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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.”

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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 exits bout 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:  https://goo.gl/forms/mc7qoH6ib3u2sqMj1 or submitted to Sally Race at 815-2005 or sally.race@fortthomas.kyschools.us .

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 at this time.

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 Ken 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.

Highlands High School Student Wins Conservation Writing Contest


Highlands High School junior Madeline Mason was named the Campbell County Jim Claypool Writing Contest winner.  She received a cash award and read her essay at the annual Campbell County Conservation District Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 11, at Campbell County High School.  This year’s essay topic was “Diggin It”.

Maddy is an AP Environmental Science student, member of the Envirothon Team and National Honor Society and is passionate about the environment and preserving our natural resources. She is considering attending the University of Cincinnati to study biology.

Her essay was directed toward farmers and community members and explained the challenges we face with preserving our soils as well as strategies for soil and water conservation.  She noted in her essay, “human activities such as removal of plants and trees from riparian zones and creation of impervious surfaces, sediment has become the number one source of non-point source pollution.

Planting rain gardens and collecting water in rain barrels can help to maintain our soils integrity.”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Highlands Student Earns Perfect Score on ACT


Highlands High School junior Zoe Poff earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT test. Nationally, only about one-tenth of 1% of all students who take the ACT earn a score of 36.

Zoe took the ACT in March, as is required for all high school juniors as part of the annual state assessment. She prepared by doing lots of practice using test prep in Naviance and taking TorchPrep, as well as using practice tests on her own.

Being prepared and challenging herself academically seem to be the norm for Zoe.  Not only has she filled her class schedules each year with advanced and Advanced Placement courses, she has also elected to add a seventh “early bird” class to her day.

In addition to her rigorous class schedule, Zoe plays a viola in the strings program, is on the HHS swim team, a member of the National Honor Society, Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP),  Book Club, Tri-M Honor Society, and she still finds time to volunteer at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

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Although currently undecided on a specific university, Zoe has been looking at small liberal arts colleges. She hopes to major in English, political science or psychology.

“Zoe is not only an exceptional student, but her diligence for excellence is beyond reproach,” said Trinity Walsh, Highlands High School counselor. “Her daily effort, love of school, relationships with others, and happy personality make her a perfect example of, ‘What is a Bluebird?’ I am really excited to see what transpires next year as Zoe starts her college application process!”

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1–36, and a student's composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT Composite score.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Campbell County Deputy Jailer Died in Fatal Car Crash on AA


The woman who was killed in a car crash Sunday night on the AA Highway in Cold Spring has been identified.

Lindsay Kent Mitchell, 22, passed away at the scene after the car she was driving was struck by a cargo van traveling in the opposite direction on the AA Highway. She was turning north from Rocky View Drive.

Mitchell was  from Burlington.


The two passengers who were also in her vehicle were seriously injured in the crash and taken to UC Medical Center.

All three victims in that vehicle worked as correctional officers at the Campbell County Detention Center. Mitchell was a Deputy Jailer and was a member of Burlington Baptist Church.

A benefit for the employees of the jail injured in the crash is being held tonight (4-18) and tomorrow (4-19) at Beer Sellar in Newport, starting at 8:00 p.m. Money will be donated directly to the families for ongoing medical bills.

Author to Discuss Notorious 1896 Fort Thomas Murder


In 1896, northern Kentucky was thrust into the national spotlight for what was called "the crime of the century" – the murder of Pearl Bryan, whose headless body was discovered in Fort Thomas, Ky.  The notorious case is the subject of a recently released book by historian Larry Tippin, who will be the featured speaker at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the Fort Thomas Tower Park Mess Hall.

“CSI Fort Thomas: The Horrific Death of Pearl Bryan” will be a presentation about the beheading of a 23-year-old girl from Greencastle, Ind.  That gruesome murder and how investigators painstakingly followed clues to identify the victim and solve the crime more than a century ago still captivates audiences today.

RELATED: Background on the murder of Pearl Bryan 

Tippin’s book, The Betrayal of Pearl Bryan: Unraveling the Gilded Age Mystery that Captivated a Nation, reveals details of Pearl’s short life and her tragic death.  He wanted to know, “Who was Pearl Bryan, and why was she murdered?”  He and his assistant combed through 3,000 pages of trial documents to produce 4,000 pages of notes to create 40,000 words of non-fiction.  He used a detailed, historian’s approach to follow the victim and killers from Greencastle to Cincinnati and Fort Thomas, where she was murdered.

