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. 

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its five-year census of farms across the nation on April 11 with data on acreage, economic value and demographics about decision-makers. 

The new USDA Census of Agriculture shows that farming is a $5.7 billion industry in Kentucky. That’s up from $5.1 billion compared to five years earlier.

Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the new census shows that farming is vibrant in the state, with the number of producers at 124,000, an increase of nearly 10 percent over five years.

Becca Schimmel

Students at Kentucky Wesleyan College are going to get some free rides. The school is partnering with Owensboro Transit System.

The agreement for weekend transportation begins Friday, April 12 with the trolley stopping at the Kentucky Wesleyan campus. Students will be able to use their college ID for the trolley ride of about two miles into downtown Owensboro.

Kentucky Wesleyan College Interim Vice President of Advancement Eddie Kenny said there’s a mutual benefit in building a long-term relationship with the Owensboro Transit System.

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Six of the eight candidates for Kentucky governor are scheduled to take part in a forum April 11  in Lexington that will stream live on Facebook. The forum is sponsored by Community Action Kentucky.

Democratic candidates Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear, Adam Edelen and Geoff Young are participating.

Republican candidates taking part are Robert Goforth and Ike Lawrence. A spokesperson for Community Action Kentucky said the other two Republican candidates, William Woods and Governor Matt Bevin, were also invited but are not participating.

WKU Dept. of Public Health/Imagewest

Western Kentucky University is hosting its first Refugee Health Summit on Thursday, April 18. Assistant Professor in WKU’s Department of Public Health Michelle Reece is coordinator of the summit. Reece came to the WKU Public Radio studio and spoke with reporter Rhonda Miller about this new project. 

Reece: My colleague and I, Dr. William Mkanta, we have some connection with the International Center of Kentucky here in Bowling Green. And over the course of the years we discovered that there are some issues that providers are facing as they’re interacting with our new residents, who are former refugees. And so we, through the Research and Creativities Program here at WKU, applied for a grant to look at “Provider Needs Assessment in Refugee Health Services.”  This summit is partly a response to the findings from our study, the ethical thing that we need to do and go back to the community and provide the results and how we’re going to address some of the issues that came up in refugee health services.


EMW Women's Surgical Center/facebook

The controversy over Kentucky’s only abortion clinic continues to draw national attention.  The latest development is that Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General filed a 'friend of the court' brief on April 4, supported by 21 attorneys general from across the U.S. in the effort to keep the clinic open.

The filing is related to a regulation requiring a 'transfer and transport agreement' that would have necessitated the EMW Women’s Surgical Clinic in Louisville have an agreement with an ambulance service to 'transport' a patient to a hospital in case of an emergency. A 'transfer' agreement would mean a hospital agreed to treat a patient of the EMW Clinic who shows up at an emergency room.


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. 

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