Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Rules for the Olde Fort Pub's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Growing up in Fort Thomas, the Fourth of July is synonymous with the parade from Highlands to Tower Park, the Firecracker 5000 and hopefully now a filled amphitheater concert schedule.

The streets are lined with little ones scooping up candy, tussling with their friends over being in the line of fire of a water balloon or Super Soaker and in election years, pasting political stickers all over their parents' backs.

With our annual family reunions being held on Independence Day in Tennessee, I have only been able to attend a typical "Fort Thomas Fourth" a handful of times. Luckily for me, our family has hosted the reunion at our house in Fort Thomas 2 of the last three years. And coincidentally, over the last three years, the Olde Fort Pub has added to the lively lineup with their annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Never being one to turn down a challenge, I have been a party to two such contests. Two years ago, downing 10 hotdogs in 12 minutes - good for third place. And last year, 12 hotdogs in 10 minutes - again a third place finish.

Gross, I know.

I've retired from this ridiculous endeavor. And it's not like, a Brett Favre retirement. I'm done this time. Because I'm done, I don't mind giving you the blueprint for success should you choose to accept this mission.

Here are 10 things I learned on how to 1) not make yourself look like a complete joke (if that's possible) - and 2) give a go at winning the prestigious Olde Fort Pub Hot Dog Eating Crown (if there is one).

1) Do not under any circumstances eat for at least 4 hours - and ideally 6-7 hours - before the contest. My family sabotaged me in this way by ordering the impossible to turn away Larosa's before my last contest. A huge mistake.

2) Try not to indulge in too many libations before said contest. I know, you're at the Pub, but have a little self control in this regard. Same idea as above.

3) Do not take it as serious as a real competitive eater. When you only get 3-4 dogs down, your friends will make fun of you for listening to an ipod during the contest, painting your face and eating lettuce to expand your stomach the night before.

4) Do employ a good spotter. Said spotter needs to know how many dogs you've eaten, how many the leader has downed and on point should you need another hot dog tray. After I talked my wife into helping me out on this front, I definitely gained an edge over the prior year.

5) Eat fast.

6) Eating pattern should be as follows: 2 hot dogs (sans buns), 2 buns. Repeat.

7) Disgusting alert: Do dunk your hot dog buns in liquid to eat them faster. No more needs to be said. It's revolting, but just concentrate on the crowd cheering you on.

8) Probably the biggest thing I learned from one year to the next: bring your own liquid. You can bring anything (except alcohol). Just make sure it's ice cold. It'll give you a big edge when dunking the buns over those having to use bar water. I went with Fierce Grape Gatorade.

9) Do not use condiments. Obviously load them up at the barbecue before or after, but it'll just slow you down during the contest.

10) If you feel sick, for God's sake, stop. No one wants to see that.

Hope that helps. If you're an intelligent person and do not participate, go on up to the Olde Fort Pub. Aside from the parade (and this year the amphitheater events), the sheer entertainment factor cannot be topped. AMERICA!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Warning to Criminals: Fort Thomas Police Will Catch You

On the heels of two recent posts on Fort Thomas Matters, regarding crime - Fort Thomas police announced that "good old police work" helped nab two criminals who robbed the US Bank on Fort Thomas Avenue, last Saturday.

"My hat goes off to Lt. Whitford and Gadzala, Det. Moening, Officers Goshorn, Dietz, Hunt, Redmond Sgt. Windgassen, Kilgore and SWAT Team members,"
said Chief of Police, Mike Daly. "All of these officers mentioned played a key role one time or another throughout this case. Also, the citizens around Northern Kentucky were great in calling in tips. Great team effort.
"

Officer Chris Goshorn, a 15-year veteran, recalled that one of the suspects once lived in Fort Thomas and had several run-ins with police, Lt. Richard Whitford said. But the identification was just the start of the work. Officers worked for 29 hours before the arrests to check his background, follow several tips and watch the suspects.

The robbery was only the second bank heist in Fort Thomas in about 18 years.

"We will not put up with that," Lt. Richard Whitford said.

To me, the last quote says it all. Say what you want about the "revenue enhancement" the Fort Thomas Police Department has when it comes to being sticklers on the speed limits, but this type of work makes me feel like the taxes we pay to live here are worth every penny.

This is our city and we will not submit to criminals. Now if the kids would just stop blasting their daggone bass in their cars.

Geez, I'm getting old.

2 quick point of references for the Police Dept:

1) The Fort Thomas Police Dept. homepage is here.
2) The Fort Thomas Nixle service (breaking police updates) is here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Memorial Parkway Apartment Update

Back in 2007, Darrin first began to chronicle the development of the proposed apartment developments by Wessels Contruction on Memorial Parkway. At that point, Wessels Contruction had just had their best year ever, the dirt from the Bear Creek Capital development (now known as Newport Pavilion) was filling up the hillside as fast as they could dump the dirt, and the expected completion date for the apartments was mid 2009.

Fast forward almost 3 years later and everything is still in a holding pattern. "By no means are we doing poorly, but we can't justify starting the building process in this enviroment," said Bernie Wessels, owner of Wessels Construction.

