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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ft. Thomas Independence Day Celebration Fireworks (video)

Couldn't make it to 10:00? No worries, FTM has your back. The whole display lasted almost 15 minutes. They were shot off near the softball fields and cascaded over the amphitheater just as Soul Pocket finished their set.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Firecracker 5k Registration/Parking Information

Via Executive Director, Dana Ensley:

Campbell County Y 4th of JulyFirecracker 5K Day of Registration Location Moved this Year & Parking Options:

Attention all race participants, we wanted to make sure you were aware that the Day of Registration and Check-In for the 4th of JulyFirecracker 5K (starts at 7:00am; Race is at 8:15am) has been moved from the Armory Building to the Mess Hall/Community Center in Tower Park.  This is the building next to the finish line.  The start  will still be at the top of Douglas on Fort Thomas Avenue at the entrance to Tower Park.

Parking:  There are a couple of options for parking.  We recommend that you park on the south side of the VA Center near the stables. Other options would be to park at the Y at 1437 South Fort Thomas Avenue and walk down.  Side streets off of Fort Thomas Avenue are good options as well, but if you are not staying for the Parade, please make sure you move your vehicle by 10:15am.

Ft. Thomas Central Opens, Mopeds, Trunk Show, Garden Tour, FTBA


It's been a few weeks since we've done a VDIF weekly links post. Call it childish, but perhaps one of my favorite parts of the week is searching for ridiculous pictures of my man, Van Damme. He's so damn goofy. He just makes me laugh. Onto this week's links. 

- If we haven't hit you hard enough with our coverage of the Independence Day Celebration this week here's everything one more time:

It's always a spectacle and this year should be no different. Our city does an outstanding job putting on these events. Everyone involved should be proud of themselves. Saturday's events are exactly the reason why Ft. Thomas is a special place to live. Enjoy it. 

- Ft. Thomas Central (3 N. Ft. Thomas Ave - old Candy Cottage) opened yesterday. I talked to her after the initial push and ribbon cutting to see how her first day went. 

"Really good," she said with what I perceived as an exhaustedly, wry smile. "The ribbon cutting (put on by the Ft. Thomas Business Association) was great. It was really busy when we opened, slowed down a bit, then we got another rush. Very good day overall." 

Barb Thomas, originally from South Carolina, moved to Ft. Thomas a year ago. Since then, she decided to drop out of the corporate grind and open a store she was passionate about.

“It’s hometown charm meets the art of gifting,” Thomas said. “I understand the importance of being here and I’ve been trying to understand the community.”

Walking through the store, you can truly find something for everyone. “I don’t want it to just be a gift shop,” Thomas went on. “I want it to be a place where local artists can display their art. Where people can grab a pastry and hang out in the lounge room. I want them to enjoy it.”

I had her take me through the Fort Thomas Central “experience.” I told her how much I was going to spend and who I was buying for. Even though I was not currently in the doghouse, I told her it was for my bride.

She asked probing questions. “Where does she work?” “What does she do?” “Is she traditional or modern?” Before I knew it she had it pegged.

It’s no secret Ft. Thomas has been bringing a lot of new business to town. In this case and from dealing with different owners that have come into Fort Thomas, I know that Barb understands what it's going to take to be successful. 

The momentum is changing in the Fort Thomas Business community. Our environment is very diverse and the "SHOP LOCAL" attitude is beginning to spread. 

- Several readers have emailed me inquiring about the rise in the use of motorized scooters or mopeds around town. I personally have no opinion either way, but we have an inquiry into the Fort Thomas Police Department about the ordinances surrounding these questions:

- How old does someone need to be to drive these on public streets?
- Do they require safety equipment?
- How many people can ride on one?
- Do the loud motors violate noise ordinances during quiet hours (11PM-7AM)?

Again, no issue with them personally. Just doing our civic duty brought to FTM by residents. Response from FTPD forthcoming. 

