Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Friday, September 28, 2018

1st Annual Highlands Cheer Cornhole Classic | Sunday, September 30 | FT Public House, Fort Thomas Central

Come out and support the HHS Cheerleaders in this first annual event, the 1st Annual Highlands Cheer Cornhole Classic.

The team is raising money to attend the National UCA Competition in Orlando in February 2019 and would be very appreciative of the community's support.

Included in the day are food specials, silent auction, prizes and the Bengals game will be on large TV's.

Get more information here: Cornhole Classic.

New Businesses, Expansions Create "Creative Cluster" on Newport's Monmouth Street

Campbell County and Newport's first and only coworking space has moved and expanded.

Formerly located next to WieFit on Monmouth St, Borderlands has moved a few doors down into the old St Vincent De Paul building on the corner of 9th and Monmouth Streets.

"In the three years since Borderlands has been in business it has been a great add to the community by providing workspace for small businesses and solo workers that just need some human interaction and a place to host the occasional meeting," said owner, Darrin Murriner.

He said the space has also served as a great meeting spot for the community by hosting ReNewport and fundraisers for non-profits.

New co-owner Rachel Comte is partnering with Murriner to provide even more service for those running their own business or freelancers that just need a quiet place to focus. The new space includes the expansion of private offices from 3-4 and even more open space for collaboration and quiet meetings.

The expansion signals even more investment along the Monmouth Street corridor and especially around the intersection of Monmouth and Ninth which has seen the relocation of Torch Prep, Carabello Coffee's expansion and the Opening of Industry Salon. These investments are pared with Powerhouse Factories and Drive Media House to form a cluster of creative businesses in that area of Newport.

Additionally, new condos are planned for the corner of Ninth and Saratoga.

Originally a sundries shop and most recently a St. Vincent DePaul location, the space has been completely updated. Almost all of the interior details were fashioned out of reclaimed materials, including the bathroom counter (part of an old entryway floor) and desk supports in the closed offices (support posts) and the bar (wood found on site). The space will be featured in this week's event in Newport, Beyond the Curb.

You can learn more about seeing this space and other historic spaces that have recently been renovated at

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. Located in the Fort Thomas Plaza. 
If you would like to work in this thriving corner of Newport you can reach Borderlands by visiting On their website you will find pricing options and learn more about the coworking concept.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Former Firefighter to Serve as Department’s First Chaplain

Pastor Ken Clift, a former firefighter/paramedic will serve as Fort Thomas's first chaplain for first responders.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

Former firefighter/paramedic Ken Clift is coming home to serve his former employer in a unique way. Now a pastor at Melbourne United Methodist church in Melbourne, Kentucky, he will serve as the Fort Thomas Fire Department’s first official department chaplain.

The announcement about the formation of the department’s new chaplain program came at the September 17 city council meeting.

"It’s great to be back home," said Clift. "It’s been 25 years since I retired, and I spent 15 years here at the Fire Department. One of the best times of my life was being a firefighter paramedic. It’s great to be able to serve in this capacity. Thank you all very much for this opportunity."

City Administrator Ron Dill and Mayor Eric Haas have been working on establishing a program and said they were happy to begin with Clift at the helm.

"This is a volunteer position for our Fire Department and designed to support our first responders. We have instances unfortunately where they are involved with traumatic situations and have to deal with those on a professional level and a personal level. So we’re hopeful having this resource available to them to help support them in those situations," said Dill.

Lindsey Cooks with Colonel De

The Great Cayenne Pepper Incident of 2018

I never like stewed tomatoes. The stench would send me into a gag fit when I was little and I would have to leave house, leaving the room just wasn’t enough. Maybe it was parental strategy, maybe not. I was an angel. Still am.

Somewhere along the line I started to like them. I have always kept trying things that I don’t like or am not particularly fond of. Tastes change, as do cooking and preparation methods.

All the beautiful tomatoes at market got me thinking about stewed tomatoes last Wednesday.

But I wasn’t making them that night. This particular Wednesday I cooked some lovely skirt steaks from market and sautéed up some leftover corn off the cob, bell peppers, onion, and carrots. I had some greens too. Dinner was shaping up.

I was out of chili powder so I mixed another batch of my own. I put all the components away and sprinkled both the meat and veg liberally with the seasoning. And I mean liberally. I don’t mess around with flavoring a dish.

Then I tasted things.

There was quite a bit of heat coming off of everything.

I had put away the chili powder and left out the cayenne pepper. I had seasoned, liberally, with cayenne pepper.

My son had been coughing and gagging a bit as I was cooking, the pepper fumes wreaking a little havoc, but he was just being dramatic, right? His eyes weren’t actually burning. Surely not.

I got out the actual chili powder and sprinkled less liberally, but as there was very little cayenne in it adding more didn’t add any heat.

It was still too hot for the troops so they had peanut butter and jelly or lunchmeat sandwiches. I had spicy skirt steak salad for a decade that week.

It was delicious but required a little extra guac or sour cream to get it all down.

So, what is the moral of this story? And what the blue blazes does this have to do with stewed tomatoes?

The moral is to pay attention to what you are doing, especially if the majority of your spice containers are unlabeled. Yes, I functioned for a couple years with un- or poorly labeled herbs and spices. My spice drawer was a dang mess. This was the first time it had caused a problem. I have even had labels for my jars sitting in a drawer for over a year, just waiting to do the job for which they were created.