You really can't blame the company for not wanting to start construction right now. Like Target at the Newport Pavilion and Wessels, companies are doing what they can to stay ahead of the game amid these turbulent markets. As much as the mainstream media wants to sound the trumpet that this recession is in our rear view mirror, financial decision makers will outlay revenue when confidence is back and people are spending.

That includes new construction.

Until then, the story here lies with the frustration due to the holdup on the project with both the citizens of Fort Thomas and Wessels Construction.

The residents have been without a sidewalk on that side of Memorial Parkway for years. The fill that has been dumped caused the developer to tear out part of a hillside and trees to prevent erosion. Plain and simple, it's an eyesore.

"We want nothing more than to get started for the citizens of Fort Thomas. We have already committed a significant outlay of capital to the project." Wessels said. "It's on hold, but it's something that will get done."

Until then, it's another wait and see. At the very least, the city should take steps to get the sidewalk back for those residents in that area.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Highlands Piloting Laptop Program - One to One


At the recent SBDM Council meeting there were a couple of interesting items that were discussed.  The first of which is a unique program for Fort Thomas to require a laptop for every student in all three early bird English classes for next year.

Highlights of the program include:
  • Students will pay $100 for rental for the entire school year and will possess the computers the entire year.
  • The fee will be partially offset by a reduction in materials that must be purchased by students.
  • Students will have the option to purchase at the conclusion of the year and the $100 will apply to the remaining balance if they choose to buy.
  • Both PC and MAC platforms will be studied.
  • Teachers will incorporate strategies to utilize technology throughout the course.

Among the complications of such a program include how to fund the fee for Free/reduced lunch students, student use agreements, and procedures for students not willing to participate which were discussed at length.  The district views this as a pilot for future expansion if the program is successful.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crime Escalates in Fort Thomas as US Bank Robbed

First it was the stolen bicycle alert, then home invasion, and now a bank robbery all within 2 weeks.  The relative quiet of Fort Thomas has been shattered a bit. 

Just after the US Bank opened this morning around 9 AM a man who did not display a weapon gave a note to the teller for cash.  He then fled on foot down Highland Ave. where he was last seen.

You can find a picture of the suspect at wlwt.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fort Thomas Crime; A Bicycle Connection?


The Nixle service has come in handy again as two recent crime alerts that have gone unpublicized but that could threaten your home.

Last week the Fort Thomas Police Department issued an alert regarding what the department characterized as [experiencing] an unusual amount of bicycle thefts.  The department encouraged citizens to keep their bikes secured and to keep a record of model and serial number in the event of a theft to aid in any recovery and aprehension.

Then today the Department issues another alert regarding a break-in on Tower Hill.  The alert reads as follows:
On 6/16/10 at approximately 8:10 AM a house was burglarized on Tower Hill in Fort Thomas. The homeowner heard a noise and went outside to investigate. A white male riding an older style BMX bicycle was seen riding away from the house towards Rt. 8/ Mary Ingles Hwy. Upon seeing the subject quickly leaving, the basement window was found broken and open. The white male was believed to be in his mid 40's, very short sandy hair with a larger build. He was wearing a green t-shirt with khaki shorts. The bike he was riding was described as being way to small for his size, and was described as an older style BMX with straight handle bars.
Is there any coincidence that the perpatrator was riding a BMX bike that wasn't exactly made for him?

In all seriousness - stay vigilent against anyone that looks suspicious.  Also, as a reminder it is easy to sign up for the Nixle service and it can keep our community safe so spread the word.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Touchdown Jesus!


A few bits of mid-week information:

- So, that was an interesting storm last night.

It scared my dog into the depths of her crate and apparently chased another blogger who shall remain nameless into his basement. Turned on the TV last night just as the girth of the red radar storm was passing through Ft. Thomas and I gotta say it was a bit uneasy hearing the sirens from what seemed to be right outside my bedroom window.

Sadly, Touchdown Jesus in Monroe was an unfortunate casualty. However, it did make national news. Round 2 is supposed to be tonight.

-The Fort Thomas Garden Tour has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 19.

The tour, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, June 12, was canceled because of heavy storms. Tickets will be on sale in front of the city building at 130 North Fort Thomas Ave. I'm glad that the city went ahead and rescheduled unlike the Spruce up for Spring event that was canceled in April.

I may be biased, but there is no way that my mother's garden is not one of the nicer flower patches in our great city. Whoever is in charge of booking the tour needs to get her on the route next year.

- And via Mike Dyer of the Enquirer sports blog, Highlands will play on Fox Sports Ohio this fall at Ryle on October 28. Should be another chance to show why Highlands is a perennial power in football to a greater audience.

And to help recruiting. (I kid, I kid).

- Finally, before the rain gets here, meet The Fort Thomas Running Club tonight at 6:00 across from Highlands. Should be nice and torrid. Hopefully Recorder writer and friend of Fort Thomas Matters, Amanda Joering Alley is there tonight!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Van Damme Friday!


Happy Friday everyone! Lots going on in and around Ft. Thomas this weekend. Just a few reminders.

