Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Highlands Once Again Ranked Highly in State, Nation by U.S. News & World Report

Highlands High School, once again, was ranked as one of the best in Kentucky and the nation according to a new report from U.S. News and World Report.

Highlands was ranked the number three high school in Kentucky and number 1 non-magnet school in the state.

U.S. News ranked 17,245 public high schools and reviewed more than 23,000.

Located in the heart of Fort Thomas. 
The highest ranked U.S. public schools in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 Best High Schools rankings are those whose attendees demonstrated "outstanding outcomes above expectations" in math and reading state assessments, passed a diverse array of college-level exams and graduated in high proportions.

One change did occur within the U.S. News' methodology for rankings, which allowed more schools to be included onto the list. Entering into the list this year is Brown School, a magnet school with an enrollment of 242 and is based out of Louisville.

"With the revamped methodology, most schools' ranks changed significantly between 2018 and 2019 because of the broader competition in terms of the number of schools being newly ranked," U.S. News said. "With students, parents, educators and the general public in mind, U.S. News made improvements to the rankings so that they’re easier to understand, more thorough and include as many schools as possible."

The scorecard ranking, which is new, gave Highlands a 97.95 score out of a possible 100.

Highlands was ranked #354 in the nation out of 17,245, good for the top 1% percentile.

Elsewhere in northern Kentucky, Beechwood was #10, Ryle #18, Campbell County #23 and Conner #30.

The rest of the top 10 in Kentucky is:

Business Raising Money to Send Beechwood Senior with Inoperable Brain Tumor on Trip of a Lifetime

Ashley Schaefer is a Beechwood senior softball player and cheerleader.

In December she was diagnosed with a Midline H3 K27M Glioma Neoplasm and later that month on December 20th, she had surgery to remove part of the tumor. It wasn't completely successful because the tumor was located in part of the brain that isn't accessible.

It is now inoperable.

Being the warrior that she is, Ashley was still able to leave the hospital to spend Christmas with her family at home.

Since the beginning of the year, Ashley has been fighting hard with further treatments and has finished a run of eight weeks of radiation while she continues chemotherapy. Her goal is to keep fighting so that she is able to make her high school graduation in May with her fellow classmates in Fort Mitchell.

Her father, a firefighter in Covington/Edgewood, is taking Ashley on a trip of a lifetime after she graduates.

The destination is simply, "wherever Ashley wants to go," and the goal is to spend as much quality time together as possible.

The Midway Cafe in Fort Thomas, BB Riverboats, NEAT Bourbon Bar, Rich’s Proper, Union 42 Bourbon & Brew,  and Mainstrasse Village Pub are helping to raise money to offset some of the costs of the trip and medical bills. These six business are known as “Select Six” locations that have banded together to offer special collection of bourbon barrel picks in northern Kentucky.

The properties of Select Six have purchased and donated items to create an exclusive gift basket that includes apparel, gift certificates for local experiences, and several premium bottles of bourbon.

The donated items, up to at least four baskets, have a value of nearly $4,000.

You can purchase tickets by stopping into the Midway Cafe (1017 S. Fort Thomas Avenue) anytime between now and May 4. Raffle winners will be drawn live on Fort Thomas Matters' Facebook page at 2:00 p.m.

They will also be donating a portion of sales that day during the Derby at their location.

Raffle ticket prices are below:

$5.00 per ticket
$20.00 for 10 tickets
$50.00 for 30 tickets

Fort Thomas Passport Program Unveils at Earth Day, May 5

Sidewalk direction decal.

A new city-wide program, The Passport to Fort Thomas program, will be introduced at Earth Day, Sunday, May 5 from 12:00 - 5:00 at the Mess Hall in Tower Park.  Participants earn points by participating in adventures and then become eligible for a grand prize at the end of the year. And it’s free. And fun.

The project is the brainchild of the Recreation Commission's Katie Spicer. The object is to get residents to experience the variety of activities and opportunities in the city.

There are four adventure areas - Outdoor Adventure, City Adventure, Business Adventure, and the Library Reading Adventure. Once you participate in an adventure, get your passport stamped and you are on your way. Organizer Chris

Monday, April 29, 2019

A 91-Year Old’s Lifelong Dream to Become College Alumna Fulfilled

Last Friday, April 26, Second Wind Dreams and Colonial Gardens joined Thomas More University to fulfill 91-year old Sarah Kahmann’s dream of becoming a college alumna.

