Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Sunday, March 31, 2013

7 Smart Uses For Your Tax Return

Brought to you by Tracy Davis State Farm

You finished your tax returns and discovered you’ll be receiving a nice refund. You’re not alone. The IRS reports that the average American received a refund of nearly $3,000 in 2011. But before you start dreaming of a tropical vacation or a shopping spree, consider how that money could help you shore up your financial situation. Here are seven suggestions to consider.
  1. Pay off credit card debt. Maintaining any balance—but especially the maximum—on a high-interest credit card costs you money every month. Pay off or cut down your balance and, depending on your account balance, you could save hundreds of dollars in interest fees this year.
  2. Boost your emergency fund. Experts recommend stashing the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of income in an emergency fund. If your account is low, has been depleted or doesn’t exist yet, use your refund to help cover your expenses in an emergency.
  3. Ramp up retirement savings. According to a 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center, approximately 38 percent of U.S. adults are not confident they’ll have the money to retire. If you’ve gotten behind in your savings, this may be the place to put your tax refund. Depending on your situation, age and income level, contributing to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA is an option worth looking at.
  4. Start or add to a college fund. Even if your kids are young, those college tuition bills will be arriving before you know it! Seek out an educational savings plan and get a head start on your child’s education.
  5. Make an investment. Consider putting your refund money to work for you. Talk to your State Farm® agent about your options.
  6. Improve your efficiency. Investing in home improvements can pay off in reduced energy bills. For example, replacing an old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR®-rated unit can save you $200 to $1,100 over the lifetime of the appliance.
  7. Bolster your life insurance. If it’s been awhile since you reviewed your insurance coverage, this may be a prime opportunity. As life progresses and your situation changes, you may find you’re underinsured. Your State Farm agent can help you determine the level of coverage that’s right for you.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gino Guidugli, Ft. Thomas Beach, Patrick Towles, 41075 Network


- Gino Guidugli was named the Running Back coach at Central Michigan University. Guidugli, who graduated from Highlands in 2001 and started at the University of Cincinnati at Quarterback for 4 years will continue his getting his coaching doctorate at the same university where former UC Head Coaches Brian Kelly (now at Notre Dame) and Butch Jones (now at Tennessee) started their coaching careers.

- Spring Break is this week for Fort Thomas Schools. Don't know if it's true still, but from the formative years between 8th grade and senior year, Highlands turned Panama City Beach into Fort Thomas Beach. God bless our parents for putting up with us. Is this tradition still the same?

- Patrick Towles is in a 3-way quarterback competition at the University of Kentucky with Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow. Of the competition, Patrick said, “It’s what sport is all about. You want to come out here and prove to whoever you need to prove it to that you’re better and you deserve to play. And we’re all out here trying to show coach (Neal) Brown and coach (Mark) Stoops we deserve to play.” 

- Nice turnout last night for the 41075 Networking event at Mio's. Thanks to Scott Colvill and Shawn Hopper from Fort Thomas Provides for organizing. Got a little taste of the patio at Mio's. Cannot wait for good weather. This winter has sucked.

- Newport City Manager Tom Fromme gave the State of the City address on Newport at their latest council meeting. He indicated he couldn't be happier with where the city is positioned. He contended that the city stood strong through the economic downturn and is ready to thrive. I tend to agree.

I'd be happy to see Don Martin pick a date and do this on an annual basis. I'm sure he does this internally, but I'd like him to take this publicly so that citizens have benchmarks of progress to look at each year.

- I want to take a step away from our weekly links to update you on some big things happening at Fort Thomas Matters. Our readers have gotten us so far. You help us grow more than you know, and we are getting ready to take the next step.

We have always talked about a new media. An interactive media where our citizens are well informed on a timely basis, engaged socially, and shopping locally. The next step for Fort Thomas Matters will be revealed shortly to you all.

In the mean time, if you like this type of media; if you like feeling like you have a hand in dispersing information, PLEASE continue to read, share and visit our sponsors. SHOP LOCAL. And if you think of it, tell them you saw it on Fort Thomas Matters.

The more you do this, the better coverage we can give, the more informed you are. The more you can share our stories and advocate for us, the more time we have to be able to answer the questions you don't have time to answer yourselves.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. More than anything, I just wanted to say thanks. We truly appreciate the support.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dawn returns to NCC sidelines

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

A little more than a year ago, Ron Dawn stepped down as Head Coach of the Newport Central Catholic girls basketball team.

Within a matter of days, the school promoted assistant George Stoll to the head position. Dawn, 57, found himself on the other end of the equation Wednesday as he accepted the offer to return to his old position.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What To Do in Fort Thomas

Fort Thomas’ Renaissance Manager and Economic Development Director, Mrs. Debbie Buckley, advised Fort Thomas Matters of the many planned activities for the Easter season.  We wanted to make our readers aware of all that the city has to offer this time of year.

