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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Rules for school sports due to COVID-19 in the works, Kentucky superintendents told


As the usual opening practice dates for fall sports approach, Kentucky school districts are concerned about how to operate athletic programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Julian Tackett of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) answered some imminent questions Tuesday during the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) weekly Special Superintendents’ Webcast.

“We are rolling toward having fall sports,” Tackett said. “Now what that looks like could change every day.”

The KHSAA board will discuss several potential eligibility rule changes on July 10, he said. Those could provide flexibility for sports participation as methods of counting enrollment and teaching change. Kentucky sports officials are watching other states that are restarting athletic programs and it is likely sports may shut down intermittently due to COVID-19 risks, Tackett said.


“Right now we are moving along with playing our regular six sports in the fall, period,” he said. But, he reiterated, that could change rapidly depending on the course of COVID-19 infections.

As long as a district verifies enrollment at a particular school, whether for in-person or virtual learning, that student is eligible for sports at that school, Tackett said.

But if parents choose distance learning for their children when schools are open for in-person attendance, districts still can declare those students ineligible to participate in athletics, Tackett said. Sports participation is a privilege, not a right, he noted, and local districts can impose stricter standards than the state requires.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 
School districts are asking lots of questions about rules for mask use in sports, Tackett said.

“We’ve been told that a statewide answer is not the best idea,” he said. Districts should check with their local health departments in making their individual decisions.

An emerging standard rule is that masks should be required for everyone except those actually in play at the time, Tackett said, though masks are allowable for athletes on the playing field.

Dr. Connie White, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) said that whenever possible athletes, coaches and fans should stick with the basic public health principles of mask use, social distancing and hand hygiene.

If a student athlete is sent home with a temperature (above 100.4 degrees), they have to be without a fever or other possible COVID-19 symptoms for 72 hours before returning to any type of school activity, including sports, White said.

If a student is in quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test, any siblings living with them likewise would be quarantined and hence barred from school attendance or athletic practice for the quarantine period, she said.

When it comes to holding public sporting events, crowds still are limited to 50 people, Tackett said. The KHSAA is looking at a 50% capacity limit, incorporating 6 feet of social distancing, for such events, he said.

To help compensate for loss of attendance, school districts can each get two free cameras for livestreaming sporting events, Tackett said. Details are coming July 8. The cameras are worth $5,000 and would cost districts about $2,500 to set up, he said.

As for concession stands and ticket sales, KHSAA will issue guidance soon. But concession stands should expect to sell only prepackaged food, with nothing made on-site, Tackett said. Districts also should look at smartphone-based online ticketing instead of handling cash, he said.

Covid-19 summary update: 371 new cases, 9 new deaths, death toll now 602


TUESDAY 7/7/20 - SUMMARY UPDATE from Governor Andy Beshear:

> NEW CASES: 371 new cases. (Total number in Ky: 17,519).

Boone Co. - 14 (660 total)
Kenton Co. - 11 (844 tota)
Campbell Co. - 6 (299 total)
Grant Co. - 0 (60 total)

- Over 445,196 tests completed to date in Kentucky.
- Total patients who have been hospitalized: 2,708.
- Total Patients Currently in Hospital: 421.
- Total Patients admitted to ICU: 1,003.
- Still Currently in ICU: 110.
- Recovered Patients: 4,841.

>DEATHS: 9
Total Death Toll: 602
Total Death Toll NKY: Kenton 36; Boone 23; Campbell 12; Grant 4).


Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday updated Kentuckians on the state’s continued efforts to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

“This remains a very serious global health challenge. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert, said only yesterday that we are ‘still knee-deep in the first wave’ of coronavirus infections here in the U.S.,” Governor Beshear said. “The number of positive cases has been rising across the nation. Although eventually there will be a vaccine, we need to be mindful that it will not be perfected or ready to distribute anytime soon. We therefore must remain vigilant to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

As of 4 p.m. July 7, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 17,519 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 371 of which were newly reported Tuesday.

“Today is a tough day in our fight against the coronavirus. While we’ve long noted that case numbers fluctuate due to differences in reporting – and that weekends often see lower tallies that sometimes catch up during the week – today’s numbers are cause for serious concern,” the Governor said. “We have worked too long and hard, and sacrificed too much, to squander the gains we have made in this fight. However, the only way to secure our safety is to recommit ourselves to doing what we all know is required of us: washing our hands frequently, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, getting tested frequently and cooperating with contact tracers if they call with information.”

Unfortunately, Gov. Beshear reported nine new deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 602 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

The deaths reported Tuesday include a 78-year-old man from Jefferson County; a 52-year-old man from Kenton County; two women, ages 86 and 96, and two men, ages 85 and 95, from Knox County; a 70-year-old woman from Logan County; a 64-year-old woman from Mason County; and a 62-year-old man from Monroe County.

“There’s nothing more important to me than protecting the lives of Kentuckians and there’s nothing more difficult in this job than knowing that despite every effort we still have lost more than 600 of our fellow citizens to this deadly virus,” the Governor said. “Let’s light up our homes and businesses green to show our compassion for these folks, their families and their communities.”

