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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Campbell County Police: Serial Burglars Arrested

After a month of searching, police have captured a man that has been accused of committing dozens of burglaries across the region.

Campbell County Police issued a plea for tips on July 25 for the Mark Burgin and Angela Roberts. The couple had been tied to seven burglaries in Campbell County, where they would knock on a door to check for vacancies, and when no one was home, they would strike.

Today the couple was arrested in Miami County, Ohio.

Burgin had multiple warrants out for his arrest in Kentucky and Ohio.

Gold Star Sons and Daughters License Plate Bill Ceremoniously Signed into Law

Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) joined Governor Matt Bevin, Kentucky Gold Star Families, military personnel, and other supporters, including Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, earlier this week for the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 122. The bill establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license plate, which join the already-existent license plates for Gold Star Parents, Spouses, and Siblings.

“It was truly an honor to carry this bill through the legislative process, which began after I received a request from a constituent whose son lost his father while serving our country,” said Senator Schroder. “Members of our Gold Star Families should be held in our Commonwealth’s highest esteem for their loved one’s ultimate sacrifice. I hope this new license plate brings about hope and awareness for these families and their lost ones.”

Call for your free class. Just mention "Fort Thomas Matters." 859-838-4555. This is an advertisement. 
“Thank you so much to these families who have paid a level of sacrifice that the vast majority of us will never know,” said Governor Bevin. “The opportunity cost of these lives having been laid down for our nation is immeasurably high, and the very least we can do is to honor these lives—and to do it in a way that is visible.”

Living Magazines Acquired by Fort Thomas Media Company

Jim Lied, publisher of Fort Thomas Living for 40 years, and his wife, Karen.

For 40 years Fort Thomas residents have turned to Fort Thomas Living magazine for stories about their community. With a focus on positive news, it is within this humble, black-and-white publication where neighbors have spent years learning more about their neighbors—the basements artists, the community events they’ve planned, the awards they’ve won, the businesses they’ve opened. And for 40 years Fort Thomas resident Jim Lied, along with others, has made sure that Fort Thomas Living—as well as other Living magazines through the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area—has made its way to mailboxes and coffee tables every month.

In April, Lied sold what is now called Living Magazines Inc. to Fort Thomas Matters Editor Mark Collier and Living Magazines Chief Operations Officer Erin Sendelbach.

“We are going to stay true to our roots, which has always been to tell the inside story of a community better than anyone else can and to do it in a positive manner,” Collier says.

But before we get to the future of Living Magazines, first, a look at the past.

Peter Baker

Fort Thomas Living began with a shared cup of coffee in the basement of St. Andrews Church in Fort Thomas in 1976. Peter Baker, a trained journalist selling insurance, and Lied, then director of audio-visual support services for the University of Cincinnati, were discussing the lack of a weekly newspaper in Campbell County. The long-held assumption was that because the mafia had been so strong in the area in the years’ prior, no one was willing to publish a hyper-local paper.

But Lied was curious if it could work. He priced out what it would take to publish a weekly paper. The result? $30,000. A month. It wasn’t doable.

But several other important things happened during this time. Lied teamed up with John Trojanski, a colleague at U.C., and formed MarketHouse Inc., a company created to publish books and newsletters. And Lied, while visiting family in Los Angeles, stumbled upon a neighborhood monthly magazine. He put some numbers together and realized that if they published monthly, and sold subscriptions, they wouldn’t need as much cash up front. It could work.

 “Everybody thought it would die,” he says, laughing. “We didn’t take any money out of it for a couple years.”

Baker served as editor. Lied served as publisher, but also hand drew all the art, including the covers and advertisements. The first issue launched spring 1977.

Ginny Deckert
Ray Duff

Trojanski left the area soon after the magazine started. Lied and Baker worked on the magazine in addition to their full-time jobs. Their daughters helped with delivery. Baker’s wife, Kenny, served as office manager and managed accounts. Ginny Deckert sold advertisements. Ray Duff, Bill Thomas and Steve Sparks worked with Baker on the editorial side of things. Lied designed every issue and prepared it for press.