  • Egg hunt sponsored by The Fort Thomas Recreation Department is Saturday March 30th at Tower Park
  • The Museum is open and back to its regular operating hours (Wednesday-Sunday, Noon to four).  There is also a new exhibit to open May 10th.
  •  Here is a listing of all the summer concerts scheduled for the amphitheater at Tower Park.  This year Tracy Davis State Farm is sponsoring all eight of the regular concerts.  A new exciting addition to the concerts will be the addition of beer and wine sales along with the concessions. 

  • Vito’s CafĂ© is featuring an Easter Buffet.  All of the details can be viewed in the newsletter below.  You can book a table online at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brannen spurns NCC for Walton-Verona

G. Michael Graham Photo. Grant Brannen (black sweatshirt) watches during team introductions at a game earlier this year. Brannen guided the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds basketball team for seven years before taking the same postion at Walton-Verona on Tuesday.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

One of the hottest boys basketball head coaching jobs in Northern Kentucky came open Tuesday.

Veteran Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds Head Coach Grant Brannen announced he’s taking the same position at nearby Walton-Verona. This comes after the Thoroughbreds finished 30-3 this past season with Ashland Invitational, All “A” State and 36th District championships.

“I have been a part of the NewCath family since I was in the second grade,” Brannen, a 1998 NewCath grad, said. “For over 15 years, I loved every minute of teaching and coaching at my alma mater. Graduating, teaching, and coaching at NCC was a dream come true. This is a special place and will always be a part of my family’s life.”

NewCath finished 146-62 in Brannen’s seven seasons as head coach. The Thoroughbreds recorded six 36th District titles and four All “A” 9th Region titles during that span. NewCath finished 9th Region runner-up in 2011 to Dixie Heights and 2012 to Boone County. Eventual state quarterfinalist Covington Holmes bounced NewCath, 55-50 in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament this year.

Brannen said his daughter Caroline and son Jefferson “will eventually be Thoroughbreds.” Brannen’s wife, the former Anna McSorely, graduated from NewCath in 1999.

“Grant is an unbelievable coach, an even better teacher, and an even better person,” said Rob Detzel, NewCath Director of Athletics. “It is a sad day for NCC, as we are losing one of our great alums. We are, however, very happy for Coach Brannen and wish him nothing but the best at his new position.”

Brannen teaches Sociology, Geography, United State and World History in addition to Health and Physical Education at NewCath. He will also teach at Walton-Verona.

Brannen took over as head coach for Detzel in 2006 when Detzel took the AD position. Detzel succeeded former head coach Ron Dawn years before that.

“It is with mixed emotions that I inform all that Grant Brannen is not returning as a teacher and coach next year,” said Carl Foster, NCC Principal. “We are losing a great coach and more importantly, an excellent role model for our student-athletes. We thank him for his commitment to our students in the classroom and the success he has built with our basketball program.”

Two starters graduate from this year’s team in Michael Bueter and Nick Seibert. The Thoroughbreds graduate three other seniors in Jake Haas, Colin Dupont and Brennan Devoto.

But NewCath does return a lot of talent starting with rising 6-foot-8-inch senior Jake Schulte and rising juniors Zach Pangallo and 6-6 Drew McDonald. The Thoroughbreds also have some talent coming up like 6-4 rising sophomore Ben Weyer.

“I want to thank the coaching staff and all the young men who I had the honor of coaching,” Brannen said. “I am thankful for the experiences and memories we share.”

Brannen has a huge task in front of him at Walton-Verona. The Bearcats finished just 9-21 last year. They lost 53-47 to Simon Kenton in the 32nd District semifinals at Williamstown.

NewCath has begun the process of filling in the opening. A couple media outlets have reported that Ron Dawn has accepted the offer to return to his old position. Dawn guided the Thoroughbreds to the All “A” and 9th Region championships in 2000.

Dawn coached the NewCath girls program for four years between 2008 and 2012. He guided the Thoroughbreds to the All “A” championship in 2010 and the 9th Region crown in 2011.

Mama on a Budget- Contemporary Arts Center

Where else can you conduct a fake orchestra, ride on a bouncing trailer, hang out in a miniature house, and learn about electricity and colored lights all without leaving one room?  Why, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) downtown Cincinnati.  The CAC is a “non-collecting museum that focuses on new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media.” The museum exhibitions mainly reflect "the art of the last five minutes"; the CAC has displayed the works of many now-famous artists early in their careers, including Andy Warhol.  But what many people may not realize is the neat play area in the “Unmuseum” and the many art-related projects and events held there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Get a FREE class at Fit Philosophie!

Just tell Jennifer Lynn at Fit Philosophie at 911 N. Fort Thomas Ave (right next to 915 Pub and Grill) that Fort Thomas Matters sent you.

We are right in the middle of her March Madness Fitness Test. Get your results on the board now. I'm going through her fitness bootcamp right now. Here's one component of the types of workouts you'll get there.

Fort Thomas Matters Best Business Elite 8

Onto the next one....

Close to 2,000 votes and a week later, the 16-business bracket has whittled its way down to 8. Some power matchups await the Elite 8, for a chance to enter the 2nd Annual Fort Thomas Matters Best Business Bracket Final Four.