As of Tuesday, there have been at least 445,196 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. At least 4,841 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

NKY mom gives birth on I-471 after Fourth of July party

 (IMG: Jacob and Brittany Doherty with baby, Tobias, with Derek Faught and Joe Paolucci of Fort Thomas Police and Garrett Haynes of Southgate Police, Facebook).

It wasn't how they envisioned the birth of their third child, but the end result made for an exciting story.


Jacob and Brittany Doherty were at a Fourth of July pool party and had just made it home when Brittany's water broke. She told Local 12 that on the way to the hospital, she told her husband that she wasn't going to make it so they pulled over at mile marker three on I-471 north.

“We are excited but nervous because she normally goes fast, so we’re trying to make sure that we’re not having this baby in the car,” Jacob told Local 12. “By the time I got out of the car and around the car and opened her door, the baby was already in her seat.”

The baby, Tobias Edison Doherty, was delivered in less than three minutes on July 5, 2020.

Fort Thomas officers, Joe Paolucci, Derek Faught and Southgate officer, Garrett Haynes arrived on scene to help after 911 dispatchers stayed on the phone throughout the delivery with the Tobiases.

“When I watch our footage that Jacob took of the experience, it definitely brings me to tears and makes me emotional. I’m still realizing the fact that I delivered my own baby in a car and I never thought that I would,” Brittany told Local 12.


Community Leaders Come Together to Fill Early Childhood Education Void in Northern Kentucky

Newly formed EC Learn will partner with NKADD to support child care providers, families and employers throughout the Northern Kentucky region

Twelve business and community leaders are coming together to form EC Learn to help with early childhood development needs in Northern Kentucky.


In June 2020, Cincinnati-based nonprofit 4C for Children ended delivery of services to child care providers, families and employers in Northern Kentucky. As a direct result of this departure, a group of 12 business and community leaders concerned about early childhood education formed the Early Childhood Transition Committee (ECTC) to ensure these services continue in the NKY region.



On July 1, the group announced it has established a Kentucky nonprofit corporation called Early Childhood Learning Education Assessment Resource Network (EC Learn) and will partner with Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD) to continue this critical work. NKADD will serve as the fiscal agent for EC Learn through 2020, providing services including human resources and finance/accounting. EC Learn is being led by Sandra Woodall, former NKY Team Lead of 4C for Children and will add additional team members in the coming weeks.

EC Learn chose to partner with NKADD in part because of the organization’s close relationships to 80 other nonprofit entities as well as strong connections to both area businesses and legislators. Under the NKAAD umbrella, EC Learn will train and coach early child care providers; work with school districts to help children bridge from early learning into the public school system; work with Head Start programs through the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission; provide child care referrals for NKY families and businesses; and assist with training of professionals to earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which helps to build the early childhood professional career lattice. The local services EC Learn provides will enhance, extend, and expand the state agency resources already in place.



“The ECTC committee was created out of passion for a tremendous need in our community,” said
Sandra Woodall, Executive Director of EC Learn. “There are 125 child care programs and more than
4,000 child care professionals in NKY who need help maintaining high standards of child care as well as thousands of families and employers counting on us to help connect them and their workers to
child care providers. We’re proud to partner with NKADD in the coming months and feel confident the relationship will help us strengthen relationships to further deepen the quality of child care in our
region.”

“NKADD is excited about the partnership with EC Learn,” said Lisa Cooper, Executive Director of
NKADD. “Now more than ever, quality childcare is critical to the community. The mission of EC Learn fits well with the mission of NKADD, and we look forward to assisting with this important work.”

The ECTC and EC Learn will lead a community needs assessment to best understand the critical
needs of child care providers as well as assess the rapidly changing child care needs of families and
employers in NKY. The Community Needs Assessment will be completed by October 2020 and
shared with partners in December 2020. Based on the results of this assessment, the ECTC will work
with local nonprofit organizations and funding partners to determine the best strategies for supporting
the needs of child care providers, families and employers beyond EC Learn’s partnership with NKADD through 2020.

"SaveFT" Website Generates Thousands for Local Businesses During Pandemic

The SaveFT.org gift card portal website has donated thousands for local businesses among the Covid-19 pandemic.




By Jessie Eden

The Covid-19 pandemic certainly changed the way people live, buy and support their local community businesses. After a conversation with a local economics expert and realizing there was a need for some kind of solution to help local businesses, Mark Collier and Scott Richards of Richards & Sons Artisans created "SaveFT.org", an online portal designed to be a one-stop shop to support businesses in Fort Thomas.

How Does It Work?

Purchase $50 in gift cards and businesses who are partnering with SaveFT will kick back $10 to your favorite school fundraiser. Gift cards must be purchased in the amount of $50 from the same vendor for the donation to kick in.

The idea grew from a conversation Mark had with Janet Harrah, NKU's Executive Director for the Center for Economic Analysis and Development. Janet stated she had been watching the news about the success Cincinnati had selling gift cards to support restaurants in OTR. She expressed that she would very much like to support a few of our hometown businesses...but the problem is that many do not have any way to order gift cards online. 

