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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Lisa Autry

A Kentucky congressman says he’s convinced that Russia tried to interfere in this country’s presidential election. 

However, Representative Brett Guthrie says there is no evidence that President Donald Trump was involved.

"There's no evidence at all of any collusion between what Russia did, or attempted to do, and the Trump administration," stated Guthrie.  "That's what the special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into, but my point is let's not create facts before they exist."

In a speech to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Congressman Guthrie said he thinks Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails which proved embarrassing for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Michael Tefft

Investigators are working to determine why two media organizations in Kentucky were the targets of a bomb threat and vandalism over the weekend. 

A letter was found on a printer at Southeast Kentucky Publishing in London on Saturday that threatened to blow up the newspaper printing plant.  The text of the letter is below:

“Good Morning, I’ll be brief. I installed several explosives in the building. If you do not send in the amount of $25,000 by May 31st I will blow up this whole block. If you try to contact the police, I’ll know. I also have access to your computers and email addresses. Go to the nearest Western Union agency and send the amount to Emerson Eduardo Rodrigues Setim. The passport number is FO645170. It’s a brazilian passport. The city that the money will be withdraw is Chicago, Illinois, USA. Do as I say and no one will get hurt. P.S. I repeat if you try to contact the police I will known.”

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Trey Grayson is leaving the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  The former Republican politician says he is “looking at other options,” but has not yet decided on his next career move. 

Grayson has served as president and CEO of Chamber since 2014. 

“Trey has accomplished many great things as the leader of our Chamber and presided over one of the best legislative sessions for Kentucky businesses in recent history,” said Brent Cooper, who will serve as interim president of the Chamber. “I know I speak for the entire Chamber membership and staff as well as the Northern Kentucky community when I say that we are extremely grateful that Trey came back home to lead our organization.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/Chris Hunkeler

Many companies in Kentucky say the jobs are out there, but the workers are not. 

The state Society for Human Resource Management released a survey this week of 1,084 companies.

Eighty-four percent of the companies surveyed said they’re having trouble filling jobs.  The survey found the biggest shortages are in healthcare, engineering, and skilled trades.  Most of the businesses are expecting growth in the next few years, increasing the need for qualified employees. 

Secretary Hal Heiner in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says a high school diploma is no longer enough.

"Many of the experts are predicting that in about eight years, 2025, 80 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a credential or some education past high school," Heiner told WKU Public Radio.

A Daviess County lawmaker isn’t surprised by a consultant’s report released this week that shows how Kentucky’s pension systems became the worst funded in the nation. 

A consultant’s report released this week shows the systems combined have seen nearly $7 billion in negative cash flow since 2005, as benefits paid to retirees greatly exceeded appropriated funding. 

State Senator Joe Bowen of Owensboro co-chairs the Public Pension Oversight Board.  He says there are a number of reasons why the retirement plans got into the current crisis. 

For one, the state has been basing contributions to pension plans on a level percent of payroll rather than a level dollar.

"We funded based on an anticipation of payroll growth that never happened," Bowen told WKU Public Radio.  "Instead of just a level dollar funding mechanism, we used a percent of payroll, and the payroll never happened, so we kept getting further and further behind."

WFPL

U.S. Senator Rand Paul says his chamber has a chance to “fix Obamacare after the House didn’t.” 

The Bowling Green Republican and ophthalmologist says the health care plan approved by Republican colleagues in the U.S. House falls short of keeping his party’s promises to lower prices and provide better coverage. 

Paul held a roundtable discussion Monday with members of the Houchens Insurance Group in Bowling Green.  The event was closed to the media, but Paul said afterwards that a health care solution must empower the consumer.

"What I worry about is the local plumber, carpenter, or farmer that works for themselves.  They worry that if they or their spouse gets sick, then all of a sudden their rates will go up," Paul stated.  "If you have to buy insurance by yourself, I'd like to let you join a group like a buying co-op so you can get lower prices."

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Heavy rain today in parts of south central Kentucky has washed out roads and left some bridges impassable. 

Allen County Judge-Executive Johnny Hobdy says it was a tense day after three to five inches of rain fell in a two-hour period.  He says rescuers had to evacuate the Creative Children's Learning Center on Old Hartsville Road.

"Water had started to creep into the building," Hobdy told WKU Public Radio.  "When you've got kids there, you don't want them to get scared, and we wanted to assure their parents that they were okay. Emergency personnel got in there before if got any worse."

