Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Here's What's on the Agenda for the Fort Thomas Community Plan | October 17, 6:00 p.m. | Mess Hall

The next step for Fort Thomas' Community Plan is set to take place Wednesday, October 17. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

A full agenda is below:

RELATED: Fort Thomas Visioning Effort Presented to Council (Jan. 2017) 
RELATED: City Visioning Kicks Off (Sept. 2017)
RELATED: Share Your Vision for Fort Thomas (Dec. 2017)
RELATED: First Fort Thomas Public Hearing (Jan. 2018)
RELATED: Fort Thomas Community Plan Open House (June 2018) 

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See the Draft plan here.

The agenda for the Public Hearing on Wednesday, October 17 at the Mess Hall to review the Community Plan and receive public comment is as follows:

-        Doors open at 6:00 pm for an open house and review of the Community Plan

-        At 6:30, a 30-minute presentation will begin reporting on key points of the plan.  It will highlight Land Use and Zoning, Transportation and Connectivity, Parks and Open Space, Utilities and City Owned Facilities, Regional Partnerships and lastly, Funding and Implementation.

-        Once the presentation is complete, there will be an approximate 30 minute period where the attendees can breakout and talk with the City and design team.  We will be spread around the room similar to the other open houses.  This will allow attendees to check out individual chapters of the plan, review the entire plan or ask questions one on one.

-        At approximately 7:30, the Planning Commission will formally open up their Public Hearing to receive comments on the Community Plan.  This will be the opportunity for the public to make a comment that is recorded in front of the Planning Commission.  The Mess Hall will be setup with the Planning Commission in front of the audience, along with a microphone for people to speak into.

The Fort Thomas Community Plan is available on-line for review at www.ftcommunityplan.com.

Michelle Snodgrass: Why I'm Running for Commonwealth Attorney

By Michelle Snodgrass 

I am running because this is my home. I look at the people of Campbell County I see my former teachers, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. You, the people of this community, are the reason I chose to continue my work as Commonwealth Attorney.

When I began as a prosecutor in Campbell County 18 years ago, I felt a responsibility to protect the community that had always protected me. Yet 18 years later, that sense of responsibility has not faded. It’s only grown stronger, and that is exactly why I am seeking re-election.

As your Commonwealth Attorney, I have established an office that true criminals fear, one that puts the safety of our community first, and one where victims can come to seek justice. The felony cases that come before me are the most serious crimes in Kentucky, so we work to ensure that these crimes are punished with an equally serious penalty. I have a message to the drug dealers of the region: not here – not in our county. If you sell drugs in Campbell County, where our citizens drive and our children play, there is only one sentence coming from my office: prison time. My office secured the first jury verdict in Kentucky finding an individual guilty of the new crime of Importing Heroin (bringing heroin from Ohio to sell in Campbell County). My reputation for being tough on drug traffickers is no secret in criminal circles, as countless defendants have remarked that they “shouldn’t have crossed the river.”

The heroin epidemic facing our region is unprecedented, and its effects have rippled into our every-day lives. We must fight this, and we must win. It has never been more vital to our community to have an experienced prosecutor in office to meet this challenge head-on, and my two decades battling drug crimes have prepared me for it. I have been a board member with the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, I founded the Campbell County Drug Task Force, and I have put countless drug dealers in prison. This success is a result of working together with the many talented police officers in our county. They know that it is imperative to have an experienced prosecutor as your Commonwealth Attorney. I am honored to be the only candidate for Commonwealth Attorney to have received the endorsement of the Campbell County FOP Lodge 10.

In 2015, I successfully petitioned the state for increased funding to address the heroin issue that was plaguing our community. I created and instituted a “Rocket Docket” program that’s main focus is to efficiently review every drug possession case and get those individuals into drug treatment. As a result of my program, hundreds of individuals have been placed into treatment facilities, reducing incarceration costs and saving taxpayers money. My program was identified as one of the most successful of its kind in Kentucky, and the savings to the taxpayers of Campbell County have been calculated to be over $2.7 million.

The Commonwealth Attorney is also responsible for being the voice of crime victims in the courtroom.  One is never truly the same after being a victim of crime. They say that time heals all wounds; after two decades, I have found this to be untrue. You cannot erase memories. Whether it was a physical or sexual assault or a home invasion, crime victims do not recover from their trauma; they become survivors of it. As the Commonwealth Attorney, I cannot give them their old life back, but I can give them one thing: justice. When a criminal victimizes one of our fellow citizens, it is personal for me. In recent months, my office has obtained life sentences for both a serial burglar and a murderer after hard-fought jury trials.

To some, this is just a political position. To me, it’s much more than that; it’s a calling. Simply put, there’s too much at stake; for our county, for our children, for all of us. Being Commonwealth Attorney is not something you can learn overnight and with what we’re facing as a community, experience has never mattered more.

Crime is not going away. I have fought it in this county for the last 18 years, and I’m asking for your vote so that I can fight it for 6 more.

If you are ever the victim of a crime, I guarantee that you will want the most experienced prosecutor on your side. Take the word of someone who has experienced it first-hand.

The following is written on behalf of Michelle Snodgrass by Jay Poston:

I am the father of a murdered son – Ryan Carter Poston. Ryan was my only child.  He was my everything.  It is a parent’s worst fear realized when your child takes their last breath before you take yours.  The death of your child, even more so the murder of your child, casts a shadow that never leaves you.  It invades your sleep and haunts your will to live.

Within days of Ryan’s murder, I had my first of what would become six years of meetings with Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass.   I tried to approach that initial meeting as though it were a job interview for Michelle.   Prosecuting murder is serious business, and those of us who love Ryan had already been violated once. Think of the added violation it would be to have a young, inexperienced prosecutor seeking justice for your murdered child.   Commonwealth Attorney is the last place the citizens of Campbell County would want on the job training.

While my grief over the murder of my son was consuming, my burning passion and new focus was seeking and attaining justice for my beautiful and kind-hearted child.  As with many in Campbell County who had never been touched by violent crime, I knew little of Michelle.  I was aware of her father, Jack Snodgrass, an admired public servant to the people of Campbell County and a good man.  I was hoping that apple had not fallen far from the tree.  It hadn’t.

To me, justice is not a partisan issue.  Michelle’s party affiliation meant nothing to me.  Why waste time talking about or campaigning on that which has no bearing in the prosecution of a criminal.  I did not.  It would have served my purpose just as well if I had asked Michelle her favorite color. Politics is an irrelevant issue with Michelle Snodgrass.  She is without question the least political person I have ever met.  A word to the wise – one calls Michelle a ‘politician” at their peril.  She will quickly correct you that she is not a politician; she is, like her father, a public servant.

My very first question to Michelle was about her prosecutorial experience.  I learned she earned her position of Commonwealth Attorney the old-fashioned way – she worked her way from Assistant Commonwealth Attorney to Chief Assistant to Commonwealth Attorney.  It took years of training, hard work and sacrifice. It is dangerous and foolish to think simply by being elected Commonwealth Attorney you are prepared for the responsibilities of the job.

In that first meeting with Michelle, a fighter was at the top of my list of qualities I was looking for in the person who would prosecute the murderer of my son. Michelle is and was that fighter.  Make no mistake, that courtroom is a battlefield.  The stakes are literally life and death, justice and travesty.  Everyone should demand a prosecutor who is tough, experienced, competent and passionate about justice for you, your loved ones and your neighbors.

Over six years, two trials and nine defense lawyers, Michelle Snodgrass battled these highly paid and experienced adversaries. In each trial, our homegrown prosecutor carried the day for justice for my family and all the citizens of our county.