"When Janet talks about the economy, you should definitely listen. We essentially used her blueprint and ran with it," said Mark. "Our traffic and stats are at an all-time high, but people and businesses don’t know where to go. We started brainstorming this in April. I sketched out the design and talked about it with my buddy, Scott, and he took it and ran with it. We had the entire site built in about a week."

Scott Richards, who used to own a web design business, was immediately interested and started thinking about the site. "I thought it was a great idea. I had heard of other ventures like this across the country and was excited to be involved," said Scott. "I wanted the site to be have consistent design and easy intuitive functionality. We needed to produce a streamlined experience in order to make purchasing simple and hassle-free. I have built a number of sites from the ground-up. We decided to go with an existing platform for this design in order to speed up production time. Doing so produced some limitations that we needed to creatively circumvent in order to meet our needs."



Local businesses in Fort Thomas were also on board with the idea...and Janet says when we support our local businesses, we are supporting our community. "When we support our local business owners in Fort Thomas more often than not, we are supporting our neighbors", said Janet. "Typically, a larger percentage of the money we spend at our locally owned businesses stays in our community. These businesses also provide employment opportunities. Additionally, these are the businesses that support our local schools and other community institutions. Finally, having an independent book store, a pharmacy, a music academy, a dry cleaners, a seamstress/tailor, restaurants, and other services and retail are an integral part of the fabric of living in Fort Thomas." 

The fundraising component was an easy sell to local business owners as well. "Adding the fundraising component has been a win as well for our local schools since everything is very much up in the air," said Mark. "The fact that our local businesses agreed to this in concept continues to speak to their ability to just get things done." 

They have been slowly adding merchants to the site and with very little advertising or promoting, the site has already processed a few thousand dollars worth of gift cards. Scott says its all thanks to the character of the Fort Thomas community. "Fort Thomas is a very unique community. Small businesses are the heart of this community. Vibrant and healthy businesses produce a vibrant and healthy community."




What's Next for SaveFT.org?

Mark says after some promoting throughout July, but they are looking for a long-term partner for the site to handle deliver and become the payment terminal.

"Maybe it’s just optimism on my part, but I’m just hoping our economies can begin to normalize by then. There’s a lot of work on the back-end to make this site function, but it’s been a heavy life in terms of logistics for me to make it work," said Mark. "We’d be happy to hand over the keys to what we’ve built."

Heads up: River Road in Fort Thomas closed until July 8 to repair a slide


Via Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, District 6:

"KY 445 - River Road in Fort Thomas is closed to through traffic near the top of the hill near the avenue. There will be daytime closures so that we can fix a slide spot. Take another way during these hours 8 am - 6 pm. We hope to have this done by Wednesday afternoon, July 8.



The road is closed to through traffic near the top of the hill near the avenue. There will be daytime closures so that we can fix a slide spot. Take another way during these hours 8 am - 6 pm. We hope too have this done by Wednesday afternoon, July 8."

Gov. Beshear Announces nearly $7 Million CARES Act Reimbursements for Five Northern Kentucky Local Governments

Reimbursements will cover payroll expenses, PPE, sanitizing supplies; Preliminary approval for 11 others


In collaboration with the Department for Local Government (DLG), today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 16 northern Kentucky governments have applied for nearly $7 million in reimbursements from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for local governments with expenses related to COVID-19.

Currently five northern Kentucky governments have received final approval for reimbursement for a total of $1.3 million. Nine others have received preliminary approval, meaning they will receive reimbursements once final documentation is submitted to DLG.

Cities are eligible to receive reimbursement through December 31.

The City of Fort Thomas already filed for some of their portion and will be requesting their entire allotment. A resolution for adoption will be introduced at their July Council meeting.
Barre3 Ft. Thomas. Located at 90 Alexandria Pike. 
“Our local governments have been life lines in our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why this funding is so important,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are grateful for their hard work and dedication to keeping Kentuckians safe.”

DLG Commissioner Dennis Keene mentioned how essential reimbursements are for local governments. “We know our local governments are experiencing decreases in revenue, making this funding even more important while we combat this crisis,” said Commissioner Keene. “Our staff is working diligently to make the process simple and efficient so we can get reimbursements out the door to our cities and counties as quickly as possible.”

Fort Mitchell
The City of Fort Mitchell will receive $592,653 in reimbursements to cover payroll expenses for police officers and costs incurred to sanitize public spaces and ensure social distancing.

“We are grateful for this CARES Act reimbursement, which will help us offset our expenses related to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Mayor Jude Hehman. “With this reimbursement, we will continue to keep our first responders safe by providing sanitation supplies. And in the near future, we plan to add a marquee to our Main Street so we can share important messages with our residents. Effective communication is the key to keeping everyone safe and informed.”

Sen. Chris McDaniel expressed gratitude for CARES Act funding. “Our local communities are on the front line of responding to the situations surrounding COVD-19,” Sen. McDaniel said. “I am glad to see the CARES Act providing funding for those communities, like Fort Mitchell, many of which have incurred significant expense in the response.”

“This is great news for Fort Mitchell and will certainly help our community deal with the impact of COVID-19,” said Rep. Kim Banta. “I appreciate Senator McConnell’s work to include meaningful funding in the CARES legislation, as well as Gov. Beshear for his efforts to distribute these federal funds to communities.”

