Monday, August 31, 2015

Longtime Highlands Teacher Needs Your Help

By Chuck Keller
Belinda and Gary Adams
Some teachers are simply unforgettable.  Gary Adams is one of them. Gary has taught music for 45 years. Yes, you read that right - 45 years. And he needs our help.

He has suffered a few setbacks lately. He had heart surgery earlier in the year but his lovely and exuberant wife, Belinda, has not fared as well. She has been battling cancer for a few years now and things have taken a turn.  The cancer has spread to her brain.

Fort Thomas Firefighter, Richard Boothe, Retires After 24 Years

Richard Boothe. Provided. 
I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.” - Kurt Vonnegut

On August 1, 2015, Richard Boothe retired from the Fort Thomas Fire Department. Boothe worked as a firefighter for a total of 33 years, 24 of which were spent serving the city of Fort Thomas. 

Boothe's interest in becoming a firefighter was initially due to the working schedule. “What really sounded good about the job was that you work one day and then you're off two. That's the initial thing that hooked me," said Boothe. The schedule may have hooked him at first, but the job itself kept him coming back year after year.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

History of Kentucky's Governor's (1832-1840)

2015 is a Gubernatorial election year, with Republican candidate Matt Bevin set to take on Democratic candidate and current Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway. 

Fort Thomas resident, Paul Whalen, continues his look into the history of Kentucky's Governor's that will take us up to present day. 

By Paul Whalen 
JOHN BREATHITT
1786-1834
1832-1834 (Term)

Kentucky's tenth governor and first Democrat, John Breathitt won a close election in 1832 in which there were many allegations of fraud. For example, John Breathitt won 162% of the vote in Oldham County.

Breathitt ran for Governor while he served as the Democratic Lt. Governor under Governor Stone Hammer Metcalfe (a Whig).   Breathitt was a native of Virginia and served as Deputy Surveyor of Illinois Territory prior to his election as a State Representative from Logan County.

John Breathitt became a national figure in 1833 when he denounced South Carolina's nullification of the Tariff Acts of 1828 and 1832.  This Democratic Governor sent resolutions to the Whig dominated General Assembly denouncing the actions of South Carolina as one which could lead the disunion of the Union and civil war. The General Assembly passed the resolutions which were sent to governors and legislatures throughout the nation.  Breathitt gave leadership to the growing sense of union in Kentucky, leading Kentucky to stay in the Union thirty (30) years later.  In his January 1, 1834 State of the Commonwealth Message, Breathitt reported that governors from New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Alabama and Pennsylvania responded positively to the resolutions.

Breathitt was a supporter of temperance or prohibition. He blamed the large number of murders being committed in Kentucky on the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In 1834, the Commonwealth of Kentucky owned stock in several turnpikes, including the Maysville, Washington, Paris and Lexington Turnpike (the one which went by Governor Metcalfe's farm in Nicholas County) and the Shelby and Franklin Turnpike which was valued at $134,384.00.

Breathitt has the unfortunate distinction of being the second Kentucky Governor to die in office.  On February 21, 1834, John Breathitt died of tuberculosis at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort at age 47.  He was preceded in death by two wives.

Breathitt County in Eastern Kentucky was named in his honor.

JOHN T. MOREHEAD
1797-1854   
1834-1836 (Term)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bluebird Football: Emptying the Notebook

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior running back Nick Kendall (8 and Jared Dougherty (10) celebrate after a touchdown Friday. The Bluebirds moved to 1-1 on the season with a 38-15 win over Campbell County.
Jim Abner can relate to the struggles of taking over the starting quarterback role as a senior like Austin Hergott is doing this year.

Abner took over that important role in 1981. His first start came against the two-time defending Class 3A state champion Franklin-Simpson Wildcats. Abner threw a combined seven interceptions in the 7-0 win over Franklin-Simpson and the 32-0 shutout of Dayton to open the season.

Highlands Beats Campbell County 38-15

Highlands earns bounceback victory


PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior linebacker Ben Ziegler (right) puts pressure on Campbell County quarterback Carson Plessinger (left) in Friday's non-district game. Ziegler had 2.5 sacks in the 38-15 Bluebird victory.
Stephen Lickert was not kidding when he said, "Highlands is Highlands" leading up to the game Friday.

The former running back for the Highlands Bluebirds football team and veteran head coach of the Campbell County Camels knew as well as anyone that the Bluebirds would play a lot better than their season-opening 37-13 loss at Cooper a week ago. The Blue and White proved the believers right and the doubters wrong in a 38-15 victory at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Friday.

