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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Unconventional Walk-Off Propels Bluebirds to Four-Peat

Bluebirds Overcome Determined Colonels in 9th Region Title Game

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, The Highlands baseball team raises four fingers in honor of its fourth straight 9th Region championship at UC Health Stadium. The Bluebirds beat Covington Catholic, 3-2 to win the crown.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Drew Rom delivers to the plate in the region championship game. Rom retired 12-of-13 batters he faced in relief including seven strikeouts on his way to the Tournament MVP. Rom also went 2-for-2 with two RBI, a run scored and two hits by a pitch. His last HBP came with the bases loaded to end the game scoring sophomore Ethan Kavanagh.
It took an unconventional walk-off to overcome an arch-rival team known for its unconventional strategies.

But the Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (26-13 overall) happily took it to win its unprecedented fourth consecutive 9th Region crown by a 3-2 count over the Covington Catholic Colonels (26-11). Highlands senior pitcher Drew Rom absorbed a hit by  pitch on a 3-0 count from CovCath senior left-handed pitcher Jack Maile with the bases loaded and two out to score sophomore Ethan Kavanagh for the walk-off in the bottom of the seventh inning.

"I like the pressure that I put on myself. It's just something that I like to go out and do every day," Rom said of hitting and pitching. "I didn't expect (the walk-off HBP) at all. I just wanted to go out there and win. There's no better way to end it."

Highlands did not score 11 or more runs for the first time this post-season. But the Bluebirds have still outscored their five post-season opponents, 56-4.

"The focus has always been to win the next pitch," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "In the regular season, it's so tough because you have so many games that you're playing and so many guys moving in and out. Our guys are focused on winning that next pitch. They grinded out at-bats like crazy. We didn't barrel as many balls as we'd have liked, but we still fought enough to get the job done."

With one out, Kavanagh hit one to the gap in right center field and raced around to third base for the triple to put the winning run 90 feet from home plate. That's when veteran CovCath Head Coach Bill Krumpelbeck elected to intentionally walk Highlands senior Joe Steiden and junior Bryce Ziegler to load the bases for senior Tyler Gulley.

Senior Tyler Gulley battled Maile to a full count. Gulley fouled some pitches off with the full count before lining one to left field. It appeared to be dropping in for a hit. But CovCath senior left fielder Logan Beale dove to make the catch forcing Kavanagh to retreat back to third to avoid being doubled off.

"We wanted to win for the next guy," Baioni said. "That's the most important thing. That's a heck of a team over there (in Park Hills). Their pitchers threw it well. They played great defense. But we battled enough that we were able to get it done. Give all the credit to the kids. They're the ones that got it done."

Gulley had not played on any of the last three region championship teams. He moved in from Pennsylvania in between his junior and senior year.

"We want (to win) state bad. We just want to win," Gulley said. "We've been putting in the effort and the training since September. Now that we won the region and are going to state, we're going to put in that extra effort."

The last team to win four or more 9th Region championships was the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds. They won seven straight between 1948 and 1954 also winning the state championship in 1950 during that run.

Krumpelbeck recorded his 1,000th victory as head coach of the Colonels on Tuesday in the region semifinals in a 12-0 five-inning win over St. Henry. Krumpbelbeck is the lone active head coach in Northern Kentucky to win a state championship in 2002. The Colonels last won the region in 2008 and finished runner-up in 2009.

But between 2012 and last year, the Colonels had struggled in region play going just 1-6 with the lone win coming against St. Henry (3-0) in the region quarterfinals in 2014. This marked the first appearance in the region championship since 2009 for the Colonels.

Highlands will take on the 8th Region winner to open the state tournament on Friday, June 8 at 11 a.m. at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington. The opponent will either be North Oldham (28-7) or South Oldham (20-11) from the 29th District.

Region Tournament Most Valuable Player Rom finished 2-for-2 with a home run, two runs batted in and a run scored. He tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Rom hit a 1-2 pitch from CovCath junior starting pitcher Evan Stallman over the wall in left field.

Rom's single to lead off the second paved the way for the first Highlands run. Two outs later, senior pinch runner Ryan Adkins took second after junior Cooper Schwalbach drew a walk with the bases loaded. Senior Sam Hennigan then singled to right center scoring Adkins to trim the CovCath lead to 2-1.

Rom took over with one out in the top of the fourth on the mound. He'd retire 12 of the 13 Colonel batters he'd face on his way to the win including seven strikeouts. The only CovCath batter to reach on Rom came with two out in the sixth when senior Michael Schaefer singled.

Highlands made the routine plays only committing one error on a dropped foul ball. Schwalbach made a diving play in center field taking away a hit from Beagle to start the fifth inning.