Dedicating her life to volunteer work, Kahmann always wished to receive a college degree. TMU Acting President Kathleen Jagger, Senator John Schickel, Second Wind Dreams Director of Community Relations Amy Safran, Colonial Gardens Activity Director Beth Wood, and local volunteers made this dream a reality last Friday afternoon at a ceremony honoring Kahmann at Colonial Heights and Gardens in Florence, Kentucky. During the ceremony, Jagger presented Kahmann with an Honorary Certificate for Women’s Leadership from TMU, the first to ever be awarded from the University.

“Because she prioritized being a wife and mother, Ms. Kahmann was not able to pursue a college education,” said Jagger. “This did not prevent her from contributing in lasting ways to her community.”

In 1992, Kahmann founded Enough is Enough, a national organization that voices concerns about pornography and its connection to the sexual exploitation of children. Kahmann moved to Kentucky in 1993 and was active in multiple local groups, such as the Kenton County Republican Women’s Club and the Florence Women’s Club.

“In her efforts to lead a movement protecting children from child pornography, particularly on the internet, she has met many national and world leaders, including Pope John Paul II,” Jagger added. “Her work earned support across political party lines and many faiths.”

The ceremony began with a procession, mimicking a procession that would take place at a university, which included Jagger, Schickel, Safran, Wood, and Kahmann. Kahmann, dressed in cap and gown, was accompanied by her two daughters, Barbara Amato, Florence and Lynne Einhaus, Ph.D., Richmond, Virginia, and family. Kahmann’s legacy, the certificate presentation, a special message from Kahmann, and a presentation of flowers all led to a final round of applause from the guests in attendance as Kahmann became an official alumna of TMU.

“I always wanted to go to college,” said Kahmann. “I never got to go myself, but I wanted to, and, all of a sudden, at age 90-something, I thought maybe I should do that! I am so honored to be finally getting a college degree. It’s something I used to dream about.”

Kahmann grew up in a boys’ orphanage on a dairy farm outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Her parents operated Brookside Farm and served as house parents to 21 boys as part of a philanthropic endeavors of Milton Hershey, the famed chocolate company. Kahmann was encouraged to live beyond her thoughts at a young age by her mother.

Kahmann has worn many hats during her 91 years. She has taken on the roles of wife, mother, assistant pastor, vice president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, founder of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, member of the Family Life Committee, founder of Enough is Enough, member, chaplain, and historian of the Kenton County Republican Women’s Club, and appointee of Kentucky’s Commission on Women.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Big League Victory for Highlands Baseball

Bluebirds Rally to Take Down Undefeated Beechwood

Twitter Photo. Highlands junior Brennan Haigis won the game's most valuable player award in the 7-5 win over Beechwood on Friday in the Reds Futures Showcase at Great American Ballpark. Haigis picked up the pitching win throwing four innings striking out two, walking one and allowing one earned run and four hits.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team fell behind 4-0 after two innings against the undefeated Beechwood Tigers.

But Highlands (17-5 overall) rallied to post a 7-5 victory over the Tigers (20-1) in a 9th Region game at Great American Ballpark in the Reds Futures Showcase. The Bluebirds moved to 8-0 in region play with their eighth win in the last nine games.

Junior Bennan Haigis (2-0) picked up the pitching win for Highlands throwing four innings. The game's most valuable player for the Bluebirds stuck out two, walked one and allowed one earned run and four hits.

Sophomore Evan Rom pitched the seventh inning to pick up his first varsity save for Highlands. Rom struck out one.

Highlands batted .320 (8-for-25) in the victory. Junior Ethan Kavanagh led the Bluebirds going 3-for-3 with a double and run batted in. Senior Kyle Winkler doubled and drove in two runs. Senior Grady Cramer also drove in two.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Design Board Asks Developer for Alternatives

Rendering of proposed Fort Thomas Central Business District showing some of the materials under consideration.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor  

The Fort Thomas Design Review Board has asked developers of a proposed Central Business District to rethink some aspects of their design and consider returning with alternatives.

On Thursday evening, the design board members heard a presentation by the developer Rick Greiwe of Greiwe Development and Sari Lehtinen of M + A Architects. Other partners in the project are North American Properties and Sibcy Cline.

At a public hearing held during the Planning Commission earlier this month, several community members expressed concerns about different aspects of the development including the overall size, height and placement of the residential garage. Because of public interest, the commissioners decided to postpone their decision on the project and to hold another public hearing at their meeting on May 15.

RELATED: Second Public Hearing Scheduled for Development Proposal

The Design Review Board's charge

Many of the concerns voiced at the Planning Commission meeting do not fall under the purview of the Design Review Board. The focus of the board is to review the aesthetics of the project, such as the facades, signage, lighting, materials and other design aspects.

