Thursday, April 27, 2017

This Is Life, Live in Fort Thomas

Lori Valentine waves. FTM file.
This Is Life, Live aired last night on TLC. It was filmed in Fort Thomas at Fort Thomas Coffee. While the subjects weren't from Fort Thomas, the producers chose the city because the location was just what they were looking for to unveil the story line.

RELATED: National Live Television Event Filming in Fort Thomas

"The producers of the show found us online and contacted me a few weeks ago. He said he was looking for a location similar to ours and wanted a small town feel, which of course Fort Thomas is perfect for that," said Lori Valentine, owner of Fort Thomas Coffee.

As for the show itself, here's the recap.

Here's the Fort Thomas Matters Facebook Live prior to filming:

Highlands to Add Archery Next Year

Highlands is starting an archery program. 
Archery has been sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association since the 2012-13 school year.

A number of schools in Northern Kentucky have teams and the Highlands Title IX committee recently did a student survey showing a strong reason to recommend the school board approve adding it. Highlands Director of Athletics Matt Haskamp said more than 70 kids want to participate in the sport and school board member John Weyer said he does not see a reason why the board won't approve it.

Green Team Landscaping and Rotating Panels Will Complement New Signs

The sign on River Road. FTM file. 
Earlier this month the first couple city welcome signs were installed around Fort Thomas. The new signage will not only welcome residents to the City of Fort Thomas, but also inform them of up-and-coming events. With that comes landscaping and temporary panels that will change throughout the year.

There are six total slated for installation. Southbank Partners offered a $20,000 gift to the entire signage project, which offsets the overall $26,883.92 cost, City of Fort Thomas City Administrative Officer, Ron Dill, says.

Many residents are familiar with the Fort Thomas Garden Club and their work which can be seen around the city. The Fort Thomas Green Team was founded several years ago by members of the Garden Club along with others in the Fort Thomas community. "Since its beginning, the Garden Club is proud to have a representative on the Green Team committee," says Fort Thomas resident Alison Murphy, a member of Green Team. "The City oversees the Green Team." This years members of the Garden Club who are also serving on the Green Team include Murphy and Robin Lindeman.

The Green Team is an independent nonprofit organization, and it will be in charge of the landscaping around the city's new signs. Dill says the Green Team's goal is to provide enhanced green space in the community through placement of trees and landscaping. "They have participated in numerous projects since [their formation] and have been a contributing partner with our city over that time," he says.

The Green Team is an evolving organization.

"Traditionally, Green Team has focused on the Gateway Parks that beautify the entrances to our city, and more recently on smaller projects that maintain these areas or add to them," Murphy says. "There is interest within the committee to expand our efforts by creating volunteer opportunities that help beautify our city and educate citizens at the same time on good horticultural practices. We are exploring this idea with our committee, but we do not have events planned at this time."

Currently the Green Team is focused on the city's new signage landscaping. "The city has prepped the sites and will be working toward adding landscaping in the next month," Dill says. "We haven't settled on an exact landscape design but have discussed a 'pallet' of planting options. Some of the locations may warrant additional plantings, perhaps even trees, to provide a full backdrop setting."

Signage on US-27, just off I-471. FTM file. 

In addition to landscaping, several signs will include temporary, rotating panels, which will be hung below the main signs. "These will be specific to city events, i.e. Farmers' Market, summer concerts, Art Around Towne, etc.," Dill says. "They will be changeable for events and seasons." Signs that are currently slated to carry panels include the one on Memorial Parkway and the one on Grand Ave.

Enter Cathy Sonnett.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Local Business Featured on National TV Tonight

FTM File
As reported earlier today on Fort Thomas Matters, a television production studio has descended upon Fort Thomas with multiple satellite trucks and taken over the central business district to produce a “national live television event.”  Crews continue to set up in Fort Thomas Coffee, the location chosen by producers of the show, to air this live, national television program.

Fort Thomas Matters has now learned that the show will air at 10:00 pm tonight on TLC and is called “This is Life Live”.  The show promises to be an “unprecedented four night event” and to provide viewers with a “front-row seat” to watch real families from across the country experience extraordinary circumstances.

The show’s website is and it includes a short promotional video.

Fort Thomas police have all off-street parking in the immediate area around FTC closed until 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

Be sure to tune in and post your reactions to the big reveal on the FTM Facebook Page.

National Live Television Event Filming in Fort Thomas

Fort Thomas Coffee. FTM file. 
A television production studio has made its way to Fort Thomas today.

Multiple satellite trucks have ascended to the the central business district to produce a "national live television event." Crews are setting up something that will air tonight.

