Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Baker's Table To Open on Monmouth Street in Newport

A new restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and small bites will cut the ribbon on their space to open to the public tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

The Baker's Table, owned by David Willocks, will open at 1004 Monmouth Street in Newport. The location formerly housed Packhouse Meats and Lucy's on Monmouth.
Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.

RELATED: Lucy's on Monmouth is Closed, For Now 

Willocks is bringing his Head Chef talent from the San Francisco Bay area at an Indian restaurant to northern Kentucky. The Baker's Table menu will also have French and Italian influences. This is

1004 Monmouth St. Newport, Kentucky. Google maps. 
He said the theme of the restaurant is to "feed people with love".

Willocks has been providing catering services and private home party events via the Kick Start Kitchen in Covington.  He said that based on the compliments from clients, he pursued a brick and mortar building to expand his services.

The Baker's Table will offers seasonal rustic cuisine. The menu will also include specialty coffees, teas, beer, wine and cocktails.

Currently The Baker's Table is serving spiced or spiked apple cider, noro mulled miel, and Aztec hot chocolate.

Grad Student Project Aids City Communication Concerns

NKU Executive Leadership students presented recommendations on city communications to Ron Dill. (l to r) Tammy Godby, Ashley Pyles, Lisa McCord, Ron Dill, Nigel Mask, Rita Jones, Sean Donelan.
By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

The city of Fort Thomas received some extra help on its plan to improve communications and branding from a group of graduate students in a leadership program at Northern Kentucky University.

The students are enrolled in NKU’s Executive Leadership and Organizational Change (ELOC) program, and their assignment has been to provide consulting and research services on a specific issue for an area organization, business or public entity.

The larger class divided into smaller groups to select and work with different clients. One group chose the city of Fort Thomas as their client.

Bringing a fresh perspective

Fort Thomas Police Officer Sean Donelan is in the ELOC program and was one of six students assigned to consult with the city. He said the program draws an eclectic mix of people who represent a wide range public and private management and leadership roles across the area.

"We did not just have public administrators, but also people who work at Fidelity Investments, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, university personnel…all interested in professional development. These are people who want to improve things around them," said Donelan.

Donelan is a veteran police officer with three years serving Fort Thomas and before that in Wilder. He was ready to explore and develop his leadership skills.

"We are learning emotional intelligence. As a police officer, you are not used to being vulnerable, to looking at your strengths and weaknesses…but I’m finding that building these soft skills has helped me be a better me," he explained.

When his group selected Fort Thomas, he was thrilled.

"I love it. To take look at this city with five other people who are not as familiar and seeing how wonderful a place Fort Thomas is... I like that our goal here is to exceed the standard, not just meet it."

Addressing an important concern

The topic of communication has come up repeatedly at both public city meetings and informal conversations. Questions have arisen about how best to share city news, the need for better ways to inform the public about important hearings or city deadlines and how to improve the city website, newsletters and other materials to support outreach to the community.

Donelan said having a diverse group from outside the city looking at the issue brings up new ideas and approaches. "The group brings a wide variety of experiences…wide ranging perspectives, new connections and opportunities for networking."

Working with a city also presents challenges that private corporations may not face, he said. Cities are bound by laws on how and when information should be shared and are required to meet certain standards that can sometimes get in the way of expediency.

Having city staff input and buy-in on the project was key. Not only did the group have the support of the City Administrator Ron Dill, but also from city staff charged with direct communications, including City Clerk Melissa Beckett and General Services Assistant Julie Rice.

Moving ahead with ideas

The project came at an opportune time, said Dill. Several ideas and issues have come up through the city’s visioning process and in community discussions that would fit the project parameters.

"I offered a number of options, and they chose communications and branding for the city," he said. "In fact, we were already in discussions with council on the topic. This was right in line with where our research was going. The goal of the class was to act as a consultant for us."

After researching the topic, reviewing the literature and speaking with experts and officials in Fort Thomas and in other cities, the students developed recommendations and options designed to address concerns in city communications. Last month the class presented their findings and recommendations to Dill.

"I think they did a thorough job analyzing the issue overall and in relation to Fort Thomas. They provided both short- and long-term solutions that we might present. The results of their work is exciting. It shows they did the hard work and the hard research needed to address this issue," said Dill.

Drop Your Drawers Campaign Provides a Welcome Necessity

Campbell County Library Director JC Morgan invites community to "Drop Your Drawers."
 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

While many children dream of bicycles, remote cars and the latest "it" toy for Christmas, some in our community wish also for warm clothing and basic essentials. New underwear is one of those essentials that is a bit harder to come by than other clothing items.

For the past three years, the Campbell County Public Library has participated in a holiday season clothing drive specifically designed to collect new "unmentionables" for children in our area to be distributed through the county’s Family Resource Centers.

