Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Citizen's Bank in Fort Thomas To Become United Bank

Citizens Bank is located at 34 N. Fort Thomas Avenue. FTM file. 
Citizen's Bank of Northern Kentucky is becoming United Bank.

A change in branding and signage was requested and approved recently at a Design and Review Board in Fort Thomas, located at 34 N. Fort Thomas Avenue.

Farmers Capital Bank Corporation announced a plan to consolidate banking operations of four different community banks into one company, known as United Bank & Capital Trust Company in August. The new bank will be headquartered in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Citizen's Bank was not sold and according to company officials, only the name is changing, not the services the bank offers.

The banks that will be consolidated will be Farmers Bank & Capital Trust Company (Frankfort KY), United Bank & Trust Co. (Versailles KY), First Citizens Bank (Elizabethtown) and Citizens Bank of Northern Kentucky (Newport), which has a branch in Fort Thomas

“We will be stronger as one bank to meet the demands of our growing markets,” said Lloyd C. Hillard, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. “We believe that operating as one bank will offer enhanced opportunities to better serve our communities and provide more value to our customers."

Farmers Capital Bank Corporation is a bank holding company headquartered in Frankfort, Kentucky. The Company operates 34 banking locations in 21 communities throughout Central and Northern Kentucky, a data processing company, and an insurance company.

Preservation Creates a Living Legacy for the City’s Future

Courtesy Teresa Hill

Sometimes the best things hide in plain sight. Take trees. Well, forests, actually. We seldom give them much thought because we are surrounded by them.  But we need to do just that. And sometimes the same applies to people. The best hide in plain sight.

For example, if you don’t know Teresa Hill, you should. She is the dynamic leader of the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy (FTFC) and she is passionate about protecting the remaining forests in Fort Thomas.

But first an observation.

Have you ever met someone who is so genuine that you can’t help but feel their excitement? You know, they speak so eloquently and passionately about a topic that you become interested too? Yeah. She’s like that.

As a child, she played in the woods around Fort Thomas. It was a wonderful time. But then she grew up and life, marriage, and career took over.  She previously lived in Dayton, Ohio where she and her husband, Donavan Hornsby, would visit the Cox Arboretum’s beautiful gardens and hiking trails.

“It became a favorite place,” Hill says.  “I was reading the history of how the owners donated the land with the stipulation that it remain natural. I believe that was the first time that I heard the word ‘easement.’ So then I started reading more about it and it all made sense to me. So just like you can make a decision to develop land, you can also make the decision to protect it in perpetuity.

She learned that one decision can have such a long-term effect that it becomes a legacy.

The Campbell County YMCA. This is an advertisement. 

A. Slawter Architecture | NKY Home Renovation | NKY Custom Home

Thinking about a home renovation, addition, or custom home project in 2017?

What emotion do you feel first when thinking about your project?  For most anxiety and uncertainty top the list. In many cases these emotions and horror stories from friends are enough to stop a potential project right after the dreaming starts.  So, how did we get here?  What has happened in the residential construction industry allowing uncertainty and anxiety to rule the process with outcomes that are marginal at best?  I would argue that a big piece of the process is missing; working with an experienced architect to appropriately design and plan.

Over the years I have had many conversations with home owners, family and friends related to residential construction projects.  There are a few things that seem to come up often;  first, people think architects only work on commercial projects and second, most don’t understand the positive impact an architect can have on even  the smallest project.

I can’t tell you how many times  I have heard from a home owner, with a look of dismay on their face, “Well, we were hoping for it to turn out like this (pointing to their project) but it turned out like this …the builder said we could only do this… I guess it’s OK”.

At which time I say, “You just paid XXX dollars not to get what you want?”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Take a 1993 Tour from Highland Heights to Alexandria

Screenshot of the YouTube video below, published by mrbiplane4. FTM file. 
Talk about a nostalgia.

From the Long John Silver's on Alexandria Pike in Fort Thomas to the Hardee's in Highland Heights to the baron undeveloped plats in Cold Spring, this video will take you back.

Video shot in 1993 by Tony Painter starts out in Cold Spring on Martha Layne Collins Blvd., turning left to head north on US-27.

