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Citing lack of pay, veteran deputy resigns

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By Molly Haines

The Owen County Sheriff’s Office will find itself a deputy short beginning next week after veteran deputy Marvin Goodrich announced his resignation last week.
Goodrich cited a lack of pay and benefits as the leading cause of his resignation, according to Owen County Sheriff Mark Bess. Goodrich is set to join the Grant County Sheriff’s Office July 9.
“(His decision) was purely financial, specifically insurance,” Bess said Thursday. “(Goodrich) is under good terms, there are no problems. Grant County can simply offer more than we can. It’s hard to compete with counties with a larger population.”
The Owen County Sheriff’s Office has seen little turnover over the past decade, with former deputy Larry Osborne retiring when he turned 65 in 2016, according to Bess.
Goodrich’s resignation leaves the sheriff’s office with three deputies, Marty Lilly, Brent Caldwell and Daniel Tracy.
Tracy was also set to transfer to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, according to Bess, but decided to remain with Owen County late last week after learning of an alternate, more affordable insurance plan through the state.
Although Bess said nothing would please him more than for Goodrich to remain with his office, he has already begun one interview process and is hopeful law enforcement coverage throughout the county will remain unaffected.
“Any time you lose someone it adversely affects your schedule,” Bess explained. “We’ve got awfully good coverage now with myself and the deputies. There will be a lot more on-call time, we don’t want to do anything that would affect our coverage or our response time.”
Additionally, Bess said upon learning of the resignation he placed a call to Kentucky State Police Post 5 Campbellsburg to request a larger trooper presence in Owen County.
“I let them know we’re needing as much assistance as they could provide until we get back up to full strength,” Bess said. “They just had an academy class graduate, and they said they would do their best to help out.”
The news of Goodrich’s departure has caused worry among some residents, according to Owen County Judge-Executive Casey Ellis, who said he received multiple phone calls after news of the resignation began spreading last week.
“We’ve looked at different ways to reconfigure some budgetary items to potentially increase the salaries,” Ellis said. “We’re talking about increasing the salaries of two, but there are (four deputies), so you can’t really justify increasing salaries of two and not all four.”
After learning of the resignation, Ellis said he reached out to rural, surrounding counties, including Gallatin, Carroll, Trimble and Henry counties to compare salaries.
While Ellis said the salaries in those counties were comparable to Owen’s, he found that Owen County is one of the only rural counties to offer hazardous duty retirement.
“We feel we’re competitive,” Ellis said. “Obviously we’re not competitive with Grant County or northern Kentucky counties, Louisville or Lexington — but for the rural communities, for the workload — we’re competitive.”
The Owen County Fiscal Court passed its budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year June 25, the same day Ellis said he learned of the resignation. Had the court been made aware at an earlier date that Goodrich was looking to transfer, Ellis said potential adjustments to the deputies’ salaries could have been addressed during the budget process.
As of July 1, Goodrich’s annual salary increased to $36,254.40, up $707.20 from the previous fiscal year. Combined with his retirement, tax match, health insurance and life insurance, the total package amounts to $57,869.22. Goodrich, 38, joined the department in 2005.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office accepts applications throughout the year on its website and Facebook page, according to Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills, who said his office planned to hire three new deputies this month.
“I hate when this has to happen,” Dills said of Goodrich’s transfer. “I know that (Bess) is shorthanded and we’re shorthanded —  we try not to recruit from neighboring counties, but we do have openings. People apply, and we don’t want to deny them just because I know their supervisors or sheriff.”
In Grant County, Goodrich’s base salary will begin somewhere between $41-42,000, with an additional $4,000 training incentive and overtime, according to Dills. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office currently employs 11 road deputies, two full-time school resource officers and two full-time court security officers. The office has a total of 32 employees, including 13 part-time court security officers, two full-time office clerks and two part-time office clerks, Dills said.
“I was offered an opportunity to better myself and my family,” Goodrich said of his transfer to Grant County. “I have enjoyed working in Owen County and serving the people here, and I hope to serve them again in the future. I will still be living in Owen County with no intention of moving. Just because I’m taking a new job doesn’t mean I can’t continue helping the people of Owen County, as well as the sheriff’s office.”