“Ray Duff was our first editor, and that was important because you’re talking to a couple Protestant kids starting this in a community that’s about half Catholic,” Lied says. “Ray and her husband kind of bridged that gap. It was pretty much two communities at that point. In 1970, it was very different.”

In 1981, Lied and his wife, Karen, bought out the Hyde Park-based interior design business Karen had been working at since 1974. With that Lied and his team had two offices to work from—one in Hyde Park and one in Fort Thomas. In 1981 Anderson Living was born (and Living Magazine Inc. became a new corporation, Community Publications Inc.), followed by Hyde Park Living in 1982.

From the very beginning, all freelance writers and advertising sales representatives were paid. With growth, part-time and full-time employees were added. And in 1985 Lied quit his job at the university and joined Community Publications full time.

They experimented with many different magazines, including Downtown Living, Montgomery Living, Western Hills Living, Blue Ash Living, Clifton Living, Forest Park Living and Oakwood Living (a suburb in Dayton).

Throughout the entire 40 years Lied and his partners and staff strived to simply be a positive force in the communities they served. “Our intent was not to chase the firetrucks or ambulances or any of that sort of thing,” Lied says. “The only controversial thing we covered was the election. What I wanted to do was emphasize the positives. There were a lot of positives going on in [these communities] that weren’t getting press.”

For years folks have run into Lied at the grocery, thanking them for including their child in the magazine.

“I think people need community,” Lied says. “They need to feel a part of it. Our job is always to find the people who aren’t in the news and the best things thing me are to put people on the cover who you would never expect them to be on the cover. All this just builds community, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Not just on the cover but inside as well.”

In the 1990s technology began to change. Lied experimented with a new digital press called Docutect, offered by Xerox, but it proved to be too expensive. During this time Lied established a new company on his own called MicroPress Inc., with offices in Bellevue. The Hyde Park and Fort Thomas offices of Community Publications both closed and operations were combined at the Bellevue space. At this time Baker was ready to leave and sold Lied his shares in the company.

New offset printing presses, bindery equipment and image-setting technology were purchased, allowing the magazines to be produced in-house much more inexpensively.

In the years that followed, many staff changes took place and the company consolidated to six magazines: Fort Thomas, Fort Mitchell, Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Sycamore and Wyoming.

In May 2006 the company went completely digital with the purchase of two used Kodak DigiMasters, which printed, folded, stitched and labeled an entire magazine quickly and in-house.

“In 2008, everything fell apart,” Lied says. “It was a sea change. The bubble burst.”

But they had equipment—expensive equipment—to pay for. By 2012, Lied was the only full-time person on staff, and he was not drawing a salary. But he pushed forward. And things gradually got better—much better. Revenues were up and five magazines survived.

Lied stressed that the success of Fort Thomas Living, though, was started by three key people in the late 1970s and into the 1980s and 1990s. “Their work made the magazine a hit,” he says. “All three have now passed, but their legacy is strong. Baker was my partner in Fort Thomas Living and Community Publications up to 2000 when he retired. His part of the business was the editorial management for not only Fort Thomas Living, but the other magazines as well. He also liked to run advertising contests for all the magazines too.

“Duff's contribution to Fort Thomas Living was stellar. With her inside knowledge of the town, everyone had a chance to be on the cover. And her recipes from Fort Thomas people were a big hit. As I mentioned, she was the bridge between what then were two separate communities.

“Deckert made the advertising work. She was persistent in those early days to make Fort Thomas Living bigger and better. Her success was the reason we could grow the company and the amount of news printed.

“My role was initially setting up each issue for the printer and handling the finance and accounting duties. Important tasks, of course, but no more important than the other team members.”

Although Collier and Sendelbach now own Living Magazines, Lied still plans to work with them, particularly on the book publishing side of things. He plans to focus on the aspects of the work he enjoys most—book artwork, design and layout, and painting, which he does weekly in his Bellevue studio with a group of friends.

Erin Sendelbach and Mark Collier, the new owners of Living Magazines Inc.

