Front Page Sunday 7/29/12

Jul 30, 2012

Incidents of snakebite are increasing in Kentucky, and wildlife officials say it could have something to do with the drought our region is in.  One researcher is definite about one thing: it’s not because there are more snakes. We’ll also hear reports on how drought is impacting river navigation and what farmers in the Four Rivers are telling federal officials about the effects of drought on their crops and livestock.  Those stories, and remembrances of the last time the Olympics were in London, are ahead in the next hour.

(1.) LOW WATER -- Much of western Kentucky has been upgraded to “exceptional” drought status. This means crops are struggling, sport practices are being cancelled, and bottled water sales are up. But, the effects reach past the shoreline, to our waterways. Regional lakes and rivers are well below normal levels. Rose Krzton-Presson explores how a nearly 10-foot drop in the Ohio River has affected traffic for both the Four Rivers Region, and all of the southeastern United States. 

(2.) USDA OFFICIAL VISITS DROUGHT-STRICKEN REGION -- Now that the drought plaguing our region has been upgraded in severity to the highest level on the scale, U.S. Agriculture officials are looking at ways to help out effected farmers. USDA Deputy Under-Secretary Karis Gutter toured western Kentucky last week to meet with these farmers, and he took some time to tell Shelly Baskin what he learned. 

(3.) COLSTON 2-WAY -- Update on Frankfort from Kentucky Public Radio's Capitol Bureau Chief Kenny Colston.

(4.) KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK -- The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the Kids Count Data Book this week, which ranks states according to their efforts to promote child well-being. Kentucky ranked 35th in the nation this year, with education and health care the state’s lowest contributing factors. Drew Adams speaks to the foundation's Associate Director of Policy, Research and Data, Laura Speer about the Commonwealth’s ranking and how it could pull itself up by the bootstraps. 

(5.) YOUTH RADIO THEATRE -- Every year, Murray’s Playhouse in the Park invites children to a week-long Summer Theatre Camp, engaging them in the production of a full-length show. 90 kids signed up this year, and WKMS Youth Reporters Anna-Cate Brown, Brynn Jones, and Wendy Waltrip bring us this behind-the-scenes scoop on the show, Disney’s Cinderella Kids. 

(6.) HIV/AIDS IN RURAL KY -- In the majority of rural Kentucky communities, people are still stigmatized for having HIV; many are afraid to seek treatment or don’t know about treatment options; and more than half can’t afford to pay for medications. Kentucky is also home to metropolitan areas, where HIV numbers are much higher and the need is more visible. The challenge for state health officials is addressing both the large scale and the small scale. Sigga Jagne is Kentucky Department of Public Health HIV/AIDS Branch Manager. She works on the front lines of the state’s HIV/AIDS policy, programs and statistical research. Angela Hatton spoke with her, and brings us their conversation. 

(7.) SNAKES IN THE PURCHASE! -- Earlier this month, we reported on the rise in the number of snake bites in Kentucky, a rise officials say is due, in part, to drought conditions throughout the state.  It turns out that snakes, like people, can head for water when it gets dry; when they run into each other, it can unfortunate.  Of course, this doesn’t mean all, or even most, snakes are bad, or even dangerous.  But if you spot a snake on the trail or in the garden, how do you tell the difference between one that’s venomous and one that’s not?  And if it is, what do you do?  For some answers, and to find out more about these slithering fellow residents of our region, I headed out to Murray State University’s Hancock Biological Station to speak with Chris Howey.  He’s a fourth-year doctoral student in herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles, at Ohio University.  He explains that snakes, far from being something to fear, are actually very helpful, and can even make good pets. 

(8.) CHURCH DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM ITS HISTORY -- At the Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lexington, Reverend Troy Thomas uses history as an inspirational guide for his congregation. Before the Civil War, the church was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and helped many slaves travel the last leg of their journey to freedom.  Kentucky Public Radio’s Riley Guttman reports on the church and its legacy. 

(9.) AT LAST THE 1948 OLYMPICS -- The 2012 summer Olympic Games are underway in London, and millions around the world are expected to tune in over the next few weeks to watch the competition. This is the third time Great Britain has hosted the games. The last was in 1948, in the wake of World War II. As Angela Hatton reports, at least two former British residents in our region say the games then weren’t the spectacle they are today.