Friday, November 17, 2017

Camp Springs Resident Files to Run for Campbell County Judge Executive

Anna Zinkhon, a Republican from Camp Springs, has filed to run for Judge Executive of Campbell County.

She will challenge longtime incumbent, Steve Pendery (R-Fort Thomas), who was first elected as Campbell County Judge Executive in 1998. Pendery has filed a letter of intent with the County Clerk's office and Fort Thomas Matters has confirmed that he will indeed seek reelection.

A primary election will take place in May on 2018.

Zinkhon is an elected member of Campbell County Fire District One.

"I have decided to run for Campbell County Judge Executive because I want to contribute to the success of our county," she said. "I believe more regular working people need to get involved with our government.  As a country, we were the first people to create a Government for the People, By the People and to have many points of views and various walks of life so that all of the people would be fairly represented.  

"I want to run a campaign that is focused on listening and learning to what the people need."

Zinkhon has been one of the leading voices of opposition to the Northern Kentucky Sanitation District #1's decision to construct a pressurized raw sewer pipeline to run from Silver Grove through Camp Springs Valley along Owl Creek and Four Mile Creek. (SD1) began plans to address sewer overflows in 2008. According to the non-profit, Preserve and Protect Camp Springs, residents first learned of the proposed plans in 2010 and the first public hearing was held in 2013.

Zinkhon, and others, have battled the fiscal court and sanitation district because they believed the design for the pipeline chosen will lead to the destruction of their historic and agricultural community in Campbell County and that cleaner and more cost effective measures could be taken.

With the backing of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency binding federal consent decree requiring SD1 to improve water quality, SD1 believes the route through Camp Springs is the most efficient, cost-effective way to spend the money of the rate payers of SD1.

Santa House is Coming TONIGHT

You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry- but feel free to shout because Santa House is coming to town.  This weekend, November 17 and 18, Ruth Moyer Elementary will hold its annual holiday-themed fundraiser, the Santa House, at the Armory in Fort Thomas Tower Park.  Featured at Santa House, which has been a Fort Thomas holiday tradition for more than 40 years, will be numerous children’s games, great food, shopping and silent auctions for adults, and, of course, Santa Clause himself.  The event will run from 6-9 pm on Friday and 10 am-3 pm on Saturday.

Santa House moved to the Armory from Moyer Elementary a few years ago due to the ongoing construction at Moyer and will be held at the Armory again this year. Returning are the favorites including the excellent holiday craft boutique called the Mistletoe Market and the Children’s Gift Shop where fifth grade “elves” help younger children shop in secret for their family members.  What better way for you and your little ones to buy holiday gifts than at a store where 100% of the proceeds go to funding many of the “extras” that make the public school cutting edge?

Additionally, the silent auction will return with some incredible auction items including a Disney-themed basket that includes a one-day park hopper pass for a family of 4, a family pass to the YMCA, date night getaways, an Ultimate Air Shuttle getaway to Charlotte, NC, and art tickets that include The Children's Theater, Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theater, the CSO, and the Ballet. Also, the committee will be auctioning off Santa’s chair which has been used in Santa House for nearly 30 years.

For children, there will be games, bounce houses, gaga pit, and a prize wheel.  Game tickets are $1 each.  Food this year will be catered by Lother’s Catering in the North Pole Café and Blitzen’s Bakery will be selling all the sweet treats!  And of course, Santa Clause himself will be on-site and taking pictures with the children; for $5, you can get a framed photo of your child with Santa.
All proceeds benefit Ruth Moyer Elementary.  Last year, Santa House raised more than $63,000 and with it, the PTO was able to provide a technology grant to the school to support digital conversion and purchase glass marker boards for the classrooms. In other years, this event has funded playground equipment, Kentucky Kid’s Day, smart boards, and Success Maker Lab, items that may not be fully funded by the district without the work of the PTO.

Christy Pfetzer along with Cory Ruschman Santa House event co-chairs, said, “Santa House is unlike anything else in the area and we are proud to call it ours. This is truly an event for the entire family. Our Christmas themed festival has been a part of our community for 40+ years.”

So bring your children to meet Santa, your friends to shop for unique, one-of-a-kind Christmas crafts, or come alone to enjoy all the fun this fundraiser has to offer.  After all, you wouldn’t want to end up on Santa’s Naughty List!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

WATCH: Throwback Thursday Highlands vs. Cov Cath: "The Mud Bowl"

Highlands fans may not want to remember this Throwback Thursday memory, but it's a memorable one, nonetheless. Now, thanks to YouTube, you can watch it in its entirety.

