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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quit Smoking in 2017 with help from free program

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For more information or to register for the next session, please call (859) 301-5570. Call today. It can be your start to a new life without cigarettes - See more at:

2017 Session Dates (4-week sessions)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Police Looking For More Clues Where Stolen Bagpipes Were Recovered

Police were searching for other stolen items off of Alexandria Pike in Southgate today. Image via Google.
A Cincinnati-area honor guard member whose bagpipes were stolen from his vehicle after a vigil has the instrument back after a mail carrier found it along a road in nearby northern Kentucky.

Someone stole the instrument Monday night in Cincinnati’s Mount Adams neighborhood. It was found Tuesday night in Southgate, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

Mariemont police officer Steve Watt says he’s ecstatic to have the bagpipes back.

Watt is a member of the Hamilton County Honor Guard. He used borrowed bagpipes to play at a vigil Tuesday.

This is an advertisement. 859-781-5777.
He says several irreplaceable personal mementos that he kept in the bagpipe case are still missing, including a note from the 2015 funeral of slain Cincinnati police Officer Sonny Kim. Watt's Honor Guard uniform, off-duty 9 mm handgun, badge and precious mementos from police funerals are still missing, police said.

Fort Thomas Police were assisting Southgate Police today to search the area for other items that were stolen.

Fort Thomas Lt. Rich Whitford, said that nothing else was recovered, however.

A mail carrier found the bagpipes alongside a road in Southgate.

The mail carrier, Glen Harderer, said he spotted the musical instrument in the weeds off Alexandria Pike next to a bag marked "Mariemont police."

He said he first saw the items about 10 a.m. Tuesday, but kept working and didn't go back to check until a few hours later.

The mail carrier said Watt retrieved his beloved bagpipes late Tuesday.

Cincinnati police are investigating the apparent random break-in of Watt's black, four-door 2006 Honda Accord. A vehicle parked in front of his car also had windows smashed out, which had two purses taken.

Watt said he had the bagpipes and other items in his car because he had just come from standing vigil for a retired law enforcement officer who recently died.

Watt, 54, has served on the honor guard several years and worked at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office before retiring as a sergeant in 2014. He now works as a police officer patrolling Mariemont.

Founder of Blue Marble Passes Away

Tina and Peter Moore, owners of Blue Marble Books in Fort Thomas. Provided. 
A sad day across northern Kentucky today as the founder of Blue Marble Books, Tina Moore, has died.

Moore was the co-owner of the children's bookstore with her husband, Peter.

Blue Marble Books is a full-service, independent bookseller with a personal commitment to our customers and our community.

They have been in business since 1979 and is renowned for its Great Green Room modeled after Goodnight Moon, Great Teen Room, and Secret Garden area. They have 30,000 titles in store.

A statement from the store:

We have very heavy hearts today. Tina Moore has passed away. As many of you know, she was the founder and co-owner of Blue Marble Books with her husband Peter Moore.

Tina was one of the Tri-State’s most prominent children's literature experts, and friend of a great many children’s book authors and illustrators. She served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Children's Booksellers (ABC) and was a founding member of the trade organization. She was recognized for her contributions to area literacy with the Silver Gertie Award (1989), and she was named one of the Women of the Year in Northern Kentucky (1995).

We will be closing the store at 3:00 p.m. today, and we will update here with funeral information once we know it.

In lieu of flowers, the Moore family has requested that memorial donations be made to literacy organizations such as the OKI Children's Literature Conference.

( or your local library.

The Cottage in Southgate Gets New Owners, Name

The Sit n' Bull Cafe located at 2401 Alexandria Pike opened this month under new ownership. FTM file
You may have seen a new sign outside of The Cottage in Southgate. This month, an end of an era and the beginning of a new one came with the opening of The Sit n' Bull Cafe. Patrick Casey, owner of Fort Thomas Pizza & Tavern bought the property in November. After being closed for a month for a face-lift, the bar opened on December 8 to a packed crowd.

"I relish the challenge of a new project and felt that The Cottage was an opportunity to revive what has been a great family-owned business in the past, said Casey, and I wanted a name that would reflect a friendly neighborhood bar."

The bar was built in the mid-thirties and opened under the name, Al's Cottage. Locals remember Al's Cottage as having a raised dance floor that lit up, an old bowling machine as well as metal tokens that were used to purchase beer.
This is an advertisement. 

For 30 to 40 years, it remained and changed hands once before Mike Scholl and Jerry Volmer of Fort Thomas bought the bar in 1983 and changed the name to The Cottage. In 1985, Volmer sold his half to Scholl's two late brothers, Dutch and Scott. Since then, The Cottage has seen a few renovations and changes, but these have remained- good times and good friends.

The Cottage was owned by the Scholl family for 33 years. FTM file
"I had 33 great years working a business with my brothers, and I made a lot of lifelong friends," Scholl said.

After the passing of his brothers, Scholl decided to sell to spend more time with his family.

Under Casey's ownership, the bar has been completely repainted; the bar itself has been remodeled; several flat screen TVs have been added; and all heating and air units have been serviced or replaced. Draft beer and a soda fountain has been installed along with new refrigeration. Keno will soon follow.
A newly remodeled bar area at the Sit n' Bull. FTM file

Rick Webster, bartender for The Cottage and now Sit n' Bull says he is excited about the new changes. He has been around The Cottage for a long time and will cherish the memories had there and looks forward to more.

"The bar has always been a great place to catch a ball game or come to unwind after a long day at work," Webster said.

Casey agrees and says the aim going forward is to offer weekly live entertainment but keep a sports theme tailored to specific clientele demands.

Karaoke will be offered every Thursday and Friday night. FTM file
"Management has set clear goals to ensure consistency in its attention to customer needs and will offer regular promotions and daily specials, Casey added.

"We will endeavor to remain competitive with local business and create a balance between affordability and atmosphere, along with quality service."

