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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Politics
8:53 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Kentucky's Senate Republicans File Amendment to Curb Governor's Power

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), converses with Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, on the floor of the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear created Kentucky’s health exchange and expanded Medicaid without legislative approval, but if Senate Republicans have their way, the governor will not have that luxury in the future. 

The GOP this session plans to push a constitutional amendment that would curtail the governor’s power to issue administrative regulations.  The legislation would keep a regulation from taking effect if lawmakers declared it deficient. 

A legislative subcommittee currently reviews regulations, but has no power to stop them from taking effect.  When asked if regulations should be implemented with full approval from the General Assembly, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he agreed with the concept.

"Allowing seven or eight people that authority is a bit problematic," Stumbo replied.  "Allowing the entire General Assembly that authority gives all of us a better sense of balance."

Governor Beshear told WKU Public Radio that he and future governors need to keep that power.

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Education
1:29 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Kentucky's Universities See Gains, Losses in Governor's Budget Plan

Kentucky’s public universities were requesting an eight-percent increase in operating dollars, but in the governor’s next two-year budget proposal, the schools would instead receive a 2.5% cut in funding. 

"We took a smaller reduction in his proposal than other state agencies, but it's substantial," remarked Robbin Taylor, VP of Public Affairs at WKU.  "It's about $1.8 for us, and on top of all the other reductions since 2008, that's going to be fairly painful."

On the other hand, the governor’s budget plan funded WKU’s top capital project request.  The proposal sets aside $48 million to complete the science campus renovation, which includes renovating the Thompson Complex Center Wing, demolishing the North Wing, and building a new planetarium. 

The Gatton Academy for Math and Science also received funding to expand the number of students from 120 to 200.

Politics
10:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Beshear Optimistic Coming Off Budget Speech

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

In his budget speech Tuesday night, Governor Steve Beshear told Kentucky lawmakers to expect in the coming days his plan for reforming the state’s tax code.  It's a perennial issue that's seen little movement in the General Assembly. 

However, the term-limited governor told WKU Public Radio that not being up for re-election is an asset.

"Members of the legislature, particularly in the other party, don't view me as a threat in the upcoming statewide elections in 2015 and I think that helps them sit down and work with me in a more productive way," said Beshear.

On the other hand, all of the House is up for re-election this year and half of the Senate.  Still, Beshear said he is sensing a willingness to take a hard look at the tax structure.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Barren County Judge-Executive Announces Retirement

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer
Credit Barren County Government

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer will not seek re-election to a fourth term. Judge Greer says her family had a lot to do with her decision to retire.

"My family doesn't want me to run again, so I just gave in and said okay," admits Greer. "I've loved what I've done and if I was 20 years younger, I wouldn't think twice about running again and again."

During her three terms heading Barren County government, Greer tells WKU Public Radio that the highlight was building the correctional center. 

Greer's retirement leaves no shortage of potential successors. 

Barren County Magistrate Chris Steward is seeking the judge-executive post, as well as five others. They include Brian Taylor, W.R. Tarry, David Honeycutt, Don Gossett, and Rob Strickland.

Agriculture
5:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Issues Ten Percent Challenge

Homemade jams are on of the offerings at the Community Farmer's Market in Bowling Green.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is asking you to add one more New Year’s resolution to your list.  James Comer wants families to spend at least ten percent of their food dollars this year on locally grown food.

There are several ways to buy Kentucky Proud products.  Jackson Rolett with the Community Farmer’s Market in Bowling Green says the indoor market provides consumers with fresh produce even in the winter.

"Some of the things we can offer are a lot of squash and greens, a lot of root crops, turnips, beets, carrots, potatoes," explains Rolett.  "We also have a lot of farmers who are diversifying into high tunnel production and greenhouse production, so we have some producers here with red tomatoes.

Another way to buy Kentucky Proud is by visiting certain grocery chains, including Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods. 

