Friday, December 14, 2018

Fort Thomas Insurance Executive Appointed to Emerging Leader Chair

The Independent Insurance Agents of Kentucky (IIAK), the state’s leading insurance trade association, has appointed Nicholas K. Rolf as its Emerging Leader Chair.  His appointment took place at the association’s 122nd Annual Convention & Trade Show on November 14, 2018 at The Omni Hotel in Louisville, KY. This appointment also affords him a seat on the IIAK Board of Directors.

Voted Best Yoga Studio in Kentucky by Best Things Kentucky. 

Rolf is an agent at Gross Insurance Agency in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He is a 2012 University of Louisville graduate. Rolf has served IIAK in various capacities, most recently as a member of both the Membership Services and Trusted Choice Committees.

In his community, Rolf is the Treasurer of the Fort Thomas Business Association and partner of Beaux Tied, a retail business that sells bow ties, neck ties, belts and bags to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy and Epilepsy. He has also served on the board for Operation Smile.

St. Elizabeth Adds a "Game-Changer" in Fighting Cancer Right Here in Fort Thomas

St. Elizabeth Fort  Thomas Increases Advanced Cancer Treatment Options

Kentucky leads the nation in cancer diagnosis.

That's a sobering statistic if you live here and even more so if you hear those words from your care provider.

Now, if you live in northern Kentucky, there's a state-of-the-art tool located at St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas, that is a true game changer in fighting cancer.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare has enhanced its cancer treatment services at St. Elizabeth Cancer Care in Fort Thomas with the addition of the TrueBeamTM Radiotherapy System, the first of its kind in the region.

St. Elizabeth doctors and administrators cut the ribbon on the equipment this week.

John Mitchell with Dr. Pratish Shah and St. Elizabeth doctors and administrators. 

"We've made it our mission at St. Elizabeth to up the ante, to save more lives and to invest in finding a solution for cancer in our community," said John Mitchell, COO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare Fort Thomas & Covington.

"St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas will continue to play a major role in the cancer care continuum right here in Campbell County, allowing patients to stay close to home with receiving treatment. 

Campbell County is eight in the Commonwealth for highest annual cancer diagnosis.

"We want our residents to know that they don't have to travel far for exceptional cancer care," said Mitchell. "St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas has an elite corp of doctors and health professionals and they're working with state-of-the-art, ground-breaking equipment." 

TrueBeam technology, made by Varian Medical Systems, was engineered to deliver powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision. By integrating imaging and motion management technologies within a sophisticated architecture, it is possible to deliver quicker treatments while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion.

“TrueBeam enables us to treat even the most challenging cases with tremendous speed and precision,” said Dr. Lauren Castellini, Radiation Oncologist at St. Elizabeth. “This system will make it possible for us to offer fast, more targeted treatments for cancers — even those that move when the patient breathes, such as lung, esophageal or breast cancers.”

The TrueBeam system incorporates “intelligent” automation that helps reduce treatment time. In many cases, patients can be in and out of their cancer treatment in as little as 20 minutes per day over a course of care. Simple treatments that once took 15 minutes or more can be completed in less than two minutes once the patient is positioned for treatment.

The TrueBeam system targets tumors with tremendous precision made possible by the system’s sophisticated architecture, which synchronizes imaging, beam shaping and dose delivery. It also performs accuracy checks every ten milliseconds throughout the entire treatment. Critical data points are measured continually as a treatment progresses, ensuring that the system maintains a “true isocenter,” or focal point of treatment.

TrueBeam imaging technology produces three-dimensional images used to fine-tune tumor targeting very quickly, using 25% less X-ray dose when compared with earlier generations of technology.
TrueBeam can be used for radiotherapy treatments including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and RapidArc® radiotherapy.

Framing with an Artist's Eye at Framed NKY

Framed NKY is open for business and features the work of local artists as well as framing services.
By Robin Gee

The framing of art is an art itself says Jennifer Sierra, whose new frame shop and gallery, Framed NKY, opened this fall in Fort Thomas.

"Framing protects and preserves the art, but it also enhances it."

When choosing a frame, she said, it’s important to know as much about where the artwork will go as it is the artwork itself. A frame is a design choice and must fit in with the environment around it. Framing art, if done well, is also an exacting and careful craft.

 "You want somebody who knows how to handle the art without damaging it…cutting the matt and hand fitting with care, there’s an art to that as well."

The right place at the right time

Sierra is an artist and author. She owned a gallery a few years ago but was not looking for a new business. She was driving through Fort Thomas where she lives one day last August and what happened next can be described as "serendipitous."

"I saw a sign that Ken Bowman was closing his store. I had many of my pieces framed there when I was an active artist, and I felt he and his staff’s work was meticulous. So, I stopped the car and went in to ask why he was selling."

