Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fire Department Annual Report highlights

Children at St. Thomas school learn about fire trucks and fire safety.

 

by Robin Gee

 
Fire Chief Mark Bailey presented the Fort Thomas Fire Department Annual Report for 2016 at the April City Council meeting. After expressing deep gratitude for his relationships with city officials and staff, he opened with praise for the men and women of the fire department, some of whom attended to hear his presentation. 

"I have 18 of the best firefighters and EMS in northern Kentucky, no doubt, hands down, they do it day in and day out. They are the best," Bailey said.  

Here are some highlights from the Fire Department Annual Report, which is available on the Fire Department website. 

The year in review

The number of runs the Fire Department handled for 2016 was down slightly from the year before. The department went on 1,768 runs in 2016 compared to 1,942 in 2015.
  
The annual report gives a detailed summary of fire and EMS service each month including the number of responses, drills and staff hours. In addition to responding to calls, the fire service provides safety education throughout the community and participates in a number of trainings each year. 

City Council Roundup: Legislator report, VA homes, police news and a special proclamation

Kentucky State Senator Wil Schroder

by Robin Gee

Zoning changes for the VA homes project, dispatch center upgrade funding, visioning plans and street assessments were among projects addressed at the May 15 Fort Thomas City Council meeting.

Kentucky State Senator Wil Schroder also addressed council with a brief report on the last legislative session, and council honored a special local couple who have contributed much to the community over the years. 

Legislator’s report

Senator Schroder addressed council with a brief report on the most recent state legislative session.

He noted that 793 bills were filed and 202 bills were passed by both chambers this session and highlighted a few he felt would have the strongest impact on the community.

Repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law led his list. The law had required that wages and benefits paid for construction of state and locally funded public projects reflect an average hourly wage set by the state for a specific area. By repealing the law, state-funded projects would no longer be subject to prevailing wage.

Schroder, who was in favor of the repeal, said the move can result in significant cost savings for municipalities. He cited a recent highway project in Fort Mitchell that came in $75,000 under the initial estimate due to the reduction in wage costs.

Senate Bill 104 also passed the legislature. The bill makes adjustments to an existing pension reform bill passed in 2013 aimed at cracking down on a practice known as “spiking” of state pensions. Because pension amounts are based on the highest earning years, some employees work overtime to boost earnings and their pensions in the last years. To combat the practice, caps are set on earnings that can be counted in the final pension formula.

Highlands Track, Field, Tennis Recap

Ladybirds Take Fifth in 2A State Meet

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands finished fifth in the Class 2A state meet this past Friday. The Ladybirds mile relay team finished first.
The Highlands track and field teams expected to go through some retooling years.

The Ladybirds still managed to finish fifth in the Class 2A state meet at the University of Kentucky on Friday with 46 points and the Bluebirds took 11th with 17 points. The Ladybirds finished 14 points behind state runner-up John Hardin. Boyle County repeated as 2A girls state champs with 87 points and Mercer County won the boys with 113 points.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fort Thomas Couple Celebrate 60 Years With Family and Community

Bonnie and Jerry Jansen at their Fort Thomas home.

by Robin Gee

About 60 years ago at a home in Fort Thomas, college student Jerry Jansen sat his parents down and confessed a secret. He had been married to his true love for four months. Only a few miles away, a young woman about to graduate from Holmes High School was making the same confession to her parents. She was now Mrs. Bonnie Jansen.

It started innocently enough. Jerry met Bonnie in the youth group at the Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington. They had been dating awhile, but it was getting hard to travel home from college to see her. They were destined to be together so why not make it official? The couple decided the solution would be to get married.

After they got over the initial shock, family members gave the impetuous young couple two to three years tops. Yet Jerry and Bonnie defied the odds. Three children, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren later, the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary on May 18, 2017.

Despite the dour predictions, says Bonnie, "Our love just grew and when the kids came, the love grew with them."

Fort Thomas Mayor Eric Haas proclaimed the day as Jerry and Bonnie Jansen Day in honor of the anniversary and the couple’s long legacy of community service, including their role in the creation and care of the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum.

