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Friday, March 29, 2019

Fleeing Person Alert from University of Cincinnati Hospital


Fleeing Prisoner - District 4

A prisoner has fled from University of Cincinnati Hospital Thursday March 28, 2019 at 2:00 PM.



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Christopher Waters, white male, 38 years old, DOB 3/18/81, 6’02” tall, 210 pounds, blonde hair and blue eyes, was in police custody and at UC Hospital for medical attention when he fled the hospital grounds. He was wearing a hospital gown, had an IV needle in his arm, and may have been in the company of two people:


1. A white female, mid 20s, brown hair worn in a bun, blue hoodie and gray sweatpants and

2. A male white juvenile, about 2 years old.

$1.8 Million Project to Repair US-27 at I-471 Begins Monday


A $1.8 million project on US-27 at the I-471 interchange near the Southgate/Fort Thomas limits will begin on April 1.

The District 6 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced that crews will begin next week replacing the original concrete with asphalt.

Voted Best Yoga Studio in Kentucky by Best Things Kentucky. Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave.
"A new smoother and safer pavement is coming your way," they stated.

They also indicated that lane closures and message boards will be in place to notify motorists of upcoming weekend ramp closures when they are confirmed.

There will also be a closure on KY 1632 (Moock Road).

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Menefee resigns Coaching Position at Campbell County

Highlands Alum Led Lady Camels to State in 2016

Beau Menefee (left), a 1991 Highlands alum, reacts to a play in a recent game at Conner in January. Menefee coached the Campbell County girls for five years before resigning Monday.
Beau Menefee, a 1991 Highlands graduate, took the Campbell County Lady Camels basketball team to new heights during his five seasons as head coach.

But he resigned the position Monday citing family matters. Campbell County finished 110-53 during those five seasons. That's the most of any head coach in any five-year period in school history. Menefee won several coaching awards including two Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches 10th Region Coach of the Year awards and coached the Kentucky All-Stars in the 2018 Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game.

"I can not commit the time to the open gyms, the summer ball and everything else," Menefee said. "Unfortunately, I'm going to have to take a step back. Hopefully it works out to where I can get back into it. That's the plan. I just can't do it right now."

Highlands Football Team Offers Annual “Spring Clean” in Support of Chuck Keller


The Highlands High School football team will hold its annual Spring Clean on Sunday, April 28, 2019, from 1-5 p.m.

The annual Spring Clean is an opportunity for members of the football team to help area residents with chores, including yard work, cleaning out a garage, or working around the house or business, for a donation. For the safety of the players, we do not allow them to use power equipment or power tools.


This year, all proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  The donation to LLS will be made in Chuck Keller’s honor. Chuck was an English teacher at HHS for over 30 years and made a tremendous impact on numerous students, with many even quipping, “He was the best teacher I never had.”  Chuck was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2017 and recently had a relapse. He is currently awaiting treatment options. More information on his progress can be found on Facebook at Team Chuck.
 
Please limit job requests to within a five (5) mile radius of Highlands High School as many players do not drive.

For more information or to schedule your “Spring Clean,” please contact Coach Brian Weinrich at Brian.Weinrich@fortthomas.kyschools.us or 859.240.7119.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Joe Morgan Will be at Browning's on York in Newport Tonight

Brownings On York – Joe Morgan Tonight – Wednesday, March 27 – 6:30 p.m. - 323 York Street


Tonight is Joe Morgan Night at Brownings. If you'd like to see him, make sure to stop in tonight and see the legend, Joe Morgan, in the house.

He will be taking pictures with our Reds fans in preparation for Opening Day.

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They open tomorrow at 8 a.m. and will start serving food at noon.

Check out the opening of Browning's on York in 2018:

You'll soon be paying more for water in Northern Kentucky


Northern Kentucky Water filed its application for the increase in October 2018, seeking an increase of $6.2 million in annual revenue. In addition to debt service, Northern Kentucky Water said the added income is necessary due to higher operational costs and higher fixed costs relative to revenue from water sales.

Northern Kentucky Water serves about 82,900 customers in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties and is a wholesale water provider to Bullock Pen and Pendleton County water districts and to the city of Walton. Its most recent rate increase was granted in January 2016 and implemented in two phases a year apart.

The current increase will raise the monthly residential customer fee from $16.40 to $18.50 in total, and the water consumption charge per 100 cubic feet from $4.53 to $4.77 in total.