Bowman was ready to leave the business after 30 years, but he still had a strong clientele. Over the course of their conversation he asked Sierra if she was interested.

"It was not my intention, but I thought about it and I thought 'I just can’t let this go.' And since I bought the place, many people have stopped by to thank me."

Sierra brings with her an artist’s eye. "For framing you need a very good design sense, a knowledge of architectural styles, design styles to help people determine the best frame for a piece of art."

Good framers not only know what kind of mat and frame to use with each piece of art but what type of glass is needed to protect the item and prevent glare as well as what will work within a space. It’s a wholistic approach, said Sierra. "There’s a dance to it."

Local and regional artists featured

Sierra said she was excited to be able to keep former employees on as part of her plan to maintain high quality framing at the site. She has painted and redesigned the store’s interior and added signage for the new business, which puts an emphasis on providing access to local art and artists as well as framing.

"I want to use the space to introduce local and regional artists. I will curate a new show about every eight weeks," she said.

Her first artists are Cincinnati-based Paula Wiggins and Fort Thomas native Beverly Erschell, whose work is part of the permanent collection at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Erschell designed a commemorative holiday ornament for Framed NKY, now available at the store. Sierra said she is starting a tradition of offering a new ornament designed by a different local artist each year.

Collectable ornament by Beverly Erschell

Art isn’t the only thing people want framed. Sierra has been working on reframing a customer’s museum-level collection of Hank Williams memorabilia. It’s not uncommon, she said, for people to want to frame team jerseys, prized collections, almost anything.

"These days we are doing a lot of tv framing. We can do all sorts of things with that. It carries the same possibilities as framing a picture. Your tv can be made to look like a work of art. It’s fun to be able to think of new ways to do new things," she said.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

This Hidden Shopping Destination is Northern Kentucky's Best Kept Secret

Fort Thomas has made it easy to shop local and knock out your holiday shopping by offering events which feature multiple local businesses. Small Business Saturday, the Holiday Hop at Highland Plaza or The Gifting Back Bazaar have all been successes.

This Saturday, December 15, The Barrington of Fort Thomas (940 Highland Avenue, Fort Thomas) will be the latest venue to open their doors to the public with their event: The Shoppes of Barrington. The event is free and open to the public with plenty of parking.

Santa will be there with gifts for each child and the opportunity to take a picture with him as well.

Kevin Brooks, the Director of Community Development for The Barrington said the The Shoppes of Barrington event started eleven years ago.

"It was started to give the residents of the Barrington that were not able to get out as much as they would like the ability to do so, without actually going out in the cold," he said. "Essentially, we have brought the people and Shoppes to our residents."

According to Brooks, the event has grown into a community event. There are 20 vendors signed up and there will be food and drink available. He also said Santa would be there and would be giving away gifts for children and a free family photo opportunity.

"For many people living with us, it has been probably many years since there has been a family photo with Santa, so here is the chance to do this again," he said. "Many people love to be able to buy their loved ones something for Christmas and this gives people the ability."

"The Shoppes of the Barrington gives the community an opportunity to see what we get to witness everyday and that is the uniqueness of each resident of the Barrington and their history and legacies that make up our community. The Barrington is a wonderful place to be and we have wonderful caring staff but it is the people that live there that make it a great place to be," said Brooks.

Brooks said the Barrington of Fort Thomas is a place for people to continue to live and open a new chapter in their lives.

"It's exciting for everyone, like hosting a giant Christmas party in your home," he said.

So this Saturday, finish your holiday shopping with local business who interact with community.



Highlands Prepares for Home Battle of Undefeated Teams

Bluebirds to See How They Stack Up Against Defending Region Champions

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. Highlands sophomore Kenzie Nehus (left) and senior Ashley Hayes (right) could be huge x-factors for the Bluebirds in their 9th Region showdown against Ryle on Friday in a battle of undefeated teams.
Current members of the Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball teams ventured to BB&T Arena to watch the Ryle Lady Raiders make their first-ever appearance in the state tournament last spring.
After winning the first 9th Region championship in school history, Ryle (29-7 last year) beat Simon Kenton, 61-56 in the first round of the state tournament before losing 93-78 to eventual state runner-up Louisville Mercy in the state quarterfinals. Ryle graduated just one player off that time.

With the return of all five starters including two NCAA Division I recruits in senior guard Lauren Schwartz and junior Maddie Scherr, Ryle entered the season favored to repeat as region champions. Schwartz has signed to play at Rice University in Houston (Texas), a member of Conference USA. Scherr has offers from the likes of the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. After the loss to Mercey, Schwartz exclaimed, "We'll be back."

