Monday, May 4, 2015

A Conversation With Beverly Erschell, Famed Artist & Fort Thomas Native

Beverly Erschell in her Fort Thomas home studio. 
After entering grand double doors and walking through a tiled entry I find myself in a large, art-filled living room. The back wall is made up of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a sweeping landscape, which includes the winding Ohio River. The room breathes with artistry—that of the view and of the walls covered in large Beverly Erschell paintings. And then, of course, there's Erschell herself—effortlessly elegant in black with memorable jewelry and enviable white hair.

Born Beverly Helmbold in 1934 in Fort Thomas, Erschell—one of Cincinnati's most talented and well-received artists—resides here still today. She's prolific (she's painted thousands of pictures she says) and well-known. Her paintings have been featured in exhibitions at Weston Art Gallery, Contemporary Arts Center, and Dayton Art Institute, and her work is in the permanent collections of Cincinnati Art Museum, and many corporate and family collections. She has had solo and group shows across the United States, in Palm Beach, New York City, Chicago and Dallas. And she still paints, about four hours a day, and has a calendar filled with the life of an artist—gallery showings and requests, museum exhibits, and travel.

VIDEO: UK 'Manager Manual' Featuring Fort Thomas Native Goes Viral

Mitchell Meyer - Photo courtesy

The managers for the University of Kentucky football team created a video that is as creative as it is nostalgic (for some). The video, Managers Manual, aims at recreating the intro video of "Full House."

Veteran manager and Fort Thomas native, Mitchell Meyer, is featured in the video in one of the more clever scenes where he poses like DJ Tanner in her room. The video was picked up by CBS Sports and was linked to on, which created a viral hit.

Click here to view the video and compare it to the original intro of Full House.

Well done managers, well done.

HHS Nominated for 14 Cappies Awards Including Best Play

Cappies nominee for Best Lead Actor in a Play, Ben Justice (front, center) in a scene from the Highlands High School production of Oedipus and Antigone

Highlands High School has received 14 Cappies nominations for their fall play, Oedipus and Antigone.

Nominations include Best Play, Best Lead Actor in a Play and Best Lead Actress in a Play.

Winners will be announced at the Cappies Awards Gala which will be held on Friday, May 22 in the Procter and Gamble Hall at the Aronoff Center.

Cappies nominee for Best Lead Actress in a Play, Olivia Ulmer (left) in a scene from the Highlands High School production of Oedipus and Antigone.

Jason Burgess, Highlands High School theatre director, is excited about the nominations received for Oedipus and Anitgone.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Next Level Academy: Innovative Summer Youth Program Combines Sports and Education

This summer, Next Level Academy in Wilder, KY will be offering a unique and innovative program for kids.  The program, known as G.Y.M.M., which stands for Growing Young Minds and Muscles, is designed to be a summer-long fun and educational sports camp. Next Level’s 23,000 square foot indoor facility will give campers the opportunity to learn new skills and improve skills they already have in a fun and safe environment.

The G.YM.M. staff is dedicated to making a difference in campers lives on and off the court. Expert trainers will take the campers through a physical fitness and educational plan. Campers will get sports specific exercise and training, time for education and creativity, and the opportunity to hear from professional guest speakers on topics such as nutrition and safety.

“This program is a cost efficient way for parents to provide both sports and educational activities over the summer for their children” states Bob Arnold, owner of Next Level Academy.

A number of sports and games will be introduced to the campers throughout the summer. In addition to the traditional sports such as basketball, volleyball, and baseball, campers will get to experience, golf, futsal, obstacles courses, and even quidditch. Educational activities will include creative thinking in math, science, arts and crafts, and board games.  The camp will also allow for kids to have some educational down time.

More than ALDI on the Way: Owner Has Big Plans for Newport Plaza II

Newport Plaza II will be parceled into 3 different retailers. 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

ALDI's expansion in Northern Kentucky is good timing for the owner of Newport Plaza II, the aged shopping center at the corner of Monmouth Street and Carothers Road once anchored by a now shuttered Kmart.

Not only is ALDI adding a new location in Independence, it will also fill part of the space left behind when Kmart left. The sprawling big box will be divided into three units, with ALDI moving in first.

Gator Investments, the Miami, Florida-based owner of the site, expects two other tenants to be announced in short order as they work to re-imagine what the high profile site could become. Two leases are in negotiations, Gator's president and CEO James Goldsmith told The River City News on Friday.

