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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May City Council: Crossing Guard Appreciation, Safety Initiatives, Street Repair Program

Fort Thomas resident Holli Patterson has been appointed a new member to the Renaissance Board by Mayor Eric Haas. 

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Safety issues and appreciation of those who keep us safe were uppermost among the topics discussed at the May meeting of the Fort Thomas City Council.

A short public hearing took place before the meeting to discuss an application for a standard retail liquor license by Colonel’s Catering and Kitchen. No one had any objections or comments on the request, so the next step will be for Assistant City Administrator Joe Ewald, who also serves as the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) administrator, to send to the ABC Board in Frankfort. Businesses typically receive their license within about a week, said Ewald.

Crossing Guard Appreciation Week

Mayor Eric Haas kicked off the meeting with a proclamation declaring Wednesday, May 22, as Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in Fort Thomas. The day runs in the middle of a national week designed to recognize the work of crossing guards and coincides with the last day of school in Fort Thomas.

By making the proclamation, the mayor urged "all residents to recognize the services that these dedicated professionals provide to keep our residents and their children safe."

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore said, "We are very fortunate to have several crossing guards at locations across the city, and it’s easy for us to forget that when it’s 10 degrees outside they are still coming to work, when the sun is hot they still come to work and stand out on the asphalt and cross our children."

He noted the vital role of crossing guards, especially in our community. "We have 3,500 students here in Fort Thomas among our seven schools, and as you know, we have very limited bus transportation...Students are walking to, riding a bike to or being driven by a parent to and from school each day. If you add that up, that’s 7,000 trips a day for five days – 35,000 traveling students per week is quite a bit. We very much appreciate our crossing guards."

Request to support victims of gun violence

Two community members addressed council to ask the mayor to sign a proclamation making the first Friday in June each year as Gun Violence Awareness Day.

The day is a nationwide effort to recognize and remember those who have died or been injured by gun violence, explained Crimson MacDonald, a Fort Thomas resident and member of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action.

"Moms Demand Action is a non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to ending gun violence," she said. "The majority of our work is around gun safety, safe gun storage and safe gun handling..."

Her organization promotes the awareness day across the country. On that day, people wear orange to display concern for gun violence victims, she said. Several cities across the country have set aside the day, signing proclamations and lighting public buildings with orange, she said.

In Kentucky, Louisville, Lexington and Paducah will highlight the day, and locally Covington and Cincinnati have signed on. In Cincinnati, the city will light Duke Energy Center orange for the first weekend in June.

MacDonald acknowledged that in the current climate the issue of gun violence has been seen by some to be a political issue. "I’ve been doing this for awhile now, and when I put on this shirt [about gun violence], people see a political ideology and that concerns me, for our country, for our community, because I’m not here today as a Democrat or a Republican...this issue is not left or right."

Highlands student Sydney Cooper joined MacDonald in the request. She is a member of the student-led March for Our Lives movement. "Fort Thomas is one of the fortunate cities that has not seen the extent and toll that gun violence can take – but we have seen gun violence in our area, we have had threats of gun violence... we want to make sure say that our citizens are educated on prevention in the future."

Haas said he would review the proclamation. The Fort Thomas community is one that takes seriously the issue of school safety, including appointing a school safety officer in the schools, he said.

Kilgore reminded those present that the police department provides free gun locks to anyone who wants to lock up their firearms safely at home.

Fire Service report: Emergency Medical Services Week

Fort Thomas Fire Chief Mark Bailey noted that this week is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. The purpose of the week is to educate the public about EMS and to bring awareness and attention to the profession.

This year’s theme is "Beyond the Call" and Fort Thomas emergency personnel take time and care to ensure that every patient on every call receives appropriate treatment, the chief said.

"I compliment our staff for what they do every day for our citizens...I am very proud of our people. They do a great job day in and day out," he said.

Police Department report: Click it or Ticket Campaign

"Click It or Ticket" is that name of the public safety campaign to promote seat belt usage. The program, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shares information and news about seat belt safety and awareness.

"Last year, there were 725 highway fatalities in Kentucky alone, and 52.8 percent of those people were not wearing their seat belts," said Kilgore. He noted that "It’s estimated that wearing a seat belt can reduce fatalities by as much as 60 percent. This is a very important topic, and we feel very strongly about it."

