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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mark vs Food Part III Recap

Only a few weeks later, Mark vs. Food Part III is in the books. Thanks to the Emerging Leaders Organization at The Brighton Center, Arnie's on the Levee, Jay Cruz of Rewind 94.9, Patrick Towles, Ozzy Sheehan and my binging buddy, Will Chambers - we collected around $400 for The Brighton Center.

The Challenge was brand new, and highlighted Arnie's brand new food menu. The All-Dog Challenge was 5 types of dogs. Sounds easy, right? There was indeed a reason I wasn't allowed in the kitchen to preview what I was about to have to gorge on. I would have quit.

They were enormous. They were covered in peppers, onions, jalapenos, chilis, at kitchen sinks. Just kidding about the latter - but it was a lot harder than it looked. Probably the second hardest challenge I've attempted, after Tom + Chee's Baker's Dozen Challenge .

The end result was another victory for the FTM crew. Will and I ate 7 of the 10 dog dogs in front of us. The Youngins (Pat and Ozzy) finished 4.5.

It was a great turnout during the first UK game of the tournament. Seeing as though we're now in the final four, I think we may have to do a Mark vs. Food every first game of the tournament.

The video of the challenge is a little long, and my video editing skills are amateur at best - so I'll just post the intro and if someone wants to be awesome and edit it for FTM, I'll be your best dude.

Raised to date: $1400.

And Then There Were 2

The Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket has whittled its way down to 2. The juggernaut #1 seed, Highlands High School is taking on upstart #8 Olde Fort Pub and their loyal followers in the first ever final on Fort Thomas Matters.

Mama on a Budget: Easter Activities (by Jessica Duke)

So, I am that Mom from the Target Christmas commercials; you know the ones where she constantly trains for the Black Friday sales? For the past few weeks, I have been in the yard (enjoying this amazing weather) hiding Easter eggs and training Knox to find them. He has it down to a science so watch out Fort Thomas children ages 1-8 on April 7 at noon at Tower Park; Knox is coming for you!

In addition to the 12,000 “Spring” eggs hidden at the Fort (of which Knox will find 10 or 11,000 I’m sure) other Easter festivities to enjoy in the next few weeks are listed below:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fraud Near the Fort (by Ben Petracco)

A feeling of vulnerability and disgust has crept up on residents of Fort Thomas, as an epidemic of credit card fraud has blanketed the Midwest.

I have personally been affected by the fraud, having two of my accounts hacked, with one account having been tampered with two times within a three week span. I also started noticing a trend that I may not be alone in Fort Thomas, after reading many people’s similar experiences on Facebook, and the list continues to grow as the fraud stretches across the United States. The fraud isn't just contained to our area, as there have been reports of fraud from New Jersey to California and even Mexico.

An article done by the Wall Street Journal suggests that a third party payment processor has been compromised which resulted in MasterCard and Visa account data being released. That article can be read here: Wall Street Journal Article.

Closer to home, the common thread via Facebook conversations seemed to be that a culprit to the credit card fraud could be tracked back to Jefferson Hall at Newport on the Levee. I contacted Tony Cafeo, the owner of Jefferson Hall.

He said, “Jefferson Hall has done everything in its power to resolve any problems with our processing credit cards. We have put in new internet lines, purchased all new upgraded software, hired forensic investigating firm, and worked with The United States Secret Service with the investigation.” Cafeo also confirmed that it is not employee related. “It is not an employee ‘skimming’ credit cards.”

Skimming credit cards is when the card is run through a device that stores the card information. He advised that the fraud problem involves many local businesses and provided this related story published on March 30th by Forbes. The fraud has resulted in negative business at Jefferson Hall, but it appears they have done everything they can to protect themselves and their patrons from the fraud.

I spoke with some Fort Thomas residents who were recent victims of credit card fraud. Matt Wagenlander explained, “It was embarrassing when I finally realized my card was compromised. I had no early notification of the problem; I didn’t know anything was wrong until I wasn’t able to pay for my chicken dinner.”

