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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Newport Pavilion Enters Final Phase

Our friend, Amanda Van Benschoten, at covered the story of the developments at the Newport Pavilion.  The dirt continues to move to prepare for the final incoming tenants.  The tenants who will finalize the pavilion include Michael’s, PetSmart, AT&T, Chipotle, Chik-fil-A, and other restaurants; they want to be in and operating by Thanksgiving of this year.

Outworking the Competition

G. Michael Graham Photo. Highlands Co-Head Football Coach Brian Weinrich guides the players in a recent offseason workout. The Bluebirds expect to have about 100 players on the sidelines this fall.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds football tradition of outworking opponents in the offseason seems to be continuing this winter.

About a month after winning their state-record sixth consecutive state championship, the returning players hit the conditioning and weight lifting regime hard. The players work out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If opposing players, coaches and fans were astonished at the number of players on the Blue and White sideline last year, this will really blow them away. It’s a reason the Bluebirds tend to be deeper than most of their opponents and are currently tied with Honolulu Iolani (Hawaii) High School for the most consecutive state championships in the country.

“We have had about 80 guys show up each day,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands co-head coach. “During the winter, the 20 basketball players and one swimmer that will play football didn’t attend so we expect about 100 guys on the team next year.”

The Bluebirds dressed 91 players on varsity last year. They faced some opponents that had about 30 to 40 players on the sidelines.

“When you have as many people that we have that come out for weight and conditioning, it creates more depth on the team,” said Kyle Thurston, Highlands rising senior offensive lineman. “Everybody wants to play. We all try as hard as we can to get on the field.”

There were many times that Highlands faced better players in practice. But they still made sure they dominated the opponents. They knew they would not play if they did not play hard.

“When you have numbers like that, you just have more chances of developing more quality athletes,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands co-head coach. “It’s a good problem right now because of the space. We’re trying to find places to put everybody. We’re pretty creative in the things we do.”

A typical day starts with stretching, lifting weights then doing different workouts on a daily basis. Weinrich said the emphasis is to work different muscles and develop the total body. Weinrich also said the staff wants to find workouts that challenge the bodies and minds of the players. This includes position work.

“It’s definitely all worth it,” said Seth Hope, Highlands rising senior defensive lineman. “Even though it’s really tough, I like doing it, especially after we win all these games and have all these rings. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We’re all friends.”

The Bluebirds pride themselves on having players go just one way. They often wore down opponents doing that. They get to spend extra work on that one position as opposed to splitting up the week with both positions.

“We were talking in the weight room as coaches that we almost feel bad because we don’t have to be in their face,” Weinrich said. “We can walk around and talk to the guys. They’re so self-motivated right now that it’s almost scary. With that, we can find time to have some fun. We’re going to get better at the end of the day.”

The Bluebirds know they have to keep the motivation level high because every team is gunning for them. But Highlands has withstood pretty much every challenge going 87-3 in the last six years.

“You have to do everything hard. You can’t hold back on anything,” Thurston said. “Even if the people you face are small, you still have to go 100 percent. We just want to win every game by as much as we can and not hold back on anything.”

Mueller said the one loss last year 38-24 to Cincinnati Elder made the Bluebirds stronger. The defensive line is trying to better prepare for huge offensive lines.

“Last year, I was at 230 pounds and was the biggest guy on the field on the defense,” Hope said. “Some of those guys were pushing 350. Right after that loss, we started lifting every day before every practice to get bigger and stronger to compete at the next level. That’s the only thing that held us back. We’re going to make that extra push to get to the top on the national stage.”

In other news, Highlands recently had a big-name visitor on campus. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer came to Fort Thomas. The Buckeyes are recruiting Hope.

“I’m real close to making my dreams happen,” Hope said. “I always wanted to play (NCAA) Division I college football. We’ll see what kind of opportunities come at the end of next year.”

The regular season starts in August. Highlands will face six different opponents this year. More details will come when the schedule is finalized.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mama on a Budget: NKU Take a Kid to the Game

NKU Class 2035

I am a second-generation Northern Kentucky University (NKU) graduate.  My mother graduated from NKU, as did my Aunt; I followed suit several years later and was followed by my sister a year after that.  Now my husband is getting a Masters degree there. So, to say I would love for my children to go there is an understatement.  I do a lot of subliminal messaging (NKU…NKU) to them. We always go back for homecoming and now that NKU is NCAA Division One, there is an even better reason to hit up the basketball games with the kids: especially if the game is FREE!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cincinnati to Host ReelAbilities Film Festival

In recent years, the Cincinnati area has become host to an increasing number of film festivals. This is certainly great for cinephiles throughout the area. Fans of the moving image have a unique and interesting film festival to look forward to in March - ReelAbilities: Cincinnati Disabilities Film Festival. The festival takes place March 9th-16th at various locations throughout the Cincinnati area. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Be Healthy Fort Thomas. Here's How.

Jennifer Lynn is the proprietor at Fit Philosophie. She's going to be my yin to my Mark vs. Food yang. I've invited her to contribute to Fort Thomas Matters twice a month to give our readers a different prospective on what being healthy means to her. Without further adieu, here she is:
It is with great excitement that I am introducing myself to the Ft Thomas community as a bi-monthly contributor to Fort Thomas Matters.

I was able to realize my dream in December 2012 when I opened the doors to Fit Philosophie, a boutique fitness studio located at 911 N. Ft Thomas Avenue. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I knew that with perseverance I could make my dream a reality. It is now my privilege to share my love of fitness, community, and health with you.