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His book, written in a conversational tone, provides a balance between providing detailed facts for people who need cite-referenced information and a story for readers who prefer the writing style of murder-mystery novels.

Pearl Bryan. 
The Betrayal of Pearl Bryan offers fascinating forensic details such as how the uncharacteristically tiny size 3 shoes led investigators to Greencastle, and ultimately the identification of the young woman who was cruelly decapitated. Tippin will also discuss facts about the two men convicted of her murder, Scott Jackson and his apparent accomplice, Alonzo Walling, who were eventually hanged.  It was the last public hanging in Campbell County.

Tippin, currently the Putnam County Historian from Roachdale, Ind., decided to undertake the daunting task of researching the incident after hearing from descendants of the Bryan family that very little family history existed on the infamous case.  The result is a book that gives readers a glimpse into who Pearl Bryan was, the reason she was likely murdered, and what happened to her on her last four fateful days in Cincinnati.  The family picture of generations of descendants of Pearl’s brother James also gives readers pause about what could have been had Pearl lived.

Tippin will sign copies of the book that will be available for purchase after the presentation.  An exhibit of artifacts and other items will be on display.  The Tower Park Mess Hall is at 801 Cochran Ave., Fort Thomas. Register for the event at the Campbell County Public Library website, www.cc-pl.org.

This event is sponsored by the Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society in partnership with the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum and the Campbell County Public Library.

Photo caption: Crime scene photo showing Pearl after she had been moved by the coroner.

Second Public Hearing Scheduled for Development Proposal


At 6:45 p.m. the Mess Hall was filling up for the public hearing on a Central Business District development proposal.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

After three hours of discussion and public comment, the Fort Thomas Planning Commission voted to table a decision on a proposed Central Business District development project. On Wednesday evening, between 170 and 180 people packed into the Mess Hall for a public hearing on the proposal.

Because of the lateness of the hour and the intensity of public interest, the commissioners decided to hold a second public hearing to continue exploration of the topic before voting on the matter. The additional public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on May 15. That meeting is scheduled for the City Building, but the venue could change. City staff will be informing the public on when that venue change could take place.

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The project in question would be a mixed-use development along North Fort Thomas Avenue to the corner of Highland Avenue encompassing properties at 9 Highland Avenue and 3, 15, 19 and 25 North Fort Thomas Avenue.

The top two floors would feature 24 luxury two- and three-bedroom condos with retail space on the bottom floor. Units would run from 1,549 square feet to 2,847 square feet. Parking for businesses is planned at the back of the structure, and an underground parking garage opening onto Woodland Place would be included for the condo residents.

The proposed price point was slated between $600,000 and $1.2 million dollars per flat.

Greiwe Development is the lead on the project with partners North American Properties, Sibcy Cline and M + A Architects. Rick Greiwe opened the meeting with a presentation on his plans with the help of architect Sari Lehtinen. They pointed out features that included covered sidewalks, additional trees and a greenery buffer zone as well as brick facades, pitched roofs, balconies, pedestrian walkways and seating spaces.   

Planning Commission member, Dan Gorman, recused himself at the beginning of the hearing, because he owns property included in the proposed plan at 15 and 19 N. Fort Thomas Avenue.

RELATED:City Publishes Proposed Plans for Central Business District Development

 

The city staff weighs in

The developers’ presentation was followed by a report by city Zoning Administrator Kevin Barbian and Engineer Frank Twehues of CT Consultants on traffic and engineering aspects of the plan.

Barbian outlined areas in the developer’s plan that met zoning requirements and those that did not. He explained in some cases where requirements were not met, the Planning Commission had the authority to provide leeway on the matter due to a previous change to the city's comprehensive plan in 1999. For example, the issue of parking is an area in which the commissioners have authority. According to the developer’s plan, the number of retail parking spaces would be 40 without counting on-street parking, but the zone requires 52 spaces for this size of retail space. The commissioners could vote to allow for the smaller number of spaces.

In other cases, the developer would need to request a variance from the Board of Adjustments, Barbian said. The height of the proposed building is three and one-half feet above the allowable height of 50 feet in the zone, and so the developers will need to request a variance.

Twehues reported on a traffic impact study that was conducted by TEC Engineering, a third party engineering firm. He said the report gathered data for two days and found that peak traffic times were 8 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. He said the report concluded that the project would have no significant impact on traffic during peak times, the visibility of public parking would need to be improved with lighting and signage, and the garage entry is safest where it is opening onto Woodland Place. 

Neighbors and other residents react


Fort Thomas residents explore development plans before the start of the Planning Commission public hearing.

