Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Protect and Serve: Community/Police Relations in Northern Kentucky

Chief Mike Daly. FTM file. 
COVINGTON, KY – What does a healthy community/police relationship look like?  How healthy are the communities of Northern Kentucky?  These are some of the questions that will be asked as the Northern Kentucky Forum hosts an event on April 16 at the Joseph U. Meyer Center for Workforce Development in Covington, KY.

A panel of experts from across the spectrum will examine these questions in a deep dialogue about where we have been, where we are now, and where we want to go. The panel will consider such ongoing issues as minority profiling; whether local police departments are equipped to handle protests or “organized” disturbances; and what measures local police have enacted to build trust in the community. Join us for this important community discussion, made more relevant by the events in Ferguson, MO.

“While police officers certainly have a responsibility to focus on ‘enforcement,’ they also should spend considerable time and energy on ‘engagement’…transparent and authentic community engagement,” said Jeffrey Blackwell, Cincinnati Chief of Police.

Panelists will include:

Economic Development Annual Report 2014

The 2014 Merchants and Music Festival. FTM file. 
The Economic Director and Main Street Manager of Fort Thomas, Debbie Buckley, presented her annual report at the last city council meeting.

"When I am asked what makes our city so successful, I answer, 'volunteers.  Renaissance is made up of several committees of about 75 folks who give and give and give," said Buckley. "Sometimes it's a few hours and sometimes it's weeks, but they all mean a lot to the final product. We love our volunteers!"

Buckley started her presentation by mentioning to council that The Merchants and Music Festival has secured their biggest headliner to date. Bret Michaels, will be coming to the Fort on September 26. Other acts will include Brad Sparks, Josh McIntosh and Company, Britney’s Lipstick, Honey and Houston, Them Carls, What She Said, and Midnight Special. 

Main Street Reinvestment Statistics

Fort Thomas is one of 92 cities in the Commonwealth that is part of the National Main Street Program. Over the past several decades the Main Street Programs has emerged in the United States. These may be statewide or regional "coordinating programs" or "local programs." Programs determined to be "Designated" follow best-practices established by the National Main Street Center and/or statewide or regional coordinating programs.

The New Renaissance Board Chair is Brian Sand. "I've been involved with our group now for a little over a year and it's been a fantastic experience.  Fort Thomas is so lucky to have such a hard working, dedicated group of folks working to make our city a better place to work, live, and play," said Sand.

"Our group is comprised of small business owners, involved residents, and executives.  It's fantastic that we can get such a diverse group of people to volunteer their free time to make events in our town go off without a hitch.  A ton of time and hard work go into making these events possible and I'm sure it doesn't go unnoticed by the residents."

Total # of Jobs in District: 357
# of full-time jobs created: 13
# of part-time jobs created: 2
New businesses created: 7
Rehab projects completed: 3
Public improvement projects completed: 0

Fort Thomas Lions Club Continues to Serve Those in Need

When you think of the Fort Thomas chapter of the Lions Club, your first thought might be their longstanding presence behind the concession stand at the Highlands High School football games. While their concession teams have always provided local sports fans with quality snacks during events, it is actually the club's devotion to helping serve and build the community that is most prominent. This is shown best through the Lions Club's vision program. 

The Fort Thomas Lions Club and Opticare Vision Center work together to provide comprehensive eye exams and preventive care for those in need of eye care services. Dr. Keith Sellers and Dr. Josiah Young are part of Opticare Vision Center's Newport branch. Thanks to contributions from both the Lions Club and Opticare's staff, they are able to make sure that each patient's needs are met. "The Lions Club provides assistance for the exam and glasses," said Young. "We provide the glasses frames at no cost, and we perform the examination and make the glasses at a discounted rate for the Lions Club. Ultimately, the patient has no out-of-pocket expense, and receives a thorough eye exam and a nice pair of glasses." 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Abduction Still Being Investigated at Town and Country Sports & Health Club

Town & Country Sports Complex. Wilder, KY. Via NorthernKetuckyAttractions.com. 
WILDER, Ky. —Police are still investigating after a woman grabbed a 9-year-old girl Sunday evening at a sports complex in Wilder, Kentucky.

Authorities said the woman grabbed the girl about 5:45 PM as she was standing on an indoor soccer field at Town & Country Sports Complex.

The woman grabbed the girl by the arm and tried to pull her toward the exit door of the facility, police said, but the child pulled away and was not hurt.

