The new year started off right with more news than all of December from the previous year. Let's jump right into the run-down:
1. First a quick clarification on Mark's comments regarding the Enquirer furlough. We received a message from Amanda Joering, the Recorder's beat writer for Fort Thomas. To clarify, she was not on a furlough week recently and will not have a furlough week this month. The Enquirer is furloughing their writers it just wasn't Fort Thomas' week yet. She also clarified the fact that she covers Newport, Dayton, Wilder, Southgate, Highland Heights, and Bellevue in addition to Fort Thomas.
2. Newport Pavilion update - There is a sign announcing the new Fifth Third location and indications of a buildout of the open retail spot between the Kroger Liquor store and the jeweler. Also I have not heard good reviews on the New China Buffet which opened recently (you can read a few reviews on the Newport Pavilion Facebook page). I can honestly say I haven't visited a Chinese buffet in some time and I have no desire to do so anytime soon.
3. State politics - It was a bit of a historic week in Frankfort as the new Kentucky Senate (which has become more Republican since the last election) moved with speed perhaps never before seen in Kentucky politics. Speed doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree with everything that was approved but you have to impressed that any form of government could pass that much legislation in one week. The highlights of which include:
A. Allow the creation of charter schools and addresses which schools students can attend
B. Immigration bill that makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to be in Kentucky (sound ironic?)
The one bill the full Senate did not vote on was the Pension reform bill which I have been watching closely. The proposal would move all new state workers (except teachers) into a new defined contribution program - much like a 401K. It is about time we tackled this issue and I think the proposal is fair. It leaves the current program intact for current employees but moves new workers into a plan that the state contributes up to 8% match - which is much more generous than most corporate 401K plans.
The state of Kentucky has a huge future liability and is one of the 10 states with plans in the worse financial shape. Kentucky’s six pension systems had a combined funding level of 63.8 percent, and a total liability of $34 billion in fiscal year 2008. A final vote on this proposal will not happen until February but this is definitely one to watch.
On a lighter note - is it just me or does Senator Thayer of Georgetown have a striking resemblance to Dwight Schrute?
4. The storefront at 16 North Fort Thomas Avenue and houses the Ford-Ellington florists was purchased this week by Orion Constellation Properties LLC. A quick search of the registry database shows that Orion is registered to Kevin Ford of Ford-Ellington.Glad to see a business owner purchasing the property they lease. Community support for their business must be strong to make a commitment like that.
5. Also a quick reminder of the upcoming arena football league opener in February at the new Bank of Kentucky Center on NKU's campus. A new team, the River Monsters, has formed in a farm league of the Arena Football League, and will be based out of neighboring Highland Heights. Other than the obvious proximity to Fort Thomas there is another Fort Thomas connection as Jared Lorenzen is the team's general manager. Make sure to head out and support the team.
6. The Cheryl McCafferty parole hearing was also this week. No consensus was reached and the hearing now goes to a 9 member panel next week. The hearing was the source of much discussion on talk radio circles today with nearly all personalities on 700 WLW discussing the case. While I am no attorney, the possibility of parole is especially shocking considering a self defense argument was not used during the original trial and to serve less than two years is nearly unprecedented. This decision is definitely one to follow for next week.