This is an advertisement. 

The Olde Fort Pub Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Robert (Bob) Arnzen, owner of the Olde Fort Pub in one of his loved soft-flanneled shirts, in the 1980s. Photo by Nancy Schneider. 

On January 20, 1977, Robert (Bob) Arnzen and his partner, Michael (Mickey) Foellger, bought what is now the Olde Fort Pub in the Midway District. It was cold—minus 25 in Cincinnati two days prior. It was the year the Ohio River froze. 

But the Pub was warm and friendly and offered good drinks. It was a local version of Cheers, a T.V. show that wouldn't debut for another five years. (Some local trivia: Woody Harrelson, who played Woody Boyd on Cheers, had some friends locally and they would all frequent the Pub in the early 1980s.) 

And for Arnzen, it was meant to be short-term. An investment. Forty years later his children are now managing it, and for many Fort Thomas residents, it's a place filled with memories and still, to this day, a loved spot to meet with family and friends for a drink (or two).

The Pub's Grand Opening Celebration advertisement. Photo provided.

Formerly Hank's Cafe and long before that, a Kroger grocery store, the Olde Fort Pub held a "Grand Opening Celebration" St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1977 with 10 cent beers all day long. Advertised as "a new drinking establishment atop the Highlands in Fort Thomas," the Olde Fort Pub offered lunch with fish fries, and a Wednesday "Ladies Night" with beer for 25 cents and mixed drinks for 50 cents.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mark Collier and Katie Walters on FOX19 To Talk 80s Throwback Party

80's Throwback Party co-hosts, Mark Collier (Fort Thomas Matters) and Katie Walters (Q102) were live on set with Fox 19's Jessica Brown to talk about the party to be held at the Highland Country Club on February 4 to benefit Brighton Recovery Center for Women.

You can buy tickets here. Even if you cannot go, your ticket purchase will be a donation to the cause. All proceeds benefit Brighton Recovery Center for Women.

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Katie Walters, Jessica Brown and Mark Collier. FTM file. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Highlands High School wins Ky. 'We the People' contest, advances to D.C.

Picture via Louisville.Edu. 
High school students competed at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center to earn a bid to the national 'We the People' civics competition.

Reigning state champion Highlands High School will make another trip to the “We The People” national finals in 2017 after winning top place in today's state competition.

The annual state competition was hosted by the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.

The contest assessed students’ knowledge and understanding of the U.S. Constitution. Teams studied law, history and civics in their classrooms to prepare for the event.  Each team participated in mock Congressional hearings and was judged by UofL professors, McConnell Scholar alumni, local professionals and UofL students.

“Understanding the American constitutional order has always been vital. As civic education offerings have diminished in curriculum of many schools, programs like ‘We The People’ become ever more essential in our efforts to encourage our young people to understand and think though our heritage of free government,” said McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg.  “I applaud these young people and their teachers for going the extra mile to become more informed and engaged citizens.”

Highlands competed against teams from Bullitt East High School (coached by Sue Roe), Owen County High School (coached by Kevin Webster and Kyle Smith), and Franklin County High School (coached by Sonya Gardner). Franklin County earned second place overall.

Led by coach Megan Boimann-Hennies and principal Brian Robinson, the Fort Thomas team will participate in the national April 21-24 finals, held at the National Conference Center in Washington, DC. Students will have the opportunity to compete in real congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.

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Glenn Manns serves as the state coordinator for the Kentucky “We The People” program and organized the annual event.

Participants on the Highlands High School team include:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fort Thomas Schools Kindergarten and First Grade Registration

Ruth Moyer. FTM file. 
Kindergarten and first grade (new to the district only*) registration will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for residents of the Fort Thomas Independent School District.

Children born on or before August 1, 2012, are eligible for the kindergarten class of 2017 – 2018. Any child entering first grade must be six years of age on or before August 1, 2012.

Registration is not based on a first come, first served basis for the morning vs. the afternoon sessions in kindergarten.  If requests exceed the class size limit, then a lottery will be held.