You can bet you bottom dollar that the day after the Great Cayenne Pepper Incident of 2018 I cleaned that drawer out right quick and in a hurry. Old stuff was pitched. Labels were applied. I hauled my cookies down to Colonel De’s and got empty jars filled. I kinda need more jars now too, but my labeled bags from the Colonel will suffice for now.

That drawer is now a beautiful thing to behold.

Don’t worry, no recipe with cayenne today.

This is my favorite stewed tomato recipe. Just five ingredients.

Stewed Tomatoes

·       6-10 baseball sized tomatoes or the equivalent. Just about any kind will do except cherry, and that is just because you may want to peel them and peeling enough cherry tomatoes will test one’s sanity.

·       Half to a whole bell pepper, any color, chopped roughly, about ½ inch pieces

·       1/2 teaspoon sugar

·       2 teaspoons salt

·       1 Tablespoon dried parsley

What to do:

Ken Honchell Keeps Highlands Football Historic Notes Together

Honchell, Thompson Have Put Together Stories, Facts Spanning Three Books

Submitted Photo. Highlands graduates Dick Thompson (left) and Ken Honchell, Sr. (right) have saved articles and put together numerous facts on the Highlands football team over the years. The collection has three books.
If one wants to know something regarding the tradition-rich Highlands Bluebirds football program, Ken Honchell, Sr. is the person to contact.

The 1961 Highlands graduate took over a project in 1985 that 1946 Highlands graduate Dick Thompson started in the early 1970s. Thompson started the process in the early 1970s when 1945 graduate and former coach Bob Luecke approached him about keeping track of what would become a historic program. Luecke would have copies Thompson gave him.

"I went through the school's books for years to get the games for a season," Thompson said. "They were usually right that way and I did that for a long time."

The current collection spans three books. The books are comprised of scores from each season, articles from the seasons and stories on the school among other things.

"It's fun doing all these reports, keeping track of them and making sure they're correct," Honchell said. "(With) the statistics, I wanted to agree with the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) so if anyone wanted to use these stats, they're going to be correct. It's been gratifying to see it come this far."

Copies can be found at the school library. Honchell said he happened to be up there one day when someone came looking for some historic information regarding the team.

"I don't know how much they use it," Honchell said. "I just enjoy putting it together. I'm not a writer. I'm not a journalist. I just find articles people have written and people give me articles to put in the book."

The name of the stadium where the Bluebirds play home games is David Cecil Memorial Stadium. One story explains who Cecil was. Cecil dies of head injuries on Nov. 12, 1951 following a game three days prior to that against Campbell County. Cecil was a junior on the 1951 team and would have graduated in 1953.

Honschell updates the books after the season ends. In recent years, he discovered Highlands is second in the country with the most wins in program history. The first season in school history came in 1915.

"Every winter, Mr. Honchell gets in contact with me and he comes to my classroom because he gave me the binders and they're like three, four inches thick," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "He has everything in there. Many times, I've sat down and looked through it. I'm as big of a Highlands fan as there is out there. I've been coming to Highlands games since before I was a year old. I've only missed a couple games since I've been alive. It's just fun to go through it with Mr. Honchell. He shows up in the winter and he's got his few pages he needs to update where he's had to make some additions and he's had to make some changes. He knows exactly where to go and he wants to do it because it means so much to him."

Joseph Williams, a 1995 Highlands graduate, formed the web site, It is currently under construction. But Williams hopes to have it back up and running soon.

"They had compiled a binder of Highlands football stats and historical information several years ago - a copy of which was given me when I was forking on setting up my HHS football website," Williams said. "The historical information was detailed and very helpful."

Small Decrease in Property Tax Rate This Year

Property owners in Fort Thomas will see a 5.34 percent decrease in property taxes this year. (FTM file)

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

Fort Thomas property owners will see a 5.34 percent decrease in their property tax rate this year. The current (2017) property tax rate is .412 cents per $100 of assessed value of property. The new rate for 2018 will be .390 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The value of the average single-family home went up from almost $216,000 last year to $236,997 this year. With the new tax rate, that average home would see a decrease of $52.14.

Properties are assessed annually by the Campbell County Property Valuation Administration (PVA). Many factors, including location, land and size, go into this assessment, but the goal is to arrive at the fair market value of the property in question. This year, properties in Fort Thomas went up in valuation.

When properties go up in assessed value in Kentucky, the rate at which they are taxed goes down. This is due to a law known as House Bill 44 that states that municipalities cannot receive more than a four percent increase in property taxes from year to year unless there is a special referendum to do so. So, if property values go up, the rate must be adjusted downward to not go over the total four percent allowed.

In real dollars, however, whether you will pay more or less property taxes depends on whether your home was assessed this year. About 60 percent of Fort Thomas properties were reassessed this year, and, because their values went up, owners could see an increase even though the rate has gone down. For the remaining 40 percent who were not reassessed, and for those whose assessments did not increase by much, taxes will go down due to the lower tax rate, according to Director of Finance Joe Ewald.

The new tax rate includes the compensating rate plus a four percent city revenue increase, the maximum allowed by law. This amount has been included in the city’s adopted budget for 2018.

In a five-to-one vote, council passed the new rate.

Concerns continue over taking the full four percent

As in recent years past, Council Member Lisa Kelly voted “no” in protest against the practice of taking the full four percent allowed by law. Although he voted in favor of the tax rate, Council Member Ken Bowman also expressed concern about taking the full amount of increase each year.

