WKU Public Radio News

News Team

The award-winning news team at WKU Public Radio consists of Dan Modlin, Kevin Willis, Lisa Autry, and Joe Corcoran.

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Economy
3:45 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Kentucky's Jobless Rate At Lowest Point Since 2008

Kentucky's jobless rate for November (6.0 percent) is the lowest its been since a 5.9 percent reading in April, 2008.
Credit WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s unemployment rate continues its downward trend. The Office of Employment and Training announced Thursday the state’s jobless rate was down to six percent in November. 

It’s slightly above the national average in November, but it’s a drop of two-tenths of a percent from October. 

It’s the first time in 6 ½ years the Kentucky unemployment rate has been this low.

Regional
11:29 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Funding Shortfall Dashes Plans For Downtown Evansville Hotel

Plans for a downtown convention hotel in Evansville have been abandoned amid ongoing questions over funding
Credit HCW Development

City officials in Evansville say they’ll have to start anew on a project to build a downtown convention hotel.  At a press conference Thursday morning, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke announced that previous plans for a 257-room hotel are being scrapped because of a $6.5 million shortage in funding.

“This is a disappointing delay but it is not a defeat,” said Winnecke.  “We cannot look at it as a defeat.  We are fully committed to building a full-service convention hotel in downtown Evansville. It is what we need and we’ll find a path to victory, I assure you.”

The city had committed $20 million in taxpayer dollars for the project, but Old National Bank wasn’t able to cover the entire $14 million dollars it had originally allocated.

“Are we disappointed? Absolutely,” said Old National Bank CEO and President Bob Jones. “This has been our home for 180 years as an institution.  This community deserves a convention hotel; this community deserves to continue the great momentum we’ve seen.”

The overall cost of the hotel was just over $71 million.   A groundbreaking ceremony took place in March at the proposed building site near the Ford Center, but no construction actually took place.

Regional
2:47 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Hemlock Permanently Closing $1.2B Plant in Tennessee

Hemlock Semiconductor Group is permanently closing its idled polysilicon plant in Clarksville, citing global trade disputes that have led to an oversupply of the compound used in solar energy panels.

The company says 50 Clarksville-based employees will be offered to stay with the company, but will have to relocate.

The company's president, Denise Beachy, announced the decision to the The Leaf-Chronicle on Wednesday.

Construction on the on the plant located near the Kentucky line was begun in 2009, and the facility was close to complete when Hemlock announced in 2013 it would not begin construction because of the supply glut and disputes with China over tariffs.

Hemlock will now work with local officials to decide how to dismantle the facility and to determine which parts can be repurposed for other business uses.

Regional
2:20 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

New Government Spending Bill Tries To Prevent Tug-of-War Over Hemp Pilot Projects

A shipment of hemp seeds was the subject of a standoff between Kentucky and the U.S. Justice Department earlier in 2014.
Credit Kentucky Department of Agriculture

The new spending bill that made its way through Congress last week contains language that forbids the federal government from getting in the way of industrial hemp pilot projects being conducted in three states, including Kentucky.

Several universities in Kentucky harvested hemp crops this year, but it came after a standoff between Kentucky and the Justice Department involving a shipment of hemp seeds from overseas.

The Courier-Journal reports Rep. Thomas Massie put the hemp-specific language in an amendment attached to the spending bill.  The commonwealth is currently accepting applications for farmers who want to plant a hemp crop in 2015.  Hemp had been banned in the country for decades.

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Regional
2:39 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Bowling Green City Commission To Consider Water Rate Hike

Water and sewer rates could go up in Bowling Green as early as February

Water and sewer rates in the city of Bowling Green could be going up as early as February 1st.  Bowling Green Municipal Utilities’ proposal to raise rates will be presented to the City Commission on Tuesday. 

Commissioner and BGMU board member Rick Williams tells the Daily News,  the extra revenue will go to improve aging infrastructure.  Under the proposal, rates would also go up on July 1 of 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Regional
3:27 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Agency Warns of Low Air Quality In Evansville Through Sunday

It’s a health alert more often seen in the summer, but the Environmental Protection Agency in Evansville has issued an air quality alert through Sunday. 

The executive director of the city agency tells the Courier & Press that the air this weekend could be unhealthy for those with respiratory problems – especially children, teenagers or older adults.

The alert is being blamed on a high pressure system and stagnant air.

Regional
3:54 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Doughty Earns Sammy Baugh Award as College Football's Top Passer

Brandon Doughty (pictured center) was named the 2014 Sammy Baugh Award winner, one day after winning Conference USA MVP honors.
Credit WKU Athletics

WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty has collected another piece of hardware. 

The Touchdown Club of Columbus has named Doughty as the winner of the Sammy Baugh Award, given annually to the nation’s top passer.  Doughty will be presented with the award February 7th.  

It was announced Wednesday Doughty will return to WKU next year after the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. 

He was also named the Conference USA MVP on Wednesday.

Regional
11:00 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Bendix Spicer Plans Expansion of Bowling Green Facility

Credit Bendix

A company that makes brakes and safety systems for commercial vehicles is expanding its manufacturing operations in Bowling Green.  Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake says it’s making a nearly $8.5 million dollar investment to upgrade its facilities.

The expansion will include the hiring of 75 new employees and the addition of two additional machining centers. BSFB opened its Bowling Green facility in 2007 with 133 employees.  By next year the company expects to have 440 workers in Bowling Green.

Economy
3:55 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Kentucky Says No State Tax Credits for Ark Encounter Park

An artist's rendering of a Noah's Ark-themed amusement park in northern Kentucky.
Credit Answers in Genesis

A planned amusement park in northern Kentucky featuring Noah’s Ark is not eligible for $18 million in state tourism tax benefits.

The Herald-Leader reports Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet Secretary sent the group Answers in Genesis a letter saying the commonwealth could not issue such tax benefits for projects with discriminatory hiring practices.

Answers in Genesis is the Christian group behind the Creation Museum, which seeks to explain the origins of the earth through the teachings of the bible. The group’s next project has been dubbed the Ark Park, and will feature a giant ship based on the story of Noah and the great flood.

But questions over whether the state should allow the park tourism tax benefits arose when Answers In Genesis refused to commit to not discriminating based on religion in the hiring process for park employees.

In his letter to a lawyer for Answers in Genesis, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart wrote “it is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of AIG’s ministry that will no longer permit the commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives.”

Officials with Answers In Genesis were not immediately available for comment following news of the state's decision.

Regional
2:47 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Mesker Park Zoo Expansion Gets Financial Boost From Evansville CVB

Mesker Park Zoo
Credit Mesker Park Zoo

The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau is pledging a $300,000 dollar grant to help build a carousel and aviary at the Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden.

The Courier & Press reports the board of commissioners at the CVB voted to award the matching grant. The money comes from the city’s "innkeeper" or hotel-motel tax. The zoo will have to raise $300,000 on its own to receive the grant. 

The project has an overall price tag of $3 million dollars and is expected to open sometime in 2016.

Around 175,000 people visit the Mesker Park Zoo each year.

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