Sign-up for an optional all-day kindergarten program must be made by 3 p.m. on the date of kindergarten registration. If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from registering on February 16, such as a medical procedure, please submit documentation to the school office before that date.

OPINION: Say Yes To Smoke Free, No To Protected Class

Brent Cooper. Provided. 
By Brent Cooper

It’s no surprise that the American Lung Association gave Kentucky straight “F’s” in their recent report card.  Our state is the worst in the nation for smokers and cancer deaths.  It has been that way for a long time.

Because we are the worst, businesses moving into our state are surprised to find we allow employees to be subjected to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.  The majority of states now have smoke free laws in place.

As it is now, Northern Kentucky is seen as the smoking section for Greater Cincinnati.  I truly believe that image hurts all Kentucky businesses.

Kentucky will eventually have a reasonable statewide smoke free law in businesses for several reasons.

Lori Valentine owner of Fort Thomas Coffee Stars in The Music Man

Every morning when I go to Fort Thomas Coffee I’ve heard the lyrics to “Till There Was You” from The Music Man as I sip my chai latte- “there was love all around but I never heard it singing (…) till there was you” (as I gaze into my latte).

Now, however, when I hear those lyrics, they might not just be in my head; they may be ringing from the voice of Lori Valentine, owner of Fort Thomas Coffee, who is currently playing the role of Maude Dunlop in the Carnegie Theatre performance of The Music Man.

The Carnegie Theatre, located in Covington KY, has been hosting professional and community theatre in the former Carnegie Library (built in 1904 and on the National Register of Historic Places) since its inception in 1972.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Bachelor & Bourbon Podcast

FTM Radio Archive:
Featuring Jessica and Kevin Duke.

Brian Weinrich: "Good is Not Good Enough"

Weinrich, Staff to hold players accountable in off-season

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands kicker Nick Bowman kicks off against Louisville Doss in November.
It's one thing to improve each and every workout.

But success on the football field does not come unless everyone is on the same page. That's where Highlands Bluebirds Head Coach Brian Weinrich said he will hold the leaders accountable.

After last year's tough 3-8 season, Highlands linebacker Trey Bowden said not everyone bought into what helped the Bluebirds to 60 straight winning seasons prior to last year as well as 23 state championships. In 102 years of football, Highlands has an overall record of 879-231-26 good for second all-time in the country behind the 913-221-34 of Valdosta (Georgia), which included its first state championship since 1998 this past fall.

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St. Elizabeth Healthcare & Reds Community Fund donate $15K of athletic equipment to five NKY schools

St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas CEO Bruno Giacomuzzi joined the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund and Reds Catcher, Tucker Barnhart, to donate to five area northern Kentucky high schools. 
St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Reds Community Fund donated $15,000 worth of baseball and softball equipment to 10 teams from five Northern Kentucky high schools on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Town & Country Athletic Center (Wilder, Ky.).

Tucker Barnhart, catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, joined representatives from St. Elizabeth and the Reds to distribute baseball and softball equipment to athletic directors, head coaches and student-athletes from Bellevue, Covington Holmes, Dayton, Holy Cross and Newport high schools in Northern Kentucky.

“We’re excited to be able to bring much needed equipment to these programs in time for the 2017 high school season,” said Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund. “Our collaboration with St. Elizabeth is one example of how community leaders across the Tri-State can use athletics to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

St. Elizabeth matched a $7,500 contribution from the Reds Community Fund to help the schools through Pitch In For Baseball, a nonprofit organization and industry leader in collecting and repurposing baseball and softball equipment. Each school received an equal share of $15,000 worth of equipment.

“Giving back to the community and our local high school partners is a priority to us,” said Bruno Giacomuzzi, chief operating officer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Florence and Fort Thomas locations. “Our team of athletic trainers, physical therapists and medical staff ensure that our local student-athletes are physically ready for competition. We hope this updated equipment will help these young athletes prepare to achieve their on-field goals this season as well.”

To date, more than 30 fields in Northern Kentucky have been renovated by the Reds Community Fund, including Meinken All-Star Field, which serves as the home field for Covington Holmes and Holy Cross high schools. Meinken Field was the ninth and final field dedicated during the $8 million MLB All-Star Week Community Legacy Projects when Cincinnati hosted baseball’s Midsummer Classic in 2015.

