Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Doyle & Hassman: Client Focused, High Quality Legal Services

After years of practicing law in large firms in Cincinnati, Thomas Doyle and Robert Hassman Jr. founded Doyle & Hassman on a simple premise: providing the quality legal services provided by a large law firm with the client-focused dedication of a smaller setting. Doyle & Hassman's experience, expertise, and astute business sense combined with the ability to give each client individualized attention sets them apart.


Combining their experience, knowledge, and sophistication with a passion for their clients’ well-being, they provide the personal, undivided attention needed to achieve efficient, expeditious, and economical solutions to their clients’ legal needs.

In addition to Corporate & Business Transactions and Transportation & Logistics, Doyle and Hassman also serve clients in need of Estate Planning, Lending, Litigation, Commercial and Real Estate matters.

  • Corporate & Business Transactions

Doyle & Hassman take a holistic approach to providing legal services to their business clients by understanding their long term goals and providing them with a variety of services from non-compete agreements to business planning to entity formations. Doyle & Hassman's personal touch means entrepreneurs and established businesses alike get a higher standard of service.

  • Transportation & Logistics

Transportation and logistics are two of the fastest growing industries in the Greater Cincinnati region. Doyle & Hassman has the experience and expertise to solve legal problems faced by transportation and trucking companies, logistics providers, and their customers. Whether your company is negotiating an operating contract, pursuing or defending a cargo claim, or navigating government regulations, they can help.


Tom & Andrea Doyle (photo: provided)  

Thomas P. Doyle is a seasoned civil litigator and recognizes that each case and client requires a unique approach. 2016, 2017, and 2018 he was named to the “Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars” list, a peer-rated selection process that uses peer nomination, independent research, and peer evaluations recognize top lawyers.

Tom played four years of football at Capital University in Columbus, where he was captain of the team and a consensus First Team All-American. In his senior year, he won The Rimington Award, which is named after former Cincinnati Bengals center Dave Rimington and presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation to the most outstanding center in each NCAA division in the country. 

Tom actively gives back to the community. He currently serves as a board member and volunteer for WholeAgain, a Cincinnati-based charity that serves food to low-income children in the summer and helps with academic tutoring and exercise. Tom enjoys anything related to sports and being outside, playing and listening to music, and spending time with his wife, daughters, family, and friends.


Robert Hassman

Many in the Fort Thomas community know Rob Hassman as a life long resident, soccer player and graduate of Highlands class of 2000. He is also an experienced business and real estate attorney working who understands the unique needs and challenges of local businesses. He is fully committed to the success of the businesses and organizations he represents. Whether you need legal assistance in organizing, acquiring, dissolving, or managing your business or have issues in the areas of regulatory compliance, capital formation, or lending or banking law, Rob can assist you.

He is a licensed title insurance agent representing clients in all areas of real-estate transactions, including drafting and reviewing real-estate documents, such as purchase contracts, deeds, leases, easements, and mortgages. He handles real-estate development projects, including subdivisions, land-use and zoning issues, condominium matters and provides title research and issues title opinions.

Rob has extensive experience representing clients in all aspects of transportation law, including preparing broker-carrier agreements, rate-confirmation agreements, and terms and conditions for insertion into tariffs and bills of lading.

He will file, prosecute, and defend freight claims for brokers, shippers, and trucking companies and assist transportation companies in complying with state and federal laws and regulations. He also has experience and expertise in local liquor law licensing and enforcement.


Doyle & Hassman's experience, dedicated staff, outside vendors, and use of advanced technology allow it to handle all types of cases, regardless of their size or complexity. Attorneys at Doyle & Hassman will be your lawyers, counselors, advisers, and partners. Their priority is fighting for you and your best interests.

From assisting individuals buying and selling property, to businesses in need of transportation law and compliance, to local banks or credit unions managing commercial loans, Doyle & Hassman have the background, insight, and judgement to make their client's endeavors and goals successful.

For more information visit:
Address: 526 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071
Northern Kentucky Office: (859) 655-4430

In Other Words: How Can You Regret Love?

This is a love story. It’s also about heroes. It’s also about loss. It’s also about August 1.

I initially spoke with Steve Ross regarding the August 1st 50th anniversary of his older brother being shot down over North Vietnam. But as our conversation progressed, I realized that wasn’t the story.

The Captain Joseph Shaw Ross Bridge is the formal name of the Highland Avenue bridge, named to honor Steve’s older brother, an outstanding high school athlete who always wanted to be a fighter pilot. He became one and was shot down on August 1, 50 years ago. His remains have never been found.

“He always wanted to be fighter pilot. He got to do it and that’s how he died,” Steve recalls.  Steve was a military airplane mechanic. He had to travel to northern Vietnam to replace a propeller on a particular plane that just happened to be where his brother was stationed. The brothers had the opportunity to hang out for the week. It was a very good week. Steve recalls, “I was getting to ready to board a plane to return when two colonels got me off the airplane and told me my brother’s plane was shot down. I stayed up there for a couple days hoping to find out about my brother but they didn’t find anything. I was devastated.” 