The 1997 season ended in disappointing fashion for the defending state champion Bluebirds, as the team was upset at home, 41-35 (2OT), by Covington Catholic in the state Class AAA regional final playoff game.  Covington Catholic went on to win the Class AAA title in 1997.  This game was later dubbed the "Mud Bowl" on account of the terrible field conditions during the game.

RELATED: READ More at the most comprehensive Highlands Football site. 

Prior to the loss in the regional final game, HHS was undefeated in the state of Kentucky, losing only to Cincinnati Moeller 21-20 during the regular season.  Highlands was the favorite to win Class AAA heading into the playoffs.  Wide receiver Randy Stegman broke the state record for the most touchdown catches in a game, catching five against Simon Kenton.  The team finished with an 11-2 record, was district champion and NKAC champion.

Northern Kentucky Designated “Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail” Tourism Attraction

The dynamic Northern Kentucky region, home to many unique attractions and accommodations, is the newest official gateway to the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventures, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced today.

Adam Johnson, Senior Director of the KDA’s KBT™ experiences, said Northern Kentucky is home to five burgeoning craft distilleries and a major corridor for thousands of Bourbon visitors looking to sample the state’s signature spirit.

“This charming, thriving region showcases an exceptional mix of Bourbon history and urban innovation,” Johnson said.  “This partnership is a great way to capture the energy this region is generating not only in new distilleries but in bars, restaurants and events.”

The area already boasts three stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour — New Riff Distilling in Newport; Boone County Distilling near Independence; and Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville – as well as Second Sight Distillery in Ludlow and Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta.

In addition, the region features many popular venues including Newport on Levee, a vibrant waterfront dining and entertainment district, and Riverfront Commons, an 11.5-mile biking & walking trail that links all of the region’s river cities.

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“We are delighted and honored to be included as an Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for meetNKY in Northern Kentucky.

Fort Thomas Resident Celebrates Ten Years of Restaurant Success

PHOTO: The Food Hussy

Milford’s award winning restaurant, 20 Brix celebrates a milestone with their 10 year anniversary.

Fort Thomas resident, Hunter Thomas, opened 20 Brix in November of 2007 in historic Milford as the area’s first Restaurant, Wine Bar and Wine Retail Shop. 20 Brix was among the new wave of businesses that opened and began the downtown Milford's renaissance.

“Things were starting to happen down here back then,” he said. "There was excitement amongst the merchants and locals to do more. A lot of people had great ideas and a real desire to breathe life back into downtown and it’s been great to be a part of that.” 

In Fort Thomas, a similar undertaking is starting to occur as residents are taking the economic development bull by the horns.

RELATED: Work Is Underway to Help Revitalize the Central Business District in Fort Thomas 

Thomas equates much of the success of the downtown area to its proximity to three neighborhoods of Milford, Terrace Park and Indian Hill.

Fort Thomas Home Lands Role in Hollywood Thriller

The Brofft's former house on Elsmar Avenue (FTM file)

Hollywood film crews have become a somewhat regular sight in Northern Kentucky this year. Robert Redford, Casey Affleck and Danny Glover spent some time in Newport. John Travolta filmed his latest in the area and local actors like Nathaniel Sizemore picked up roles. This Sunday, the latest Hollywood movie to come to the area will be even closer to home, as "Haunt", produced by Eli Roth (Hostel, Inglorious Basterds) and written and directed by up and coming duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, will be filming in Fort Thomas. The V.A. hospital will have a starring role as a college campus and a house on Elsmar Avenue will play a major part in the finale.

Highlands Football Senior Accomplishments

Bluebirds Double Last Year's Win Total

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highland senior Nick Biltz (77) pursues Oldham County quarterback Erix Edwards (14) in the first round of the playoffs. Biltz is one of 25 seniors on this year's team.
The 25 seniors for the Highlands Bluebirds football team have seen the program dip like stocks and bonds do in the market.

But the hope is the seniors look back on the season as one that saw the start of the program's rise back to greatness. During their four years of high school, Highlands finished 30-24 with two district championships, two region championships and a state championship.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fort Thomas Company Creates "Game Changing" App

OMEGA Processing Solutions Releases Online Proposal and Application Solution

Todd McHugh and Scott Anderson. 

To say that a significant milestone was reached this month at OMEGA Processing Solutions would be an understatement.

“It is with a great deal of pride, humility and thankfulness to all involved that I announce that the first-ever merchant application electronic signature application was submitted, using the OMEGAlife online,"  announced OMEGA President, Todd McHugh.