Vote for your favorite Ft. Thomas business from now until Sunday (3-31).  The matchups will be featured on the left-hand side of the page on the web version only. Those winners will advance to the Final Four. Here are the matchups:

New Business Region
(1) Anita's Mexican (won with 58% of the vote) vs (3) Fit Philosophie (won with 51% of the vote)

Midway Region
(1) Olde Fort Pub (55%) vs (2) Best Furniture (63%)

Inverness Region
(3) Ft. Thomas Swim Club (66%) vs. (4) Ft. Thomas Remodeling (51%)

Towne Centre Region
(1) Cobblestone Cafe (77%) vs. (2) O'Connor Dental (57%)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Van Damme It's Friday Links

Unless Mark vs. Food gets picked up for a television series (not actually out of the realm of possibility) last night was my last Mark vs. Food event. Had so much fun raising money, meeting cool people, experiencing being on local news outlets, but my fitness guru at Fit Philosophie simply won't let me do it anymore.

While I'd like to blame it on my new commitment to "Fit Philosophie," truth is, it has just run it's course. 

Who knew 2 years ago when the FTM starting doing the Quest for the Best local pizza, that would lead to Mark vs. Food, which would eventually raise thousands of dollars for The Brighton Center.

But here's what I learned most about my experience eating as many wings as possible last night. Patrick Towles will be a successful human being. 

I was supposed to take on Patrick along with 2 other University of Kentucky Quarterbacks. None of them could make it for various reasons at the last second.

Patrick, who had strep throat, was the only one with enough gumption and integrity to apologize for not making it. He went over and above to have a replacement show up in his place. I could tell that he cared about his commitment to being at the event and was genuinely upset he couldn't attend.

I don't know if Patrick will make it to the NFL (I tend to believe he will) but whatever he does I know he'll be successful. Congratulate his parents, Terry and Amy, next time you see them. They raised a great kid.

Special thanks to UK Offensive Guard, Steven Duff, who stepped in for Patrick. Dude crushed 20 wings in 5 minutes. Good thing he was on my team. We finished with 38 wings in 5 minutes.

Our opponents, which included former UC basketball player, Alex Meacham. took down 24.

Really great night for Mark vs. Food and The Brighton Center. If you don't click any of the links below, please click the one above regarding Steven Duff. He may be my favorite UK football player of all time.

Onto this week's links:

Ask Joey on Fort Thomas Matters

Joey, formerly of Kiss 107FM is a Fort Thomas resident and our Advice Girl. If you have a question for Joey, leave a comment and she'll try to answer it. 


Are you single? How would one go about asking a celebrity out? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Local games once again cancelled

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Mother Nature once again did not allow a number of games to be played Wednesday.

The Highlands baseball team had a game scheduled at Conner. The next scheduled contest for the 1-2 Bluebirds is Friday at 5 p.m. against Walton-Verona.

The Newport Central Catholic softball team had a game scheduled at Scott and the baseball team was to play host to Woodford County. The softball team faces Notre Dame at 5 p.m. today and the baseball team does not play again until April 26 at home against Ryle at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Annual Card Party and Luncheon

The Auxiliary of St. Elizabeth in Fort Thomas will be hosting their annual community card party and luncheon on April 2.  The luncheon, entitled “Up Up and Away” will take place at the Highland Country Club.

The fundraiser is expected to attract more than 200 guests, and the proceeds will go towards patient services at the hospital.  Luncheons over the years have raised funds that were put towards purchasing wheelchairs for the information desk, televisions for the waiting area, the renovation of the Skilled Nursing Floor, and the cafeteria.

The Auxiliary is accepting donations to be raffled off in the fundraiser, and all donors will be honored in a mounted poster at the country club entrance.  If you would like to get involved or have any questions you are instructed to call volunteer services at (859) 572-3168, or email Margie Ruddick at  All donations are fully tax deductible.

Mrs. Lois Basham brought this event to Fort Thomas Matters’ attention, and we were happy to help promote such a great event.  The Card Party and Luncheon is a great event every year and “Up Up And Away” is sure to follow suit.  The event provides a great way to advertise your product, and help out a fantastic cause.  

4 UK Quarterbacks to Eat for Charity

The NCAA tournament starts tomorrow. In actuality, if you ask UK fans like me, there is no NCAA tournament this year. We won't go into that though,  just bitter thoughts.

Your first opportunity to get into March Madness starts tomorrow at Arnie's on the Levee for Mark vs. Food Episode 10. I'll be joined by 4 former and current University of Kentucky Quarterbacks in a wing eating challenge to raise money for The Brighton Center.

Former QBs Jared Lorenzen (UK '03) and Morgan Newton (who just graduated) will take on current UK QBs (Patrick Towles HHS '12) and Max Smith.

So come to Arnie's tomorrow for a good cause and help turn the page from a miserable UK basketball season to a season of hope with UK football and Stoops' Troops.

Your first opportunity to see Pat, Max and the football Cats take the field will be April 13th and 7:00 for their annual spring game at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. There has already been over 31,000 tickets distributed to the game. It's pretty safe to presume this season is one of the most anticipated for UK in years.

