Saturday, March 25, 2017

FTM Radio Podcast: Breaking Down What's Left of the Tournament

Will Chambers, ESPN Dallas. 

Will Chambers of ESPN Dallas talks about his relationship with Jim Nantz over the years and breaks down what's left of the brackets.

Including his picks for the Final Four.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fort Thomas Applies For Riverfront Trail Grant

The riverfront along Route 8 in Fort Thomas. FTM file. 
By Robin Gee

A new walking and hiking trail could replace an underutilized patch of city-owned property along the riverfront if all goes well.

The city of Fort Thomas agreed to back a request for a state Recreational Trails Program grant to turn what is currently a half-acre eyesore along Kentucky 8 into a natural looped trail.

Robert Yoder presented on a proposal to apply for the grant at the March City Council meeting. The Main Street director for Dayton, Kentucky, he is also a trails grant expert for Southbank Partners and is working on three similar grant requests for trails in Northern Kentucky.

The grant presents an excellent opportunity at this time, said Yoder, because the funding split has moved from a 50-50 to a more affordable 80-20 split. He estimates the entire project could run about $62,000, but the city’s share would be about $12,500. That amount could go down, he added, if volunteers helped with cleanup of the site.

The property is owned by the city and had been used for storage and staging in the past, but has been lying unused for several years. When Yoder surveyed the area, he saw potential under layers of discarded litter and underbrush.

The site has three levels, he says. The bottom is river beach with a flat middle level and a higher level going up to the highway. There is room for a kayak or canoe launch and for 5,800-feet of natural looped trail on the property.

The $62,000 estimated cost covers trail construction including bringing in some gravel and clay, cleaning up garbage, clearing dead brush and installing trail markers, signage, info kiosks, benches and four or five trash cans.

Four Overdose On Busy Fort Thomas Street, Revived With Narcan

A minivan that held four individuals who were overdosing on opioids is towed away, just down the street from the Fort Thomas Armory. FTM file. 
Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m., Fort Thomas Police were dispatched to S. Fort Thomas Avenue to a parked minivan that had multiple individuals inside who, according to witnesses, had appeared to be overdosing from narcotics.

According to Fort Thomas Police Lt. Rich Whitford, police discovered four individuals in a late model minivan. Police called for the life squad, who administered the life-saving drug, Narcan, to all four individuals in the vehicle. They were revived and taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital for further medical evaluations.

The four passengers of the van were all from Alexandria, Kentucky.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Clean Northern Kentucky to Prevent Drug Abuse and Protect Our Community

Free Drug Disposal Pouches Now Available to Help Families Safely Dispose of Medications

Rep. Addia Wuchner. 

Government officials, local drug prevention coalitions, local pharmacists and others gathered today to launch a new initiative to help Northern Kentucky residents safely dispose of any expired or un-needed medications, especially opioid pain medication and other narcotics, to help prevent misuse, abuse or addiction. To facilitate safe disposal, a total of 6,000 drug disposal pouches are now available for free to Northern Kentuckians at more than 30 locations, including all Kroger pharmacies in Northern Kentucky.

Using the pouches, individuals can safely dispose of medications at home.

“Just as drug addiction often begins in the medicine cabinet, our spring cleaning needs to start there as well,” said Rep. Addia Wuchner (R-Boone County), Chair of the House Committee on Health and Family Services and a Registered Nurse, who spearheaded the drug disposal pouch initiative. “Medication disposal pouches are safe, effective, easy to use and provide one more option to protect our communities by making sure that unused prescription pain medications and narcotics are disposed of safely and are not accidentally or intentionally misused.”

The drug disposal pouches were donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and use patented technology to neutralize the active ingredients in opioid painkillers and other drugs in pill, liquid and transdermal patch forms. A proprietary activated carbon bonds to pharmaceutical compounds when water is added, rendering the drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in any setting, including the home.

Momentum Builds For Fort Thomas Visioning Project

FTM file. 
By Robin Gee

Next steps in the development of a vision for Fort Thomas’s future was the topic of a discussion by city officials on Monday.

Mayor Eric Haas, City Administrator Ron Dill, council members and city staff met with planning consultants to hear ideas for how best to organize and proceed with the visioning process.

Mark Brueggemann of CT Consultants, an engineering and architect firm, and Chris Manning of Human Nature, landscape architects, presented ideas for how work could be divided, as well as a tentative schedule.

Both firms have expertise in urban development and planning and have worked closely with the city on other projects including Fort Thomas Forward, an urban design and streetscape plan developed in 2000-2001.

The consultants suggested six project committees, each covering a different area of vision planning:

Land Use and Zoning
Transportation and Connectivity
Parks and Open Space
Utilities and Infrastructure
Regional Partnerships
Funding and Implementation

The group discussed committee leadership and membership, and agreed that each committee would include a council member, city staff member and members of the community. Mayor Haas added that Fort Thomas is fortunate to have residents with interests and expertise in many of the areas covered by the committees.

Traffic Stop Ends in Struggle on Memorial Parkway

Newport and Fort Thomas Police swarmed the black Volkswagen yesterday on Memorial Parkway. FTM file. 
Yesterday on Memorial Parkway a traffic stop at 8:45 a.m. caused a backup as police attempted to stop a man accused of being under the influence of heroin just outside Stardust Lane in Fort Thomas.

Fort Thomas resident Thomas McGill was arrested and charges of DUI, Improperly being on the left side of the road, Resisting Arrest, and Possession of a Controlled Substance, 1st Degree (Heroin), and Failure To Produce Insurance Card.

A witnesses called in the possible intoxicated driver.