What makes Fit Philosophie different than the other gyms in the area? At Fit Philosophie, the community and the individuals are of the utmost importance. We offer both private appointments and small group classes (maximum of 6).

The classes are designed to provide options for all personality types. Try a Sculpt class if you love weights. Pilates is a fabulous option for athletes looking to cross-train while also a terrific option for a beginner. Barrelates is always popular for individuals who are looking to focus on legs and abs (although be warned you will have to do some push-ups), and TRX suspension training is the highest intensity blast of strength and cardio—not for the faint of heart.

Throughout the next few installments, we will be filming sneak peaks of what these classes have to offer you.

As an added benefit, you will be asked to think not only about working hard at your session, but also about establishing a broader vision of your health. What happens when you walk out the door of Fit Philosophie? Do you practice habits that are complementing your hard work in the studio or are you continuing to embrace old patterns that are hindering your progress and success? How can we help?

We are all living in a fast paced society that presents us with daily temptations to eat unhealthy food, to practice poor sleep habits, and to live in a constant state of stress. Exercise is one of the greatest weapons we have to battle these challenges because of its restorative qualities.

The other weapon we have is each other. It has been proven repeatedly that we have strength in numbers. It is always a joy work as a team and laugh as we are sweating out the troubles of life and leaving them in puddles on the floor to be forgotten and replaced with happiness and health.

You are always only one workout away from a great mood!

For the month of March, we are issuing a studio-wide fitness challenge, appropriately named March Madness! The challenge includes 3 tests:
1) How long can you hold a wall sit?
2) How long can you hold a forearm plank?
3) How many burpees can you perform in one minute?

Why these 3 tests? These 3 exercises challenge every part of your body from your head to your heart to your toes. Additionally, these tests provide a way to measure progress and prove that hard work yields real measured results. I am excited to announce that we have 5 participants who will be updating you on their progress as March Madness gets underway!

I would love to issue an invitation to all of you to please stop by, email, or call me to ask more questions. I am here to help you and to do my very best to educate this community on the current scientific research that is backing up the fitness trends of today.

If you are new to working out, recovering from an injury, or just need to shake up your routine—come on in and try a class or private session. What do you have to lose? I see only gains in your future. Make it a great week and we will see you at the studio!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Highlands girls, NCC boys hoops teams open 9th Region Tourney against Holmes

G. Michael Graham Photos. Above, Highlands post Jesse "Dirt" Daley (24) and Vanessa Fisse (15) get down in defensive position in a recent game against Simon Kenton. Below, Newport Central Catholic guard Zach Pangallo (11) brings the ball up-court in the All "A" State Tournament while Jake Schulte (33) gets in position. Both teams drew Covington Holmes to open the 9th Region Tournament.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

COVINGTON –The 9th Region basketball draw worked out well for one 36th District champion and not so well for the other in terms of overall matchups.

Both the Highlands Bluebirds girls (24-7) and Newport Central Catholic boys (28-2) basketball teams drew the respective teams from Covington Holmes in Saturday’s draw held at Covington Holmes. The tournament will again be held at Northern Kentucky University’s Bank of Kentucky Center.

The blind draw pitted the four district champions against the four district runners-up in the first round. District opponents went to different sides of the bracket.

Both Holmes teams finished as 35th District runners-up. The injury-riddled Lady Bulldogs (13-17) lost to Notre Dame, 58-37 and the Bulldogs fell 73-72 to the Covington Catholic Colonels when Colonel junior Nick Ruthsatz hit a half-court three-pointer as time expired.

Highlands handled visiting Holmes, 76-60 on Jan. 31 during its eight-game winning streak. The Bluebirds have won 13 of their last 14 contests on their way to their first district championship since back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. The teams meet at 8 p.m. Friday.

On the other side, NewCath ventured across the Licking River to face then-25-0 Holmes and outlasted the Bulldogs, 88-85 in double overtime on Feb. 8. The Thoroughbreds have won 18 in a row. The teams meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The Lady Bulldogs have won just two of their last eight contests. Head coach Scott Calcaterra said nine of his 19 players in the program have suffered injuries this year, including two injuries. Senior Tamra Holder went down against Holy Cross in the 35th Semifinals. Teammates Amanda Johnson and Deja Turner have also sat out with injuries at times this year. But Highlands will prepare for them as if Holder is going to play.

“You always want to prepare for the best they’re going to offer,” said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands head coach. “Turner is an outstanding guard that can really shoot the moment she comes into the gym so we have to be aware of her. We just have to be ready to go on Friday.”

Calcaterra knows he will have “a lot of sleepless nights” preparing Holmes for the deepest team in the region. The Senior Twin Towers in Jesse “Dirt” Daley and Leah Schaefer lead the way along with Brianna Adler. But other players like Ava Abner, Vanessa Fisse, Emilie Parton, Haley Coffey, Alex Combs, Lydia Graves and McKenzie Leigh have found ways to contribute this year.

Calcaterra jokingly said he may try to play stall ball the way Highlands did against Notre Dame last year in the first round of the tournament in a 13-8 defeat. But he admitted the players would not have the patience for that.

“We’ll watch a lot of game film from the time we played,” Calcaterra said. “I’ll have to really sit down and try to figure out a strategy. We’re hoping we can build off last year with the experience of getting to the regional tournament and play with a little bit of confidence. It’s going to boil down to playing better defense for us.”

NewCath has been receiving teams’ best shots and expects nothing different in the tournament with Holmes. The Thoroughbreds have made the last two regional championships before losing close games to Boone County last year and Dixie Heights two years ago.

