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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It's been almost a year since the badly decomposed remains of a woman were found in Hart County. The body was beyond recognition, but now Kentucky State Police are teaming up with the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System to put a face, and hopefully a name, to the woman.

Last June 25, a truck driver jogging near Waterloo Road in Hart County noticed what appeared to be a dead body. Troopers called to the scene confirmed they were human remains but an identification was impossible.

All they had to go on was it was a female between 24 and 47 years old, wearing a necklace with the letter "S" emblem on it, a gray stud earring with a pink stone, a medium sized "Southern Comfort" t-shirt, red underwear and white Wilson sneakers with green laces. She was entered into NamUs just four days later as UP 13979.

The Hart County Coroner and Kentucky State Police reached out to Project EDAN (Everyone Deserves A Name) and Certified Forensic Artist Jeanne Cybulski of the Mesa, AZ police department took up the case.

Creative Commons

A Pulaski County school crossing guard has died after being hit by a truck. 

According to Kentucky State Police, 69 year old Doyle Patterson of Somerset died Wednesday night at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

Patterson was struck Wednesday afternoon at Southwestern High School. 

The pickup driver was 62 year old Windell Phelps, also of Somerset.

No drug or alcohol use was suspected, and police don’t expect any charges to be filed. Police say Phelps is also a school employee.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell says budget cuts at the school won’t negatively impact academic programs.

WKU Wednesday released a plan to eliminate $6 million from the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Ransdell said no degree programs or faculty positions that are currently filled are being eliminated. The cuts are the result of a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding, an enrollment decline, and a 48 percent increase in the employer contribution to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.

Nearly $750,000 in savings will be gained by moving the school's Buildings Services and Grounds employees to a private contract with Sodexo.

However, Ransdell said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that none of those employees will lose their jobs.

“Each employee, the 202 in our BSA work group and our grounds crew, will receive a dollar-an-hour raise,” Ransdell told reporters. “Their compensation will go from $9.26 an hour to $10.26 an hour, so they’re getting nearly a ten-percent pay increase.”


The state is giving approval to $18 million in tax incentives for a Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County.

The Courier-Journal reports the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved the incentives Monday for the controversial park run by the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis.

The state program gives developers of tourism projects the ability to recoup up to 25 percent of the project’s cost.

That money comes from a return of the sales tax visitors pay on admission tickets, food, souvenirs, and other items.

Answers in Genesis filed a federal lawsuit after an official under then-Governor Steve Beshear’s administration rejected the group’s application for the tax incentives. That decision was based in part on the group’s policy of hiring only Christians.

Answers in Genesis runs the Creation Museum in Boone County, and embraces the strict biblical view that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Former President Bill Clinton is expected to be in Evansville Tuesday afternoon to drum up support for his wife Hillary Clinton before next week's presidential primary.

Vanderburgh County Democratic Party officials confirm Clinton will be in town for about four hours making multiple stops. It hasn't been confirmed yet if there will also be a rally.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is reportedly planning a stop in Evansville Thursday.

Trump is set to appear in Indianapolis Wednesday night and executives with the Ford Center in Evansville say they're talking with campaign officials about a potential rally at the arena Thursday but nothing's been finalized.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke to about 1,200 people in Evansville Sunday night.

Indiana's presidential primary is next Tuesday, May 3.

City of Owensboro

A new report shows the number of people working—and looking for work—in Daviess County dropped by over 1,319 people between 2014 and 2015.

The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says there were 807 fewer people with jobs in Daviess County last year.

However, the county also saw 512 fewer unemployed people.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports some local officials are worried about the declining number of people in the workforce. Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation President Madison Silvert told the paper that the area has done a good job of attracting retirees.

He says that’s one reason why Daviess County’s population has increased at the same time the number of workers has decreased.

Silvert says the size and quality of a community’s workforce is the chief concern of companiesthat are considering expansion.

WKU Public Radio

Tennessee’s Attorney General is warning that the state could lose federal funding if a controversial bathroom bill clears in the General Assembly. 

The bill would require Tennessee students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.  Supporters say the legislation is necessary to protect the privacy of students.  Opponents argue the bill is discriminatory. 

State Attorney General Herbert Slattery issued an opinion Monday saying the bill would violate Title IX, which means the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding. 