Deep roots and a strong work ethic


NKY Women’s Outpost Summer Speaker Series

 JoAnn Cornett, Nickie Hornsby, Paige Durst-Snell, Deedee McGraw; back row:  Dottie Dunn, Rhonda Vasseur, Rose Anne Bertram, Cheryl Raso, Bonnie Lackey. Provided. 
“Reviving The Hearts of Women” is the focus of this year’s annual summer series.  This interdenominational Christian Ministry welcomes women to come and enjoy six Monday evenings in June and July, from 6:45 – 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Festival Schedule is Jammed with Fun Activities

FTM file. 

There are so many events happening this week.  Please keep an eye on the city's website, Fort Thomas Matters, the City’s Facebook page, and the Tour Buddy smartphone app for updates on all the events.  We also need a lot of volunteers.  Please find your favorite event and sign up. We are always open to new ideas. Contact Linda Slone 859-750-9532.  www.fortthomas.org  www.fortthomasmatters.org   Thank you!

Volunteer Sign-Up: The festival needs lots of volunteers to make everything run smoothly. You can visit this site to sign up for volunteer slots. You can do this on your phone or laptop. Copy and paste this link.  http://signup.com/go/XMsYOyK

Sunday, July 2: Fundraising Party

9:00 AM: Old Fort Trail Challenge.
Want to celebrate the Sesquicentennial with a challenge?  Are you one of the many people who love Fort Thomas for how walker and runner friendly it is? Are you the outdoors type?  If so, why not walk right off the sidewalks and into the beautiful forests of Fort Thomas by participating in the Old Fort Trail Challenge. The challenge is to hike all of the Tower Park trails (as laid out on a map) all in one day. Check-points will be located throughout the trail system where participants can stamp their maps and read a sign to learn a little bit about Fort Thomas history.  Not sure if you can hike the whole trail system? Don't worry, just hike what you can.  Hikers who do complete all of the trails can return their stamped map and receive a badge of completion. This event will take place on Sunday, July 2 from 9:00 am until noon. There is a $20.00 entry fee per family that includes one t-shirt. Additional t-shirts can be bought for an additional $15.00 fee.This event is sponsored by the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy and all proceeds will go toward protecting the forests in Fort Thomas. You must register by June 21 in order to receive the t-shirt. Take the challenge and sign up today at www.ftfc.org. Or contact Trisha Schoeder at trident@fuse.net or 859-441-2661.

5:30 PM: Farm to Fort White on White Fundraising Dinner.  
*This is ticketed affair. 

Pre-Sesquicentennial Checklist. Do This Now To Have Fun Later

FTM file. 

Things are heating up for the big 150th celebration this July. Here are a few things that you can do now to prior to the Sesquicentennial:

Family Photo Cakewalk: Location - Mess Hall.   Reserve a 3’ x 5’ space. Families, businesses, clubs, and churches can display their personal histories in Fort Thomas offering another type of photographic view of the city’s development. Contact photocakewalk@gmail.com to reserve space(s) for your family, business, church, club, or non-profit to showcase your individual history. Whether you have lived in town 6 generations or 6 months, all are welcome.  Cost: $100. Benefits the General Thomas Statue.

Fort Thomas App:- Download the Fort Thomas guide from Tour Buddy from iTunes or Google Play store. You will find an events guide, historic tours, and special information for the week long festival. Go to Tour Buddy. Download the app. Search for Fort Thomas, KY.  The app is free.

Photo Contest Display: Location - Mess Hall. See all of the submissions and winners that capture the Spirit of Fort Thomas. Contact spiritoffortthomas@gmail.com. All photos will be displayed in the Mess Hall and first place entries win cash awards. Posters are all over town.

Sesquicentennial Book Club: Location - Carrico Public Library.  Join in a lively book discussion of Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas by Benson Bobrick. There are 2 opportunities for discussion: Thursday, June 29 at 2 PM: Friday, June 30 at 10:30 AM and 7 PM. Reserve your place by emailing Lanita Boyd at ThomasBookDiscussions@gmail.com.