The girl's mother was talking with a soccer coach on the field at the time of the incident, police said.
Police said the woman was described as white, with blond hair down to the middle of her neck and about 40 years old. She was wearing a long sleeve blue shirt with an oval pattern at the time of the incident.

An email from Town & Country went out to area clubs, including many in Fort Thomas. Here was the email initially sent:

From: Town & Country Sports & Health Club

To: Parents, Athletes and Coaches,

Play Series Continues at Fort Thomas Library: U.S. Women in WWII

While U.S. men who served during World War II are widely and deservedly known as "The Greatest Generation," too often the contributions of women during this period in history is overlooked.

Looking for Lilith Theatre, of Louisville, will shed light on the compelling stories of nurses, factory workers, pilots, USO performers, homemakers and others in the play What My Hands Have Touched: U.S. Women in WWII.

(Photo provided by Looking for Lilith Theatre)

The play will perform at the Carrico/Fort Thomas Library at 7 p.m. on April 17 as part of the Library's Arts & Culture Series.

The play glimpses into the hearts and minds of these female "warriors" and celebrates their contribution to the war effort while raising important questions about the realities of war.

Seating is limited to the first 300 people.

To register for this special event visit www.cc-pl.org/programs/arts-and-culture-series to register.

A Not-So-Ordinary Spring Break: Backpacking the Grand Canyon

Fort Thomas Independent Schools are on spring break this week, which for many means a staycation, a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains or, perhaps, a week at the beach. But last year, spring break for the Hahn family meant a memorable family adventure—backpacking the Grand Canyon. 

March 30, 2014 Fort Thomas residents Stephen, senior director of IT strategy and Sushannah, a Montessori teacher at Country Hills Montessori, Fort Thomas, flew out West with their then 9-year-old triplets, Sam, Maggie and Olivia. 

Here Sushannah Hahn shares just a bit of their spring break adventure—and why living a week with less amounted to so much more. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How About A Holtman's Donuts in Fort Thomas?

Holtman's Donuts. Via Twitter. 
When you drive by vacancies in Fort Thomas, do you ever remark about how you think a certain business would just be perfect there? Well here's your chance to personally woo a trendy, insanely delicious, perfect-for-this-town business to Fort Thomas.

Holtman's Donuts is looking to add it's fourth location to the area and Fort Thomas could fit the bill. But owners Danny Plazarin and Katie Willing, who are also engaged, want to hear from residents.

"Now that we have a little bit of a reputation, we want to pick a neighborhood that wants us there," Willing said.

Plazarin is the grandson of Holtman's founder Charles Holtman. Plazarin's parents, Chuck and Toni (Charles Holtman's daughter), run the Holtman's shops in Loveland, the original location that opened in 1960, and Williamsburg, which opened in 2009. They spent a lot of time scouting their location in Over-The-Rhine, but are ready to roll on their next location.

Holtman's, which has been featured on multiple national shows on The Cooking Channel, said they'd like to be in their new location by September. 

Willing expects the new location will be more than twice as big as the Vine Street store, which, at 1,200 square feet, doesn't have much room for seating. She expects the new location to be up to 3,000 square feet and employ about 25.

So here's your chance, Fort Thomas. Share this post. Visit Holtman's Facebook page here or Twitter page here and tell them, "COME TO FORT THOMAS! WE WANT YOU!"

The Old Smitty's location has street access, is bigger and is right in the heart of town. Just saying'.

The Maple Bacon Donut from Holtman's. Via Twitter. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Newport on the Levee Announces New Mobile App

Newport on the Levee announced this week the availability of its new mobile app that will enable visitors to quickly and conveniently access and follow all of the property’s events and activities throughout the year.
The trendy new mobile app as a free download for all users through either the App Store or Google Play Store.
After downloading the app, visitors may view a directory of dining and entertainment venues, view a calendar of events, stay connected to social networks, receive notifications to stay informed about activities on the Levee, and much more.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Edelweiss Academy to Open in Fort Thomas

A new business in opening in Fort Thomas. Edelweiss Academy is opened by Fort Thomas resident, Kaitlin Stephens.  The address is 960 Highland Ave, in the Highland Spring facility.  The space was formerly The Children's Garden.