NewCath is the favorite because of its size. The All “A” State Champions start 6-foot-5-inch Nick Seibert, 6-6 Drew McDonald and 6-8 Jake Schulte and bring 6-4 Ben Weyer off the bench. But guards Micheael Bueter, Zach Pangallo, Colin Dupont and Brennan Devoto need to hit crucial outside shots to keep teams from collapsing on the tall players.

“We’re going to have to play to our identity like we have been all year,” said Grant Brannen, NewCath head coach. “We haven’t been shooting well lately and we’ll have to guard well. To win it, we’ll have to go through three really tough teams.”

Holmes (28-2) will counter with its quickness led by sophomore James Bolden. The Thoroughbreds need to keep Bolden out of the middle. He likes to drive and either shoot or dish off to wide-open teammates when opponents slide into the lane to teammates like Daquan Palmer and Rashawn Coston.

“You’re talking about two Top 10 teams in the state,” Brannen said. “It wasn’t the ideal draw. But you’re eventually going to have to face (the Bulldogs) anyway. It is a tough draw, but you have to go with it. That’s the great thing about the season. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Not only did Highlands avoid favorite Notre Dame (23-5) in the first two round of the tournament, the Bluebirds also managed to avoid a possible second-round matchup with the Boone County Lady Rebels (17-11). Boone County and veteran head coach Nell Fookes have won three of the last four region crowns and five of the previous nine. 

Highlands did manage to knock off Boone County twice, including a 61-35 domination in Florence on Jan. 16. But teams still know they’re up against a veteran head coach in Fookes, who knows how to pull off magic in the postseason. In a down year after the graduation of current Florida Gator Sydney Moss, Boone County still won the 33rd District as a four seed.

Highlands finished 14-2 in region play, including 8-1 against the rest of the field. The two losses came to Notre Dame, 63-48 on Jan. 8 and Newport Central Catholic, 56-54 on Jan. 4. Notre Dame finished undefeated in region play at 13-0. The Pandas have won 12 in a row. The Bluebirds avenged the loss to NewCath in the 36th Semifinals, 48-40.

A win over Holmes pits the Bluebirds against either Dixie Heights (16-15) or Ryle (11-18). Highlands beat both teams by a combined 64 points during the regular season. Former Highlands and Xavier standout Tara Boothe-Smith coached Dixie Heights to its first 34th District title since 2008 in her second year as head coach after serving as an assistant at Highlands.

“It’s really exciting for me and the kids on the team,”Smith said. “They’ve worked their butts off to have that opportunity.”

Smith would not look beyond Ryle. But a second-round matchup would match the top two career scoring leaders in Highlands girls hoops history against each other for the third time. That semifinal game takes place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The championship game is Monday at 7 p.m.

On the other side, the Thoroughbreds finished 18-1 in region play. Their lone loss came 50-48 to Covington Catholic on The Hill on Jan. 10.

If NewCath survives the battle against Holmes, the Thoroughbreds will face either Cooper (23-5) or St. Henry (10-15) in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The title game is 6 p.m. Sunday.

The Thoroughbreds did manage to avoid facing two of the best players in the region in the first two rounds. Dixie Heights (17-13) features junior 2,000-point career scorer Brandon Hatton and Covington Catholic (25-6) features Ruthsatz.

Both teams will be playing on a large floor. The teams will see a lot of space behind the baskets unlike normal high school gyms.

“It shouldn’t bother shooters because all shooters have one spot they look at when they shoot,” Richey said. “They may need to make some adjustments in warm-ups. But after that, they should be good to go.”

Both teams are looking for their first region crowns in quite some time. Highlands last won the region in 2001 and NewCath last won the title in 2000.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Countdown to the Academy Awards

It's no secret that I love the awards season, and this year was especially great for cinema. For movie fans, February 24 is the Super Bowl, World Series, and NCAA Championship all rolled into one. Luckily, you don't have to be a big-shot Hollywood insider to join in the Oscars festivities. 

Van Damme It's Friday (Ask Joey Edition)

Radio Personality, Joey from Kiss 107 FM contributes to Fort Thomas Matters as our local "Ask" girl. She's our hotter answer to Dear Abby.  She knows a little about a lot and she's funny as hell. If you'd like a chance to have your question answered by one of Fort Thomas' crown jewels, leave a comment here, on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

This is her second Ask Joey column.
  • Weirdest fan encounter? -Kissfan
First, I have always thought that me having *fans* was the most ridiculous thing ever. I have worked hard in the business for about ten years but aside from that, I am literally just a normal girl from Northern Kentucky.

That aside, I have had kids cry..hug me and not let go, grown men wanting to donate CRAZY amounts of money to a charity in exchange for a kiss. But the weirdest, came from cops.

The oddest was at an event in Bellevue, I gave a cop a bag of station goodies we were handing out and he started asking and talking about my life (like seriously, you would have had to listen to me everyday to know this stuff). It was the strangest because I always think our police are involved in these heavy duty topics, probably listening to serious news programs and this guy knew my spider bite on the butt story, start to finish.

  • Can you take Mark in a Mark vs Food lol? on Ask Joey, Fort Thomas Resident & Formerly of Kiss 107 FM- ANYTHING! - Hungryman

Heck yes. Mark has seen me eat. You haven't seen it yet because I think he is scuuuuuured.

  • In your experience, how would you compare trophy wives in Fort Thomas to other city's? -Karlie

Hahahaha. Especially now, while I am not working and I am out a lot during the day, yes...I have certainly noticed them more than ever. In Fort Thomas though, our lovely trophy wives seem A LOT less obnoxious and less into the latest silly trend. Oh, and the ladies of Fort Thomas are all waaaaay hotter.

