Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Fort Thomas Independent Spelling Bee Winners

Aiden Nevels, a 5th-grade student at Moyer Elementary, won the school-level competition of the National Spelling Bee on January 27, 2016.  Aiden will now take the online school champion test in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 WCPO 9 On Your Side Regional Spelling Bee which will be held on March 12, 2016.

Juli Russ, a 7th-grade student at Highlands Middle School, won the school-level competition of the National Spelling Bee on January 26, 2016.  Juli is now qualified for the 2016 WCPO 9 On Your Side Regional Spelling Bee which will be held on March 12, 2016.

Upcoming Youth Sports at the Campbell County YMCA

Last week on FTM, two new classes for adults at the YMCA were highlighted- In Trinity and Y Weight (story found here).  However, as the Campbell County YMCA slogan says, “We are for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility”.  So, when planning your Spring (it’s coming soon!) activities, don’t forget the YMCA is not just a place where you can go and swim and work out on occasion, but also a great opportunity for entry-level children’s sports.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kynect Open Enrollment Enters its Final Week - Jeff Janosick Health Insurance

Individuals should sign up by Jan. 31 to avoid a costly tax penalty.

Jeff Janosick is part of the #FTMFamily. 
The deadline to enroll in coverage through kynect is midnight, Sunday, Jan. 31. Individuals who need health insurance can log on to kynect, contact an insurance agent or kynector, or call the kynect call center to see their options for health coverage in 2016 before the Jan. 31 deadline passes. The kynect call center will be open on Saturday, Jan. 30, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST. Medicaid enrollment is open at any time.

Individuals with income above 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) who fail to enroll in healthcare coverage before Jan. 31, 2016 will be subject to an IRS penalty, including those whose income falls between 100-138 percent FPL and are eligible for the Medicaid expansion. Individuals whose income falls below 100 percent FPL are not subject to the penalty.

 Locally, if you need help with your Kynect account or health insurance, contact Jeff Janosick for free assistance at 859-414-0945 or 

Important tax information
Individuals who qualified for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) through kynect will receive a 1095-A tax form in the mail as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Form 1095-A provides information for individuals and families who received payment assistance to help them fill out IRS Form 8962 as part of their federal return.

Individuals with Medicaid, KCHIP, Medicare, catastrophic health insurance or insurance through an employer or other agency do not need Form 1095-A to file their federal income taxes.

Visit or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328) to learn more about affordable health care options for Kentuckians.

You Can Help Save Our Urban Forests: Start Here

The East Row Garden Club in Newport, Ky., is offering a free showing of "Trees In Trouble," a local documentary, which is receiving national attention, about the threats facing our urban forests.

More than three years ago Andrea Torrice, a Cincinnati documentary and public television producer and writer, was jogging through Burnet Woods. "It is beautiful. But one day I noticed that interspersed between the green canopy were dead trees," Torrice says. And the dead trees were all marked—with a large "X."

That same day Torrice ran into a neighbor who was walking through Burnet Woods. The neighbor said the X's indicated infested ash trees. All were slated to be cut down. "Then a tree in my backyard fell down after a storm," Torrice says. "It was also an ash tree. That's when I began to read more about the infestation." 

Soon after a scientist colleague told Torrice that the ash trees were defenseless and in danger of extinction. "I love the trees in our region, but I'm not a scientist," Torrice says. "Originally I wanted to do a children's video about trees but then everything changed course." The result: "Trees in Trouble: Saving America's Urban Forests," a film that is getting national attention.

Andrea Torrice and her crew filming "Trees in Trouble" in Bellevue Beach Park.

The documentary focuses on America's urban and community forests—their history and importance—and the threats they face from diseases and non-native insects. Particular interest is given to Cincinnati and the effect the emerald ash borer has had on its beloved ash trees—an infestation Fort Thomas is not immune to. Torrice then explores the community-wide efforts that are happening still today to save and protect our urban forests.

A national PBS premiere is slated for Arbor Day, April 29, but you have the opportunity to attend a free viewing Tuesday, February 16 at 6:30pm at The Sanctuary Event Center (417 East 6th St., Newport). The East Row Garden Club (ERGC) is hosting the event to support the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council. Davey Tree provided the funds to purchase the film.

Highlands seeks continuous improvement

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior post Kyle Finfrock (25) pulls down a rebound in Tuesday's game at Newport Central Catholic. Finfrock's emergence in the post has helped Highlands go 3-1 in recent games.
It is that time of year coaches hope things come together.

In Other Words: Putting Wow in Bow Wow

So I admit to this deception - I make up dog breeds. Why? Well, a mutt needs a little dignity and this gives them a little instant heritage. I love dogs and I have a soft spot for mutts. The muttier the better.