The floor was then opened up to public comment. About 32 people spoke to commissioners about the plans. Comments overall noted that they were not necessarily opposed to development, but an overwhelming majority of those who spoke had deep concerns and questions about this project.

Some of the main concerns included:

Size and scale: Many said they felt the project was just too big. The tallest building nearby is about 12 feet shorter than the one proposed. There was great concern that shadows cast by such a large building would project a cavern-like feel in the district. Some asked if the project could be scaled back and still be viable. Residents questioned if such a large project would fit in to the community feel and small town tone.

The garage entry: Of great concern to neighbors on Woodland Place and nearby, the entry from the garage onto the small cul-de-sac would overwhelm the neighborhood, many said. There are 25 homes on the narrow street that allows parking on both sides. With the school nearby and several community events, parking is already difficult, they said. Additional residents coming onto their street would also cause traffic headaches.

Woodland Place residents met separately with Greiwe, Mayor Eric Haas and local business investor Dan Gorman to voice their concerns in hopes of working out a change in the orientation of the garage. Griewe said he looked at four options and found that the Woodland Place entrance was the only viable option. Neighbors asked the developer to reconsider and to make concessions.

Traffic: Many residents said they disagreed with the traffic impact report. Peak hours happen earlier than the report indicated due to school drop offs and pick ups, they said. Events, school activities and traffic from a nearby dance school have had an impact in the area, overflowing traffic onto side streets.

Viability: Residents said so many businesses have failed in the Central Business District, they were concerned what would happen if such a large retail and residential space went empty. Others wondered if the price of the condos, from $600,000 to $1.2 million, would be too expensive.

Other issues included questions about whether there was enough buffer near the garage entrance, and plans to handle construction noise, disruption and possible damage. 

The developer responds


Greiwe acknowledged issues expressed by neighbors and other city residents and offered insight into his reasoning for making certain decisions. He said he has a lot of experience in the high-end condo field and specializes in creating residencies that compliment a certain lifestyle experience for retirees, empty nesters and young professionals. He has spoken extensively with people in that market to discern what they want.


He pointed to his success in areas such as Mariemont where he has sold 120 similar condos, bringing in $1.2 million for local schools. He said he would not venture into the project if he was not confident that he could sell the properties.

Greiwe did say that the going rate for new retail space is about $26 per square foot and rentals in Fort Thomas run about $16 per square foot. He admitted that he would need to seek funding through mechanisms such as an Industrial Revenue Bond or IRB, used similarly with the homes at Alexander Circle,  to keep the prices at a below market rate to attract businesses.

Those who spoke in favor of the project mentioned that desire to develop the Central Business District has been outlined in successive city plans for many years. In the most recent Comprehensive Plan, the need for mixed used development is indicated.

Next steps

Watching Sons Play Brings Back Memories for Five Highlands Baseball Fathers

Five Highlands Seniors Build Generational Highlands Tradition

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Five former Highlands baseball players from the 1980s and early 1990s have senior sons on this year's team. They are. from left. Lance Turner, Nolan Turner, Joe Grimme, Steven Grimme, Todd Johnson, Trent Johnson, Jim Greene, Casey Greene, Chris Schwalbach and Cooper Schwalbach.
The realization hit 1991 Highlands graduate Joe Grimme when he saw the wall for Highlands Bluebirds alumni to sign.

Grimme pitched during his time at Highlands. Grimme and several other former players from the 1980s and early 1990s have senior sons on this year's team. Grimme's son Steven is also a pitcher. Joe Grimme graduated with former Highlands catcher Lance Turner and also played when Todd Johnson (1989) and Chris Schwalbach (1988) played. Their sons are pitcher Nolan Turner, catcher/designated hitter Trent Johnson and center fielder Cooper Schwalbach respectively. Jim Greene (1981) also has a senior son on the team in outfielder Casey Greene.


Current Head Coach Jeremy Baioni (1997) remembers watching those players. He recalled the Highlands baseball team being region runner-up one season.

"When I was growing up, those guys were just a year or two older than my brother when he played here so I remember watching those guys play, watching them compete," Baioni said. "It's really neat to see them have their kids coming through the program and still how invested those guys are as parents and how invested their kids are. Part of the reason we wanted to come here and coach is to get it back to those days where it's something you can be proud of. It's a really, really cool thing."


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Jim Greene also saw his older son Bradley (Class of 2017) play for the Bluebirds. Both sons have helped the Bluebirds to four consecutive 9th Region championships and two state runner-up finishes. Jim Greene played center field during his playing days.

