Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Letting the Light Shine Through

Jane Pompilio of Fort Thomas is the most artistically gifted person I know. Hyperbole? Not at all. I'm certainly not professionally trained in critiquing art (although my art award in 8th grade might suggest otherwise), but all I know is that any time she has created something for me, it's been beautiful.

For a wedding gift, she made my wife and I a stained glass window ("Calla Lilies" - Lindsey's favorite, which is shown left), and a photograph-like print she illustrated to commemorate our wedding (below). Both cherished works are hanging prominently in the Collier household.

On top of that, she included a book entitled Gloria Victoria - We Are Very Proud of You. (which you can click here to purchase or pick up at Love Letters on N. Fort Thomas Ave.)

I have to admit, I have known Jane for a long time, but the book, which was written and illustrated by her, took me by surprise. I had no idea that she was taking on that endeavor.

According to Jane, the book's theme is driven by the thought "Make each day your best," which is a great reminder for each of us

She still works at Kaleidoscope in Covington, which she has for the last 23 years, teaching classes, designing, repairing and restoring new stained glass windows, however the book and subsequent website are complementing each other and coming together beautifully just like - well - a gaze-inducing stained glass window.

"I had the idea of the book 20 years ago. The windows incorporated into the drawings represent the last 10 years of projects,"
Jane said. "The words of the book finally just came together and spilled out onto the page last year."

The collection of windows filtered throughout the book are some of Jane's favorites because they, as Jane put it, "Celebrate friend's lives."

Living in a tight-knit community like Fort Thomas allows you to uncover talents that normally would stay under the radar. The stained glass works that Jane creates, are not only beautiful but share stories that Fort Thomas families can reflect back on for generations.

I talked to Jane about her work and she recounted one of the more moving stained glass windows she had made for a terminally ill woman. The window, which was a Kentucky wild flower scene, was installed two days before the woman passed away. As Jane put it, "The window was her final contribution to her family as she finished decorating their new house to make it a home. The magnolia window began as a sad memorial and instead became a life celebration."

Every time I look at our stained glass that she made us, I am reminded that the gift was created specifically for us and will last for generations. It is colorful, changes when the light hits it and transforms our rooms. I can tell it is full of thought and observation, which sets it apart from other artwork that hangs on our walls like drywall.

So if you're looking for a unique gift for weddings, birthdays, to celebrate retirements, to honor or memorialize someone, make sure to contact our neighbor Jane Pompilio via her website or at Kaleidoscope. Every time you look at your stained glass window, you'll be glad you did.


Just wanted to take a minute to publically congratulate Darrin, Peggy and Peter for their two new blessings, Elizabeth (6 lbs, 4 oz) and Lydia Murriner (6 lbs) on March 15.

The family is doing wonderfully, and getting adjusted to different sleeping patterns. Couldn't be happier for a great family.

Even with his face 2/3 covered and pretending he's Clooney, you can tell Papa is proud, via the picture above and don't forget to update your census!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fort Thomas News & Rumors

A couple of pieces of Fort Thomas news that may be of interest:

1. MTV appears to be filming an episode of 16 and pregnant on Madonna.  After I heard the news I was able to find this preview clip of the family.

2. Spoke with a friend looking to put a retail business in Newport Pavilion.  He spoke with Midland retail as well as the Kroger general manager.  There is really no end in sight to the issues with the sewer pipe.  It appeared to be very discouraging for Kroger management and Midland indicated that it was having a real dampening impact on signed leases.  Don't look for any new retail establishments opening anytime soon.

Census Update

I have mentioned on the site before about what I believe to be under counting of Fort Thomas residents (you can read it here and here) and now thanks to the tip from Paul Whalen you can track the submitted census forms from your neighbors.  The Census Bureau has a website where you can track the % of sent census surveys that have been returned.  As of March 24th Fort Thomas had a higher return rate (37%) than the county (30%) or state (29%) - which shouldn't come as a surprise.

Please continue sending those forms in though as it is key to funding.  Also, the more forms that are returned the less hassle of census workers knocking on doors and wasting tax payer funds.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ice Cream is Back at Convenient

Great weather today in Fort Thomas and made all that much better by the fact that ice cream cones are back at convenient.  Spring has sprung!

