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Friday, March 22, 2019

Fort Thomas Police Outlines Six Different Scams and How to Handle Them

By Detective Derek Faught 
In Fort Thomas, we enjoy a low crime rate and have a great working relationship with our community members. 
In an effort to keep the public informed of crime trends, we wanted to make our citizens aware of a popular and disturbing schemes to steal money from unsuspecting victims. Phone and internet scams are not new, but we have seen an increase in this type of activity within our city in the last year. Due to advances in technology, fraudsters are able to use “spoofed” phone numbers to call potential victims from untraceable numbers. Most of the time, the scammers are not in the immediate area. In fact, oftentimes the thieves are operating from locations in other countries. These factors make it very difficult for local police departments to effectively investigate and charge the individuals responsible. Here are examples of the scams that are most often reported to our department:
Internet “phishing” scams: Phishing takes place when scammers send fraudulent emails that are supposedly from reputable companies or entities in order to persuade the recipients to reveal sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or personally identifiable information. Emails may come in the form of unpaid invoices for an item you did not order, and often have misspelled words or elements of the email may seem “out of place”. If you doubt the validity of an email, do an internet search for the company’s contact number and call them directly. 
Urgent care scam– This scheme recently gained attention in the media. Dozens of people around the region received calls from a fraudster who claimed they were trying to collect on an unpaid Urgent Care bill accrued by the victim’s family member. In many cases, the caller had personal information about the victim, including address, date of birth, social security number, and phone numbers. If the person receiving the call does not pay the caller and just hangs up, the fraudster then calls members of the victim’s family, claiming they would come to their home to collect the debt. We believe that the scammer gained the victim’s personal information through a “phishing” scam. A couple people who received these calls purchased gift cards and paid the scammers over the phone.
Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.
IRS scam– We receive reports of this scam every year. Scammers call victims and inform them that they owe back taxes. They claim that if they do not pay the scammer over the phone, local law enforcement will be dispatched to arrest them.
Local police department scam– From time to time, someone comes in and reports that an unknown number called them and identified themselves as the Fort Thomas Police Department. They inform the victim that they have accrued several hundred dollars in parking tickets. They threaten the victim with arrest if they do not pay the fee over the phone, usually with gift cards.
Grandchildren scam– This scam specifically targets the elderly within our community. A fraudster will call a grandmother or grandfather within our community and claim to be that person’s grandchild. They pretend to be incarcerated in a foreign country and state that unless grandma or grandpa pay their bail, usually by wiring money, they will remain there indefinitely.
Sweepstakes/Lottery scam: We’ve had several residents report that they have received emails and calls claiming that the recipient has won a large sum of money, but in order to receive the money, they have to pay some sort of tax or processing fee. The bill can be anywhere from a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. The fraudster instructs the victim to wire the money to an address in another state to begin the process of acquiring the money.
These are a few examples of a wide array of scams that criminals employ to get important information or money from unsuspecting victims by telephone or email. There are a few simple steps our residents can take to protect themselves from being deceived.
First of all, if you receive a call from someone who is overly aggressive in trying to get you to pay the bill over the phone using one of the methods mentioned above, HANG UP. The majority of the time, it is apparent early on in the call that it is likely a scam. In the rare case that the phone call is from a reputable agency, they will call you back. Also, it gives you time to do some research on the organization or company that is supposedly trying to collect from you.
After hanging up, if you are unsure whether the caller is reputable or not, CALL THE POLICE. Our officers are familiar with these scams and can advise you whether they are legitimate calls or not. Legitimate agencies and companies do not collect debt by extorting people into paying them over the phone with gift cards. They also will not instruct you to wire money using services like Western Union. The Fort Thomas Police Department will not contact you by phone in order to collect on an unpaid fine or ticket. 
If your bank account has been affected by fraud, you need to report the situation to your banking institution. They will usually instruct you to go ahead and make a report with your local police department. However, these scams are usually something that are difficult for local police departments to investigate. Because of our limited ability to assist in these circumstances, we have provided a list of resources below that may help you to recover from identity theft or a phone/internet scam.

The First eSports Lounge in the Area Just Opening in Newport

The area's first e-sports gaming lounged opened at GameWorks at Newport on the Levee this week.

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso, along with the ownership/management team of Newport on the Levee, were in attendance.

Peluso played in an esports challenge with local GameWorks employees.

GameWorks Newport’s new esports lounge features:

* 20 Alienware Gaming PC’s with 240 Hz Alienware monitors and RTX 2070 graphics cards.

* All new Cougar Armor Titan chairs and Alienware mechanical keyboards, gaming mice, and headsets.

* Console gaming options include approximately 15 PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Wii U

* Over 100 gaming titles from which gamers can choose

With its new, modern, high-tech and high-touch esports lounge, GameWorks Newport created an atmosphere designed to meet the needs and optimum performance of gamers and spectators.

GameWorks Newport’s esports lounge is equipped with 20 PCs and multiple consoles along with an extensive library of approximately 100 of the most popular video games, which is updated regularly.

Players can engage in play with one another casually or participate in the hundreds of local and regional tournaments to be held at GameWorks Newport.

Local tournaments will often be streamed onto live streaming platforms, providing connectivity with many other gamers in real time.

The esports lounge at GameWorks Newport, which is within the venue’s 20,000-square foot space, can accommodate hundreds of guests, and features 20 personal gaming stations and multiple large couches, providing ample, comfortable seating.

