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

At a time when the Delta variant has led to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is urging those in his home state to “overcome skepticism” about the vaccine.

The Republican leader promoted vaccinations during a stop in Butler County on Tuesday.

As a polio survivor, McConnell said he's perplexed why more Americans aren’t rolling up their sleeves. 

Speaking in Morgantown, the GOP lawmaker noted it took 70 years to find two vaccines for polio compared to the mere months it took to get three vaccines effective against COVID-19.  

He stressed the solution to ending the pandemic is right in our hands. 

"We have the vaccine now," stated McConnell. "We have the solution.”


Clinton Lewis

Following a year-and-a-half of disruptions brought on by COVID-19, Western Kentucky University hit the reset button on Monday by looking ahead to the new academic year. 

President Timothy Caboni delivered the annual opening convocation to faculty and staff.  Although a much sparser crowd than in typical years filed into Van Meter Hall for the speech, it was a return to something closer to normal.  The annual address was delivered virtually last year.  This year, those wanting to hear the speech could do so either in person or online.

Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, President Caboni applauded the campus for still delivering classes, conducting research, and providing what he described as the WKU experience.

“You responded to the pandemic challenges by innovating and evolving your instruction to meet the moment," Caboni said. "Those changes enabled our students to succeed.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s public school students could be in masks for the next nine months under an emergency regulation approved on Thursday by the state Board of Education in a special meeting.

The measure keeps universal masking in place for up to 270 days, although it can be withdrawn if the CDC or Kentucky Department for Public Health relaxes recommendations for schools. 

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is a non-voting member, told the board of education she supports local decision-making, but added COVID-19 is a national health crisis.

“We have kids right now who are on ventilators in hospitals and being quarantined, which means they can’t go to school," Coleman said. "I’m just going to be very honest with you. Failing to implement a mask requirement, in my opinion, is negligent.”

Lisa Autry

Kentucky school superintendents were grappling with the issue of mask policies before Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Tuesday mandating masks for all public schools in the commonwealth.

Prior to the governor's mandate, and only five days into the new school year, Superintendent Rob Clayton issued a mea culpa in announcing Warren County Public Schools would return to masks for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

“What we do know is that if we had started school with the face coverings, we could have reduced the number of quarantines," Clayton said at a news conference Tuesday.

Western Kentucky University now has its first building on campus named in honor of an African-American. 

In a meeting , the on Friday, the WKU Board of Regents approved the renaming of Northeast Residence Hall in honor of Logan County native Margaret Munday

Following the desegregation of Kentucky’s public colleges and universities in 1956, Munday made history as the first African-American student to enroll at WKU.  After graduating with a music degree in 1960, she taught at the all-black Johnstown School in Olmstead. She later became the first Black teacher at Auburn High School, and eventually taught at every school in Logan County. 


Med Center Health

A Bowling Green physician is encouraging pregnant women to follow the recommendation of two major medical groups when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.  

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend the shots for all expectant and nursing moms. 

Dr. Madison Moscow, an OB-GYN for Med Center Health in Bowling Green, has seen the effect of COVID-19 on pregnancy.

“I took care of pregnant mothers in the ICU last summer that required mechanical ventilation," recalled Moscow. "I remember one mother who wasn’t even able to see her baby face to face until he was one month old, because she was in a medically-induced coma and we weren’t sure she would survive.”

The Medical Center at Bowling Green

Bowling Green-based Med Center Health announced Thursday that it will require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The vaccine requirement applies to medical staff, students, residents, fellows, and vendors across the Med Center health system. 

The deadline for getting immunized carries some symbolic weight.

Those in leadership positions will have through August 9 to receive their first doses, while all others have through September 1.  The deadline is close to the one-year anniversary of the death of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, the region’s top infectious disease specialist who contracted the coronavirus last year before vaccines were available. 

Warren County Clerk FB

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says technical issues affecting vehicle-related transactions at county clerk offices have been resolved. 

A statement posted Tuesday on the agency's Facebook page says delays may be experienced as clerks work through a backlog of requests.

For the last week, the state has experienced intermittent outages with its electronic inventory system which dates back to 1983.  A transfer from the current database to a new one prevented all county clerk offices from processing registrations, transfers, and titling.

Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates told WKU Public Radio that she’s never experienced an outage like this before.