Little Libraries Spring up in Campbell County

Maria Bozeman, of Fort Thomas, and her children Carden and Adelise, pick up their Little Library box
Fresh off the Kentucky Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of the tax collection methods of the local libraries (full story here), the Campbell County Library announced a new, exciting program to make books even more accessible to the Northern Kentucky residents: Little Libraries.  You may have already seen these Little Libraries and, perhaps, did not even know what you were seeing (one such “Little Library” is on West Southgate currently).  These Little Libraries are boxes built by the Library and large enough to hold around 10 books.  These “Libraries” were then sold to community members for $10 who were asked to decorate these for placement around the community.  The decorated Little Libraries will be displayed at the “BIG Kickoff for Little Libraries” community event at 6 p.m. on Friday April 17th.  In addition, a design winner will be selected from amongst these Little Libraries by a panel of judges led by Steve Pendery, County Judge/Executive, with a First prize of $50 and second prize of $25.

"We want to promote the love of reading, so supporting Little Libraries is a natural fit for us," said JC Morgan, director of the Campbell County Public Library.  "We see a lot of benefits to this program," Morgan said. "It is a great way to promote literacy in the county and enhance communities through interaction among neighbors and book discussions."

Currently, Little Libraries are available in Southgate, Bellevue, Dayton, Fort Thomas, and Newport but residents of other cities are encouraged to discuss with their city council to see if the program could work there as well.
The Campbell County Public Library built 40 Little Library boxes that were made available for $10.

The concept of these library boxes is quite simple.  A starter kit of 10 free books will be provided by the Friends of the Campbell County Library.  Residents are encouraged to grab a book and replace it with a book they’re finished reading.  If books need replenished, the Campbell County Library can provide another starter bag to fill the box back up.

Such a neat concept to promote literacy and lifelong reading.  Anyone involved in decorating one of these Little Libraries, share your design concept in the comments.  To see all the decorated Little Libraries, stop by the Newport Branch on Friday April 17th at 6 p.m.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Water Main Breaks on Crown Point

Northern Kentucky Water District Trucks were at Crown Point Thursday afternoon. This was the fourth water main break in four days in Fort Thomas. 
UPDATE: Another water main has broken on Tower Place, making it the sixth in four days. Residents on that street do not have access to water. We will continue to try and reach out for comment to the Water District.

Amy Kramer of the Northern Kentucky Water District said they isolated the valve and have taken it out of service.

"Unfortunately mechanical things have flaws. The pressure spike the we read on the meter wasn't even that significant," said Kramer. "We think we have a process in place to make sure this type of event doesn't happen again."

A water main broke Thursday afternoon on Crown Point, off of S. Fort Thomas Avenue. That brings to the total of broken water mains to five in four days in Fort Thomas.

Monday a malfunction at the water treatment plant on Memorial Parkway caused three water mains to break almost simultaneously.  

Clover Ridge at Memorial Parkway, Mel Lawn at North Fort Thomas and Green Street at South Fort Thomas all needed maintenance on Monday, with some customers not having water service for close to eight hours. 

Another main broke on Elmwood on Tuesday. 

A pump control valve malfunctioned, which created excessive water pressure. When the pressure built up, it spewed water at high rates throughout the city. Presumably the water mains that were the weakest were the ones that broke. Fort Thomas suffered broken mains because of the vicinity to the treatment plant.

SD1 is scheduled to repair the water main this summer between Bellaire and Covert Run at the same time that stretch of road will be repaved. That water main is normally one that needs repair, but it didn't suffer noticeable damage from the malfunction of the pump control valve. 

Trucks were parked at Crown Point on Thursday afternoon to repair another break. FTM file. 

Fort Thomas Band Breaks Into Local Music Scene

Break & Run

With the weekend rapidly approaching, you may find yourself trying to decide the best way to enjoy your upcoming free time. Don't worry, Fort Thomas Matters has you covered. You can go ahead and add Break & Run to your Friday night plans. 

Three out of the band's four members are currently high school students by day and aspiring rock stars by night. Lead singer and rhythm guitar player Ben Eglian, lead guitarist Justin Dean, and drummer Jeff Orne are all seniors at Highlands High School. Break & Run is rounded out by Northern Kentucky University student Sam Linkugel on the bass guitar. 

Goetz to Retire After School Year

FTISD file photo. Highlands Middle School Principal Mark Goetz recently announced his retirement effective after the school year.

Principal Mark Goetz called his time at Highlands Middle School at the end of his career "absolutely perfect."

Goetz recently announced he will retire after the school year finishes. He's been the principal there the previous four years.

Goetz served as an Air Force medic for six years before taking his first teaching job at Covington Catholic as a Chemistry teacher. From there, he became the head football coach and science teacher at Campbell County. He ultimately became the assistant principal there in addition to remaining as head football coach.