"It brings back a lot of really great memories playing for Highlands," Jim Greene said. "It's really great to see this next generation enjoy it as much as I did. I've coached my kids since T-Ball at YMCA in Fort Thomas. It was all about having fun first and foremost. It's also about the relationships that they make and form along the way. It was the same way when I played ball. Those guys I played with on the team are some of my best friends today."

Casey Greene has played a pivotal role as a pinch runner this year. Casey Greene and his older brothers Ryan (2014) and Bradley also played football. Casey Greene helped the Bluebirds to a 10-3 season this past fall.

"It's definitely fun trying to make your own mark and soaking everything up because it's almost over," Casey Greene said. "I'm trying to have fun with every moment we have together. It goes by quick and before you know it, you're moving on and you're going to miss everything that you had."

Steven Grimme said his dad coached him and his two younger brothers growing up. Steven Grimme said Joe Grimme taught him a huge lesson on gripping the ball before pitching it.

"He taught me how to throw a curve ball in a way that prevents breaking my wrist," Steven Grimme said. "He's always taught me a way to throw a curve ball a different way than most people because Tommy John is obviously a huge deal with most peoples' arms. I'm not twisting my arm at all so I feel like it's a lot safer. I know these other pitchers that have arm problems. Mine never really hurt that much. That's a big thing."

Steven Grimme pitched in the state championship game last year along with seniors Grady Cramer and Tanner Juett. Some other players such as sophomore Jacob Gulley have also stepped forward this year on the mound.

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"It's tough losing (2018 graduate Drew Rom and Hunter Dreves) but honestly, I think if anything, we've got a deeper pitching staff," Joe Grimme said. "He's going to enjoy his senior year. He's looking forward to it. I think the experience he got last year along with the other guys that are on staff hopefully will give them enough experience to get them through the season. They may not have two guys that are Division I commits, but they have four solid, consistent throwers that overall will give them a more balanced pitching staff in my opinion."

Todd Johnson also caught like Trent does. Todd Johnson coached a lot of the current players in little league baseball.

"I'm super proud of him obviously as a Dad playing here and being an alumni here," Todd Johnson said. "Seeing those guys do as well as they've done, winning all those region championships, seeing them be able to have the opportunity to play at the state games. It's just a dream come true for a father."

Trent Johnson said he has enjoyed playing sports since he was young. Trent Johnson also started three years on the Highlands offensive line and played some on the defensive line.

"My Dad has been there for me obviously since I was born," Trent Johnson said. "He influenced me to play sports. He would teach me how to swing, how to throw, how to catch the right way. He was super patient with me when I was younger. You know how it is. It's been really fun. I know he's enjoyed watching me grow up, watching me develop. It's been really cool."

Lance Turner has been really impressed with how the Highlands battery has worked together this year. Senior Bryce Ziegler returned with catching experience this year.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Here's the lineup for the Party on the Purple music series


For the third consecutive year, the “Party on the Purple” series is returning to the Purple People Bridge this spring and summer with the first bridge party scheduled for May 1 at 6 p.m.

The free weekly summer party series — which includes live music, food trucks, beer, wine and spirits — will run every Wednesday evening until August, 7.

New this year are themed parties, such as Kentucky Derby Night, 80’s Night, Dog Night, and much more. As in past years, the Party on the Purple will run from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights.

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“For the third year in a row, Party on the Purple is the region’s signature Wednesday night event,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners and chairman of the Newport Southbank Bridge Company.

“We are proud once again work with ColdIron Events to bring our community on both sides of the river to the Purple People Bridge for a weekly party over the river that’s not only fun, but provides funding support for our bridge in the process.”

“Party on the Purple is gearing up for its wildly successful third year and we are excited for the addition of our theme nights.” said Marc Wertheim, Event Producer and President/CEO of ColdIron Enterprises Inc. “We can’t think of a better way to break up the monotony of the week than live music, cold drinks and friends on the bridge.”

A portion of funds generated from food and drink sales during the weekly events go toward painting and maintaining the historic pedestrian-only bridge. The nonprofit organization is trying to raise $1 million to repaint the bridge and make other capital improvements to it.