Take this chance to stop by and wish them luck. For the season and for Mark vs. Food.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bracket Fun In Support of the YMCA

You have 1 day to participate in the YMCA's bracket challenge for a chance to win an iPad, a 32'' Samsung TV, and more.  The $20 entry fee goes 100% to support our YMCA in their annual campaign that funds after school programs, scholarships for needy families to access the Y, among other things.  Take a look at the flyer below for entry information:

City Council Meeting Notes 3-17-13 (VA Homes Timetable, FTPD Annual Report)

By Pat Lafleur
Fort Thomas Matters, City Beat Writer

Mayor Mary Brown put in her closing remarks, this was a busy meeting.

One might consider it, however, more of a busy-work meeting. Much of it was rather procedural, including re-readings of ordinance amendments and role-call votes on a number of expenditure-related issues.

But here are the two highlights worth noting.

The first third of Council’s attention this week was duly directed toward the Fort Thomas Police Department. The meeting began with Police Chief Michael Daly awarding Officer Chris Goshorn the Samaritan Citation Award. The award recognizes Off. Goshorn’s above-and-beyond service toward an elderly woman stranded in her own home without food, family/friends’ support, or even the ability to call 911 in an emergency.

“Chris has always shown compassion while wearing this uniform,” Chief Daly remarked, commending Off. Goshorn’s 18 years of service. 

Officer Goshorn’s family was present to celebrate his achievement, making up - as he himself was sure to quip - more than half the residents in attendance (the whole right side of the room is there to celebrate Goshorn).

Chief Daly continued, to deliver the FTPD’s 2012 Annual Report, which outlined a number of issues faced in 2012. Among those were:

Mama on a Budget: Easter Activities 2013

Five day forecast: 42, 39 (with chance of flurries), 38, 44, 46 degrees: yep, feels like Spring in Fort Thomas which can only mean, well, very many things actually.  Too many to list here but what I’ve done instead is list out a few of the upcoming Easter-related activities for you and your wittle wascally wabbits (sorry, my wascally wabbit slept 30 minutes last night, so there are going to be more bad jokes throughout this article than Peeps in my pantry; if you’re counting at home, that will be one bad joke because, yes, Peeps are terrible).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thoughts on Steubenville

Steubenville sits on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania, approximately four hours from Ft. Thomas. It was just another town on the map until a rape case involving some of the town's teenagers hit the news…and the internet. On Sunday, March 17, Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays were found guilty of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance. I'm not going to rehash all the details of the case to you today, but instead will be giving my thoughts on the case in hopes of opening a discussion. I'd also like to hear what our readers think about the case.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fit Philosophie: Workout Differently with TRX

Jennifer Lynn is the owner of Fit Philosophie at 911 N. Fort Thomas Ave. She contributes to Fort Thomas Matters as our fitness writer.

Hello again FTM! Today is just a brief teaser article to whet your appetite for some fun, live footage that will demonstrate the TRX in action this week.

At Fit Philosophie, one of the top questions I receive sounds a little like this: "What exactly is TRX?" 

Well, let's go right to the horse's mouth. The company describes TRX training in the following ways:
The TRX Suspension Trainer is the original, best-in-class workout system that leverages gravity and your bodyweight to perform hundreds of exercises. You're in control of how much you want to challenge yourself on each exercise - because you can simply adjust your body position to add or decrease resistance.
The TRX Suspension Trainer:
  • Delivers a fast, effective total-body workout
  • Helps build a rock-solid core
  • Increases muscular endurance
  • Benefits people of all fitness levels (pro athletes to seniors)
  • Can be set-up anywhere (gym, home, hotel or outside)
By utilizing your own bodyweight, the TRX Suspension Trainer provides greater performance and functionality than large exercise machines costing thousands of dollars.
All of these statements are true BUT it still seems confusing...what does it do that is so different? Tune in Monday and check out our sampler video!! 

Fort Thomas Matters Best Business Bracket Unveiled

The FTM braintrust unveiled the 2nd Annual Fort Thomas Matters Best Business Bracket yesterday on the sun drenched Mio's patio amid green-clad patrons, Irish dancers and pint after pint of Guinness.

With the help of some members of The Fort Thomas Business Association, city administrators and our readers the 16-team field has been set.

You can listen to the replay of the live podcast here:

Thanks to Will Chambers of 100.3 The Fan, who helped anchor the Selection Show, as well as Ben and Stephanie who helped break down the brackets. And as always Zeke the Intern behind the scenes.

And as always we appreciate our sponsors who made the broadcast possible. The Campbell County Y (Dana), Cobblestone Cafe (Brenda) and Dirty Hairy's (Lisa). Thanks!

The first round of voting will last until next Sunday. You can vote for your favorite business on the website (web version only) on the right side of the page.

Over there

Here's the full bracket:
Towne Centre Region
(1) Cobblestone Cafe vs (4) Dirty Hairy's
(2) O'Connor Dental vs (3) Bowman's Framing

Inverness Region
(1) Tracy Davis State Farm vs (4) Ft. Thomas Remodeling
(2) Jeri Stull Orthodontics vs (3) Ft. Thomas Swim Club

Midway Region
(1) Olde Fort Pub vs (4) CC YMCA
(2) Best Furniture vs (3) Action Coach

New Business Region
(1) Anita's Mexican Grill vs (4) Mio's Pizza
(2) Fort Thomas Coffee vs (3) Fit Philosophie 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Listen here: Podcasting Now

Ft. Thomas Builder Constructing Votto's House?