In that courtroom, Michelle is Ryan’s voice.  In that courtroom, she protects and defends Ryan’s good name and honor.  And in a beautiful way, in that courtroom, Michelle Snodgrass is not only a prosecutor doing her job; she is also a loving, protective parent watching over my child.   I am the childless father of a murdered son.  Michelle Snodgrass and her experienced team vindicated the good name and honor of my child when twelve good citizens of Campbell County found the murderer of my son guilty of murder and recommended a sentence of life in prison.

The birth of my son Ryan was the greatest gift given to me.  My son’s soul being able to rest in peace is the second greatest gift given to me in my life.  We who love Ryan are eternally grateful for the hard work, dedication and commitment Michelle Snodgrass brings to her job, her calling, every day of her life.  I thank God for Michelle’s belief in my son’s right to life.

To my friends, to my neighbors and to the citizens of Campbell County – this election is not about electing a politician.  It is about re-electing a prosecutor, and as my father would say, a damn good one – Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass.

Justin Fortner: Why I'm Running for Commonwealth Attorney

By Justin Fortner 

I’m running for Commonwealth Attorney to make a difference.  My father spent thirty years as a prosecutor both in Kenton and Campbell Counties.  I grew watching him take pride in his work and serve his community.  My dad wasn’t in the Courtroom to get convictions, he was there to get justice.  Inspired by my dad, I entered the practice of law.  In that time, I have spent countless hours in the courtroom representing clients in front of juries, before the bench and by working out a compromise with the other side.  I’m not a one dimensional attorney, I’ve practiced in both State and Federal Court, in numerous matters both big and small.

Regardless of what Court I may be practicing in on a given day, the purpose remains the same, to get justice for my clients.  I can take those skills into the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and put them to work on day one.

I’m running because our county deserves a choice.  Many in Campbell County probably cannot remember the last time that they had a voice in who would represent them in the office of Commonwealth Attorney.  The incumbent was chosen by a Liberal Democrat governor and has not been on the ballot in a contested race.   I believe that the values of Campbell County are common sense conservative values and that is what I strive to represent.

I’m running to give the people of Campbell County an office that is fiscally responsible and is able to provide a higher level of services at a lower cost.  I plan to attract some of the best and brightest legal minds in the area to public service by giving them the opportunity to serve in a part-time, contract capacity while retaining fewer full-time prosecutors.  This would allow attorneys to retain their successful private civil practices and put their skills to work for the county.  Contract employees would save the County a significant amount of money by eliminating pension contributions and health insurance costs.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serving the people of Campbell County as your next Commonwealth Attorney.

Monday, October 15, 2018

How to Navigate Medicare Open Enrollment | Suzanne Janosick | Medicare My Way

Suzanne Janosick has been in the health insurance industry for 13+ years.  She is an independent insurance broker with MEDICARE MY WAY located in Fort Thomas.  Suzanne specializes in Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans, Part D (drug plans), and Medicare Advantage (Part C).

Independent Advice.
When you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare you need an unbiased advocate to help select a plan that meet your needs and budget.  As an independent broker, I have access to most Medicare insurance providers.  I do not represent just one single insurance company.  My goal is to present all options from several companies to help my clients choose the most affordable plan to meet their needs.

Why is MEDICARE MY WAY Different?
Medicare My Way donates to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation each time we enroll a new Medicare beneficiary.

Is there a cost to use your service?
You pay ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for my service or consultation. I am paid by the insurance companies that I represent.  Whether my clients are turning 65 and need help explaining the complexities of Medicare in simple terms or just simply need my help enrolling them into a plan, I can assist with no additional fees.

Where are you located?
My office is in Fort Thomas.  I have clients that appreciate that they have a local consultant to help them sort through all the options they are presented with. Regardless of how much or how little assistance is needed, I can discuss options in person, email, or phone.
Medicare Annual Enrollment October 15 – December 7.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period will soon be upon us (October 15th – December 7th).  Your mailbox will be bombarded with advertisements. Every time you turn on the television you hear another commercial about Medicare! It is by far the most confusing time of year for most Medicare beneficiaries. I can help break it down in simple terms!

Are you wondering what you SHOULD be doing for 2019?

Is your Medicare supplement plan priced well compared to the competition?  How will your drugs be covered on your Part D plan next year?  What changes are in store for your Medicare Advantage plan in 2019?   I can help make sure you are informed on what plans are being offered and decide on a plan that is right for you!  Let me help you choose your Medicare Supplement … your way!

Suzanne Janosick 
Licensed Health Insurance Agent
155 N. Fort Thomas Avenue
Fort Thomas, Kentucky 

County Attorney: Don't Steal, Deface Political Signs

By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Note: This article ran in April 2018, before the Primary Election. 

Soon, political campaigns will be going through the arduous task of putting up political signs.

Many people seem to feel that taking or damaging a political sign is not a criminal offense but rather that it just a common occurrence in the territory of political campaigns.  However, that is not the case.  A theft of a political sign is no different than the theft of any other personal property.  Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of theft by unlawful taking if he takes or exercises control over moveable property of another with intent to deprive that person of the property.  This would certainly include political signs as well as any other property.  Taking a political sign out of someone’s front yard is no less of a theft than taking a chair off of the porch.

Theft of property under Kentucky law is a Class A misdemeanor if the item has a value of less than $500.00 dollars punishable by up to a fine of $500.00 and up to a year in jail.

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Kentucky also has a law that provides that a person is guilty of criminal mischief in the third degree when, having no right to do so, or any reasonable ground to believe that he has such right, he intentionally or wantonly defaces, destroys or damages any property.  This law would also apply to damaging, destroying or defacing political signs as well as to damaging other personal property.  Examples of this would include defacing the sign by spray painting over it.  Such conduct would constitute criminal mischief in the third degree under Kentucky law which is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to a fine of $250.00 and up to ninety days in jail.

During the upcoming campaign season prior to the election on November 6th all candidates and their workers and supporters should understand that defacing or taking political signs is criminal conduct and will be prosecuted as such.  It is certainly frustrating and aggravating to put so much time and work into putting up political signs only to have them damaged or stolen.  All campaigns should be respectful of each other and all the hard work involved in campaigning including but not limited to the placement of political signs.

Moreover, no candidate or campaign has the right to place their political signs in the public right of way.  Political signs or for that matter, any signs placed in the public right of way are a nuisance and potentially dangerous.  Such signs will be lawfully removed by the local jurisdiction responsible for the right of way.

Derek Durbin: Why I'm Running for Campbell County Circuit Court Judge (District 2)

By Derek Durbin 

The word “home” is more complex than it seems. It not only means the physical structure where you live, but it means your street, your neighborhood, your city, your county. “Home” can mean a group of friends reliving memories, it can mean Sunday dinner with the family, or it could even mean simply standing alone in an empty field watching the sun set.

It is a word that escapes simple definition because the word “home” is truly an expression of emotion. It is a word that describes that which we hold dear in our hearts.

For me, home means Campbell County.

And as it is my home, it is something that I am compelled to serve.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because Campbell County deserves a judge who has the right experience for the position.

As a lawyer, my career has been focused and concentrated as a trial attorney in Campbell County’s courthouse. Hardly a week has gone by where I have not been litigating some matter in our courthouse. I began my career as a public defender representing people in criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies. After thousands of cases, including countless felonies, I moved into private practice. I joined, and still serve on, Campbell County’s Neglect/Abuse panel where I am appointed to protect our community’s children from horrible and nightmarish situations. I am the attorney who is appointed to represent the children born addicted to drugs, to children whose parents have drug addiction issues, to children who have been abused.