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Environment
2:50 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Western Kentucky Utilities Monitor Chemical Spill in Ohio River

Credit Henderson Water Utility

In western Kentucky, Henderson is taking steps to ensure the safety of drinking water as some pollutants move down the Ohio River. 

Last week’s chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia has water utilities downstream taking precautions.  The plume is expected to reach Henderson Monday morning. 

Henderson Water Utility is collecting data from monitoring stations along the Ohio River and staying in contact with upstream water utilities, including Evansville and Louisville.  Treatment Manager Kevin Roberts says no decision has been made on whether to close intake valves.

"We are going to take the greatest step we can to ensure the community is protected and that we supply water," adds Roberts.  "If that includes shutting the intake then we certainly will do that."

A decision may not come until Sunday night, but the utility is working to build up the drinking water inventory just in case the intake valves are closed. 

Contaminant levels in the Ohio River are currently below the threshold for any risk to the public.

Education
12:48 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Grant to Help WKU Steer Early Learners into Math, Science

WKU has been awarded a $150,000 grant to support early childhood education. 

The funding from the PNC Foundation will be used to produce videos that will expose children to the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math.  The videos will be distributed to places such as libraries, housing authorities, and preschools in Kentucky and Tennessee. 

"The hardest thing about changing the number of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in Kentucky relates to the fact that unless you stimulate interest early and students are really prepared to be successful when they go to college in those areas, then it's not going to happen," said Dr. Julia Roberts, executive director of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at WKU.

Kentucky will need to fill 74,000 STEM jobs by 2018, yet only 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the state are in STEM fields.

Education
2:49 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Bowling Green, Warren County School Districts at Odds over Student Transfers

A dispute between the Bowling Green city and Warren County school systems is headed for mediation.  The two school systems are at odds over a non-resident student agreement for next school year and beyond. 

The county last year lowered the number of students by 86 who could transfer to city schools.  The state wouldn't reimburse the city school system for students over that number, although they could still attend city schools by paying tuition.

On Monday night, the Warren County School Board rejected an agreement presented by the city school system that would have cut the number of transferring students by four each year for ten years.  The county wanted to cut non-resident students by 50 each year for a decade. 

Paducah attorney Rick Walters will mediate discussion between the two sides on February 8th.   Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has given the school systems until April 1st to reach an agreement.

Regional
5:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Ten-Digit Dialing Coming Soon to Western Kentucky

In just over two weeks, people living in western Kentucky's 270 area code will be dialing ten digits.  A new area code, 364, is being added to the same geographic region as the current 270 code. 

Spokesman Andrew Melnykovich with the Kentucky Public Service Commission emphasizes that local calls will not become long-distance calls.

"When you make local calls, you don't dial the one in front of it," explains Melnykovich.  "You just dial the ten digits. which is the area code and the seven-digit local number."

Beginning February 1st, it will be mandatory for people in those codes to dial ten digits for local calls.  The PSC added the new area code to meet the need for more telephone numbers in the region. 

The first numbers using the new 364 code may be assigned beginning in March.

Politics
3:13 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

State Senator from Western Kentucky Announces Retirement

Kentucky State Senator Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A state senator from western Kentucky plans to make the current legislative session his last.  Jerry Rhoads announced his retirement Friday. 

“Serving the people of the 6th District in the State Senate these past 12 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I will treasure the many friendships I have made throughout the counties I have represented in my three terms of service in the State Senate," said Rhoads in a written statement.  "After careful reflection, I have decided that with eight young, energetic grandchildren, it is time to step away from the hectic pace and demands of public service in order to spend more time with my family and pursue other life goals.”

Rhoads said he planned to remain active in his Madisonville law practice.

Rhoads’ announcement creates an open seat in Kentucky’s 6th Senate District, which represents Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio and Butler counties. 

Rhoads’ retirement leaves Morgantown Republican State Representative C.B. Embry the only candidate so far to file for the seat. 

The filing deadline is January 28th.

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