Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resource on LinkedIn for Fort Thomas Professionals

Some friends have created a group on LinkedIn for those professionals that live in Fort Thomas to network, share ideas, and possibly share business. You may be familiar with the old adage that all business is local - this group is trying to capitalize on that.

For those of you who are not familiar with LinkedIn it is a social network (a la Facebook) for professionals. You can post a quisi-resume that can be a great tool for selling yourself as a professional for other job opportunities connect with past colleagues, or find good business ideas. While you are looking for the group also feel free to connect with me directly at my public profile page.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grant Opportunities Revisited

I mentioned some grants available from the state of Kentucky back in May when 2008 winners were announced. I now read from CincyBurb that the applications for 2009 have been opened and deadlines are set for the first quarter of 2009. The Recreational Trails Program grant applications will be accepted through February 1, 2009 and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) applications will be accepted through March 1, 2009.

If there were ever a better situation to bring state funding to Fort Thomas I don't know of it. The Recreational Trails and the LWCF are tailor made for Tower Park. It just takes a vision for the park and how to spend the money. A few things that could be great candidates for funding within the park include:
  1. The ampitheater
  2. Trail signage
  3. Funding for bike trails to connect Tower Park trails to the Vision 2015 greenway plan
  4. Upgrade of basic facilities such as the sand volleyball courts
  5. Better lighting for safety reasons

Any other ideas? Anyone willing to help out with grant writing?

Infrastructure Needs for Fort Thomas

There is an interesting article in the Enquirer today about Northern Kentucky leaders compiling a list of infrastructure needs in anticipation of the upcoming economic stimulus plan that president-elect Obama has proposed.

While you may disagree with some of the priorities listed in the article you have to applaud the leaders for being proactive and doing everything possible to bring a fair share of the stimulus to this area.

What I do find conspicuously missing from the list is anything for Fort Thomas. The only item on the current list is a rehab of the water plant by the NKY water district - initiated by the water district. How much would you like to see, as a part of the rehab, the opening of the walking paths along the reservoirs?

I also see that Florence has included $4 million for World of Sports. I am not sure how this is infrastructure but how great would a few million be for the Tower Park ampitheater?

Any other ideas about road / bridge projects for Fort Thomas? Any thoughts on sewer or sanitation needs? What about a long-term solution for Route 8 rather than patch work solutions that wash away as soon as the waters rise? What about the realignment of River Road in the Midway - can we use Federal dollars for this instead of out of our own general fund? We need to be sure that we come up with as many ideas as possible to feed on to the regional planners and leaders and right now there doesn't appear to be a lot of out of the box thinking coming from the city.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newport Pavilion Update

I got an update on the Newport Pavilion center today. A few updates:

  1. The developer is talking with Michaels as another potential tenant
  2. The Kroger will in fact have a fuel center
  3. Panera is looking at another location (I believe it is the new development near NKU)
  4. First Watch is not really an option as they are not looking at expansion for the time being.

There you have it. I will pass on anything else as the news becomes available.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Highlands Highly Rated in US News

The Fort Thomas education system put another notch on its belt this past week as the latest US News & World Report's ranking of US High Schools again listed Highlands as a top high school.

Highlands was 1 of only 7 high schools in the state of KY and 1 of 604 nationwide with a silver rating. This was quite an accomplishment given that the 604 silver rated high schools were from 21,069 high schools that were rated.

One statistic that particularly stood out to me about Highlands: 816 students enrolled and 38.6% took at least 1 AP exam. An amazing 72.5% exam pass rate. We can be truly thankful that we have the teachers and administration that prepare our children to be successful in college and beyond.

For those interested in the process for ranking I copy the following three steps from the US News website:
  1. The first step determined whether each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. We started by looking at reading and math results for all students on each state's high school test. We then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students (who tend to score lower) enrolled at the school to find which schools were performing better than their statistical expectations.
  2. For those schools that made it past this first step, the second step determined whether the school's least-advantaged students (black, Hispanic, and low income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state. We compared each school's math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students with the statewide results for these disadvantaged student groups and then selected schools that were performing better than this state average.
  3. Schools that made it through the first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step, college-readiness performance, using Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success. (AP is a College Board program that offers college-level courses at high schools across the country.) This third step measured which schools produced the best college-level achievement for the highest percentages of their students. This was done by computing a "college readiness index" based on the weighted average of the AP and/or IB participation rate (the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP and/or IB test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those tests. The latter part, called quality-adjusted AP and/or IB participation, is the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher or an IB score of 4 or higher) at least one of the tests before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school.

