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 state summit with the goal of making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities will be held in Bowling Green on March 30. 

One Bowling Green artist, Michael Dixon, discovered that a disability can sometimes can steer a person onto their path in life. He found out he had dyslexia when he was in elementary school. Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult to read.

Dixon says he used to joke around when he was asked to read out loud in class, to cover up the difficulty he was having.

“I got teased a lot, but it really didn’t bother me. But I found out when I was in high school, doing artwork kept me focused on a lot of things. It kept me calm. It kept me focused on the pictures that I’m doing.”

Southern Kentucky Film Commission

The Southern Kentucky Film Commission is celebrating its first major achievement this weekend with two free showings of a Hallmark film produced with assistance from the new organization.

The commission’s president, Terry Martin, said he hopes the events surrounding the movie “An Uncommon Grace” will inspire young Kentuckians to consider a career in the film industry.

“We feel like this is a good location and we have a lot of people calling from Hollywood about wanting to do movies in Kentucky, basically because of Kentucky’s legislature passing tax incentives for movies to come to Kentucky.”

BRADD Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living

The uncertainty around possible cuts to federal programs for the elderly and disabled is raising concerns among some social service agencies in southern Kentucky.

Some of the proposed cuts impact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That department funds the Older Americans Act, which provides support to Area Agencies on Aging in southern Kentucky.

Michelle Hines is the director of that agency in the Barren River Area Development District. She says many low-income, elderly and disabled residents in the region could suffer if the proposed budget is approved.

“That could spell disaster in the future of the Older Americans Act programs and services. The services under there include case management, transportation, home delivered meals, elder justice and long-term care ombudsmen.”

Daviess County Public Schools

The Daviess County Board of Education has named its new superintendent for public schools. He is Matt Robbins, the school district's current assistant superintendent for finance and operations. He began working in the school district in 1997.

Robbins has a master's degree in education administration from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky. 

He will replace current superintendent Owens Saylor, who will retire at the end of June.

The Board of Education made the announcement at a special meeting March 20.

Robbins was one of three finalists for the position. The  board  also considered Casey Allen, superintendent of Ballard County Public Schools, and Jason Hamby, superintendent of Trigg  County Public Schools.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities

Owensboro Municipal Utilities is switching to a different source of energy after more than 100 years of burning coal.

There’s a lot of talk - and hope - among some Kentucky residents that coal will make a comeback. But Owensboro Municipal Utilities says it’s seen the writing on the wall and coal will be completely phased over the next six years. 

Sonya Dixon is a spokeswoman for OMU.

“This is a monumental change in the way that OMU has done business. You know, we have burned coal for the last 117 years and obviously, this is a shift, but we feel it’s a positive one in the best interest of our customers.” 

Bowling Green Police Dept.

Bowling Green Police are continuing to search for three suspects involved in shooting a man to death during a robbery at a grocery store.

The fatal shooting happened at La Placita market on Morgantown Road at about 3 p.m. on March 17.

Thirty-one-year-old Jose Cruz died of a gunshot wound and one woman was injured, but police have not released her name.

The two suspects who entered the store are described as short Hispanic men in their late 20s and early 30s.

One was wearing a camouflage hooded jack and the other had on a dark hooded jacket with the logo H2L on the back. Those two, along with a third man, fled the scene in a dark-colored sedan.

Law enforcement is asking anyone who may have information about the incident to call Bowling Green Police at 270-393-4000.

Owensboro Public Schools

Owensboro Public Schools would be hit with a cut of $1 million  a year if the proposed federal budget is approved.

Nick Brake, Superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools, was in Washington, D.C. during this past week meeting with the region’s Congressional delegation. He said he urged legislators to maintain critical funding for education. 

“We’re deeply concerned that this first budget proposal from the new administration doesn’t seem to prioritize an investment in education at all. In fact, it’s a devastating cut to education and that’s why I spent some time in Washington, D.C. this week to express my concern about this very issue.”

Brake said the proposed budget cuts would dramatically impact programs for disadvantaged students and those with disabilities.

Alan Warren

The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro has received an extensive collection of bluegrass CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, books and recorded radio shows.

The thousands of items are from Colorado judge H. Conway Gandy, who died two years ago.

Gandy never lived in the Kentucky, but his passion for the state’s signature music led him to make it available to others. One way he shared his passion was through a radio show he created.