Photos of Joe Ross. Courtesy of Steve Ross. 

You would think that was the story, but Steve also lost his 10 year old brother to open heart surgery and his 16 year old sister to a burst cyst. Steve’s parents buried three of their children ages 10, 16, and 25.  Steve says, “I lost two brothers and two sisters and my mom and my dad. I am the only one left.”  The Anna Ross Scholarship at Highlands commemorates his sister.  These are the things we do to keep the memories alive of our loved ones.

Orangetheory Fitness Newport Pavilion. The best 1-hour workout in the country. 
Steve is now 71.  On the day we spoke, his son was undergoing brain surgery as the result of an accidental fall. I called him later to see how the surgery went. Unfortunately, his son died. He will be buried on his birthday, August 1.

Joe and Steve in Vietnam. Courtesy of Steve Ross. 

I can’t imagine his grief. I know that our families and friends will die. I know we will suffer loss. And I know that we sometimes struggle to remember faces, voices, and events as time moves forward.  But the love of family runs deep and we do what we must in order to preserve that. My heart breaks when I think about Steve Ross’ story. I cried when he told me that his son died. I could hear the pain in his speech.

And then I saw the placards around town to commemorate the passing of Michelle Chalk last August 1 from a tragic accident. And once again, I can’t imagine the loss.

Patty Chalk told me that “August 1, 2017 started as just an ordinary day in our home.  It ended with the realization that our daughter, Michelle, would never come home.  Over the past year, as we grieved our loss there are several consistent messages …. How can you regret love? …. The most common visitor to the cemetery are parents crying over the graves of their children.  To the community of Fort Thomas, who wrapped their loving arms around us, we thank them for their kindness and support. …. Michelle's life mattered to people, and they wanted to show they cared about her and about us.  As Michelle's parents, we knew how special she was.  The love and support we received validated it.” 

People often say how brave a person is who is suffering. But bravery has nothing to do with it. It’s a matter of love and determination and support. It’s what we do in order to survive. It’s how we live and love in the good times that help us cope with grief.

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue in the Hiland Building. 
Most of us live with loss privately, but circumstances sometimes make that loss quite public. The Ross and Chalk families have been buoyed by the love and support of family, friends, and community. Their love is intense and deep and something to be admired. And they unfortunately share a sad anniversary on August 1.

The love story here is not just about how loss and pain affect us but how love comforts and guides us. We know that we cannot escape loss. It is one thing that we all will eventually share. But if we are open to love, then we have hope.

Steve Ross told me a number of times that his brother Joe was his hero. I’m telling you that Steve Ross is my hero.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Multiple Road Projects in Campbell County Will Cause Delays

Two resurfacing projects in Campbell County are scheduled to start this week on Wednesday, August 1.

The first is on KY 1632 (Moock Road) from KY 9 to US 27.  Motorists should watch for lane closures.  The following week, crews will mill then resurface the roadway.  Motorists should watch for crews, equipment and lane closures.  Expect short delays.

Roofing, siding, gutters, painting. 
Second, KY 1120 (11th Street) in Newport Madison Ave. to the Licking Girl Scout Bridge.  Motorists should watch for lane closures.  The following week, crews will mill then resurface the roadway.  Motorists should watch for crews, equipment and lane closures.

Newport Skyline Manager Surprises Bub Basham with Home Delivered Meals

Story featured on Fort Thomas Matters media partner, WCPO

Bub Basham and his wife, Lois, love all things Greater Cincinnati. Their home is replete with Reds memorabilia, including rows of player bobbleheads and signed baseballs in protective cases, and Bub sports an NKU polo in his home hospital bed.

Naturally, they also love the area's staple food. The couple made a decades-long tradition of visiting Skyline Chili every Sunday after church with friends. They were regular enough customers that they got to know the staff at their closest location, including manager Brian Clifton.

RELATED: Bub Basham, It's a Wonderful Life Living in the Same Neighborhood for 90 Years 

The Bashams stopped showing up, however, after Bub was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and confined mostly to his bed.

"I'd given anything in the world to go back, but they told me I'd never be able to go back," he said. "It broke my heart."

RELATED: Bub and Lois Basham Named 2018 Grand Marshals 

So Skyline came to him. Clifton began delivering the Bashams' favorite dishes to their door alongside assurances that the couple had been missed at the restaurant.

Clifton wrote on Facebook that he didn't begin the deliveries "for notoriety or pats on the back." He did it because he wants his Skyline to be a place where the people who sit down to eat feel respected and cared about as more than customers.

"We do not chase our customers for a quick profit," he wrote. "We make them feel like they are Family and be treated as such. … The hugs. The smiles and mostly the feeling of you are at home when you can not be is the drive of our store."

Highlands High School Named Best in Northern Kentucky

Cincy Magazine has named Highlands High School as the best in northern Kentucky in its 2018 August/September issue.

Metrics such as ACT score, graduation rate, and other standardized test results contribute to their ranking results.

