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. 

Rhonda J Miller

A group of  citizens from the Bowling Green area met with Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie on Feb. 22 to express concern about issues that have arisen with the administration of President Trump. Maureen Davis is a spokeswoman for the group of seven area residents that met with Guthrie.

Basically our number one concern is making sure that he supports an independent investigation into the interference of Russia in our election. There’s a bill that’s been presented in the House to that effect.”

That proposed legislation, H.R. 356, is a House of Representatives bill that would establish a national commission to investigate foreign interference in the 2016 election.

Guthrie didn’t promise the group that he will support that particular bill, but he did say a bipartisan committee is being formed to look into the issue.

Pulaski County Alzheimer's Disease Respite Center

An Alzheimer’s day care center that serves people from five Kentucky counties is shutting down after 30 years. The closing of the center in Somerset is due to a cut in state funding.

The Pulaski County Alzheimer’s Disease Respite Center was expecting to get its usual state funding of about $86,000 – that’s about half of its annual budget. Other funding comes from the United Way and local government.  

Executive Director Pat Brinson says she found out about the funding cut at a public meeting just before the start of the current fiscal year and she was stunned.

“I contacted someone that day when I got back in the office, and it was just like, well, they can go somewhere else. Our clients are from a productive generation that did not live on handouts and now we’re forgetting them.”

Rhonda J Miller

Police officers in Kentucky have an increasingly broad range of training that includes responding to situations where someone has mental health issues.

Owensboro Police Department Lt. Chris Castlen is one of the trainers who took part in a recent crisis intervention workshop in Daviess County for about 30 officers from around the region. 

Castlen says it’s important for officers to be able to recognize mental health issues and respond in a way that will de-escalate the situation.                             

You know, I’ve been a police officer for 20 years and in that time I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of calls where we respond to consumers, as we call people, who are suffering from some sort of mental illness.”

Castlen says police officers spend as much time relating to people who are dealing with some sort of mental illness as they do responding to criminal activity and victims of crime.

Ken Shmidheiser

Construction of a new $70 million manufacturing plant in Somerset could begin in the next few months. A tentative deal is in place to lease 23 acres of land.

The preliminary agreement with a group of Houston investors is for land near the Somerset Rail Park.

Local rail transportation and the new state-of-the-art Somerset Energy Center have been major factors in attracting the project.

Martin Shearer is Executive Director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation. He says the energy center allows control of natural gas, a key part of the project.

Rhonda J Miller

A group of about 70 teachers, parents and other area residents rallied in downtown Bowling Green to voice their opposition to President Trump’s pick for U.S. Secretary of Education. The Jan. 30 protest was an attempt to persuade Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos at her scheduled Jan. 31 Senate confirmation hearing.

Brian Pedigo of Glasgow said he listened to DeVos speak during a recent hearing held by a Senate committee he thinks she is unqualified to be secretary of education.    

“Well, the fact that she has never worked in the education system, she did not go to public school, she did not send her kids to public school. It seems to me that she is there simply to destroy the education department, not build it up and make it work for America.”

Simpson County Tourism Commission

The total solar eclipse that will put some portions of Kentucky in prime viewing area is seven months away, and tourism officials are in high gear preparing for the influx of visitors.

By a coincidental act of nature, Hopkinsville is the bullseye for the total solar eclipse on August 21 that will last for two-minutes-and-40-seconds at the peak time. But the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth and cast a darkness in cities from Paducah to Scottsville for times ranging from one-minute-13-seconds to two-minutes-39-seconds.

City of Bowling Green

A Bowling Green program that launched this week gives property owners a reimbursement of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements.

The city of Bowling Green has $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reimburse property owners for upgrades like new doors and windows or repainting.

The property must be in the designated area that runs roughly from Fairview Avenue to 14th Avenue and the U.S. 31-W Bypass to Chestnut Street.

