Rhonda Miller

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on 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.
 

Medical professionals say there’s a lot of confusion across America about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Kentucky health care leaders are contacting residents individually and at public events to give them information and encourage them to enroll by the Dec. 15 deadline.         

After the massacre at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas that killed 26 people and injured 20 more, churches across Kentucky and around the nation are struggling with the issue of increasing security, while still being welcoming.

Ministers in Somerset, Kentucky were already on high alert because a church caretaker had recently been murdered by a homeless man asking for food.

The murder of 70-year Carolyn New, widow of the former church pastor, inside Denham Street Baptist Church in Somerset in August put the town on edge.  Then the shooting at the Texas church made security a priority.

A Kentucky ethics panel has filed charges against a family court judge who refused to handle adoptions by gay parents.

The judge, W. Mitchell Nance, submitted his resignation on Wednesday. Nance has been a family court judge for the 43rd Circuit that covers Barren and Metcalf counties in south central Kentucky.

Nance filed an official statement in April that under no circumstances would he consider “…the adoption of a child by a homosexual to be in the child’s best interest.”

Nance requested that any attorney filing a motion on behalf of a homosexual party notify the court so that he could recuse himself. He didn’t get that recusal option.

  With the Oct. 5 deadline for young immigrants to apply to renew their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a refugee resettlement center in Warren County, Kentucky has been helping some of them take this next step to an uncertain future.

The rankings for the happiest states in America are in - and Kentucky is pretty far down the list. 

Kentucky residents won’t be cheered up by the state’s ranking of number 44 on the new WalletHub Happiness survey. The rankings are based on 28 metrics that include satisfaction with daily life, work environment, worries about money, rates of depression, volunteer rate and participation in sports.

In the category of ‘emotional and physical well-being,’ the Bluegrass State came in 46th.

President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration by half and consider English language and job skills has set off a controversy about whether the nation is changing the welcoming message of the Statue of Liberty. The proposed immigration rules could affect businesses in Kentucky that face a shortage of entry- and mid-level workers.

When you talk to business owners in Kentucky, many say they have positions that are not filled because they can’t find enough people with the right skills, or willing to do the job. Some don’t arrive at work on time and some can’t pass the drug test.

President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement - on Twitter - that transgender men and women will no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces has ignited a firestorm of controversy.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Dennis Cain of Bowling Green says the president’s decision signals a step backward - to more of the type of discrimination he experienced as a gay man in the military.

Cain served for eight years during the 1980s. He was  a medic and with an F-16 fighter squadron for four of those years.  Cain says he had to keep his personal life as a gay man hidden, and it discouraged him from having a longer career in the Air Force. 

As Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Franklin and other Kentucky cities in prime viewing area prepare for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, NASA is issuing a warning.

NASA has been alerted that some unsafe eclipse glasses are being sold to consumers. Special eye protection is needed for safe viewing of the astronomical event.   

NASA says the only glasses that should be used are produced by four companies – American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, TSE 17 and Thousand Oaks Optical. 

The safe glasses must also have the reference number ISO 12312-2.

NASA has details on safe eclipse viewing glasses and on the solar eclipse on its website

The path of the eclipse runs across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Locations nearest the center line will experience darkness for two-minutes-and-43-seconds.

A family court judge in Kentucky is being told he has to decide whether to recuse himself in gay adoption requests on a case-by-case basis.

Champion motorcycle racer and Owensboro native Nicky Hayden has died following injuries from a bicycle accident in Italy.

Thirty-five-year-old  Hayden died May 22, five days after he was hit by a car while training on his bicycle.

Hayden, who was known as ‘The Kentucky Kid,’ won the MotoGP championship, a motorcycle road racing competition, in 2006.

He was in Italy competing in the Superbike World Championship in just days before the fatal accident.  

Hayden was 13th in this season's Superbike standings, riding for the Red Bull Honda team. Several family members had reportedly flown to Italy, including Hayden's mother and brother.

Schools in Kentucky, and across the nation, are making it a priority to develop a 21st Century workforce trained in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. That skilled workforce is necessary for careers in the competitive global market.

Simpson County schools are making a commitment to science and technology with a hands-on ‘maker space.’

The robots are humming along on tabletop landscapes. Everything is made out of Legos at a robotics camp at a former school bus garage turned into the Franklin-Simpson Exploratorium.

Owensboro Innovation Academy is adding another new opportunity to a public high school that’s already breaking the mold. The school is partnering with Brescia University to give students the chance to earn a two-year associates degree while they’re getting their high school diploma.