We had one dog, Buddy Einstein the Genius, who looked like he was assembled by a sensory deprived committee - long and lean body, big ears, colored like a shepherd, top knot like a lab, a huge snout, but the eyes, ah, the eyes.

One was blue and the other was marbled blue and brown. It really was a striking characteristic. They always photographed red and green. Christmas eyes.  But he was loving, smart, and gentle. I mean, he would share his dog toys with small children.  Yep. He would often select one of his toys and deposit it in front of a child and then he would drop into play mode.

As Buddy took my wife and me on a stroll around town, a woman stopped us and remarked upon the unique physique of Buddy Einstein the Genius. He sat politely still as she commented upon his eyes. “My, what interesting eyes he has.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Schroder: Governor Bevin's Budget A Success

The view from State Sen Wil Schroder's seat during Gov. Matt Bevin's budget address. 

By Wil Schroder 

On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending Governor Matt Bevin’s first-ever State of the Commonwealth Budget Address.  I also was selected by Senate leadership to be on the committee to escort the governor into the House Chamber for his address, which was a unique and exciting experience.

Considering the dire financial straits facing Kentucky’s teacher and employee pension systems, along with the increasing and costly burden of expanded Medicaid, the speech was highly anticipated by many.  Overall, I was very pleased with the speech and want to highlight some of the key points.


The budget proposal established plans for an unprecedented commitment to our state employee and teacher pension systems. The suggested funding would exceed the annual required contribution (ARC) to the Kentucky Employees’ Retirement System (KERS) and designate over $500 million in additional money to the unfunded liability in the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS).  While this alone will not solve our budget problems, it certainly helps us in getting back on the right track.

Outcomes Based Funding and Education: 

One of the highlights of the speech was Governor Bevin’s proposal to implement an outcomes-based funding model for our state universities and to phase-in those plans in the coming budget cycle.  This will greatly help Northern Kentucky University and should be encouraging to all those advocating to address the current funding disparities that exist.

Also in education, the proposed budget increases SEEK funding by $39 million over the biennium and ensures that 100 percent of Kentucky Lottery proceeds will actually fund scholarships and education.  Unfortunately, in the past, lottery proceeds have sometimes been used for other state needs.

Substance Abuse and “Protecting Those Who Protect Us”:

Another measure proposed in Governor Bevin’s address sought to reduce substance abuse by fully funding the comprehensive anti-heroin legislation that we passed in 2015. All across the Commonwealth, we continue to be impacted by the heroin and drug epidemic and we need to continue to invest not only in treatment options, but in ways to ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors have the resources they need to address the problem.   Another takeaway from the address was to “protect those who protect us” by proposing a $12.4 million increase in salaries for our state police and increasing the number of probation and parole officers and social workers.

In restructuring our spending and prioritizing our state’s needs, Governor Bevin did propose a total spending reduction of about 2.5 percent over the next two years. While the governor noted that some of the more vital areas of the budget will receive an increase, several others will see appropriations cut by as much as 9 percent. As your State Senator, I plan to examine these cuts and proposals very carefully and with thoughtful consideration to the impact they will have.  I look forward to working with his administration, along with my colleagues in the Senate and House, to passing a budget that will make Kentucky a better place for generations to come.

To view more details of Governor Bevin’s 2016-2018 Executive Budget Recommendation, please visit:

If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or e-mail me at  You can also review the legislature’s work online at

Gov. Matt Bevin Delivers First Budget for Commonwealth

Budget proposal reduces debt and puts critical investment in high-tech job training, front-line workers

Gov. Matt Bevin's Budget Address delivered on 1-26-16. FTM file. 
Last night, in his first State of the Commonwealth Address, Governor Matt Bevin asked all Kentuckians and members of the General Assembly to stand united in improving the financial condition of the state. A 9% total cut to spending was proposed, 4.5% for the rest of this fiscal year and a 2.5% baseline cut overall.

Northern Kentucky's interests were well represented in the address.

Northern Kentucky University had a great night, as Bevin touted outcomes-based funding, which would help "true up" universities that were churning out more graduates among other metrics, while still finding themselves on the bottom of the university funding barrel.

He said his proposed budget would reduce this disparity NKU receives by 50 percent in the next fiscal year and 50 percent the following year. By 2018, that margin would be on par.

Western Kentucky University was also specifically mentioned as a candidate that would be helped by this measure.

"We are grateful that Governor Bevin recognizes the existing funding disparity and his budget takes action to address that," said NKU President Geoffrey Mearns.

Dealing with the heroin problem was discussed, as Bevin indicated that he has allocated $5.7 and $6.3 million, on top of the 10 million set aside by Senate Bill 192 last year.

The Brent Spence Bridge was also part of the one hour and seven minute address. "We're going to invest in the Brent Spence Bridge corridor. We are going to paint it and stop pretending it's not falling down," said Bevin. "We've ignored our infrastructure and bridges. We are calling for no less than 15% of all state road budget to go to bridges."