"It was a big play in the game," Schwalbach said. "If I don't catch that, it's a home run. It just changes the whole momentum of the game. I just read the ball, took a chance and went after it. Luckily, I came up with it. You just have to commit to it."

CovCath only committed two errors, but they did not lead to any Bluebird runs. They came in the first inning. Kavanagh struck out, but the ball hit the dirt. The throw from CovCath senior catcher Andy Kennedy was high allowing Kavanagh to reach. Kavanagh then took second when Stallman threw an errant pick-off throw.

The Bluebirds wound up hitting .231 for the game going 6-for-26 against Maile and Stallman with three walks and 11 strikeouts. CovCath went 5-for-20 for a .250 average with three walks, three sacrifice bunts and a sacrifice fly.

Senior Hunter Dreves started the game for the Bluebirds. Dreves retired the Colonels in order in the first inning and struck out junior center fielder Casey McGinness to start the second.

But the Colonels scored twice in the second inning. Senior second baseman Justin Colvin walked and took second when Schaefer singled. Junior John Schuh pinch ran for Colvin. Schuh scored when senior third baseman Thomas Cody lined a double to left field. Maile then landed a suicide squeeze scoring Schaefer before Kennedy walked.

But junior Grady Cramer relieved Dreves and ended the inning on a rundown. He threw to third baseman Hennigan as Cody bolted home. Hennigan threw to Ziegler at the plate to nail Cody.

"It was really no different," Baioni said. "It was just (to) keep playing. Keep executing. We thought we could score some runs. I thought we were going to score some runs earlier and a little more often. But again, it's a credit to CovCath's pitchers. They did a good job keeping guys off-balance."

CovCath put runners at first and third with two out in the top of the third. But Colvin hit a ground ball to Kavanagh at short. Kavanagh threw to junior Chris Bridewell at second to force out CovCath junior designated hitter Jack Coldiron.

Highlands put four players total on the all-tournament team. Aside from Rom, they were Hennigan, senior Carson Fitters and Cramer.

Wilder Company Expands Operations to Chicago

BM2 Freight Services, Inc., a provider of logistics and transportation solutions, is excited to announce the opening of a new branch office in the Chicago metropolitan area.  This marks the first office outside of the headquarters in the Cincinnati area for the 10-year old logistics firm.

BM2 Freight Services, Inc. was founded in 2008 by Kevin Ball, Matthew Mason and Jeff Mason, from Fort Thomas.  

The office will be strategically placed in Rosemont, IL near the O’Hare airport.  It will be fully operational on June 1, 2018.   BM2 Freight Services will offer full truckload, cross-border, LTL, expedited and drayage services from this location.

“Expanding into the Chicago market is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” said Ball.  “It gives us access to a rich talent pool of candidates and gives us a local presence in one of the major markets for manufacturing and distribution.”

Roofing, painting, siding, gutters. Call Matt. This is an advertisement. 
The Chicago branch will be led by Pete Katai, BM2 Freight’s new Executive VP of Sales.   Pete is an industry veteran and has been involved with large brokerage companies in Chicago in his logistics career that has spanned more than 20 years.  

"We are anxious to hit the ground running,” said Katai.  “This organization shares the same values and long-term strategies as I do and we were a natural fit for each other.”

CVG Sets New Local Passenger Record

Expecting record-breaking summer travel months

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is one of the fastest growing airports in the country, as it continues to set new all-time records for arriving and departing passengers, and anticipates busy, record-setting summer travel months.

In April, local passenger traffic was up 25 percent with more than 343,282 originating passengers, setting a new all-time record for the month of April in CVG’s 70-year history. All scheduled carriers at CVG are experiencing year-over-year growth:

Allegiant: up 60%
Frontier: up 18.9%
United: up 25.5%
Delta: up 11%
o   American: up 2.5%

Over the last three years, originating passenger volume has grown 63 percent while airfares have decreased more than 36 percent.

Orangetheory Fitness Newport Pavilion. 
CVG also set a record in terms of most cargo tonnage handled in the month of April, with 100,893 tons, an increase of 41 percent year-over-year.

“At CVG, we’re embracing what’s next and welcoming this tremendous growth, as we work to continue breaking records by growing both passenger and cargo operations, introducing new flight options and experiencing lower airfares,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, CVG.

Northern Kentucky Woman Was Five times Over the Limit When She Crashed, Killed Man

Emily Sherry, 23, was charged with murder after she wrecked her car April 21 into Robert Ransdell's Toyota Camry on I-275 eastbound in Campbell County.

When police arrived on scene the 37-year old Ransdell was pinned under the front tire of his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

RELATED: Police Seeking Information About Car Crash Fatality in Wilder 

Police say Sherry was found in the driver's seat and intoxicated to such an "extraordinary degree" officers felt it would have been unsafe for her to perform standard sobriety tests, they wrote in a complaint to Campbell County District Court.