I also served Campbell County as a prosecutor. I not only prosecuted cases, but I fielded calls from officers at all hours of the day and night to answer questions; I sat in rooms listening to children describe in detail their abuse; I accompanied police on drug raids; and, I assisted with the investigation of serious felony matters including armed robbery to murder. I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I have the right experience.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because our community deserves a judge who understands the drug epidemic and is committed to combatting it.

When I began practicing, crack cocaine plagued our streets. Pain pills replaced crack cocaine. Heroin replaced pain pills. Now, we are seeing methamphetamine use creep into our community. Having practiced in the field for so long, I have a deep understanding of the drug crisis. I understand that people become addicted to drugs for a variety of reasons – ignorant experimentation that becomes an addiction; an injury that leads to an addiction to opioids; and, people with mental health issues who self-medicate and become addicted, among other reasons. I understand the value of treating addicts so long as they pose no threat to public safety. Campbell County is fortunate to have three alternative Courts to address these issues – Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans’ Court. No judge is required to participate in these programs. I commit myself to working with these courts to help addicts who pose no threat to public safety become productive members of society again. Further, I understand that my experience does not make me an expert in the field of drug addiction, and I commit to maintaining an open door for doctors, counselors, and others to discuss methods that can be used to try and get people clean and keep them clean and sober. I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I understand the epidemic and am committed to combatting it.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because our community deserves a judge who has the right demeanor and the integrity for the position.

As Campbell County’s next Circuit Court Judge, I will ensure that the law is evenly and fairly dispensed. I believe that the law is as it is enshrined in our Constitution and written by our legislature. As judge I will not stray from the letter of the law, even if it means a result with which I personally disagree. I will ensure that the courtroom is a place where disputes are settled without bias. I am not beholden to politicians, to corporate interests, or to elite interest groups. I will not base my decisions on relationships or friendships outside of the courtroom, or on who is representing the individual. I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I have the right demeanor and integrity.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because Campbell County deserves a public servant who is committed to being fiscally responsible.

I have worked in both the private and public realms. In the private realm, one works to come under budget and to be fiscally responsible. In the public realm, I have witnessed managers spend money unnecessarily at the end of the year to ensure that all of the money is spent. In the private realm, excess moneys are used to improve the business. In the public realm, excess moneys are spent to ensure that more money is received the next year. As judge I will implement measures to ensure that public money is not spent unnecessarily. I will do this by implementing technological improvements in the courtroom, including video and teleconferencing, in order to reduce case backlogs and speed up case handling. This reduces time spent in-court and allows for clerks to be in their office processing cases and for sheriffs to be out serving warrants and other paperwork. I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I see waste of public monies, and I am committed to stopping it.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because Campbell County deserves a public servant who is committed to being fiscally transparent.

I understand and deeply appreciate that, as Judge, my paycheck comes from the community’s tax money. The community has the right to know how their money is spent. To that end, I commit to publishing my time sheets so that any taxpayer can see that I am not leaving early to go boating or play golf. I commit to publishing my time sheets so that any taxpayer can see that I am working more than full time for my paycheck. Further, expenditures related to the office will be publicly available for review by any taxpayer in Campbell County. I am running for Circuit Court Judge because I believe the public has a right to know, and I am committed to being open and transparent.

Ultimately, I am running for Circuit Court Judge because Campbell County deserves a public servant who is truly invested in the safety and future of our county.

My commitments above are founded upon my love for and investment in Campbell County. I have a reason to care. I have lived here for nearly the entirety of my adult life. I have spent my career as a lawyer in our courthouse. I met my wife Denise Trauth here, we bought a home here, and we are raising our children here. When our children become young boys, we will spend time out in the country, and I will teach them the values I learned working on my family farm growing up. When our children become young men, we will spend time watching UK basketball in establishments here in Campbell County. When our children become men, we will be babysitting their children (should we be so blessed). I truly care about Campbell County’s safety and its future, and will do everything as the next Circuit Court Judge to protect our community and help it reach its full potential.

I am not running for a paycheck or for satisfaction of my ego.

I am running for Circuit Court Judge because Campbell County is my home.

Dan Zalla: Why I'm Running for Campbell County Circuit Court Judge (District 2)

By Dan Zalla

The honor of my life, except for raising my four daughters, has been serving as your Campbell County Circuit Court Judge, Division 2. If elected on November 6th, my pledge is to continue to be Faithful to the Rule of Law; Faithful to the Principles of Equal Justice; and Faithful to the Promise of patient and respectful treatment to all who come before the Court.

The responsibility of your Circuit Court Judge demands total impartiality and fairness, regardless
of the issue before the court. The responsibility demands that the judge follow the laws enacted
by your elected representatives. Moreover, this responsibility demands that the judge preside over a court without regard to personal beliefs. I strongly believe in these responsibilities in the operation of the Campbell Circuit Court on behalf of all of the citizens of Campbell County.

I also believe a circuit court judge has the responsibility to keep our neighborhoods and communities in Campbell County safe from crime and havoc.  Drug traffickers, who prey upon our citizens, while seeking leniency for themselves, have no place in Campbell County. Their drug activities are abhorrent to the common good and wellbeing of our neighborhoods and communities.

I respectfully ask for your vote on November 6th, so I can continue to preside over your Campbell County Circuit Court.


Judge Dan Zalla

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Highlands-Covington Catholic Video Highlights

Instant Classic: Highlands Covington Catholic, 2018

Turnovers Hurt Bluebirds in Battle with Covington Catholic

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior linebacker Mason Schwalbach (3) celebrates after making a play against Covington Catholic.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior quarterback Grady Cramer (18) sets up to pass while Covington Catholic junior Michael Mayer (87) applies pressure.
This annual rivalry high school football game between the Northern Kentucky powers Highlands Bluebirds and Covington Catholic Colonels looked to be the closest it had been in three years.
It did not disappoint.

While the Bluebirds (6-2 overall, 1-1 district) fell short 21-14 in the Class 5A, District 5 battle, they left with the full confidence they are once again state championship contenders. The Colonels (8-0, 1-0) still own the state's longest winning streak at 23 in a row.

The thing that will haunt Highlands in this game is the turnovers. The Bluebirds threw two interceptions and lost a fumble while CovCath lost a fumble. Two of the Highlands turnovers gave the Colonels short field position they used to score 14 points.

"That was one heck of a game," said Eddie Eviston, CovCath Head Coach. "They came out and did some things offensively. Our defense was kind of bending, but they weren't really breaking all game. Obviously, it came down to a good defensive stand there at the end and kept them from tying the game or going for the win."

Junior defensive lineman Conner Zell recorded the fumble recovery for the Bluebirds. That marked his second one of the year tying junior linebacker Mason Schwalbach for the team-high.

Highlands ran for 299 yards of total offense on 71 plays compared to 256 on 51 plays. But Covington Catholic averaged just more than five yards per play compared to 4.2 for the Bluebirds. The Colonels had one solid drive down the field.

"I'm very proud of the offense," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "Obviously, there was a play here or there that we missed and in a game like this, you can't miss them. But I'm very proud of what we did offensively. We battled through the whole game. I don't know the stats are. Those are all great, but we want to be with more points than them at the end of the game so we will spend every second between now and each game that we play working to get to that."

CovCath came into the game averaging just more than 452 yards per game offensively. The Bluebirds held the Colonels well below their passing average of 231 yards per game to just 45 yards. Sophomore quarterback Caleb Jacob completed 4-of-10 passes for that amount. Junior tight end Michael Mayer had just one catch for 28 yards. Senior defensive lineman Ben Sisson sacked Jacob once.