Meet David Cameron: Candidate For Fort Thomas City Council

David Cameron files for Fort Thomas City Council. FTM file. 
By David Cameron, OP-ED

I’m running for Fort Thomas City Council because I want to help make our city better.

While I am a new face to the Fort, I represent an important demographic: young professionals relocating to the Cincinnati area with their young families.  My wife and I kept an open mind when we relocated here from Lexington.  We looked at most neighborhoods, both north and south of the river.  We thought Fort Thomas had the most to offer.  However, I often see these “Best of the Region” lists and am astonished when Fort Thomas isn’t at the top.

Fort Thomas is undervalued given our unique, best of region assets.  We have a clean and attractive community, friendly people, blue ribbon schools, an amazing location, great parks and a picturesque downtown. As a member of council, I want to figure out why we are undervalued and how to better showcase our city.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Senator Wil Schroder's Legislative Update

State Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, discusses a bill before the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary during the third week of the 2016 General Assembly in Frankfort.

By Wil Schroder 
Written 1-22-16

Although week three of the General Assembly was short due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the inclement weather Friday, the Kentucky Senate welcomed visitors who braved the snow in Frankfort and passed significant bills. Two of those bills were Senate Bill (SB) 10 and SB 45.

Senate Bill 10 would move statewide constitutional elections to even-numbered years. While I do not take amending the Kentucky Constitution lightly, I believe that this change would have many benefits and I supported the bill as one of its cosponsors.  Changing the election cycle for constitutional officers would save the Commonwealth and its counties an estimated $20 million per election cycle.  Also, it will greatly increase voter turnout.  Historically in Kentucky voter turnout in odd-numbered years’ election cycles has been significant lower than elections on even-numbered years.   This bill passed the Senate 28-9.

Also on Tuesday, we passed SB 45, which creates transparency in the legislative retirement system. Under SB 45, current or former legislators’ pension plans are subject to open records requests that the other pension accounts endure.  I believe that members of the legislative body should be subject to the same transparency and held to the same standard as non-legislative pension holders.  When I ran for office I argued that transparency was important for our pension systems and I was happy to vote for this bill.  I am pleased to report that it passed the Senate with unanimous support.

When lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they will get their first glimpse of newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal late on Tuesday.

LIVE UPDATES: Campbell County Elections Filing Deadline

Campbell County Fiscal Court. FTM file. 

Today is the filing deadline for elections across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and we hope you'll stay on this thread today to find out who files for what office today in Campbell County. 

I'll be posting up at 1098 Monmouth Street all day today. I've got my lunch with me and hopefully the county building's wifi isn't too spotty (we pay for that, don't we?). 

Anyway, updating will start today at 9:15 a.m. As candidates file, FTM will constantly update the lists. Local elections, more than any other, directly affect our day-to-day. We hope today, you'll understand that. 

Our promise to you, the readers and electorate of Campbell County, is to hold these candidates who wish to be your representatives accountable. There will be no more coasting. Whether it's city council or a state representative.

The order in which the candidates are listed correspond with when they filed for office.

The primary ballot draws will take place on January 28, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. The general election ballot draw will take place on August 11, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.


FTM Radio Podcast: Matt Teaford (R) on His Race Against Dennis Keene (D)

Matt Teaford joined Mark Collier in the Borderlands Podcast Studio on Jan. 22, 2016. 
Matt Teaford will challenge 4-time incumbent, Dennis Keene for District 67 Kentucky House of Representatives. Will the republican wave taking over the Commonwealth affect this historically democratically-controlled district?

Teaford talks about his chances.

District 67 is entirely based in Campbell County, Kentucky, comprising the cities of Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Wilder, Southgate, Woodlawn, and a portion of Highland Heights.


Johnson Students Recognized as Geography/Spelling Bee Champs

Henry Campbell (left) and Cooper Alerding. 
Cooper Alerding, a 5th-grade student at Johnson Elementary, won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee on January 19, and advances for a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship.  The school-level Bee, at which students answered oral questions on geography, was the first round in the 28th annual National Geographic Bee.

Henry Campbell, a 4th-grade student at Johnson Elementary, won the school-level competition of the National Spelling Bee on January 7, 2016.  Henry will now take the online school champion test in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 WCPO 9 On Your Side Regional Spelling Bee which will be held on March 12, 2016.