Today, Collier and Sendelbach are 50/50 partners. They’ve moved the offices to the Central Business District of Fort Thomas, in the Hiland Building, next door to Fort Thomas Independent Schools’ Board Office and down the street from City Hall.

Living Media is their Public Relations and Marketing wing, which will provide a full-service operation to big and small companies alike.

Collier said the platforms that they are able to place their clients work onto is their differentiator.

"Most PR firms goal is to get their client seen," he said. "Living Media has widely read publications in-house. It's a game-changer for our client roster."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Campbell County Case Upheld in Kentucky Supreme Court

Kentucky Supreme Court upholds $3.425-million jury verdict against Indiana Insurance Company in an insurance bad-faith case in Campbell County, Kentucky

The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld a $3.425-million jury verdict awarded to a Kenton County man against the Indiana Insurance Company in an insurance bad-faith action brought by a Fort Thomas attorney, which was tried in Campbell County Circuit nearly five years ago.

The case was originally tried in Judge Fred A. Stine's court room and he mentioned the case as one of his most memorable.

RELATED: Judge Stine Set to Retire, Discusses Memorable Cases 

In October 2012, a jury in Campbell Circuit Court awarded compensatory and punitive damages against the company for violating the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act, and breaching the insurance contract with its policyholder, James Demetre. Demetre’s wife, Kathy, is a Fort Thomas native whose family used to operate Konen’s Auto Repair and Service.
Kentucky Supreme Court. 

18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. Hiland Building. This is an advertisement. 
Indiana Insurance appealed the jury verdict and judgment to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which upheld it, and then appealed it to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which in a recent 6-1 decision affirmed this decision.

“We appreciate the time and attention both the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Kentucky Supreme Court used to thoroughly examine the facts in this very important case, applying the relevant law, and ultimately upholding the jury verdict against Indiana Insurance,” said Jeffrey Sanders, the Fort Thomas lawyer who represented Demetre in the legal action.

In its appeal, the insurance company argued that the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (UCSPA), which the Kentucky General Assembly passed in 1984, should not apply to the facts in the case. The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected this argument and said, “We strongly disagree with this construction, which would render the UCSPA inapplicable to an insured seeking benefits purchased pursuant to a liability insurance policy.”

Highlands-Scott County Preview

Battle of 2-0 Squads Moved to Thursday

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands linebacker Alex Starkey (32) points to the sky while teammates Ben Sisson (45) and Nate Davis (78) rejoice after the Bluebirds beat Campbell County, 27-20 in overtime Friday.
The Highlands Bluebirds football team stood up to a huge challenge Friday and knows it needs to rise up even more to win the next one. The battle of 2-0 squads has been changed to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Georgetown College because of the weather forecast. The Weather Channel is calling for a 100 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms all day Friday in Georgetown.

Family With Local Ties Affected By Tropical Storm Harvey

The Zipters of Houston, Texas were flooded by tropical storm Harvey. Cami Zipter is a 1987 Highlands graduate.
As tropical storm Harvey ripped through Texas this week, it displaced nearly 30,000 residents, destroyed homes and took the lives of at least 14 people as of yesterday with more fatalities expected.

The National Weather Service said the storm has broken the all-time U.S. rainfall record from a tropical storm or hurricane, causing catastrophic flooding. The rain continues to fall and spread into Louisiana.

In the midst of the devastation, Fort Thomas native Cami Heiert Zipter, who lives in Houston with her husband and four children was stranded with her family on the second floor of their house as they watched the water rush toward their home.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Backyard Chickens Bring Up Issues in Fort Thomas

The Dunbar family is asking for a change to the chicken ordinance to accommodate corner lots. These chickens got loose on S. Fort Thomas Avenue. Picture: Kelly Berry Perry. 

by Robin Gee

Waking up to "cuckadoodledo" at six in the morning was not part of the plan when Bryan and Jordan Dunbar and their five children started raising chickens in their back yard.