According to police, Sherry had been driving when she veered into the oncoming lane and struck Ransdell's Camry, "sending it careening off the road and flipping multiple times," before colliding with a tree.

Police wrote Sherry's reaction to being arrested and transported to the hospital ranged from anger to tears to apparent exhaustion. She fell asleep multiple times in the emergency room, according to the complaint, but communicated with officers enough to admit "she had been drinking bourbon while babysitting." She also claimed her boyfriend had been driving her car at the time of the crash, police said.

An initial lab test showed her blood alcohol concentration at .422; a follow-up test maxed out Kentucky State Police's measuring equipment at .307, and lab officials estimated it might be much higher. According to the University of Notre Dame's McDonald Center, any BAC level over .4 can lead to coma and even "death due to respiratory arrest."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Blue Marble Books: Celebrating 39 Years!


Blue Marble Books has been serving the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati areas since June 1979. June 2018 marks their 39th year in business and to celebrate they will be giving away a $39 gift certificate to the purchaser of every 39th book sold during anniversary week, June 1 - 9!


Last month was Troi and Pepper's first visit to Blue Marble Books. Troi and Pepper are therapy dogs who will be coming again on Tuesday June 12th. Children are invited to come by the store and sit with one of the therapy dogs and read to them. Blue Marble are scheduling 15 minute sessions for each child and dog session.

Check out the Facebook Events page here. 
Call the store to schedule your 15 min session: 859-781-0602

A memorable experience at Blue Marble Books! (photo: provided)


Pick up your Where's Waldo Passport on Monday, June 18th at Blue Marble Books! Begin your search at Blue Marble by finding Waldo, Wenda, Woof, Wizard Whitebeard, and Odlaw! Travel through the community finding Waldo in participating shops beginning Monday July 2, 2018.

Look for the Where's Waldo sign in shop windows around town and get your passport stamped or signed. Once filled, bring your passport back to Blue Marble and enter to win prizes awarded during the wrap-up party on Saturday August 4, 2018 from 1:00 - 2:00.

Blue Marble is a full-service, independent bookseller with a personal commitment to their customers and our community. They have a large selection of in-stock and readily available titles and the staff's knowledge of books is vast.

While you're there visit the Great Green Room modeled after the setting in Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, the Great Teen Room, and Secret Garden area.

Blue Marble Books (photo: provided)

Highlands Baseball 53, Post-Season Opponents 2

Impressive Post-Season Run Continues for Bluebird Baseball

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Chris Bridewell makes a play at second in the region semifinal game against Beechwood on Tuesday.
Another region game meant another opportunity to continue the impressive trend of blowouts.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (25-13 overall) did not disappoint in the 9th Region semifinals at UC Medical Center Stadium in Florence Tuesday. The Bluebirds put together another double-digit domination with an 11-1 win over the Beechwood Tigers (22-11) for their 11th straight region win and third win over the Tigers this season. Highlands run-ruled the first three post-season opponents.

Birds Cruise in Region Semi-Final

Softball Bluebirds Advance Back to Region Championship Game

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Rachel Gabbard ends the 9th Region semifinal with a grand slam against St. Henry in the bottom of the fifth inning. Highlands won 13-0 in five innings to advance to the region championship game.
Games like this can bite you if you let the guard down coming off a tight one the previous day.

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team (20-10 overall) found itself in that situation in the 9th Region semi-final match-up against the 34th District champion St. Henry Lady Crusaders (17-18) Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park in Newport. The Bluebirds took care of the Boone County Rebels, 2-1 in 10 innings on Monday and came in hoping to make sure this game turned out as lopsided as many expected.

Highlands did not disappoint. The Bluebirds scored five runs in the second inning to go up 6-0 and finished off the Lady Crusaders, 13-0 in five innings to make it back to the region championship for the fourth time in five seasons.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Are You Managing the New Campbell County Roundabouts?

By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Traffic Circles

A traffic circle or roundabout is an alternative form of intersection traffic control used more commonly today and replacing traffic signals and multi-way stop control intersections.  Generally, the purpose of a traffic circle or roundabout is to reduce speed and increase safety.  Moreover, a traffic circle or roundabout is supposed to reduce congestion and improve aesthetics.  However, this benefit only occurs if drivers understand and follow the rules in using a traffic circle or roundabout.

With all traffic circles or roundabouts, you enter to the right and continue around the circle or roundabout in a counterclockwise direction.  As most are well aware, all traffic circles or roundabouts are one way proceeding counterclockwise.  When you enter or change lanes in a traffic circle or roundabout, you should use your turning signal.

For a Single Lane Traffic Circle or Roundabout, please make sure you do the following:

Watch for the yellow “roundabout ahead” sign, then reduce your speed on approach.
Be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Look left, and if you see traffic in the roundabout, yield.
When you see a break in the traffic, you can safely enter the circle.
Drive around the roundabout until you get to your exit.
Use your turn signal, watch for other cars, and exit safely.

