Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Monday, February 29, 2016

Ladybirds clutch in taking down defending state champs

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands freshman Zoie Barth (14) makes her move to the basket while Covington Holy Cross junior Zyah Beal (24)  moves in. Barth scored 14 points as Highlands advanced in the 9th Region Tournament at BB&T Arena in Highland Heights.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Clutch time belonged to the Blue and White in the 9th Region quarterfinals Monday against the defending state champions.

FTM Radio: Everything You Need To Know About The Kentucky Caucus and Super Tuesday Predictions

Download this episode (right click and save)
Pat Crowley of Strategic Advisers LLC and Sarah Cameron, volunteer for the Campbell County Caucus talk with Mark Collier on FTM Radio. 

In the first segment, Mark Collier talks with Sarah Cameron, a volunteer with the Campbell County Republican Caucus. Everything you need to know about how it works, where to go and what to expect. 

Tuesday could clarify the Republican and Democratic primaries as Super Tuesday is upon us. FTM Radio brings on guest, Pat Crowley, of Strategic Advisers LLC to weigh in on what has happened and what could happen in the second segment. 

You can subscribe to the FTM Radio channel on iTunes here:

You can view our archives here:

New Yoga Studio Opening in the Hiland Building in Fort Thomas

Principals of the new business moving into the Hiland Building. Facebook. 
The Hiland Building located in the central business district in Fort Thomas has undergone some significant changes since changing ownership hands in July of last year.

FTM RELATED: The Hiland Building Has New Owners

Fort Thomas residents, Dan Gorman and David Hosea have moved in two new storefront retailers in Top This Donut Bar and the corporate headquarters for Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices. Colonel De announced he would opening his storefront on Friday, April 22. 

Heather Hamlet and Kacy Cierly opened "The Perfect Space" in December on the third floor and there are active negotiations with multiple tenants for available space in the 22,000 square foot building that was once a theatre when it was originally opened in the 1920s.

Now, a new business has signed a lease for a space that was previously vacant for almost a decade.

Local Girl Scouts Collecting Items to Benefit Welcome House

Girl Scout Troop 1130, at a past event. Provided.

Girl Scout Troop 1130 has partnered with the Fort Thomas Fire Department to collect items for Welcome House of Northern Kentucky—and they need your help.

Welcome House is a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and supportive services for Northern Kentuckians who are homeless or living in poverty. "Welcome House helps women find jobs [and] gives them support for interviewing," says Becky McIntosh, Troop 1130 Co-Leader. "They help women find affordable housing and help them get back on their feet. While the women are in the shelter [Welcome House] provides meals, clothing and toiletries. The women, in turn, help in the kitchen and help keep the shelter clean."

Northern Kentucky Montessori School Offers Open Enrollment

Cornerstone Montessori. 
What do the founders of Google and Amazon have in common? Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Jeffrey Bezos were all Montessori educated.

Families of the Greater Cincinnati area can count themselves fortunate that we live in an area of the country where we have so many Montessori schools from which to choose. While most of the schools share Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy and work to uphold the American Montessori Society's

"Key Concepts and Practices," not every school is an ideal fit for every family. Schools and families are unique, just like the students they teach and strive to meet where they are as individuals.

The community at Cornerstone Montessori School is a closely knit one where open communication and partnership between the school and families is highly valued. From its beginning in 1992 with only a pre-school classroom, the school gradually expanded by adding successive classrooms under the guidance of Xavier University. The school now proudly offers the only Montessori middle school in Northern Kentucky.

At its heart, the school owes its success to its continued commitment in modeling what it means to be a responsible, kind, peaceful and hard-working citizen. Independence is fostered by providing students freedom within structured engaging learning environments, while the development of creative problem solving and critical thinking skills is nurtured, resulting in joyful learners.

There are benefits to be found in schools of all different shapes, sizes and philosophies. Cornerstone Montessori fills a small but very valuable niche: not only do their small class sizes offer up many of the same benefits as home-schooling, without the work and added responsibility for parents, but their program offers the opportunity for children to begin their educational journey at age 3 and continue on in the same nurturing environment, with the same school family until they are confidently ready to venture off into their high school career.

Cornerstone Montessori considers itself to be the premier, best value, non-parochial private school in Northern Kentucky. It comes as no surprise that space in their classrooms is limited and highly sought after. They are currently accepting applications for the 2016-17 school year. Open Enrollment begins March 1st.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tennessee Dept. of Transportation Closing 1-75 Southbound at Jellico for "Weeks"

Photo: Mark Nagi, TDOT.
Tennessee transportation officials are closing both southbound lanes of Interstate 75 just below the Kentucky state line due to a rock slide.

Drivers on I-75 should be prepared to use alternate routes for "weeks."

Officials say a "slope slide" is forcing closure in both directions and TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi says this is going to be a "long-term" closure. Nagi says crews will spend the weekend evaluating the slide.

“We won’t allow a roadway to be open to the public if we feel it presents a danger to the motoring public, and right now that roadway is not safe for travel," said Nagi on Saturday morning to

A contractor has been hired to clear the path and fix the slide, however. A 2.9 million dollar contact was awarded, with one of the stipulations being that southbound lanes should be cleared within 14 days.