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The PSC also approved a request by Northern Kentucky water to add a fee for customers who pay their bills by credit or debit card, as long as the fee is equal to the amount charged to the district by the credit or debit card processor.

Customers will be notified of the fee as they pay their bill and will have the option to cancel the transaction if they wish to avoid the fee.

Northern Kentucky Water withdrew other requests it had made for changes to its customer service rules. Those will be addressed in a separate case.

There were no other parties to the proceeding. After the PSC conducted extensive written discovery in the case, it was determined that no hearing was needed. However, the PSC conducted a public information and comment meeting in the case on January 24 in the city of Edgewood, which is in Northern Kentucky Water’s service territory.

Tuesday’s order, a video recording of the public meeting, and other records in the case are available on the PSC website. The case number is 2018-00291.

The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,100 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky.

The $19.6 million will replace the principal owed on a short term loan issued in 2017, according to the PCS order. The short term loan helped pay for the following projects identified in 2014, according to filings with the PSC.

- Repairs were made to the Fort Thomas Treatment Plant basin including replacing and modifying filtration systems.

- The more than 80-year-old Lumley Water Tank in Fort Thomas behind the city building was replaced for about $2 million. The 275,000-gallon storage tank was removed. A 400,000-gallon tank was erected. The project cost included water main replacements in Edgewood (on five streets), in Newport (seven streets) in Woodlawn (six streets) and on Burdsall Avenue in Fort Mitchell.

RELATED:

- More than two miles of water main line (ranging from two inches to four inches) was replaced with larger lines (ranging from six to eight inches) around the southern Kenton County city of Latonia Lakes.
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- The 1872-built Ohio River pump station 2 in Campbell County was repaired at a cost of $2 million.

- A new Taylor Mill Water Treatment Plant for about $20 million. 

- A 24-inch hydraulic line was built to improve water flows to the southern end of Kenton County along Ky. 17. Water flows were improved to a pump station near Richardson Road in anticipation of the need for capacity growth. Water flow was also improved to the industrial area around Ky. 17. 

Highlands Dance Wins (Another) State Championship!

Coach Erinn Volpenhein, explains why the Highlands High School Dance Team is celebrating first-place wins in competitions this year along with a "Grand Champion" designation.


By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

The Highlands High School Varsity Dance Team has won first place in state competition sponsored by the Kentucky Dance Coaches Organization (KDCO). This is the second first-place win in the state this year. In January the team also took first place at the 2018-19 Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) competition as well.

The team won for their large pom routines at both competitions. They were honored for their win at the March meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Board.


Coach Erinn Volpenhein explained: "It’s confusing because of our state win in KHSAA competition as well. Before dance was considered a sport [by the KHSAA], we had a KDCO competition every year."

The KDCO competition has continued side by side with the annual state athletic association competition.

Car Loses Control on Memorial Parkway, Towed from Ditch

Ice caused a skid and accident on Memorial Parkway near the Overlook Apartments. City officials have reached out to the state to find solutions to the icing problem.


By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor  


A vehicle spun out of control on Memorial Parkway Tuesday and had to be pulled back onto the roadway by a tow truck, according to police.

The young male driver, a minor, was not injured. The towing company took a number of hours to reach the vehicle, prompting many calls to police.

The roadway was closed for a brief time.

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The city of Fort Thomas has requested a meeting with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, as well as a nearby apartment property owner, to discuss issues caused by icing on a section of Memorial Parkway, according to City Administrator Ron Dill.

Ice was likely the cause of an accident near the entrance to the Overlook Apartments early Tuesday morning. Although the section of roadway was widened by KYTC to allow more room for turning, wet conditions and low temperatures have created problems with icing in that stretch of road despite efforts to address the problem.

RELATED: Car Spins Out on Memorial Parkway into Embankment (December 2016)

City officials will work with state officials to explore solutions. A date for the meeting has not yet been set.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Fatality on Highland Heights Roadway This Morning Has Police Looking for Answers


A fatality occurred in Highland Heights this morning on I-275 and police are looking for answers.

According to a release, Barry Hall of Loveland crashed into the back of a semi-tractor and trailer today on I-275 at the 74/3 mile marker at around 7:50 a.m.