This seems to be the common reaction, the inconvenience of having your credit card declined unexpectedly and the ensuing embarrassment. Not to mention the thousands of dollars fraudulently applied to your account which could negatively affect your credit.

Chad Schwartz said, “My accounts were hit twice, each time for around $350. The charges were attempted at Wal-Mart and K-Mart. I was contacted by the Fifth Third Fraud Protection Team to inquire about the transactions; once they were determined to be un-authorized my cards were canceled and reissued.” Chad added, “It is just such a frustrating situation to deal with.”

In most cases the un-authorized purchases are not applied to the account because of the suspected fraud. The result is your account having a hold placed on it which is not realized until the card is used again by the authorized user. With attempted fraud on your account the account number must be canceled and reissued rendering you card-less for 7-10 business days-- cue the inconvenience and frustration.

There are a number of steps to safeguard you against credit card fraud which can be found here: Fort Thomas Matters wanted to make you aware of this problem plaguing the Midwest and more importantly Fort Thomas. We hope the next swipe of your card is not declined. Do you have comments or thoughts on the current fraud problem in the area? Leave your comment here:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Superintendent, HHS Championship Ring and Other Mid-Week Links

- Ft. Thomas Independent Hires New Superintendent, Gene Kirchner. More on this later.

- Well, it's Wednesday at 3:30, which means there is 2 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 13 seconds until the University of Kentucky plays the University of Louisville. But who's counting, right?

- Speaking of UK, HHS Senior and UK WR commit, Ozzy Sheehan posted a picture of Highlands' state championship ring. The team's fifth in a row. Baller.

- Mio's Grand Opening is today! With the full menu. Also, this Friday - which will be nice, they will have their patio open and a band playing from 6:30-10:30. See you there! Via their FB post:

A big day tomorrow for Mio's Fort Thomas! Tomorrow is our first full day of service. We will be open our normal hours from tomorrow into the future. We've practiced and practiced and we're ready to roll!
We will still make mistakes as we get ramped up so be a little patient with us as we settle into our new hours. Thanks in advance for your patience and patronage!

-Kentucky Court of Justice honors women circuit court clerks

during National Women's History Month

March is National Women's History Month, an opportunity to honor and celebrate women's historic achievements. This year’s theme is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.

The Kentucky Court of Justice is using this occasion to recognize our women circuit court clerks, who represent more than half of the circuit court clerks in Kentucky. Women head 79 of the state’s 120 Offices of Circuit Court Clerk, which includes friend of the blog, Campbell County Circuit Court Clerk, Taunya Nolan Jack.

- The Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket is set. Vote on over here ------------------------>

Voting ends Friday. (8) Tower Park vs. (1) Highlands High School and (7) Runners/Walkers vs. (8) Olde Fort Pub.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fort Thomas News to Start Your Week

Lets start with a picture that I captured this past week and that was replicated many times over across Facebook and Twitter around Fort Thomas on Thursday.  The presence of a magnificent double rainbow:

1. Fort Thomas Police issued a break-in warning last week.  They indicated there had been 15 break-ins (no time frame was given but I assume they were all recent) and all but one involved cars with their doors unlocked.  They remind everyone to please lock their cars and report anyone suspicious walking around at night.

2. We mentioned recently about the playground equipment that re-appeared recently at Highland Park.  While they are a bit misplaced across the street it is nice to have them back at the park.  We also learned this week that the city is adding a nice trail to Highland Park.  The trail will be over a mile long and have a section that will split off to connect with Ohio Ave.

3. Recent (not sure if currently) resident and now former Bengal, Andre Caldwell signed with the Broncos this week.  Big congrats to him since he will now be a part of a receiving corp getting passes from Peyton Manning.

4. Wingstop, a chicken wing chain, is trying to expand rapidly in the Cincinnati area and they have tabbed Newport as a priority location.  This makes me wonder if they are eyeing the Newport Pavilion.  While I haven't seen anything updated on the site map it is a logical option - just not sure what type of retail locations this franchise likes to lease.