The slope slide is on the northbound side, but some of the falling rocks made it all the way to the median forcing officials to close both sides of the interstate.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ladybirds open 9th Region Tourney against defending state champs

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands freshman Chloe Jansen brings the ball up the court in Thursday's 36th District championship game against Newport. Highlands takes on Covington Holy Cross in the 9th Region quarterfinals Monday at 6:30 BB&T Arena in Highland Heights.
One could hardly complain about how the Blue and White have been playing lately.

Cyclones Expect Record Crowd Tonight

 Ticket Sales Already Surpass All Time Record

Tonight's Cincinnati Cyclones game will break the record for largest hockey crowd in Cincinnati history. The all-time Cincinnati hockey crowd record of 13,901 was set by the Cincinnati Stingers in 1978. The Cyclones have already surpassed that ticket number and are moving towards a sell-out of U.S. Bank Arena. Tomorrow is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Night at U.S. Bank Arena and will feature a special appearance by Nickelodeon's shelled stars plus $1 Donatos Pizza.

"Year after year we have seen our crowds grow," said Cyclones Vice President and General Manager Kristin Ropp. "A sellout crowd is the result of a great promotion and the hard work of our front office. The atmosphere is going to be electric tomorrow night." 

The Cyclones would like to offer the following tips for those attending the game tomorrow night:

Due to the size of the crowd, we would advise that you arrive to U.S. Bank Arena early. Doors open for Cyclones Season Ticket Holders at 6:15 p.m. with doors for the general public opening at 6:30pm
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be appearing in a heated tent behind Section 110 from the time that doors open through 11:00 p.m. Turtles will be available for photographs in pairs and the pairs will switch out every 30 minutes.
In the interest of keeping the lines fluid and allowing all guests to see the Turtles, we will have a professional photographer on hand to take a photo of your group. Photos can be downloaded at
Delicious $1 Donatos pizza slices will be available at all concession stands. Pizza is limited to two slices per person per transaction. We would advise to have cash handy if at all possible to expedite your concessions experience.

This marks the first potential sellout at U.S. Bank Arena in Cyclones history. The crowd will also mark the third largest crowd in ECHL history behind Greensboro's 20,911 in 1994 and 16,377 in 1995. For more information on this and all other Cyclones promotions, please visit

The 40 Best SNL Characters of All Time - Fort Thomas Education Foundation Dance

The Fort Thomas Education Foundation raises money for the ongoing educational needs of Fort Thomas Schools to create a private school experience for all students K-12.

Each spring the Fort Thomas Education Foundation hosts a dance that helps that mission for the community. This year, guests will dress up in accordance with the theme of the party: Live from Fort Thomas, it's Saturday Night.

For tickets or information visit or call 859- 815-2004.  Tickets may also be purchased at Fort Thomas Central located at 3 N Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas, KY.  The ticket price is $45.  All proceeds go toward the Fort Thomas Education Foundation.

See the live auction here. 

Here are the top 40 SNL Characters of all time, via

40- The Spartan Cheerleaders

39- Church Lady
38- Mary Katherine Gallagher
37- The Ladies Man
36- Mango
35- Stefon

34- The Blues Brothers
33- The Roxbury Guys
32- Wayne and Garth
31- Babette
30- Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer
29- Buckwheat
28- Linda Richman (Coffee Talk)
27- Coneheads
26- Wild and Crazy Guys
25- Nat X
24- Debbie Downer

23- The "Delicious Dish" Ladies
22- Goat Boy
21- Hanz and Franz
20- Doonese
19- The Lovahs
18- Matt Foley

17- Pat
16- Nick the Lounge Singer
15- Roseanne Roseannadanna
14- Dieter
13- Stuart Smalley
12- Kaitlin
11- Sully and Zazu

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sen. Wil Schroder: Keep Chase Law School in Highland Heights

Sen. Wil Schroder looks on from his seat in the Kentucky State Senate. LRC. 
By Wil Schroder 

Since I graduated from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 2008, the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) campus in Highland Heights has come a long way.  The University has seen a lot of growth, including the Student Union, the recreational center, and the College of Informatics, in addition to a lot more green space. The campus continues to grow and improve, and just last fall, I had the privilege of attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the new $97 million Health Innovation Center.

Yet, despite all of this recent campus beautification and the improvements, there is an effort underway to move Chase College of Law to an old building in Covington that no one else wants.  There is great value to the college of law being on the main campus.  Not only can law students use the facilities, study at the university library, and be close to campus housing, but they are also surrounded by people with one common goal in mind: learning.

I understand the Kenton County Fiscal Court and several other county officials think an outdated administration building would be an ideal home for Chase, but I wonder if faculty and students feel the same.  The few law students I mentioned this to were not very excited about the idea and were content with the college where it is.  While some argue that the move would allow law students to be closer to the various courthouses, I do not think this is a good enough reason alone.  Not all students will be doing externships at the courthouses, and unless they live in Covington, they will still have to drive to get there.  Furthermore, whether it is for private businesses or students, problems such as parking will remain.

