Becca Schimmel

Multimedia Journalist

Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.  She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green. 

Becca was born in Charleston, SC but grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. You can often find her behind a book or near a cup of coffee. In her time away from the newsroom she enjoys running and lifting weights. She’s a sucker for unintentional puns, a good cup of coffee, a nice craft beer and a story.

Becca earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University with a minor in psychology. She interned with The Paducah Sun in Paducah as a general assignment reporter. From there she went on to become Morning Edition producer and general assignment reporter for WKMS in Murray.

Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

When former coal mine employees in western Kentucky faced arraignment Wednesday on federal charges that they conspired to falsify the required monitoring of coal dust, the hearing brought renewed attention to the region’s surge in black lung disease.

The case highlights the many challenges miners face in the workplace. And health officials in black lung clinics say sick miners also face an increasingly Byzantine bureaucratic process that determines if those afflicted with the lung disease receive benefits.


Becca Schimmel

Eight former employees of two western Kentucky coal mines entered not guilty pleas at an arraignment hearing Wednesday. Those defendants are being federally charged with cheating on safety monitoring which is meant to reduce the risk of black lung disease.

Miners who work in the dustiest areas routinely wear monitoring devices. The indictment alleges those workers would be replaced mid-shift with miners who were not wearing the devices. Officials at Armstrong Coal Company are also accused of fabricating tests and submitting results from days when the mine wasn’t operating.

UK College of Medicine

The first class at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine campus in Bowling Green will be welcomed with a white coat ceremony Friday. The coating ceremony symbolizes the transition into medical school.

In 2016, the UK College of Medicine announced plans for regional campuses in Bowling Green, Morehead and Northern Kentucky. The Bowling Green campus is the first to open and will be a complete medical school program. Don Brown is the Assistant Dean at UK College of Medicine’s Bowling Green campus. He said the new institution will help address a physician shortage in the state, while providing new opportunities for Kentuckians.

Thinkstock

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office has issued a new scam warning after a mobile deposit scam cost one Kentuckian $10,000.

The Franklin County resident provided her bank account information online to what appeared to be a legitimate bank. She was depositing a $10,000 personal loan. The “lender” claimed there was an issue with the deposit and the money needed to be returned and reissued. After sending the money back using an untraceable method of payment, the victim’s bank detected that the loan check was counterfeit and the victim was stuck repaying the bank.

Aaron Payne

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a Congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multiemployer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

“When the people get to marching, the politicians get to listening,” Roberts roared.


Tableau

A new report shows the average income of the top one percent of Kentuckians is more than 18.4 times greater than the average income of state residents.

Income for the wealthiest one percent of earners in Kentucky was more than $719,012 in 2015, compared to an average income of almost $39,990 for all other Kentuckians. The report from the Economic Policy Institute shows from 2009 to 2015 the top one percent income grew 23.2 percent while everyone else’s income grew only 7.2 percent. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.  

Adelina Lancianese

Western Kentucky District U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman didn’t hide his emotion when announcing federal charges against a coal company for faking coal dust samples.

“This is one of those that just made me angry, it just made me angry to see the impact on these miners,” Coleman said.

 

Coleman unsealed indictments Wednesday against eight employees of the now-bankrupt Armstrong Energy coal company for falsifying dust monitoring samples in two of its Kentucky mines.


Lisa Autry

Bowling Green resettled more refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over a recent three-month period than from any other country. The size of some of those Congolese families is presenting challenges when it comes to finding living arrangements.

Evelina Gevorgiyan is the refugee program manager at the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky. She said many of the Congolese refugees coming from Kentucky have large families, including one with 14 people. But many landlords will only allow two people per bedroom.

Becca Schimmel

The Ohio Valley’s auto manufacturing industry is growing increasingly nervous about the Trump administration’s trade policy. First came tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, key materials for vehicle makers. Now the Commerce Department is looking into taxes on imported automobiles and automotive parts. Both are ominous signs for an industry that employs more than 1.5 million people in the region. Ohio and Kentucky are the nation’s second and third biggest auto-making states, respectively.


Becca Schimmel

Protestors gathered outside U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s Bowling Green office Saturday in support of changes to federal immigration policy. An estimated 200 people rallied in Bowling Green as part of a national “Families Belong Together” campaign.

 

The group is calling for an end to President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Sabina Husic came to Bowling Green as a refugee with her family. Bowling Green is a refugee resettlement area and home to many Bosnian immigrants. Husic said America was something that her family dreamed about but never thought was possible.

public domain

An annual report measuring the health and well-being of Kentucky children shows progress in nine different categories, including the teenage birth rate, children living in poverty and children with health insurance. But the state still lags behind the nation in other areas, like in the number of babies born with low-birth weights and the number of young children not enrolled in school.

The annual Kids Count Data Book has tracked a steady decline in the economic well-being of Kentucky children for more than a decade, but this year the state improved in most categories, according to Terry Brooks, the executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. He said improvements in the national economy are having a positive ripple effect on Kentucky’s children.

WFPL

A recent study shows Kentucky is one of just eight states that is holding more people in local jails than in state prisons. The problem is largely driven by the number of people in the commonwealth who are held in local jails while serving prison sentences.

 

Kentucky’s level of incarceration continues to grow at an explosive rate at the same time the nationwide trend is declining. Some counties are now considering expanding or building new jails to deal with overcrowding.

ThinkStock

A decision Thursday from the U.S. Supreme Court could mean increased revenue for Kentucky. The ruling will allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers.

Previous rulings limited a state’s ability to collect that revenue if the business didn’t have a physical presence in the state. Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Executive Director Jason Bailey said while there won’t be an immediate effect felt from the Supreme Court decision, it will eventually lead to more money for the commonwealth.

Becca Schimmel

A contract to bring a wide variety of sports championships to Bowling Green will continue for seven more years. The Conference is made up of universities from across the southern and midwestern United States. The new contract expires at the end of fiscal year 2025.

Bowling Green held 14 Mid-South Conference championships during the 2017-18 season. The Conference is adding women’s wrestling and men’s volleyball. Mid-South Conference Commissioner Eric Ward said in addition to the contract extension, the organization will move its office to Bowling Green, making Warren County its headquarters. He said Bowling Green is the perfect size and has a lot to offer student athletes.

US Army Corps of Engineers Facebook

A Bowling Green microbrewery is teaming up with Western Kentucky University and two non-profit groups to celebrate conservation efforts in southern Kentucky. The White Squirrel brewery is releasing a new beer called the “Belle of the Green River”, which is made with water from the Green River.  

Lauren Hendricks is the chairwoman of the Forecastle Foundation, which works to conserve watersheds and restore the natural flow of waterways. The group supported efforts last year to remove Lock and Dam Number Six on the Green River in southern Kentucky. She said the foundation has already helped restore nearly 200 miles of the Green River by removing locks and dams.

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