FTITB Elite 8

To Hell with UK vs. Louisville. We got our Elite 8 set for the Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket set. Just kidding, Go Cats! #BBN
(follow us @Mlorencollier or @murriner)


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fort Thomas Iconic Bracket - Sweet 16 Set!

(Click on the Sweet 16 Bracket Above to see it bigger)

A few juicy matchups as we have
whittled down the field from 64 Ft. Thomas icons down to 16. The left side of the bracket looks like it's overloaded with heavyweights and festivals: Highlands High School, Highlands Football, Tower Park, Music and Merchants and Fourth at the Fort.

The right side of the bracket has been upset city, and has plenty of wildcards that could make a deep run into the tournament. Fort Thomas Police and Fort Thomas Fire are the highest seeds left on the right side of the bracket; wouldn't you know they have to play each other.

My prediction for the final: (2) Highlands Football vs. (8) The Olde Fort Pub.

Voting for the Sweet 16 will last until Monday. Vote and get the word out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guys and Dolls (by Stephanie Class)

One of Broadway’s most beloved musicals will be hitting the stage at Highlands High School. Guys and Dolls brings the Big Apple to town from March 22-25. “Set in New York City in the mid-20th century, the romantic and funny Guys and Dolls is populated with gangsters and gamblers, missionary dolls and showgirls, and one of the greatest musical scores in the history of American theatre,” describes the Highlands High School website.

Jason Burgess, Highlands’ theatre director, has been leading the cast through rehearsals for the last seven to eight weeks. His passion for the school’s theater department is clearly seen through his excitement for the musical and his hands-on approach to the show. When I spoke with him recently at the Performing Arts Center, he was perched upon a ladder painting a set piece. Speaking of the show’s set pieces, they are very impressive and will undoubtedly add to the overall enjoyment of the show.

Along with a talented cast of performers, the show relies on students to serve as crew members. The backstage crew and technical crew are entirely comprised of high school students, and make sure the show runs smoothly.

Take some time this week and support some outstanding local talent by attending a performance of Guys and Dolls. Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for adults. You can purchase your tickets online or at the door prior to showtime. Also, you can check out the Highlands Theatre site to catch a sneak peek at the show thanks to a collection of trailers posted to the site.

You can catch a performance of Guys and Dolls on the following days:

Thursday, March 22 at 7:30pm
Friday, March 23 at 7:30pm
Saturday, March 24 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 25 at 2pm

Fort Thomas Iconic Bracket - Juicy Matchup: (10) Dale Mueller vs. (2) HHS Football

(Click on image to see it bigger)

8 spots taken into the Sweet 16. Voting starts now on the bottom half of the bracket. Vote on!

City Council Notes (3/19/12 by Ben Petracco)

The council meeting was filled with great news and some disturbing news. I do not want to start off the article with a negative tone so I’ll lead off with the good stuff.
Chief Mike Daly presented a new officer with his badge; Officer Adam Noe is officially part of the Fort Thomas Police Department. Adam was a student at Newport Central Catholic then went to Eastern Kentucky University where he received his Bachelor's degree in
Police Administration. Members of the police force showed up to show their support along with Adam’s Wife and two children.

Kevin Thorton, who lives on Telescope View in Newport, spoke at the meeting to express his concerns about the libraries proposal to build a new southern branch location. His main point was that now is not the time (economically) to increase the property tax which is necessary to build the new library. The property tax would need to be raised around 27%. What are your thoughts on a new library in the southern district of Campbell County?

City Manager, Don Martin, acknowledged that the issues with the pavement and dead trees (see March 5th council meeting article) on Overlook Drive will be addressed. Tim Mattingly advised him that "hot patch" will be put down on the street (it is now possible with the nice weather), and Mr. Mattingly has taken steps to take care of the dead trees lining the back yards.

Another important issue Martin wanted to touch on was the Stream Restoration that is being done at Tower Park. A division of Northern Kentucky University received a $1 million grant to restore local streams. Mr. Martin wanted to stress the point that the work being done is not a road or sewer, which residents have been inquiring about, but it is a stream restoration project being done by NKU.