Many young children who have accidents are in need of new underwear during school hours when their parents are unable to bring them fresh underwear – and some don’t always have access to these basics at home. In fact, the library’s Drop Your Drawers campaign website says schools hand out between 50 and 100 pairs to students in need each month.

So far, the library has provided about 2,000 pairs of underwear to the three elementary schools in Fort Thomas, said Library Director JC Morgan. Campbell County libraries were the first in the state to participate in the campaign that has now spread to 47 libraries across Kentucky, he said.

The campaign will run through December 31. You can drop off new boys’ and girls’ underwear size 4 to 16 at any nearby branch of the Campbell County Public Library. This year’s collection goal is 7,000 pairs. The library has exceeded this goal over the last two years and is going for another great year.

In Fort Thomas, drop off items at the Carrico/Fort Thomas branch, 3920 Alexandria Pike, or drop off at other library locations in Newport, Alexandria and Cold Spring.

Drop Your Drawers logo featuring CAM, the Campbell County Library Lion


Highlands High School Student Violinist Participates in All-National Honors Ensemble

By Jessica Stringfield-Eden

It is not everyday that you hear about a local high school student participating in a nationally recognized event but a few weeks ago, Keely Reitman, a 16 year old violinist from Highlands High School, did just that at the All-National Honors Ensemble.

The All-National Honors Ensemble is presented by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) which is one of the world’s largest arts education organizations. NAfME advocates for music education at local, state and national levels and boasts over 60,000 members. The All-National Honors Ensemble took place from Nov. 25 - 28 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, and featured only a select number of 550 students from 49 states and territories.

So, how was Keely selected? Lots of hard work.

Keely, who began playing violin in 7th grade, practices 2-5 hours a day (usually 5-6 hours a day in the summer) and is also a part of the Highlands Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Kentucky School of Music Sinfonia and the Cincinnati Symphony Concert Orchestra. She is dedicated and motivated to playing and tackled her video audition head-on for the All-National Honors Ensemble by devoting many hours after school and working closely with her teacher Kathy Anderson on two different audition pieces.

The entire process leading up to the All-National Honors Ensemble has meant so much to Keely and her mother Liz. “This has opened up a whole new world for us. I am not musical but she has found her calling for life. She went from never playing to playing on a national stage,” said Liz. “We’ve met incredible people and the right people have fallen into our laps. Kathy Anderson has been incredible in realizing that Keely needs more to move forward so she also has a private teacher from the Symphony Orchestra.”

Once accepted into the Ensemble, Keely and Anderson tackled the challenging music for the ensemble performance. This proved difficult as Haitian conductor, Dr. Jean Montès, had chosen complex pieces which were arranged by other Haitian composers and differ from other arrangements. Through a collaborative effort, Keely’s private instructors, Anderson and Keely were able to master the arrangement...but it wasn’t easy. “Keely also had an audition for Orchestra Chair for the Ensemble and an All State audition in the same week,” said Liz.

“There was a lot of preparation, lots of practicing music she was unfamiliar with but somehow we made it through!”

For the Symphony Orchestra portion of the All-National Honors Ensemble, Dr. Montès chose a theme of “Peace, Love, and Music”. Keely participated in a piece called “The Red Cape Tango” which received a standing ovation.

Keely was so intimidated at first because a lot of the other students there were already Juilliard students...she started to think she didn’t belong,” said Liz.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dr. Hannegan Returns to Cincinnati Cyclones as Official Chiropractor

Dr. Steve Hannegan, official Chiropractor for Cincinnati Cyclones

Humans have been playing hockey in its many various forms for thousands of years. Historical evidence suggests ancient Egyptians played a variation of it under the warm African sun and northern Europeans reimagined their local frozen ponds as ice hockey rinks.

As the equipment and technique of ice hockey have enjoyed the refinements ushered in by the 20th and 21st centuries, so of course has medical technology and our understanding of injury on the human body. Doctors, coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and chiropractors today have a more holistic understanding of the long and short term impacts of ice hockey related injuries, the most common being concussions, sprains, and shoulder injuries.

As with most major sports teams today, The Cincinnati Cyclones have their own dedicated chiropractor who provides care before, during, and after games to make sure players perform their best and are able to receive immediate care if needed. Dr. Steve Hannegan of Performance Chiropractic returns to the Cyclones for the 2018-2019 season as the team's official chiropractor.

RELATED: Performance Chiropractic Takes a Patient Centered Approach

In addition to getting players back on the ice faster and working with them to ensure they are performing at their peak, "the players utilize chiropractic care to maintain and improve their mobility and reduce injury risk. When a player’s joints are moving properly this allows the stress of playing to be properly distributed through the muscles and joints. This includes movements like shooting the puck, taking hits, and skating. By properly distributing the muscular component of skating to all the correct muscles by optimal joint mobility the player can generate the most power, acceleration, and speed. This makes the player and the team that much better and could be the difference between a win and a loss". (read the full post on Performance Chriopractic's blog)

Newport on the Levee Getting Attention for National Retailers

Cincinnati-based North American Properties (NAP) has closed on its purchase of Newport on the Levee from California-based The Price Group, LLC.