Barre 3 Ft. Thomas. Located in Fort Thomas Plaza. 
Highlands (5-0 overall) will see where it stands against Ryle (6-0) at this point of the season in a huge home game Friday at 7:30 p.m. Ryle beat Highlands, 47-31 in the lone meeting last season. After beating Covington Holy Cross, 83-62 in Fort Thomas on Monday, Highlands watched Ryle beat host Campbell County, 81-61 Tuesday.

"We talked about that after (the Holy Cross win) that it's not going to be two people that's going to be able to beat Ryle," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "It's going to be everyone in that locker room. It's going to be all 15 players and all five coaches. It's going to be a collective game. Everyone has to know what we're doing offensively and defensively and be able to execute a game plan."

Highlands and Conner figured to be the biggest challengers to the Lady Raiders after the Bluebirds graduated just one player off last year's 24-8 team that lost 54-46 to Conner in the 9th Region quarterfinals. The Lady Cougars also returned several starters from last year's 23-9 team including senior guards Savannah Jordan and Courtney Hurst that lost 55-43 to Covington Holmes in the region semifinals. 

Ryle and Conner met in Hebron a week ago and the Lady Raiders won 60-49. Schwartz scored 22 and Scherr scored 17. Ryle Head Coach Katie Haitz challenged the supporting cast to improve to take the load off Schwartz and Scherr and sophomore Brie Crittendon has helped there. Crittendon scored 10 in the win over Conner (5-1 this season).

Highlands has outscored opponents, 338-212 for an average margin of victory of just more than 25 points per game. On the other side, Ryle has outscored opponents, 435-301 for an average margin of victory just more than 22 points per game.

Defensively, Richey said the Bluebirds have to do better knowing where shooters are on the court. Holy Cross senior guard Olivia Crigler made 8-of-10 three-point tries on her way to 28 points Monday.

Offensively, Highlands has hit 112-of-268 shots for just under 42 percent including 30-of-105 three-point tries for just under 29 percent. The Bluebirds are also making 70 percent (84-of-120) of their free throws.

The Bluebirds have five seniors. Richey can't say enough about their leadership. Senior Zoie Barth leads Highlands averaging 18 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Barth has 1,869 career points. She has been in the rotation for six seasons. Senior guard Chloe Jansen is in her fourth season in the varsity rotation with forward Hanna Buecker and senior guard Ashley Hayes dressing for varsity for the third season.

"The seniors need to pick up the team and keep the environment good so that we can do the little things correct," Hayes said. "It's important when you criticize the younger girls that you also make sure they know how to fix it and it's okay to make mistakes. It's how you build off that and how you build onto the team aspect."

Junior guard Piper Macke is second on the team averaging 10.4 points per game. Sophomore Rory O'Hara is third averaging 8.4. But others have hit double digits this year. Jansen scored 10 and Buecker scored 12 in the win over Grant County on Saturday.

"The x-factors are huge," Richey said. "We're going to have to have girls continue to step up and make shots when they're open because they're going to be open Friday night. I have a feeling they're going to be leaving people open that they're going to have to be confident in their shot and know it's going in when they shoot it and not be scared about the big-time situations."

Call Ashley Barlow. 859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
In the preseason, Richey talked about the importance of rebounding. The Bluebirds have 153 on the season for an average of just more than 30 per game. Highlands out-rebounded Holy Cross, 30-25. Highlands has also improved in other ways.

"We just keep working on our shooting and other things," said Kenzie Nehus, Highlands sophomore guard. "We keep going over all of our plays to make sure we know them solid. That way we can execute them well in the game."

A good number of the Highlands players saw their male counterparts beat Covington Catholic, 57-51 on Dec. 3 in front of a nice crowd at home. Richey hopes to see a good crowd Friday for a big reason.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Baker's Table To Open on Monmouth Street in Newport

A new restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and small bites will cut the ribbon on their space to open to the public tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

The Baker's Table, owned by David Willocks, will open at 1004 Monmouth Street in Newport. The location formerly housed Packhouse Meats and Lucy's on Monmouth.
Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.

RELATED: Lucy's on Monmouth is Closed, For Now 

Willocks is bringing his Head Chef talent from the San Francisco Bay area at an Indian restaurant to northern Kentucky. The Baker's Table menu will also have French and Italian influences. This is

1004 Monmouth St. Newport, Kentucky. Google maps. 
He said the theme of the restaurant is to "feed people with love".

Willocks has been providing catering services and private home party events via the Kick Start Kitchen in Covington.  He said that based on the compliments from clients, he pursued a brick and mortar building to expand his services.

The Baker's Table will offers seasonal rustic cuisine. The menu will also include specialty coffees, teas, beer, wine and cocktails.

Currently The Baker's Table is serving spiced or spiked apple cider, noro mulled miel, and Aztec hot chocolate.