Gov. Bevin: Braidy Industries to Create 550 Jobs with $1.3 Billion Aluminum Rolling Mill in Eastern Kentucky

Startup producer for aerospace and automotive industries to spearhead regional revitalization

Matt Bevin at Covington's Braxton Brewery. FTM file. 
Gov. Matt Bevin and executives from Braidy Industries Inc. today announced the company will build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill and create 550 advanced manufacturing jobs in Greenup County to produce sheet and plate for the automotive and aerospace industries.

The announcement marks a turning point in bringing economic vitality to Eastern Kentucky, and comes just two days after the 53rd anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 declaration of the “War on Poverty” in Appalachia.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Bevin Joins Mark Collier on FTM Radio 

“Braidy Industries’ decision to locate in Eastern Kentucky has the potential to be as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “This $1.3 billion investment will create enormous opportunity for people in the region, and would not have been possible without our recently passed right-to-work legislation. I look forward to the success of Braidy Industries as they leverage the incredible work ethic found in Eastern Kentucky. The ripple effect of this investment will be significant and will produce positive change in the region for generations to come.”

Braidy Industries will construct a 2.5 million-square-foot aluminum mill on more than 300 acres near South Shore in Greenup County. The company expects construction to begin in early 2018, with completion in 2020. Construction will create about 1,000 jobs.

Initially, the facility will produce about 370,000 tons of aluminum per year for the automotive and aerospace industries, with opportunities to expand over time.

The average wage of workers in the new facility will be about $70,000 per year. The company will also provide low-cost healthy meals, a day care, a fitness center and other amenities to create an employee-friendly workplace.

Early cicadas coming to Fort Thomas

Some people might say that the only good thing about cicadas is that we only see them once every 17 years, however Mount St Joseph's University believes Fort Thomas may be in line for an extra visit this Spring.

According to Mount St Joe's cicada website Brood X, the main 17 year group of cicadas, isn't due until 2021. On their last visit a group of the brood hatched 4 years ahead of schedule in 2000 instead of 2004, and they believe the same may happen this year. As well as Fort Thomas, Fort Mitchell, Latonia, Taylor Mill, Covington and Florence may also see early visitors.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fort Thomas Small Business Saturday April | FTBA | Monera Chic Boutique | Diamonds & Dimples | Cobblestone Cafe | Faded Finds

Click the image to view in larger window. 
The Fort Thomas Business Association's Small Business Saturday event is this Saturday, April 29th, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The participating businesses are all conveniently located in the Highland Plaza at 654 Highland Avenue in Fort Thomas.

Businesses included in Saturday's open market are: Monera Chic Boutique, Faded Finds, Diamonds and Dimples and Cobblestone Cafe. If you've not been yet, this is the perfect opportunity to shop local and support local business owners and entrepreneurs.

Each Small Business Saturday, the participating businesses also give back 10% of sales to a local charity. This month's event will be donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Since February, the FTBA has held Small Business Saturday events to engage local residents throughout the year. In February Blue Marble Books was up 700% in sales compared to a normal Saturday. Midway Cafe Fort Thomas was up 50% in sales compared to a normal Saturday. A portion of the participating business proceeds were donated to Woodfill's Bigtop Festival.

In March Small Business Saturday participant Fort Thomas Central was up 50% and Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices was up 857% at their retail store in Fort Thomas. A portion of the participating business proceeds were donated to Highlands High School Prom to Dawn.

Please be intentional about shopping local! See you there.

Fort Thomas Schools Assistant Superintendent, Jon Stratton, To Retire

Jon Stratton. FTM file. 
Fort Thomas Independent Schools, the top district in the state, is losing another key administrator to retirement.

Jon Stratton, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, is retiring at the end of this year effective June 30. Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, announced his retirement in March. 

He told Fort Thomas Matters that after 27 years, he's ready to move onto his next adventure. 

"I'm looking forward to supporting the school system as a community member and I am confident that Fort Thomas Schools will continue to evolve on the path of educational excellence," he said. 

Stratton started his education career in 1990 in Pikeville, Kentucky as an 8th grade Social Studies teacher for six years. From there, he moved into the Guidance Counselor position at Pikeville Middle and High School before becoming Principal. He and his family, wife Penny and children Rebecca and  Ben, moved to Fort Thomas in 2002 and was hired at the Central Office in 2014.

U.S. News & World Report Names Highlands One Of America's Best High Schools

FTM file. 
Highlands High School was again named one of “America’s Best High Schools” by the recent U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best High Schools 2017” report, receiving a Gold Medal designation and ranking 273 nationally.

More than 20,400 high schools were analyzed, and the gold medal designation is awarded to the top 500 schools. Only four high schools in Kentucky earned a gold medal designation, the highest award given.

Campbell County YMCA. This is an advertisement. 
Superintendent Gene Kirchner stated, “I am excited to see that Highlands High School received a Gold Medal designation, ranking in the top 500 high schools in the nation. Congratulations to our students, staff and community.”

