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
7:00 am
Sun August 25, 2013

Beshear Announcing $41 Million Race to the Top Grant for Co-ops

Governor Beshear is announcing a major Race to the Top educational grant to several Kentucky school district cooperatives. The governor will be joined by state education commissioner Terry Holliday, the leaders of several educational co-ops, the Hart County Schools superintendent, and other education leaders.

A news release issued by the Governor’s office said Beshear will announce in Shelby County Monday morning $41 million in Race to the Top grant money to be shared by Kentucky school district co-ops.

Those groups include the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative, which includes districts across south-central Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of school districts in north-central Kentucky.

Twenty-two districts from those two co-ops joined in an application and were awarded one of the nation’s two largest District-Race to the Top grants.

Race to the Top is a federal education program created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K through 12 education.

Education
10:59 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Ransdell Emphasizes Retention, Attracting High-Achieving Students During Convocation

WKU President Gary Ransdell addressed faculty and staff at the opening convocation on Aug. 23 at Van Meter Hall.
Credit WKU's Clinton Lewis

WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff that it's unlikely that significant new state funding for higher education will come from the next Kentucky budget.

Speaking at Friday's annual convocation, President Ransdell said the recent state funding declines make it all the more important for the school to attract the highest-achieving students possible, and do everything possible to see them through to graduation.

Ransdell said WKU is challenged by a drop in the number of high school graduates in the commonwealth.

"The number of U.S. high-school graduates peaked at 3.4 million in 2010-2011 and is projected to fall to 3.2 million by 2013-14, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Kentucky is projected to have a 6.1 percent decline in the number of high school graduates by 2020," said Dr. Ransdell. 

"An era of aggressive tuition increases and enrollment growth strategies that carried us from 1998 to 2008 cannot serve us well going forward. We have penetrated well the Kentucky market place, but the paradigm has shifted. The numbers in Kentucky just are not there in the future."

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Sports
7:14 am
Fri August 23, 2013

KHSAA Commissioner Says He Likes Having High School Football Finals at WKU

WKU's Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium
Credit Kevin Willis

The leader of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association says he’s pleased with the job WKU has done in hosting the state football finals. That might quiet any talk about the finals moving from Bowling Green to Louisville.

WKU has hosted the state high school football finals since 2009, and is under contract to remain host through 2014. Before that, the city of Louisville hosted the events stretching back to 1979.

In a text message to a Courier-Journal sports reporter, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said his group is happy with Bowling Green as the location for the football finals, saying WKU’s L.T. Smith Stadium gives fans and player a more intimate setting than the larger Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Tackett says WKU “appears to maximize all desired factors.”

The U of L Cardinals’ upcoming move to a new athletic conference means the team won’t be playing at home the first weekend in December, the weekend the high school football finals are traditionally held. Because of that availability, some have speculated the KHSAA might consider moving the high school finals back to Louisville.

Education
2:23 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky Launches Kindergarten Screening Statewide

Kentucky is implementing a statewide screening system for kindergarteners this year.  Governor Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday made the announcement in Frankfort Thursday.

"As a former teacher, I understand how getting to know a student's needs and abilities early in the school year can make a big difference in helping that child to succeed," said Mrs. Beshear.

Every school district in the state will use the Brigance Kindergarten Screener, a tool used by many states to gauge a child's school readiness.  Courtney Daniel in the Governor's Office of Early Childhood says a student cannot fail the screening.

"The screener is a moment in time snapshot of the child's development," Daniel explained.  "It's not an entrance exam for kindergarten, and it's not going to be used to track or label children."

The screening system was piloted in 109 Kentucky school districts last year.  Data collected from those districts indicate that a majority of children are socially and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten.  However, many students did not achieve at high levels in the areas of cognition, language, and motor skills.

Regional
11:02 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Mammoth Cave Offering Free Tours Sunday

Mammoth Cave National Park
Credit WKU Public Radio

A major tourist draw in our region is offering a chance to see the world's largest cave system for free.

Mammoth Cave National Park will offer free Mammoth Passage cave tours on Sunday, August 25, in recognition of Founders Day, the founding day of the National Park Service.

“On August 25, 1916, Congress passed the Organic Act, which established the National Park Service,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “I hope many of our friends and neighbors will help us celebrate by attending one of these free tours."