Here's what they wrote:

After two years at No. 2, Highlands High School is once again No. 1 in our annual Northern Kentucky high school ranking. Highlands High School is in the 99th percentile of schools in Kentucky according to the state’s ranking and its students earn an average ACT score of 24.3. Outside of class, students earned two Cappie awards (best featured actress in a play and best critic team) and a student was named Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball for the 2018 season. 

The rest of the top ten, according to the magazine are:
2- Beechwood
3- Walton-Verona
4- Conner
5- Ryle
6- Campbell County
7- Ludlow
8- Cooper
9- Boone County
10- Simon Kenton

Highlands, with enrollment now 996 students, earned eight top spots in northern Kentucky of 15 categories used in the rankings by Cincy Magazine. Those categories were attendance rate at 97.1%, four-year graduation rate of 98.8%, an 11th-grade writing percentage Proficient or better of 87.5%, an end-of-course math percentage of Proficient or better of 67.6%, 37 Advanced Placement Courses and 599 Advanced Placement Test Takers with 68.9% of AP examples with a score of 3 or Above at 68.9%.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Rich Boehne Reappointed to NKU Board of Regents

Governor Matt Bevin reappointed Rich Boehne to the Northern Kentucky University Board of Regents today.

The NKU alumnus has served as chairman of the board in recent years, including during the search that landed new president Ashish Vaisya.

In 2016, Boehne donated $1 million to the university. 

Newest Fort Thomas Shop Seeks to Showcase the Art of Sewing for All Generations

Photo by: Will Nedderman.
By Jessie Stringfield-Eden

Sewing enthusiasts and curious quilters alike will be eager to check out the new sewing studio in Fort Thomas at 118 N. Fort Thomas Ave. which is set to open Monday, Aug. 13.

The location is directly next to Fort Thomas Coffee.

The new shop, called Just Sew, is operated by Fort Thomas resident April Pryor and her mother. The location will feature special fabrics as well as sewing and quilting classes by local experts. Whether you consider yourself a beginner or an expert, Just Sew offers something for all levels of learners.

Some may ask ‘why open up a sewing shop?’

Well, for Pryor, it’s a family hobby that has spanned three generations and they’re excited to share it with others.

“Sewing has always been a part of our home. This store will be run by my mom, myself and my daughters,” said Pryor, “We noticed a gap between the older generation which sews and younger generations who are just now learning in school or in classes. We hope to bridge the gap for that in-between generation and teach them the basics.”

Just Sew in the 2018 Fourth of July Parade in Fort Thomas. FTM file. 

Interested in learning more? Just Sew officially opens on Aug. 13th but you’re invited to stop by their Sneak Peek Open House events on Thursday, Aug. 9th at 7 p.m. (features demos by award winning quilter Larry McKenney) and Sun, Aug. 12th at 2 p.m. (features appliqué technique demos by Joanne Rigsbee).

2018 Highlands Golf Preview

Bluebirds Set to Tee Off

Contributed Photo. Highlands senior Steven Grimme prepares to take a shot last year.
It had been seven years since the Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team qualified for the state tournament as a team.

That changed last year. The Bluebirds finished runner-up in the 8th Region with 344 strokes behind Grant County's 326 score.

Highlands did not make the cut for the second day as a team in the state tournament. But sophomore JD Gabbard made it to the second day individually. He shot a two-day total of 150 good for a four-way tie for fourth at the Bowling Green Country Club.

"Most of my top players play in tournaments throughout the summer so they've put in a lot of work to get better," said Bert Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "They're a year older, stronger and wiser (with) a little more experience. We're young by age, but these kids have had a lot of opportunities the last couple years to play in a lot of tournaments so they should have the experience to put themselves in successful situations."

Highlands graduated Aaron Verst and Jackson Recht from that team. But three golfers who played in the state tournament last year return. They are seniors Steven Grimme, Ryan Leigh and sophomore Luke Muller. The hope is to not just return to Bowling Green this year, but to play a lot better.

"All of our guys really needed that exposure and that experience," Grimme said. "It's totally different down there than any of the matches. It's even different than region. The course is a lot harder. There are a lot more people there."

Several players will be battling for the five spots on the region tournament. They are senior Brady Walz, sophomore Isaiah Lampkin, eighth grader Joel Craft and seventh grader Ryan Toole.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

St. Thomas Festival This Weekend | July 27-28

The Saint Thomas Summer Festival is this weekend, Friday, July 27 (6 to 11 p.m.) and Saturday, July 28 (5 to 11 p.m.).

Saint Thomas is located at 428 S. Fort Thomas Avenue in Fort Thomas.

The festival features craft beer by West Side Brewing, food by Webb's BBQ, Fort Thomas Ice Cream, a $5,000 major raffle, extensive silent auctions, pull-tabs, card games, split-the-pot, kids games and inflatables.

There is an air-conditioned activity center with bingo on both nights.

Also featured, live music both nights. Friday night Sami Riggs plays from 7:15 to 8:45, followed by Hayden Kaye from 9 to 10:30.