Highlands seniors go out with 48-11 overall record

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior linebackers Jared Dougherty (10), Ben Ziegler (34) and Luke Lindeman (98) converge on Pulaski County running back George Gregory (16) in the Class 5A state semifinal contest in November. Those are three of 29 seniors that finished 48-11 in four years of high school with four district and region championships, four state semifinal appearances, two state championships and a runner-up finish.
In a sports world that looks at what a team has done lately, people can easily look down on the 8-6 season the Highlands Bluebirds football team completed in November. Highlands lost 41-31 to Pulaski County in the state semifinals.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pizza Hut in Newport Plaza Has Closed Permanently

A Hot Head Burritos in the Newport Plaza is opening soon. FTM file. 

After little turnover in the Newport Plaza I in the first 15 years since being built, another original tenant has closed its doors. 

According to Jaimie Niemczura, Real Estate Manager for American Diversified Development, which owns Newport Plaza I and Newport Shopping Center I and II, Pizza Hut corporate offices have decided not to renew their lease in the end cap of the development. 

Niemczura said that she believes that Pizza Hut, which is situated at 84 Carothers Road in Newport, has been renting that space since the plaza was built in 1992. 

"We have had a lot of interest in the space already," she said.
This is an advertisement. Barre3 Ft. Thomas. FTM Family. 

Pizza Hut joins longtime tenants, Blockbuster Video and Star Computers to close, after being neighboring tenants in the Plaza for years. JalapeƱo Express, which was owned by the same ownership group who owns Rio Grande in the same development, had a brief stay in the opposite end cap space of Pizza Hut in the aforementioned Blockbuster, before clearing way for Hot Head Burrito.

Cub Scout Pack 70, Fort Thomas, Holds Annual Pinewood Derby

Cub Scout Pack 70, Fort Thomas, held its annual Pinewood Derby Sunday

Sunday, Cub Scout Pack 70, Fort Thomas, held its annual Pinewood Derby. Established by Boy Scouts of America in 1953, the Pinewood Derby offers Cub Scouts the opportunity to design, carve, weigh and paint a car with the help of a parent or mentor. Cub Scouts then get together with their Packs to race their cars on specially designed tracks.

Cub Scout Pack 70 draws from St. Thomas School, Woodfill Elementary, homeschooled scouts, and scouts from schools in Dayton, Bellevue and Newport, Ky., that don't have active Cub Scout Packs. "Our pack is open to anyone who is interested regardless of where they live," says Michelle Hathorn, Cub Scout Pack 70's Webelos I/Bear Den Leader and Boy Scout "Stem" Troop 437 Scoutmaster.

Hathorn says there are three Cub Scout Packs in Fort Thomas—Pack 771, Pack 706 and Pack 70. These Packs serve kindergarten/first grade through fifth grade. Older Scouts in 6th grade through 18 years of age are members of Boy Scout Troops 70 and 437 in Fort Thomas. Boy Scouts from Troop 437 helped out at Sunday's Pinewood Derby.

Pack 70 celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago. And the Pinewood Derby has been a long-loved favorite, by Cub Scouts and parents/mentors alike. "I'm not sure when Pack 70 first did theirs, but it is a staple of our Scouting year," Hathorn says.

Cub Scouts receive a basic kit, and then they are in charge of designing, carving, adding weights and decorated their pinewood cars.

Prior to this year's event Cub Scout Pack 70 held two Pinewood Derby clinics, complete with woodworking tools for those Scouts who might not have access to tools at home. Hathorn says the hands-on nature of the event is, in part, what makes it so much fun. "I think it is loved by the Scouts because they are able to be hands on in the building of their car from start to finish," Hathorn says. "It is something that every Scout can have a part in, with the help of an adult, and experience the excitement of seeing how their cars perform. Our Pinewood Derby is the event the boys are most excited about and look forward to each year."

Wil Martin, treasurer of Pack 70 has been involved in scouting for 40 years. He was at yesterday's Pinewood Derby cheering on his son, Jonah Martin, a Weeblo I. With two sons in Boys Scouts, Martin says he's participated in 14 Pinewood Derbys as a dad, and he still owns all the Pinewood Derby cars he built as a child.

Den leaders and Boy Scouts from Troop 437 helped out with yesterday's race.

"This is my first year involved in the Derby, but I hear it's one of the best-attended events," says R. J. Frey, Cub Scout Pack 70's Tiger Den Leader. "It's a great opportunity for families to work together on a fun project. The boys also seem to really get into the race!" 

Cub Scouts watch as cars near the finish line.

Elmer Grosser, who has two sons in Cub Scouts, agrees. "It's a great parent and son bonding experience," he says.

Frey's son, Matt, participated in the race as a Tiger Cub this year. "My favorite part was watching the cars racing, especially mine!" he says.

The Pinewood Derby is always a well-attended event.
Pack 70 also offers an "outlaw" division, as well as a siblings division, allowing family members and friends to build cars and race as well. (The outlaw division is for parents and mentors and is called "outlaw" because no rules—including weight restrictions—exist.)