Now for the harsher part of the meeting; Suzanna Fetters, a resident who lives on Holly Woods Drive, addressed the council with an emotional plea for help. She advised there is a bad drug dealing problem on Holly Woods Drive. She went on to add that there is a rampant speeding problem which has put the children on the street in real danger with the cars traveling upwards of 55 MPH.

The drug problem was an issue in the past; it was addressed and eradicated from the area, but unfortunately it is back and getting worse. She acknowledged how well the police had dealt with the problem in the past and asked that they assist the neighborhood again in dealing with the current problems. Martin responded to her plea and told her he would meet with the Police Department and address both issues, the speeding and suspected drug dealing.

To finish up the meeting the Annual Police Department Report was given by Lieutenant James Gadzala. One of the main points of his report was the implementation of Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Essentially people are asked to fill out surveys about their individual situations, and then the responses are reviewed with scrutiny to see what the department is doing well and where they have areas to improve. I was very impressed with this tactic; has anyone filled out one of these surveys? Do you feel it will have an effect on the police department?

Finally, after it was said that the Finance Committee had just gone through an audit, Mayor Mary Brown wanted to extend a special thanks to Fred Ewald for all of his fiscal knowledge and hard work with the audit team that came in. Mr. Ewald said, “Just like in every department it is more about the team of people that I work with, the team that helps me everyday.”--Class act.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What is Next for the Central Business District?

With a renewed life and energy along Fort Thomas Avenue - thanks to spring and more importantly a vibrant Mio's, the next obvious question is what else could be happening along the main street in the center of town?

Two very important locations are up for sale and a third was just vacated by the Three French Hens.  That leaves three prime locations in the center of town available to create a nice retail scene near the intersection of Highland and Fort Thomas Avenue.

The two locations that are available for sale include 33 North Fort Thomas and 19 North Fort Thomas.  They are large enough for any number of cool retail businesses and one of the properties even includes 12 off-street parking spaces.

Come on Fort Thomas - we don't need another bank, insurance agent, or dance studio.  I am asking our readers to get creative and let us know in the comments section what you would like to see in these and the other store front to make the Central Business District more of a destination.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket - onto the 2nd Round

The Cake Eaters with a huge upset over the Fort Thomas Swim Club. Obviously blue slush puppies, square pizzas and Moo Malts couldn't overcome the long wait list, which was obviously a huge detriment to the number 1 seed.

Looking down the road to the sweet 16, we're looking at a potential Ft. Thomas Fire/Ft. Thomas Police matchup.

Vote on!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mio's Opens! (pictures)

The long awaited opening of Mio's couldn't have been more perfect. Amazing weather, St. Patrick's Day, and eager basketball fans welcomed Mio's into the Fort Thomas community with open arms. As of 4:00 they had sold 100 buffets, and it got even more crowded into the night.

My new claim to fame is buying and imbibing Mio's first beer. A Samuel Adams Alpine Spring. Delicious.

My belief is that the piece of property situated on the corner of Fort Thomas Ave and Highland Ave is not only Crossing Guard Judy's domain, it's an important property for the city. And it's wonderful to have business owners at Mio's that get that.

After talking with owners Mark Fowler and Allen Harless, I got the feeling that they understand our community a little better. Having local kids as employees (as well as providing some of the entertainment like last night) is a great idea. They are fully engaged with every aspect of the restaurant and understand that service - especially at 15 North Fort Thomas Ave - is a cornerstone for a long-standing, thriving business.

"It may not make sense financially to overstaff the way we are going to early on," said Fowler, "but good service - overservice - is something that is very important to us."

The food was awesome as well. Although I was kicking myself for giving pizza up for lent, Fowler promised us a stuffed pizza challenge was on the agenda for an episode of Mark vs. Food. Can't wait.

Mio's first beer! My bride rolling her eyes in the background, ordering beer number 2.

