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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Voters in Kentucky today are choosing the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor. 

The GOP matchup is extremely close between three of the four candidates. 

James Comer spent the final weeks of his campaign fending off allegations of domestic abuse.  After voting in his hometown of Tompkinsville this morning, Comer told WKU Public Radio he thinks the allegations will "backfire."

"The people who know me are offended by what's been printed.  They're working harder than they've ever worked," said Comer.  "We have a great ground game in just about every county in the state and I feel very confident it's going to be a good night."

Comer has accused Hal Heiner’s campaign of pushing the allegations, though Heiner himself has denied any involvement.  After voting in Louisville, Heiner wouldn't comment on the end of a long and negative campaign, saying only that people in Kentucky are wanting to move the state in a new direction. 

"For 63 weeks, we have focused on what's possible in Kentucky," remarked Heiner.  "I just believe we're at a crossroads right now.  We can do so much better.  I know we can."

Also voting in Louisville was businessman Matt Bevin who said momentum has moved in his direction.

"We've done what we need to do.  We laid down a very good campaign, I think," Bevin commented.  "We've raised the issues, we stayed out of the gutter, and the voters will decide."

WKU has announced head baseball coach Matt Myers will not return for another season.

WKU Athletics Director Todd Stewart says a national search for the next Hilltopper coach will begin immediately.

The team just wrapped upped its fourth season under Myers with a 24-28 record overall and a 10-19 record in Conference USA. They missed qualifying for the conference tournament for the first time since 1998.

In announcing Myers' termination, Stewart wrote in a news release that the team's record over the past four years didn't meet his expectations. He added, "We must have more success in conference play and the postseason."

Myers became head coach in 2012 after being on the staff since 2008. The team went 106-118 overall during his tenure, 54-65 in conference games and just 1-6 in conference tournament games.

KCTCS

Owensboro Community and Technical College didn’t go far in naming its new president. 

Dr. Scott Williams takes the helm after spending the past 15 years at the campus.  He is currently vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer, a position he has held since 2008. 

“Dr. Williams will be an excellent leader for OCTC,” said Dr. Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “We are fortunate he already has great knowledge and experience within our system and his vision and ideas will lead to the continued success of the college.”

Williams will begin his new appointment July 1.

Twitter

Locked in a dead heat for his party’s nomination for governor, some prominent Kentucky Republicans are coming to the aid of James Comer. 

On the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday, about a dozen current and former elected Republicans expressed their support for Comer while insisting he never abused his college

The accusations come from Marilyn Thomas, who now lives in New York.  She dated Comer while a student at WKU and says he was physically and emotionally abusive toward her, and once drove her to a clinic for an abortion. 

Former State Senator Julie Denton organized Wednesday's rally and said there’s nothing to the allegations.

"I knew about these allegations last summer and checked them out myself, and found nothing, no substance to them whatsoever," stated Denton.

Denton accused unnamed sources of trying to tarnish Comer for political gain. 

"I think it's diabolical and disgusting, and I'm very disappointed there are folks out there who feel that's the only way they can win political office," Denton added.

Comer has accused fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner of fueling the accusations. 

The race involving Comer, Heiner, and Matt Bevin is in a statistical tie ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.  Polling places Will T. Scott in a distant fourth place.

A new statewide survey shows the Kentucky Republican primary for governor is a tossup between the top three candidates.

The Survey USA poll found Matt Bevin with 27 percent support, James Comer with 26 percent, and Hal Heiner with 25 percent. Will T. Scott trailed with just 8 percent support.

The poll describes the difference between the top three contenders as “not statistically significant”, and says the trio could finish one, two, and three in any order.

The survey polled 517 respondents who said they were registered Republicans and certain to vote in next week’s primary.

The GOP voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The survey was conducted for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV.

The Bowling Green Independent School District is close to naming its next superintendent.  The board of education is expected to make the announcement Monday night at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. 

The hiring follows interviews with four finalists, including Allen Barber from Eagle Point, Oregon, Bowling Green High School Principal Gary Fields, Hart County Assistant Superintendent Wesley Waddle, and Mark Owens, Director of Personnel for Daviess County Public Schools. 

Current Superintendent Joe Tinius is retiring June 30.

Ashley Lopez, WFPL

An analysis of fundraising data from the beginning weeks of Rand Paul’s presidential campaign shows he has strong support from donors in small towns.

The New York Times reports the Bowling Green Republican took in $1 million online in less than 30 hours after formerly launching his campaign April 7.

A quarter of the more than 15,000 donors who gave to Paul list addresses in communities that have populations under 10,000 people.

The 2010 Census shows only 15 percent of Americans live in communities of that size.

The average donation made at Paul’s website was around $60  during the first weeks of his campaign, meaning Paul will be able to ask many of those same donors for additional gifts during the primary season.

Another takeaway from the analysis is the overlap of donors who have given to both Rand Paul’s campaign and the 2012 White House bid by his father, then-Texas Congressman Ron Paul. At least 2,000 of the donors to Rand Paul last month also gave to his father’s campaign, although the Times says that number is likely higher because many small donors don’t appear on federal filings.

