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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Education
1:22 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Approves Tuition Hike

The campus of Western Kentucky University.
Credit WKU

Kentucky's public colleges and universities can raise tuition by eight percent over the next two years.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education unanimously passed the two-year tuition and mandatory fee ceiling during a meeting Tuesday in Murray. The potential increase allows universities to offset dwindling state funding. The first-year increase is limited to five percent.

In an email to faculty and staff, WKU President Gary Ransdell said he will recommend to the Board of Regents a tuition increase of 4.8 percent for in-state residential students for the fall 2014 semester.

"This, along with 50 percent state support for our KERS retirement contribution increase and with reallocations among the various divisions of the University, will allow us to balance our budget for next year," wrote Ransdell.

The budget also funds a one percent cost of living adjustment for employees and more than $4 million in additional funding for student financial assistance.

CPE President Bob King says Governor Steve Beshear wanted only a four percent increase over one year instead of the unusual two year-plan. CPE chair Pam Miller says the council wanted to give universities as much flexibility as “politically possible.”

It’s estimated that state institutions will generate an additional $66 million dollars in revenues over the 2014-15 school year thanks to the tuition hike, while institutionally-funded student aid will increase $26 million dollars.

Economy/Politics
11:16 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Paul: Increasing Minimum Wage Would Hurt "Minorities and Kids"

Senator Rand Paul says raising the minimum wage would negatively impact job prospects for minorities and children.

The Courier-Journal reports that while speaking Monday night to a group of business owners and officials in Louisville, Sen. Paul said Congress could help the poor and unemployed by cutting corporate and personal income taxes in struggling areas.

The Bowling Green Republican has introduced a bill that would create what he calls “economic freedom zones” in zip codes where at least one-quarter of the residents live at or below the poverty line.

That move comes amid a debate at both the federal and state governmental levels over whether the minimum wage should be hiked. Congress is considering whether to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo sponsored legislation this year that would have increased the state’s minimum wage to that same level over the course of three years.

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Economy
4:14 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

More Than 1,000 Kentucky Toyota Employees To Be Relocated

The Toyota plant in Georgetown will stay open, but the manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky will close down

Toyota North America is consolidating its corporate headquarters from three locations down to one.  Offices in Erlanger, Kentucky, California and New York will be moving to the Dallas suburb of Plano.

That means about a 1,500 employees from Erlanger will be relocated.  About 300 of those employees will be moving to the manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, which will remain open.  But 250 will move to Michigan, the remainder will go to Texas.

In a letter to Governor Steve Beshear, Toyota says the changes will leave about 8,200 Toyota employees in Kentucky.  Beshear calls the move “extremely disappointing”.

Regional
1:06 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Potentially Dangerous Weather Entering Region Monday Afternoon

The National Weather Service is predicting some potentially dangerous weather is moving into our listening area Monday afternoon.

Strong thunderstorms are likely, with potentially damaging winds, large hail, and possibly a tornado with some storms moving into the region.

Environment
10:28 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Citing Lack of Customer Commitments, Funding Pulled For Bluegrass Pipeline

A petition opposing the Bluegrass Pipeline is presented at the governor's office in November, 2013
Credit Jonathan Meador

The CEO of one of the companies behind the Bluegrass Natural Gas Liquids pipeline says a lack of customer interest has led backers to halt the controversial project.

Stan Horton with Boardwalk Pipeline Partners says his company, along with Williams Co., is still having discussions with potential liquid natural gas customers.

“The Bluegrass and Moss Lake projects are not dead. We are no longer funding any capital for those projects, but the joint venture between us and Williams is still in place,” said Horton.

Horton spoke on a conference call with investors Monday morning.

The Bluegrass Pipeline project had drawn heavy opposition from environmental groups and some residents in the path of the project. It also sparked a debate in the state legislature concerning the rights of private companies to use eminent domain.