St. Elizabeth has been providing athletic training coverage to the Northern Kentucky athletic community since 1988. The healthcare system currently serves the athletic training needs of Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More College along with 22 high schools, nine middle schools and four club programs in Northern Kentucky.

“Our coaching staffs and players are thankful for community partners like St. Elizabeth and the Reds,” said Pat Ryan, head baseball coach at Holy Cross. “Without donations like this, many of our area schools wouldn’t be properly equipped for the upcoming season. It’s a blessing to have this level of public support.”

St. Elizabeth and the Reds will continue to partner on community events and initiatives throughout the 2017 season, including Senior Citizen Specials and NKY Night featuring an Adam Duvall bobblehead on May 20 at Great American Ball Park.

Sullivan University Offering Conflict Management Courses

Classes Focus on Communication, Cooperations  

Sullivan University's Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky is offering an 11-week course in helping government employees and others deal with the public through communication, cooperation and conflict management.

"Let's face it, dealing with the public is increasingly difficult," said Dr. Vicki Berling, the executive director of the Sullivan University Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky. "Time is tight, and stress is high, leaving little opportunity to truly communicate and connect with people. Even the most service-oriented employees can find themselves in conflict with the people they are trying to help. It's a growing problem public organizations must address."

Sullivan's hard-hitting, skills-building class will teach those who regularly deal with the public how to lead through communication, cooperation and conflict management while identifying their personal communication and conflict-management styles. Students will also learn:

Basic theories of communication
Productive ways to identify conflict before it even occurs
How some conflict can be good in team-building
Models and best practices for analyzing and managing disputes
The role of anger, gender, culture, power and forgiveness in relationships
Good listening skills - essential for true communication This is an advertisement. 
Fort Mitchell City Administrator Sharmili Reddy said she would recommend the program, adding the classes "would be beneficial for employees at all levels of an organization whether you are internally focused or externally focused."

"Conflict management is a necessary skill for almost any job at any level and would help organizations function at a higher level," Reddy said. "Local government is a sector that is completely service based and involves predominantly dealing with the general public. This often means we are in situations of conflict where emotions are high and strong. It is one thing to learn from experience and grow but programs like those offered by Sullivan can provide employees with the tools necessary to effectively recognize and manage that conflict."

The 11-week hybrid class will meet primarily online with some onsite class meetings at the Sullivan University Center for Learning-Northern Kentucky on Grandview Drive in Fort Mitchell. Employees who work in federal, state, county and local government offices including police and fire departments can take the course at a special discounted rate of $1,200.

Classes run from March 28 to June 6. For more information about the schedule, please contact the Center for Learning.

"Offering at least some portions of the course online would make it convenient for busy professionals," Reddy said. "We have employees that work very different shifts and having some flexibility to take the course online would make it more enticing."

Upon on successful completion of the course, participants will earn four quarter hours of college credit in Principles of Conflict Management (CMM) 401 from Sullivan University that can be applied toward several academic programs.

For more information visit

Unemployment rates down in 119 Kentucky counties in December 2016

Only two double-digit rates in the state in December 2016

Unemployment rates fell in 119 Kentucky counties between December 2015 and December 2016, but rose in Lyon County (6.3 percent in December 2015 to 6.6 percent in December 2016), according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Only Magoffin and Leslie counties had double-digit rates for December 2016.

Oldham County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Commonwealth at 2.9 percent. It was followed by Woodford County, 3 percent; Fayette County, 3.1 percent; Shelby County, 3.2 percent; Scott and Warren counties, 3.3 percent each; Boone and Jessamine counties, 3.4 percent each; and Anderson and Campbell counties, 3.5 percent each.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. This is an advertisement. 
Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 13.5 percent. It was followed by Leslie County, 10.2 percent; Elliott County, 9.7 percent; Harlan County, 9.5 percent; Lawrence and Letcher counties, 9.2 percent each; Carter and Wolfe counties, 9.1 percent each; Floyd County, 8.8 percent; and Pike County, 8.7 percent.