- The Jennifer Harber Memorial Scholarship Fund needs to be replenished to continue handing out money to a handful of Highlands graduates. The Harber family is having a benefit tonight (Friday) at The Syndicate in Newport.

Almost 12 years after she was murdered, many in Fort Thomas still remember Jennifer Harber as a cheerful, 17-year-old junior from Highlands High School who liked to dance, play soccer and wanted to be a paramedic.Jennifer Harber Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser

Where: Newport Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., Newport

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $35, includes two drinks and appetizers

What: Live music, DJ, silent auction.

For more information:
http://jenniferharbermemorialscholarship.blogspot.com

- The St. Catherine festival is this Saturday. And no, you can't park at my house.

- Chris Deinlein and The Fort Thomas Running Club are sticking with their Tuesday/Saturday running schedule. If you want to run with them tomorrow morning, they are meeting at the parking lot across from Highlands at 8:30.

- IT'S VAN DAMME FRIDAY!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fort Thomas Moving up the Cincy Magazine Rankings

I mentioned the "Rating the Burbs" issue of Cincy Magazine from last year and how disappointed I was by Fort Thomas falling outside the Top 20.  The magazine just released their latest issue and in a major reversal Fort Thomas is now ranked 8th ahead of Montgomery, Blue Ash, Mariemont, and Mason.

Beyond the surprising reversal in rankings a few other surprises on the list:
  1. The narrative describing Fort Thomas focuses on the military aspect and the newly created Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum.  Of all the things they would choose to highlight I am surprised that they picked this one.
  2. I am also surprised by the number of homes sold (one of the key aspects of the housing scoring)  compared to the other communities on the list.  Fort Thomas registered 183 sales and was third on the top 20 behind only Mason and Liberty Township.
  3. Possibly the most eye popping stat was the 5 year change in median home price which increased over 15% compared to a 4 year increase in the last ranking of 8%
  4. The safety ranking slipped 3 more spots to 23rd on the list
  5. Education obviously helped Fort Thomas climb up the rankings as they went from outside the top 10 and is now ranked 6th

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fort Thomas Running Club


Ft. Thomas resident, Chris Deinlein, likes running. Seriously. On occasion, you will find me running the hills of the Highlands, but if you see me, know that I am absolutely miserable.

If you are like Chris and enjoy running
, he has started a Fort Thomas Running Club to organize groups, running anywhere from 1 mile routes to 10 mile routes.

The first group is going to meet next Tuesday (and every Tuesday after), June 8th at 6:00 PM in the parking lot across from Highlands High School.

There will be another group meeting at the same place every Saturday morning at 8:30.

For more information, visit his website here. Sounds like a good idea. Here's to hoping the group gets off on the right foot.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Update on Newport Target


There was a little ray of hope today in news that a planned Target in Blue Ash has started to see some positive forward momentum.  Why do you care about the proposed Blue Ash Target?  Because it provides signals about what Target may be thinking regarding the Newport Pavilion location.

It is difficult to miss the similarities between the proposed Blue Ash location and the proposed Newport Pavilion location.  Blue Ash also approved the development in December of 2008 but has been stalled largely due to stalled expansion plans as a result of the economic slowdown.  Also, at the time Target indicated a 2009 construction start date with opening in summer of 2010 - sound familiar?

Beyond the similarities two things stand out in the article:
  1. The quote by the Target spokesman: "Typically, Target does not share the specifics of our new locations more than one year out of the scheduled opening.  The reason for this timing is to avoid disappointment and/or misinformation within a community if store opening plans change."  I am sure this has nothing to do with other developers hanging a giant sign outside a large empty lot, next to a very busy highway and then watch the development stall for over a year while they go bankrupt.
  2. Target does appear to be quietly working behind the scenes to start their expansion back up again.  This bodes for Newport Pavilion... assuming they can get the drain fixed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summa, Summa, Summatime

No doubt about it. The slush puppies and square pizzas were a plenty this past weekend at the Ft. Thomas Swim Club. I didn't venture down James Ave - partly because I'm not on my family's membership anymore, but also because I knew I would get entangled in the teenage bike brigade, the mom minivan mania and general Memorial Day madness that is opening weekend.

But daggone it, what I wouldn't give for a blue/green slush puppy and a pizza. After talking to some people I know who are not too far ahead of me on the waiting list, I doubt I'll have to wait that much longer to revel in my childhood summer breakfast of champions.

I talked to Lori Bardgett, who sits on the FTSC board and she confirmed that the membership numbers had been increased from 525 to 550 members at the October 2009 annual meeting after increasing its numbers by 25 in 2007.

According to Bardgett about 20-25 memberships are terminated each year. With the increase in membership numbers, the swim club went through 80 names on the waiting list to let in 51 new members this year. "What I have found this year is that we are starting to get to names on the waiting list of people who applied when they graduated from high school. Many of these applicants have not yet returned to Ft. Thomas or are not yet financially ready to join," Bardgett said. "It is my feeling that we may go through more names in the next few years due to this fact."

The expedited wait list is getting me ever closer to those slush puppies. In the meantime, I'll have to substitute it for an Icee at Convenient. And yes, if you're counting I've mentioned slush puppies three times during this post.