Campbell County Detention Center. 
Newport Police stopped McGill near Stardust Lane on Wednesday morning, after he was observed traveling around 5 miles per hour and crossing the center line. According to police records, once McGill got out of the car – which he stopped in the roadway – he could not maintain his balance and had extremely slow speech. Also according to the citation, McGill pulled away from the officer and reached for his jacket pocket, at which time he was subdued.

Other officers from Newport and Fort Thomas Police assisted in subduing McGill who continued to struggle. In his pocket, police found what they suspected to be heroin.

Top Shelf Lobby Names New Partner

Top Shelf Lobby announced today that Justin Clark is joining the firm as Partner, effective April 1, 2017. Clark most recently served in the Administration of Governor Matt Bevin as General Counsel for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Before joining the Bevin Administration, Clark was a partner in the Louisville office of Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, one of Kentucky’s oldest and largest law firms. His legal experience involved general and complex business litigation, insurance regulatory matters, healthcare litigation, construction law, antitrust litigation, intellectual property litigation, professional liability defense, and constitutional law. Louisville Magazine named Clark as one of its “Top Lawyers” from 2012-2016, and Clark’s peers rated him as “preeminent,” ranking him at the highest level of professional excellence for his knowledge, communication skills, and ethical standards.

“Top Shelf Lobby is excited to have Justin join our firm as partner,” said Top Shelf partner, Marc Wilson. “His skill sets, his legal experience and knowledge of the process in state government is a tremendous asset that will help grow our firm to the next level.”

What's Next For Highlands Soccer

Elevating Under Niedert; wants Bluebirds to Play Fearless Soccer

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Nick Gish (7) plays the ball against Beechwood last year. Gish is one of the returning starters promoted Head Coach Chad Niedert will be working with this fall.
Head coaches often say they want to leave the program in better shape than what it was when they took over.

Recently-promoted Highlands Bluebirds soccer head coach Chad Niedert found himself taking over a struggling program in his first head coaching stint in 2013 as the new head coach of the North Oldham Mustangs. The Mustangs struggled to a 5-12-2 season in 2012 losing in the first round of the 29th District to Oldham County, 3-0.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Naked Karate Girls To Play at Olde Fort Pub

The Naked Karate Girls. 
Fort Thomas becomes a music town when the weather gets warm.

Tuesday night concerts in Tower Park during the summer, a promised "big headliner band" for the city's 150th birthday celebration in July followed by a Bluesfest in September are just some of the acts that are coming to "the city of beautiful homes."

But with a question mark still behind the city's sesquicentennial main music act, it's possible that Friday night's surprise gig by the Naked Karate Girls at the Olde Fort Pub could be one of the most fun nights of the year.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. This is an advertisement. 
"We are all very excited and grateful to be hosting such an amazing and fun band for such a good cause," said Mike Arnzen, one of the owners of The Pub. "Katie Walters has worked tirelessly to put this all together."

The proceeds at the door will be donated to Henry Hosea House in Newport, which provides a safe environment for their clients with daily nutrition, support, healthy guidance and social interaction.

So how did this come about?

"The Naked Karate Girls reached out to me at the beginning of year about a possible charity show in northern Kentucky," said Walters, a Fort Thomas resident and Promotions Coordinator for Q102.

"After working on the event for several weeks, we decided on the Fort Thomas Pub. NKG's drummer, Glen Kukla, graduated from Highlands with me and Todd Hosea, so this gig is very special for us."

Todd Hosea's father David, started Henry Hosea House to honor his father.

This event for the Naked Karate Girls is special.

"The band has a fully booked schedule and normally play large venues," said Walters. "The fact that everything fell in place, makes this event even more amazing. It definitely is a "one night only" gig. A party like The Pub has never seen before."

What to know about the event:

Patrick Towles Shines at Pro Day

Patrick Towles at his Pro Day. 
Former Highlands quarterback, Patrick Towles, had a nice day for himself yesterday at the Boston College Pro Day where he and his college teammates worked out in front of pro scouts.

According to the website,, Towles turned in some athletic testing numbers then looked good throwing the ball.

This is an advertisement. 
"Towles measured 6047/241 pounds including a hand of 9.5 inches.  His vertical jump reached 33.5 inches, he touched 10-feet even in the broad then timed 4.59s in the forty.

Mike Dunn Golf Scholarship Outing Masters Thirty Years

Mike's family at the 29th annual outing (Mike Dunn Scholarship Fund)

On Friday June 9th a couple of hundred people will gather at AJ Jolly Golf course in Alexandria to play some golf and raise some money in memory of Fort Thomas resident Mike Dunn. That someone is so well liked and remembered that they inspire this kind of turnout is impressive, but what is truly amazing is that the tournament is now in it’s 30th year, which tells you how much people think of Mike and his family.

Jayson Dunn, Mike’s brother agrees: “It says a lot about how he was, that people still turn out in his memory after all these years. A lot of people who come annually never met him, but they feel like they know him through this event.”

Mike Dunn graduated from Highlands in 1982.

An outstanding athlete, Mike was a captain of both the football team and the baseball team, and after his senior year was headed to Georgetown College on a football scholarship. During his final year he broke his leg during a baseball game when a base runner slid into him. During the x-rays doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his leg.  He bravely fought cancer for 6 years but sadly passed away in 1988, never complaining and always with his usually happy-go-lucky outlook on life. Jayson remembers “He was always the same super-giving, wonderful person, even through his chemotherapy, which was pretty terrible back in those days.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grant County Needle Exchange Marks One Year

Creative Commons Photo. 
As northern Kentucky leaders grapple with where or whether to install needles exchanges across the three northern Kentucky counties, just south in Grant County, health officials are lauding the first year of operation.