The property is a 360,000 square foot, mixed-use development with incredible views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River, surrounded by local attractions such as the Newport Aquarium and Purple People Bridge.

“As a Cincinnati-based company, we are dedicated to investing in the region and are committed to elevating the entire Newport on the Levee experience for the local community,” said Tom Williams, president and CEO.  “Newport on the Levee is a regional landmark and we are proud to bring our local ownership and passion to the re-imagination of a truly irreplaceable property.”

Hassman and Doyle Lawfirm. 859-655-4430. This is an advertisement.
North American partnered with Boston-based real estate private equity firm Long Wharf Capital on the acquisition and US Bank’s Cincinnati office provided debt financing. Locally, real estate specialists Jeffrey R Anderson company and 360 Partners, who previously teamed up to deliver the Kenwood Collection, will lease and manage the redevelopment.

Plans for the first phase of renovations, construction, and new tenants will be announced over the coming months, with the completion of the project expected in the next year.

Key features will include major physical improvements, with exciting tenants and an event calendar that is already in full swing.

“Winter Wonder on the Levee” is a 90-day holiday program that has already drawn thousands of visitors to enjoy Christmas lights, fireworks, concerts, Kentucky’s largest skating rink, and other holiday festivities.

“Our vision focuses on the ‘New’ within Newport on the Levee. New chef-driven restaurants, new vibrant entertainment options, new creative workspaces that will all enhance the existing property that sits on top of 2,200 covered parking spaces with irreplaceable city and river views,” said Tim Perry, managing partner and chief investment officer of NAP. “Once our renovation is complete, there will be nothing like this in the entire Midwest.”

At the time of the closing, NAP leaders and Newport city officials indicated that the project is drawing significant attention from national retailers and restaurateurs from nearby Louisville and as far as California and New York.

Students Bring the World to Fort Thomas Schools

Lily Hennigan, Mary Kinsella and Elizabeth Winkler share information about English language learning at Fort Thomas schools.

It’s a big world out there but developing global communication skills and cultural awareness makes it feel smaller and more manageable. Learning more than one language is a valuable skill for all students, but for some, it is essential.

For 42 students at Fort Thomas schools, English is not their first language. The English Language or EL Program provides support for those students who need language help. The program helps the students learn English while they in turn enrich the school community through sharing of their home cultures and languages with English-speaking students.

Students at Fort Thomas schools speak a variety of languages from 20 different countries. About 40 percent of the English learners speak Spanish as their primary language, but other languages include German, Turkish, Tamil, Romanian and Mandarin Chinese.

The EL Program

At the November Fort Thomas School Board meeting, Elizabeth Winkler, EL program consultant for Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services (NKCES) and Moyer Elementary EL teacher Mary Kinsella shared information about the students across the district who receive EL services and support. They were joined by Lily Hennigan, a peer tutor in the program and student at Highlands High School.

Winkler said her job is to help ensure that within the eight school districts in the region served by NKCES that all federal and state guidelines for EL students are met. Her goal, she said, is to help English language learners in our communities achieve academic success.

She described the process used to identify those who need services. When a family enrolls in school, they answer four home language survey questions. If the answer to any of the questions is not English, they may qualify for EL services.

Students then take a screening assessment to determine their level of comfort and familiarity with English. If the student scores lower than 4.5 on a proficiency scale of 1 to 6, they are eligible for EL support services.

Once in the EL program, students take an annual assessment to follow their progress. If a student from the program scores 4.5 or higher, they move into a four-year monitoring period. At present, the Fort Thomas district as 17 students in monitoring.

Providing service and support

Moyer teacher Kinsella explained how services are provided to her students. At Moyer, 30 students in kindergarten through fifth grade are in the EL program and six are in the monitoring period.

She works with students one on one or in small groups and collaborates with classroom teachers and student peer tutors. She also works closely with classroom and special area teachers to support the students’ academic plans and with the transportation director to ensure EL students outside the Moyer district are transferred into the school to receive services.

Winkler shared facts about the success of the EL program at Fort Thomas. Forty students took the annual assessment test in January 2018. Of those, 10 students, or 25 percent, scored high enough to exit the program, well above the state average, and 16 students increased their proficiency level.

Family and community involvement

Family and community involvement are very important to the program and to student success. "We try to get our families involved and engaged. I collaborate with Elizabeth [Winkler] and our PTO and with our families in having engagement activities," she explained.