"The area has improved dramatically," Goldsmith said. "The center has been 100% occupied for at least 15 years. This is what redevelopment is about. Shopping centers have a useful life and then they have to be redeveloped."

The boom of suburban-style retail offerings in Newport may have led to Kmart's demise. Goldsmith cites the Target store in Newport Pavilion, the new shopping destination next to I-471, as being at least part of what led to Kmart's departure. "Kmart was a staple in the community for thirty years and you have a changing area for the good," Goldsmith said.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fort Thomas X-Ray Tech Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Claims Worth 112k

Robert Moyer. Facebook. 
An X-ray technician from Fort Thomas has admitted in federal court to defrauding state and federal health care programs out of thousands of dollars.

On Friday, Robert Moyer pleaded guilty to health care fraud, before U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar.

According to court records, starting in June 2010 and continuing until December 2010, Moyer knowingly allowed an unlicensed individual to administer x-rays to Medicare and Medicaid patients from Kentucky and Ohio. He then falsified documentation to conceal who performed the x-ray service. Under federal law, health care benefit programs only reimburse medical professionals for services conducted by a licensed professional.

Highlands Middle School 8th Grade Goes to Washington DC (Pictures)

Photos courtesy: Vince Turner ^^^

Washington Redskins QB, Robert Griffin III, at the Holocaust Museum

Highlands Middle School SBDMC Names New Principal

Michael Howton. Provided. 
The Highlands Middle School School-Based Decision-Making Council (SBDMC) unanimously selected Michael Howton as principal of Highlands Middle School. Howton is presently principal at Mt. Healthy Junior/Senior High School.

Howton earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Northern Kentucky University and master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Cincinnati.

Beginning his educational career as a social studies teacher at Campbell County High School, Howton advanced to the position of assistant principal.  After six years at Campbell County, Howton moved to Ohio where he held the position of assistant principal and principal in schools with student populations in grades 6-12.

The SBDM Council members were very impressed with Howton and the experience he brings. Council member and teacher Rick Rafferty said, “Michael Howton is the right person to lead Highlands Middle School toward our goal of providing a world-class educational experience for all students. He is an experienced leader who cares about every student.  In addition, he is an innovator with an extensive skill set and the ability to help each teacher become more effective. Highlands Middle School has made significant strides in the past few years and, under the leadership of Mr. Howton, we are poised to take the next steps.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fort Thomas Matters Sits Down With Matt Bevin

Matt Bevin. Provided
The primary election for the Kentucky Governor is the highest profile race that will occur on May 19 this year. The Republican candidates are Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner and Will T. Scott.

Fort Thomas Matters sat down with Matt Bevin before a debate held at NKU in which Bevin, Heiner and Chris McDaniel, who represented the Comer ticket as the Lt. Governor candidate, were present. Scott did not make the trip to Highland Heights.

The interview took place the day after the CN2 televised debate, when tensions began to rise.

Fort Thomas Matters: Throughout this Governor’s race, you and the other Republican candidates haven't differed much on the issues. What are some characteristics you do not want to be associated with as a candidate? 

Matt Bevin: A flip-flopper. Somebody who will literally say whatever needs to be said based on who they’re talking to in order to curry favor with that group. It’s not a partisan thing; it’s as systemic in the Republican ranks as the Democrat ranks. It’s everything that’s wrong with the political system.

So the flip opposite of that, no pun intended, is: what have I learned and what is it that has been helpful based on this race and the last race?

Consistency. People want consistency. They want you to say if you’re for “x” that you’re really for “X” and you’re going to be for “x” even when you’re in a room full of people who believe “y.”

Recently, I don’t know if you had a chance to go when the Chamber had an event in Northern Kentucky, half the positions I took, and I obviously think that I articulated them as well or better than the others on the stage, but part of the reason I was able to do so was because I really believe those things. Now I knew for a fact that at least half the positions I took fly in the face of what the Chamber is calling for, but I believe what I believe for a reason.

I do not need or want this job badly enough to misrepresent my thinking.

FTM: But you want the job bad, right?

NKY Music Scene: The Denems, 'Greater Cincinnati's own Beatles'

By Nick Stegner

In February 1964 over 73 million people watched as the British invaded America. The invading force did not wear red coats and carry guns. They had long hair and were armed with guitars and a drum kit. On Sunday, February 9th, The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and lit a fuse that would trigger an explosion called the British Invasion. The floodgates were open and the music world would forever be changed. The Beatles paved the way for bands such as The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Animals to cross the Atlantic and join the invasion. It was The Beatles that were the main inspiration for a wave of young men to clear a spot in their parents garage and form their own band with dreams of stardom and rock-n-roll.