At the Design Review Board meeting Zoning Administrator Kevin Barbian read from the guidelines that set up the board in 2002. He noted that the board was not intended to regulate building projects or to govern land use questions.

"What this is, is a collaborative effort between our board and the applicant. Ultimately, the goal being to have an aesthetically pleasing streetscape that improves the environment for business and renews economic vitality," he said.

"This is a preliminary or introductory meeting to get some initial feedback by the applicant. This board essentially discusses things such as materials and aesthetics versus some things that won’t be discussed including set backs, project size, viability, connection to Woodlawn, traffic – those are concerns that are left for the Planning Commission...," he explained.

Hassman and Doyle Lawfirm. 859-655-4430. This is an advertisement.

Board members share concerns

Board members shared their thoughts on the design and the presentation. Overall, while acknowledging and thanking the development team for their work in creating the design, board members expressed concerns about the size and scale of the building and questioned whether it would fit within the shared vision for the business district.

The presenters noted they looked to the mixed architecture of Fort Thomas as inspiration for their designs. They pointed to Tower Park in particular and to the many different styles of gabled roofs and covered porches in many homes in the area. From this, they chose two colors of red brick and stone masonry for their project. They included gabled roofs, large windows, trellises and balconies that helped to create covered walkways below as well as pedestrian areas and green spaces in the design.

Lehtinen noted that much attention was paid to the rear of the building to ensure the project has a finished look on all sides. Greiwe concluded that his project was designed to be a landmark piece of architecture that would define the city’s downtown and provide both commercial and residential space attractive to older adults as outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan.

Design Review Board member Chris Manning said, "I think this does build upon some of the intentions that came out of the community planning process, but it’s big, it’s complicated, it’s very important. So, I think it’s important that we take our time and do this right, look at all these details and discuss them."

He went on to say that he was familiar with Greiwe’s work, yet he said as a critique he had concerns about the roof line, the color scheme and other factors he said he felt contributed to the large-scale feeling of the project.

He noted that fitting a large building to fit residential roof lines is a challenge because gabled roofs on homes, when done on larger buildings, can make them look even bigger. He added that, while the red brick and masonry color choices and design scheme might seem to fit in with buildings in Tower Park and other places around town, using so much of the same colors might also contribute to the overwhelming feel of the project.

Another board member, Jeff Sackenheim, said he was confident of the quality of the design but shared Manning’s concerns "If I’m being critical, the nod to Fort Thomas is by using two tones of red brick... but if you read the elevations we have in front of us, they are really look close to what you have in Mariemont with a change of materiality."

He noted the ways the proposed project used many of the same design elements as the developer’s other projects and questioned if these genuinely fit into the aesthetic of Fort Thomas. He suggested one way to combat the feeling of a massive scale might be to break the project into two or three separate buildings with space for movement in between.

Board member Mark Thurnauer noted that "In this community, we experience this area of town mostly on foot, and when you are walking through town a block is not a large journey, but what makes a walk pleasant is variety. It’s okay that it doesn’t have a break to it, but when it’s all the same there’s a monotony that maybe almost expands that length."

He suggested taking a fresh look at the building on the first level to examine the experience at eye level and up close.

Board members suggest alternatives

Dominos Pizza Coming to Alexandria

Dominos Pizza is entering the Alexandria, Kentucky market at the old Gold Star Chili location at 7647 Alexandria Pike, according to sources,

Contractors are on site to expand the building.

See Rob Beimesche's exclusive listings here. 
Business for Gold Star in Alexandria had grown in recent years, and more space was needed, explained Rick Schmidt, manager at the company’s Bellevue location. A new location was selected at the old Larosa's location in Alexandria at 8031 Alexandria Pike. That location formerly housed  Shelby’s, Burger Chef and Smokey Bones.

Schmidt said the expanded menu at Gold Star is being rolled out at new locations as they open with a goal of switching all locations over to the new menu by 2020.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Fort Thomas Independent Schools' Bill Bradford Named Next Generation Leader Award Finalist

The Northern Kentucky Young Professionals (NKYP) have announced the 2019 Next Generation Leader Award (NGLA) finalists, which includes Fort Thomas Independent Schools Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Bill Bradford, in the Education and Workforce category.

Other Fort Thomas resident nominees are Justin Otto (Highlands '00), Keith Carlson and Murphy Stephens.

The NGLAs salute and applaud young professionals under the age of 40 for significant professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, and community impact. This year, the NGLAs celebrate ten years of highlighting talented young leaders, and the continued impact that former NGLA recipients are making throughout the region.