For the college readiness index, the quality-adjusted participation rate was weighted 75 percent in the calculation, and 25 percent of the weight was placed on the simple AP and/or IB participation rate. Only schools that had values greater than 20 in their college readiness index scored high enough to meet this criterion for gold and silver medal selection. The minimum of 20 was used because it represents what it would take to have a "critical mass" of students gaining access to college-level coursework.

An Opportunity to Give Back

Debbie Buckley, the city's Renaissance Coordinator, sent me an email today for this great event:

This coming Saturday, December 13, 2008, Fort Thomas is honored to be part of a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Veterans Nursing Home in Fort Thomas at 1:00. This will be the first of it's kind and everyone is looking to see if this goes well. The wreaths were donated by the same company that makes them for the Arlington Cemetery. The program is similar to what will be at Arlington. Our Fort Thomas Army Reserve Until will provide the Color Guard for the ceremony. Steve Verrigni, who is the Senior Ride Captain for Kentucky, is planning the dedication. The ceremony will last about one hour.

After the ceremony, Santa will be arriving with his elves. He will have 60 goody bags for children. Please make sure that you bring your children to see Santa. Once Santa has distributed his toys, he will be visiting the Veterans themselves who are in the Fort Thomas VA Nursing Home.

Here is my last request: SANTA IS IN NEED OF SOCKS AND GLOVES TO GIVE THE VETERANS!!! Or if you want, you can make a donation and I will buy the socks and gloves. Please support our Veterans since they have given their lives for us to have our freedom. Sorry for such a short notice but we were just asked last night to help with this. Please show your support by making some type of donation!!

If you have questions about the event or want to donate please contact Debbie at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Officers' Quarters in Tower Park

We appear to be 1 hurdle away from new housing in Tower Park. The long sought after sale of the 14 officer homes in Tower Park (many with views of the Ohio River) is only 1 signature away from being the property of the City of Fort Thomas. It has been nearly 5 years since the homes were vacated and the empty shells have loomed over the park for far too long.

This is yet another domino to fall in a long sought after renaisance of the Midway area. I think the sale and eventual rehab of these structures will be key to the continued revitalization of the area. In the Cincinnati Enquirer article we learn that there is a waiting list of 280 people to purchase the homes. This should insure that those purchasing the homes will have the capital to make quick improvements to speed the rehabilitation of the area. I hope that in the current economic environment that this is a key decision factor for the city in selling the homes to the interested buyers.

I hope that the city publishes a very clear and thoughtful process for the swift and orderly sale of the homes to buyers that can make quick work of rehabing the area.

The purchase price should be less than the 2007 appraised value of $2.4 million for all 10 structures. At $240,000 per structure it could be a great deal on a large home. What would you do if you were able to buy and rehab one of the properties? Would you subdivide and sell as condos or would you buy as a personal residence?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Firefighters Have a Contract

Today we get news of a final contract between the city and the fire fighters. This is great for the fire fighters, the city, and for public safety.

While I haven't made any comments about the situation on this blog I do have a few observations from the negotiations:

  1. There are many details about the negotiations that I don't intend to get into but when you step back and look at the negotiations it is a shame that they drug on so long after 34 years of relatively smooth negotiations that almost always wrapped up by the contract expiration. When you look at the two parties involved and the issues being negotiated the only thing that has changed in the history of these negotiations is the city manager doing the negotiations. Many of the fire fighters have long tenure from 10 to 17 to 24 years in many cases. Past negotiations have had a civil and collegial tone to them but not so this time. The city went so far as to publicize the average salaries to the Enquirer which is a real act of bad faith. The timeline of the negotiations is illustrated by a chart posted on the local's website:

  2. During the campaign I got to know many of the fire fighters well. They worked very hard for my campaign - giving their time after work for a couple of hours or giving up a Saturday to help me knock on doors. We can all rest assured that these men and women will do everything they can to protect our property and /or health.