Monday, February 19, 2018

Commonwealth Artists Student Theatre (CAST) Announces Summer Season, Community Partnership, And First Grant

Commonwealth Artists Student Theatre (CAST) Announces Summer Season, Community Partnership, And First Grant

After six years presenting summer musicals under the Fort Thomas Independent Schools umbrella, Commonwealth Artists Student Theatre (CAST) is now a year-round youth theatre organization and is starting its first season with three exciting announcements.

CAST productions are open to all incoming freshmen and graduating seniors in ANY high school in our region. To give even more students the opportunity to participate in a summer theatre experience, CAST will present a non-musical play in addition to its traditional musical, joining previous productions of The Producers, Parade, The Addams Family, Ragtime, Spamalot, and Les Misérables.

The Play: in the CAST tradition of offering students the opportunity to present material often not found in high schools, the first non-musical offering will be the regional premiere of Cincinnati native Theresa Rebeck's O Beautiful. Mike Sherman, theatre director from Walnut Hills High School, will direct this play described as a "theatrically inventive mashup of contemporary American life and the history that got us to this politically polarized age." See below for dates and location of O Beautiful.

The Musical: following on the heels of last summer's well-received production of the sing-through dramatic musical Les Misérables, CAST will go in a completely different direction this summer with the wild and wonderful Shrek: The Musical. Based on the successful animated films, Shrek: The Musical will bring the beloved characters of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and the rest to the stage for the entertainment of all. Shrek: The Musical will be presented the weekends of July 13-15 and July 20-22 at the Highlands High School Performing Arts Center.


Highlands Students to Head to Nationals After State We the People Win

Board member John Weyer presents a check to teacher Megan Boimann-Hennies for the We the People team trip to the national competition.
Highlands High School students have earned their fifteenth state championship win in the We the People competition and will head to the Washington, D.C. area for the nationals in April.

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is an annual national competition for high school students. The competition promotes civic education with an emphasis on knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. 


Competing on civic knowledge

Teacher and team advisor Megan Boimann-Hennies explained how the competition works. "We as a team work to analyze the Constitution. We look to apply it in historical situations and contemporary situations and then provide solutions for contemporary Constitutional problems. The students work together to create opening statements, and then they become experts in their particular subject areas."

The students’ work is judged by attorneys, federal prosecutors, state supreme court justices and other legal experts as well as law, history and political science professors from some of the top universities in the country, she said.

At the national finals, student teams participate in a simulated congressional hearing covering different aspects of the Constitution. Students are divided into six units, each focusing on specific topics. They are judged on their understanding, reasoning, responsiveness and use of constitutional applications.

Support for the team

Twenty-one seniors participate on the Highlands We the People team. The students were honored at the February Fort Thomas Independent School Board meeting with certificates of achievement and school "Champion" tshirts.

The board also presented the group with a check for $10,000 to help defray some of the travel costs.

"We have such high expectations for our kids on the state level and then we get them to the national level, and now we have a financial burden," board member John Weyer explained. He said students and their families are required to raise their own funds for the national trip, and recognizing that, the board wanted to help support the students in this effort.

The next generation of civic leaders

Friday, February 16, 2018

WATCH: St. Catherine's Fish Fry Commercial Is the Greatest

Just in case you needed another reason to go.

This commercial is just the best.

Police: Pedestrian Struck in Crosswalk on Grand Avenue in Newport

On Thursday in the early morning hours, Newport and Fort Thomas police and emergency responders were dispatched to the corner of Grand Avenue and Churchill Drive after a vehicle collided with a pedestrian at 7:06 a.m.

According to police reports, the vehicle was turning east onto Grand Avenue from the light at Churchill Drive when he struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Newport Police handled the call while Fort Thomas Police helped block traffic. 

The victim, a 64 year-old male from Fort Thomas, was taken to University of Cincinnati hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. St. Elizabeth Hospital is in the same block of Grand Avenue, but University has a trauma unit that can more readily handle these types of injuries. 

Police said that the driver indicated he didn't see the person in the crosswalk because of the low levels of light in the morning and added that the victim was wearing dark clothing, which made it difficult for him to see him crossing. 