In contrast to the monthly national and state data, unemployment statistics for counties are not seasonally adjusted. The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 4.5 percent for December 2016, and 4.5 percent for the nation.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks. The statistics in this news release are not seasonally adjusted because of the small sample size for each county. The data should only be compared to the same month in previous years.

Driver of Vehicle in Crash on Grand Avenue Charged with DUI

This was from the car crash on Grand Avenue on January 21. FTM file. 
On Saturday, January 21 a 2012 Honda Accord was heading south on Grand Avenue when the driver of the vehicle hopped a curb on the windy road, kicked up earth, overcorrected, crossed the double yellow lines and across four lanes of traffic before crashing into an embankment in a front yard on the opposite side of the street.

The driver of the vehicle, Noel Chesse, 65 of Highland Heights, sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital to be evaluated. The car, which was heavily damaged, was towed from the scene.

He was not charged at the scene but according to police, was later charged with D.U.I. at the hospital after submitting to a blood test.

He was released from the hospital after being charged and will await his court date.

According to the police report obtained by Fort Thomas Matters, police estimate that Chesse was traveling between 20 and 40 miles per hour. That stretch of Grand Avenue has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

RELATED: Another "Scary" Car Crash on Grand Avenue 

Call Ashley or Kurt today. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 

Fiery Vehicle Crash Shuts Down AA Highway in Wilder

FTM file. Photos provided to Fort Thomas Matters by Robert Brockman. 
It was like a scene from a movie.

Robert Brockman, from Dayton Kentucky, said he was traveling on the AA Highway in Wilder passed the McDonald's when he looked up an saw smoke billowing from about a quarter of a mile away.

"We came around the corner and it was there. (The crash) had just happened. So you know me I have to get close," he said.

Brockman captured pictures of a fiery crash involving a tractor-trailer and a car that sent one person to the hospital and shut down highway on January 25.

The vehicles collided on the AA Highway near Town Drive at about 1 p.m. Both vehicles caught fire.

Brockman said he believes he know what happened.

This is an advertisement.
"The car ran a red light and hit the (tractor-trailer) and it exploded," he said. Brockman also said he believe both drivers were okay, but no official word from Wilder Police has been issued.

The northbound lanes reopened at about 2:30 p.m. It took nearly another hour to clear the southbound lanes.

See some of the amazing picture Brockman has shared with Fort Thomas Matters below:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Highlands and New Cath Rivalry Heats Up

Thoroughbreds pull away for 13th straight win over Bluebirds

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Kyle Finfrock (25) celebrates after scoring a huge bucket against Newport Central Catholic on Thursday. Finfrock had 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, but Highlands fell 62-47 to NewCath for the 13th straight time.
They came in confident knowing the game would take place on their home court in front of the O-Zone student section and community.

While they had a chance entering the fourth quarter trailing just 47-41, the Highlands Bluebirds basketball team (9-12 overall, 2-1 district) could not match the balance of the 36th District arch-rival Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (11-7, 2-0) in a 62-47 defeat Tuesday. NewCath extended its win streak to 13 straight in the series.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Highlands Softball Field Vandalized Again

Cameras may be discussed after latest vandalism incident at Winkler Field

Contributed Photo. Vandals painted graffiti on the back wall, ceiling and bench overnight in the home dugout at Winkler Field.
The Highlands Softball Field, also known as The Bird Cage. has come to be as a result of the Fort Thomas community's desire to see the Highlands Ladybird softball team succeed.

But unfortunately, the Winkler Field gem has been the target of vandalism since it first opened in 2014. This week, vandals sprayed black graffiti on the home side dugout's back wall, ceiling and bench overnight.

RELATED: Reward For Knowledge of Graffiti Artist at Winkler Park (2015)

County Attorney: Laws Against Texting And Driving Save Lives

Steve Franzen. Provided. 
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

I have written on this subject before, but it is important enough that a refresher on conduct that has almost reached epidemic proportions is in order.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver distraction is the leading factor in most crashes.