  • Is she single? Haha. How would one go about asking a celebrity out? -Hopeful Romantic
Hopeful Romantic,

Again, silly with the celebrity thing. But no, I am in a relationship. We did take a break last year but we have happily reunited in our lovely Fort Thomas home. If I ever get all 'single' again, everyone will know!



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Top News Today

An Ohio poll worker is under investigation for voter fraud.  Melowese Richardson, a resident of Cincinnati, said she voted for Barack Obama twice in November.  She cast an absentee ballot as well as cast multiple votes at the polls.  Ms. Richardson was working at the polls where she could have voted under different names totaling 6 votes in all. 

Ms. Richardson’s explanation for her multiple votes was that she didn’t think her absentee ballot would be counted, so she voted in person at the polls in her name as well as her grand daughter’s name.  While Melowese says her voting strategy was “not a big deal” election authorities think otherwise.  Casting multiple votes and voting in someone else’s name is illegal and compromises the basis of the electoral system.

“President Obama’s presidency could be shaped by how he handles entitlements,” says Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.  The programs like Medicare and Social Security must be dealt with in order to get the country on the right track, and get a handle on the deficit.

Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the former co-chairmen of the president's deficit-reduction commission pitched a $2.4 trillion deficit reduction plan over the next 10 years.  They urged that the spending cuts not be made to defense and other programs.  Half of the plan comes from changes in health care spending and closing tax loopholes.  The rest of the $2.4 trillion reduction would stem from an adjustment of Social Security's cost of living increases. 

The Simpson-Bowles plan does have some adverse views, even from their own party.  Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) says, “Loopholes are necessary for tax reform, If you take them for spending you’re blocking tax reform, and you’re really not getting the deficit under control.”

The next fiscal cliff deadline comes on March 1 with the implementation of $85 billion in cuts known as the sequester. 

NASCAR history was made Sunday when Danica Patrick won the pole position in the Daytona 500.  It is the first time ever that a female has won the number one position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.  The GEN-6 car will make its NASCAR debut in the Daytona 500 also.  The 500 will be a great race to watch Sunday, for an afternoon of firsts.

All of you bourbon lovers can relax; Makers Mark has reversed their plan to water down their popular drink.  The plan was to reduce the alcohol content from 45% to 42% to stretch their supply to meet the high demand.  This prompted outrage with bar goers and Makers Mark consumers everywhere.  Based on this response Makers Mark decided not to dilute their bourbon, but have warned that this may create shortages in the supply.  If you are a fan of the iconic drink sealed with red wax, we recommend you buy a bottle while they are still available.

The Cincinnati Reds are in full swing in spring training, no pun intended.  Their first pre-season game is Friday, the 22nd, at 3:05.  The Reds will be taking the field for the first time against the Cleveland Indians.  The game will be broadcast live on 700 WLW. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bunbury Music Festival Announces Lineup

Just when you thought you could finally get "We Are Young" out of your head, think again. The Grammy Award winning trio Fun. will be headlining the first night of this summer's Bunbury Music Festival. MGMT and Cincinnati natives, The National, will also headline the festival in July. 

This morning, the lineup was officially announced for the festival. Bunbury is kind of Cincinnati's answer to Lollapalooza or Coachella. The three-day festival takes place July 12-14 at Sawyer Point/Yeatman's Cove. One-day passes are $55 and three-day passes are $110. Tickets can be purchased now on Bunbury's website. The tickets will be priced higher in June, so you might want to grab some soon if you plan on attending the festival. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mama on a Budget: Presidents Day

If you’re like me, you’ve been counting down the days until today; and now it’s here!  It’s finally here!  It’s… it’s… President’s Day?  It’s not the most anticipated holiday, but hey, it’s a day off school, and work, and a birthday party for 43 of the most influential men in United States history.  And also for William Howard Taft, without whom, the White House would have a smaller bathtub!

So, if you’re looking for something to do to entertain the kids on President's Day, with schools closed (and hopefully you're office, as well), these are just a few of the great things going on today:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Almost Amish Author Event

So my wife recently read the book Almost Amish and  it kept popping up in a lot of places.  Randomly, her cousin met the authors in Lexington, Kentucky helping out with benefit plans for their non-profit.  Turns out they live in Lexington so my wife thought why not invite them to talk to 30 of her closest friends.

The next thing you know, the authors - Nancy and Matthew Sleeth are in our kitchen having dinner with my family and talking to a large group of people at Fort Thomas Coffee.  This a short week after speaking at the National Cathedral in DC (which they do on a monthly basis). Pretty cool where a small leap of faith can take you.


The background on the couple according to Amazon....

After a spiritual and environmental conversion experience, Nancy Sleeth and her family radically altered their footprint, reducing their electricity use to one-tenth and their fossil fuel use to one-third the national averages. Along with her husband, Matthew, Nancy now travels throughout the U.S. speaking and writing about faith and the environment.
Prior to heeding this environmental calling, Sleeth served as communications director for a Fortune 500 company and as a high school and college educator and administrator.
Sleeth is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds a masters degree in journalism. She is the author of Go Green, Save Green: A Simple Guide to Saving Time, Money, and God's Green Earth and Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life. Nancy and Matthew are the parents of Clark Sleeth, a medical doctor, and Emma Sleeth, author of It's Easy Being Green. Nancy is the Managing Director of Blessed Earth, a faith-based nonprofit focusing on environmental stewardship.

So Matthew & Nancy are pretty amazing people and turns out they provide great dinner conversation.