The driver of the vehicle, also from Fort Thomas, is a forty-seven year-old male. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

MSN: Fort Thomas Is Best Place to Raise a Family in Kentucky

Fort Thomas has been named by MSN's Lifestyle portal, Stacker, as the best place to raise a family in Kentucky.

Schools, low crime, high safety and cost of living all factor into the ranking, which also took into consideration,'s ranking. Fort Thomas came in at number two on their ranks, but MSN only looked at cities with over 10,000 people living in them. Niche ranked Anchorage, just outside of Louisville, as the top place to raise a family in the Commonwealth.

Call Ashley Barlow, 859-781-5333. This is an advertisement. 
Niche also ranked some Greater Cincinnati cities highly throughout the nation:

Newport's Kreutzer and Dorl Florist to Close After 65 Years

That signature ladybug that's been known to brand 611 York Street since 1953 will be closing next month.

Kreutzer Florist in Newport is going out of business and will be having a going-out-of-business sale starting with a customer appreciation sale on Friday, February 23.

In 1953, Fort Thomas residents Vera and Frank Kreutzer opened Kreutzer Florist in Newport, Kentucky during the heyday of Newport's gambling period.  Their son, Frank, Jr. remembers taking a break with his parents for Sunday brunch and sitting on the lap of notorious gangsters who gave him candy and  quarters.  

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave., in the Hiland Building. 
"The store has been in continuous operation since that time, and was been the "go-to" florist for many, many area residents over the years," he said in a release. "It is not at all unusual to be told by a bride that the store has created wedding flowers for multiple generations of their family."  

He credits the longevity of the business with its commitment to provide innovative designs at reasonable prices.

According to Kreutzer, major market changes that have dramatically altered the floral business coupled with second generation ownership having other career interests has led to the decision to close the store as of February 16th.

Highlands Wrestling Club Takes Off

Team Participated in State Tournament in Early February

Contributed Photo. The Highlands Wrestling Club began this year and currently has wrestlers between the first and eighth grades. Absent from the photo are wrestlers Peter Murriner, Rafe Pinkston and Coach Dakota Riley.
Rob Pinkston, a football player at Highlands in the mid-80s, saw his son Rilen Pinkston start wrestling at Spatola Wrestling located in Fort Thomas Plaza at a young age.

Rilen Pinkston developed a huge interest in the sport. But the Fort Thomas Independent School District does not offer wrestling as a sport. Rilen Pinkston wrestled in Campbell County's Youth Wrestling Program, but could not participate in it as a sixth grader because it becomes school sponsored at that point and not a club one.

So Coach Pinkston approached Highlands Director of Athletics Matt Haskamp and former Highlands High Principal Brian Robinson about starting a program. Coach Pinkston was told the FTISD school board wants to see a number of kids interested in it before making it school-sponsored so he started the Highlands Wrestling Club. The school added archery to its list of school sports this school year.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Police: Officer Put Herself in Danger to Stop Fleeing Motorist

On February 13, 2018 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Officer Amanda Bray was on patrol in the area of NKU at the time other local jurisdictions were involved in a pursuit, involving a juvenile and a stolen vehicle.

Police say a teen stole a car from an apartment complex earlier in the day and when police tried to pull him over, he led them on a chase on the highway and into Highland Heights. Multiple units were in pursuit as the teen reached speeds up to 80 miles per hour before finally crashing into the police cruiser.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 
According to a release, Officer Bray was not engaged in the actual pursuit, but in an effort to prevent other motorist from coming into the path of the pursuit; activated her emergency lights and stopped in the lane of traffic prior to the roundabout on Louie B. Nunn Drive.

"The suspect driver, traveling at a high rate of speed, lost control of his vehicle in the roundabout resulting in it jumping the curb of the median dividing the lanes and striking the front quarter panel of the Campbell County Police Department police vehicle.  Officer Bray was removed from her vehicle and transported by ambulance to the St. Elizabeth Emergency Room where she was treated and released."

The release stated that Bray's injuries were not life threatening and has since been assigned to light duty pending medical determination that she may return to full duty.

David Eschenbach saw the chase ending unfold right in front of him. He said that he’s lived in Highland Heights for forty-two years and had never seen anything like it.