The following is the theme, band and food truck schedule for the first nine weeks:

Wednesday, May 1 – Kentucky Derby Night
Band – Stays in Vegas
Donato’s Pizza, Laura’s BBQ

Wednesday, May 8 – 80’s Night
Band – The Whammies
Donato’s Pizza, Marty’s Waffles

Wednesday, May 15 – Chicago/Cincinnati Baseball Night
Band – Dangerous Jim and The Slims
Glier’s Goetta, Donato’s Pizza

Wednesday, May 22 – Taste of Cincinnati Preview Theme (tentative)
Band – Roadtrip
Sunnyside Brunch, Donato’s Pizza

Wednesday, May 29 – Dog Night (bring your furry friend)
Band – Dog House
U Lucky Dog, Donato’s Pizza

Wednesday, June 5 – Mardi Gras Night
Band – Robin Lacy & DeZydeco
Donato’s Pizza, TBA

Wednesday, June 12- Italian Fest Night
Band – Marsha Brady
Donato’s Pizza, TBA

Wednesday, June 19 – Pride Night
Band – Trailer Park Floosies
Donato’s Pizza, TBA

Wednesday, June 26 – Ladies Night
Band – The Everyday People Band
Donato’s Pizza, TBA

"Upcycle" your home with “Faded Finds”


By Jessica Eden 

If you’ve ever inherited a piece of furniture that you loved but it didn’t quite fit your style, you understand the difficulty of merging various types of decor. This process can be frustrating. You may want to keep a legacy piece like your grandmother’s old hutch...but it doesn’t fit your current style.

Where do you turn?

Well, sometimes, you just need a creative professional to lend a helping hand. If anyone can help with this type of situation, it’s Heidi Barrett with “Faded Finds”.

Faded Finds, a full service home and gift store located at 654 Highland Avenue in Fort Thomas, focuses on “Upcycling” to assist you with all your home decor needs. “The definition of upcycling is the act of turning an existing piece and giving it a new life or purpose.  An example might be turning a china cabinet into a bar or a dresser into a bench or entertainment center. There are many ways to upcycle,” said Barrett.

“Many people have existing or inherited furniture that doesn’t fit their decor of lifestyle. It’s difficult to find well made furniture that is economical. It’s exciting to reinvent these pieces. You can upcycle anything from lamps to cabinets, dining room suites to complete bedrooms. Faded Finds has experience in painting, construction, repair and light upholstery.”


With a mixture of hard work, a unique eye and a passion for upcycling, Barrett’s ability to transform items keeps customers coming back for more. “Some of my most exciting moments come from taking a family heirloom and turning it into the favorite furniture piece in the home,” said Barrett. “A piece that is used everyday and will be passed on to the next generation. The biggest transformations are through paint. I love taking an old, discarded, tired piece and giving it a fresh new coat of paint and giving it a new life!

Barrett has a special talent for this type of creative decor work and she has customers raving about her designs and the way she has transformed their homes. “Heidi is my dreamweaver,” said Kathryn Osseage, a client from Anderson, Ohio. “Sometimes I know exactly what I’m looking for, other times I’m clueless. Either way, Heidi works with me to make my dream a reality.”

If you’re looking to revamp a worn out piece of furniture, check out the long list of services and handmade items at Faded Finds. “We highlight furniture, vintage goods, home accessories and gifts. All items are found or handmade. Things are not ordered from catalogues. We have candles, jewelry, lamps, pictures, vintage flannel shirts, holiday decor, upcycled furniture, signs & gift items.

Do you have a special project that needs Barrett’s touch? It is likely she’ll be able to help you. She even comes with several recommendations from happy customers.

“I always tell people that Fort Thomas has many wonderful shops. One of my favorites is Faded Finds and it’s owner is one of my favorite people. Heidi’s fabulous gift for color, creativity, and uniqueness is evident in almost every room in my home,” said Jen Jones, a client from Fort Thomas.

“She painted several wood pieces and brought them back to life. She always knows just what knob will give the perfect finishing touch.”

Client Leigh Cole of Union, Ky. found that hiring someone with an interior design background helped to create a cohesive vision for her kitchen remodeling project. “Heidi was such a pleasant surprise...what a breath of fresh air!  We definitely received more than we were expecting when we hired our painter for our cabinets. Having an interior design background, Heidi was the only person who could accomplish what we needed,” said Cole. “She was able to visualize the perfect cabinet and island colors from the ones we had chosen, offer design advice for our kitchen and adjoining rooms, as well as design the complete upgrade for our island. Our cabinets look outstanding!”

Faded Finds’ custom projects include; transforming kitchen cabinets, furniture and lamps, creating custom signs and heirloom projects and offering services such as paint consultations and interior design work. Not sure what you’re looking for? Just pop in and check out the shop...there is something new every day. “I’ve been in business for four years and welcome people to stop in and just take a look,” said Barrett. “I love what I do and love that my store continues to change and involve.