Justin McCoy, Cub Scout Pack 70's Webelos II Den Leader, has built a car alongside his son every year. McCoy says it creates a much more positive experience, and he enjoys designing his own cars—not to win, but for style. (Past designs have included a semi with six wheels and Richard Scarry's Busytown Banana Car.)

Cars race at least four times, once in each track.

"One of my favorite things about Cub Scouts over the years has been the Pinewood Derby," says Alex Lacourt, a Webelos II in Pack 70. "We got to build our own cars, and it was fun seeing all of the different cars racing together. And the snacks are always good, too." This was Lacourt's fifth and and final Pinewood Derby as a racer.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Travel Leaders - Travel Agency - Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Travel Leaders
11 S Fort Thomas Ave Ste 1 
Fort Thomas, KY, 41075 
(859) 441-7992

7 Night Cruise on the Danube 
Budpest to Nuremberg Tour

1 - Budapest - Embark your Viking ship, free time
2 - Budapest - City tour of “Buda” & “Pest” including a stop at Heroe’s Square, Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Matthias Church
3 - Vienna - Panoramic city tour featuring the Ringstrasse & St. Stephan’s Cathedral; afternoon at leisure; optional classical concert
4 - Danube River - Cruising the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO Site
Melk - Benedictine abbey tour with library & frescoes
5 - Passau - Walking tour, organ concert & free time
6 - Regensburg - Walking tour through medieval city center & free time
Kelheim - Optional Danube Gorge & Weltenberg Abbey excursion
7 - Main-Danube - Scenic cruising through this Canal engineering marvel
Nuremberg - City tour & guided walk to Market Square or optional WW II history tour; free time
8 - Nuremberg - Disembark your Viking ship

AUGUST 20, 2016
Category A - $4,230.50 -Veranda
Category C - $3,730.50 - French Balcony (upper deck)
Category D - $3,430.50 - French Balcony (middle deck)
Category E - $2,730.50 - State Room (water level)


8-day cruise with river-view stateroom
6 guided tours with audio headset
All meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners, featuring regional specialties and including Welcome Cocktail Reception & Dinner
Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with onboard dinner and lunch service
Visit 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Culture Curriculum: Enjoy musical entertainment highlighting Austrian & Hungarian classics
All port charges
Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)

* Deposit of $500 per person required to confirm your cabin. Single supplement fees apply. Final payment due April 30, 2016. Travel insurance additional.

Call Jodi at (859) 441-7992.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Newport Fresh Thyme Farmer Markets and ALDI Opening Dates

Two new grocery stores will be opening the same week in Newport.

Fresh Thyme Farmer Markets is holding a grand opening on Wednesday, January 27th, 7:00 a.m. at 82 Carothers Road, while ALDI is celebrating a grand opening Monday, February 1st at 9:00 a.m. – 1301 Monmouth Street in the former K-Mart site at the intersection of Carothers Road.

On the day of the opening for Fresh Thyme, the first 200 people in line will receive 20 percent off their entire purchase.

According to their website, Fresh Thyme stores don’t follow traditional grocery store design of tall aisles.

The produce department is the heart of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. Their large selection of organic and locally grown produce is front and center in the middle of the store.

Regular store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

For ALDI's opening on February 1st, the first 100 guests will receive a golden ticket for a chance to win great prizes including free produce for a year and also receive a free Aldi Eco-bag.

Normal store hours are Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Johnson Students Evacuated After Gas Leak Discovered

Firefighters were at Johnson Elementary today to help evacuate the building for a gas leak. Reader submitted (JS). 
Fort Thomas Firefighters were dispatched to Johnson Elementary today after a gas leak was discovered in the northern-most building of the campus. Students and staff were evacuated while Duke Energy repaired the leak, which is now fixed. Students are back in their classrooms.

Principal Jamee Flaherty sent an email to parents to update them on the situation. It's not clear yet, what caused the leak.

Around 1 p.m. today we noticed a potential gas leak in our building at Johnson.  We immediately evacuated the Cliffview building and placed the students in our gym.  At this time, the leak has been repaired by Duke Energy and the students are back in their classrooms. 

OP-ED:Outcomes-Based Funding Model is Best for KY

By Brent Cooper & Greg Shumate

Imagine for a moment that you have a billion dollars to invest. Would you choose to invest in things that give you the best return on your investment?  Of course you would.  

And after a year passed, would you check on the status of your investment, and perhaps invest more in areas that were outperforming others? Again, of course.

After all, things change over time, and you want to direct resources to areas where you get the best outcomes.

Well, we don’t do that in Kentucky when it comes to postsecondary education funding. Many are surprised to learn that our lawmakers don’t consider outcomes – or any other objective factor – when cutting up the billion-dollar postsecondary funding pie.

That needs to change.