Mayor Eric Haas said uncertainty makes budgeting difficult and taking the full amount the prudent choice for now. The uncertainty is caused by the two factors that have the largest impact on the city budget — health care costs and pensions.

"We’ve looked at what not taking the full four percent compensating rate would do to the city…If we can get a handle on those two costs at some point in the future, then we could forecast five or 10 years out…then we could sit back and say, 'okay, we did a 10-year budget and could plan tax increases appropriately.'"

Changes in pensions still on the table in Frankfort

Highlands Back to Winning Ways Heading into Bye Week

Great Feeling During Bye Week for Bluebirds

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior defensive linemen Conner Zell (middle) and Zach Lewin (41) converge on Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen (left) while Allen releases the ball in a recent Highlands win. Class 5A's fifth-ranked Bluebirds are 5-1 during the bye week compared to 2-4 and 1-5 records in the last three seasons.
It does not have to be said twice how good the 5-1 record feels entering the bye week compared to the previous three years for the tradition-rich Highlands Bluebirds football team.

"It's nice to feel like we're the team that helped get Highlands back on track," said Gavin Downard, Highlands senior defensive lineman. "We really our a family off the field. That makes a huge difference. In years past, we weren't as close. But this team is tight. We know that winning is fun. Once we get the job done, that's what's fun about it. We know throughout the week, we have to get down to business, work out the kinks and Fridays are fun. This is what we live for. I don't even know how to explain it."

The Bluebirds, ranked fifth in Class 5A in the latest Associated Press poll, entered the bye week 2-4 last year. Unlike 2015 and 2016 when Highlands entered the bye week 1-5 overall, Highlands beat both Cooper and Campbell County to open the season 2-0. But weeks two through five turned into the same story as the previous two years partially because of injuries and the inability to close out games. Highlands had lost in the final minutes to Lexington Catholic and Simon Kenton in 2017. Highlands handed Class 6A's ninth-ranked Campbell County (4-1) its only loss.

But this year, the Bluebirds made sure those two games did not come down to the final minutes. They put both teams away in the second half beating Class 3A's sixth-ranked Lexington Catholic, 44-27 on the road and Class 6A's seventh-ranked Simon Kenton, 38-9. Highlands ended a three-game losing streak to Simon Kenton with the latest victory. Highlands also ventured to Ryle and won 40-3 ending three years of frustration against the 1-4 Raiders as well. Highlands also handed Class 6A's tied for ninth-ranked Campbell County (4-1) its lone loss so far.

"Our guys have been supporting each other for years," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "As long as I have been here, that's how it is. Whether you win or you lose, you have to keep playing together. You have to trust each other. I think we're continuing to do that right now."

The defense has been a huge key in the turnaround. The Bluebirds Highlands has allowed just 81 points, 676 yards rushing and 792 passing for averages of just under 113 yards rushing and 132 passing this season.

The Bluebirds are in their second year running 3-5 defensive scheme. Teams have tried spreading them out. But the Highlands defensive linemen and linebackers have done well disrupting teams in the backfield. The Bluebirds made LexCath and Simon Kenton drive the field and took advantage of their mistakes.

Highlands has recorded 11 sacks this year. Senior linebacker Jackson Hagedorn leads the way with three with junior defensive lineman Zach Lewin and junior linebacker Brycen Huddleston recording two each.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Car Stolen in Fort Thomas and Police Need Your Help Identifying These Suspects

Fort Thomas Police are asking for your help.

On Tuesday, 09/25/2018, around 3:45 p.m., an unidentified male and female stole a 1997 GM Yukon that was parked near Grassroots & Vine located at 1011 S. Fort Thomas Avenue. Prior to stealing the vehicle, the male walked into Grassroots & Vine and told an employee that he was new to the area and asked questions about the menu and left.

The 1997 GM Yukon is Dark Blue with a Silver Stripe and rust on the roof. The vehicle has Florida License Plate "4685XX."

Fort Thomas Police are asking for help identifying the male and female in the pictures.

Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.
If you know them or can provide any information, please contact Fort Thomas Police - Detective Nicholas Hoffman at 859-441-6562 or if you see a vehicle matching this description please contact, Campbell County Dispatch at 859-292-3622.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Fare Excellent in KDE Results

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) today released 2017-2018 student assessment results and Fort Thomas Independent Schools continued their mark of excellence across the Commonwealth.

All five district schools led the way in at least one testing category, while many of the schools topped the state rankings in some state accountability and assessment results.

Highlands High School was first in Northern Kentucky in Reading and third in the State in Proficiency, which is combined Reading and Math.

Highlands Middle School was first in the State in Math, first in Northern Kentucky in Reading and second in State in Proficiency. They were also first in Northern Kentucky in Separate Academic Indicator, which is combined Science, Social Studies and Writing.

Woodfill Elementary School was first in Northern Kentucky in Reading.

Moyer Elementary School was first in Northern Kentucky in Math.

Johnson Elementary School was first in Northern Kentucky in Growth Indicator, Science and Writing.

A full list of achievements are found below.

"These high scores illustrate how we can continue to excel on traditional assessment measures, while also ensuring all of our students are building the competencies in our Portrait of a Graduate," said Superintendent Karen Cheser. "We continue to be proud of and excited for our achievements throughout the district. These scores are a direct reflection of the commitment, dedication and expertise of our world-class teachers."