There’s always new treasures!”

For more information on their hours and location, click here.

More examples of Faded Finds' work:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Highlands High School Announces 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees


The Highlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee is excited to announce the members of the 2019 Class.

Inductees are John Bankemper, Nicole Muehlenkamp Cherry, Debbie Reed Keefe, Megan Arnzen Krieg, Jared Lorenzen, Mark McEntire, Coach Dale Mueller, John Schlarman, Derek Smith, Milt Walz, and the Team of Distinction is the 1993-94 Girls Basketball Team.


The 2019 Class members will be recognized on September 20, at the homecoming football game versus Ryle High School.  On September 22, there will be an induction ceremony, open to the public, in the Highlands Preforming Arts Center followed by the Hall of Fame banquet at The Fort Thomas Community Center (Mess Hall). Tickets will be available in August.

During the summer, information about each inductee will be profiled in Fort Thomas Matters and complete biographies will be available on the Highlands High School Athletic Department webpage at http://www.highlandsathletics.com.

Derek Smith. 

Campbell County Attorney: Do not get caught in the delinquent property tax web


By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Every year my office gets dozens of calls stating that they never received a tax bill for their property.   If you own property, you must pay taxes on that property every year.   If you do not receive your tax bill, then state law places the burden on you to obtain a copy of your bill and pay the taxes.   The punishments mandated by state law are so severe that the consequences of inaction will inevitably cost you significantly.  Do not get caught in the delinquent tax web.   Pay your real estate taxes before they become delinquent.  


Kentucky’s penalties for not paying property taxes on time are, to put it mildly, harsh!  Please consider this article a warning about the consequences of not paying property taxes timely.  State law mandates that delinquent tax bills incur penalties and interest.  Fees as much as 30% of the face tax amount are added to the tax bill in addition to 1% per month or 12% per year in interest.   The State has removed most authority on these matters from the local officials.  In addition, unpaid tax bills become liens against the property and these tax liens are put up for sale in August of each year.   Prior to the sale, the County Attorney’s office attempts to notify the delinquent tax payers of the pending sale date 60 days and again 30 days prior to the tax bill sale.

The already burdensome penalties and interest that are levied, increases exponentially when the tax bill is actually sold.  The third-party tax bill purchaser sends a letter to the property owner notifying the delinquent tax bill payer that their tax bill has been purchased and stating the amount of fees that are due.   After a waiting period, the third-party tax bill purchaser can file a foreclosure suit against the property.  State law permits the third-party tax bill purchaser to add administrative fees, costs, and attorney fees to its bill.  After this process, your tax bill is several times the amount of the original bill and you are in danger of losing your property in a foreclosure sale.  If you also have a mortgage on the property, you may face additional repercussions pursuant to the contractual terms of your mortgage.

I hope this article emphasizes the importance of every property owner paying their tax bill before it becomes delinquent. It is important to note that it is solely the responsibility of the property owner to see that its tax bill has been paid.  If you do not receive a tax bill, you need to contact the Sheriff’s or County Clerk’s office to obtain a copy of your tax bill.

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at countyattorney@campbellcountyky.gov, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

Steven Franzen. 

Johnson Elementary Students' Create Innovative "Earth-Saving" Projects



Two teams of students from Johnson Elementary participated in the National Geographic GeoChallenge.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

More than six billion metric tons of plastic waste litters our earth today, and of that quantity, 91 percent is not recycled, according to a study by the National Geographic Society. Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade so we will be living with it a long, long time.

This year, the Society challenged young people across the country to address the problem of single-use plastics through its GeoChallenge, a themed competition that encourages students in grades five through eight to develop creative solutions to real-world problems.

To address the challenge, students were encouraged to use many of the same skills promoted by Fort Thomas schools' Portrait of a Graduate program — teamwork, creativity, innovation, critical thinking and persuasive communications.


Johnson students step up to the challenge


Johnson Elementary teacher Kim Schnier entered her fifth grade students in the challenge. With help from technology teacher Heidi Neltner, they presented five potential projects. They discovered that of the 1,100 groups submitting projects, two Johnson projects were selected to be among the top 250 in the country.

"They could choose from dealing with plastics that were already here, or do some type of campaign to get people to not use single-use plastics," Schnier explained.

Her students chose to work on prevention and education. "One of the important parts of the project was to tell their impact story. So, we get people to stop using single-use plastics, get people to think about what they are doing, but what impact has that had?"