The finalists for 2019 are:

Jacob Brooks, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati
Kirby Neumann, Cincinnati Museum Center
Justin Otto, Newport on the Levee

Keith Carlson, VonLehman
Garry Horton, Gilman Partners
David Kay, PNC

Tess Brown, Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky
Ryan Campbell, Cincinnati Bell
Suzanne Murray, Pure Romance

Danielle Armine, Welcome House
Kim Harp, REDI
Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, Turner Construction

Bill Bradford, Fort Thomas Independent Schools
Tom Haggard, Brighton Center
Amanda Klare, Beechwood Independent Schools

Mavis Linnemann, The Delish Dish and Made by Mavis
Peeyush Shrivastava, Genetesis
Stephen Williams, Bouquet Restaurant

Kristin Baldwin, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Laura Brinson, Northern Kentucky Health Department
Kevin Donnelly, REDI

Emma Schmidt, Emma Schmidt & Associates
Brittany Sorrell, St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Murphy Stephens, St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Mike Grout, C-Forward
Miranda Sheeks, CTI
Chad Summe, Quotient Technology

Fort Thomas Investor Group Raising Funds to Install Turf at Highland Park

By Joe Grimme

As a baseball player for the Highlands Bluebirds in 1991, I was fortunate to be the starting pitcher at our first home game played there, and I now enjoy watching my son, who is currently a senior at Highlands, also pitch for the Bluebirds at the very same field.  Twenty-eight (28) years ago, the baseball field at Highland Park was all dirt; it had no pitcher’s mound, no grass infield, no dugouts, no press box, no concession stand, and to be quite honest, it had no enjoyable place for fans to watch a game.

To say the least, we have come a long way.

Highland Park has been used for several decades by kids and adults of all ages.  Currently, the field is used by many of our residents and various local teams, as well as Knothole Baseball and the reigning 4-time Ninth Region Champion Highlands Bluebirds.

As many of us know, the sport of baseball is very dependent on weather conditions and, if you have ever been involved with the game, whether as a player, a parent, or simply just a fan, you have undoubtedly encountered a rain delay and/or cancelation as a result of a sloppy field.  It is something that happens every year, especially given the regularity of precipitation during the Spring.

While the baseball field at Highland Park has been drastically improved, most of which can be attributed to the hard work of Highlands’ Head Coach Jeremy Baioni and the City of Fort Thomas, it can still be improved even more.  The natural turf and dirt that remains in the infield continues to pose a problem every year as a result of spring showers.  By installing artificial turf, this problem would no longer exist and we could increase the ability to practice and play more baseball, which would directly benefit our community overall.  Our children, grandchildren, and many future generations would enjoy the advantages of having artificial turf for many years to come.

We are excited that a small group of investors have committed to kickstart our campaign to raise the funds needed in order to install the artificial turf.  This campaign has been divided into two (2) stages, the first having a goal to raise $300,000 for the infield; the second having a goal to complete the entire field at an overall cost of $1 million.

We need you.

Although our private investors have pledged $125,000, we have a long way to go.  There are many ways in which you can help fund this project that will benefit the entire Fort Thomas Community.  We are seeking tax-deductible donations, which can be made in a lump sum or spread over a monthly/yearly commitment, and we are also soliciting corporate sponsorships, which includes the purchase of a banner that will be hung at the facility.  Finally, you can purchase a brick to have your message engraved, which would be installed in our “Walk of Fame” to be located near the field.

Please consider helping with our efforts, which will benefit everyone in our community.  The baseball field at Highland Park will continue to remain a public facility and all of our citizens will have the ability to enjoy its use – even after the artificial turf is installed.  Please contact Joe Grimme (859-468-1937 or for more information or if you have any questions whatsoever.  Or, you can visit our website at to make a donation or purchase your brick.  We appreciate your consideration and look forward to receiving your support.

Club Volleyball Helps Highlands Libero Earn College Scholarship

Gessner Continued Playing Club Ball after Final Game with Bluebirds

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Olivia Gessner (middle) signs her letter of intent to play volleyball at Indiana Tech while father Matt (behind) watches. Gessner helped the Highlands volleyball team to consecutive 36th District championships.
Olivia Gessner may have stepped off the court for the last time as a member of the Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team on Oct. 15, 2018 at Dayton following a 3-0 (28-26, 25-17, 25-22) loss to Dixie Heights in the 9th Region Quarterfinals.

Gessner, a libero and defensive specialist, was one of two seniors on the team along with her good friend Margot Seidel, an outside hitter and defensive specialist. The two helped Highlands to two consecutive 36th District championships and 25-11 seasons. They also helped Highlands to the program's first-ever 9th Region Tournament win over Dixie Heights in the quarterfinals in 2017 since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association placed Highlands in that region after the 2011 season.