Friday, August 28, 2015

NKU Student Arraigned on Multiple Charges

Jaylin Nicole Johnson. Campbell County Detention Center. 
A Northern Kentucky University student was arraigned on multiple charges Friday morning after she brought a handgun onto campus.

Jaylin Nicole Johnson, 23, of Covington was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, menacing, and disorderly conduct

Johnson has a previous arrest on her record in June of 2014 of carrying a concealed weapon. She also had a shoplifting charge in April of 2010.

According to FTM media partner, WCPO, “When asked about the weapon, Johnson admitted to having the gun in her bag and gave it to police, the university confirmed. She did not have a concealed-carry permit.

Upon inspection, officers said the gun was loaded, but inoperable.”

But according to the WLWT report, "officers responding to the scene found Johnson and the gun, which had live rounds, but was jammed due to a misfeed.

"It was a functioning weapon," the assistant prosecutor said in court."

WLWT also reported that during the hearing, prosecutors said that Johnson entered the library on Thursday morning and found someone sitting in the seat she wanted.

Johnson then pulled a .380-caliber handgun out of her backpack and told the seated person to move, prosecutors said.

Here was the original FTM report:

Fort Thomas Considers Union Working Agreements

FTM file. 
During the 8-17-15 Fort Thomas City Council meeting, considerations for the working agreements with the FOP (Police), IAFF (Fire) and an amendment to AFSCME (General Services) were discussed during New Business and ordinances relating to pay were read for the first time.

All three negotiations have been concluded and according to City Administrator, Don Martin, the negotiations were professional and their requests were not unreasonable. Union contracts are usually renewed every two years.

One of the main job duties of the City Administrator is to act as lead negotiator of these discussions. The last few negotiations have been relatively smooth in contrast to the  long, drawn-out battle against the Fire Union when Martin first arrived to the city.

The resultant changes to the contracts are as follows:

Fire:

Fort Thomas City Council Roundup (8-17-15)

Addison, Scarlet, Dylan, Esther and Kasey Carr after Kasey was given his Lt. badge. 
The Fort Thomas City Council met last week, which was to be the last public meeting for City Administrator, Don Martin. In September, there will be two meetings, as the tax rate for the year is scheduled for Tuesday, September 8. This is a public hearing to receive taxpayer input on the proposed tax rate for 2015.

The proposed surplus for next year is $10,462,009. 

The city is proposing to raise the property tax rate from 3.78% to 3.9%, which would bring in an additional $218,996. 

That includes $46,177 from new property and $51,137 from personal property.

- Fort Thomas Fire Chief, Mark Bailey, pinned a Lt. badge on Kasey Carr. Carr's family filled the first four rows of the council's chambers and many from the Fire Department came to support him as well.

Carr replaced longtime Fire Lieutenant, Richard Boothe, who retired from the department earlier this year.

"Kasey worked hard to get to the top of the promotion list," said Bailey. "We have 18 of the best in the business here in Fort Thomas who work to get to the top of that list. It's a great accomplishment and we should all be proud."

- Awards were given for the Most Entertaining and Most Original groups at the Fourth of July Day Parade. The winners:

Most Entertaining

Op-Ed: Commissioners Have Lost Touch With Campbell County

Kevin Gordon. Facebook. 
Last week, the Campbell County Fiscal Court approved a 5.2 percent property tax revenue increase which would raise about $427,000 more than the 7.56 million raised in property taxes last year.

Property tax rates in Campbell County have increased 45% since 2007.

The measure passed 2-1, with Commissioners Brian Painter and Tom Lampe voting for the increase and Charlie Coleman voting against.

This op-ed is an answer to Commissioner Painter's previous article on FTM, that discussed his reasoning for the property tax increase.

By Kevin Gordon

In 2010 "candidate" Painter wrote an editorial for the Community Press titled "A time to spend: A time to stop".

In that Op-Ed he mentioned Campbell County (CC) spending vs Campbell County population growth. "...the burden on each taxpayer increases as the county's spending increases. I call this the 'misery index.'"

It's fair to ask, now that Commissioner Painter has been in office since January 2011, has the "misery index" improved?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

NKU Police Respond to Gun Incident

NKU. Provided. 
Northern Kentucky University police officers responded to an incident involving a student with a firearm Thursday morning.

Around 9:45 a.m., University Police received a report of a student with a weapon in a third-floor study area at Steely Library. Two officers responded in fewer than 60 seconds, and four officers responded in just over one minute. The incident was immediately resolved.