We've all heard the rumors. Joey Votto is building that 15,000 square foot mansion on Turkeyfoot Rd. in Edgewood.

Ft. Thomas builder, Tim Burks, says that's not the case.

My sources say the owners are just a couple of wealthy attorneys. Pretty anticlimactic.

You can tour the house starting in May.

Here's the story from our friends at Fox 19:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Van Damme It's Friday

- We are unveiling the top 16 Best Business Bracket in Fort Thomas tomorrow at Mio's Pizza Fort Thomas. There will be a live podcast starting at 1:00 to announce who made it and what their seeds will be. There will also be beer specials a buffet and live music.

Come hang out to see if your favorite business made the tournament field. There will be 4 brackets, just like in the NCAA Tournament. The brackets are the Towne Centre, Inverness, Midway and New Business Bracket.

- Some comments on the "under new management" sign at Mio's. Here's the scoop:

There were two owners/partners originally. One bought the property, the other had experience with other Mios's restaurants.

They are both still there, but the owner with the other Mio's experience is taking over the day-to-day operations.

Everybody should come out to see if they can tell a difference tomorrow for st Patrick's Day/FTM BBB selection show.

- We are official at Fort Thomas Matters. Not because we have surpassed 40,000 page views on a monthly basis. Not because we are closing in our 1,000 all-time post. Not even because our Facebook and Twitter pages have a combined 1200 likes. No, no.

We have T-Shirts. And they are awesome. I'll have a few to give out at Mio's Saturday. First 3 to mention "Van Damme It's Friday" to me during our podcast gets one. Big ups to On The Route Printing for getting them done.

- Had a few people inquire about the Fort Thomas Swim Club raising their rates. I reached out to John Weyer, President of the FTSC board to get clarification.

Basically, they are raising rates $50. Obviously not awesome, but after his explanation, totally justified in my view. His explanation:

The FTSC board is made up of 9 members that meet monthly to make decisions regarding the operation of the club.

For those that attended the October meeting it was disclosed that the club would need to raise dues going forward.  The cost of operating the pool has risen significantly over the past 10 years.  We have avoided raising the dues by raising revenue on three separate occassions by slowly raising the limit on memberships from 450 to 550.  Another bump in membership would have accomplished the needed increase in revenue, but in the opinion of the board (and most members) we are pushing the limit.  

In early 2011 the board spent $45,000 to re-line the large filter tanks that service the pool and before the 2012 season the pool was repainted after sandblasting off all old coatings; another $40,000.  A dues schedule that ten years ago was building a surplus is now not sufficient to operate the club.

Many discussions were had by the board.  The board considered many proposals for the increase.  The first decision made was to change the structure of the dues from paying for each individual to a structure of paying for a membership.  This is the way the majority of clubs handle dues.  

We had gathered information on other N Ky swim clubs yearly dues and used that in our discussions.  The least expensive yearly membership is Oakbrook Swim Club at $400.  They do not offer a discounted rate for single or 1+1 membership.  

The two clubs that have a three tiered schedule similar to what the board adopted are Brookwood Swim Club and Bluegrass Swim Club.  Brookwood is struggling to maintain its membership and has tried to keep its prices down, they are currently - $240 for a single, $310 for a double, and $425 for a family.  Bluegrass has a much healthier membership base and the best comparison to our club - $350/single, $375/double, and $425 for a family.   The Bluegrass rates are at least $100 per membership higher than the new dues schedule for Fort Thomas.

- We are working on a Fort Thomas-wide Pub Crawl for Cinco de Mayo this year. Should be a good time, so stay tuned for that.

Jennifer Lawrence: Delta Tau Delta Sweetheart and Academy Award Winner

Univ. of Kentucky Delta Tau Delta Fraternity brothers Ben (left) and Blaine Lawrence with their sister, Jennifer at this year's Academy Awards

When I went to school at UK, I was the President of my fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. There were about 125 guys in my fraternity, mostly comprised of Louisvillians. When you are all hanging out together you never really know who will make it big, who will strike it rich or who will fizzle out.

It was tough to see through our Nati-Light and Makers Mark haze at the time that two of our fraternity brothers' little sister would become the biggest success of us all.

Ben and Blaine Lawrence's little sister is Jennifer Lawrence. Ben a year older and Blaine two years younger than myself. You might know her from her roles in Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games, or Winter's Bone. 

At the fraternity house, we just thought it was cool when she was cast as a member of TBS' The Bill Engvall Show, as Bill Engvall's daughter. If you're ever creeped on my Facebook profile, that's why my interests indicate that I watched that show.

Aside from her recent Academy Awards, another cool story about Jennifer has made it's way through the webisphere. The Lawrences went to Louisville Ballard with another one of my fraternity brothers, Wes Strunk.