But Gessner continued to play for the Crush Volleyball Club out of Erlanger. The schedule for CVCs 18-and-Under squad lists two tournaments left in the season. High School players can continue playing club volleyball through the spring of their senior years of high school following the end of the high school season in the fall.

"Obviously, it kind of kept me in shape for high school season," Gessner said. "After playing club in high school, I realized I wasn't really ready to see volleyball out of my life, which is kind of what pushed me into pursuing a college career."

Gessner signed to play volleyball for the Indiana Tech Warriors located in Fort Wayne (Indiana) on Friday. The Warriors are in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Highlands Head Coach Katelyn Sallee said playing club volleyball in the spring and summer helps recruitment out a lot. Sallee was an all-Ohio Valley Conference setter at Morehead State University.

"You have college coaches who are coaching through their own seasons in the fall," Sallee said. "Their recruiting resources are almost exclusively put toward spring and summer. So if you're not playing in the spring and summer, it's going to be hard for you to be seen. You do a lot of work to prepare whether it's film, getting your resources together to send to coaches in the fall. So you're having a lot of dialogue with coaches, but a lot times they'll say, 'I'm very interested. But I'm going to wait until spring to see you.' There's more of a preparation going on in the fall then it's more of a harvest in the spring if that makes sense. That's kind of my perspective on it."

The scholarship is a combined athletic and academic scholarship. Gessner said a good portion of her tuition will be paid for. Gessner said her grade-point average at Highlands is a 3.4 out of four on an unweighted scale.

Gessner said Indiana Tech and Head Coach Kourtney Wilson began recruiting her at the beginning of her senior year. Gessner participated in a college combine and Indiana Tech invited her to go on a tour of the campus.

Gessner hopes to stay at a libero spot at Indiana Tech. The Warriors finished 20-15 last season including 10-10 in conference play. They lost to Cornerstone University out of Grand Rapids (Michigan) in the conference tournament quarterfinals, 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-14, 25-20).

"Clearly, I'm a defensive player. I'm kind of short so that's kind of where I'm at," Gessner said. "But I'm working on specific skills like working with blockers because it's hard to just go into a new team where you don't really know how everyone plays to get used to them."

Gessner said she does not know any of her future teammates at Indiana Tech. But junior setter Audrey Graves played club volleyball with another player going there.

Highlands will have a nice senior class next fall. The leading returning defensive specialists are juniors Rylee Kirschenbaum, Brooke Biltz, Navaeh Votel and freshman Madison Clore.

"I've learned to be determined," Biltz said. "(Gessner has) always had a really big influence on me not just on the court, but also in school. Never give up no matter how corny that sounds. She's a hard worker and a really hard drive."

Gessner also played basketball for three years in high school. Gessner helped the Bluebirds to the third and fourth of five consecutive district championships. But she played just volleyball as a senior.

"I loved volleyball and basketball, but there was a point where I was having volleyball and basketball twice a day," Gessner said. "It was kind overlapping and it wasn't really fair to my teammates on both sides. I picked what I really fell in love with. I knew that I wanted to pursue that in college so I just decided to focus more on volleyball my senior year."

Gessner's parents, Mandy and Matt, started the Little Birds volleyball program. She has been there since the start and coached some of the teammates from the 2018 team such as freshmen CC Shick and Nicole Ossege.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Walking into this Fort Thomas kids shop feels like childhood

654 Highland Ave Unit 19 | Fort Thomas, Kentucky 41075 | (859) 630-3828

All of the swimsuits at Diamonds and Dimples, located at 654 Highland Avenue, have UPF 50+ sun protection.  Check out their wide variety of suit option available at Diamonds and Dimples. 

Diamonds and Dimples has sponsored this post. 

Fort Thomas Police Participating in National Drug Take Back Day this Saturday

The Fort Thomas Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are partnering on April 27, 2019 to encourage citizens to remove potentially dangerous medicines from their homes and dispose of them safely.

“Too often unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands,” said Fort Thomas Police Officer, Sean Donelan. “That’s dangerous and often tragic. This event gives people the opportunity to turn in their prescription drugs safely and anonymously.”

Collection activities will take place from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in front of the Fort Thomas City Building.

Leftover or expired drugs can be harmful in a variety of ways:
- Out-of-date medications can degrade and lose their effectiveness.
- They can pose environmental pollution to water supplies if disposed of improperly.
- They can be accidently ingested by children, stolen, misused and abused.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

“Cleaning out old prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers and beside tables can help reduce the diversion, misuse and abuse of these substances, including opioid painkillers,” said Donelan.