Police officers questioned a female student, who admitted to having a handgun in her bag. She turned over the weapon without incident and was immediately taken into custody. The handgun was determined to be inoperable.

Campbell, Kenton, Boone Counties Jobless Rates Low

Jobless rates down in 115 Kentucky counties in July 2015. Northern Kentucky Counties in Top 10. 



Unemployment rates fell in 115 Kentucky counties between July 2014 and July 2015, but rose in five counties, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Commonwealth at 4 percent. It was followed by Fayette and Owen counties, 4.1 percent each; Boone County, 4.3 percent; Scott County, 4.4 percent; Campbell, Jessamine and Kenton counties, 4.5 percent each; Anderson County, 4.6 percent; and Madison and Monroe counties, 4.7 percent each.

Sunrock Farm Sampler Fundraiser will honor “Farmer Frank”

Farmer Frank Traina established Sunrock Farm in 1992. 
Sunrock Farm in Wilder, KY will host the Sunrock Farm Sampler Fundraiser on Sunday, September 13th from 2:00-5:00 pm, in honor of deceased founder and visionary “Farmer Frank” Traina.

It is open to the public and will provide a “sample” of what the farm offers via their various nature-themed programs.  Fun for the whole family, the event will include farm tours with an abundance of animal interaction, music, silent auctions/raffles, kids’ crafts and garden-to-table treats.

A native of New York City equipped with a PhD from Cornell, Frank Traina traded the title “doctor” for “farmer” when he purchased 33 acres of Northern Kentucky clay and rock in 1978 while teaching at NKU.  

After a lot of hard work, he established it as Sunrock Farm in 1982 to provide an enriching outdoor experience for people in the Greater Cincinnati area. Although it is a working farm with livestock and crops, its primary function is education.  As Farmer Frank used to say “we raise consciousness.”

NKU names Leslie Kachurek new Chief of Police

Kachurek. Provided. 
Northern Kentucky University has named Leslie Peter Kachurek as its new Chief of Police. Kachurek, 51, is a native of Niagara Falls.  He and his wife, Kathleen, plan to live in the Fort Thomas area.

Kachurek has 25 years’ experience in campus and community policing in New York State. He is currently police chief and deputy Title IX coordinator at SUNY Alfred State College in Alfred, New York. He will begin at NKU next week.

“We conducted a national search to find the right person who could build upon the success of our outstanding police department,” said Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Sue Hodges Moore. “When we met Les, we knew we had found that person.”

Highlands-Campbell County Football Game Preview

Bluebirds hope to rebound against Camels

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Bradley Greene (86) runs away from Cooper's Chad Michels (9) after a catch in Friday's game. Highlands plays host to Campbell County on Friday at 7 p.m.

They know Friday's loss has made many of their opponents smile.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NKU opens Schneider Observatory on roof of Founders Hall

@NKUFirstYear. 
A new facility at Northern Kentucky University will bring students and the community closer to the stars than ever before.

The Julie and David Schneider Observatory will provide a research laboratory for NKU students and faculty as well as for community members. The facility opened on Aug. 26.

“We are grateful for the Schneider Observatory, which will provide our faculty and students with improved research opportunities and allow us to grow outreach to our community partners,” said Dr. Katherine Frank, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Beyond the Curb Home Tour

Cincinnati’s urban living options extend to Northern Kentucky
404 E. Fourth Street in Newport is one of the featured homes on the Beyond the Curb Home Tour. 
Newport, Kentucky is a city rooted in a rich history and colorful past, but it isn’t sitting still. Today, a seamless mix of new and old creates a uniquely vibrant character. Places to live and local businesses will be open to the public on September 27 from 10 AM – 4 PM when the exclusive Beyond the Curb series features the City of Newport. Visitors and residents alike can immerse themselves in the architecture that captures the experiences and the people that have made, and continue to make, Newport great.

An initiative the Catalytic Fund, Beyond the Curb was kicked off in Covington in April to much acclaim, with 600 registered guests from more than 60 zip codes across the Greater Cincinnati region signing up for the self-guided tour. The Catalytic Fund’s president Jeanne Schroer explained, “We know that the demand for urban living options is strong in Greater Cincinnati because any time a new property is developed, it’s fully leased prior to the construction even being completed. Beyond the Curb provides us with an opportunity to welcome people unacquainted with Northern Kentucky’s river cities in an easy-to-navigate day to explore all of the urban lifestyle and all of its amenities.”