Hall was driving a Chevrolet Silverado which veered off into the emergency lane where the driver of the tractor-trailer had pulled off before the Combs-Hehl Bridge. Hall died on the scene, while the truck driver was not injured.

RELATED: Are accidents increasing near the Combs-Hehl Bridge?

The collision is still under investigation.

Any witnesses are asked to call police at 859-292-3622.


The full police release is here:

On March 26, 2019 at approximately 0750 hours a fatality collision occurred on I-275 eastbound at the 74/3 mile marker, in Highland Heights. 

The collision involved a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and a semi-tractor and trailer. 

The semi-tractor and trailer was pulled off in the emergency lane, parked. The semi-truck operator, Michael Wenzel, of New Carlisle, IN, was in the sleeper berth of the semi-truck. A Chevrolet Silverado operated by Barry Hall, of Loveland, Ohio was eastbound on I275 when it struck the rear of the trailer. Hall was pronounced dead on the scene. Wenzel was not injured. 

It is unknown at this time what events occurred to cause the Chevrolet to be operated in the emergency lane. Wenzel was cited for illegally parking on a limited access highway. The collision is still under investigation. 

The Farmstand Cafe Will Open This Week at Wooden Cask Brewery in Newport


The Farmstand Cafe at Wooden Cask Brewery is hosting a soft open this week.

A year and a half after opening in Union, Kentucky, the restaurant will open its second location at Wooden Cask Brewing Co., at 629 York St. in Newport.

They will have a limited menu as they ramp up in the next couple weeks. Thursday for Opening Day they will feature local dogs, brats and metts with a side to celebrate.

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Known for its locally grown food, Farmstand Market & Cafe recently numbered among only three restaurants in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to appear in the book “Truth, Love and Clean Cutlery,” a new international publication that features the world's top restaurants based on the quality of food, service, conscientious sourcing and stewardship of the customers, staff, community and environment.

Karen Schiltz, who serves as chief financial officer at Wooden Cask and co-owns the brewery with her husband, Randy Schiltz, said the food and practices at Farmstand were a natural fit for the brewery. The 2-year-old brewery produces small-batch, barrel-aged beers on a seasonal rotation, and the taproom offers 18 beers ranging from light ales to full-bodied stouts and porters.

“Our beer is brewed with integrity, and nothing hits the taproom unless it’s 100 percent right,” she said.

With the addition of Farmstand, Schiltz hopes the brewery will become a destination where people can have a farm-fresh meal and drink good beer. She used to rely on food trucks and other food delivery services to feed her customers.

“There are a lot of places in Newport where you can get greasy food,” she said. “But there are not a lot of healthy options.”

Last fall, when she and her husband were looking into starting a kitchen at the brewery, they turned to Farmstand owner and chef Tricia Houston. Houston didn’t hesitate.

“I wanted to bring our philosophy and food to another location to reach more people,” Houston said.

Baron Shirley, the chef and owner of the recently shuttered Inspirado at Madison Gallery, will head the new kitchen.

There will be no table service at the new location; customers will order and pick up food at a walk-up window.

“The setup is much easier since we won’t have to worry about running a bar or having servers,” Houston said. “It’s just all about the food.”

Houston will carry her mindfulness into the second location, emphasizing locally sourced food and omitting deep-fried foods and soda made with modified corn syrups.

"We really try to focus on the local — anything in the Tri-State within a 250-mile radius," Houston said. The menu at Wooden Cask will be similar to the one at the original location. The food lineup will include hot and cold “farmwiches,” salads, appetizers and an assortment of desserts.

There also will be new options, such as flatbread pizza, hot panini sandwiches and items incorporating Wooden Cask Brewery’s products. Those include beer cheese made with Reformation Scottish stout, beer vinaigrette using Kentucky Farmhand American Wheat ale and a growing number of other items that are currently in development.

“We have a lot going on there with their beers as inspiration,” Houston said.

It was sheer chance how Schiltz and Houston wound up working together.

“One of our customers showed us (Houston’s) menu and said, ‘She's making beer cheese with your beer,’ ” Schiltz recounted. Wooden Cask works through a distributor and, at the time, Schiltz had no idea Farmstand even carried their beer.

That prompted her to eat at the restaurant, which after a while led to a four-course beer dinner collaboration in April last year. When Schiltz wanted to start a food operation at the brewery, Houston was the natural choice.

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Schiltz hopes to expand the brewery’s customer base with the addition of in-house food.