Kentucky is in the process of phasing in a new accountability system, which is scheduled to be fully implemented in the 2018-2019 school year and conforms to requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Senate Bill 1 (2017). Once implemented fully, school and district performance will be classified using Kentucky’s 5-star rating system.

Under this new system, accountability determinations are only made at the school level. Determinations are based on student performance on state assessments and other school quality indicators or measures, such as growth or graduation rate, depending on the grade level. Additionally, per Senate Bill 1 (2017), the new accountability system does not provide a single summative score that ranks schools against each other.

The new accountability system promotes the development of students who are well-rounded, transition-ready – prepared with knowledge, skills and essential dispositions to succeed in the next educational setting or career pathway.

In the Fort Thomas Independent Schools, teachers, staff, administrators and community members have helped shape the District's Portrait of a Graduate, which has upped the ante on what skills, beyond the state accountability system, they want their students to possess as they leave Highlands High School.

The District's Portrait of a Graduate competencies include being a: Global Communicator, Empathetic Collaborator, Creative Problem-Solver, Curious Critical Thinker. and Courageous Leader.

“We have worked hard to shape our Portrait of a Graduate, knowing that getting our students ready for life after high school entails more than just testing well,” said Jamee Flaherty, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. “We want them to find their passions and have the skills necessary for them to hit the ground running in what interests them in order to contribute and be successful right away.”

The new accountability system also changed the metrics throughout the state and paved the way for many schools and districts for opportunities to grow.

"We understand that we have areas of growth within the state assessment and accountability system, such as high school transition readiness, four-year graduation rate, and proficiency of students with disabilities," said Bill Bradford, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. "We are working diligently to address these areas, but very happy overall with where Fort Thomas Independent Schools continues to rank."

All data for the 2017-2018 assessment and accountability reporting are publicly available in Open House on the Kentucky Department of Education website. All the data will be available later this year in the new and improved online Kentucky School Report Card.

Detailed Fort Thomas Independent School Ranks:

Highlands High School
1st in Northern KY in Reading
2nd in State in Reading
3rd in State in Math
2nd in Northern KY in Math
3rd in State in Proficiency (combined Reading & Math)

Highlands Middle School
1st in State in Math
1st in Northern KY in Reading
2nd in State in Proficiency (combined Reading & Math)
1st in Northern KY in Separate Academic Indicator (combined Science, Social Studies, & Writing)
3rd in State in Reading
2nd in State in Science

Woodfill Elementary School
1st in Northern KY in Reading

Moyer Elementary School
1st in Northern KY in Math

Johnson Elementary School
1st in Northern KY in Growth Indicator
1st in Northern KY in Science
1st in Northern KY in Writing

All Elementary Schools (Woodfill, Moyer, & Johnson - combined)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Highlands Wins Boys Golf Region; Champs for First Time Since 2010

Bluebirds Put Things Together at Right Time

Twitter Photo. The Highlands boys golf team won its first 8th Region championship since 2010 shooting a 293 at AJ Jolly Golf Course.
This is the day you hope everything comes together like what had been seen during the regular season.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team did just that Tuesday in the 8th Region Tournament at AJ Jolly Golf Course in Alexandria winning it with 293 strokes. Highlands captured its first region championship since 2010 in the process and qualified for the state tournament for the second straight year.

Grant County also made state as the top two teams in each region make it to state. But the Braves finished 14 strokes behind Highlands shooting a 307. Grant County won the region title last year and finished 11th in the state tournament.

"We got off to a great start and I think that helped our nerves, gave the kids a lot of confidence," said Bert Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "(Monday) we were practicing in the rain. The course was wet and you had to play long. You just had to keep grinding away. The kids did an unbelievable job of sticking to their plan and not getting rattled if they made a bogey (one-over part on hole). They played great. They were very tough mentally."

Highlands placed its top three golfers in the top five in the tournament. Sophomore Justin Gabbard tied Grant County's Tyler Mitts with 70 in the regular 18 holes for one-unders on the par-71 course.

Gabbard then won individual medalist honors in a six-hole playoff with Mitts. Gabbard had to hit a long shot on the fifth hole forcing the sixth hole that he won.

"That putt really got my momentum going," Gabbard said. "I play off my energy so if I am making putts, I usually get fired up and hit some good shots. (Tyler Mitts) made an easy birdie (one-under par for the hole) and I made a hard one so it really got my momentum going for the next one which made me hit a better shot I think."

Highlands sophomore Luke Muller finished one stroke behind them in third with 71 for an even par game. Senior Ryan Leigh tied for fourth with Grant County's Ryan Mitts shooting 72.

"Knowing the course is always good obviously. Personally, I like it better when it's wet because if you hit the green, you know it's going to stop instead of rolling off," Muller said. "I hit my irons the best I have in a while so that helped a lot. We're looking forward to state. This year, maybe we can do a little better than last year."

Eighth grader Joel Craft finished off the Highlands scoring with an 80. Senior Steven Grimme also participated for the Bluebirds shooting a 92.

Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy Lands $10,000 Grant That Restored Historic Hubbard Studio

The Harlan Hubbard Studio. 
There has been some activity in the middle of town on Highland Avenue - Moyer school has been renovated, a couple of residences are undergoing renovation or being built, and the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Nature Preserve has been quietly undergoing historic renovation.

