News in Brief

Officials vote to implement new tax, avoid state takeover

WILLIAMSTOWN (AP) — Officials in a financially troubled northern Kentucky county have approved a new tax on workers in an effort to avoid having the state take over its finances.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Grant County officials voted 3-1 Thursday to implement a 2 percent wage tax on workers in the rural community. The newspaper reports that the county risked running out of money by June 1 without the tax.

The move comes amid a long-running disagreement between Judge-Executive Steve Wood and Jailer Chris Hankins that nearly led to the local jail closing. The state pulled inmates, and the funding to house them, from the facility, which jail officials say has cost the county more than $1 million.

Before the vote, some residents voiced opposition to the plan and vented criticism about how the county’s finances have been handled.

Coffee shop owner Bren Murphy told county officials that she’d prefer the state take over.

“I feel you have two pistols,” Murphy said. “One is fully loaded with bullets soaked in poison. That’s what the county holds. The other is Russian roulette, that’s the state.”

Business owner Keith Kinmon said the move puts the tax burden on the small percentage of people who work in the county.

“I think they could have structured it different to where everybody could have accepted some of the burden,” Kinmon said. “I think they put all the burden on 25 percent of the people, which is the working man.”

Judge-Executive Steve Wood told The Enquirer after the meeting that he’s been open about the situation and there’s a large base of support for the wage tax.

“There’s a silent majority; I’ve got all kinds of letters of support,” Wood said. “There may be mistrust, but that’s strictly with what they tell each other. I don’t have a problem with me and my magistrates at all. I think we work well together.”


Witness: Feud over sanitary habits prompted fatal shooting

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — The trial is underway for a man accused of fatally shooting a co-worker at a fast-food restaurant just days after a witness says the two got into an argument over sanitary work habits.

The News-Enterprise reports Hardin County jurors heard testimony Wednesday in the case of 28-year-old Joshua Ratliff.

Ratliff is charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old Ryan Birse at a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

Witnesses testified that Ratliff walked into his workplace on his day off in February 2016, and shot Birse multiple times while he was packing chicken.

Restaurant employee Deandre Gaines said Birse and Ratliff had exchanged words two days before the shooting after Birse told Ratliff to stop touching chicken after taking his hands out of the dishwater.


Louisville man faces federal heroin charge in overdose death

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Louisville man is among the first in the area to be federally charged with selling heroin to someone who later died of an overdose.

Local news outlets report that an indictment handed down Wednesday shows Logan Charles Silliman is charged with intentionally distributing heroin last December to an unnamed person who fatally overdosed.

While dozens of people in central and eastern Kentucky have been sentenced to prison for similar crimes, a Department of Justice official says Silliman’s arrest marks the first of its kind in the state’s western district. It’s also the first to come from the Heroin Investigation Team. The partnership between federal and local law enforcement was announced last year.

Silliman also faces two heroin possession and distribution charges. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.


University developing program to report incidents of bias

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — Western Kentucky University says it hopes to introduce an online program for reporting incidents of bias later this year.

The program would offer an online portal for students, staff and faculty to make anonymous reports that would be sent to the office of the dean of students. The university said in a statement that it has been developing the initiative for several months and hopes to launch it in the fall.

Officials say the online portal will be located on the university’s website and will eventually serve as a location for all incident reporting.

The school says the move is aimed at providing a safer environment for its diverse population.

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