SEE WHICH PROPERTIES ARE FEATURED BELOW:

OP-ED: Property Tax Increase Unavoidable

Fiscal Court. FTM file. 
Last week, the Campbell County Fiscal Court approved a 5.2 percent property tax revenue increase which would raise about $427,000 more than the 7.56 million raised in property taxes last year.

Property tax rates in Campbell County have increased 45% since 2007.

The measure passed 2-1, with Commissioners Brian Painter and Tom Lampe voting for the increase and Charlie Coleman voting against. Painter

By Brian Painter, District 1 Campbell County Commissioner

The County budget took a hit this year from heroin costs and we got less money from state gas taxes.  Some of this cost had to be passed on to our tax payers. This is unfortunate because we have been working hard to keep our individual department costs and overhead down, and have been on a four year run of keeping at or below the state calculated rate that keeps our revenue steady (the compensating rate).

This has been an unprecedented run for tax control and most of the credit goes to our great county employees. Now, forces outside of our county budget control seemed to have poped up and cost us money.

This year heroin and unplanned labor cost at the jail went up substantially.

In order to keep good deputy jailers working with an increasing and rougher inmate population, the pay rate had to be increased. This cost, combined with other direct heroin costs, added up to an estimated $1,000,000 over what the county had to spend the previous year.  County leadership has a plan to combat and overcome the negative effects of heroin, but it will take time, patience, and money.

The gas tax loss originates from the state legislature setting a lower gas tax rate. This cost the county almost $150,000 out of our road paving fund.  This is not a hard decision that we must keep our county road maintenance fund solvent.  If we do not keep up with re-paving about 10 percent of our road miles each year (we have 192 million) we risk higher rebuild costs. This additional money for essential road rebuild now comes from county taxpayers.

So, these costs that are out of our county budget control, cost the average homeowner about $10 more this year.  This is not what we desired or planned, sometimes we just have years like this. Some contend that we should operate by taking more from the county reserves, but this could lead to future financial solvency issues, and is not the way we went.

Campbell County still has one of the lowest per capita spending rates in the region.


Fort Thomas Named Safest "Midsize" City in Kentucky

The clock tower in the Towne Centre District. FTM file. 
Value Penguin has determined that Fort Thomas is the safest midsize city in the state of Kentucky and the 9th safest city overall. A midsize city, according to them, is one that is between 10,000 and 20,000 in population.

Last year, the same website had Fort Thomas ranked #2 overall. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Throwboy Tees Highlands Design


FTM is proud to announce the newest Highlands-inspired design by Throwboy Tees. The winning design was submitted by Bo Wasser.

Champions. Attitude. Knowledge. Excellence.

Order here. 

Merchants and Music Food and Drink Vendors

Merchants and Music Festival. FTM file. 
Here are the food and drink vendors so far for the 2015 Merchants and Music Festivals:

15 North
Fort Thomas Pizza and Tavern
Southern Smoke BBQ
Snappy Tomato Pizza

Fort Thomas Resident Newest Campbell County Library Board Member

Carla M. Landon is sworn in as the newest member of Campbell County Public Library's Board of Trustees by Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery at Judge Pendery's office at the Campbell County Fiscal Court building, Newport, on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Lifelong Campbell County resident Carla M. Landon gained a passion for libraries at a young age. Now she's bringing her passion and skills in community leadership and public relations to the Campbell County Public Library as the newest appointed member of its Board of Trustees.

Ms. Landon of Fort Thomas, chair of the Northern Kentucky Forum since January 2013, was appointed to the Library's Board of Trustees on August 5. She was sworn in by Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery Wednesday. Ms. Landon replaces board member Mike Whiteman, who resigned in April when he moved out of the county. Ms. Landon was appointed to fill the two remaining years of Mr. Whiteman's unexpired term.

NKY Music Scene: Merchants & Music Second Stage Bands



On September 26th, Tower Park will be filled with music from six different bands on the Second Stage beginning at 2 p.m. with Brad Sparks. A regular at Bobby Mackey's Music World, Sparks is a driven musician that loves performing traditional country music, classic rock and oldies.

Brad Sparks
At 3:10, Josh McIntosh & Company will be bringing their mix of country, classic rock and hip hop to the stage. JM&Co. will also be playing on the Time Warner stage at Riverbend on September 10th from 5:15pm-6:35pm before O.A.R., Allen Stone, and Brynn Elliott hit the stage.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cub Scouts Holding Enrollment Night in Fort Thomas

Provided. 
Cub Scout Pack 70 is holding an enrollment night on Wednesday, August 26th at 7 p.m., at the Fort Thomas Branch of the Campbell County Public Library.  Fliers with additional details will be distributed at both St. Thomas Elementary and Woodfill Elementary Schools.

