Lisa Autry


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

Louisville VA Medical Center

Veterans living in and around Hardin County are being asked to voice their support for a VA hospital in Radcliff.  A public meeting will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Colvin Community Center in Radcliff.

Radcliff Mayor and retired Army Colonel Mike Weaver argues that Hardin County would be the most easily accessible location for a new veterans medical center.  The city has offered to donate 50 acres of land for the project that would replace the aging Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville.

Currently, the only approved site for the hospital is near Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway in Louisville.  Weaver says the proposed Jefferson County site brings traffic and parking challenges just like the current facility.

"I'm a veteran myself and I've been using the VA medical care system for over 20 years.  I know how difficult it is to get from where I live to the VA hospital where it currently is," Weaver told WKU Public Radio.  "For instance, I have an appointment tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.  Because of traffic, I plan to leave the house at 6:00 a.m. for a 45 minute drive just so I can be on time."

A VA spokesperson said last week that plans are proceeding for the Louisville site and no other locations are being considered. 

The public comment period runs until January 11.  The VA will review the comments before issuing a final version of an impact study.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says his office will ramp up efforts in 2017 to combat human trafficking. 

With assistance from the attorney general's office, 28 people were arrested this year in Kentucky, accused of forcing others into sex or labor trading.  One of the arrests was in Louisville during the week of the Kentucky Derby where a 14-year-old girl was rescued. 

Beshear says human trafficking is occurring in every county of the state.

WKU Athletics

Western Kentucky University has hired Mike Sanford as the next head football coach. 

The 34-year-old Sanford has spent the past two seasons as Notre Dame's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

In a news conference Wednesday, Sanford said he’s been eyeing the WKU job for a while.

Warren County Regional Jail

An employee of Bowling Green city schools has resigned following allegations of sexual assault involving a teenage boy.  Houston Bunton is charged with sexual abuse and sodomy. 

The 24-year-old was a teacher’s aide and the assistant girls basketball coach at Bowling Green High School.  The alleged misconduct involved a 15-year-old boy who was a student at the school.  The student told police he was sexually assaulted at Bunton’s house over Thanksgiving weekend. 

According to the arrest citation, Bunton admitted to police that he inappropriately touched the boy.

More than 30,000 Kentuckians have signed up for health insurance since the state transitioned to the federal exchange on November 1. replaced the state’s previous insurance portal known as Kynect.  This time last year, more than 27,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in coverage, according to state officials. 

Melissa Grimes works for Community Action of Southern Kentucky, which serves 11 counties.  She oversees the assistors who are trained to help enrollees navigate the online process.  Grimes says it’s taking longer to enroll people under the federal exchange.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Fresh off their historic wins in the General Assembly, Kentucky House Republicans are strategizing this week at a retreat in Bowling Green. The GOP caucus has 23 new members heading into the 2017 legislative session.  Republicans control thestate House for the first time since 1921, and maintain a comfortable majority in the Senate.


Plans for a sports medicine complex at Western Kentucky University have been scrapped, at least for now. 

After issuing a request for proposals in September, WKU has determined that no proposal met all the requirements of the RFP.  Therefore, and the university was unable to award a contract and is closing the current RFP process.

WKU agreed to bid the project after Western Kentucky Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates filed a formal protest against the way the university created the 99 year, $22 million deal with the Bowling Green Medical Center.  WKONA's protest claimed the deal was done in secret, without a competitive process. 

"The animosity in our medical community in Bowling Green just becomes so toxic, and the hatred is very disturbing to me," WKU President Gary Ransdell told WKU Public Radio.

WKU issued an RFP for a medical provider to construct the complex, lease the campus health clinic, and provide orthopaedic services to student athletes.  With the bidding process closed, the university plans to pursue other options to build a sports medicine facility through private support or other means.

Lisa Autry

The trial of a Scottsville man charged in the brutal murder of a young girl is still more than a year away. 

Timothy Madden returned to court Friday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing.  Allen Circuit Judge Janet Crocker set a March 31 deadline for attorneys to request a change of venue.  After the hearing, Madden's attorney Travis Lock said he would ask for the trial to be moved to another county.

"Can Tim Madden get a fair trial in Allen County, Kentucky?  I think that's very questionable," Lock stated.  "I think it's going to be tough to impanel a jury in any contiguous county.  I'm not sure where this case should be tried.  I'm sure that's something the court will address in due time."

Madden is facing the death penalty for allegedly kidnapping, raping, sodomizing, and murdering seven-year-old Gabbi Doolin last November. 

The case will not be ready for trial until late next year.  Judge Crocker said she would not set the trial date near the anniversary of Doolin’s death or the holidays.  Therefore, the death penalty case is expected to be tried in January 2018.

A former Franklin doctor whose prescribing practices resulted in patient deaths will have to wait a while longer to learn his punishment. 