According to a release sent by the Northern Kentucky Health Department, the Grant County syringe access exchange program has helped 130 people prevent infectious diseases spread through IV drug use. Services are offered on Wednesday afternoons at the Northern Kentucky Health Department’s Grant County Health Center in Williamstown, Ky.

Meet Samuel Woodfill: Common Man, Uncommon Soldier

Samuel Woodfill displays his Medal of Honor. 
A farm boy is not going to waste a shot when hunting. And that’s a lesson Samuel Woodfill learned at an early age on the family farm not far from Madison, Indiana. He did not have much formal education, but don’t be fooled by that. He was bright, observant, patient, calm under pressure, and knew his way around the woods. He was eager to join the military to perhaps follow in his father’s footsteps, a veteran himself.

After he joined the military Woodfill was stationed in the Philippines and Alaska before being stationed at Fort Thomas, where he met Lorena Wiltshire, who people said was a descendant of Daniel Boone. They married on Christmas Day of 1917 and called 1334 Alexandria Pike home. They had no children.

This is an advertisement. 
In the final months of WWI, Woodfill, under General Pershing’s command was now a first  lieutenant and in charge of a machine gun company, engaged in battle in France. The epic Battle of the Argonne Forest began on September 26, 1918 and lasted 47 days. It was the largest and bloodiest battle in US military history to date involving over a million US soldiers. The loss of life was extraordinary; the US lost over 26,000 soldiers while the Germans lost 28,000 soldiers in this extended battle alone. That would be like losing the entire population of Fort Thomas three and a half times in seven weeks.

But let’s stop the story here for a minute. Soldiers at the time were not trained in marksmanship. In fact, many soldiers did not even fire a weapon until they engaged in combat. So when a cool headed farm boy accustomed to being the patient hunter entered a combat situation, his prowess was revealed. And eventually honored.

Northern Kentucky Lawn Care | Yard Sharks | Tree Maintenance Northern Kentucky

The Tower Park Trail Shark. FTM file. 
By Rafe Fowee

Owner, Yard Sharks LLC, a Fort Thomas-based landscaping company. Yard Sharks is part of the #FTMFamily 

Fort Thomas is a beautiful, historic town with many mature tree–lined streets. While this is certainly beautiful to the eye and healthy trees are an asset to nature, these older trees can sometimes pose a dangerous threat to houses, vehicles, outbuildings, fences, and even people or pets in our community.

As we move into the spring, the frequency of storms and strong winds increase, which we have already seen this year. These storms can wreak havoc for homeowners. Yard Sharks has removed trees off of sheds, driveways, and even houses, after they have caused much damage following a storm. Most of these incidents can be prevented.

Owner, Rafe Fowee. Call him today at 859-640-9308.
A tree often has tell-tale signs of weakness or disease, such as splitting or cracks in the bark,  dark spots on tree branches where they split off from the trunk or other branches, or crowning (trees that have a lean,  resulting in the ground bulging on the opposing side of the lean). There are also more obvious signs of distress in trees, such as various limbs or an entire tree that won’t produce leaves. This is called dead wood. Any trees with weakness or disease can pose a serious threat.

Yard Sharks can take a look at your yard to help you identify any potentially hazardous trees, and we can discuss a plan to have these issues taken care of. You can save money, time, inconvenience, and damage to your property by allowing us to help you look for some of these warning signs now.

Yard Sharks consists of a highly skilled tree service crew, with each team member having a minimum of 10 years of experience in the tree industry. In addition to having a highly skilled team, we use reliable and up-to-date equipment, including rigging gear, lifts, bobcats, stump grinders, cranes, and more. We offer free consultations for any size tree job, big or small.

The positive feedback and support that we have received from the Fort Thomas community has encouraged us to continue to provide top-notch service for this upcoming season and many more years to come.  We are excited for the opportunity to serve this wonderful historic community once again.

Rafe Fowee was raised in Fort Thomas since the age of five. He attended Johnson Elementary School and Highlands Middle and High School and began working in the tree care and removal industry shortly after high school. 

He graduated from Northern Kentucky University with Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, but his true passion is working in the outdoors, and he started Yard Sharks, LLC, out of Fort Thomas.  

Says Fowee, "I am excited about the opportunity to provide lawn care and tree service to fellow residents of this historically beautiful town."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jeff Ruby To Recognize NKU's Season with Gift for Graduates

Restaurateur Will Give Steak Dinner To Graduating Seniors Of 7 Area Universities

Although the NKU Norse may not have beaten the University of Kentucky in their first round NCAA Tournament matchup earning 15,000 NKU undergrads a complimentary steak dinner as pledged by Jeff Ruby (, the Cincinnati restaurateur is still making good in a big way.

“These students, what they’ve accomplished is amazing.” Ruby said. “Although they didn’t win this particular game, we really felt compelled to reward them and their fellow students with something to honor their achievement.”

To do so, Ruby announced today his plans to offer each student graduating from NKU that free steak dinner – and will do the same for graduates each of the next 4 years. Additionally, Ruby has promised to extend the gift to yearly graduates from Xavier University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Vanderbilt. (Ohio State will follow next year after Ruby’s Columbus location opens in Fall 2017).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jim Nantz: "Scrappy" Is The Perfect Word To Describe NKU

Jim Nantz (CBS) and Mark Collier (Fort Thomas Matters). FTM file. 
When the final buzzer sounded after the 79-70 victory for the Kentucky Wildcats over the Northern Kentucky Norse and the stands had cleared, I decided to get one more glimpse of the court. I walked down the media tunnel and took a final scan.