If you don’t know, Harlan Hubbard is often called the Thoreau of Kentucky, but he developed his skills and philosophy in the middle of Fort Thomas in a a home and studio that he built. Hubbard and his wife left Fort Thomas and floated down the Ohio River to New Orleans, traveled the country, and then settles in a remote spot in Trimble County, Kentucky where he lived an isolated, rugged, yet sophisticated life without running water or electricity. Hubbard influenced contemporary writer Wendell Berry, local bluegrass artists, The Tillers, and area artist Ken Swinson.  His art and writing remain popular because he speaks to our desire to be with nature and find deeper meaning in that relationship.

The window prior to renovation.

The studio, that is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built from all reclaimed materials in 1939. Harlan scavenged many of the razed warehouses along Covington’s riverfront for materials to build his little 14’ x 20’ studio.

The large steel framed window in the north wall has an interesting story. It was originally destined for a church but it fell off a truck and was run over. It was useless to the church but valuable to Hubbard. He offered five dollars for it, hauled it back to the property, banged it back into shape and installed it.

The Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy (FTFC) now oversees the restoration and holds a conservation easement on the property that protects it from development. The Ohio Valley Foundation, through 5/3rd bank, awarded FTFC $10,000 to finish the Phase 2 restoration.

The restored window. Thanks to Jim Turner Restoration.

Sidney Thomas, owner of the property and active FTFC member, says that “working with Heidi Jark, Foundation Manager of Fifth Third, was such a pleasurable and smooth experience. Her interest in the Harlan Hubbard Studio and the restoration of it was genuine.  She immediately knew the perfect foundation with whom we could partner. As the owner and one of the caretakers of the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Nature Preserve, I feel honored to be able to share in this important journey of restoration of not only a building but of a lifestyle.  Thanks to the contributions of The Ohio Valley Foundation and other donors to restore and protect the studio, Anna and Harlan’s legacy will continue to influence our future generations.”

Monday, September 24, 2018

John Deering Valued Education, Grammar, Community

I met John Deering in July of 2013. Upon taking over as Editor of Fort Thomas Living, I didn't have many holdovers on the staff and was given a blank slate by Publisher, Jim Lied.

He wanted me to make Fort Thomas Living my own, under the style that had thrived for so many years. He did, however, give me a caveat.

"Mr. Deering will still contribute to this magazine." 

John Deering had been part of Fort Thomas Living almost since the beginning, writing articles about how things were. How things are. How he wished things would be.

I truly valued his contributions.

It took us some time to actually get to sit down and meet each other, but Mr. Deering was always on deadline. He delivered his articles timely and always asked for feedback, albeit not much feedback. I had instructions as Editor that if I were to actually edit, to please let him know what I was going to move, even if it were a nebulous word. He valued every single one and took pride in his writing.

He made me more careful, even as Journalism now moves at the speed of life.

A few years back, he moved to The Barrington and asked for some time as he and his bride made that transition.

"Of course, Mr. Deering. Anything you need."

He never asked for a cent for his contributions. He just wanted to be a part of the magazine and when he began to slow down last year, there was a noticeable absence in each issue.

I'll miss you, John, and our readers will miss you as well.

John Deering addresses the crowd at David Cecil's sweater unveiling at Highlands High School. (November 2016). 

RELATED: John Deering: The Day I Met Robert Frost 

This Wednesday (9-26) is Pet Day at the Fort Thomas Farmers Market

September 26th is PET DAY at the Fort Thomas Farmers' Market.

Stop by Wednesday, 3-7 pm, Tower Park for some treats for your pets.  Our newest vendor, Daniel's Dog Treats, has natural, healthy alternatives to treat what ails your furbabies, & Pet Wants will be giving out free samples.  Stop by the Market tent to see the dog shampoo bars offered by Ridgehill Soaps & pick up an order form for more information.

Fire at "The Office" on Alexandria Pike in Southgate Shuts Down Road

PHOTOS: Edward Harber Photography

A fire at the bar, The Office, located at 2416 Alexandria Pike in Southgate caught fire this morning at around 10:00 a.m.

Firefighters from multiple areas came to knock down the flames.

US-27 was blocked for a time to help respond.

The fire has been contained and no one was hurt.

Reports from on the scene indicated that there was extensive damage on the interior of the building.

Colonel De Targeted by Complex, Sophisticated Duke Energy Scam

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden

Colonel De and Mrs. Colonel De are warning others to beware of an unusually complex Duke Energy scam regarding a $1,400 past due bill and threats to remove electrical meters. This scam involved multiple phone calls and lasted throughout the day on Aug. 22.

It was a seemingly normal week for Colonel De and his business but as he was working at the Farmers Market on Wednesday, Aug. 22, Colonel De received a phone call on his cell from an unknown number. Worried that it may be a call he was waiting on, he answered.

Upon answering, a man ‘from Duke Energy’ claimed that he was parked in the lot of Colonel De’s and was prepared to remove the business’ electric meter if they did not pay their ‘past due bill of $1,400’. The man claimed that if they did not pay and bring their account with Duke up to date, the person waiting in the parking lot would enter the building and remove the electrical meter promptly.

Knowing that their bill was up to date, this confused Colonel De so he hung up...but then he received a text message with the same demand to pay the bill, a strange code to pull up the account and a phone number to call in order to pay the bill.