Her students took that question and the challenge head on, she said. "I’ve been amazed...I just gave them the driving question and they just took off."

One team, the "Cup Crusaders," decided to tackle the issue of single-use plastics in the form of coffee cups.

"We chose Fort Thomas Coffee to get them to reduce the amount of single-use coffee cups," said student Katie B. "We created a rewards card for them to use, and if they get a drink in their own reusable cup nine times they can get their tenth drink for free."

Bella B., another member of the student team, presented a poster the group made to promote their idea. "We designed it ourselves and we also made business cards for the customers to remember that when you get your card hole-punched."

Katie and Bella were joined by students Robbie K. and Jacob G. to create a commercial at the coffee shop. The shop was in the process of being sold at the time, but both the old and new owners have agreed to the project.

Innovation and creativity informed solutions

 

Move Popeye the turtle by getting questions about plastic pollution right in the students' video game.

The second group of students, formed a "Bloxel" group to create a video game that focused on education. Players move Popeye the turtle along the game board and answer questions on plastics use and facts along the way.

"It’s a you-choose game so that at each check point, you have facts about plastic and you have to make a choice," explained student Lizzie P. "Let’s say it might ask you to choose a plastic water bottle or a steel water bottle. If you make the wrong choice you have to go through all these obstacles to get to the right choice."

Abbie R., another student on the team, elaborated. "So you have to go through all these obstacles. I think there are four options. Plastic straw or paper straw, pre-packaged bags or tupperware, plastic water bottle or metal water bottle..."

Players who got facts about plastic or choices wrong would fall and have to face a series of additional challenges designed to educate them on plastics pollution. Other members of the team were Julian H., Noah V. and Oliver L.

"One of the components was to embed your research," said Schnier. "How creative is that!"

Monday, April 15, 2019

Who'll be the next NKU basketball coach?


John Brannen has been named the 27th head coach in University of Cincinnati men's basketball history, replacing longtime coach Mick Cronin.

He was introduced to the public Monday morning at Fifth Third Arena.

Brannen and his wife Lisa are northern Kentucky natives and reside there now with their twin daughters, Jaylee and Katelyn.

Brannen is a Newport Central Catholic alum.


No other Division I program has won a regular-season league title (2018), won a league tournament title (2017), played in the NCAA Tournament (2017) and played in either the National Invitation Tournament (2018) or the NCAA Tournament again in its first two years with active Division I membership.

"It's truly an honor to take over such a storied program at the University of Cincinnati," Brannen said. "The Cincinnati-northern Kentucky community is special to my family, and we are happy to remain at home."

Cronin left Cincinnati last week to take a job at the University of California, Los Angeles.

UC will have to buyout Brannen's contract from NKU, as he agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Norse on June 29, 2018.

So who is NKU looking to replace Brannen with?

A few names that are being considered by NKU's national search committee:

Ask about our spring painting special! Call Matt Spencer today and mention Fort Thomas Matters. 
Darrin Horn

Kentucky Residents Affected by National Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pre-Cut Melon

Public advised to discard pre-cut melon immediately


The Department for Public Health (DPH) announced today that 16 Kentuckians have tested positive with a strain of Salmonella Carrau that has been linked by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pre-cut melon including cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew. DPH is advising that the public should discard any pre-cut melon or fruit salads that contain pre-cut melon.

Caito Foods from Indianapolis, IN distributed the melon products. Caito Foods issued a recall notice on Friday, April 12 for all pre-cut melon products distributed in the U.S. The label may not clearly indicate that the melon product is from Caito Foods so consumers should discard and not purchase, eat, sell or serve any pre-cut melon products at this time. This recall does not include whole melons.

This includes Kroger's location in Kentucky, however the release does not specify specific Kroger stores.

Orangetheory Fitness at Newport Pavilion. 
The FDA’s website has a list of stores and states where the recalled products were sold - https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm635948.htm.

Cases have been diagnosed in several states. No deaths have been reported in this outbreak, however, there is a higher than normal hospitalization rate for Salmonella infection.

For more information on this investigation, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/Carrau-04-19/index.html.

Healthcare providers across the state are being notified of the outbreak and are being advised to be alert for patients experiencing acute diarrheal illness, which could be associated with Salmonella infection. Appropriate testing and investigative work will need to be completed to determine which cases are outbreak-associated. Salmonella infection is an extremely common infection in the Kentucky so lab testing is needed to confirm if an illness is linked to this outbreak.

