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. 

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.

The Bowling Green March for Science on April 22 is one of many satellite events being held across the country in support of the national march in Washington, D.C.

The national March for Science was sparked by Trump administration cuts to federal science agencies and the appointment of some national leaders who don’t accept scientific evidence for issues like climate change.

Bruce Kessler is head of the math department at Western Kentucky University. He says he will participate in the Bowling Green march to stand up for the value of science without regard to political affiliation.

I think it’s a good opportunity for folks who care about science and care about mathematics, we’re scientists too, to show the world we’re not bad folks, we’re not folks who have an agenda really, other than figuring the world out."

Rhonda J Miller

The Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky is not requesting any refugees from Syria for the next fiscal year. The center’s Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said Syrian refugees are not expected to be approved because the Trump administration considers them a "special concern."

Mbanfu said 40 Syrians were previously expected in Bowling Green, but that was halted by new federal guidelines.                 

“If I were to make a choice I would say Syrian refugees should be priority number one, taking into consideration what’s going on right now in Syria and the horrors that is going on there and the situation of the refugees in the refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,” said Mbanfu.

Rhonda J Miller

Kentucky is one of the top five states in the nation for drug overdose deaths. Leaders in law enforcement, medicine and mental health are struggling to find ways to slow the pace of this tragic epidemic. An addiction recovery residence for women in Henderson is adding creative expression – including dance - on the path to a healthier lifestyle. 

In a bright community room at the Women’s Addiction Recovery Manor in Henderson, Kentucky, dancer Tim June is choreographing a story.  

“I decided to choreograph the piece more towards the future rather than the past,” said June. He is one of one of 10 dancers from the Indianapolis troupe Dance Kaleidoscope collaborating with residents at the recovery center in a program called Turning Points.

Kentucky Association of Food Banks

The Kentucky Farms to Food Banks program is adding a new source of protein to help families in need get balanced nutrition. 

Tamara Sandberg is executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. She says there have been requests from food banks to increase healthy proteins.

“For the first time in addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, we’re reaching out to egg producers in Kentucky that might have extras that they are not able to sell otherwise, that they’re willing to provide to us to give to food banks.”

The program is in the process of setting a fair price that helps producers offset the cost of providing eggs to food banks.

Somerset High School

Somerset High School is in line for a $6.5 million renovation. The application for funding is currently at the Kentucky Department of Education for review.

“At the high school, the renovations will be composed of an expansion of the cafeteria, some design aspects within the library, and ultimately updating HVAC and other electrical components throughout the majority of the building,” said Somerset Independent Schools Superintendent Kyle Lively.

The oldest portion of the high school was built in 1910 and the renovations will maintain the historic character of the building. The school is a combination of three sections, built and renovated at different times over the decades.

Henderson County High School

Henderson County High School has accepted the first students for its new School of Fine Arts that will launch for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Forty-four students have been chosen in four 'pathways' – visual art, theater, voice and instrumental music.

Brian Ettensohn is fine arts coordinator at the high school. He said students had to go through a rigorous admission process.                   

“We had them, if they were in music, instrumental or voice, we had options that they could choose to perform. In visual art, we had three different drawings that they had to produce and then they could bring in anything above and beyond those three pieces.”

Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Kentucky has 700,000 residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. Community forums in Somerset April 11-13 and in Bowling Green May 16-18 will  offer families, friends, schools and employers a chance to find information and resources to better serve those with hearing issues. 

The three-day programs are sponsored by the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Somerset program kicks off April 11 with a ‘Community Connect’ forum from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott. Staff from the commission will also be available from 3 to 7 p.m. on April 12 at the same location. Intrepreters and captioning will be available at the program. Anita Dowd is executive staff advisor for the commission. Dowd is deaf and said the population of Kentucky residents with hearing issues is often under-served and under the radar, partly because of the difficulty in communication. 

Southern Kentucky Film Commission

Southern Kentucky’s fledgling film industry is taking another step in its development. A casting call will be held in Cave City on April 11 for the second film to be produced in collaboration with the Southern Kentucky Film Commission.

The movie, called “Mail Order Monster,” is a family film about a young girl dealing with the death of her mother. The cast includes a variety of characters, including middle schoolers, a sheriff and an Italian restaurant owner.

Branscombe Richmond is one of the producers of the film. He says the open casting call signals an opportunity for Southern Kentucky.

“It’s important for Kentucky because we’re going to start to open up an opportunity to see if there is some talent that can ready to be in a motion picture and a television show. A lot of times the actors come from Hollywood or New York or Chicago, or wherever they have a pool of talent.”

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