"The defense played well," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "There are some things we have to clean up obviously. There were a couple times we got lost and a couple times you get lost against a team like that, that's where they got their completion to (Mayer) to put them in position to score that first touchdown. There were a few times we could have gotten off the field sooner. We played fast. We played aggressive. We played confident. A good offense is going to do things. But our guys did a good job responding to the adjustments we were making based on the adjustments they were making. Like I told them after the game, it doesn't matter now. Now we have five weeks to get ready." 

But CovCath rushed for 256 yards. Senior running back Casey McGinness came into the game averaging 163 yards per game. He finished with 179 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

"Our defense worked its tails off (Friday)," said Alex Starkey, Highlands senior linebacker. "They struggled getting anything and when they did get touchdowns, they were from the 10 going in. It's a tough loss, but we're going to come back and see them in November."

Highlands rushed for 185 yards against a 3-4 CovCath defense that allowed just 302 yards all season. A reason for that may be the Colonels have jumping out on teams early and forcing opponents to throw the ball.

Like pretty much every opponent this year, the Colonels focused on containing senior running back Cooper Schwalbach. Schwalbach had 36 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown averaging just more than 2.5 yards per carry. His touchdown with 3:11 left in the third quarter made the final score.

But sophomore running back Joe Buten gave the Bluebirds a spark rushing for 134 yards on 17 carries for an average of just under eight per touch. His 40-yard dash late in the first quarter set up Highlands at the CovCath 5. Highlands took its only lead when senior quarterback Grady Cramer hit senior Hunter Ahlfeld for a 2-yard touchdown with 11:57 left in the first half.

Cramer completed 14-of-29 passes for 114 yards one touchdown and two interceptions to six different receivers. The Colonels sacked Cramer twice.

Senior Nate Roberts had four catches for 33 yards and Ahlfeld had two catches for a team-high 34 yards. Senior Austin King had three catches for 20 yards and junior Adam Weyer had two receptions for 24 yards.

Following Ahlfeld's score, CovCath tied the game with 7:41 left in the half. Senior Duncan Summe ran a sweep around the left end for the score. After recovering a Highlands fumble inside the Bluebird 15, McGinness scored from three out with 6:10 left in the game to give the Colonels the lead for good at 14-7. Sophomore Ryan Schneider had the fumble recovery for the Colonels.

"It's one of those things where we've been used to scoring a lot more, but we had to do what we had to do to kind of control this game and come away with a win," Eviston said. "The biggest thing I can take away from this is our kids fought hard for four quarters. That was good to see."

Highlands had a chance to tie the game later in the half. But Summe intercepted the ball at the CovCath 1.

Senior Jack Coldiron had the interception early in the second half that set up the Colonels up at the Highlands 2. McGinness scored his second touchdown from two yards out to give CovCath a 21-7 advantage with 9:04 left in the third quarter.

"There was one where (the ball) just didn't quite get there and it was raining pretty well so I don't know," Deaton said. "(On) another interceptions, we kind of gave up as we were trying to make a play to end the half. We'll look at those and figure out what's going on, but I'm pretty happy with the decisions that were made by (Cramer) and some amazing throw there too. We'll get better at those for sure."

Highlands had a chance to tie the game late in the first half taking over at its own 26 with 4:53 left in the game after stopping McGinness just short of the first down on 4th-and-1. The Bluebirds came inches from tying the game. Ahlfeld got behind the CovCath defense, but the ball went off his hands.

The Bluebirds had a 4th-and-7 from the CovCath 33 with 40 seconds left. But the Colonels stopped Cooper Schwalbach from making the first down and took a knee to end the game.

Both teams made plays on third and fourth down. Highlands converted 6-of-13 for 46 percent on third down and 2-of-4 on fourth down for 50 percent. CovCath converted 3-of-9 third-down opportunities for 33 percent and neither of its two fourth-down tries.

Highlands concludes the regular season with two home games. The Bluebirds play host to the Greenwood Gators (2-6) from Class 5A, District 2 on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Box Score:

Friday, October 12, 2018

St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas on Lockdown; Man with Gun Threatening Himself

UPDATE: 5:23 p.m. --

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas is no longer on lockdown after police reported that the man with a gun in his car shot himself. 

Police said the man was suicidal. 

After a nearly two-hour standoff and negotiation, he shot himself and was immediately taken into the hospital.


St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas is on lockdown with police and SWAT officers at the facility.

Police said there is a suicidal man in a vehicle parked in the hospital parking lot.

Employees and patients have been told to shelter in place. Police and the hospital say there is no threat inside the hospital and that police are negotiating with the man.

He is not threatening others currently.

Paid for by Michelle Snodgrass. 

A "silver alert" came in over the loud speakers inside the hospital at about 3:30 p.m., notifying patients and staff to stay inside.

A source inside the hospital receiving treatment told Fort Thomas Matters that they did not know if there was an active shooter or not for over an hour.

Arrangements Set for Colonel De's Celebration of Life

As you know lost a visionary and creative genius yesterday due to a heart attack.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Colonel De have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Colonel leaves behind a company that only he could have built with passion and integrity.

RELATED: Colonel De Stewart, 71, Passes Away Suddenly 

A celebration of Colonel’s extraordinary life will take place Tuesday, October 16.  The celebration will take place at “The Mess Hall” at Tower Park located at 801 Cochran Ave in Fort Thomas, KY from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Colonel’s death. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.  Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society in De’s honor here.

De was in the process of receiving chemotherapy for multiple myeloma when he suffered a fatal heart attack.  

Jason Kilmer: Why I'm Running for Kentucky House of Representatives (District 68)

By Jason Kilmer

Truth be told, I decided many years ago that I was going to run for this office at some point in my life.  From the time I learned that our government consisted of a legislative chamber made up of representatives of the region in which you lived I have wanted to represent the people of Campbell County, Kentucky; more specifically the people of central and southern Campbell County.  I have always felt a deep connection and understanding to and of the people.

What it took for me to decide that now was the time was that I felt stable enough in my personal life that I felt comfortable enough to embark on a campaign for State Representative.  That and the fact that I really felt uncomfortable with how we were being represented in Frankfort.  I believe that Joe Fischer has gotten complacent.  His years, twenty, mostly unchallenged for the People’s House, left us, in District 68, yearning for more; granted, Mr. Fischer had to work in the minority for the most of those years.  I had watched our district come to a stand still as far a progress.  I had seen our state routes crumble and slide down hillsides.  I had seen gas stations and fast food restaurants stack our main corridor (US 27).  I had seen mom and pop businesses come and go.  I had seen our schools literally crumbling.  Then, in 2016, Mr. Fischer got his chance to work in the majority here in the state legislature.  That “new majority” told us that they did not have faith in our public schools, that they were going to syphon away the funding to a parallel school system, charter schools, that offered nothing in the way of improving education.  That “new majority” told us that they were going do a tax reform that raises taxes on those that are not as affluent.  That they were going to give those living high-on-the-hog a greater unfair advantage.  They told us that they were going to reform our public pension system and get our state out of debt.  Instead, they tried to scrap that pension system that so many of our loved ones rely on for their retirements and they gave away record numbers of corporate welfare leaving us in such a bind that they had to borrow from the surplus that the teachers health insurance fund had created.  Essentially, doing what they have been railing against, that created the pension “crisis”.  They instilled a new set of taxes that affect the those in the lowest income brackets negatively and reduced the retirement income tax exemption by $10,000.  That is $10,000 those on fixed incomes rely on. They have robbed Peter to pay Paul, but in this situation, we are Peter and they are Paul.  Joe Fischer had been such a do-nothing representative that he admittedly sat on his hands, for nearly twenty years, while Johnson Elementary and Grant’s Lick Elementary have topped the lists of schools needing the greatest capital investments, saying at the Johnson Town Hall last Fall that, “he’s been hearing your complaints about Johnson since he’s been in the Legislature.”  If I were your representative, you would not have to wait twenty years for school improvements or road repairs of our most used thoroughfares despite being in a majority or not.  A proper representative can get things done despite who has the majority and can reach across the aisle for the common good.  I believe I can do that.

