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
3:03 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Copper Theft Becomes Highway Robbery in Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and State Police are partnering to crack down on the theft of copper wire in highway lighting systems. 

The state estimates that thieves have caused at least $2 million in damages in the last four years.

"One of the really frustrating aspects of copper wire theft is that these thieves cause far more in damage than what they will ever realize from selling the copper wire they steal," Transportation Cabinet Spokesman Chuck Wolfe told WKU Public Radio.

The crime has taxpayers footing the bill.  The cost of replacing the vandalized lights comes from the Transportation Cabinet’s highway maintenance budget, which is supported by the motor fuels tax that Kentucky drivers pay at the pump. 

To fight back, Kentucky State Police and the Transportation Cabinet have announced a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to the prosecution of thieves.  The two agencies are also asking the recycling industry for help identifying anyone trying to sell stolen copper.

Politics
11:48 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Kentucky's Electioneering Law Stands, Despite Ruling

Kentuckians shouldn't notice any changes when they head to the polls on November 4, despite a ruling this month on electioneering around polling locations.

A federal judge ruled that a state law establishing a 300-foot buffer zone around polling places is unconstitutional.  However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay while the case is appealed by the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

"The law was enacted for a reason and that was to stop potential chaos around the polls, to prevent voter intimidation, and to prevent any nefarious activity that could occur around a polling place," says Communications Director Allison Martin in the attorney general's office.  "Now that the stay has been issued, it basically means business as usual at the polls."

The appeals court did rule that electioneering can occur on private property, even if the property is within the 300-foot zone.  State law still applies to public property. 

The case was brought by a northern Kentucky businessman who objected to having campaign signs removed from his business, which was located across the highway from a polling place. 

Politics
4:02 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

National Democrats Re-invest in Kentucky Senate Race

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes greets members of the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club.
Credit Lisa Autry

Thirteen days shy of the election, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is back on the air in Kentucky. 

The DSCC announced Wednesday that it has begun to advertise again on behalf of Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic nominee in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.  Regardless, Grimes downplayed the group’s influence during a stop in Bowling Green.

"We have the resources necessary to run a very strong, solid campaign, but it's going to be Kentuckians who bring this race home at the end of the day," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.  "Our grassroots coalition has led us to where we are and it will be Kentuckians that bring a victory home."

Democrats say the race has tightened.  A Bluegrass Poll released Monday showed Grimes trailing incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell by one point.

Grimes spoke to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, one of seven stops planned for Wednesday in south central Kentucky.  McConnell, meanwhile, is on a bus tour through the state's coal-producing counties.

Politics
11:31 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Former Kentucky Congressman Endorses Comer for Governor

Left to right: TJ and James Comer and Ron and Kayi Lewis
Credit James Comer

In his bid for governor in 2015, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has won the endorsement of a former U.S. Representative. 

Former Second District Congressman Ron Lewis endorsed Comer Tuesday night while headlining an Elizabethtown fundraiser. 

“The people of the Second Congressional District appreciate good government and crave strong leadership,” Lewis said. “James Comer is a breath of fresh air in the Republican Party and his achievements at both the state and national level make him our best choice for Governor.”

Lewis served in the U.S. House from 1994 to 2009. 

Comer has also picked up endorsements from Congressman Ed Whitfield and former Congresswoman Anne Northup. 

Comer will face Louisville businessman Hal Heiner in next May’s GOP primary.  Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democratic candidate.

Politics
2:58 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Kentucky GOP Accuses Democrats of Identity Theft in Campaign Mailer

Republican candidate Jeff Jobe (left) is challenging incumbent State Representative Johnny Bell of Glasgow for the 23rd District Kentucky House seat.
Credit LRC Public Information, Facebook

The Kentucky Republican Party and GOP state House candidate Jeff Jobe are calling on the attorney general to investigate the state Democratic Party and Democratic Representative Johnny Bell of Glasgow over a campaign mailer that was distributed over the weekend. 

The ad focuses on Jobe’s previous DUI arrests and features a copy of a police citation that contains Jobe’s personal information, including his social security number.  Jobe accuses the Democratic incumbent of identity theft.

"As a newspaper publisher, I certainly understand that providing such things would be wrong, and I contend that my opponent, as a defense attorney, would know that doing such a thing would not be ethical," Jobe told WKU Public Radio.

Jobe is challenging Bell for his seat in the 23rd district that covers Barren and a portion of Warren County. 

Representative Bell claims he has only sent one mailer and it was on family values.  He calls the claim an attack on him and knew nothing of the mailer. 

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Health
1:27 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Kentucky Creating Website to Store Online Patient Records

Kentuckians will soon be able to access their personal medical records online. The patient portal called myhealthnow will eliminate the need for obtaining paper records from doctors’ offices. 