The campaign runs through the end of Memorial Day weekend. Several public service announcements, news spots and Facebook posts are running to remind people to buckle up. One popular PSA from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, "A Ticket from Us" highlights the many reasons to wear your seat belt.

Catching up with city projects

City Administrator Ron Dill reminded those present that city officials have been working on the next fiscal budget. The budget will be the main focus of the next Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 29 at noon. And, to accommodate the budget review and passage process, there will be two city council meetings in June – on Monday, June 3, and Monday, June 17.

The water main work has been completed on North Fort Thomas Avenue, said Dill. This is good news for neighbors who have had to contend with traffic issues as the work was being done. The sidewalk repairs follow the water main work and are scheduled for completion this year.

Dill also said the Alexander Circle project is moving along and on schedule. Although it may not look like it now, developers expect their first occupancy in July. Work by Duke Energy on the site is scheduled to begin next week.

Duke Energy has requested an easement for a small piece of city-owned property in Tower Park behind the ball field. The spot had overhead electric that was owned by the federal government and is no longer in use. Utilities are moving underground for the site. The area in question is a sloped area and will not be used much by the public. The easement will allow for an access road for maintenance employees.

The 2019 streets program

The 2019 street repair program was approved at the city council meeting. Construction costs will be shared 50/50 between the city and property owner with the exception of North Fort Thomas Avenue, which would be split 60/40, providing for the payment of an improvement assessment.

The work includes:

  • Grant Street at the intersection Alexandria Pike to its intersection with Sheridan Avenue. Cost: $43,911.68 ($10.86 per front foot).
  • North Fort Thomas Avenue at the intersection of Covert Run Pike to its intersection with Lincoln Road. Cost: $54,403,54 ($7.42 per front foot)
  • Ohio Avenue at the intersection of Taylor Avenue to its terminus. Cost: $25,044.58 ($10.35 per front foot)
  • Ridgeway Avenue at the intersection of Ohio Avenue to its terminus. Cost: $24,411.26 ($8.96 per front foot)
  • Sheridan Avenue at the intersection of Grant Street to its terminus. Cost: $34,782.46 ($9.63 per front foot)
  • Sherman Avenue at the intersection of Grant Street to its terminus. Cost: $37,591.27 ($9.83 per front foot)
  • East Vernon Lane, West Vernon Lane and South Vernon Lane beginning with East Vernon Lane at intersection of Highland Avenue continuing to South Vernon Lane and continuing to West Vernon Lane to its ending intersection of Highland Avenue. Cost: $26,463.18 ($8.63 per front foot)

While the vote to pass the 2019 program was unanimous, council members Mark Collier and Adam Blau noted they hope to explore different options to fund the repairs next year.

"I think the way this was presented was either proceed with the street improvement plan this year or don’t, but not proceeding this late meant getting no streets done this year. I did not find that to be a viable option. We have discussed at Public Works committee meetings some other funding mechanisms that I much prefer so I am voting for this this year because the alternative is no street program at all, but I would like to look at an alternative funding program next year," said Collier.

Public Works Committee Chair, Ken Bowman, said he agreed.

Appointments and Executive Session

The council also approved the re-appointment of Lori Wendling to the city’s Design Review Board. Holli Patterson also was approved as a new member of the Renaissance Board.

Council then went into Executive Session "for deliberation of the future acquisitions or sale of real property" in accordance with Kentucky statute 61.810 (b). No action was taken at the session. It was later announced that a council committee of the whole would be scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at 1:30 p.m. with the same agenda.

Additionally, there is a Finance Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at 12:00 p.m. Members of the Finance Committee include Roger Peterman (Chair), David Cameron and Jeff Bezold.

Reminder: The public hearing on the Central Business District proposal at the Planning Commission meeting is set for Wednesday, May 29, at 7 p.m. in the Fort Thomas Community Center (Mess Hall), 801 Cochran Avenue in Fort Thomas. The proposal has recently been revised and so the public hearing is to review a new plan for the site. Public comments will be accepted, even if residents have made comments previously.

The public hearing will be followed the next day by a new Design Review Board meeting set for Thursday, May 30, at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Fort Thomas City Building. That will also be to review the revisions of the plan, in terms of aesthetics, size, scale, materials and mass.

RELATED: Revisions for Central Business Proposal Announced 

More information on the meetings, agendas and the new proposed CBD plans are available on the Fort Thomas city website.

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