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Friday, July 29, 2011

Van Damme it's Friday Morning Links

- Debbie Buckley and crew are on it. Aside from the free concerts at the amphitheater and adding new vendors for the farmer's market, the Renaissance and Rec dept. are putting on Shakespeare at Tower Park next month. Here are the deets:

The Fort Thomas Renaissance and Fort Thomas Recreation are proud to bring "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the Amphitheater at Tower Park on August 16 at 8:00 pm. The production runs 90 minutes. Bring your chairs, blankets, and a picnic to enjoy Shakespeare at the Amphitheater, located at 100 Cochran Avenue, Fort Thomas, KY 41075.

Free Shakespeare! is a professional, not-for-profit theatre company devoted to presenting complimentary performances of the works of William Shakespeare. We strive to make these works accessible to a contemporary society and deepen the understanding of where our language and culture originate. We are committed to projects either penned by Shakespeare or inspired by his work. We will provide educational opportunities for the community at large, young and old.


Perfect example of what Darrin was talking about, as far as public art in Newport - on Monmouth St. Drove by yesterday, and aside from the huge raccoon -which admittedly I don't get- it's awesome.

The mural will be officially unveiled today. Here's more on it:

ArtWorks and Art Machine, Inc. are proud to present "Tribute to Newport." The mural was created by a team of 8 young Apprentice Artists, 1 Teaching Artist, and Lead Artist Kyle Penunuri of Florence, KY.

The community event on Friday, July 29 from 4pm-8pm will feature live entertainment and celebrity grillers cooking up hotdogs and sausages. There will also be limited edition t-shirts for sale featuring the mural image and the signature of the Lead Artist. Proceeds from the t-shirt sales will go towards the mural costs. ArtWorks, founded in 1996, hires young artists from the age of 14 to 21 to work as apprentices with professional artists on long-lasting works of public art.

- How bout dem Bengals? Who else gave up their season tickets?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fort Thomas Post Office Under Review

First, let's cut to the root of this. The US Post Office is inefficient, to put it mildly. They lose money and run deficits yearly - to the tune of 8 billion dollars last year. The Fort Thomas Post Office is one of many offices around the nation that is being audited for review by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Coming under review doesn’t necessarily mean an office will close. The post office announced in January it was reviewing 1,400 offices for closing. So far, 280 have been closed and 200 have finished the review process and will remain open.

Once an office is selected for a review, people served by that office will have 60 days to file their comments. If an office is to be closed, they will be able to appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.

If it does close, it could be an inconvenience, albeit a pretty small one - the next closest post office is in Newport. But to call a spade a spade, I would bet 90% of the comments filed to the Postal Regulatory Commission will be from the residents who have not embraced new means of communication. That's not a knock on our older residents, but how much longer will government run agencies be allowed to run in the red? This speaks to a larger issue that we are no doubt being inundated from all media outlets.

The tipping point has undoubtedly been reached for the US Mail. They are being forced to evolve or risk going belly up - like a real business. Obviously, I wouldn't cheer for losing our post office, but if this is the beginning of government being forced to become more solvent in their dealings, I say bring it on.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Patrick Towles Getting More National Attention

Patrick Towles is getting some major national press as he hits the High School Camp circuit this summer.  Here are a few comments from ESPN and others that talk about his rising prospects and some of the things that he needs to work on.  This foreshadows what will likely be a very enjoyable football season this fall.  Most of the quotes reference his performance at the California Elite 11 Quarterback camp but he has attended other camps in Ohio.
Raw is the best way to describe Towles. His playmaking ability and penchant for keeping plays alive cannot be quantified in this setting, however, this environment gives him a picture of how much he will need to refine and smooth out his mechanics if he wants to be a potent passer, not just a thrower playing street ball. He has the frame, feet and athleticism to flourish in a spread setting.

Spotlight: Quarterback Patrick Towles of Fort Thomas, Ky., hasn’t received a ton of publicity, but he is a talented dual-threat quarterback. He isn’t easy to bring down at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and also has a very strong arm to work with. Towles threw for 2,471 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fort Thomas Weekend News & Notes

1. The Highlands Middle School uniform is being eliminated after 10 years.  It was the only school in the district that had the code.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the change.  I am a little mixed - great to not have to buy a set of clothes to be worn only to school but on the other hand there is something great about not having to deal with who is wearing the $100 pair of jeans, etc, etc.

2. Anyone else have kids that think the giant red balls in front of Target is from the hit ABC game show - Wipeout?  They seem to be a real hit with kids entering and exiting the store and are a nice fun touch for a big box store.