Explore County Government at the Next Campbell County Citizens Academy

Fort Thomas resident Joe Schwerling was among the first group to attend the Campbell County Citizens Academy (photo: FTM file)
County officials announced this week that a third installment of the Citizens Academy that launched last year is open for applications. Business owners and residents of the county are invited to apply by August 27 for an eight-week session starting this fall.

Aimed at improving citizen education and encouraging participation in local government, the academy runs on Monday evenings from September 10 through October 29, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Most sessions are held at the county building at 1098 Monmouth St. in Newport, but some will include field trips to county facilities.

Staff and experts from a variety of county agencies will give presentations and answer questions about their agency’s scope and mission. This year, participants will hear from staff in county administration, public works, public safety, planning and zoning, taxation, parks and recreation and economic development.

RELATED: Citizens Academy Offers Inside Look at County Government

The county will repeat a favorite of last year’s academies with a visit to the county jail and information about county programs aimed at the opioid epidemic. Some other topics include how road repairs are prioritized, what goes into the county budget, and how land and zoning decisions impact community growth.

In the announcement, Judge/Executive Steve Pendry said in part, "Our goal in delivering this program is to share information about the county’s structure with more people; if we are successful, my hope is that more citizens will become interested and more engaged in the important public work that we do."

Applications and additional details are available on the Campbell County website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

City Busy Behind the Scenes on North Fort Thomas Sidewalk Project

sidewalk project on North Fort Thomas Avenue begins at corner of Covert Run Pike
Work on the North Fort Thomas Avenue sidewalk is planned to begin early next year after NKWD replaces the water main.

By Robin Gee, Council Beat Editor

Residents concerned that they have not heard much about a federal grant project to create a sidewalk along North Fort Thomas Avenue can expect more information coming this fall. A public meeting will be announced once design plans for the project are complete and before bids for construction begin.

The city of Fort Thomas announced last year that it had received a federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant to help fund the creation of a sidewalk along North Fort Thomas Avenue from Covert Run Pike to the city limit near Dayton.

Work Set to Begin at Alexander Circle

By Robin Gee, Council Beat Editor 

At the July council meeting, City Administrative Officer, Ron Dill, said he was very pleased to note that the city has received historic preservation tax credits of more then $54,000 for the Armory and Mess Hall renovation projects.

He also noted the Alexander Circle project is now in the hands of the developers and construction is expected to begin soon. Developers and city staff have held pre-construction meetings and will be meeting with the safety departments to determine a plan to protect the public during the construction period. Expect an announcement soon about access restrictions and other safety measures in the area.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 

St. Elizabeth Healthcare Kicking It to Cancer Kickball Tournament

Have fun with friends and raise money for cancer care services in Northern Kentucky at the same time!  The St. Elizabeth Foundation Young Patron's Guild invites you to the Kicking It to Cancer Kickball Tournament at Tower Park on Saturday, August 11.

All are welcome to participate. Come for the kickball and stay all day for the inaugural St. Elizabeth “Bands Against Cancer" event!

Together, we’ll make a lasting impact – right here at home.

Register here.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare Bands Against Cancer family music festival will be held at Tower Park in Fort Thomas on August 11. The festival will benefit patients, families and friends impacted by cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates in 2018 more than 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. The NCI also ranks Kenton, Boone and Campbell counties in the top 10 counties in the Commonwealth for highest rate of annual cancer diagnosis.

This concert event will be held at Tower Park in Fort Thomas from 2:30 – 11:30 p.m. The lineup of local bands is Southern Charm (3 p.m. start), Borderline (5 p.m. start), Naked Karate Girls (7 p.m. start) and Britney’s Lipstick (9:30 p.m. start).

WATCH: Jared Lorenzen's E :60 | The Hefty Lefty

Roofing, siding, gutters, painting. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Local Man Works to Make Hospital Stays More Comfortable

Three years ago, Fort Thomas couple Raymond and Rebecca Poole were sitting in the hospital in Pittsburgh. Rebecca had just received a double lung transplant due to respiratory failure from end stage cystic fibrosis (CF). She had spent every day since the prior December in a hospital room. It would still be another three weeks before she was discharged. They looked forward to going home but they had learned to make their stay much more bearable.

They had dealt with a lifetime of hospitalizations due to Rebecca’s CF exacerbations, and they knew how to handle a hospital stay. Rebecca would bring comfortable clothes and snacks and sometimes they would watch a movie on the laptop. However, this stay was different. Earlier on, the doctors did not know if she would survive more than a few weeks.

“Comfort became much more important,” Ray says. “We spent 219 consecutive days in the hospital with the unknown hanging above our heads. We had to up our game.” 

The pair has been working toward sharing that knowledge with other families through something they’ve named “The Hospital Comfort Kit.”