Highlands Spring Sports Roundup

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Ricky Raisor fires a pitch in last year's 9th Region championship game against Conner. Raisor is one of 13 pitchers that give the Bluebirds depth this season.
Did you know that FTM has it's own sports section? You can click below on the FTM Sports tab or just save FTMSports.com on your favorite sites.

If you're a coach, parent or fan and you'd like us to post your team's stats, accomplishments, or possibly have us cover a game, feel free to drop us a line!


Highlands Baseball Wins Opener

Birds Look Good, Shut Out Ryle to Move to 2-0

Rachel Gold: Starting Her Own Business Is Reason to Smile

Dr. Rachel Gold or Total Health Dentistry is part of the #FTMFamily. 
Dentistry runs in the family for Dr. Rachel Gold. Kind of.

What started as a nudge from her father has launched into a successful career for Gold, who owns Total Health Dentistry office on Windsor Drive in Cold Spring.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A General Assembly Rundown: What Passed and What Didn't

The Kentucky Capital. Via Kentucky Tourism. 
The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2015 session came to a close tonight after Senate and House members reached an agreement on comprehensive anti-heroin legislation and a measure to expand protective orders to include dating violence victims.

Lawmakers also gave late-night approval to a bill that will safeguard the revenue stream for the state’s road projects by limiting how far gas taxes can drop when fuel prices fall.

Bills approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor will go into effect as state law in 90 days from today’s adjournment, except for those that specify a different effective date or include an emergency clause that makes them effective as soon as they are signed into law.

Legislation approved by the 2015 General Assembly includes measures on the following topics:

Beer distributors. House Bill 168 will prevent beer distributorships from being owned by beer brewing companies. The bill is meant to affirm that beer is not exempt from the state’s three-tier system of regulating – and keeping separate – alcoholic beverage producers, distributors and retailers.

Breeders’ Cup. HB 134 will reinstate a tax break for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in Lexington this year. The legislation will waive the state’s excise tax on live pari-mutuel wagering for the event. The waiver of the pari-mutuel excise tax was reportedly worth about $750,000 the last time the event was at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Charitable gaming.  Senate Bill 33 would allow electronic versions of pull-tab Bingo tickets at charitable Bingo halls.

Child abuse. SB 102 will allow a death caused by intentional abuse to be considered first-degree manslaughter.

Child booster seats. House Bill 315 will require booster seats to be used in motor vehicles by children who are less than eight years old and are between 40 and 57 inches in height.

Crowdfunding. HB 76 will help Kentucky entrepreneurs to gain investors through crowdfunding. The bill will allow people to invest up to $10,000 through a crowdfunding platform while helping businesses raise up to $2 million.

Public Hearing for Special Street Tax on Residents

The scene last night at the public hearing for the "Special Street Repair Tax Assessment." FTM file. 
Each year a public hearing is set for residents to give feedback to Fort Thomas City Officials on their special assessment tax on residents for street repair. Back in February, the Public Works Committee adopted the repair plan for 2015. The Public Works Committee is chaired by Ken Bowman, with members Jeff Bezold and John Muller. 

This year, residents on Arlington Place, Burnet Ridge, E. Southgate, North Fort Thomas (from Bellaire to Covert Run) and Churchill Drive are being assessed an extra tax to help pay for the street repairs. About 35 residents showed up to listen and give feedback to city officials. Residents on affected streets were notified by certified mail of the public meeting and Fort Thomas Matters published the meeting time as well.

Residents are charge based upon how many linear feet their property abuts with the street on a 50% city, 50% resident cost share. Heavier trafficked streets are assessed 60/40, with the resident paying less.

This year, estimates for each streets are:
Arlington: $10.43 per foot.
Burnet: $6.72 per foot.
E. Southgate: $8.80 per foot.
N. Fort Thomas: $11.63 per foot.
Churchill: $10.57 per foot.

Kentucky General Assembly Passes Keene's DUI Interlock Bill

Dennis Keene. Twitter. 
Legislation on its way to signing by Governor Steve Beshear

The Kentucky House of Representatives voted yesterday to accept a compromise Senate Bill 133, which is a hybrid of legislation repeatedly filed by Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) and modified provisions passed by the Senate. This is the first time interlock devices will become mandatory for convicted drunk drivers in the Commonwealth.

