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. 

SouthernStar.com

An energy company based in Daviess County broke ground Tuesday on a solar project that will generate enough electricity to offset the facility’s annual power demand.

Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline will install a solar array at its corporate headquarters off State Route 56 in Owensboro.  The solar panels will be located on four acres in a field adjacent to the headquarters buidling. 

The project will make Southern Star’s headquarters, with 200 employees, the first known “net zero carbon-based energy facility of its size” in Owensboro. 

“Southern Star is committed to reducing its carbon footprint in all communities we serve," said President and CEO Jimmy Staton. "We are proud to mark the beginning of this journey in Owensboro.”

Andrea Robinson

As Kentucky emerges from the isolation and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on mental health and domestic violence is rising to the surface. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Andrea Robinson, who was recently named president of the board of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Robinson is executive director of Oasis, a domestic violence service agency in Owensboro. During the past year, when the pandemic was raging, Robinson says Oasis received half as many calls as it did the previous year and that just increased concern for victims of domestic abuse.

Facebook/ConCon's

It's the first full week that businesses across Kentucky reopened with no mask, social distancing or capacity requirements.

Some changes made to meet the challenges of the pandemic turned out to be good for business. 

Along Russellville Road in Bowling Green, one visible change made during the pandemic is a white tent installed in front of a little diner named ConCon’s

Owner Connie Blair said she had to adapt quickly to the requirements of the pandemic. She didn’t have any indoor dining for nine months

“I never shut the doors, not at all. I put in the drive-up window in six hours after it started and I put a PA system outside,” said Blair. “You know, they just cracked their window and waited for me tell ‘em to pull up to the window and pick their food up.”

She said the changes that saved her business are going to stay. 


Bill Sheckles

A new museum in Bardstown is intended to help fill in some gaps in the town’s history. The Bardstown-Nelson County African American Heritage Museum opened June 10.

In his work as a truancy officer for Bardstown City Schools, Bill Sheckles realized that many young people don’t know about the contributions African Americans have made to the city in all walks of life. 

Sheckles is a city councilman and former Bardstown Mayor who coordinated the development of the Bardstown-Nelson County African American Heritage Museum. 

The museum is located in an historic building constructed circa 1812 that’s currently the First Baptist Church.


The Creme Coffee House

A coffee shop in Owensboro is among businesses across Kentucky preparing for Friday’s return to full capacity, as the state emerges from the shadow of COVID-19 with vaccines readily available and the number of cases dramatically reduced. 

One young owner took a big risk when she bought a small Daviess County business in the midst of the pandemic and guided it through the economic and emotional turmoil of the past year. 

Brooklyn Patterson became owner of The Creme Coffee House in May 2020. It was a time when many small businesses were wiped out as a result of mandated closures, limited capacity and COVID-19 ravaging families and communities. 


Saints Joseph and Paul Catholic Church

A church in Daviess County is part of the national effort to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the Spanish-speaking community.

Sts. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church in Owensboro serves about 700 families, with about 200 of those attending the Spanish-language masses. 

Stewardship Minister Ashley Wilkerson said the church hosted two vaccination clinics recently, in collaboration with FEMA, to get the COVID-19 vaccines to underserved communities. 

“We had a fantastic turnout. They actually ran out of vaccines twice at the first clinic, and got more from some other places in town that had extra vaccinations," said Wilkerson. "We had about 65 to 70 vaccinated the first time. And then we had at the follow up we had about 45 to 50.”


Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital

Kentucky’s current statewide vaccination rate of 47 percent has quite a distance to go to help the nation reach President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4.

The CDC reports that Christian County has one of Kentucky’s lowest vaccination rates ,at 19 percent. 

Other counties with low vaccination rates include Hart at 22 percent, and Union at 24 percent. 

Barren, Warren and Pulaski counties all have a vaccination rate of 30 percent.  

Kentucky's highest vaccination rate is in Woodford County at 52 percent, according to CDC data.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened more than 450,000 Kentuckians and claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people in the Bluegrass State.

Along with the devastating physical illness came an unprecedented storm of stress, confusion and grief. 