Volunteer Sign-Up: The festival needs lots of volunteers to make everything run smoothly. You can visit this site to sign up for volunteer slots. You can do this on your phone or laptop. Copy and paste this link.  http://signup.com/go/XMsYOyK

Student Essay Contest: The Art and Scholarship Department of Fort Thomas Woman’s Club is sponsoring an essay contest on “What Fort Thomas Means to Me” for the Sesquicentennial (150th) celebration.  The essay must be at least 100 words but no longer than 500 words.  Attach a cover sheet that includes name, address, phone number, and birthday or age.  Mail it to the Fort Thomas Woman’s Club, P O Box 75073, Fort Thomas, KY 410754. Entries must be submitted no later than Thursday, May 26, 2017.  Winners will receive a monetary gift from the Woman’s Club and will be the City’s honored guest riding in a convertible in the 4th of July Parade.  Winning speeches will be read during the Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Pet Mayor Essay Contest: Answer one of these prompts, “What my pet means to me” or “What my pet has done that is wonderful or heroic” and you could be have the next Pet Mayor. Submit essays to Pet Wants at petwantsft@gmail.com or drop off at 1118 S. Ft. Thomas Ave by July 1.

Calling All Veterans.  We want to recruit YOU to be honored in our Independence Day Parade.  To sign up, call Sean Donelan at 859-572-1243.  The dedication of Veterans Way will take place immediately after the parade and will include a photo of all military and veterans as part of the dedication.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Longtime Johnson Elementary School Teacher Retires in Style

Lisa Bowman and Nick Behymer. FTM file. 

Today was the last day of the 2016-2017 school year and with it also brought the last day for many teachers and administrators in the district who have filed their retirement paperwork.

RELATED: LIST: Here's Who'll Retire This Year from Fort Thomas Independent 

One of those educators was longtime Johnson Elementary kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lisa Bowman. The school helped commemorate her last day by wearing flamingos, her signature symbol of happiness.

She finishes her career, having taught for 26 years, all but one in Fort Thomas Schools.

"She has dedicated her life to teaching," said Mandy Gallenstein Haigis, Bowman's daughter.

"I have seen her dedication to her kids over the years. Johnson is her second family. Growing up I strived to be like my mom, the hard work, the dedication, the love she had for her job. She loves what she does, and it shows year after year with the lives she has changed."

Bowman teaches kindergarten now, but started out as a teacher assistant while earning her degree and raising her two children. She did her student teaching at Woodfill and after one year out of district, came back to Johnson, where she has been ever since.

Aside from kindergarten, she's also taught first, second and third grades.

Many parents and colleagues sent their well-wishes to Fort Thomas Matters for publication:

Caketown Funk






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Congratulations to the Class of 2017! 




Southgate Working on Permanent Beverly Hills Memorial


Today, Southgate Mayor Jim Hamberg and Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery jointly released the following statement regarding the site of the Beverly Hills Supper Club and the 40th anniversary of the fire that destroyed it.

“May 28, 1977, is a date many in Southgate, Campbell County, Northern Kentucky, and Greater Cincinnati will not soon forget. Forty years ago this month, the Beverly Hills Supper Club burned and took 165 souls in a tragedy that ranks as the seventh deadliest public assembly or nightclub fire in U.S. history, the third worst and most recent of such nightclub fires.

In the decades that have gone by, the tragedy of that night has left its indelible mark on many more lives than just the ones that were lost—or almost lost—and those that loved them. Every community in our region helped as they could. The communities of Southgate and Fort Thomas, particularly, were in deep shock but rushed to provide aid to those in need. And since that day many Mays ago, scores of fire safety regulations that have been developed can trace their genesis to aspects of the Beverly building itself and the evacuation effort that night, which have been instrumental in preventing other disasters.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools List of Retirees

FTM file. 
Here's a list of the district's retirees this year.