The Dunbars, who live on Ohio Avenue, addressed City Council at its August meeting to ask for some help from the city regarding the current backyard chicken ordinance.

The Dunbar children received eight little chicks for Easter, and the family presumed they were all female. Yet very soon, the chickens started to grow and quickly hit the chicken version of puberty.

"At first it was hard to figure out just who was making the noise. As the days progressed we heard more crowing and were able to identify two roosters. We knew the rules, we couldn’t have them, so we found them a place on the west side and removed them immediately," said Jordan Dunbar.

The Dunbars speaking to Fort Thomas City Council. FTM file. 

Learning from mistakes

Fort Thomas Farmers Market: A Weekly Destination Point for Shopping and Socializing

My wife and I have been to just about every farmers market in Campbell County and by far the Fort Thomas Farmers Market is the best around. Fresh food, friendly people, music, and activities make this a weekly destination.

All of the vendors are on the Fort Thomas app. I don’t know of any other farmers market with an app. (Yes, the city has a smartphone app. Just type “Fort Thomas” in the search bar in either Google Play or the App Store and it will come right up. And it’s free.)

Now my wife is a picky shopper so she chats with each vendor about products, recipes, and uses.  She looks for vendors who offer variety, who take pride in their products, present a good choice of organics, who raise pasture raised chickens and meats, sell farm fresh eggs, and that elusive quality that makes something interesting that you don’t particularly find in the grocery stores. We like that we can deal directly with the farmer.  It creates an immediacy, a connection, with the food that we eat.

We recently bought peaches from Scott Farms that were sweet and juicy and tasted especially so after a few hours of yard work. We found dinner at Bouchard’s Pasta. We like their handmade sun dried tomato fettuccine. And their handcrafted sauces are equally terrific. The vendor was helpful with preparation tips and recipes as well as side items for the meal. Last week I asked Terrence Mueller about the wood sorrel he was selling. He offered me a taste and it was lemony.A pleasant surprise.  It was on our salad that night along with some peppers that we bought from them as well.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fort Thomas Photographer Volunteers to Document Inside of VA Homes

Fort Thomas resident and photographer, Chris Stegner, is volunteering his services to the city of Fort Thomas by photographing the inside of the vaunted VA homes in Alexander Circle.

LISTEN: Michelle Chalk's Dad Talks About Their Life-Changing Family Tragedy

Keith Chalk is Michelle Chalk's father.

Michelle was the 15-year old, soon-to-be Highlands freshman that tragically passed away on August 1, 2017 when a tree fell on her in a friend's back yard.

We talked about who Michelle was, how the community has responded to them and how they have been dealing with the life-altering news.

"It is obvious to me that Michelle's death was a community experience, and Fort Thomas Matters is a resource the community comes to to get information," said Chalk.

"When Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2014, we created a Facebook group, "Pray for Patty", which we were very open with everyone about our experience.  We made a conscience decision that openness was better than seclusion.  We saw that others could benefit from our experiences.  We trusted in the love and generosity of others despite the risk of being transparent. 

I'm making the same decision with Michelle's death."

FTEF Presents Masquerade Ball In Newly Renovated Music Hall This October

On October 21, the Fort Thomas Education Foundation (FTEF) is hosting a party where guests can experience a truly memorable evening at Music Hall. Attendees will have the privilege of being one of the first people to see the renovations. The evening will include cocktails, appetizers, an open bar, a seated dinner, a band, dancing and incredible prizes. All the money raised during this event will benefit the FTEF Endowment Fund, created to help sustain the highest level of educational excellence for present and future generations.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

PHOTOS: Michelle Chalk, Family Honored During "High-Five Friday" at Highlands Middle School

Highlands Middle School honored Michelle Chalk on Friday by dedicating "high-five Friday" to her. Chalk was known at the middle school for her positivity and started the trend of high-fiving students each Friday as they entered the building. 

Chalk's parents and siblings were invited to participate. 

Balloons were sent skyward at the end of the memorial. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fort Thomas Subway to Close Permanently

Fort Thomas Subway is closing.