Adrian Belew, Dave Behle, Terry Dalhover and Robbie Workman were high school friends with such a dream and The Denems were born. 'Greater Cincinnati's Own Beatles' performed wherever and whenever they could to crowds that were infected by Beatlemania and became a local sensation.

In 1966 the boys entered Cincinnati's King Studio and recorded 3 Beatles songs and 3 originals. The songs were put on acetate. Acetates were only for a reference and not intended to be played more than a few times, The acetate comes before making the master, and allows the sound to be checked without great expense.

Eventually the music scene shifted and rock-n-roll would expand into other forms. Belew, the bands drummer, would eventually master the guitar and have a successful solo recording career and work with artists such as David Bowie, Paul Simon, King Crimson and many others. He was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Music Legends Hall of Fame in 2013.

On June 4th The Denems will have the honor of being inducted into the Northern Kentucky Music Legends and perform for the first time since 1997 when they reunited to perform at the former Peel's Palace Concert Hall that was located in Erlanger, Kentucky. The induction ceremony and concert will be held at Tower Park starting at 6 p.m.

Other inductees are Gale Watson, Landon Williams, Rick Fox, Mary Ellen Tanner, Larry Goshorn and Tim Goshorn.

Fort Thomas Deer Hunt Report (2015)

In red, eligible plots of land for hunting within city limit. 

The city of Fort Thomas 2014/2015 Program Report on Archery in Fort Thomas was presented to city council at the last council meeting. Deer-related vehicle accidents, which according to the city is the main determining factor to gauge the effectiveness of the archery program, decreased from 27 in 2013 to 19 in 2014.

5 applications to combine lots were submitted and approved, allowing more land to be used for the deer hunt.

FTM reported the results of the 2013/2014 Deer Report last year. From that article:

Fort Thomas began crafting ordinances to deal with the increasing deer population in 2007. Since then council members have come and gone, revisions and nuances of the ordinance have been enacted and countless hours of debate have occurred.

Most recently in October of 2013, council amended the ordinance once again to allow the discharge of arrows from a half-hour before sunrise to 10:00 AM and to allow owners of contiguous lots cumulatively three acres in size to combine their lots.

The other metric the city uses to gauge the effectiveness of the archery program is the aerial deer census.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flipdaddy's Newport Pavilion Open for Business

COO Ed Biery with Store Manager, Jordan Davis welcoming guests to the party. 
FTM was in attendance last night for the Flipdaddy's soft open. There are 36 beers on tap, and we attempted to try everyone one. It was a valiant effort.

I can say this without hesitation, it's going to be a success. The service, quality of food and the beer selection alone, is going to make Flipdaddy's Newport do very, very well.

COO, Ed Biery, a Newport Central Catholic product, said, "I grew up in Newport so it’s neat to come back to my roots. The burger is what sets us apart. The proprietary blend of beef, fresh buns, fresh ingredients. It’s just a better meal. We are providing an up-scale burger experience without the upscale prices.”

FTM recommends the Rise and Shine burger, pretzel bites with beer cheese and Galaxy High IPA (Madtree Brewing).

Braxton Brewing Company and Eight Ball Brewing Company were both in attendance to tap the first locally brewed kegs.

More Pictures BELOW

Bluebirds prepare for stretch run

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Joseph Martin connects with one in Tuesday's 11-5 win over Simon Kenton. Martin is batting .426 with four home runs on the season.
The Blue and White entered the baseball season with high expectations.

Highlands Named Most Challenging High School in Kentucky

Highlands was named "The Most Challenging High School in Kentucky." To see this list larger, click on the image or scroll to the link at the end of the article. 

A week after being touted as having the best middle school in the state, Highlands was named by the Washington Post as the most challenging high school in Kentucky, edging out duPont Manual in Louisville, Beechwood, South Oldham and Villa Madonna Academy in Villa Hills.

Campbell County High School, Ryle and Conner were ranked 13, 15 and 16, respectively.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, said, "We are extremely excited that Highlands has once again been recognized by the Washington Post as Kentucky's most challenging high school. This distinction serves as affirmation for one of our core beliefs within the Fort Thomas Independent Schools. That is, success begins with having high expectations for all students. It becomes reality by fostering the belief in students that they can truly achieve those expectations. This is just as much a tribute to our elementary and middle school programs as it is to Highlands. The preparation that it takes to achieve at this level begins very early for all children in Fort Thomas."
Highlands Principal Brian Robinson agrees with Kirchner's sentiments. "Encouraging a large number of students to take challenging courses and then providing the resources for them to be successful is a very important part of our strategy to ensure students are prepared for post-secondary success," he said. "We are truly blessed to have a community that supports education, students who come to school ready to learn, and teachers and faculty who are experts in their field dedicated to individual student success."  