Wes' father was a Methodist Pastor and coordinator for the state of Kentucky, so he moved around a lot. He spent some time in Northern Kentucky (Dixie Heights) before moving to Louisville. Wes also was very close his younger brother, Andy, who has Down Syndrome.

With the Strunks and the Lawrences growing up so close together, Andy has been on the Jennifer Lawrence bandwagon even before the Delts caught wind of her catching her big break on TBS.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reflecting on the Winter: HHS/NCC Roundball Roundup

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

As we transition into the spring, I feel it’s time to reflect on the winter.

The season-ending defeats for the four basketball teams were difficult. But the players on the Highlands and Newport Central Catholic basketball teams can hopefully look back on the season one day and reflect on many good times.

The Highlands girls had a very successful season going 26-8 before losing in the 9th Region championship to Notre Dame. The 26 wins are the most since Jaime Walz-Richey became head coach in 2002. It also marked their first appearance in the title game since 2002.

The six seniors played great roles in leading Highlands back to that point and will be missed. They are Leah Schaefer, Jesse “Dirt” Daley, Emilie Parton, Ava Abner, Vanessa Fisse and Kelsey Clark.

Highlands can also reflect on its first District 36 crown since 2008. Schaefer let out a memorable scream after the Bluebirds pounded Newport to win that title.

The Bluebirds do return a good nucleus for next season. They return freshman starters Brianna Adler and Haley Coffey. Players like Tomi Blanton, Whitney Quillen, Alex Combs, McKenzie Leigh and Lydia Graves should be ready to contribute more once next winter comes around.

Highlands also did win the Conner Christmas Holiday Tournament. The Bluebirds downed Pleasure Ridge Park to capture the crown.

The NewCath boys put together a phenomenal season at 30-3. That included separate 12 and 18-game winning streaks.

The Thoroughbreds won another 36th District crown before falling to 9th Region champion and eventual state quarterfinalist Holmes in the first round of the region tournament. Holmes lost to eventual state champion Madison Central. NewCath also won the Ashland Invitational Tournament.

Even though the Kentucky High School Athletic Association may not recognize it, the Thoroughbreds are state champions in my book with the All “A” crown. This is a reason I wish the state would go to classes like every surrounding state does. But that is a topic for another time.

NewCath will return starters Drew McDonald, Jake Schulte and Zach Pangallo next year. The Thoroughbreds will still be tall with McDonald and Schulte at 6-foot-6-inches and 6-8. Ben Weyer will be seasoned at 6-4. If NewCath develops a stronger outside game, another great season could be in store.

NewCath does graduate Michael Bueter, Nick Seibert, Colin Dupont, Brennan Devoto and Jake Haas. But other players will be ready to step in.

The NewCath girls also had a good season finishing 20-10. That is pretty good for a young team and a young head coach in George Stoll. NewCath finished All “A” runner-up to Owensboro Catholic. They lost to Highlands in the district semifinals as a result of the blind draw.

Like their male counterparts, they also need to shoot better from outside. But players like Stephanie Lewis, Ansley Davenport and Michaela Ware have shown they can do it. That will free things up down low for Nikki Kiernan and Alexus Mayes.

NewCath graduates just one senior in Jillian Hoover. She unfortunately played just once because of an Anterior Cruciated Ligament injury.

The Highlands boys improved from the previous year at 12-16. But the Bluebirds were playing their best basketball of the season at the end and gave a great effort in the district semifinal loss to NewCath.

Gone are four seniors in Luke Turner, Bailey Witte, Karl Hinkel and Jake Gronotte. On Monday, head coach Mike Flynn also announced he will not be back after four seasons.

The new head coach will have some talent to work with. The Bluebirds return Nick True and Drew Houliston along with promising players like Parker Harris and Jensen Feggins.

Update on Drug Bust

According to Lt. Rich Whitford The Fort Thomas Police conducted an investigation which concluded in the arrests of five adults and two juveniles in the 100 block of Brentwood place.

Lt. Whitford said the police responded to neighbors calling about unorthodox traffic on the street.

2 juveniles and 1 adult were arrested and charged with trafficking of narcotics. 4 other adults were charged with possession of marijuana.

Kudos to the police department and the neighbors on Brentwood, who spurred the bust.

Good stuff, Fort Thomas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Drug Bust Near Woodfill

Details are few, but sources say that the Fort Thomas Police Department conducted a drug bust Tuesday near Woodfill Elementary.

I have called the FTPD admin offices 3 times and left messages with no response.

Readers on our Facebook page confirmed that officers on the scene confirmed it was indeed a drug bust.

More details will come as they are made available.

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... Marchmas

As a child, remember the feeling of anxiously walking down the stairs on Christmas morning?  Your expectations exceeded when you lay your eyes on a mound of neatly wrapped gifts under a perfectly lit tree.  That unbridled excitement and pure happiness that can only come during the holidays.  A group of gentleman has been taking part in an NCAA Basketball party for the past four years.  A gathering in March that brings up the childhood feelings of Christmas; that’s right, it’s Marchmas!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mama on a Budget: Circus is coming to town!