“I hear this all the time — ‘Oh, you don’t have food' — and sometimes they’ll turn around and walk out because they want to eat with their beer,” she said. “I notice people come in before five or after seven, so we’re missing a whole five-to-seven crowd when people are eating.”

There’s also a 700-square-foot event space on the second floor that Schiltz hopes Houston can put to use.

2019 Fort Thomas City Events Calendar


Mark your calendars!

Easter Egg Hunt: April 13, noon in Tower Park

Earth/Arbor Day Celebration: May 5 noon to 5:00 p.m. at Mess Hall

NKY Senior Games: May 13, register at 9:00 a.m.
Voted Best Yoga Studio in Kentucky by Best Things Kentucky. Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

Seersucker Bike Ride: July 13, 11 a.m. | Ride begins at the museum in Tower Park

Art Around Towne: June 21, July 19, August 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Central Business District

Family Movie Night: June 21

Summer Concert Series:
June 6 - Northern Kentucky Music Legends Hall of Fame
June 18 - Naked Karate Girls, Share What You CAN for Brighton Center
July 23 - My Brother's Keeper
August 6 - Buffalo Wabs and Price Hill Hustle
August 20 - Yacht Rock America
September 3: Cincinnati Metropolitan Orchestra

Junior Renaissance Camp: June 24-28, 9 a.m. to noon at museum

Pub Crawl: July 3, 6 to 11 p.m.



4th of July Parade: July 4 (Thursday), 10:30 a.m. from Highlands High School to Tower Park
4th of July Celebration: 3 to 10:30 p.m. in Tower Park; Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Tower Park Touch a Truck: September 7, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Merchants & Music: September 28, 1 p.m. to midnight, Tower Park

Veterans Day Celebration: November 9, noon, at Charters of Freedom in Tower Park

Holiday Walk: December 1, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Central Business District
Tree Lighting Ceremony: December 1: 5:30 at Inverness Park

Fort Thomas Farmers Market: Every Wednesday, Tower Park, June 5 - October 30, 3 to 7:00 p.m.

Photo: Tower Park Mess Hall

Fort Thomas City Wide Yard Sale Set for Saturday, May 18


The fourth-annual Fort Thomas Citywide Yard Sale date has been set.

This year, the sale will take place on Saturday, May 18, 2019. The tentative time the city has set for the same is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but some sales may start or finish earlier depending on the res

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You can sign up your home to be listed on the city's website or by emailing the city clerk at MBeckett@ftthomas.org.

A few notes:

Want to be informed about May's Primary Election? Here's your chance


Democrat and Republican candidates seeking election this year in the statewide races will be in northern Kentucky Tuesday and Wednesday.

Campbell County Democrats, the Northern Kentucky chapter of the Women's Network, and the Northern Kentucky Education Association Retirees will host candidates today, March 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Campbell County Extension Services Office (3500 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring).

Highland Heights councilwoman Rene Heinrich will emcee.

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Gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen is expected to attend along with representatives from his opponents' campaigns, Andy Beshear and Rocky Adkins.

Down ballot confirmed candidates who'll be in attendance include:

Attorney General – Greg Stumbo
Secretary of State – Jason Griffith, Heather French Henry, Geoff Sebesta
Auditor of Public Accounts – Kelsey Hayes Coots, Sheri Donahue, Chris Tobe
State Treasurer – Michael Bowman, Josh Mers
Commissioner of Agriculture – Robert Haley Conway, Joe Trigg


Sen. Wil Schroder. 
On Wednesday, March 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Southgate Community Center (301 W. Walnut St., Southgate), Republican statewide candidates will visit to mix and mingle with voters.

The program is hosted by Northern Kentucky Young Republicans and Campbell County Republicans.

Many of the statewide incumbent elected officials will not be in attendance. That includes Governor Matt Bevin, Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, State Treasurer Allison Ball and Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon.

Gubernatorial candidates Robert Goforth, William Woods and Ike Lawrence are expected to attend.

Other candidates who will be in attendance include:

Attorney General - Sen. Wil Schroder, Daniel Cameron
Secretary of State - Michael G. Adams, Andrew English, Stephen Knipper, Carl Nett
Commissioner of Agriculture - Bill Polyniak

There will be 39 candidates vying for votes in seven statewide offices starting with the May primary on May 21.