As recently reported, the study commissioned by the Kenton County Fiscal Court focused on what is the best use of the building for the County moving forward.  Private businesses are not attracted to the site, and it would cost more to tear the building down than the land is worth.  I understand why private developers are not interested in the building but struggle to see how that makes it a prime spot for law students.

Highlands Chamber Orchestra to perform at KSBA conference

The Highlands Chamber Orchestra. FTM file. 

The Highlands High School chamber orchestra, under the direction of Kathy Anderson, conductor, has been selected to perform at the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) 80th Annual Conference today, at the Galt House in Louisville, KY.

The group is scheduled for a 1 p.m. performance in the main ballroom, preceding the conference’s opening session.

The chamber orchestra consists of 26 students in grades 9 – 12 who play violin, viola, cello and bass. Ms. Anderson will conduct the orchestra’s performance which will include a mix of classical, baroque and pop music.

“The chamber orchestra students were flattered when Superintendent Kirchner asked if he could submit a recording of the group to be considered to perform at the upcoming KSBA conference,” said Kathy Anderson. “When the group was selected, not only were we honored, we were also excited to represent Highlands.”

The district introduced strings in 2008 as an after-school program available to elementary students.  Since that time, the program has grown to encompass curriculum offerings in strings, chamber orchestra and sinfonia to students in grades 6-12.

Meet John Muller: Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

John Muller. FTM file. 
By John Muller

Greetings fellow Fort Thomas Residents.  John Muller, City Councilmember, here eager to run again and, with your help, be re-elected to serve you.  Thank you for allowing me to serve you on Council including the Finance, Public Safety and Public Works Committees.   I have and continue to learn a great deal about our City, how it is operated, administrated, promoted, protected and kept secure as well as governed.

My wife Terri and I moved to Fort Thomas nearly twenty years ago.  We both moved to Greater Cincinnati from different areas.  We were starting our careers and searching for a place to make our home and start a family.  We are very blessed to have made Fort Thomas our home.  The quality of life the residents of Fort Thomas enjoy is fantastic.  Some of the most notable of these: the safety and services of the City, the quality of the schools, the businesses and services offered within the City, the ease of access to downtown and the metro area world class provision of healthcare and post-secondary education can be accessed within minutes.

You may not realize until you need them indeed we have access to excellent essential services.  Even with all these amenities it is the people of Fort Thomas that make it the finest.  The community here, as you know, is amazingly generous with their time and talent.  Ten years ago our family went through a health crisis.  The unparalleled and unwavering support of our friends, neighbors and many, many Fort Thomas residents we had never even met meant the world to us.  Fort Thomas helped us get through our crisis.  This generous spirit has been a primary reason I sought to serve on Council.  If I can return even the smallest amount service and skill to the City then I’m eager to run and work to do it.

In my professional life I’m a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and have a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.  I have worked for Carespring Healthcare Management for more than fifteen years in various roles, most of them operational.  Utilizing this business experience I’ve found the budgeting and operational processes of the City to be extremely professional and well run.  From our annual audit, to budget preparation and then day to day execution of the operational plan – Fort Thomas is conservatively pragmatic about our finances.  This allowed us to weather the storm of the Great Recession and enjoy the relative stability of a healthy financial status.

A few of my priorities that would continue into a second term are support and improvements to safety, infrastructure, quality of life and growth of small business.

Walz-Richey earns another HOF induction, leads Ladybirds to another district crown

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands Head Coach Jaime Walz-Richey smiles while cutting down the nets Thursday. Highlands has won five district championships and won 275 games since she became head coach in 2002. 
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Brianna Adler won the 36th District Most Valuable Player honor after scoring 17 points in the 81-58 victory over the Newport Ladycats on Thursday. Highlands won the crown for the third time in four years.
BELLEVUE - Jaime Walz-Richey said basketball would always be a part of her life after graduating from Western Kentucky University in 2000.

Colonel De To Hold Fundraiser for Rabbit Hash Bash in New Fort ThomasHeadquarters

Local Celebrity Chefs Will Join Spice Master, Colonel De 

Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices is moving its headquarters to the historic Hiland Building in Fort Thomas. But while the history behind that building, located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, is storied, it doesn't compare to the Rabbit Hash General Store, which was burned to the ground on February 14 this year.

The fire that began inside the iconic general store was too much for the old, mostly-wooden structure. It burned throughout a nearly five-hour firefight in near-sub-zero temperatures and was destroyed. The store had been in continual operation since 1831, according to the Rabbit Hash Historical Society - a span in which 38 U.S. presidents took office.

It was on the National Register of Historic Places and few items were salvaged. Firefighters said it was a complete loss.

Local Spice Master, Colonel De Stewart announced a fundraiser that will help rebuild the store to it's original glory.

"Like most of you, I’ve been a fan of Rabbit Hash for many years. I have so many fond memories of picnics and music in this community," said Stewart. "We all share in the sorrow for the loss of the General Store. Like all of my many friends that live in Rabbit Hash, I believe that the General Store will rise again.  We are excited to be giving back to help rebuild a Kentucky Treasured Landmark."

Stewart and other local celebrity chefs, including Jimmy Gibson of Jimmy G’s and David Miller from Crave and Don Lambert from The Colonel's Creamery, have come together to throw the first Rabbit Hash Bash complete with music, food and a silent auction.