Walking off the floor I turned around and saw one third of the CBS team who had been broadcasting the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

It was none other than Jim Nantz.

RELATED: See the game flow update.

Before the game, I asked my friend Chris Tomlin for some advice on how to handle myself in a pressroom of that magnitude. Tomlin is one of the founding voices for popular sports blog, Kentucky Sports Radio, which has since become one of the most popular sports sites in the nation, with radio affiliates across the state.

"Just act like you belong there and just live it up," he said.

There were no losers in the game. NKU qualified for the tournament in their first year of eligibility. They pushed mighty Kentucky to the brink. They displayed heart, made their region beam with pride and left it all on the court, beating Vegas' point spread by 11.5 points. They won fans. They now know they belong.

"You have to give NKU credit," said University of Kentucky coach, John Calipari. "They missed a bunch of threes that they normally make. Then they started making them in the second half and made it a ballgame. Hats off to John Brannen and the job he’s done at Northern."

UK Coach, John Calipari, answers questions after the game around 12:30 EST. He started his comments by saying, "We shouldn’t be playing this late. It’s (12:30) in the morning and we're playing basketball." FTM file. 
Back to Nantz.

Friday, March 17, 2017

University of Kentucky vs. NKU LIVE Feed

FTM file. 

Fort Thomas Matters is live from Indianapolis to cover the Northern Kentucky University Norse (15) versus the University of Kentucky Wildcats (2).

Be sure to follow up on Instagram, Snapchat (FtThomasMatters) and Twitter to get a behind the scenes look into the game.

Coach John Brannen said his team is excited about the opportunity to take on the blue blood Wildcats.

"Obviously, it's an honor to be here. For our guys it's been an outstanding year. You hear the word, Cinderella. It's something that takes place once you get to the dance. For us, it has't been like that throughout the regular season. 24-10, winning 121 of our last 14 and 9 out of our last 10. 

We talked about all year playing our best basketball when it got to March, and I fell like we've done that for the most part," he said.

Newport Central Catholic graduate, Drew McDonald said he'll remember this experience for the rest of his life.

"After the selection show, we really started to get down to business. We enjoyed the experience of Selection Sunday, but once we heard Kentucky we had a meeting right after that, that's when our business started."

For Brannen, he remembers the success of former coach and Fort Thomas resident, Ken Shields.

"I'm from northern Kentucky and I remember the two national championship finalist team in Division II. Those guys that played for those teams were guys I grew up with. Coach Shields calls me after every game, giving me a congratulatory message," he said. "Twenty years ago, NKU was a school that was not a destination school. It was where kids went to school who couldn't afford to go to Louisville or Kentucky. It's now a destination school."

The game is scheduled to tip at 9:40 from Banker Life Fieldhouse.

Two minutes until tip!

Fort Thomas Real Estate Peek: Former Bengal Andrew Whitworth, NKU President Geoff Mearns

NKU President Geoff Mearns home is for sale in Fort Thomas. 
Two high-profile Fort Thomas residents are leaving Fort Thomas after taking jobs in different cities and that means that two of the most sought-after pieces of Fort Thomas real estate are currently on the market.

Former Bengals left-tackle, Andrew Whitworth listed his home a week ago today for $1.25 million and NKU President Geoff Mearns put his home on the market on Tuesday for $920,000.

Whitworth, who signed a three-year deal worth $36 million by the Los Angeles Rams, already has a contract on his home to be purchased.

His listing describes a stunning gourmet kitchen with handcrafted Amish cabinetry, solid oak floors, five large bedrooms (all with attached baths), a large finished lower level with its own kitchen, an outdoor living room with a stone fireplace and large deck, dual staircases and more.

The home was built in 2008.

Former Bengal Andrew Whitworth, has a home for sale in Fort Thomas. It is now pending with a list price of $1.25 million. 
Conversely, Mearns' turn-of-the-century home was built by renowned architect, Samuel Hannaford, who designed Cincinnati Music Hall and City Hall.

Mearns, is leaving NKU take the same position at Ball State University.

Which home do you prefer?

See photos and take a look at Whitworth's listing here.

See photos and take a look at Mearns' listing here.

Redondo Taqueria Closes At Newport on the Levee

Newport on the Levee. WCPO. 
The turnover from Newport on the Levee continues with the closure of Redondo Taqueria, but it's not all bad news as one Axis Alley is expanding their space.

From our media partner, WCPO.

Redondo Taqueria has closed at Newport on the Levee so its neighbor Axis Alley can expand, according to Trifecta Management Group.

”It's a good, positive move," said Adam Kleinhenz, vice president of regional operations for Trifecta Management Group, which manages both Redondo and Axis. "We have found that Axis Alley event sales have done very well for us. This allows us to open the space up for more group and themed events."

The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central

Fort Thomas Central, Fort Thomas Ky
While people may move to Fort Thomas for the “beautiful homes” or the “blue ribbon schools”, most who stay end up doing so out of love for the “community”.  No single person is responsible for this community but if it could be bottled and sold, the curator would likely be none other than Barb Thomas, owner of Fort Thomas Central.  In her latest idea to inspire and encourage “community”, Barb will be opening up her lawn and encouraging community members to gather and, well, commune there.  While many business owners hang signs proclaiming “No Loitering”, Thomas hangs proverbial welcome signs and wants you to do nothing but.  In an interview with Thomas about her latest idea, called “The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central”, Thomas reveals her motivation:

Fort Thomas Matters (FTM): How did you come up with the idea for the lawn?

Thomas: I've been working on a business model involving community, food trucks and events for several months now but finding the perfect location for the new concept has proven to be a challenge.  I've considered properties in surrounding areas but I am set on Fort Thomas.  After months of an unsuccessful search for the perfect location, I have decided to tweak the original business model to coincide with Fort Thomas Central and my current location.