I look forward to properly serving this district.  I will fight to improve our schools, both public and private.  I will fight to create careers for the people of Kentucky, not just jobs.  I will fight for policies that balance budgets and create an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.  I will fight to make this district, this county, this state places where people want to live, work, and play.  We will become self-sustainable by building each other up rather that tearing each other down.  I will do this for you because I am you.

Thank you.

Joe Fischer: Why I'm Running for Kentucky House of Representatives (District 68)

By State Representative Joe Fischer

As your incumbent State Representative for the 68th House District, I am running for re-election this year because I recognize that Kentucky has an historic opportunity to permanently place the Commonwealth on a sustainable path to economic prosperity. With your support, we will seize this opportunity on November 6th.

Before Republicans gained control of the State House in November 2016, Kentucky had been mired in a swamp of high unemployment and low economic growth. While controlling the Kentucky House for 95 consecutive years, House Democrats consistently adopted socialist tax and spending policies that drove new entrepreneurs and existing businesses to neighboring states with more favorable economic prospects. For years, Kentucky Democrats believed that higher taxes and more regulations on employers, such as a $15 per hour minimum wage, would somehow create more jobs. The Democrats continued to borrow and spend money on patronage projects and ignored their looming pension obligations to teachers and state employees.  In response to these ill-fated Democrat policies, Kentucky manufacturers moved further to other states or countries while coal mining companies simply shut down and declared bankruptcy.

After 95 years, the people of Kentucky grew tired of Democrat policy failures. So they elected Governor Bevin in 2015 and a new Republican House Majority in 2016. Immediately, the Governor repealed or amended hundreds of stifling regulations, allowing employers to conduct business more safely and efficiently. He aggressively recruited large and small businesses to invest in the Commonwealth

In our first week serving in the majority, House Republicans passed historic legislation that has transformed the Commonwealth into an economically prosperous and fiscally responsible place to live, work and raise a family. As a result, Kentucky workers are free to decide for themselves whether or not to join or pay dues to a union. Taxpayers now pay normal market wages for state funded construction. Lawmakers’ salaries and pensions are open records. Unborn children are guaranteed the right to life after 20 weeks gestation. Kentucky women are now given the opportunity to see their baby’s ultrasound before submitting to an abortion.

These conservative Republican policies have exponentially increased business investment throughout the Commonwealth, including Amazon’s massive project near CVG Airport that will create over 3,000 new jobs that pay $70,000 per year on average. Kentucky’s unemployment rate has dipped to 4%. Campbell County’s unemployment rate is currently tied for lowest in the state at 3.1%. This level of economic growth and investment is unprecedented in the history of our state and county.

I have proudly advocated for these policies over the course of my 20-year career in state office. Finally, during the 2017 session, House Republicans were able to pass these important measures over loud protests from liberal democrats and their socialist allies. As a result, Kentucky is more business-friendly than ever. Business is booming, especially in Northern Kentucky. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Kentucky’s competitive tax climate has improved from 33rd to 17th place in the nation. The people of the Commonwealth expected House Republicans to deliver on its promises of economic growth, family values and personal freedom. We delivered.

Kentucky House Republicans cut state income tax rates from 6% to 5%, saving most families about 16% off their last years’ return. We made the process of adopting children easier and faster. We saved unborn babies from dismemberment abortions. As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, I passed Jenna’s Law that protects teen-age girls from brutal rapists. We made it easier for young children to provide testimony about predators that may have abused them. We increased jail time for those who sell deadly drugs and provided more funds and treatment for their victims. These policies have given Kentucky families renewed hope and strength.

House Republicans also delivered on our promise to repair the broken state pension system without reducing promised benefits to current members, without cutting SEEK funding of public schools, and without  raising taxes. After decades of neglect by House Democrats, the new Republican Majority voted to fully fund the teachers’ and public employees’ retirement plans, under the revised actuarial guidelines. House Republicans also appropriated an additional $550 million to begin paying off the $40B pension deficit that Democrats had allowed to accumulate. I personally managed to add more than $7M in the budget for reconstruction of Johnson Elementary School in Fort Thomas, despite the severe budget constraints.

Today, as a result of these sensible Republican pension reforms, Kentucky teachers and public employees enjoy more security in their future retirement years than they have for decades, while the Democrats mismanaged their system. From 2010-2016, House Democrats annually appropriated about $250M (on average) to the teachers’ pension plan (KTRS). Since 2017, the new Republican General Assembly and Governor Bevin have budgeted over $750M per year to KTRS, a 200% increase. By the way, not a single House Democrat joined us in reforming the system and fully funding it.

As an attorney who has worked in the financial services industry for over three decades, I understand the risks and benefits of pensions and other retirement plans. I deal with actuaries on a daily basis in my profession. What I don’t understand is how union leaders can stridently oppose a plan that fully funds and restores financial stability to a broken system so that teachers can rest assured that they will receive all the benefits they were promised. Do teachers really want Democrats to regain power just to squander their pension funds again?

I recognize that most opposition is driven by partisan politics. I understand that House Democrats want their political power back. But to what end? For decades, they ignored the fiscal problems that have kept our state and future generations mired in debt. They refused to cut taxes and regulations to attract 21st century businesses to the Commonwealth. Even today, they have no realistic plan to raise the economic tide that can lift all Kentuckians to a higher level of success. House Democrats have always been more interested in pork barrel politics than fiscal responsibility or economic growth.

Over the past two years, Kentucky has made great strides under House Republican leadership. We have cut income tax rates and reformed our tax code. We have fully funded and saved the pension system without changing benefits. We have increased funding for public education to record levels. We have reformed the adoption process and cut red tape. We have rescued babies from late-term abortions. We have locked up drug dealers and other criminals who prey on defenseless women and children. We have offered hope and treatment for addicts. We passed Marsy’s Law to give crime victims a voice in the criminal justice system.

We can all take pride in these achievements because of the benefits they bring to every Kentucky family. This is why the voters gave Republicans the House Majority. But there is more to accomplish in the next biennium.

I intend to permanently lock-in these conservative policies. I will propose further cuts in income tax rates. I will re-file the Kentucky REINS Act that will allow the General Assembly to strike down oppressive regulations. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, I will move legislation, such as my Asbestos Transparency Bill, to bring meaningful reform our civil justice system. I will make our streets and highways safer by penalizing those who take illegal drugs and then drive under the influence. I will continue to fight for public education by fully funding teachers’ pensions and the SEEK formula. I will advocate for building a new Grant’s Lick Elementary School. And I will always protect innocent human life from conception until natural death.

For these reasons and many more, I am running for re-election as State Representative for the 68th House District. I humbly ask for your support on November 6th.

Wil Schroder: Why I'm Running for Kentucky State Senate (District 24)

Submitted on behalf of Sen. Wil Schroder. 

Wil Schroder is the Republican nominee for the State Senate. As a member of the Senate, Wil helped pass business-friendly legislation that led to record investments in the state, thousands of new jobs, and record low unemployment.  Wil played a key role in crafting bipartisan legislation to address the heroin epidemic and expand treatment options for addicts while appropriately punishing traffickers. In 2018, he helped craft a balanced budget that fully funded the state’s pension plans for the first time in decades and also allocated record per pupil student funding.

Additionally, Wil was instrumental in securing funding for Johnson Elementary in a tough budget year.  Fort Thomas School District was one of two school districts in the Commonwealth to receive funding for construction.