In development for just five short months, OMEGAlife is a URL-based, tablet-enabled solution for OMEGA Account Executives to create real-time pricing proposals and deliver electronically signed merchant applications without paper, faxing, scanning or email. OMEGA partnered with Gaslight, a Cincinnati-based, experienced and agile software development firm, in the development and production of the application.

In addition to reducing errors and approval time, the OMEGAlife app also provides enhanced security features. Merchant application information is entered into the tablet device, encrypted and securely transmitted to servers protected by the industry’s most current data encryption software. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS), which governs the handling of data by all entities within the payment processing industry, is followed throughout the entire process. The result is a faster, more accurate and more secure merchant application process.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to refine and enhance this ‘game changing’ application in order to cement OMEGA’s status at the forefront of the payments industry and as a company that others strive to become,” continued Mr. McHugh.

For more information and a demonstration of the OMEGAlife application, please contact OMEGA Processing Solutions.

Work Is Underway To Reopen Restaurant at 15 N. Fort Thomas

Dan Gorman, the man behind the Hiland Building, the properties at 20 Grand and more, has teamed up with Fort Thomas resident and attorney David Meyer, to reopen a restaurant at 15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue—possibly by the end of the year. 

Meyer, his wife (Jenny) and their three daughters (two are students at Highlands High School and one is a student Highlands Middle School) live a half mile from the restaurant. Every time a restaurant would close (past concepts have included 15 North Pizza, Mio's, Pergola and Warner's Restaurant), Meyer would lament the fact that they were no longer within walking distance to such a great community gathering spot—especially the large patio during the warmer months.

Located across from this building in the Hiland Building, 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 
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The building, once a stately home, was not designed to be a restaurant. Past owners have tried to use the layout sensibly, but the kitchen is on a separate floor from the dining room. Trays of food have to be navigated up a narrow stairway. Flow, often paramount to a restaurant’s success, is a constant issue.

Still, Gorman and Meyer are determined to not let the building sit vacant, and they hope doing something with it will help revive the city’s central business district in the same way the Midway district has recently.

“It’s really exciting to see what’s happening with the Midway district right now,” Gorman says. 

“I think that has a lot of positive momentum because a few people took chances. I think the Midway Café has made a huge difference, having some new ownership in there and a lot of energy. They did a nice job with repositioning and the energy that they brought has caused more business to come to the whole district. I think that’s the reason why people are willing to take the chance on the other two buildings [1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Ave.] that are under construction.”

Restaurants, in particular, are key to any city’s success and Gorman hopes the reopening of 15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, no matter the concept, gives the central business district some momentum and movement in terms of filling vacant properties and seriously considering redevelopment further down the road. 

“What I want to see is that everybody comes together,” Gorman says. “The citizens, the business owners and the city, and they recognize that there’s crazy amounts of economic development being made with our neighbors in Covington, Newport, Bellevue and Dayton. The more they do and the less we do, the more it hurts us. And so, the more difficult it is for our local businesses that are here to thrive. I think they will survive, because they are really smart business owners and they’ll figure it out. 

But it would be nice if they could just really thrive.”

To thrive, Gorman says the central business district needs a lot more critical mass. “If we only have two to three businesses that are open and we have a lot of empty space, it makes it more difficult for existing businesses to thrive,” Gorman says. “So I would love nothing more than to see a really aggressive plan that would involve some redevelopment of the central business district.”

Gorman and Meyer have only had their hands on the building at 15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue for about three weeks. Meyer and his family have spent nearly every waking moment, when not at work and school, cleaning and painting the property, and taking inventory of what they have to work with. They have no plans to do a huge kitchen renovation. They’re optimistically cautious, being careful with spending in order to ensure success.

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Currently there’s no fryer, grill or stove—but there is a large brick oven, which the owners of 15 North Pizza installed. The brick oven is now a permanent fixture of the restaurant, as the building’s structure was changed to bring it in. Without other equipment, any food they make will need to be something that can be cooked in a brick oven. To open quickly—within a few weeks—Meyer says they can serve pizzas, with possibly a few smaller items, such as soups and salads.

A liquor license takes time, so if they do open quickly, alcohol won’t be on the menu—at first. But Meyer and Gorman have also considered the possibility of renting the property out through the first of the year. Folks could bring in their own alcohol and caterers, and use the space for parties and events, popular during the holiday months.

Because the property has sat vacant for almost a year, preparing the property to reopen does take time. “I’d like to get it open as soon as possible, but it’s not just flipping a light switch,” Meyer says.

