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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July Fort Thomas City Council Roundup

This picture was taken on the July 18 Fort Thomas City Council meeting. FTM file. 

by Jennifer Summer

The Fort Thomas City Council met on Monday, July 18th at 7 pm.  All members were present aside from council member Lisa Kelly.

The meeting began with the mayor congratulating the winners of the Fort Thomas July 4th parade.  In the category for Most Original, third place went to Chicks & Chucks, second place went to the Campbell County Library, and the winner was It's Fun to be a Kid on Tower Place.
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RELATED: Fourth of July Parade Winners (2016)

Chick and Chucks. FTM file. 

In the category for Most Entertaining, third place went to Dance Realm (not in attendance), second place went to the Lawn Chair Brigade, and the winner was the Shriners.


Three Fort Thomas community members were present to share questions and concerns with the council.  Joe Schwerling of 192 Holiday Lane expressed an interest in Fort Thomas hanging banners and signs to celebrate the city's upcoming 150th birthday.  Mr. Schwerling suggested banners be hung possibly from a bridge, or even making a permanent structure to commemorate the city.  "I hope someone will take up the challenge and have either a permanent or temporary acknowledgement of the city and its age and its grandeur." 

Louis Hlebiczki of 2516 Memorial Parkway expressed thanks to the council for their efforts in reducing the coyote population in town.

Mr. Hlebiczki also wished to discuss the needle exchange program, a sensitive topic that has sparked a great deal of debate within the community.  He felt as though there had not been much discussion or action in the past six months.  Council explained that it had not yet come to the Fort Thomas level and was being dealt with by the county.  However, the county did approve the program in May of this year.

Commonly know as the 'Heroin Bill' (Senate Bill 192), this bill made it possible for local government to provide access to clean needles.   "I understand that once the county approves it, then it cannot be implemented in the city without this body's approval?" asked Mr. Hlebiczki.  "It's a big, hot issue, and a lot of people are talking about it." 

Council member Roger Peterman added some insight on the issue.

"Let me give you some food for thought.  I just came from a meeting at St. Elizabeth hospital this afternoon. Of the number of people that have gone to get needle exchange - I don't know the total - but I know that eleven of those people that were getting needles have asked to enter a rehab program. Every one of them have private insurance. They all have jobs. Think about it.”

Mayor Haas stated, "The conversation around here is that Fort Thomas is not directly involved with it because it's the county and Newport.  We stay on top of it, but as far as having a direct effect in the city of Fort Thomas, there's no decision for us to make."

While the prevailing wisdom was that once the Campbell County Fiscal Court approved the use for needle exchanges in Campbell County, it would be placed within the health district in Newport. Officials preferred it being administered out of the county building at 1098 Monmouth Street.

Former Fort Thomas City Councilman and current Campbell County Commissioner, Tom Lampe, and Fort Thomas City Councilman and NKY Independent Health Board member, John Muller, discussed whether or not the needle exchange could even be a possibility in Fort Thomas. Muller is the designee on the board for mayor, Eric Haas.

RELATED: Tom Lampe and John Muller on Needle Exchange in Campbell County, Fort Thomas (Podcast) 

At that time in May, Muller said that the NKY Health Board's policy indicated that the needle exchanges could only be operated out of the county health centers. Kenton County had previously OK'd the needle exchanges at the county level, with a contingency that allowed for the exchanges to be operated out of mobile units, something that the majority of Campbell County officials do not want.

On June 8, the NKY Independent Health Board met and amended that policy to include the use of mobile units, but still indicated their preference was to operate out of local health centers.

That policy change reads: "The goal is to have the (needle exchange) operate at each of our health centers, however, services may be provided at other sites, and through mobile units, depending upon the consent resolutions adopted by the city and county governments where the program will operate."

A voice call vote was made at that meeting, which passed but with one nay vote: John Muller.

The Newport City Commission has yet to take up the issue since the county passed it in May.

If the Newport City Commission does not take the issue up or does not pass it at the city level, it's conceivable that the conversation could move to Fort Thomas.

The members of the NKY Independent Health Board are:
Chris Reinersman, Mayor of Independence, Chair
John Muller, Vice Chair (Designee for Fort Thomas Mayor Eric Haas)
Julie Metzger Aubuchon, OD, Immediate Past Chair (Designee for Florence Mayor Diane Whalen)
Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health, Secretary

Boone County representatives and designees
Charles Breen, MD
Jeff Earlywine (Designee for Judge Executive Gary Moore)
Timothy Franxman, MD
Charles Kenner, DMD
Jay Middendorf, DVM

Campbell County representatives and designees 
Lawrence Brennan, MD
Pat Dressman (Designee for Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery)
Tony Kramer, RN (Designee for Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso)

Grant County representatives
Scott Kimmich (Designee for Grant County Judge Executive Stephen Wood)
Jack Lenihan, MD
Wm. Ford Threlkeld, II, MD

Kenton County representatives and designees 
Eva Ballard
Sherry Carran, Mayor of Covington
Tyson Hermes, Mayor of Erlanger
Lynn Shewmaker, OD
Shelly Voet, MD
Wilbert Ziegler, JD (Designee for Kenton County Judge Executive Kris Knochelmann) -

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