The event will be on Saturday, March 12 from noon to 6 p.m.

It will be the first chance to see the facility, which had formerly been Marshall Granger's Jewelers and Jewels on the Avenue. The grand opening is slated for Friday, April 22 and will be the fourth shop for Stewart.

Stewart, whose friend Don E. Clare is head of the Rabbit Hash Historical Society, has a natural affinity for small-town nostalgia, which is one of the reasons the Rabbit Hash Bash was hatched.

Colonel De Gourmet Spices and Herbs boasts over 500 herbs, spices and blends. Colonel De even provides consulting and produces custom blends for over 50 chefs and/or restaurants.

"We pride ourselves in having those hard to find spices," says Stewart in a previous FTM article. "With many of our more exotic products we are one of only a handful of vendors Nationwide that offer these products."

RELATED: Colonel De Signs Lease for Hiland Building  

The herbs, spices and blends are sold by the ounce so patrons can purchase only the amount they need. The sauces are sold by the jar or bottle.

Rabbit Hash Bash "patron" tickets are $50 in advance and $75 at the door. That ticket will include two drink tickets, music and food under a big, white tent located in parking lot behind the Colonel De Headquarters.

Rabbit Hash Bash "VIP" tickets are $125, in advance only, and will include a private welcoming reception with local celebrity chefs, an open bar, music, swag bag of goodies, a private tour of the new headquarters and tickets to the Colonel De grand opening.

All tickets to the Rabbit Hash Bash can be purchased on line by clicking here. 

All proceeds will benefit the rebuild of the Rabbit Hash General Store. A GoFundMe page that was set up is seeking $250,000 for the rebuild effort and has reached over $55,000.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Next Level Academy - Wilder - Adult Leagues

Next Level Academy is part of the FTM Family. 
Next Level Academy, 419 Licking Pike, Wilder, Kentucky 41071 has upcoming adult basketball and volleyball leagues.

Register by March 6. Call (859) 291-3000 or email us They will also have summer leagues starting May 13.

To view details of the three leagues, see descriptions below (click on the pictures to see bigger).

Basketball 18+ league. 

Adult coed volleyball. 

Basketball 35+ league. 

Fort Thomas Residents Named CINspirational People For Community Involvement

Fort Thomas resident Deneen Wolber currently serves as Fundraising Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

Fort Thomas resident Katie Walters, Promotions Coordinator at Q102, has done extensive work with Brighton Center. 

So often we lament on the seemingly endless negativity found in news stories, essays and blogs. And while information is important, sometimes we need, and long, for good news. Lisa Desatnik's blog, Good Things Going Around, serves as an antidote. Her CINspirational People profiles feature a diverse range of people—both in experience and background—from throughout greater Cincinnati. Desatnik shares their story, what inspires them and what they inspire. "It is really a way of highlighting and getting to know different individuals in our community, who collectively, are what makes this region unique and meaningful," Desatnik says.

Two of Fort Thomas's own have been featured—Deneen Wolber and Katie Walters. "What Deneen and Katie both share are their enthusiastically positive outlook on life, and their eagerness to making a difference in their own ways," Desatnik says.

Highlands Hoops Notebook: Ladybirds prepare for Newport, Bluebirds conclude season

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Mitch Cain goes in for the score in Wednesday's 36th District semifinal game against Newport Central Catholic.
The Highlands Ladybirds basketball team may have expected another rematch with the rivals on The Hill in the 36th District championship Thursday at Bellevue.

Meet Jeff Bezold: Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

Jeff Bezold. FTM file. 
By Jeff Bezold 

It has been my honor to serve as a member of council for the great city of Fort Thomas.  As a lifelong resident, it gives me great pleasure to be able to give back to the community that has given me so much.

My wife Denise and I are raising our 3 daughters Lily (5), Isabella (4) and Harper (4) here. Along with my career as a Medical Device Sales rep with Johnson and Johnson I also own investment property in the city.  I believe my history and experience gives me a unique perspective on the needs and wants of the city and its residents.

Some of the projects I am working, besides the tasks and duties that come with being a councilperson include: Improvement to the parks system with the addition of some attractions to bring people into the city, stay for the day and enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks.  Businesses in the Midway district and the businesses in the central business district  would be direct beneficiaries of these new programs and attractions.  It is important to me to continue to assist in any way possible with help to advance the process of the VA Homes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What are the smartest cities in Kentucky?

An intersection in Union, Kentucky. Flikr. ranked the "smartest" cities in Kentucky by drilling down into census data.

They took the percentage of adults (over 25) with at least a high school degree and the percentage of high school dropouts (aged 16-20).

They analyzed towns over 5,000, which came to 78 places, to come up with their rankings.

Here are the rankings:

1- Union
2- Edgewood
3- Fort Mitchell
4- Cold Spring
5- Middletown
6- Villa Hills
7- Lyndon
8- St. Matthews
9- Douglass Hills
10- Taylor Mill

Fort Thomas Makes's List of "Best Bang for Your Buck" School Systems

Highlands High School. FTM file. has ranked Fort Thomas Independent Schools as one of the top 10 places to send your kids to school, "without going bankrupt."

