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Monday, April 30, 2012

Fort Thomas Real Estate - Steady and Bouncing Back

A story in the Enquirer this weekend highlighted the fact that Fort Thomas is one of the most stable real estate markets you can find.  While the past three years saw the total sales decline the prices have held up well and there appears to be a modest surge happening.

According to Enquirer data Fort Thomas home values (measured by median sales price) only dropped 1.3% since 2008 and is up 6.7% over last year.

Based on even more recent data the market is actually on a bit of a hot streak.  I receive weekly sales reports from Robinson Realty in Cincinnati where they show the stats of home sales for neighborhoods all over the region and Fort Thomas was the third hottest market in the region for March with sales of 24% of the current real estate inventory (22 sales on 93 listings).

This isn't just numbers either as I am seeing first-hand experiences that reflect this as my brother-in-law just contracted a house that had sat vacant for three years.  He plans to invest a lot to bring it back up to par and will only serve to stabilize prices on his street.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fort Thomas Weekend Notes

A few things over the past couple weeks that may be of interest to you:

1. Some Highland Ave residents are upset at paying for resurfacing.  It is a rite of passage for all Fort Thomas homeowners to split the cost of resurfacing every 20+ years (I was unlucky to get the bill three years after moving to Lumley) but these residents make a great point.  Should those on heavily traveled primary thoroughfares be required to bear the full cost of resurfacing those roads?

2. Highland United Methodist Church is hosting an event on Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.  The event will bring together 11 area churches and will be held at 7pm on the front plaza of the church.

3. I went to Mio's on Friday and I spoke with Mark Fowler the owner.  He understands that there were some service issues the first couple weeks but feels confident he has them worked out.  There were a couple things as he showed me around that I thought you may be interested in.  First, they do have wi-fi and there is a good chance you can access it from the front patio.  Secondly, I was surprised by how much parking exists behind the building (pic below).  Swing by when you get a chance you won't be disappointed - especially on the patio on a warm summer day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FTPD Annual Report Stats: Non Traffic Charges

(Click the chart to view it larger)

Last week we dissected the traffic charges given out by FTPD. Some of the highlights:

  • Of the 1480 citations were issued. 2600 written warnings were given.
  • Only 354 citations were issued for speeding. Anecdotal evidence would suggest more.
  • 106 DUIs were issued.
Non-traffic citations. Again, going back to anecdotal evidence, I expected to see more burglary and theft citations issued. Looking back on it, however, it seems as if those are the only crimes that routinely get reported through "old school" news. In total, only 24 citations were issued for theft and burglary.

By far, drug and alcohol related citations made up the majority. Of the 749 charges, 357 were drug and alcohol related. 241 warrants were served which made up another big majority.

Mama on a Budget: Cat in the Hat Story Time

The last time I met a nearly seven foot tall ‘Cat was after a UK basketball game. This time around was quite a bit less exciting: at a Barnes and Noble with my two children and husband (if only he were that ‘Cat from college, “meow”). Actually, though, this much more wholesome experience was really entertaining, family-friendly, and well-organized.

Every Caturday Saturday, Barnes and Noble hosts a family-oriented story time in their upstairs children’s area. It is free of charge, although I am sure they would appreciate it if you bought something (I suggest a non-fat, no foam, chai tea latte from the cafĂ©!). This past Saturday was hosted by the cat in the hat and the children were read Green Eggs and Ham. However, a character does not always come to story time and the times vary, so be sure to check their website before heading out.

The only issue was someone must’ve been taking a catnap because they were about 10 minutes late to start which is an eternity for the nearly thirty children age four or five and under. But otherwise, the event was purr-fect (eh, eh). The cat allowed all the children to give it hugs and take pictures with it, and was lively and animated during the reading of the book. The host also gave each child one lollipop to ensure there was a little quiet while the book was read.

When finished, they had a craft table (make your own bookmark) and a tattoo station; Knox still has his kitty-cat tattoo on his arm. Representatives from the local library branches were also there signing people up for library cards.

