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Friday, October 4, 2013

Fort Thomas Economic Development Director Wins Recognition

Debbie Buckley with Mayor Mary Brown

Debbie Buckley was nominated for the Employee of the Year Award through the Kentucky League of Cities and won 1st runner up out of hundreds of nominations. I know first hand how hard she works for the city of Fort Thomas and there is no one that deserves recognition more than her. 

Congrats Debbie!

Read Mayor Mary Brown's Nomination Letter


I am excited to nominate Mrs. Debbie Buckley, Renaissance Manager / Economic Development Director for the City of Fort Thomas, for the “2013 Kentucky City Employee of the Year” award. 

Debbie started with the City of Fort Thomas in 2006.  During her 7 year tenure with the city she has had dramatic and positive impacts through new and special events, working with merchants, enticing new business to open shops in the city, and playing a key role in honoring our military. 

One of Debbie’s biggest accomplishments was establishing the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum.  Before Debbie joined our staff, we had a very small room with some military items that people rarely visited.  She resolved to make the museum bigger, better and more accessible and inviting.  She established a Museum Committee of long-time, seasoned residents who were very knowledgeable about the history of Fort Thomas.  They were all very excited to help Debbie tackle this monumental project.  The city owned a historic but vacant home in Tower Park.  Debbie thought this was the perfect location for the museum due to Tower Park’s former use as an active military base; and because of it’s proximity to the V.A. Hospital and the Army Reserve Unit, the 478th Engineer Battalion.  Debbie took measures to make that old house, built in 1894, our new museum.  Working with local developer, David Hosea, and the museum committee they transformed the look of that old house into a beautiful museum.  There have been many obstacles to overcome, as there always are with old buildings.  There have been mouse, rat, and bug issues.  There were also problems with the basement leaking.  Debbie and her volunteers spent several days cleaning the basement with bleach and scrubbing the grime away.  Since then we have had the basement waterproofed to protect some of the storage. 

The set up and tear down of the museum displays are all done by Debbie and the committee.  The day-to-day operation of the museum is now overseen by volunteers and has many visitors each day.  Northern Kentucky University Masters in Public History created an exhibit called “Beverly Hills:  Showplace of a Nation”.   I would guess all of you know about the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate?  This exhibit drew hundreds of people coming to see the work of the NKU students.  Debbie coordinated this exhibit with them and had an “opening” night for the exhibit with food and wine tasting outside, and utilized our local merchants and vendors.  Debbie also appeared on Channel 19, a local news channel to explain the museum and the exhibit and draw more people to it. 

Debbie continues to work with the students at Northern Kentucky University on other special museum projects and displays.  One of the newest, is the Pearl Bryan Murder exhibit.  Debbie takes such pride in the museum and it shows in her work and dedication to it.

Debbie developed a new program for students in middle school and high school called the “Jr. Renaissance Camp.”  This camp was established in 2007 and has been a wonderful, well-attended addition to our community.  The history-minded students involved in the camp created a flat model of what the military fort was like at the turn of the century using maps, blueprints and aerial photos.  They hike the trails of Tower Parking viewing old pictures of the area to l make comparisons about what has changed.  They even occasionally find relics of the past where the Altamont Hotel used to sit, along with many other activities.  This camp runs for 2 weeks each summer.  These children learn so much from Debbie and so do the members of our community. 

In 2012 Debbie established our 1st Annual Antique Show.  Vendors gathered in the Community Center to display and sell their antiques.  We had a good turnout for our first year and look forward to years to come and getting bigger and better!

Another of Debbie’s accomplishments is the creation of the “Salute to Veterans” event.  This event was founded by Debbie in 2008.  The Salute to Veterans event encompasses a three day time slot in November near Veterans Day.  It is held in the Community Center (the Mess Hall of the former Fort) in Tower Park.  The first day is dedicated to school groups attending and listening to speakers about history.  Each year highlights a different war.  We always have many classes from all of our city schools that attend.  The second two days of the event are open to the public to browse through the 6th scale models that are displayed by members of the Sixth Scale Collectors Club in Ohio, watch re-enactors, see a Sherman Tank, etc.  These displays grow each year and are absolutely amazing!  The kids as well as the adults love to look at them and the detail put into them. If you would like to see more information about the event go to our website at http://www.ftthomas.org/Renaissance/Salute%20to%20Veterans.html. Salute to Veterans culminates with a USO Dance and Dinner.  This dinner is always well attended and the V.A. Hospital brings resident veterans from their Fort Thomas Branch and their Cincinnati Branch to attend so that we can honor them.  These veterans love the dance.  The Big Time Swing Band plays while people eat and dance.  This event has become close to our city’s heart, especially when you see all of the veterans’ smiling faces.  And let me say again, this has all happened because of Debbie Buckley.

Another notable accomplishment of Debbie’s is coordinating an event called “Merchants and Music.”  This event was not founded by Debbie but she now oversees it and has made it bigger and better than it ever has been.  This event includes our businesses in town as well as other merchants and business owners in the surrounding towns.  We always have several local bands playing.  Last year we had over 100 merchants participate and the headliner was country music star Jo Dee Messina.  In 2013 our headliner will be John Michael Montgomery!  We are very excited about this and expect approximately 10,000 people to attend.  The event will be held on September 28th this year and runs from 2-11 p.m.  Debbie has worked endless hours to put this event together and most of the event is funded by sponsorships and donations.  Debbie’s enthusiasm and positive attitude are contagious.  She helps to build excitement for this and other events while keeping a smile on her face. 

Another well-received addition to Fort Thomas implemented by Debbie is our Farmers’ Market.  Local farmers set up shop in our Historic Midway District each Wednesday, and at Fort Thomas Plaza on Fridays to sell their fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, dipping oils, meats, eggs and other natural products.   

Debbie Buckley goes way above and beyond the call of duty.  Her job duties do not entail working endless hours to make our city great – but she does it regardless.  Her duties do not entail working after work to raise money for our museum and other projects – but she does it regardless.  She holds this city close to her heart and you can see the sparkle in her eyes as she comes up with new ideas and inspirations.

In closing, Debbie Buckley is one of the hardest and most dedicated workers I have ever had the joy of working with.  She exceeds all job expectations.  She is a jewel in our crown here in Fort Thomas, and I believe she deserves the recognition of this award.

Respectfully Submitted,



Mary H. Brown, Mayor

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