The strangest part — Colonel De’s cell phone is not associated with their Duke Energy account...they use a different number for their electric bill.

To be safe, Colonel De promptly got on the phone with his staff to make sure someone was at the restaurant and store to make sure no one tried to enter the space. It was then that he found out that a similar call had been received at the restaurant earlier that day but a staff member, knowing the bill was paid, had dismissed them and told them they had the wrong number.

Colonel De then called Mrs. Colonel De, Susan Stewart, who manages the utility bills for both the restaurant and the spice shop, to see if she could figure out what the issue was. Upon triple checking, both accounts were indeed up to date so she called the number back in the text message...but not without some investigating.

“I did a reverse look up for the number to see if it was a scam number but it didn’t come up,” she said. “I’ve had scam calls before...but this one was very sophisticated.”

After a quick conversation with the individual (who could not provide her the account number), she hung up and called Duke Energy. A representative from Duke verified that all accounts for Colonel De’s businesses were indeed up to date and that no payment was due. The Duke representative documented their experience and was extremely helpful and the De family encourages others to just deal with Duke. “Don’t give them your info,” said Mrs. Colonel De, “Just go directly through Duke.”

Lieutenant Brent Moening of the Fort Thomas Police Department was able to give us some additional information on this type of scam. “This has been a common scam plaguing businesses and residents all over the area for many years,” said Lieutenant Moening. “We will typically get a lot of calls about this scam, then it gets quiet for a while.  We believe the scammers will hit the area, then wait a few months and strike again.”

Lieutenant Moening encourages residents to verify identity if they feel uncomfortable with the individual claiming to be from Duke Energy.

“We tell residents to never give personal information over the telephone.  If a company like Duke Energy is calling , they will already have this information. If someone represents themselves as a Duke employee, and is at your door, you can call Duke at 1-800-544-6900 to verify this person is really an employee of Duke.” 

If residents feel strongly that the individual/s are not affiliated with Duke yet claim to be, Office Moening encourages that they call the police. Duke Energy also encourages all customers to report any possible scams.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Highlands-Simon Kenton Video Highlights

Highlands Rolls Over Undefeated Simon Kenton, Improves to 5-1

Bluebirds Earn Another Huge Victory

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior defensive back Bailey Armstrong (left) pursues Simon Kenton senior running back Jon Sergent (33) on Friday.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior wide receiver Adam Weyer (9) hauls in a touchdown catch in front of Simon Kenton junior defensive back Isaac Bleier (23) on Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. Weyer scored from 25 yards out in the first quarter. The Bluebirds defeated the Pioneers, 38-9.
A number of signs pointed toward another huge win for the host football team Friday.

The Simon Kenton Pioneers from Class 6A's District 6 came into the game at David Cecil Memorial Stadium undefeated. But the combined record of the five opponents the two teams faced coming into the game favored the host Highlands Bluebirds. The combined record of the first five Highlands opponents was 14-11 compared to 6-17 for the Pioneers.

Simon Kenton beat one team with a winning record in the Conner Cougars, 31-13 in a lightning-shortened game on Sept. 1 in Independence. Highlands scored a few quick touchdowns and the defense held up until the Bluebirds put the points on the board to pull away for a 38-9 non-district victory. Both teams are 5-1 on the season.

"It was a good start," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "We need to keep that start rolling through the whole game. I was proud of us executing in the front part. We just need to make sure we execute on the back end."

This marked the 890th victory in program history for the Bluebirds and their first win over Simon Kenton since 1998. The Pioneers stayed undefeated after beating the Bluebirds the last three seasons (See sidebar in sports for more details).

Simon Kenton out-gained Highlands, 270-245. But the Bluebirds defense again made a team drive the field and took advantage of Pioneer mistakes along the way. Highlands averaged a little more than four yards per play on 60 plays compared to just under three on 91 plays for Simon Kenton.

The Pioneers run the read option with senior quarterback Caleb Farfsing, senior running back Jon Sergent and junior running back Austin Hammack out of the spread formation. Sergent ran for 10 yards above his average per game going for 73 yards on 13 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per carry. But the Bluebirds contained them.

"We worked all week in terms of our angles, our alignment and what our keys were and the whole focus was keeping (Farfsing) where we knew where he was," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We didn't want him to get out out there (in the open) because when he gets out there, he's dangerous. All it takes is one play. He's really hard to tackle in the open. We made the sure the guys were where they needed to be."

Farfsing led the Simon Kenton attack that gained 178 yards on 49 carries for an average of 3.6 per carry with 84 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown for an average of seven per touch. Hammack had minus-five yards on four touches. Farfsing and Hammack averaged 103 and 76 yards rushing per game coming into the game. Simon Kenton averaged just under 269 yards rushing per game entering the game. Hammack left the game with an injury in the first half and Farfsing left the game in the second half.

The Highlands 3-5 defense consistently penetrated the Simon Kenton backfield recording 12 tackles for a loss including three sacks. Junior defensive linemen Conner Zell and Griffin Welsch led the Bluebirds with two tackles for a loss each. Senior defensive lineman Zach Lewin and senior linebacker Jackson Hagedorn had one sack each.

Hagedorn recorded another defensive touchdown for the Bluebirds. On the first snap after Farsing left with an injury, freshman Jack Nelsen took over as quarterback for the Pioneers. Simon Kenton snapped the ball past Nelsen. Hagedorn picked up the loose ball on a scramble and dashed 35 yards for a touchdown to put Highlands up 31-7 with 4:26 left in the third quarter.