"In September we try to do something to bring the families in to encourage literacy. In the fall we bring the families in to get ready for conferences…and then again we try to promote reading over winter break."

The annual "Taste of Moyer" has become a highlight of the outreach effort. Said Kinsella, "It has been a huge success. The families felt comfortable and afterwards said they were just overwhelmed that we wanted them there. We wanted them to feel part of our community, a part of the Moyer family."

Building key strengths

Hennigan said in her role as peer tutor she attends classes with EL students and helps them after school with homework as well. The benefits for her run two ways.

"I started peer tutoring in order to build my Spanish curriculum, but I ended up working with students from many different backgrounds and also many different skill levels… It's awesome this year. I don’t have the same students, but I can see the students I had last year in the hallway or at football games, ask them how they are doing and if they need any help."

Global communication is a key strength identified in the Fort Thomas Portrait of a Graduate. Board member Karen Allen pointed out that Hennigan is developing this skill in her EL work as well as becoming a empathetic collaborator, another key goal in the portrait.

Allen sees benefit to all students, those whose first language is English and those whose primary language is not English, and she also noted the community benefit. "When I saw the slide of all the languages I thought this is something our community needs to see. We are growing; we are changing; we have people for whom we need to be inclusive."

The Fort Thomas EL Program at a Glance

Family Nature Evening at the Armory Will Spur a New Holiday Tradition

Looking for a family fun evening? Then stop by the Armory on Thursday, December 20 for a Christmas story with a nature twist.  There will be a reading of Night Tree, a deceptively simple reminiscence of a boy’s youth when the family would visit nearby woods to decorate “their” tree for the animals.  They return home keenly aware of the mysteries and secrets of nature. It’s a heartwarming story that families will want to include in their own traditions.

 The event was prompted because the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy wants to offer seasonal activities. The Backyard Habitat group of FTFC group organized the event with the Fort Thomas Recreation Department. The event will provide food for birds during the winter and the hope is that families will do the same in their yards.

FTFC board member, Trisha Schroder, says, "We hope that families will leave this event with a new holiday tradition of pausing to think of nature at the holidays and decorating their own holiday tree for wildlife in their yard.

We will be making decorations for a tree that will be displayed outside at the Armory; however, we hope participants will go home and make more edible-ornaments for a tree in their own yard."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fort Thomas Residents Host 3rd Annual Fundraiser for Teens in Need

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden 

Everyone loves a good happy hour...but you’ll especially love this holiday happy hour for a great cause!

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m, Villedge is hosting their 3rd Annual Happy Hour Fundraiser at Union Hall (1311 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH) and although the nonprofit organization is located in Cincinnati, there are definitely strong ties to Fort Thomas.

For those who aren’t aware, Villedge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing teens in need with after school creative experiences, fitness classes, job training, one-on-one counseling, family and community support and community based activities. Through partnerships with other organizations and access to experienced staff, the goal is to lift teens from tough situations and elevate them so they can reach their full potential with healthier lifestyles built on relationships, information, opportunities and support.

The goal of the event this year is to raise support for 15 boys who are participating in the program but currently lack the funding necessary for programming costs.

The founders of Villedge, Katie and Iloba Nzekwu, are dedicated to their mission of helping teens in need. “It’s going to take every one of us to stand in the gap for these teens so that the cycles of dysfunction and generational poverty end with them.”

The Nzekwus are also Fort Thomas residents who say they have been able to do so much with Villedge because of the tremendous amount of support from their very own ‘village’ — the Fort Thomas community. “As a transplant to Fort Thomas,  I love and appreciate the opportunity and people of this community. It’s because of the strength of this community that my husband and I have been able to pour so much of our time into Cincinnati because this community takes care of each other and our kids have so many people pouring into their lives from teachers to volunteers to neighbors,” said Katie, “This community has been our Village which has allowed us to create and be the Villedge for teens from the hardest of places, right across the river.”

The annual happy hour is their largest fundraiser of the year and this year, sponsors include; Cinfed, Tripack, Crossroads, CK Mondavi and Family, Jeff Ruby and Lou and Gretchen Meyer. Registration is required but tickets for the event are free with donations requested. The Nzekwus want others to know that they can make a huge difference for one teen just by paying for a monthly gift. “This year we are asking the community to commit to a recurring gift,” said Katie, “We have different price points that cover particular parts of the program that people can choose from so that our boys who are unfunded can continue to receive the support needed.”

Moyer Student Art Project Highlights Local Businesses

Moyer Elementary students wrote their own presentation on their community art project. 

Constellations, stars, planets and a rainbow represent the schools central office in artwork designed by Moyer students for their community art project.

 By Robin Gee

Second grade students at Moyer Elementary are learning about community roles and involvement. The theme fit well into an annual community art project at Moyer highlighting area businesses and organizations.

