Matt Markgraf

Matt "McG" Markgraf joined the WKMS News Team in January 2007, while pursuing his bachelorâââ


Briggs and Stratton is closing their Murray operation by fall 2020. About 600 full-time positions will be affected. 

The Milwaukee-based company announced on Thursday plans to consolidate production of its small vertical-shaft engines to its Poplar Bluff, Missouri facility. 

The Board of Murray Calloway County Economic Development Corporation said in a release on Thursday it "deeply regrets" the company's decision to close the Murray operation.


Matt Markgraf / WKMS

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is calling on Republicans to take voting seriously in November and to vote their values. 

"I would just simply ask you vote your values and not your party," Bevin said at the west Kentucky GOP Night Before Fancy Farm rally in Murray on Friday night. "Go in and vote your values. Vote your Kentucky values. Your western Kentucky values. Your American values. Those things that do recognize freedom and liberty, individual responsibility, the things that are the foundations of this nation."

He said a turnout of 30% is a sad commentary about how apathetic voters have become. According to the State Board of Elections, the turnout in the 2015 gubernatorial election was 30.6%.

Matt Markgraf

  Murray State officials on Wednesday ceremonially introduced five foundational partners that have made major contributions to the new Hutson School of Agriculture Center for Agricultural Hemp.  

The partners are CV Sciences, GenCanna, Vertical Wellness, Fibonacci (HempWood) and Unified Agriculture Holdings. Representatives from these companies were introduced at the event.

Matt Markgraf

The trial for the teenager accused in the Marshall County High School shooting is moving to Christian County.

The Marshall Circuit Court approved an agreed order on Friday to move the trial to Christian Circuit Court, set for June 1, 2020.

Attorneys are expecting a large jury pool. Gabe Parker’s attorneys requested a venue change, arguing it’d be difficult to find an unbiased jury in the close-knit Marshall County community. The prosecution agreed the trial should be moved, but wanted to keep it as close to home as possible.

The Kentucky Primary Elections are on May 21. Republicans and Democrats will choose their candidates for the constitutional office seats of Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Agriculture, Auditor and Treasurer. The General Election is on November 5.

WKMS News compiled the following series of candidate profiles, based on interviews with the candidates at various campaign stops in the region or over the phone. We asked the candidates about their priorities and what differentiates them from their opponents. 

The Kentucky Primary Elections are on May 21. Republicans and Democrats will choose their candidates for the constitutional office seats of Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Agriculture, Auditor and Treasurer. The General Election is on November 5.

WKMS News compiled the following series of candidate profiles, based on interviews with the candidates at various campaign stops in the region or over the phone. We asked the candidates about their priorities and what differentiates them from their opponents.


Churchill Downs and Keeneland are breaking ground Tuesday on a $150 million dollar racetrack in Oak Grove in far west Kentucky. The facility will include a 125-room hotel, a 1,200-person grandstand, a 3,000-person amphitheater, a gaming center with 1,500 historical racing machines and an equestrian center with indoor and outdoor arenas.


  Murray State’s Board of Regents has authorized a 1% increase to undergraduate tuition and fees next academic year. Graduate and doctoral rates will not change. Regents also approved on Friday fee changes to housing, dining and other areas.

The undergraduate rate increase is expected to generate $740,000 in new net revenue. Student Regent J.T. Payne voted ‘no’ on the increase.


Murray State President Bob Jackson said Ja Morant and the Racers’ basketball run this year is worth about $250 million from a media standpoint.

The Racers made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament this year after winning the Ohio Valley Conference. Sophomore Ja Morant garnered significant national attention for his explosive performance, including the first triple-double since 2012. Jackson says Morant is a great ambassador for the university.

Matt Markgraf

Prominent Kentucky Republicans are urging grassroots efforts to expand GOP influence in Frankfort by flipping the last two Democratic constitutional offices in the upcoming election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Governor Matt Bevin and Congressman James Comer joined incumbent officers and Republican office-seekers at the First District Lincoln Reagan Dinner Saturday night in Murray.

Murray State University

The Murray State Board of Regents has approved interim president Bob Jackson as the university’s 14th president. Regents voted on Friday nine to two.

Jackson’s contract is effective Friday for four years with a salary of $325,000. He was appointed interim president in August following the departure of Bob Davies, who took a position at Central Michigan University. Jackson previously served as president of the Murray State University Foundation.

Murray State students have high expectations for the next university president. More than 70 students on Wednesday attended a frank and hopeful discussion on a wide range of qualities and issues with the Presidential Search Committee. Students said they want a financially literate president who can navigate Frankfort politics... who respects faculty and staff and improves student activities… who understands diversity and will increase recruitment in urban areas. Cole Crocker of Nashville wants a president connected to Murray, but who has also ventured out and found success.