Many Kentuckians suffered, and continue to experience, mental health issues in the lingering shadow of the pandemic.

One place many people turn to for support is LifeSkills. It’s the public, nonprofit community mental health center based in Bowling Green that serves the 10-county Barren River region in southern Kentucky.


Public Theatre of Kentucky

As arts organizations across Kentucky struggle to rebound after the pandemic, a theater in Bowling Green is now dealing with one more annoyance.

The side of the blue building that houses Public Theatre of Kentucky has been spray painted with what Producing Artistic Director Amber Turner describes as childlike faces with big eyes.

She said the graffiti is "frustrating." 

We recently received a grant and we redid our dressing room. And then, because we were making the inside look so wonderful, we decided to freshen up the outside," said Turner. "That included painting the front of the building and we did some touchups on the side of the building, but now we’re going to have to completely repaint the whole side of the building.” 


Facebook/PennyrileHabitat

Habitat for Humanity in Kentucky’s Pennyrile Region is adding a new service to its previous focus of building new homes for people who qualify based on income limits and “sweat equity.”

The new service is offering home repairs at no cost to make sure more low-income people in the region have comfortable and safe homes. 

Heath Duncan is executive director of Habitat for Humanity, Pennyrile Region, which covers Christian, Hopkins and Webster Counties. 

Duncan said one goal is to do repairs that allow older adults to “age in place” instead of going to a nursing home. 

“We think the time is right for us to launch a repair program. We get calls weekly, and have for years, about wheelchair ramps and roofs and porch railings and that sort of stuff," said Duncan. "And until now we haven’t been able to help, but we’re looking to change that going forward.”


Ulrich Derboven /Unsplash

A new national report shows Kentucky’s older adults are doing better at getting primary care that prevents hospitalization, but they’re faring worst in the nation when it comes to exercise. 

The study, “America’s Health Rankings: Senior Report 2021,” looks at social and economic factors, home environment, clinical care and individual behaviors.

United Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Randall is a geriatrician who said Kentuckians face some major challenges, with the state ranking 50th in exercise and nutrition for adults 65 and over. 

“It’s important for seniors to continue to stay physically active because it’s important for our independent living as we age,” said Randall. “We also see Kentucky challenged with a high poverty rate and a high rate of teeth extractions. Dental care also very important. We know that there are strong correlations between our dental health and our overall health.”

Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available across Kentucky, most people who want to be vaccinated are already fully immunized. 

But a decrease in requests has public health leaders stepping up efforts to encourage those who are hesitant to go ahead and get the vaccine. 

One location where that encouragement is taking place is at Fort Campbell, located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

The COVID-19 vaccination is not required for soldiers assigned to Fort Campbell, but encouraged.


Virtual Location

A major geocaching event in its 18th year is set to be held in Daviess County for the first time. Owensboro is hosting the event in parks and along the riverfront beginning Friday evening.

The Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure, or MOGA, will send visitors on a high-tech treasure hunt to find small containers using a GPS device, or a GPS-enabled mobile phone. 

President and CEO of Visit Owensboro, Mark Calitri, said the event was already planned to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines using the outdoor venues of the Rudy Mine Trail, Yellow Creek Park, and the Riverwalk. 


Lost River Cave

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the state will mirror CDC guidelines on COVID-19 announced this week, that people who are fully vaccinated do not need a mask or social distancing in most places.

Beshear said that on June 11 the state will return to 100% capacity for businesses, and no masks will be required for those who have had their shots. 

One popular tourism destination in Bowling Green is preparing to get back to normal.

Lost River Cave has had a silver lining during the pandemic. People flocked to the walking trails as outdoor spaces became a welcome , and safe, change from isolation and indoor restrictions. 

Sonja Byrd

School districts across Kentucky have to decide by June 1 if they will have a “do-over” year to give students a chance to make up for the academic losses caused by the changing schedules and virtual learning during the pandemic.  

Decisions are being made soon at two school districts in western Kentucky. 

The opportunity for a “do-over” year comes under Kentucky Senate Bill 128, officially called the Supplemental School Year Program, that was contained in a bill signed by Governor Andy Beshear in March.

Students had to request the do-over year by May 1. 


Pages