Villa Hills
The City of Villa Hills will use $239,962 to reimburse payroll expenses for police officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mayor Heather Jansen expressed appreciation for the funding, which will help their first responders. “The City of Villa Hills is extremely grateful to Gov. Beshear, DLG, KLC and KACo for recognizing and supporting local cities and counties as they work to protect residents during the pandemic,” said Mayor Jansen. “We intend to use the grant to fund our first responders so they can continue answering the needs of the community that arise from COVID-19.”

Williamstown
The City of Williamstown will receive $227,989 in reimbursements for police, fire and EMS payroll.

Mayor Rick Skinner discussed that this funding will help the city of Williamstown provide uninterrupted services to their community. “We couldn’t be more excited to be getting this reimbursement through the CARES Act to help us recoup some of the money we’ve had to spend during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Skinner. “Budgets were tight and this allows us to continue operation without interruption.”

Wilder
The City of Wilder will receive $220,753 in reimbursements, which will cover the cost of PPE for the city and payroll expenses for police officers who have dedicated significant time to combatting COVID-19.

“In the City of Wilder, our first responders are on the front line fighting the COVID-19 pandemic every day,” said Mayor Robert Arnold. “The CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund will help us stretch our limited resources in this fight. The reimbursement program comes at a time when cities need funding the most, and this will aid in keeping the City of Wilder police and fire personnel safe. Thanks to the Governor for setting aside funding for local governments and to the Department for Local Government for the efficiency in making the funding available.”

Sen. Wil Schroder discussed the necessity of this funding. “I am extremely thankful that the City of Wilder will be receiving this relief funding,” said Sen. Schroder. “Local economies have suffered steep financial losses due to COVID-19 and these funds will help fill a portion of the deficit our community has experienced since the start of the pandemic.”

“I am delighted that the City of Wilder will be receiving reimbursement through the CARES Act Fund, administered by the Kentucky Department for Local Government on behalf of Gov. Andy Beshear,” said Rep. Rachel Roberts. “The collaboration of our local and state governments during this COVID-19 crisis has been exemplary. At a time when our cities’ budgets are extremely tight, CARES Act funding provides the necessary protection and tools that first responders and city workers need to serve the best interests of the citizens of our communities.”

Mason County
Mason County will use $46,000 to reimburse expenses for PPE, signage to encourage social distancing, technology expenses to allow telework, disinfecting supplies and payroll for temporary employees necessary to combat COVID-19.

“We are thrilled to be one of the early counties to get approval on our application,” said Judge/Executive Joseph Pfeffer. “With revenue down and tight budgets, this funding will help us get through these unprecedented times and allow us to continue with planned projects while providing much-needed services to our community.”

Eleven other local governments in northern Kentucky have been granted preliminary approval and are expected to have final approval once they submit outstanding documentation to DLG.

Artists begin work on Newport Floodwall murals commemorating city's history

Celebrating 225 years of history, first mural depicts historic African American Southgate Street School


Artists are beginning work this week on the first in a series of murals commemorating Newport’s 225th anniversary that are planned for the city’s floodwall that runs along Dave Cowens Drive.

The first mural will depict and honor the students and teachers of The Southgate Street School, an historic African American school – the only one in Campbell County - that operated from the post Civil War era until 1955 when Brown vs Board of Education was decided and Newport Desegregated their schools.  The public art project is a collaboration of The City of Newport, Southbank Partners, the Northern Kentucky University Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and The Newport History Museum @ The Southgate Street School.


The goal of the project is to connect students and the community through publicly informed mural designs that celebrate Newport’s history while lengthening the spectrum of arts and cultural heritage offerings available to the general public.

The lead artist on the inaugural Education Empowers mural is Gina Erardi, who recently graduated from NKU with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in Painting. She became inspired by the story of The Southgate Street School when two former students of the school told their stories to one of her college arts classes.

“When I actually met the former students of The Southgate Street School, I was so moved by their hopefulness and the dedication of their teachers, despite the many challenges they had to overcome," Erardi said. “I wanted to create a mural that celebrated the lives of the students and of the black educators who helped shift our society in the right direction, though we still have work to do as a whole."

"It is important to continue to hear from the people who lived through these experiences in history,” she said.

Virinda Garland Doddy, who was in the last first grade class at The Southgate Street School, helped provide inspiration and guidance to Erardi as she designed the mural, which depicts a teacher and a student at a chalkboard and the portrait of a college graduate linked together by the flow of colorful waves.  Two of her brothers also attended the school.


“The City of Newport has done an outstanding job making sure we appreciate and learn the history of the Southgate Street School and all that is accomplished and stands for," said Garland Doddy, who went on to graduate from Newport High School and was the first black graduate of NKU’s Human Services program. “I am honored to be a part of this. The students who went to the school received a great education because the teachers instilled in us the desire to do well in school.”

Planning for the murals began several years ago as the city worked with former students of The Southgate Street School on a project to preserve the legacy of the school and convert the school building into The Newport History Museum @ The Southgate Street School.

“The legacy of The Southgate Street School is that despite what was happening outside of the school’s walls, inside there were no color lines, no racism and no limits to what the students could strive and dream to accomplish,” said Newport Historic Preservation Officer Scott Clark.