Thanks Nancy for answering everyone's questions and thank you as well to the Valentine's for letting us host the event at the coffee shop.  What a great asset for the community!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Highlands, NCC basketball teams meet in 36th Semifinals

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

This marks the last year of the blind draw in the 36th District basketball tournament at least until the schools vote on it next year.

That’s unless the Kentucky High School Athletic Association steps forward to put an end to that. For those wondering, the baseball and softball teams will be seeded in the spring like the volleyball teams were in the fall.

Like I said a few weeks ago, it is too bad because one of the top five teams in the 9th Region will not be playing in it next week on the girls side. Then on the boys side, the best team faces arguably the third-best team in the district instead of second and third like it would be if the teams were seeded.


This means that there will be a lot of excitement in the semifinal game Tuesday between Highlands (22-7) and Newport Central Catholic (20-9) as neither team wants its season to end.

Van Damme (it was) Friday

Sorry I didn't get to this yesterday. Took my bride to Gangster's last night for our Valentine's Day dinner. $30 steak dinner for two. Awesome. They are still doing the deal tonight for you slackers. 491-8000.

Onto the Fort Thomas news of the week:

- Had it from a good source that The Merchants and Music Festival had the opportunity to book Mumford and Sons for the concert either last year or the year before. Jo Dee Messina was picked last year (and later took a picture with the family whose yard housed the plane crash near the end of the concert. Sans makeup. Hair soaking.)

The booking fee was minimal for Mumford and Sons. They hadn't yet recorded an album, instead opting to build a ground swell through smaller venues. Fort Thomas could have been one of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5 Things to Know: Fort Thomas Police Department

The 5 Things to Know feature has covered Fort Thomas entities from jewelers to hair dressers; from local news programs to the businesses you frequent.  I wrote an article about the lesser known facts of the Fort Thomas Fire Department, so it was only fair that I contact the Fort Thomas Police Department to gather some interesting details.

Men: Don't Blow Valentine's Day (It's Tomorrow!)

Fellas - want to be a hero this Valentine's Day? Don't have time to plan? Don't want to drive everywhere? Don't have the funds? Don't worry, I got your back.

Girls like jewelry. Girls like flowers. Girls like dining out. Here's 3 deals at 3 stores less than 3 miles apart, you'll ONLY find at Fort Thomas Matters.

1) Ft. Thomas Jewelers will have a low-priced section of their jewelry showcase put together exclusively for Fort Thomas Matters readers.

2) Drive literally one tenth of a mile north on Alexandria Pike to pick up your Valentine's Day Rose bouquet at Case's Golden Leaf Florist and Gifts. Guys, roses are expensive on Valentine's Day. Case's has the best prices around and they will last MUCH longer than those 800 numbers.

3) Then drive another 2 miles to Gangster's Piano Bar for a Steak Dinner for 2, appetizer and dessert for only $30!

Seating here is very limited so call right now. (859-491-8900). Ask for Betsi and mention Fort Thomas Matters to get the steak dinner deal (they also have chicken and fish if you're not feeling meaty).

There's really no excuse. Get er' done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mama on a Budget: Valentines Day Activities

While imprisoned for performing illegal weddings for soldiers, Valentinus fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and in his final love act, he passed a note to his lover during his execution that said “from you Valentine”.  Valentinus was so devoted to his lover that he literally became a martyr and a Saint for her.  My husband bought, signed, and addressed Valentine’s cards in bulk five years ago and thinks I don’t know. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ft. Thomas Military Museum Featured on The Travel Channel

The Travel Channel stopped by the Ft. Thomas Military Museum in the fall for a segment on their show, "Mysteries at the Museum." The segment featuring Ft. Thomas aired on February 7, 2013 and focused on a piece of rusted metal displayed at the museum. Yes, you read that right - camera crews descended upon our town for a piece of old, rusted metal. 

There's much more to this artifact than meets the eye. Gloria Sisk, the museum's curator, discussed the significance of the piece to cameras. "This mangled metal is an eerie reminder of a horrible tragedy that took place in Kentucky," said Sisk. So what is the piece of rusty, mangled metal? It's the remains of a cash register from Beverly Hills Supper Club.  This artifact is certainly interesting, but not nearly as interesting as what was to come in the rest of the segment. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Next Economic Bubble

By Mark Collier

I was a Financial Advisor right out of school. Probably my favorite and most challenging part of the job was trying to plan for trends or foresee potential trouble on the horizon. I got firsthand experience with that during the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008. Money was cheap. Qualifying for a home loan was far too easy. Greed among financial institutions, financiers and people was plentiful.

I distinctly remember the day in 2007 when the Dow got to its all-time high of near 14,000. It was far too inflated. My company was one of the main traders in collateralized mortgage backed securities, one of the main culprits in cutting that 14,000 mark in half by spring of 2009. Because of that knowledge with those investments, I was able to steer my clients into what safe havens were left after the housing aftermath. It was a very stressful time for Financial Advisors and investors, alike.

While I'm no longer in the business, I still love tracking economic trends. The consensus is that the next economic bubble will be involving student loans.  Since 2005, there have been significant factors that point to this oncoming crisis.

  1. The college lending market is now larger than credit card and car loan debt. 
  2. The delinquency rate has increased 47%.
  3. 2005: 12 million had at least 2 student loans. 2013: 26 million have at least 2 student loans. 
  4. 2005: average student debt $17,000. 2012: average student debt: $27,000.
  5. Consumers with over $100,000 in that time period has quadrupled.