Meyer and his wife, Jenny, have a combined 20-year history of working in the restaurant business, including service, management, financials, work flow and staffing. They, along with Gorman, plan to consult with people who live in Fort Thomas to figure out how, exactly, to make this property, with all its difficulties in work flow and space, succeed.

“I think that if Fort Thomas doesn’t do something, and our neighbors keep doing stuff, that it’s really not going to be good for our town,” Gorman says. “I feel like we just need to do something and I think the sooner we do it the better.”

And this then circles us back to folks like Gorman and Meyer. Folks who are attending meetings, strategizing and investing, and folks who, along with his family, are up late at night, washing walls, sweeping floors and painting trim. So if you drive by 15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue and see a light in the window, know that there are people out there trying to bring it back to life, just as there are people out there trying to see our city—and those who own businesses in it—not just survive, but thrive. 

Only then, do we all win.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

OPINION: GOP's Pension Plan Goal Is Division

"United we stand.  Divided we fall" is how the opinion piece submitted by Republican leadership on pensions was ended.  Division is exactly what they were looking for while drafting that bill.

Taking KTRS to the woodshed while not touching hazardous employees' plan was a plan to pit police and fire against teachers.  Making the changes to the legislative and judicial pension plan was to pit voter versus legislator because there wasn't going to be a Democratic legislator that was going to vote for this bill as written.  That was going to be used to hold over every NAY voter's head that they weren't willing to fix the broken system.

In my opinion this was a very partisan bill drafted in such a way to continue to divide.

To the leadership's dismay, it did the exact opposite and unified a state.  Rallies and town halls were held across the state in support of our public sector employees and in solidarity with our most precious commodities: teachers, firemen and women, and police men and women.  Now that bill doesn't have the votes to even get debated in the House.  There has been way too much partisan policy crammed through since the "new majority" has taken over.  It goes to show how a unified, informed populace can change what goes on in Frankfort and that your vote does count!

Jason Kilmer
Candidate for State Representative District 68

State Budget Director Calls for Cavanaugh Macdonald to Redo KTRS Pension Bill Analysis

State Budget Director John Chilton will call upon Cavanaugh Macdonald to redo its analysis of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) pension bill utilizing a more appropriate set of assumptions for comparative purposes.

Cavanaugh Macdonald’s initial analysis of the current pension proposal uses assumptions that are very different from those in its annual valuation reports, including significant changes in retirement patterns and an investment return assumption very different from the rate recently approved by the TRS Board. The request for the recalculation recognizes that there will be certain assumption changes based upon the pension proposal, but the changes by Cavanaugh MacDonald regarding assumed investment returns and future retirement patterns were significant departures from those used in prior valuations.

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Furthermore, while the statutes require a 20-year analysis, the State Budget Director will request the analysis be extended to 30 years so that the long-term effects of the pension proposal can be modeled within the 30-year amortization period contained within the legislation.

“The actuarial assumptions in Cavanaugh Macdonald’s most recent report are significantly different from those in the actuarial calculations provided to our consultants during the planning process," said State Budget Director John Chilton.

Public Pension Oversight Board co-chair Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, asks for further explanation about the ramifications on the state’s upcoming budget if a pension reform bill is not passed this year (LRC, 11-2-17). 
"In the past, a lack of realistic and rational actuarial assumptions helped obscure the distressed financial status of the plans and contributed to the long-term unsustainability of the plans. We will ask Cavanaugh Macdonald to prepare calculations with several alternative assumptions so that policy makers can make informed decisions based on scenarios that include realistic assumptions and that are satisfactorily reconciled with those that Cavanaugh Macdonald provided in the past.”

Newport Museum Opens in City's Former African-American Southgate Street School

Southgate Street School Building.

The former Southgate Street School in Newport (behind the Hofbrauhaus) was the only African-American school in Campbell County but is now the new home for the Newport History Museum at the Southgate Street School.  An African-American chapter of the Masonic Lodge owns the building and continues to meet on the second floor.

The first floor is being transformed into the museum. And it has a lot of fascinating history to tell. Scott Clark, the Newport Historic Preservation Officer, will serve as the museum’s Executive Director and guide it through its development.

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Clark says that the purpose of the museum is to highlight “the diverse nature of all of Newport history, but because this building was built and operated an an African-American school and operated by an African-American Masonic Lodge, we consider this to be one of our greatest architectural artifacts. We want to highlight race relations, sin city days, and the historic preservation in the area. We are excited about the prospect.” The lodge still meets upstairs and will retain ownership of the building.