Upstairs drink station.

Downstairs dining room. 72" TV.

Downstairs bar. From memory on draft: Stella, Samuel Adams, Flying Dog as well as 3-4 others.

Upstairs kids dining room. Complete with chalkboard paint on the bottom parts of the walls.

Co-owner Mark Fowler with his nephew.

Getting later. Patio is full.

HHS students come to watch fellow student, Carter New, play on the patio.

Fellow HHS football players join Carter on stage.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Van Damme it's (still, barely) Friday

- Upsets aren't just happening in the NCAA tournament. In the latest Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket, we had 4 double digit seeds get through to the second round. Just one more bracket to vote for first round matchups and then it's onto round 2. Too bad, so sad Dukies.

- Mark vs. Food, Part III was once again a success last night. After it's all said and done, we raised around $500 for The Brighton Center. I'll post a dedicated entry to this ridiculous array of appetites later this weekend.

- Going to try to make it to Mio's tomorrow. Anyone else going for their St. Paddy's soft opening?

- Three French Hens has found a landing spot at Hyde Park Square. Via their FB page:
Here we go, Three French Hens is launching new hours in Hyde Park. Starting Monday March 12th we will be open SEVEN days a week. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 10-2. Can't wait to see everyone!

Would love to hear their reasons for the move.

- Throwback 5 Things to Know Feature, from last St. Patrick's Day. You may want to keep this handy for Sunday.

Mio's Grand Opening (Guest Post by Beth Nyman)

The big day at is finally happening on Saturday- Mio’s is holding their official opening on Saturday, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, 12:00 noon, in their new location on 15 N. Fort Thomas. On this opening day only Mio’s will offer a special pizza and pasta buffet menu. Mio’s will begin serving from it’s regular menu on Sunday.

Many Fort Thomas residents have been eagerly awaiting this opening. The former Warners/ Pergola space has been vacant since October 2009, and that great outdoor patio in front, once a favorite spot for the locals to see and be seen, has been sitting empty and forlorn for a long time. Mio’s has arrived just in time for the spring patio season.

Mio’s pizza has been in business since 1975 and they currently have 8 area locations. Their menu includes classic and stuffed pizzas, pasta dishes, salads, hoagies, calzones, and kids meals. Manager and co-owner Mark Fowler says Mio’s strives to make people feel welcome by providing a clean environment, great food, and the best service possible.

There will be some changes to the space. Mark, and partner and co-owner Alan and their crew have been very busy these past few months renovating, training new employees,(many of them Highlands students), and increasing oven capacity.

The main level front door off the patio leads to a new bar with café tables and a pizza pick- up area. Off the bar is a small dining room containing a 72-inch flat screen television, which will be used for regular seating and/or private parties.

The second floor front door at the top of the outdoor stone stairway leads to the main dining rooms. There’s a cozy fireplace to the room on the right, and a kid themed-room to the left, complete with a blackboard on the wall for the small and antsy. All the tables are covered in butcher paper and set with crayons in jars.
Parking is available in back of the restaurant, and may be accessed through the driveway next to Candy Cottage.

First week hours-

Saturday, March 17th, from 2:00 pm to 10:00 ( Pizza and Pasta Buffet)
Sunday March 18th - closed
Monday-Friday March 19th- 23rd- Open for lunch 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Saturday March 24th and Sunday March 25th – Open 2p.m.-10 p.m. (Pizza and Pasta Buffet only)
Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th - closed

Wednesday the 28th - open regular hours and menu from this day on-

Mondays through Thursdays 11a.m. - 10p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 11a.m.- 11p.m.
Sundays 12 noon –10p.m.
Phone- 441-Mios (6467)
Delivery begins May 15th

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fort Thomas News - Mid-week Update

A few big stories in Fort Thomas:

1. Cheryl McCafferty was back in the news in a big way today filing a motion for a retrial.  In the motion, her attorney throws her previous legal team, the judge, and Commonwealth's Attorney under the bus.  It should be interesting to see if this gets traction over the coming weeks and months.