FTM: What do you hope for The Lawn to become?
Thomas: We hope to use the front lawn of the property, owned and supported by Brad Fennell, to create a gathering place (in the center of town) for folks to meet up, take a rest, enjoy pop-up food trucks, events, live music, giant Jenga, corn hole, play dates/birthday parties, outdoor seating with umbrellas and old school community fun.

FTM: How can interested people participate or help you in making this be a success?

Thomas: We welcome the entire community to come together and help.  I am working with Alison Murphy of “Branch Out Design” to create a community friendly lawn with activity areas and curb appeal.  We will be doing a lot of the landscaping and curb appeal ourselves and could use a few extra sets of hands.  Those who are interested in helping, please email me at

FTM: What's your goal to accomplish with The Lawn?

Thomas: My goal is to bring community energy to the Towne Center on a daily basis.  Art Around Towne, The Holiday Walk and miscellaneous small business events have helped tremendously to bring the community outside and to take advantage of our beautiful Towne Center.  The goal for The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central is to offer an inviting and family-friendly place, on a daily basis, during the warmer months where folks can gather and enjoy each other and the community.

FTM: Have you seen any similar ideas such as this take place elsewhere?

Thomas: I've visited similar business models in Atlanta and Chicago but each model is different based on location and demographics.  I believe The Lawn business model will fit nicely with Fort Thomas because the concept is based around community.

FTM: Are any other Fort Thomas businesses participating in this concept?
Thomas: We plan to partner with fellow Fort Thomas Businesses, local artists/artisans and home businesses on events, charities, fundraisers, pop-ups, etc.   Working together is a win-win for the entire community.  The more the merrier!

FTM: What are your big plans for the kickoff event?
Thomas: The Lawn grand opening will be Friday, May 5th, 6-9pm.  Barney and The Howlers will be playing on the front porch, food trucks, giant Jenga, corn hole and a Derby Hat Contest!  There will be plenty of outdoor seating with umbrellas, soda and water for purchase; coolers welcome.  The rain-out date will be May 6th as a backup.

FTM: Do you have any other community ideas like this that you're hoping to do?
Thomas: I'm always thinking outside the box when it comes to community events and fundraisers.  I believe events help us connect as one community.  For now, I'm going to focus on The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central and continue to support Art Around Towne.   The date has been set for the 2nd Annual Gifting Back Bazaar for December 2, 2017 at the Highlander Event Center.  This will probably keep me busy until next year when the next event pop-ups!

Be sure to loiter, laugh, and lounge on May 5th at the first The Lawn @ Fort Thomas Central event to kickoff many nights of congregating as a community. And stop in Fort Thomas Central in the meantime to support Thomas’ community-engaged business.

Trust For Life Celebrated Through Real Life Triumphs in Campbell County

48,000 Receive Sight & Celebrated in March by KY Circuit Court Clerks

(LtoR) Ned, Brie and Milosh Kalapasev, Muse Watson and Kati Grady. FTM file. 
Northern Kentucky circuit clerks gathered Tuesday in Campbell County, along with actor Muse Watson and some local residents who have had their lives saved by receiving organs from others.

The event was to bring awareness to the program, Trust for Life,

"It's an important task that we undertake in this office," said Campbell County Circuit Clerk, Taunya Nolan Jack. "Nearly 1,000 Kentuckians are currently on waiting lists for life-saving organ transplants and some of these patients will die waiting.  Hundreds more are waiting for life-enhancing cornea and tissue transplants.  You can give hope simply by being a registered donor."

Watson, who is best known for his portrayals on NCIS, Prison Break and the I Know What You Did Last Summer trilogy said he got involved with the Trust For Life Program because he wanted to make a difference in people who normally woundn't have signed up to donate their organs.

"The people who refuse to sign up for this program probably look a lot like me," said Watson, with a raspy voice and rugged face. "The more people we can talk into letting the doctor make the decision, the better. The more people we'll be able to save. For people to say, 'well I've abused my body and it ain't no good' is not a good excuse anymore. I'm a 28-year recovering alcoholic. I suspect that my organs ain't no good, but I'm not going to make that decision when I pass. I'm going to let the doctor decide what can be used and what can't."

There are two easy ways to sign up to donate your organs.

You can place your name on the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry by visiting or you can enter your name on the registry when you renew your driver’s license at their Circuit Clerk’s office.

"While the number of donations and success rates have increased in recent years, so has medical science’s ability to save more lives with organ transplantation, as well as the need for donated organs and tissues," said Glenna Bertsch, of the Life Center and a kidney recipient.  "A single organ and tissue donor can help up to 50 people in need. It's so easy to sign up. Just say yes."

Two local recipients were in attendance in Fort Thomas resident, Kati Grady and seven-year old Milosh Kalapasev. 

Grady's father, Chris, donated a kidney to her on January 2, 1997. Her first kidney transplant was in 1994, which her body rejected five days later. She was on dialysis until her father could donate the kidney three years later. 

"This program is huge for eye and tissue donation. Twenty years ago when I had my transplant, it wasn't really talked about. Now it's something that is part of every day life. Trust for Life saves lives," she said. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mearns: NKU Got A Win With Senate Bill 153

Geoff Mearns. FTM file. 
Northern Kentucky University's first trip to the NCAA tournament wasn't the only good news the university received recently.

This week, the Kentucky House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul in the funding model for public universities and community colleges. Rather than a one-size-fits-all model, Senate Bill 153 will allocate money based on the success of schools in areas like graduation rates, numbers of degrees and credit hours earned, and student operation support.

