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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Environment
8:43 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Ft. Knox Unveiling Largest Solar Panel Array in Kentucky

Solar panel arrays capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Fort Knox is unveiling the largest solar panel array on a military installation east of the Mississippi River. The new additions will complement the large solar network already operating at the post.

A ceremony Wednesday morning at the Hardin County army post will debut the array, which will be larger than any other solar panel farm in the state of Kentucky.

The new system includes 10,000 photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. A Fort Knox spokesman says the post will be able to supplant a portion of its energy consumption with the solar panels at a cheaper rate than electricity provided by local power plants.

The new array was constructed at no cost to the government through a partnership with Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.

At the conclusion of a 25-year contract, ownership of the array will be transferred to Ft. Knox, with all energy production available to the military post at no cost.

Politics
4:42 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Ending Speculation, Grimes Says She Will Run for the Senate Seat Held by Mitch McConnell

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Democrats have lined up what they hope will be a formidable candidate to take on powerful Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in next year's campaign.

Ending months of speculation, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday afternoon that she will enter the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

“I’m here today to tell you that I have met with my supporters, we have had a great conversation and determined and decided that we can next make the best move, the best difference in the Commonwealth of Kentucky by running for the U.S. Senate,” she said.

Speaking in Frankfort to a room of supporters and reporters, Grimes said Kentuckians are tired of McConnell and what she described as his "28 years of obstructionism." She also chided McConnell for voting against increases in the minimum wage and for "losing touch with Kentucky issues, voters, and values."

Referencing the length of time it took for her to formally declare her entrance into the Senate contest, the 34-year-old Maysville native said she wasn't willing to join the race until she had done all of her homework.

“Make no mistake, members of the media, this due diligence was not reluctance, it was not hesitancy,” she said, “but rather a deliberate gathering of all the necessary facts to make a decision that’s not to be taken lightly.”

The announcement started more than 30 minutes later than it was scheduled, and lasted less than five minutes. Grimes answered only a few questions from reporters before leaving the stage.

Grimes has been Secretary of State since 2012. Before that, she was an attorney in Lexington. Grimes comes from a well-connected political family. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, served as chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

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Regional
10:56 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Ft. Campbell Soldier Dies in Afghanistan from Non-Combat Incident

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is recognizing the latest Ft. Campbell soldier to die in Afghanistan. The U.S. Defense Department has announced that 25-year old Sergeant Justin Rogers died Friday in Bagram from a non-combat related incident that is still under investigation.

The Barton, New York, native was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell.

Gov. Beshear will order that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of Sgt. Rogers’ interment. Arrangements are still pending.

Economy
12:00 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Kentucky No Longer Contracting with Privately-Run Prison Facilities

The leader of Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety Cabinet says a declining recidivism rate is a major reason why the commonwealth no longer needs to house inmates in privately-run prisons.

The last remaining contract between the state and a company running a private prison expired over the weekend. That facility was run by Marion Adjustment Center in Marion County.

J. Michael Brown says the state is doing a much better job of preparing those exiting prison for life on the other side. The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary says probation and parole officers in Kentucky now use an assessment tool that better takes into account an individual's history and needs to help determine how much monitoring that former inmate will need once he or she is out of prison.

"Some individuals need very little supervision, some individuals need very targeted supervision. And doing it in a manner that is not a cookie-cutter approach, we find that we can better prepare individuals for re-entry," Brown told WKU Public Radio.

According to data kept by the Cabinet, the number of offenders who left state Department of Corrections custody in 2008 and returned by the end of 2011 declined by nearly four-percent over the previous three-year period.

Arts & Culture
4:41 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Downing Museum Art on WKU Campus Following Fire at Baker Arboretum

The scene Thursday morning at the Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum in Bowling Green
Credit Joe Corcoran

Art lovers across the region are holding their breath and hoping that paintings damaged in a Bowling Green fire can be salvaged. The fire Thursday morning at the Downing Museum at Baker Arboretum led to the evacuation of the world's largest collection of paintings by the late artist and Hart County native Joe Downing.

Art restoration experts will now have to inspect the damaged paintings and recommend what, if anything, can be done to save the pieces that were damaged.

WKU President Gary Ransdell says the fact that over 90 percent of the art in the building was removed before it was damaged is a testament to the staff members on the scene.

"They were actually going into a building that was on fire to get artwork out. It was pretty amazing to see multiple staffs, including WKU staff, coming together to avoid what could have been a tragic, tragic, situation," said Dr. Ransdell."

The WKU President says the Downing Museum art is now being housed at the school's campus.

"All of the artwork has now been transported to the Kentucky Building, and is in storage and is protected. The art that has been damaged by smoke and water is over in the services supply building where the art restoration experts will look them over and determine what needs to be done immediately, and what needs to take place over time.