All Three Fort Thomas Elementary Schools Make "Best" List

Moyer Elementary. FTM file. 
K12Niche.com recently listed the "Best Public Elementary Schools" in America.

In Kentucky, all three Fort Thomas public elementary schools ranked highly. In fact, of the first 11 schools listed, all 11 came from two cities, Fort Thomas included.

The list used data sourced from various government and public data sets, Niche’s own proprietary data, and 4,624,238 opinion-based survey responses across a variety of topics from 287,606 current students, recent alumni, and parents. To read their full methodology for rankings, click here. 

A high ranking in Overall Experience generally indicates that:
- Students are very happy with their experiences in all aspects, especially academics, teachers, and diversity;

- The school is an exceptional academic institution in terms of teachers, students, resources for learning, and student outcomes;

- The school is made up of a diverse population and fosters an accepting, positive school culture.

Here is how the rankings shook out this year in Kentucky:

1 - Ashland Elementary School, Lexington, KY

Support Captain Jeff Bathiany, Former Fort Thomas Resident

Captain Jeff Bathiany, former Fort Thomas resident 

Maybe you grew up with Jeff Bathiany, a 1973 Highlands High School graduate. Maybe you swam with him or played golf with him at Highlands Country Club. Maybe you coached his Knothole team or cheered from the stands while watching him kick a field goal against Dixie with 16 seconds left.

Or maybe you remember his parents, Bert, who owned Briar Cliffe Pharmacy at 906 N. Fort Thomas Ave., and Delores, hosting fundraisers for him—bake sales and dances—to fund the three years of training Bathiany endured with a dream to participate in the 1984 Summer Olympic Men's Decathlon.

Maybe you saw the 1984 documentary "Stop It I Can't," produced by the Tourette Syndrome Association with the help of William Shatner, featuring many individuals with Tourette's, including Bathiany.

Or maybe, more recently, you were a passenger on Newport Aquarium's Ride the Ducks in 2007 or 2008—and Bathiany was your captain.

Today Bathiany's muscles are dying. Today, he needs your help.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Top This Donut Bar Negotiating Lease in Fort Thomas

Donuts from Top This Donut Bar. Cake donuts topped with white and pink icing. On the white donut, bacon and potato chips. On the pink donut, Fruity Pebbles. FTM file. 
Cincinnati's first customizable donut bar held its grand opening on Aug. 15 at University Station, near the Xavier University campus at 1774 Lexington Drive in Norwood.

Justin Shelton, Co-Owner of Top This Donut Bar, told FTM that they are in negotiations with the lease right now at the Hiland Building. "Hopefully we can get something done on that in the next week or two. We are working on a location in Anderson right now so we are hoping to get the lease for Fort Thomas done soon so we can literally build them out together. Hopefully within the next three months and definitely by Christmas, we should be open."

Justin Shelton, serving milk from the tap to go with his freshly made donuts. Milk, chocolate, strawberry and almond milk.  FTM file.

Jaguars take out Bluebirds to open season


PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands wide receiver Eric Miller (15) makes a 45-yard catch late in the second quarter of Friday's game at Cooper. The Bluebirds lost 37-13.
It felt like a nightmare in many ways.

15 North Pizza Hosts Barlow Buddy Walk Fundraiser

Jack Barlow. Provided. 
15 North Pizza is inviting you to participate in a fundraiser for Jack Barlow’s Buddy Walk Team on Monday night, August 24, 2015.

Ed and Lori Gossman’s restaurant (15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue) will donate 10% of the restaurant’s proceeds earned between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to Jack’s team.

Jack is a five-year-old Kindergartner that happens to have Down syndrome and lives in Fort Thomas with his parents, Ashley and Brandon, and his big brother Griffin.  Every year, the Barlows invite their friends and family to walk with them for the Buddy Walk.  Last year the team had over 80 walkers and several more that donated.

“We have been very blessed to have had several experiences that have allowed our community to show its love and support of our family.  Having Jack is certainly one of those experiences, and the Buddy Walk is simply awesome,” said Ashley Barlow.  “Jack loves Buddy Walk day, as do we, and we are thankful to our community for always making it a highlight in our year.  Jack begs us to wear his Buddy Walk t-shirts and when he notices the logo elsewhere, he always starts listing the people that have come to his Buddy Walks.  He's so proud of his friends, and that makes us so proud of them, too!”