For Kentucky’s public universities, the formula for performance-based funding will allocate 35 percent of funding based on student success, which will be measured by a number of criteria such as diploma production. Another 35 percent will be based on course completion, and the final 30 percent will be for student support operations.

Outgoing NKU President, Geoff Mearns, was excited about the bill.

RELATED: BREAKING: NKU President, Mearns, To Take Job at Ball State 

This email was sent to all NKU faculty and staff this afternoon, updating them on the passage of Senate Bill 153.

Charter school bill passes, goes to governor

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, (left) listens to Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, in the Senate. Legislative Research Commission file. 
The Kentucky Senate and House each voted today in favor of legislation to allow publicly funded charter schools to operate in Kentucky. The bill now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin, a supporter of charter schools, to be signed into law.

Fort Thomas representatives were split on the vote with Rep. Joe Fischer voting in favor of the bill while Sen. Wil Schroder voted against.

House Bill 520, sponsored by House Education Committee Chairman and public school teacher John Carney, R-Campbellsville, HB 520 would allow local school boards to authorize public charter schools in their school districts beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. The schools would established by contract and governed by independent boards to provide Kentucky residents with nonsectarian educational programs that “meet or exceed student performance standards adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education,” according to the bill.

The Senate voted 23-15 yesterday in favor of the bill. The House, which already approved a version of the legislation earlier this month, cast a 53-43 vote this evening officially accepting changes made to the bill by the Senate.

Changes to the bill approved by the Senate and the House would allow the state school board to override a local school board’s decision regarding authorization of charter schools and allow for judicial review of the state board’s decision. It would also allow mayors of the state’s two largest cities (Louisville and Lexington) to be authorizers of charter schools upon their request, and emphasize that only certified teachers and administrators approved by the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board could be hired to teach at the schools.

Other approved changes would allow, not require, charter schools to give enrollment preference to lower-income students, and would allow charter school students who cannot participate in state-sanctioned school athletics at their school to participate in sports at the traditional public school in their district, along with a few other changes.

Kentucky is one of seven states that do not already allow public charter schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, read from a Presidential Proclamation issued by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to make the case in support of charter schools in the Senate this afternoon. McDaniel quoted Obama’s proclamation as saying: “Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country.  These institutions give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models and develop creative methods to meet students' needs.”

In a House debate this evening, Carney said that that public charter schools will give Kentuckians a choice in public education.

“The reality is we have a system that does not work for every child in Kentucky. We teach to the middle,” he said. “Too many folks are being left behind.”

Among those voting against HB 520 was former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. Richards said that charter schools would be money-making ventures governed by what he described as “for-profit” companies.

“If you believe it’s unfair for a for-profit management company to take money away from your school system, you can’t vote for this bill. And it will. These management companies have to make money, folks,” said Richards.

Following passage of HB 520, the House voted 61-34 for final passage of House Bill 471, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah. That bill would amend the 2016-2018 executive branch budget to create a funding mechanism for charter schools created under HB 520.

Bills to allow charter schools in Kentucky have been filed for consideration in the Kentucky General Assembly since 2008. No charter school bills have passed the House until this year.

How the Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus voted:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Highlands Tennis Coach Named 2016 Coach of the Year

(L-R) Kris Laskey, Peter Laskey, Meredith Laskey.
Highlands High School tennis coach Kristin Laskey has been recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) as Coach of the Year for the 2016 season. Coach Laskey is one of 530 coaches nationwide to be recognized and is the representative for Kentucky.

Laskey has been the tennis head girls coach at Highlands High School for the past six years and the head coach for both boys and girls teams for the past three seasons.

Under her leadership, the girls teams won 10th Region team championships in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the boys teams won 10th Region team titles in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, the program has seen a girls individual state runner-up in 2014,  a girls state singles semi-finalist in 2012 and 2015, a doubles state semi-finalist in 2014 and a girls team state semi-finalist in 2016.

Vitae Viride To Open in Fort Thomas

Emily Little, owner of Vitae Viride, has signed a lease for her business at 118 N. Fort Thomas Avenue. She was painting the morning Fort Thomas Matters came to interview her. FTM file. 
Brown paper has lined the windows at 118 N. Fort Thomas Avenue since The Polished Pearl moved out of the space in January. The space, next to Fort Thomas Coffee and just down the road from the Fort Thomas city building, is a place that's been getting a lot of people talking.

Fort Thomas Matters was invited to peak into what's happening behind the paper and at the familiar face that will run the new retail shop.

The name of the new shop is Vitae Viride and is owned by Fort Thomas resident, Emily Little. She lives in Fort Thomas with her daughter, who goes to kindergarten at Woodfill Elementary. The shop will sell and manufacture all-natural personal care products and cosmetics like soaps, lotions, facial masks and deodorant.

Vitae Viride, which translates into "life" and "green", will open on April 8th.

Brown paper lined the storefront in the former Polished Pearl space. FTM file. 
Little has been operating a small business called Queen City Alchemy for the past eight years out of her home. If that name sounds recognizable, it's because she's been a part of Art Around Towne, Fort Thomas Central's Gifting Back Bazaar and previously the Fort Thomas Farmers' Market.

House and Senate Move to Keep Kentucky Bourbon Kentucky Born

Four Roses Distillery. FTM file. 
Last week, the Kentucky State Senate passed a bill that will tighten the Kentucky whiskey requirements and limit the Kentucky label to whiskey produced from grains that are cooked, fermented, and distilled in Kentucky. The bill was championed by Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown.