As more people default on their student loans, their credit ratings will drop, making it harder for them to access new credit and help grow the economy. Even people who stay current on their student loans are dealing with very large debts, which reduces the money they have available to spend elsewhere.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Christian signs with Dayton

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It is sometimes hard to notice when an offense is as balanced as the Highlands Bluebirds football team has been over the years.

But every contribution adds up to teams winning their ultimate goals. David Christian found himself in this spot, especially in the playoffs after he missed most of the regular season with a hamstring injury.

Christian gave the Bluebirds another threat in that vaunted offense. He finished with nine catches for 160 yards and a touchdown for an average of 17.8 yards per catch.

When he didn’t catch the ball, the wide receiver used his 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound frame to block for his teammates. The Bluebirds put up 781 points, 111 touchdowns and 7,424 yards of total offense on their way to a sixth consecutive state championship this past fall.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ask JOEY on Fort Thomas Matters

This is part I of ASK JOEY. If you'd like to have your question answered by Joey on pretty much any subject, feel free to leave some comments here, on our Facebook page or Twitter account

Why doesn't she work at KISS anymore? I LOOOOOVED listening to her. Also on WLW.

-Patti H

Thank you SOOOO much for listening. I also really loved my time at Kiss and WLW. However, budgets are budgets and directions(for radio stations, talents, and careers) are ever changing. I truly loved everyone I worked with and wish them nothing but the best! But I do think that it is definitely not the last you will hear or see of me!
- Joey

My boyfriend gets absolutely hammered every time we go out. Should I ask him about it? Is he doing it just because he's nervous? We've been dating for about five months. 
- Depressingly Undrunk

Depressingly Undrunk,
This could be a few things. Nerves could be one culprit. He may need some liquid courage or he thinks he funnier, more, charming etc. when he has been drinking. It could performance (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) anxiety. Or the obvious, he could have a drinking problem. If you suspect that, there are obvious resources. However, if it were me...I'd check with his friends and family before confronting something like that. Of course, if he is ever a danger to himself or anyone else, girl...get him some help or bail.

When I read this though, I immediately recalled the first year of my relationship. We would have parties, go to bars, sit around and listen to tunes...all usually while drinking. I think if you're drinking with him, he may just really enjoy getting tanked and hanging out with you. Seriously, the beginning of my relationship was a drunken mess but it was so freaking fun and it bonded my me and boyfriend as best friends.

*Side note, when walking back from the 915...look out for street signs on the still has a dent from my head during that time.
Good luck girl!
- Joey

Would you be weirded out or flattered if they used your photo to be Manti Teo's fake internet girlfriend?
- Julia

Julia -
Flattered. Number one, someone thinks I am pretty yet accesible enough to trick a gullible football player. And second, BOOK DEAL.


Van Damme It's Friday: Ask Joey Edition

Van Damme It's Friday! What's got 2 thumbs and can't wait for happy hour?

Joey, formerly of KISS 107 is gracing FTM's with her presence today. A few links before we let her unleash her wit and wisdom onto Fort Thomas at 9:00 this morning. 

- Merril Hoge, former Fort Thomas Jr. League Red Coach and ESPN analyst, said Baltimore Ravens QB, Joe Flacco, is the best Quarterback in the National Football League on ESPN this week. I want some of whatever Merril was drinking that day. 

- Nice article by the Enquirer this week (I'd link it but my access to the website is restricted) about Highlands Quarterback Donovan McCoy's decision to not play football competitively in college. Instead McCoy is going to concentrate on academics. McCoy boats a 4.4 GPA at Highlands. 

I asked McCoy if he had any offers from schools. He said that he had "no big scholarship offers. (Centre) offered (him) a roster spot and (he) talked to places like Harvard and Brown"

I thought this was interesting as McCoy was named 1st team all-state in Kentucky at the position. I've got G. Michael on the hunt for what the last five 1st team all-state QB are up to now. We know, of course, McCoy's predecessor is getting excited for UK's football season with new coach Mark Stoops bringing in Kentucky's best recruiting class of all time.   

- Been up to the Fort Thomas Plaza lately? It's a pretty sad place. Next week, we've got a story about why stores are moving out of there like Republicans in California. 

- Fort Thomas Independent Schools was recognized as a “District of Distinction” by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). Fort Thomas is one of only eight districts to receive this recognition.

Board Chair Karen Allen and Superintendent Gene Kirchner (middle)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Campbell County Sheriff Issues 2nd Amendment Statement

Sheriff Jeff Kidwell issued a statement on his position on our Constitutional Second Amendment Rights to his constituents via social media Tuesday. Kudos to him for embracing social media. The Sheriff's Facebook page is here and the twitter page is here.

The picture above is his statement. Pretty hard to read, so I'll transcribe verbatim.

His letter is below...

NEW SPONSOR: Cases Golden Leaf Florist & Gifts


So, you know that florist that you always nearly crash in to when it is raining or snowing and you’re trying to stop at the bottom of Highland Avenue past the library as you get to Southgate but you can’t stop because your husband has not taken your car for new brake pads despite your repeated attempts to get him to do so, your pleas for your safety and the safety of his children (think of the children!) but he continuously just won’t do it (true story)?   They are a new sponsor for FTM!

Case’s Goldenleaf Florist at 2704 Alexandria Pike in Southgate, KY ( has been in operation since the 1950’s and under its current name for more than 20 years, but it is under new ownership only since July of 2012 and the Fort Thomas-native owners have already made some exciting changes to the store.  The website, for example, is new and not only does it highlight all of the impressive store offerings, but it also allows one to purchase from the website AND any online purchases are delivered for free.  Their online catalog shows many floral arrangement options, handcrafted soaps, Kentucky Cream Candy, and their neat cement garden pieces (in-store only).  Additionally, they are adding other gift items including Yankee Candles, jewelry, and bourbon balls and assorted chocolates.  And unique items such as home d├ęcor, handmade knitted baby items, and even some UK gear.  They’ll make a terrarium for your office or arrangements for your events such as weddings.

