Thursday, August 16, 2018

BYU Moves Beau Hoge from QB to Running Back and Merril's Not Happy

Former Highlands quarterback, Beau Hoge, 2015, told Fort Thomas Matters last month that he knew he'd be in for a quarterback battle as he entered his redshirt junior year at BYU.

"I think it just takes every day with competition building that body of work. It's not about just one day or one practice," Hoge said in July. "But that's probably about as much as I can expand on the quarterback competition. That's all up to the coaches. I think it's just our job to compete and be the best that we can be individually."

RELATED: Beau Hoge Learning New System at BYU (July '2018)

What he didn't count on was not being able to compete.

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According to The Deseret News, the BYU coaching staff informed Hoge that he would be making the move from quarterback to running back.

The yesterday Merril, who played running back in the NFL before becoming an analyst for ESPN, announced his displeasure with that decision.

“I think it’s a waste of talent. I don’t think it’s a smart move,” he said. “(Beau) said, ‘I didn’t come here to play running back. It was to play quarterback’. So he went to talk to (the coaching staff) and it fell on deaf ears. In fact, it was a bit disturbing because they put him off for so long to talk to him. I’ve just never heard of something like that. I just think it’s weird that you do that.”

The elder Hoge said that his son was taking it in stride, but the coaching staff wouldn't even let him compete for the job. After battling for the starting job each year since arriving in Provo, Hoge has completed 29 of 56 passes for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns, rushing for another two.

“The only option he had, really, was to do it. They wouldn’t let him compete,” Merril said. “And that’s what probably shocked me more than anything. When he went in to talk to them, they said they wouldn’t let him compete at it … So I told (Beau), in 44 years I’ve never heard of a coach not allowing a kid to compete.”

After his comments, Beau Hoge took to Twitter to set the record straight on the coaching decision.

Beau Hoge was a three-star recruit by and 247Sports and led Highlands High School to 13-2 record, No. 6 ranking in state and 2014 Kentucky Class 4A state championship, being named MVP.

He was a 2014 Associated Press Kentucky High School All-State second team selection, throwing for 3,459 passing yards and 35 touchdown passes while rushing for 865 yards and 26 rushing scores in 2014. 

His 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, putting his team ahead 37-14 was the No. 1 overall play on ESPN's "SportsCenter" Top 10 plays of the day. 

Philippe Family Tosses First Pitch at Reds Game

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden

We all know that summer is a special time. Warm weather, play dates with friends and of course, quality time spent with the family at a Reds game. But very few families have the chance to throw out the first pitch at Great American Ball Park. A few weeks ago, a special family in Fort Thomas got that opportunity.

On July 21, Anna Grace (6), Elena (4) and their adoptive mother Wynne Philippe threw out the first pitch for the Reds v. Pirates game. The opportunity arose as a part of the Champions Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“Anna Grace said she was scared she’d throw it ‘too hard’ so she decided to catch while Elena pitched,” Philippe laughed, “It was Hall of Fame Induction Night so the girls got a fist bump from Pete Rose and a high five from Johnny Bench. This is just such a stark contrast from their lives two and four years ago. They would have never had this opportunity.”

Giving children an opportunity is what inspired Philippe to adopt when she was just 34 years old, and single. Philippe took a leap of faith. “The agency I chose aligned with the church and my faith. There was a home study, lots of vetting, months of essays and lots of hard work,” said Philippe.

“I didn’t know what I was getting don’t know that with a biological child either but there are just so many children out there (American, Haitian, Chinese and many others) that need homes.” Anna Grace and Elena were both adopted from Chinese orphanages at around 26-27 months old. Anna Grace was in an institutionalized environment. Elena was in a foster home.

Needless to say, life in a new country requires some adjusting.

That adjustment has been easier for Anna Grace who has been in the U.S. for 4.5 years. Anna Grace also has a prosthetic leg and attends physical therapy often but Philippe says that doesn’t stop her. “She’s a spitfire. She’s your typical 6-year-old. She is just a ‘larger than life kid’,” said Philippe.

“She’s a little anxious about starting first grade but besides that, she has adjusted well.”

Even at such a young age, Anna Grace understands what it’s like to go without so when the Philippe family went to the Reds game to throw the first pitch, Anna Grace brought along granola bars for anyone who might be hungry. She even brought quarters from her piggy bank for anyone who may need them!

Elena has experienced a little more difficulty adjusting. Elena has a speech disability and regularly attends speech therapy.

