Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Comprehensive List of Local Races for Campbell County

The filing deadline for Kentucky’s 2018 primary has come and gone. Here's a comprehensive list of what's happening in Campbell County.

Fort Thomas Mayor
 Eric Haas (i)

Fort Thomas Council (Elect 6)
Jeff Bezold (i)
Ken Bowman (i)
Roger Peterman (i)
John Slawter (i)
David Cameron (i)
Sam Shelton
Adam Blau
Mark Collier

Call Ashley Barlow. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
Newport City Commission
Beth Fennell (i)
Thomas Guidugli (i)
Frank Peluso (i)
Ken Rechtin (i)
Jason Walter

Bellevue Mayor

Sen. Wil Schroder Files for Re-election in Kentucky State Senate

Senator Wil Schroder filed for reelection to the 24th District of the Kentucky State Senate representing Campbell, Pendleton, and Bracken Counties. Wil was first elected to this seat in 2014.

Schroder will face Rachel Roberts, a Democrat from Newport, in the general election in November. Roberts owns The Yoga Bar in Newport and Over-the-Rhine.

“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 much work left to be done. 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.”

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. This is an advertisement. 
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 allows Northern Kentucky University to compete with other universities for the funds allocated to them.

Senator Schroder was recently named a Champion for Justice by the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Program.  This award recognized his sponsorship of SB 224, which allows victims of sexual assault more time to bring civil actions against their perpetrators.  

Wil resides in Wilder and is a lifelong Northern Kentucky resident. He is the son of the late Justice Wil Schroder and Nancy Schroder, both victims of cancer. Wil is married to his high school sweetheart, Marci. The two are active members of the Next Chapter Church in Wilder where they served in various leadership capacities and where Wil often plays guitar in the worship band.  Wil and Marci are the proud parents of their daughter Grace who is nineteen months old.

Mark Collier: Why I'm Running for Fort Thomas City Council

Dear Readers,

After much time and contemplation, I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring for Fort Thomas City Council.

This city has been a passion of mine from the time I walked into Ruth Moyer Elementary School to today, where I make my livelihood by featuring the stories and people that make our city so wonderful on Fort Thomas Matters and in Fort Thomas Living.

I grew up here, I went to school here, and I work here now.

I want what's best for our community and schools and I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure Fort Thomas stays on top.

Through my time on the Board of the Fort Thomas Business Association and throughout the process of being involved with the Fort Thomas Community Plan, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on the same side of the table as the city and I’ve loved the collaboration. I’ve seen the passion and dedication of our residents and staff and I just couldn’t sit on the sideline anymore.

It’s time for me to serve our city in an official capacity.

I’ve been lucky enough to grow this business and to hire writers and in doing so, I’ve been able to remove myself from the day-to-day council coverage. Our beat writer goes to council, records what’s happening, writes about what has taken place and publishes it without any input from me. If council or staff has a correction, which they rarely do, we listen and move on that suggestion. That model has been in place for going on two years.

My promise is to continue to be fair and accurate. Our beat writers will have complete autonomy to write about council and the subsequent campaign leading up to the election. I pledge to my fellow candidates who are seeking office that they will receive the same opportunities that they otherwise would have on our platform. Simply, my goal is to continue the way in which you consume news on Fort Thomas Matters without interruption.

I have always sought more transparency from council and that will continue to be my promise to you. You deserve to know what’s happening and how your city is being run.

We are on the right track and I’m excited to get to work for you.

Mark Collier

Mark Collier, with wife Lindsey, and children Benny and Landon. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WATCH: 80s Party is This Weekend

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Buy tickets here. 

The first big party of the year is Saturday, February 3, 2018  8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Tickets are $25, which includes a drink ticket, food, free valet parking, auctions, 80s raffles and an optional open bar upgrade for $30 at the door.

The Leftovers Band will be opening for headliner Q102's DJ Mark McFadden who will be spinning his original sets from The Conservatory, Waterfront and The Glass Menagerie.