Grad Student Project Aids Fort Thomas Communication Concerns

NKU Executive Leadership students presented recommendations on city communications to Ron Dill. (l to r) Tammy Godby, Ashley Pyles, Lisa McCord, Ron Dill, Nigel Mask, Rita Jones, Sean Donelan.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

The city of Fort Thomas received some extra help on its plan to improve communications and branding from a group of graduate students in a leadership program at Northern Kentucky University.

The students are enrolled in NKU’s Executive Leadership and Organizational Change (ELOC) program, and their assignment has been to provide consulting and research services on a specific issue for an area organization, business or public entity.

The larger class divided into smaller groups to select and work with different clients. One group chose the city of Fort Thomas as their client.

Bringing a fresh perspective

Fort Thomas Police Officer Sean Donelan is in the ELOC program and was one of six students assigned to consult with the city. He said the program draws an eclectic mix of people who represent a wide range public and private management and leadership roles across the area.

"We did not just have public administrators, but also people who work at Fidelity Investments, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, university personnel…all interested in professional development. These are people who want to improve things around them," said Donelan.

Donelan is a veteran police officer with three years serving Fort Thomas and before that in Wilder. He was ready to explore and develop his leadership skills.

"We are learning emotional intelligence. As a police officer, you are not used to being vulnerable, to looking at your strengths and weaknesses…but I’m finding that building these soft skills has helped me be a better me," he explained.

When his group selected Fort Thomas, he was thrilled.

"I love it. To take look at this city with five other people who are not as familiar and seeing how wonderful a place Fort Thomas is... I like that our goal here is to exceed the standard, not just meet it."

Addressing an important concern

The topic of communication has come up repeatedly at both public city meetings and informal conversations. Questions have arisen about how best to share city news, the need for better ways to inform the public about important hearings or city deadlines and how to improve the city website, newsletters and other materials to support outreach to the community.

Donelan said having a diverse group from outside the city looking at the issue brings up new ideas and approaches. "The group brings a wide variety of experiences…wide ranging perspectives, new connections and opportunities for networking."

Working with a city also presents challenges that private corporations may not face, he said. Cities are bound by laws on how and when information should be shared and are required to meet certain standards that can sometimes get in the way of expediency.

Having city staff input and buy-in on the project was key. Not only did the group have the support of the City Administrator Ron Dill, but also from city staff charged with direct communications, including City Clerk Melissa Beckett and General Services Assistant Julie Rice.

Moving ahead with ideas

The project came at an opportune time, said Dill. Several ideas and issues have come up through the city’s visioning process and in community discussions that would fit the project parameters.

"I offered a number of options, and they chose communications and branding for the city," he said. "In fact, we were already in discussions with council on the topic. This was right in line with where our research was going. The goal of the class was to act as a consultant for us."

After researching the topic, reviewing the literature and speaking with experts and officials in Fort Thomas and in other cities, the students developed recommendations and options designed to address concerns in city communications. Last month the class presented their findings and recommendations to Dill.

"I think they did a thorough job analyzing the issue overall and in relation to Fort Thomas. They provided both short- and long-term solutions that we might present. The results of their work is exciting. It shows they did the hard work and the hard research needed to address this issue," said Dill.

Drop Your Drawers Campaign Provides a Welcome Necessity

Campbell County Library Director JC Morgan invites community to "Drop Your Drawers."
 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

While many children dream of bicycles, remote cars and the latest "it" toy for Christmas, some in our community wish also for warm clothing and basic essentials. New underwear is one of those essentials that is a bit harder to come by than other clothing items.

For the past three years, the Campbell County Public Library has participated in a holiday season clothing drive specifically designed to collect new "unmentionables" for children in our area to be distributed through the county’s Family Resource Centers.

Many young children who have accidents are in need of new underwear during school hours when their parents are unable to bring them fresh underwear – and some don’t always have access to these basics at home. In fact, the library’s Drop Your Drawers campaign website says schools hand out between 50 and 100 pairs to students in need each month.

So far, the library has provided about 2,000 pairs of underwear to the three elementary schools in Fort Thomas, said Library Director JC Morgan. Campbell County libraries were the first in the state to participate in the campaign that has now spread to 47 libraries across Kentucky, he said.

The campaign will run through December 31. You can drop off new boys’ and girls’ underwear size 4 to 16 at any nearby branch of the Campbell County Public Library. This year’s collection goal is 7,000 pairs. The library has exceeded this goal over the last two years and is going for another great year.

In Fort Thomas, drop off items at the Carrico/Fort Thomas branch, 3920 Alexandria Pike, or drop off at other library locations in Newport, Alexandria and Cold Spring.

Drop Your Drawers logo featuring CAM, the Campbell County Library Lion


Highlands High School Student Violinist Participates in All-National Honors Ensemble

By Jessica Stringfield-Eden

It is not everyday that you hear about a local high school student participating in a nationally recognized event but a few weeks ago, Keely Reitman, a 16 year old violinist from Highlands High School, did just that at the All-National Honors Ensemble.

