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.

Ways to Connect

This is WKYU's entry in the category of Best Short Newscast. It features newscasts aired on May 27 and September 30, 2015.

Thank you for considering this entry in the 2016 Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters competition.

This entry contains two newscasts heard during live local broadcasts of Morning Edition on WKYU FM in 2015.

Thank you for considering this entry in the category of Best Long Newscast.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell announced at Friday's Board of Regents meeting in Elizabethtown that he is retiring effective June 30, 2017.

He said he wanted to give the school ample time to find a successor. He will have served as WKU President for 20 years by the time he leaves the post.

Ransdell said picking the right time to step aside has been something he and his wife, Julie, have been discussing for a while.

"We want to do this on our terms, and this has been an incredible 19 years so far, and will be an incredible 20 years," Ransdell told WKU Public radio.  "We just felt like our health is good and I've seen so many people in this job retire and not have the best of circumstances with their health."

In an email to faculty and staff,   Ransdell said he believes he has fulfilled the commitment he made in 1997 to transform the university. 

"WKU is a dramatically different institution today than it was 20 years ago – financially, physically, intellectually and attitudinally.  Serving my alma mater has been a dream come true," said Ransdell.

Office of Lexington Mayor

Lexington Mayor and Democrat Jim Gray is running for U.S. Senate.

Gray, 62, told the Herald-Leader that he decided last week that he would challenge incumbent Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green.

Gray is a Barren County native and chairman of Gray Construction. He's in his second term as mayor of Kentucky's second-largest city.

Gray posted a video on YouTube announcing his Senate bid.

Gray isn't the only Democrat who has filed to run against Paul.

Phelps manufacturing worker Jeff Kender, retired navy officer Tom Recktenwald of Louisville and Owensboro business owner Grant Short are also seeking the Senate seat.

Paul also has two Republican challengers for the May primary election — Lexington financial analyst James Gould and Stephen Slaughter, an engineer from Louisville.

Kevin Willis

Classes at all WKU campuses have been canceled Monday. Offices will remain open.

Here is the latest update on road condition from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office in Bowling Green, released Sunday morning:

After making headway on many Priority A routes yesterday, single digit temperatures have caused any water left on the roadways that were clear to freeze overnight. This has created icy patches, some of them large, that could be hard to see for motorists. Also patches of coverage still remain on some priority A routes.

Salting operations were halted last night due to the frigid temperatures, but plowing operations were out in force. Crews were able to plow Priority B and some Priority C routes overnight and will continue to do so today. Temperatures are predicted to be above freezing today with sunshine which will be a tremendous help to clearing roadways. As temperatures begin to rise, salting operations will resume. As the ice and snow left on the roadways begin to melt throughout the day slushy conditions can be expected along with water on the roadways.

Most roadways still have hazardous conditions on them, especially at intersections. Crews will continuing working around the clock in shifts to get the roads cleared.

Lance Dennee / WKMS

The AP is reporting that I-75 in eastern Kentucky has been reopened Saturday afternoon following the winter storm that hit the state Friday.

Some motorists were stranded on the interstate for hours. An official tells the AP there were no injuries related to the traffic standstill.

Update at 10:00 a.m.:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office in Elizabethtown issued the following update on road conditions throughout the region Saturday:

With snow and ice teams working around the clock since late Thursday night, most primary routes in District 4 have improved greatly since accumulating precipitation ended and moved east. I-65, Western Kentucky Parkway and Bluegrass Parkway are all open but traffic continues moving at a slower than normal pace.

U.S. highways such as 31-W, 31-E, 60, 62 and 150 are still covered in many places, particularly in our eastern counties where snow accumulation totals are between 12 and 15 inches.

Secondary roads which include many state routes are still mostly covered.  These will be a major focus for snow and ice teams today.  Crews will continue to plow roads and treat where possible.  Sunshine will be very favorable to improving road conditions.  Crews will work into the evening, but with temperatures forecast generally close to zero around the region, chemical treatments will be ineffective.  After plowing is complete today, treatment will resume on Sunday.

Kevin Willis

4:12 p.m.:  The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says major problem areas in the state include Hart and Rockcastle counties:

With nightfall quickly approaching, snow and ice crews will remain on the job for the rest of evening and into Saturday.

Today’s heavy snow storm dumped over 14 inches of snow in some parts of the state causing many delays, service disruption, impassable roadways and overturned semis along the interstates.  

The most problematic areas for traffic included I-65 near Hart County; I-75 in Rockcastle County and spots of U.S. 23 in Lawrence County.  Extra resources have been dedicated to clear these priority routes.

4:01 p.m.:  Truck driver Mike Edmonds has been stuck at a Kentucky truck stop all day as the snow piles up around him.

Edmonds told the Associated Press that the parking lot is so slick that vehicles spin out when trying to get back on Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County. And even if they leave the truck stop, they're stuck in traffic due to numerous wrecks in both directions.

Edmonds says he doesn't expect to get back on the road until Saturday. He's hauling a load of carpet to Michigan.

Rockcastle County has received a foot of snow, with higher accumulations possible.

Asked how he's spent his day, Edmonds replied: "Talking with the other drivers about how screwed up the weather is."

Lance Dennee / WKMS

Kentucky is preparing for the impending winter storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for our listening area starting Thursday evening at 6 p.m. central time, and continuing through Saturday morning.

See the National Weather Service forecast for our region.

The wintry mix will begin late this evening with snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

Up to a quarter-of-an-inch of ice could form on roads and create dangerous driving conditions.