"We're working with health care providers to develop the patient portal so that patients don't have to request those paper records anymore and don't have to actually go into the office," says Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Beth Fisher.  "They can create an account, store, and access all of their records online."

The goal is to help medical facilities improve record keeping and patient care, and help patients become more engaged in their health care.  The portal should be running statewide by the end of the year. 

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield and Logan Family Practice in Russellville are among several healthcare facilities statewide participating in the pilot phase.

Arts & Culture
6:24 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Downing Museum Reopens, Extends Commitment to WKU

A water color damaged by the June 27, 2013 fire hangs in the Downing Museum in a special exhibit area on the fire.
Credit Downing Museum

A Bowling Green museum dedicated to the late renowned artist and Hart County native Joe Downing has reopened following a 2013 fire. 

Nearly all of the 1,200-piece collection was damaged, but most was salvageable.  A few of the pieces have returned to the museum, but many others face a long, arduous restoration process.

"If you took the canvass paintings to L.T. Smith Stadium, they would cover the entire grass area, so we have a lot of work to do," said Baker Foundation President Bob Hilliard.  "I've learned a lot about Joe Downing.  He was a workaholic and I think he painted everything he touched and Jerry Baker bought it from him."

Friends, family, and art enthusiasts celebrated the reopening Thursday.  Among them was Joe Downing's sister-in-law Harriett who was married to Dero Downing, the late WKU President.

"I've been so overwhelmed they were able to preserve as much," Harriet told WKU Public Radio.  "I know he and Dero both are up there in heaven looking down and saying thank you to all the people who put so much effort into making sure this was restored and saved."

The Downing Museum is located at the Baker Arboretum.  The estate is owned by Jerry Baker who has endowed the art collection, home, and grounds to WKU. 

In an announcement Thursday, officials said the estate has acquired 100 additional acres of land.  The Baker Foundation also plans to establish a collection of Downing’s work at the Kentucky Museum at WKU.

Arts & Culture
3:57 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Bowling Green Museum Dedicated to Late Artist Joe Downing Set to Reopen After Fire

The scene on June 27, 2013 at the Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum in Bowling Green.
Credit Joe Corcoran

A year-and-a-half after being closed by a fire, the Downing Museum in Bowling Green is set to reopen Thursday. 

The museum houses numerous paintings by the late artist Joe Downing.  The Hart County native was one of few Americans to have an exhibit shown at the Louvre in Paris. 

The fire, ruled electrical in nature, damaged nearly all 1,200 pieces in the Downing collection, though most were salvageable.  Museum Director Craig Cunningham says restoration work continues, but enough pieces have been restored to reopen the attraction, which will also include a special exhibit on the fire. 

"We have water colors that have a hole burnt in them that are in a shadow box and photos of our staff pulling paintings out of the basement while the building was on fire," explains Cunningham.

The museum’s reopening will feature some artwork previously not on display, as well as photos of Downing’s time in France, where he lived for most of his adult life. 

The Downing Museum is located on the estate of Jerry Baker, who has endowed the art collection, home, and grounds to WKU.

Politics
2:00 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Beshear, Legislative Leaders Not Betting on Expanded Gaming in 2015

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will likely leave office next year without making good on one of his campaign pledges. 

Legislative leaders say casino gambling is hardly on anyone’s radar for the 2015 session.  Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio support appears to be waning even among proponents.

"You've got your tracks that only want it at the tracks.  Some will go further than that, others won't, so they can't agree with each other, much less than anybody else.  It's one of those issues that while a lot of people say they want it, they only want it on their terms."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer sponsored a measure in 2012 to get a casino amendment on the ballot.  The Georgetown Republican maintains he won't try again.

"I will not be sponsoring another expanded casino gambling bill as long as I'm in the state Senate," states Thayer.  "I sponsored that bill a few years ago and said I would take one shot at it, and I have no plans to sponsor another bill like that in the future."

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Politics
1:16 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Judge Rules KET Lawsuit Can Move Forward

Libertarian U.S. Senate Candidate David Patterson
Credit david4senate.com

A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Kentucky Educational Television.  David Patterson, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, is suing the network over his exclusion from next Monday night’s debate. 

KET claims Patterson did not meet revised debate criteria that require a candidate to have at least $100,000 in contributions and at least ten percent support in a public poll, among other criteria. 

Patterson alleges KET officials are excluding him from the debate because he’s a third party candidate. 

KET filed a motion seeking to have the lawsuit tossed out, but U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled Monday the case would proceed. 

A hearing will be held Thursday in federal court in Lexington to determine if KET must allow Patterson to participate in the debate alongside incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.

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