Moyer Principal Dawn Laber and visual arts teacher Nikki Everett introduced some of the students at the November school board meeting where they presented on their work. For their project, the students visited businesses, learned about their operations and created artworks for each business.

The works they created were the result of a process designed and led by the students. They formed small groups to come up with ideas, decide on what to do, how to execute their plans and, finally, to share their work as a gift to the community.

"In our Moyer classroom we try to think like artists.…The students took risks to come up with ideas, and they had to share them with their peers. That’s really hard to do. When you have great ideas and must decide on one," said Everett.

The students wrote their presentation about the project and what they learned in the process. One group took their idea in unexpected ways. They were asked to do a piece of art for the Bluebirds teams. Instead of focusing on the football or other sports program, the students tied the bluebird to mathematics.

In another artwork, a group represented the Fort Thomas Independent Schools central office with the night sky, a star, rainbow and constellations that spelled out F.T.I.S. In yet another, the students created a futuristic vignette to represent the new 20 Grand building, which houses programs aimed at students interested in science and technology careers.

Students created works for 24 area businesses including the VA Hospital, Colonel De’s, Graeter’s Ice Cream and Alterations by Frances. The students who presented at the meeting were Josie B., Lilly D., Avni J., Aaron K., Ella Kate R. and Ali P.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mayor Eric Haas Meets with Team Who Saved His Life

Eric Haas strolled into the lobby at the Miami Valley Hospital Jamestown Emergency Center on Thursday, Nov. 8 – his 38th wedding anniversary – grinning from ear to ear.

“Hugs for everybody!” he cheered as he embraced anyone he could wrap his arms around.
“You guys just have no idea how grateful I am to all of you,” he announced, his eyes welling up with tears.

RELATED: Eric Haas speaks on his near fatal heart attack (Podcast)

“And I feel so, so amazing!” he proclaimed, adding that he has been exercising, eating healthfully, and had lost more than 20 pounds since everyone there last saw him.

Silvercreek Township and New Jasper Township EMS crews responded to Eric’s lake house near Jamestown on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, after his wife, Jan, called 911 in a panic when he became unresponsive.

They worked together to restart Eric’s heart and transported him to Jamestown Emergency Center. There, they joined forces with staff to prepare Eric for transport to Miami Valley Hospital via CareFlight Air and Mobile Services. Later that week, Eric underwent open-heart surgery at Miami Valley Hospital to repair multiple blockages.

A reunion with Eric’s caregivers was set into motion earlier this year.

Mayor Eric Haas with his Jamestown Emergency Department care team
While attending a Silvercreek Township council meeting, Eric, who serves as mayor of Fort Thomas, Kentucky just outside of Cincinnati, was surprised to be greeted with, “I know you,” after exchanging casual smiles with Silvercreek Fire Chief Steve Payton. The fire chief happened to be part of the crew who treated Eric after he went into cardiac arrest.

When Eric returned home to his wife and excitedly said “Guess who I met!” while showing off a photo of him with the fire chief, the two knew that they needed to reunite with everyone else who saved his life.

Mandy Via, outreach manager for CareFlight, helped coordinate a reunion of several caregivers, including the dispatcher who fielded Jan’s 911 call. To have such a well-attended reunion “just truly echoes why we do what we do,” she said.

Sara Bauersfeld, who helped care for Eric as a nurse at Jamestown Emergency Center, also expressed appreciation for everyone gathered.

“One of the biggest things about being out in Jamestown that people don’t always see is how much community it takes,” she said. “We’ve got good quality care, and we’ve got teamwork, and it fulfills me in my role as nurse manager now to know that we’re reaching people.”

Eric’s wife described the reunion, held almost exactly 13 months after the incident, as closure.

“Most of the time you don’t know if the patient made it, and we just wanted to share with you that because of you all, every single one of you, he made it,” she told the group.

Just as he hugged everyone initially, Eric went around the room asking all present to tell him about their roles that day.

“I’ve always been grateful to people who do what you do, no question about it. But now I just have a totally different perspective on how important it is and how much you affect people’s lives, and I’m just so grateful that you were willing to show up today so I can say thank you,” he said.

“What a great gift – this is the best anniversary gift ever.”

Sen. Wil Schroder Named Chairman of Committee on State and Local Government

The Senate Majority Caucus has announced its committee assignments for the 2019 General Assembly.  Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) will serve as the new Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on State & Local Government.

“I'm honored that leadership has entrusted me to chair the Senate's State and Local Government committee,” Senator Schroder said. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the tough issues and keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”

Senator Schroder will also serve as Co-Chair of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Administrative Subcommittee and as a member on the Program Review & Investigations Committee, Public Pension Oversight Board and the Tax Expenditures Task Force. Additionally, he will serve on the Senate Standing Committees on Judiciary, Economic Development, Tourism & Labor, and Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection.