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. 
Instead of lamenting their situation, they decided to make the best of it. Ray focused on keeping Rebecca as comfortable as possible so she could stay motivated throughout her day, progress with her therapy, and ultimately qualify for a lung transplant. He would prepare yogurt with fresh fruit and coconut oil, bring her favorite tapioca pudding, and grab a few slices of turkey in case she didn’t like her lunch options. Having a cooler and water bottle were key factors in getting the right nutrition at the right time.

Friends would often ask if they needed anything and Ray would struggle to think of anything. “I would almost feel bad because I knew they wanted to help but even after all of our years in and out of hospitals, I couldn’t come up with anything. They would usually just send flowers or candy which was appreciated but not particularly useful,” Ray says.

After a few months, they tired of candy and after her transplant Rebecca could no longer keep cut flowers in her room because they increased the infection risk.

Earlier in her stay, Rebecca had been in a chemically induced coma for 6 weeks and awoke with severe muscle atrophy. Ray noted that being on a ventilator didn’t help her mobility either. “She had this backscratcher that she always kept in arms reach. It provided a little bit of independence for somebody that wasn’t strong enough to stand on her own. I could imagine how tough it would be to have an itch you couldn’t scratch. Between that and her lip balm nearby, she stayed comfortable and even self-sufficient.”

At this time, sponge baths were the only option for cleaning and required quite a bit of energy on her part. The couple soon learned the convenience of having some wet wipes nearby.

Clearly determined, Rebecca worked daily to build her strength. Like many who rely on a ventilator for every breath, she struggled with anxiety. That was roughly when a Bluetooth speaker from an old friend arrived and provided a surprise benefit. They found that playing Nora Jones was a way to calm Rebecca’s nerves during the day. Anxiety is all too common for those who are as sick as she was. After her day’s work was done, they would often end the evening with a little dark chocolate. Then at night when the hospital noises became more noticeable, listening to an app with outdoor sounds helped her fall asleep more easily.

With her health deteriorating quickly, they tried to make the best of each interaction with the staff. To remember all of their questions they always kept a pen and pad nearby. With the concerning nature of her condition, it was important not to forget a thought or idea. In addition to that, it was often necessary for them to communicate with each other. While on the ventilator, Rebecca was unable to speak and would often need to write notes to Ray.

Now three years later, they look back on all that they’ve experienced and learned and want to share it with others. Their new Hospital Comfort Kit is the result of this goal. It includes an insulated cooler, water bottle, backscratcher, lip balm, a Bluetooth speaker, body wipes, a notepad & pen, and dark chocolate bar. Each and every one of these items served a role in keeping Rebecca more comfortable during those challenging times. It also includes what they’re calling the “Hospital Survival Guide” with suggestions for other items to bring from home and to request from the staff.

They are donating a portion of the revenue to non-profit organizations supporting cystic fibrosis and organ transplant. They are even donating some kits to patients at the Daniel Drake Center where Rebecca was cared for between February and May of that year. The Hospital Comfort Kit is now available on Amazon and you can learn more about it on

Monday, July 23, 2018

Can You Help Campbell County Police Identify This Man?

Campbell County Police are requesting any assistance with identification of this suspect.

This individual is a suspect in multiple vehicle thefts from Louisville to Ohio. The only information that is known about him at this point is he is using the nickname “Nash” and that he is finding vehicles for sale on Craigslist and shows up to purchase the car.

Call Ashley Barlow. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
At that point he asks to take the car to his mechanic to have it “checked out” and leaves the vehicle he arrived in as assurance or collateral and never returns. The vehicles he leaves is stolen from a previous Craigslist victim.

Travel Leaders: Making Memories One Destination at a Time


The team at Travel Leaders Fort Thomas

Travel Leaders Fort Thomas is a full service travel agency which is part of the largest and most respected network of travel professionals worldwide. Their mission is to provide efficient, stress-free travel where the focus is on making memories.

Travel Leaders has been part of the Fort Thomas community for over 30 years. With a combined knowledge of over 130 years in the travel industry, they are the go-to place for planning your next vacation whether domestic or international. The office is centrally located on the corner of Fort Thomas and Highland Avenues, maintains flexible hours, and sets appointments at your convenience.

The team at Travel Leaders provides more than invaluable information when planning vacations. Working with them will save you money, and give you peace of mind and more time for all the other tasks that go into preparing for vacation. Travel Leaders has relationships with suppliers and hotel concierges that they can easily call on to providing them with information in addition to the wealth of information they get from frequent familiarization trips.

Think you found a good deal online? Give Travel Leaders a call before you buy and they provide a cost and quality review at no cost.

Cinque Terra, Italy (photo: Globus Journeys)


Please mark your calendars for a special presentation highlighting Italy, Iceland and Avalon Waterways with Tina Tiano of Globus Family Brands.

The event is free and you'll walk away with insight from leaders in the travel industry - ready to start planning your next vacation. This fun, informative gathering will take place at the newly opened Colonel De's Kitchen on Thursday, August 30 at 6:30pm.

To reserve your spot call Travel Leaders (513) 229-0360.


