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

Mitch McConnell is acknowledging his hand in restricting Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability to fill a vacancy in the event that one of the state’s U.S. Senators dies or leaves office early. 

During a stop in Bowling Green on Tuesday, Sen. McConnell said he’s “not going anywhere,” but  suggested legislative leaders change Kentucky law to limit the governor's power to appoint someone to temporarily take over for a senator until voters can elect a successor.  Lawmakers over-rode Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of the bill. 

While his office previously said McConnell supported it, the 79-year-old senator said on Tuesday he actually recommended the rule change.

“I had watched over the years the way Senate vacancies are filled in different states," McConnell told WKU Public Radio. "I thought the worst way to fill it was the way Kentucky law set it up so the governor alone picks somebody who can serve a fairly lengthy period of time before there’s an election.”


Lisa Autry

While bourbon may have put Bardstown on the map, the rural Kentucky town is helping bring to market the most coveted vaccine in modern history.  Kentucky Pediatric\Adult Research, or KPAR, is one of 150 sites worldwide and the only in the state conducting human clinical trials on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Bardstown facility had a hand in getting the vaccine approved for adults, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds.  Now, KPAR is studying the vaccine in children ages 12-15.  Isabella Stiles was 15 when she began participating in the trials.  The student at Thomas Nelson High School has mostly kept her contribution to science under wraps.

"A few know, but not many," Stiles told WKU Public Radio. "Some people are interested and want to know what it’s all about, but some people are like, 'Why would you do this?'"

She did it because testing the vaccine is a family affair.  Her parents and older siblings went first in the adult trials at KPAR.  Isabella’s father, Dr. Matthew Stiles, practices family medicine in Bardstown. 


Lisa Autry

Kentucky hit a major milestone on Monday when the one-millionth vaccine was administered during a ceremony at the state Capitol.  With an increasing supply of the vaccine, the state has ramped up immunizations with a goal of vaccinating every Kentuckian by the summer.  In communities with large international populations like Bowling Green, part of the challenge is getting refugees and immigrants to roll up their sleeves. 

Understanding COVID-19 and the vaccine has been a bit of a learning curve for all of us, but what if you were new to the U.S. and not a native English speaker?  That’s the scenario for thousands of refugees living in Bowling Green.  Albert Mbanfu heads the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky.  He says groups like his are working to combat a lack of knowledge and false information about the vaccine.


WKU

The governing body of Western Kentucky University has approved a contract extension for President Timothy Caboni

After 3.5 years leading the university, President Caboni would stay at the helm through 2025, under terms of the new extension.  The WKU Board of Regents on Friday also agreed to boost his base salary to $450,000 a year, an increase of  $34,000.  Caboni will also be eligible for yearly performance bonuses equal to 10% of his base pay.

Regent Dr. Phillip Bale called Caboni an "overachiever" who has positioned the unversity to be one of the success stories in higher education.


Lisa Autry

Kentucky is under a state of emergency due to heavy weekend rainfall.  Some areas have recorded more than five inches of rain, prompting road closures, swift water rescues, mudslides, and power outages.

While five inches isn't record-setting for many places, it can still create hazards. Warren County Emergency Management Director Ronnie Pearson says local crews performed 12 rescues in 24 hours.

“Most were stranded motorists," Pearson told WKU Public Radio. "They had drove through standing water. Their vehicle stalled, and they had to be rescued from their vehicle back to dry land.”

Pearson implored drivers to find alternate routes and keep in mind that one foot of moving water can sweep away a vehicle.

Owensboro Public Schools FB

The Owensboro and Daviess County school boards will meet Thursday afternoon to consider the districts' plans to return to a five-day schedule of in-person classes.

Both school systems plan to welcome students back full-time on March 22. 

In a joint news conference on Wednesday, the districts said a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increasing supply of the vaccine make reopening possible. 

Daviess County Superintendent Matt Robbins said it’s important for teachers and staff to see students in-person for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

“We know they need us, and frankly, we need them, Robbins said. "There’s a lot of needs of our children from academic to mental health, social, emotional, anxiety issues. We need to see them so we can begin to diagnose those needs.”

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Department of Education is preparing to administer state assessments this spring, despite disruptions in learning brought on by COVID-19. The tests are expected to reveal the impact of the pandemic on student achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education, so far, has not granted waivers on statewide testing as it did for the 2019-2020 school year. In a Sept. 3 letter to Chief State School Officers, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote that states should not anticipate such waivers this academic year.

Kentucky administers tests in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10; in science at grades 4, 7 and 11; and in social studies and writing at grades 5, 8 and 11. 

In addition, students in 11th grade take a state administration of the ACT.