“Our new esports lounge completes the full entertainment offering guests will find here at GameWorks Newport,”  said Tom Heim, general manager of GameWorks Newport. “We expect our new esports lounge to be very well received, due to the increasing global popularity of esports. With GameWorks Newport’s esports lounge, players and enthusiasts now have a dedicated local spot where they can go to do what they enjoy most.”

Guests can also order food and drinks from GameWorks’ new Modern American restaurant, The Works Kitchen at GameWorks, delivered directly to their seats.

The Works Kitchen at GameWorks’ diverse menu includes an upscale food selection with a contemporary approach to traditional favorites across a large variety of appetizers, handhelds (specialty burgers and sandwiches), salads and desserts.

“GameWorks has built a solid reputation in competitive gaming and entertainment nationally through all of our seven venues,” said GameWorks Chief Executive Officer Philip N. Kaplan. “With our new initiative to open state-of-the-art esports lounges in every location, we’re ensuring players and spectators have a place to go to that meets all their gaming needs while offering even broader entertainment options from which to choose.”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Win-Win for Walnut Hills Academy and City of Cold Spring

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Cold Spring residents received welcome news at a special city council meeting this week that a deal had been struck to keep a beloved preschool center in operation – and fund a new building to house its growing police department.

The announcement of the agreement came after a week-long saga of misunderstanding and alarm about what appeared to some as a sudden decision by the city not to renew the lease for the Walnut Hills Academy. The center had been in operation at 5696 East Alexandria Pike and serves about 110 area children.

On March 12, the owner of the center, Beth Sparks, sent a letter to parents informing them the center would be closing at the end of June due to nonrenewal of the lease.

Alarmed parents started a petition to keep the center open. Parent Amy Danzon, who had organized the petition, outlined the importance of the center to the community. “Walnut Hills Academy is a trusted, valued, and educationally-rich early childhood center in Cold Spring, KY. For over 25 years, it has provided early childhood education to Cold Spring and surrounding cities. From daycare to preschool, and even after-school care, Walnut Hills Academy has served working parents and their children with upstanding values, education and love.”

Owner, Damon Sparks, addresses Cold Spring City Council as parents of Walnut Hills Academy looks on.

Behind the scenes

Cold Spring Mayor Angelo Penque said he received multiple calls and emails from concerned residents about the move. Important information had not been included in the letter, he said, and parents were under the impression that the nonrenewal was a sudden decision.

Documents then released by city officials showed the center had been informed in November 2017 of the decision not to renew the lease. Officials said they did not publicly disclose the lease terms or nonrenewal at the request of the owner. As is common practice, lease terms were discussed in a closed executive session of council.

"Because this is a private business, we did not want to hurt the business. The owner asked us not to put this out, and we respected her wishes," said the mayor. "On behalf of the city, I want to say we did everything we properly."

"We certainly acknowledge that we had a year and a half," explained owner Damon Sparks. "We had been talking about this for a year and a half but we’ve also been negotiating for a year and a half. It was a business decision."

He said they held back on informing parents and staff because negotiations were still underway and, they were hopeful a solution could be found. Yet, he admitted concern also that, once informed the center was closing, parents would begin to find other options, leaving the business in a position from which it might not be able bounce back.

Looking for a alternatives

City officials wanted to bring the police department, located about two-tenths of a mile away at 5589 E. Alexandria Pike, onto the same campus as the city government building, Penque explained.

"Safety has always been an issue," said City Attorney Brandon Voelker. "We do have city office staff sometimes taking money and there have been concerns. From a safety standpoint we have discussed that it would be good to get it all here on one campus."

He said there has been confusion about where the police department is and moving it to be with other city buildings would ensure easy access. It would also allow opportunities for coverage of police reception by other city employees. At present there is not a full-time person dedicated to cover the police department’s front desk.

The department is growing, he said, and is approaching maximum use of the space. Yet, another reason for the move appeared to be financial.

The city owns and maintains the building that houses Walnut Hills Academy but does not take in enough in rent to cover the costs associated with that. "The business is not paying rent at market value and so it is costing the city tax money to maintain," said Voelker.

Both Voelker and Penque said they had hoped to find an alternative that would suit the center’s needs, and recognized the vital role of the center and the concerns of parents.

 Finding a creative solution

Voelker explained that the mayor suggested they take a step back and look at the situation from the viewpoint of a property owner rather than a city government. "We thought, how could we make this work? So we reached out to Walnut Hills and, literally, have been in contact with them every day since."

The result was a creative solution all could embrace. The city wanted the police department on their campus, and there was room to build but no money to do so. The city residents and surrounding community relied on the preschool and did not want lose an important resource. Yet, the center had been paying below market value for rent.

The officials did the math and discovered that if the owners could agree to increase their rent payments, the additional monies raised could provide enough to build a new police building on the city campus without adding to the tax burden. The bonus would be a public safety staff close to other city buildings and also close to the preschool.

The owners agreed to the rent increase, and in return received a five-year lease ensuring that the location would remain a preschool for long time.

Public Hearing Set for Planning Commission to Discuss Central Business District Proposal

Fort Thomas Planning Commission set a date for a public hearing on April 17 to review a development proposal for the central business district.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

A public hearing has been set by the Fort Thomas Planning Commission for discussion and a possible vote on a proposal for a mixed-use development in the central business district.