Majority funding for the project was provided through a $13,120 grant from the 410, a giving circle of the Horizon Community Funds. Southbank Partners applied for the 410 grant, drawn to the project because of its visibility as it will become part of Riverfront Commons, the nearly 12-mile urban walking and biking path Southbank is developing in Northern Kentucky’s river cities.

“Southbank Partners is focused on the economic and community development of the river cities, but we can never forget where we came from and our community’s important historic moments, people and achievements,” said Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland. “Southbank is forever grateful for the 410 grant and honored to be a part of the collaborative effort that is making the murals a reality.”

In keeping with the project's theme of community engagement, a volunteer day will be held on July 18 for those interested in helping with mural installation.

Funds are being raised to commission eight more murals to celebrate Newport’s diverse past that may depict:

Monday, July 6, 2020

Here's what's new at the Fort Thomas Farmers Market this week


Summer has officially ARRIVED!  With the increased heat and humidity, the City and the Market Committee are announcing something NEW, beginning with the July 8th Market…EARLY SHOPPING for our Seniors!

Customers who are 65 years and older will be allowed into the Market at 2:45 pm to get a head start on their shopping.  The Market will open to all other shoppers at 3:00 pm.  Just as a reminder, please enter the Market by the Market Booth, located at the entrance to the parking lot.

As a reminder – masks are encouraged but not required for shoppers.  Also, if you are not comfortable shopping in person, please check out the NEW Pre-Filled Market Bags, available for purchase via our website: https://www.fortthomasfarmersmarket.com/marketbags

Other news:  tomatoes and green beans are finally coming in! Corn will be here soon!  Colonel’s Kitchen is now offering ready to eat meals for pickup.  Please see their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ColonelsKitchenKY/, where the menu will be posted on Mondays for Wednesday pickup.  Orders may be placed by calling Matt at 859-215-0200.  

On that note, many of our vendors offer pre-order options, for pickup at the Market.  For all the latest updates, including vendor lists & market map, please check out our website:  https://www.fortthomasfarmersmarket.com/

Candace S. McGraw Named Recipient of 2020 NKYP Legend Award

CVG Airport CEO to receive award at the 2020 Northern Kentucky Young Professionals Generation Leader Awards on Thursday, July 16, 2020

CVG Airport CEO Candace S. McGraw to receive award.


A leader in the aviation industry with 30 years’ of experience and expertise, Candace S. McGraw has taken the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) to new heights. Now, the Northern Kentucky Young Professionals Next Generation Leader Awards (NGLAs) is recognizing her legendary achievements.

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Taking place on Thursday, July 16 from 3 to 4 p.m., the 2020 NGLAs is a virtual celebration that salutes and applauds young professionals under the age of 40 for significant professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership and community impact. McGraw is the winner of this year’s NKYP Legend Award, which is presented to a community leader that has continued to inspire leadership and career success among young professionals throughout their career.

McGraw’s list of achievements as CEO of CVG is impressive and impactful. Recognition includes Skytrax naming the airport the second best in the world serving between 5 to 10 million passengers and the “Best Regional Airport in North America” for seven times in the last nine years. In addition, McGraw’s leadership oversaw the completion of a 2050 Master Plan study to ensure CVG’s future prosperity given its current status as the seventh largest cargo operation in North America. CVG is home to the Amazon Air cargo hub (a $1.5 billion facility currently under construction), as well as serving as DHL’s North American superhub, the company’s second largest global operation.

In addition, McGraw is the immediate past chair of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), a trade association representing 400-plus airports in the U.S. and Canada. She is the treasurer of the World Board of Airports Council International and in 2019 was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to serve on the federal NextGen Advisory Committee. Most recently in 2020, Secretary Elaine Chao named her to another federal board: the Women in Aviation Advisory Board. Locally, McGraw’s service includes an appointment to the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board and a seat on Fifth Third Bank’s Advisory Board.



A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, McGraw holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne University.

Ross Emerson, 2019-2020 NKYP Chair and Manager, CPA with VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm, said McGraw’s recognition follows her service of as the head behind “incredible” change at CVG.

Fort Thomas Dads Create "Dad Skate Squad", Provides Some Much Needed Social Distancing Fun Adults


The Dad Skate Squad meets every Wednesday for a friendly, social distanced coast around Fort Thomas.
(Img: @Jonbobdotcom, Instagram)



By Jessie Eden

Who says you can't act like a kid again? We all have fond memories of summer evenings spent riding bikes or skating with friends and two Fort Thomas residents decided that, even though they're technically 'grown ups', there is no harm in acting like a kid again.

That is how the Dad Skate Squad was born.

OrangeTheory fitness, Newport Pavilion

Jon Bob Willis and Robbie Reider came up with the idea during quarantine. "Over Memorial Day, we had a friend (Robbie Reider) over. We had been spending some quarantine time with him. I said 'Let's take a walk' but both our daughters had long boards and the roads in our neighborhood had just paved...so we grabbed our boards too and skated with them," said Jon Bob. "We were talking about how long it's been since we've skated, for fun, with a friend."