I am unsure how to begin this post so I want to preface it by saying I highly encourage every reader to do her or his own research in the topic I will be discussing and come to his or her own conclusions.  Far be it from me to claim expertise amidst conflicting opinions.  That said, the circus is coming to town this week.  Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus begins on Wednesday and has shows through the weekend and tickets are on sale now. 

Growing up, I loved going to the circus; seeing the majesty of the animals and the seemingly limitless physical feats they could accomplish was amazing.  Also, spending some awe-inspiring time with my parents was an experience I couldn’t have had without the circus.  Now that I am a mother, I very much want to share that with my children; I want them to experience the same awe at the abilities of these animals, the breathtaking displays by the human performers, and the majesty of the Big Top.  But, it is harder now.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flynn Gone; HHS Basketball Looking for New Coach

Photo by G. Michael Graham. Highlands Head Basketball Coach Mike Flynn (center) goes over strategy in a game at Cooper this past season. Flynn resigned Monday after leading the Bluebirds to a 50-61 record in four seasons at the helm.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team will have a new leader next winter.

Veteran Head Coach Mike Flynn turned in his letter of resignation Monday. The Bluebirds finished 50-61 in his four-year tenure and made the 9th Region Tournament twice in that time in 2011 and 2012. Highlands lost to Lloyd Memorial in the first round in 2012 and to Dixie Heights in 2011.

Highlands finished 12-16 this past season losing 48-37 to Newport Central Catholic in the 36th District Semifinals at home. The Bluebirds entered the postseason playing some of their best basketball despite struggling to shoot the ball the entire season. They finished the regular-season with a three-game winning streak. Highlands made 478-of-1,283 shots from the field for 37 percent, including 100-of-345 from three-point range for 29 percent.

“My lofty admiration for Highlands High School has only been enhanced over the past four seasons,” Flynn said in a statement. “Though we did not win as many games as I would have liked, our players and staff worked a winning process every day. My pursuits now will focus toward a coaching role with less responsibility. I am looking forward to becoming an assistant coach and helping another program in some capacity.”

Flynn had been a head coach for 26 seasons in the Bluegrass State. He’d also coached at nearby Covington Holmes during the late 1980s until 1996 when he left to coach at Ashland Paul Blazer. The Bulldogs finished state runner-up in 1990 to Louisville Fairdale, 77-73.

“I have nothing but admiration for Coach Flynn,” said Brian Robinson, Highlands High School Principal. “He is a great man and wonderful role model. He’s at a time in his life where he’d like to look at other opportunities.”

One of Flynn’s former players at Holmes is Cooper Head Coach Tim Sullivan. Sullivan led the Jaguars to another 33rd District title last year and second straight appearance in the 9th Region semifinals.

Flynn was the longest-tenured coach in Ashland history at nine years. He also coached a couple seasons at Bourbon County and owns a career record of 467-252.

“It will be different,” said Parker Harris, Highlands rising junior. “We’re definitely going to miss Coach Flynn. We all liked him. He was a positive influence in our lives.”

Robinson said a timetable has not been set in hiring the new head coach. Potential leading candidates for the job are current Highlands assistant Steve Hunt and Bishop Brossart Lady Mustangs head coach Josh Feldmann. Feldmann served as Junior Varsity Head Coach at Highlands from 2004 to 2010 before spending the last three years at Bishop Brossart. Feldmann teaches at Johnson Elementary School in Fort Thomas.

The new head coach will have some talent to work with starting with Harris and rising seniors Drew Houliston and Nick True. Drew Houliston averaged 11.3 points per game last year and Nick True averaged 6.7 points and a team-high six rebounds.

Highlands graduates four seniors in Luke Turner, Jake Gronotte, Karl Hinkel and Bailey Witte. Turner averaged 11.3 points a contest.


Listen: FTM Radio Podcast Test. Yikes.

We are at Mio's Fort Thomas right now to test our podcasting abilities. Check back at 7:20 to listen live for our inaugural test run.


First run is complete. You can listen here to see how it went:

Not bad for our first time out with no broadcast experience and no script and our show engineer playing  music throughout the whole broadcast.

I guess that's why you practice though.

Come watch us live and in concert Saturday for St. Patrick's Day at Mio's. We'll start at noon and go for a few hours. The main topic on the agenda will be the unveiling of the 16-business FTM Best Business Bracket field. The first matchup is underway as the CC Library and the CC YMCA face off in the play-in game.

Vote on the poll in the right hand corner.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Loaded Schedule

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It may take a few looks for people to familiarize themselves with many of the new opponents on this football schedule.

But they will learn about the competition quickly. It’s loaded with nine teams that had winning records last year.

The Highlands Bluebirds will take on six new opponents this year in University Christian (Fla.), Campbell County, Lexington Bryan Station, John Hardin, Paducah Tilghman and Warren Central. Highlands has won six consecutive state championships and 22 overall. The Bluebirds rank second in the country with 842 all-time wins behind just Valdosta (Ga.) with 876 victories.