The hearing will be held April 17 starting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers (large room, second floor) in the city building at 130 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

The application the Planning Commission was given did not include a final plan, drawings or renderings of the proposed plan, but city staff said that would be available before the public hearing for residents to review to be able to give input.

The public hearing was set following a request by Greiwe Development, in association with North American Properties and Sibcy Cline Realtors, to present their development project for consideration.

The project would include condominiums with first-floor commercial space that would encompass properties on the corner of Woodland and Highland and down North Fort Thomas Avenue. Properties involved include 3, 15, 19 and 25 North Fort Thomas Avenue as well as 9 Highland Avenue.

Interest high in meetings with neighbors 

Earlier this month, neighbors on Woodland Place, a cul-de-sac that runs behind the proposed development, met with Dan Gorman, a Fort Thomas resident and owner of United Property Group, to review some of the plans under consideration by the developer.

Gorman had met with a handful of residents in January of this year to discuss the developer’s plans. He said he wanted to update those residents as the developer was beginning to prepare to approach the city Planning Commission.

Interest had built among neighbors since the first meeting, so much so that when the update meeting was called, it had to be moved to Colonel De’s restaurant to accommodate the crowd that included owners of most of the 25 homes on Woodland Place.

The plans presented at that meeting had changed since it had first been discussed, and neighbors grew concerned when they saw that the entrance to the condo parking garage had been moved to Woodland Place.

Residents express concern over changes

Residents appreciated that Gorman had reached out to them and involved them in the process, said Patti Hudepohl, who lives on Woodland Place and served on the city’s Land Use and Zoning Committee. Yet, the change in the parking entrance caused concern over traffic, noise and safety near the top of the street, she said.

Hudepohl and other residents requested a second meeting with the developers to further discuss their concerns and explore options. While no agreement was reached at that meeting, she said she was hopeful further discussion would take place. Residents also planned a meeting with Mayor Eric Haas and City Administrator Ron Dill.

A few Woodland Place residents attended the Planning Commission meeting although they said they were aware that there would be no public comment section at that time. No plan specifics or visuals had been shared with city officials, but the developer is required to present plans for consideration before the public hearing in April. Once available, city residents, as well as officials, will be able to look at them.

Public hearing set for April

The March Planning Commission meeting was short. Gorman, who is vice chair of the commission, officially absented himself from the discussion and vote because he owns some of the properties included in development plans. After quick discussion, the remaining commissioners voted to hold the public hearing at their April 17 meeting.

Chair Dan Fehler explained the public is invited to comment at the public hearing. He said that while a decision could be made at the same meeting, a large and complex project such as this one may be carried over to the next meeting in May.

He pointed out the commission is charged with determining whether or not the developer’s plans meet all the safety regulations, zoning requirements, rules and guidelines set forth in the city ordinances and comprehensive community plan. If the project meets those requirements, the commission must accept the project proposal.

Unlike last year’s text amendment and zoning change, the project does not go to city council for approval. The Planning Commission will make the final decision.

"It was good of the developer and Dan [Gorman] to meet with us, to show us things. Maybe they thought about the things that we said. We don’t know, because we haven’t seen the most recent plans. But we will keep working with them," said Hudepohl.

"And, it will be good for people to see what the plans are," added Woodland Place resident Hilary Landwehr. "There are safety issues that concern me."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sign up now for the 2019 Campbell County Firecracker 5K Race

Registration is ongoing for the 2019 Campbell County Firecracker 5K, which will be held on Thursday, July 4 in Fort Thomas.

The Al Salvato Kids Fun Run starts at 7:40 a.m. and the Firecracker 5K begins at 8:15 a.m.

Hassman and Doyle Lawfirm. 859-655-4430. This is an advertisement.
Registration now through April 1 is $30, and includes a shirt.

Registration May 1 - May 30 is $35, and includes a shirt.

Registration June 1 - July 3 is $40. Race day registration is $50. Shirts cannot be guaranteed after May 31.

The Al Salvato Kids Fun Run is for children 12 and under. The race is a one-mile course and registration is not required. Instead, participants are asked to consider donating a pair of children's running shoes as the registration fee. The YMCA will donate the shoes to Brighton Center in memory of Al Salvato.

Salvato had a love for running and using the sport to mentor youth and teens. The shoe donation will help the community and carry on Al's vision for youth development.

Holly Collinsworth Named Highlands Alumnus of the Year

Holly (Bankemper) Collinsworth was named the 2019 Alumnus of the Year by the Highlands High School Alumni Association.

She, along with Teachers of the Year will be honored at the Alumni & Teacher of the Year Dinner, hosted by the alumni association.

The three Fort Thomas Independent School District teachers of the year are:

Mike Code, Highlands High School
Angela Cochran, Highlands Middle School
Mary Lahner Scaggs ('82), Moyer Elementary

The key note speaker of the event is Colonel Greg Sarakatsannis, USAF, Retired ('88).

The event is Friday, April 12, at the Highland Country Club, located at 931 Alexandria Pike in Fort Thomas. The event is sold out, but you can call 859-815-2004 to be added to the waiting list.

"Direct contributions to the Fort Thomas Education Foundation Endowment Fund can be made as a tribute to one of the honorees," said Amy Shaffer, FTEF Executive Director. "It's a great way to say congratulations while helping continue to support our district's tradition of excellence."