In addition, House Bill 100 also lays out requirements for being considered a Kentucky vintage distilled spirit.  Specifically, the whiskey has to be in its original, unopened container and not owned by a distillery.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jeff Ruby to Reward 15,000 Students With Steak Dinner If NKU Beats UK

Legendary Restaurateur Continues To Support Community In Ways Only He Can

Jeff Ruby. FTM file. 
Jeff Ruby ( has pledged to buy a steak dinner at any of his iconic steakhouses for every current Northern Kentucky University undergrad student if the Norse beat the University of Kentucky in their first round NCAA matchup this Friday in Indianapolis.

This marks NKU’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in just their first year of Division I eligibility and Ruby wanted to recognize the achievement.

“It’s just incredible what they’ve done with their program,” Ruby said. “To climb into Division I and then make the tournament in their first year is unbelievable. I wanted to do something big to reward them – what’s better than offering a steak dinner to every student to celebrate a first round win?”

Although Ruby is both a fan of Kentucky as well as a personal friend of UK Coach John Calipari, he doesn’t believe there is a conflict of loyalties in offering this incentive to the upstarts at NKU.

“I’m currently putting my surrogate son, Griffin Urlage (now a 2nd year student), through NKU and continue to be very impressed with this school.” Ruby said. “NKU is virtually in our back yard and we’ve watched it grow at an amazing rate since we started building our own businesses in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in 1981. It’s a true success story and they’re just getting started.”

Should the Norse topple the #2 seed Wildcats on Friday night, Ruby estimates the cost of providing a full steak dinner to 15,000 college students may well exceed $1 million.

“Yes, this could get very expensive.” Ruby admits with a smile. “But it’s important to me to show support to our hometown organizations. NKU is a real asset to the community as they continue to produce extraordinary talented leaders for our region and beyond.”

The high-steaks game is scheduled for Friday, March 17, 2017 at 9:40PM at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN and will be broadcast on CBS.

About Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouses have earned an extraordinary national reputation for delivering impeccable total dining experiences. Including Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouses in Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville & Columbus (opening Fall 2017) and Carlo & Johnny and The Precinct in Cincinnati, OH, Ruby’s iconic eateries have earned national accolades recognizing not only their popularity, but consistently high standards. Recent awards include recognition by Wine Spectator , USAToday, Travel + Leisure, OpenTable and many others. A new location in Lexington, KY is currently in the planning stages.

Highlands’ Mock Trial Team Wins State Title

Team to represent Kentucky in national competition in Hartford, CT

Mock Trial championship team (L-R) Sam Lorenz, Dustin Parsons, Payton Epperson, Christie Kremer, Kayla Groneck, Erin Gray and Edwin Vardiman. Not pictured: Abby Staab.
Highlands High School Mock Trial team won the state championship on Sunday, March 5, 2017.  Team members are Christie Kremer, Erin Gray, Payton Epperson, Dustin Parsons, Edwin Vardiman, Sam Lorenz, Kayla Groneck and Abby Staab.

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) hosted the 2017 Kentucky High School Mock Trial Tournament on March 3-5, 2017. The tournament began at EKU in Richmond and then moved to the Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington.

The state tournament is a five-round competition where teams argue fictitious court cases and alternate their role as either plaintiffs or defendants as they progress through rounds. Team performances are judged by a panel comprised of attorneys and law students. This year, 26 teams competed with Highlands advancing through the rounds and ultimately defeating Louisville Collegiate School in the championship round with a nine-judge unanimous decision.

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The team will represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the 2017 National High School Mock Trial Championship on May 11-13, 2017, in Hartford, CT.

Michael Hils, Highlands High School social studies teacher and Mock Trial sponsor, credits the remarkable support of the attorneys and law students who volunteer to coach the team. Connie Kremer, Highlands graduate and long-time Mock Trial volunteer coach stated, “As coaches, we are fortunate to work with students of such a high caliber. We are incredibly proud of our students' performance this season, and ask for continued support from the community as we prepare for Nationals.”

We are proud of the team and commend them for their work in preparing for this very competitive tournament,” stated Brian Robinson, Highlands High School principal. “I am confident that this group of talented and dedicated students will represent Kentucky very well in the national competition.”

The Mock Trial program offers students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the legal practices and procedures of our judicial system while also refining their critical thinking and communication skills.

C. C. Weber: The Man Who Designed Fort Thomas

St. Andrew's designed by C. C. "Doc" Weber.
If Samuel Bigsatff was the heart of development in Fort Thomas then Christian Clay (C. C.) Weber created the city’s face in the early part of the Twentieth Century. Weber, nicknamed “Doc”, and his brother Edward owned the Weber, Weber, and Adkins architectural firm in Cincinnati which they later moved to central Fort Thomas. They designed and/or built around 130 buildings in several neighborhoods in Fort Thomas. And like Bigstaff, he is a name we should know.

Weber was more than a designer of homes. He designed churches, civic buildings, schools, but he is perhaps most famous for designing the Governor’s mansion in Frankfort. It is a stunning Renaissance design built in 1914. He also designed about a dozen buildings for eastern Kentucky University between 1909 and 1940.

He designed many of the iconic buildings in Fort Thomas like Highlands High School, the old Woodfill Elementary School and its twin building at Johnson Elementary School, Ruth Moyer Elementary School, the Masonic Lodge, the First Baptist Church, Christ Church, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Hiland Theater, and the 915 (formerly Enslen’s Grocery), a few apartment/business buildings at Inverness, as well as a few more business buildings. These are among the most recognizable structures in town. The schools and churches carry about them a stateliness or grandeur that elevates the spirit. He clearly understood the influence of architecture on the human spirit.