Casey also said that he strongly denies allegations that he only bought the place because it was rumored over the years that Jimmy Hoffa was buried under the building.

No Bull!

Holiday Hoops Tournament Previews

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Jenna Martin goes in for the score in a recent gamge against Bellevue. Highlands takes on undefeated Nelson County at 3:45 p.m. in the LaRosa's Holiday Classic at Conner today.
It's a holiday tradition the Highlands Ladybirds basketball team has enjoyed over the previous four seasons.

Highlands has played in the annual LaRosa's Holiday Classic at Conner for six straight seasons counting this year and has not finished lower than third in the previous four seasons. The Ladybirds won it last year and in 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Blues Festival On the Books for 2017

Greg Mebs, who recently moved to Fort Thomas, will head up a Blues Festival in 2017. 

It's official: Fort Thomas will host its first Blues Festival next year.

At November's City Council meeting Renaissance Manager and Economic Development Director Debbie Buckley approached Council with the possibility of replacing Merchants and Music in 2017 with a Blues Festival headed up by Fort Thomas resident Greg Mebs. (Because of the sesquicentennial, Fort Thomas is putting Merchants and Music on hold for a year.) Councilmembers debated the pros and cons of this idea, and in an unusual move left the decision up to Mayor Eric Haas and outgoing City Councilmember John Muller, Chair of the Finance Committee.

Then, at December's City Council meeting it was announced that the Blues Festival was approved, dedicating up to $4,009 from city coffers to co-sponsor the event.

Mayor Eric Haas said that after deliberating with Muller and City Administrative Officer Ron Dill and Finance Director Joe Ewald, he gave the green light to the festival, with some caveats.

"We looked at the costs and realized it wasn't a whole lot of money we were talking about," he said.

Haas said the decision to go forward with the festival was based on the premise that the city has chosen to provide a public event through co-sponsoring the event.
This is an advertisement. 

Dill said that the commitment would be for 2017 only with future requests to be considered on a case by case basis.

"The city's interest in co-sponsoring the event is based on fulfilling the expectation of our residents for a Fall concert in Tower Park," said Dill. "This concert essentially takes the place of the Merchants & Music Festival for this year." 

“There are really three types of costs when we reviewed this," said Haas. "Out of pocket costs for our personnel, loss of revenue by renting the amphitheater and mess hall and direct costs, like purchasing the tent. It’s not that expensive This could be a great event for the city without significant costs.”

Dill said that the city would participate in the following capacity:
- Providing Fort Thomas Police and Fire Departments for on-site safety coverage: $4,000
- Providing the amphitheater: $1,000
- Providing the mess hall: $1,000
- Providing general clean-up during and after the event: $40 per hour
- Reserving picnic shelters #1 and #2: $75

Muller said he asked city staff to prepare a cost estimate for all of the events the city offers to give a comparison.

Ewald said he broke cost estimates down into three categories: small, medium and large events. A small event would be on the same scale as the city's summer concert series. A medium size event would be about the size of the Fourth of July festivities at Tower Park. A large event size would compare to that of Merchants & Music or the Bluesfest.

Each event would cost $1,861, $2,641 and $4,009 respectively, which would only include personnel costs.

A more detailed cost estimate for a large size event can be found at the end of this article.

"I am more than a little pleased that we will be having the September concert tradition continue," says Councilmember Ken Bowman, who supported the idea at November's City Council meeting. "Greg Mebs will do a fantastic job of organizing and booking some high-quality talent for the event. "

Mebs says he's been in contact with some exciting talent for the event, and while things look good he's apprehensive to announce names until contracts are signed. [Fort Thomas Matters will announced the headliners as soon as we can. Stay tuned.]

This is an advertisement. Click here. 

"I owned Lucille's Blues Club and have booked many national blues acts," Mebs says. Mebs also has his own band—G Miles and the Band of Helping Hands (formerly G Miles and the Hitmen).

"We have opened for headliners at the Merchants and Music Festival a number of times," Mebs says, adding that the band also has opened for Buddy Guy and Delbert McClinton, and has played at Tall Stacks, Bunbury Music Festival and many blues Festivals around the midwest.

"We have our eyes on a yearly blues/Americana festival and hopes this becomes an annual festival in Fort Thomas," Mebs says. "I recently built a home on Grand Ave. and love this community."

And although the festival is called a "blues" festival, note Mebs' use of the word "Americana." Featured acts will represent a range of music.

"While being called a 'blues festival' some of the acts that will be announced soon don't really fit into that category," Bowman says.

Proceeds from the festival will go toward a good cause.

"I am a counselor and have a company with 45 employees—27 therapists and case managers," Mebs says. "We serve high-risk kids and families with intense mental health wraparound services. The Band of Helping Hands is a nonprofit I started with a mission to build into kids, families and communities through arts, sports, etc. We are the 'band' and we host and perform at events as fundraisers. We plan on having three to four events a year with the Fort Thomas festival being the biggest."

Mebs says he played drums and guitar as a child and teen, and that music helped him through some traumatic life events. "Our mission is to pass this gift onto kids struggling with trauma," Mebs says.

Fort Thomas Matters will expand on this story in January, once the national acts have been signed.

"I have volunteered to do all that I can to help the committee make it a great event," Bowman says. "Look for some exciting announcements soon."


2017 Fort Thomas Blues Fest Proposal - Cost Estimate for Large Event Size:
Personnel costs:
- Police Department - 2 officers x $65/hr x 8 hours = $1,040
- Fire Department - - 2 officers x $65/hr x 8 hours = $1,040
- Part-time cleanup - 6 personnel x $8.50/hr x 4 hours = $204

Rental costs:
- Tent rental - 1 - 20'x40' white frame tent = $525
- Tables - 10 - 60" round tables = $80
- Chairs - 80 - white folding chairs = $120

Mess Hall:
- 8 hours x $125/hour = $1,000

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Gangsters Newport New Year's Eve

FTM file. 
Christmas is tomorrow. This guy is excited.