Sparetime's Belly & Soul Diner Serves Up Memorable Food With a Heaping Side of Love

Christa and Kevin Klein, who run Sparetime's Belly & Soul Diner.

Many are familiar with the iconic 1950s-style diner six miles down the street from Northern Kentucky University. What many may not know is how much it's changed. Once a beloved "boys club-type" country diner (offering classics such as biscuits and gravy), Sparetime's Belly & Soul Diner now offers traditional fare in addition to fun twists on favorites (such as their Root Beer Burger made with house-made root beer glaze, onion straws and blue cheese crumbles, or their Power Crunch Salad with grilled chicken, kale and avocado).

Kevin Klein's "Root Beer Burger," featuring house-made root beer glaze, onion straws and blue cheese crumbles.

But it's not just the food that's different. Or the overhauled decor. Or the fact that they now serve liquor (craft beers, mimosas and Bloody Marys, along with specials such as raspberry martinis for Valentine's Day). It's the overriding theme of service—of giving, sharing and paying it forward, done daily and not vaguely. It's service that connects customers and community, especially via the diner's Pay It Forward window.

The Pay It Forward window promotes acts of kindness within the community.

How does it work?

Customers can buy anything—a burger, a cup of coffee, a piece of pie—for someone else. After telling their server, they grab a Post-it note and on it write who they'd like to receive their gift. Sparetime's window is filled with gifts:

• $5 off to a single mom (along with a note that says, "It will be OK").
• A burger for a firefighter.
• A piece of pie for a little girl with pigtails.
• A free meal for a mimi, from a fellow mimi.
• $5 off to someone who has a loved one who passed away in April, from someone whose husband passed away in April.

While many people will pull a note that fits them off the window, many others are a bit more shy about it. So Kevin Klein, who leases the space and now operates the diner along with his wife, Christa, pays attention. If it becomes clear you're a single mom, Kevin will step away from cooking, pull the matching note off the window and quietly place it in front of you. If he overhears a conversation and learns you're a vet or a teacher or a childcare worker or anything that might fit a note, he'll give it to you.

"Tell her about the cancer one," Christa says to her husband.

"I don't know if I can without tearing up," Kevin says.

Witness: Officer Injured During Vehicle Pursuit in Highland Heights

A police chase that started in Cincinnati ended with a collision between a car driven by a 13-year old and a Campbell County Police cruiser yesterday at around 3:15 p.m., as first reported by Fort Thomas Matters. 

We now know a little more about what led up to the collision at the roundabout on Northern Kentucky University's campus.

Police say the teen stole a car from an apartment complex earlier in the day. That's when Newport police saw the suspect as he was driving on I-471.

Police tried to pull him over, but he led them on a chase on the highway and into Highland Heights. Multiple units were in pursuit as the teen reached speeds up to 80 miles per hour before finally crashing into the police cruiser. The officer in that car was hurt and both she and the thirteen-year old were taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas.

Their injuries were not disclosed.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Police Chase Ends In Highland Heights Near NKU

A police chase that began in Newport ended in Highland Heights at the foot of Northern Kentucky University this afternoon at around 3:15 p.m.

Police from multiple jurisdictions caught up with a silver Toyota Prius on Nunn Drive in the roundabout where it looked as if the vehicle fleeing police crashed into a Campbell County Police cruiser.

The cruiser was towed from the scene and the suspect was taken to the hospital with injuries.

Reports indicate that the person fleeing from police is a juvenile, but that has not yet been confirmed by police, who are still on scene.

Braxton Brewing Company Signs Deal to Become Fort Thomas' Beer Vendor

Covington-based, Braxton Brewing Company has signed contract to become the sole beer vendor for all Fort Thomas events for the next two years.

They will replace West Sixth Brewing, based out of Lexington, Kentucky.

The City of Fort Thomas will continue to pull beverage licenses for the two biggest events the city hosts during the Fourth of July and Merchants and Music, both in Tower Park. In addition to Braxton offerings at those events, Miller Lite and Coors Light will also be available.

This is an advertisement. 

Jonathan Gandolf, Chief Marketing Officer at Braxton, said that they are excited about inking the deal with Fort Thomas.