Further legislative accomplishments by Wil include sponsoring the ABLE Act, which allows families to save for disability-related expenses without fear of losing access to other assistance programs. He also co-sponsored a performance-based funding bill that helps Northern Kentucky University to compete with other universities for the funds allocated to them.

Wil Schroder has a passion for public service. Growing up in a household with a father who was a judge for twenty-nine years, and a mother who was a public and private school teacher, Wil was surrounded by parents who believed in giving back to one’s community. When Wil was two years old, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Wil was soon exposed to a world where friends, relatives, and neighbors volunteered time and time again to make dinners, carpool, and watch Wil and his sisters. This sense of watching out for one’s neighbor had a profound impact on Wil. Whether it was volunteering in high school as a youth soccer coach, mentoring middle school students in college, or serving as a youth group leader at his church, giving back to his community has been an important part of Wil’s life.

Prior to being elected, Wil served the public as a felony prosecutor in the Campbell County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. In that role, Wil represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the people of Campbell County in hundreds of felony cases and worked closely with law enforcement and crime victims.

“It has been my absolute honor and privilege to serve the people of Campbell, Pendleton, and Bracken Counties as a State Senator. In the last four years, we have passed pro-life legislation, worked to address the heroin epidemic by punishing traffickers and increasing treatment options for users, and set an economic corporate investment record of $9.2 billion dollars. While we have made great progress, there is still more work to be done to make Kentucky a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I hope to continue to have the great honor of representing the people of the 24th District as we work to address serious issues impacting the Commonwealth.”

Wil is married to his high school sweetheart, Marci. The two are active members of the Next Chapter Church in Wilder and are the proud parents of their two-year-old daughter, Grace, and recently born son, Trey. His children serve as constant reminders of what is at stake for Kentucky’s future.


The midterm election will take place on November 6, 2018. Many state, local and national races will be on the ballot. 

FTM will publish all articles written by the candidates in order to give the voting electorate a better understanding on how they may elect. These will be shared in the order by which the candidates are listed on the ballot. 

We gave a simple prompt: Here's Why I'm Running This Year. 

Rachel Roberts: Why I'm Running for Kentucky State Senate (District 24)

By Rachel Roberts

My name is  Rachel  Roberts.  I’m  running  for  State  Senate  in  the  24th  district,  and  I’m  fighting  for  our  future.

I’m  going  to  work  my  heart  out  to  earn  your  vote,  win  this  election.  I’m  no  politician,  I’m  a  small  business  owner,  a  mentor,  and  a  community  leader.  I’ve  been  all  over  this  district  listening  to  people  say  they  want  better  jobs,  fair  taxation  policies,  solutions  to  the  epidemic  of  addiction,  and  a  strong  education  system.    I  am  running  for  office  because  our  region  needs  a  stronger  and  smarter  economy,  our  health  care  system  is  failing  everyday  Americans,  and  insider  politicians  in  Frankfort  are  bent  on  breaking  our  children’s  schools.

Like  so  many  people  I’ve  spoken  with  throughout  Northern  Kentucky,  I’m  exhausted  by  career  politicians  from  legacy  families  who  say  they’re  going  to  fix  things  and  then  do  nothing.  The  corruption  must  end.  I  come  from  a  long  line  of  proud  Kentuckians.  I  was  raised  by  parents  who  taught  me  the  core  values  of  hard  work,  responsibility,  and  honesty.

My  great-grandpa  was  a  fireman.  My  grandfather  was  a  naval  specialist  and  NASA  engineer.  My  mother  graduated  from  Chase  Law  School  and  spent  her  early  career  working  to  strengthen  labor  relations.  My  father  graduated  from  the  Kentucky  Military  Institute  and  is  a  county  addiction/mental  health  specialist.  Now,  in  a  time  of  great  need  for  our  region  and  state,  I  am  following  in  their  footsteps  to  do  what’s  right  and  serve  everyday  folks  like  you.

I  have  spent  my  life  building  a  strong  home,  successful  businesses  and  a  community  that  reflects  the  guiding  values  with  which  my  family  raised  me.  I’ve  spoken  with  thousands  of  concerned  citizens,  and  I  hear  you  when  you  say  we  need  to  find  new  and  innovative  ways  to  drive  revenue  so  we  can  actually  fix  our  crumbling  infrastructure.  We  need  to  get  creative  and  community-focused  if  we’re  going  to  dig  in  and  deliver  on  solving  the  opioid  epidemic.  And  we  have  to  stop  attacking  public  schools  and  teachers.  Instead,  we’re  going  to  work  smarter  and  harder  to  set  our  children  on  a  better,  stronger  path  forward.

I  will  fight  to  protect  retirements  for  seniors,  and  respect  and  honor  the  service  of  our  public  school  teachers.  Kentucky’s  teachers  receive  zero  Social  Security  benefits  and  I  will  work  to  find  a  new  revenue  stream  to  honor  our  promise  to  them.    One  of  Kentucky’s  top  economic  drivers  is  agriculture  and  farming.  In  talking  with  farmers,  I  hear  their  frustration  that  government  is  getting  in  the  way.  I  will  be  a  strong  voice  for  family  farms,  many  of  whom  are  small  business  owners  like  myself.  

What  I  witnessed  during  the  last  session  of  the  Kentucky  General  Assembly,  was  alarming.  We  no  longer  saw  democracy  in  action;  we  saw  a  majority  party,  with  control  of  the  House,  the  Senate  and  the  Governor’s  office  run  roughshod  over  process  and  the  people  of  our Commonwealth.

Within  their  total  power  grab,  the  elected  members  of  our  General  Assembly  stopped  listening  to  teachers,  first  responders,  working  people,  senior  citizens  and  retirees  and  instead  listened  only  to  the  big  money  interests  which  have  permeated  our  governing  process.    Part  of  the  rushed,  secret,  legislation  known  as  the "sewer bill" is  now  before  the  Kentucky  Supreme  Court,  in  a  challenge  to  the  constitutionality  of  the  manner  in  which  the  legislation  was  passed  by  the  majority.

As  citizens,  we  expect  our  legislators  to  abide  by  the  constitution  and  allow  for  an  open  process  with  respect  to  our  laws  and  the  budget.    My  goal  is  to  bring  resources  back  to  our  region  for  infrastructure  improvements  and  schools,  and  develop  real  solutions  for  the  people  who  live  here.  I  am  accessible  and  open  to  the  citizens  of  this  district.

You  can  reach  me  directly  at  info@RachelForKentucky.com or  by  calling  me  at  859-878-2588.

The midterm election will take place on November 6, 2018. Many state, local and national races will be on the ballot. 

FTM will publish all articles written by the candidates in order to give the voting electorate a better understanding on how they may elect. These will be shared in the order by which the candidates are listed on the ballot. 

We gave a simple prompt: Here's Why I'm Running This Year. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Johnson Elementary School Hullabaloo Festival | Saturday, October 13th

With the weather FINALLY turning to fall, it is time to officially welcome the season with this Saturday’s Johnson Elementary School Hullabaloo Festival.

This annual PTO-sponsored event raises a significant amount of money that directly benefits the students of Johnson Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon Elementary, through classroom aids, technology, enrichment programs, and other teacher-requested teaching tools to help the learning process.  The Fall Festival takes place October 13 from 10 am to 5 pm at Johnson Elementary School (full disclosure, the author is also the chair of the event but promises it will still be awesome!).

This year promises to return some of the best features from prior years and to showcase new, exciting, and fun activities.  Rain or shine, there will be a ton to do for everyone.

Children’s Activities:

Multiple bounce houses will be available throughout the day (weather-permitting).  All-day bounce-house bracelets are available for purchase, $10 per child.  Additionally, children’s games including soft drink ring toss, football toss, and many more games of chance will be setup throughout the schoolyard.  Tickets for the games are two for $1 and prizes will be won throughout the day, including every kid’s favorite- the cakewalk with special guest announcers!