In 2018, citizens across the U.S. safely disposed of nearly 930 tons of unneeded medications during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Since the inception of the program in 2003, Kentucky has collected 135,143 pounds of unwanted/unused prescription drugs.

Fort Thomas Students and Educators Honored as Global Leaders

Woodfill teacher Casey Gesenhues and Fort Thomas School Board member Ann Meyer congratulate the youngest recipients of the Global Leader awards.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

In March and April, Global Leader awards went to four teachers, three counselors, an administrator and two young students. The awards are part of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Portrait of a Graduate program. Anyone in the community can nominate anyone else who exemplifies the leadership qualities outlined in the program.

Nominees can be awarded for demonstrating the qualities of a Courageous Leader, Creative Problem Solver, Empathetic Collaborator, Curious Critical Thinker or Global Communicator. Often, nominees exemplify more than one of these leadership qualities.

The program over the course of this school year has been successful in identifying and honoring several members of the community.

Teachers model leadership qualities in and out of the classroom

Parents and colleagues nominated teachers for the awards, not only for what they do in the classroom but also for the work they do with students outside of class, partnering with parents and supporting their colleagues and schools.

Moyer music teacher Mary Scaggs honored as a Courageous Leader.

Moyer music teacher Mary Scaggs was nominated as a Courageous Leader by parent Kevin Hagerty who explained that he didn’t know what to expect when his son was chosen to be part of the Kentucky All State Chorus. He knew it involved lots of practice and an opportunity to work with a well-respected conductor.

After seeing the children’s performance and its impact on his son, he called it "magical....Our son is not one of those kids who is chosen first. He is shy...We are so grateful and thankful that he got to experience this." He thanked Scaggs for her work to cultivate his son and the Moyer music program.

Parent Josh Riesenbeck and his daughter congratulate teacher Becky Brady on her Global Leader award.

Brooke and Josh Riesenbeck, parents of four students who go to Fort Thomas schools, nominated first grade teacher Becky Brady, who teaches their daughter at Moyer Elementary. In Brady, they said they have a true education partner for their child and a Courageous Leader.

"As we recently sat with Becky and discussed our daughter’s progress, it was clear to us how much of an educational ally we have in Becky... As we listened to the information that she shared, it was apparent to us that her concerns were genuine, and she was not sitting across from us merely performing a required duty but as a champion of education who truly cares about the progress of each of her students."

They said the teacher is passing these qualities on to all of her students. "We feel that each day Mrs. Brady models to her students the importance of servant leadership and through her example and positive interactions she is creating courageous leaders in her classroom."

Johnson teacher Kim Schnier received a Global Leader award for her work promoting science learning and the National Geographic GeoChallenge.

Johnson teacher Kim Schnier was nominated by Principal Ashley Dikeos. Schnier was instrumental in the school’s extensive participation in the National Geographic GeoChallenge.

"The amount of authentic learning that transpired was unreal. The students used project-based learning, comparative design thinking in order to research and create. Mrs. Schnier’s students reached out to multiple outside agencies in order to get involved in the focus on the impact of single use plastics on the environment... A member of the Newport Aquarium WAVE Foundation came to Johnson to talk to the students and was so impressed that he donated money to help...," Dikeos said.

"The students also reached out to Fort Thomas Coffee for their marketing campaign...and this is just a piece of the entire learning experience. Without her willingness to break out of the comfort zone, this type of learning couldn’t exist, and so we are very grateful for this Courageous Leader, Empathetic Collaborator and Creative Problem Solver."

Art teacher Jennifer Flynn received a Global Leader award. To her left is one of her nominators and colleague at Johnson, Aimee Shadwell.

Also at Johnson, art teacher Jennifer Flynn was nominated by Dikeos and fellow teacher Aimee Shadwell.

Dikeos nominated Flynn as an Empathetic Collaborator. "Jennifer Flynn is the epitome of a collaborator. She’s offered to create things, work through professional learning communities...developing project based learning projects as well as pushing forward with her team on STEAM and culture projects. Johnson Elementary is blessed to have an art teacher that has so much compassion for working with others in order to help others and make processes easier," she said.

"You might think that the art teacher would have very little to do with aspects of the elementary school culture that don’t pertain directly to art instruction. Jennifer, however, proves herself invaluable in almost every aspect of our school," said Shadwell. "Jennifer has a real talent for looking at the big picture, taking multiple perspectives into account...She’s a colleague that I turn to when I want to develop or refine in the classroom. She uses her talents to help other teachers as well as her students."

