Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Opinion: Using Local Taxes For Charter Schools Is a Bad Idea

Brent Cooper. 
By Brent Cooper

If you have a kid in the Fort Thomas Independent School district, or live in Fort Thomas, I hope you will take a close look at Kentucky’s House Bill 520.  Let me explain why.

Fort Thomas schools are the hub of our community.  

When test scores come out, we share them with each other online.

When there are sporting events, choir performances, school plays, etc., the entire community shows up.  In Fort Thomas, you don’t just see one parent at school, you often see both.  And it isn’t unusual to see both sets of Grandparents, the church pastor, and the closest neighbors!

Having arguably the best school system in Kentucky didn’t happen by accident.  We invested to make it happen. 

Despite our success, the State of Kentucky doesn’t treat us very well.

Battling Heroin in Fort Thomas | What's Being Found On Those Arrested

Map of opioid-related arrests in NKY. NK Health Dept. 
Fort Thomas Matters is committed to shining a light on the fight against heroin in our community. To that end, we will be highlighting information that we have obtained from Fort Thomas Police reports that demonstrate who is being arrested in the community, where they are from, what they are being arrested for and with.

We will look for trends before culminating the coverage into a podcast with law enforcement officials, where we'll discuss the trends that they are seeing and how they are dealing with the increasing trend of opioid addiction.

This series is merely meant to shed light on statistics. We will try to make sense of that and analyze those numbers during the podcast with officials.

The first part of this Battling Heroin in Fort Thomas series looked at how many individuals have been arrested within the confines of 41075 and where they are from.

These next statistics will demonstrate the trends on what type of paraphernalia is being found when stops lead to arrests. There were 142 items confiscated directly from arrests in 2016, up 31% from 2015 and 273% from 2014.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Highlands High School Names New Boys Soccer Head Coach

Chad Niedert. 
Highlands High School has selected Chad Niedert as the new boys soccer head coach. Niedert is a mathematics teacher at HHS as well as the HHS boys soccer assistant coach for the past two years.

Previously, Chad was the boys soccer head coach at North Oldham High School where he took his team to the state quarter finals. Chad has a vast knowledge of the game and played collegiately at Xavier University.
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No Pass - No Drive Law

Steve Franzen. 
By Campbell County Attorney, Steve Franzen 

In 2007, the Kentucky Legislature passed “The No Pass/No Drive” law requiring sixteen (16) and seventeen (17) year old students to meet sufficient academic and attendance standards to maintain their driver’s license or learners permits. Any family that has had a teenager recently apply for a first time learners permit has seen this requirement because a school compliance verification form must be completed by the school before the permit is issued.

A student is deemed to be non-compliant and to have his or her license or permit revoked if either they have had nine or more unexcused absences, including suspensions, during a semester or not passing at least 66% of his or her classes.

In Other Words: A Nod to the Past With an Eye on the Future.

Prather's Sears kit home on Tremont Avenue
Many times we don’t even realize we’re looking at history because we live right in the middle of it.  For example, we may see The Vallonia,  Alhambra, Magnolia, Clyde, Westly, Bellewood, Sheffield,  and Brentwood around us and not even know it. What are they?

They are all names for specific Sears kit homes. Yes, that Sears.

From the early 1900’s to around 1940, Sears sold thousands of kit homes across the country. They were affordable, stylish, and well built. The styles ranged from simple to moderate to elaborate. Everything was shipped on a train to the owner - the frame, windows, the trim, cabinets, fixtures, plumbing, electric, nails, everything. All the owner or builder had to do was follow the instructions.

There are dozens of Sears kit homes in Fort Thomas. Dozens. Hiding in plain sight. But we don’t recognize then because there were so many different styles and some have been modified over the years and we se them as common stock.

Sears home owner and enthusiast, Don Prather, says, “They just loaded them up on train cars and shipped them all over the country.”  Don took me on a Sears home tour around town one afternoon. I was amazed at how many there are. His grandfather was a builder and realtor in Fort Thomas in the early Twentieth Century.

