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

An Allen County man is under arrest for the murder of a young girl who went missing last weekend in Scottsville. 

Thirty-eight-year-old Timothy Madden was arrested Friday in the death of seven-year-old Gabriella Doolin.  Her parents had reported her missing at a youth football game at Allen County-Scottsville High School last Saturday night.  Within a half-hour, her body was found in a creek behind the school. 

During a news conference Friday at the Kentucky State Police post in Bowling Green, Trooper BJ Eaton read the list of charges against Madden.

"Mr. Madden has been charged with kidnapping, rape-1st degree, sodomy-1st degree, and murder," Eaton stated.

Police offered little information and took no questions, citing the ongoing investigation.  Madden will be held in the Barren County jail.

Kentucky State Police have made an arrest in the death of seven-year-old Gabriella Doolin of Scottsville.  According to a KSP news release, 38-year-old Timothy Madden, also of Scottsville, was taken into custody Friday.

WKU Public Radio will have further updates on the air and online throughout the afternoon.

Lisa Autry

Four students from France are currently studying at WKU.  They're now forced to cope with last week's deadly terrorist attacks thousands of miles away from their homeland.  WKU Public Radio spoke with Aymeric LeCorno and Solene Laupretre about their family and friends back home and how their country is coping.

How did you learn of the attacks?

Aymeric:  I was actually playing soccer with some friends and didn't have my phone with me.  I got back home and had a bunch of friends texting me asking me how I was doing.  I said good, but I don't know what you're talking about.  They told me I should turn on the TV and check the news.  I tried to call my brothers and parents.  I have a brother living in Paris.  Not being at home when it happened was tough.  Even today like four days after the incident I still can't figure out why this happened in Paris.  I just have a lot of questions.

Solene:  I was at home doing homework and I saw in the newspaper online and on Facebook that something had happened back home.

So the two of you had heard about the attacks long before you made contact with loved ones back in France?

Aymeric:  Yes.  Thanks to social media, information goes pretty quickly throughout the world.

What has it been like being so far away from your native country during this time of tragedy and national mourning?

Aymeric: I wish I could be at home right now because it's so hard to feel what my French compatriots feel right now because I'm so far away.  I really appreciate the support of my American friends, but I'm glad I get to go home in a month to see my family and friends.

Kentucky lawmakers will be asked to restore cuts to higher education when they write a new, two-year state budget next legislative session. 

The state has cut campus budgets seven times in the last eight years.  In a budget recommendation approved Friday, the Council on Postsecondary Education is seeking more than $86 million for the state’s eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.   

CPE President Bob Kings says education leaders realize only partial restoration of the cuts is realistic.

"We understand the state is facing some other extraordinary challenges in the pension systems and the growth of the Medicaid budget, but we also know that Kentucky is one of a handful of states that has not re-invested in higher education," King told WKU Public Radio.

Lawmakers will also be asked to tie higher education funding to certain performance standards at each school.  State money would be awarded to campuses based on metrics like closing achievement gaps and increasing retention and graduation rates.

Tuesday will be the first day back at school for Allen County students following the murder of a seven-year-old classmate over the weekend and school administrators are trying to put concerned parents at ease.

A few parents have said they will not send their children back to school out of fear for their safety.  Gabriella Doolin, a 2nd grader, was found dead in a creek Saturday night behind Allen County-Scottsville High School. 

Her killer has not been found, but Allen County Schools Superintendent Randall Jackson promises a safe and nurturing environment as students return to class.

"I think it will be good for children to get back to the learning environment, but also to be with their friends and teachers as they have questions about the horrible tragedy," Jackson told WKU Public Radio. 

Aside from school resource officers who regularly patrol the schools, the sheriff’s office will provide additional manpower.  Grief counselors from Allen County and neighboring districts will be there to meet the emotional needs of students.

WKU

WKU is taking steps to boost the number of non-traditional students at its four campuses.  The school’s overall enrollment has been hurt by a drop in part-time adult learners.

A promotional campaign is using postcards, email, and social media in hopes of reaching 45,000 non-traditional students who want to finish their bachelor’s degree or start a master’s degree. 

Dr. Brad Kissell, director of Adult and Regional Campus Enrollment, says this particular segment has different challenges than the traditional college student, including work and family obligations.

