Lisa Autry

Reporter/Producer

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum.  She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years.  Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville.  She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky.  Many of her stories have been heard on NPR. 

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Lisa Autry

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is responding to reports that a business belonging to his wife’s family received help from a federal a loan program stemming from the coronavirus. 

According to data released on Monday by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Foremost Group received at least $350,000 in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.  The shipping business is owned by the family of Sen. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao.


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The state of Kentucky has hired an outside contractor to speed up the processing of unemployment claims. The coronavirus created nearly one million jobless claims in the commonwealth. 

Gov. Andy Beshear's administration has entered into a one-month contract with Ernst and Young to fix the massive backlog of applications. Three hundred of the accounting firm’s employees will begin processing claims on Monday, July 6. During a news conference on Tuesday, Beshear acknowledged the public's frustration with busy phone lines and lack of in-person assistance.

“The reality that we hear is that they can’t get somebody talking to them to fix their claim. We’re quadrupling our workforce," Beshear said. "They’re going to start calling people with the oldest claims first.”

WKU

The Board of Regents at Western Kentucky University has passed a budget that trims $27 million in costs, amid uncertainty from the coronavirus.

WKU is expecting its largest freshman class in 18 years this fall, which would have helped offset an overall decline in enrollment and tuition, but the school had to make further budget adjustments once the pandemic hit in March.

The 2020-21 budget approved in a special called meeting on Friday includes salary reductions for faculty and staff earning more than $50,000 annually, as well as freezes on travel and hiring.  The budget of more than $353 million represents a nine percent decline over the previous spending plan.

While official results of Kentucky’s primary election won’t be known until early next week, both parties are calling the voting process a win. 

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams says Kentucky offered the nation a model for success in conducting an election during a pandemic. 

"I’m proud of the resilient Kentucky voters who refused to let a virus disenfranchise them," Adams said in a statement. "While in so many categories Kentucky remains near the bottom, today Kentucky is first in something – conducting elections, even under extreme circumstances, and exhibiting grace under pressure."


Lisa Autry

Kentuckians head to the polls on Tuesday to select party nominees for the presidency and U.S. Senate, as well as some state legislative seats. 

The June 23 primary is fitting for 2020:  unconventional in every way.  The coronavirus postponed the election by more than a month and changed how most voters will cast their ballot.

Kevin Mays works as a chief financial officer in Bowling Green. He’s been voting for more than 30 years, but this will be the first time he’s not voted on election day. Mays and his family recently voted absentee for the first time.

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Some African-Americans in Owensboro are joining a growing call to remove Confederate monuments in the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice.

The local NAACP is calling for the removal of a Confederate monument on the lawn of the Daviess County courthouse. The bronze statue features a soldier holding a rifle on top of a granite pedestal. It was erected in 1900 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the Owensboro NAACP chapter, says Owensboro is no longer a community that would glorify white supremacy.

“We just want to show we need to progress forward from that kind of thinking, and our community demographics, we are changing," Randolph stated.

WFPL

LGBTQ individuals in Kentucky now have legal protections against being fired from their job on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

In a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring sex discrimination in the workplace applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers. 

The historic ruling from a conservative court was a welcomed surprise for Nicholas Breiner of Kentucky.  Breiner says he was fired from his job as a Montgomery County school teacher in 2017 after coming out as bisexual.

“Obviously for me personally and then the community as a whole, we’re seeing years and years of work finally come to fruition, albeit there’s still a long way to go," Briener said.

Lisa Autry

A group of Kentucky voters, including a state lawmaker, has filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams.  The suit challenges the minimal number of polling locations for the June 23 primary election.

The lawsuit was filed this week by State Representative Jason Nemes and voters in Jefferson, Fayette, Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties. The county clerks and local boards of election in those counties are also named as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges there will be “significant voter suppression” if there’s only one in-person polling location in each county. 

National Corvette Museum

Museums, libraries, distilleries, aquariums, and outdoor attractions opened their doors on Monday for the first time in nearly three months. 

The venues are resuming operations under Kentucky’s phased-in reopening of the economy stemming from the coronavirus. 

New and renovated exhibit spaces await visitors at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. President and CEO Sean Preston says the visitor experience won’t be that different compared to before the pandemic began.


Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator is suggesting there may be a fifth coronavirus relief bill, but it won’t happen anytime soon. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is in wait-and-see mode as it reviews the approximately $3 trillion already spent by Congress.  That bill, known as the CARES Act, has had an $11 billion impact on the commonwealth, including 45,000 loans under the Payroll Protection Program. The forgivable loans were designed for small businesses that committed to maintaining a certain level of employment.


Lisa Autry

Cash registers are ringing in Kentucky for the first time in two months. Retail outlets reopened on Wednesday following a shutdown from the coronavirus.

Dixieland Boutique in Bowling Green opened Wednesday without a lot of fanfare. Owner Brittany Blackerby said normally when there’s a sale or special occasion, the clothing store will heavily promote it and do giveaways.

“I was little hesitant to do it in the same way this time because we need to maintain social distancing, so we didn’t want a line at the door or a lot of people coming in at once," Blackerby told WKU Public Radio. We wanted it to be like a normal day.”

Blackerby said customer traffic steady was steady throughout the day.

Kentucky BioProcessing

While the coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, the answer to stopping its spread could be found in Kentucky. 

Kentucky BioProcessing announced in April it was developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19. The biotech firm has been injecting tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus to see if it can produce antibodies for a possible vaccine.

KBP says its vaccine candidate has completed pre-clinical testing and has produced a positive immune response.  It’s now ready for human clinical trials, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. 


WKU

Western Kentucky University will not use faculty and staff salary reductions to balance its budget for the 2021 fiscal year. 

The decision was announced Friday morning during the Board of Regents quarterly meeting.

The reversal comes a week after the university sent a campus email identifying $2.4 million in savings through tiered salary reductions ranging from 2.5 to 10 percent. 

The pay cuts would have taken effect on July 1. WKU President Timothy Caboni said the university will look for other ways to cut $27 million from its budget, the result of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a projected decline in state funding.

Leachman Buick GMC Cadillac Facebook

After grinding to a halt due to COVID-19, Kentucky is taking a major step toward restarting its economy.

Manufacturing, construction, car dealerships, and pet grooming are among the business sectors that opened  their doors to customers on Monday for the first time in nearly two months.  David Jaggers, general manager of Leachman Buick, GMC, Cadillac of Bowling Green, says the last seven weeks have been unprecedented.

"I've been in the business 44 years and its the first time I've experienced not being able to allow people in our showroom or offices," Jaggers said.


Kentucky’s colleges and universities are producing more degrees in science, technology, engineering, math and health care.  The state has surpassed a milestone for bachelor’s degrees in the STEM disciplines, according to a progress report from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

During the 2018-19 academic year, Kentucky’s public universities awarded 6,685 STEM plus health care degrees, up two percent from the previous year and 31 percent over the past five years. 


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