Lisa Autry

The proposed resettlement of Syrian refugees in Bowling Green has some community members questioning their safety.

Albert Mbanfu heads the Kentucky International Center and hopes a public meeting on Friday will relieve some of those concerns.

"I really encourage the population to come out and get this information firsthand rather than listen to people who may not have the right information that may skew their reasoning and line of thought," Mbanfu told WKU Public Radio.

Mbanfu says he will explain the extensive process that refugees must go through before resettling in the U.S.

The federal government is considering a proposal to send 40 Syrians to Bowling Green in October.

The town hall will take place Friday at 5:00 p.m. at the Bowling Green Schools’ Professional Learning and Development Center on Old Morgantown Road.

Three Owensboro attorneys  are hoping to become the first family court judge in Daviess County.  Julie Hawes Gordon, Angela Thompson, and Susan Montalvo Gesser all currently work in family law. 

Daviess County Bar Association President Cheryl Cureton says all three are excellent candidates.

"Each of them are familiar with the demands and I think all of them have really strong qualities," Cureton tells WKU Public Radio.  "They understand the issues and the benefit I think that will come from having a family court."

Cureton and others have lobbied for years for a family court in Daviess County.  Funding to create one was included in the state budget signed into law earlier this year. 

Someone will be appointed by Governor Matt Bevin to fill the judgeship until the November election.  The deadline to apply is June 1.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

The Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is asking the federal government to intervene over a school district's policy prohibiting transgender students from using restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

A letter from the ACLU asks the U.S. Department of Education to require that the school system in Sumner County make accommodations for transgender students.

The letter was written on behalf of a high school student who is a transgender girl.

Officials told the student's family that she would be disciplined if she continued to use the girls' restroom.

An attorney for the school system said in a statement that transgender  students are provided access to private unisex facilities.


In a demonstration at the state Capitol on Thursday, activists called on Gov. Matt Bevin to make reforms to the state’s juvenile detention system after the death of Gynnya McMillen, the 17-year old girl who died while in custody at a Hardin County detention center earlier this year.

Gynnya died in her sleep while at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center. As part of an internal state investigation earlier this year, officials found deficiencies in the teen’s care, as well as misconduct by employees at Lincoln Village.

Enchanta Jackson, with the black activist group Color of Change, says the state has made no “real accountability or reform” changes since Gynnya’s death.

“Gov. Bevin has done nothing to ensure justice for Gynnya, and he’s done nothing to ensure the safety of other children in the detention centers,” she said.

Lisa Autry

The Bowling Green Police Department is preparing to outfit its officers with body cameras. 

In a presentation to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Chief Doug Hawkins said agencies that already use body cameras have seen a reduction in complaints against officers.

"If you know everything we're doing is being recorded, you tend to behave a little better and so does the police officer.  Not that we have a lot of complaints, but we think this will mitigate complaints," Hawkins told the audience. "When a citizen has a justifiable complaint, we're going to capture that, as well."

Hawkins said the department is investing in body cameras now because prices have dropped and the technology has improved. 

Bowling Green Police plan to purchase 95 body cameras at a cost of nearly $160,000. 

The cameras will be deployed by the end of the year.

A couple that served as the lead plaintiffs in one of the court cases that prompted last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is protesting a decision by the Archdiocese of Louisville to reject parts of their proposed gravestone design.

Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon have been together for 30 years and married in 2004 in Canada. They identify as lifelong practicing Catholics, and last fall, they submitted a proposed headstone design for a joint plot in Louisville’s Saint Michael Cemetery.

The design includes Bourke and De Leon’s names and dates of birth. It also includes an image of a cross, wedding rings and the United States Supreme Court building.

“It means a lot to me to be buried in a Catholic cemetery,” Bourke said. “Saint Michael’s is a stone’s throw from both my grandparents’ homes, and the really important thing is that my parents have cemetery plots they’ve purchased there.”

Creative Commons

The Vanderburgh County jail in Evansville is holding 680 prisoners. The Evansville Courier & Press reports Sheriff Dave Wedding says the facility was built with 512 beds and a 540 inmate capacity.

Wedding says part of the problem is a change in Indiana state law that requires low-level felons with at least a year still to serve once their cases are adjudicated to remain in county jails. Previously they were transported to Indiana state corrections facilities.

Sheriff Wedding also blames widespread drug and alcohol addiction, a lack of jail alternatives and a backed up court calendar.

More than two dozen inmates will be transported to other jails in southwest Indiana to help ease the overcrowding.

Woman's Body Found in Ohio River Identified

May 13, 2016

Officials say a woman whose body was found in the Ohio River a day after two other bodies were recovered has been identified.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Corey King said in an email Friday that the woman was 51-year-old Darcy L. Hess of Cannelton, Indiana. He said the case is still being investigated but that detectives don't suspect foul play and believe the death is unrelated to the other two.

Hess' body was found Thursday outside the city limits of Owensboro.

Daviess County Sheriff's Department officials told media outlets earlier that one of the bodies found Wednesday had been shot in the back of the head and had ligature marks around the neck.

The bodies found Wednesday were badly decomposed. Neither has been identified.

Bill Campbell

In rural Kentucky, the call to be a preacher can come at an early age. Nick Wilson was born with it.