Holly (Bankemper) Collinsworth, Dave MacKnight and Mary Ann (Hillman) Sutkamp (Fort Thomas Living, March 1978).

For more information, visit or call 859-815-2400.

Spring is here! Opening Day starts today for Highlands Baseball

 Bluebirds Seek More Success
PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. The Highlands baseball team owns 10 region championships in school history.
Players and coaches may not be able to rattle off various stats such as the number of consecutive wins over district opponents.

But the region and state tournaments stats seem to be a different story. Veteran Head Coach Jeremy Baioni, the assistants and players of the Highlands Bluebirds baseball team can quickly tell you the Bluebirds are 12-0 in the 9th Region Tournament the past four years.
Highlands made it four straight region championships last year with a thrilling 3-2 win over Covington Catholic in the region championship game. Highlands then drove all the way back to the state championship game before losing 10-6 to Louisville St. Xavier. The Bluebirds finished 29-14 overall and finished state runner-up for the second time in four seasons.

The only thing the Bluebirds still have not done is win the state championship. Highlands owns 10 region championships in school history but had not driven to the state title game until 2015 when it lost 10-3 to West Jessamine.

Highlands will again have to reload without a strong senior class. The Bluebirds graduated 10 players off last year's team including pitchers Drew Rom and Hunter Dreves. The Baltimore Orioles drafted Rom in the fourth round as the 115th pick. Rom is pitching in the Gulf Coast Rookie League down in Sarasota (Florida) and Dreves took his talents to the University of Tennessee.

Highlands also graduated several other corners in first baseman Tyler Gulley, third baseman Sam Hennigan and left fielder Joe Steiden. Rom played right when not pitching. The other five players to graduate are Ryan Adkins, Carson Fitters, Grant Summers, Evan Lewin and Jackson Recht.

But the Bluebirds do return another solid senior class of 11. That starts with several returning starters in center fielder Cooper Schwalbach, catcher Bryce Ziegler, second baseman Chris Bridewell, right fielder Kyle Winkler and pitchers Grady Cramer, Tanner Juett and Steven Grimme. Cramer, Juett and Grimme pitched in the state championship game.

"We've always had the mentality of next man up. We've been fortunate we've had a lot of really talented ball players come through," Baioni said. "The group behind them is just as motivated as the group that left to be successful. This group is no different. That culture that has really taken over the last five or six years has really paid dividends for us because it's no longer where you just show up, roll the balls out and play. Guys understand you have to work hard. They're competing in the weight room in September and October to get ready for the start of the season. We all benefit from it."

Junior lead-off batter Ethan Kavanagh also returns at shortstop for his third season as a starter.  Bridewell and Kavanagh could switch positions if necessary.

When not pitching, Cramer could play in the infield or outfield, Juett could play at first base and Grimme could play an infield position. Winkler and Schwalbach could also pitch. Senior Nolan Turner could pitch or play in either the infield or outfield.

"We definitely lost a lot of velocity with Rom and Dreves leaving but the pitchers this year have good command and they have effective off-speed pitches that they can use at different times in the count," Juett said. "It will work. (Pitching in the state championship game) gave us a taste of everything. It will entice us to get back there again this year."

Highlands hopes to play solid defense again. The Bluebirds outscored opponents, 317-152 for an average of just more than seven runs to between three to four runs per game. In the 5-0 win over Paintsville in the state quarterfinals, Highlands gunned two players down at the plate.

"It will be a really big part of what we do," Ziegler said. "We're going to score a lot of runs each game. Defensively, if we can keep (opponent) off the scoreboard, it will be a lot easier for us. Coach Baioni is really good when it comes to (routine plays). He makes sure that we work on it every day in practice just to make sure we're prepared for games like state and region."

Junior Collin Hollingsworth hoped to give Highlands help as a left-hander. But he will not be able to pitch this year. 

Senior Trent Johnson returns after missing all of last season and could play either third base or catcher. Senior Trey Gabbard played some at first base last year and senior Casey Greene will look to fulfill one of the outfield spots.

Six juniors are also hoping to contribute for the Bluebirds. Mason Schwalbach, Luke Weidner and Brennan Haigis could battle for time at third base and on the mound with Nate Gesenhues playing shortstop or second base. Mason Schwalbach could also catch and Weidner could also play in the outfield.

Six sophomores could also see time for Highlands. Owen Carris, Jason NoeJacob Gulley and Harrison Pawsat could pitch or play in the outfield and Braden Baioni could pitch or play third base. Noe and Braden Baioni are left-handed pitchers. John Barth could play second with Gulley also playing on the left side of the infield or at second.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Boi Na Braza Downtown Looking for a New Location

Upscale Brazilian steakhouse Boi Na Braza is closing its doors for good, according to a sign posted outside the restaurant.

The fine-dining restaurant has called the Carew Tower on Fountain Square home for more than 11 years.

The restaurant says it will serve its last dinner at 441 Vine Street on March 30.

Boi Na Braza says they’re moving to a new address but did not say where it would be or when it would open.

These Four Special Guests will Join the Highlands Theatre Crew for One Night Only

The award-winning Highlands High School Theatre Department will end its  2018-19 season with four performances of the hilarious comedy 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on March 21-24, 2019.

Four special guests will star as "guest spellers" every night at the show. Guests include Jon Curl, who is better known as JonJon on Q102 (Thursday), Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools and Matt Bertasso, principal of Highlands High School (Friday), Maryanne Zeleznik, News Director and Morning Edition Host for WVXU (Saturday) and Tricia Macke, Evening Anchor for Fox 19 (Sunday).

