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
12:10 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Merger Plan Moving Forward in Two Southern Kentucky School Districts

A financially troubled school district in southern Kentucky has voted to merge with the county school system. 

The Monticello school board approved a plan Monday night that calls for merging with the Wayne County School District, effective July 1st. 

Monticello schools went under state management in February after borrowing more than a million dollars from the state just to keep its three schools open for the rest of the academic year. 

The Wayne County School Board has called a special meeting Tuesday night and members are expected to sign off on the merger.

Education
10:08 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Kentucky Governor Signs into Law New Teacher Effectiveness System

Education advocates join Governor Steve Beshear for a ceremonial bill signing that clears the way for Kentucky to implement a new teacher evaluation system.
Credit Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky Governor Beshear has put his signature on a bill that clears the way for a new statewide teacher evaluation system. 

In a private ceremony in his office on Monday, the governor signed into law House Bill 180.  The legislation is intended to move educators from simply being qualified to being highly effective.

“Current evaluation systems in Kentucky do not provide our educators the information they need to support their professional growth and effectiveness and in turn, to support increases in student achievement,” Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said.

The new evaluation system calls for multiple measures of effectiveness.  The system, which is being field-tested in 54 school districts this school year, will be piloted statewide in the 2013-14 school year.

Education
5:00 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Southern Kentucky School Districts Consider Merger

The Monticello Independent and Wayne County school boards both meet Monday night to consider a merger proposal.  The state board of education rescued the Monticello school system in February by lending it a million dollars to keep its three schools open until the end of the academic year.  The state then assumed financial management of the district.  Associate Education Commissioner Kevin Brown says merger is the only viable solution at this point.

"There's no scenario that exists that would give Monticello Independent enough revenue to meet that shortfall for next year," explains Brown.  "Because of declining attendance in the district and other reasons, the writing just basically on the wall that it's not able to survive."

Under the state takeover, Jim Hamm was appointed to manage Monticello schools and he told WKU Public Radio on Friday the city and county school districts were very close to a merger agreement.  If the local boards fail to reach an agreement, the state can force merger under current law.

Regional
10:49 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Corps of Engineers Ceremony to Mark Completion of Wolf Creek Dam Project

Wolf Creek is the largest dam east of the Mississippi River
Credit USACE photo by Lee Roberts

The Army Corps of Engineers has wrapped up a six-year project to repair Wolf Creek Dam near Jamestown, Kentucky. 

Engineers says the repairs will permanently stop seepage, that in 2005, deemed the structure at high risk of failure.  Project Manager Don Getty says the scope of the project was unlike any other.

"We put in what we call a barrier wall," explains Getty.  "It's an underground wall that's never been attempted on this scale in the world."

To facilitate repairs, the water level on Lake Cumberland was lowered 40 feet below normal, affecting recreation.  The level has been raised ten feet since the project was finished in early March.  The Corps plans to raise the level again this summer and gradually return the lake to normal pool levels by the end of the year.

The Corps will hold a ceremonial placing of the last piece of concrete on the barrier wall April 19.

Sports
7:53 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Kentucky Wesleyan Basketball Coach Considering Job Offer

Todd Lee is mulling a coaching offer from Grand Canyon University
Credit Kentucky Wesleyan College

The men’s head basketball coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College has been offered a job at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. 

Kentucky Wesleyan Athletic Director Dave Williams confirms to the Messenger-Inquirer that Coach Lee has been offered the associate coaching job at Grand Canyon.  According to Williams, Lee is mulling over the contract and expects to make his decision today. 

Grand Canyon is in its last season as a Division-two school and will move to Division-one in the fall as a member of the Western Athletic Conference.  Kentucky Wesleyan will move from the Great Lakes Valley Conference to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in the fall. 

Todd Lee just wrapped up his eighth season coaching at KWC.  Until this season, his teams made five straight NCAA tournament appearances.

Economy
5:00 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Study Finds Kentuckians Work Three Months Just to Pay Taxes

April 18th is National Tax Freedom Day, the point at which Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the local, state, and federal levels.  Elizabeth Malm is an economist with the Washington-based Tax Foundation.  She says Americans this year will work five days later than in 2012 to pay all their taxes.

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Business
2:11 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Statewide Partnership Formed to Help Kentucky Manufacturers

Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President Ron Bunch speaks in a news conference announcing statewide manufacturing partnership.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky manufacturers will benefit from a new partnership between universities, professionals, and state and federal partners. 

The Advantage Kentucky Alliance was announced Friday at WKU's Center for Research and Development. 

The aim is to move Kentucky from traditional manufacturing to advanced manufacturing.  WKU President Gary Ransdell said it's important for universities to be involved in the economies they help create and sustain.

"Universities first and foremost have to be about economic development.  The time has long since passed when our primary mission was to just educate students,"said Dr. Ransdell. "As I've said for many years, educating students is a means to a much more important end and that more important end is driving Kentucky's economy and improving the quality of like for people within the reach of our universities."

The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and local chambers of commerce will help connect manufacturers to alliance members who can address their needs, such as finding new revenue streams, developing new products and services, and learning new processes to become more efficient.

Politics
1:53 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Fires Top Official Amid Ethics Charges

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has fired a top official in the department who was hired by his predecessor Richie Farmer. 

Deputy Commissioner Bruce Harper was already on unpaid leave at his request after being charged with three ethics violations. 

Although he declined to say why, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says Harper was given the option to resign or be fired. Comer’s chief of staff Holly Harris VonLuehrte confirms to the Courier-Journal that Harper was dismissed. 

Harper was hired as Deputy Agriculture Commissioner under Richie Farmer who is facing a record 42 charges stemming from his eight years at the helm of the department. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission found Farmer used state funds and state employees for personal gain. 

The ethics charges were the result of an audit Commissioner Comer ordered when he took office in 2011.

Regional
2:54 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Barren County Sheriff's Office Subject of Another Lawsuit

As Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton prepares to go on federal trial at the end of the month, he is scheduled for trial next spring in an unrelated case. 

According to the Glasgow Daily Times, the lawsuit in U-S District Court names deputies Chris Wyatt, Rodney Sponhouse, and Aaron Bennett as defendants.  The plaintiff is Mark Smith who contends he consented to a breathalyzer, but Deputy Wyatt refused to share the test results and slammed his body against the police cruiser. 

Smith’s lawsuit alleges Deputy Sponhouse pepper sprayed him and locked him in the cruiser for 30 minutes in 90-degree heat during the August 2011 incident. 

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Regional
11:14 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Thousands of Miners from Kentucky, Other States Protest Patriot Coal

Some retired coal miners in western Kentucky are on a mission to protect the retirement benefits they spent years earning. 

Six busloads of miners from western Kentucky will rally Monday outside the West Virginia offices of bankrupt Patriot Coal.  Miners will pressure Patriot to abandon plans to shed a $1.6 billion dollar liability for pensions and health care benefits.  Union leaders claim Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off assets and set up Patriot to fail in order to shed retirement obligations. 

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