Here is how this list was chosen, by Washington Post contributor, Jay Matthews.

1. How does the America’s Most Challenging High Schools list work?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

15 North Wood-Fired Oven Sets Opening Date in Fort Thomas

A selection of pizzas that will be offered at 15 North.

The long-awaited wood-fired-oven pizza restaurant, 15 North, has passed the final inspection hurdles and has set the opening date, according to owners Ed and Lori Gossman.

The Gossmans, who have run successful restaurant businesses previously in Washington DC, understood the challenges that location had in the past and set a plan in place to overcome those obstacles from day one. First, opening up the concept on the second floor. Second, getting the equipment right. Third, making sure that the restaurant flowed, to ensure service would be quick and professional.

"We wanted to slow it down a little. D.C. is such a fast pace way of life and so spread out," said Gossman in a previous FTM article. "Comparing Fort Thomas to there is apples to oranges. We lived 45 minutes away from the restaurant and were putting something like 50,000 on the cars every year. We wanted our kids to go to school in Fort Thomas. We love the city."

The restaurant will have Neapolitan inspired pizzas and will be more comprehensive than a pizzeria. "Especially over time after we settle in and expand our menu," said Gossman. "In addition to a multitude of craft beers we will have a concise but excellent selection of wines and a handful of classic and contemporary inspired cocktails."  

Best Furniture Gallery Evolves to Constantly Serves Community Better

Best Furniture as it was first being established.
If you’ve ever walked past Best Furniture Gallery on South Fort Thomas Avenue, you may notice its quaint appearance from the outside. The illusion of its small size ends as soon as you walk through the door. Owner Craig Reis says that this is what takes most people by surprise when they come to the store.

Fort Thomas Police Monthly Report (March 2015)

FTM file. 
Community Events:

- FTPD and the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and 1st Presbyterian Church teams up to present a public awareness program in reference to fraud. This was covered on FTM and in the Fort Thomas Living.

- Det. Adam Noe and Lt. Rich Whitford, in conjunction with area jewelers including Ft. Thomas Jewelers, assisted the Highland Heights Police Department with a program called "ID is Key." The program was initiated to combat the increase in thefts of jewelry from residents across the Northern Kentucky area.


 -Sgt. Chris Carpenter and Officers Doug Bryant and Zac Rohlfer traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica to provide tractical instruction to 182 members of the Costa Rican Police Forces - all out of their own pockets. The trio also used personal vacation time from work to volunteer their time.

“The Director of TACITA Ministries stated the level of professionalism, quality of instruction and the generosity displayed by these men was remarkable. They are certainly a credit to their department as well as to the community in which they serve,” said Police Chief Mike Daly.

- Sgt. Carpenter and Officers William Hunt, Brandon Laffin and Daniel Cropper received a thank you letter from Dayton Police Chief David Halfhill.

According to police reports, a subject entered a Dayton pharmacy and demanded methadone. The suspect was able to get away. The Fort Thomas officers arrived, set up a perimeter and were able to assist with searching and apprehending the subject.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Local High Schoolers Open Online Clothing & Accessories Boutique

Anna Steffen and Kennedy McDermott, owners of Kandid Boutique 
A high schooler's spring is busy. It's a blur of alarm clocks that ring much too early, procrastinated papers that require all-nighters, practices that push the body and relationships that test the heart. It's a time of angst and drama, first loves and first breakups, and the keen understanding that childhood is behind and adulthood awaits. Hours are dedicated to rehearsals, volunteering, projects, practices, after-school jobs, text conversations and college applications. And for two local high schoolers, this busy spring also signified something else: the launch of Kandid Boutique.

Fort Thomas Fire Department Monthly Report (March 2015)

March was National Emergency Preparedness Month and the FTFD assisted the Campbell County Office of Emergency Management by communicating with all schools for the statewide tornado drill on March 10.

In the month of March the Fort Thomas Fire Department totaled 149 responses. Of the 149 responses, 105 were EMS responses.

There were 34 fire incident responses in the month and the FTFD provided 15 mutual aid responses to neighboring communities, while Fort Thomas received help in 12 responses from other communities.