As business leaders, we understand the concept of “return on investment.”  For Kentucky’s postsecondary education system, it is all “investment” that is not tied to an expectation of a “return.”

When business leaders speak with university officials from around the state, we are often told how many students are enrolled. The number of students enrolled is a helpful data point.  But what we really care about is how many students are graduating each year. How many master’s degrees, bachelor degrees and associate degrees are being conferred?

We want to know how many trained engineers, health care professionals, and I.T. programmers will be available next year to help grow our collective economy.

We want graduates to be prepared with the talents that are critical in communities and the workplace: effective communication skills, problem solving capabilities, the ability to work collaboratively with a team, and the ability to relate to people from different backgrounds. These are the attributes that can only be achieved through higher education.

To achieve these outcomes, we believe a new system of allocating resources must be implemented. At its core, this new system should have an outcomes-based funding model.

Most successful businesses do this all the time. Regardless of their product or service, they find ways to incentivize desired behaviors. And they do it based on outcomes.

But regardless of how the pie is divided up, it is obvious that what we are doing today—continuing to make investments without looking at results—doesn’t make sense. And at a time when state resources have never been more limited, accountability on this investment should be expected.

Yes, we need to make education a top priority. Yes, we need to invest more in education across the board. But we also need to incentivize behaviors that achieve the best outcomes.

And in order to prepare for the transition to a new, outcomes-based funding model, the Governor and the General Assembly must immediately fix the existing funding disparities among the comprehensive universities.  To level the playing field for Northern Kentucky University, that means an additional $10.7 million per year in state support, based on an objective calculation by the Council on Postsecondary Education.

We hope you will visit and join us in asking Frankfort to fix the funding disparities that exist in education, and create a rational outcomes-based funding model for our future.

Businesses need it, and Kentucky taxpayers deserve it.

(Brent Cooper and Greg Shumate are Co-Chairs for the Northern Kentucky University Foundation Advocacy Committee. Brent Cooper is President of C Forward, an IT consulting firm. Greg Shumate is a Partner at Frost, Brown & Todd.) 

Fort Thomas City Council Roundup 1/21

Fort Thomas firefighter, Chris Rust, painted this background for the backdrop of the "pictures with Santa" display during the holiday walk in Fort Thomas last month. 
By Amanda Dibiaso

The Fort Thomas City Council held their monthly meeting Tuesday, January 19. Councilman Jeff Bezold and Mayor Eric Haas were absent.

The meeting was fairly uneventful, with no old or new business to come before council.

Here’s your round-up:

Reports of officers:

Council accepted the monthly reports from the police and fire departments. In addition to his monthly report, Fire Chief Mark Bailey informed council that the department received a $3,200 grant from the Kentucky Fire Commission for a new thermal imaging camera.

In his monthly report, City Administrator Ron Dill said that staff is prepared to meet with the council’s public works committee to go over evaluations for the 2016 Street Resurfacing Program.

Dill also presented council with the 2015 animal control report, which includes a breakdown of the animals that animal control was contacted about throughout the year. In Fort Thomas, that included 39 dogs, 8 cats, 13 raccoons, 1 bird, 1 snake, 5 deer, 1 skunk and 1 snapping turtle.

First readings of ordinances:

The council heard the first reading of several ordinances, including one adopting the state’s yearly supplement to the Code of Ordinances, one amending the city council meeting dates for 2016 and one regarding the apportionment of cost for the 2015 Street Resurfacing Program.

Keeping with the current schedule, the meeting dates ordinance states that the council will meet once a month, the third Monday of the month, every month except June and September, when they’ll meet on the first and third Mondays of the month. Meetings that fall on a holiday will be held the following day.

Council will vote on these ordinances at their next meeting, which is Monday, February 15.


The council voted unanimously to appoint Roger Peterman to the OKI Board, re-appoint Barb Manyet to the Tree Commission and appoint Hans Tinkler to the planning commission.


Two residents addressed the council during the meeting. The first was resident Dan Fehler, who has served on the city’s planning commission for the past 35 years. Fehler spoke to the council on behalf of St. Paul United Church of Christ in regards to the church’s portion of the cost assessment for the reconstruction of Churchill Drive, where the church is located.

In-Trinity & Y Weight: NEW At Campbell County YMCA Fort Thomas

In-Trinity is a combination of yoga, pilates and martial arts—and it's free with your Campbell County YMCA membership.

While many gyms and fitness centers specialize in a handful of class offerings, Campbell County YMCA Fort Thomas is different. The client they seek is YOU, no matter your age, experience or needs. 

"We have something for everyone," says Senior Program Director Todd Hensel. 

This includes swim classes for 6-month-olds and low-impact exercise classes for seniors. And in between are classes and programs fit for a boutique gym—Yoga, Pilates, Cardio and Strength Training, Kickboxing, Barre, Zumba, R.I.P.P.E.D., Cycling and Tai Chi. 