Jacob Dick

While thousands of Americans will be in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the Inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, thousands of others are expected to take part in the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21 in protest of what they see as Trump’s discriminatory views of many minority groups. Regional rallies in support of the Women’s March are being held across the nation.

Patricia Minter is an associate professor of history at Western Kentucky University. She says that shapes her perspective on why the local marches are so important.

A new shelter that opened in Radcliff on Jan. 9 has found it’s hosting people who are experiencing a wide range of issues. Since Room In The Inn Radcliff opened its doors, 72 guests have come to spend the night. 

Theresa Humes is co-coordinator of the project. She says it’s important to remember that any one of us might end up in an unexpected crisis at some point in our lives.   

Sandefur Training Center

A training center for adults with disabilities in Owensboro is consolidating services at its Henderson location in February. The Sandefur Training Center has been a workshop where adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities work on a variety of basic production projects for local companies.

The center underwent a major transformation about a year ago when it added an expanded focus on education and life skills. Executive Director  Julie Wischer said the increased costs led to the decision to close the Owensboro center.

We increased and expanded our adult day learning program, where we learn daily life skills and academics, like math and geography and cooking. And when we did that, it caused the cost of our program to increase.”

Polaris

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is focusing attention on identifying and prosecuting those who take part in human trafficking. The attorney general joined industry and religious groups in Frankfort on Jan. 11 as part of the national Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The effort is to make people aware that men, women and children across the U.S., including some in Kentucky, are victims of forced sex and forced labor. 

From January through October of 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline got 261 calls from Kentucky. Of those, 56 cases of sex trafficking and 10 cases of forced labor trafficking were documented. Two cases were a combination of sex and labor trafficking, such as being forced to dance in a strip club and also forced to engage in commercial sex.

Henderson County High School

Students still have time to apply to the new School of Fine Arts at Henderson County High School. The original deadline for students to apply was Jan. 10, but because Henderson County schools were closed for two snow days recently, the deadline has been moved to Tuesday, Jan. 17.  The high school is creating the school within a school to offer tracks, called pathways, in visual arts, dance, theater, voice and instrumental music. 

Andrew Miller is choir director at Henderson County High School and says he's seeing interest in the project among area students.

Owensboro Middle School

Owensboro Middle School is likely to be separated into two schools by the next academic year. 

The middle school already has a south campus for grades five and six and a north campus for grades seven and eight. The two buildings are separated by a football field.

 

Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Nick Brake says there are some good reasons to change that set-up.

“Part of the challenge that we’ve seen with that is, it’s very difficult for one principal to govern both schools, to work with both faculties, and you have an age group that has a lot of variation.”

Radcliff Veterans Center

The opening day has been set for the new Radcliff Veterans Center.  On Feb. 15, the first three residents will arrive at what’s been designed as a showplace for skilled nursing care for those who have served our country.

Preparations for opening day are in high gear, including a job fair to be held on-site Jan. 5. The Radcliff Veterans Center already has a staff of 49 and it's growing every day. When fully staffed, the center will have 260 employees.

Israel Ray is administrator of the Radcliff Veterans Center. He says, in a way, the opening day will be a welcome home for those first three residents.

Public schools in Daviess County are getting 250 new security cameras.  

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Matt Robbins said the installation of the 250 cameras at 18 Daviess County schools is not in response to any threat or issue. He said the cameras will complement the district’s ongoing training for an active shooter situation and other emergencies. 

“This is just another measure in the long line of things we’re doing here to try to make sure our students and our staff are safe.”

Robbins said it’s a proactive measure to upgrade an eight-year-old system.

“What’s happened is there’s been a revolution in the technology with cameras over the course of that period of time, a tremendous revolution, I might add, and a capability that you can view remotely, you don’t even have to be on site, and you can move  them.”

He said the cost of the cameras has come down substantially in the past several years. The price tag of $158,000 covers all the schools. The district originally expected to pay that much for about 70 new cameras in each of the two high schools.  The installation began during the winter break and is expected to be complete by the end of this month.

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