In other words, a really good school system, with moderately priced homes.

Their process:

For each public school district rated 10 (the highest) by, we calculated the median home price within that district. We then compared home prices in each of those top school districts with the counties in which they’re located, and identified the top 10 districts where you’ll pay the smallest premium (or even a discount!). That gave us a list of top school districts that are most within financial reach.

Here's what they said about Fort Thomas Independent:

Meet Chuck Thompson: Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

Chuck Thompson. LinkedIn. 
By Chuck Thompson 

Fort Thomas is truly an outstanding city and we are certainly all blessed to be able to call Fort Thomas our home. Cities like Fort Thomas do not happen by accident. A strong city government, a responsible and caring citizenry, excellent schools and outstanding police and fire departments are hallmarks of any great American city. Fort Thomas has all that and more. I was honored to have been selected from among thirteen other applicants for appointment by the Fort Thomas City Council to complete a vacated 2016 City Council term and I look forward to continuing as a City Council Member in the future.

I have been committed to serving my community since moving to Fort Thomas 20 years ago. I've been fortunate to serve on and lead several committees and boards including eight years on our local School Board, three time member of the School District's Facilities Planning Committee, the Highland High School Athletic Booster Board and The Fort Thomas Education Foundation. My commitment to education is well documented. I've served as chairman of all of these organizations and am very proud of their accomplishments over the past twenty years.

I feel it is imperative for future City Councils to maintain and build upon the tremendous work that has been spearheaded by previous City Councils. The city has never looked better, but as always, we must never rest on past successes. A vibrant Central Business District and Midway area is important to the city's growth. Enhanced recreational opportunities and ongoing infrastructure improvements are areas of future emphasis. I believe a forward thinking City Government is key to maintaining and enhancing our already great city. A community that is standing still is in actuality in danger of going backward in today's world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Senate Bill Tackles Growing List of Addictive Substances

Whitney Westerfied. LRC. 

A state Senator described a cat-and-mouse game between police and drug dealers in explaining the need for a controlled substances law he introduced during the 2016 General Assembly.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, said law enforcement is constantly trying to keep up with new substances drug dealers are peddling to addicts chasing an ever more powerful and cheaper high. His measure, Senate Bill 136, would increase controls on the semi-synthetic opioid hydrocodone and prohibit three other substances not currently addressed by existing laws – the plant “kratom” and the synthetic opioids known on the street as W-18 and W-15.

“We continue to see synthetic drugs being used and abused and showing up in courts around the Commonwealth,” said Westerfield, a former prosecutor. “Some of these are fairly tame but some of them are much more serious causing people to do strange things.”

After Westerfield’s explanation of the measure, SB 136 passed the state Senate by a 35-1-1 vote on last Thursday.

Sen. Perry B. Clark, D- Louisville, said he cast the lone “no” vote because he was concerned about a prohibition on kratom. Clark characterized kratom, known by the scientific name of Mitragyna speciosa, as an herbal supplement.

“Most people in this body do not even know what kratom is,” said Clark, who unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill so it wouldn’t include kratom. “It is an herb. It comes from Asia. It has been around for thousands and thousands of years.”

He said the University of Mississippi is studying whether kratom can be used to wean drug addicts off heroin.

“We should not be banning this substance,” Clark said. “We could be studying this substance.”

Westerfield agreed that kratom was a plant but added it can sometimes be combined with synthetic drugs and abused.

Fort Thomas City Council Holds First Reading of Ordinance to Amend Fort Thomas Plaza Zoning

Owner of the Fort Thomas Plaza, Ken Perry, asks the Fort Thomas Planning Commission  to grant Active Day a text amendment change in January. Fort Thomas City Attorney, Jann Seidenfaden (right), looks on during the proceedings. FTM file.
By Amanda Dibiaso

It’s been a bumpy road for those in favor of allowing an adult day care to open in the Fort Thomas Plaza.

The issue, which involves a text amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance that will allow an adult day care center to open in a General Commercial zone, arose when the owners of Active Day Senior Day Care showed interest in relocating to the plaza.

The relocation of Active Day, currently located at 725 Alexandria Pike, to the plaza was met with opposition from several local residents and business owners including Ron Robinson, the owner of the Fort Thomas Antiques and Design Center, which is located in the plaza.

Robinson, representing all residents of Overlook Drive, raised concerns about gas emission, noise and traffic and other issues they feel would occur if Active Day opens in the plaza.

“We are not against Active Day,” Robinson said. “As a retail owner of a business in the plaza, I do not believe it belongs in a commercial area.”

RELATED: Tenants, Landlord at Odds Over Zoning at Fort Thomas Plaza 

After lengthy discussion by concerned parties at their December meeting, which was then tabled and continued at their January meeting, the planning commission voted 6-1 in favor of the text amendment.

RELATED: Second Time Around, Fort Thomas Planning Commission Ok's Adult Day Care to Fort Thomas Plaza 

But the issue’s bumpy road continued Tuesday when city council members received the planning commission’s recommendation.

Councilman Ken Bowman said he thought the council should consider waiting to do the first reading of the ordinance. Due to the complexity of the issue, he felt the council needed more time to digest the information that they received at the meeting and discuss it, noting that he had also received some other information regarding the issue.