The All-National Honors Ensemble is presented by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) which is one of the world’s largest arts education organizations. NAfME advocates for music education at local, state and national levels and boasts over 60,000 members. The All-National Honors Ensemble took place from Nov. 25 - 28 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, and featured only a select number of 550 students from 49 states and territories.

So, how was Keely selected? Lots of hard work.

Keely, who began playing violin in 7th grade, practices 2-5 hours a day (usually 5-6 hours a day in the summer) and is also a part of the Highlands Chamber Orchestra, the Northern Kentucky School of Music Sinfonia and the Cincinnati Symphony Concert Orchestra. She is dedicated and motivated to playing and tackled her video audition head-on for the All-National Honors Ensemble by devoting many hours after school and working closely with her teacher Kathy Anderson on two different audition pieces.

The entire process leading up to the All-National Honors Ensemble has meant so much to Keely and her mother Liz. “This has opened up a whole new world for us. I am not musical but she has found her calling for life. She went from never playing to playing on a national stage,” said Liz. “We’ve met incredible people and the right people have fallen into our laps. Kathy Anderson has been incredible in realizing that Keely needs more to move forward so she also has a private teacher from the Symphony Orchestra.”

Once accepted into the Ensemble, Keely and Anderson tackled the challenging music for the ensemble performance. This proved difficult as Haitian conductor, Dr. Jean Montès, had chosen complex pieces which were arranged by other Haitian composers and differ from other arrangements. Through a collaborative effort, Keely’s private instructors, Anderson and Keely were able to master the arrangement...but it wasn’t easy. “Keely also had an audition for Orchestra Chair for the Ensemble and an All State audition in the same week,” said Liz.

“There was a lot of preparation, lots of practicing music she was unfamiliar with but somehow we made it through!”

For the Symphony Orchestra portion of the All-National Honors Ensemble, Dr. Montès chose a theme of “Peace, Love, and Music”. Keely participated in a piece called “The Red Cape Tango” which received a standing ovation.

Keely was so intimidated at first because a lot of the other students there were already Juilliard students...she started to think she didn’t belong,” said Liz.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dr. Hannegan Returns to Cincinnati Cyclones as Official Chiropractor

Dr. Steve Hannegan, official Chiropractor for Cincinnati Cyclones

Humans have been playing hockey in its many various forms for thousands of years. Historical evidence suggests ancient Egyptians played a variation of it under the warm African sun and northern Europeans reimagined their local frozen ponds as ice hockey rinks.

As the equipment and technique of ice hockey have enjoyed the refinements ushered in by the 20th and 21st centuries, so of course has medical technology and our understanding of injury on the human body. Doctors, coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and chiropractors today have a more holistic understanding of the long and short term impacts of ice hockey related injuries, the most common being concussions, sprains, and shoulder injuries.

As with most major sports teams today, The Cincinnati Cyclones have their own dedicated chiropractor who provides care before, during, and after games to make sure players perform their best and are able to receive immediate care if needed. Dr. Steve Hannegan of Performance Chiropractic returns to the Cyclones for the 2018-2019 season as the team's official chiropractor.

RELATED: Performance Chiropractic Takes a Patient Centered Approach

In addition to getting players back on the ice faster and working with them to ensure they are performing at their peak, "the players utilize chiropractic care to maintain and improve their mobility and reduce injury risk. When a player’s joints are moving properly this allows the stress of playing to be properly distributed through the muscles and joints. This includes movements like shooting the puck, taking hits, and skating. By properly distributing the muscular component of skating to all the correct muscles by optimal joint mobility the player can generate the most power, acceleration, and speed. This makes the player and the team that much better and could be the difference between a win and a loss". (read the full post on Performance Chriopractic's blog)

Newport on the Levee Getting Attention for National Retailers

Cincinnati-based North American Properties (NAP) has closed on its purchase of Newport on the Levee from California-based The Price Group, LLC.

The property is a 360,000 square foot, mixed-use development with incredible views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River, surrounded by local attractions such as the Newport Aquarium and Purple People Bridge.

“As a Cincinnati-based company, we are dedicated to investing in the region and are committed to elevating the entire Newport on the Levee experience for the local community,” said Tom Williams, president and CEO.  “Newport on the Levee is a regional landmark and we are proud to bring our local ownership and passion to the re-imagination of a truly irreplaceable property.”

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North American partnered with Boston-based real estate private equity firm Long Wharf Capital on the acquisition and US Bank’s Cincinnati office provided debt financing. Locally, real estate specialists Jeffrey R Anderson company and 360 Partners, who previously teamed up to deliver the Kenwood Collection, will lease and manage the redevelopment.

Plans for the first phase of renovations, construction, and new tenants will be announced over the coming months, with the completion of the project expected in the next year.