Be sure to check out their schedule of events online. John Lomax from local channel 12 will be there this Saturday in support of child abuse awareness month.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fire on the Avenue Tonight

I had to park on Fort Thomas Ave tonight as the street was shut down due to a fire in the old 3 French Hens building right next to the city building.

Thankfully no one was apparently hurt but the main street in town was blocked for a couple hours.  I did speak to one of the residents who lived there.  She was not home at the time but her daughter was and she indicated it took 20 minutes from the call until water was applied to the fire despite being next door to the fire department.  I doubt she had an actual timer but she was clearly not happy with the response.

The picture above is of a fire truck parked behind the structure from an entrance on Lumley Ave.  The picture below is of an officer directing foot traffic around the site and the bottom picture is a close-up of the roof after the fire was doused. 

UPDATE - the fire was apparently started by a cigarette, which may have had something to do with the resident's perception of the time it took to apply water to the fire.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

FTEF Awards Grants

This year all 5 schools in the Fort Thomas Independent School District will have over $56,000 in additional funds to purchase new technology and supplies due to the Fort Thomas Foundation Foundation’s teacher grant program. This amount represents the most monies awarded by the Foundation in its history.  Since 2001, the Foundation has awarded over $422,000 in teacher grants for items that are above and beyond the district’s operating budget. Money raised through the Foundation’s Tailgate Club, annual appeal, dance and employee giving drive help support the teacher grant program.  Among this year’s grant awards are:

  • iPads for a pilot program for the elementary schools to Jon Stratton, principal of Johnson Elementary, Jay Brewer, principal of Moyer Elementary, and Keith Faust, principal of Woodfill Elementary, for a total of $25,160;
  • Musical instruments for the music programs to Mary Scaggs and Dave Rockel, music teachers at Johnson, Moyer and Woodfill Elementary Schools for a total of $10,000;
  • Seven (7) document cameras to Jon Stratton, principal of Johnson Elementary, for a total of $2,793;
  • Eleven (11) document cameras to Jay Brewer, principal of  Moyer Elementary, for a total of $4,389;
  • Two (2) classroom sets of the Smart Response XE interactive response system for a pilot program in the Math Department to Stephanie Ewald of Highlands Middle School for a total of $4,798;
  • Video camera, software and equipment for a middle school broadcast news program to Lisa Birkley of Highlands Middle School for a total of $2,953;
  • Video/digital camera and podium for a public speaking class to Dianne Yelton of Highlands Middle School for a total of $842;
  • Buzzers for the HHS Quick Recall Team and 8th grade science class to John Warford of Highlands Middle School for a total of $580;
  • Five (5) digital cameras for the middle school art program to Collin Shadwell of Highlands Middle School for a total of $1,030;
  • Digital camera for the high school art program to Kristine Donnelly and Andy Eckerle of Highlands High School for a total of $625;
  • Physics cart and ramp system for the Physics Department to Tim Auch of Highlands High School for a total of $3,500.

FTEF Chairperson Beth Hudepohl is pleased with the success of the teacher grant program.  She stated, “It was great to feel the excitement and appreciation from the students and the teachers as we presented the recipients with their Foundation Grants. We thank all the supporters of the Foundation who enabled us to make a huge impact this year by fulfilling the largest monetary requests ever distributed in one year.”

Superintendent Gene Kirchner added, “The FTEF grants are a wonderful investment in the future of our children and represent the true spirit of our community.”

Formed in 1992, the Fort Thomas Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) separate from the district, believes that the education of our children is of paramount importance to the future of Fort Thomas. The mission is to provide funds beyond the operating budget for educational programs and activities for students and staff.  Foundation funds may be used to facilitate student and staff excellence, provide equipment and capital needs and expand community resources through the active involvement of individuals, businesses, and civic organizations.

For more information on how to donate to the Fort Thomas Education Foundation or for information about how to leave the Foundation in your will or estate plans, please contact Jennie King at 859-815-2004 or

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fort Thomas Police Annual Report (Traffic Charges)

(Click on the image to see it bigger)

Last year was the first year that we looked at the Fort Thomas Police Department's Annual Report. As always, Chief Daly and Lt. Fecher did a great job on the presentation. As we try to look for trends, we'll begin to delve into the report by putting them into graphs.