The Buddy Walk benefits the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, an organization that the Barlows value immensely.

Jack has participated in many programs sponsored by the organization, like sign language and music classes. According to Barlow, the family has made valuable connections and friendships with other families via the DSAGC.

Ashley and Brandon attend and speak at resource sessions for parents on topics that cover financial planning, health concerns, behavioral concerns, and educational ideas.  Ashley also serves in the Government Affairs Committee for the organization.

Cincinnati’s Buddy Walk is free and takes place at Sawyer Point on September 12, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. and is one of the largest Buddy Walks in the country.  The walk is a slow and entertaining stroll along the river through the parks, and it ends at Sawyer Point for an after party that includes free food, live music, bouncy houses for the children, and many other family friendly activities.

If you’d like to attend the Buddy Walk, go to dsagc.com, find Captain Jack’s Crew, and click on Join Us.  You can donate directly to the team, as well.

Meanwhile, head to 15 North on Monday to support a worthy cause.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Highlands Makes Newsweek's List of Top High Schools

FTM file. 
Highlands High School once again made Newsweek's list of America's Top High Schools.

The ranking evaluates schools using a range of criteria including weighted SAT/ACT composite scores, student retention and counselor-to-student ratio to identify which excel at preparing students for college and overcoming obstacles posed by socioeconomic inequality.

Newsweek only ranks the top 500 schools in the nation.

Highlands vs. Cooper Game Preview (2015)

Bluebirds, Jaguars set to meet for first time
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Jared Dougherty (10) hits an extra-point attempt while Mitch Cain (16) holds. Highlands travels to Cooper to open the season Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.
It is a match-up that has been bound to happen at some point.

Fort Thomas Teen Talks Life at Prestigious Military School

Alex Roth at Culver Military Academy

One of the great aspects of the Fort Thomas community is the Fort Thomas Independent Schools system. Our schools regularly make the cut on various national and local “best of” lists for education. But just because our schools have a tradition of excellence doesn't mean that they're the best fit for every student. Alex Roth is living proof that students should remember to find the school that fits best for them, even if it isn't in the Fort Thomas district.

Sixteen-year old Roth is preparing to start his academic year at Culver Military Academy, a prestigious military school located in Culver, IN. Roth's interest in Culver came after hearing his father, Marc, reminisce about his days attending Culver's summer camps. “My dad always used to talk about how awesome it was, and how much fun, and how much of a life changer it was for him. We went up and visited once or twice and I thought the campus was really cool, so I wanted to try it out,” said Roth.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Evergreen Cemetery Seeks Funds to Repair Roads

FTM file. 
The Board of Directors of historic Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, Kentucky, is seeking help from the community to improve the roads within the cemetery.

The cemetery was founded in 1847 and is the location of approximately 65,000 burials.  It is also the site of Shaler Battery, an encampment built during the Civil War by the Black Brigade.

Church Partnership Between Westwood and Fort Thomas Churches Spans Racial Divide

Provided. 

Foreword by Sy Young:

With all of the racial tension lately, especially in Cincinnati, I am compelled to share a story with you. This is a story that paints a very different picture of the state of racial relations in Cincinnati. It is about a 10 year partnership between the people of East Westwood 3rd Presbyterian Church and Fort Thomas First Presbyterian Church. 

The story is about fellowship and love regardless of their very different racial demographics. For 10 years, First Presbyterian Church of Fort Thomas has traveled to East Westwood to put on Vacation Bible School with the community and Third Presbyterian Church there on McHenry Ave. The photo (above)  tells you much of the story as well.

(This is a) great story, especially in a time where Cincinnati needs to believe in the good of people who extend their love to each other unconditionally. 

By Jake Donelan 

Two words can sum up a majority of our nation’s rich yet battered history—God and Race.

One is the very reason this nation exists—a freedom to worship according to one’s own beliefs.  Yet, it’s a word that is quickly becoming scarce in public vocabulary.  The other for years has been the hot hand to deal for Twitter feeds, newspaper headlines, magazine covers and news show teasers.

Race’s glooming presence over the country continues to move our nation’s leaders to strategize more around identifying with a race than of a nation of a people.  You may see a certain leader touting his blackness, candidates flaunting their Hispanic roots, and others flashing white entrenched grassroots agenda.  Much of this may be more perception than reality—spoon-fed to us by media outlets that are more about sensationalism than they are reporting news.

