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. 

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.

Steven Kelly, Radcliff Veterans Center

The first two residents to move into the new Radcliff Veterans Center are at the center of what is being applauded as a state-of-the-art community honoring those who have served our country.

It’s the beginning of the process to create small ‘neighborhoods’ of veterans on the 200-acre campus donated by Fort Knox.

The Hardin County center raised its flag and opened its doors to the first two residents on May 9.

Each veteran has a private room with a bath and 10 veterans will make up a ‘household.’ Administrator Israel Ray said each household has a dining area, an activity lounge and a courtyard.

“Both of our veterans are in the first household for us to open and they are starting the community. The staff are very elated and happy to see our first two veterans to care for, as we await the next step in the process.” 

Rhonda J Miller

Schools in Kentucky, and across the nation, are making it a priority to develop a 21st Century workforce trained in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. That skilled workforce is necessary for careers in the competitive global market.

Simpson County schools are making a commitment to science and technology with a hands-on ‘maker space.’

The robots are humming along on tabletop landscapes. Everything is made out of Legos at a robotics camp at a former school bus garage turned into the Franklin-Simpson Exploratorium.

Dave Kirk, Owensboro Public Schools

Owensboro Innovation Academy is adding another new opportunity to a public high school that’s already breaking the mold. The school is partnering with Brescia University to give students the chance to earn a two-year associates degree while they’re getting their high school diploma.

Students will be able to choose from four tracks at Brescia. Two of the tracks will cover basic college requirements for either an associate of arts or science degree. Owensboro Innovation Academy Director Beth Benjamin says the other two tracks are more specialized.               

“One is a health studies degree, which would be their general education degree plus some of those science-specific and health-specific courses that they would need to go on and continue their nursing degree or any other medical degree. And the engineering is the first two years of their pre-engineering degree.”

Kentucky Association of Food Banks

A new study on food insecurity found that 700,000 people in Kentucky - that’s one-in-six - are not sure where their next meal is coming from. The study by Feeding America called ‘Map the Meal Gap 2017’ shows that many Kentucky counties have a rate of food insecurity higher than the national average of 14 percent.

Barren, Hardin and Ohio counties are at 15 percent. Warren County is at 16 percent.

Tamara Sandberg is executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. She says Feeding America saw the need in Warren County long before this latest study, and last July began distributing truckloads of food once a month at Lampkin Park. 

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Forty young refugees in Owensboro will get jobs this summer thanks to a workforce training grant. The $45,000 grant is from the group Catholic Charities and is being administered through its Kentucky Office of Refugees.  

Karri Calhoun at Owensboro Community and Technical College is coordinator of the ‘Summer Refugee Youth Program.’ She says the project will begin with a newly-developed course called ‘The American Workplace.’            

“At the beginning of the summer, May 30 through June 2, we’re going to offer a course where we’re talking about employability skills, such as attitude, attendance, even small things such as clocking in and out, how to use public transportation and interviews.”

Rhonda J Miller

Hopkinsville is continuing to gear up for this summer’s solar eclipse. The astronomical event on Aug. 21 is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors from around the globe to Christian County.

That’s because Hopkinsville is a point of longest duration of the total solar eclipse – two-minutes-and-40-seconds.

Cheryl Cook is executive director of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says preparation has been full-speed ahead with the mayor, governor, the National Guard and emergency management groups all playing a role.

But Cook says planners are still expecting the unexpected when it goes dark just after one o’clock in the afternoon on Aug. 21.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Eric Norris

Residents of Kentucky and other states who want a chance to speak in a teleconference on federal water regulations must preregister by midnight April 28. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public listening session to get input on existing water regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome.

The telephone and web conference will be held May 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central time. But anyone who wants a chance to speak must preregister by the April 28 deadline. 

The EPA will have 150 telephone lines distributed randomly among those who preregister. About 75 people will be selected randomly to speak at the May 2 telephone and web conference.

Humane Society of Henderson County

The Humane Society of Henderson County has made such dramatic progress in finding homes for animals that it has not had to euthanize any adoptable pets in the past five years.

Animals have been euthanized only if they were too aggressive to be adopted or so extremely injured that the cost of medical treatment would be too high.

Humane Society Executive Director Angela Hagedorn says using an Internet pet adoption site has been a key element in the plan.

PetFinder.com was able to put the animals out onto the Internet, so that a broader audience could see the animals. Also we decided to contact various rescues, some of them are breed-specific rescues, to try to get more animals out of the shelter.”

Park Place Recovery Center for Women

Kentucky’s opioid addiction epidemic sometimes takes its toll on the most vulnerable in society – babies.

Now the healthcare services company LifeSkills is opening a new substance abuse treatment center in Scottsville. It will accept pregnant women, as well women with  infants up to 10 months old.

Geneva Bradshaw is program manager for Park Place Recovery Center for Women.

"We believe the addition of being able to bring their infants will definitely increase their motivation for wanting to get assistance and the help that they need.”

Bradshaw says pregnant women pose a major risk to their babies when use they opioids.

Chronicle of Higher Education

A conference on the evolution and current state of immigration to be held on the Western Kentucky University campus April 25 will feature a graduate of the college who’s now at Harvard Law School and working with teenage refugees from Central America.

Mario Nguyen sees the refugee crisis first-hand in his work with Harvard Legal Aid. He says some people mistakenly think of the wave of immigrants from Central America as people coming to take American jobs.

“In reality these are 14-year-old children I’ve been face-to-face with, 13-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 16-year-olds, who had to literally cross a few countries on their own on foot. A lot of them have been sexually abused or physically abused.”

Nguyen says he’s been aware of immigration issues from an early age. His father was a refugee from Vietnam and his mother was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

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