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. 

Ways to Connect

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky has now eclipsed 1,000 deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began six months ago.

Governor Andy Beshear called it a tough and unfortunate milestone in announcing on Wednesday that 1,004 Kentuckians have now died from COVID-19 since March.

“They’re one of us, and no matter how old they were, they deserved time," Beshear said. "No matter what other complicating health factors they had, this played a part in it, and we owe it to them to work hard to limit the future casualties we have.”


WKU

New research shows the number of Kentucky high school students enrolling in dual credit courses has increased more than 75 percent in recent years. Higher education leaders see dual credit as an effective gateway into college.

The dual credit program allows high school students to enroll in college courses at their high school, nearby college, or online, and receive credit that counts toward high school and college completion.

A report from the Council on Postsecondary Education measured the impact of dual credit on student success at public, four-year universities.  It's the first comprehensive study since Kentucky launched a statewide dual credit policy and scholarship program in 2016 to improve participation.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s chief election officer says voter registration numbers are slowly rebounding from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The number of new registrants flatlined in March, in part, because COVID-19 made it difficult to hold voter registration drives. 

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams announced this week the number of Kentuckians registered to vote increased slightly following the June primary election. 

From June 24-July 31, a total of 21,548 people were added to the state's voter rolls.

Kentucky Red Cross

The American Red Cross has deployed some Kentuckians to Texas and Louisiana to assist with relief efforts following Hurricane Laura, which hit the Gulf Coast last week

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall last Thursday just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, packing 150-mph winds and a storm surge that officials said was as high as 15 feet in some areas. At least 18 people were killed.

The coronavirus pandemic is changing how the Red Cross responds to disasters. While COVID-19 hasn't changed the agency's mission, it has changed how missions are carried out. For instance, instead of mass shelters, the displaced are being housed in hotels and dormitories.


Lisa Autry

Ahead of Monday’s reopening, leaders at Western Kentucky University have their fingers on the launch button for what’s being called the Big Red Restart.  The campus is coming back to life after in-person learning was canceled due to the coronavirus.

"Did you guys get everything out of the car?," asks Anna Tranter. "The refrigerator? What about the microwave? Oh, it's right there."

Tranter is moving into a residence hall at WKU, a rite of passage for thousands of incoming freshmen.  She’s from the northern Kentucky town of Edgewood, and plans to major in fashion merchandising.  Her family is helping her move into her room on the 6th floor of Minton Hall.


BGISD

Less than a week before the new school year starts, the superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District, Gary Fields, has tested positive for COVID-19. 

"On Friday, when I spoke to the Board of Education about returning to school, I said a reality of the current time is that positive cases of COVID-19 will occur and there will be times when students and staff are isolated or quarantined," Fields wrote in a Facebook post. "At the time of that statement, I did not realize how close that reality would be for me."

In a statement, Fields said he had an anti-body test on Thursday morning as a free service offered to all school district employees.  That afternoon, Fields was told he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, but there wasn’t a need for him to isolate unless he developed symptoms.  He then received a nasal swab test, and on Monday evening, Fields says he learned the second test was positive.

Warren County Public Schools

The Warren County Board of Education has affirmed Superintendent Rob Clayton’s decision to resume classes in-person next week. 

School board members voted 3-2 Monday night on a reopening plan that includes both in-person and online instruction. 

Students who chose to participate in the virtual academy will see no changes, but students who prefer in-person classes will be separated into two groups.  Each group will attend in-person classes two days a week and be home three days a week for virtual instruction.


WKU

For the first time since the coronavirus hit in March, Western Kentucky University will reopen to in-person learning next Monday.

During his annual convocation to faculty and staff on Monday, President Timothy Caboni acknowledged the difficulty of the past five months while sharing some of the school’s milestones. 

In a departure from a packed auditorium at Van Meter Hall, President Caboni delivered his speech virtually to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.  While acknowledging the coronavirus as the largest challenge in WKU history, Caboni highlighted some successes in recruitment, retention, and graduation.


Creative Commons

On the same day that Kentucky hit a new record for the number of COVID-19 cases, the Hardin County Board of Education voted Wednesday evening to proceed with in-person classes.  

The school district, with 14,600 students, is planning to begin the academic year on Aug. 24 by offering traditional classroom instruction, as well as a virtual academy.  That was the district’s original plan before Gov. Andy Beshear advised districts to postpone in-person classes until Sept. 28. 

Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown has said school systems could face a state shutdown if they defied the governor’s recommendation.  John Wright, Director of Public Relations for Hardin County schools, says the board’s 4-1 decision reflected what most families in the district wanted.

Kentucky school districts are going back to the drawing board as they prepare to reopen under the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear has recommended that school districts not resume traditional in-person classroom instruction until September 28, and instead begin the school year remotely. 

Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton issued a statement on Tuesday calling the governor's recommendation a surprise.

"The negative impact on our most vulnerable students along with the harships it will create for our working families and the industries they serve are insurmountable," wrote Clayton.

Starting next fall, Western Kentucky University will admit some students without taking into account their scores on standardized tests. 

Members of the Board of Regents heard a presentation on Friday about how the school is placing less emphasis on the role of tests like the ACT when it comes to enrolling freshmen.

President Timothy Caboni said the school wants to reward four years of high school success instead of one day of testing.

“While testing can tell you some portion of a student’s capability and capacity, the GPA in high school is the best predictor of college success, so we think we should use that more than other metrics," Caboni told reporters following the Regents meeting.

A Daviess County grand jury has declined to issue indictments stemming from two incidents in Kentucky’s June 23 primary election. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Kuegel said the grand jury heard the findings of an investigations by the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department and took no action.  

"Because testimony before the Grand Jury cannot be divulged, I cannot comment on the evidence or testimony," Kuegel added.

J. Tyler Franklin

The first monument honoring a woman is headed to the Kentucky State Capitol.  

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman announced this week that a statue of Barren County native Nettie Depp will be unveiled in August 2021.

Depp was a pioneer in education as a teacher and principal.  She was also elected school superintendent in 1913, seven years before women earned full voting rights.  

“A failure to observe women in places of honor narrows the vision of our youth and reveals a lack of understanding of American history regarding women’s work, sacrifice, and the immeasurable and timeless contribution to society’s advancement," stated Coleman.

As he has said many times before, the leader of Western Kentucky University is reiterating the upcoming school year will be unlike any other in the school’s history.

During an online forum with faculty and staff on Monday, President Timothy Caboni fielded questions concerning how the campus will operate under the coronavirus pandemic.

"There is no risk-free environment," stated Caboni. "There will be COVID cases on this campus and our job is to identify them, isolate them, contract trace them as quickly as we can."

Lisa Autry

Some baseball players from the Class of 2020 haven’t played their last game just yet.  Although the coronavirus canceled their senior season, some Warren and Logan County high school baseball players have a final chance to take the diamond this weekend courtesy of the Bowling Green Hot Rods. 

Among them will be Ethan Gregory, 18, who was heading into his senior season of baseball at Greenwood High School.  He says it was going to be “their year”.

“We were looking forward to this season. We thought we were going to be the top dogs," he told WKU Public Radio. "We just had it all put together this season. We worked hard in the off season, so it was rough.”


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