Dad Skate Squad coasts through the Midway District.
(Img: @DadSkateSquad, Instagram)

They enjoyed it so much that they decided to make it a thing.

Now, just over a month later, the event draws around 20 dads every Wednesday night. The group meets at 7:45 p.m. and leaves at 8 pm. Each Dad Skate Squad session is about an hour and a half. "It's grown every week that we've done it. It's kind of a perfect fit for the whole social distancing thing since we're far apart while skating. We even started an instagram page that has 200 followers now."


(Img: IG user bfaris, @DadSkateSquad on Instagram)

So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from fellow skaters. "What has been surprising to us is how much they look forward to Wednesday nights. Everybody is pumped, wearing their t-shirts and back patches. So many people have said 'Have you seen people smile at us!?', said Jon Bob. "People laugh at us and we even sang Happy Birthday to a lady we saw who said she was still quarantining at home. It's been a total breath of fresh air."


A Skate Park / Bike Park in Fort Thomas? 

The idea of a skate park was actually suggested during a City Council meeting back in March by Highlands student Wyatt Richards.

The proposal came at a good time. City Administrator Ron Dill thanked Richards for his proposal and noted that, in fact, it was great timing. On February 26, Fort Thomas city staff hosted a public meeting to focus on the parks and recreation portion of the Fort Thomas Community Plan.



Council member Jeff Bezold, chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the group has been looking at incorporating spaces for bikes and skateboards. Nothing is decided yet, he said, but Richards’ input would be greatly appreciated by the committee.

Highland Hills Park features more than 77 acres. Currently, amenities include two sheltered picnic areas, a basketball court, nine-hole disc golf course, baseball/soccer field, a gaga pit and dog park.

The Recreation Committee met on June 1 via Zoom to discuss more progress at parks and the Skate Park and unveiled an initial drawing for a possible skate park and bike park. There was conversation about the best use of space and those talks are ongoing.


If you're interested in the Dad Skate Squad, Jon Bob says you just have to do one thing -  show up. The only rules are that you be a Dad and you skate.

Follow Dad Skate Squad on Instagram for announcements on starting locations.


Golf Carts in Fort Thomas: here's what you need to know

Golf carts offer a unique and fun opportunity to get around town in Fort Thomas.

by Robin Gee

Fort Thomas is known as a walkable city, but not as many people know that it also presents other non-automobile options.



"We have a unique situation in that you can get from one end of town to the other in a golf cart," said Fort Thomas city council member Jeff Bezold. "It’s fun way to experience the city."

Bezold drives a golf cart around town himself and has been one of the city’s biggest proponents of the activity.

"The idea came to me when thinking about the challenging parking situation we have in both the Central Business and Midway districts. The initial discussion was around using golf carts as a shuttle service through town," he said.

His initial thought was that a private company could run a shuttle or perhaps the Fort Thomas Business Association could provide the cart and sell ad space on it to help offset operating costs.

"After discussing the idea with many residents, the question came up around personal use of carts on city streets. At that time, I worked with Ron Dill, city administrator, and Jann Seidenfaden, city attorney, on the possibility in Fort Thomas," Bezold explained.

Developing the idea


After much research on the subject, he discovered that many communities in the Greater Cincinnati area and in Kentucky have added golf carts as an acceptable mode of transportation on city streets.

Bezold worked with Dill, Seindenfaden and other city officials to create a Fort Thomas ordinance.

"We have built in safety measures above the state statute. These are listed in the ordinance and brochure. There is a link to the local ordinance, information brochure and city stick application on the City website under the news section," he added.

He said carts may even help open the door to grants that could make the city more environmentally friendly. Grants are available for cities looking to add electric vehicle charging stations. Golf carts could take advantage of that as well and help encourage something like that in the future, he said.

The city passed an ordinance In September 2019. Requests for permits have started to pick up now that we are in the warm months of the year. So far, 10 permits have been issued.




A few rules to note


The Fort Thomas Golf Cart Ordinance outlines rules for driving a golf cart within city limits:

  • Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 19 years old to drive a golf cart in the city. Council has discussed revisiting this rule later to possibly allow for younger drivers but will wait and see how things unfold this season.
  • Driving is only allowed on roads with a posted speed of 30 miles per hour. Within the city, there are four designated spots where drivers are permitted to cross over 35 MPH streets:
    - Highland Avenue and Grand Avenue
    - Pentland Place and Grand Avenue
    - Woodfill Avenue and US 27/Alexandria
    - Grandview Avenue and US 27/Alexandria
  • Golf carts can be operated after dark. This reflects a recent change in state law, and allows for situations such as returning from an evening concert or event.
  • Golf carts must display a city permit on the passenger side of the windshield; as well as slow moving traffic indicator.
  • Golf carts may only be parked on hard surfaces in parking spaces; no parking on city sidewalks.
  • Golf carts must only be driven on the right-hand lane and must yield to vehicles.

 
After passing an inspection and getting your permit, display it on your golf cart windshield for all to see, and you are off to explore the city in a whole new way.