BREAKING: NKU President Geoffrey Mearns Leaving University For Ball State

NKU President Geoff Mearns. FTM file. 
Fort Thomas Matters has learned that Northern Kentucky University President, Geoffrey S. Mearns, is leaving the university for the same position at Ball State University. He will be the 17th President of Ball State and will be announced at a ceremony at the school at 1:30 p.m today.

Mearns has served as president of Northern Kentucky University since August 1, 2012.

"I express my gratitude to my colleagues and friends at NKU. Something special is happening at NKU and I'll always be proud of what we accomplished there.”
859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 

Sen. Wil Schroder echoed those sentiments.

"President Geoff Mearns has been a tireless advocate for the students, faculty, and staff of Northern Kentucky University (NKU). As a state senator, I have had a great working relationship, and his advocacy for performance-based funding at Kentucky’s public universities was crucial for the legislative changes that were made," he said.

"He will be difficult to replace, and as an alumnus of NKU, I am sorry to see President Mearns go.  I wish President Mearns and his family the best of luck with future endeavors, and I appreciate his unprecedented commitment to Northern Kentucky University.”

Ball State’s last president, Paul Ferguson, resigned almost a year ago after only 18 months in office. Ferguson and the chairman of the board, Rick Hall, clashed early in Ferguson’s tenure.

Ball State’s board of trustees last month signed a $105,000 contract with Franke Associates, a Northfield, Ill., consultant experienced in leadership change at universities, to end the nearly year-long search.

“The goal is to ensure that the new president can hit the ground running,” the 10-page contract stated. One of the keys to the transition will be “what worked last time, what didn’t work, as well as what will be done differently.” And one of the key performance issues the new president will be reviewed on is building rapport with the school's board of trustees.

During his tenure at NKU, Mearns has led the development of a new five-year strategic plan that is guiding our University to its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Sesquicentennial Event: Children’s Choir Forming Now for July Festival

There’s a big birthday coming soon and everyone is invited. Especially if you are between the ages of  5 and 18.  Fort Thomas will celebrate 150 years this July and there are lots of big things in the works. One is the Children’s Choir. 
This is an advertisement. 

Renaissance Developer, Debbie Buckley says, “We look forward to having the youth of our city participate in our city's birthday party on July 2 and 3.  They will perform at the Farm-to-Fort dinner on Sunday evening and again in a concert on Monday evening on stage in the Amphitheater.  The musical experience will be tremendous, but more than that, is the memories of such a celebration they will carry for a lifetime.”

Mary Scaggs, Fort Thomas Schools’ elementary choir director, is organizing and directing the group.  Applications and auditions will be accepted until February 9. Click here for the application. It’s simple. It’s fun. And you and your children could be part of history.

Click here for the application.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Highlands Baseball Player To Sign Letter of Intent

FTM file. 
Highlands High School baseball player Trey Bowden will sign a letter of intent to play baseball at Northern Kentucky University. The signing will be held at 3:15pm on Friday, January 27, 2017, in the media center at Highlands High School.

Orangetheory Fitness Newport. Win $500 by losing weight. Challenge going on NOW! This is an advertisement. 
Trey has lettered in varsity baseball for three years at HHS and has made an extremely positive impact on the Highlands baseball program due to his hard work and dedication.  As a sophomore, Trey contributed in more than half of the games on a team that went to the state finals. In Trey’s junior season, he was a starter in the outfield and lead-off hitter on a team that won their second regional title in two years.

Trey’s hard work on and off the field has given him the reputation of a dedicated, motivated athlete who is also a positive influence for current and future players. This dedication and motivation has given him an opportunity to play at the next level. Trey will further his baseball and academic career at Northern Kentucky University. We are extremely excited and proud of him and his accomplishments as playing college baseball is a lifelong dream of his.

Construction Industry in Northern Kentucky Cooled in 2016

Remodeling - Residential and Commercial Heats Up

Danny and Chip Burks, Burks Brothers Contracting. FTM file. 
The construction industry in Northern Kentucky cooled overall in 2016 over the prior year.

“We are seeing the bright shoots of growth in Northern Kentucky, primarily in commercial activity and residential remodeling but we haven’t seen much of a rebound in new single family housing,” said Brian Miller, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky.  Overall residential production fell 5.46% in 2016.