Roy Reynolds returned to federal court in Bowling Green Wednesday for sentencing after pleading guilty earlier this year to illegally prescribing pain and anti-anxiety medicine. 

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky, two patients under Reynolds’ care died from drug overdoses.  One was a 46-year-old man with a history of illegal drug use and psychiatric issues.  Two days prior to his death, Dr. Reynolds prescribed him 180 Oxycodone pills and 90 Xanax tablets. 

Dr. Reynolds is also accused in the death of a 41-year-old man with a history of doctor shopping and drug and alcohol abuse.  An autopsy of his body showed Hydrocodone at 30 times the therapeutic concentration.

Vickie Carson, Mammoth Cave National Park

The ongoing deterioration of a dam on the Green River in south central Kentucky is creating potential safety hazards.  A hole in the foundation of the dam has lowered water levels and resulted in swift currents.  The Corps of Engineers is advising boaters to avoid the upstream side of the dam. 

The river runs 26 miles through Mammoth Cave National Park.

"The river is really dynamic on a good day, a normal day, so after this, we're waiting to see how it reacts to this new level, said Vickie Carson, public information officer at Mammoth Cave National Park.

Access to the Green River at Houchin Ferry is closed due to the sudden drop in water levels following the breach.  Levels have dropped by as much as nine feet in some areas.  The park will re-assess river access at Houchin Ferry in the coming months.  The campground and picnic area will remain open.

Officials says while the collapse of the dam is possible, it would not be severe enough to cause any damage.

Kentucky’s troubled pension systems continue their downward slide. Plans covering teachers and state employees lost $1.8 billion this year, bringing the total unfunded liability to more than $32 billion.

David Eager, interim executive director of KRS, addressed the Public Pension Oversight Board this week.  Co-Chairman Joe Bowen, a state senator from Owensboro, says the news isn’t all bad.

"What folks need to understand is that we have seven retirement systems that are publicly funded, and there's actually only one that you would consider to be in dire straits," Bowen told WKU Public Radio.

That pension plan is the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, or KERS, which has only 16 percent of the funds needed to pay the benefits of future retirees. That makes it among the worst-funded public pension plans in the country.

Other retirement plans covering teachers, judges, and lawmakers are in much better shape.

U.S. Postal Service

The building that houses the post office in downtown Bowling Green is for sale, which puts future operations at the facility in question. 

Postal Service Spokeswoman Susan Wright tells WKU Public Radio that no decisions have been made about how the move will affect service in the city.

"The postal service has a track record of transparency in any of our retail operations, and it would be premature to provide information about any real estate transaction before it's final," says Wright.

Wright adds that any changes to retail operations would be decided following public input. 

The postal service has operated out of the downtown location since 1972.  Bowling Green has one other mail-processing facility on Scottsville Road.

Western Kentucky University is seeking a declaratory judgment against the Kentucky Retirement System.  The feud relates to the pension benefits of former buildings and grounds workers.

In a budget-cutting move, WKU privatized all facilities and grounds services in August.  The school out-sourced 202 positions in a contract with Sodexo. 

After becoming Sodexo employees they were told by KRS that they would not be allowed to withdraw or roll over employee contributions the individuals made to the pension system while they were employed by WKU. 

The Kentucky Retirement System, which administers the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, views Sodexo employees as “common law employees of WKU” and should not be allowed to access the funds they contributed to the retirement system individually.  KRS also stated that WKU would be expected to pay pension contributions for Sodexo employees and those workers would also have to continue to pay the applicable employee contributions to KERS, despite their employment with Sodexo.

Lisa Autry

As Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell prepares to retire next year, the hunt for his replacement remains on schedule. 

The presidential search committee met today in closed session.  Some faculty and staff have raised concerns about the transparency of the process.  They want to know who the finalists are and be allowed to comment on the final choice.  Search Committee Chairman Phillip Bale says it’s important for the names of candidates to remain confidential.

"That being said, if we have three or four finalists that want to come to campus and it doesn't injure their career or the institutions where they may be at now, we're fine with that too, but at this point we simply don't know," Bale told WKU Public Radio.

Dr. Bale says the search has yielded “an outstanding pool of applicants.”  About 40 people have applied or been nominated for the position. 

Candidate interviews will start next month.  The university’s 10th president will be named by March 1.

Kentucky Division of Forestry

Dry conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures have caused a rash of wildfires across Kentucky. Nearly 30,000 acres of forest and grassland have burned in the eastern half of the state.

After an extremely dry September and October, a level one drought has been declared for 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

"We're at a time of year where, generally, we're not as vulnerable to drought because the demand for water decreases as we get into the cool season of the year," State Climatologist Stuart Foster told WKU Public Radio.  "Nonetheless, there's a possibility that this could extend through the winter months."

More than 60 counties have issued burn bans as a result of the wildfires and drought conditions. Relief is nowhere in sight in the seven-day forecast.