2. Mio's opens on St Patty's Day.  They ask that you be patient as they work out the bugs of a new restaurant but given the recent great weather it should be a great time to hang out on the patio or enjoy college basketball on their 73'' TV.

3. It looks like they have finally installed playground equipment at Highland Park.  However, the installation is across the street from the shelters and benches where the old basketball court was.  Not exactly the safest idea given children will likely be running back and forth across the street to their parents.

4. This interesting story on a state proposal to change liquor licensing for those serving by the drink has Fort Thomas roots and if passed could pave the way for a wine bar to open in the Nevada Building.

Tournament Bracket, Mark vs. Food Updates

(Click on bracket to see bigger)

Upset Alert! The renegade deer did not care that the city council, headed by Mayor Mary Brown canceled the deer census this year. They came back with a vengeance to pull the first 16 seed over a 1 seed in tournament history.

Ft. Thomas Jewelers, as a 14 seed, also played the role of giant slayer as they took down Goliath Omega Processing.

2 more brackets until 2nd round matchups start. Keep voting!

Also, if you are looking for a place to watch the UK game tomorrow, Arnie's on the Levee should be a good time. Will, Patrick, Ozzy and I will be doing the all-dog food challenge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket - through one bracket

New bracket is up to vote. Get er' done.

All favorites won in the first round of voting, set aside the 915, which pulled the upset on the Inverness district. The Blue Marble had a furious 2nd half comeback to beat the St. Catherine festival.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mark vs. Food Part 3 This Thursday!

(Click on the image to see it bigger)

This Thursday Mark vs. Food will be at Arnie's on the Levee to raise more money for The Brighton Center. The Brighton Emerging Leaders group, in conjunction with Rewind 94.9 and Fort Thomas Matters, is kicking off March Madness right.

For every person that comes to Arnie's, Bill Head and crew will give a dollar to The Brighton Center. Add the $250 corporate sponsorship for Mark vs. Food, and we should have a good start on helping our community's needy a little bit more. Make sure you come in between 6-9 to get credit for The Brighton Center.

Through three events, we have raised $1,250.

My partner in crime and fellow gorger, Will Chambers, will once again be joining me as we represent the skinny kid junction. We are taking on veteran food challenger and Kentucky Mr. Football, Patrick Towles, as well as one of his favorite targets and fellow University of Kentucky committ, Austin "Ozzy" Sheehan.

Because Arnie's doesn't currently have a food challenge, we've been able to somewhat collaborate with them to help create it. At this point, all I know for sure is that it'll be a lot of food and that it'll incorporate their new food menu.

I've been lobbying to name it. Wait for it........

Collier Mama. Phonetically: (Call-yer Mama).

Mama on a Budget: Teeter Tots Follow Up (by Jessica Duke)

Too many tots, too much teetering. As I said in my first post on the Ft Thomas Recreation Department’s Teeter Tots, the whole thing was simply too disorganized, too many children for so little leadership, and too hectic to really be fun for parents too.

After attending four of the five weeks (Knox was sick during week three), I can say without hesitation that Knox absolutely loved Teeter Tots and I absolutely did not. I am not going to dwell on my first post but the lack of organization really did this one in for me. To make matters worse, this is one of the few “Mommy and Me” classes that we attend that actually does cost money, although it is only $18 for the full five weeks.

They did add a second adult helper, which made it slightly better, and Knox really embraced the activities. They also ended the five-week session with additional play- time in the downstairs of the armory with lots of trucks and snacks; although, apparently, this was an option (sans snacks) each week but the teacher did not tell anybody until the final week.

Next session began Friday February 24th. You can find information here: Thankfully, I will have recently gone through labor with my second, and not belaboring to go to Teeter Tots again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket


Our most local university, NKU, hasn't yet transitioned to Division I yet. This means that Fort Thomas as a community - set aside alma mater connections - have no real ties to March Madness, filling out bracket and cutting down the nets.

Until now.