- Lauren Lail debuted her clothing collection, Library by Lauren Lail, yesterday at 65 Walker Road. According to Lail, the turnout was great. When she's the next Stella McCartney (yes, I had to google "women designers") it'll be cool to look back at this picture:

- The Garden Tour was last weekend. I talked to merchant/vendor market organizer, Lori Holladay, last Saturday and she estimated 450 people would take the tour this year. Of the 4-year history of the event, that would have been the best turnout. 

I've not been able to reach her for comment this week to confirm that number, but I did spend some time with the majority of the homeowner's who were on the tour last weekend. 

Anecdotal evidence from them suggested around 250-300, which would still be a great turnout and successful fundraiser for the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy. Great job to all those involved. 

Here was one of my favorite parts that I saw, which is from Lorna McMullen's garden on Lester Lane:

- Finally, thanks to Chris Schnell at Precision Dental for hosting the Fort Thomas Business Association social yesterday. If you're a business owner, there's no better place for the exchange of ideas. Check them out here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ft. Thomas Business Owner Revitalizing Historic Opera House

By Jessica Duke, Contributions by Ben Petracco
At Fort Thomas Matters, we strive to bring you breaking news, keep you current on events and activities, and keep you informed on City Council and our schools.  Recently, we’ve added to our mission and become an advocate for shopping local and shopping small.  With that in mind, we’ve really tried to partner with our community business persons and especially those who’ve partnered with us as this website has grown. 

Since the beginning conforms of FTM, one of those people has been Ken Bowman at Bowman’s Framing.  Bowman’s Framing is on North Fort Thomas Avenue in the central business district and has been open since 1986.  

Ken, president and sole proprietor, provides framing for any custom project you may need and have  highlighted Bowman’s Framing and their incredible work before.  Ken, though, recently reached out to me about a project he has become involved in.  Although it is located in Middletown, OH (a community not too unlike the tight-knit Fort Thomas community), the project is very interesting.  It is the Sorg Opera House ( 

This historical building was constructed in 1891 by the same designer who built Music Hall in downtown Cincinnati.  Its ornate stage has seen performances from the Sousa Band, amongst others.  It also served as an early movie theatre and in the 1980’s, returned to its live theatre hey-day.  Unfortunately, it has had periods of vacancy and has been vacant since 2011, coming a bit of a community eye sore.

Ken is involved in the Sorg Revitalization Group in an effort to restore this facility to its prime.  There will be a concert held on September 12 in front of the Sorg where it will be designated as a historic site.  They are looking for corporate sponsorship.  So, if you’re a history buff, theatre buff, architecture buff, or passionate about helping other local communities, I encourage you to check out their website.
And remember Bowman’s Framing!

Two things should be taken away from this article:  One—there is an amazing theater a state away that is a historic masterpiece.  It once was the pulse of the nightlife in Middletown and it has the potential to get back to its prime.  People that are passionate about this project wanted to get this message out to public, and that is the second take-away.  Two—Fort Thomas Matters is a facilitator to bolster projects and events that our readers are passionate about.  If you are involved or know about a local event that you want to shed some public light on get the information to an FTM writer.  We are here for the city, and want to assist our faithful readers every way we can.

HHS Girl Dishing Her Way into Campbellsville History

Contributed Photo. Highlands 2010 graduate Katie Allen (11) makes a move during a game last season. Allen owns 418 assists in 97 games for an average of 4.3 per game in three years at Campbellsville University.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Once Katie Allen arrived on campus, the Campbellsville University Lady Tigers basketball staff took notice of a rare talent.

That’s excellent court vision.

“We get a lot of easy buckets in the open court because Katie pushes the ball up the floor quick,” said Miranda Denney, Campbellsville Assistant Coach. “She sees things before they happen. That’s nothing we’ve taught her.”