For some time the city has been looking for a building for its museum and everything just fell into place for this building to regain its prominence. The exterior facade will be restored and repainted as part of the agreement with the developers of the Fourth Street School site. The first room in the Southgate School was the original space for the classroom and served two grades. Another room served two other grades. Those are being developed for exhibits.

Graduate students from the public history program at NKU took on the project and designed the initial exhibits. The most striking is a hologram video.  Caroline Winstel worked on the hologram project with technical guidance from Dave Killen and a student from the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati to produce an interpretation of what it would be like to be a student in the 6th grade at the Southgate Street School. It is one of the first exhibits that you will see in the museum. The video’s host “acts like a docent,” says graduate student Caroline Winstel, “for the school and the city.” Clark says, “You’ll get goosebumps from what she says. She transports you to the classrooms.” 

Some of the graduate students pose with Dr. Brian Hackett. 
Other NKU programs - business and public relations -  have taken on the project to provide service and learning opportunities for their departments. “It’s a wonderful collaboration with NKU,” Clark says.

The back room of the museum will be a public meeting space that will hold about twenty or so around one large conference table donated by the Carnegie Center of Newport.

Professor Brian Hackett supervised the Public History students as they researched and developed all of the exhibitions.  Caitlyn Dirksen, grad student from Franklin, Tennessee says, “It was cool to learn the vast history of Newport.” To underscore the degree of student involvement, Caroline Winstel says that, “We were involved in writing the collections policy and grants.” 

One of the highlights for Scott Clark is “To me, it’s the aspect of the building as a witness and testament to history and change.” To commemorate the event Rolf Monuments created a new cornerstone.

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The museum is “still in the building stage. We want people to see what is here and the potential. We will be on the East Row Christmas Tour,” Clark says.

Clark says, “A building is just brick and stone but it’s people who bring life to the buildings.” And that is what the museum is about. Stop by.See what life was like then.  It’s the only building on the cobblestone lane behind Hofbrauhaus on Southgate Street.

Admission is free and open most days.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Senate Republicans Announce New Committee Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen

Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) has been named the new chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education. The Committee’s former chairman, Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) relinquished his chairmanship when he was elected to Senate Leadership earlier this year as the Majority Caucus Whip. Senator Steve West (R-Paris) has assumed Senator Wise’s previous role as the vice-chairman of the Education Committee.

“These new changes to chairmanships and vice-chairmanships in our caucus are a result of adding Senator Mike Wilson to our leadership team,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said. “We are fortunate in the Senate Majority Caucus to have such a deep bench of competent legislators to step up and take on new challenges for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I am certain that each new chairman and vice-chairman possesses the skills and work ethic to lead their committees effectively.”

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Highlands dance team hosts princess and superhero breakfast for Fort Thomas children

By Lexie Crawford, Highlands freshman

“I want to meet them all!” said Abigail, elated, at the princess and superhero breakfast Saturday morning at Woodfill Elementary School.

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For the past several years, the Highlands varsity dance team has hosted this breakfast as a fundraiser for trips, costumes, and other expenses that arise over the year. Juniors and seniors on the team dress up as Disney princesses, while a few male friends of theirs dress up as superheroes. During and before breakfast, provided by Top This Donut Bar, Chick-Fil-A, and parents on the team, the princesses and superheroes walk around meeting and talking to the children, signing their autograph books, and taking pictures.

Elizabeth Pulsfort said, “We came after we got a flyer from Belladance. Plus, we’ve come several years already. It’s just a great event to support the local dance team.” 

After the families eat breakfast, the dance team members show off their skills on stage. The children enjoy seeing this, because not only do they get to listen to some of their favorite Disney songs, but they also have the thrill of seeing the characters they believe to be real, dance.

Katie Buecker, senior at HHS, said, “This is a really awesome thing to do because you get to see all these kids’ faces light up, and they really believe you are these princesses and superheroes. It’s really fun to be in character and see them having such a good time!”

LISTEN: Mayor Eric Haas speaks on his near fatal heart attack

Podcast Sponsor: Omega Processing Solutions


Topics: Fort Thomas mayor, Eric Haas, suffered a heart attack on October 8 while at his lake house. He talked about that almost tragic event, as well as FC Cincinnati coming to Newport and the city of Fort Thomas' visioning efforts.

RELATED: Mayor Eric Haas Suffers Heart Attack

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Highlands-South Oldham Game Story

CRESTWOOD - The end of this one felt similar to the losses against Lexington Catholic (21-18) and Simon Kenton (35-31).

The Highlands Bluebirds led the District 3 champion South Oldham Dragons (10-1) late in the fourth quarter. But the Dragons rallied to win 35-34 ending the Highlands season in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday.

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