Schools were awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals based on state proficiency standards, how well they prepare students for college, and other factors. To produce the 2017 Best High Schools rankings, U.S. News & World Report teamed with North Carolina-based RTI International, a global nonprofit social science research firm.

RTI implemented the U.S. News comprehensive rankings methodology, which is based on these key principles: that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.

Finance Committee May Revisit Street Tax Issue

Steve Meyers asks council to reconsider the method for street repair. FTM file. 
By Robin Gee

Street repair assessments are an ongoing concern for many Fort Thomas property owners. While the practice of taxing residents of a street for improvements and repairs began in the 1920s, Fort Thomas is one of a very few Kentucky municipalities to continue to cover partial costs of road improvements in this way.

At the April city council meeting, resident Steve Meyers of Highview Drive questioned the method as outdated and inequitable. Highview Drive is one of six streets to be repaired in 2017 along with Custis Avenue, Washington Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Lilac Lane and Diana Court.

Meyers said he did not have a problem with being taxed but felt the way the tax bills were determined, according to a property’s front footage, was unfair.

“I think basing it on assessed value would be much more fair. You take the total value of the property on the street and divide that by the total expenditure. Then you divide that up according to the assessed value of each property…That’s how other city services are taxed,” Meyers said.

“In my opinion. the roads should belong to all the citizens of Fort Thomas and should be contributed to by all the citizens according to the value of their properties.”

The current method uses a combination of criteria including how much of a property’s front footage abuts the street, length and width of the street, lot size (corner lots vs. regular lots), number of intersections and curb height.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Blue Marble Spring, Summer Events | Blue Marble Books Fort Thomas

There’s something fun for everyone with book signings, Children’s Book Week, Educator Appreciation Nights, 38th Anniversary Sale, & Find Waldo Local!

Blue Marble has filled the calendar with some fun events for everyone this spring and summer! Read on to see all that we have planned.

Mindee Arnett Book Signing, Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. - Join us for a book signing with BookFest's featured author, Mindee Arnett, on Friday, April 28, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Arnett is known for her Arkwell Academy Series (The Nightmare Affair, The Nightmare Dilemma, and The Nightmare Charade) and the Avalon Series (Avalon, Proxy, and Polaris). According to her website, Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. When she’s not telling tales of magic, the supernatural, or outer space, she spends time riding horses and honing her first-person shooter gaming skills.

Children’s Book Week, Saturday, April 29 through Saturday, May 6, 2017 – Do you like inspiring a lifelong love of reading in children and teens across America? We do, too! Join us throughout the week as we celebrate children’s books and reading with various activities! Events are as follows:

Independent Bookstore Day Sidewalk Sale, Saturday, April 29, 2017 – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Join us for this celebration of independent bookstores across the nation! We’re having a sidewalk sale on books, books, and more books! Sale prices for books included in the sidewalk sale will be priced as marked.

20% OFF Book Sale, Monday, May 1 through Saturday, May 6!

Fort Thomas Jr. Football League | A Letter From the President

FTM file. 
For the past 60 years, the Fort Thomas Junior Football League (FTJFL) has been providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for the children of our community to participate in an instructional team sport.  The lessons learned through such participation have helped shape our children’s future in an impactful and positive manner.  The FTJFL looks forward to another 60 years of providing this community benefit.

The FTJFL has made a number of changes over the years.  We have started playing teams from outside of our league to give our kids a chance to face different competition, while at the same time maintaining the structure of our league.  We have increased playing time for all age groups.  We have re-instituted a college scholarship for HHS graduates that played in our league.  We took a team of 8th graders to Knoxville, Tennessee this year to play in the Battle in Rocky Top football tournament, which we plan on doing in the future.

This is an advertisement. 
The FTJFL is considering adding a division in which 2nd and 3rd graders could participate.  If there is enough interest expressed throughout the community, the league plans on starting this new division in the 2017 season.  If you have a child in this age group and would like more information, please contact Dave Simons at

Our league is always looking for responsible, committed volunteers for various duties.  As always, if you or anyone you know may be interested in coaching, contact any board member that is listed on our league website,  You do not have to have a child in the league to be a coach.  We are also looking for volunteers who would like to serve on the board or as game day supervisors.

We are continually trying to improve the experience that the players and parents have while participating in the FTJFL.  We are always open to your suggestions on how to achieve this goal.  Please do not hesitate to contact any board member on what you think will help improve the league.

Dave Simons
President, Fort Thomas Junior Football League

The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central Opens April 26, 2017

Fort Thomas Central is part of the #FTMFamily. 
The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central (3 N. Fort Thomas Avenue) opens this Wednesday with the first food truck popping up for lunch.