Grand Marshal of Ft. Thomas Independence Day Parade Named

Jump start your July 4 holiday by taking part in the annual Campbell County YMCA Firecracker 5K Run and the annual Fort Thomas Independence Day Parade.  The race course begins in Tower Park, heads to Highlands High School, then returns to Tower Park, where cash, gift cards, trophies and medals will be presented to top performers in various age groups. Those who pre-register will receive a race T-shirt; same day registration begins at 7 a.m. and the race steps off at 8:15 a.m.  To register, visit the website  There will also be a free kids fun run at 7:40 a.m. for children 12-years-old and younger.  All entries in the one mile kids race will receive a participation ribbon.

“Both the race and the annual parade are hometown favorites and we have incredible support from citizens, YMCA members, and local businesses each year,” said Campbell County YMCA Executive Director Dana Ensley.  “At the end of the day, we know that we will be better able to serve individuals and families in our community through proceeds from this event that will benefit the Ys scholarship program.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Can Win How Much From Playing Cornhole?

The Fort Thomas Independence Day Celebration is an annual event with a plentiful and patriotic turnout.  Last year there was an exciting addition to the day’s events; a cornhole tournament at Tower Park.  This year the American Cornhole Organization (ACO) is excited to announce they’re doing it again!  The tournament will be held on June 29th in the same place, the tennis courts at Tower Park (near the armory) at three o’clock.

Everything You Need to Know About Events at Ft. Thomas Independence Celebration Saturday June 29th
Chris Stegner of Bluegrass Photography

One of the quaintest elements of Fort Thomas is the ample historic trees.  The tree-lined roadways and the 100-year old Oaks fronting house after house are truly a thing of beauty.  But, have you ever thought, while gazing toward to sky looking at the tree canopy; “I think I could climb that tree!”  If you’re like me, I’m sure you have thought that.  If you’re like my husband, I’m sure you’ve actually tried (then subsequently fallen, thrown out your back, and watched from a prostrate position while I mowed the lawn).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hometown Gal Unveils Debut Clothing Collection in Ft. Thomas

A Ft. Thomas native and graduate of Highlands, Lauren (Rider) Lail, has returned to her hometown to introduce her capsule clothing collection, Library by Lauren Lail on Thursday, June 27th from 3pm-7pm at 65 Walker Road, Fort Thomas, KY.

Lail began Library, an anthology of vintage finds showcased in a sun-drenched showroom in downtown Charleston, in 2005.  With Library, Lail set out to scour shops across the country to cultivate a vintage collection of storied pieces that transcend time and inspire the imagination. 

This was the driving inspiration and creative foundation for the new brand, Library by Lauren Lail.  Inspired by the timeless silhouettes of vintage fashion, Lail has created a classically feminine wardrobe just in time for summer.Lail's taste in her collection has been called impeccable by the likes of Coastal Living, Garden & Gun and Daily Candy in South Carolina. 

In an interview in the Charleston (SC) City Paper, she said, "Over time, I pulled things aside where I just thought, this would be so cool to remake and make contemporary," she says. "The collection is eight pieces that are all kind of inspired by pieces that have come and gone through the [vintage] collection."
She added, "I think some people love vintage and maybe are a little bit scared because it's just not new fabrics and it's not contemporary, and this is kind of like an evolution of that."

For the collection that marks her design debut, Lail crafted a custom made fabric adapted from an abstract painting that helped shape the signature style of the collection.  With a fresh perspective, she has fashioned everyday essentials that go from beach to garden party and weekend brunch to wedding. The collection’s relaxed style perfectly captures the vintage-made modern, classic sensibility embodied by the designer.

Personally, I know nothing about fashion, let alone high-end women's fashion. But my sister, Sara does. She's a buyer for The Sandpiper in Atlanta, Georgia.

Of Lauren's collection, she said, "As a buyer at a contemporary boutique, we are always looking for one of a kind pieces that you won't see everywhere. Lauren does a great job of incorporating forward trends into a vintage inspired clothing line. The result is a unique fashion forward look that any modern girl would want to wear." 