Certified Staff
Gene Kirchner
Jon Stratton
Lisa Bowman
Theresa Bradley
Anne Klei
Kathleen Lemmons
Melissa McGraw
Judith Manning

Highlands High School Announces 2017 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

FTM file. 
The Highlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee is excited to announce the members of the 2017 Class.

Inductees are Nancy Barre, James Burt, Richard Grover, Robert Herfel, Robert Luecke, Joseph Ross, Cindy Schlarman Graves, Melissa Slone, Roger Walz and Bernie Sadosky.

The Team of Distinction is the 1968 Football Team.

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The 2017 Class members will be recognized on September 15, at the homecoming football game versus Lexington Catholic High School, and will be honored at a Hall of Fame banquet on September 17.

NKY Chamber Hires Gene Kirchner as Sr. Vice President and Chief Operating Officer


Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, has landed his next job.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce announced today that Kirchner has been hired as Sr. Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He will join the Chamber upon his retirement from Fort Thomas Schools on June 30.

“I’m thrilled to have Gene on board. I have known him for about 30 years, and it will be fun to work with him,” said Trey Grayson, President & CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber. “His commitment to excellence, innovative leadership experiences, and his passion for our community and the Chamber make him a tremendous addition to our team.” 

Kick Off the 150th With the Old Fort Trail Challenge


Want to celebrate the Sesquicentennial with a challenge?  Are you one of the many people who love Fort Thomas for how walker and runner friendly it is? Are you the outdoors type?

If so, why not walk right off the sidewalks and into the beautiful forests of Fort Thomas by participating in the Old Fort Trail Challenge sponsored by the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy.  The challenge is to hike all of the Tower Park trails (as detailed on a map) all in one day.  Check-points will be located throughout the trail system where participants can stamp their maps and read a sign to learn a little bit about Fort Thomas history.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Overcoming The Stigma Of Mental Illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 
Trevor Steinhauser learn to overcome their feelings of guilt and shame regarding their disease. / Image: Brian Planalp
By Brian Planalp 

"It was like getting introduced to myself for the first time,” says Trevor Steinhauser, 39, of Fort Thomas. “It was the best moment of my life.”

That moment came in 2015 following a meaningful stay at Lindner Center of HOPE, the Mason-based mental health treatment center. There he received a diagnostic assessment and preliminary treatment plan for substance abuse. But if substance abuse was Steinhauser’s most dire problem, it was far from his only one.

THE STIGMA

Steinhauser is married and has three children. He has a successful career, an engaging smile, and a “give back” attitude. You would hardly know from speaking to him that for most of his life he labored under a patchwork of diagnoses covering mania, night terrors, anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity.

One cause was apparent to him long before his visit to the center: his numerous and lifelong incidents of head trauma, which increased his susceptibility to substance abuse. But as those who’ve weathered mental illness know, pinpointing causes is only a first step—and often a painful one.
Indeed, what followed for Steinhauser was a persecutory drift through the question of whether this was who he really was or whether, had things gone differently, he might’ve been someone else. Such is the Schrödinger's Cat of mental illness, a quagmire of guilt, shame, and defeatism that prevents those who need treatment from seeking it because they fear being stigmatized by family and friends as just another druggie who doesn’t deserve their attention.

For Steinhauser the fear was unfounded. It was his sister who came to his rescue following a particularly serious episode of drug abuse in 2015, and it was his sister who implored him to seek treatment. Steinhauser agreed, and just days later he walked through the Lindner Center doors ready to change.

THE TREATMENT

Fort Thomas Resident Joe Schwerling Is Selling Several of His Properties

Joe Schwerling recently sold one of his many properties to the Haas brothers, and plans to sell two more in the next few years.

Meet Joe Schwerling. He attends almost every single Fort Thomas city council meeting. He calls Duke to tell them when street lights are out. He loves the color orange. And he's a collector of properties in Fort Thomas—one of which was just demolished after he recently sold it to Lan Haas and Ryan Haas, sons of Mayor Eric Haas.

Schwerling's purchases look like a well-played game of Monopoly, as they're all on the corner of Mayfield and Highland Ave.