“Exposure to Salmonella bacteria can be debilitating and potentially life-threatening, especially for small children and individuals with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Jeff Howard, DPH commissioner. “Anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of illness should seek medical care and clinicians should be aware of this ongoing outbreak to ensure suspected cases receive testing and investigative follow-up. All Salmonella cases should be reported to the local health department.”

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. These symptoms usually develop 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days and most healthy individuals recover without antibiotic treatment. State health officials are working with staff at local health departments in the counties with suspected or confirmed cases.

One person killed in accident on AA Highway in Cold Spring


One person was killed and three others injured in a crash on the AA Highway in Cold Spring on Sunday night.

The crash happened shortly before 10 p.m. on Sunday on the AA Highway near Rocky View Rd.


Police say a car was trying to turn left from Rocky View Drive onto the AA Highway heading northbound when it pulled out in front of a cargo van traveling southbound.

The van hit the driver's side of the car.

The driver of the car died at the scene.

Two passengers in the car were taken to UC Medical Center, one with life-threatening injuries and the other with serious injuries.

The driver of the van was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police have not identified the victim of the crash. If anyone has information about the crash, they are asked to call the Cold Spring Police Department at 859-441-6289

Friday, April 12, 2019

Highlands Focused on Up-Tempo Offensive Attack

Goal for Highlands Offense: 40-45 Points Per Game

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds football team starts spring ball Monday.
Just days before the start of spring practice, the new offensive coordinator of the Highlands Bluebirds in Sam Umberg gave supporters a huge reason to be excited for the fall.

"We have to play like sharks," Umberg said. "When there's blood in the water, we have to go in for the kill. When the defense gets a turnover and we have short field position, we have to score and we have to score now. There's no waiting on anything."

That sense of urgency has been a huge reason for the success of the program over the years. When Dale Mueller was head coach, Highlands consistently ran up to the line of scrimmage once the play was over and hiked the ball quickly. That often saw defenses receive offsides penalties for not substituting quickly or have a player out of position.


859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 
Umberg worked with the running backs last season. He played high school football for the North Gwinnett Bulldogs located to the northeast of Atlanta (Georgia). He served as a graduate assistant at NCAA Divsion II Valdosta State for five seasons working primarily with the offense and later came to Morehead State before coming to Highlands. The Valdosta State Blazers own four national championships in school history. Umberg was on staff at VSU on the 2012 national championship team.

"We're going to be the first ones getting up off the ground," Umberg said. "We're going to be the first ones lining up at the line of scrimmage ready to rock and roll. We're going to be going fast. Hopefully on the other side of the ball, they won't know what hit them."

In Mueller's last season as head coach in 2013, Highlands averaged just more than 324 yards passing and 116 rushing for 440 per game. The Bluebirds averaged just under 51 points per game that season scoring 70 or more points four times that year.

Highlands ran some no-huddle, up-tempo football the past five seasons, but not to the same extent as the 2013 team. Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich had been the defensive coordinator from 2002 to 2013. He switched to the offensive side from 2014 to 2016 before going back to the defensive side in 2017.

Assistant coach Zach Deaton had been the offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Weinrich said Deaton still has a huge role on the staff.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fort Thomas Independent Schools' Jamee Flaherty Wins Administrator of the Year Award


Fort Thomas Independent Schools Assistant Superindentent for Student Services, Jamee Flaherty,  was named the 2019 A.D. Albright Administrator of the Year by the Northern Kentucky Education Council.

Flaherty will be honored April 30 at the tenth annual Excellence in Education Dinner, hosted by NKEC at Receptions in Erlanger.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas, located at Fort Thomas Plaza. 
The Excellence in Education celebration honors educators, students and advocates for education in our region.

"We could not think of a more deserving candidate," said Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools. "Jamee works mostly behind the scenes, not getting the notoriety or visibility that other administrators do, but it is her work that makes our district meet the needs of all students and community members. 

Without her, we would be lost.” 

Wilder tire fire sends plumes of smoke across northern Kentucky


Multiple fire departments converged to a Wilder auto parts company after a large tire fire broke out around noon, according to Campbell County Dispatch.

Smoke could be seen as far as Fort Thomas and as south as Florence.

See Coffman's listings here. 

The fire occurred at Bray Truck & Parts in Wilder.

According to Chuck Norris, assistant fire chief of the Wilder Fire Department, a pallet of tires and trucking parts caught fire the building at 103 Williams Way.

He said no injuries occurred at the fire was under control by 12:15 p.m.