Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Highlands Grad Comes Full-Circle with Big Brothers Big Sisters Program

Kara Olson with her Little Sister, Janae.

When it comes to raising families, we've all heard the ubiquitous saying that "it takes a village." Just like real life villages, some are large, some are small, some are filled with family, and some with friends that become family. And of course, just like in actual villages, there's always room for the village idiot (not that any of us would know anything about that, right?).

For Kara Olson, her village also included a volunteer from Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Cincinnati while she was growing up in Fort Thomas. Olson currently lives and works in Pittsburgh while also attending graduate school. Her experience with BBBS has now come full circle for her as she serves as a Big Sister in Pittsburgh.

Olson first became involved with BBBS after her older brother, Bret Olson, was matched with his Big Brother in elementary school. The Olsons' father passed away when Bret was five and Kara was just two and half years old, and a neighbor suggested that they look into the BBBS program. “Mom was looking for a male influence for Bret, and BBBS sounded like a great one. After I saw the great time that Bret had, I decided it was something I wanted to do too and begged my mom to sign me up," said Olson.

Merchants and Music Committee Focuses on Family This Year

FTM file. 
The Merchants and Music Festival in Fort Thomas is about showcasing the businesses of Fort Thomas and the city that they call home.

To do that, the event has grown with new attractions, more music and bigger festivities.

But while the event centers around music and Fort Thomas' businesses, it's still about the concert goer and ultimately, the family.

Linda Slone is this year's Merchants and Music Chair. She said that every year the committee in charge of the festival attempts to make an addition to the festival and that is especially true in the festival's thirtieth year. She said she believes that a "princess meet and greet" would help bring in the crowds early to get the festival off to a strong start.
Barre3 Ft. Thomas. This is an advertisement. 

"We knew that we wanted to do add something to the Kids' Zone because that brings in the crowd early," she said. "I saw a picture of the princesses on a friend's Facebook page and knew that this is what would bring in the families early."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Memorial Parkway Bridge Opens

After 100+ days, the Memorial Parkway bridge has been reopened to through traffic. This is the turn lane heading south towards I-471. FTM file. 
A bridge restoration project on the KY 1120 (Memorial Parkway) that crosses over I-471 is finally complete after beginning construction on May 11. The project called for the bridge to be closed to traffic and pedestrians for a 60-day period between late May and August, however weather added some time onto the project.

RELATED: Memorial Parkway Bridge Project to Close for 60 Days 

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There is still one lane closed on the bridge, eastbound, but both north and south exits are open at exit 4 of I-471.

In Other Words: Public Art Encourages Us To Live Artfully

FTM file. 
Art, especially public art, improves the quality of our lives.

It makes us ponder an issue or ask questions.  It reflects the values and ideals of a community. It forces us to question our assumptions. Public art reflects how a community views the world.  And it is good for business.

So I just returned from a short vacation and I noticed something - the amount of public art - sculptures, murals, water, landscaping - and how people react to it. It enhanced our visit. It revealed something about the town or area - their attitudes and aspirations - and it made us slow down to enjoy the world.  And it was fun, informative, and provocative. Some pieces were quirky and some were majestic. I noticed people taking family photos in front of the art, people stopped to read plaques, and people talked about what some of the pieces meant. People sought it out.

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So when I came home I paid attention to what public art is in Fort Thomas - the sculpture of playing children in the the pocket park at Grand and Highland, the statue that sculptor Michael Skop created in the front yard of the family home, the student mural about water at Johnson school, sculpted pocket park gardens, a water feature on the plaza in front of the Methodist church, the clock tower in the central business district, and beautiful flowers adorning the boulevard through the center of town.  But there is room for more.

Sculpture at Grand and Highland in Fort Thomas. 

Don Pablos Closes on Newport's Riverboat Row

Don Pablos, which first opened in 1995 on Riverboat Row in Newport, closed earlier this month. 
A longtime tenant on Newport's riverfront has closed abruptly after spending decades in the same location.

Don Pablos Mexican Restaurant at 401 Riverboat Row was shut down after a record rainfall led to a fire, that forced ownership into a decision to close the restaurant.

On July 28, a record amount of rainfall fell in the early morning hours across the region causing flash floods, road closures and downed trees. Some rain gauges in northern Kentucky collected more than four inches of rainwater, according to the National Weather Service.

A company employee said that the restaurant had a leak during that heavy rainfall, which caused an electrical fire when the neon sign on the back patio facing the Ohio River went into flames.There was significant fire damage on the inside of the building, which was the major factor for the ownership group deciding to close the restaurant.

Newport City Manager, Tom Fromme, said that he wasn't sure what the restaurant's fate would be.

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Diamonds and Dimples Opens For Business

Denise and Tim Kersting. Kersting relocated her shop, Diamonds and Dimples Chic Boutique, from Bellevue's Fairfield Ave. to the Highland Plaza in Fort Thomas. FTM file. 

Diamonds and Dimples Chic Boutique is open for business at 654 Highland Avenue in the Highland Plaza in Fort Thomas.  