A note left on the door stated that cash flows has been declining over the last three years and that they would be closing immediately.

Employees confirmed to Fort Thomas Matters that they would not be opening up Sunday, August 27. Those employees said that management broke the news to them earlier today.

The note taped to the front door was signed by owner James Davis, who had owned the franchise for the last 10 years. It was also signed by longtime store manager, Kate Lockwood, who Fort Thomas Matters profiled earlier this year.

RELATED: Longtime Fort Thomas Subway Manager Lands Career Job 

The note read:

Highlands-Campbell County Notebook

Bluebird Maturity Shows in Hard-Earned Win

PHOTO: Highlands senior Harrison Traylor (23) takes down Campbell County running back junior Grant Jolly (left) on a third-down sweep in overtime Friday. The Bluebird defense rose the occasion on that overtime series to preserve the Highlands win.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands running back Cooper Schwalbach scores the game-winning touchdown in overtime Friday. Schwalbach scored two touchdowns to increase his team-high to six touchdowns this season.
 It's a mentality even some adults don't learn in life.

When things don't go your way, people came blame everyone else or take responsibility for their actions, learn from them and grow. The returning Highlands players sought to it that the ladder happened in off-season after last year's 3-8 debacle. A 2-0 start has the Bluebirds one win away from equaling that win total this season.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Highlands-Campbell County Gamer

Bluebirds Scratch Out Overtime Win Over County Rivals

PHOTO: Highlands junior Bailey Armstrong (2) returns an interception 55 yards for a touchdown while teammate Ben Sisson (45) follows. The interception tied the game at 20-20 with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior quarterback Carl Schoellman (35) dives into the end zone away from Campbell County defensive tackle Tanner Lawrence (31) while teammate Trent Johnson (65) watches in the first quarter. Also converging is Campbell County junior linebacker Brennan Williams (52).
The group Thirty Seconds to Mars came out with a song called This Is War in 2009.

It described the battle the Highlands Bluebirds football team found itself in at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Friday against the determined Campbell County Camels. The Camels kept giving the Bluebirds their best shots. But the Bluebirds bounced back up and overcame them in a 27-20 overtime victory.

Three Candidates Chosen to Replace Judge Stine

The Judicial Nominating Commission has named the three candidates that will be considered by Governor Matt Bevin to be appointed to replace Judge Fred A. Stine in Campbell County's Circuit Court.

Local attorneys, Joe Grimme, Jeffrey Sanders and Dan Zalla were the three candidates chosen among six applicants. Bevin will have 60 days to make his decision and the appointment will finish out Stine's term which ends in December 2018.

Joe Grimme. FTM file. 
If more than two candidates file to run for the seat after the appointment, the race could be on the May 2018 primary. A general election will follow in November 2018.

Grimme is a partner in the law firm of Fessler, Schneider & Grimme and previously served as a prosecutor for the Campbell County Attorney’s Office. He is also a Campbell County deputy master commissioner.

Sanders has had his own law practice for nearly 20 years.

Jeffrey Sanders. LinkedIn. 

Zalla has his own law practice and a mediation service. He served as an appointed Kenton County Circuit Court judge from August 2006-January 2007.

Local attorneys Jim Kidney and Norb Gettys also applied to the commission.

The most surprising name that entered the fray was Kentucky House Representative Joe Fischer. 
Fischer, a lawyer by profession, practices corporate law for Ohio National Financial Services and represents Campbell County in the Kentucky legislature.

A longtime conservative stalwart in Frankfort, he met with the nomination commission today and withdrew his name, citing the opportunity to work in the heavily-weighted Republican majority during the general assembly.

Senate President Stivers Visits Johnson Elementary to Tour Facilities

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers visited Johnson Elementary in Fort Thomas Thursday to tour the school's facilities with school officials, stakeholders and elected officials.

The group, led by Fort Thomas Education Foundation Chair, Amy Shaffer, aimed to demonstrate the need for state funding for the school.

Their main goal: a new school.