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Politics
11:20 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Kentucky Voters Divided on Rand Paul White House Bid

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green, Ky.
Credit Abbey Oldham

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is undecided on a 2016 presidential bid, and so are his constituents. 

A poll released Wednesday shows 31% of registered voters in Kentucky say Senator Paul should seek the Republican nomination for president while 34% say he should not.  Another 32% are undecided.

The poll by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation questioned 891 registered Kentucky voters between April 8-15.  While acknowledging his wife’s reservations about a presidential run, Paul has said he won’t make a decision until after the November elections. 

Meanwhile, the Bowling Green Republican continues trekking across the country and speaking at events.  This week he hosted school choice roundtables in Chicago and Milwaukee.  This weekend, Senator Paul will be in Massachusetts speaking at the Harvard Institute of Politics.  He’ll also address the state GOP convention in Maine.

Regional
5:31 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Yonts Says Legislature Will Review Death of Kentucky Prisoner

State Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville
Credit Kentucky LRC

The starvation death of a prisoner at the Kentucky State Penitentiary is now raising questions from at least one state legislator.  Greenville State Rep. Brent Yonts says he will hold hearings later this year on the circumstances surrounding the death of 57-year-old James Kenneth Embry in January.

“According to the paper reports, this guy missed 35 of 36 meals – refused to eat or turned them down,” Yonts told WKU Public Radio.  “Well, that’s a dead giveaway that there’s a problem there.  And particularly when he also had lost – I think the paper said about 30 pounds – or at least lost a good deal of weight.”

The Associated Press broke the story earlier this week about the hunger-strike death. The report says Embry had been dealing with mental health issues for much of last year. The AP reports the prison’s lead doctor has since been fired; a contract nurse was banned from the facility and two medical professionals were placed on leave.

“It’s a concern to me as a legislator serving on the committees that have jurisdiction over corrections.  It’s a concern to me as a citizen that we are not taking better care of inmates when we are required by law in the constitution to do so, ” said Yonts.  

Politics
11:14 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Sen. Paul Lands on Time's List of 100 Most Influential People

Sen. Rand Paul

For a second year in a row, Time magazine has named Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as one of its 100 Most Influential People in the World. 

Paul’s fellow Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell writes a tribute to Paul in Time, saying the “real secret” to Paul’s “rapid rise from a Bowling Green operating room to the Center of American politics is his authenticity”. 

McConnell also writes that Paul is “forcing people to rethink the Republican Party.”

Meantime, a New York Times/Kaiser Family Family Foundation poll released this week shows one-third of Kentucky voters think Paul should make a presidential run in 2016. Another third feel Paul should not, while just over 30 percent say they don't have enough information to form an opinion.

Paul has said he'll wait until after the mid-term elections to announce a possible White House bid.

Politics
3:04 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Rand Paul Plans New England Swing

Republican Rand Paul speaks following his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is headed back to New England. 

Republican Rand Paul will be in Massachusetts on Friday to speak at the Harvard Institute of

Politics.  The head of the institute is former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson who lost the GOP Senate nomination to Paul in 2010.

"We are pleased to welcome my fellow Kentuckian Senator Rand Paul to Harvard," Grayson said in a statement. "One of the most compelling people in politics right now, Senator Paul has appeal throughout many constituencies - including outside of the traditional Republican coalition and with younger voters in the millennial generation. We are looking forward to him engaging with our students and the Harvard community."

On Saturday, Senator Paul travels to Maine to speak at the Republican Party's state convention. 

The Bowling Green Republican is mulling a run for president, but he won’t make an announcement until after the November mid-term election.

Regional
2:47 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Two Injured In Incident at Alumninum Plant in Bowling Green

What’s being called an industrial incident at the Kobe Aluminum Automotive Plant in Bowling Green has left two people injured. The Bowling Green Fire Department says the two people were airlifted to a trauma center, but the extent of their injuries is unknown. 

Seven units and 15 firefighters responded to the scene just before 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. But emergency officials say there was no fire.

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