The Sears heyday for kit homes just happened to coincide with the expansion of Fort Thomas in the early Twentieth Century.  The city was near a major rail line, land was reasonably priced, and people wanted affordable housing.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Studio Root Skin Care | Skin Care Northern Kentucky | Brow Shaping Northern Kentucky

Studio Root Skin Care is part of the FTM Family. 
Tami Root is one of the area's most sought-after estheticians. With more than 30 years of experience in the beauty industry she has twice been voted "Best of the City" by Cincinnati Magazine for her spa services. 

Tami has spent years studying skin care and has developed a fun and easy way of classifying skin types. In addition to customized treatments, Tami takes the time to educate clients, teaching everyone from pre-teens to older adults on how to properly care for their skin. Tami's approach has earned her the admiration and loyalty of longtime clients—women and men—many of whom she now calls friends.

Testimonials of Two Local Clients:

Johnson Elementary Students Donate Wax Museum Proceeds

Johnson 4th-graders present a check in the amount of $536.85 to Make-A-Wish Foundation representative Rebecca Dykstra.  
A Fort Thomas elementary school is doing their part to helping build the city's namesake statue and giving back to a charity that helps terminally ill children.

Johnson Elementary 4th-grade students raised $1,073.70 with their annual Kentucky history wax museum project.  Money collected through donations received during the wax museum presentations were split  between the George H. Thomas statue fund and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

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At the January 3 Fort Thomas City Council meeting, Fort Thomas resident, Bob Heil, spoke about the statue of General Thomas that he has undertaken on behalf of the city.

RELATED: Planning Underway for 150th Celebration in Fort Thomas

"We're going to finally honor our namesake in a very public way," he said.

Originally, there were hopes to have the statue completed by July of 2017, but he said that the creation is about a two and a half year process.  The sculpture is being created by Matt Langford, a passionate local artist who has researched General Thomas thoroughly and who has created other works.
Johnson 4th-graders present a check in the amount of $536.85 to Fort Thomas 150th Celebration committee representatives  Debbie Buckley and Bob Heil.  The committee is heading the George H. Thomas statue fund.

The estimated cost is $150,000, and the location has been determined to be part of the Midway Streetscape project.  The goal is to raise $100,000 in a private fundraiser.  Any donor who contributes $10,000 will receive a limited edition smaller (12 inches tall) bronze sculpted replica of the full size version of General Thomas.

Heil asked Council if they would be willing to put up the first $10,000 for the statue.

H/R Real Estate Acquires Property on Monmouth Street in Newport For Headquarters

Clay Horan and Adam Rosenhagen in front of their new building they purchased to host H/R Real Estate headquarters. FTM file. 
An emerging northern Kentucky real estate brokerage has closed on the sale of a building for their new headquarters in Newport.

H/R real estate partners, Clay Horan and Adam Rosenhagen bought 920 Monmouth Street earlier this month for $175,000. It is a 2,400 square foot single-story commercial store front located next door to the Newport City Building, Police and Fire Department.

The building has some history.

The building was previously occupied by Intelligent Phone Systems most recently, but prior to that during Newport's Sin City Years, the building was home to The Top Hat - a small bar and musical venue.

Previously, Horan and Rosenhagen were working out of the Vennefron Signs Building at 2106 Monmouth Street in Newport.

"The location and the city's focus on development fits well with the overall vision we have for our brokerage," said Rosenhagen.

Fort Thomas Business Association Kicks Off Small Business Saturday Movement Throughout the Year

Small Business Saturday is popping up on Saturday, February 25. 

Everyone is familiar with Small Business Saturday in November. This Saturday the Fort Thomas Business Association (FTBA) is kicking off a monthly #ShopLocal movement that allows you to give back to the Fort Thomas community in so many ways.

Blue Marble Books and Midway Cafe are teaming up to support the #ShopLocal movement and give back to its community with 10 percent of sales benefitting Woodfill Elementary's Big Top Festival.

"We make an effort to promote Small Business Saturday every November, but it’s simply not enough anymore," says Mark Collier, FTBA treasurer. "Look around on N. Fort Thomas Avenue right now. 'For Sale' and 'For Rent' signs are too prevalent. We must take it into our hands to help these small businesses not just survive, but thrive. Without that intentional effort to 'shop small' we’ll never break this reputation that Fort Thomas unfortunately has of not supporting the businesses that call Fort Thomas home."

This is where YOU come in.