I know what you’re thinking: “how do I get in the parking lot”, or, “aren’t they always closed; it’s always so dark!”  Or, maybe you’ve been before and found the prices to be higher than average.  Well, the owners are aware of the concerns and have made strides toward correcting what they could.  Prices have dropped on items throughout the store and they’ve added better lighting and livened the place up with a new paint job.
So, if you haven’t tried them before, I suggest you give Case’s a chance.  Stop in for some loose flower sales or a fresh bundle (starting at $11.95 per bundle).  Loose flower sales is a European practice of selling 8 or 10 stems for the buyer to arrange him or herself and is a practice that many florists find cumbersome, per the owners, but is growing in popularity with young people, especially, who are looking for an economical way to decorate.

Or, stop in for Valentine’s Day (yes husband, it is STILL on February 14 this year, Hallmark didn’t cancel it!).  A dozen roses with baby’s breath and tree fern is selling for only $43 including tax. 
For our readers only, Case’s Goldenleaf Florist is having a Valentines Giveaway! Be on the look out for more information.

Check out their website at and stop in to see all they have to offer.  Tell them FTM sent you!

HHS Graduate Fatally Shot in Oregon

David Andrew Ryder, a 2000 graduate of Highlands High School, was fatally shot in Bend, Oregon on Monday, February 4, 2013. Ryder was visiting the home of friend Luke Anton Wirkkala when Wirkkala allegedly shot Ryder early Monday morning. Wirkkala was arrested Monday evening and is being held without bail on murder charges. 

Oregon's KTVZ reported that the police were treating Ryder's death as a "suspicious death." The Oregon State Police Crime Lab and Bend Police Department are currently investigating Ryder's death. 

31-year-old Ryder worked as a senior software engineer at G5 in Bend, OR. He leaves behind a wife, DeAnna, and a 2-year-old son, Landon. Sonja Harney, Ryder's cousin, took to her blog to share her experiences growing up with Ryder, in which she recalled camping trips and family vacations shared with him. 

We'll keep you updated as more information is revealed.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swiss Cheese, Sweethearts and Shenanigans

Sick and tired of the cold and snow? Well, I have the perfect antidote to those winter blues, and you won't even have to leave Ft. Thomas to find it. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The REAL Jeff Ruby (Part III)

Jeff Ruby getting makeup done for his upcoming reality show with one of his signature Ruby-brand cigars. No details have been released yet, but be sure to check back on for that and other Ruby updates. 

Jeff Ruby ran away at 15 years old. He had no father in his life. His mother wasn't interested in being a mother to him, so he packed up and moved on. He spent one night in the local YMCA, then checked in to a simple apartment-type sleeping quarters under the name Larry Brockton.

Why Larry Brockton?

"My mother was like a CIA agent when she was trying to track down her husbands who went missing," said Ruby. "She had a knack for finding them. When I had run away, I saw a Brockton St and I just picked Larry out of the air. Larry Brockton."

Enter Jeep Bednarik. The brother of Hall of Fame Philadelphia Eagle and NCAA Defensive Player of the Year Award namesake, Chuck Bednarik, took it upon himself to mentor a young Ruby. "He made Mike Ditka look like Mr. Rogers," Ruby said of Bednarik.  

Ruby was living on his own in New Jersey. Getting straight A's. Undefeated in wrestling. Captain of his football team. Living by himself and working. No doubt 99 out of 100 kids would fail in that situation. Couple Ruby's determination to succeed with Bednarik's mentoring relationship and you can now come to some conclusion why that 15-year old runaway now has one of the most successful steakhouses in the world.

"He looked after me. Let me know what it meant to be a man. Made me feel good about myself. That's why I do what I do now. I get so much more making these kids feel good about themselves," said Ruby. 

The Boomerang Effect

In The REAL Jeff Ruby (which is his Twitter handle) Part I and Part II I delved into his relationship with some of his Highlands' Tribesmen. These are kids who look up to Ruby for a number of reasons: his entrepreneurial spirit, his inspirational quotes, his real-world experience or for some, they look up to him as a father figure like Ruby looked up to Bednarik. 

Ruby's intentions are not self-serving. I think it's almost an homage to Bednarik. He calls it the "boomerang effect."

From his Twitter account @TheRealJeffRuby. Ruby sums up "The Boomerang Effect:

Highlands Sophomore, Griffin Urlage has a unique relationship with Ruby. "I have a great relationship with Mr. Ruby. It's so good I sometimes call him Dad," said Griffin. "I wasn't really able to have a relationship with my real dad as he passed when I was 14 months old. Mr. Ruby just really stepped into my brother's life before mine. We just fell in love with the man since that day. He's become a father to me."

So what's it like to have him in his life?

"It's the greatest feeling in the world (to have Jeff Ruby as a pseudo-father-type)," said Griffin. "It's like knowing the man that owns the city of Cincinnati. It's great."

Griffin's two older brothers, Jake and Nick also went to Highlands and talked about their relationship with Ruby.

Jake Urlage, now 24, played football with Ruby's son Dillon at Highlands. "It means a lot to us having a father figure. It's great that he does (for us) what any father would do with their own."