Key features will include major physical improvements, with exciting tenants and an event calendar that is already in full swing.

“Winter Wonder on the Levee” is a 90-day holiday program that has already drawn thousands of visitors to enjoy Christmas lights, fireworks, concerts, Kentucky’s largest skating rink, and other holiday festivities.

“Our vision focuses on the ‘New’ within Newport on the Levee. New chef-driven restaurants, new vibrant entertainment options, new creative workspaces that will all enhance the existing property that sits on top of 2,200 covered parking spaces with irreplaceable city and river views,” said Tim Perry, managing partner and chief investment officer of NAP. “Once our renovation is complete, there will be nothing like this in the entire Midwest.”

At the time of the closing, NAP leaders and Newport city officials indicated that the project is drawing significant attention from national retailers and restaurateurs from nearby Louisville and as far as California and New York.

Students Bring the World to Fort Thomas Schools

Lily Hennigan, Mary Kinsella and Elizabeth Winkler share information about English language learning at Fort Thomas schools.

It’s a big world out there but developing global communication skills and cultural awareness makes it feel smaller and more manageable. Learning more than one language is a valuable skill for all students, but for some, it is essential.

For 42 students at Fort Thomas schools, English is not their first language. The English Language or EL Program provides support for those students who need language help. The program helps the students learn English while they in turn enrich the school community through sharing of their home cultures and languages with English-speaking students.

Students at Fort Thomas schools speak a variety of languages from 20 different countries. About 40 percent of the English learners speak Spanish as their primary language, but other languages include German, Turkish, Tamil, Romanian and Mandarin Chinese.

The EL Program

At the November Fort Thomas School Board meeting, Elizabeth Winkler, EL program consultant for Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services (NKCES) and Moyer Elementary EL teacher Mary Kinsella shared information about the students across the district who receive EL services and support. They were joined by Lily Hennigan, a peer tutor in the program and student at Highlands High School.

Winkler said her job is to help ensure that within the eight school districts in the region served by NKCES that all federal and state guidelines for EL students are met. Her goal, she said, is to help English language learners in our communities achieve academic success.

She described the process used to identify those who need services. When a family enrolls in school, they answer four home language survey questions. If the answer to any of the questions is not English, they may qualify for EL services.

Students then take a screening assessment to determine their level of comfort and familiarity with English. If the student scores lower than 4.5 on a proficiency scale of 1 to 6, they are eligible for EL support services.

Once in the EL program, students take an annual assessment to follow their progress. If a student from the program scores 4.5 or higher, they move into a four-year monitoring period. At present, the Fort Thomas district as 17 students in monitoring.

Providing service and support

Moyer teacher Kinsella explained how services are provided to her students. At Moyer, 30 students in kindergarten through fifth grade are in the EL program and six are in the monitoring period.

She works with students one on one or in small groups and collaborates with classroom teachers and student peer tutors. She also works closely with classroom and special area teachers to support the students’ academic plans and with the transportation director to ensure EL students outside the Moyer district are transferred into the school to receive services.

Winkler shared facts about the success of the EL program at Fort Thomas. Forty students took the annual assessment test in January 2018. Of those, 10 students, or 25 percent, scored high enough to exit the program, well above the state average, and 16 students increased their proficiency level.

Family and community involvement

Family and community involvement are very important to the program and to student success. "We try to get our families involved and engaged. I collaborate with Elizabeth [Winkler] and our PTO and with our families in having engagement activities," she explained.

"In September we try to do something to bring the families in to encourage literacy. In the fall we bring the families in to get ready for conferences…and then again we try to promote reading over winter break."

The annual "Taste of Moyer" has become a highlight of the outreach effort. Said Kinsella, "It has been a huge success. The families felt comfortable and afterwards said they were just overwhelmed that we wanted them there. We wanted them to feel part of our community, a part of the Moyer family."

Building key strengths

Hennigan said in her role as peer tutor she attends classes with EL students and helps them after school with homework as well. The benefits for her run two ways.

"I started peer tutoring in order to build my Spanish curriculum, but I ended up working with students from many different backgrounds and also many different skill levels… It's awesome this year. I don’t have the same students, but I can see the students I had last year in the hallway or at football games, ask them how they are doing and if they need any help."

Global communication is a key strength identified in the Fort Thomas Portrait of a Graduate. Board member Karen Allen pointed out that Hennigan is developing this skill in her EL work as well as becoming a empathetic collaborator, another key goal in the portrait.

Allen sees benefit to all students, those whose first language is English and those whose primary language is not English, and she also noted the community benefit. "When I saw the slide of all the languages I thought this is something our community needs to see. We are growing; we are changing; we have people for whom we need to be inclusive."