Owner, Denise Kersting, joins a now thriving retail center with the likes of Cobblestone Cafe, Monera Chic Boutique, Faded Finds and Monogramming and Alterations by Frances. 

Kersting moved her business from Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue and held her ribbon cutting ceremony on August 12. 

"We carry many one-of-a-kind and unique baby clothes, accessories and toys as well as specialty gifts, home decor and jewelry. We also have items from local vendors and artists," said Kersting. 

She also has unique homemade decor and signage. 

"Knowing that the Fort Thomas community is supportive of small businesses and local retail and the fact that a great deal of my customers live in Fort Thomas were two of the biggest reasons for the move," she said.  "It is close to my current location and Fort Thomas is just a great place to be. A great fit for the vision of Diamonds and Dimples."

Diamonds and Dimples Chic Boutique is now open. 

Their hours of operation are:
Tue-Thu: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Fri: 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

10 more pictures below:

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Riff Distilling Whiskey Campus Coming to Newport

A rendering of the Whiskey Campus. Provided. 

The City of Newport is expected to approve a development agreement Monday night that will bring the $7.5 million New Riff Distilling Whiskey Campus to the city's west side, where construction of a new Route 9 played a major role in attracting the project.

The project includes restoration of two historic buildings and construction of a 15-barrell high building that will be used to store the bourbon and rye whiskey being distilled by the New Riff distillery on the Newport-Bellevue city line. It will also be the catalyst for additional economic development along the rebuilt Route 9, which will provide a direct path from the AA Highway and Interstate 275 to Newport's west side and downtown, terminating at The Taylor-Southgate Bridge that connects Newport and Cincinnati.

"We are very excited to be the first major development to be announced along the rebuilt Route 9 on Newport's west side," said New Riff Distilling owner and founder Ken Lewis. "This is a beachhead project, the kind of project that will stimulate the right kind and mix of economic development that could ultimately include light manufacturing, technology, restaurants, retail and housing."

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Campbell County YMCA to Hold Free Community Party for 50th Anniversary

Fort Thomas branch to celebrating 50 Years of impact


The Campbell County YMCA, located at 1437 S. Fort Thomas Avenue, in Fort Thomas is holding a  Fiftieth Anniversary Pool Party, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., on Sunday, August 28, 2016.

This event is free and open to the community.  The anniversary celebration will feature a DJ, food, games, prizes and more for all to enjoy.

“We are honored to be a part of the rich history of the northern Kentucky community – not only Fort Thomas, but throughout Campbell and Kenton counties,” said Executive Director of the Campbell County YMCA Erin Swift.  “We look forward to fifty more years of partnerships, friendships and impact.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Story Matters Public Event is August 25, 7:00 PM at Fort Thomas Coffee

Another wonderful installment of Story Matters is ready for Thursday, August 25 at Fort Thomas Coffee. The event starts at 7:00 PM and is free.

Barbara Thomas was in the June audience and she said I enjoyed Story Matters so much that when the last story was told, I yearned for more!  Each storyteller touched my emotions and heart with the framework and details of their stories.  Their messages came across clearly, sharing inspiration in their life experience.  Thank you storytellers for sharing your stories and inspiration.  I loved Story Matters and looking forward to the next one in August!

Eric Simmons echoes her sentiment.  Storytelling connects strangers and brings people who know each other closer together. Story M
atters did exactly that. Story Matters, like all storytelling, invited listeners to get to know strangers and get to know even good friends in a new way. It wasn't confessional but beautifully illuminating.

Storytellers include - 
Teri Foltz who will recount what it’s like to be an introvert in a extrovert profession.
Justin Smith who will discuss the pitfalls and pratfalls he has faced as a parent.
Michael Clos will reveal how his life did not go as planned.
Shelly Schlarman Walsh will recount how a serious sudden illness upsets your world.
Snezana Popaja Tenhundfeld will recall what it was like being a child war refugee.
Deb Reker will tell a story about the hazards and heroes of aging.

We hope to see you there for another entertaining, revealing, thoughtful, and uplifting event.

This quilt of stories will be archived and then presented during the sesquicentennial celebration in 2017.

Highlands Cross Country Preview

Ladybirds, Bluebirds hope to reload for another title run

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, The Highlands Ladybirds celebrated their school-record fourth straight state championship last fall.
It's like a lot of their sports teams.

The Highlands Bluebird and Ladybird cross country teams tend to reload for title runs. They hope that's especially the case this fall.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Highlands-Cooper Notebook

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Nick Veneman (9) makes a key catch in the second half of the game against Cooper. That play went for 44 yards in the 52-42 Bluebird victory.
The Highlands Bluebirds football team has played in honor of deceased loved ones.

Back in 2012 on its state-record sixth straight Class 4A state championship run, the Highlands football team dedicated the season to Janet Hewling. Hewling is the late grandmother of Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich.

Highlands senior running back Jared Pulsfort is dedicating this season to his late stepfather Russell Madden. Madden served in the United States Army and lost his life in Afghanistan in 2010.