 

Equipment rules and requirements


Golf carts must also be equipped with:

  • Head lamps and tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Front and rear turn signals
  • One red reflector on each side as far to the rear as possible and one reflex reflector in the rear
  • A slow moving vehicle emblem
  • An exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side or an interior mirror
  • A parking brake and seat belts for each seat
  • A horn (but must adhere to city noise level laws)

 

Getting a city permit


Once you’ve purchased your golf cart, and it's properly equipped, says Bezold, the next step is to contact the sheriff’s office. The sheriff can come out to your home and do an inspection for a total cost of $15.

If your cart passes inspection, the sheriff will sign off. Take the inspection papers, along with proof of insurance, and an application form (see below) to the Fort Thomas city building. For $25 you will receive your permit and permit stickers. Permits must be renewed each year.

"As a city councilman and golf cart owner, I have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the golf cart program. As long as the public follows the guidelines in place, this should be a fun yet safe experience," said Bezold.

"We have a beautiful city and being able to experience our community in a golf cart is a fun and unique way to get around."

Some direct links to city golf cart information include:

Friday, July 3, 2020

Grand Opening of Highland Park on July 6 Includes Youth Toss, Freshman Exhibition Game

On Monday, July 6, there will be a Grand Opening event at Highland Park. The event starts at 4:45 p.m. with a Youth Toss and High School exhibition game between incoming freshman at 6 p.m. Social distancing is encouraged.

By Joe Grimme
Field of dreams – right here at home

For many years, it was a dream to have an artificial turf field upon which our community could practice and play games. Approximately eighteen months ago, I decided to take the initiative to try and make this dream come true. With the generosity of many people in Fort Thomas, as well as the surrounding communities, this dream has become a reality. It’s time to play ball – and we want you to celebrate with us.

On Monday, July 6, the “Grand Opening of Highland Park” will take place, which will be our way of welcoming everyone to attend and see the new field. The festivities will begin at 4:45pm with a “Youth Toss”, when kids of all ages can show up with their glove to toss on the new artificial turf infield. This will be followed up with an opportunity to thank several people that are responsible for the completion of this project. After a ceremonial first pitch is thrown by former Highlands Baseball Coach Ken Lehkamp, an exhibition game between incoming freshmen will take place at 6:00pm, which will involve close to 40 players.



Please note that this is NOT a school-sponsored event. In addition, we would like to remind everyone that this is a public park with ample space to socially distance from others in order to enjoy the festivities.




After all is said and done, the installation of the artificial turf infield will have cost approximately $220,000. Most of this was accomplished through borrowing funds from private investors, in addition to corporate sponsors (advertising banners) and the selling of engraved bricks that are located behind home plate near the concession stand.

This facility used to be a dirt field, which had no pitcher’s mound, no fencing, no dugouts, and no structures of any kind. To say we have come a long way would be an understatement. Much of the improvements over the years have been the result of many hours put in by former coaches, parents, the City of Fort Thomas, and current Highlands Baseball Varsity Head Coach Jeremy Baoini. Without the countless hours of everyone combined, we could have never gotten to where we are today.

While the infield project is finally complete, the work is not over. We must now work hard to produce income through field rentals, additional corporate sponsors, and ongoing brick sales.




We need your help. 

Please consider any of these options and take a look at what we have done – when you are at Highland Park. If you are free tomorrow night, please join us for the Grand Opening and bring your family. We will have concessions, music, an announcer for the game, and an ice cream truck. 

If you would like to participate in any way to help continue to support our facility, please contact me via email

Thank you and let’s PLAY BALL!

- Joe Grimme



Newport Celebrates Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for NKY's Riverfront Commons Pathway

Elevated pedestrian walkways connect path to Taylor-Southgate Bridge, Newport on the Levee

On June 27, SouthBank Partners and the City of Newport hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new pedestrian bridge.
(Img: SouthBank Partners Facebook)

Two Newport legs of the Riverfront Commons Pathway – a pair of elevated walkways connecting the urban trail to the Taylor-Southgate Bridge and Newport on the Levee – were formally dedicated Saturday morning during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the pedestrian bridges.




Conceived and spear-headed by Southbank Partners, Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile walking/biking path that runs along the Ohio River and links all Northern Kentucky’s river cities – Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Ft. Thomas. The pedestrian bridges connect on the east and west sides of the Taylor-Southgate Bridge, an Ohio River span that links the downtowns of Newport and Cincinnati. Southbank Partners promotes and manages economic development in Northern Kentucky’s river cities, including Silver Grove.

“Today is a testament on what can be accomplished when public officials get together and work together on a common project,” said Roger Peterman, a Southbank board member and chairman of the Riverfront Commons Committee. “This project stands for what Riverfront Commons is all about – making it easier for people to access and enjoy all that our great river cities have to offer.” 


Check out the interactive map for Riverfront Commons here.

In addition to Southbank Partners, the $1.2 million project – completed by Sunesis Construction of West Chester, Ohio – was also supported by The City of Newport, The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), The Kentucky Transportation Department and Newport on the Levee.

“This is an historic day in The City of Newport,” said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso. “This is a project that was more than 20 years in the making. I applaud and thank Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland, the Southbank Board and the Southbank’s founders for having the vision to conceive Riverfront Commons and the tenacity to see it through.