The Fort Thomas EL Program at a Glance

Family Nature Evening at the Armory Will Spur a New Holiday Tradition

Looking for a family fun evening? Then stop by the Armory on Thursday, December 20 for a Christmas story with a nature twist.  There will be a reading of Night Tree, a deceptively simple reminiscence of a boy’s youth when the family would visit nearby woods to decorate “their” tree for the animals.  They return home keenly aware of the mysteries and secrets of nature. It’s a heartwarming story that families will want to include in their own traditions.

 The event was prompted because the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy wants to offer seasonal activities. The Backyard Habitat group of FTFC group organized the event with the Fort Thomas Recreation Department. The event will provide food for birds during the winter and the hope is that families will do the same in their yards.

FTFC board member, Trisha Schroder, says, "We hope that families will leave this event with a new holiday tradition of pausing to think of nature at the holidays and decorating their own holiday tree for wildlife in their yard.

We will be making decorations for a tree that will be displayed outside at the Armory; however, we hope participants will go home and make more edible-ornaments for a tree in their own yard."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fort Thomas Residents Host 3rd Annual Fundraiser for Teens in Need

By Jessie Stringfield-Eden 

Everyone loves a good happy hour...but you’ll especially love this holiday happy hour for a great cause!

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m, Villedge is hosting their 3rd Annual Happy Hour Fundraiser at Union Hall (1311 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH) and although the nonprofit organization is located in Cincinnati, there are definitely strong ties to Fort Thomas.

For those who aren’t aware, Villedge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing teens in need with after school creative experiences, fitness classes, job training, one-on-one counseling, family and community support and community based activities. Through partnerships with other organizations and access to experienced staff, the goal is to lift teens from tough situations and elevate them so they can reach their full potential with healthier lifestyles built on relationships, information, opportunities and support.

The goal of the event this year is to raise support for 15 boys who are participating in the program but currently lack the funding necessary for programming costs.

The founders of Villedge, Katie and Iloba Nzekwu, are dedicated to their mission of helping teens in need. “It’s going to take every one of us to stand in the gap for these teens so that the cycles of dysfunction and generational poverty end with them.”

The Nzekwus are also Fort Thomas residents who say they have been able to do so much with Villedge because of the tremendous amount of support from their very own ‘village’ — the Fort Thomas community. “As a transplant to Fort Thomas,  I love and appreciate the opportunity and people of this community. It’s because of the strength of this community that my husband and I have been able to pour so much of our time into Cincinnati because this community takes care of each other and our kids have so many people pouring into their lives from teachers to volunteers to neighbors,” said Katie, “This community has been our Village which has allowed us to create and be the Villedge for teens from the hardest of places, right across the river.”

The annual happy hour is their largest fundraiser of the year and this year, sponsors include; Cinfed, Tripack, Crossroads, CK Mondavi and Family, Jeff Ruby and Lou and Gretchen Meyer. Registration is required but tickets for the event are free with donations requested. The Nzekwus want others to know that they can make a huge difference for one teen just by paying for a monthly gift. “This year we are asking the community to commit to a recurring gift,” said Katie, “We have different price points that cover particular parts of the program that people can choose from so that our boys who are unfunded can continue to receive the support needed.”

Moyer Student Art Project Highlights Local Businesses

Moyer Elementary students wrote their own presentation on their community art project. 

Constellations, stars, planets and a rainbow represent the schools central office in artwork designed by Moyer students for their community art project.

 By Robin Gee

Second grade students at Moyer Elementary are learning about community roles and involvement. The theme fit well into an annual community art project at Moyer highlighting area businesses and organizations.

Moyer Principal Dawn Laber and visual arts teacher Nikki Everett introduced some of the students at the November school board meeting where they presented on their work. For their project, the students visited businesses, learned about their operations and created artworks for each business.

The works they created were the result of a process designed and led by the students. They formed small groups to come up with ideas, decide on what to do, how to execute their plans and, finally, to share their work as a gift to the community.

"In our Moyer classroom we try to think like artists.…The students took risks to come up with ideas, and they had to share them with their peers. That’s really hard to do. When you have great ideas and must decide on one," said Everett.

The students wrote their presentation about the project and what they learned in the process. One group took their idea in unexpected ways. They were asked to do a piece of art for the Bluebirds teams. Instead of focusing on the football or other sports program, the students tied the bluebird to mathematics.

In another artwork, a group represented the Fort Thomas Independent Schools central office with the night sky, a star, rainbow and constellations that spelled out F.T.I.S. In yet another, the students created a futuristic vignette to represent the new 20 Grand building, which houses programs aimed at students interested in science and technology careers.

