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

Warren County Sheriff's Office

A 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s department is preparing to become Warren County’s next jailer.  Stephen Harmon will officially take over operations April 11. 

Current Jailer Jackie Strode is retiring March 31 after more than 20 years at the helm.  Harmon says he has big shoes to fill, but is up for the challenge.

"There's about a 100-person staff, around 600 inmates in custody, and then a seven-million-dollar approximate budget, so there's a lot for me to learn," Harmon explained.

Harmon currently serves as the sheriff’s department’s public information officer while also overseeing the dispatch and records units. 

Harmon will serve the remainder of Strode’s term that ends December 31, 2018.  He then plans to run for a full term as jailer.

Fostering an Unconditional Love

Mar 21, 2017
Melanie Watts

WKU Public Radio partnered with WKU PBS and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to produce a radio series and television documentary on foster care and adoption.

More than 400,000 U.S children are in foster care, removed from their families when their parents are in crisis and can’t take care of them.  There’s a group of people who unselfishly answer the call by becoming foster parents. 

One of them is Melanie Watts of Bowling Green.  She didn’t give birth to any of her three children, but loves them just the same.  She adopted them through foster care, a journey that began while working as a captain at the Bowling Green Police Department.

“Maybe I hit the age, maybe it was just that point of my life where I thought something was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I thought to myself, I just need a child.  'One would be great,' I kept thinking. So I went through the foster care program," explained Watts.  "I was working one afternoon and got a call to check child welfare.  We get there, and there’s a child laying in a stroller wearing a white onesie, or at least it had been white at one time. It was now brown, her diaper was brown and almost dragging, and the mom, you know, is upset that social services is there."

A former Barren county dentist is headed to prison for illegally obtaining prescription drugs for his personal use.  Dr. Chris Steward was sentenced Monday in federal court in Bowling Green. 

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers handed Steward an 18-month prison term.  According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky, Steward was charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud, for knowingly and intentionally distributing and dispensing controlled substances outside the course of professional medical practice, and health care fraud while he was a practicing physician.

Prosecutors say the former Cave City dentist and nurse practitioner pleaded guilty to conspiring with patients to obtain pain and anti-anxiety drugs. 

Flickr/Creative Commons/David Duran

A case of avian influenza has been detected in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky. 

A national veterinary lab confirmed the presence of H7N9, a low pathogenic avian flu.  The virus was detected last week at a Christian County commercial poultry operation during a routine pre-slaughter test. 

State Veterinarian Robert Stout says there were no clinical signs of disease in the birds.  The affected area is under quarantine and the flock of about 22,000 hens was euthanized as a precaution.  Flocks within a six-mile radius of the farm are also under surveillance. 

The head of the Warren County-based Kentucky International Center says President Trump’s revised travel ban doesn’t bring him much optimism. 

Albert Mbanfu says he still doesn’t expect Bowling Green to receive 40 Syrian refugees this year.

"The fact that the administration still looks at Syrian refugees as being in the highest level of risk, the vetting will probably take like forever," Mbanfu told WKU Public Radio.

The original ban barred Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely.  The revised order signed Monday no longer singles out displaced Syrians, but suspends the entire refugee program for four months to allow for a security review. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Fifty-three undocumented foreign nationals living in Kentucky were recently arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

An immigration order issued by President Trump in late January said any immigrant living in the country illegally could be up for deportation, but the government has described the arrests as routine. 

Arrests were made last month in Louisville, Lexington, Shelbyville, and Owensboro.  Twenty-two of the 53 illegal immigrants were convicted criminals.  Their convictions included DUI, burglary, drug possession, theft, and wanton endangerment. 

Eleven had been previously deported from the U.S. and illegally re-entered.  Most were from Guatemala and Mexico.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Mickey Champion

As President Trump’s administration ramps up immigration enforcement across the nation, a new report finds that illegal immigrants in Kentucky make significant contributions to the state and local economies. 

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy based in Washington, D.C., says undocumented immigrants pay more than $36 million a year in Kentucky income, property, sales, and excise taxes.

Anna Baumann is a research and policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.  She says the contributions of illegal immigrants shouldn't be overlooked.