But once the presents are open and the Christmas hangover begins, it's time to get serious about nailing down your New Year's Eve plans.

One of the biggest values in the area is at The Newport Syndicate (18 E. 5th St., Newport - 859-491-8900). I have been and am planning on being there this year as well. It's bar none, the most fun, low-maintenance event you can plan.

There's ample parking and a cheap ride share if you plan on leaving your car.

RELATED: Browse the NYE ticket options at The Newport Syndicate 

Tickets range from $80 to $125 and features three levels of entertainment: The Rusty Griswolds, DJ Mark McFadden, and Gangsters’ Dueling Pianos.


All tickets include access to seven bars, so there's never a wait.  All buffet packages also include: appetizers, tossed garden salad, dinner rolls, roasted carved tenderloin and bourbon pork loin, champagne chicken, garlic whipped potatoes, pasta alfredo, country green beans and dessert.

BUY TICKETS: Ambassador Room with Mark McFadden

A champagne toast, late night food and party favors are also included.

HINT: The venue always sells out and most people start to get serious about their New Year's Eve plans the day after Christmas. Beat them to the punch and book this now.

HINT: I've heard that the unveiling of a new speakeasy-type restaurant will occur this night. Leave a comment if you want to know the password to get in ;)

HINT: Dress to impress. This is a very fun evening. Hope to see you. 

This is a sponsored post by The Newport Syndicate. Thank you for supporting businesses that support Fort Thomas Matters. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Safe Ship Newport Moves to Fort Thomas

Roofers working on the future site of Safe Ship, owned by Elliot Heil. Heil's father, Bob, along with some real estate partners helped him acquire the building. The sign has been changed to read, "Bob's Mexican Bar & Grill." FTM file. 
Safe Ship Newport, a packing and shipping franchise, is relocating approximately three miles from the company’s current Monmouth Street location to 1504 Alexandria Pike in Fort Thomas in the former Anita's Mexican Restaurant.

Anita's owner, Pedro Meza, bought the building which was formerly Frisch's Big Boy in 2012 for $400,000.

According to Campbell County PVA records, The Property Solutions Group, then bought the building for $440,000 early this year.

RELATED: Anita's Mexican Grill To Close 

Safe Ship will occupy 4,000 sq. ft. of modern retail and warehouse space at their new location.

The company is owned by Newport resident, Elliott Heil. The company has three employees. He said  the relocation comes as a result of the company’s growth and need for additional storage space, as well as a larger and more serviceable lot for U-Haul Truck Rentals.

Midway District Properties Sold To Fort Thomas Developers

Kyle Stevie (right) and Chris Reid in front of the two commercial buildings they bought at 1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Avenue. FTM file. 
For years, Fort Thomas residents, Kyle Stevie and Chris Reid drove by the properties at 1011 and 1013 S. Fort Thomas Avenue and shook their collective heads.

They weren't alone. The properties were the achilles heel of the historic Midway business district. Once low-rent apartments, they have fallen into utter disrepair. Once vacant, they became a magnet for seedy living situations and crime.

They were eyesores.

Now, Stevie and Reid, who are next door neighbors, will have the opportunity to restore the two buildings after closing on the properties on December 20. They started demolition of the inside of the properties on December 21. The final sale prices were $55,000 and $95,000 respectively.

When it's all said and done and if their plans come together, they will lease space to two different businesses and will have two apartments for rent above the 1011 building.

Stevie said he and Reid have had some preliminary negotiations with businesses in the food industry and envision the final product of a revamped Midway District that will resemble a version of Hyde Park.

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Cramming the Christmas Season into Two Days

Elliott Peter checking out the displays at Krohn Conservatory
Hey, you.  Procrastinator.  Yes, you!  I’m not sure if you knew this or not but today is Christmas Eve. Have you even done anything Christmasy yet?  No?  Have you trimmed a single tree?  Fa-ed a single La?  Have you gone a-wassailing? Even once?  No? I am not sure how this year crept up on you; if only they had given some warning that Christmas is coming such as toy commercials or store decorations.  Maybe they even could have started these warnings in August!  What?  They did?

Well, no excuses and it’s time to buckle down now.  If you need to cram your Christmas into two days, these four quick, close, relatively cheap, and super-Christmas ideas can do just that.  These four family-fun activities are like a Kale-Avocado-Brussel Sprout-Acai Berry Smoothie Super-food for Christmas.  A quick shot of them will turn your youngest into Cindy Lou Who and you into the Mom who Saved Christmas!

Coney Island Park:

What’s a Mom-on-the-Go’s absolute favorite thing?  The drive-thru! No lugging around pumpkin seats, bundling up children, or trying to figure out strollers. So, what better way to cram Christmas than to enjoy it from the inside of your warm car!  To that end, Coney Island has created a new family tradition.

In its first year, the Coney Island Christmas Nights of Lights Christmas Light Show is a family event that features a 2-mile car ride through Christmas displays and light shows. From their website, “visitors of all ages will be awed by the larger than life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and fantastic tunnels of lights! In the warmth of your own car, you can sing along to the sounds of the season synchronized to each holiday display.” The show begins nightly at dusk and runs through 10 p.m. Christmas Nights of Lights will be open every night including holidays until January 1st and admission is just $6 per person (free for three and under).

The Campbell County YMCA. This is an advertisement. 

Fort Thomas mom, Shelly Bean, went with her family and gave a pro-tip, “Get there early to avoid waiting for hours.”  The lines of cars do get very long and the wait can be brutal.  In fact, Winton Woods has been doing this similar concept for years and after going once and watching a giant tree sloth wave as he walked past my car (which felt like it was going in reverse), I vowed never to do the Winton Woods experience again.  However, feedback from Coney Island has been quite positive and as long as you arrive early, it should be a great way to have your children seeing spots from all the Christmas joy!

