Rhonda Miller

Reporter

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015.  She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.

She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio,  as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio.

She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University.

Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass. 

Owensboro Innovation Middle School

COVID-19 has caused many parents in Kentucky to lose their jobs or have their work hours cut back. The financial impact of the pandemic is adding homelessness to the challenge of virtual learning for some Owensboro students. 

Owensboro Innovation Middle School Youth Service Coordinator Amanda Hirtz said she’s working with three families who have suffered job losses during the pandemic, causing them to become homeless between March and August. 

Hirtz said students and families felt comfortable asking for help during these difficult times.


MGN

As COVID-19 continues to increase across Kentucky, the state K-12 dashboard asks schools to self-report student and staff cases, as well as the number quarantined.

The online resource shows that nearly 2,000 Kentucky students are currently in quarantine. 

The K-12 COVID-19 Dashboard weekly update also shows new cases statewide include 393 students and 189 staff. 

As for those in quarantine, the weekly update shows 1,976 students and 347 staff.  


Facebook/Russellville Parks and Rec Dept.

As the general election nears, many Kentuckians are choosing to cast their ballots by early in-person voting that began Oct. 13, and runs through Nov. 2. 

There’s one location for early voting in Logan County, the Old National Guard Armory in Russellville that’s now a recreation center owned by the city.

Logan County Clerk Scottie Harper said he has plenty of poll workers who are  keeping things running smoothly.

“I have two clerks signing people in. We have two ballot judges," said Harper. "We have floaters, which are cleaning spaces. We have a machine judge. And then I’ve got 25 privacy booths, which means I can vote 25 people simultaneously.”


GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant

The GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant, which is the only facility in the world to produce the Corvette, has temporarily suspended production due to a parts supply issue.

The plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, produces the mid-engine Corvette, which was introduced in July 2019 to much acclaim.

"Right now, this week, the week of October 12, we are not running production. So we’re not producing cars," said Rachel Bagshaw, spokesperson for the Bowling Green facility. She said she could not specify which parts caused the delay.

Henderson County Clerk

Kentucky voters who requested an absentee ballot for the November election can return them by mail or in secure drop boxes.

Henderson County has one drop box inside the county courthouse and is installing a second one outside.

County Clerk Renesa Abner said the drop box outside the courthouse will be under constant surveillance and it gives voters a chance to deliver their ballot 24/7.

"Part of that installation will be that it’s bolted down in the concrete, so it would be extremely difficult to, you know, take that away," said Abner. "Also our courthouse houses our sheriff’s department. Their office is on the same floor entrance as that drop box, so I feel very safe having it outside.”


Nelson County Clerk

Election officials across Kentucky have come up with a variety of options to keep voters safe during the pandemic. Nelson County will have drive-through voting for the November general election.

Nelson County had drive-up voting for the June primary and County Clerk Jeanette Sidebottom said it worked so well, they’re offering it again for the election on Nov. 3.

“It’s just like a precinct. We have our E-poll books. We will scan their ID and it will come up and tell us what ballot to give the voter," said Sidebottom. A"nd then they will drive up a little bit. Someone else will hand them the ballot itself. They’ll vote and then we’ll roll a machine up to the window and they scan it."


Rhonda J. Miller

The deadline is Oct. 9 for Kentucky voters to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

Barren County is seeing a smooth process with absentee ballots and the state has approved the county's plan for early in-person voting and election day voting.

Barren County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell said as of Oct. 8, the county had issued 3,943 absentee ballots, which can be mailed back or deposited in a secure drop box.


Sabrina Brown

COVID-19 has forced people across Kentucky and around the world to drastically limit their daily interactions with others in order to save lives.

In addition to the concern about physical health, the isolation is intensifying a secondary crisis – and that’s mental health.

Sabrina Brown is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Kentucky. She also works with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, part of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

Brown co-authored an article recently published in The Journal of Rural Health titled, “Suicide in the Time of COVID-19: A Perfect Storm.

WKU Public Radio Reporter Rhonda Miller spoke with Brown about what she sees as the increasing impact of the coronavirus on mental health. 


governor.ky.gov

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has launched a new interactive dashboard for cases of COVID-19 in grades K-12.

The site went live the week of Sept. 28 and schools are expected to self-report data about the virus.

State health officials want each school to update their information daily, including new COVID-19 cases among students and staff, as well as the number of students and staff in quarantine.

For example, as of Oct. 1, Greenwood High School in Warren County reported new cases among seven students and one staff member. 

Barren County Detention Center

Group facilities, such as county jails, provide some of the biggest challenges to preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

After more than 60 inmates at the Barren County Detention Center tested positive for the virus two weeks ago, extensive testing has been initiated, in addition to frequent cleaning and other precautionary measures. 

WKU Public Radio Reporter Rhonda Miller spoke with Barren County Jailer Aaron Bennett about working with the county Judge Executive’s office, emergency management, and the local health department to quickly tackle the virus. 


Courthouses.co

Kentucky voters who choose to cast their ballots  in person in the Nov. 3 general election will have the option of going to a designated "super center" in their county, designed to make the process more convenient and efficient during the pandemic. 

One of the main goals of the Election Day super centers is to minimize confusion that sometimes occurs when voters arrive at the wrong precinct.

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the super center is one of the ways Kentucky officials are making an effort to minimize crowds and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

courthouses.co

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in Kentucky residents having several options for how they vote in the Nov. 3 general election.

Now voters don’t need an excuse for absentee voting, often called “vote by mail.”

The Simpson County clerk said requests for absentee ballot continue to arrive, but so far are less than the requests received for the primary election in June. 

Jolene Thurman said the county has about 14,000 registered voters and there were about 2,000 requests  for absentee ballots for the June primary.

Ashley Allen

Warren County is in one of Kentucky’s “red zones” for COVID-19. The county has a high incidence rate of cases that state health officials now want school administrators to consider when planning in-person classes.

The Bowling Green Independent School District has announced that it will continue, through the end of the semester, on its hybrid schedule with students in a specified purple or gold group coming to class on alternating days.

To minimize the spread of the virus, the Bowling Green district also offers COVID-19 testing at the schools for students, staff or immediate family of school staff members.

Bowling Green city schools offer a rapid COVID-19 test with results in about 15-20 minutes for those who have symptoms of the virus within the last five days.


Logan County Schools

A case of COVID-19 has sent some Logan County students back to virtual learning. 

The three second-grade classes at Auburn Elementary have moved back to virtual learning for two weeks after a school employee tested positive for COVID-19. 

The News-Democrat and Leader reports the last day the employee attended work was Thursday, Sept. 10. Parents were notified of the positive case on Sunday, and second-graders returned to virtual learning on Monday.

Those students are expected to begin in-person classes again on Monday, Sept. 28. 

Allen County Detention Center

The Allen County Detention Center is battling an outbreak of COVID-19. 

The jail has had 20 of 58 inmates test positive for COVID-19, along with one staff member. 

Allen County Judge Executive Dennis Harper said he and his staff are working with the public health department and the dentention center staff on measures to address the issue.

“The positive inmates and the ones that have been exposed are being kept together," said Harper. "Some inmates that are not a threat to the citizens of Allen County, and have a stable home to go to, are being released and monitored by ankle tracker and the Allen County Health Department."


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