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences across the country with its effortless wit and humor. An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.

While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box. A riotous ride, complete with audience participation!

If you go:

Open to the Public

Highlands High School
Performing Arts Center
2400 Memorial Parkway
Fort Thomas, KY 41075

Thursday, March 21, 7:30pm, Opening Night
Friday, March 22 7:30pm
Saturday, March 23, 7:30pm
Sunday, March 24 , 2:00pm, Closing Night

Tickets: Students - $8, Adults - $10

Tickets are RESERVED SEATING only.

Highlands Cheerleader Signs with The Ohio State University

Highlands High School cheerleader, Will Bertsch, will sign a letter of intent to cheer at The Ohio State University.  The signing will be held at 3pm on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in the Media Center at Highlands High School.

Will was a member of the 2017-18 team that won 1st place in NKCCA Small Coed Cheer, 1st place in NKCCA Senior Stunt Coed, 1st place KHSAA Region 9 Coed and Cheer, 4th place in KHSAA State Coed and 11th place in UCA Nationals Small Coed.  He was also part of the 2018-19 team that won 2nd place in NKCCA Small Coed, 1st place in UCA Hoosier Small Coed, 2nd place in KHSAA Regional Small Coed, 1st place in NKCCA Senior Stunt Coed, and 13th place in UCA Nationals Small Coed.  In this, his senior year, Will received the NKCCA Scholarship Award.

“Will is an exceptional athlete with an unsurpassable talent and plethora of knowledge for the sport of cheerleading.  He is a four-year varsity cheerleader and the first four-year male cheerleader to graduate from our program.  

His ability to focus on the big picture and put obstacles behind him speaks volumes for his character.  Will is the first to encourage the team and younger athletes to achieve their goals.  We have no doubt that he will take these same qualities and knowledge to The Ohio State University program,” said Miki Beier, Highlands High School head cheer coach.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Fort Thomas Doctor Named Lifetime Health Care Here

The Business Courier will honor Dr. Lawrence Brennan with the 2019 Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brennan, who goes by Larry, practices with St. Elizabeth Healthcare and has been a medical oncologist for nearly 40 years.

See Rob's listings here. 
He has played a key role in helping build what will be the largest comprehensive cancer center in Greater Cincinnati. Construction of the $140 million center is underway on the Edgewood campus of St. Elizabeth’s flagship hospital.

In addition, Brennan has been chairman since 2012 of the Campbell County Board of Health, which he joined in 1995.

Brennan will be honored at the Health Care Heroes awards dinner 6-9 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati, 151 W. Fifth St. downtown. For information or to register for the event, click here.

The Courier also will also present a special Heroes in Action award to UC Health’s trauma and emergency medicine teams at the hospital system's flagship University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The award recognizes the response that the Level I Trauma Center provided following the Sept. 6 shooting in the lobby of the Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square, which left a bank vice president and a contractor for CBRE wounded and resulted in the death of four others.

The Courier recognizes those who have made an impact on health care in our community through concern for patients, research and inventions, management skills, innovative programs for employees as well as services.

The Palliative Care Center that will be located within the St. Elizabeth Cancer Center will bear the names of Brennan and his wife, Karen Enzweiler, who are among major donors to the project.

Brennan was one of the founders of St. Elizabeth Hospice in Edgewood and served as its medical director from 1990 to 2017 while maintaining a full-time practice in oncology.

He became a St. Elizabeth employee in September 2016 after the hospital system acquired OHC Inc.’s medical practice in Northern Kentucky, which included 10 doctors who specialized in medical or radiation oncology and four advanced practice registered nurses. The acquisition was key to St. Elizabeth’s plan to build a destination cancer center.

Brennan joined Linwood-based OHC in 1997, when it was known as Oncology Hematology Care. The Cincinnati-based practice of OHC remains one of the largest physician groups in the region.

He was in private practice from 1983 to 1996 with Riverhills Healthcare Inc. of Cincinnati, during which time he was chairman of the Internal Medicine Department at St. Elizabeth Medical center’s north unit in Covington (1986-88).

Brennan and his wife have lived in Fort Thomas for 35 years, where they raised five children.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Highlands Theatre Department Presents “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

The award-winning Highlands High School Theatre Department will end its  2018-19 season with four performances of the hilarious comedy 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on March 21-24, 2019.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences across the country with its effortless wit and humor. An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.

While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box. A riotous ride, complete with audience participation!

If you go:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Honorees Announced

Pictured: Past honorees. 

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Women’s Initiative has announced the 2019 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees. The awards honor women who exemplify notable achievement, outstanding service in their professions or to the Northern Kentucky community, and the qualities of personal integrity, perseverance and leadership.

"We had so many amazing women nominated this year, doing wonderful work in Northern Kentucky,” said Gina Bath, Vice President of the NKY Chamber Women’s Initiative. "The group of women being recognized as this year's Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Honorees are truly exemplary, and we're thrilled to be able to share their stories."

2019 Honorees Include:

Outstanding Women Honorees:
Geralyn Isler – Business Benefits Insurance Solutions
Barbara Stewart – Northern Kentucky Area Development District
Jessica Taylor – Northern Kentucky University
Caroline Weltzer – Viox & Viox, Inc.

