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

Western Kentucky University revealed its recommended plan today on how it might confront a $15 million budget shortfall, plus increased pension contributions and reduced state funding.  

WKU President Timothy Caboni told the Board of Regents that the necessary financial cuts require the most painful decision a university leader must make – cutting five percent of the faculty and staff of about 2,000 employees.              

“We’ll significantly reduce the size of our workforce at WKU," said Caboni. "We’ve captured approximately 40 vacant positions through our hiring slowdown we implemented last fall. An additional 90-to-100 positions will be eliminated this spring.”


Vectren

The Evansville energy company that serves 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana has released a transition plan that phases out most coal-fired power and replaces it with natural gas and solar.

Vectren says its plan will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by retiring three coal-fired plants and retrofitting one remaining coal unit so it's in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Rhonda J. Miller

It’s Monday evening, the time every week when a few residents of Ohio County, Kentucky gather at The Hub in the small town of Hartford for coding boot camp.  Coding is a precise set of instructions that tells a computer what to do.

“I have to enter something in every field, but I should be able to put something in there, so if I skip over a field it still counts as a token somehow,” said Cindy Sandefur as she goes over her progress in the computer programming language Java in a two-way video conference with instructor Patrick Toner of The Software Guild.

"So what you’ll do is you’ll ask them to enter all of the fields." said Toner. "And you know how you’re calling the setters  on the fields, whenever you get the stuff. They don’t enter any information, just don’t call the setter." 


Owensboro Public Schools

The superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools has been named Administrator of the Year by the Kentucky Music Educators Association.

Superintendent Nick Brake said his advocacy for music and other arts in public schools continues a vision that began in the district years ago.

“It's a culmination of our board’s commitment over decades of previous superintendents who have held the same ideals and belief that the arts are part of the core curriculum in creating well-rounded students.”

Edmonson News

Kentucky’s blossoming film industry may hit a dry spell. The state has halted consideration of new projects for a program that gives tax incentives to filmmakers working in Kentucky.

Some communities are welcoming film crews with excitement and local services, while others say the incentive is a giveaway the state cannot afford.

A spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet says the state stopped accepting applications on Feb. 1 for new projects seeking film industry tax credits.


Simpson County Schools Facebook

Educators from across Kentucky will be at the state Capitol this week encouraging legislators to restore funding that’s been eliminated in the governor’s proposed budget. Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed eliminating funding for 70 state programs. More than 40 of those programs are related to education.

Wednesday is Education Advocacy Day at the Capitol, an annual event sponsored by the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Jim Flynn is superintendent of Simpson County Schools and chair of the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative that represents 43 districts.

Owensboro Public Schools/Facebook

As state lawmakers wrestle over Kentucky’s upcoming two-year budget, the Owensboro school superintendent said he will join other education leaders at the Capitol next week in an effort to convince legislators that investments in education are critical for economic growth.

When Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Nick Brake talks about the importance of the state investing in education, he speaks from his experience of working with business executives who are considering investing in Kentucky. Brake spent seven years as CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and said states that make a commitment to quality education have a more robust economy in the long-term.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ NCSSM

A proposal by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin impacting the health coverage of retired teachers is causing alarm among many educators. Bevin has proposed eliminating $145 million in state funding for the health insurance of retired teachers.

After months of watching Kentucky lawmakers grapple with possible changes that could affect teacher pensions, the proposed cut in the upcoming two-year budget was another blow to retired educators.

Tim Abrams is executive director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association. He said teachers who have dedicated 27 years or more to students feel like they have not been shown much respect in pension and budgeting considerations.

The ARC of Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget recommends eliminating state funding for 70 programs. One of those is a volunteer program that serves individuals with disabilities.

The ARC of Kentucky has volunteer chapters across the state that provide educational and community support for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including autism and Down Syndrome.

Funding for ARC was already eliminated in July 2017, halfway through the last two-year state budget cycle. The group could no longer afford its paid executive director, so Sherri Brothers began in August 2017 as interim executive director – as a full-time volunteer.

flickr/Brewbooks

Kentucky is out of the running in the fierce competition for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters.

Louisville hoped to gain the attention of the Seattle-based company, and the 50,000 jobs that would come with the project. But Louisville is not one of 20 cities on Amazon’s short list released this week.

Kentucky Mesonet

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin presented his State of the Commonwealth on Tuesday. He suggested 70 programs that could be eliminated from the state budget.

One of those is the Kentucky Mesonet based at Western Kentucky University.  Rhonda Miller spoke with state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet Stuart Foster about the implications of the governor’s recommended budget cuts on farmers, businesses and individuals across the state.


McLean County Public Library

A library in western Kentucky is one of three in the state chosen for a pilot program to increase access to jobs and human services.

The McLean County Public Library has only been in existence for six years. It was the last public library formed in Kentucky.

Now it’s among the first – that is, one of the first three libraries in the state to launch a statewide initiative called the Library Economic Advantage Forum, or LEAF. The program makes the local library a hub for collaboration among community colleges and Kentucky Career Centers, as well as offering Internet access to residents who may not have computers at home.

Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial

A project to honor slaves buried in unmarked graves in the Lake Cumberland region will be highlighted at a community breakfast in Wayne County on Martin Luther King Day.

The first part of the three-phase Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial project is a sculpture to be erected at Somerset Community College. The project board of directors already has a drawing of the memorial designed by Ayokunle Odeleye, a sculptor and professor at Kenneshaw State University in Georgia.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

An elementary school in Owensboro is launching a program that uses a student’s fingerprint to keep count of meals served for breakfast and lunch. 

Sutton Elementary is piloting the program of finger image recognition technology called Biometrics.

Kaitlyn Blankendaal is the food service supervisor for Owensboro Public Schools and said the goal is to give students more time to eat.

Bardstown, Nelson County

The long-time Judge-Executive in Nelson County is facing competition as he seeks another term in office. 

Nelson County Judge-Executive Dean Watts is a Democrat who has held that office since 1994 and has filed for re-election. 

Watts faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from Kenny Fogle, whose experience includes serving as executive director of the United Way of Nelson County and 27 years with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The one Republican who has filed, so far, for the Nelson County Judge-Executive position is Don Thrasher.

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