Selection Sunday, which is today, means that the most printed document tomorrow morning will be the NCAA tournament bracket. Thousands of hours will be lost as hundreds of Fort Thomas employees pour over conference records, strength of schedules and bad losses, trying to reach the Holy Grail of March: the perfect bracket.

Our Fort Thomas Iconic bracket will not have any type of statistics you need to delve into. It's a gut feeling that'll drive it. There are some snubs who have been left out (Fort Thomas Pizza, Judy the Crossing guard, overzealous speeding tickets, etc), but that's how March Madness typically plays out.

It's just for fun, so if you get bogged down with the minutia of trying to decide who to put into the elite 8, take a minute and look at the matchups in the Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket (FTITB).

You can vote each matchup by making predictions on the bracket page (below), via the comments section or our Facebook group. Or using the polls here ----------->

If you are a business in the bracket, feel free to pander to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers or actual honest-to-goodness people you know to go to Fort Thomas Matters to make their vote known.

The first few rounds are going to be frenetic, so vote early, as we can't put all first round games on the same page, so each 16-team bracket will only be up a few days. Voting starts NOW! GO!

View the entire bracket here. (You have to register, but it's worth it. How can you not have a say in the 1 vs. 16 matchup for Mayor Mary Brown vs. The Renegade Deer?)

Mio's Update

The signage is up at Mio's and it seems as if their opening date is right around the corner. Here's an update via their Facebook page.

Today is Thursday March 8th and scheduled today is more cleaning, paper goods arrive and will need to be put away, another training class tonight between 6 pm and 8 pm. Wednesday nights training went very well. Good group of young kids. POS system is a little more fine tuned after tech support yesterday.

Food arrives on Friday, on Saturday we gave 5 people in to get the store full menu ready which takes about 5 hours. The we start training the kitchen crew on how to make food.

Depending on how all the training goes will give us a better idea of when the opening date will be.

We go the OK from the State of Kentucky and the City of Fort Thomas on the ABC permit, but don't have it in hand. If all the stars line up just right we could possible have a St Patrick Day Party on the Patio in the form of a buffet consisting of pizza, pasta, apps, salad, and a cash bar. We do have entertainment lined up for that day as well. Carter New and company will be playing if all goes well with with the training, ABC board, final inspections.

Keep looking in on facebook for more details.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

City Council Notes 3/5/12 (by Ben Petracco)

As previously noted Fort Thomas Matters is going to attend the city council meetings throughout the year and relay the important topics to the public. I attended the meeting on Monday, March 5th; the following are issues that were covered:

JC Morgan, the Campbell County Library Director, spoke to the council members regarding a proposal to construct a Library branch to service the southern district of Campbell County. As seen on the map the new site for the library would be located past Campbell County High School, between Grants Lick Elementary and John W. Reily Elementary. You can see the “blueprint” of the proposed library; in order for this blueprint to become reality the annual library tax would have to be raised from $74 to $94. Mayor Brown commended Mr. Morgan for his work and the libraries service to Campbell County, and advised that the board would take the tax raise into consideration.

A resident who lives on Overlook Drive spoke at the meeting asking for advice and assistance. His backyard is lined with dead pine trees that are technically on property that belongs to the Fort Thomas Plaza. He has noticed the branches falling and sticking into the ground like giant natural javelins. He wanted to cut them down himself in fear that the branches could hurt the children that play in the area. With the trees being on private property he was advised against removing the trees himself at the risk of being sued. According to him, it has been relatively difficult dealing with the shopping center representatives and asked the council members if there was any way to expedite the process to get the trees removed.

The most discussed issue of the night was probably the proposal to put artificial turf on the soccer field at the fort. Mr. David Meyer brought this proposal to the council’s attention in Dr. Mark Farley’s stead. Meyer acknowledged the difficulties of maintaining a functioning soccer field with natural grass when there are 6 teams that use the field on a regular basis.

