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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Barren County Detention Center

Police are looking for an inmate who walked away from a work detail Monday morning in Barren County. 

Amber Franks escaped near the Glasgow town square around 7:15 a.m.  Police say she may have been picked up by Jeffrey Franks, also known as Jeffrey Mitchell, and may be in the Olive Hill area of Carter County.  

Franks was last seen wearing an orange inmate shirt, gray pants, and pink tennis shoes.  She's described as  being 5'4", 140 pounds with strawberry blonde hair and hazel eyes.

Mitchell is described as a white man with shoulder-length hair and a sleeve tattoo on one of his arms.

Franks was being held for second-degree robbery. 


The Barren River Area Development District will no longer provide workforce services for the southern Kentucky region.

The South Central Workforce Development Board voted Wednesday to terminate its contract with BRADD.

The Development Board’s Chairman, Ron Sowell, said his group was primarily concerned about the amount of workforce development money that has been returned to the state because it wasn’t used by BRADD.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports that number is estimated to be around $500,000.

Kentucky LRC

A second Democratic state lawmaker now says Kentucky’s Republican governor asked him to switch parties.

Representative Russ Meyer says when he refused, he was threatened with political retaliation by Governor Bevin’s chief of staff.

Meyer, a Democratic House member from Nicholasville, says Bevin and his chief of staff, Blake Brickman, asked him to become a Republican shortly after Bevin was sworn into office. The alleged request came at a time when the GOP was hoping to win control of the Kentucky House.

Meyer told the CNHI news service that he informed Bevin he wouldn’t switch parties, and that the Governor responded politely. But Meyer says Brickman threatened to pull state-funding from projects in Meyer’s district, and called the Democrat an “Obama-loving baby killer.”

Glasgow Independent Schools

Glasgow High School principal Keith Hale has been named superintendent of Glasgow Independent Schools. The Glasgow board of education made the announcement during a special called meeting Monday night.

Hale was one of three finalists for the job.

Board chair Amelia Kiser told the Glasgow Daily Times that Hale's "strength in the field of instruction,  his commitment to the district, his commitment to the kids of the district were all very attractive to us."

Hale told the newspaper he was honored by the appointment and getting it "absolutely means the world to me."


A new poll released Wednesday has good news for Indiana Democrats.

The poll shows Democrat Evan Bayh leading Republican Congressman Todd Young by seven points in the state’s U.S. Senate race.

The Evansville Courier and Press reports Bayh is leading Young 48 percent to 41 percent.

Bayh’s candidacy is especially important to the Democrats nationally in their effort to take control of the Senate.

The Monmouth University poll shows a tight race for governor.

Republican Lieutenant Gov. Eric Holcomb holds a one percentage point lead over Democrat John Gregg.

The poll has a margin of error of nearly five percentage points.


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, are attending a fundraiser at a private home in Evansville next week.

Monday’s event is being hosted by businessman Steve Chancellor, the CEO of American Patriot Group, which makes field-ready meals for military personnel.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is also scheduled to attend the fundraiser.

The minimum donation for a couple is $10,000. Photo opportunities and access to VIPs will cost more—between $25,000-$250,000.

Trump and Pence are trying to keep Indiana’s 11 electoral college votes in the Republican win category. Republican Mitt Romney beat President Obama by 10 percentage points in 2012.


The rainfall that’s been pounding Kentucky this summer has broken records and impacted farmers.

Kentucky state climatologist and WKU Geography and Geology professor Stuart Foster is reporting that rainfall records in several counties were shattered in July. The climate observer station in Murray recorded more than 18 inches of rain.

That broke the previous record by more than 7 inches.

Mesonet sites with the most rainfall in July also included Christian County with more than 18 inches, and Logan County with nearly 17 inches. Butler, Hopkins, and Marshall counties all recorded 16 inches of rainfall last month.

The heavy rains washed out portions of tobacco in some fields.

But the above average rainfall was an advantage for some crops, including corn and soybeans.

Kentucky Mesonet has 66 weather stations collecting data in 65 counties.

Tennessee Valley Authority

The number of coal jobs in Kentucky continue to decline.  A report from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet says the number of jobs statewide dropped by 6.9 percent.

In Western Kentucky, coal jobs dropped 7.9 percent from April to June. The amount of coal produced in that region declined 12.3 percent. Production in the state’s eastern coalfield is the lowest it’s been since 1915.

