News in Brief

Air Guard troops return home from Iraq

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The last contingent of troops from the Kentucky Air National Guard has returned home after a two-month deployment to Iraq.

A statement from the Kentucky Air National Guard says the 23 airmen from the 123rd Contingency Response Group returned to Louisville Monday.

A total of 66 airmen deployed on Jan. 4 to Iraq to manage an airfield that had been recaptured from the Islamic State militant group. The statement says the troops operated the vital logistics hub, which has helped supply the campaign against the militant group.

The statement says the 123rd Contingency Response Group includes troops who specialize in different areas and who can deploy on short notice to establish and operate air fields anywhere in the world.


Boulder that caused rocky relations could become exhibit

GREENUP (AP) — A boulder that was at the center of a three-year dispute between Kentucky and Ohio officials may be getting a new home where the public can view it.

The Independent reports that officials in eastern Kentucky voted on Wednesday to seek grant money to build a gazebo in South Shore where the 8-ton boulder known as Indian Head Rock can be placed.

The rock was a well-known landmark on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River before it was removed in 2007 by a group who took it to Portsmouth, Ohio, saying it needed to be protected. Kentucky sued to get it back. The rock was returned to Kentucky in 2010 and was put in storage.

Greenup County Judge-Executive Bobby Carpenter says officials want to exhibit the rock in a safe place.

“I’d love to have it somewhere people could see it,”?Carpenter said. “I get calls about it all the time.”

The rock needs to be enclosed or covered and put in a spot where it can be observed to protect it from vandals and souvenir hunters, Carpenter said.

Before the rock was removed, residents on both sides of the Ohio River had watched for it as far back as the 1800s. People often visited the rock — some even carved their initials into it — when the water level dropped and it became visible. The rock also bears a stick-figure carving of a face on it that some believe is part of an ancient petroglyph.


Ky. health care company to cut 288 jobs

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky health care company is getting rid of more than 280 positions across its system, news outlets report.

Of the 288 positions Baptist Health is eliminating, nearly 170 are in the Louisville area, and roughly 150 are administrative roles. Spokeswoman Kit Fullenlove said no hospital-bedside positions are affected.

“This continues to be a time of both transformation and great uncertainty in the healthcare industry,” the Louisville-based company said in a statement. “Baptist Health is realigning its structure to best meet the needs of our patients and communities within a challenging financial environment.”

An announcement went out to employees on Tuesday, and individual workers were being contacted Wednesday, Fullenlove said.

The company said that employees affected will be offered severance and outplacement job assistance if they’re unable to find other jobs within the system.

Administrators said the move was unrelated to the $150 million acquisition last year of the former Floyd Memorial Hospital in New Albany, Indiana.

The health system has 22,000 employees in its eight markets. Locally, Baptist operates hospitals in St. Matthews and LaGrange as well as the facility in Indiana.


Worker found guilty but mentally ill in restaurant shooting

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — A central Kentucky man has been found guilty of murder but mentally ill in the shooting of a co-worker at a fast-food restaurant following an argument over sanitary work habits.

The News-Enterprise reports a jury on Wednesday convicted 28-year-old Joshua Ratliff of Elizabethtown of killing Ryan Birse at a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in February 2016.

Witnesses testified Ratliff entered his workplace on his day off and shot 22-year-old Birse multiple times. An employee said Birse and Ratliff had days earlier gotten into an argument when Birse told Ratliff to stop touching chicken after taking his hands out of the dishwater.

Defense attorney Wesley Durham had entered a not guilty plea by reason of insanity.

Ratliff faces between 20 to 50 years or life in prison at his sentencing Thursday.


TVA to sell about 900 acres at Muscle Shoals Reservation

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is planning to auction off much of the land on which it was created in 1933.

News outlets report the TVA announced Wednesday it has hired a real estate firm to market about 900 acres of its Muscle Shoals Reservation property along the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama.

TVA will keep the Rockpile Recreational Area and other property to provide workspace for over 600 employees at the site.

The TVA board of directors declared the land surplus in 2012.

TVA spokesman Scott Fiedler says the utility hasn’t set a price. The auction is expected to take place by late August.

TVA is the nation’s largest public utility and provides electricity to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.


Federal appeals court overturns 1999 double slaying sentence

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed the life sentence of a Kentucky man convicted of killing two people in eastern Kentucky in 1999.

The federal appeals court ruled that the state must resentence Donald R. Phillips within 90 days or let him out of prison.

Phillips was convicted of killing Osa Lee Maggard and Geneva Young in Leslie County in 1999. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

The court said in a ruling Wednesday that Phillips’ attorney was ineffective in the sentencing phase of the trial, in which Phillips faced the death penalty. Phillips’ attorney, Stephan Charles, told the trial judge he didn’t “know anything about death penalty litigation.”

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