Thomas Ware was elected as Harrison County’s Coroner in the November 2022 election. He was on the job for only a little more than five months before submitting his resignation to Harrison County Judge-Executive Jason Marshall on Friday, May 12.
Ware was elected for his first term, last November, succeeding his father, Tom Ware, who was the local coroner since 1996.
“It really was not about money,” Ware said. “It was more about changes that were being made in how we operated the coroner’s office, plus we are wanting to do what is right for our business and the people we serve.”
Tom Ware appeared before the fiscal court a couple of years ago, seeking more funding for the office. He said, at that time, the funeral home was picking up expenses that were not being reimbursed by the county.
Thomas Ware appeared before the court early in his current term, also seeking additional funding.
“The coroner’s salary is $17,500 per year, but the county did not pay for gas, travel expenses, extra help that is often needed, rental of facilities and things like that,” he said.
Ware Funeral Home, located on US 27 just north of Cynthiana, is the business the Wares own.
Marshall said the Friday resignation came as something of a surprise to him.
“We had a meeting just the day before and I thought everything went well,” Marshall said.
Marshall said the county made some changes within the coroner’s office.
“We created an office space for the coroner at the Oddville Avenue annex, which also houses the jailer and the EMA office,” Marshall said. “We also purchased a van from the Fayette County coroner’s office for our use.”
Marshall also said that the county would foot the bill for all office supplies and that the office space on Oddville Avenue would have “coolers” where deceased bodies could be stored, while investigations are ongoing.
Ware would not give specific reasons for resigning, but did say there are no hard feelings toward Marshall, his predecessor Alex Barnett, or the fiscal court.
“I love Jason, Alex and the fiscal court,” he said. “It was just time for us to step away for a while.”
In the meantime, Marshall said the county will be served by Nicholas County coroner, Emily Gaunce, the owner of Drake Funeral in Cynthiana, a funeral home in Carlisle and another funeral home in Lexington, until he is able to officially appoint someone to take the position.
“It’s my understanding that I have 30 days to appoint someone to fill that position,” he said. “We are thankful that Ms. Gaunce has agreed to cover for us until someone is appointed.”
County Clerk Linda Barnes said that she is checking with the Secretary of State’s office to find out exactly what the protocols are for electing a replacement for Ware.
“I really can’t say exactly what the correct protocols are right now,” Barnes said on Tuesday morning, May 16. “We are in touch with Frankfort to find out what we need to do.”
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