City of Owensboro

Owensboro City Commissioners appear set to give final approval to a city budget that includes fundingfor a golf course and the new International Bluegrass Music Center.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports that the city commission Tuesday night gave first approval to a budget plan that increases Owensboro’s occupational and net profits tax rates by six-tenths of a percentage point. Final approval of the budget is expected at a special called meeting Thursday afternoon.

The slight tax increase would generate more than $834,000 a year, which would be used to keep the nine-hole Hillcrest Golf Course open.

It would also cover the city’s $2.4 million dollar commitment toward the building of a new downtown bluegrass music center.  

Mayor Ron Payne says the city has reached an agreement with the Hillcrest Golf Association that will turn the course into a city park if less than 10,000 rounds a golf are played there each year.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Lee Royal

Tennesseans will soon be able to have alcoholic beverages delivered straight to their doors.

A law signed by Governor Bill Haslam that goes into effect July 1 allows third-party restaurant delivery services to buy alcohol from retailers and deliver it to consumers. The Tennessean reports that the owner of a Nashville-area food delivery service predicts his sales will increase 50-to-100 percent once he’s able to deliver alcohol to consumers.

Companies will be allowed to deliver up to a gallon of alcohol per customer, per delivery.

Consumers must show a valid form of ID, and all delivery drivers must be at least 21 years of age and pass a criminal background check. Any business delivering alcohol must get at least half of its gross sales from food delivery.

An Amish father and son will be in a Logan County courtroom Wednesday.  The men are facing charges of violating a local ordinance requiring owners to clean up after their large animals.

Amos Mast and his son Dan, both of Auburn, were cited this year by police for refusing to fit their horses with special bags to collect their droppings.  The ordinance requires large animals to wear the collection devices in order to keep streets clear of feces. 

Members of the Amish community object to the law, claiming the devices can spook their horses.  The Mast family will take their case before a jury in Logan District Court. 

The Masts are members of the Old Order Amish, the same sect involved in a legal battle a few years ago when they refused to place a slow-moving vehicle emblem on the back of their horse-drawn buggies.  They objected to the bright orange emblem on religious grounds.  The General Assembly eventually passed a law allowing the Amish to place reflective tape on their buggies.

The mayor of Owensboro is planning to introduce a plan to save a city-owned golf course from being sold.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Mayor Ron Payne will share the plan with the city commission at its Tuesday evening meeting. The city’s proposed budget does not include funding for Hillcrest Golf Course, listing it as eligible to be sold to private interests.

A new ordinance that includes funding for the nine-hole course will be introduced as an amendment to the budget during the city commission meeting.

The ordinance proposes to fund the golf course through a slight increase in the city’s occupational tax.

The increase would also help cover the city’s recent $2.4 million commitment to the construction of the new downtown International Bluegrass Music Center.

Update at 1:54 pm:

All lanes of I-65 south in Hardin County have been reopened Monday afternoon following a late morning accident that caused a semi to catch fire.

Update at 1:21 pm:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued the following update about a vehicle fire and lane closure on I-65 south in Hardin County:

Remaining cars from the vehicle hauler semi which caught fire and burned near the Glendale Interchange (Exit 86) are being removed.  One lane is now open.  Both lanes should be open within the hour.  Currently, traffic is backed up to the 94 interchange (approximately 7-8 miles).  Volume will continue to be heavy in the area and motorists may still wish to use Exit 91 to continue south via US 31-W or (if going thru to Bowling Green) take WK Parkway to Natcher Parkway and rejoin I-65 in Bowling Green at the Exit 20 interchange.

The Symphony at WKU stayed close to home in finding their new Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities. Dr. Brian St. John is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Activities at the University of Evansville, where he directs that University’s Symphony Orchestra and teaches courses in conducting, music technology and composition.

He’ll assume his new post at WKU this fall.

Besides leading the Symphony at WKU, Dr. St. John will also hold the Baker Professorship of Music, one of three endowed professorships in the Potter College of Arts & Letters.

St. John also served at Minnesota State University-Moorhead and in Colorado for what is now the Boulder Symphony Orchestra.

Kentucky is seeing a rapid increase in the number of syphilis infections, mirroring a national trend.

Public health officials are seeking expanded education and treatment for the sexually transmitted disease.

Kentucky’s number of syphilis cases has doubled since 2009, to just over 10 cases per 100-thousand residents.

The Courier-Journal reports the figures from the state Department for Public Health also show Louisville is home to nearly half of the state’s cases.

Kentucky state epidemiologist Kraig Humbaugh says most of the recent national increase in syphilis cases effect men—especially men who have sex with other men.

Syphilis is a bacterial disease with symptoms such as sores, headaches, and fevers. It can be treated with antibiotics, but—if left untreated—could lead to blindness or stroke in later stages.

It can also be passed from a mother to a fetus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for increased public education efforts concerning safe sex, and greater promotion of syphilis awareness and screenings.

The Amber Alert for a missing 5-year old girl from Bowling Green has been cancelled.

The child was found safe hours after being taken by a man who allegedly assaulted her mother earlier this morning.

There is no further information on how she was found.

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