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. 

Dawson Springs Police

Police have issued an Amber Alert for a 16-year-old girl from Hopkins County.

Lauren Sizemore was last seen in the bedroom of her Dawson Springs home  at midnight Saturday, March 30. She was noticed missing on Sunday morning, March 31.

Lauren is white, has brown hair and brown eyes and wears glasses. She is 4-foot-8 and weighs 130 pounds.

She is thought to be Glenn Eugene Harper, her 56-year-old step-grandfather.

Harper is white, 5-feet-9-inches tall and has gray hair and brown eyes. He weighs about 245 pounds.

University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture

Trade disputes between the U.S. and other countries are leaving many Kentucky farmers uncertain about the global market for soybeans. The crop has been the state’s largest agricultural export.

Kentucky farmers told the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service regional  office in Louisville they’re expecting to plant 1.75-million acres of soybeans this year. That’s down from two million acres of soybeans last year, a decrease of 12 percent.

Director of the regional office David Knopf said there’s a natural rotation of fields between soybeans and corn, and Kentucky’s soybean acres planned for this year are within a five-year average. But Knopf said the 12 percent decline is noticeable. 


Wendell Foster

An Owensboro nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities is suspending its autism program. The CEO says the autism program will undergo a major restructuring to better serve its clients, who are students in elementary, middle and high school. 

Wendell Foster is a nonprofit that’s been serving people with disabilities for 72 years. The autism program began as a satellite location for the Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, but eventually the Owensboro program became independent.

The current autism program in Owensboro has been offered as an afterschool program a few hours a week, which has an average of 15-20 students, and a summer camp three days a week, which usually has about 30 students.


Warren County Agriculture/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2018 crop report for Kentucky shows both  Henderson and Christian counties among the state’s leaders in production. 

Henderson County led the state in soybean production with 5.4 million bushels grown on 102,400 acres.

Christian County was the leader in corn production with 12.8 million bushels grown on 72,500 acres.

But Ohio County came in strong by getting the most yield per acre for both those crops.

Ohio County farmers harvested 59.6 bushels of soybeans per acre last year, compared to Henderson County’s 53 bushels per acre.

lifelineh2h.org

Daviess County, Kentucky now has a 211 help line that can connect area residents to a wide range of services. 

The most important feature of the new 211 help line is that it has a person on duty 24/7. That person helps the caller determine the best agency or organization to meet their needs and assists them in getting connected.

The 211 service is provided by United Way of Ohio Valley.

Owensboro Community Development Director Abby Shelton said the resources in the 211 database cover a huge range of topics.

"It can give you information on crisis hotlines, housing assistance, utility assistance, foods and meals, health care, health screening, addiction and substance use, mental health behavior, dental or vision, parenting and child care, on and on and on…,” said Shelton. 


Creative Commons

Kentucky farmers have until April 5 to sign up with the Farms to Food Banks program if they want to sell produce that’s not considered ‘picture perfect’ enough for grocery stores.

The Farms to Food Banks program is increasing its statewide outreach to farmers as planting season gets underway.

Last year, 349 farmers from 64 counties in Kentucky sold surplus portions of their crops, as well as slightly imperfect produce, often called ‘ugly’ produce, to the Farms to Food Banks program.

'Ugly' produce may vary in size, shape or appearance from what grocery stores prefer, but the imperfect produce purchased for the program is equally fresh and nutritious. 


drugfree.org

A two-day workshop in Henderson, Kentucky on March 22 and 23 will offer education and training on how to reduce the impact of addiction on children.

The workshop is being hosted by marriage and family therapist Tamara James, who said the workshop is appropriate for family members, educators, foster parents and anyone who works with elementary, middle and high school youth.

"Day one of the workshop is going to be a discussion and education on how addiction impacts the family and the resulting childhood effects and trauma that can get passed down from one generation to the next if healing or intervention does not occur,” said James.

Rhonda J. MIller

A dozen women in the Daviess County Detention Center are rehearsing for a March 26 performance that’s part of the Owensboro Symphony’s ‘Music On Call’ community engagement program. The symphony got a grant from Owensboro Health to bring a choir director into the jail and have the inmates bring the music back into the community.