RELATED: New "Third-Place" To Open in Fort Thomas 

The food truck schedule at The Lawn. Click image to view larger. 
Owner, Barb Thomas, said she hopes The Lawn will create a gathering place in the center of town for folks to meet up, take a rest, enjoy pop-up food trucks, events, live music, giant Jenga, corn hole, play dates/birthday parties, outdoor seating with umbrellas and old school community fun.

"My goal is to bring community energy to the Towne Center on a daily basis," she said. "Art Around Towne, The Holiday Walk and miscellaneous small business events have helped tremendously to bring the community outside and to take advantage of our beautiful Towne Center."

The Lawn grand opening will be Friday, May 5th, 6-9 p.m.  Barney and The Howlers will be playing on the front porch. There will be food trucks, giant Jenga, corn hole and a Derby Hat Contest.  There will be plenty of outdoor seating with umbrellas, soda and water for purchase; coolers welcome.  The rain-out date will be May 6th as a backup.

Grand Opening day festivities at The Lawn. Click image to see larger. 

Police Investigating Fatal 3-Car Crash in Florence.

Photo via Brittany Clark. Reader submitted. 
A person is dead after a three vehicle crash in Boone County.

Boone County Sheriff's deputies responded to the crash on Dixie Highway, near the intersection of Totten Lane, shortly before 9:30 p.m., Saturday night.

Police say that a 1995 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Maxwell Detzel, 22, of Fort Thomas, was traveling northbound on Dixie Highway, crossed the center line at a curve in the road and hit a 2007 Dodge Magnum driven by Ernest Wright, 39, of Cincinnati.

Mr. Detzel's Camaro then continued on into the southbound lane where he also hit a 2000 Honda Civic driven by Joshua Ray, 26, of Fort Mitchell.

More Details Emerge For Farm To Fort Dinner

Tables will line the street by the Mess Hall in Fort Thomas for the Farm to Fort dinner planned for July 2. FTM file. 
As plans are falling into place for the biggest celebration Fort Thomas has seen in 50 years, local farmers are hard at work planting crops for the first ever Farm to Fort dinner that will kick off this year's Sesquicentennial on July 2 at 5:30 p.m.

RELATED: Fort Thomas' Version of Diner En Blanc 

Volunteer Courtney Shannon describes the event as a locally sourced dinner that will have guests dressed in white, sipping cocktails and nibbling on Kentucky inspired gourmet fare created by the chefs at Colonel De's.

"I can't wait for this dinner, such a special and meaningful way to start the sesquicentennial festivities," Shannon said.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

St. Thomas Preschool Receives High Rating

FTM file. 
St. Thomas Preschool in Fort Thomas has received a 5-Star rating from the Kentucky All Stars Pilot.  

The KY All Stars is the state's quality rating and improvement system serving all early care and education programs.  Participants demonstrate a commitment to providing quality care and education.

Programs are rated in the following areas: family and community engagement, staff qualifications, classroom and instructional quality and administrative and leadership practices. Under the previous program, Stars for Kids Now, St. Thomas held a 3 out of 4 Star Rating since 2011.  Under the new rating system, they were able to achieve the top 5 Star rating.

This is an advertisement. 
St. Thomas Preschool was founded in 1994 with Kim Weyer as the director/teacher.  Debbie Eberhart joined the staff as a substitute in 2010 and became the assistant in 2015.

Highlands' Walz Tapped for U.S.A. Basketball Job

Highlands alum, Jeff Walz. 
Highlands alum and Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz has been tapped to lead the USA Basketball Women's U-23 National Team, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Walz will coach the team this summer in the inaugural 2017 U-23 Four Nations Tournament, played Aug. 12-15 in Tokyo. Players on the team will be U.S. citizens who are freshmen, sophomores or juniors in college.

RELATED -- Viral Video: Jeff Walz Message To Entitlement 

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The gig is Walz's first USA Basketball head coaching assignment. As a USA assistant coach in 2014 and 2015, he helped both teams go a combined 12-0 en route to gold medals.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Top of the Tower: Local Dog Sparks Animal Rights Movement

By Stephanie Class, Imitative Reporter 

RABBIT HASH, KY -- Adam and Tina Roberts recently took a trip down to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, and visited the town's iconic General Store. “We were looking forward to seeing the rebuilt store, and to support the town,” said Tina. However, what was supposed to be a nice afternoon for the couple and their 4 year-old Border Collie, Bullwinkle, almost turned into a catastrophe.

They had spent the afternoon listening to bands performing at the store, and also were introduced to the town's mayor, Brynn. Rabbit Hash is known for electing dogs as town officials, and 3 year-old pit bull Mayor Brynn has been in office since the beginning of 2017. Bullwinkle particularly enjoyed getting to know Mayor Brynn, and spent close to an hour chasing down tennis balls with her. From Adam and Tina's perspective, the day had been rather idyllic.