Savannah Hall is the curator at the bluegrass museum in Owensboro. She said the collection includes recordings of Gandy’s broadcasts about his beloved bluegrass music.

“His radio show ‘Where It All Began’ delved into the roots of bluegrass music and how bluegrass comes from a country background, a jazz background, blues. So the collection he gave us includes all of that music as well.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Lora Zibman

The new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that 24 million Americans would be without health insurance in the next 10 years if the current Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is approved. 

Many residents of Kentucky are carefully watching to see how they might be affected. About 400,000 Kentucky residents who previously did not have health insurance gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Robin Shank of Glasgow is one of them.

“I’m concerned about the ACA. I have a very bad heart condition. I went 25 years without medical insurance. It about broke me. The ACA saved my life," said Shank. "If they take it away, it’s going to kill me. It’s going to drive my family into bankruptcy and then I’ll die. That’s why I’m concerned.”

Rhonda J Miller

The executive director of the Henderson Area Arts Alliance has only been on the job for three months. But Alex Caudill knows his territory. He’s a Henderson native who knows first-hand that there’s strong support in the region for getting more people involved in all of the arts – especially to fill the 980-seat theater.

“I think we need to provide a little more higher quality programming. We need to bring in some name acts, names that people know, to get people back in the door again. It’s kind of dwindled a little bit, our attendance has, with the shows that we’ve provided, so I think that’s something we need to work on.”

He says lots of tops artists have performed in Henderson, including Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Caudill says his other priority is getting more young people involved in the arts. He says he knows the value of the arts first-hand.

Jellystonemammothcave.com

The owner of a Cave City campground says two abandoned cemeteries discovered on the property will be moved to a nearby location after a series of legal steps is completed.

Bill Pott owns Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Cave City. He says Barren County Fiscal Court has already approved the relocation of about two dozen graves with headstones dating back to the late 1800s. Pott says a nearby cemetery with some graves from the same era will offer more respect for the departed ones.

“Kids are going to be kids and a cemetery in the middle of a campground is going to be desecrated. There’s nothing I can to that would stop that. So the proper thing to do is to follow the law and to relocate these people to a place where they can receive the proper reverence they deserve.”

The Greenways Commission of Bowling Green and Warren County has received an $8,900 grant to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Miranda Clements is the multimodal coordinator for the commission. She says safety begins with making sure everyone takes bicycle riding seriously.           

“A bicycle is considered a vehicle, so when you’re on a bicycle it’s like you’re driving a vehicle, so you have to follow the rules of the road.”

Part of the grant is for the production of short safety videos for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

U.S. News & World Report

Kentucky ranked 42nd in a new survey that looks at what makes a state a good place to live.

The survey by U.S. News & World Report considered factors such as health, education, opportunity, economy, infrastructure, crime and government.

  

The study weighted health care and education most heavily because that’s what survey respondents said they’re most concerned about. Kentucky ranked 44th in health care and 35th in education.

 

The state that earned the number one spot in the rankings is Massachusetts. At the bottom is Louisiana.

  

You can see all the details about how Kentucky and the other states rank in the complete survey.     

Western Kentucky University has filed a lawsuit against its student newspaper, arguing that the school is not required to release records related to sexual misconduct by university employees.

The WKU lawsuit against the College Heights Herald comes after a decision by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear in January that the university is required to release Title IX records about investigations of sexual harassment by employees. The names and any other personal identifiers were to be redacted.

The lawsuit was filed in Warren Circuit Court by Kerrick Bachert, the law firm representing the university.

Michael Abate of the law firm Kaplan and Partners is representing the College Heights Herald.

“We think here in this in this case that the paper was absolutely entitled to receive these documents," Abate said. "And we think it’s incredibly unfortunate that it has come to a point where the university is suing its own student paper over conducting important and essential journalism meant to protect the students.”

flickr/Creative Commons/Hakan Dahlstrom

Bowling Green and Warren County planning officials are working on a project to upgrade biking and walking routes and local residents are being asked for input.

Miranda Clements is the Greenways Multimodal Coordinator for the Metropolitan Planning Commission. She said the commission has hired the Nashville firm of RPM Transportation Consultants to help design the improvements.

“Basically, what they are wanting to do is, look at our facilities and what we have and try and understand what the needs are and then identify different opportunities to improve the biking and walking in the community.”

The consultants will use suggestions from residents in developing the plan.

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