Fort Thomas Matters
Mix 94.9
Andy Grammer
Highland Country Club
Hamilton Digital
Adam and Judge Cameron Blau
Gregory Neal- ATL
Bryan and Kimberly Carlisle
Doug and Cecily Fassler
Tracy Davis State Farm Insurance
Doug and Cecily Fassler
Dave and Nannette Hammond
Hofbrauhaus Newport
Dobbling, Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Homes
Penn Station
National Band & Tag Co.
PMG Marketing
Midway Café
Heidelberg Distributing Co
Ultimate Air Shuttle
Fort Thomas Florists & Greenhouses
Artistry Landscaping/Jeff Dapper
Putting for Parkinson’s
25 Again Body Shapes Medical
Quik Tax Service

Bellarmine Basketball Player from Fort Thomas Has Heimlich Maneuver Used On Him in Scary Situation

Ben Weyer, a sophomore at Bellarmine University and former Newport Central Catholic basketball standout from Fort Thomas got the assist of a lifetime from one of his teammates.

During a pre-game meal, Weyer began to choke when assistant coach Jake Thelen, an Edgewood native who went to Covington Catholic, used the Heimlich maneuver to save his life.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Motorcycle, Car Collide on Alexandria Pike, Injuries to Rider are Severe

A crash between a motorcyclist and a car led to the closure of Alexandria Pike near DEP's on Friday around 6:00 p.m. as the sun was beginning to set.

According to police reports, the man riding the motorcycle was heading north on Alexandria Pike toward I-471, when the driver of a vehicle was turning left out of the entrance from DEPs, where they collided.

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Emergency responders from multiple cities, including Southgate and Fort Thomas were on scene, as well as good samaritans who witnessed the crash.

A witness told Fort Thomas Matters that she saw the motorcycle go ten feet in the air after the collision and that she never saw him move from the roadway.

The man, in his seventies from Highland Heights, attends church in Fort Thomas.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

PHOTOS: Historic Fort Thomas Home Just Listed For Sale

If you've ever driven by this home in Fort Thomas directly across the street from Tower Park, you have to have wondered what it looks like on the inside.

Now you know.

Listed Friday, January 26 for $725,000, 911 S. Fort Thomas Avenue is sure to get a lot of eyes on the listing.

Built in the late 1800s, the home has five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms.

According to the Campbell County Property Value Administrator, it was last sold in 1976 for $79,000. You have to wonder what this home will sell for in 42 years.

If you're looking for a realtor, there are three on the Fort Thomas Matters roster. Their sponsorship of Fort Thomas Matters helps make local news possible.

Rob Beimesche - Huff Realty - 859-240-3219
Adam Rosenhagen and Clay Horan - HR Real Estate - 859-496-1113, 859-903-5706
Tami Wilson - Century 21 - 859-380-6007

Friday, January 26, 2018

City Council Roundup: Moving ahead with Visioning, VA Homes, Street Repairs

Land Use and Zoning Committee members pour over maps at its formative meeting.

--> The announcement of an upcoming public meeting for the Visioning and Community Plan was the highlight of the short January meeting of the Fort Thomas City Council.

The visioning project committees will present their work so far and encourage input at a public meeting to be held Wednesday, January 24, at 7 p.m. in the Mess Hall (801 Cochran Avenue).

City Administrator Ron Dill encouraged residents to attend the meeting, consider joining one of the committees and to fill out the community survey available through March 2018. A link to the survey is on the Fort Thomas Community Plan website, and paper copies are available at the public library, the city building and other places around town.

Information received on the surveys so far will be shared at the public meeting.

RELATED: You’re Invited: Fort Thomas Community Plan Public Meeting

Moving ahead

City council moved ahead with a number of projects underway this year:

Deer management program: The community raised about $3,600 for the project. City staff is working out how to implement the program, the timing involved and what ordinances might be necessary. Staff will present their findings at a special session of the Law, Labor and Licensing Committee tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m.

Vacant homes ordinance: City staff members are exploring code enforcement options available to the city for this ordinance. They will report on at the March Law, Labor and Licensing Committee meeting.

VA homes project: Lenders for the VA homes developer, Bloomfield/Schon, have requested a formal document outlining details of the sale of the property to the developer. City council approved permission for Mayor Eric Haas to sign the real estate transfer agreement.

Need a website? Call the local guys. 
Burnet Ridge culvert project: Smith Construction won the bid for repairs and improvements of the Burnet Ridge culvert, on and near the property owned by Adam Blau. The timeline for completion of the work has been pushed back into early summer so that it can be done during the construction season.

After bids for the project were rejected in October by the city because they came back far exceeding city engineers’ estimates, the project was rebid in December. Smith Construction’s bid was $89,200. Dill mentioned the city has had a good experience with the company who did work on the last pier project on Tower Hill.