Kentucky now has less miners than in 1898, before the extension of railroads allowed for explosive growth in production and jobs in Eastern Kentucky.

Analysts say there are a number of reasons for the decline, including competition for power-plant customers from cheap natural gas; tougher federal rules to protect air and water quality and the growth of renewable energy sources.


Lobbying companies gave six-figure contributions to underwrite the costs for Kentucky to host the Southern Legislative Conference annual convention.

The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission says three groups that lobby the legislature gave at least $100,000 to sponsor the convention. Those groups were the Keeneland race track, the Kentucky Distillers Association and LG&E and KU Energy. About 1,500 state legislators and staff attended the conference from 15 southern states.

Although such contributions are legal and not unusual not everyone agrees with the practice. Chairman of Common Cause of Kentucky, Richard Beliles, says the donations buy access to legislators.

State police have arrested a woman for the murder of a Smiths Grove woman last month.

After a stand-off with police at a Rockfield home, Mary Thompson was arrested for the shooting death of 51 year old Dealynn O’Connor in Smiths Grove June 17th  .

A news release from State Police says they learned Wednesday that Thompson was in the home in Rockfield. She was arrested after 7:00 Thursday night.

Logan County sheriff Wallace Whittaker was briefly hospitalized Sunday following a car accident.

Russellville police handled the wreck at 431 South and the entrance to The Greens housing complex.

They say a car driven by Dustin Craig of Russellville hit the side of Whittaker’s car as the sheriff was turning into a driveway. Whittaker complained of shoulder and head pain and was taken to Logan Memorial hospital for observation.

Both vehicles sustained damage and sheriff Whittaker’s Buick Enclave had to be towed from the scene.

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights has requested an investigation of the Providence Police Department in Webster County.

The Courier Journal reports the human rights commission has received complaints from residents about racial profiling and harassment by police.

One concern of the commission is that Providence Mayor Eddie Gooch allegedly told someone wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt that the organization is “racist.” The incident occurred at a city council meeting. The mayor reportedly told the person wearing the shirt not to wear it again in council chambers and that, “All lives matter.”

Some residents reported their concerns about harassment to the Providence City Council last month.

The state human rights commission has asked the U.S. Department of Justice for the Western District of Kentucky to investigate.

Glasgow PD

Glasgow police are looking for a "person of interest" in connection with a skimming device found on a bank ATM machine,

Glasgow police lieutenant Jimmy Phelps says the skimmer was found Saturday attached to the ATM at Edmonton State Bank on West Main Street.

It's not the first time Glasgow police have gotten reports about the devices that read information from a debit or credit card at the ATM. But Phelps saus it is the first time they've gotten the device before the person who planed it there came back to take it away.

Phelps says it's nearly impossible for bank customers to detect the device because of the creative technology crooks use to nearly reproduce the ATM machine, "It has the slot, it's molded to fit exactly over and a lot of times it's the same color as where you place your card inside the ATM," he says, "It literally looks like a molded version that just fits right over it."

WKU Athletics

Incoming Lady Hilltopper Whitney Creech has been named the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. The freshman is the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky high school basketball history.

During her career at Jenkins High School Creech poured in 5,527 points. She led the nation in scoring in her final two seasons with the Lady Cavaliers averaging 42 points a game as a junior and 50.3 points a game as a senior.

Creech was also named the 14th Region Player of the Year and was a finalist for Miss Kentucky Basketball 2016.

Creech will join fellow WKU signees Malaka Frank and Sarah Price in the annual Kentucky All-Star Game on June 12th. That will be the first time in four years that WKU has had three players selected in the same season.

International Bluegrass Music Center

The city of Owensboro awarded the construction contract to build the new International Bluegrass Music Center to Peyronnin Construction of Evansville Wednesday. Peyronnin was the lowest of four bids for the project at $9.2 million.

Preconstruction is expected to begin within the next two weeks at the site on the corner of 2nd and Frederica Streets. Completion of the center is expected in the spring of 2018.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer quotes mayor Ron Payne as saying the project is good for the entire state of Kentucky, not just Owensboro. Payne said Peyronnin's bid wasn't a lot higher than original estimates which was surprising since a lot of construction projects underway in the area cause construction costs to rise.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and former Governor Steve Beshear are expected at a groundbreaking for the building on June 23rd. The Bluegrass Center received $5 million in state funding under Beshear's administration.