“Honoring America’s Veterans During the Holidays”

Campbell County Democrats with the assistance of the John R. Little VFW Auxiliary will once again participate with the Wreaths Across America (WAA) program and honor America's Veterans by placing wreaths in Evergreen Cemetery this Christmas season.

The ceremony and wreath placement will take place Saturday, December 15, 2017, beginning at John R. Little VFW at 8:30 am where hot chocolate and coffee will be available for volunteers.  After meeting at the VFW, volunteers will begin placing wreaths at the “Civil War Battery” and the VA’s Soldier’s Lot. At 9:30 am, there will be a presentation from the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Honor Guard to begin the ceremony.

The local group (KY00098) will place a total of 450 wreaths on the graves of veterans in the “Soldier's Lot” and in the “Civil War Battery” areas of the historic cemetery located at 25 Alexandria Pike, Southgate, KY 41071.  Among the Veterans buried at this location are two Medal of Honor recipients; William Horsfall the youngest recipient ever at age 15 for valor during the Civil War and Thomas M. Doherty a recipient for valor during the Spanish-American War.

The public is invited to take part in this moving tribute. This can be done with your financial support, wreath placement and presence at the ceremony.  Individual wreaths are $15.

Christmas Cookie Kits, Mom's Sour Cream Cake & The Birth of Sweet Ace Cakes

Lindsey Cook, owner of Sweet Ace Cakes


Six longingly strung together words that launched a thousand sour cream cakes.

Lindsey Cook grew up in Fort Thomas in a family that knew how to navigate a kitchen. The family sat down to dinner time ports of pot roast, kielbasa with sauerkraut, and Grandpa's Pepper Soup. Lindsey's mom, Jill Hoefker was the captain of the kitchen, a creative wiz that could pull together fall-off-the-bone pork chops, chicken casserole aka Chicken Goop, beef stew with cornbread, homemade canned jams and jellies, and always something sweet to properly close the meal.

Meals were rarely planned. Growing up, Lindsey and her brother, City Council member, Jeff Bezold were often in the kitchen absorbing the art of cooking with their mom. Lindsey remembers:

There was a lot of informal experimentation based on what we had on hand. Recipes were used for guidance. Timers were reminders to check on something, not an indicator of done-ness. My brother and I learned to use recipes, but also how to work with food intuitively. We always had to help and were always in the kitchen, so an unconscious confidence developed. We are willing to try new things, not worried if something didn't turn out. We made changes on the fly and didn't freak out about getting things just right.

Jill catered full time for over 15 years serving hand tossed salads, freshly fried chicken, and homemade meatloaf at corporate events hosted by Convergy's, Loreal, Toyota, and Emerson Power Train. She was known and loved for her food, especially her Sour Cream Cake.

If you ask Lindsey about her mom's Sour Cream Cake she'll probably make you one:

If you don't already know it and love it, let me introduce you.
May I present the Auntie Mom's Sour Cream Cake, not too sweet, not at all frou-frou, just about perfect with a cup of coffee or glass of milk. Enjoy it morning, noon, and night.

Serving suggestion: Store under a large mixing bowl in an accessible place in the kitchen with a butter knife. Cut a slice every time you walk by. Enjoy while you are standing there, let your eyes roll back in your head in delight.

Auntie Mom's Sour Cream Cake - available at Sweet Ace Cakes

Jill passed away recently and Lindsey started recreating her dishes, digging through memories and dog eared cookbooks. A new appreciation for the tweaks on simple home cooking that made her mom's mashed potatoes unforgettable, gave vegetable soup the uncanny ability to cure whatever ailed you, and the special seasoning blend that transformed chicken nuggets into little bites of pure gold.

Her sweets were equal measure delight and surprise. You might find Oreos, marshmallows, or Snickers in her brownies. Other delectables included chocolate lollipops, caramels and there was also the infamous "especially fine" carrot cake which is a story for another time. Jill wasn't a fancy cook, she was someone who keenly understood the power of simple ingredients.


A few months ago Lindsey started writing the Lindsey Cooks with Colonel De food column for Fort Thomas Matters and launched her business, Sweet Ace Cakes. Sweet Ace Cakes is a one woman show of confection perfection. Order your Black Forest Cake, Honeysuckle Cake, Sour Cream Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Super Fudge Brownies, or Peppermint Frosties and pick it up at your leisure at Grassroots & Vine on South Fort Thomas Ave.

Just a few offerings from Sweet Ace Cakes

Sweet Ace Cakes is the local answer to homemade cakes, cookies, and brownies made to order with the freshest ingredients. Going out for dinner or lunch? Pick up a slice or two or three at Grassroots & Vine. Lindsey delivers chocolate layer cake and honeysuckle cake (lovingly named for the farm her mom grew up on) to the local restaurant several times a week.