"I think it really changes the tide of the game," Hagedorn said of defensive scores. "It really gives us the momentum when we get the ball back. Even if our offense doesn't do that well, we know they'll do well the next time. But when we come out, we can depend on ourselves to get a touchdown and if they do, that's even better."

That marked the only turnover for the Pioneers. Highlands lost two fumbles. One came in the third quarter when a ball hit off a Bluebirds player on a Simon Kenton punt. But Hagedorn's touchdown came shortly after that. Senior defensive back David LeCount had a fumble recovery for Simon Kenton.

The consistent pressure forced the Pioneers to have to throw the ball. Farfsing and Nelsen combined to complete 10-of-29 passes for 92 yards. Sergent, junior running back/wide receiver Quincy North and junior wide receiver Evan Mulberry had two catches each, but none had more than 23 yards receiving. The longest pass play went 20 yards for Simon Kenton.

"Anytime a team relies on what they do and you can get up, it should help you," Weinrich said. "They were continuing to grind the ball and keep the ball away (from Highlands) because that's their offense. Even though they weren't throwing the ball, they're a big play offense. They're always one play away from making something happen because they get you going one way then all of a sudden, here comes the quarterback so they don't always have to throw the ball just because you're down. What they do is what they do and we couldn't let the scoreboard affect how we were playing defensively."

Highlands passed for 152 yards and rushed for just 93 as the Simon Kenton 3-4 defense keyed on stopping Bluebirds senior running back Cooper Schwalbach holding him to 38 yards on 15 carries with a game-long run of eight yards for an average of just more than 2.5 yards per carry.

The majority of the Highlands rushing yards came with 1:05 left in the game. Sophomore running back Joe Buten broke free for a 69-yard scamper up the middle. Buten finished with 70 yards rushing on five carries and a touchdown for an average of 14 yards per touch. Schwalbach averaged 77 yards per game rushing and Buten 36 entering the game.

Highlands tried to loosen the Simon Kenton defense through the air. But the Bluebirds could not connect consistently against the experienced Pioneer defense. Highlands senior quarterback Grady Cramer was 8-of-23 for 103 yards and one touchdown. The Pioneers recorded five sacks in the game.

"The main thing for us between a successful drive and an unsuccessful drive was how aggressive we were up front," said Max Dierig, Highlands offensive lineman. "On every play we scored, we were putting our faces in their chests and really driving them back. When we weren't scoring, we were being more passive and trying to catch their guys off the line. When your mindset is right to play on the offensive line when you're out there, you're going to dominate every play."

Highlands junior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth came in for a couple drives and completed 5-of-6 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. On 4th-and-goal from the Simon Kenton 4, Hollingsworth completed a crucial touchdown pass in the left front corner to senior wide receiver Austin King with 2:18 left in the first half to give Highlands a 24-7 lead at halftime.

"It was crazy. I saw a bunch of pressure up front," Hollingsworth said. "There was a guy coming at me so I ran to my left on my (throwing) arm side. I saw him breaking out on the out route. It was simple."

Six different Highlands receivers had catches for the Bluebirds. King led the way with five catches for 16 yards and Schwalbach had three for 34 including a 20-yard completion. Junior Hunter Ahlfeld recorded a 30-yard catch in the first half and ran into the end zone. But the side judge ruled he stepped out of bounds at the Simon Kenton 15. Highlands missed a field goal several plays later.

The game started off strong for Highlands as junior linebacker Brycen Huddleston returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. That marked Huddleston's second kickoff return for a score this year.

Highlands has had consistent special teams play this season. Cramer had five punts for an average of 39 yards including a 52-yarder in the first half. Cramer had two punts inside the Simon Kenton 20. Simon Kenton had one return for 10 yards. On eight kickoffs, Bowman put two in the end zone for a touch-back and the Bluebirds limited Simon Kenton to a long of 21 on six kickoff returns.

"We really take pride in it," said John Kohler, Highlands defensive back. "We take emphasis. We take time in practice to work on special teams. We work on getting down the field as fast as we can. Then it comes down to the guys. We have a great group of guys. We fly down there and try to make plays. That's all it is."

Following a bad snap on a punt, Highlands took over at the Simon Kenton 11. Following a tough offensive pass interference call, junior Adam Weyer ran behind the Pioneer defense for a 25-yard touchdown catch on a post route and senior Nick Bowman made the point-after kick to put the Bluebirds up 14-0 with 9:41 left in the first quarter.

Simon Kenton then finished its lone drive offensively on the next series. Farfsing faked a hand-off then broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run and senior Christian Seger made the PAT to cut the Highlands lead to 14-7 with 7:13 left in the first quarter.

Highlands drove down the field and managed a Bowman 33-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the quarter to go up 17-7. On third down before the field-goal try, Cramer threw into the end zone. But pass interference was not called on the tight play.

Simon Kenton scored just two points in the second half. It came on a safety in the fourth quarter.

Highlands has its bye week before facing Dixie Heights on Thursday, Oct. 4 in Edgewood. That game starts at 7 p.m. and is the final road game of the regular season for the Bluebirds.

Box Score:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Woodfill Students Share Wildly Important Goals

Woodfill Elementary students present the Wildly Important Goals they've chosen for this year.
Four students from Woodfill Elementary School shared a new project that has engaged students in all grades. Ellie, Carly, Charity and Vinny, ranging from first to fifth grade, presented their WIGs at the September meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Board.