The Tennessean reports that Governor Bill Haslam and the state Education Department have raised similar concerns, but the Governor has not said if he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.  The bill has so far cleared a House committee.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne announced Friday that he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of the year.

Owensboro Living reports Payne has served in local government for 38 years.

In Owensboro, he has been City Commissioner, City Manager and Director of Finance and Administration.

Prior to working in Owensboro, he was director of finance for the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Payne is a certified public accountant. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and served in Vietnam.

City of Owensboro

Owensboro's hotels and motels are putting a lot more heads in beds.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports in the past two years alone, hotel revenues jumped 36 percent up to nearly 22-million dollars, and this year is already 13 percent ahead of 2015.

The upsurge really took off in 2014 with the openings of both the Owensboro Convention Center and the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront. Plus, a third 90 room downtown hotel is planned near the convention center with a possible opening in 2018.

Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

Grief counselors will be at the Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School in Bowling Green Thursday following the death of a 5th grade student Wednesday evening. 

Ten-year-old Giselle Arias was struck by a car on Gordon Avenue near her home. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Warren County Coroner's Office.

Bowling Green Police Department Spokesman Ronnie Ward said the car that hit Arias was driven by 36-year-old Angela Clark of Bowling Green. Three juveniles were in the car. No one inside the vehicle was injured.  Ward added that he doesn't expect any criminal charges to be filed.

WKU Athletics

WKU has introduced Kentucky native Rick Stansbury as the school's new men's head basketball coach.

Stansbury played his high school basketball at Meade County, and comes to WKU after two seasons as an assistant coach at Texas A&M. He previously was head coach at Mississippi St. for 14 seasons.

Stansbury takes over the WKU job following the resignation of Ray Harper almost two weeks ago.

Stansbury has 293 career wins and 11 postseason trips as a head coach.

During his final ten seasons with Mississippi St., only Kentucky won more SEC championships than the eight won by the Bulldogs. He took the team to the postseason 11 times, with six NCAA appearances, and became the school's all-time wins leader.

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed the state’s third case of Zika virus.

The latest case of Zika has been diagnosed in a pregnant woman from Louisville who traveled to region of Central American affected by Zika.

The health department reports that the woman has recovered from the illness.

Scientific evidence is suggesting a link between the Zika virus and babies born with birth defects.

Kentucky health officials are advising anyone  traveling to areas affected by the virus to consult with their doctor. It’s important to avoid bites from mosquitos because they can carry the Zika virus.

The virus has not been found to be circulating in the mosquito population in Kentucky.

WKU Athletics

Western Kentucky University  beat UT-Martin in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament 64 - 57 at E. A. Diddle Arena Monday night. The Lady Tops go on to the Tournament's "Sweet 16" round taking on St. Louis on their home court Friday at 7:00 p.m.

WKU's Tashia Brown had a game high 32 points while playing the game's entire 40 minutes. Kendall Noble, the only Division I player with two triple-doubles this season, nearly added a third finishing with 15 points, 12  assists and 8 rebounds.

WKU trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before coming back for the win.

Abbey Oldham

Senator Mitch McConnell is planning to block the nomination of a Kentucky judge to a seat on a U.S. Appeals Court.

McConnell’s office issued a statement Friday saying he had no plans to move forward on President Obama’s nomination of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to the Sixth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals.

Watch: President Obama's Interview with NPR's Nina Totenberg

The statement said President Obama hadn’t consulted with McConnell before announcing the nomination Thursday night.

"Leader McConnell tried to work with the White House to fill this vacancy, including submitting a qualified Kentuckian for consideration. Rather than work with him to fill this vacancy, they submitted Justice Hughes without even notifying Leader McConnell. He will not support action on this nomination," spokesman Robert Steurer said in the statement.

McConnell is also refusing to hold hearings on the President’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Kentucky State Police are on the scene of a shooting at the McDonalds in Russellville on North Main Street. According to a news release, a man shot a female and left the scene on foot.

The female pulled across the street where she was treated and then transported to a local hospital.

The alleged shoot, who has not been identified, encountered officers from the Russellville Police Department Officers who shot and killed the suspect near the intersection of Armory Drive.

A man who was inside the Russellville Donut Shop was struck by gunfire and was flown to a Nashville hospital for treatment.

No Russellville police officers were injured during the incident.