DIY CHRISTMAS COOKIE KITS: Your New Favorite Holiday Tradition

Sweet Ace Cakes Christmas Cookie Kits

Just in time for the holidays Lindsey has created an easy, delicious, DIY Christmas cookie making kit! Love making cookies with your kids but feel like pulling your hair out by the time you get to the decorating? As a mom of three Lindsey understands and created a kit that includes:

12 Totally delicious sugar cookies (plus mustaches for Santa), 4 tubs of frosting, 4 tubs of custom blended sprinkles, 8 spreaders. Lay down some newspaper to play it safe or live on the edge and just have at it.

Bake, decorate, eat! Sweet Ace Cakes Christmas Cookie Kit

Whether you are hosting a holiday party, celebrating a birthday or just want some cake, Sweet Ace Cakes is your happy place. Lindsey learned from the best and her food comes from the heart. You really can taste the difference. And feel it. She made my daughter a beautiful, delicious birthday cake that going by memory weighed 10 lbs. 10 lbs of thoughtfully made butter, eggs, and magic.

Best sugar cookies ever by Sweet Ace Cakes!

Newport Updates: Smoothie King Headlines New Retail Option, Better Connectivity and Improved Green Spaces

Clock at Newport on the Levee. (photo by Yvonne N., Creative Commons license)

By Robin Gee

You may already be enjoying the new skating rink at Newport on the Levee, and it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to big plans for retail and other projects for Newport.

At a recent meeting of the Newport Business Association, Larisa Sims, Newport's assistant city manager, outlined development plans. The projects can be divided roughly into two groups: those that improve access and enhance living in Newport and those that bring new retail business and shopping experiences.

Better connectivity and improved green spaces

Taylor Southgate Bridge improvements – Designs are being finalized for pedestrian bridges to be built on each side of the Taylor Southgate Bridge. The 1.5 million dollar project will offer better access and connectivity between the Riverfront Commons Trail System and the city. Newport has received funding from the the OKI Regional Council of Governments and development support from Southbank Partners for the project.

Carothers Road project – Phase II of the Carothers Road improvement project will break ground in the spring. Improvements will include better lighting, streetscaping and similar enhancements and will connect to Phase I near Krogers. The new phase will cost about 1.4 million dollars and will run from the turning lane all the way back up to Monmouth Street. It is also funded by an OKI grant.

Monmouth Street projects – Streetscaping, sidewalk improvement, better access management and related improvements will enhance the south end of Monmouth Street in a stretch that goes all the way to the Southgate city boundary. Also funded by a grant, this project will cost about 4 million dollars. It is currently in the design stage and the hope is that work will begin next spring or summer.

The second phase on Monmouth will improve pedestrian access and safety at the underpass near 11th Street. Sims described the current walkway as dangerous and scary. Improvements will make the area much safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians, but because of the extensive concrete work involved, it carries a heavy 4-million-dollar price tag. Thanks to another grant from OKI, work will move forward, but the project is not scheduled to start until 2020.

Bernadette Watkins Park – In a deal with the city about five years ago, the original location of the park became the site of the Northern Kentucky Scholar House, a housing and education facility designed to help single mothers and their children. As part of the agreement, the city would reposition and rebuild the park, Sims explained.

A site on 6th Street across from the Scholar House was selected, and now the property is ready for plantings and other improvements. The city is seeking community volunteers to help with the planting.

More personal mobility options – Sims also announced expansion of the Red Bike Program in the city to include a pilot program offering electronic bikes. New stations for the bikes will be added near Newport City Hall, the Newport Public Library and the Scholar House. Sims said the city is also at the very beginning of exploration and discussion with the company that provides the Bird scooters.

More retail and entertainment options

Newport on the Levee – The Skywheel® is coming to Newport on the Levee but it’s unclear exactly when it will be built. The project is moving forward behind the scenes according to Sims. All substantive approvals have been secured from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and other partners in the project. The lease document is in the works, and Sims says this is the final hoop.

The Corps of Engineers is involved because of the close proximity to the levee itself. Plans for placement of the Skywheel® have changed with input by the engineers, and the new location for the platform will be in the events area of the complex. The wheel itself is constructed, so most of the project involves construction of the platform to support it.

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A ground breaking is anticipated for the spring, said Sims. Koch Development, which has several similar observation wheels across the country, has been dealing with other projects in North Carolina and Panama City that were impacted by hurricanes. If all goes well, it will be full speed ahead soon, she said.

RELATED: The SkyWheel® coming to Newport on the Levee

North American Properties, the new owners of Newport on the Levee, are in the planning stages for the development, and, while Sims says there are some exciting ideas, it’s too soon to share specific news. Yet, the community has caught a glimpse of what may be in store with the new skating rink and other enhanced holiday season projects.