New in 2016? In-Trinity and Y Weight. 

"Cris Collinsworth" Portrayed on Saturday Night Live

After the Packers/Cardinals game on Saturday night, Saturday Night Live did a skit that portrayed Fort Thomas resident, Cris Collinsworth.

The show was hosted by Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars movie. He wasn't Kylo Ren in this skit though, he was NBC broadcaster, Collinsworth.

In the skit, Collinsworth and "Al Michaels" spend three minutes talking about imaginary Packers fourth-string quarterback Jared Schleff, who appears to have suffered the most excruciating injury of all-time.
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See the clip here:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kentucky State of K-12 Public Education Report

Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Stephen Pruitt. 
The state of K-12 public education in Kentucky is strong according to Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt, though he did say there is room for improvement. Today, Pruitt released The State of K-12 Education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a report that highlights statewide educational successes and challenges. With the report as a starting point, Pruitt called on Kentuckians to work together to improve education for all children.

“I believe the public has the right to know the facts on K-12 public education in Kentucky,” said Pruitt, during a news conference at the Kentucky Department of Education. “That is why I am issuing this report and plan to make it an annual event. While much of this information is available on the Kentucky Department of Education website and through the online Kentucky School Report Card, at least once a year it is important to reflect on the data as a whole so that we can be proud of our progress and identify the changes that may be necessary to move our children ahead.”  
Pruitt, who started work as the state’s sixth education commissioner a little more than three months ago, said he has been impressed with the professionalism of Kentucky’s educators as well as their passion and commitment to children. He also said his time in Kentucky has given him a chance to take stock of K-12 education, its strengths and areas that are in need of improvement.

“Our work needs to be driven by three things: equity, achievement and integrity. My goal is to build on our accomplishments of the past 25 years to provide each and every child with a world-class education that will lead them to success in their postsecondary endeavors, in the job market and life,” Pruitt said.

The 50-page report provides an overview of strategic areas of education, including teaching and learning, student performance, accountability and school improvement, and district support that includes school funding. The report also highlights a list of key facts about Kentucky education, including:

Forecast Friday: Winter Storm Warning

Weather report contributed by FTM media partner,

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for much of the Tri-State beginning at 7 a.m. and a Winter Weather Advisory beginning at 4 a.m. Friday for a few counties including Hamilton County in Ohio.

It appears a light snow of a 2 to 4 inch variety would be the case for Greater Cincinnati and points north of town, and a more healthy 4 to 6-plus inches of snowfall is on track for Northern Kentucky and Brown and Adams counties in Ohio.

Just south of Northern Kentucky, the weather will be intense, leading Gov. Matt Bevin to issue a statement:

Planning Commission OK's Adult Daycare to Fort Thomas Plaza

Large Crowd On Hand To Hear Arguments For and Against 
L to R: Planning Commission Chair, Dan Fehler, Dan Wormald, Jerry Noran, Kevin Barbian (Fort Thomas Building Inspector), Rob Robinson (Owner Fort Thomas Antiques and Design), Julie Rice (Fort Thomas Gen. Services Admin. Assistant). Robinson passes out a petition to the Planing and Zoning Commission. FTM file. 
By Clayton Castle 

After a lengthy debate and discussion by the Fort Thomas Planning Committee and the business owners and residents of Fort Thomas, the committee voted on Wednesday night to approve a text amendment that will allow an adult day care center to be placed in a General Commercial (GC) zone, in particular, the Fort Thomas Plaza.

Highlands Grad Guiding Lady Camels in Great Direction

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Campbell County Lady Camel Head Coach Beau Menefee reacts during a game in December against Highlands.
Beau Menefee's basketball coaching career has taken him to various places around Campbell County.

OP-ED: Country Hills Montessori Fort Thomas Offers Great Preschool Alternative

Country Hills Montessori Fort Thomas regularly hosts guests—including armadillos from the zoo!

In 2011 my husband and I lugged our 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old twin boys around to various preschool open houses. Parents of young children are lucky in Fort Thomas—many good options exist. But we, personally, fell in love with the Fort Thomas branch of Country Hills Montessori (CHM).

The Montessori method, founded by Italian pediatrician Maria Montessori, is an educational approach derived from children's natural, age-based learning tendencies. Children are encouraged to learn and discover at their own pace, working their way through beautifully prepped assignments found on low-lying shelves, on trays and in baskets.

Individual works are kept on trays on low-lying shelves.

Students work on their own rugs, learning at an early edge the benefit of order and personal space.

Located in Highlandspring of Fort Thomas, CHM also has the advantage of allowing young children to interact with the transitional care facility's residents. "This introduces service learning at a young age, as well as offering comfort and inspiration for the residents," says Eileen Richter, administrator and lead teacher at CHM Fort Thomas. "They enjoy watching the children work in the classroom and doing activities with them. There is a spark of joy in their eyes as well as in the children's."