Interested in visiting Egypt, climbing Mount Sinai, and touring the ancient pyramids? Want to take in Japanese culture and history via cuisine and experience an authentic tea ceremony? Or perhaps a river cruise through the great port cities of Europe sipping fine wine with close friends is on your bucket list - if you can dream it, Travel Leaders can plan it.

Spice market in India (photo: Travel Leaders)

The teams at Travel Leaders Fort Thomas and Travel Leaders Mason can advise on more than airfare and top quality lodgings for your budget and they will find the best value, tapping into contracted deals available only through travel agents. Whether you have dietary restrictions or preferences, need to know the layout of your hotel room before you leave, or want to secure seats at a performance at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires - Travel Leaders will make sure you have everything you need to make your trip one of the best experiences ever. They provide the highest customer service and will always go the extra mile to ensure your trip is a success from start to finish.

spa vacation (photo: Travel Leaders)


All agents at Travel Leaders can plan custom independent travel trips, multi-generation vacations, family travel, and advise clients on singular aspects of their travel plans. Each agent has areas of interest and a wealth of knowledge about their niche.

Beth Baran has owned the Travel Leaders offices in Fort Thomas and Mason for over 20 years. She specializes in adult only, all-inclusive vacations, river cruising and destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Her recent travels include Japan, China, Dubai, Iceland, and Europe.

Beth Baran on a recent trip to Japan

Jane Beyersdoefer grew up in Fort Thomas, attended Highlands High School and fell in love with the travel industry over 30 years ago. Jane specializes in planning trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii as well as honeymoons, destination weddings, and girls trips.

Jodi Webster has been in the travel industry for over 20 years and is the newest addition to Travel Leaders Fort Thomas. She specializes in luxury travel including spa resorts, escorted travel groups, and river cruising. Her recent travels include England, France, Greece, Hawaii, and several of the Great National Parks.

Jodi recently visited Hogwart's Dining Hall, Oxford

Wendy Brown has over 20 years in the travel industry and specializes in group travel. Wendy has experience with everything from large school groups to dance groups to destination wedding parties. Her recent travels include Caribbean, Egypt, Mexico, the Canadian Rockies, Galapagos and an Alaskan Cruise.

Christmas in Europe (photo: Travel Leaders)


When you plan your trip with a travel professional you are getting more than invaluable advice. You are getting personal attention and custom advice for your family's needs and wants. They will give you the best value for your budget, provide efficient, professional, expert service, and are available during your trip should you encounter any unexpected delays or change of plans.

Want to spend Christmas on a European River Cruise exploring the great variety of Christmas markets in Vienna, Prague, and Nuremberg? Want the inside scoop on the five star accommodations in the Himalayas or what to expect at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? Travel Leaders has you covered.

Ready to start planning your next get away?

Fort Thomas Location: 11 South Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas KY 41075
Call: (859) 441-7992
Mason Location: 5948 Snider Road Mason, OH 45040
Call: (513) 229-0360

2018 Highlands Cross Country Preview

Bluebirds Continue to Train for State Championships

Facebook Photo. Highlands sophomore Will Griffith runs in the state meet last fall. The Highlands boys hope to improve on the fourth-place finish from last year and the girls are taking aim at their sixth state championship in seven years.
When thinking of team state championships in recent years at Highlands High School, this team comes to mind.

That is the Highlands Bluebirds girls squad. Highlands has won five Class AA state crowns in the past six years and looks like the early favorite to bring the gold back to Fort Thomas once again. Highlands owns 11 state championships in school history ranking only second behind St. Henry's 19 in Kentucky High School Athletic Association history.

Highlands won the championship at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington with 77 points placing all seven runners in the top 58 and its five scorers in the top 30. Ashland Blazer came in second with 91 points. Highlands Head Coach Brian Alessandro said Ashland and Bourbon County will be two of the main challengers.

"Once you start winning and being successful, more people obviously want to be part of that," Alessandro said. "We've been fortunate enough to have good athletes and supportive families."

The Highlands boys finished fourth with 228 points behind Lexington Catholic (39), Warren East (134) and Boyle County (153). But the Highlands boys return five of their top seven runners hoping to improve on that finish.

"We're going to keep doing what we've been doing," Alessandro said. "We have a system in place. As long as the kids buy into it, we're going to keep it going."

Highlands returns its top three placers off that team and four total in addition to returning some key runners to make another run at the state championship. Sophomore Maggie Schroeder made a huge bid to become the first girls individual state champion in school history running the state meet in 19 minutes, 17.78 seconds. Schroeder finished just under two second behind the state champion in Rockcastle County's Victoria Dotson, who won it in 19:15.80.

The other three returning runners are junior Maria Broering (9th at state meet in 19:53.07), junior Alissa Campbell (26th in 20:44.06) and eighth grader Ruby Smith (67th in 21:58.49). Highlands graduated Brianna Collins, Karsen Hunter and Savannah Brady from its top seven.