RELATED: Kentucky’s Biggest Outdoor Ice Rink is Open in Newport

Newport Shopping – The Newport Shopping Center and Plaza complex also is under new ownership. Albanese Cormier Holdings has been aggressively looking for new tenants, said Sims. Crunch Fitness will be in the middle of the center and additional stores are coming including AC Moore Arts and Crafts, Urban Nails and the eagerly anticipated Smoothie King.

Construction of the 1,700-square-foot Smoothie King building is projected to be completed in the spring of 2019, according to Smoothie King.

The new Smoothie King location will be located on 82 Carothers Road, adjacent to Newport Plaza, owned by Albanese Cormier Holdings. Other Newport Plaza tenants include Fresh Thyme Market, Planet Fitness, Dollar Tree and Verizon.

An important development for Newport, security company Defenders Direct, with the largest payroll in the area, will be expanding its space by about 5,000 square feet. Currently, this business provides the city with about $250,000 each year, said Sims.

Additional businesses are expected across the street in Newport Plaza including the Burlington Coat Factory and Ross, a California-based discount clothing retail store. With more plans in the works, the owners are making a healthy investment in the buildings to make them tenant ready, said Sims.

2018-19 Highlands Swimming and Diving Preview

Bluebird Program Grows Every Year

G. Michael Graham Photo. The Highlands Swimming team members practice their strokes at Silverlake on Tuesday.
The Highlands Bluebirds swim teams saw the program reach heights not seen in a while last year.

The Highlands boys swim team finished third in the state with 154 points after winning its first Region 7 crown since 1994 with 508 points ending Covington Catholic's 19-year run of consecutive region titles. The Highlands combined swim squads also won their seventh straight region title with 760 points and finished sixth at state.

Head Coach Amanda Johnson welcomes back another large squad. A total of 34 boys and 24 girls make up this year's squad. The boys are expected to have another big season despite the graduation of Garrison Herfel, Chas Sand and Davis Guthier.

"It shows our strength in numbers," Johnson said. "It's great to see the team get larger and larger every year I've been here. It gets more exciting every year. It's not just a one-year thing. The team is so deep that the goal is to stay that high. It's not just the kids. It's the parents. It's the community. Everyone is excited about it. It's a lot of fun."

Junior diver Finn Murphy returns for Highlands after capturing the one-meter individual diving championship last year with 452.6 points. Murphy won it after finishing runner-up in the 7th Region meet.

Senior Brenden Conley returns after qualifying for state in the 200 and 500-meter freestyle events. He took seventh in the 200 in one minutes, 43.45 seconds and seventh in the 500 in 4:44.17. Conley is committed to George Washington University.

"The good thing about swimming is it's easy for anyone to step up to just treating every meet like it's important and going out there and just swimming as fast as you can just leading by example," Conley said. "The younger kids see that and try to go fast as well."

Conley and returning sophomore swimmers Will Griffith and Mac Russell helped the 200 Free Relay team finish third in 1:26.32 and the 400 Relay finish fourth in 3:12.14.

The Highlands 200 Medley Relay team finished 11th in 1:41.02 in the state meet. Two seniors off that team in Matthew Lorenz and Jake Ryan return along with sophomore swimmer Jack Banks. Banks also took 10th in the 100 Breaststroke in 58.82 seconds.

Johnson said a number of other swimmers could step forward. That list includes senior Grant Sower, juniors Davis Recht, Tyler Brown, sophomore Harrison Pawsat, freshmen Benjamin Vaught, Sam Jones and eighth graders Matt Herfel and Sam Hopper.

Sophomore Michael Meadows could also help in diving. Individuals can participate in two individual events and two relays or three relays and one individual event.

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Highlands has seven male divers and five female divers. Sophomore Lauren Groeschen and senior Rachel Ray lead the female divers.

"It's cool to see that both parts of our sport are growing and kids want to be involved in it," Johnson said. "It really adds to your depth because a lot of teams don't have four divers at regionals. If you can get four boy divers and four girl divers at regionals, you can score a lot of points. That's really helped us over the years. In swimming, we can fill every single event. That's huge for us."

Junior swimmer Caroline Sand leads the Highlands girls. Sand said leadership is key in swimming and diving like any sport.

"We just try to get them pumped up and get them excited for the races so they perform better," Sand said. "We try to say encouraging things to them and get music going. You really just have to have a positive attitude the whole time."

The Highlands girls finished 20th at state with 25 points after finishing fourth in region with 252 points. The biggest loss to graduation from that team was Savannah Brady.

Sand finished seventh in the 200 Free at state in 1:53.96 and eighth in the 100 Free in 52.47 seconds. She was also a member of the 16th-place 200 Free Relay team at state. Other returning swimmers from that relay are juniors Tori Sutkamp, Rachel Moscona and freshman Evia Combs.