This Saturday, February 25, stop by both locations. You must shop at both locations in order for the proceeds to go towards the Big Top Festival. It doesn't matter which store you shop at first. Customers will receive a ticket to present to the second location to guarantee donations. Buy a book or two at Blue Marble and grab lunch at Midway—it's the easy, and perfect for the entire family.

"Midway is thrilled to be a part of the kick off of Fort Thomas Small Business Saturday," says Erika Kraus, FTBA vice president and Midway co-owner. "Being able to partner up with other local businesses including ones without store fronts, to give back to Woodfill Elementary, seems to be a perfect fit all around. By supporting Fort Thomas Small Business Saturday we make Fort Thomas a destination, keep money in our local community, and encourage entrepreneurship. Fort Thomas is a family. We have to always support our own first.”

Both locations will also be offering special events to celebrate the kick off. They include:
• Storytime at Blue Marble Books at 11:30 a.m.
• Acoustic music by Ky Myle at The Midway Cafe 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
• Pop-Up Shop LuLaRow presented by Amy Goshorn at The Midway Cafe 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"One of the great things about Small Business Saturday is that it functions as a reminder to the community that local businesses are here and that we need our community's support if we're going to continue to thrive," says Tanya Bartlett, Blue Marble Books' digital marketing and media specialist. "In rolling out a Small Business Saturday event each month, our goal is to certainly remind community members that we're here, but we also want to advance the idea—in this case with Blue Marble and Midway Cafe donating 10 percent of our day's sales to Woodfill Elementary's Big Top Festival—that we also support our community. It's a win-win idea."

Drew Schwegman, FTBA's president, will be at both locations Saturday. "I'm looking foward to supporting Blue Marble and  Midway Cafe on February 25, and hope this is the first of many Small Business Saturdays," he says.

Blue Marble Books (1356 S. Fort Thomas Ave.) will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Midway Cafe (1017 S. Fort Thomas Ave.) will be open 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. 

"We are so lucky to live in a community that supports schools," says Loryl Haggard, president of Woodfill Elementary's PTO. "Small businesses have consistently provided us with donations, silent auction items and support so that our children have access to fantastic technology, experiences and educational opportunities. We were thrilled to learn that Blue Marble Books and Midway Cafe chose to support Woodfill's Big Top Festival as the kick off of Fort Thomas Small Business Saturday." 

And Ashley Winburn, Big Top Festival chair, says that just as they chose to support us, we need to support them. 

"We hope the entire Woodfill community shows its support Saturday by visiting both locations, and giving back to the community that has given so much to us," she says.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Tiniest Church In The World Is Located Right Here In NKY

Via Thomas More College. 
Do you know the story about the little church in Crestview Hills by Thomas More College? Our friends at Only In Your State, take a look:

If you’re fascinated by history, religion, or both, then you’ve got to check out this church on a college campus in northern Kentucky. In 1922, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not dubbed it “the Smallest Church in the World.” It looks like something you would find in the hills of Scotland, not Kentucky, which makes it all the more captivating. Continue reading to find out more about Monte Casino Chapel.

Monte Casino Chapel is located on the campus of Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, not far from Cincinnati. You can find it sitting next to a small lake off of Turkey Foot Road.

Fort Thomas Developers Present Business Plan to Planning Commission

Kyle Stevie presents his development plan for the two Midway district properties he and his partner, Chris Reid, recently acquired. FTM file. 
On Wednesday, February 15, a public hearing was held in front of the Planning Commission of Fort Thomas to review the business development plan for Fort Thomas developers, Chris Reid and Kyle Stevie.  The neighbors and business partners recently acquired 1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Avenue, which had been problem properties in the Midway business district for years.

RELATED: Midway District Properties Sold To Fort Thomas Developers

We learned more about the developers' plans for the building as the commission reviewed items like parking, noise levels, acceptable uses for potential tenants and how the new tenants would fit into the already tight-quartered Midway Central Business District.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Highlands Ranked Top 100 Public High School in the Nation

Highlands High School. FTM file. 
Another year, another national ranking for Highlands High School.

TheBestSchools.Org has ranked the Bluebirds as the 74th best public school in America, checking in ten spots before the only other Kentucky school in the top 100, duPont Manual.

Wyoming High School in Cincinnati also made the list at #48.

Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, said he was thrilled with the news.