“The final passage today of mandatory interlock legislation in Kentucky is not everything we fought for but it is a good start at keeping drunk drivers from operating a vehicle and saving families from the devastation caused by drunk driving crashes,” said Rep. Keene.  “Legislating is about working together and sometimes includes compromise.  While we will never compromise on saving lives, SB133 opens the door to a new way of combating the problem of driving while intoxicated.  The use of interlock devices is proven to save lives and I feel confident we are on the right path for Kentucky’s citizens.”

For six years Dennis Keene has been working on this important life-saving legislation.   Senate Bill 133 will require individuals convicted of repeated drunk driving offenses to install an ignition interlock device, which would test the operators breath for alcohol before allowing the engine to start without any cost to the taxpayers. MADD, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Anheuser Busch, AAA and other groups support mandatory interlock laws.  First time offenders will be required to install interlock devices only if there are aggravating circumstances, some of which include having a child in the car, driving 30 miles over the speed limit, or causing injury to another individual.  The interlock devices are paid for by the convicted offender, at no cost to the taxpayers.

Representative Dennis Keene nearly lost his daughter Kelly Keene Jones in a drunk driving accident in 2002.  She required three subsequent surgeries in order to overcome her injuries and now Kelly is an outspoken advocate for tougher DUI laws.

The legislation includes a provision for indigent funding which was a point of contention during previous legislative sessions.

As a result of the federal highway bill (MAP-21) passed by Congress in 2012, by enacting the proposal included in HB 60, Kentucky would qualify each year for approximately $300,000 in interlock incentive grant funds from the federal government.  Twenty-four states have passed  all-offender ignition interlock laws.

According to Robyn Robertson of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada, “Ignition interlock devices are designed to protect the public by incapacitating drunk drivers. Evaluation of interlock use shows a 35-90% recidivism, with an average of 64%,” said Ms. Robertson.

“The cost of the alcohol interlock device is about $3-4 a day or about the cost of a drink or about the cost of a gallon of gas,” Robertson said.  “There will be no cost to the Kentucky taxpayers if the program is enacted; all costs are borne by the convicted offenders.”

According to MADD, ignition interlock devices are proven to save lives.  “States with all-offender interlock laws have been a reduction in drunk driving deaths of up to 45 percent, according,” according to the MADD website.

Press Release. 

Representative Dennis Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District since 2005 and is the chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, Vice Chairman of Economic Development, Vice Chairman on the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and a member of the Banking & Insurance Committee.  Keene is a small business owner and an economic development advisor for EGC Construction. 

Senses Alive: A Night at The Art House

By Megan Krieg 

Here is a little history about Fort Thomas’ very own Art House. A leap of faith was taken, a lot of hard work, integrity, ingenuous planning, and networking was taking place. Lots of anticipation from our community, and then a beautiful old brick house on top of a hill overlooking the backbone of central Fort Thomas had been thoughtfully and creatively transformed into a “home” for all artists and artists..a “home” for our community. If you have not yet been to the Art House, take that leap of faith. Walk in the door and you will be welcomed by the humble and much inspiring Parrish Monk, owner of the Art House.

And wait until you meet his beautiful and dynamic wife Sharahn. I was drawn to her beautiful spirit with our first handshake. Parrish might encourage you to read a book, take a look, drink a hot cup of coffee or tea. He will make you feel at home in the Art House.

He might want to know about you, your ambitions and your passions. He will also sense if you just want to visit quietly. Among his many qualities is his great business sense, artistic expression, as well as a great business bedside manner. Undeniably, you will be drawn to the many artistic treasures and escapes The Art House has to offer its community.

The mission of the Art House is to provide access to the arts and art opportunities for established, independent, emerging and aspiring artists and artisans. To better explain, The Art House will zestfully and personally assist independent artists and artisans in achieving their individual success! 

Parrish created the Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Business Incubator (INKAA). INKAA focuses on community arts as well as the empowerment and success of independent artists and artisans in different stages of their business. You can find out more about INKAA at www.INKAAcollaborative.org.

Do you know that feeling? When you wake up groggy in the early morning, waiting impatiently for your much anticipated and needed coffee to brew? You wait, you take a deep breath, you listen for the drip, drip, dripping, into the pot. Then your body begins to relax and your senses take over. The smell, the first small sip from your steaming hot mug. It’s invigorating. That first sip of steaming hot coffee in the morning is what I think of when I remember first visit stepping into the beautiful foyer at the Art House. My senses were awakened, I relaxed the moment I walked in the door, and I felt completely invigorated!

But more than anything, what I first took away from my first visit is what something I knew little about. I knew the Art House had amazing art classes, yoga, cool gifts and creations. I now would like to share The Art House’s other assets.