Lisa Autry

Governor Andy Beshear says Kentucky is in a position to receive an influx of the COVID-19 vaccine when the first major shipment arrives next month. 

Beshear visited a Kroger Health mass vaccination site in Bowling Green on Friday. The clinic has already vaccinated some 2,300 people in the week since it opened.  Beshear said the state is getting about 80,000 doses of the vaccine each week, but has the capability to administer more than a quarter-million doses per week. 

“We can build out the infrastructure to when we get several hundred-thousand vaccines a week, that we are capable of already providing, that we can get them out quickly and our citizens do not have to wait," Beshear said. 

Close to 300 total vaccination sites are open in Kentucky, including 28 new ones announced on Thursday.  The additional vaccination clinics include locations in Albany, Campbellsville, Hartford, Bardstown, Owensboro, Somerset, Leitchfield, and Russellville.

Lisa Autry

Some regional vaccination clinics in Kentucky are still offering the COVID-19 vaccine despite the winter storm. 

A clinic run by Kroger Health is open at Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green.  Bruce Kessler was there on Thursday and said he didn’t let the weather deter him from getting his first injection.  

“We’re fairly brave when we need to get out," Kessler said. "Front wheel drive vehicles are a marvelous creation, and I had been out yesterday and knew the roads were pretty okay where they had been scraped,   so I felt like we could get to the mall, no problem.”

Kessler received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine with his twin 18-year-old daughters.  His wife and son who are both educators have already received both doses.

Winter storm watches and warnings are posted for much of Kentucky through Thursday night. 

Dangerous ice accumulations are expected across the southern half of Kentucky, mainly south of the Western Kentucky and Bluegrass Parkways, with the worst beginning Wednesday evening. A mixture of mainly sleet and snow is expected north of the parkways. 

Meteorologist Kyle Wilkins with the National Weather Service in Louisville doesn’t expect this event to rival the ice storms of 2009 or 2018.

“But this is enough to definitely have impacts," Wilkins told WKU Public Radio. "There will probably be some limbs brought down. There’s going to be traffic impacts. There are probably going to be some power outages, but it’s not going to be anything like those big storms that everyone remembers.”

Blood Assurance

TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital is hosting a community blood drive in Bowling Green on Tuesday, Feb. 9,  to help reverse a nationwide decrease in donors during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Blood Assurance, a regional non-profit blood center, is conducting the drive. Account Manager Bob Murray said donors will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, which few donors actually possess.

“Even though you may have felt bad or felt like you had the flu or COVID back in September, we’re finding most people are still negative for those antibodies," Murray said.

arrests.org

The board of directors for the Owensboro-Daviess County Airport has scheduled a closed session meeting Tuesday afternoon following the arrest of the airport’s director. 

Rob Barnett is charged with impersonating a peace officer, a felony. The Daviess County Sheriff’s Department responded to a disturbance at Barnett’s home last week.

According to the arrest report, Barnett’s 14-year-old daughter called 911 to report he was intoxicated and threatening to physically assault her. The juvenile said there were guns in the home and that she and her siblings feared for their safety. 


Glasgow Independent Schools

After nearly a year of disruptions from COVID-19, a school system in southern Kentucky is returning its youngest students to a full schedule of in-person classes on Monday, Feb. 1. 

Older students will be phased in at a later date.

Glasgow Superintendent Keith Hale said COVID-19 cases are in a plateau, and he feels comfortable sending students back with the proper safety measures in place.

“We know the transmittal rate at the elementary school level is almost non-existent. I think it’s less than one percent," Hale told WKU Public Radio. "We feel good. Our community is wanting their kids in schools and I think it’s time.”

Material Handling Systems Facebook

A new manufacturer is coming to Bowling Green and creating 200 jobs.  Material Handling Systems, based in Bullitt County, is expanding its operations by adding a new facility in the Kentucky Transpark. 

MHS produces conveyor systems for companies, including UPS, FedEx, and Wayfair. In a virtual news conference on Thursday, CEO Scott McReynolds said Bowling Green is a good fit for the company.

“Of course, the access to major transportation routes, proximity to our other operations, and it’s a growing population center with a strong workforce and a great quality of life for our employees," McReynolds said.

medcenterhealth.org

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is finding success in an outpatient treatment for COVID-19. 

The hospital has given more than 500 monoclonal antibody infusions to patients with underlying health conditions who may be at risk of being hospitalized, or who might have a more serious case of the virus. 

The treatment is offered through drug-makers Eli Lilly and Regeneron.

“Both of these have been found to shorten the duration of the worst of the symptoms and help to decrease the severity of the virus in many patients," said Dr. Melinda Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Support Services for Med Center Health.


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