 “There are a lot of reasons this should be up for discussion,” Bowman said. “This could have great long-term implications.”

City Administrator Ron Dill said changing the city’s zoning is a legal process where the planning commission is tasked with collecting information and getting input from the community. The commission then presents their recommendation to council, who can approve it, reject it, or schedule another hearing hear a debate of the pros and cons.

City Attorney Jann Seidenfaden cautioned council that their decision should be limited to the minutes from the planning commission’s public hearings and their recommendation and shouldn’t include information from the general public at this point.

Meet Ken Bowman: Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

Ken Bowman. FTM file. 
It has been an honor to serve for the three years that I already have, and I hope to continue doing what I can to maintain and improve on what makes this such a great place to be. I'm a lifelong resident and have owned and operated Bowman's Framing in town for 26 years. Prior to serving on city council I served on Fort Thomas Renaissance board for it's first 9 years of existence. I also have been a local realtor at Huff Realty for the past 11 years.

As council members we have a important responsibility to act in the best interest of those who elected us. We obviously have a high opinion about our own opinions, or we wouldn't bother to "impart our wisdom" to the decision making process. We however are but 1 of 6 votes, and are often acting on issues vetted by city staff with limited information prior to roll call. These come with "staff recommendations" for approval. We are lucky to now have in place such a good administration and department heads. It is still our responsibility to "get up to speed" and that is what I like to do exploring all sides of a given issue gathering facts and imagining the future benefits or down sides before casting a vote.

We all have some projects, causes or issues that are important to us and will do what we can to move them along. Lately, mine have been public safety related, such as reducing speed limits on some of our side streets. I have not given up on this yet in spite of some detractors in the prior administration. I am thrilled that the recent talks about cross walk safety improvements will now become a reality in the near future with lighted indicators activated as needed to make the more obscure crosswalks safe to use.

I am probably the most accessible member of council due to my being in my business 6 days a week right in the middle of town. Many citizens know and take advantage of this. I completely welcome and encourage spontaneous visits to talk about whatever city related issue is on your mind. It is always good to hear from people and be able to help where I can.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fatality on Fort Thomas Roadways; Police Believe Heroin a Factor

Reader submitted. 

Lt. Rich Whitford said it was a horrific scene on eastbound 275 today, entering the Combs Hehl Bridge into Ohio.

At about 2:30 p.m. today, a car traveling onto 275 from 471 in Fort Thomas lost control and rolled numerous times. There were four people in the car and three were ejected onto the road way, including a seven-month old baby boy who was in their carseat.

The carseat was still in the car after the crash.

Whitford said a truck driver who witnessed the accident said that the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and cutting through multiple lanes of traffic before losing control and flipping in the right emergency lane.

The alleged driver of the vehicle, a male, is dead. The woman and baby are in critical condition. Witnesses on the scene said that the baby was ejected 30-feet in the air.

The other male passenger who was not ejected was alert on scene. He was able to tell police how it unfolded from his prospective in the front seat of the car.

Police believe heroin may have been involved.

Campbell County Prosecutors Try First "Importing Heroin" Case With Heroin Bill Provisions

"The Heroin Bill" (Senate Bill 192) Was Signed Into Law March 25, 2015 
Fort Thomas Police Officer, Brandon Laffin. FTM file. 
The wheels of justice were freshly oiled last March when a bipartisan effort turned out Senate Bill 192, known as The Heroin Bill. Passage of the bill was a top priority of legislators throughout the state, particularly in Northern Kentucky, where the crisis had reached catastrophic proportions.

The bill, in part, offered multiple tactics to reduce the trafficking and abuse of heroin. Traffickers would face stiffer penalties, particularly if heroin is transported across state lines.

When Fort Thomas Police Officer, Brandon Laffin, pulled over a white 1989 Cadillac Fleetwood in June of 2015, he didn't know that stop would eventually lead to the first prosecution of a defendant charged with Importing Heroin and Trafficking in a Controlled Substance under the new heroin bill.

That bill passed in March of 2015 and the stop in June of that year, led to a historic prosecution this month in Campbell County.

Fort Thomas Resident Jonathan McKenzie Publishes Book About Henry David Thoreau

Fort Thomas resident Jonathan McKenzie recently published his first book, which is based on years of researching Henry David Thoreau's writing.

Jonathan McKenzie, an assistant professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), began researching Henry David Thoreau in 2006. "I think part of what made me interested in Thoreau was his preference for a provincial lifestyle and his insistence on making his own criteria for evaluating his life," McKenzie says. The roots of this began in McKenzie's boyhood.

"Growing up in Wyoming, I spent the vast majority of my time catching lizards in the desert or biking miles of untouched federal land," McKenzie says. "I think this experience prepared me to read Thoreau with a sympathetic eye—he was a keen observer not only of nature, but of the changing economic landscape of the early industrial revolution. His published and unpublished work consistently sing the praises of small, simple, local things. While his friends and acquaintances, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, traveled to Europe to gain experience and enlightenment, Thoreau was a self-described 'home-cosmographer,' one whose journeys were all inward or related to his own small town."