Wildly Important Goals, known as WIGs, can be personal or academic goals that each student selects to work on throughout the school year. This is the first year of the project, and this year’s focus for academic goals is on writing and communications, said Woodfill Principal Keith Faust.

The students shared their goals and explained how they keep track of the progress they’ve made toward their goals, such as improving grades, meeting higher expectations in rubrics and supporting their classmates.

Carly gave examples of lead measures that would help track her progression toward her goal of raising her grades. Her measures were proofreading, peer proofreading and working with the Spelling City app. She carefully tracks the measures each day on a chart in her notebook.

"Even our teachers have goals," explained Vinny. "My teacher says she wants to go from five books she’s read so far this school year to reading 12 books by the end of quarter one. Our principal says he wants to go from 30 minutes of quality face-time per day with staff and students to over 75 minutes per day."

Faust said in the next semester, students will choose "accountability partners" to help them stay on track and check in on progress toward meeting their goals.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Merchants & Music 2018 FOOD + KIDS ZONE Options

The 14th annual Merchants & Music Festival, sponsored by the Fort Thomas Renaissance Board, is Saturday September 22 at Tower Park in Fort Thomas.

The outdoor festival celebrates the merchants of Fort Thomas and pairs them with nationally-acclaimed recording artists as well as fun activities for the entire family. This free event is headlined by the 10,000 Maniacs and ends with Fort Thomas' own, The Leftovers, at 11:00 p.m.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Ale Trail Pub Crawl is Friday, September 21 2018 (DETAILS)

This year the festival's chair is Frank Twehues. Fort Thomas' Katie Walters, from Q102, will emcee the event.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Merchants and Music Festival 

"Tracy Davis and Hilary Blau and the rest of the Renaissance Board did a great job pulling together acts for the Kids Zone," said Twehues. "Without their involvement in the last week, the lineup below wouldn’t be so awesome. I may have been Chair of the festival in title, but others have done just as much if not more work.  Debbie Buckley's hard work will be very evident as we hope for another great night in Fort Thomas."

The Renaissance Board is Chaired by Brian Sand.

These acts include:
 - Belle from 4 – 6 in the shelter .
 - Face painting and balloon twisting from 2:30 – 6:00 – Will be in a booth outside of the shelter.
 - Caricature artist from 3:00 – 5:00 – Will be in a booth outside of the shelter.
 - Jennifer Ellis singing 3 – 4  - Outside of shelter.
 - Bounce Houses will be available from 2:30 on.  Located in the grass area near shelter and playground.

The event also has a lot of food options from regional vendors including:

·        Artic Freeze
·        Brent’s Landing
·        California Tri-Tip
·        Chloe’s Eatery
·        Colonel De
·        Farmhouse Lemonade
·        It’s Just Bricks
·        Jane’s Funnel Cakes
·        Kona Ice
·        LaOrangette
·        Melissa’s Soup Kitchen
·        Pinky’s Pit BBQ
·        Southern Smoke
·        Texas Joe’s
·        The Pop Shop

The Hidden Dragon is Northern Kentucky's Hidden Gem

Cold Spring has a hidden gem in the Hidden Dragon restaurant.

Owners, Thearvy and Karen Long moved their longtime successful business with the same name from Alexandria to Cold Spring in December of 2017.

Their new location at 56 Martha Layne Collins Blvd. is located in County Square Market.

For the Long's it has come full circle.

They met 30 years ago working at the Gourmet Wok location where the Hidden Dragon now sits.

Long then went on to become the Executive Chef at the Oriental Wok in Fort Mitchell for 24 years, which has routinely been rated highly by food critics everywhere as one of the best in Asian cuisine in the area.

RELATED: View The Hidden Dragon Restaurant Menu 

Long has taken that same approach with his Cold Spring restaurant.

The Living Media offices were recently delivered an array of takeout from the restaurant and you can immediately tell the quality of the food is exquisite. The vegetables are fresh and crunchy. The chicken is incredibly high quality. The rice is fluffy and soft and even the sauces taste like they are prepared on the spot.

The crab rangoon is the best we've ever had.

If you are in the mood for Chinese food, this is definitely worth a visit. You can now get Oriental Wok-style quality for a reasonable price in Campbell County at Hidden Dragon.

Hidden Dragon Asian Fusion
56 Martha Layne Collins Blvd, Cold Spring, KY 41076
Phone: (859) 781-8800

Order online and see the menu here. 


Mac's Pizza Pub Coming to Cold Spring

Mac's Pizza Pub will open this fall in Cold Spring.

The local chain will be the fifth for owner, Mac Ryan. This location will be at 42 Martha Layne Collins Blvd. in the County Square development.

Previously, that location was occupied by Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkers and Growlers.

Ryan, who has a background in staffing, manufacturing and finance, found his passion for working for himself in the restaurant industry.

"I truly want people to come in to one of my restaurants and receive a top quality product, provided at a reasonable price, be treated with respect and delivered in a fun, lively yet laid back atmosphere," he said.

Mac's has locations in Clifton, Covington in Mainstrasse, on Wooster Pike, and in Landen in Maineville.
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Besides their pizza, wings and burgers, the location in Cold Spring will also feature a 1960 Big Ball Arcade Roller bowling game.