Ask any outsider and they will tell you not to speed in Fort Thomas. Our police department has a reputation of enforcing our speed limits extremely closely. It's no wonder that of the 1480 traffic citations, speeding was the largest portion of all the citations.

There were also 106 DUI citations issued.

While there were 1480 citations issued, there were 2600 written warnings.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links

- A few notes to rehash from Ben's council notes last week. The Grand Opening for Rossford Park was yesterday. The city did an amazing job revamping the park. It's user friendly, with lots to do, and has a nice, modern flow to it. Kudos.

- On top of that, a Reforestation effort is happening Saturday morning, from 10-1. They need volunteers to help replant trees at Rossford Park. Brochure is here.

-HHS 2002 grad, Tony Jansen, now a Highland Heights police officer, recently put his life on the line to save another. He was honored by the city. Ben will have a more in-depth story on this soon. Via our friends at

- Now that Lent is over, we can resume (and conclude) our Nky's Best Pizza Quest at Mio's Pizza. My bride and I gave it up for 40 days and 40 nights, and I've been waiting to try Mio's pizza, as of now - only had their beer and wings. We'll let you know when and where. Also, tried some of Larosa's new apps last night - thanks to Ryan Henry for letting us try them. Good stuff.

- Some information on the HHS Alumni Dinner via their FB page:
Highlands High School Alumni Association Annual Dinner

Welcome Back to the Nest

Highlands Country Club

Saturday, April 28, 2012
Cocktails: 6:00 Dinner: 7:30
Buffet with Cash Bar

Speaker: Mickey Foellger
Alumnus of the Year: Clem Fennell
Highlands Teacher of the Year: Susan Skinner
Outstanding Middle School Teacher of the Year: Rhonda Shriver
Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Mary Kinsella

Cost $30 pre-sale $35.00 day of the event
Sponsorships welcome!!

For ticket and information, please contact:
Linda Stapleton Slone, 859-750-9532 or at
The Bank of Kentucky, Inc., at 859-441-3302

Visit our website:
or mail reservations to:
HHS Alumni Dinner
P O Box 75159
Fort Thomas, Ky 41075

Everyone is invited!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Northern Kentucky and UK Basketball

As many of you know Mark and I are big UK basketball fans and if you are too then you may be familiar with the uproar that started today when Coach Calipari and a bus full of staff started a tour of the state of Kentucky to show off the National Championship trophy.  To see more about this tour including pictures from today's stops visit the following links on

and Here

How does this apply to Fort Thomas and Northern Kentucky you might ask?  When the schedule was announced Northern Kentucky was mysteriously absent from the list.  Stops in Lexington, Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky were included but nothing north of Lexington.

I didn't think a lot about it when I saw the list initially but then a crescendo started to build throughout the day.  First I noticed it on comments on KSR, then I started reading Twitter messages with comments such as "Northern Kentucky is Big Blue Nation too".  Then on my drive home Mo Egger was imploring Coach Calipari to call in and add a tour stop in NKY from his 3PM radio show on 1530.

Even Jared Lorenzen got in on the act:

While I would love to be able to swing by and touch the trophy or even get my picture taken with it I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon.  I count myself satisfied that we have a coach that gets it enough to spend a few days driving around the state making himself and the trophy accessible to everyday Kentuckians.

Besides, I believe that if a stop were added in... say Florence.... I would wager a guess that only a few hundred would show up.  We are too busy shuttling our kids to practice or working late to take the time to wait in line and possibly still not get a one on one interaction with the coach.  Contrast that with mountain towns (of which I came from one) where literally three thousand people showed up and it is clear they lack the access that many of us in Northern Kentucky have the resources to provide on our own.

I do however, think this is about more than basketball and it just happens to be the flash point that many Northern Kentuckians have decided to dig their heels in on.  Everyone here has spent decades being the red-headed stepchild to Cincinnati, getting the shaft from Frankfort, having to pay more for education as we pay for the rest of the state.  We are tired of being forgotten, getting no news coverage from the area media, and getting the jokes from our snobby Cincinnati suburban co-workers.