From 2009-2012, McKenzie researched and wrote on Thoreau's journals and published works, with an end goal: a book. McKenzie finished the first draft in 2012. "I gave the manuscript to the University Press of Kentucky, and they had two scholars in my field read it and suggest revisions," McKenzie says. "These revisions went through several iterations before I finally received a contract to publish the book in 2015. I spent months correct errors, making an index, and writing summaries." 

The Political Thought of Henry David Thoreau: Privatism and the Practice of Philosophy was published early this year.

Fort Thomas Sets Up Dedicated Heroin Interdiction Team

A serial burglar was stopped and arrested as a result of Operation November Blitz in November 2014. That was the genesis and inspiration of Fort Thomas' new heroin interdiction team. Picture from FTM media partner, WCPO. 
A successful initiative conducted by several departments in Campbell County in 2014 has led to a concerted effort to help eradicate impaired driving and the buying and selling of heroin in Fort Thomas.

When it was carried out in November of 2014, police said Operation November Blitz was just the beginning. Now, in Fort Thomas, police are carrying out that promise.

RELATED: Operation November Blitz 

Lt. Rich Whitford said that the Fort Thomas Police Department has instituted a Heroin Interdiction Team, that will man the roadways in Fort Thomas specifically looking for impaired drivers and potential trafficking situations.

Fort Thomas' Heroin Interdiction Team, started on February 15. The team will be comprised of a three-officer patrol.

Highlands High School Accepting Nominations for the Athletic Hall of Fame

Nominations accepted through March 2016 for 2nd class of inductees
The 1957 Highlands Football team was the first "Team of Distinction" during last year's inaugural Highlands Hall of Fame ceremony. FTM file. 

Highlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations for the Athletic Hall of Fame for the 2nd inductee class. Nominations will be accepted through March 15, 2016.

Athletes from the class of 1996 and later are now eligible for the nomination.  A maximum of five (5) players and/or coaches will be inducted each year. Names of the class of 2016 will be announced the end of May, and a reception and induction ceremony will be held in September. Specific dates are still to be determined.

Instructions and criteria for nominees can be found in the application packet available on the District’s website at or by contacting the Highlands High School Athletic Department at 859.815.2608.  Those who have been nominated in the previous year remain in the pool of candidates that will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame.
This is an advertisement. 

Burning Chair Photography to Host Spring Mini-Sessions

Local photographer Tabitha Brennenstuhl, owner of Burning Chair Photography, is hosting a spring mini-session on Saturday March 5 for children-only portraits.  In addition to the mini sessions hosted by Burning Chair Photography, there will be a second day of mini-sessions hosted by Sonja B. Photography on Saturday March 12.  Burning Chair Photography and Sonja B. Photography share a studio on Spring Grove Avenue on the west side of downtown Cincinnati.

Brennenstuhl, a Fort Thomas resident, is the only photographer who has successfully and consistently gotten all three of my children to smile for studio photos.  Additionally, amongst young Fort Thomas families, her mini-sessions have become a hot-ticket item.  Many may remember the incredibly popular (and incredibly photogenic) winter sessions in the woods in front of an airstream trailer or last year’s spring session with live baby chicks and bunnies.

However, in addition to her outdoor portrait sessions, she also does incredible studio work.  Her studio, which she shares with Sonja McGill (owner of Sonja B Photography), has incredible natural light streaming in through the converted warehouse windows. Brennenstuhl and McGill have transformed the space into two different whimsical springtime backdrops.  One is a cloud-like dream with paper raindrops, grass, and giant cotton-ball clouds, a scene that looks intentionally cartoonish, but like a child’s dream.  The second (which was still under construction at the time of my visit) is a floral wall with oversized (handmade) flowers adorning a wooden backdrop.
This is an advertisement. Barre3 Ft. Thomas. 

The mini-sessions last fifteen minutes and cost $150 which gives you rights to approximately 10 final retouched images with both an online gallery and printing rights.  Fifteen minutes is actually the perfect length of time when working with children (and these shoots are reserved just for children from the same family).  Families with children too young to sit on their own can still participate although the poses may be more limited.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sen. Wil Schroder Legislative Update

State Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, (left) studies a bill with Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, on Feb. 12 in Frankfort. LRC. 

By Wil Schroder

Heated floor speeches, passionate committee hearings, and the observance of Presidents' Day highlighted the seventh week of the 2016 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. As we have passed the halfway point of this session, the countdown begins as we in the Senate anticipate the forthcoming 2016-2018 budget bill from the House of Representatives.

There was no shortage of bill movement in the Senate this week, as we passed one of our priority bills, Senate Bill (SB) 1.

Senate Bill 1 offers fundamental reforms to education which reduces the bureaucratic load on teachers who spend too many hours each day filling out paperwork and not enough hours teaching. In short, Senate Bill 1 is a steadfast approach to education reform that lets the teachers get back to teaching.

Unfortunately, there have been many distortions about the content of this bill circulated in the media by certain interest groups, as well as some honest misunderstandings about the effects of the bill.

(FTM note: Bill history and summary at the end of this article).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Northern Kentucky Forum Partners with LEGACY to Explore: What Compels Young Leaders to Run For Office?