Shop the inaugural collection of eight pieces and meet the designer next Thursday, June 27th from 3pm-7pm at 65 Walker Road, Fort Thomas, KY.

For more information visit  

Alt. Rte: How to Ride Your Bike to Coney Island

By Pat Lafleur

As of last Friday, it is officially summer, and -- in that spirit -- here’s an Alt. Rte. post devoted to getting you pedaling over to one of Cincinnati’s most beloved, most historic summer destinations: Coney Island.

I only made this trip for the first time last Friday, on the first evening of summer, giving me plenty of lingering sunlight to ride safely back to KY after 9:00 PM. In a way, this was serendipitous because this route is not one you want to take after nightfall. While generally flat, the route has a wide variety of road and traffic conditions that should be considered.

By the time you get to Coney, though, you’ll be satisfied and ready to ride some rides or take a dip in Sunlight Pool.

BIKE ROUTE*: Ft. Thomas to Coney Island

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ft. Thomas Independence Celebration: THE CAR SHOW: Saturday June 29th

Nothing says Americana like a classic car.  One of the reasons I love the Fourth of July parade in Fort Thomas is that every year it is kicked off by the Corvettes.  Three years ago, the festivities got a little more “muscle” with the classic car show.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ft. Thomas Woman Harrowing Bike Trip to "Build Houses and Lives"

Nate Tokarek, Arden Stewart, and Jessie Modrall
By Pat Lafleur, 
Alt. Rte. Columnist 

It was to be an 80-mile ride, from Pahrump, NV to Baker, CA -- a solid day’s trek for a bike touring group. That’s 80 miles through nothing but heat, dust, and pavement. No rest stops, no gas stations. Nothing. The temperature that day was a scorching 118 degrees, not counting the extra 10 degrees the blacktop generally emits from below.

This is where Jessie Modrall -- a Ft. Thomas native and HHS grad -- found herself, on bike, riding with an organization called Bike & Build, when their support trailer broke down. This meant no way to refill hydration packs, no way to get food. Things were looking dark in the desert sun.

Before I continue, though, some backstory: Take your local youth cycling club, cross it with Habitat for Humanity, and you’ve got Bike & Build. For over a decade, Bike & Build has contributed more than $4 million to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by young adults, ages 19-25.

Currently, a group of 28 riders is on a voyage from Virginia Beach, VA to Canon Beach, OR, and -- this past weekend -- they made a stop in Ft. Thomas, KY, staying at St. Andrew’s Church on Chalfonte and S. Ft. Thomas.

Bikes take a rest at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Chalfonte & S. Ft. Thomas 

Jessie, who became affiliated with Bike & Build in 2011, returned to Ft. Thomas from her current home in Pittsburgh to spend the weekend facilitating the group’s stayover. While in Ft. Thomas, the group participated in 2 local build projects, both in Cincinnati.

While Jessie won’t be continuing with the group beyond their stay in Ft. Thomas, she did participate in a ride from Jacksonville, FL to Monterey, CA last May-August. During those 4 months, they stayed in upwards of 75 different towns, all with their own stories. “In each we were able to talk to people about the organization,” she said, “as well as explain to them why the affordable housing cause is one worth supporting.”

And the experience has obviously stuck with Jessie. She recalls a particular project along her cross-country ride, in New Orleans: “We weren't just building houses, we were helping someone build a life, a place to call home, and a way to be part of a community. We helped rebuild a home in New Orleans for a man who, after being a lifelong resident, was still, 7 years after Katrina, not able to live in his home.”

Now, back to the desert sun, bearing down on Jessie and her ride group, stranded with a broken-down support trailer. “We survived only by flagging down passing cars and RVs and asking if they had any water or food they could spare,” Jessie explains. The group was drawing closer to their final destination. “There were a million ways the day could have ended in disaster, but as a group we pulled together to keep one another safe and motivated.”

To learn more about Bike & Build and how to contribute to their cause, either on bike or not, check out their website.