2019 Emerging Leader:
Holly Mazzocca – Bartlett Wealth Management

2019 Helen Carroll Champion of Education:
Laura Koehl – Notre Dame Academy

2019 Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women:
Presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Eva G. Farris – Philanthropist

2019 Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Recipients:
Rebecca Wolfe, Gateway Community and Technical College
Emily Lowe, Northern Kentucky University
Patti Watters, Thomas More University

“We are honored to be able to recognize such incredible women in our community each year,” said Julie Tapke Dusing, Chair of the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards. “Their hard work and selfless attitudes make the entire Northern Kentucky community better, and this is just a small way to say thank you.”

The awards will be presented at the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards Luncheon, sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center (3861 Olympic Blvd., Erlanger, KY).

Tickets to the event are $40 and available online at

Beloved Fort Thomas Man Dies in Tragic Accident While Working in Covington

A Fort Thomas man died while working in Covington on Wednesday.

Charles Buckler, 46, was in a cherry picker completing some tuck pointing work when he was electrocuted after coming into contact with a high voltage transmission line, according to Covington Police. The fatal accident happened in the 600 block of Altamont Road. He is believed to have died instantly.

Covington Fire Department responded at around 1:40 p.m. and contacted Duke Energy to assist on the scene.

Buckler has deep roots in Fort Thomas. With a wife and five children, a GoFundMe fundraiser has been established to help with unexpected expenses.

RELATED: New Candy Store Opening in Fort Thomas 

He and his wife, Michelle, had previously owned The Candy Cottage in Fort Thomas from 2010 to 2012, located at 3 N. Fort Thomas Avenue.

Fort Thomas Recreation Department Creates "Fit in the Fort"

The Fort Thomas Recreation Department has a new opportunity available that allows people to try new fitness classes that are associated with Fort Thomas.

Kat Disney, who is the Program Coordinator for the Fort Thomas Recreation Department said that she's excited to unveil the program that she and her staff have been working on for a number of months.

"We have partnered with area businesses to create an amazing program," she said. "This is a great opportunity/excuse to try things you've wanted to try and step out of your comfort zone." 

The program, which has a cost of $50, gives you access to a number of area businesses like St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas, Barre3 Fort Thomas, Mint Yoga Studio, VIBE Dance Fitness, the Campbell County YMCA and more.

Participants weigh-in on April 27 and for the next six weeks while attending classes and clinics of participating businesses, you then weigh-out on June 8 to check your progress with prizes going to winners in different categories.

Prize categories include, "most miles walked", "most classes attended", "most weight lost", "biggest BMI change", "most muscle gained", and "most social media check-ins".

"Fit In The Fort is a six week opportunity to visit gyms, studios, and classes you've been wanting to try for one low price. Participants are able to monitor their weight, body fat composition, diet and physical activity levels, so whether you're already an active gym member or just starting out on your health and wellness journey, this program is for you," said Disney.

"From CrossFit to Yoga, Pickleball Clinic to Slow Bike Rides, you'll find something that fits you and your lifestyle."

Disney said that weigh-in and weigh-out will be private and that participants will receive a "Fit In The Fort" packet at weigh-in.

The packet will include all of the class descriptions, a schedule for each business, a goal sheet, and your tickets to the classes. and a break down of how to read your weigh in results. Each participant will receive a t-shirt on June 8.

2019 Highlands Softball Preview

Bluebirds Seek Next Step Back to State Tournament

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands freshman shortstop Anna Greenwell returns for her third season on varsity.
For three straight years between 2014 and 2016, the Highlands Bluebirds softball team found itself in the 9th Region championship game winning it twice before going 1-2 in the double-elimination state tournament.

Following a down year in 2017, Highlands drove back to the region championship last year. But the Bluebirds managed just two hits off Hannah Bishop in a 4-0 defeat to the Ryle Lady Raiders. Ryle wound up going 0-for-2 in the state tournament.

Highlands graduated nine seniors from that team including three starters in Josie Daley, Liz Mairose and Brooke Dill. Rebecca Breen, Maleah Abner, Alyssa Dixon, Ella Griewe, Ella Grimm and Baylie Ormes also graduated and two-year freshman starting third baseman Addie Mack transferred to Notre Dame.

But seventh-year Head Coach Rob Coffey welcomes back a lot of experience and young talent from the 20-11 36th District championship squad. The hope is to make it back to that game and advance back to the state tournament, which will go to a single-elimination format this spring. Coffey had a vision for not just catching Ryle but the best in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when he took the job in the fall of 2012.

"We are elated on where we are," Coffey said. "We feel we have a system now that we feel it's the next person. We're preparing them ahead of time if somebody goes down, we lose somebody or somebody graduates, we are back filling that spot seamlessly anymore. That's a great feeling. The other thing it does is it challenges our girls every day in practice. It's really nice to have."

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

OMEGA Processing Continues to Partner with Community

Each year OMEGA sponsors numerous youth sports leagues, such as the Outlaws baseball team and the Breds basketball team. They also donate to multiple collegiate teams and organizations. They’re a part of local chambers and give and participate in golf outings, parish festivals, and other local charities.

OMEGA is proud to once again be one of the Ethics Ally donors for the BBB Center for Ethics. This year all of the donations helped the center teach 3,788 youth, a 59% increase from last year. The Center is reaching more youth every year and can finally start to create a more ethical workforce for our business community! This year they taught at Cincinnati Public Schools, all Great Oaks schools, City of Cincinnati Youth 2 Work program, University of Cincinnati, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati & Urban League.