"How do we provide courses in the evening, services they can connect with?  It's those kinds of things that we as a university need to wrestle with to help our adult learners," Kissell told WKU Public Radio.

The decline of non-traditional students isn’t the only factor behind WKU’s enrollment drop that began in 2012. Higher admission standards and an improving economy have also played a role.

The university is hosting informational sessions for prospective students this week in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Glasgow, and Owensboro.  A list of locations and times is available here.

A Henderson County man is headed to prison for human trafficking. 

According to the plea agreement, then-31-year-old Jathar Williams made contact with a then-15 year girl through a social networking site in March of 2014.

Williams arranged to meet the girl and her 17-year-old female friend.  Williams picked them up in Evansville, Indiana, and drove them to his residence in Henderson, where he said the girls could earn between $700 and $800 a day performing commercial sex acts. 

Williams admitted to driving the two underage females to the Sugar Creek Inn in Henderson. There, he arranged for men to come to the hotel to engage in sex acts with the two females in exchange for money.

"Prosecution of those who exploit the young and vulnerable in our community is a top priority of this Office,” stated John Kuhn, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. “We know that every instance of human trafficking forces the victims into a crucible of suffering.  We also know this crime is occurring far more than it’s being reported."

Williams was sentenced this week  in federal court to ten years in prison.

Kentuckians who heat their homes with natural gas will see lower prices this heating season than they did last winter. 

The Public Service Commission reports natural gas prices are down more than a third from this time a year ago.  PSC Spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says supply has kept pace demand.

"There's been a lot of development of new domestic natural gas sources in the United States, so we're in a situation now where there's actually an over-supply of gas in many parts of the country," Melnykovych told WKU Public Radio.

On average, consumers can expect their gas bill to be about 20 percent smaller this month compared to last November. 

Kentuckians may also get a financial break from the weather.  The long-term outlook for this winter is for temperatures to be normal or a bit warmer than usual.

Emil Moffatt

An environmental non-profit group will be in Owensboro Saturday to help clean up the Ohio River. 

Living Lands and Waters provides industrial strength cleanup with the use of barges, excavators, and tugboats.  The organization pulls from the rivers everything from cans and plastic bottles to tires and appliances. 

Programs Manager Tammy Becker says every cleanup is an eye-opening experience.

"Cleaning our rivers and keeping them clean are two different things, so by getting the volunteers out there to see firsthand how much stuff is out there, it creates a lot of public awareness," Becker told WKU Public Radio.  "I guarantee there's not a single person that volunteers with us and later goes out and throws a piece of garbage out their car window or off the side of their boat."

Living Lands and Waters is still looking for volunteers to help with Saturday’s cleanup on the Ohio River.  Those interested can register online at the group’s website

The cleanup will begin at 9:00 a.m. and volunteers should report to the boat ramp at English Park in Owensboro.

A Warren County manufacturing plant is launching a major expansion that will add 450 jobs. 

Bowling Green Metalforming, located in the Kentucky Transpark, is investing $261 million over the next four years to better serve the automotive industry.   It’s one of the largest corporate expansions that south central Kentucky has seen in the last decade. 

Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said the company has been a great corporate neighbor.

Over a thousand people working there now means there's that many families have the wherewithal to take care of themselves in providing stable employment and a good location for them to work," Wilkerson told WKU Public Radio.

The expansion will include equipment purchases and a 260,000-square-foot-addition to the company’s current facility.  It’s the sixth expansion for Bowling Green Metalforming since breaking ground 11 years ago.

Kentucky State Police are investigating an incident of road rage that resulted in a shooting this morning on I-65. 

The Bowling Green KSP post received a call from someone who claimed he was shot at on northbound I-65 near mile marker 27 in Warren County. 

"The caller stated that he accidentally cut this other vehicle off in traffic," said Trooper BJ Eaton.  "A road rage incident occurred thereafter for a short distance."

The caller’s vehicle was struck by a bullet in the passenger side rear door, though none of the five occupants were injured. 

The shooter then got off the interstate at the next exit and has not been found.  He was described as a black male with a scar on his cheek and was driving a newer model silver or gray Ford SUV.

For Courtney McDowell of Bowling Green, life is pretty good right now, but recent years have been a struggle.  Last December, at the age of 32, she earned a college degree.  Before then, money was tight.