Highlands Boys Soccer Preview (2015)

Bluebirds Aim for Faster Start 
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Ben Seiter (19) plays the ball in the 36th District championship game against Newport Central Catholic last year. Seiter is one of nine seniors listed on the squad.

It is not just the ultimate goal of the Highlands Bluebirds, but every boys soccer team in Northern Kentucky.

That's to be the first state champion from the area. Since the tournament started in 1972, the state champion has come from either Lexington or Louisville with the exception of 2006 and 2014 when the Bowling Green Purples won their two crowns. Louisville St. Xavier has the most titles with 12.

Highlands Cross Country Previews (2015)

Highlands cross country teams take aim at gold crowns

Contributed Photo. Highlands senior Ethan Shuley became the first-ever individual state champion cross country champion in school history in last year's Class AA boys race. He outran the rest of the pack by 21 seconds in 15 minutes, 58.14 seconds.
It's about making school history and ending a drought on the other.

Last year, the Highlands Ladybirds cross country team won its third consecutive Class AA state championship while the Bluebirds finished third. This marked the third time in school history that the Ladybirds have won five in a row. The other two times came between 1978 and 1980 and 2002 to 2004. They have the second-most championships in Kentucky history behind St. Henry's 17.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Water Main Break: Memorial Parkway

FTM file photo. 
A water main break buckled the street and caused the closure of traffic around 2:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at the corner of N. Fort Thomas and Memorial Parkway, near Woodside.

All evening activities for at Highlands are cancelled, including Junior League Football.

Sec. Grimes Seek Input On Brent Spence Bridge, Other Economic Issues at Northern Kentucky Business Forum

Kentucky Sec. of State, Alison Lundegan Grimes. Provided. 
Though the Brent Spence Bridge project is not a Fort Thomas issue it will undoubtedly affect everyone in Northern Kentucky in one way or another.

Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief business officer, has emphasized the importance of building a new Brent Spence Bridge during frequent visits to Northern Kentucky. She will discuss the bridge and other pressing economic issues with community and business leaders during a forum at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Braxton Brewing Company in Covington.

Construction on Highlands High School Gym "Mostly on Schedule"

G. Michael Graham Photo. The Highlands football team received a redone locker room as a result of the construction at the gym. The players received their locker assignments Monday.
People who attended the Highlands football scrimmage Friday against Cincinnati St. Xavier quickly realized they had to take a small detour to get in from the south gate.

That's because the work to the Highlands High School Gymnasium is not finished yet. The five million dollar project funded via bond sales through the Facility Support Program of Kentucky and The School Facilities Construction Commission along with another capital funding project called Capital Outlay began in the spring at the conclusion of basketball season.

Moving From Fort Thomas to L.A.

By Caroline Connolly
Caroline Connolly 
At the age of fourteen, I was shocked to hear that my family and I would be moving to Los Angeles after living my entire life, up to that point, in Fort Thomas. Although that was over seven years ago, and I have completely adjusted to California life, there are many things I still fondly remember about growing up in Fort Thomas. In the summer, I spent countless days up at the Swim Club- from its annual opening on Memorial Day to its annual closing on Labor Day. Swimming on the Sharks’ team, or just hanging out in the pool at the Swim Club was the perfect way too cool off from a hot humid day’s scorching sun.

The Fourth of July Parade was another favorite summer memory of mine. Whether I was  watching the parade on the sidewalk, gathering candy as it was tossed from the floats, or participating in the parade with my dance studio, it was always a good time!

Fall was probably my favorite season in Fort Thomas. All the leaves on the trees changing colors brought everything to life. Football games were the biggest highlight of the fall  for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sexual Abuse Case in Front of Highlands Not First Incident Reported

Nicholas Reckley. Campbell County Detention Center 
As first reported on Fort Thomas Matters, Nicholas Reckley (24), was arrested at his home in Fort Thomas and charged with first degree sexual abuse after being accused of running up from behind a runner and groping her in the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 5th.

The incident occurred near Highlands Middle School.

But according to Police Chief Mike Daly, there was an incident that occurred prior to that that had police on high alert.

New Leadership at Highlands Middle School: Michael Howton and Lee Gatens

Michael Howton and Lee Gatens. FTM file.


By Lisa Birkley 

There have been so many changes in our school district that it is hard to keep track who went where and who is new.  With Mr. Mark Goetz, retiring as Principal of Highlands Middle School, and Dr. Dawn Laber moving to Ruth Moyer Elementary School to be its new Principal, the middle school needed to find new leadership. The Site Based Council was charged with the job of finding the new principal.  After many weeks, it named Mr. Michael Howton as the new Principal, and Mrs. Lee Gatens as the new Assistant Principal.