Firefighters’ contract: City council authorized the mayor to sign an agreement for a three-year contract with IAFF Local 1928 that represents city fire service personnel. Language has been added to accommodate overtime rates for 24-hour shifts and for lateral entry into the department. This is the last of the city employee contracts. City staff and police contracts were signed at the beginning of the fiscal year.

A caution for residents

Fort Thomas Police Sgt. Will Hunt gave the monthly police report. He praised his colleagues and their spouses for help with the annual Cops and Kids program. In December, 55 children were given $300 each and were taken on a shopping spree for the winter and holidays. The money is raised all year by the department and especially at its annual golf outing.

Sgt. Hunt also took the opportunity to warn residents that the end of the holiday season and the onset of cold weather has not deterred some individuals from theft. Area residents have reported car and garage break-ins as well as footprints in the snow that indicate attempts to enter homes.

"Please lock your doors. We’ve had about five streets hit last night and about 20 cars, and every single one of them were unlocked. The weather doesn’t keep these guys away," he said.

The officer also warned that with tax season comes tax-related scams. A resident lost $6,000 recently in one such scam, he said. "If it sounds like a bunch of bogus stuff, it probably is. The IRS is never going to ask anyone for their personal information over the phone," he said.

Street program ordinance

City council heard the first reading of the 2018 street improvement ordinance, apportioning costs for six streets, based on engineering estimates. Assessment rates for property owners are based by per linear foot. The estimates are:

  • Custis Avenue (from Washington Avenue to Alexandria Pike): $9.64/linear foot
  • Diana Court (from Highview Drive to its terminus): $8.03/linear foot
  • Highview Drive (from Highland Avenue to its terminus: $9/linear foot
  • Lafayette Court (from Washington Avenue to its terminus): $6.93/linear foot
  • Lilac Lane (from Highview Drive to Newman Avenue): $9.40/linear foot
  • Washington Avenue (from Highland Avenue to the city’s corporate boundary with Newport, Joyce Avenue: 9.74/linear foot

A second reading and approval will take place at the next council meeting.

Fort Thomas Drug Center Offers Medication Adherence Packaging

Your Neighborhood Pharmacy (photo courtesy Fort Thomas Drug Center)


Having a disease like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure can be scary. Fortunately, with the advancement of science and pharmaceuticals, patients can live productive lives by adhering to a medication regimen and incorporating lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

When patients don't take their medication properly (non-adherence) the consequences are broad and often negatively impact patients, caregivers, medical providers, medical researchers and place a large burden on the healthcare system.


Fort Thomas Drug Center offers an adherence packaging service for patients needing extra assistance with their medications. Adherence packaging is a professionally packaged unit dosing system by Fort Thomas Drug Center to increase medication adherence by minimizing patient confusion to ensure the right medication at the right day and time. Adherence packaging helps patients stay healthy and live fuller lives with the comfort of having their own community pharmacist at their side.

Adherence packaging (photo: provided)


Medication adherence means taking medication properly. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration):

"[Medication adherence] involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medication on time, and understanding the directions. Poor adherence can interfere with the ability to treat many diseases, leading to greater complications from the illness and a lower quality of life for patients".

Medication non-adherence can result in:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Wasted medication
  • Increased hospitalizations and visits
  • Disease progression 
  • Treatment failure
  • Nursing home admissions
  • Additional treatments
  • Accidents
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Estimated $100 billion annual cost to US health care system

Related: FDA Are You Taking Your Medications as Prescribed?

Fort Thomas Drug Center has seen great success with their patients participating the medication adherence packaging program. If you are overwhelmed by your medication regimen taking multiple medications daily, then give Fort Thomas Drug Center a call at 441-1140, or stop by 26 N Ft Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas. 

Simplify your life and worry about one less thing!

Visit Fort Thomas Drug Center's website for lots of great information
Address: 26 N Fort Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas, KY
Call: (859) 441-1140

Thursday, January 25, 2018

ALERT: School Traffic Pattern to Change at Fort Thomas and Highland Avenues

This week, the Fort Thomas Police Department changed up the early morning traffic pattern at North Fort Thomas Avenue and Memorial Parkway by having the crossing guard there helping children cross at the intersection, but did not directing traffic.