Johnson Elementary, which boasts the second oldest school building in the entire Commonwealth,   has perennially been named to the "Parsons List", a running group of schools that are in need of upgrading. In 2014, Moyer Elementary received state funds that paid the bulk of the $20 million dollar project that is currently underway.  During the last budgetary cycle, Johnson was also very high on the School Facilities Construction Commission list, however Moyer Elementary was given a higher priority due to the utilization of mobile classrooms on its campus.

While the facilities are in desperate need of updating at Johnson, the school's student population, now at 465, continues to excel. In 2014 the school won it's second blue ribbon award, the district's fifth such award since 1997.  The district has since added its sixth award when Moyer won last year.

Fort Thomas Independent School Superintendent, Karen Cheser, said the work of the foundation is crucial in showing Frankfort that the district is committed to continuing its national reputation for academic excellence.

Aside from the bonding capacity the district has for raising funds, the private money raised by FTEF helps bridge the gap, but Cheser noted that state investment is crucial to be added as the first dollar into the pot.

"This is a priority of the district and we are on it with every resource that we have at our disposal. We are pulling out all the stops," she said. "The building does not make the programming, but we know that Johnson is in dire need of transformation." 

Cheser addressing President Stivers in front of Johnson Elementary. FTM file. 
Shaffer said that the FTEF is eager to work with district leadership, state legislators and our community to help get a new Johnson school.

"We are excited have President Stivers here to show that our staff and students are excelling despite the building where they learn. We hope that this visit helps to influence the decision to receive funding for a new Johnson," she said.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Use of Police Body Camera Footage Eyed by Committees

Campbell County Sheriff, Bellevue Police Chief weigh in

Kentucky law enforcement agencies that use body cameras want clear rules on what footage from the cameras can be disclosed and who can access it.

Although body cameras, also known as body-worn cameras, used by law enforcement are not new, they have come to national prominence in the past couple of years through news reports. Several states have laws regarding disclosure of body camera footage, but Kentucky does not. House Bill 416, filed last session by Rep. Robert Benvenuti, spelled out procedures for body camera footage disclosure here in the Commonwealth but didn’t pass into law.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Police Will Be Getting Body Cameras 

Yesterday Benvenuti, R-Lexington, appeared before a joint meeting of the legislative Interim Joint Committees on Local Government and State Government in Richmond with law enforcement officers from across Kentucky and the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) to reissue his call for a legal framework that will govern disclosure of body camera recordings under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The framework proposed by Benvenuti and others would not mandate the use of body cameras—something Benvenuti said would be much too costly—but would set out procedures for disclosure and “balance privacy interests with the public’s right to know,” according to a handout provided to the committee by KLC. Proposed exemptions from disclosure would include footage of a sexual nature, the body of a deceased person, private homes and more.

Committees Forming for Visioning Project

The Fort Thomas Community Plan is moving forward this month with the creation of six working committees, each to be charged with developing plans for different aspects of the project.

Frank Twehues of CT Consultants met with city officials, staff and council members at a brief meeting before the August general city council meeting to discuss committee formation, assign council members to each of the committees and brainstorm ideas for community liaisons.

Leadership teams

Committee leadership teams will be comprised of a city council member, a city staff member, a technical advisor (consultant) and a liaison from the community.

Plans are to have committee leadership in place in the next week or two and begin to spread the word. A community meeting is tentatively planned for Monday, September 25, to introduce the committees to the public and invite interested community members to join.

City Administrator Ron Dill has been working with project consultants at CT Consultants and Human Nature to identify city staff members to serve as resources for each committee. The consultants also have selected members from within their organizations to serve as technical advisors.

The Committees

  • Land Use and Zoning will identify and work with zoning issues, form-based code and economic development.
  • Transportation and Connectivity will identify modes of connectivity across the community and handle transportation issues.
  • Parks and Open Space will identify recreation and green space needs.
  • Utilities and City-owned Facilities will cover non-park city facilities and infrastructure systems such as water, electric, gas, telecommunications, networks and other technologies.
  • Regional Partnerships and Collaboration will work with adjacent communities to identify regional needs and how Fort Thomas plans can fit into the larger picture.
  • Funding and Implementation will identify funding resources, available revenue and possibilities for potential revenue streams.
In addition to expertise by the lead consultants, two specialized firms have been asked to help with technical aspects of the project. AECOM is a design and engineering firm with expertise working with transportation systems. Glaserworks provides architecture and urban design expertise.

