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.


2:34 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

KTRS Officials Ask Kentucky Lawmakers to Boost Sagging Pension Plan

Leaders of the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System are again asking state lawmakers to shore up the underfunded pension plan when the legislature convenes in January.  KTRS has just 51 percent of the money it’s expected to need for future payouts.

"It's not a risk, it's an absolute certainty," cautioned KTRS General Counsel Beau Barnes.  "If we don't start getting some additional funding for the pension fund, the funding level is going to start declining and it's going to get much harder to fix."

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports state lawmakers are being asked to consider issuing 30-year bonds worth $1.9 billion and $3.3 billion. 

Lawmakers rejected a similar proposal from KTRS in the last legislative session, arguing the state couldn’t afford the additional debt service.  

1:42 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Deactivation of 159th Combat Aviation Brigade Will Cut Fort Campbell Population By 2,400

Soldiers from Task Force Attack, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, conduct a hot refuel on an AH-64D Apache helicopter before it goes back out on mission Jan 14, 2014, at Jalalabad Airfield.
Credit U.S. Army

The Department of Defense will deactivate the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Campbell, according to a statement released by three members of Kentucky's congressional delegation.  It’s a move that will drop the Fort Campbell soldier population by nearly 2,500 to 26,500 by the end of 2015, according to various media reports.

The move did not come as a complete surprise.  In March, the Army announced it would be losing three combat brigades. 

Still, three Kentucky Republican lawmakers expressed dismay with the move.  Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Congressman Ed Whitfield released a statement saying they were “deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s decision."  They called it “bad news for our nation’s security and for the local Fort Campbell community.”

2:07 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

National Publication Honors Executive Director of Kynect

Carrie Banahan
Credit Commonwealth of Kentucky

Governing Magazine has named the executive director for Kentucky’s healthcare exchange, Carrie Banahan, as one of its nine “Public Officials of the Year” for 2014. 

Banahan oversaw the creation of kynect, which signed up 521,000 Kentuckians under the new healthcare law last year.  Banahan will be honored at a dinner in Washington, D.C. on December 4th.

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9:00 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Owensboro City Commission Supports Issuing $25 Million in Bonds to Build Riverport Processing Plant

Owensboro City Commissioners are throwing their support behind a plan to build a new processing plant at the city’s riverport.

At a meeting Tuesday night, commissioners praised the plan that would be financed by $25 million  of city issued bonds. The Messenger-Inquirer reports an ordinance authorizing the bonds will likely come up for a final vote next month.

Under the plan, a new milling facility would be built in partnership with Solvay Chemicals. While the city would issue the bonds used to pay for the project, the Riverport Authority would be responsible for repaying the cost of the bonds over ten years.

The estimated economic impact of the new processing facility is between $45 million and $65 million.

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12:56 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Kentucky Courts Near Bottom In Serving Low Income Population

Only Oklahoma ranks lower than Kentucky when it comes to how the state’s court system serves its low-income and disabled population.  On a 100-point scale, Kentucky comes in at 33.4 percent. Indiana is just three places higher at 36.2 percent. 

Part of the Justice Index rankings is based on how much free legal aid is available to residents.

Scott Crocker is executive director for Kentucky Legal Aid. He says federal and state funding for his organization is down “real significantly” over the last 4-5 years.

“We are able to provide some level of services to most people who call in and meet our eligibility criteria,” said Crocker.  “But, a lot of people need an attorney to go to court with them and sometimes we’re able to do that, but a lot of times we only have the resources to provide counsel and advice.”

He says Kentucky Legal Aid expects to give some form of legal advice to 12,000 people in south-central and western Kentucky this year.   All of the cases involve civil law.

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10:19 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Elizabethtown Council Approves Contract With Hall of Fame Organizers

The former home of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown is set to become part of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame
Credit Emil Moffatt

The city of Elizabethtown will be responsible for testing and any abatement necessary at the historic church that’s set to become part of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame. 

The News-Enterprise reports the City Council voted unanimously Monday to enter into a contract with the board of the Hall of Fame for a fee simple title.  The former home of First Presbyterian Church has been vacant since 2011 when a non-profit organization moved out.

Organizers say they’re close to having the $1.15 million in place to start construction.  A groundbreaking ceremony could take place as early as July.

1:45 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Mammoth Cave Proposing Increase in Fees for Cave Tours, Other Services

Mammoth Cave is considering an increase in user fees in 2015.
Credit WKU Public Radio

Mammoth Cave National Park is planning an increase in the amount of fees visitors would pay for cave tours, camping, and picnic shelters.

Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead announced the proposed fee increases Friday afternoon. Under the plan, the cost of most cave tours would increase by $1-$2 dollars, with camping fees climbing to $5 from the current rate of $2.

The cost of reservable picnic shelters would jump $25.

Those interested in commenting on the proposed changes can do so until December 5.

Written comments can be made at the National Park Service planning website.

Craighead says the proposed fee increases would result in an additional $350,000 a year that the park would reinvest in projects.

“Our highest priority right now is to complete the renovations of the Mammoth Cave Hotel. The fees are also used to pay for the cave guides who do the tours, and for a variety of operational costs, like cleaning the campground," the Barren County native said.

Eighty percent of the fees collected at Mammoth Cave are used to pay for facilities and services at the park, with the other 20 percent used support projects at national parks that don’t charge entrance fees.

12:52 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Forecasters: Cold Temperatures Will Stick Around For The Next Week

Forecasters say high temperatures on Tuesday could fail to reach the 30 degree mark.

Much of Kentucky is preparing for a very cold weekend and a frigid start to next week.  Forecasters predict temperatures on Tuesday could struggle to reach 30 degrees.

Dr. Greg Goodrich with the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU says a prolonged stretch of sub-freezing weather in Kentucky is unusual for November. He says a super typhoon in the Bering Sea last week has caused the mercury to plummet here.  

“What that did is it dislodged the polar vortex and caused a piece of it to slide southward across Canada and into the United States,” said Goodrich . “And so the leading edge of that cold air crossed our area on Wednesday and looks like we’re going to get another reinforcing wave of that cold air here over the weekend  to make it even colder early next week.”

Goodrich says these temperatures are more commonly seen during the winter months in Kentucky.

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2:06 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

ESPN Lauds WKU Women, Gooch In Preseason Rankings

WKU Senior forward Chasity Gooch has been named as one of the Top 15 Mid-Major college basketball players in the country by ESPN
Credit WKU Athletics

Following this spring’s trip to the NCAA basketball tournament, the WKU women’s basketball team has earned a No. 2 ranking among Mid-Major teams in a Top 10 list compiled by ESPN.

Additionally, senior forward Chastity Gooch has been named by the network as one of the Top 15 Mid-Major players in the nation. 

The WKU women open the regular season on Friday against Central Arkansas at Diddle Arena.

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4:12 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Collaborative Announced to Fight Lung Cancer

A first-of-its-kind collaboration in Kentucky is aimed at detecting lung cancer earlier and increasing survivorship rates.

The $7 million effort announced Wednesday in Frankfort is being funded through a grant made by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The effort is called the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative, and is a joint effort between the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, and the Lung Cancer Alliance. Lung cancer takes an especially heavy toll in the commonwealth, as the state leads the nation in the number of lung cancer cases.

The collaboration will bring together health experts tasked with creating new ways to detect lung cancer at earlier stages in order to increase survivorship. Another goal is to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients and their caregivers.

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