The general election will be November 5.

Only three candidates will face no opposition in the May primary. That list includes Harmon and Ball, both incumbent Republicans. In the race for attorney general, Stumbo, a Democrat, will not face a primary. Also the former Speaker of the House, Stumbo is looking to get back to Frankfort after losing his seat in 2016.

In northern Kentucky, State Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) filed to run for that same Attorney General race. Schroder, who just completed a successful reelection campaign in November, will not have to relinquish his position as Senator while he campaigns.

Monday, March 25, 2019

NKU Basketball Player Writes Scathing Editorial on Coach's Behaviors

Photo: NKU Athletics, Chloe Smith. 


A Northern Kentucky University basketball player published an editorial on the behavior and antics of Head Coach Camryn Whitaker, in which she characterized the coach of bullying and abusive behavior.

Taryn Taugher, a redshirt junior from Freeland High School in Michigan, published an article today in The Odyssey Online in which she describes the tarnished relationship she and other players have had with Whitaker. 

The Odyssey is a crowdsourced media model, allowing authors to submit content to be placed on their site. 

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Taugher took to social media to release her editorial. 

"I am finally speaking out about the abuse my teammates and I have endured for 3 years now at Northern Kentucky University. This needs to stop now," she wrote. 


The article, entitled, "Behind Closed Doors: Abuse In Northern Kentucky University Women's Basketball Program" details Taugher's conversations and alleged abuse that she and other athletes have been exposed to under Whitaker. 

She writes: "The emotional abuse by current head coach has lasting effects on its players. But, it ends here.

There is a deep, dark, hidden secret that lies within the women's basketball program at Northern Kentucky University which has been swept under the rug by the athletic department for three years." 

Taugher, has appeared in 84 games for the Norse since 2016, starting in 21 of those games.

Update: A fellow NKU basketball player, Shar'Rae Davis, posted video corroborating Taugher's story:



Taugher and Whitaker. NKU Athletics. 
Northern Kentucky University released a statement on the allegations:

"The well-being of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance and when concerns are raised about our programs, they are appropriately reviewed, evaluated, and addressed.

The university is aware of complaints surrounding the women’s basketball program.  We recognize the courage it takes to share personal stories. We have taken these complaints seriously and they have been thoroughly reviewed separately by the Title IX and Athletics offices, and addressed in accordance with university policy. There are ongoing efforts to improve communications and relationships between the program’s leadership and student-athletes.

We are committed to fostering a safe, healthy and inclusive learning environment for anyone who is a part of our campus community. Our students’ voices will be heard and the Athletics office will continue to monitor and assess our programs, taking appropriate corrective actions as needed.”

Whitaker was named the fifth head coach of the Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball program by Director of Athletics Ken Bothof on May 6, 2016. 

Jury recommends 35 years for persistent felon guilty of carjacking, burglarizing Fort Thomas business


On March 22, 2019, at the conclusion of a four day jury trial, a Kenton County jury recommended 35 years in prison for Justin Raymond Bowlin, 37, after convicting him of 1st Degree Robbery, Receiving Stolen Property >$500, and 1st Degree Persistent Felony Offender.

Bowlin was arrested by Kentucky State Police on January 12, 2017 in Henry County after leading Trooper Joseph Brown on a 15 mile high speed chase. Once they apprehended Bowlin, troopers noticed the car he had been driving had blood down the driver's side doors and windows. After running the license plate, they learned the car had been stolen earlier the same day in Kenton County. Independence Police Lt. Jake Boyle soon obtained a warrant for Bowlin's arrest, charging him with 1st Degree Robbery.

Fort Thomas Matters broke the story of Bowlin's day of crime after coming upon a shattered storefront at the Fastenal store in Fort Thomas Plaza.

RELATED: Burglar Wrecks Car Into Fort Thomas Business, Goes on Crime Spree 


During a four-day trial which began March 19, 2019, Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders and Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Emily Arnzen presented testimony from a witness who saw Bowlin lose control of a car he had stolen in Covington and crash into a utility pole.

When the woman told Bowlin help was on the way, he asked her how long he had before police arrived. Bowlin then jumped into the passenger seat of a car driven by a young mother who had stopped to see if Bowlin was hurt. Thinking Bowlin told the woman to drive and she did, thinking he needed a ride somewhere to get help.