2017 Highlands Softball Preview

Ladybirds hope to build on solid foundation

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Brooke Dill makes the defensive gem against Dixie Heights last year. Dill is one of three returning starters for the Ladybirds.
Head Coach Rob Coffey knew this time would eventually come.

Monday, March 13, 2017

BREAKING: Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent To Retire

Gene Kirchner

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent Gene Kirchner to Retire. See the below letter:

Dear Board of Education Members,

It is with mixed emotion that I write this letter to inform you of my intent to retire effective June 30, 2017. After 34 years in public education, it simply makes sense for me to move onto the next chapter in life's journey. However, please know that this has not been an easy decision. The community of Fort Thomas is such a special place, and I have thoroughly enjoyed these past five years.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as superintendent in Kentucky's finest public school district. I am incredibly proud of the work that we have accomplished together. My hope is that each of you are equally as proud. I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for entrusting me with the well-being of our community's most precious asset, it's children.

I assure you that until June 30, I will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of our students and staff in order to ensure that FTIS is well positioned for a seamless transition to a new superintendent. I take comfort in the fact that our district is financially sound and our brand image is very strong. It's time for new leadership to build on the solid foundation that we have collectively established. I have no doubt that far greater accomplishments lie ahead for Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

It has truly been a pleasure to serve with each of you.


Gene Kirchner

Story Matters: Six Amazing Stories That Will Change the Way You See Your Neighbors

It’s time for another Story Matters this Thursday, March 16 at 7:00 PM at Fort Thomas Coffee. This month’s speakers include Gary Simon, Ally Cox Allesandro, Casey Gesenhues, Bradley Younger, Maryanne Zelesnik, and Molly Hardin.

As we move ever closer to the 150th birthday of Fort Thomas in July we at Fort Thomas Matters want to celebrate our rich history and depth of character (and characters) with a story series, similar to Cincy Stories, where people in the community have the opportunity to tell a story that reveals a deeper universal truth. Chuck Keller, one of the organizers, says, “We believe that a community defines itself by the stories it tells. And, boy, do we have great stories to tell.” 

Call Ashley. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
Why stories? A person, family, community, and nation are defined by their stories. And stories come naturally to all of us. After all, that is what we do when we get together. We tell stories - about vacations, sports, challenges, wins, losses, heartbreak, change, discovery, dreams, work, and play - and more. We are the stories that we tell. Story Matters is a community event to share and define who we are in Fort Thomas in a fun and engaging evening and it’s always free.

Each of the event’s six storytellers has ten minutes to relate their stories. Speakers are engaging, thoughtful, funny, and ultimately revealing.  The event shares our collective experiences and bring us together as a community to learn from each other and, even though we do not share the same experiences or have the same points of view or backgrounds, we share more than we think.  Keller says that, “When we share our stories, we share an experience that makes us stronger.” 

Story Matters

at Fort Thomas Coffee
Thursday, March 16
7:00 PM

Campbell County Republicans Shuffle Their Leadership

The Campbell County Republican Party met on Saturday, March 11, 2017 to reorganize the party leadership. 

The Campbell County Republican Party met on Saturday, March 11 at Northern Kentucky University to select their next leadership executive board.

There has been a rift growing between two different groups within the party.

RELATED: Campbell County Republicans To Change Leadership Amid Party Turmoil 

The meeting began shortly after 10:00 a.m., when the party elected 106 precinct officers, who then in turn, voted for the five executive committee members. When 4th District Chairman, Troy Sheldon, banged his gavel just after noon, the party had shifted.

WES Talks: Community Experts Inspiring Parents to Inspire Kids

Community members will gather at Woodfill Elementary to help parents prepare their children for the 21st century.

Some of the community's most influential members are gathering at Woodfill Elementary Monday night, March 20th, to give 3- to 5-minute speeches about how to best prepare students for the 21st century. It's like TED talks and all parents, Woodfill or not, are invited.

The idea was born out of teachers and administrators at Woodfill Elementary who wanted to host a parent night to talk about the direction they were leading the school. Rachel Caswell, Woodfill's school counselor, came up with the idea of talks similar to TED talks—different experts spreading inspiring messages about 21st century skills.

"Having viewed many TED talks over the years I thought the concept was something unique that we could offer to our families while at the same time getting a diverse set of speakers that all will echo a similar message of preparing our students for success beyond the classroom academics," says Principal Keith Faust.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Fort Thomas Real Estate | Fort Thomas Lot For Sale

The lot to the left is for sale right now. Call Rob Beimesche to see it. 859-240-3219. 
It's no secret that the Fort Thomas real estate market is as hot as it's ever been.

"I was raised in Fort Thomas and I've been a realtor for 14 years. I can never remember the market being as competitive as this," said Rob Beimesche, realtor for Huff Realty.

Beimesche said he's got a lot in the Johnson school district within walking distance to Highlands.

"It's truly a hidden treasure at 101 Taylor Avenue that is over a third of an acre," he said of the property.

The shaded "P" to the left of the picture is the lot that is for sale. 

RELATED: See the details: 101 Taylor Avenue.

"When I talk to my clients they are always saying that in the current market there are not enough bathrooms, rooms are too small, not enough bathrooms, they have leaky basements,  you don't get closets and rarely do you get open concepts," he said.

There are very few places to build in Fort Thomas right now.

"A new build will give you updated features, mechanics, the things that the market desires," he said.

Picture this:

A long driveway leading to your brand new house that's surrounded by woods and that gives you the privacy that many desire.  Pick your own builder and build it to your specifications.

The price of the lot is $90,000. Call Rob Beimesche at 859-240-3219.


Rob Beimesche of Huff Realty is part of the #FTMFamily.