This past December OMEGA employees helped pack over 1,000 power packs for kids in the Greater Cincinnati area. Power packs are small bags of food that are sent home with kids on Friday who may not know where their next meal is coming from until Monday morning at school. OMEGA is proud to have the Freestore Foodbank as one of their merchants, they do amazing things for people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

If you're a business owner or manager looking to partner with a community partner that is top of the line and good at their job call Omega at 866-888-9724.

Testimonial: "OMEGA Processing's quick response and focus on service and cost effectiveness is outstanding. I would recommend OMEGA to any of my colleagues with a dental or medical practice."

John Strief, D.D.S.

David Dooley Found Guilty, Motive Explained

Attorney General Andy Beshear and his Office of Special Prosecutions today announced that a Northern Kentucky man has again been found guilty of the May 29, 2012, murder of Michelle Mockbee.

The Boone County jury returned its verdicts of guilty on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence on March 13, against David Wayne Dooley, 45, of Burlington.

Dooley’s retrial, prosecuted by Beshear’s office and investigated by the Boone County Sheriff's Office, began on Feb.18, 2019, and was submitted to the jury on March 12, 2019. The jury deliberated for more than six hours before returning its guilty verdicts.

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Throughout the retrial, Beshear’s office maintained that Dooley murdered Mockbee after she discovered he had been falsifying time cards and stealing from Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boone County, where Dooley worked as a janitor, and where Ms. Mockbee was the office manager in charge of payroll.

The Commonwealth believes Ms. Mockbee may have surprised Dooley as he was breaking into her office on the morning she was murdered.

Dooley was first convicted of Ms. Mockbee’s murder in 2014. However, in 2016, it was discovered that a video of an unknown man walking around the warehouse less than 12 hours before Ms. Mockbee was murdered and the complete personnel file of one of the lead detectives had not been provided in discovery by the original prosecutor.

Attorney General Beshear’s office brought this to the attention of the trial judge, and after an approximately weeklong hearing, the trial court ruled that the conviction was to be vacated and the case set for retrial.

District Court Judge Urges City to Adopt Uniform Landlord-Tenant Act

Campbell County District Court Judge Cameron Blau addresses Fort Thomas City Council to urge adoption of uniform landlord-tenant law.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Campbell County District Court Judge Cameron Blau has expressed concern that the city of Fort Thomas is the only municipality in the county that has not adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA). Kentucky statutes allow the provisions of the URLTA to be adopted by individual communities, and several communities in Kentucky have done so although there have been efforts to make the act statewide.

He addressed city council at its last meeting to outline the act’s usefulness as a tool that protects both landlords and tenants when a lease is not in effect or if a lease doesn’t cover certain areas of concern. It is fair, he said, because it lays out clear protections and procedures for all.

Blau said he would like to introduce the act to cover unincorporated portions of Campbell County as well. It just makes sense, he said, to have everyone on the same page.

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Seeking clarity for all

"Uniformity in our community, uniformity throughout our state, is important. It makes it more efficient. It makes it nice for tenants who know what their rights are going into each community, and it’s fantastic for our landlords who usually don’t own property in just one city," he said.

He explained why the act is a good thing for all involved. "First and foremost, it outlines the tenant’s responsibilities...This spells out very clearly what the tenants obligations are to that property. And in the same vein it also spells out very clearly what the landlord’s responsibilities are...They have to comply with local ordinances about habitability, but the real important part is they must provide a nice, clean, safe environment," he said.

"That’s what Fort Thomas stands for and that’s what a landlord should stand for. Because when you have a clean, safe environment for a child to go home to, they are more productive. They are more likely to learn in your school system, and that’s why people want to come to Fort Thomas. Everyone knows it’s one of the number areas for education.

Judge Blau's concerns

Blau presides over eviction and related cases in Campbell County, and says he’s seen first-hand the burden this lack of uniformity can bring.

"It causes a burden on the court system, it causes a burden on the landlords, and it causes a burden on the tenants because they don’t know what they are walking into...It would nice to be able to give that uniformity to those defending themselves in an eviction proceeding, those moving forward with it, those that have legal representation, that they know what they are dealing with...[The act] is spelled out very plainly and very clearly on its face."

He went on to list the types of situations covered in the act that would be addressed if there was no contract or lease. He said the law covers how security deposits are handled, one of the main issues that come to his court. The act outlines how the money is taken in, where it is kept, the requirement of tick lists for moving in and out, and rules about how and when a security deposit is returned.

The law also makes clear that landlords have access to their property and outlines what constitutes proper notice. Without clearly outlining this in a lease, some landlords have had to obtain a court order to gain access to view their property and address issues of concern, he said. The act also clearly lists tenants obligations, landlord’s responsibilities and protects against retaliation.

Addressing the number one issue

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Highlands Spanish Student Earns Spot in US Cultural Exchange Program

Highlands Spanish teacher with her student Hailey Moore preparing for the exchange trip to Chile.

Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Highlands High School Junior Hailey Moore will travel to Chile this summer for a three-week language immersion program known as Youth Ambassadors. The program, offered through the US Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, selects 120 students each year to travel to six countries in the Caribbean and South America for a fully funded opportunity.

The Youth Ambassadors Program is a leadership development foreign exchange program designed as a learning experience for US high school students and to promote cultural awareness and understanding.