"I was one medical catastrophe away from complete and total bankruptcy," McDowell told WKU Public Radio.  "I’m just glad I didn’t have any major illnesses or injuries during that period because it’s a real risk.”

When Kentucky created an online health insurance exchange known as Kynect and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, McDowell qualified for coverage through Medicaid and remained on the government program until she graduated and began working full-time.

McDowell currently does IT work and has private health insurance through her employer, but the upcoming election makes her nervous for others who aren’t so fortunate. 

The state of healthcare in Kentucky could look very different depending on who wins the governor’s race on November 3.

Kentucky could become the first state to repeal the expansion of its Medicaid program.  In a September speech to the Kentucky Rural Health Association, Republican nominee Matt Bevin said the state can’t afford to have a fourth of its population on Medicaid.

"When you’re spending other people’s money, it’s easy to be successful," suggested Bevin.  "We say by any measure it’s been a success.  For crying out loud, it’s been 100% under-written and subsidized by other people’s money.  We’re part of those other people.  Federal dollars are our own dollars coming back to us.”

Currently, the federal government is picking up the entire tab for the expansion.  Starting in 2017, the state must begin bearing a share of the cost estimated to be anywhere from 250 to 400 million dollars.  Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway, who supports the Medicaid expansion, says an improving economy would trim the Medicaid rolls.

"I agree we have too many of our citizens on Medicaid, but you fix that by growing the economy, creating better paying jobs, bringing wages up, and then people eventually roll off Medicaid," Conway remarked in an interview with WKU Public Radio.

Conway says if the state determines in the future it can’t sustain the Medicaid population, adjustments will be made.

Lisa Autry

A German steel processor broke ground today\yesterday on a new manufacturing plant at the Kentucky Transpark in Bowling Green. 

Bilstein is Europe’s largest supplier of cold-rolled steel products.  The company will build a 250,000-square-foot facility to better serve its automotive industry customers in North America.  Company officials call it their first major investment outside Europe. 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says Bowling Green was the ideal location.

"It's located here on the interstate of I-65.  It's got a wonderful university in Western Kentucky University," noted Beshear.  "Kentucky is not only the center of manufacturing, it's the center of a pipeline all the way from Detroit down south of us where the automobile alley runs these days."

Bilstein is making a $130 million investment in the steel plant and will create 110 jobs. 

Meanwhile, one of Logan County’s largest employers is adding nearly 200 jobs.  Logan Aluminum is expanding its operations to become an automotive supplier. 

Governor Besehar made the announcement in Russellville Wednesday.

"More and more, vehicles are being made out of aluminum because you need a lighter weight to meet all the fuel requirements the government is putting on there these days to get the mileage necessary," Beshear added.

Logan Aluminum already produces rolled sheets for beverage cans.  The company has more than a thousand employees and will add another 190 with the expansion.

The Republican Governor’s Association is back on the air in Kentucky in support of Matt Bevin. 

The RGA stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin last month, but returned to the airwaves this week in a seven-figure ad buy.  Following a speech on Wednesday to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Bevin said the RGA’s return is a sign his campaign is strong.

"There's others too that I understand are interested in coming in," Bevin told WKU Public Radio.  "The momentum is our side.  We are going to win this race and I think people want to help push us over the finish line."

Most of the RGA’s ads have attacked Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, for supporting the policies of President Obama.  Independent candidate Drew Curtis is also in the race for governor.   

Most political pundits view the outcome of the race as a tossup between Bevin and Conway with less than two weeks until election day.

WKU will soon end its designation as the only public university in the state that isn’t tobacco-free.

In an email to faculty and staff this week, President Gary Ransdell said the campus would go tobacco-free by 2018 through a phased-in approach. 

Public Health Professor Dr. Cecilia Watkins helped draft the policy and hopes it will spur healthier choices

"Although I've never smoked, I know how addictive nicotine is, and I think it gives people the opportunity to get help with cessation and to change habits they need to change anyway," Watkins told WKU Public Radio.

The new policy will apply to electronic cigarettes, as well.  

Starting in January, WKU will reduce the number of sites where smoking is permitted on its main campus in Bowling Green from 48 to 12.  The number of sites will be reduced over the next three years until the campus is completely tobacco-free.

Supporters of the new policy say it will reduce litter on campus, but more importantly reduce secondhand smoke, and possibly help smokers kick the habit altogether.

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