Council members step up

Assigning council members to each of the committees took very little time. Most were interested in more than one area.

Mayor Eric Haas encouraged council members to attend any and all committee meetings that are of interest to them, explaining that the selection of one council member per committee would provide a point person to aid efficiency and ease of communication.

City council member committee assignments are:

Highlands-Campbell County Football Preview

Bluebirds Seek More Improvements This Week

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior defensive lineman Nate Davis (78) sets to leap up before Cooper quarterback Mikey Armour while teammate Nick Bowman (19) gets into position.
It is a better feeling than it has been recently.

In the past three years, the Highlands Bluebirds football team entered the second game off a loss and two closer than comfortable wins to open the season. But this year, Highlands recorded a nice 42-22 win over the host Cooper Jaguars to start the season. Victories like that give teams the satisfaction of knowing they are doing a lot of things. But at the same time, teams know things can only go up from there if they address areas that need improvement.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Local Woman Found Dead in Aspen Mountains

A woman who grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from Cincinnati Country Day School was identified as one of the two people found dead in the mountains in Aspen Tuesday, WCPO reports.

The Aspen Times reports that Carlin Brightwell and her boyfriend, Ryan Marcil, were found dead below the summit on the north face of Capitol Peak.

Brightwell's cousin, Karsten Head Ritter of Fort Thomas, posted on Facebook, asking for any information on her whereabouts and suggesting they may have stayed near the peak for the solar eclipse.

Brightwell -- who also went by "Carly" -- graduated from Country Day in 2008, according to her Facebook page. Her sister, Sidney Brightwell, graduated from Country Day in 2005, also according to Facebook. Both sisters were living in Aspen at the time of Carlin Brightwell's death.

Brightwell and Marcil were reported missing Sunday night, the Aspen Times reports. Sidney Brightwell posted on Facebook, asking for any information on her sister and suggesting they may have stayed near the peak for the solar eclipse.

This is an advertisement. 
The search didn't begin until early Tuesday morning, according to the Aspen Times, because the couple's plans were "tentative."

"Because the plans were somewhat tentative and there was no confirmed medical emergency, it was decided that the urgency to initiate a search was not great," according to a Sheriff's Office statement Tuesday evening. "By Monday evening when the couple had not yet returned the urgency increased."

Holly Riffe Named NKU Outstanding Professor

Northern Kentucky University celebrated the beginning of a new academic year with the Fall Convocation address on Friday, August 18.

Interim President Gerard St. Amand welcomed the NKU community back to campus and celebrate the university’s successes over the past year.

St. Amand conferred the Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor award to Dr. Holly Riffe, Professor of Social Work in the College of Education and Human Services.

The Dance Realm Studios | Open Registration | August 29 | 6:00-7:30

For a list of classes, please check their website at
8 Highland Avenue, Fort Thomas, Kentucky 41075

Brent Cooper Named Northern Kentucky Chamber President

Fort Thomas Resident Named 6th President & CEO of NKY Chamber of Commerce

Brent Cooper has been named the President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He had been filling in for Trey Grayson in an interim role after Grayson resigned in May. 

Cooper, 47, who has led Covington-based C-Forward Information Technologies since he founded the company at age 29 and who has twice served as interim Chamber president, was chosen following a thorough vetting and interview process of numerous outstanding candidates managed by the Cincinnati executive search firm Centennial Inc.

"I am honored, humbled and grateful to be selected to lead an organization that I admire and that has been a part of my life for years," Cooper said. "I know from experience that the Chamber is a successful, committed and tireless advocate for the business community.

"As we look forward to the Chamber celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, I stand ready to provide the same type of focused and engaged leadership that has been the hallmark of past Chamber presidents," Cooper said.