 Coney Island Night of Lights Provided by Shelly Bean
Krohn Conservatory:

Little known fact- The Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park is actually open year-round and has truly amazing displays and shows.  However, Christmas is when they really go all out with decorated trees, incredible train displays, and a live nativity scene outside on the front lawn.  My husband has been going to Krohn Conservatory every year his entire life on Christmas Eve until a few years ago when they began to close earlier during that day.  We now go earlier in the season but regardless, it is truly a “whimsical Wonderland” with “the traditional garden railway display (…) decorated (…) with new floral accents made from colorful gourds, seed pods, and other natural elements used in the botanical buildings and bridges. Additionally, a brand new ‘Enchanted Forest & Whimsical Creatures’ exhibit will be on display in the Fern House. Botanical creatures, fantasy and whimsical buildings situated among three different train tracks in the central bed of the room will delight children of all ages.”- from the website.

The Christmas display will stay until January 8th and Krohn is open from 10-7:30 (closes at 5 on Christmas Eve but reopens 10-2 Christmas Day). The price is $7 for adults and $4 for children with ages 4 and under free.  Additionally, there is a $1 off coupon on their website.

Local Mom Erika Peter and her family enjoy this annual tradition: “Our family loves to come here every year.”  So, there you have it!

Cincinnati Zoo:

After 34 years, the Cincinnati Zoo continues to razzle and dazzle with their annual PNC Festival of Lights! However, if you’re not into hordes of people moving through a crowded area like Wal-Mart on Black Friday, then perhaps this is a tradition better left for after Christmas.  I would give you my pro-tip but the weather report doesn’t look like it will do any favors- I pick the coldest day or a rainy day and then bundle up my kids; we practically have the light display to ourselves!  However, with relatively warm and dry weather these two days before Christmas, you’ll have to either wait or make 100,000 new friends.
Mr Elf in the Reptile Building at the Cincinnati Zoo
This display features more than a million lights, an Anna and Elsa Frozen Wonderland, and a light show synched to music on the lake.  The zoo is open Sunday to Thursday from 5-9pm and Friday & Saturday from 5-10pm. Additionally, the zoo is open all-day on Christmas Eve but closed Christmas day. You can save money and time by buying tickets online at their website. The train, although it costs additional and usually has a wait, is worth the experience to see the lake light show up close and also be sure to find Elf on the Shelf in the Reptile House. Also, in the building behind the train display, Santa will be there for photos.

Fountain Square:

If you’re up for a more active Christmas activity, check out the outdoor ice skating rink at Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati.  In the shadows of one of the largest Christmas Trees in the area, this outdoor skating rink has a very seasonally appropriate feeling to it.  The rink is actually open through President’s Day every year so if you simply cannot muster the energy to celebrate all of this Christmas in the next two days, save this for later!  The rink is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 11pm and the cost is $6.00 for admission and $4.00 for skate rental. Skates are rented first-come, first-serve and come in Youth sizes 8-4, women’s or men’s 5-13.
Kevin Duke and daughter Finley enjoying Fountain Square
So get up, get out, and start to celebrate Christmas.  If you try really hard, you could skate from 9-11 this morning, then visit Krohn from 11-1.   Grab a quick lunch then head over to the Zoo.  Visit the Festival of Lights from 5-7 then drive to Coney Island.  During the three hour wait in the car, mobile order all of your Christmas gifts with overnight delivery (good luck getting them) and call it a Christmas in less than 24 hours.  See, who needs to plan ahead?

Happy Holidays to all and enjoy making lasting and last-minute family memories!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Central Michigan University Makes Guidugli Offensive Coordinator

Gino Guidugli. FTM file. 
Central Michigan football is reportedly promoting running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Gino Guidugli to offensive coordinator, replacing the retiring Morris Watts, according to The Morning Sun. 

Guidugli, a former Highlands High School and University of Cincinnati quarterback, will also serve as CMU quarterbacks coach while stepping away from his running backs coach duties.

The news was first reported Wednesday afternoon by Chris Vannini, the managing editor of

Guidugli, now 33 years old, played at Cincinnati from 2001 through ’04 and when he left he held Bearcat records for pass attempts (1,556), completions (880), passing yards (11,453), touchdown passes (78), and total offense (11,661).

After a professional football career in the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League, Guidugli joined former Chippewas head coach Dan Enos’ staff from 2009 through 2011 as a graduate assistant.

Guidugli returned for his second stint at CMU in 2013 as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, the jobs he held through this season.

It was rumored since not long after Watts became offensive coordinator in 2015 in addition to his quarterbacks coach role that he would retire after seeing Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush through to graduation. Additionally, Guidugli was expected to be the replacement if and went that occurred.

Watts’ retirement announcement was made official during the Miami Beach Bowl, which would end a coaching career that began in 1961.

The Chippewas lost the Miami Beach Bowl 55-10 to Tulsa and completed the season with a 6-7 record, their first losing mark since 2011.

Central Michigan completed the season eighth in the Mid-American Conference in scoring offense (26.3), eighth in total offense (392 yards per game), third in passing offense (275.5) and dead last in rushing offense (116.5). It is the second consecutive year CMU has finished last in the conference in rushing offense.

It is not known what schemes and formations Guidugli will employ as Central Michigan offensive coordinator, although he played in a pro style scheme at Cincinnati and has coached in pro-style systems with the Chippewas.

December City Council Meeting (2016)

Councilmen (L to R): Thompson, Peterman, Bezold, Haas, Kelly, Bowman, Muller. FTM file. 
The Fort Thomas City Council met on Monday, December 19, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.  All members were present, and the Mayor remarked that this would be the last council meeting for members John Muller and Chuck Thompson.  Mayor Haas thanked them for their service and contributions as council members.

In the police department's monthly report, Chief Mike Daly told council of a new officer, Wayne Dutle, who is joining the force in Fort Thomas.  Mr. Dutle is coming from the Newport police department and brings with him five years of experience.  He is currently training with Officer Derek Faught and is excited to be in Fort Thomas.  There will also be new recruit training advertised in January 2017, with testing in February. "We're looking forward to developing a good list and moving on from there," said the Chief.