Also, face painting and glitter hair spray as well as other arts and crafts options will be available for children.

While the pumpkin catapult has been retired this year, the pumpkin smash will return! Kids will have the opportunity to don their protective eye gear and smash pumpkins with a hammer, making as big a mess as they can!

Adult Activities:

There will be many opportunities to get a leg-up on holiday shopping with the Silent Auction items held for sale this year.  Some items include four tickets to Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker AND backstage passes, passes for four golfers at Highland Country Club, Ultimate Air Shuttle tickets to Chicago, Bosom Ball tickets, be on the cover of Fort Thomas Living, and more!  Also, new this year, win an opportunity for your child to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime Johnson Elementary School groundbreaking ceremony! Once again, the auction will be entirely online so even if you cannot attend, you can still bid by going to: Hullabaloo Auction and viewing the items from there.  The auction will stay open one hour later to maximize the fun, closing at 5 pm this year.

Also available for purchase will be books, CDs, DVDs ranging in price from 50¢ to $2, plus bag options for $10.  There will be board books, beginning readers, chapter books, reference books and puzzles/activities for kids.  For adults, there is fiction, non-fiction, reference, cookbooks and more, depending on donations.

Additionally, the major raffle drawing will see one lucky person win $1,000; tickets can be purchased during the event if you did not yet pre-purchase.

Food Options:
Baked goods available throughout the morning for purchase.  New this year, instead of lunch in the cafeteria, food trucks will be on site to provide attendees plenty of dining options with a portion of their sales donated back to Johnson!  So come hungry and feed the family at Marty’s Waffles, California Tri-Tip, and/or Packhouse. 

Be sure not to miss the one fall event that will have the whole town talking and some lucky ones winning!  So, be sure to stop by Johnson Elementary school on Saturday October 13 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; play some games, buy a cake, bid on the silent auction of your choice, maybe win $1,000 and go home happy knowing your dollars make a difference in a child’s education.

Hullabaloo would not be a success without its sponsors. Please thank and support our sponsors below:

2018-2019 Hullabaloo Corporate Sponsors

Highlands-CovCath Clash in Battle of Top Teams in Northern Kentucky

Bluebirds, Colonels Renew Annual Rivalry at David Cecil Memorial on Friday

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior center Max Dierig blocks after snapping the ball in the game against Dixie Heights. Highlands plays host to Covington Catholic on Friday at 7 p.m. in a battle between the top-ranked and fifth-ranked teams in Kentucky's Class 5A.
There is nothing better for a large crowd when your opponent brings to town the state's longest current winning streak at 22 in a row and happens to be your arch-rival.

The Highlands Bluebirds (6-1 overall), still ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll, plays host to Class 5A's top-ranked Covington Catholic Colonels (7-0) in what could be the best match-up between the two teams with a combined 30 state championships in several years. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium.

"That's why you play the game - to compete at the highest level," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "They're a very good team. We feel good about our team. We feel good about how we continue to get better week by week by week. I think our guys are ready to go."

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CovCath won its seventh state championship last year including a 52-0 win over Highlands in Park Hills. The Colonels recorded their first-ever undefeated state championship run.

"Personally, I think it starts with the culture where it doesn't matter what your record is. It could be 15-0. It could be 8-8, whatever it is," said Eddie Eviston, CovCath Head Coach. "It's just a matter of working every day to be the best that I can be. If the best doesn't win, then at least you don't have any regrets. But if you work really hard, then could reach your maximized potential, who knows? You might have a chance. We're still trying to build a program here from a staff standpoint. We've had some success along the way. You can't really worry about other teams. We have to concentrate on who we are and go from there." 

The Bluebirds have been working back toward that level this season. They hope to prove they are back there with a strong showing Friday in what could be a huge sell-out crowd.

Both teams have quality wins on the season. Highlands has defeated three Kentucky teams ranked in the Associated Press poll in Simon Kenton (5th in 6A), Campbell County (10th in 6A) and Lexington Catholic (7th in 3A). Their only loss is to Class 6A's sixth-ranked Scott County in a lightning-shortened 28-7 defeat. The Bluebirds have outscored the opposition, 248-87 compared to 313-87 for CovCath.

Both teams have beaten the Union duo of Cooper and Ryle. The Colonels have quality wins over two out-of-state opponents in 6-1 Kings Mills Kings (Ranked 9th in Ohio's second-largest Division II) and Indianapolis Bishop Chatard (Top-ranked team in Indiana's 3A AP Poll).

Both teams like to be balanced so they can take what defenses give them in their spread offenses. Both teams have been stout on defense this year. The Highlands 3-5 defense is allowing averages of 104 yards per game rushing and 135 passing.

The Bluebirds have made plays all over the field. It starts up front with pressure from the defensive line with guys like senior Ben Sisson, Gavin Downard and juniors Zach Lewin and Conner Zell. Then the linebackers such as seniors Jackson Hagedorn, Nick Bowman, Alex Starkey, juniors Brycen Huddleston and Mason Schwalbach fill in with defensive backs such as seniors Bailey Armstrong, Casey Greene, junior Jacob Brass and sophomore Jason Noe holding things down in the back. Schwalbach has a team-high two fumble recoveries and Hagedorn is tied with senior Greene with a team-high three interceptions.

Highlands has 13 quarterback sacks this year. Hagedorn leads the way with three with Lewin, Huddleston and Starkey recording two each. Hagedorn has taken both an interception and fumble recovery back for touchdowns and Huddleston snatched the ball away from Lexington Catholic senior wide receiver Tommy Knopp and took it back 52 yards for the touchdown.

That defense will be charged with containing a CovCath offense that averages 221 yards per game rushing and just more than 231 passing. The Colonel offensive line led by senior center Carter Black, senior Grant Hemmer and junior Lucas Jones has opened up plenty of holes for junior running back Casey McGinness.

McGinness has started at least a couple times in his four years in high school. McGinness has rushed for 1,140 yards on 114 attempts and 17 touchdowns for an average of exactly 10 per carry. McGinness also has 15 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns.

Junior tight end/defensive lineman Michael Mayer, a 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound Notre Dame commit, has been brutal on both sides of the ball. He has a team-high 24 catches for 425 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Mayer has a team-high 45 tackles including eight for a loss, two fumble recoveries, an interception return 76 yards for a touchdown at Chatard and one quarterback sack.

When he's had to throw the ball, sophomore quarterback Caleb Jacob has delivered. Jacob has completed 87-of-127 passes for 1,603 yards, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

"Just like any game, but especially in this game when you have two good teams going against each other, they're going to have big plays. We're going to have big plays and you have to stay even the best that you can," Weinrich said. "For a game like this, you have find a way to get some unconventional scores, some unconventional turnovers in situations that are not script. There are going to be plays that you don't draw up so you hope that your guys are prepared and they have enough experience. They're flying around and trusting what they're doing so that when those situations present themselves, they're able to take advantage of them."

Another big target offensively has been senior 6-5, 215-pound wide receiver Jack Coldiron. Coldiron has 16 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Zac Coburn has 11 catches for 155 yards and one touchdown.

The Highlands offense put together a solid half against Dixie Heights after not finishing several drives in the first half that could have helped put that game away sooner. Behind an offensive line led by seniors Will Salmon, Trent Johnson and juniors Max Dierig, Brock Huber and Dylan Turner, Highlands is averaging 177 passing and just more than 137 rushing the ball.