Students created works for 24 area businesses including the VA Hospital, Colonel De’s, Graeter’s Ice Cream and Alterations by Frances. The students who presented at the meeting were Josie B., Lilly D., Avni J., Aaron K., Ella Kate R. and Ali P.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mayor Eric Haas Meets with Team Who Saved His Life

Eric Haas strolled into the lobby at the Miami Valley Hospital Jamestown Emergency Center on Thursday, Nov. 8 – his 38th wedding anniversary – grinning from ear to ear.

“Hugs for everybody!” he cheered as he embraced anyone he could wrap his arms around.
“You guys just have no idea how grateful I am to all of you,” he announced, his eyes welling up with tears.

RELATED: Eric Haas speaks on his near fatal heart attack (Podcast)

“And I feel so, so amazing!” he proclaimed, adding that he has been exercising, eating healthfully, and had lost more than 20 pounds since everyone there last saw him.

Silvercreek Township and New Jasper Township EMS crews responded to Eric’s lake house near Jamestown on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, after his wife, Jan, called 911 in a panic when he became unresponsive.

They worked together to restart Eric’s heart and transported him to Jamestown Emergency Center. There, they joined forces with staff to prepare Eric for transport to Miami Valley Hospital via CareFlight Air and Mobile Services. Later that week, Eric underwent open-heart surgery at Miami Valley Hospital to repair multiple blockages.

A reunion with Eric’s caregivers was set into motion earlier this year.

Mayor Eric Haas with his Jamestown Emergency Department care team
While attending a Silvercreek Township council meeting, Eric, who serves as mayor of Fort Thomas, Kentucky just outside of Cincinnati, was surprised to be greeted with, “I know you,” after exchanging casual smiles with Silvercreek Fire Chief Steve Payton. The fire chief happened to be part of the crew who treated Eric after he went into cardiac arrest.

When Eric returned home to his wife and excitedly said “Guess who I met!” while showing off a photo of him with the fire chief, the two knew that they needed to reunite with everyone else who saved his life.

Mandy Via, outreach manager for CareFlight, helped coordinate a reunion of several caregivers, including the dispatcher who fielded Jan’s 911 call. To have such a well-attended reunion “just truly echoes why we do what we do,” she said.

Sara Bauersfeld, who helped care for Eric as a nurse at Jamestown Emergency Center, also expressed appreciation for everyone gathered.

“One of the biggest things about being out in Jamestown that people don’t always see is how much community it takes,” she said. “We’ve got good quality care, and we’ve got teamwork, and it fulfills me in my role as nurse manager now to know that we’re reaching people.”

Eric’s wife described the reunion, held almost exactly 13 months after the incident, as closure.

“Most of the time you don’t know if the patient made it, and we just wanted to share with you that because of you all, every single one of you, he made it,” she told the group.

Just as he hugged everyone initially, Eric went around the room asking all present to tell him about their roles that day.

“I’ve always been grateful to people who do what you do, no question about it. But now I just have a totally different perspective on how important it is and how much you affect people’s lives, and I’m just so grateful that you were willing to show up today so I can say thank you,” he said.

“What a great gift – this is the best anniversary gift ever.”

Sen. Wil Schroder Named Chairman of Committee on State and Local Government

The Senate Majority Caucus has announced its committee assignments for the 2019 General Assembly.  Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) will serve as the new Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on State & Local Government.

“I'm honored that leadership has entrusted me to chair the Senate's State and Local Government committee,” Senator Schroder said. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the tough issues and keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”

Senator Schroder will also serve as Co-Chair of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Administrative Subcommittee and as a member on the Program Review & Investigations Committee, Public Pension Oversight Board and the Tax Expenditures Task Force. Additionally, he will serve on the Senate Standing Committees on Judiciary, Economic Development, Tourism & Labor, and Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection.

“Honoring America’s Veterans During the Holidays”

Campbell County Democrats with the assistance of the John R. Little VFW Auxiliary will once again participate with the Wreaths Across America (WAA) program and honor America's Veterans by placing wreaths in Evergreen Cemetery this Christmas season.

The ceremony and wreath placement will take place Saturday, December 15, 2017, beginning at John R. Little VFW at 8:30 am where hot chocolate and coffee will be available for volunteers.  After meeting at the VFW, volunteers will begin placing wreaths at the “Civil War Battery” and the VA’s Soldier’s Lot. At 9:30 am, there will be a presentation from the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Honor Guard to begin the ceremony.

The local group (KY00098) will place a total of 450 wreaths on the graves of veterans in the “Soldier's Lot” and in the “Civil War Battery” areas of the historic cemetery located at 25 Alexandria Pike, Southgate, KY 41071.  Among the Veterans buried at this location are two Medal of Honor recipients; William Horsfall the youngest recipient ever at age 15 for valor during the Civil War and Thomas M. Doherty a recipient for valor during the Spanish-American War.

The public is invited to take part in this moving tribute. This can be done with your financial support, wreath placement and presence at the ceremony.  Individual wreaths are $15.