“When I met Elena in China, she had a very difficult transition to our family.  It actually was a pretty traumatic time for all of us,” said Philippe. “At one point, we called her foster home Director out of desperation and she said to me, ‘Please don’t give up on her.  She will come around, and she will love you and when she learns to trust you and love you, she will love you fiercely! That’s the kind of girl Elena is’...and she was so right!”

Thanks to the love, patience and support of Philippe, Anna Grace and many others, Elena is now adjusting just fine and dearly loves her Mom and Sister. Anna Grace often refers to her as her ‘BFF’.

From day to day life to extraordinary experiences like throwing out the first pitch at a Reds game, Philippe certainly feels that her life has changed dramatically since adopting the girls. “I am so blessed to have these fantastic little girls. I can’t remember life before them. I wanted to give them an opportunity for life and now they’re just my kids. Elena struggles with talking and said ‘Mama’ the other day. Two years ago, she didn’t have a mom. She would not have had an opportunity for school,” said Philippe. “They’re going to do incredible things. Both have something so special and as a parent, I believe children should be empowered.”

Highlands-Cooper Football Preview

Bluebirds Looking for Results off Determined Offseason

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior running back Wes Bowling (23) runs behind junior offensive lineman Dylan Turner (77) in the scrimmage against Louisville Ballard a week ago. Highlands opens the season Friday against Cooper at 7 p.m. at David Cecil Memorial Stadium.
The hype has been there the entire off-season.

Starting in January, the coaching staff of the Highlands Bluebirds football team said the players hit the workouts determined to have a good season. The wait for it to begin ends Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium against the Cooper Jaguars at 7 p.m.

Highlands lost 19-14 at Louisville Ballard with 1:15 left on a 4th-and-14 play in a scrimmage a week ago. Watching film from that game, Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich said the Bruins gained the majority of their 264 yards of offense because of something the Bluebirds did wrong. Highlands is entering its second season running the 3-5 defense.

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"If you don't buy into that, you're not getting to your full potential in anything you're doing," Weinrich said. "So that has to be the focus of everything that everybody does all the time. With that being said, they've bought into it. You can already see the little thing - angles, steps, alignment, hands, feet, just so many things we saw from last week. They really have been obsessed this week in getting better at all those things."

Ballard quarterback Austin Carr completed 10-of-22 passes for 192 yards mostly on short out and sideline routes. But Highlands had better success against them once they challenged those routes better. The Bluebirds saw senior defensive lineman Zach Lewin record three sacks with senior defensive lineman Ben Sisson and junior defensive lineman Conner Zell recording one each.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Two HUFF Realty Agents Will List Alexander Circle Homes in Fort Thomas

Iconic Homes to be restored to their Original Luster

HUFF Realty, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and one of the region’s largest real estate companies, announces that Joy Amann and Rebecca Weber have been named as the exclusive agents to market the new Alexander Circle development in the Tower Park of Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

The property was transferred from the City of Fort Thomas to Alexander Circle LLC on June 30, 2018. Selected by the City of Fort Thomas, developer Bloomfield/Schon will utilize a holistic approach to refurbish and restore the property, infrastructure, landscape and 16 residences. One new residence will be built for the market respecting the architecture of the site’s former administration building.

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The homes in the Alexander Circle development were built for high ranking United States Army officers in 1889. These historic structures were designed to accommodate the upscale lifestyles suitable for officials and their families. Working in conjunction with the City of Fort Thomas, the Fort Thomas Historic Society and the Kentucky Heritage Council, the developers will restore the homes to their original luster and will update mechanicals, plumbing, heating systems, cooling systems, and functionality integrating the past and present in an environment responsive to the expectations of contemporary living.

“HUFF Realty is excited about the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of Alexander Circle,” said HUFF Realty President Brad DeVries. “We are so proud of the commitment of the HUFF agents Joy Amann and Rebecca Weber who have spent years working with the developer to bring this property to the market.”

With 16 homes, ranging in price from $500,000 to more than $1,000,000, Alexander Circle will offer a rare opportunity for individual homeowners to purchase one the area’s iconic residences and become the stewards of one of Northern Kentucky’s most impressive collection of architectural treasures, preserving them for generations to come.

“Steve Bloomfield and Ken Schon are committed to projects that contribute positively to the surrounding community, represent innovative architecture and design, and are environmentally responsible,” added Rebecca Weber of HUFF Realty. “We are grateful that the City of Fort Thomas has chosen them to restore the wonderful homes of Alexander Circle to their original glory.”