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has signed off on a budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

In a special meeting on Friday, members approved a $375 million spending plan that includes an increase in tuition for undergraduate students. The Board passed the 2022 fiscal year budget with one dissenting vote from Student Regent Garrett Edmonds. 

The budget also permanently removes the distance learning fee on classes taught remotely, which the university says will result in a tuition savings to students of about $2 million. 

After holding the line on tuition last year during the pandemic, Regents approved a 2% hike, which will help create about $2 million that will go into a compensation pool for faculty and staff raises.  Speaking to reporters following the budget vote, WKU President Timothy Caboni said the university is seeing the effects of salary compression.

Lisa Autry

City leaders in Bowling Green have passed a $122 million budget that increases spending without tax hikes.

The city commission gave unanimous, final approval to the spending plan during a meeting Tuesday night. The budget is for the 2021-22 fiscal year beginning July 1. 

Coming off spending cuts in the current year’s budget due to uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, the next one boosts funding thanks to increased revenue projections. 

The spending plan also increases wages for the city’s lowest paid employees to $15 an hour.  Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said the minimum wage increase was given “out of necessity” as the nation faces a pandemic-related worker shortage.

“We’re in the same competition to get people to work," Alcott told WKU Public Radio. "We’ve got to entice people to come work for us just like everyone else.”

Mary Meehan

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing its two COVID-19 vaccination centers in Kentucky on Thursday, June 10.

In April, FEMA opened military-run vaccination clinics in Henderson and Laurel counties, both rural areas with lower vaccination rates at the time. 

The clinic at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Agency was capable of giving 250 doses of the vaccine per day, but averaged about 40 injections daily.  Henderson Mayor Steve Austin said the clinic was a bit out of the way and may have posed a transportation challenge for some residents.

“Honestly, the walk-in clinic didn’t draw the number of people we hoped it would," Austin told WKU Public Radio. However, the satellite vans they sent out to different areas did very well.”

Lisa Autry

The head of the Kentucky Supreme Court says the past 14 months have been the most challenging in the history of the modern court system. 

However, as courts return to full, in-person proceedings, Chief Justice John Minton, Jr., says the judicial system should retain lessons learned from the pandemic.  

COVID-19 proved the importance of electronic filing and remote technology in the court system.  In recent remarks to an interim legislative committee, Chief Justice Minton said COVID-19 forced courts to pivot to phone and video proceedings.

“If the pandemic had struck a decade, even five years ago, our ability to operate remotely would have been seriously curtailed, but we were able to persevere and use this technology to our advantage," Minton said.

Kyeland Jackson

A man pardoned by former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is facing a murder charge for a second time. 

Patrick Baker was released from prison in 2018 following his conviction in state court. Now, he’s being charged again, but this time, by federal prosecutors.

A federal grand jury in London, Kentucky, has indicted Baker on charges of murder, committed during a robbery and kidnapping related to drug trafficking.  The indictment accuses him in the 2014 shooting death of Donald Mills, and the theft of oxycodone pills in Knox County. 

Baker was arrested Sunday in Frankfort. 

Lisa Autry

Vaccinated or not, the masks come off June 11. Kentucky’s mask mandate will be officially lifted that day, with a few exceptions. As that date nears, the state is making a concerted effort to boost the number of residents protected against COVID-19.

While more than half of Kentucky’s adult population is vaccinated, the state lags in the number of minorities rolling up their sleeves. 

It wasn't Sunday and it wasn't a potluck, but 19-year-old Rachel Rodriguez was recently at the fellowship hall of her church on a weekday afternoon. She was there to get the coronavirus vaccine.

"I want to get it over with. I’m stoked honestly. I heard it doesn’t hurt," she said while laughing.

LaRue County Schools FB

Summer break will be getting off to an early start for students in LaRue County. 

The school district says it will end the year four days early due to a bus driver shortage.

An online statement by the district says LaRue County schools will use four days of built up instructional time to wrap up the school year on Friday.  Otherwise, the shortage of bus drivers would have forced the district to move to virtual learning for the remaining days.  

Elisa Hanley, Branch Manager of Pupil Transportation for the Kentucky Department of Education, says the shortage has been coming for a while and is being felt nationwide.  She adds districts across Kentucky have been stepping up in unusual ways to finish the school year.

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