4:12 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Bowling Green Jury Convicts Store Manager of Arson

A week-long trial in Bowling Green has ended with an arson conviction.  Fifty-seven-year-old Debra Kessinger was charged with setting fire to the Dollar General Store in Horse Cave where she was the manager. 

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky, a federal jury  deliberated just over two hours Friday before finding Kessinger guilty of setting the fire in 2011. 

According to testimony during the trial, the Smiths Grove woman deliberately set the fire in the store’s breakroom to conceal information about the missing inventory and money.  The day of the fire, the store was to begin an audit process that would have exposed Kessinger, who was the manager at the time. 

She faces between five and 20 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for March.

2:32 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Bottle of Hardin County Bourbon Fetches $28K At Auction

Someone has paid $28,050 for the right to purchase the first bottle of bourbon produced in Hardin County in nearly 125 years. 

Boundary Oak Distillery churned out its first batch of bourbon this month and held an online auction to sell barrel sponsorships. 

Boundary Oak Master Distiller Brent Goodin says the product inside that barrel should be top quality, when it’s ready to drink in two years.

“We have a very unique distillery in the fact that all of our water comes a spring-fed source. Our grains are all here from Hardin County,” said Goodin. “We think along with those natural aspects of our distillery, along with our wonderful grains that we have here locally, we can make a very superior, high-quality bourbon.”

Goodin says a change in law has made it easier for craft distillers to exist. The $28,000 paid by the auction winner is believed to be one of the top prices ever paid for a Kentucky bourbon.

11:21 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Bill Would Let Overdose Victims Avoid Prosecution

State Sen. Chris McDaniel
Credit Kentucky LRC

Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill that would allow some people who overdose on heroin or witness an overdose to avoid charges if they immediately seek help from public safety officials.

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is sponsoring the bill, said during a press conference in Covington on Friday that it is an attempt to combat the state's growing heroin addiction problem.

Heroin overdose deaths now account for 32 percent of the state's drug overdose deaths, up from 20 percent in 2012. Northern Kentucky has seen largest increase in overdose heroin deaths.

The bill would also stiffen penalties for heroin traffickers and spend more money on drug treatment programs. A similar bill failed to pass earlier this year despite broad support from both political parties.

Read more
11:12 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Stanford, Kentucky Mayor-Elect Dies Suddenly

T.J. Hill was elected mayor of Stanford, Ky. earlier this month, but died suddenly Thursday at his home.
Credit Lincoln County Democratic Party

T.J. Hill, a longtime police officer in Stanford who was set to become mayor of the Lincoln County town in January, was found dead at his home Thursday.  The cause of death remains under investigation, but police tell the Advocate-Messenger foul play is not suspected.

Hill defeated incumbent Bill Miracle earlier this month. He was set to take the oath of office Jan. 1

An autopsy is scheduled to take place Friday in Frankfort.

4:20 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Report: Kentucky Colleges Awarding More Diplomas, But Students Receiving Less State Financial Aid

WKU 2014 Spring Commencement
Credit WKU

A new report shows more students are graduating from Kentucky's public colleges and universities but are having a tough time getting financial aid from the state.

 The Council on Postsecondary Education's annual accountability report shows state colleges and universities conferred more than 62,400 degrees and certificates in the 2012-13 school year, a 13 percent increase from four years ago.

 But more than 107,000 students who qualified for financial aid were denied because the state did not have enough money to give it to them -- a 57 percent increase from four years ago.

Council President Robert King urged state lawmakers to protect student financial aid money in future budgets. State Sen. Stan Humphries, chairman of the higher education budget subcommittee, said lawmakers need to carefully watch the scholarship money.

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.”

1:12 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Kentucky's Jobless Rate Falls To 6.2 Percent

Kentucky officials say the state's unemployment rate dropped again in October to its lowest rate in more than six years.

 The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that last month's seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 6.2 percent, down from 6.7 percent in September. The statewide jobless rate was 8.2 percent in October 2013.

 Officials say last month's decline was the biggest one-month drop in Kentucky's jobless rate since 1976. It surpasses last month's record-breaking drop of 0.4 percent. The state's 0.9 percent decline in the jobless rate since August is the largest reduction measured in a two-month period.

  Officials say Kentucky's professional and business services sector added 6,100 jobs in October 2014 from a month earlier. The educational and health services sector gained 2,100 jobs during that same period.

Immigration Debate
12:39 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Head of Refugee Assistance Center in Bowling Green Cautiously Optimistic Ahead of Obama's Speech

Albert Mbanfu, on the right, is the Executive Director of the Bowling Green International Center.
Credit Abbey Oldham

The leader of the Bowling Green International Center says he hopes President Obama will announce that undocumented immigrants in the U.S. will not face deportation.

Albert Mbanfu says he’ll be watching the President’s speech Thursday evening with the hopes that Mr. Obama will take executive actions that clarify the status of undocumented immigrants.

“When you’re not sure if you’ll be with your kids tomorrow, you plan for contingencies, rather than thinking about how to comfortably raise your family,” the native of Cameroon said.  

Mbanfu believes the fear of deportation psychologically cripples many immigrants who would otherwise contribute greatly at the workplace and community.

“If you have that comfort in you, that a police officer is not looking over your shoulder to arrest you and send you back to your country, or wherever you came from, then you can think rationally, you can do things in a more composed manner, and that will translate into whatever job that they may be doing,” Mbanfu told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell warned from the Senate floor Thursday that “Congress will act” if lawmakers believe the President oversteps his legal authority and unilaterally changes U.S. immigration law Thursday night.

Read more
11:53 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Longtime Elementary Educator Chosen For Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame

Mary Armstrong will become the newest member of the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame in February.
Credit WKU

A Muhlenberg County woman, whose teaching career spanned more than a half-century, has been selected for induction into the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame. 

Mary Armstrong remembers taking her first teaching job in 1940.  

“You know I loved every child that I ever had,” said Armstrong.  “My first school was in a two-room school house in Marshall County.  I had [grades] 5-8 and another teacher had 1-4. And, I loved children.”

She then taught 6th grade social studies at Bremen Elementary from 1953 until her retirement in 1999. She says she never stopped thinking about her students, even when she was on vacation.

“In all my traveling, I would take pictures and films and develop them and use them. Like I went to Israel, I had pictures of Israel and I used those when we studied that,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong earned her degree from WKU in 1958.

Read more
2:49 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

KCTCS Chancellor Chosen To Head 16 College System

Dr. Jay Box has been confirmed has the new president of the KCTCS system
Credit KCTCS

In January, the chancellor for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will move into the presidency.  The KCTCS Board voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Dr. Jay Box as successor to current President Michael McCall.

Dr. Box has more than three decades of experience in community college leadership.  He's been chancellor for KCTCS since 2009.  Box says his accomplishments include furthering student completion, enhancing transfer policies and dual credit initiatives.  The Texas native admits being an insider may bring more scrutiny. 

"People know me.  They know maybe some of the areas that I'm not strong in, but I think the board's decision shows that they see the strengths that I bring to this position and I think my strengths will help the system be able to move forward," said Box.

Box says he expects the number of Kentucky high school graduates to flatten out or even decline.  He anticipates an increase in older non-traditional students entering the KCTCS.

"Those students, more than others, have failed in the education system before and that's why they don't have their high school diploma and so once we can get them to get their GED and enter with us, we think we've got a chance to help that group to be successful," added Box.

Read more