Students will be able to choose from four tracks at Brescia. Two of the tracks will cover basic college requirements for either an associate of arts or science degree. Owensboro Innovation Academy Director Beth Benjamin says the other two tracks are more specialized.               

“One is a health studies degree, which would be their general education degree plus some of those science-specific and health-specific courses that they would need to go on and continue their nursing degree or any other medical degree. And the engineering is the first two years of their pre-engineering degree.”

Hopkinsville is getting ready for more than 50,000 visitors expected for the total solar eclipse on August 21st. The city is one of the points of longest duration of the eclipse - two minutes and 40 seconds.

Somerset High School is in line for a $6.5 million renovation. The application for funding is currently at the Kentucky Department of Education for review.

“At the high school, the renovations will be composed of an expansion of the cafeteria, some design aspects within the library, and ultimately updating HVAC and other electrical components throughout the majority of the building,” said Somerset Independent Schools Superintendent Kyle Lively.

The oldest portion of the high school was built in 1910 and the renovations will maintain the historic character of the building. The school is a combination of three sections, built and renovated at different times over the decades.

Southern Kentucky’s fledgling film industry is taking another step in its development. A casting call will be held in Cave City on April 11 for the second film to be produced in collaboration with the Southern Kentucky Film Commission.

The movie, called “Mail Order Monster,” is a family film about a young girl dealing with the death of her mother. The cast includes a variety of characters, including middle schoolers, a sheriff and an Italian restaurant owner.

Branscombe Richmond is one of the producers of the film. He says the open casting call signals an opportunity for Southern Kentucky.

“It’s important for Kentucky because we’re going to start to open up an opportunity to see if there is some talent that can ready to be in a motion picture and a television show. A lot of times the actors come from Hollywood or New York or Chicago, or wherever they have a pool of talent.”

Purple flowers across many fields in Kentucky and Indiana are more than flowering weeds.  An agriculture extension agent says those purple blooms are a sign of climate change and the increasingly unpredictable weather that farmers have to deal with.

Jon Neufelder is an educator with the Purdue University Extension Office in Posey County, Indiana. He said the flowers are purple deadnettle and henbit and they’re a sign of a warm winter and an early spring.

“We have them every year, but this year because of the warm February, they started flowering a lot earlier. So we’re seeing them a lot earlier. Usually we don’t see them until around April and by then the farmers have pretty well killed them off because they’ve started spraying for production.”

Neufelder said the warm winter has caused overall growth to be about two weeks ahead of schedule.

A handful of southern Kentucky activists rallied at the Bowling Green office of U.S. Senator Rand Paul in support of a national campaign to urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to establish an independent investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Rand Paul is a member of that committee.

Bowling Green resident Peter Zielinski said he used to be more politically conservative, but he attended the March 28 rally because he has concerns about national leaders appointed by President Trump.                          

“The history of many of the appointees is at least suspect,” said Zielinski. “There is a preponderance of people with ties to Russia and foreign governments and that’s just the tip of what we know, at this point. We don’t know the whole truth and we should know the whole truth.”

Owensboro Municipal Utilities is switching to a different source of energy after more than 100 years of burning coal.

There’s a lot of talk - and hope - among some Kentucky residents that coal will make a comeback. But Owensboro Municipal Utilities says it’s seen the writing on the wall and coal will be completely phased over the next six years. 

Sonya Dixon is a spokeswoman for OMU.

“This is a monumental change in the way that OMU has done business. You know, we have burned coal for the last 117 years and obviously, this is a shift, but we feel it’s a positive one in the best interest of our customers.” 

The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro has received an extensive collection of bluegrass CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, books and recorded radio shows.

The thousands of items are from Colorado judge H. Conway Gandy, who died two years ago.

Gandy never lived in the Kentucky, but his passion for the state’s signature music led him to make it available to others. One way he shared his passion was through a radio show he created.

Savannah Hall is the curator at the bluegrass museum in Owensboro. She said the collection includes recordings of Gandy’s broadcasts about his beloved bluegrass music.

“His radio show ‘Where It All Began’ delved into the roots of bluegrass music and how bluegrass comes from a country background, a jazz background, blues. So the collection he gave us includes all of that music as well.”

Kentucky ranked 42nd in a new survey that looks at what makes a state a good place to live.

The survey by U.S. News & World Report considered factors such as health, education, opportunity, economy, infrastructure, crime and government.

  

The study weighted health care and education most heavily because that’s what survey respondents said they’re most concerned about. Kentucky ranked 44th in health care and 35th in education.

 

The state that earned the number one spot in the rankings is Massachusetts. At the bottom is Louisiana.

  

You can see all the details about how Kentucky and the other states rank in the complete survey.