Highlands hopes to receive a huge boost from the return of sophomore Greta Noble. She did not run in the state meet last year because of a soccer injury. Eighth grader Alyssa Harris, who qualified for state in the mile in track and field in the spring, is also hoping for a big year.

"Even the middle school kids will hang out with the older kids," Alessandro said. "They're good mentors. Reloading is hard to do. The boys are starting to get there, but with the girls, it seems like a consistent pattern, which is nice."

Noble, Broering and Harris all run cross country and play soccer. Broering said the two sports help stay in shape for the other, but they have their different challenges which can enhance the mind.

"Soccer is a much more a quick thinking kind of sport," Broering said. "You always have to be on your toes ready to make quick decisions. Whereas, I feel like cross country really tests how strong your will power is because there are times where you're like, 'It's hot. I'm tired. I could just stop right now.' But you can't and you know that you have to finish."

Sophomore Will Griffith leads the Highlands boys. He finished 18th in 17:26.82 last year. Eighth grader Sam Hopper also returns after finishing 26th in the state meet last year in 17:40.24. Hopper finished in the top five in the country for a 5K (five kilometers equaling 3.107 miles) race for his age group.

But to improve on last year's finish, Alessandro said other runners are going to have to close the gap with those two. Lexington Catholic's scorers ran the race in 17:32.27 or faster last year. Three of them were seniors.

"With the boys, it's a little more unpredictable with how they'll run because they mature a little bit differently," Alessandro said. "You could be really bad in middle school and step up and run really well as a freshman in high school."

Highlands graduated Blake Shuley and Caleb Chambers from last year's top seven. One senior returning from last year is Donovan Staab (91st in 18:50.74).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

2018 Highlands Volleyball Preview

Bluebirds Trying to Find Right Combinations in Preseason

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Casey Dunn (9) goes up for a kill in the 36th District championship against Newport Central Catholic last fall. The Bluebirds return four starters from last year's 25-11 team.
The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team spent the three seasons under the guidance of Head Coach Katelyn Sallee near the .500 mark.

But around the weekend of the September Slam at Scott High, one could sense the 2017 campaign would be much different. Following an injury-riddled 1-4 start to the season, the uptick began with a 4-1 finish for third place at the September Slam for the team's best finish in that tournament since the team started playing in it on a yearly basis in 2011. That also included the first win over rival Newport Central Catholic since 2012.

The Bluebirds came together as a team and reached heights not seen in years finishing 25-11 overall for the most wins since 2008 including a 16-7 mark against 9th Region opponents. That included a Cake Classic championship and their first 36th District championship since 2012.

Friday, July 20, 2018

City Council Roundup: St. Elizabeth Report, New School Resource Officer, Zoning Text Change

St. Elizabeth's Fort Thomas Hospital was recently recognized for a high level of nursing care. (Photo: St. Elizabeth Healthcare)

By Robin Gee, Council Beat Editor 

John Mitchell, senior vice president and chief operating officer for St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Fort Thomas location, opened the July Fort Thomas City Council meeting with an end-of-year community report and presentation summarizing some of the hospital’s recent accomplishments as well as some plans for the future.

He shared statistics about St. Elizabeth Healthcare as a whole and about the Fort Thomas location specifically. Here a few highlights:

  • In 2017, the system had 4,500 births, performed more than 34,000 surgeries, had more than 55,000 inpatient admissions, 1.4 million outpatient visits and overall had about 3 million patient encounters.
  • St. Elizabeth is the largest healthcare employer in Northern Kentucky employing more than 8,500. One thousand three hundred employees live in Campbell County, including 220 who are residents of Fort Thomas.
  • The system has an economic impact of more than two billion dollars contributing about 10 percent of the economy of Northern Kentucky.
  • The healthcare system also partners with education institutions and is working with Northern Kentucky University to build a Health Innovations Center and partnering with both NKU and the University of Kentucky to bring a medical school to Northern Kentucky.
  • St. Elizabeth provides no cost sports medicine and athletic training to 22 high schools, three club sports programs and two universities in Northern Kentucky.
  • The system also provides services and partnerships focused on community health issues including smoking cessation, diabetes, cancer and substance abuse disorder, including a new syringe exchange facility.

Mitchell added a sobering statistic — St. Elizabeth has clocked more than 3,200 visits to emergency departments this year for issues related to opioid addiction, representing 1.6 percent of total volume of ER visits, and has spent 3.3 million dollars on addiction-related services, doubling its addiction treatment capacity.

RELATED: Mobile Needle Exchange to Open at St. Elizabeth Healthcare Urgent Care in Newport/Fort Thomas

St. Elizabeth awards and growth plans

Mitchell listed several awards earned by the hospital system this year. The Fort Thomas Hospital location was awarded the 2018 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With the Guidelines Gold Awards for both Atrial Fibrillation and Heart Failure as well as a 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award from Healthgrades.

The American Nurses Association also named the Fort Thomas location as a Magnet-designated hospital, a recognition for a high level of nursing care.

The hospital foundation recently launched a campaign to raise 120 million dollars for a new comprehensive cancer center on the Edgewood campus. The system also plans to build a multi-specialty clinic and urgent care facility along Highway 27 in Highland Heights.