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Arts & Culture
12:47 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

At Least "90 Percent" of Art Saved Following Fire at Baker Arboretum in Bowling Green

Art from the collection at the Baker Arboretum was rescued from a Thursday morning fire.
Credit Joe Corcoran, WKU Public Radio

Update at 1:42 p.m.:

Efforts are underway to determine what can be done to salvage artwork damaged by the Thursday morning fire at Bowling Green's Downing Museum at the Baker Arboretum.

The museum houses numerous paintings by the late artist and Hart County native Joe Downing. WKU President Gary Ransdell says the Downing Museum art is now at different parts of the school's campus.

"All of the artwork has now been transported to the Kentucky Building, and is in storage and is protected," said Dr. Ransdell. "The art that has been damaged by smoke and water is over in the services supply building where the art restoration experts will look them over and determine what needs to be done immediately, and what needs to take place over time. Only a few pieces were damaged by the actual fire--I'm guessing maybe 30 or 40 pieces."

The fire started before 7 a.m. and was discovered by estate staff members. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Officials on the scene of the blaze this morning told WKU Public Radio the fire was likely started by an electrical malfunction or a lightning strike.

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Politics
9:33 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Rand Paul: Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage Step Closer to Human-Animal Unions

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage will move the country closer to accepting marriages between people and animals.

A spokeswoman for the Bowling Green Republican insists the Senator was being sarcastic.

Paul’s comments came during an appearance on Glenn Beck’s radio program. Beck asked the Kentucky Senator if the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act would eventually lead to the legalization of polygamous marriage. Paul responded by saying, “I think it’s a conundrum. If we have no laws on this, people take it to one extension further, does it have to be humans, you know?”

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Regional
1:06 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Rep. Guthrie Hopeful Military Will Find Replacement for Brigade Departing Ft. Knox

Ft. Knox soldiers

Kentucky's Second District U.S. Congressman says he's hopeful the military will find a replacement for the infantry brigade that will leave Ft. Knox by 2017. Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie represents the Hardin County region, and told WKU Public Radio he has been in contact with area leaders since Tuesday's announcement by the army.

"If this happens, are there other opportunities to strengthen Ft. Knox in other areas? I don't think it will replace 3,600 permanent soldiers, but there are ways to make this easier, and possibly bring some other military units on to Ft. Knox," said Guthrie.

The loss of the lone infantry brigade combat team at Ft. Knox is part of the army's plan to cut active-duty personnel by 80,000.

Rep. Guthrie says he's concerned that those in Washington making decisions on the size of the military are doing so based mostly on budget concerns, as opposed to what missions America's armed services should be asked to accomplish.

Regional
2:02 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Ft. Knox to Lose Infantry Brigade Combat Team by 2017

Interview with Brad Richardson, president of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce

A wide-ranging plan by the U.S. Army to thin its ranks by 80,000 will lead to the loss of the infantry brigade combat team at Ft. Knox.

Ft. Campbell will also lose a brigade, which typically consists of about 3,500 soldiers, but can total up to 5,000 for certain heavily armored units.

The plan announced Tuesday by U.S. military leaders would decrease the overall number of active-duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, and would also impact Army installations in Texas, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington.

The military downsizing would dissolve the lone infantry brigade combat team stationed at Ft. Knox by 2017. However, Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson told WKU Public Radio that there are discussions ongoing about the possibility of Ft. Knox landing some other type of Army brigade.

Richardson stresses any such discussions are very preliminary and in no way set in stone.

The army downsizing in no way impacts the thousands of civilian workers employed at the Human Resources and Recruiting centers at Ft. Knox. Still, Richardson says the loss of 3,300 active duty soldiers and their families would hurt the region's economy. He points out about 70 percent of the military personnel stationed at Ft. Knox live off the post, in communities like Radcliff, Vine Grove, and Elizabethtown.

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Education
5:22 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

WKU Regents Approve Budget, Tuition

The WKU Board of Regents has passed a nearly $394 million budget for the 2013-14 academic year.  In a special meeting Friday, regents voted 7-2 for the spending plan that raises tuition three percent.  Resident undergraduate tuition will increase $250 per year to $8,582. 

Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said that while the $393,959,000 budget has increased 1.4 percent, building the budget was challenging.

“In order to fund projected fixed costs and ongoing commitments, the administration is implementing a budget balancing plan of more than $2.1 million,” she said.

WKU President Gary Ransdell praised the unified effort across campus to achieve a balanced budget in a trying financial climate.

Faculty Regent Patty Minter cast one of the dissenting votes over a capital project.  The budget calls for issuing bonds for construction of a $22 million building for the Honors College and International Student Services.

"It is very risky to take on more bond debt for a long-term project which, while very much a want, is not a need," said Minter.

Forty-six percent of the budget revenue comes from student tuition and fees.  State funding makes up only 18 percent of the WKU budget.

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