The addition of turf would make the field more accessible to the community, and would present the option of renting the field to different squads. A new surface for the field would start at around $750,000. The project already has secured monies from the athletic boosters, soccer fundraisers, donations, and investors throughout the city.

Meyer brought this to the council’s attention because they are requesting the cities assistance in financing the project though bonding. Councilman Peterman explained the details and legal process’ to issue bonds and borrow the money required to attain the proper funds; needless to say it is an in-depth process. Councilman Haas agreed that the turf is a great idea and a project that should definitely be pursued.

Fire Chief Mark Bailey had some exciting news. The new fire engine, Engine 601, is now in service. Chief Bailey said that the engine will be serving our city for the next 25-30 years; I was fortunate to get some pictures of it in the garage.
Lieutenant James Gadzala said that while January was a relatively quiet month for the police department, February was a different story. On February 6th Lieutenant Gadzala had to commend the police and fire departments for their outstanding work on rescuing a victim from a car accident. When they arrived at the scene on I-275 the car had burst into flames and the driver was on fire. They successfully rescued the driver, transported him to UC hospital where he made a full recovery.

The police department also apprehended a trio of thieves, 2 male, one female, who were breaking into homes around Chesapeake and Newman Avenues. The moral of the story is mainly don’t be a thief, but also remember to Lock Your Doors.

The deer survey that was taken to gain perspective on deer population is too expensive for Ft. Thomas to shoulder the financial burden alone this time around. The company that has been used in the past will not reduce their rates and another city could not be found to share the cost of the infrared survey; therefore the survey has been put on the backburner for now.

Editor's Note:
Correction to the above via a council member:
I wanted to let you know that the deer survey is still going to be done. We are waiting for them to give us the date or range of dates. It has to be on a clear night etc before the leaves are on the trees.

The earlier story on the drainage problem at 131 Grant Street is being addressed. The size of the sewer intake is going to be increased if it can handle the influx of water, and if that is not possible the sewer line will be replaced to handle a larger amount of water and rectify the problem.

Are there any issues that you would like to be brought to the council’s attention on the 19th? Leave your comments here:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mama on a Budget: Singing Safari (by Jessica Duke)

By now you know I love to do activities with my son but hate, HATE, to spend money. The only person cheaper than me that I know is my husband. So, needless to say, I really fretted over spending $15 (I know, right) for a one-hour session at the Cincinnati Zoo but Singing Safari’s was absolutely worth it.

Singing Safari’s is described on the zoo’s website as an opportunity to “teach you and your toddler how to move and sing like the plants and animals” and to interact with the actual animals in the songs. The class is taught in collaboration with “Miss Amanda’s Music Garden” and combines all of Knox’s (and most kids’) favorite things: singing, dancing, and zoo animals.

The zoo had this planned perfectly. There is a parking lot and entrance exclusively for the class attendees which was easy to find and right outside the classroom building, so we did not have to park and walk all through the zoo to find the class. The classroom was comfortable and large enough and we were even told we could take our shoes off. There were only four children and their parents in the class with one music instructor and one zookeeper; I was told four children was fewer than usual but even if there were twenty kids, it would have still been enjoyable.

The children were all so engaged which was easy considering how engaging the instructor was and considering the fact that after singing a song about a snake, the zookeeper brought out a snake for everyone to see AND touch. We also got to see and touch a possum after singing a possum song and we got to see (but not touch) a barn owl. Knox loved to “hoot” and “hiss” and…and…(what sound does a possum make?), all while touching the animals. Also, the zoo being a botanical garden, the classroom itself was in amongst an ecological garden with a waterfall and neat plants.

For more information on the classes offered at the zoo, go to

Although the $15 fee ($17 for non-members) was more than I would usually pay for a 45-minute class, it was well worth the $0.33 cents per minute. For a non-member, one of the best benefits is that after the $17 class (parking included for free) you can enter the Zoo without buying a ticket (normal adult entry fee is $15, $10 for children, $6 to park). So, actually, for a non-member wanting to go to the zoo, it would be cheaper to do a class first! Just looking out for your wallet; enjoy!