In recent years, the Fort Thomas Hospital location has added a new medical office building, endoscopy suite, IT equipment and software, and has upgraded the oncology clinic, women’s wellness suite, emergency department and ICU.

With 15 million dollars in improvements planned for the next two years, Fort Thomas Hospital will gut and completely rebuild its operating rooms. Plans are also in place to install a new linear accelerator in cancer care unit.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare Senior Vice President John Mitchell shares news about the system and Fort Thomas Hospital.

"Our overall strategy for Campbell County is we are here to serve as a community hospital. Our focus is on short stays and surgical volume," said Mitchell.

Mayor Eric Haas thanked Mitchell and his colleague Scott Sedmak, director of community relations at St. Elizabeth, for the presentation and said community health and recreation plays an important role in the city’s visioning plans.

"One of our goals is to make Northern Kentucky one of the healthiest communities in the nation, and we are more than happy to partner with communities on walking trails, bike trails, playgrounds, anything that promotes a healthy lifestyle," said Mitchell.

Text change proposal to add self-storage in general commercial zone

About 40 people attended the council meeting to address the impact of a text amendment change to the city’s general commercial zoning ordinance. The change would allow self-storage facilities to be added to permitted uses within the zone and would add a definition of self-storage facilities.

City Attorney Jann Seidenfaden said the amendment was not for a specific facility and would impact all areas zoned for general commercial businesses. She also noted that by law council could not discuss or hear new information about the issue.

Testimony for and against the change was given and recorded at a public hearing held at the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on June 20. All discussion and supporting documents from that meeting were entered into the record and would be considered by council.

Many who came to the council meeting prepared to speak on the text amendment spoke instead about concerns over city communications strategies and on behalf of realizing visioning plan goals on the south end of town.

Council agreed to form a committee to look at additional ways to advertise upcoming meetings beyond the state required notice in the Campbell County Recorder.

City council heard the first reading of the text amendment and will vote on the matter at its next meeting on August 20.

RELATED: Residents Turn Out for Zoning Change on Storage Facilities

News from safety departments 

Casey Kilgore as the now officially the new Fort Thomas chief of police. Although he has been serving in the position as acting chief since March, city council approved his appointment at the July meeting.

The public is invited to join the city in honoring the service of two recent public safety retirees. Parties will be held in city council chambers from 4 to 6 p.m. The city will thank former Police Chief Mike Daly on July 31 and retiring Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Stuart on August 3.

Chief Kilgore and Fire Chief Mark Bailey both said July 4th festivities went smoothly and praised the community for a safe and fun event.

Kilgore and City Administrator Ron Dill said they were pleased to announce the assignment of a new School Resource Officer. Kilgore said Officer Zac Rohlfer has been assigned and is taking the state SRO class.

School and city officials have been exploring the issue of school safety for quite some time, said Dill. Now, with a fully staffed police department, it was a good time to consider a school resource officer position.

The officer will be assigned for the school calendar year to rotate between all seven Fort Thomas public and parochial schools throughout the work week, he said.

Right now the position is an assignment for the one school year but future plans for the position will depend on this first year. The officer will work other duties outside of the school year and will be available for non-school emergencies as needed at all times.

The goal, said Kilgore, is to not only have a police presence but to add an educational component.

"We would anticipate he will rotate among the seven schools, five independents and the two parochial, but the schedule and how much time he spends at each school will be up to him and each principal…He’s going to be flexible, we’ll be flexible, to make it work and hopefully will reach all the schools on a weekly basis. And down the road if one of our preschools calls and asks 'Can you send the SRO over to teach a class?,' we'd be open to that, too.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Police Department to Deploy Officer in New Role as School Resource Officer

Alexander Circle and city project news

Dill said he was very pleased to note that the city has received historic preservation tax credits of more then $54,000 for the Armory and Mess Hall renovation projects.

He also noted the Alexander Circle project is now in the hands of the developers and construction is expected to begin soon. Developers and city staff have held pre-construction meetings and will be meeting with the safety departments to determine a plan to protect the public during the construction period. Expect an announcement soon about access restrictions and other safety measures in the area.

The first phase of the project will include utility work, replacement of roofs on all buildings, asbestos removal and further development of the first five units. Once construction is complete, access will be opened and the grassy area in the middle of the project will become part of Tower Park. Plans are beginning for walkways, an overlook and other improvements.

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The North Fort Thomas Avenue sidewalk project will begin next spring, Dill said. An engineer for the project has been selected and design for the construction bid is underway. The city had to meet several thresholds to be eligible for grant money to fund the project but is on track.

After learning from the city about issues with water main breaks in the area, the Northern Kentucky Water District announced it will replace the main from Covert Run to the Fort Thomas city limits. This work must be completed before the city sidewalk project can begin. The Water District work is expected to be completed in fall clearing the way for the city to begin its work in early spring 2019.

Dill offered quick updates on other projects: