lawmakers form a new two-year budget next session.

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton on two counts of witness tampering. 

Eaton was convicted in 2013 sentenced to 18 months in prison following his trial on civil rights violations. 

A federal jury acquitted two co-defendants on all charges.  The law enforcement officers were tried for allegedly beating suspect Billy Stinnnett in February 2010 and engaging in a cover-up.  Jurors found Eaton guilty of directing two deputies to write false incident reports for the FBI. 

The U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard Eaton’s appeal in June 2014 and issued a ruling Monday upholding the conviction. 

Kentucky’s May 19 primary is a few weeks away, but for some, voting is already underway. 

Eligible voters can cast mail-in absentee ballots anytime between now Election Day.  Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says absentee voters must have an excuse to vote early.

"We have absentee voting available for individuals who are going to be out of the county on election day because of work, military and overseas voters, individuals who need to vote because of age, disability, or illness," Grimes tells WKU Public Radio.

A complete list of eligible absentee voters is available at elect.ky.gov.

Voters can request an absentee ballot application from their county clerk in person or by phone, fax, or email.  Applications must be received by May 12 and the completed absentee ballot must be received by the county clerk's office by 6:00 p.m. local time on election day.

Under a new law, the identities of absentee voters will not be disclosed until after the election.  In the past, absentee ballot application were subject to open records requests, making those voters susceptible to attempts to purchase their votes.

Kentuckians have only a few more days to register to vote in next month’s primary election. 

Voters will pick the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor, as well as the other constitutional offices. 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says Monday, April 20 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 19 primary.

"Go online to elect.ky.gov.  There, you can check your registration status to make sure you are registered," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.  "If you aren't registered, you can download the registration form to make sure you have that sent in time for our deadline."

Kentucky has 3.1 million registered voters.  Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 450,000.

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