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Highlands-Cooper Game Story

Highlands outguns Cooper, 52-42

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Grant Murray (24) goes for extra yards in the season-opener while Cooper senior linebacker Bryce Leroy (15) holds on. Murray rushed 25 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 6.44 yards per touch. Highlands won the shootout, 52-42.
There was no doubt how far a win would take the Blue and White in terms of erasing last year's painful memories to open the season.

The offense looked like the balanced Highlands offenses of the past and the defense recovered three crucial fumbles as the Bluebirds outgunned the visiting Cooper Jaguars, 52-42 to open the season Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. It marked just the second-ever meeting between the two programs. Cooper beat Highlands, 37-13 pulling away in the last couple minutes in Union last year.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dramatic I-275 Crash Video Shows Baby Thrown from Car

Parents indicted, driver died in crash

Video provided. 
Authorities released dramatic video Friday showing a 7-month-old being thrown from a vehicle in a February crash.

The baby boy was in extremely critical condition following the crash on I-275 in Fort Thomas but has since recovered. He was launched from his car seat when the vehicle rolled over.

RELATED: Fatality on Fort Thomas Roadways, Police Believe Heroin to be a Factor 

His parents, Billy Jones and Amanda Thomas, were indicted Friday but have not yet been arrested, according to Fort Thomas Police Lt. Rich Whitford.

See video, article from FTM Media Partner, WCPO. 

Michael Gilliam, 48, was also ejected from the vehicle and was killed in the crash.

Toxicology reports showed Thomas and Jones were under the influence of heroin at the time of the crash, Whitford said.

During the initial crash investigation, police believed drugs were involved. Several drug needles were found in the car, officers told FTM, but it was initially unclear who the driver was.

On Friday, Whitford revealed that Gilliam was the driver of the vehicle and that all three adults were using heroin at the time of the crash.

Witnesses said the car was going fast and veered from the middle lane off the shoulder, then rolled several times. Police said the car rolled several times just after it sped from I-471 onto eastbound I-275.

Loyce Meadows Memorial

Loyce Meadows
As the Highlands High School Boys Football team prepares to kick-off the season tonight, one can’t help but reflect back on the many athletic successes the boys and girls of HHS have had over the years.  However, it was not too long ago that those successes were enjoyed only by the young men.  But thanks to the work of Loyce Meadows throughout her 32-year teaching career at HHS spanning from 1955-1987, girls were afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts.  Loyce Meadows died earlier this summer but the indelible mark she left on the community will live on.  In her honor, this Saturday August 20, a memorial service will be held at the New Hope Church in Southgate from 12-2 PM.

Meadows was featured last summer on FTM when she was the first female inducted into the Highlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a part of the inaugural class.  A fitting excerpt from that story:

“Loyce Meadows was a true pioneer for the advancement of girls’ sports at Highlands.  During her 32-year teaching career at Highlands (… she) was instrumental in getting girls involved in sports. She strengthened the Girl’s Athletic Association. (…) Th(is intramural afterschool) program included sports such as bowling, volleyball and basketball. (…) One of her goals was to promote college scholarships to young women who might not have been able to obtain a college degree.

Loyce was one of the founding members of the NKY High School Coaches Association. She served on KHSAA committees during the developmental years of adding girls’ basketball as a state recognized sport. Additionally, she was the coach for cheerleading and tennis. Loyce was the first woman to be inducted into the NKY Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame as well.”

Nancy Barre, former PE teacher in the Fort Thomas School district and long-time friend of Meadows’, said of Meadows, “I would say her biggest legacy would be her role in the promotion of girls’ sports at the high school level. She was one of the leaders to develop coaches associations for volleyball and basketball (and) helped to get basketball sanctioned at the state level through Title IX.”  Barre went on to say, “I believe that Loyce would want to be remembered as a teacher who cared for all of her students, whether an athlete or not.  Saturday would have been her 89th birthday and she was as sharp as a tack until the last week of her life. When I interviewed her for the Highlands Hall of Fame, I was amazed (at) the number of details she related about so many people. She was able to work with so many of the male coaches to get the best for her students and athletes.  Many girls at Highlands had opportunities to play intramural sports that most girls in the state did not have.”

Barre, who took over for Meadows as PE teacher in 1975 when Meadows moved over to teach Social Studies, knew Meadows since Barre was a first-grader.  Additionally, Barre had Meadows as a teacher from 7th through 12th grade during which time Meadows was also her basketball, tennis, and volleyball coach.  Later in life, she was Barre’s supervisor during Barre’s student teaching. To assume she was a major influence on Barre’s life would seem to be quite safe.  And in her death, Barre wants to ensure she is memorialized for her contributions to HHS and the Fort Thomas community.

The Memorial service will be held this Saturday from 12-2 PM at New Hope Church in Southgate. It is located on William Blatt Street across from Southgate Elementary. There will be a short service followed by a reception at the church.

Meadows’ obituary can be found here