The mix will change completely to snow on Friday and the snow is expected to continue until Saturday morning.

Areas north of the Cumberland Parkway could get nine or more inches of snow.

South of the Cumberland Parkway near the Kentucky and Tennessee border will get four to six inches of snow.

“Over the next 48 hours, a major winter storm is expected to impact many regions of Kentucky— potentially causing ice-related damage, service interruption and impassable roadways,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Our agencies are monitoring the conditions and coordinating communications with local officials and emergency personnel in preparation. Safety is our first priority; so it is very important to restrict travel to a minimum.”

Gusty winds of up to 25 miles-per-hour means there will be blowing and drifting snow, with poor visibility for driving.

The strong wind could also cause power outages in some areas.

At a specially called meeting Tuesday night, the Bowling Green Daily News reports Butler County magistrates approved Sheriff Scottie Ward's 2016 budget. The move enabled Butler County's five deputies to be paid and ended a week-long work stoppage that the sheriff called a strike.

The deputies stopped patrolling last week when fiscal court tabled approval of the sheriff's budget and it wasn't clear when their next paychecks would be issued.  State regulations require the money for that paycheck must come from the 2016 budget.

WBKO-TV reports Butler County Judge-Executive David Fields opened the meeting by apologizing for the way things were handled last week.

The sheriff's half million dollar budget was approved last night 4 - 1, with fiscal court voting to add about $192,000.

Magistrate David Whittinghill, who moved to table the sheriff's budget last week, voted against it. He was quoted as saying the sheriff's department already gets enough money, including what the county pays in.

After Butler County Sheriff Scottie Ward's budget was tabled until December 28 by the county's fiscal court Monday night, Ward said all his deputies will be on strike until a budget is approved. In a Facebook posting after the meeting, Ward wrote, "I'm truly sorry but I can't force my guys to put their life on the line for no money."

Ward said he gave each court member a copy of his budget to look over November 10th. But after an hour of questioning, a motion was made by court member David Whittinghill to table the document. Sheriff Ward called the meeting "a circus".

The sheriff's office will remain open to collect taxes and for court security.

Ward said he cut his budget five thousand dollars from last year and, still, no one in his department got a raise while all other Butler County employees got a 2% raise.

The sheriff, in a separate posting, also listed the home phone numbers for all fiscal court members and urged residents to call them to support the sheriff's department.

A Bowling Green man wanted on drug and escape charges, and for dragging a Bowling Green city officer in his vehicle during an attempted arrest, was captured with two other men Sunday afternoon.

A.C. Barnes and two other men were found in an apartment on McIntosh Street just off Campbell Lane in the city.

Police received a tip Barnes was in the apartment building.

They began negotiating with him to surrender just after 3:00 p.m. using a public address system. After a little more than an hour, the BGPD’s Critical Response Team ignited a so-called “flash-bang” explosive to disorient the men and they stormed the building.  

There were no injuries reported during the capture.

Police had been looking for Barnes since his October 13th attempted arrest on outstanding drug charges. That’s when Barnes fled in his vehicle dragging the city police officer with his for a short distance. Police fired at least two shots at him then.

Barnes had a large bandage on his back at the time of Sunday’s arrest but it’s not known if that was due to the gunshots.

Somerset businessman Michael Keck is joining the race to replace outgoing state senator Chris Girdler in the 15th District senate seat in Pulaski, Lincoln and Boyle Counties.

Keck is a Somerset High School and WKU graduate who now works as a business broker for a local financial group helping to facilitate the buying and selling of companies.

He says he’s running because of what he sees as the untapped economic potential of Kentucky. He’ll be running on a platform of job creation and tax reform.

Keck joins local insurance agents Don Moss and Rick Girdler and Somerset optometrist Dr. Joshua Nichols in the race for the 15th district senate seat.

National Corvette Museum

The head of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green is being recognized for growing the Museum’s membership and guiding it through the aftermath of last year’s sink-hole collapse.

Wendell Strode is one of three Kentucky Nonprofit Network award winners…he’ll receive the Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award at a ceremony in Lexington October 28th.

The awards committee noted Strode’s efforts to grow the museum’s membership and visitors resulted in a 35-million dollar economic impact to the local and state economy.

He’s also being recognized for using the collapse of the floor in the Museum’s Skydome  as an opportunity to attract world-wide media attention and setting record museum attendance during repairs.

A semi crash occurred Friday morning near Mile Point 70 in the southbound lanes of I-65 in Hart County.  The vehicle came to rest behind guardrail and is over an embankment of the construction zone.

According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, emergency crews are attempting to keep one interstate lane open as much as possible but intermittent full closures will be necessary.

The Exit 71 Southbound on-ramp is restricted to emergency vehicles only.      

It is expected to take several hours to clear the scene.

Motorists traveling through should consider using Exit 91 to the Western Kentucky Parkway and Natcher Parkway as a route to re-join I-65 in Bowling Green.

Motorists needing local access should consider US 31W.

Kentucky State Police say a 5-year-old boy has been fatally struck by a school bus in Butler County.

State police spokesman B.J. Eaton said that police were called around 3:20 p.m. CDT Monday to the scene on Kentucky 70 about four miles west of Morgantown.

Eaton says the child was hit at his scheduled stop after the Butler County school bus stopped in front of a residence to let children exit.

Butler County Coroner Marty Jones says the child was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later. The boy was identified as five year old Jayden Hawkins of Morgantown.

A statement from Butler County schools said the driver of the school bus has been employed by the school system for 18 years and has "an exemplary driving record with the district."

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