Counselors support the community and each other

Four Highlands Students Accepted into Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs

The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, announced Friday that seventy-two high school students have been selected to participate in the 2019 GSE program at Northern Kentucky University from June 23 – July 13.
Twelve of the students are from Northern Kentucky.

HHS juniors accepted into the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) are:

Molly Bucher
Megan Farney
David Herfel
Elizabeth Roeding

GSE brings together high school students from across Kentucky, immersing them in a creative space during a three-week residential program and arming them with the educational tools needed to unleash entrepreneurial spirits.

More than 300 high school students applied to participate in the program and the field was whittled down through a competitive application process to receive full tuition scholarships, marking the highest enrollment number for the program.

Through GSE, students learn firsthand about the opportunities, benefits and pitfalls of beginning a business.  Teams of high school students develop business models, design prototypes, and pitch startup ideas to a large audience and panel of judges.

“Congratulations to the high school students who have been selected for this year’s Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs program,” said Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Derrick K. Ramsey. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to be immersed in a creative, real-world experience where they can develop the skills needed to develop and launch their own business. It is also a great place to learn from each other and their teachers and experience a college campus.”

Student participation in this annual entrepreneurial program has inspired more than eight new businesses throughout the Commonwealth, and actively engaged hundreds of GSE alumni in Kentucky's entrepreneurial ecosystem, a news release said.

“The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs is a great source of inspiration, knowledge and real-world experience for Kentucky’s next generation of innovators,” said Brian Mefford, Executive Director of KY Innovation. “The students selected for this year’s program should be proud and excited about the opportunity ahead of them. Their time at NKU will allow them to not only hone their entrepreneurial skills, but also be practitioners who actually launch businesses. KY Innovation is committed to supporting GSE’s mission and we look forward to even more growth in the future.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Largest Earth Day Celebration in NKY is in Fort Thomas on May 5

Fort Thomas’ Earth Day celebration is Sunday, May 5 in the Mess Hall at Tower Park (12:00 - 5:00) and it’s bigger and better than ever. There are over 45 exhibitors, vendors, food trucks, a beer truck, lots of kids activities, educational, and information displays. Here are a few highlights of what you can expect at the first big city-wide gathering for the year.

There will be lots of kids activities ranging from face painting (sponsored by First Baptist Church), tree climbing, natural dye t-shirt (sponsored by Natural Start Pre-School), rock painting, and more. Children will be able to go home with a little something to plant in the yard and stories to tell. Organizer Sidney Thomas says it will be “a perfect day for the whole family to enjoy.  Children will enjoy face painting, paint a pot and plant a seed; while adults can learn to create a certified backyard habitat as well as understand backyard chicken and beekeeping.  This is a great way for your family to discover the excitement and education that exists in your own backyard.

Hassman and Doyle Lawfirm. 859-655-4430. This is an advertisement.
You will be able to climb a tree with safety ropes with Earth Joy. The Natural Start Pre-School will sponsor a children’s t-shirt painting activity. And Mint Yoga will hold a free class.

Organizer Jan Jolley says that this is a “great event for all ages in a terrific and historic venue.”  Bring your bike for a tuneup from Reser Bicycles and chat with the Cincinnati Off Road Alliance about trail riding opportunities. Learn about opportunities that county and state agencies offer like outdoor adventures, educational opportunities, and environmental issues facing our area. State and local agencies will be there with information regarding our forests, water, and gardens.

A number of groups will be giving away trees as well. In fact, the event will begin with a city proclamation declaring Fort Thomas an official Tree City.  Rumpke will return with recycling information and bins. There will be exhibits about composting and beekeeping. The Environmental Science students at Highlands High School will explain the life cycle and the value of the monarch butterfly and will have milkweed plants available for a donation.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Summer Enrichment Program Seeks Community Teachers

The Fort Thomas Independent School district is planning its 2019 Summer Enrichment Programs and looking for unique programming that the community can offer students that are generally not covered in a regular school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Jamee Flaherty, said that currently there are about 40 sessions being offered by faculty and staff, which is more than a normal program session. However, we would like to involve the community in the planning process.

“This is an opportunity to design and offer a course of your choosing for Fort Thomas students, and we are open to all suggestions,” she said. “We are encouraging our community members to design creative, engaging, and challenging opportunities for students.  Our goal is to offer programs for K-12 students in a variety of areas like science, math, the arts, reading or test preparation, and for those interested to be able to think outside the box!”

The tuition will be established at the district level to cover all costs for the students. Non-teacher rates offered is $18 per hour.
Proposals can be submitted electronically by April 30 at 3:00 p.m. at the following link: or submitted to Sally Race at 815-2005 or .