Council again touched on the issue of parking on Summit Drive.  Nancy McEntire had previously expressed eliminating parking to one side only from Avon to Grand Avenue.  City Administrator Ron Dill said, "If there is parking close to that corner and you're entering into Summit, there could be stacking issues.  The amount of on-street parking is limited, anyway." 

The consensus was to limit no parking to 60 feet, which doubles from 30 feet currently.

An update on the 2016 Street Assessment shows a cost of $6,660 under bid, which is not something that typically happens, according to Dill.  Gaddis Drive was apart of the 2016 street replacement program and also had a water main replacement. However, two days later after finishing the street repair, there was a failure in the water main valve which caused a break in the main, so the street will have to be re-milled in the spring.

Council discussed the new crosswalk component in front of Moyer.  It is hoped that if it is successful there, the state will be swayed to implement it in other locations, as well.  FTM will have more on this story.

Council discussed the possibility of a new music festival at Tower Park in the summer.  Fort Thomas Matters will have more in-depth coverage of this soon.

Ordinances, Resolutions, and Orders

Ordinance O-12-2016: Update for the City's Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual
Ordinance O-13-2016: Amendment to the Fort Thomas P.D. Policy and Procedure Manual
Municipal Order MO-10-2016: Appointing Roger Peterman to the OKI Board
Municipal Order MO-11-2016: Re-appointing Mike Federle to the Board of Ethics
Municipal Order MO-12-2016: Re-appointing Mark Leopold to the Tree Commission
Executive Order EO-15-2016: Re-appointing Brian Sand to the Renaissance Board
Executive Order EO-16-2016: Re-appointing Marcus Roth to the Renaissance Board
Executive Order EO-17-2016: Re-appointing Tracy Davis to the Renaissance Board
Executive Order EO-18-2016: Re-appointing Linda Slone to the Renaissance Board
Executive Order EO-19-2016: Appointing Wayne Dutle to the position of Police Officer

Council went into executive session to discuss the acquisition to the VA Homes.

Undefeated before 2017

Highlands Bowling Teams Search for State Crowns

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Tyler Spicer releases the ball in a match against Covington Holy Cross on Tuesday at LaRu Lanes in Highland Heights. Both Highlands bowling teams are undefeated at 8-0 on the season.
Christmas may be days away, but the Highlands bowling teams find themselves with the best gift after wins over Covington Holy Cross on Tuesday at LaRu Lanes in Highland Heights.

That's perfect 8-0 records.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Campbell County Debuts New Financial Transparency Tool

Fiscal Court introduces its presence on OpenGov platform to share key financial data

FTM file. 
Tonight the Campbell County Fiscal Court unveiled an online platform through which the public can more easily access the county government’s financial information.

The county’s finance team launched the tool, OpenGov, in a presentation to the Fiscal Court. In addition to current financial information available on the county website, including budget, audit, and vendor data, Campbell County’s use of OpenGov intends to bring increased transparency to the taxpayer and citizen engagement.

OpenGov is a transparency tool that many public agencies nationwide have implemented to promote greater financial literacy and collaboration with an informed public. Through this tool, now accessible on Campbell County’s website (under the Transparency menu), any citizen can view a range of reports including revenues and expenditures for the current budget year, as well as previous years’ actuals, fund balances, and detailed check registers. A key feature of the OpenGov platform is the ability to easily analyze data through visualization using charts and graphs. The new tool will be updated with claims details once they are formally approved by the Fiscal Court. Monthly revenue and expenditure balances and fund balances will be updated once each financial month is completed.

“Openness, accountability, and transparency are not just empty words in Campbell County,” said Judge/Executive Steve Pendery. “The debut of OpenGov in Campbell County is a user-friendly and more detailed platform by which we can communicate our financial transactions and positions. The citizens of Campbell County can now view a multitude of reports that very clearly indicate where every penny of their dollar is placed.”

While the features of this tool will be updated and enhanced going forward, Campbell County has loaded information dating back to 2012 into the tool’s initial offerings, and those interested can search and filter large amounts of data in a variety of ways.

County Commissioner, Charlie Coleman, said he's behind the initiative by the county.

"I'm happy to see it being implemented. The taxpayers have every right to see and question how their taxes are being spent," he said.

“On behalf of our entire finance team, I am pleased to introduce the OpenGov platform tonight,” said Marie Schenkel, Campbell County Finance Director. “We have worked diligently to research, select, and prepare the right tool to offer the community to be able to quickly and conveniently see where each dollar is being spent.”

Campbell County encourages the public to explore this tool featured on the county website and to offer feedback and/or send in questions about the tool. It is also accessible via the link,

Frisch's Peppermint Hot Fudge Cake

Ashley, Jack and Brandon Barlow taking a selfie with Frisch's Big Boy. 
The Cincinnati Ballet just finished 12 grueling performances in eight days at The Aronoff Center for the Arts, but the viral reach of the show's breakout stars, seven-year-old, Jack Barlow continues to reverberate throughout the nation. 

Jack made dance history during this season's rendition of The Nutcracker by becoming the first child with Down syndrome to be included in a major ballet production.

“We think he may be the third person with Down syndrome to be included in a major production by a ballet company and we think he is the first child. So it’s big news,” said Jack's mother, Ashley.  

"Hurricane Jack's" has been involved with the ballet for four seasons.  

“There is a Cincinnati Ballet instructor to support the physical therapist and a physical therapy student from Children’s Hospital. So he has done this since its inception," said Ashley. "The purpose is to foster dance across abilities. They hope that Jack’s inclusion in The Nutcracker is a step for inclusion for their inclusionary work with the ballet. That class is amazing."

So while Jack's story of inclusion has made national waves and put the Cincinnati Ballet in the national spotlight, another community partner has also had its rich history with the ballet indirectly elevated. 