According to Fort Thomas Police Officer, Sean Donelan, that experiment was a success. He said that commute times have decreased and feedback has been positive from drivers.

RELATED: New Traffic Pattern to Take Effect at Memorial Parkway and N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

"We have data that indicates our changes have sped up arrival times and reduced tardy students dramatically at Highlands High School and Highlands Middle School," said Donelan, who noted that some delays are occurring after students are dropped off. "We are willing to make mistakes while trying different solutions, but the biggest mistake is not trying anything."

Orangetheory Fitness, located at Newport Pavilion. 
Donelan said that with phase one of the traffic experiment complete, the police department is moving onto phase two: instituting similar changes at Fort Thomas and Highland Avenues.

Otherwise known as Judy the Crossing Guard's intersection.

Highlands Girls Hoops Focused on Controllable Things

Undisputed Top Seed in District Tournament on Line Friday

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands freshman guard Kenzie Nehus goes up for a shot in the win over Campbell County on Saturday.
The long-term goals have not changed.

But for now, the 14-6 Highlands Bluebirds girl basketball team is focusing on the things only the players and coaches can control. Those things helped the Bluebirds record a convincing 58-25 victory at Bishop Brossart on Monday two days after the huge 53-52 win over the second-ranked Campbell County Lady Camels on Saturday in Fort Thomas. Highlands has won three straight.

Fact or Fiction? A Bill Has Been Filed That Would Merge All County and Independent School Districts

Toby Herald (R - Beattyville) has created a stir by sponsoring a bill that would merge all current county and independent school districts into 55 districts as well as abolish existing local boards of education and establish 55 boards of education.

The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee, has no co-sponsor and no details have been hashed out among local officials.

But that hasn't stopped social media wave of speculation and how that could affect local school districts, including the recently named best school district in the state: Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

The Fort Thomas Independent Schools board chair, Jeff Beach, said that he doesn't think this bill is is a good fit for Fort Thomas.

“We have been assured from our representatives in Frankfort that our board will remain under local control. Fort Thomas deserves and will stand alone if for no other reason than the community has clearly spoken with their tax dollars, not to mention our education foundation, which enhances and develops our school district. They have chosen that this is the type of school district they want to have,” said Beach.

Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) backed up Beach's statement, saying that he would error on the side of local control.

"The goal of creating efficiency in education is our constitutional duty. However, I am inclined to leave the idea of merger of local school districts to the voters in those districts,” he told Fort Thomas Matters. 

"Fort Thomas Independent Schools receive strong financial support and community buy-in from our residents. So with regard to merging, this bill doesn’t make sense for our district,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent. “Our residents are happy, our finances are solid and our results speak for themselves.” 

Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) provided some more context on Herald's bill, taking to his Facebook page to clear up misconceptions he had heard on social media. He said that he had read comments that insinuate that he supported merging the Erlanger-Elsmere school district.

"That is categorically false," noted Koenig.

But while he flatly denied his support for merging that school district, he said that the conversation to address districts which are financially struggling should continue.

Two Updates from the Fort Thomas Jr. Football League

The Fort Thomas Junior Football League would like to remind parents that there is only one week left in the JANUARY ONLY Early Registration Period.  Starting February 1st, fees will increase to a flat fee of $150 (no payment plan options).  Sign up now at!"

Fort Thomas Junior Football League Spring Fundraiser

1st Annual Alumni Flag Football Tournament

The Fort Thomas Junior Football League is in the planning stages of hosting its 1st Annual Alumni Spring Football Tournamentin late April or early May of 2018.  This will serve as our primary fundraising event.    This year we will be expanding Spring Football practice to our 7th and 8th grade players as we continue to build upon the decades of tradition this league afforded many of us.  Once we are able to solidify the Spring Football dates for our players, we will be planning an Alumni Flag Football Tournament around the potential Spring Football 7th and 8th Grade Blue/White Scrimmages.  Please let us know if you would be interested in fielding a team to represent your Class based off the criteria below.

·         Tournament will be comprised of 2 Divisions with 2 Champions; 30 and Under; Over 30
·         Tournament will follow the 2 Loses and Out Format, complete with a losers bracket
·         Games will all be completed over the course of a single Saturday.  All games will be played at a single site with the exception of the Championship Games.  Championship Games will be played at a different location followed by food, drinks, and entertainment.
·         Eligible players must have either played in the FTJFL or for Highlands Football.  Teams should be comprised of Players within the same Graduating Class. 
·         Teams need a minimum of 8 players with a maximum of 15 players.  A single class can register multiple teams.  The cost per team will be $350.