Moore took AP Spanish last year, and this year she is in the AP Spanish Literature class, the highest level of Spanish offered at Highlands. Her Spanish teacher Emily Haffey had been looking for opportunities for Moore to continue with Spanish studies when she learned about the Bureau of Education program.

"With Hailey being a junior and already in the AP Spanish Literature class this year, I wanted to send her out of the country to use the Spanish that she’s learned. So, I saw this opportunity and knew she was interested in doing something over the summer to boost her resume a little bit. So, I sent it to her, she applied and she won," Haffey explained.

Leadership and service learning are part of the program

Eighteen students from across the country, along with two adult mentors, were selected for the Argentina and Chile program. Half the students will stay with host families in Chile and half will stay with families in Argentina.

"While we are there, we will be staying with a host family for about 8 or 9 days and in that time we will be speaking at public schools, private schools, working with nonprofit organizations and volunteering and speaking at businesses and participating in different leadership workshops, things to immerse ourselves in the culture there," Moore said.

The trip starts in Florida in June where students will attend an orientation along with another group who will be traveling to Brazil. From there they will go to Santiago, Chile, for in-country orientation and a time to bond with their fellow participants. The students will then travel to their host families and communities and will reconvene in Argentina to present on what they learned.

A requirement of the program is for students to perform a service learning project upon returning. This part of the program fit right into Moore’s interests in promoting Spanish language and culture in Fort Thomas schools. 

Sharing the experience with younger students

The fact that Johnson Elementary School students will be on the Highlands campus next fall offered her a unique opportunity to plan a project that will benefit younger students as well as her classmates and community.

Fort Thomas elementary school students participate in one Spanish language class per week, but she wanted to expose the younger students to more.

"Growing up I went to a bilingual school [in California], and I lived in a very diverse community. It taught me a lot about how to interact with people...Moving here at the beginning of my sophomore year, I noticed there really wasn’t that much so I wanted a service learning project to try and bring more Spanish and more culture to the younger kids so they could have the opportunities learning Spanish that I did," said Moore.

Haffey, who is chair of Highlands’ World Language Department, is working with Johnson’s Spanish teacher to plan the project with Moore.

In addition to one Spanish language class per week in elementary school, Fort Thomas students have the opportunity to take an exploratory Spanish class in sixth grade for one quarter and they take an exploratory German class for a quarter in seventh grade. Starting in eighth grade, students have the option of starting either Spanish or German but most start in their freshman year, said Haffey.

Moore said she plans to go to law school and become a lawyer either in the area of immigration or criminal justice, and plans to either minor or major in Spanish.

There is a Gem Tucked Away in the Geographic Center of Fort Thomas Will Open to the Public

Interior of the studio

There is a gem tucked away in the geographic center of Fort Thomas - the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Nature Preserve - and now you will be able to experience it with the addition of monthly Studio Hours. 

The studio and preserve, located on private property at 129 Highland Avenue, will be open to the public on the third Saturday of each month between 10:00 and 1:00. The first event is Saturday, March 16. 

See Coffman's Realty Listings here. 
Here’s what you can expect. There could be an organized program that will be announced on the Facebook pages for Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy as well as the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Preserve, and at  But you will always be able to explore nature on your own through painting, music, writing, science, or any other medium. Bring a sketch pad, an instrument, a camera, a yoga mat or whatever your creative medium is and enjoy the time.

File. Artist easel at studio
But first, a little history. Harlan Hubbard is considered the “Thoreau of Kentucky” because he practiced a simple and deliberate life attuned to the rhythms of the natural world. Even though he shunned many modern conveniences, he and his wife lived a sophisticated and beautiful life tucked away from the demands of cities. He began this part of his  life’s journey when he built the studio from reclaimed materials from condemned warehouses salvaged along Covington’s riverfront. It was here that he solidified his guiding philosophy as well as honed his artistic talents. Hubbard argued in favor of conservation and sustainability and, in retrospect, was far ahead his time. In addition, his paintings are prized. He is in the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame and has been recognized by a past governor for his lifetime achievements. He is often cited as a major influence by artists, writers, and supporters of conservation. 

The studio is not a museum; it is, rather, an environmental experience center that offers an opportunity for people to gather to discuss or reflect on our role in the world and what we can do to make it better. It’s an enjoyable place to visit.  

The Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy oversees the Studio and Preserve and is opening it to the public as part of their ten-year anniversary series of celebrations. The Conservancy was founded in the studio. 

Sidney Thomas, property owner and FTFC member, says, “The studio provides a quiet and magical environment in which you can enjoy the tranquility of simplicity while you enjoy your passion.  Whether you wish to read, create art, relax, think, write, lounge, explore or if you are just curious you will want to participate in Studio Hours.  This is your opportunity to take a break from what is probably a busy life and travel back in time to a place when finishing your favorite book was your top wish.”

There are no restrooms. The land has not been developed since Hubbard’s mother bought the property in the 1920s. Respect the property as reverently as Harlan and Anna Hubbard did. Feel free to bring a canvas to paint, a camera to snap photos, an instrument to create music, an idea to write, mediate, practice yoga, or bring a chair to contemplate the simplicity of the Hubbard’s life or the beauty of our surrounding natural world.  

Check the "Events" section of for details as well as the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy or the Harlan Hubbard Studio and Preserve Facebook pages.  

One artist's interpretation of the studio