Frisch's has been the primary sponsor of "The Nutcracker" since its very first performance in 1974 and is one of the longest-lasting examples of corporate sponsorship in American arts history. 

As part of that partnership, Frisch’s worked with members of the Cincinnati Ballet to launch Frisch’s first-ever holiday edition of its best-selling dessert.

The Peppermint Hot Fudge Cake ($3.29) is available for a limited time (until Feb.7) and is the first time since this original dessert debuted in restaurants in 1970 that it has been offered in another flavor. The original fudge cake also still available at restaurants. 

If you like the hot fudge cake, you're going to like the Peppermint Hot Fudge Cake. Warm chocolate cake with hot fudge, with a cool block of ice cream sandwiched in between and candy cane shavings sprinkled on top. Frisch's vendors have created the peppermint ice cream specifically for Big Boy. 

Go. Order it. Trust me. 

They also have five dinners starting at $7.99 featuring your choice of Chicken Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Chicken, Meat Loaf, Roast Beef and Carved Turkey served with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. The green beans were the standout to me because, well, bacon. 

I had a little taste of them all and they were all really good. Frisch's Director of Research and Development, Greg Grisanti, was on hand at the newly remodeled Covington location on 5th Street. I still miss Fort Thomas Frisch's, though. 

Don't forget, Frisch's Peppermint Hot Fudge Cake is only available until February 7. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Frisch's Big Boy. All opinions are my own.

Bob Yeager named Chief District Engineer for District 6

Bob Yeager and Patty Dunaway. 
Fort Thomas resident, Bob Yeager, was named Chief District Engineer (CDE) for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) District 6 office in Covington today. Since October, Yeager has served in the acting CDE capacity after the retirement of former CDE Rob Hans.

Bob Yeager began his career with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in 1975 as an engineer-in-training for the Covington district office. Yeager attended the University of Kentucky as a Civil Engineering Scholarship student and received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in December 1974. He also earned his MBA from Northern Kentucky University in 1982.

Yeager worked in District 6 from 1975 to 2003, serving as a maintenance engineer, branch manager for operations, and branch manager for planning. In 2003, Yeager left the Cabinet to pursue work in the private sector with a local consulting firm. Yeager returned to the Cabinet in 2009 as the branch manager for project development in District 6.

Raniero's Pizzeria Applies For Alcohol License

Michael Raniero (front right) is joined by friends in the "rec room" space of his restaurant, Raniero's in the Fort Thomas Plaza. FTM file.  
A family-owned pizza restaurant that opened in March of this year in the Fort Thomas Plaza at 90 Alexandria Pike is pivoting their business plan to include billiards amid some residents' concerns.

Business partners Michael Raniero and Adam Lyle own Raniero's and applied for a retail malt beverage drink license from the city of Fort Thomas for what they are calling a "rec room" which  adjoins their existing space.

Raniero said he'll have four pool tables as well as arcade games and will serve beer and wine with his license. The dining room, which has eight booths and three tables for dine-in customers is separated from rec room with a door and adds around 2,200 square feet from the original space they rented in March.

Whether it's a rec room or pool hall may be a moot point. A "pool hall" is a business named in the planning and zoning ordinances for the city of Fort Thomas as a permitted use in a general commercial zone.

RELATED: New Pizza Place Opens in Fort Thomas Plaza

A public hearing was held on Monday for the license where city Alcoholic Beverage Control Administrator Jennifer Machesney read a petition from eight residents on Overlook Drive, who opposed Raniero's obtaining the license.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fort Thomas Garden Club Plans to Plant a Legacy of Trees to Celebrate 100 Years

Jennie Schlosser and Courtney Shannon decorate the tree with city workers. 

The Garden Club of Fort Thomas has received an Environmental Stewardship Grant in the amount of $1000 from the Campbell County Extension Service.  This grant will help the Garden Club kick start a project to commemorate the group’s centennial, and will result in 13 trees being planted in Fort Thomas in 2017.

The Garden Club of Fort Thomas is partnering with the Fort Thomas Tree Commission, utilizing their expertise for tree replacement and species selection.  The City will provide labor, equipment and material costs for this project.  Alison Murphy, President of the Garden Club and owner of Branch Out Design, LLC, will provide professional oversight for the tree installations.

Megan deSola, Chairman of the Fort Thomas Tree Commission, applauds the partnership of the civic groups.  “The Tree Commission and the Garden Club have always had a common goal of beautifying Fort Thomas by maintaining and increasing the overall tree canopy.  This grant is a wonderful example of two local volunteer organizations coming together to help reach that goal.” 

This is an advertisement. Barre3 Ft. Thomas. 
Two areas have been identified for the tree installations slated for Spring 2017.

Four trees will be planted in the public median on North Fort Thomas Avenue between Hartweg and West Southgate Avenue near Johnson Elementary School.  The City will first remove several large trees that are dying.  Tree selection will be finalized in 2017 based on the recommendation of the Tree Commission, but may include species such as the Lacebark Elm and Zelcova.

The Winkler Fields softball facility on Alexandria Pike near Woodfill Elementary School will benefit from nine trees.  The plantings, which may include Shingle Oak and Rosehill Oak along with spruce trees, will add landscaping to this newly renovated park area.  The trees will grow to provide much needed shade to spectators.

The Garden Club of Fort Thomas was established in 1921 to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and to encourage civic planting.  The club’s 50 members are sponsoring an initiative to plant 100 trees in the next five years to celebrate the group’s centennial.

Long-time member, Lori Wendling, prepared the grant application.  

“Decades ago, the Garden Club planted 50 trees to enhance the city’s streetscape.  Many of these mature trees are in decline, having experienced damage due to insects or disease.  The Garden Club is excited to sponsor this project.  We believe it is vital that Fort Thomas retains the special ambiance that tree-lined streets provide.”

The Garden Club is also responsible for the beautiful plantings in the medians in the center of the city as well as the hanging baskets in the central business district.  They are also responsible for the beautiful Christmas tree at Inverness Park as well as the winter planters and stop sign decorations for the annual Holiday Walk.

