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. 

Warren County Regional Jail

An 18-year-old student at Bowling Green High School was arrested Thursday on charges of terroristic threatening.

According to the arrest record from the Bowling Green Police Department, Rosalio Grajeda confessed to being involved in a plan that “would have likely resulted in death or serious injury to students and teachers at the school. He acknowledged that there was a plot to cause harm and confessed to researching past school shootings.”

Police department spokesman Ronnie Ward said no weapons were found and no students or staff were injured.

Grajeda is in the Warren County Reginal Jail.

Bowling Green School Superintendent Gary Fields said in a letter made available to the media Thursday that students reported the potential threat to administrators at the high school.

Rhonda J Miller

About 60 people marched in Bowling Green on Sept. 5 in support of DACA, or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” It was one of many marches held across the country after President Trump’s announcement that he plans to end DACA, a program that has helped more than 800,000 young immigrants remain in the U.S. legally.

One of the marchers in Bowling Green was Briant Vargas, a former student at Western Kentucky University, who says he was born in the U.S. but his 21-year-old brother wasn't. Vargas says he thinks it’s inhumane to end DACA and interrupt a good life, like the one his brother is working so hard to achieve.

Francisco Serrano Facebook

President Trump has ordered an end to the program for young immigrants called DACA, or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”  The cancellation of that program is likely to impact several thousand young people who are students or are working in Kentucky.

In the Sept. 5 announcement to end DACA, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said there would be an orderly process of “winding down” former President Obama’s executive order that created the program protecting young immigrants from deportation. That “winding down” could affect thousands of people in Kentucky.

Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial

A Pulaski County memorial to slaves buried in unmarked graves is moving forward with a grant and some media attention.

The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial began as a response to the murder of nine African-Americans by a white supremacist during a Bible study in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015.

The memorial has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Puffin Foundation, an organization that funds art projects often excluded from mainstream grants because of race, gender or social philosophy.


Sam Oldenburg, the Talisman

Tropical depression Harvey flooded roads and buildings across south central Kentucky Thursday night and Friday, causing many schools to be closed and activities canceled.

Warren County Emergency Management reports portions of about two dozen roads have been impassable at various times due to heavy rainfall.  

Kentucky Mesonet data shows between five and six inches of rain fell at monitoring stations from Smiths Grove to Bowling Green.

Rhonda J Miller

It’s a good sign of a healthy economy that businesses in the 10 counties of south central Kentucky have nearly 5,800 job openings and are eager to hire.

But a new report from the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce also shows there are about 7,200 people in the region who are unemployed.

Robert Boone is president and CEO of the South Central Workforce Development Board. He says finding compatibility between available workers and open positions is a big challenge.

Kentucky Mesonet

The Kentucky Mesonet dramatically increased data collection at its 68 weather and climate monitoring stations during the solar eclipse. 

Melissa Griffin is responsible for data quality for Kentucky Mesonet, which is based at Western Kentucky University. She says the data that came in during the eclipse provides almost a real-time collection of atmospheric conditions.

Rhonda J Miller

A new elementary school under construction in Warren County is the latest building in the school district designed to reduce, or eliminate, the cost of energy.  The energy program is even earning money for the district.

Construction equipment and work crews crisscross the site of the new Jennings Creek Elementary on Russellville Road in Warren County. The walls going up are made of material that’s dramatically cutting the cost of energy for Warren County Public Schools.

School District Energy Manager Jay Wilson says there’s no secret to reducing energy costs. It begins with the design of the building.

"It’s a combination of having energy efficiencies built into the building envelope, such as insulated concrete forms..."


Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency is about halfway through the cleanup of an Evansville site contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The contaminated site is 4.5 square miles in the Jacobsville neighborhood of Evansville. The lead and arsenic in the soil were left over from manufacturing operations that took place more than one hundred years ago.

The site is on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List and the cleanup has been in progress for five years.

Jena Sleboda-Braun is the remedial project manager in the EPA’s Superfund Division for the Chicago region. She says residents are not being displaced during the cleanup.

Daviess County Animal Shelter

The Daviess County Animal Shelter has declared a “code red.”  That means the shelter is stepping up efforts to reduce the number of animals so it doesn’t have to euthanize healthy, adoptable pets.

There are currently 69 dogs, 83 cats and four rabbits.

Shelter Director Ashley Clark says there are several ways to avoid unnecessary euthanization.

“If we could have rescues and fosters and adopters to come in and help with the animals, it’s not going to one avenue that solves the problem. You know, we can’t adopt our way out of it, and we can’t foster our way out of it.”

Rhonda J Miller

The chief executive of a Daviess County company says President Trump’s immigration plan could be beneficial for the American workforce. Trump’s proposal would change America’s system from prioritizing family connections to favoring English language and job skills.

Sun Windows President Frank Anderson says his Owensboro company wants the most qualified applicant to meet the job description, and if that’s a legal immigrant, that’s fine. He says there are enough Americans who are able to fill the open positions, but some who are on welfare are not motivated to work.

Community Action of Southern Kentucky

President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration by half and consider English language and job skills has set off a controversy about whether the nation is changing the welcoming message of the Statue of Liberty. The proposed immigration rules could affect businesses in Kentucky that face a shortage of entry- and mid-level workers.

When you talk to business owners in Kentucky, many say they have positions that are not filled because they can’t find enough people with the right skills, or willing to do the job. Some don’t arrive at work on time and some can’t pass the drug test.

Lu-Ray Park & Amphitheater

A city in Muhlenberg County that has a population of about 5,800 has a new amphitheater that can accommodate an audience of 5,000.

Central City built its Lu-Ray Park and Amphitheater with a standing invitation to folks from Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana to bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy concerts, movies and picnics.

The park’s Executive Director Melissa Recke said the facility will host shows designed to attract people across a wide region.

Alorica Owensboro Facebook

The California-based customer service company that opened its Owensboro office in July is putting down roots as a major corporate citizen.

Alorica already has 200 employees working in Owensboro in the former BB&T building that it’s renovating.

Company spokesman Ken Muche said 500 employees will be in the Owensboro offices by the end of this year and employment will reach 840 in three years.

Muche says the company is dedicated to having a long-term positive impact in every community where it locates. That’s done by partnering with regional nonprofits and encouraging employees to participate in the partnerships.

Rhonda J Miller

President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement - on Twitter - that transgender men and women will no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces has ignited a firestorm of controversy.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Dennis Cain of Bowling Green says the president’s decision signals a step backward - to more of the type of discrimination he experienced as a gay man in the military.

Cain served for eight years during the 1980s. He was  a medic and with an F-16 fighter squadron for four of those years.  Cain says he had to keep his personal life as a gay man hidden, and it discouraged him from having a longer career in the Air Force. 

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