What do you think - is this the hill we should die on or do we pick another fight?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fort Thomas Mid-week News Update

I am a little late on this update and I started writing this while in New Orleans watching UK bring home their 8th championship.  Obviously I was distracted so here they are:

1. There have been rumors of a possible move of DEP from the Fort Thomas Plaza to the old Moore's Hardware store on the east side of 471.  While it would give them more control over the space and larger space I wonder how the parking and entry and exit will be.

2. Sanitation District 1 has a rate increas that goes into effect on May 1st. It should add about 17 cents / day to your bill on average.

3. There was a cool story in the Enquirer about Route 8 with cool stories about those that have been inspired from the highway. Have you had any inspirations from a drive down Route 8?

4. Local realtors Comey and Shepherd have added Fort Thomas to their annual luxury homes market analysis.  This is a bit of an endorsement of our real estate market and provides additional visibility that could come in handy for sellers.  They define luxury in Cincinnati as anything over $500K.  Interestingly, there were 8 such sales in 2011 with a median price of $700K.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Council Meeting Notes 4/2/2012 (by Ben Petracco)

The meeting had a rushed agenda because everyone in attendance was distracted by the hopes of the University of Kentucky bringing home number 8, so like the meeting, my article will be brief and to the point.

A resident from Overlook Drive was back to thank that council for paving parts of the street which leveled out some un-even patches. The resident again inquired about the pine trees lining the back yards on the street that are on the Fort Thomas Plaza’s property. Council members said they had someone working on the tree problem and that they were in communication with the Fort Thomas Plaza representatives.

City Manager, Don Martin addressed the deer issue in the city, saying that the infrared surveillance would have to be postponed until early 2013. The warm weather and early budding of the trees has made it impossible to use the equipment necessary to locate and count the deer.

Without the usual media outlets at the meeting Mr. Martin wanted us to get the word out that there are some important events coming up in the city. The dedication of the new Rossford Park is on Friday April 13 at 5:30. The dedication will include the following events: Highlands High School Concert Band, Essay Contest winners from Johnson Elementary 5th grade will handle the dedication ceremony, Highlands High School women’s ensemble will sing the National Anthem and have a 1st pitch ceremony, and there will also be youth baseball exhibition games. The flyer for the dedication can be viewed here:

There will be a reforestation at Rossford on April 14th, the morning after the dedication from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The plan is to plant around 1800 trees and volunteers are encouraged to come to the park and enjoy a fun morning of planting trees. The flyer for the event can be seen here:

Finally to wrap up the meeting Fire Chief, Mark Bailey, presented the annual fire department report. The council sincerely enjoyed the presentation and said Chief Bailey and his department are doing an outstanding job.

Saturday Morning Hot Links

- The FTITB winners, the Olde Fort Pub is hosting a benefit for victims of the recent tornadoes in the counties. The Sleeping Dogs are providing entertainment. Raffles, door prizes, etc. Should be a really great time for a great cause.

- Talk around town on the first few weeks of Mio's being open and the opinions are mixed. I have been talking with one of the owners, Allen Harless, who had this to say, "We have just been so busy and had a few hiccups along the way. Each day is getting better. (We) need a couple more weeks of training and organizational projects to iron out all the kinks in the building."

Let's hope they get the service/kitchens issues ironed out sooner, rather than later.

- The Summer Entertainment series has been out for a while and FTM has reported on it. Here' s a little more information on these events.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Olde Fort Pub Wins FTITB Title!

The Olde Fort Pub is this year's first annual Fort Thomas Iconic Tournament Bracket. Congrats to them and their loyal fans and followers who took on mighty Highlands High School in the finals. Over 2,500 votes were cast through the tournament.

I would have posted this Monday night, but I am just now done celebrating Kentucky's 8th National Championship.

On the way to the championship game, The Pub had to go through the Campbell County Library, Cake Eaters, The Midway District, Fort Thomas Police and of course, juggernaut Highlands High School. The full tournament bracket results are below. Click the images to see them in detail.

Can't wait to do it next year. For winning, the Olde Fort Pub will get an ad on our site for a month.