"We just have to do what we do," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "We have to do what we've been doing offensively all year and keep getting better at the little things that we do. We don't have to completely reconstruct an offense or change anything. We just have to make sure we execute what our offense is designed to be."

"Colonel" De Stewart, 71, Passes Away Suddenly

"Colonel" De Stewart, 71, died this morning from an apparent heart attack.

De was best known for founding his company, Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices and acting as the company's brand ambassador and symbol. Colonel De has three locations, including his corporate headquarters in the Hiland Building in Fort Thomas.

His name and image are symbols of the company.

“We have suffered a major loss.  Our family, friends and customers will have a huge void because De was larger-than-life,” said his wife and business partner, Susan. "His joy was spending time with his son, Ashley, daughter-in-law Christi and beloved grandchildren." 

Stewart was all about family. He and Susan also spent many countless hours on their patio drinking bourbon with their rescue dog, Cinnamon.

In May of this year, he and Susan opened up Colonel's Kitchen in Fort Thomas.

"We've done this together from the beginning," Susan told Fort Thomas Matters in February.

They set up their first spice store, a card table at Findlay Market, in 2006.

"I asked him what his dream was and he said he wanted to open a store that sold herbs and spices. As soon as I heard that, I asked him what his second choice was," she said jokingly.

"But six months after setting up that card table in 2006, we needed more space." 

The "Businessman Chef", Stewart had built an empire. A Fort Thomas resident, he fully invested a large chunk of his capital into the Fort Thomas Central Business District by renting a majority of the space in the Historic Hiland Building, located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue.

“Small businesses hire the most people in this country, and we deserve more than the short stick that we’re given by the banks,” he told Fort Thomas Matters in February 2018.

Among the many full-time employees in the Colonel De family are are seven chefs with a cumulative 250 years of experience.

“We have done every business expansion by bootstrap,” he said.

A family man and a community stalwart, Colonel De Stewart will be missed.

Stewart was famous for characterizing the relationship between he and his customers.

The relationship we have with our customer is the second most intimate relationship you can have. I’m not going into their bedroom, but I’m going into their kitchen. I am helping to feed their family."

Highlands Volleyball Continues to Raise Bar

Bluebirds Own Consecutive 25-Win Seasons

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. The Highlands volleyball team celebrated its second straight 36th District volleyball championship with a 3-0 win at Newport Central Catholic on Wednesday.
Based on the way this season has gone, anything less than the Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team recording a sound victory in the 36th District championship game Wednesday would have been a surprise.

That did not turn out to be an issue as Highlands celebrated its second consecutive district crown with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-12) victory over the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (13-15 overall) on the hill. With the second victory over the hosts on their home court, Highlands at 25-10 also hit 25 victories on the year for the second straight season.

Highlands hopes not only those two accomplishments, but others not only become the norm, but the expectation year in and year out. The Bluebirds are 103-74 since Highlands Head Coach Katelyn Sallee took over the program in 2014. After consecutive 17-18 seasons, Highlands broke through with a winning 19-17 record in 2016.

"I think every year we've seen that trust increase more and more. You can have leadership in a team and a coaching staff. If the follower-ship isn't there, it doesn't work," Sallee said. "I've been really encouraged to see this team rally around us and rally around each other and just move in one direction instead of move in different directions and really getting in line behind the goals we've set for us and pushing toward that as opposed to individual goals or anything else that could divide or that could limit our success. I think it's only going to become more and more."

Sallee can't say enough about the parent support. Matt and Mandi Gessner started the Little Birds program at Woodfill Elementary years ago and the fruits of the labor have paid off. Their daughter is senior libero Olivia Gessner.

"I feel like people are having my back and encouraging me. I try to share at the beginning of each year and throughout the year, 'Hey, I have blind spots like everybody so please help me.' We are in this together," Sallee said. "When we're heading into a tournament that we're hosting or we're heading out of town or we have Senior Night coming up. I want people to share me and talk to me about what they see heading around the corner and things that could help us as a program to build and honor the girls for the work they've put in. I think it's really important to have those lines of communication open that parents know your serious that you actually do want feedback. I actually do want feedback because I know it'll make me better. There are a lot of parents who really buy into that and realize that a healthy communication is going to help make the team better. That's been fun helping develop over the years too."

Sallee has three assistants in Colleen Dunn, Molly Wehage-Maxwell and Jessica Ginter. Maxwell was also an assistant when Highlands won the district championship in 2012.

The Bluebirds own four straight wins over the Thoroughbreds. Prior to that, that win in the 2012 district championship marked the lone win for Highlands over NewCath in 25 meetings since a 2-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-21) Bluebird win in Fort Thomas on Sept. 20, 2005.

"I definitely think our program is growing overall at the freshman, JV and varsity level," Maxwell said. "We just keep building. We have a really consistent coaching staff and I really think that's why it's led to the back-to-back district (championship) wins. Katelyn has a really good knowledge as far as college play. Colleen and I have been here for a while too so we just mesh. If one person knows what to say or doesn't know then someone else fills in so we really connect. We're usually all on the same page and really we're just there to support each other so it's great."

Ginter, a 2015 Highlands graduate, came back to coach the freshman team this year after playing a couple seasons at Eastern Kentucky University. Ginter was a senior in the first Highlands team Sallee coached in 2014.

"It feels great just to be back in this atmosphere," Ginter said. "These girls are awesome. All the coaches are great. The girls make it so fun. I'm so proud of them and so happy for them. Their win just watching them light up brings back all those happy memories and I'm glad that they get to experience that too."

Olivia Gessner again did her part leading Highlands with 13 digs and an ace. The Bluebirds had 36 kills and assists, 35 digs, five aces and two blocks.

Junior setter and all-tournament team member Audrey Graves had all 36 assists. Graves recently passed 2,000 assists for her career.

Highlands once again had balance attacking from all sides of the court. Senior Margot Seidel once again put up another solid all-around game with a team-high 13 kills, three aces and seven digs. Seidel earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player honor.

Several other Highlands hitters had nice nights. The Bluebirds had the 36 kills on 72 attempts and 12 errors for a .333 hitting percentage. To calculate hitting percentage, one takes the number of kills minus the number of errors and divides that total by attempts. Freshman CC Shick recorded eight kills with junior Ava Hockney and sophomore Laura Winkler making six each.

"When I do something really well, it really boosts my confidence up and I play even better," Winkler said. "We've gotten a lot better. If we can control the first ball, then Audrey can set up someone and we can kill it."

Highlands has tried to improve its blocking this year. Hockney recorded one solo block and combined with freshman Nicole Ossege on another.

"As a middle, I really try to focus on the opponent's dominant hitter because eventually they're going to be the one who has the most powerful swings," Hockney said. "We really want to protect our defense so we typically drift toward that player to block them better. With the underclassmen playing their first district (tournament) games on varsity, we really had to let them know that we still have to play our hardest even though we beat NCC in the regular season. It's not going to be a blow-over."

Sallee said the Highlands coaching staff pulled the upperclassmen aside and talked to them about leadership. Junior Casey Dunn has still been a huge part of the team's success even though she has not been able to play since the win over Campbell County.

"It's just really great to see how far we've come," Casey Dunn said. "It's so much fun beating teams we haven't beaten in the past and overcoming things that usually we wouldn't have been able to, but it's a lot of fun being on this team - the environment and everything. We're all so close that when one person is down, we pick them up and it really gets us through tough situations on the court and off the court."

Several underclassmen have seen more varsity time that anticipated with the injuries. That includes freshmen Madison Clore and Sophia Sarakatsannis.

"They support us and it's not a big deal if you make a mistake," Clore said of the upperclassmen. "Everything is fine and they'll bring you up. We want to work as hard as possible to help them win. Everyone has been great from day one. There are no problems."