Highlands Quarterback Will Play in College

Brady Gosney., FTM file. 
Highlands High School football player Brady Gosney will sign a letter of intent to play football at Hanover College.

The signing will be held at 3 p.m. today, in the Media Center at Highlands High School.

Brady is a two-year letterman who was awarded Offensive MVP his senior year and was also All-NKAC.
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Fort Thomas Church Becomes Haven For The Deaf Community

ASL Interpretation is now offered at Grace Fellowship Church. Photo courtesy of GF Church
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 36 million adults suffer some type of hearing impairment while 2-3 children out of 1,000 are born deaf or have some degree of hearing loss.

In the United States alone, as many as 2 million of these deaf individuals are unable to listen to church sermons or speak with members of their congregation.

Pastor Peter LaRuffa of Grace Fellowship Church in Fort Thomas remembers one day spotting a mother trying to sign to her young daughter during church service.

Hulafrog "Most Loved" Awards Are Announced

Congratulations to the Northern Kentucky Hulafrog "Most Loved" Winners. Categories ranged from Most Loved Book Store (The Blue Marble) to the Most Loved Preschool (Bluebird Christian Preschool).

Parents voted between Jan 6-Feb 3 on their faves, and these 25 came out on top.

See the full list here. 

Hulafrog is national website with local affiliates that connects parents to local events and businesses in their community as well as to each other.

Ladybirds Move On

Highlands turns attention to Beechwood

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands sophomore Ashley Hayes grabs a rebound in a game earlier this year against Dayton.
It had not even been 24 hours since the lopsided defeat, but the Blue and White seemed as determined as ever to improve before the regular season concludes Friday at the end of Tuesday's practice.

Many teams fall apart after a loss like Highlands suffered in a 73-30 defeat to the Simon Kenton Lady Pioneers in Fort Thomas on Monday. That marked the biggest defeat since Jaime Walz-Richey became the head coach of the Ladybirds basketball team in 2002. The previous high had been a 42-point loss, 71-29 to Notre Dame in Park Hills on Feb, 24, 2005.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kentucky Shatters Export Record at $29.24 Billion in 2016

Aerospace, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals remain state’s top exports
Gov. Matt Bevin touring Denyo America in Danville, KY. 
Kentucky’s exports broke an all-time record in 2016 with $29.24 billion in goods and services shipped abroad from the Commonwealth, a 5.8-percent increase from 2015, Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced.

Aerospace products and parts led all categories with more than $10.85 billion in goods exported internationally, an increase of more than 24 percent over 2015. Kentucky ranked second nationally for 2016 in aerospace-related exports.

“Kentucky is headed in the right direction and the business community is taking notice. This new record is unequivocal proof of our positive trajectory,” said Gov. Bevin. “As we improve our business climate, global demand for our brands and expertise continues to grow, attracting new companies while at the same time strengthening existing partnerships. Together, we are moving forward. The economic future in Kentucky is very bright, indeed!”

Overall, the state’s 2016 exports increased $1.6 billion over the 2015 total. That placed Kentucky eighth among all U.S. states by percentage increase, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division and WISERTrade.

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Battling Heroin in Fort Thomas | Where Are They From?

Police incident reports data shows an increase in all drug related incidents over the last five years. In 2015, there were 7,216 incidents with 66.3% being drug related; heroin was involved in 23.1% of drug-related incidents. In 2011, one in ten drug incidents involved opioids; in 2015, one in four drug incidents were opioid related (3).

Fort Thomas Matters is committed to shining a light on the fight against heroin in our community. To that end, we will be highlighting information that we have obtained that demonstrates who is being arrested in the community, where they are from, what they are being arrested for and with.

We will look for trends before culminating the coverage into a podcast, where we'll discuss the trends with local law enforcement.

The first part of this series, which we are titling Battling Heroin in Fort Thomas, will look at how many individuals have been arrested and where they are from.

As expected with the introduction of a heroin-only detail aligned on the interstates surrounding Fort Thomas known as the Heroin-Interdiction-Team (H.I.T.), heroin-related arrests were up.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Police Sets Up Dedicated Heroin-Interdiction Team

There were 111 total arrests in 2016, up 28% from 2015.

Message from Fort Thomas Jr. Football League President

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.

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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