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 86-acre Tower Park features a gymnasium and recreation center, three sheltered picnic areas, restroom facilities, walking/biking trails, six tennis courts, playground equipment, a lighted baseball/softball field, sand volleyball court, two outdoor basketball courts, a museum and an amphitheater.

“The Alexander Circle development is a very special place, surrounded by a beautiful park and a community noted for its charm, spirit and a premier school system,” said Fort Thomas Mayor, Eric Haas. “We have a rich history here, and breathing new life into this community will help us celebrate that history in a wonderful way. The teams at HUFF Realty and Bloomfield/Schon really understand how important this project is and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.”

For more information about Alexander Circle, please contact HUFF Realty agents Joy Amann, (859) 409-9370 or Rebecca Weber, (859) 578-3927 or visit

Northern Kentucky Joins Statewide Hepatitis A Outbreak

The number of hepatitis A cases in Northern Kentucky (Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties) jumped in July and continues to climb in August, putting Northern Kentucky into outbreak status for the first time since a statewide outbreak was declared last November. The Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKY Health) strongly encourages hepatitis A vaccination for all Northern Kentucky residents.

NKY Health has been implementing efforts to control the spread of the virus over the past several months and will continue to expand its efforts with vaccinating the at risk populations and advising health care providers, detention centers, food service establishments, and agencies that serve the homeless and people with substance use disorders.

Of particular concern is a case of hepatitis A that has been diagnosed in an employee who handled food at the Newport Syndicate (18 East 5th Street, Newport, KY). An investigation found that this employee worked during a period of time when he/she was ill or infectious, which included the dates of July 25 through August 11, 2018.

While it is relatively uncommon for restaurant patrons to become infected with the hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, anyone who consumed food or drink at Newport Syndicate during the stated time period is advised to get a hepatitis A vaccination. This is recommended whether the patrons live in Northern Kentucky or elsewhere.

Vaccination is effective in protecting an individual from becoming infected if received within two weeks of exposure to the virus. If it has been longer than two weeks,vaccination is still recommended for future protection.

In addition, anyone who consumed food or drink at Newport Syndicate during the dates listed should monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection for 50 days from their visit; wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. If symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately and stay at home until given further instructions by their doctor.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown-colored urine, light-colored stools and diarrhea. Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) may also appear. People may have some or none of these symptoms. It could take almost seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill. Someone sick with hepatitis A is most likely to spread the virus during the 2 weeks before feeling sick and for 1 week after yellow eyes and skin starts. Children often do not exhibit symptoms. Although rare, death can occur from this infection.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase the risk of infection. Consistent and careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will help prevent the spread of this disease.

Newport Syndicate’s management is cooperating with the investigation and response activities. They have enhanced disinfection of surfaces that may have been contaminated. Employees have been informed to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and to monitor for symptoms and report any related illness to their management. Handwashing and other hygiene practices have also been reinforced with the restaurant management and employees.

Since January 2018, over 50 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Northern Kentucky. One death has been reported. There were no cases of hepatitis A among Northern Kentucky residents last year.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health declared a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A in November 2017. Since then, more than 1,300 cases have been reported in the state compared to an average of 20 cases per year.

“Hepatitis A infection can be prevented through vaccination and frequent, proper hand washing. Children, ages 1 through 18, are already required to be vaccinated against hepatitis A for school. With the outbreak occurring,  we are strongly encouraging the vaccine for all adults. In this way, your entire family can have protection against this infection and help eliminate the spread of hepatitis A in Northern Kentucky,” said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at NKY Health.

The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart. The first shot provides short-term protection and the second shot provides long-term protection. The vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices, pharmacies and retail clinics, and people should speak with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.

People with health insurance or Medicaid should be able to get the vaccine for free but should check with their health insurance provider for coverage information. NKY Health can also provide the vaccine at its county health centers to those on Medicaid and to those who do not have insurance, as well as those who have insurance that does not cover the vaccine. Health center locations and phone numbers can be found at

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

2018 Highlands Football Defense/Special Teams Preview

Highlands Hopes to Run More Dimensions of 3-5 Defense This Fall

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior linebacker Mason Schwalbach (94) lines up in punt coverage in a game at Greenwood last year.

If one song verse describes a huge reason why high school student-athletes take the field for any reason, this would be it.

"I do it for the glory."