"It's amazing," he said. "We've been attending these events for years and now to be apart of them as Braxton Brewing Company, it's a little surreal. Since the day we opened, Northern Kentucky has embraced us with open arms. Now, it's our turn to give back to the community that has so graciously supported us." 

The contract entails a payment from the brewery to the city for rights to be the exclusive vendor for the city. Those terms are public, but weren't disclosed.

Also in the works will be reciprocal marketing promotions for Fort Thomas events on Braxton-owned channels, a Fort Thomas specialty beer and a shandy beer to be brewed for summer events.

Braxton Brewing Company has grown from a garage to a taproom in Covington to a second facility, Braxton Labs, on the campus of The Party Source in Bellevue, Kentucky.

Gandolf said Braxton's goal is to support and grow locally.

"Local, local, local. Whether it's local arts, local goods, eating local or drinking local, consumers love knowing where their hard earned money is going," he said.

"Being able to shake the hands of the people who created the beer and brewery in our own backyard means a lot to us. We look forward to getting to know more of our supporters and lifting one to life all year long." 

This is an advertisement. 

Fort Thomas City-Sponsored Events, Dates, Times

In Other Words: Rules for Living Result from Doing Something Wrong

We have rules for everything. Rules create order but at the same time just there presence of a rule prompts us to break that order. Just because. I just broke a grammar rule there for dramatic effect.

Rules are meant to help us make sense of the world, add meaning, or focus on a task. But every rule is the result of some sort of transgression. I suppose that’s why there is a sign forbidding animals on the interstate. Someone did it.

Every now and then I review my list of life rules. It’s a good exercise to test what I find important or believe.  It's a fairly serious endeavor.

All of us have learned from our mistakes which results in creating a personal rule of behavior.  I have a longtime rule of not eating anyplace named “Captain” whatever after I contracted food poisoning from a questionable seafood restaurant on the east coast. I doubt if the owner was a captain. Thus my rule.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fort Thomas Public House To Offer Limited Carry Out This Week

David and Jenny Meyer are ready to slowly roll out their menu in their restaurant at Fort Thomas Public House, located at 15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue.

This week starting Tuesday, February 13, they will offer a limited menu for carry-out only.

They will also offer that menu on Thursday, February 15. More items and hours will be available next week.

To order, call ahead (859-360-3507), then pick up your order on site from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The Meyers, who have applied for a retail drink license, said they hope to open their restaurant next month with a full menu. They have been hosting a few private events, to test their kitchen.

Last Thursday, they hosted an industry think-tank for Fort Thomas Independent Schools, where about twenty-five industry leaders and school officials were in attendance.

“We need a few more things for a full opening," said Meyer. 

Fort Thomas School Board Selects 2018 Leadership

It was time to pass the gavel at the January meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent School Board. Board members nominated and elected a new board chair and vice chair for 2018.

Jeff Beach

Jeff Beach is the 2018 board chair. He was first elected to the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Board of Education in 2000, and this his is fourth term on the board.

Vice president of Visa, Inc., he has a Bachelor of Science degree from Murray State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Xavier University.

He is a graduate of Carroll County High School but has many connections to Fort Thomas schools. His wife, Diane, is a graduate of Highlands High School and the couple have three children in Fort Thomas schools.

Lisa Duckworth

Lisa Duckworth will serve as vice chair of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Board for 2018. She was elected to the board in 2012. Before joining the board, she served on the Moyer Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and the Highlands High School PTO.

Highlands Cheerleading Program Makes Mark at National Competition

The Highlands competitive cheerleading squad made the most of its time in Orlando.

Highlands took 11th out of 41 teams in the nation at the Universal Cheerleading Association championships. The squad participated in the Small Varsity Co-Ed class that allows up to 20 individuals on the mat including no more than four boys.

"We didn't quite now how we'd do when we got down here," said Carly Leopold, Highlands Head Coach. "Everyone was going down with this just being a great experience. After watching a few pre-lims (and) after we practiced on this place called the football field at the all-star resort where all the teams go to practice, we looked around and realized that we belonged there and that our skills are on par with all these other teams. 

We were just excited that our program was finally at a level that we knew that we could compete nationally."