It started in 1980, when Schwerling bought the duplex at 9 Mayfield for his twin sister to move into. Four years later he bought the house next door from an elderly gentleman, "who was younger than I am now," Schwerling says, laughing. The following year he bought the two houses next to it on Highland Ave. And then he bought the tudor house next to the duplex on Mayfield. (He also owns the house his parents built in 1955 on Holiday Lane.)

Demolition of 117 Highland has already begun.

The Haas brothers purchased 117 Highland. Its lot went all the way back to one of Schwerling's houses on Mayfield. Last year Schwerling sold another one of his houses, a Victorian, which he renovated in 2011. But when he did so, he carved off the back part of its lot, which adjoins the park, 600 feet back. This made it possible to do two adjoining lots for the Haas brothers, so they could build one house up front and another behind the Victorian.

Lan, Emma, Katie and Ben Haas. 
Ryan, Kate and Mason Haas.
The demolition at 117 Highland has already begun. "My brother and I purchased the property with plans to build two new houses on the lot," Lan Haas says. "We worked with the city in order to create a flag lot behind the current house and the current demo site will hold the other house. We are excited to be able to beautify this area and have a great location to raise our families."


While the red brick was a 1960s addition, Joe Schwerling estimates the older portion of 117 Highland to have been 170 years old.

Schwerling says selling his properties doesn't necessarily make him sad, except for the fact that he wasn't able to finish what he tried to do. "I had been planning and stockpiling materials, windows and doors, to renovate the old part of the house [117 Highland], which is older than the City of Fort Thomas," he says. "I estimated it to be about 170 years old, whereas the red brick portion was added in the 1960s. I decided that it was too much for me to take on the renovation."

Schwerling gave away most of the windows and doors to a combination of Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, Hosea (who is doing the demolition) and Building Value.
Call Ashley Barlow for your legal needs. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 

"Now I'm going to concentrate on renovating my three that are on Mayfield," Schwerling says.

His first project? Replacement garages on at least two, maybe all three, because they're difficult to access. "I'm going to concentrate on the exterior improvements that are going to make them match the houses that are going to be next door and the Victorian," Schwerling says.

This is another one of Schwerling's properties on Highland, next door to the recently demolished house.

Schwerling owns a total of four houses now, and plans to sell two of them in the next year or two, once he has them in a good condition to sell, he says.

About those city council meetings? "I just like to keep track of what's going on," Schwerling. "I'll put in my two cents worth every now." 

And the color orange? Schwerling's birthday is near Halloween, so it's always been one of his favorite colors. "It was just a hobby that I took on about 15 years ago. It makes people smile and I just like the color orange. It simplifies thing."

And people do take notice, and smile. In 2014, when outgoing city council member Tom Lampe was giving gifts, he gave one to Schwerling—an orange.

Here you can see two videos of the demolition of 117 Highland Ave.:

video


video


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Family Bravely Plans for a Summer Without Swim Club Memberships


The Nicholson family will once again be forced to spend the summer outside the fence of the Fort Thomas Swim Club. Cynthia and Craig Nicholson were looking forward to spending the summer with their twin daughters, Anabel and Amelia, enjoying the Swim Club's pool and grounds. Sadly, their dreams have been shattered. 

The family didn't make the cut for membership, and will remain on the waiting list for at least another year.  "It's my kids I'm really worried about," said Cynthia. "I just don't want them going back to school in August and feeling shunned because they weren't at the Swim Club this summer."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

FOX 19: Newport police chief: 'Bullets were flying in my direction' while responding to call

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV
Courtesy Fox 19. 

Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said bullets were flying toward his direction when he responded to a “shots fired” called Friday overnight.

It happened in the 600 block of Monmouth in the parking lot of Brass Bull and Huddles Bar around 2:30 a.m.

“The bullets were flying right in the direction I’m standing in now,” Collins said from the parking lot in the back of the business.

He reported at least five or six shots fired coming from the back of Orchard alley.

“I was concerned that I was going to get shot,” Collins said.

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