The song named "Glory" released by the Score band - the same band that produced "Unstoppable" - on June 29, 2018 more than describes the tradition-rich history of the Highlands Bluebirds football program.

Highlands owns the second-most wins in the country in program history with a record of 885-249-26 in 103 seasons of football. Only Valdosta (Georgia) owns more wins with an overall record of 917-230-34. Highlands owns 23 state championships in its glorious history second in the Commonwealth only behind Louisville Trinity's 25.

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In Other Words: Enjoying the The Rituals of Our Town

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinkley, Ohio, students return to Fort Thomas roughly the same time every August - roughly two weeks prior to the beginning of school. Even if I didn’t have a calendar, I would know that the opening of school was near.

For the most part, Fort Thomas takes a nap during the summer. Oh, sure there are the big gatherings for the Independence Day parade and celebration, but then the tide goes out and the town empties out.  Then the tide comes in for the weekly Farmers Market and the monthly Art Around Town events. And then it leaves again for a lake, a camp, a vacation, or whatever.

But there are certain small town rituals that I like and find strangely comforting - like the ringing of the church bells in the morning, the steady stream of cars leaving town along Memorial Parkway in the morning and then returning in the evening, the weekly clanging of trash cans, the sidewalk and front porch conversations, the morning gatherings at coffee shops, the stillness of Sundays. Add to that now the late afternoon sound of the marching band practicing at the high school that signals that we will soon enter the Friday night football rituals. It’s a rhythm that wafts over most of the city to remind us of what is about to arrive.

Soon we will take part in the the school traffic jams. And so the cycle continues for another year. These are the little rituals that mark time in our community. And these rituals are repeated in countless small towns across the country.

But these rituals are more than the mere repetition of actions or events. They create meaning for us as a community. They mark time. They reminds of what we value as a community. They remind us that we are part of something bigger and more important than us. Rituals create a continuity and community. Sure, it’s the same thing every year, but it’s these same old things I can count on every year.

And as horribly rigid as that might have sounded to my adolescent ears, it is a comfort to my adult ears. These are the things that are important to us, that provide a certain stability, that make us who we are. We create the rituals that define us.

All of this is a topic I will gladly discuss over a beverage or burgers. But if you see me smiling while I walk, it’s because I am enjoying the ritual.

Four New Stores to Open in Newport Shopping Center and Plaza

Newport Shopping Center. FTM file. 

Four new businesses will open in the Newport Shopping Center and Plaza complex this fall.

Crunch Fitness, Newport Tires, A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts and Urban Nails will fill spaces at the two adjacent properties on Monmouth and Carothers Road, said Brandi Norwood, director of leasing for Texas-based Albanese Cormier Holdings (ACH).

The first to arrive at the shopping complex will be Newport Tires to open at a former car wash site in the Plaza. It is set to open later this month.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas, located at Fort Thomas Plaza, 90 Alexandria Pike. 
The other three stores will open this fall:

Crunch Fitness will occupy 30,521 square feet next to Ann’s Hallmark Shop, which is located at 1751 Monmouth Street. With more than 145 locations across the U.S., Crunch Fitness started in the East Village in New York City in 1989.

FTM file. 
New Jersey-based A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts is another east coast transplant to our area opening within the next 60 days. The Newport location at 82D Carothers will be the company’s second store in the Greater Cincinnati area (first one is in Pleasant Ridge in Cincinnati).

The Urban Nails salon also will open in the fall. It will occupy 5,000 square feet next to Family Dollar at 1771 Monmouth.
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Monday, August 13, 2018

Newport-based Business Named a Finalist for Best In Family and Private Business Award

Steinhauser, based in Newport, Kentucky, has been named as a semi-finalist for the 19th Annual Goering Center Family & Private Business Awards.

Founded in 1905 as a family-owned printing business, Steinhauser manufactures labels for consumer-packaged goods.

“Steinhauser is honored to be a semi-finalist in the 19th Annual Goering Center Family & Private Business Awards," said Tara Halpin, CEO and owner of the company. "

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, in the Hiland Building. 
"We are grateful to the Goering Center for identifying us as a contender for this special honor, and we are in great company with several outstanding semi-finalists. We look forward to celebrating everyone’s successes at the awards gala in September.” 

As a semi-finalist, Steinhauser will be further evaluated by an independent panel of judges who will be looking at the breakthroughs and accomplishments that distinguished their business – and the Cincinnati region – in 2018.