Neighborhoods in Fort Thomas

I don't view Fort Thomas as having distinct neighborhoods but rather identifying as Fort Thomas residents in the broader sense.  It is not as if Fort Thomas is a new outer ring neighborhood with new track home neighborhoods with stone walls at the entrance indicating the name of the community.

Some common divisions do occur and  are based on North, South, and Central Fort Thomas which also seems to align with the three elementary schools; Johnson, Woodfill, and Ruth Moyer.  Each of the areas have their own larger parks (Tower for the South, Highland for Central, and Rossford for North) and their own entrances into and out of town via 471 (Memorial Pkwy for the North, Grand Ave for the Central, and Southgate for the South).

As I thought a little more though there are some very distinct neighborhoods in Fort Thomas that include:
1. Lumley Heights - this is my neck of the woods and you wouldn't necessarily think of the Miller, Lumley, Shaw streets as a distinct neighborhood but when they were first built out there was a very strong sense of community among these streets
2. Tower Park old captains homes - not sure if this street of homes has a name or not but they definitely have a strong sense of community as each spring the tent comes out and it is the epicenter for block parties
3. Also newer neighborhoods such as the new Fischer community, Ville Grande just off 471 and Memorial Pkwy or the since completed Fischer community off of Highland that is seperated from 471 with the retaining wall.

I couldn't really find where any of these examples had an organized neighborhood association though - is anyone aware of any Fort Thomas communities that have organized a neighborhood association?

Is it really that people in Fort Thomas associate with their streets instead of neighborhoods?  Just this past week the Enquirer reported on a recent example of Holly Woods Drive (not hollywoods drive as the Enquirer reported) where a resident got fed up with a crime problem on her street and started a neighborhood watch.  Susannah Fedders and Rajiim Gross have even started a Yahoo group for their neighborhood watch although I could not find a link to it.

I read a recent article in Soapbox Media regarding some things about Covington neighborhoods including the fact that there are 19 active, neighbor led neighborhood groups in Covington that are coming together to learn from each other about how leaders can improve their own neighborhoods.  It makes me wonder why there are not more neighborhood or street associations in Fort Thomas.  Residents generally have a lot of pride in their community and there are definitely some streets and 'neighborhoods' that could use a little more ownership.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Little Football Madness in March

One of the bigger disappointments I had during my 4 years at Highlands was never winning the regional championship in soccer. Despite a top 5 ranking in both my junior and senior year, we never could get over the hump - losing to Covington Catholic in the finals both years.

Don't you just wish you could go back in time?

I'd give up a mortgage payment to get it back, although my wife might have something to say about it. For Highlands football alumni, they could get the chance to relive their past glory for the small sum of $75.

Alumni Football USA
is attempting to put together a Highlands/Cov Cath alumni football game, complete with full pads, hitting and no doubt causing local drug stores to sell out of extra strength Advil.

All that needs to happen is for both teams to fill out rosters of 40. So far, Highlands has 15 players to Cov Cath's 5. The discrepancy in early numbers could be because the Colonels are tired of getting beat by the Birds.

Aside from sheer entertainment value, and positive PR the game would get, the game would benefit the school financially as well by paying for the field lease, concessions, ticket sales and raffles. I hope it happens.

For more information, visit the fan page on Facebook. Maybe someone should start a thread on the page for depth chart at the quarterback position. Lorenzen or Guidugli?

Oh, and GO CATS

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why the YMCA Matters to Fort Thomas

Before I launch into my sales pitch for the YMCA I have to provide a short disclaimer.  I spent 4 years working for the YMCA during college in Lexington and it was truly a great experience.  Since I moved to Fort Thomas in 2004 I have also been a member of the Campbell County YMCA (you may know it as the Fort Thomas Y but it serves the entire county).  Here are just a few ways that our Y has made an impact in the past year:

1. No one is ever denied membership - over $200,000 in subsidy for membership
2. Serves over 1,500 children in programs - of which 20% are on scholarship
3. 500 kids per day in after school programs in Fort Thomas and Newport - keeping kids out of trouble when they would otherwise have too much idle time.
4. Over 800 kids in youth sports per year, many of which are on scholarship

These are just a few of the ways the YMCA has an impact in the community.  Many friends and acquaintances I have talked with over the years that are unfamiliar with the YMCA think it is an over-priced gym.  Some times have questioned why they continue their membership after the big flashy mega gym moves in down the street at half the price and once I remind them about the important role that the Y plays in our community it snaps them back to why they continue to pay for their Y membership. 