James Comer / Twitter

A hemp company that plans to put their CBD products on the shelves of major retailers like Walmart and CVS celebrated the opening of their new facility in west Kentucky on Friday.

California-based company Vertical repurposed a 90,000 square-foot facility in Trigg County to be their base of operations for manufacturing CBD oil using hemp from local farmers.

Creative Commons


  Candidates for Kentucky’s Ninth District State House were questioned in a recent forum about whether they support Governor Bevin’s proposed Medicaid changes. State officials said in August the current Medicaid program has a nearly $300 million dollar shortfall.

Potential changes include reducing the number of recipients and cuts to dental, vision and other services. Republican Representative Myron Dossett said the state needs to find funding and referenced part of the plan that has certain people pay premiums.

A $9.5 million dollar federal grant project in west Kentucky aims to better prepare students to enter the workforce in computer science and other STEM-related fields.

Todd Warren is the Director for Innovations in Education at the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative. He said in a press conference in Murray the project called ‘West Kentucky GEAR UP’ supports 20 schools across nine counties.

Matt Markgraf/WKMS

Rumors have been circulating in Calloway County for months regarding secret audio recordings in the courthouse. WKMS News investigated the cameras and how county officials are addressing the concerns. 

The investigation began on a concern involving surveillance cameras in the offices of the Calloway County Clerk and Property Valuation Administrator recording audio. Since then, WKMS News has conducted hours of interview and received hundreds of documents.

Matt Markgraf/WKMS

A quilt themed around the nuances of time is the Janome  America Best of Show winner at the American Quilter’s Society Fall Paducah QuiltWeek. Kathy Wylie of Ontario, Canada says her quilt titled ‘For Such A Time As This’ features a large medallion divided into 12 sections representing a clock and months in a year, each with distinctions.

Kentucky Congressman James Comer said there are a lot of minor differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, but the “big gorilla in the room" is SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) work requirements. Comer is on the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee that met Wednesday. Controversial work requirements for the program often called ‘food stamps’ remains a sticking point. Comer strongly supports the requirements and sees no compromise on the issue.


 Murray State University interim president Bob Jackson estimates this year's fall enrollment total to be between 9,500 and 9,600. That total would be the university's lowest fall headcount in 18 years and the fourth consecutive year of decline. That enrollment trend was displayed above Murray State's Board of Regents at a retreat Thursday. Jackson is in his third week as interim president following Bob Davies' departure earlier in August and says "moving the needle" is a top priority.

Murray State University has lifted its ban on Greek Life social events. Chapters can begin planning for the 2018-19 academic year. University officials outlined policy changes in a press conference Friday as a result of committee meetings over the summer. College of Business Dean Tim Todd described some highlights from a list of newly implemented changes:

“We lowered the number of attendees at social events. We increased security measures at social events. We enhanced and increased education and training.”

A private, Christian university in northern Texas has named the former Murray State University Director of Athletics their new A-D. Abilene Christian University announced Monday that Allen Ward will be their ninth Director of Athletics.

Ward’s first day is August 6. Murray State President Bob Davies said on Friday Ward is leaving after being “presented an opportunity that he and his family could not turn down.”

Ward has served as MSU’s AD for 13 years. Under Ward, the Racers won 39 Ohio Valley Conference championships and played in the NCAA 29 times.

Stress Management Blog

While the holidays are often accompanied with feelings of joy and happiness, one in five people feel an 'extreme' level of stress. That's according to Murray State University psychology professor Dr. Michael Bordieri. He says that stress largely comes from social expectations that the holidays be perfect. A stress-free holiday, he says, can include letting go of this idea.

Retired teachers are voicing concerns about the ability to for Kentucky schools to hire quality teachers should a core component of the proposed pension plan be enacted. Kentucky Retired Teachers Association Executive Director Tim Abrams says having teachers switch to 401(a) plans would be a drain on taxpayers and offer fewer benefits.

Abrams said many teachers are willing to forgo cost-of-living adjustments to help fix the system. That is, he said, until he tells them what it would mean to their bankbook. 

Matt Markgraf

Congressman James Comer faced a crowd of constituents upset over the Republican-led tax bill at a town hall in Hopkinsville Monday. Representatives of the progressive group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and others say the bill benefits the wealthy and corporations at the expense of individuals who benefit from deductions for health care and graduate school. Comer said most of the 1st District would benefit from the bill.

A conservative watchdog group is suing the Kentucky Secretary of State and State Board of Elections claiming a failure to maintain accurate voter registration lists.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is convening a task force to develop a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in the commonwealth. 

A Lexington writer recently learned lessons in Paducah on how the state's second-largest city could include its literary heritage to a UNESCO network. 

A team of 10 Kentucky public health nurses and two staff members are deploying to Florida to assist Hurricane Irma victims. 

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers say the biggest traffic surprise during the total solar eclipse was the immediate surge of outbound traffic after the eclipse ended.