For a Multi-Lane Traffic Circle or Roundabout, please make sure you do the following:

Watch for the yellow “roundabout ahead” sign and the white “lane choice” sign.
Be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Choose a lane before entering: Use the right or outside lane to go right or straight. The inside or left lane should be used to go straight, in a sinistral (left) direction from where you entered or to exit the roundabout from the direction you entered.
Look left, and yield to traffic already in both lanes of the roundabout.
When you see a break in the traffic, you can safely enter.
Don’t make this common mistake — trying to go left from the right lane. Change lanes before safely exiting the roundabout.
Other common violations including driving the wrong way in round about or trying to do a U-turn in a traffic circle or roundabout.  For more information on traffic circles and roundabouts, please see the Kentucky Driver’s Manual, which can be found at: or the following website on how to use roundabouts:

All drivers should be extremely cautious when entering and exiting traffic circles or roundabouts because many are also crossing points for pedestrians.

Taste of Newport is Sunday, June 3

The Sixth Annual Taste of Newport will take place on Sunday, June 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  In the past, over 20 Newport restaurants and food businesses have participated. Two live music stages will be featuring a genre of music including rock, folk, originals, bluegrass, western and more.

Participating food businesses: BB Riverboats, Bello’s Bike Pops, Brio Tuscan Grill, Carabello Coffee, Dixie Chili, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Gangsters Dueling Piano Bar & Restaurant, Gourmet Chili, Hofbrauhaus, JerZee’s Pub & Grub, LaMexican Restaurant, Lana’s Diner, Lucky Hog BBQ, Mokka’s, Newport Pizza, Pepper Pod, Packhouse, Peluso Market, Pompilios, Press on Monmouth, Sis’s on Monmouth, Trailhead Coffee, Webb’s BBQ

A selection of domestic and craft beers will also be available for purchase from Newport Microbreweries:  Braxton Brewing Company, Hofbrauhaus and Wooden Cask Brewing Company.

Artists/Artisans will be selling their hand-crafted designs.

Taste of Vintage with Vintage Campers (1980 and before) will be on display for viewing exteriors and interiors.

Chalk Art Contest for Youth, Teens and Adults – Prizes will be awarded to each category and an Over-All Most Original.

Live Music Schedule:

700 Block of Monmouth – City Parking Lot:
11 a.m. to 1 p.m .– Bacchanal Steel Band (Newport residents Jen & Brian Malone are in the band) - Caribbean ensembles and More!

1:30-3:30 p.m. – Josh McIntosh & Company - Country to 90s, Classic Rock to Hip Hop & More!

Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.

4:00 to 6 p.m. – Revolver Band (Newport Police Chief Tom Collins is in the band) 60’s, 70’s 80’s & More!

800 Block of Monmouth – Phelan Park:
11 a.m. to 1p.m. – Annette Shepherd Trio (Newport residents Annette & Ashley Shepherd part of trio) – Jazz with a Gypsy style and European flair & More!

1:30-3:30 p.m. – Mack West Band –Western featuring Covers & Originals

Students Take Their Creative Solutions to World Odyssey of the Mind Competition

Coach Terribeth Smith congratulates Highlands Middle School Odyssey of the Mind Team.

What do a three-headed alien, a space gas station, a talking box and an apron made from Capri Sun cartons have in common? They all sprung from the minds of the seven members of the Fort Thomas Odyssey of the Mind team.

The team, all students in Highlands Middle School, will be on their way soon to compete in the world Odyssey of the Mind championships, a competition that celebrates creative problem solving for students in kindergarten through college level.

The team won the Kentucky state championship in their division and will head to Iowa State University at the end of May to compete with tens of thousands of students in the largest creative problem-solving program in the world.

Finding solutions outside the box

"Odyssey of the Mind doesn’t fit in a box," explained team member Samuel Contreras. "Just like our thinking, it’s really outside of that box."

Competition involves two components, he explained. At the beginning of the school year, the team is presented with five possible themes and related problems. Solutions to the problem must be presented as a performance and must meet very specific criteria. The team will also face a spontaneous challenge that may require a verbal solution, hands-on solution or a combination.

The Fort Thomas team chose a problem based on the theme "A Stellar Hangout.' From there, they developed a skit to present their solution. They created costumes, wrote the script and built the set and all the props.

Coach Terribeth Smith said the current team has been together for the past three years, and some members have been on the same team since kindergarten. She said this group of students almost always aims for humor in their solutions.

This year, the team chose a gas station in space for their hangout and peopled it with a combination of aliens and surly humans. One of the main characters was on a quest to lose weight using the a "fountain of youth" type hangout.