3. A recent story on a settled lawsuit with Carespring sheds some unflattering light on Fort Thomas' own Highlandspring (a part of the Carespring network).  The story mentions that a rating provided by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave Highlandspring their lowest rating, 1 of 5 stars.

If You Build It, They Will Come (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)

Lifelong Fort Thomas resident, Ben Petracco identifies the Midway district parking problems and offers solutions. This is Ben's first post, so let's welcome him to Fort Thomas Matters. Here's Ben:

The Midway street scape project was recently finished which included lighting, landscaping, street resurfacing and new sidewalks. The project created a more open area moving the telephone poles which occupied the now absent islands to more modern street lamps on the sidewalks. The aesthetic aspect of the project worked very well, now I want to bring the logical part of the project to the foreground.

With businesses lining the street like The Midway, The Olde Fort Pub, Fort Thomas Pizza, Sarelli’s CafĂ© & Catering and others the street scape project limited valuable parking spots and did not provide new parking for customers to take advantage of.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Energy Efficiency Canvass this Weekend

Got this emailed to me by a city worker today. I think there was supposed to be a booth set up that dealt with energy efficiency at the Spruce up for Spring event, that was eventually canceled. I think the energy audit normally cost $200 and with a $150 rebate, the total cost of just the audit was $50 - which sounds like a good deal. Not sure if this is the same thing or not, but either way could be worth it to find out.

Here's the information:

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has an upcoming AmeriCorps Summer Outreach effort planned in the Fort Thomas area this Friday, July 22nd and Saturday, July 23rd. As a part of our partnership with a team from AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps, we will be canvassing the area to spread awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency and the rebate program we offer to help homeowners.

The Energy Alliance is a regional non-profit organization that provides reduced-cost energy assessments, project management and financial incentives to residents of 1-2 family owner-occupied homes and building owners of Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky. Our Home Performance Program allows homeowners to easily and affordably make energy efficient upgrades to their home with cash incentives and low-interest loans.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Visit the Fort Thomas Farmers Market this Wednesday

Finally had an opportunity to visit the market two weeks ago - well I didn't make it but my wife did and she took the following pictures from two weeks ago.  I also drove past the market this past week and there was a good mix of merchants and a nice after work crowd.

Remember that the market is open from 3 - 7 on Wednesdays.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Hot Links

- A Fort Thomas firefighter was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion after battling a house fire on Indiana Avenue just before 11 a.m.Crews with Fort Thomas, Bellevue, Newport and Southgate all responded to the fire.

The family had moved out of the home, so no one was at the home when the fire broke out. The home suffered major damage. A cause has not yet been determined.

Here are pictures, via an Enquirer slide show.

- 2002 Highlands graduate, Amanda Bardo and her fiance, won the James Free Diamond Dash this past weekend. Hundreds of couples set out on the streets of downtown Cincinnati on a cell phone scavenger hunt for a $15,000 diamond engagement ring.

Here's a video of a similar event they did in Houston:

The Amazing Ring Race presented by Thomas Markle Jewelers from SCVNGR on Vimeo.

- Three new vendors have been added to the Farmers' Market at River Road and South Fort Thomas Avenue in Tower Park. The additions boost the number of vendors at the market to 12 and the market still has room for three more vendors.
  • Petwants, a business that sells organic pet food and treats
  • Whitford Farms, a produce stand
  • A stand owned by Greg Gayle who sells locally made jars of honey and other honey items
- The lineup for the Merchants and Music festival is ready. Here it is:

4:00-4:45 Local artists, Tupelo Honey, will be performing. This duo is from Fort Thomas and heading to stardom! They have great harmonies and will offer just a taste of their repertoire.
5:00-6:45 The Rusty Griswolds were repeat their success from last year's event. The most popular band in Greater Cincinnati, they are real crowd-pleasers with their 80's music and enthusiasm.
7:00-8:45 G. Miles & The Hitmen return to the Fort Thomas stage. Their exciting rocking blues, complete with horns, guitars, and vocals wow the crowd each year.
And this year's headliner is The Fabulous Thunderbirds! This group was huge in the 1980's and still travels with folk like the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. We can't wait to see the show they bring to our town.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chambers Through to Next Round - Needs Another Round of Votes

Here's Will Chambers' semi-final audition:

He's almost there. Let's give him another push Fort Thomas. Here's Will:

This is where you come in and again ask for your help. The link to vote is right here: and click on the "Louisville Casting Call" on the right under "Do You Have The Jones Factor" headline.

One part of this equation to vote however is having an account on Facebook. This is unfortunate I feel because not everyone I know is on there, but it's their show. You'll need to log in to vote. From there you can scroll down and find my audition and the option to vote. Voting opened today and will continue until next Friday and you can only vote once, hence the Facebook log-in.