The Northern Kentucky Forum welcomes partners for this event, LEGACY, Fort Thomas Matters and The River City News.
L to R: Wil Schroder, Ryan Salzman, Carla Landon, Aftab Pureval, Stacy Tapke, Jordan Huizenga, Ben Baker. FTM file. 
One of the strengths of our region is the interest and engagement in the social well being by our young leaders.

On Wednesday, February 24 at Molly Malone’s in Covington, we’ll find out what is the common fiber among these young leaders who choose to thrust themselves into the public political limelight.

Laura Menge, created Build-In last year, an event series through Legacy that highlights our region’s unique and exceptional assets.
L to R: Huizenga, Menge and Baker. 

LEGACY encourages young leaders who embrace the principles of meaningful participation, effective citizenship and extraordinary imagination to unite in an effort to enhance the quality of life and economic well being in the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati communities.

"Among the things I love best about Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky are the leadership opportunities for young professionals who have talent, ambition, and a servant's heart,” she said. “Individuals in the first half of their careers who endeavor to hold public office and commit so boldly and nobly to the welfare of their communities is remarkable. When voters elect them as leaders, that makes this region even more remarkable," said Menge.

Fort Thomas resident, Carla Landon, is the Chairwoman of the Northern Kentucky Forum. She said she’s excited for this event.

“The Northern Kentucky Forum is a partnership of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Skyward and LEGACY.  We are excited to partner with LEGACY on this event which will highlight the energy we have in our region,” said Landon.

Some of the panelists of the discussion are on our cover this month. Here’s what some of them had to say about their interest in politics and helping shape policy at a young age:

Wil Schroder, District 24 State Senator: Sometimes taking a big risk can be intimidating.  Whether you are considering going to law school, making a career move, or running for political office, there are a million excuses you can come up with to play it safe.  However, the best accomplishments in life usually only come with hard work, sacrifice, and determination.  I’ll always remember my father’s advice he gave me when I was contemplating running for the State Senate, “you can’t get anywhere without a fight.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

FTM Radio Podcast: The Bourbon Review

The Bourbon Review. 

In this edition of FTM Radio, Mark Collier talks with Co-Publisher of The Bourbon Review, Seth Thompson.

The Bourbon Review was the world’s first magazine dedicated to Bourbon and the lifestyle that surrounds its patrons. Launched in the summer of 2008 by four fraternity brothers from Kentucky, The Bourbon Review focuses on the people, science and art of the Bourbon lifestyle, which is associated with those who like to entertain, cook and celebrate special moments with America’s only native spirit, Bourbon. 

Over 60,000 people from every state in the nation and over 20 foreign countries enjoy reading each issue of the quarterly produced magazine. Subscription link here. 

The Bourbon Review boys are the co-media sponsor for The Bourbon Classic, next week in Louisville. You can find more information about that here. 

Some items covered in the podcast:
Why has the bourbon trend exploded?
Are people crazy for camping out for bourbon?
What's the NKY bourbon scene like?
Is there a proper way to taste it?
What's with the bourbon heists?
What's the best route to take on the bourbon trail from NKY?
What's on your bourbon "bucket list?"
What's the best "bang for your buck" bourbon?
Two of the publishers of The Bourbon Review. Seth (top) and Justin Thompson. 

Navigating Newport Fresh Thyme and ALDI

Typically, my Editor assigns me stories that I really love (thanks Mark!).  Typically.  This was NOT one of those times.  When I was told I should do a story on the new grocery stores that have opened up in the area, panic set in.

Grocery shopping, to me, means sprinting through a store as quickly as possible whilst dragging anywhere from one to three children behind me, grabbing whatever is within eye sight yet still managing to forget half the things we need but spend double the budget.  Alas, I'm not one to grocery shop.  My husband usually takes care of the in-store shopping and I order our food from Milk Run or Green Bean Delivery.  But when the boss requires it, I’ll comply.  So, on Tuesday evening, I headed over to both Aldi and Fresh Thyme to check them out.

Aldi was my first stop of the night. Here are a few helpful tips to “manage” Aldi (as it was certainly a different experience than I was expecting):

ALDI Newport, Ky. FTM file. 
Carts: imagine my surprise when I have all the children with me and I walk up to grab a cart and they are locked. You have to put a quarter in the cart to release it and then after you are done shopping you return the cart and get your quarter back.  This is one way Aldi keep prices low; no one has to run around the parking lot collecting rogue carts and they lose far fewer to theft.  Although I never carry change, this idea made sense to me so I was willing to overlook this minor inconvenience.

ALDI Newport, Ky. FTM file. 
Check out: they only accept cash or debit cards; so, this was my first and last time ever going there.  For many/most people, this isn’t a major issue (so long as you plan ahead); however, I like to live on the wild side under the constant threat of identity theft so I put 100% of my purchases on a points credit card and haven’t carried cash since I stopped going to bars with cover charges.  Plus, how would I get all those borderline creepy targeted ads if I pay cash?

ALDI Newport, Ky. FTM file. 
Bags: make sure you bring your own bags or if you were like me have your children carry all your groceries to the car. And pay them in chocolate which you can buy in bulk for cheap at Aldi.