The free Mammoth Passage tours will depart from the visitor center at the following times: 8:45, 10:15, 11:15, 12:00, 1:15, 2:15, 3:30, and 4:30. The ¾-mile, 1¼ hours Mammoth Passage tour is limited to 40 people. Participants need to pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on the tour.

Health
8:04 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Advocates Once Again Ask Lawmakers for Legalization

Medical marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in parts of the U.S. Supporters have had no success in getting it legalized in Kentucky, however.

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana are once again urging Kentucky lawmakers to increase access to the drug. Advocates say marijuana can help treat pain and provides health benefits to the user—something disputed by critics of legalization.

One of Kentucky’s most vocal and passionate supporters of medical marijuana is Louisville Democratic Senator Perry Clark, who has repeatedly sponsored legislation that would make the drug available through a doctor’s prescription. Speaking to members of a joint legislative Health and Welfare Committee, Clark said marijuana is “forbidden medicine.”

Supporters of medical marijuana say it could be a much better pain-relieving alternative to highly-addictive prescription drugs like oxycodone. But critics, like Lexington Republican Representative Robert Benvenuti, said the medical evidence concerning the benefits of marijuana is still an open issue.

Benvenuti was quoted in the Courier Journal as saying “Until I’m assured where the clinical evidence is, this is not going to have my support.”

Health
9:55 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Top Cancer Research Team Leaving U of L for UK

An internationally-recognized cancer research team is leaving one Kentucky university for another.

A group of top researchers is leaving the University of Louisville for the University of Kentucky, one month after UK announced it was becoming home to the state’s first National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

The Courier-Journal reports the four researchers will establish the UK Center for Regulatory and Environmental Analytical Metabolomics, or UK-CREAM. The center is expected to bring to UK over $17-million in federal funding over five years.

Officials at UK say they didn’t actively recruit the U of L researchers, but were instead approached by them.

One of the researchers, Andrew Lane, said he and colleagues made the move because UK was in “an expansion phase, particularly in cancer, which is very attractive to us.”

Regional
8:43 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Repairs on I-65 South in Hardin County Will Cause Delays

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is warning motorists to be prepared for possible delays this week and next along the southbound lanes of I-65 in Hardin County:

Contract crews are making repairs along concrete sections of southbound Interstate 65 in Hardin County, requiring closure of two lanes.  Only one lane will be available for southbound travel from mile point 103 (Rolling Fork River Bridge) to mile point 100 (just south of KY 313/Joe Prather Highway).

Work will take place over the next two weeks, Sunday night through Thursday morning.  Lengthy delays are possible during this time, especially mid and late day.  Motorists should watch for stopped and slow moving traffic ahead.  Those who seek an alternate route may use the following:

-         Exit 105 at Lebanon Junction on to KY 61, to US 62, to KY 52, to Bluegrass Parkway and rejoin I-65 in Elizabethtown

All lanes will be open from Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon to better accommodate higher traffic volumes.

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Politics
1:44 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

DeCesare Won't Decide on Future Plans Until Final Legislative Maps Passed

Warren County Rep. Jim DeCesare (right) has a lot on the line during the special session focused on redistricting.
Credit Kentucky LRC

A Warren County lawmaker says he's waiting until new legislative maps are drawn before he makes any decisions about his future.

Republican Representative Jim DeCesare could be placed in a tough spot when lawmakers pass a redistricting plan at the end of the special session that began Monday in Frankfort.

A Democratic proposal would put DeCesare in the same district as fellow House Republican C.B. Embry, Junior, of Morgantown. DeCesare tells WKU Public Radio that he's not ready to decide whether or not he would seek re-election under those circumstances.

"Once there's final passage on a piece of legislation, I'll look at it and see where I need to go from there,” said the Rockfield Republican.

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Sports
1:02 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Former Marine Prevented by NCAA from Playing for Tennessee School this Fall

MTSU's Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, TN.

A former marine hoping to play college football in Tennessee is being told by the NCAA he’ll have to sit out a year. The collegiate sports governing body says the 24-year-old freshman can’t play this upcoming season because of his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012.

Steven Rhodes entered the U.S. Marine Corp after graduating from Antioch High School in Nashville. After serving five years of active duty with the Marines, Rhodes contacted Middle Tennessee State coaches and asked about walking-on to the football ball team as a non-scholarship player.

That’s when the NCAA told Rhodes that his participation in a military-only football league would prevent him from playing immediately. Instead, he was told he would have to sit out the upcoming season.

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