Please vote if you can and pass this on to as MANY people you can! The public vote is just a part of the next round, but certainly something they will look closely at because they want someone everyone wants, obviously! Any publicity in getting people to vote would be enormously helpful.

I can't thank you enough for your support not just today, but over the last several years as I have worked to advance in the profession I love so very much. It means the world to me, and this opportunity could open up a lot of doors. Your help can get me there!

My best


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Flat Stanley This Weekend at Highlands

We have publicized performances by the High School Drama Department over the past couple years and it is the Middle School's turn.  Head out this weekend and watch The Highlands Middle School perform Flat Stanley at the High School theater.

I spoke with Emily Martin, director for the play, about why they chose Flat Stanley as their play and she had this to say, 
I picked Flat Stanley for the 3rd-8th graders because it is based on a book that is familiar to the age group that a lot of kids have read in school. Passing "Flay Stanleys" in school is a popular activity in classrooms, and we were one of the first groups in the country to get the rights to put on the musical.
The performance dates are July 15 at 7pm, July 16 at 7pm, July 17 at 2pm, and July 18 at 7pm. The performances are being held at the Highlands Performing Arts Center at Highlands.

Ticket prices are $7 for students and $9 for adults, and can be purchased at the door or in advance at this website

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Pergola" Out at Olde Fort Pub

After handing out hundreds of flyers to promote their menu at the Fourth of the July parade and settling into a "food groove", Danny Krebs -formerly of Pergola- is leaving the Olde Fort Pub.

It was a pretty abrupt split, and surprising considering the good feedback it seemed the changes to the menu had gotten, nonetheless it seems as if we'll have to get our hummus fix elsewhere for the time being.

"It was just one of those things that wasn't going to work going forward," Krebs said. "I want to thank the city of Fort Thomas and the Arnzen's for their support. We've really been making strides with our effort here. Unfortunately, sometimes things don't work out."

"We had big plans for the outdoor seating, changing some of the layout outside to make it not just a bar with great food, but a place where families could come to eat as well," Krebs said.

It looks as though now, those plans may be put on hold.

"We'll probably take a short break on food service," said Mike Arnzen, whose family owns the Olde Fort Pub. "It wouldn't be fair to the Krebs to start back up right away. Hopefully we'll be able to get it going again soon."

Pretty disappointing, but I have no doubt all parties involved will be just fine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

105 Receive Farm Subsidies in Fort Thomas

From time to time I get emails from residents regarding issues they'd like some resolution or explanation to. I was sent a link about a week ago which piqued my interest enough to post on. Apparently 105 residents -or in some instances corporations- have or are receiving farm subsidies in Fort Thomas. Most for tobacco and/or corn.

Granted, the majority that receive these benefits are often getting less than $200, but 25 are receiving more than $1000 and some are receiving close to $10,000.

The US Department of Agriculture has created subsidy programs to help family farms and small agricultural businesses flourish. At the same time, these programs also help the environment by giving the land a break and letting it restore itself. In essence, the program pays you rental money and other incentives NOT to farm your land.

Full disclosure: I knew close to nothing about farm subsidies before receiving this email, nor do I now. I didn't look through the database thoroughly, so I don't know if the 105 people or corporations actually live in Fort Thomas, or are just providing a Fort Thomas address to receive subsidies. I have no idea how difficult it is to claim subsidies. More than anything, I just thought the fact that the government is paying people in Fort Thomas to not farm is pretty interesting- even though a number of years back, Fort Thomas had plenty of farm land.

I actually had a link to the US Federal Farm Subsidy database, which you can search by zip code. But seeing as though I don't know the ins and outs of how exactly to receive these funds, I thought it may not be a good idea to put the site in this particular web space. Instead, if you're curious enough, I'm sure you can find it.

The Case for Public Art

I read a recent article on Soapbox Media the past couple weeks about a group in Cincinnati that works with art students in the area to product public murals on buildings, walls, or other structures to provide some color and life to otherwise dreary surroundings.

The program has created 34 murals in 25 neighborhoods in 4 years.  Only recently have they begun to accept opportunities in Northern Kentucky.  The pictures at the beginning of this post provides a quick glimpse of some of the work they have performed in Downtown and O'bryonville.

The benefits of public art are numerous - it can help define a community's public identity, can create a more welcoming & beautiful environment, and it can express a positive sense of identity and values.  While public art doesn't have to be a mural - this program and the success that they have had is the most readily available.  Statues, sculptures, etc can be costly and require a commissioning.