CHM students trick or treat with Highlandspring residents October 2015.

Colored beads on chain help with counting.

We sent our daughter, Sophie, to CHM for two years. Once our twin boys turned 3, we sent them for two years, too. All three blossomed in the Montessori environment. They delighted in the ability to choose their own "works." With the color bead bars they learned how to count. Map work introduced them to a larger world. They learned how to write, cut and paste. They created, analyzed, listened, experimented, learned how to calm themselves at the peace table, and worked in groups and individually, on their own personal rugs. After the completion of a work, they knew to put it away, exactly where they found it (something I never was able to replicate at home).

Sushannah Hahn welcomes a reluctant James Uhl on the first day of preschool in 2013.

Teachers are Montessori certified, and the Fort Thomas branch of CHM has a combined 100 years of experience. We aren't alone in our passion for CHM's teachers—and the instruction.

Melissa Reed says she knew from the beginning she wanted her children to attend a Montessori preschool, and they visited many throughout northern Kentucky. "We chose CHM ultimately because of short class times, low child-to-teacher ratio, and we loved the interaction they get with the residents," Reed says.

Reed also appreciated the individualized attention. Reed's oldest son, Liam, was already reading when he started preschool, and needed individualized work. "Mrs. Sparks was amazing in giving him that gift," Reed says. "Sometimes it was a struggle to get him in the door, but the work he was able to do eventually is what convinced him to stay. We love the personalized, individualized attention and work he got." 

That individualized attentioned continued with Reed's daughter Ruby. "She wasn't quite reading yet, but she was close," Reed says. "The teachers also gave her some individualized work and books, and for her it was so much more social than for Liam." Reed says they have loved CHM and they're anxious for their youngest daughter, Violet, to start next fall.

Artwork at Country Hills Montessori Fort Thomas.

Rachel Sarver's son, Regan, is currently a student and her younger daughter, Aubrey, started in January. "We are really having a great experience there," Sarver says. "A couple of things that I will likely remember forever about the school is how gentle and motherly Mrs. Richter has always been to Regan, like a second mother. All the teachers are very kind and are wonderful with the young children." Academically, Sarver says she's been impressed with how natural and effortless learning has been for Regan. "He was reading by the second year of preschool," she says. "He is excited about learning and loves to go to school."

The School House Symphony performs for students at CHM Fort Thomas October 2015.

Many CHM parents believe in Montessori's three-year program. "I can't imagine a better place for my girls to have started their education than at CHM," says Angel Beets. "At my first parent orientation night, a parent of a kindergartener told us to trust the process, because everything our children did would build on itself. At the time, I didn't think much of those words, but three years later, after my own daughter completed kindergarten, I saw exactly what she was talking about. All of the simple activities that started from left to right helped my daughter understand the natural direction of reading. Tracing sandpaper letters helped her develop a memory of shapes. She was challenged and motivated and excited to go to school every day." 

Through parent-teacher conferences, a one-way mirrored observational room and open houses, my husband and I saw first hand how easily CHM catered to the individual student. Our children loved the visits from School House Symphony. And we appreciated the secular learning environment and the teachers' daily kindness (more than once our son James fell asleep on a teacher's lap during story time).

Sophie Uhl, with the help of Administrator and Lead Teacher Eileen Richter, reads her birthday book to her class in 2013.

The walk around the sun is one of our favorite CHM traditions.

Routines and traditions are commonplace, and our favorite was how CHM celebrated birthdays. Prior to their birthday students work on a book about their life at home, with the help of parents. On their birthday they share their book with the class. Then they walk around a glowing sun while holding a small replica of earth—the number of times they circle the sun is dependent on their age. While circling the class sings:

The earth goes round the sun,
the earth goes round the sun,
the earth goes round the sun tra la,
the earth goes round the sun.

Owen and James Uhl walk around the sun to celebrate their 4th birthdays, May 2014.

Whittney Darnell has sent all three of her children through CHM, as we have. "CHM nurtures the natural spirit, strengths and uniqueness of each child that walks through their door, allowing them to learn their fundamentals in settings that are practical and comprehensive," Darnell says. "Montessori learning is not about memorizing numbers and letters, but experiencing the significance of what those things mean. I loved CHM for my oldest who wanted to learn everything, and I loved CHM for my twins who often tried to do the minimum works possible. All of them left Montessori with a strong foundation, and more importantly, confidence and curiosity." 

To learn more about CHM and the Montessori method, you can visit an open house at the Fort Thomas branch, located in Highlandspring behind the library, this Sunday, January 24, 1-2:30pm. To arrange a private tour, call 859-442-0500 or email