Please contact Brian Ulbricht at (859) 630-8168 or if you are interested in fielding a team.  We would like to get an idea of the number of teams interested in participating.  Help support of the tradition of the FTJFL.

Fort Thomas Museum Receives Grant from Local History Trust Fund

Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) joined the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet in the State Capitol Rotunda on January 9 for a check presentation to the Fort Thomas Military and Community History Museum. The check, totaling over $1,400, was presented to the museum for collections management on behalf of the Kentucky Local History Trust Fund.

“The Fort Thomas Military and Community History Museum, which dates back to World War I, has been a critical part of our regional identity for so many years,” said Senator Schroder.
This is an advertisement. 

“This grant will help the museum continue its mission of educating citizens from Campbell County and beyond on our community’s rich history and heritage.”

The Kentucky Local History Trust was established in 2014 and is funded solely by donations from Kentuckians’ income tax returns. In 2016, Kentuckians donated $25,000 to from their income tax returns to support local history efforts. The Kentucky Historical Society oversees the Kentucky Local History Trust Funds in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

PHOTO: State Senator Wil Schroder (second from right) joined Kentucky Arts, Tourism, and Heritage Cabinet Deputy Secretary Regina Stivers (right); J. McCauley “Mac” Brown, Third Vice President of the Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board (left); and Deanna Beineke, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fort Thomas Military and Community History Museum for the check presentation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Vitae Viride is Closing their Fort Thomas Location

Vitae Viride, a retailer selling all-natural personal care products and cosmetics has announced they intend to close their Fort Thomas location on February 16, 2018.

The store is located at 118 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, next to Fort Thomas Coffee.

RELATED: Vitae Viride to Open in Fort Thomas' Central Business District 

Fort Thomas resident and owner of the store, Emily Little, manufactured the goods sold in her store under her other business, Queen City Alchemy.

She also announced that Queen City Alchemy will be re-opening as part of a new joint venture with The Evergreen Designs in late Spring/Summer. The Evergreen Designs is a business that specializes in hosting "sign parties" where guests create custom wooden signs, custom apparel and accessories.

She opened her location in April of 2017.

"We’ve loved our time spent here in Fort Thomas and thank each of you for the support of our little business," Little told Fort Thomas Matters. "We’ve been blessed here and are hopeful for the future."

The Central Business District in Fort Thomas has endured many vacancies recently. High-profile closures of restaurants and retailers such as 15 North Pizza, Subway, The Art House and The Polished Pearl within the last 18 months, coupled with a few longtime businesses taking different career directions, has the main artery in Fort Thomas struggling to find sound economic footing or direction.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. Located in Fort Thomas Plaza. 
In 2012, Fort Thomas applied to be a Kentucky Cultural District from the state's Arts Council. That application was not accepted. So without the state designation, the city began crafting its idea of what a local arts district should look like within the boundary of 1-200 N. Fort Thomas Avenue between Highland Avenue and the city building. In 2015, the City announced they had 23 businesses in the district that had something to do with the arts.

Later that year, Fort Thomas resident and United Property Group owner, Dan Gorman, bought The Hiland Theatre building, located in the heart of the Central Business District. The large building, once a theatre, housed a few retailers and service businesses. It sat occupied at 27%.

Today it is filled to capacity.

So it's not all negative news.

Want to Talk to Your Elected Officials Who Represent You in Frankfort? Here's How, When


The public is invited to join Northern Kentucky House and Senate members on Saturday, February 3, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. – Noon, for the 2018 Northern Kentucky Legislative Forum at Highlands High School Performing Arts Center, located at 2400 Memorial Parkway, Fort Thomas, KY.   Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide a forum for constituents to offer input on issues during the 2018 Legislative Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Hassman and Doyle Lawfirm. 859-655-4430. This is an advertisement. 
The forum has most recently been held at Northern Kentucky University.

Every effort is made to accommodate those wishing to address the Caucus. The morning's format for those wishing to speak will require signing in on a first-come, first-served basis, with the amount of time allotted for each speaker determined by the number of sign-ups.  To assure there is ample time to hear input on the different issues, multiple individuals addressing the same topic may be asked to select a spokesperson for the entire group.