Fort Thomas Named Safest City in Kentucky

Fort Thomas has been named the "Safest Cities in Kentucky" by Safehome, a website that reviews and compares security systems.

Fort Thomas had a safety rating of 89.83, with a population of 16,358. The median income for a family here is $63,006, which is on the upper end in Kentucky.

Many of these composite rankings lists include cities with populations of 5,000 or more, but Safehome's rankings start with cities of populations at 16,000 or greater.

Safehome's metrics looked at several different factors when assigning a Safety Score to a city. First and foremost is the FBI’s latest report of how many and what types of crimes occurred in each city over a single year. The city’s crime trends are also considered; in other words, cities where crime is on the decline are given a higher Safety Score and vice-versa. They also look at the number of law enforcement officers compared to the population.

Finally, demographic metrics that are correlated to crime have a small impact on Safety Score. These include metrics such as population density, population trends, unemployment rate, median income, education level, etc.

In plain English, the crime score is based on the combination of occurrences (per 100,000) of the seven crimes, the officer-to-population ratio, violent crime trend, property crime trend, and six demographic factors.

Fort Thomas ranked in the top 10th percentile across the United States.

There is a large concentration of cities with high safety ratings in northern Kentucky. Erlanger and Independence are also represented, all with safety ratings above 80. On the national level, there are four cities in Kentucky that made it onto the top 750 safest cities in the nation.

Here's the list of the top 10:

Central Business District Developer Withdraws Current Request for Height Variance

East side of the Central Business District, across the street from where the potential CBD development would be. FTM file.
By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Rick Greiwe of Greiwe Development has withdrawn his request for a height variance for his proposed development project on Highland and North Fort Thomas avenues in the Central Business District (CBD).

He had been on the agenda to discuss his request with the city’s Board of Adjustments but has now been removed from that agenda. This does not mean the developer will not request a variance later, but for now he has withdrawn his application.

The Fort Thomas Planning Commission held a public hearing on the development last Wednesday that drew about 180 local residents concerned about the project. After more than three hours of discussion, the commissioners decided to hold a second hearing to fully explore the topic before calling a vote. The new public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 15. 

RELATED:  Second Public Hearing Scheduled for Development Proposal

Second hearing added

Zoning requirements restrict building heights in the CBD to 50 feet, and the project was designed to be 53.5 feet. The next step for the developer was to request a variance from the Board of Adjustments. In anticipation of a decision at the first public hearing, the developer made the application for variance and also requested review with the Design Review Board.

A second public hearing is set for May 15 to review plans for a development in the Central Business District.
After a second hearing was added, he decided to withdraw his height variance request and may be reexamining aspects of his proposal in light of the public input. He is still on the agenda for the April 25 Design Review Board meeting, which is 6:00 p.m. at the city building. 

The Planning Commission must approve the project before it can move forward. If the project meets all the criteria set forth in the zoning codes, it could then move forward to next steps in the process which include the Board of Adjustments (if needed) and the Design Review Board.

Height was not the only point where the design did not fully meet all zoning standards. Zoning Administrator Kevin Barbian outlined other areas in his report to the Planning Commission that included loading docks, parking requirements and other issues.

Next steps in the process

The role of the Design Review Board is to review facade improvements and sign applications within the city’s Central Business District and the Midway District. It is a seven-member board whose current members are Lori Wendling, Chris Manning, Barry Petracco, Pat Hagerty, Barb Thomas, Mark Thurnauer and Jeff Sackenheim.

The next Design Review Board meeting is set for Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m. in the Fort Thomas city building.

The Board of Adjustment ensures building projects meet criteria and reviews requests for variances when needed. The board has seven members: James Beineke, Tom Fernandez, Carol Dixon, Steve Dauer, Carla Austin, Steve Kowolonek and Susan Wingard. The CBD has been removed from the board’s agenda for its April 23 meeting.

The Planning Commission reviews development proposals for the city and ensures projects meet zoning guidelines and requirements. The vision of the Fort Thomas Community Plan also informs commission decisions, which has been interpreted by both opponents of the project and the developer for reasons why this project does or does not fit within the scope of the plan.

The Planning Commission is a group of seven resident volunteers appointed by the mayor. The makeup of the commission includes: Dan Fehler, Dan Gorman, Jerry Noran, Dave Wormald, Larry Schultz, Hans Tinkler and Tim Michel.

May 15 is the date of the next meeting of the Planning Commission, and it will include a second public hearing on the CBD project starting at 7p.m.