“Northern Kentucky is simply not pacing with the U.S. in terms of any sort of rebound from the Great Recession for the residential market as a whole.  In terms of overall activity for all construction sectors a growing disparity is trending between counties.  Campbell County is increasing in activity on whole, while Kenton is stagnating.  Boone County continues to be the bellwether of growth in practically all segments of the construction sector.

When you dive deep into the data the largest three builders command over 65% of the market.  Our small to mid-sized builders are still suffering.  They are doing better than during the recession but in some cases not much. Access to available lots, financing, local land use policy and the apprehension of small to mid-sized builders to build a new home without a contract are really holding our local market back in general.  The big builders are having one of their best years on record in our market but for small to mid-sized builders sidelined the recovery is extremely imbalanced,” Miller surmised.

                      2016 Permits        2015 Permits     % Change
Boone           412                        436                    -5.5%
Kenton         189                         209                    -9.57%
Campbell     157                         154                    1.95%
TOTAL         758                        799                     -5.13%  

Residential Remodeling activity in Northern Kentucky continues to increase at a rapid pace. “The amount of residential remodeling in our area is impressive and outperforms our recent forecasts.  The trend mimics the U.S. residential home improvements numbers.  Residential remodeling is now at an all-time high in terms of volume of permits issued.  In like fashion, the value of these projects has matched our high of record at $40,000 per permit,” said Miller.

While the commercial construction industry took a small step back in 2015 the overall capital investment in the Tri-County area continues at a high level.  “The investment of capital in commercial retrofits continues to impress at a historic level.  Since the recession our commercial market has changed.  We are predominantly a reinvestment market rather than a new commercial investment market.  Lack of available large tracts of land, regulations that have created barriers to business and a restrictive local land use policy have created a situation where the reinvestment of capital has gained momentum while the investment of new commercial structures in Northern Kentucky has lost pace.

OPINION: Women's March a Rallying Cry for Equality and Change

Fort Thomas residents attended Saturday's Women's March on Washington and Cincinnati. Photo by Dana Godsey.

On Saturday more than a million women and men gathered around the world to participate in what’s being hailed as the largest peaceful protest march in United States history. Fort Thomas was represented, both in Washington and Cincinnati.

Friday morning, I piled into a minivan along with my mom, mother-in-law (who lives in Reisterstown, Md., and first invited me) and dear friends, several of whom also live in Fort Thomas. Together our ages ranged from 17 to 63.

Many folks from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky attended, with at least 66 attending the Women’s March of Cincinnati and at least 24 attending the Women's March of Washington from First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati (which I attend) alone.

Our small group drove through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and into Maryland passing by many other similarly filled cars, vans and busses. We woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning and my father-in-law drove us an hour away to Washington’s Shady Grove Metro stop and dropped us off. Already the station was buzzing.

We got off at Union Station and there you could begin to see the sacrifices so many made to attend. People were bleary-eyed, having traveled all night—some were trying to catch some sleep in the station.

From left to right: Dana Godsey, Jill Uhl, Kristin Zeit, Kara Gebhart Uhl, Angel Beets, Danine Gebhart and Jana Albritton.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Another "Scary" Car Crash on Grand Avenue

Residents are fed up, scared. 
Fort Thomas residents, Susan and Matt Twehues, with their children in front of their home on Grand Avenue. Tire tracks in the background and in their front yard give a play-by-play for an accident that happened just an hour before this. FTM file. 
The tire tracks are still visible from a car crash fatality that killed a 45-year old man in September on the corner of Grand and Greenwood Avenues in Fort Thomas. The tree that he struck after hopping a curb and barreling through multiple front yards is still damaged, while neighbors are growing increasingly frustrated and nervous.

RELATED: Car Crash Fatality on Grand Avenue (September 2016)

"I pray every time I get ready to turn into my driveway from Grand Avenue that someone isn't speeding and going to hit me from behind," said Karen Hanson, who has lived in her home since 2010. "It's scary."

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This afternoon a single-car accident on that same stretch of road at 2:00 p.m. added to the trend.