Cooper will maintain ownership in C-Forward but has turned over day-to-day operations to his management team.

WATCH: Highlands Middle School Student Gets Pulled Up To Play Live With Green Day

 Surprise Occurs Thanks to Random Act of Kindness

Sadie Aseere comes face to face with her idol, Billy Jo Armstrong (provided)
 by Colin Moore

When you’re eleven, getting to see your favorite band play live is a pretty huge deal. Having great tickets and being right in front of the stage would be even bigger. But getting to meet them on stage and play with them live? That’s bigger than a solar eclipse, it's a one in a million event. Sadie Aseere from Fort Thomas, a sixth grader at Highlands Middle School, had just that once in a lifetime experience this past weekend when she played guitar live on stage with her idols, rock megastars Green Day, in front of around 20,000 music fans at Riverbend Music Center.

Sadie and Jenni, her Mom, are both big Green Day fans. “I grew up listening to them, Sadie surprised me two or three years ago by saying “There’s this band that I like,” and I already knew all the songs and most of the words.” Jenni and her husband Dan had bought Sadie tickets to see Green Day at Riverbend as a reward for getting straight As last year at Woodfill Elementary.

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The fact that Sadie was in a position to be asked up on stage was the culmination of a series of random acts of kindness. The Aseeres had tickets further back in the arena. Then Carley and Rick Jamie and their daughter Kate, also a sixth grader at HMS, stepped in, “They had Lawn Lounge tickets and said to us, “Get rid of your tickets and come with us. There are free drinks and food and the girls will be somewhat out of the way.” So we were really there as their guests.”

Once they got to Riverbend they got even luckier, thanks to a random act of kindness from another concert-goer. “A random gentleman came up to Sadie and Kate Jamie and said “I’ve got two tickets right at the front that you can have if you want.” They turned to their Dad’s and said “Can we go?” We said yes and they made their way right up to the front of the stage, which was why Billy Joe was able to catch a glimpse of her later on.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Plummer Replaces Dowling as City Administrator

The City of Union has hired David Plummer to serve as City Administrator.

Plummer replaces CAO Matthew Dowling, who resigned to accept the same position with the City of Elsmere, Kentucky in February.

Matt Dowling. Provided. 
“David is exactly what we were looking for in a candidate,” said Mayor Larry Solomon.  “We were impressed by his experience and his enthusiasm for the position.  We look forward to a long-term relationship with him guiding our city forward.”

Plummer’s main focus will be on economic development and public works, in addition to day-to-day city management.

Plummer comes to Union from Moscow, Ohio, where he served as Village Administrator for the past two years.  In that position, he performed a variety of functions, including managing village staff, overseeing the operation of the village’s waste water treatment system, and serving as village zoning officer.

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Prior to his work in Moscow, Plummer spent eight years working with the Campbell County Fiscal Court, serving as the solid waste coordinator and administrative analyst.  In that time, he implemented and directed a variety of waste and litter projects throughout Campbell County, in addition to managing the solid waste budget for the county.  He also served as the primary contact for the county web inquiry system, and served as a grant writer and public information officer for the solid waste department.

Highlands Theatre Department Fundraiser this Saturday

Taste of the Season is almost here.

The event, which benefits the Highlands Theatre Program, takes place on August 26th from 7-11 p.m. at the Highlander Event Center.  The evening promises plenty of great food and drink, music and dancing, silent auction, and convenient parking.

This is the primary event to raise funds to provide costumes, technical support, and many other items needed to produce high quality student theatre productions at Highlands Middle School and Highlands High School.

Taste of the Season features an array of delicious tastings from local restaurants and other vendors, live music by The Leftovers, performances by the HHS theatre students, and one-of-a-kind silent auction.

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Dinner by the Bite is being provided by Fessler’s Pizza & Legendary Hoagies, Nittha Siam Kitchen, Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beer, Chick-Fil-A, Midway Café, Oakley Pub & Grill, York Street Café, and Colonel De’s Gourmet Herbs & Spices, to name a few.