"We were always in church," he says. "Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Bible school, revivals. That's what life was."

His father, a grandfather and two great-grandfathers were Southern Baptist preachers. So is his brother. His sister married a preacher, and Wilson intended to follow the line.

After college, he attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., a training ground for Baptist preachers since 1859. But his ministry plans soon ended, because no congregation was interested in ordaining him. They all wanted a family man, and Wilson didn't measure up.

"First off, I'm single. That's a problem," he says. "They really want you to be married. But then if you throw in gay, it's over with."

Wilson says he knew from the time he was six or seven that he was "different." In time, he became open about his sexuality, even taking his boyfriend to church. But in the Southern Baptist world, homosexuality is morally unacceptable, so he was disqualified from the ministry.

"The scriptural view is what's ultimate," says Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary and an intellectual leader in the evangelical world. "The Apostle Paul very explicitly in 1 Corinthians says that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." [There's more from Mohler and the culture war being fought among Evangelical Christians in Tom Gjelten's Morning Edition story.]

Two billboard companies have refused to display an advertisement by an atheist group to protest the Ark Encounter amusement park in northern Kentucky.

Tri-State Freethinkers president Jim Helton says the group recently raised $10,000 for a billboard. The proposed design depicts Noah's Ark with people drowning around it and the words, "Genocide and Incest Park: Celebrating 2,000 years of myths."

The advertisement has been turned down by billboard companies Lamar and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC.

Helton says the group is considering erecting the billboard outside of Kentucky, if it can find a taker.

The Ark Encounter, a 510-foot wooden ship as described in the Old Testament, is under construction. It's a product of Answers in Genesis, which also owns the Creation Museum.

In March, Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham called the billboard campaign an attack on Christianity.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The American Counseling Association has cancelled its plan to hold a conference in Nashville next year in protest of Tennessee passing a counseling law that allows therapists to decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles.

The ACA made the announcement on Tuesday that it had cancelled the already booked expo in the Music City.

The ACA, which has condemned Tennessee's new law as a "hate bill" that discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, has called the legislation an unprecedented attack on its profession. The organization says no other state has passed such a law.

Supporters of the law have said that it keeps the government from forcing people to counsel others to act in ways that conflict with a therapist's moral beliefs.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is providing some additional money to test rape kits that have languished in the state crime lab. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced his office is providing $4.5 million to the Kentucky State Police crime lab to buy additional equipment and hire more workers to conduct the testing.  The money comes from unrelated lawsuit settlements won by the state.

Beshear said the kits are more than a box on a dusty shelf.

"They represent victims who have had the courage to not only report, but to undergo one of the most thorough physical, forensics examinations that can be asked for, and what have we done?  We've locked that courage in a box and let in languish on a shelf, but no more," stated Beshear.

An audit last year found that more than 3,000 kits in the commonwealth had gone untested due to a lack of funding and staff. 

Creative Commons

A Kentucky Judge says he will decide this week whether to unseal the secret testimony from a former president of the company that markets the addictive painkiller OxyContin. 

Health website  says Pike County Circuit Judge Steven Combs made the comment Friday. The website is seeking to unseal some 17 million pages of Kentucky's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Chief among them is a deposition by Richard Sackler, a former company president and a member of the family that controls the company.

Kentucky sued Purdue Pharma in 2007, accusing the company of lying about the addictiveness of the drug. They settled the case in December for $24 million.

Purdue Pharma attorney Trevor Wells says the documents should stay hidden because they were never used as the basis for a court decision.

Creative Commons

Bowling Green Police now say as many as 26 businesses have reported broken windows following a late night vandalism spree.

Reports of vandalism have come in from several different parts of the city late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

Bowling Green Police spokesman officer Ronnie Ward says investigators are looking at security camera footage from area businesses in an effort to identify the culprits.

Ward says police think the damage to the windows were caused by shots from a high-power BB gun or possibly a slingshot.

“Two of the businesses that got hit last night were open at the time their windows were broken out. Someone could be injured or killed just by whatever device they’re using,” Ward said.

Some of the impacted businesses include the Waffle House on Russellville Road, Pier 1 Imports on Scottsville Road,  and Steamer Seafood and the law firm of English, Lucas, Priest, and Owsley, LLP in the city’s downtown.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Every year at the Kentucky Derby, crazy hat-wearing, mint julep-guzzling horse-gazers break into a passionate rendition of Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." As tradition goes, the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band accompanies the crowd as they croon a ballad that seems to be about people who miss their happy home. "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home/'Tis summer and the people are gay" begins one version.

But Frank X Walker, Kentucky's former Poet Laureate, suspects that most people are missing the point.

"I'm a Kentuckian, and I love my state," Walker says. "But at the same time, you know, the memories, the history this conjures up, I think people sing it and are totally disconnected from the history, from the truth."

He refers to these lyrics:

"The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright.
By 'n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night."

Walker says that though it may sound like "a happy family environment in a humble cabin experience," there's definitely something more going on. "My Old Kentucky Home" was written by Stephen Foster in 1852, years before the Civil War. Foster was an American composer, famous in part for his minstrel music. The characters he references — the ones who had to leave Kentucky — were slaves.