A Greek proverb proclaims, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Thanks to the partnership of the Garden Club and the Tree Commission, the City of Fort Thomas continues to play an active role in the urban forestry movement.

National Wreaths Across America Held Locally at Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery
National Wreaths Across America Day was held December 17 at Evergreen Cemetery. The mission, according to their website, is to “Remember, Honor and Teach.” It is a coordinated series of ceremonies carried out at Arlington National Cemetery and over 1,100 other locations in all 50 US states, at sea, and abroad.

Linda Nesbitt, the Campbell County Democratic Chair and one of the lead organizers for the local event said, “The Campbell County event was part of the nationwide effort sponsored by the Wreaths Across America organization. The Democratic Executive Committee became a local sponsoring organization for the first time in 2016. Paul Whalen of Fort Thomas, a former county party chair, organized the event and led a fundraising effort to supplement the Executive Committee's monetary commitment. The additional monies allowed us to purchase more wreaths for both the Soldiers Lot and the Civil War battery grave sites fronting Alexandria Pike.”

Paul Whalen said that  the event  “originally began when one guy from Maine decided to donate 5,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery." It has caught on with other communities with groups of Veterans.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mike Mitchell Calls Out Marvin Lewis

Video below. 
Former Highlands standout and current Pittsburgh Steeler came into Paul Brown Stadium to help the Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in comeback fashion.

There are many in Fort Thomas who cheer for the former Highlands Bluebird, even though his current team is widely despised in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.

 Marvin Lewis implied that Mitchell is a dirty player yesterday after the Bengals lost to the Steelers.

This is an advertisement. 

Dying Without a Will in Kentucky

By Steven Franzen, Campbell County Attorney 

Clients often ask about what happens to their property and their minor children in Kentucky if they die without having a will.  In this article, I will briefly discuss how property passes under Kentucky law if someone dies without a will and who would raise the children and handle their funds if a guardian is not appointed in the will.

Under Kentucky law, if a person dies without a will, a surviving spouse is first of all entitled to one-half of all real property and one-half of all personal property after payment of all bills and expenses.

The remaining one-half that does not pass to a surviving spouse would pass first of all to surviving children and grandchildren, if none, then to surviving parents, if none, then to surviving brothers and sisters and their children and finally if there are none of the above, then the remaining one-half of all land and personal property would pass to the surviving spouse.

If a person dies without a will and there are no surviving children, grandchildren, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, or spouse, then the property would pass to grandparents, then aunts, uncles and cousins, and then on down the line to more distant relatives.  Property would only go to the State of Kentucky if no relatives whatsoever can be found.

Fourth Annual 80s Throwback Party

Proceeds Benefit Brighton Recovery Center for Women

Click image to view larger. 

For the fourth year in a row, an 80s Throwback Party will be held at the Highland Country Club in Fort Thomas to benefit the Brighton Recovery Center for Women. The party will be on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for admission and includes a drink ticket, food, dancing, and free parking. There is a $30 additional upgrade fee, which is optional, at the door for the open bar.

RELATED: Connect With The Party Here (Facebook) 

The party fund raiser was started and is hosted by Katie Walters from Q102. Sponsors include Q102, Fort Thomas Matters, and MIX 94.9. Mark McFadden will be the DJ, spinning songs from when he was a DJ at The Conservatory, Waterfront, and The Glass Menagerie. There will be 80's themed raffles, food, and free parking. Fort Thomas Florist and Garden Center is donating huge palm trees for the dance. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

Ultimate Air Shuttle is the Gold Sponsor for this year's party. 

Katie Walters, the Promotions Coordinator at WKRQ/Q102 FM Radio in Cincinnati, has been on the board of the Brighton Center for four years. This will be her fourth year planning this event. "This is definitely the party where you need to find a babysitter and come out and have fun! It started out fairly small, but now it's really grown. We have TV coverage, it's getting super popular, and we're raising a lot more money."

Photo from last year's 80s Throwback Dance

Everyone has fun at the 80s Throwback Dance

Katie says the Brighton Center, located in Florence, Kentucky, sends a bus of 15-20 women who have volunteered to help set up and decorate. "The women are wonderful! It takes about 6-1/2 hours to get everything set up and the Highland Country Club decorated."

Dan Schlarman, the general manager of the club, donates a nice, white tablecloth luncheon to the women who volunteered to help set up for the party.

Katie says, "The luncheon is a great female bonding experience and I have a great time talking and sharing experiences with the women from Brighton Center. These women really spoke to me. They're just like you, me, a sister, or a daughter and I felt the universe had called me to do something to help them, to give them a voice. This 80s Throwback Party is a great chance to relive all those memories of dancing in the 80s at all the popular dance venues in Cincinnati while doing a great thing for these women. I'm hoping everyone comes out."

She suggests people buy tickets online since tickets are limited and it's the first big party of the year. "It's the only party that benefits the Brighton Recovery Center for Women. Many people buy tickets even if they can't come and just think of it as a donation. The women voluntarily admit themselves to the Brighton Center and are desperate to change their lives. These are all local women who are in recovery, most of them for heroin addiction. Some of these women are college graduates, cheerleaders, they're not what people think. They're people who went through a bad time and made a bad choice. The stigma needs to go away so we can help each other."

"Anita Prater, the Director of the Brighton Center, is great. She's like a mother to all these women. The women love her because Anita gets it. The Brighton Center is so lucky to have her. You have to be a special person to have that job. I want to thank Anita Prater, Deana Sowders, and Becky Timberlake from Brighton Center and Mark Collier from Fort Thomas Matters for all their hard work and dedication to the success of the party."

VA Homes Update: Potential Closing Timeframe Established

The entrance of the VA 
As previously reported, the VA Homes project is making real progress these days, and Fort Thomas City residents can expect to start seeing that progress in terms of improvement to the structures as early as this spring.