I don't want this post to just be a reminder of why you keep your membership but a call to do more.  Membership fees alone could never fund all the programs at the Y which is why they must raise funds in addition to regular membership revenue.  Their goal is over $66,000 and they could use your help.  If you can spare a dime give Shane Ruffin a shout.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Merril Hoge Named to Board of USA Football

We all know that having two former NFL players in our small community is a huge asset to the development of our sons and today's announcement just underscores this fact.  Merril has joined Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, on the board of directors of USA football.

USA Football conducts more than 80 football events annually across the country for its members in all 50 states, offering education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners. 

This is just further commitment to the sport and more importantly youth athletics.  Merril and Cris Collinsworth have both been active with Fort Thomas youth football (as mentioned in a previous post) and Merril's association with USA Football can only be a further asset.

Friday, March 5, 2010

If These Walls Could Talk

One of the very apparent charms of living in a community like Fort Thomas is quality and character of the housing stock.  While Fort Thomas pre-dates the 1920's most of the housing in town is from that era and includes architectural styles from the Arts and Crafts time period.  In addition to Arts and Crafts style there is a strong German influence as well.

While this age, era, and style is charming and has lots of 'character' there are downsides.  This includes often mismatched decorating styles from one room to the next, maintenance issues, and while the quality of the construction is generally very good they include many original features that are not exactly environmentally or budget friendly.

As a result of this age and heritage I found myself over the years engaging in conversation with other Fort Thomas residents regarding 1 of 2 things:

1. Transplants discussing some of the quirks of these older homes.
2. Life-long Fort Thomas residents who know previous owners and have fond memories of their time with either the people that lived there or with experiences in that home.

This history was brought home to me on a personal level this week as I noticed the headline on the Enquirer that stated "Lee Conley Faced Down Her Pain"  with the quote:

The couple married in 1998 and moved from Fort Thomas to Mason about six years ago.

We purchased the house the Conleys left behind in that story and while I met Lee only once she and her family definitely left a mark on our home.  We of course had to put our personal style into place (a process which has taken us nearly 6 years to complete) by working our way through the house with coats of paint, finished spaces, and new hardware.  The result of all this work includes covering up what was surely one of Lee's crowning achievements of personal expression - the pepto pink cabinets that she left in our kitchen or the green and yellow shag carpet that we removed in what is now our son's room.

This nostalgic look at our homes go beyond conversations in between neighbors and fellow church-goers.  Making a trip through the Facebook page dedicated to Fort Thomas it is very common to find 'fans' (over 1400 fans to be exact) leaving comments about their fond memories of the town, its people, and its places but who now live thousands of miles away.

The last decade has brought a boom in new housing in new far flung suburbs that are incredibly energy efficient but have no history or charm.  Give me my old home with 'character' any day.  A home just isn't the same unless it has generations of stories that may never be told.  Allow our imaginations to run wild after talking to a neighbor about how great the family was that lived there 30 years ago.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nixle Service Coming in Handy

In our "I-want-information-now, highly-caffeinated society," Nixle (the service recently being used by Fort Thomas officials) is proving to be beneficial to how pertinent news travels.

The burglaries that have occurred in Fort Thomas over previous months, have presumably come to an end as police believe they have the culprits.

I haven't see anything on the 5:00 or 6:00 news or online yet - going to show how Nixle is going to carve out a niche in our lives.

If anyone has any more information, please let Fort Thomas Matters know.

Below is a message that I received from Nixle to my email address at around 11:00 this morning:
Entered By:
Fort Thomas, KY Police Department

Entered On:
Monday March 1st, 2010 :: 11:02 a.m. EST

Police make arrests in latest rash of burglaries.

A press conference will be held this afternoon at 1400 at the Covington PD to announce the arrests of two individuals from Newport, KY who are believed to be responsible for at least 10 burglaries in Ft. Thomas, Newport, and Covington.

Fort Thomas, KY Police Department
130 N Ft Thomas Ave
Fort Thomas, KY 41075