Lisa Autry

Supporters of what's known as a fairness ordinance will lobby the Bowling Green City Commission Tuesday evening. 

Members of the LGBT community and others will speak during a work session following the regular city commission meeting.  No action can be taken, but proponents will be allowed to address city leaders. 

The fairness measure would update the city’s civil rights ordinance to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.  A fairness ordinance would prevent discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. 

Commissioner Slim Nash introduced the ordinance during the commission’s February 21 meeting.  The motion wasn’t seconded and died without any discussion.

Although the Kentucky General Assembly met for only five days in January, lobbyist spending broke a record for the first month of an odd-year session. 

Lobbyists spent $2.1 million in the five days kicking off the session before lawmakers recessed until February.  This year’s total is a 14% increase from the $1.8 million spent in the first month of 2015, the previous odd-year session. 

According to the Legislative Ethics Commission, January 2017 spending almost reached the total spent in January 2016 when lawmakers were in session for the entire month. 

Jacob Ryan

A Bowling Green immigration attorney says many undocumented immigrants in the region are asking if they’ll be impacted by President Trump’s recent executive orders.

Brett Reynolds says it’s a hard question to answer amid court challenges and a lack of consistency in messages coming from Washington.

He’s advising people in the country illegally to lay low for the time being.

"My advice would be to just stay the course, and stay under the radar. Don't call attention to yourself. Don't get a speeding ticket, don't get a DUI. Anything like that is going to put you at risk for being removed fairly expeditiously."

Lisa Autry

Some Kentucky businesses are placing their names on a growing national list of sanctuary restaurants. 

At least ten businesses in the commonwealth have declared themselves sanctuary restaurants, meaning they have zero tolerance racism, sexism, and xenophobia.  The designation also bans harassment against anyone based on their immigrant or refugee status. 

Home Café in Bowling Green has joined the movement.  Owner Josh Poling says restaurants can’t survive without immigrants, documented or undocumented.

Lisa Autry

Bowling Green will not become the next Kentucky city to enact a fairness ordinance that would have banned discrimination against the LGBT community. 

The measure failed during a city commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. 

Supporters of the fairness ordinance chanted ‘shame’ when no other commissioner made a second motion to approve the proposed ordinance introduced by Commissioner Slim Nash. 

The measure would have extended civil rights protections to the LGBT community in areas such as housing and employment.

Bowling Green Fairness Coalition

Update: The effort to pass a fairness ordinance failed to receive a vote at Tuesday's Bowling Green City Commission. You can read about that here.

Original post:

When the Bowling Green City Commission meets Tuesday, it will be a historic moment for members of the LGBT community. 

For the first time, a fairness ordinance will be on the agenda that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Members of the local LGBT community and supporters have spent years making speeches, delivering petitions, and holding rallies in support of extending civil rights protections to individuals based on their gender identity and sexual orientation.  Commissioner Slim Nash is fulfilling a campaign promise by introducing the ordinance. 

“I have come to believe whole-heartedly that there is a problem," Nash told WKU Public Radio.  "I’ve met many people who are willing to share their story with me, but who are reluctant to share their story with the larger public out of fear.”

Nash’s proposal before the Bowling Green City Commission would add lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals to the city's current law that prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, age, color, and nationality.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Adam Theo

A growing movement to amend the U.S. Constitution is making its way to Kentucky.  A group called Convention of States will be in Frankfort Tuesday to lobby members of the General Assembly. 

State Representative Jim DeCesare has filed a resolution on the group’s behalf that calls for a national convention under Article 5 of the Constitution. 

The Warren County Republican says the resolution calls for two amendments.  One would require federal budgets to be balanced, and the other would give states sovereignty from federal mandates.

The Henderson County school system is preparing to begin random drug-testing. 

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, middle and high school students who participate in extra-curricular activities and those applying for a parking permit will be subject to the testing. 

Band Director Adam Thomas says he hopes the new policy will be a deterrent. 

"If they're at a party or something like that and somebody offers them something, we really hope they will say 'What if this is the week I get drawn in the random testing and we've got the big game on Friday or state marching band on Saturday? I don't want to miss out on that because I made one poor decision.'"

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