Mr. Kevin Nieporte, Site Based Decision Making Council (SBDM), served as president of the hiring committee to find the new principal for the middle school.  He said, “Mr. Howton had the knowledge to win the interview hands down.  His answers were clear and concise, and he clearly had the experience we were looking for.  Following the interview I think everyone on the Council knew we had found our principal.

“They are just precious.  I feel very blessed to work with Mr. Howton and Mrs. Gatens,” said Mrs. Shelley Kappesser, Mr. Howton’s secretary.  Mrs. Kappesser has been working with them both over the summer.  On July 1st both arrived with boxes in hand to begin their transition.

Even though change is never easy, Mr. Howton comes to Fort Thomas with a great deal of experience and expertise.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ron Dill To Be Named Interim City Administrator

Ron Dill introducing Rec. Director Kat Disney and Building Inspector, Kevin Barbian. FTM file. 
After Don Martin announced he would be retiring as the top official in Fort Thomas, as first reported on Fort Thomas Matters, Mayor Eric Haas told FTM he was not sure if an interim City Administrator would be named.

Now that question has been answered, as a Municipal Order has been established to name Ron Dill the Interim City Administrative Officer at the next city council meeting on Monday.

"I hadn't really thought much about it (when the issue first came up), but we realized it's going to be good to have someone in the city at the top. Ron already has the title of Assistant City Administrator, it just was a matter of doing the proper paperwork to make it official," said Mayor Eric Haas.

Municipal orders are like ordinances in that they are legally binding legislation, but differ in that they deal with internal matters, rather than the general public. The mayor does not need approval from council for the order to be adopted.

Dill has been with the City of Fort Thomas for 28 years and is currently the Director of General Services and the Assistant City Administrative Officer and is the most tenured city employee in Fort Thomas.

Website Named Fort Thomas Independent Best Place to Teach in Kentucky

The Board of Education. FTM file. 
Niche.com ranked the best school districts to teach based on teacher salary, experience, and attendance, as well as the district's academic, safety, and resources grade. A high ranking indicates that the district contains great schools with exceptional teachers who are offered excellent support and compensation.

"The niche.com ranking as Best Place To Teach in Kentucky comes as no surprise to those of us who work within the Fort Thomas Independent Schools. We have top-notch students, tremendous community support and a culture of high expectations. We share a collective mission and vision which is focused on producing world-class outcomes for students. It is truly gratifying to be part of that on a daily basis," said Superintendent of Fort Thomas Schools, Gene Kirchner. 

Their description of the school system:

Fort Thomas Independent Schools is centered in Newport-Fort Thomas Township, Kentucky. It has 2,864 students attending 5 schools in grades PK and K-12. According to state standards, 70% of students in this district are considered proficient in math and/or reading. The district has an annual budget of $30,074,000, spending an average of $10,853 per student. There have been 86 reviews written and they have been mostly positive.

Here are the stats that made FTIS number 1 in Kentucky:

ThrowboyTees - Jared Lorenzen and Fort Thomas Matters To Partner on New Design


ThrowboyTees is a new business venture by Highland alum, Jared Lorenzen, and he needs your help.

"I bleed Highlands and Kentucky blue. I offered my Quarterbacking services to the New York Jets after they lost their starter, Geno Smith, to injury," said Lorenzen. "Now we need some creative Fort Thomas residents to offer their design skills for Fort Thomas or Highlands-centric designs."

Come up with the best design and Lorenzen will send you three of his shirts. FTM will be partnering with Lorenzen to giveaway some of his merchandise.

Holly Schulkers won a ThrowBoys Tees tank top from a giveaway on the Fort Thomas Matters Facebook page. 
Submit a design idea to the Fort Thomas Matters Facebook page by Friday at noon and you might see the design mass printed and distributed through ThrowboyTees.com.

Lorenzen graduated from Highlands in 1999 and moved on to become a Hall of Famer at the University of Kentucky and win a Super Bowl.

"I've always wanted to start a business and this opportunity was too perfect to pass up," said Lorenzen. "ThrowboyTees is gear that I'd wear. It fits, it's comfortable and cool. We're always going to have new designs up and a lot is limited release."

"We've been tossing the idea around to do a Fort Thomas themed shirt as well. We've got to figure out a way to represent the best high school in the state," said Lorenzen.

Here is the latest ESPN story on Lorenzen's pitch to suit up for the New York Jets.