Sgt. Will Hunt told Fort Thomas Matters that a man traveling southbound on Grand Avenue hopped a curb, went through some front yards, cut across four lanes of traffic and ended up in an embankment in a front yard on the opposite side of the street.

FTM file. 
The man was transported to the hospital by ambulance with minor injuries and the accident is being investigated.  His car was towed from the scene. No charges have been filed yet.

FTM file. 
But nearby Grand Avenue residents Matt and Susan Twehues, who heard the accident and came outside to see grass and dirt in their front yard kicked up from the wayward vehicle, are fed up with the speeding issues.

"I grew up on Greenwood (three houses down) and I don't remember this many accidents happening in the twenty-plus years that I lived there. It's 2:00 in the afternoon and if someone was walking there they would have been killed. I'm not comfortable with having our kids be on the sidewalk in front of our home," said Susan.

Matt Twehues said they heard screeching tires and ran to see what was happening. He said he saw traffic stopped in both directions and a silver Honda Accord lodged into the embankment in his neighbor's house across the street from his home. A scene that he said is becoming too common where he lives.

"The man who was driving was incredibly apologetic," said Twehues, who said he was talking to the man along with a nurse who had stopped her vehicle on Grand Avenue. He said that she witnessed the crash and immediately rushed to his aid by taking his pulse and making sure he was cognizant. "In Fort Thomas, we are known as a community that walks and gets outside a lot, but we can't do that on this stretch. We feel like sitting targets."

The City of Fort Thomas has identified the stretch of Grand Avenue, from Highland Avenue to S. Fort Thomas Avenue, as a tract that could be a candidate for a road diet as part of their visioning process that council is currently undertaking.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Visioning Presented To City Council 

Road diets, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby the number of travel lanes and effective width of the road is reduced in order to achieve systemic improvements. In Fort Thomas, this was successfully executed in the past in front of Woodfill Elementary on Alexandria Pike.

"I think a road diet is one of the only things that might make an impact on the amount and severity of these accidents. If nothing else, a parking lane could provide a barrier so that if there is a car losing control it might not go into someone's living room," said Matt.

Susan Twehues said that whether the idea is a road diet or something else, she has talked with her neighbors and they all believe they need the city's help in addressing this trend.

"We'd like to address council, but at the same time any time that I talk to anyone it kind of seems like it's not going to be worth our time to go to any council meetings," she said.

Although the crash this afternoon wasn't as serious as the crash-fatality in September, both the Twehues said the crash this afternoon was jarring.

Simply, this crash in the middle of the afternoon that they believed was due to an intoxicated driver, was the tipping point for them.

"I would hope that this accident would be a tipping point for the city to do something too," said Susan. "The response that we always get is that these accidents are caused by people who are intoxicated, so I think they are downplaying that speed is involved."

Matt echoed those sentiments.

"If this isn't the tipping point, then what is? Is it going to take someone dying who was just sitting in their living room or on their porch?"

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Cornerstone Montessori Open House | Highland Heights

Open House on Sunday, January 22nd from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Due to this year’s waiting list for their 3-6 year old classroom, Cornerstone is exploring the possibility of adding a second Pre-K/Kindergarten classroom for the 2017-18 school year. To learn more about the benefits of a Montessori education and why this school is in such high demand, Cornerstone Montessori in Highland Height invites you and your family visit during their Open House on Sunday, January 22nd from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“As a mother of three young children and a former teacher in traditional classrooms, I truly appreciate the independence and free-thinking that is fostered at Cornerstone," explains Sara Crego.  “I have watched my son flourish in the Pre-Primary classroom due to the patience and guidance of his teachers, as well as the peaceful and prepared working environment. I would recommend Cornerstone to anyone looking for a well-rounded, private education for their child.”

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.

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.

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 2017-18 school year. Open Enrollment begins March 1st.

Cornerstone Montessori School was founded in 1992 and is a 501 (c-3) non-profit organization committed to educate every student in its care by providing the skills, knowledge, and values necessary for individuals to be capable and concerned participants in society.

They offer before and after care on-site as well as summer programs.

If you are unable to attend the open house and would like to schedule a private tour or learn more about the school, please call 859-497-9960.