Ruby almost gets misty eyed when he talks about his relationship with these kids. You can tell that he truly cares about how they are being brought up. He does his best and steps in when he can. Twitter paves the way to help him do that. 


When I started researching Ruby for the article series I took to Twitter. Inevitably I came across multiple inspirational quotes. Some were very similar to one another, almost repeats with maybe just one word changed or phrases rearranged. When he writes his quotes on Twitter, I almost imagine a writer sitting at his desk painstakingly agonizing over a sentence. He simply improves his "Rubyisms" over time.

"They are all 100% original. I don't know a computer from a commuter, but all my sayings are my own. I put them on Twitter to try to help or inspire my followers," Ruby said.

A Jeff Rubyism. He loves his work. 

Another example of a Rubyism from @TheRealJeffRuby on Twitter.

He's had years of experience to craft these Rubyisms. Take the first example about passion and fulfillment. That's real-life experience showing through. You know him now as upper-echelon steak restaurateur. But he was in the 7th grade at Ocean Grove Elementary when Ruby got some of his first experience running and operating a successful food operation.

"I was working for free in my mother and Sidney Goldstein's restaurant. At lunch I'd go home and make myself an Italian sub. Salami, Capocola (which he pronounces like Tony Soprano; "gobbo-goul"), Provolone. When I brought it back to eat it at school, my friends all wanted one. So the next day I made some and brought them to school. I sold them for $.65. Our school lunches were $.35, so I was making a little money."

Long story short, the principal called Ruby in. The lunch ladies weren't happy that he was peeling off some of their business. He was told to stop.

As Ruby remembers it though, "I walked into the principal's office and when I came out, I was still allowed to sell my sandwiches."

Passion. Self confidence. Believing in yourself. That's what these Rubyisms bring to the kids that follow him in Twitter and in life.

Beau Hoge, also a Sophomore at Highlands, also details his tutelage under Ruby and follows him on Twitter. "He and my dad (ESPN football analyst and ex-Steeler Merril Hoge) have been good friends for a while, so I've known him since I was about 11. I knew about his restaurants and a general idea of who Jeff Ruby was, but I had no clue about his background and what a great guy he was. He seemed a little intimidating the first time I met him but he is a great guy and just  likes to have fun."

Beau went on, "Knowing him through Griffin, he's now my Uncle Jeff and takes me under his wing when my dad is working. It's cool how he takes time out to talk to guys like me. It means  alot that he cares what we have to say. He's a great leader and respect is important to him. He always reminds us to listen to our parents, which I find cool."

How to Save a Life

Perhaps the most important thing Jeff Ruby has done on Twitter involved a young man, troubled, without a real purpose in life. His twitter avatar, according to Ruby, had him in "saggy pants, smoking a cigarette and on a skateboard."

Jared had been using drugs for the majority of his adolescent and entire adult life. According to him, "At first because I thought it was cool and that graduated into me using them just to feel okay with myself."

After his obligatory "welcome" tweet to Jared after he followed him, a few back-and-forth tweets, Jared asked him what it would take to work for him at one of his restaurants.

"He immediately came out of himself and began asking me about my life and my background which I thought was pretty awesome considering he probably had a million other things that were going on in his life that he could be worrying about," said Jared. "He told me to call him and eventually I had the courage to do so. We talked briefly and he set up a lunch meeting for me to meet with his director of training and his daughter Britney."  

Ruby picked him up in his jet black Cadillac Escalade, took him on a few errands, and personally brought him to interview with his son, Brandon at The Precinct for a Server's Assistant position. 

"The job meant a lot to me and I thought it was just what I needed to pull myself out of the slump that I had dug myself into and I tried but was just not able to stop using," Jared said. 

As he glanced up, remembering the conversation like it was yesterday, Ruby's icy blue eyes focused in during our interview, "He admitted to having a drug problem. He needed help and so we called his dad together. He cried his eyes out and so did I. I talked to his dad on the phone. I told him that he'd have his job back when he finished getting help. His past wasn't clean, but his future could be spotless. "It was important to me to keep that job open for him. I knew it could help save his life."

Jared remembers the day when it became apparent that his job performance was suffering because of his drug problem, "Mr. Ruby saw that I was not living up to my full potential and called me outside. He knew something was wrong and strongly guided me towards a decision that has completely saved my life."

With the help of his family, Jared left his job at The Precinct to get the help he needed to save his life. He checked into "The Healing Place" in Louisville- a homeless shelter equipped with a treatment program for alcoholics and drug addicts.

"It was a very humbling experience and has allowed me to look back on my life and learn from those mistakes, as well as learn from the mistakes of others who have gone through this struggle for many years without finding a solution," said Jared. "This experience has also brought me closer to my wonderful family who has done nothing but support me in every positive decision I have made since day one."

Say the name Jeff Ruby and it'll no doubt conjure up images of steaks, wine, cigars, Italian suits. When he got onto Twitter last March, the last thing he thought he'd do was save a life. 

"I like cigars. I like creamed spinach. I like my car. I love my employees," said Ruby. "I love them like family."

"Mr. Ruby and Brandon (his son and GM at The Precinct) have promised me another chance when I return home and it amazes me that I ever even got a first chance and blew it," said Jared. "I have not seen him since the day I left The Precinct but am looking forward to thanking him personally for helping to guide me to a better life where I don't have to lean on drugs or other external things to make me happy."

Jared's Twitter avatar isn't a kid with saggy pants, smoking a cigarette and on a skateboard anymore. It's him , cleanly shaven, wry smile, proudly boasting his Precinct uniform. 

Jeff Ruby may not know a commuter from a computer, but the man gets how to use Twitter.