“Riverfront Commons has already proven to be successful in attracting visitors, residents and economic development to our communities,” Mayor Peluso said. “It’s a great marketing tool, and these pedestrian bridges make it even better.”

The City of Newport provided $275,000 for the project, but the bulk of the funding – more than $1 million in federal funds – came through a grant from OKI.

“OKI has enjoyed a long partnership with Southbank Partners and the City of Newport, and we were honored to provide funding for this outstanding project,” said OKI CEO Mark Policinski. “The Riverfront Commons pedestrian bridges will improve connectivity, encourage walkability and enhance the tremendous riverfront development that is taking place throughout the river cities, including the tremendous rebirth of Newport on the Levee.”




Just moments after the Riverfront Commons project was dedicated, Newport on the Levee cut the ribbon on Bridgeview Box Park, a family-friendly attraction that includes eight local retailers, bars and eateries. The park is part of the major redevelopment of the Levee by its new owners, Cincinnati-based North American Properties.

“Connectivity will be a huge key to the success of the redevelopment of Newport on the Levee,” said Northern American Properties Managing Partner Tim Perry, who also serves on the Newport Southbank Bridge Board of Directors. “These new pedestrian bridges will make it easier for people to get to the Levee by walking, biking or running. We were honored to part of the effort that made this project a reality..” 

Peterman also thanked Bob Yeager, chief district engineer in the Northern Kentucky office of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and his predecessor, Rob Hans, for “supporting and believing” in Riverfront Commons.

The Newport City Commission also played a key role. In addition to providing funding, commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state that allowed the project to move forward.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Thomas More Names College of Business New Acting Dean


Robert Arnold, Ph.D., J.D., has been named acting dean of Thomas More University’s College of Business for the 2020-21 academic year. (Img: Headshot - Thomas More / Landscape - Google)


Robert Arnold, Ph.D., J.D., has been named acting dean of Thomas More University’s College of Business for the 2020-21 academic year.



Padrino Ft. Thomas | 14 N. Grand | (859) 957-4082 | website


Arnold arrived at Thomas More in 1995 and has since served as department chair, division chair, and director of Thomas More’s Accelerated and Graduate Program. While teaching within the College of Business, he has helped establish two new academic programs - a Bachelor of Arts in sports and entertainment marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in law.

“Dr. Arnold’s professional experience and distinguished status as a faculty member at the University made him a prime candidate for this interim role,” said President Joe Chillo. “As acting dean, Dr. Arnold will be responsible for leading the College of Business and building upon the tradition of providing a quality and relevant educational experience for students in the areas of business, accounting, information systems, and marketing that produces graduates that are prepared to make meaningful contributions to the business community and companies all around the world.”


Robert Arnold, Ph.D., J.D.
In addition to his role as a full-time professor, Arnold is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association. He currently serves as a chair of the Brighton Center Properties board and as a member of the board for the Buenger Boys and Girls Club. In 2012, recognizing the need for athletic training facilities in the northern Kentucky community to support youth sports, Arnold built Next Level Academy in Wilder, Kentucky. He was also elected as mayor of Wilder in 2018 and is a graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky.




"I am absolutely energized and appreciate the opportunity to join the accomplished leadership team that President Chillo has assembled to guide Thomas More University through these exciting and unprecedented times as we prepare for the University’s centennial celebration in 2021," said Arnold.

Arnold holds a doctorate with a concentration in sports marketing from Union Institute, a Juris Doctorate from Salmon P. Chase College of Law, a Master of Business Administration from Xavier University, and a bachelor’s degree in food technology from the University of Kentucky.

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra Leaves Devou Park for Fort Thomas, First Performance July 11

A past KSO performance at Devou Park -- the KSO is now moving to the Fort Thomas Amphitheater in Tower Park.
(FTM file)


By Jessie Eden

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday night that the organization has decided to move performance venues from from Devou Park in Covington to Tower Park in Fort Thomas.




The KSO's first performance of its free, three-concert summer series in Fort Thomas is on July 11 at 7:30 p.m. The KSO has also released a full list of accommodations regarding Covid-19 safety practices for the event.




Some key points of the plan, outlined on the KSO website, include the following;

- KSO’s staff, musicians and volunteers will wear face masks and encourage the audience to do the same. In some instances, volunteers may also wear plastic face shields.

- Volunteers who handle cash, concessions and programs will be wearing gloves.
- Proper physical distancing measures will be in place. Those who do not live in the same household should maintain 6 feet distance, including but not limited to while awaiting entrance to the restrooms and food truck lines.
- Programs have been chosen to reduce the number of musicians allowing them to maintain physical distancing on stage.


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- KSO staff, musicians and volunteers whose temperature exceed 100.4F or have any other symptoms of the Coronavirus will not be permitted to remain on site, and must produce a negative test for the Coronavirus before returning.
- The KSO is providing hand sanitizer, at each feather flags, during shows in the Tower Park amphitheater.
- Increase the frequency of restroom cleaning per CDC recommendations.
- At risk audience members are invited to attend the dress rehearsal in the park at 10:30 a.m. on each scheduled performance date. We also plan to live-stream concerts.

Upcoming dates for concerts in Tower Park will be August 8 and September 5

To learn more about these events, please visit the KSO website here.