"At the last meeting the mayor was authorized to sign a new MOA and I'm happy to report that not only did the mayor sign it but it was returned from the VA so we actually have a signed document from both parties, which formally executes MOA between the two parties," City Administrator Ron Dill said at November's City Council meeting.

Dill then went into a bit of history.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Power Outage Near Woodfill Elementary

FTM file. 
Residents on the southend of Fort Thomas are without power, including Woodfill Elementary.

Duke Energy says that 263 customers are without power after a "vehicle damaged their equipment" around 8:45 a.m. this morning. It's not yet clear if there was a vehicle collision or what caused it.

Orangetheory Fitness in Newport Pavilion. This is an advertisement. 

They are estimating that power will be restored by 12:30 p.m. 

US-27 is also closed, heading northbound toward I-471. 

Last night, freezing rain coated the streets in ice, causing multiple road closures and numerous accidents throughout Campbell County. 

FTM will update this story. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fort Thomas City Council Roundup (November 2016)

Mayor Eric Haas and former Mayor, Mary Brown. FTM file. 
Police Chief Mike Daly detailed two recent incidents a little further in front of Fort Thomas City Council.

The first involved a little more about how police captured Todd Hundley, who took police on a two-day chase that started in Bellevue, Kentucky and ended in Versailles, Kentucky.

RELATED: Escaped Prisoner CAUGHT After Two-Day Chase 

Hundley escaped from police custody while at St. Elizabeth in Fort Thomas, where he was being treated for injuries that occurred to him while leading police on a high-speed chase in Bellevue.

Fort Thomas was not the arresting agency. 

The Campbell County Detention Center refused to book him into jail without first being checked by hospital staff.

"(Hundley) was handcuffed to a bed with one hand with one hand free and somehow was able to get (his cuffed) hand free. We think he either made his way down Deschler or Gaddis towards US-27. We had a canine unit and several units tracking him," said Daly.

"He went to Michaels Tire, walked into the bathroom to clean himself off, which we were able to get some of the evidence from the bathroom itself. He waited until someone left from behind the desk and grabbed a random set of keys, went outside and started clicking it and lo and behold, got lucky and was able to find a car. From there we don't know which direction he went in."

The manager was able to ID the suspect and the next day, Lt. Rich Whitford got a tip about Hundley's whereabouts in the Frankfort area.

A foot chase occurred and he was able to evade Kentucky State Police for a day, before they finally arrested him in Versailles, Kentucky.

Fort Thomas Police Detectives, Adam Noe and Michael Rowland interviewed the suspect there.

"He refused to interview with police, but our detectives help process evidence from the car he stole and collected evidence so it worked out well for us," said Daly. "The good thing is that no one got hurt."
This is an advertisement. 

Hundley has multiple felonies across three different cities. He was charged with:

BOND: $25000

"Todd" Hundley. Kentucky State Police. 
Daly also reviewed the armed attempted bank robbery that occurred on that same day.

RELATED: BREAKING: Attempted Robbery of U.S. Bank in Fort Thomas 

A male juvenile was taken into custody at 5:00 p.m. at US Bank in Fort Thomas at 2 S. Fort Thomas Avenue after attempting to rob the bank.

Fort Thomas Police Lt. Rich Whitford, told Fort Thomas Matters that a male juvenile walked into the branch and showed a knife to employees, before demanding cash.

Police were called and were on scene within two minutes. The Fort Thomas Police Department is two blocks north, less than a quarter mile from the branch.

"The subject, who is mentally challenged, walked into the bank right before it was getting to close. He was kind of walking around and the manager went up to him to ask if he could help him. At that time, the teenager pulled a knife out and asked for money with a bag, while waving the knife around," said Daly.

There were several other bank employees inside who were able to call 911 and hit the panic button.

"Our officers arrived and did a fantastic job of approaching it as a group. We just tried to talk to the boy, to get him to drop the knife. He was slashing at officers while they were talking to him. The guys have a history with this boy and have worked with him in the past. It goes back to knowing their community. They were able to corner him and overpower him and were able to get the knife from him. No injuries to anyone. No taser, no gun, great restraint and communication skills."

Daly said Lt. Whitford, Lt. Casey Kilgore, Sgt. Will Hunt, Officers Doug Bryant, Brandon Laffin, Derek Faught and Adam Peak all played a part in disarming the potentially dangerous situation.

Daly said the juvenile is currently lodged in Campbell County juvenile system and courts are handling the charges.

In other notes from council:
- Former Mayor Mary Brown, was an invited guest to the November Fort Thomas City Council meeting to ceremoniously hang her mayoral portrait on the council chambers mayoral picture wall.

Brown served on Fort Thomas City Council from 1976-1999, when she became mayor. She served in that role until 2014 when Haas took over for her.

- Sharon Schomaker (31 Bonnie Lane) wants the public right of way closed at the end of her street on Bonnie Lane to sell three to four potential lots. Schomaker, a realtor with Warden and Associates in Fort Thomas said that they own a few different parcels and had a developer with a contract on property, but he could not easily access so the contract fell through.

She said she asked to get it on the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda for October, but that did not occur.

“Time was of the essence because I had a contract at that time and thought I was on the agenda for Planning and Zoning in October, but nothing happened," she said. "I got a call an hour and a half before the meeting starting it was canceled. No reason, which was a shock to me.”

City Attorney, Jann Seidenfaden clarified that if a public right of way is closed, that is a council decision, not one that Planning and Zoning would take up.

The Schomakers owned property on Cochran Avenue and a paper street was closed in a similar manner in 2011.

“There’s a fundamental issue of access here,” said City Administrative Officer, Ron Dill, who referred the matter to staff.

- The crosswalk have been installed at Highland Avenue by Ruth Moyer.

RELATED: Only One Of Five Proposed Crosswalks Will Be Installed 

The city also contacted the Kentucky Department of Transportation and they added signalization of the lights Highland and Grand and Pentland and Grand.