Highlands had to find new non-district opponents after Ryle and Boyle County dropped the Bluebirds from the schedule. Gone from the schedule are also Mason County, Scott County, Louisville Western and Pendleton County. Pendleton County dropped out of district play for the 2013 and 2014 seasons and will therefore be ineligible for postseason play.

Aside from district rivals Covington Catholic, Holmes and Harrison County, the only other mainstay on the schedule is Cincinnati Elder. The Panthers handed the Bluebirds their lone loss of 2012.

“We really appreciated Boyle and Ryle playing us in the past and hope they play us in the future,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands co-head coach. “We have a difficult time finding games. Our first priority is to play local, Northern Kentucky teams. Many of those teams have not wanted to schedule us for their own personal reasons. I talked to various schools I understand. Sometimes we’ve just been on a different, competitive level. Teams don’t want to play a team they’re not at the same competitive level with.”

Only three teams on the schedule come from the northern three counties in Kentucky. Covington Catholic and Holmes have to play Highlands because they’re in the same district.

But Campbell County stepped forward and scheduled the Bluebirds. The head coach of the Camels is 1997 Highlands graduate Stephen Lickert. They finished 7-5 last year, won Class 6A, District 6 for the second straight year and lost in the second round of the playoffs, 29-21 to Simon Kenton.

Highlands did reach out to play a private school in west Nashville, Tenn. in the Ensworth Tigers. Ensworth has won three straight Division II-AA titles. Tennessee separates the scholarship and non-scholarship schools into two divisions.

“Ensworth certainly wasn’t a team that was worried that we were going to beat them, 70-0,” Mueller said. “They’re a team that was sixth in the country, (number) one in Tennessee. They have players from about 50 different zip codes. When (Ohio State head coach) Urban Meyer came here, he said they’re recruiting a guy that goes 51 miles to Ensworth. I don’t think they really wanted to travel this kind of distance. We didn’t want to go all the way to Nashville to play a game. So it just didn’t work out.”

The most intriguing matchup after the annual scrimmage with three-time defending 6A champion Trinity (13-1 last year) is the season-opener against the University Christian Fighting Christians (13-1) from Jacksonville, Fla. University Christian won the Florida Class 2A title last year. Class 2A is the second-smallest of eight classes in the Sunshine State. The game may be played either Aug. 23 or 24 depending if the game is televised. This will also mark the first time in school history that Highlands has played an opponent outside Kentucky, Ohio or Indiana.

Following another home game against Bryan Station (6-5), Highlands hits the road for three consecutive Saturdays. It begins with a rematch of the 2009 Class 5A state championship against the John Hardin Bulldogs (13-1). John Hardin of Elizabethtown south of Louisville did not lose until the state semifinals to undefeated 15-0 and eventual 5A champion Bowling Green, 14-13.

“We prefer to play on Friday nights,” Mueller said. “But we just couldn’t find local teams to play us on Friday nights. We really liked to play John Hardin and Paducah Tilghman and you just have to play those games on Saturdays. We feel like this is as good of a schedule as we ever had.”

A week later, Highlands again passes through Elizabethtown on its way to Paducah to face the Tilghman Blue Tornado (8-4). Tilghman won the 3A state championship in 2009. Mapquest lists the driving distance between the two schools at about 321 miles and about five hours driving the speed limit.

“We don’t mind getting on the bus and going to play teams,” Mueller said. “Time on the bus is a fun time. We get some stuff done. We talk football during that time, go over game plans and see various tapes of ourselves. It’s sort of like a practice time. It’s a bonding time.”

Class 4A, District 6 action starts a week later against the rival Covington Catholic Colonels (9-4). The Bluebirds then take on Harrison County (1-10) six days later before their bye week before Holmes (6-5) comes to Fort Thomas on Oct. 18 to conclude district action.

Highlands finishes the season traveling to Elder (8-4) then playing host to the Warren Central Dragons (11-2) from Bowling Green. Like John Hardin, the Dragons’ two losses came to Bowling Green.

Mueller said it’s tough to schedule Ohio opponents because the weekly schedules could cause conflicts. For instance, a week 1 in Ohio could be a week 2 in Kentucky.

The Bluebirds are continuing their offseason workouts before spring practice starts. The spring game will take place later in the year.
2013 Schedule
Date:                                     Opponent:                                          Time:                   
Friday, Aug. 16                  at Louisville Trinity                           7:30 p.m.            
Aug. 23 or 24                      University Christian (Fla.)             7:30 p.m.            
Friday, Aug. 30                  Campbell County                             7 p.m.                  
Friday, Sept. 6                   Bryan Station                                     7:30 p.m.            
Saturday, Sept. 14           at John Hardin                                   7 p.m.                  
Saturday, Sept. 21           at Paducah Tilghman                      7 p.m.                  
Saturday, Sept. 28           at Covington Catholic*                   1 p.m.                  
Friday, Oct. 4                      Harrison County*                             7 p.m.                  
Friday, Oct. 18                   Covington Holmes*                        7 p.m.                  
Friday, Oct. 25                   at Cincinnati Elder                            7:30 p.m.            
Friday, Nov. 1                    Warren Central                                 7:30 p.m.            
Note: All times Eastern.
*- Class 4A, District 7 contest