Highlands-Cov Cath Face-off in Penalty Shootout at FC Cincy Game

Photos by Allen Ramsey -

Highlands and Covington Catholic were the halftime entertainment at Sunday's match between FC Cincinnati and Penn FC in front of a crowd of 24,000 at Nippert Stadium. The boys squads faced off in a penalty shootout.

The Birds and Colonels shot to a 3-3 draw.

Photos by Allen Ramsey.

Orangetheory Newport Pavilion. The best 1-hour workout in America. 

Sewer Pipe Repairs Completed on Woodfill Avenue, Highland Avenue Closing in on Completion

Construction and repair season is in full swing in Fort Thomas. Signs are up on Woodfill Avenue, but they should be down before school starts August 15, according to City Administrator Ron Dill.

He said sewer pipe repair work is being done by the Sewer District, SD1.
Off of Highland Avenue, a storm sewer drain is also being extended on Pentland Place as a first step in the planned street improvement project for that street.

Roofing, siding, gutters, painting. 
Dill said the work on the corner is part of the Pentland Place project, and the city has an agreement with the contractor to restore the sidewalk and any other disruptions to properties caused by the work once it is complete.

"As part of the improvement project on Pentland, we are adding a storm sewer extension that will collect water on that street," he explained. The drain that is exposed on the street now will be covered as the street is repaired, he added.

Work on the corner is expected to be complete and the walkway reestablished in time for children walking to Moyer and Highlands.

Photos: Just Sew Opens in Fort Thomas Central Business District

April, Kaira, Sydney, Julie, Elisa and Kelsey.

Fort Thomas' newest retail business has opened its doors in the city's Central Business District.

Just Sew, a new sewing studio located at 118 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, next to Fort Thomas Coffee, is open for business.

The new shop is operated by Fort Thomas resident April Pryor and her mother, Julie. The location will feature special fabrics as well as sewing and quilting classes by local experts.

For Pryor sewing is a family hobby that has spanned three generations.

“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.”

For hours, classes and more information, check their website

Friday, August 10, 2018

Gold Star Chili in Alexandria Closed But a New Location Is Planned

Gold Star Chili in Alexandria is closed but it will return.

Gold Star Chili, located at 7647 Alexandria Pike, is closed but plans are in the works for a new, expanded store.

Business has grown in recent years, and more space is needed, explained Rick Schmidt, manager at the company’s Bellevue location. A new location has not yet been determined, but when the business reopens it will include an expanded menu that will include burgers and other new items.

Roofing, siding, gutters, painting. 
Schmidt said the expanded menu is being rolled out at new locations as they open with a goal of switching all locations over to the new menu by 2020.

Brent's Landing in Silver Grove to Open August 18

The news traveled fast: a picturesque and historic property in Silver Grove, located at 4229 Mary Ingles Highway, complete with a food truck, picnic tables and boat tie ups was set to open imminently.

Now, just a week after that first announcement we know that Brent's Landing, owned by father and son, Ric and Zac Rohlfer, will open August 18 at 11:00 a.m.

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, in the Hiland Building. 
The duo, along with their wives, Vicki and Kristi, bought the property nearly four years ago and painstakingly began cleaning and clearing it up about two and a half years ago.

What's left is a peaceful setting just across the river from Coney Island and Riverbend.

"I knew the property was unique and that it could be something really special, so I really wanted to acquire it. When we did, it was just a matter of some good old family bonding,” said Zac.

The Brent's Landing food stand adorns an American flag and a ferry, which for many years was the location for the ferry landing for passengers to get to Coney Island from the Kentucky side of the river.

They will serve hand ground hamburgers ($5.50), hotdogs ($1.50), cheese coneys ($3.50), soft pretzel and queso ($3.50) and chips and queso ($2.50). All items come with chips.

Ice cream is also available, (1 scoop, $2 and 2 scoops, $3). Floats are $3.

Brent's Landing will be open for the rest of the season on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, their hours listed below. They will have expanded hours and days at the start of the summer season in 2019.

On Sundays, customers are rent the property. The food stand will be closed, but a charcoal grill is available on site.  Contact for more information on rental.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 
“Our family wanted to make this beautiful piece of riverfront property a place that others could come and enjoy,” said Ric. “When you come to Brent’s Landing, whether by car or boat, you’ll get a great meal with a relaxing view on the shady river bank. If there isn’t music, we enjoy the sounds of the river just as much and hope you do, too!”

Hours for the rest of the season: