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. 

Mammoth Cave National Park

The shutdown of the federal government has impacted one of Kentucky’s most popular tourist destinations - Mammoth Cave National Park. 

This is the Dec. 28 recorded phone message at the Kentucky destination that’s considered the world's longest known cave system with more than 400 miles of surveyed passageways:

“Thank you for calling Mammoth Cave National Park. Due to the lapse of appropriations and the subsequent partial shutdown of the federal government, Mammoth Cave National Park will not operate cave tours, provide visitor services, or operate the Green River Ferry during the government shutdown. Park roads, lookouts and trails will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited.”


Kobe Aluminum /www.kobeal.com

A Warren County manufacturer of aluminum products for the automotive industry is expanding.  The demand for lighter weight cars is spurring the expansion of Kobelco Aluminum Products and Extrusions in Bowling Green.

The company is investing $42 million to add a melting furnace, an extrusion press and fabrication equipment. The expansion will create 90 new jobs, bringing the company’s anticipated workforce to 220 employees when the project is complete in 2020.

Kobelco began production of aluminum bumper and sub-frame materials early in 2017.

J.Tyler Franklin/WFPL

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has posted a video criticizing the Courier Journal after the newspaper announced this week that it’s partnering with the independent media nonprofit ProPublica on a year-long investigative project. 

The Courier Journal says the project with ProPublica will examine an agency of Kentucky state government, continuing what the newspaper describes as its 150-year tradition "of protecting taxpayers, safeguarding the environment and holding public officials and government agencies accountable."

In a 3-minute video, Governor Bevin ripped into the investigative team.

“The Courier Journal, which pretends that it’s an actual news organization or a publication, is so remarkably biased they are now full in bed with this particular organization ProPublica.”


Rhonda J. Miller

A program called ‘Bingocize’ created by Western Kentucky University Associate Professor of Exercise Science Jason Crandall has received approval from the National Council on Aging for use in helping older adults prevent falls. Bingocize takes advantage of bingo's popularity with older adults to intergrate exercise and health education into the game. 

Bingocize has been approved for inclusion in the Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Program of the U.S. Administration for Community Living. The approval received by WKU on Dec. 10 makes Bingocize eligible for funding under the Title III-D program of the Older Americans Act, which supports healthy lifestyles and promotes healthy behaviors for adults 60 and over.


ATF

Federal officials and a firearms trade association are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in a burglary at ATS Tactical Gear in Christian County, Kentucky.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, are offering a combined reward of $5,000 for information on the burglary at the tactical gear shop on Fort Campbell Blvd. in Oak Grove.

Multiple firearms were stolen between 2 and 4 a.m. on Dec. 5.

Owensboro Riverport Authority

Daviess County has received a federal grant that will be used to upgrade access to the Owensboro Riverport and improve safety for local residents. 

The $11.5  million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to widen a portion of Industrial Road, which is Kentucky 331, leading to the Owensboro Riverport.

In announcing the grant, Owensboro Riverport Authority President Brian Wright said Industrial Road has up to 5,000 vehicles a day, and nearly half of those are tractor-trailers, each hauling about 20 tons.

Mammoth Cave National Park

On Dec. 2 Mammoth Cave National Park continues its unique musical tradition that’s been held the first Sunday in December since 1980. The public is invited to kick off the holiday season with the “Cave Sing.”

The Lindsey Wilson College Singers filled the interior of Mammoth Cave with their version of the spiritual “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” in 2014. This year, a new group of voices from the school will perform at the annual Cave Sing.

The Dec. 2 event kicks off at 1 p.m. in the Lodge at Mammoth Cave, which is adjacent to the visitors center, with former cave guide Janet Bass Smith on the piano, along with her son, saxophonist Randall Smith, playing a medley of holiday selections. 


Scott Raymond

The Kentucky Department of Education is holding a public hearing Nov. 29 on proposed new high school graduation requirements. The Kentucky School Boards Association has voiced concern about the ability of local school districts to meet the requirements and sent extensive comments to the state department of education.

The proposed new graduation requirements that got preliminary approval from the state board of education in October include demonstration of basic competence in reading and math in 10th grade though an assessment or a portfolio.  That would go into effect for students who are in 7th grade this year. 


Room in the Inn

As overnight temperatures become bitterly cold, shelters are open in Owensboro and Bowling Green. When there are not enough beds available, some homeless men and women have to be turned away, even if they have to get up in the morning to go to work.

Room in the Inn can accommodate about a dozen people per night in each host church that participates in its Bowling Green winter shelter program.  Beds are filled by a lottery system based on the number of beds available each night. 

Sharli Rogers is program coordinator for Room in the Inn Bowling Green, a winter shelter that’s been open since Nov. 15.

Rogers said the program coordinates with community churches, with each one providing beds for about a dozen people each night. But there have already been cold nights when 18 people asked for a bed and that number is expected to increase.


Bowling Green Corvette Assembly plant

General Motors announced on Nov. 26 the closing of five plants. The Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky is not among the five set to cease production next year.

General Motors is calling the closing of five plants a "transformation" and in its corporate announcement said the company is going to focus on trucks, crossovers, SUVs and electric vehicles.

In the announcement, GM made no mention of the iconic Corvette that’s been produced only in Bowling Green since 1981. GM Detroit-based spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said the Bowling Green facility is not impacted by the Nov. 26 announcement.


Rhonda J. Miller

The owners of a diner in Bowling Green, Kentucky are making ‘giving’ the most important part of Thanksgiving. At Lisa’s 5th Street Diner, Thanksgiving Day this year means the doors are open and the cash register is closed.

At a time when security and suspicion often override gestures of welcome, Lisa Parker and her husband Cliff  are turning those barriers upside down at the local diner they’ve owned for eight years.

Sarah Duff is manager of the diner. She said everyone is welcome for Thanksgiving and no one gets a bill.

“Homeless, people who is alone, even a couple that don’t have family,” said Duff. “It don’t matter, if you want to come in, we’ll feed you.”


Rhonda J. Miller

While some may still be catching their breath after the midterm election, candidates in the 2019 race for Kentucky governor are off and running. Democrat Rocky Adkins was at a union hall in Owensboro on the morning of Nov. 20, followed by an afternoon stop at a restaurant in Bowling Green.

Representative Rocky Adkins said his 31 years in the state legislature, including serving as minority floor leader, and his common sense approach to finding  solutions make him a strong candidate in what’s looking like a competitive Democratic primary in May.

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

About one-quarter of Kentucky residents age 50 and older who live in regions around Louisville, Owensboro, Bowling Green and Elizabethtown are burdened by high housing costs that require 30-to-50 percent of their income. That’s according to Housing Americans Older Adults 2018, a new report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

That housing burden is about the same for residents around Evansville, Indiana and Nashville, Tennessee.

United Soybean Board

Kentucky soybean farmers are expected to harvest a slightly larger yield than last year, but less than initially predicted.

David Knopf is director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service in Kentucky. He said the initial forecast for Kentucky soybeans was a yield of 57 bushels per acre this year. The current estimated yield is 54 bushels per acre, slightly above last year’s yield of 53 bushels per acre.  

Kentucky farmers planted nearly two million acres of soybeans this year.  Knopf said about one-quarter of those beans have not yet been harvested. He said excessive rain over the past couple of months is one factor that’s reduced the quality and yield of this year’s crop.

Ayokunle Odeleye

A sculpture to honor slaves buried in unmarked graves in Kentucky is in-progress in the artist’s studio in Georgia.

The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial that will be located in Pulaski County is a 20 foot tall stainless steel sculpture being created by artist Ayokunle Odeleye, a professor at Kenneshaw State University in Georgia.

The sculpture is already reaching high into the rafters of the studio and is due to be completed by April 2019, then delivered to the memorial site at Somerset Community College.

Charles Leveridge, a board member of the nonprofit Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial Association, says the sculpture will be a powerful symbol.


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