Lisa Autry


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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The Owensboro Convention Center is just over a year old now.  The 170,000-square-foot facility opened on January 29th of 2014. 

Manager Dean Dennis said the first full year of operation was a successful one as the convention center welcomed more than 300 events, 27 conventions, and 173,000 guests.

"We tracked over 5,000 hotel room nights for that 12-month period and the estimated direct spending associated with that was a little over a million dollars," Dennis told WKU Public Radio.  "We really try to chase the multi-day event business that generates hotel room nights because we know that's where the greatest economic impact comes from."

Dennis said convention bookings exceeded expectations in the first year.  The one area that fell below projections was the consumer show market.

The Owensboro Convention Center overlooks the Ohio River and is located on the old Executive Inn site.  Dennis said the center already has 15 conventions booked for this year.  He hopes this spring’s opening of the New Holiday Inn will attract larger groups.

Following a major cyber-attack on the nation’s second-largest insurer, WKU is informing its employees that their personal information could be compromised. 

Hackers broke into an Anthem health insurance database storing information for about 80 million people. 

Human Resources Director Tony Glisson says about 2,300 WKU employees currently have Anthem coverage, though more could be impacted. 

"If it affects us, it could affect people who have been previously employed here and also had Anthem coverage," Glisson told WKU Public Radio.  "We've had Anthem since January 1, 2003 and so  if it should go back that far, that could potentially affect a broader range of employees."

The university’s human resources and information technology divisions are working with Anthem to better understand the impact on its members.  In the meantime, the insurer has created a website,, for members to get more information on the cyber-attack. 

While state lawmakers debate heroin legislation, a new poll finds 11% of Kentuckians have family members or friends who have suffered because of the drug.  That’s a two percent jump from 2013. 

The rate is much higher in northern Kentucky at 26%.  The poll was taken by The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  CEO Susan Zepeda encourages the General Assembly to pass heroin legislation this session.

"What this tells us is there's been a rise in heroin use," noted Zepeda.  "At the same time, prior legislation has contributed to the decline we're seeing in prescription drug abuse."

Prescription drug abuse in Kentucky has been on the decline since 2011.  That’s when lawmakers approved legislation cracking down on pain clinic and mandating that doctors use a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Lisa Autry

When you drive around Owensboro, you’re likely to get on the Wendell H. Ford Expressway, but talk to just about anyone and you’ll find his legacy runs much deeper in this community.

“He was like your favorite uncle,” recalls Fred Reeves, a former president of the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce.  “He was very personable, very humorous, and you always knew if you had an issue, you could call the senator and he would give that issue his attention.”

Despite his years living in Frankfort and Washington, Owensboro was always home to the former governor and U.S. Senator.  Wendell Ford held the city and its people close to his heart.  Fred Reeves remembers Ford for his compassion.

“I’ll never forget the day he called me and told me about a young lady, a single mom who had lost her job, and he asked me if I could help her find a job,” explains Reeves.  ‘How many senators would personally call you, dial the number themselves, and ask you to do something for an individual citizen who wasn’t an important person, someone who just had a need?’  That’s the kind of individual he was.”

Nearly a quarter of Kentucky’s population is now covered by Medicaid, thanks largely to the state’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act.

While fully funded by the federal government for the first three years, the state will have to start bearing a small share of the burden in 2017. Governor Steve Beshear maintains an expansion was the right thing to do.

"A match starts kicking in and it works its way up to a 90\10 match," explains Beshear.  "The feds in the end will be paying 90 percent of the cost and the state picks up 10 percent.  That's a lot better than the current Medicaid program which is 80\20."

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will issue a report in a few weeks,which is expected to re-ignite the debate whether the state should have expanded its Medicaid rolls and how the state will pay for the new enrollees.

All of Kentucky’s 173 public school districts have approved policies to increase the dropout age from 16 to 18. 

The General Assembly passed a law in 2013 giving school districts the option of raising the dropout age. Once 55 percent of districts did so, it would trigger a four-year deadline for everyone else to raise the age.  Democratic Governor Steve Beshear said districts beat that deadline by one year.

"What we've done is send a message," said Beshear in a news conference Thursday.  "We've sent a message to the kids, their parents, and communities that education matters and that we care about these children."

All but seven public school districts will have the new policy in place this fall.  It will take effect for the rest in the 2017-18 school year. 

The Kentucky Department of Education provided each district with a $10,000 grant to help implement the higher dropout age.

Kentucky Governor Reacts to LRC Audit

Jan 28, 2015

A performance audit of the Legislative Research Commission has blamed poor staff morale on outdated management practices, a lack of communication and decision-making that isn't transparent.

Governor Steve Beshear says a draft reports shows a need for reforms.

"Some of the policies and procedures are outdated and need to be modernized," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.  "Pay equity is an issue, promotions.  Getting all those things into a more modern platform would make sense for them and for the public."

The audit by the National Conference of State Legislatures questioned the nearly 400 LRC employees who reported feeling “frustrated and often confused” by personnel decisions.  It recommended giving less power to top leaders and implementing annual performance evaluations, as well as formal job descriptions and pay scales.

Logan County may soon join neighboring Warren, Todd, and Simpson counties in passing a local right-to-work law. 

The Logan County Fiscal Court voted unanimously for an ordinance Tuesday on first reading.  A final vote is scheduled next month. 

Judge-Executive Logan Chick says the county has two industrial sites ready for new business, which he hopes a local right-to-work law will attract.

"Every time somebody visits you have obstacles they look at, and of course that's one of the obstacles we hear on a regular basis," Chick told WKU Public Radio.  "Anytime you can eliminate any obstacle, the better off you are with that particular project."

Chick doubts Logan County magistrates would be considering a local right-to-work measure had surrounding counties not already acted.  Chick says a local ordinance is needed to stay competitive with those counties, as well as neighboring Tennessee which has a statewide right-to-work law. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on a deadly plane crash earlier this month in western Kentucky.  The accident killed everyone on board except for a young girl. 

The report released Friday shows the pilot of the twin-engine plane, Marty Gutzler, radioed to air traffic control that he was having "problems" with both of the plane’s engines.  He was instructed to land at the nearby Kentucky State Dam Airport.  Minutes later, Gutzler reported he had lost sight of the airfield.  There were no further radio communications from the plane. 

The January 2 crash killed Gutzler, his wife, their nine-year-old daughter and her cousin.  The NTSB report says the victims were found strapped in their seats.  The family was returning from Florida to their home in Nashville, Illinois. 

Kentucky’s political leaders are offering their remembrances of the late Wendell Ford.  As a former governor and U.S. Senator, the Owensboro Democrat served as a mentor to many of the state’s rising political stars.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says the 90-year-old Ford represented what public service was all about, regardless of what side of the aisle you were on. 

"He taught me that public service is about the people of this state," explained Grimes.  "Each and every decision made, whether at the state or federal level, has consequences that ultimately impact the future of Kentucky."

Grimes says the last time she spoke with Ford was right after the November election.  She had just come off a bruising loss in her own bid for U.S. Senate.  His words of encouragement were “Keep doing what’s in your heart and you can’t go wrong.”

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway called Ford a dear friend and one of the largest influences on his professional life.

"Wendell Ford was a lion of a public servant for Kentucky and the nation, but he had the heart and kindness of a lamb," said Conway.  

Grimes and Conway are both running for statewide office this year.  Conway is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  Grimes has not announced her plans yet, but has said she has been encouraged to run for governor, attorney general, and to seek re-election as Secretary of State.