“You’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles. You’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies," sing the members of the women’s choir at the first of four Friday afternoon rehearsals to prepare for their March 26 performance.

One woman in this choir at the Daviess County Detention Center who said she’s no longer planning to walk the same old road that landed her in jail is Jennifer Blaisdell. The 54-year-old says she’s finding a new path, including singing with a group for the first time.


kickbuttsday.org

Communities across Kentucky will join a national event on March 20 aimed at discouraging the use of  e-cigarettes and tobacco.

National 'Kick Butts Day' is a day of activism organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

More than 1,000 events will be held across the U.S., with the main focus on getting young people to kick the e-cigarette habit, especially Juul, which looks like a computer flash drive and comes in appealing flavors like mango, fruit and mint.

In Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University will host a campus-wide 'Cigarette Butt Clean Up Day.'

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Much of the effort to confront the opioid crisis in America has focused on young adult and middle-aged populations. But  a new study finds that more older adults, including those in Kentucky, are showing up in emergency rooms because of opioid misuse.

The results of the study, published in the journal Innovation in Aging, show that nationwide, emergency room visits due to opioid misuse by adults 65 and old more than tripled between 2006 and 2014. That increase was determined using data from emergency departments at hospitals in 34 states.

Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Towson University Mary Carter is the lead researcher on the study.

Carter said that during the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, the number of Kentuckians over 65 who visited emergency rooms for opioid misuse rose from 265 to 616. 

Keith Williams/ Courier Journal

The Kentucky native known as “The Greatest of All Time” is the focus of a photo exhibition opening Monday, March 11, at Western Kentucky University.

The photos of Muhammad Ali were taken by more than a dozen staff photographers for the Courier Journal, who had extensive access to Ali during his rise to fame, and later during his fight with Parkinson’s Disease.

WKU photojournalism professor Tim Broekema said the exhibition is not just for people interested in Ali’s success as a boxer.

Rhonda J. Miller

Feeding Kentucky, a nonprofit with a mission to alleviate hunger across the Bluegrass State, reports that food insecurity is a reality for one in 10 residents age 60 and older.

Elder refugees  in Kentucky face an ever higher risk of hunger due to language barriers and lack of transportation.

On a recent rainy afternoon in Louisville, refugees--some of them in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s--lined up at outdoor tables filled with fresh leafy green lettuce, bright red bell peppers, cucumbers and mushrooms.

John Gowling, a volunteer for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, began enthusiastically offering mushrooms and other food items to the refugees.


Michael Blackshire

All the attention focused on migrants at America’s border with Mexico convinced a Western Kentucky University photojournalism student to pack up his camera and head to Tijuana.

Michael Blackshire’s creative instincts are to head toward people facing difficult situations and document how their struggles play out day-by-day. He did a previous photojournalism project on gun violence in Louisville, focusing his lens on emotional images of people who lost loved ones.

Blackshire said during his 10 days in Tijuana he focused on the daily struggles of migrants hoping to cross into the U.S. and some who have already been deported, as well as local residents.


Feeding Kentucky

The organization previously called the Kentucky Association of Food Banks has a new name and it’s pledging to continue initiatives to alleviate food insecurity. But even with the continuing support of many state leaders, the initiatives aren't making much of a dent in the state’s problem with hunger. 

In Kentucky, one-in-six people is food insecure. That’s a number the organization with the new name ‘Feeding Kentucky’ is determined to whittle down.

Executive Director Tamara Sandberg said many families and individuals aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.

Bowling Green Housing Authority

A new grocery store is coming soon to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined is a Bowling Green ‘food desert,’ where it’s difficult for residents to buy affordable or good quality fresh food. 

It’s one of 12 projects in the nation, and the only one in Kentucky, that’s just been awarded a grant from CSX railroad and The Conservation Fund. It’s not a brick-and-mortar grocery, it’s a renovated school bus.

The freshly painted white bus has bright green letters and pictures of fruits, vegetables and milk. It’s called the Mobile Grocery Store and it’s a project of the Bowling Green Housing Authority. 

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