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

Migrant workers who come to Kentucky under the H2A visa program are a critical part of the agricultural workforce.

The Bluegrass State ranks seventh among the 50 states for the number farm workers who come under this visa, according to the Office of Foreign Labor Certification.

Phil and Jan Holliday's farm in Logan County has two workers from Mexico who have been coming for more than two decades, and they’re bringing the next generation.                     

The rows of green tobacco stretch to the horizon under a clear blue Kentucky sky. It’s midday and it’s hot – around 90 degrees.


NASA

As Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Franklin and other Kentucky cities in prime viewing area prepare for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, NASA is issuing a warning.

NASA has been alerted that some unsafe eclipse glasses are being sold to consumers. Special eye protection is needed for safe viewing of the astronomical event.   

NASA says the only glasses that should be used are produced by four companies – American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, TSE 17 and Thousand Oaks Optical. 

The safe glasses must also have the reference number ISO 12312-2.

NASA has details on safe eclipse viewing glasses and on the solar eclipse on its website

The path of the eclipse runs across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Locations nearest the center line will experience darkness for two-minutes-and-43-seconds.

Rhonda J Miller

Dignitaries from state and local government, and the military, will officially open the new Radcliff Veterans Center on July 21.

The center is a bright, comfortable skilled nursing facility that has the feeling of a lodge. It’s located on 200 peaceful acres donated by Fort Knox.

The first residents began arriving in May. One of residents of the first "household" of 10 veterans is William Wester.

When you get to  Wester’s room, it’s clear that this slim man with a twinkle in his eye is looking toward the future, beyond his current 101 years.

"I’m going on 102," he said.

Ohio County Economic Development Alliance

Ohio County is boosting its economic development, but not with a big manufacturing plant or a major expansion of an existing business. The county is launching a coworking space for entrepreneurs called The Hub on July 24.

The new business incubator called The Hub is in a renovated house on Peach Alley in the town of Hartford. It offers a workspace nestled in the rural environment of Ohio County, while connected to national or global businesses with fiber broadband.

A local entrepreneur, or one who wants to leave an urban environment, can work remotely from Ohio County and hold meetings through audio or video conferencing.

Western Kentucky University

The stars have aligned for a national organization of Corvette enthusiasts holding its national convention in Bowling Green, Kentucky beginning Aug. 21.

That’s the day of the solar eclipse and Bowling Green is in the prime viewing area.

Bowling Green is the only place the Corvette is made, so car clubs often have conventions in town and the GM Corvette plant is always on the ‘must see’ list.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College is offering regional businesses a chance to use 3D printing at no cost. The college has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture intended to spur economic development in rural areas.

Eric Wooldridge is a Somerset Community College professor of ‘additive manufacturing,’ often called 3D printing. He said the process uses a variety of materials including ABS, a type of plastic.

WKU Hardin Planetarium

Western Kentucky University is planning for its football stadium to be filled with a crowd of 8,000 to 20,000 school-age children for the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. 

WKU has invited area school districts to share the highly anticipated event that will cause the day to go dark for about one minute at 1:27 p.m. in Bowling Green.

The path of the eclipse runs across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Locations nearest the center line will experience darkness for two-minutes-and-43-seconds. Bowling Green is at the edge of the “path of totality” for the eclipse.

Facebook/ROMP/Alex Morgan

The 14th annual ROMP festival attracted a record-breaking 26,000 people to the four-day bluegrass music event in Owensboro, Kentucky from June 21 - 25. That audience compares to 23,000 people who attended last year.

The International Bluegrass Music Museum produces the event. Chris Joslin is executive director of the museum and says the record number of people arrived despite challenges of rain and mud on some of the days.  He says the increased attendance is due to a combination of factors.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

An Owensboro area initiative helping to place high school students from refugee families into summer jobs is proving to be more successful than just temporary work. Many of the young people in the program  who have already graduated from high school have found permanent employment.

In this first year of the summer refugee youth program, sponsored by Owensboro Community and Technical College, 15 teenagers have found jobs. The 16-to-18-year-old students from Daviess County and Owensboro public schools are mainly from families who came to Kentucky from Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Somalia.

American Cinema International

Production of the second movie done in collaboration with the Southern Kentucky Film Commission is taking place during June in Hart and Barren counties.

The movie "Runaway Romance" is the story of a girl from Los Angeles whose car breaks down in Kentucky.

The filming at locations in Munfordville, Horse Cave and Glasgow has brought 65 actors and crew who will be in the area until June 29.

Chevonne O’Shaughnessy is executive producer of "Runaway Romance." She says the region has “the look” needed for the film, along with other advantages.            

Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green philanthropist, businessman and founder of the Baker Arboretum, Jerry E. Baker died June 22 at the age of 86.

His passing was confirmed by director of the Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum, Jack LeSieur, who said Baker passed away peacefully at his home.

Baker was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2011. He was a 1951 graduate of WKU.

He established professorships and scholarships in music and horticulture, as well as scholarships in art, dance and athletics.

In April 2006, Baker made a $15 million gift to WKU that included his home, art and arboretum, making it at that time the single largest gift by an individual to a public university in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Vanderburgh Humane Society

The city of Evansville is considering allowing potbellied pigs as pets. 

The city's Animal Control and Education Commission has reviewed a proposed ordinance that would add the pigs to the list of pets allowed with a license.

The Courier and Press reports the commission is recommending that the permit price to keep one of the pigs be set at $100. That fee is comparable to the permit required to  own six or more dogs. 

The Evansville City Council will review the proposed ordinance on June 26.

U.S. Army, Sgt. Neysa Canfield

The Army’s Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky is playing a major role in meeting ambitious  enlistment targets in the coming months. The Army is offering cash and other incentives to meet its national goals.

The Army aims to add 28,000 soldiers by the end of September. That will bring the total personnel to just over one million, the number approved under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. 

“In essence, the Army is hiring again," said Bill Costello, a spokesman for the Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox. "Where we had been in a position to minimize or reduce the size of the force under the previous administration, the current administration has authorized us to increase our force structure and right now we’re taking some concrete steps to get that done.”

Kentucky Mesonet

The Kentucky state climatologist said scientists must continue to provide updated climate information to U.S. decision makers.  

The comments come after President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

State Climatologist Stuart Foster oversees the Kentucky Mesonet with weather and climate monitoring stations across the state. Foster is director of the Kentucky Climate Center and said Mesonet provides extensive data that’s available to state policy makers. 

Foster said there are natural climate variations from year-to-year.

Rhonda J Miller

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farms in Kentucky has decreased by 16,000 over the past 20 years.

That means many people who once worked on those farms have to find other ways to make a living.

That’s the mission of the Kentucky Farmworker Programs - to help seasonal and migrant farmworkers find retraining and jobs.

At the Metalsa plant in Hopkinsville, Victor Radford is eager to get started on his day’s work helping to make frames for pickup trucks.

“I’m on the repair station today, weld repair station. So as the frames comes down the line, if there’s any weld gaps or porosity I’ll fix it for ‘em and keep on sending it.” “Weld gaps or what?”  “Gaps or porosity, like little bubbles in the weld from the robots, I repair it and keep it going.”

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