So with all that being said, why does Fort Thomas have so little public art?  I couldn't think of a single example of public art available in Fort Thomas - can anyone else?

I volunteer Fort Thomas Matters readers to come up with suggestions for a location, theme, and context for a mural.  If good ideas are presented I am happy to submit the application to the Mural Works program with the approval of the land owner.  Use the comments section below to describe where you would like to see murals around town, good location candidates, themes, and colors.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Much Would You Pay?

This past week there was an update on the VA / military homes from the Campbell County Connects blog.  In this update we learned that three developers had "picked up bid packets" indicating a high level of interest.  However the original deadline passed and was extended 3 weeks at the request of one developer and without any confirmed bids.

So where does that leave the fate of the possibility of a re-developed officers homes?  Don Martin had this to say:

Martin said in order for a bid to be considered, it must meet the minimum of about $1.6 million to cover the cost the city will incur by purchasing the properties from the VA.
Martin said if no one bids on the properties or the bids don’t meet the minimum, the city would most likely walk away from the project and it would be up to the VA to decide how to dispose of the properties.

So I ask you readers - if this last developer comes back with a bid of $1.25 million would you be willing to put your tax dollars to work to make the development happen - assuming it is a reputable developer with a strong vision for the structures?

I contend those homes are some of the most, if not the most, important pieces of real estate in Fort Thomas.  Are we going to watch the historical significance of those homes be lost forever or should we be willing to invest some tax dollars - even if it means the city loses $350,000 on the deal?  Keep in mind the city is cash flow positive, not in debt, and with a strong balance in their general funds.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Add Rain to 4th of July Tradition

Doesn't it seem like it rains EVERY 4th of July. Pretty frustrating. The streets are still lined with residents, but instead of sparklers they are armed with umbrellas. A few notes on our nation's birthday.

-Fort Thomas firefighters battled a 3-alarm house fire Sunday night that was caused by fireworks.Crews responded to Villagrande Boulevard just before 10 p.m.

The homeowner told crews that someone had fired fireworks through the window and ignited the house. Everyone in the house was able to make it out okay. The fire was mostly contained to an upstairs bedroom in the home. The home also suffered some smoke damaged in the hallway and water damage on the first floor.

The Fort Thomas Police Department is investigating the case.

- It's obviously raining on the parade today. Ha. Just realized that's the first time I've written that in literal terms. Here's a picture from our live correspondent, Will Chambers.

Isn't it ironic?

- The 5th annual Olde Fort Pub hot dog eating contest is at 2:30 today as I watch Joey Chestnut compete at Coney Island in New York. No cost to spectate, nor participate. I will continue to honor my retirement after two consecutive third place finishes in 2007 and 2008. Mostly because my bride is enforcing said retirement. She obviously hasn't heard the phrase: behind every good man is his wife rolling her eyes.

Here's the top 10 rules for enjoying the competition, written last year.

- And finally, a little amateur footage filmed from the Fourth at the Fort on Saturday. Pretty impressive fireworks display.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Have a Safe 4th!

We, at Fort Thomas Matters, wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July. Remember: Freedom isn't free.

Also remember: A water balloon launcher, a baseball and a few libations don't mix. Be careful tonight out there people.

Random Notes on Independence Weekend

1. I read a recent comment on the Kentucky gasoline tax that you may find interesting.  I haven't heard anything reported locally but apparently Friday was the first day for a 2 cent increase in gas taxes for Kentucky motorists.

2. Two weeks ago I read a release on the Kroger Company earnings call and the reporter from the Business Courier had left us with this line:
The last shareholder question concerned the still unopened fuel station at the new Kroger Marketplace in Newport. Sukanya Madlinger, president of Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton Division, said she’s unsure when the fuel center will open, but hopes that it’s sooner rather than later.
Anyone else find it as entertaining as I did that on their corporate earnings call someone is asking about our Kroger's fuel center?  The President offered no new dates but the last I heard it could be as early as 3 weeks out.

3. I have enjoyed following Cris Collinsworth's Twitter feed, not just because he is a neighbor but he has had a couple of good questions lately.  One such question was about whether or not Pat Tillman should be in the Hall of Fame.  This question led to this gem of a tweet:

In favor of Tillman going in the HOF running ahead about 10 to 1 ratio. People calling me a moron still leading 2 to 1.

4. Lets hope you didn't give contributions to any of these Fort Thomas organizations in the past few years.








Turns out the government goes through on a regular basis and rejects the tax exempt status of any organizations that do not file annual reports.  These 7 organizations had Fort Thomas addresses but no longer offer a tax deduction for you.