The members of the Northern Kentucky Caucus are:

Senator Wil Schroder, 24th District, Chair

Representative Diane St. Onge, 63rd District, Vice-Chair

Senator Julian Carroll, 7th District​​​              Representative Phillip Pratt, 62nd District

Senator John Schickel, 11th District​​                       Representative Kim Moser, 64th District

Senator Damon Thayer, 17th District    ​​     ​​Representative Arnold Simpson, 65th District
Senator Paul Hornback, 20th District        Representative Addia Wuchner, 66th District
Senator Chris McDaniel, 23rd District      ​​            Representative Dennis Keene, 67th District

Representative Rick Rand, 47th District​​     Representative Joseph Fischer, 68th District​​​​​

Representative Sal Santoro, 60th District ​​  Representative Adam Koenig, 69th District
Representative Brian Linder, 61st District​​ Representative Mark Hart, 78th District

If you have any questions about the meeting or arrangements, or would like to request special accommodations for accessing the meeting, please contact Lisa Cooper, 859.283.1885,

Fort Thomas Wants to Hear From You – Take the Survey

Have you been a resident of Fort Thomas all your life?  Or perhaps you moved here only recently.  Either way, your experiences within the city and opinions about our great city matter - now more ever!

The City of Fort Thomas Community Plan committees want to hear from you: what you like (or not) about the city; what you would like to see in regards to park improvements, enhancements to our business districts and neighborhoods and upgrades to our roadways (including bike paths and sidewalk improvements); and who you think the City should be partnering with to make our city the best it can be.

RELATED: You're Invited: Fort Thomas Community Plan Public Meeting 
RELATED: Community Plan: Here's How to Join a Committee 

Since September 2017, six committees have been working on a multi-chapter coordinated Community Plan (Land Use & Zoning, Parks & Recreation, Transportation & Connectivity, Utilities & City-owned Buildings, Regional Collaboration, and Funding & Implementation).  As part of the Awareness Phase over the past few months, the committees have been focusing on Fort Thomas’ strengths and opportunities, as well as issues that need to be addressed in each of the six topic areas, with one goal in mind - developing a vision for our future that reflects the community’s collective aspirations.  And this is where your ideas and input are needed.

The City of Fort Thomas is conducting a series of six online surveys to gather your input – one survey for each topic area – available at  So far over 500 residents have taken the surveys.  If you haven’t done so already, please take a few minutes to share your opinions about what matters to you in Fort Thomas.  Each survey takes three to six minutes to complete, and you can take them all at once or some now and some later.  The questions range from “What types of goods and services are missing from our business districts?” and “What types of park improvements are most needed?” to “Do you think the City is adequately maintaining its facilities?  Plus there is ample space to provide written comments.

The online survey will stay open at a minimum for the next 60 day.  In addition, paper surveys are available at City Hall, Campbell County Branch of the YMCA and the Fort Thomas / Carrico Branch of the Campbell County Public Library.  

Survey results will help better understand residents’ hopes and concerns for our community. Interim survey results will be shared at the upcoming Public Forum/Open House to be held on Wednesday January 24 from 7pm to 9pm at the Mess Hall.  All are welcome to attend.

The Fort Thomas Community Plan is an important document because, once complete, it will help guide the City for the next 10 to 20 years. The survey provides an excellent opportunity for citizens to provide input on how Fort Thomas should develop and how the City should invest in the community over the next couple decades.  Please participate in the discussion, share your opinion, and help shape our future.  If you have questions, contact Ron Dill, City Administrative Officer at

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In Other Words: Laughter Heals a Whole Lot of Hurt

This image has nothing to do with the story. Hope you laugh.
Family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances jammed the chapel for the graveyard service for my mother. The priest had begun when a youngish couple made an awkward noisy entrance. People moved back and they moved to the front. I didn’t recognize the couple, but then my mother knew a lot of people.

The priest began again and the couple began to fidget.  There were some hushed exchanges and then it happened. They realized that they were at the wrong funeral. Someone chuckled. Then some more chuckled. And then we all laughed as the young couple bowed their heads and rushed out of the room in search of the proper funeral.

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That laugh broke the tension. It was just what we needed at that moment. And isn’t that the case during a really trying time? It’s not being disrespectful; it’s recognizing the human element. After all, comedy and tragedy are flip sides of the same coin.

