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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 a health alert more often seen in the summer, but the Environmental Protection Agency in Evansville has issued an air quality alert through Sunday. 

The executive director of the city agency tells the Courier & Press that the air this weekend could be unhealthy for those with respiratory problems – especially children, teenagers or older adults.

The alert is being blamed on a high pressure system and stagnant air.

WKU Athletics

WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty has collected another piece of hardware. 

The Touchdown Club of Columbus has named Doughty as the winner of the Sammy Baugh Award, given annually to the nation’s top passer.  Doughty will be presented with the award February 7th.  

It was announced Wednesday Doughty will return to WKU next year after the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. 

He was also named the Conference USA MVP on Wednesday.

Bendix

A company that makes brakes and safety systems for commercial vehicles is expanding its manufacturing operations in Bowling Green.  Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake says it’s making a nearly $8.5 million dollar investment to upgrade its facilities.

The expansion will include the hiring of 75 new employees and the addition of two additional machining centers. BSFB opened its Bowling Green facility in 2007 with 133 employees.  By next year the company expects to have 440 workers in Bowling Green.

Answers in Genesis

A planned amusement park in northern Kentucky featuring Noah’s Ark is not eligible for $18 million in state tourism tax benefits.

The Herald-Leader reports Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet Secretary sent the group Answers in Genesis a letter saying the commonwealth could not issue such tax benefits for projects with discriminatory hiring practices.

Answers in Genesis is the Christian group behind the Creation Museum, which seeks to explain the origins of the earth through the teachings of the bible. The group’s next project has been dubbed the Ark Park, and will feature a giant ship based on the story of Noah and the great flood.

But questions over whether the state should allow the park tourism tax benefits arose when Answers In Genesis refused to commit to not discriminating based on religion in the hiring process for park employees.

In his letter to a lawyer for Answers in Genesis, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart wrote “it is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of AIG’s ministry that will no longer permit the commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives.”

Officials with Answers In Genesis were not immediately available for comment following news of the state's decision.

Mesker Park Zoo

The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau is pledging a $300,000 dollar grant to help build a carousel and aviary at the Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden.

The Courier & Press reports the board of commissioners at the CVB voted to award the matching grant. The money comes from the city’s "innkeeper" or hotel-motel tax. The zoo will have to raise $300,000 on its own to receive the grant. 

The project has an overall price tag of $3 million dollars and is expected to open sometime in 2016.

Around 175,000 people visit the Mesker Park Zoo each year.

Tennessee is one of 13 states around the nation that’s receiving a federal grant to expand preschool services. 

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Wednesday that Tennessee will get $17 ½ million and will help serve as a model for expanding access to pre-school to low and moderate income families.  

Five other states are also receiving grants for pre-school development. The grants total $226 million.

WKU Athletics

 Update: 12:31 p.m.

Brandon Doughty has been named the Most Valuable Player by Conference USA. The league's 13 coaches voted Doughty as the top performer.

Original Post

The NCAA has granted WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty a sixth year of eligibility, it was announced Wednesday. 

Doughty’s 2011 and 2012 seasons were marred by injury, but since returning to health Doughty has etched his name in the school record books, breaking WKU single-season passing records in both 2013 and 2014.  He also holds the school’s career touchdown record. He also holds the Conference USA single-game passing record

“My time at WKU has been very special and I am looking forward to the opportunity to come back for my sixth year to build on what we’ve started this season,” Doughty said. “Having to deal with injuries for two seasons was really tough and I never would have made it through without my faith in God and the support from my coaches, teammates and the athletic department staff.”

Doughty and his Hilltopper teammates begin full preparations Thursday for their Bahamas Bowl appearance December 24th.  The team takes on Central Michigan at 11 a.m. central that day.

Answers in Genesis

The group trying to build a Noah’s Ark theme part in northern Kentucky has launched a billboard campaign to counter criticism over tax incentives and religious discrimination.   has this report.

The Courier-Journal reports that Answers in Genesis is putting up 16 billboards in Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, and in northern Kentucky that will direct people to the group’s website for more information about the project.  Answers in Genesis says it hopes to dispel myths about the use of tax dollars and future hiring. 

Over the summer, the state gave preliminary approval of tax incentives totaling $18 million.  Final approval is on hold until Answers in Genesis can assure state officials it will not discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. 

Two Louisville lawmakers will again attempt to get a statewide smoking ban passed.

Representative Susan Westrom and Senator-elect Julie Racque-Adams have tried--and failed—to get such a ban through the past four legislative sessions.

Westrom, a House Democrat, blamed members of her own party’s leadership after a smoking ban failed to receive a floor vote in the chamber during the 2014 General Assembly.

Legendary songwriter John Prine will appear in Owensboro next year as one of the headliners of anannual bluegrass music event.

The 68-year-old will perform next June at the River of Music Party.  Prine wrote the famous song “Paradise” about the coal-mining industry in Muhlenberg County, and he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2004 for an album that featured a recording of Stephen Foster’s song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The rest of the 2015 ROMP lineup will announced as acts are booked, with the full slate expected by mid-February.

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