Rhonda Miller

Reporter

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015.  She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.

She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio,  as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio.

She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University.

Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass. 

Facebook/ROMP/Alex Morgan

The 14th annual ROMP festival attracted a record-breaking 26,000 people to the four-day bluegrass music event in Owensboro, Kentucky from June 21 - 25. That audience compares to 23,000 people who attended last year.

The International Bluegrass Music Museum produces the event. Chris Joslin is executive director of the museum and says the record number of people arrived despite challenges of rain and mud on some of the days.  He says the increased attendance is due to a combination of factors.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

An Owensboro area initiative helping to place high school students from refugee families into summer jobs is proving to be more successful than just temporary work. Many of the young people in the program  who have already graduated from high school have found permanent employment.

In this first year of the summer refugee youth program, sponsored by Owensboro Community and Technical College, 15 teenagers have found jobs. The 16-to-18-year-old students from Daviess County and Owensboro public schools are mainly from families who came to Kentucky from Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Somalia.

American Cinema International

Production of the second movie done in collaboration with the Southern Kentucky Film Commission is taking place during June in Hart and Barren counties.

The movie "Runaway Romance" is the story of a girl from Los Angeles whose car breaks down in Kentucky.

The filming at locations in Munfordville, Horse Cave and Glasgow has brought 65 actors and crew who will be in the area until June 29.

Chevonne O’Shaughnessy is executive producer of "Runaway Romance." She says the region has “the look” needed for the film, along with other advantages.            

Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green philanthropist, businessman and founder of the Baker Arboretum, Jerry E. Baker died June 22 at the age of 86.

His passing was confirmed by director of the Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum, Jack LeSieur, who said Baker passed away peacefully at his home.

Baker was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2011. He was a 1951 graduate of WKU.

He established professorships and scholarships in music and horticulture, as well as scholarships in art, dance and athletics.

In April 2006, Baker made a $15 million gift to WKU that included his home, art and arboretum, making it at that time the single largest gift by an individual to a public university in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Vanderburgh Humane Society

The city of Evansville is considering allowing potbellied pigs as pets. 

The city's Animal Control and Education Commission has reviewed a proposed ordinance that would add the pigs to the list of pets allowed with a license.

The Courier and Press reports the commission is recommending that the permit price to keep one of the pigs be set at $100. That fee is comparable to the permit required to  own six or more dogs. 

The Evansville City Council will review the proposed ordinance on June 26.

U.S. Army, Sgt. Neysa Canfield

The Army’s Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky is playing a major role in meeting ambitious  enlistment targets in the coming months. The Army is offering cash and other incentives to meet its national goals.

The Army aims to add 28,000 soldiers by the end of September. That will bring the total personnel to just over one million, the number approved under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. 

“In essence, the Army is hiring again," said Bill Costello, a spokesman for the Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox. "Where we had been in a position to minimize or reduce the size of the force under the previous administration, the current administration has authorized us to increase our force structure and right now we’re taking some concrete steps to get that done.”

Kentucky Mesonet

The Kentucky state climatologist said scientists must continue to provide updated climate information to U.S. decision makers.  

The comments come after President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

State Climatologist Stuart Foster oversees the Kentucky Mesonet with weather and climate monitoring stations across the state. Foster is director of the Kentucky Climate Center and said Mesonet provides extensive data that’s available to state policy makers. 

Foster said there are natural climate variations from year-to-year.

Rhonda J Miller

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farms in Kentucky has decreased by 16,000 over the past 20 years.

That means many people who once worked on those farms have to find other ways to make a living.

That’s the mission of the Kentucky Farmworker Programs - to help seasonal and migrant farmworkers find retraining and jobs.

At the Metalsa plant in Hopkinsville, Victor Radford is eager to get started on his day’s work helping to make frames for pickup trucks.

“I’m on the repair station today, weld repair station. So as the frames comes down the line, if there’s any weld gaps or porosity I’ll fix it for ‘em and keep on sending it.” “Weld gaps or what?”  “Gaps or porosity, like little bubbles in the weld from the robots, I repair it and keep it going.”

Some of the efforts made by hospitals and nursing homes to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing, while sincere, are proving unsuccessful.

That’s one of the takeaways from a series of forums held across the state, including events in Bowling Green, Owensboro and Somerset.

Many hospitals have equipment for ‘Video Remote Interpreting.’ That's  a videoconference with the doctor, the deaf patient and an interpreter reading the patient’s sign language through the video connection.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Jon Hurd

Ohio County has taken on a long-term project to help emergency responders get to their destinations faster.

The goal is to standardize the 16,000 addresses in the county. Those addresses are on 1,100 roads.

Ohio County Emergency Management Director Charlie Shields said there are examples showing how difficult it can be for an ambulance or fire truck to find a house quickly.

“You go out 231 and one of the addresses is 7100. You go 100 feet and the next address is 13,500 and something.”

 

The house numbers jump by several hundred in a short distance because there haven’t been rules for them to go in order.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

An Owensboro area program that gives students a chance to earn their high school diploma and an associate’s degree - at the same time - is expanding.

The Early College program at Owensboro Community and Technical College had its first three graduates in 2016 and 10 graduates this year.

OCTC Early College Coordinator Karen Miller said 32 high school students are on track to get both their diploma and associate's degree next year. She said the program offers students a transition time.

“It puts them in those general education classes and they get exposed to college, but they have the resources that they’ve had throughout high school.”      

Five school districts are participating in the program – Owensboro Public Schools, as well as schools in Daviess, Hancock, McLean and Ohio counties.

Business Wire

A group proposing a natural gas plant in Henderson County is continuing to seek contracts needed to secure financial backing to build the facility.

HenderSun Energy LLC owns 2,000 acres in Henderson County and the proposed power generation plant would be on 40 of those acres.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities had considered signing a 10-year contract to buy electricity from the proposed plant, but decided against it earlier this month. OMU has decided to shut down its aging Elmer Smith plant with its two coal-fired generating units. One unit will be shut down by 2019 and the second by 2023. That will mark the end of coal-fired power in Owensboro after 117 years. The city is continuing to consider options for its future power needs.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A family court judge in Kentucky is being told he has to decide whether to recuse himself in gay adoption requests on a case-by-case basis.

Family Court Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who serves Barren and Metcalfe counties, had asked the state’s Chief Justice to approve a new local rule that would allow him to review all adoption petitions once they are filed with the circuit court clerk.

Prior to making the request to the Chief Justice, Nance entered an order last month saying he wanted to be advised by lawyers if they were bringing cases involving gay adults to his courtroom.

Nicky Hayden Facebook.com

Champion motorcycle racer and Owensboro native Nicky Hayden has died following injuries from a bicycle accident in Italy.

Thirty-five-year-old  Hayden died May 22, five days after he was hit by a car while training on his bicycle.

Hayden, who was known as ‘The Kentucky Kid,’ won the MotoGP championship, a motorcycle road racing competition, in 2006.

He was in Italy competing in the Superbike World Championship in just days before the fatal accident.  

Hayden was 13th in this season's Superbike standings, riding for the Red Bull Honda team. Several family members had reportedly flown to Italy, including Hayden's mother and brother.

Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation

A California-based customer service company locating an office in Owensboro has already hired nearly one-quarter of the 840 employees it plans to have in Daviess County.

Alorica is in the process of renovating the BB&T building in downtown Owensboro and will occupy four floors of the five-story building, with a restaurant and other commercial space planned for the sidewalk level.

While construction is in progress, Brescia University is partnering with Alorica to train some of the 200 employees who have already been hired.

Ken Muché is a spokesman for Alorica and says the collaboration with Brescia is an outstanding partnership.

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