Shelley Schlarman Walsh tells a story about when her husband, Dan, a talented musician and much loved teacher, neared death a few years ago. He had developed brain cysts and the road to recovery was difficult.  Shelley says, “When Dan was at his absolute worse they called us all in to St. E’s to possibly say goodbye. Well, the call came in at 1:30 and Dan’s dad had already taken his Ambien for sleep. Dan [Jr.] looked dead, hooked up to every possible machine. And here comes Dan Sr. dancing like Danny Kaye in “White Christmas” high as a kite! He started taking one dollar bills out of his wallet and dancing around Dan’s hospital bed.  As crazy as it seems it brought laughter that I needed at that exact moment.” Thank goodness Dan avoided that Hollywood sendoff.

Lynnea Bennett, who owns Embellish Salon in Bellevue, tells a story about her grandmother’s funeral.  Lynnea says, “She was going to be buried in the family plot next to her parents.” They lived in a small town far enough away where life was hard. “Whenever she and my Grandpa would drive anywhere… they were poor so there was no stopping for food on the way so she always had a box of food in the car, fruit, crackers, a thermos of coffee etc. Even when I was a kid there was always food in a box in the car. We still don't know who did it, but in the back of the hearse with her coffin was a box of snacks for her last trip. We laughed and cried at the same time.” Now that family knows how to make the solemn sunny.

Kym Wilson Grillot tells a story about a friend’s family who took their faith to a new level.  Kym says, “My friends lost their grandparents in close succession. [On] the night of the second funeral, like the good Milwaukee Catholics they were, the grandkids stopped at a bar for a drink or ten. The bar sold bottled liquor and they bought a bottle of liquor - in a Pope John Paul II decanter! They all did shots in honor of their grandparents. Fast forward to the next family reunion. They filled the same Pope decanter with new liquor and toasted to their grandparents. To keep the tradition going, they put names in a hat and the winner had to bring it back to the next reunion filled with more liquor. I had the honor of attending one of the reunions and toasted their grandparents right along with the family! Well, one year the Arkansas cousin won it and the next year the Pope came back filled with moonshine, wearing a pair of handmade overalls, a bandana and a cowboy hat! It was a riot! But the real story for me was witnessing the genuine affection of the family for their grandparents, their Catholic faith, that Pope decanter and each other, and it still makes me smile.”  I’ll toast to that!

This image has nothing to do with the story as well. But I might be late.

Maryanne Zeleznik’s uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Maryanne says, “He had done well for a while, but things then started getting worse and Mike, the minister at church, and his son-in-law and a couple of friends, prayed over him at church. Later he wasn't able to get to church so they came to pray over him at the house. He wasn't really talking then, but they talked to him and said Mike was going to pray over him again, [and asked] would that be okay? He sat up and said ‘No It would not....look what happened the last time he prayed for me.’ Mike told the story at my uncle's funeral. It brought the house down.” 

Laughter is a celebration of life, our foibles, our insecurities, and our humanity. All comedy is rooted in tragedy. The great comic Sid Caesar said, “Crying and laughing are the same emotion. If you laugh too hard, you cry. And vice versa.” Laughter reminds us that even our darkest day has a little sunshine.  And that is why I choose to face this disease, this lymphoma, and its treatments by recognizing the humor. Because laughter heals a whole lot of hurt.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A New Johnson Elementary School: What You Need to Know

A town hall held at Johnson Elementary School Sunday night provided some insight about the design process, the funding challenges and some takeaways for stakeholders who are trying to help the two-time Blue Ribbon School award winner obtain the necessary funding during this legislative budget session.

Dr. Karen Cheser moderated the forum. Panelists included Sen. Wil Schroder, Rep. Joe Fischer, architect Joe Hayes and Fort Thomas Education Foundation Board Chair, Amy Shaffer.

The craftsman, bungalow-style school would look marginally different from the other two renovated elementary schools in Fort Thomas, said Cheser.

"We wanted it to fit within the character of the neighborhood," she said.

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Gone would be the antiquated, California-style open-air campus, that students must sometimes traverse through conditions to get from class to class. Instead, there would be one contiguous building that would still fit within the same real estate footprint that school currently holds. There would be a flood of natural light that will flow in through the back glass windows, more parking and a drop-off circle around back.