The victim testified she soon became scared after Bowlin said he had a gun so she stopped the car and asked him to get out. Instead Bowlin began punching her in the face as she struggled to remove her seat belt and jump out of the car. As Bowlin climbed over the console into the driver's seat, the victim told jurors she frantically tried to get her two-year old daughter out of a child seat in the back. Bowlin sped away, running over the victim's feet just as she pulled her daughter to safety.

Two additional witnesses in car behind the vicitim verified the victim's account of the robbery.


Independence Police Detectives Jeff Young and Mark Fielding also found the stolen car Bowlin crashed had a trunk full of power tools taken from a burglary at a Fastenal store in Fort Thomas in the early morning hours on the same day as the robbery. Company representatives placed the value on the tools at over $2,000. Independence Police Officer Travis Hager testified he was called to a residence on Sugarcamp Road where the homeowner had located personal property belonging to the victim.

Investigators would later discover Bowlin had lived at the same residence years ago and had apparently stopped there to ditch evidence from the car linking it to the victim.

Bowlin took the stand in his own defense. Bowlin testified he had been on a week long methamphetamine binge and had no recollection of the robbery. His attorneys argued Bowlin was so intoxicated that he could not for the intent to commit a robbery. On March 22, 2019, the jury of seven men and five women took only thirty minutes to convict Bowlin. In the sentencing phase of the trial, jurors also learned Bowlin had five prior felony convictions for Burglary (2), Theft, Wanton Endangerment, and Bail Jumping. Bowlin had been out of prison just under 8 months at the time of the robbery. After further deliberations, the jury then recommended a 35 year prison sentence. Bowlin must serve 20 years before being eligible for parole. Formal, final sentencing will take place before Kenton Circuit Judge Kathleen Lape, who presided over the trial, in May.

Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said, "Independence Police, with assistance from Kentucky State Police, did an excellent job to get this career offender behind bars before he hurt anyone else." 

Sanders said the victim, who suffered a broken eye socket in the attack, has recovered physically but she and her now-four year old daughter still suffer emotional scars. "They suffered an attack so violent and scary, you'd only expect to see it in a movie," said Sanders. "But the mother's strength to save her daughter, even though her face was broken and bleeding, was remarkable."

Sanders also said the young mother showed incredible courage coming to court and standing up to her attacker. "Mr. Bowlin may have overpowered her the morning of the carjacking, but she was definitely the stronger of the two in court!"

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Students Organize "March for Our Lives" Rally This Sunday in Fort Thomas


A demonstration in Washington DC  brought thousands of young people from across the country to demand gun reform. Fort Thomas students will rally this Sunday. (photo: Creative Commons license)

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

This Sunday, March 24, Fort Thomas students and community members will rally and march as part of the nationwide March for Our Lives effort called to protest gun violence and urge legislators to pass stronger gun laws and protections.

Students from Highlands High School will be joined by other students across the district as well as area citizens of all ages starting at 10 a.m. in Tower Park for a rally followed by a march to Highlands High School.

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A little over a year ago, a gunman opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 and wounding another 17 more. Following the incident, students from the school spoke out strongly about the epidemic of gun violence across the country and demanded stronger gun legislation.

"Since the Parkland shooting there has been federal legislation proposed throughout this year, but bill S.42, introduced a couple of weeks ago, is the first gun violence bill in 25 years. It is expected to come up for consideration in the Senate on March 26," said Highlands High senior Sydney Cooper, one of the march organizers.

The bill, also known as the Background Check Expansion Act, would expand background checks to all gun sales. At present unlicensed private sellers are not required to conduct background checks when transferring a firearm. The bill would expand requirements to cover these sales.

"We are going in support of the bill. Mitch McConnell has received a lot of money from the NRA, and we want to stand up to him and say we are his constituents.... There have been 321 gun deaths in the U.S. just since the beginning of 2019. It’s an epidemic and federal and state legislators have done nothing to stop it even though their constituents want this."

The marchers also want to protest the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 150 signed by Governor Bevin two weeks ago. The law no longer requires law-abiding gun owners to obtain a conceal carry permit or training. Cooper said the bill put Kentucky gun control and safety back ten years or more.

Marchers will gather on the lawn in front of the Mess Hall. A representative of Moms Demand Action, as well as a student from Moyer Elementary and area high school students will speak at the rally.

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.
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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 www.FTEF.org or call 859-815-2400.