Vanderbilt University

A federal judge in Kentucky has cleared a major hurdle in his bid to joins a federal appeals court. 

Amul Thapar of Covington won approval on Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee after being nominated by President Trump for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The district includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. 

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky congratulated Thapar following the vote.

"Judge Thapar has a distinguished record of public service," said McConnell.  "He is a well-qualified jurist, and a man of integrity, who will bring a top legal mind to serve on the Sixth Circuit."

The Daviess County Board of Education has approved a controversial nickel tax to fund school construction and renovation. 

The nickel tax is the equivalent of 5.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value.  By law, the school system can use the revenue only for facilities. 

Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins says the tax will pay to renovate Apollo High School and replace the 85-year-old Daviess County Middle School.

"Daviess County Middle School is categorized as a category five facility, which means it's in the worst condition of those in the state," Robbins told WKU Public Radio.  "Apollo is just the next rung on the ladder as a category four facility. The rest of our facilities are either in a three, two, or one category, which puts it into perspective."

Lisa Autry

A former campus police chief is suing Western Kentucky University after the school commissioned an investigation into his leadership.  Robert Deane says the school created a hostile work environment after the report was released, and forced him to retire. 

WKU Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Kuster and Leadership Strategies Group, which wrote the report, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. 

Deane’s complaint alleges negligence and defamation after a newspaper article was published based on the report. 

A Warren County judge has delayed a ruling in a case between Western Kentucky University and its student newspaper.  WKU requested a stay in its lawsuit against the College Heights Herald over an open records dispute. 

The university has denied requests from the newspaper to turn over redacted documents from sexual misconduct investigations involving campus employees.  WKU argues the documents are protected under federal law and not subject to disclosure under the state’s Open Records Act.

WKU had requested its lawsuit be put on hold until the state Court of Appeals issues a ruling on a similar case from the University of Kentucky.

Lisa Autry

Members of the LGBT community and their supporters want a judge in south central Kentucky to resign over his opposition to gay adoptions. 

Judge Mitchell Nance, a family court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties, has recused himself from presiding over adoptions by homosexual parents.  He said he believes allowing gay couples to adopt is not in a child’s best interest.  His announcement has drawn a range of opinions, some calling for him to step down from the bench.

In a rally outside the Barren County Courthouse, Chadwick Shockley of Glasgow said he knows Judge Nance personally and was surprised by his recusal.

"It was like a kick in the head for him to infer that I was not fit to be a parent," Shockley told WKU Public Radio.  "I've raised two sons and a daughter with my husband."

Kevin Willis

A Kentucky Congressman is speaking out against what he calls misconceptions about his party’s proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Brett Guthrie, a Bowling Green Republican, says that under the American Health Care Act, everyone with pre-existing conditions will have coverage. 

In an interview with WKU Public Radio Tuesday, Rep. Guthrie said the GOP plan would put people with pre-existing conditions who are priced out of the market into a subsidized high-risk pool.  Guthrie added that states can then apply for waivers to lower costs for those with pre-existing conditions.

"People with pre-existing conditions will be in a pool together, which takes them out of the insurance pool, so it lowers premiums for people buying on the individual market," Guthrie explained.  "The high risk pool will be subsidized and we just added another eight billion dollars to the subsidy."

Barren River District Health Department

Kentucky ranks first in the U.S. for its rates of Hepatitis-C, a liver disease that can be deadly.  Despite that, only about two dozen Kentucky communities have needle exchange programs that allow intravenous drug users to anonymously swap dirty needles for clean ones at local health departments. 

A 2015 CDC analysis of 220 counties in the nation found 54 Kentucky counties were vulnerable for an outbreak of Hepatitis-C and HIV. 

"That right there tells you that the state as a whole is in terrible shape," said Ben Chandler, President and CEO of The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  "Almost a quarter of the counties in the country as a whole are right here in Kentucky."

Lisa Autry

Bourbon, horses, and caves all helped Kentucky’s tourism industry post its strongest economic growth rate in more than a decade. 

Tourism had a $14.5 billion impact on Kentucky in 2016, up more than five percent from the previous year. Officials say it's the strongest overall economic impact growth rate since 2005, with each of the state's nine tourism regions showing increases. 

Following the announcement Monday at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum credited the increase to marketing Kentucky as an ideal location for short getaways.

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