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Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Godfather of Highlands Softball" Takes Over Program

Horner Named Fifth Head Coach in Fast Pitch Team History

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. New Highlands Head Softball Coach Milt Horner watched during a game last year. He's been involved with the fast pitch program since its inception in 2001.
Highlands Director of Athletics Kevin Nieporte calls Milt Horner the Godfather of Highlands softball for a very good reason. Horner has been around the fast pitch program since its inception in the 2001 season.

Nieporte and the Highlands administration named the 64-year-old and 1973 Highlands graduate the fifth head coach of the program Tuesday. Horner had been an assistant the last seven years to former Head Coach Rob Coffey and also helped his daughter, Jessica Horner-Donelan, when she served as head coach between 2008 and 2012.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Highlands College and Career Counselor Recognized for Helping Students in Transition

Highlands college and career counselor Trinity Walsh received an award for outstanding service to students from the Kentucky Association of College Admissions Counseling.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Earlier this year, the Kentucky Association of College Admissions Counseling awarded Highlands High School counselor Trinity Walsh, the Caroline Quire Service Award, for her work in helping students make college and career goals and decisions.

Walsh received the award at the organization’s annual conference in Lexington and was recognized by the Fort Thomas Independent School Board at its June meeting.

The Caroline Quire Award recognizes an outstanding high school guidance counselor who has demonstrated service and contributions to the profession of counseling students in transition. Quire, who passed away in 2005, was an exemplary counselor and leader within the organization and the field.

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The board members thanked Walsh for continuing the strong tradition of Quire and other leaders in her profession.

Highlands Theatre Students Honored for Earning 11 Cappie Awards

Highlands drama teacher Jason Burgess is flanked by cast and crew of the production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" that garnered 11 Cappies.

At the June meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent School Board, students from the Highlands High School Theatre Department were honored for their record win of 11 Cappies, the most the department has ever won in the student theatre and journalism awards program.

The Greater Cincinnati chapter of the national Critics and Awards Program, known as Cappies, honored the Highlands students for their production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

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The goal of the Cappies is to encourage and recognize student theater but also to allow opportunities for students to serve as critics and to hone their skills as they review local high school theatre and productions and performances.

Teams of student critics gather to discuss the technical and performance aspects of the show. The students write reviews and share with the host schools. The best written reviews are selected to be sent to local press outlets.

Highlands received 23 nominations for their performance overall, and were recognized in May at a gala to celebrate the Cappies in downtown Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center.

School Board members congratulated the students and their teacher, Jason Burgess, and presented each student with a Certificate of Achievement.

Cappie winners were:

  • Up and Coming Critic: Juli Russ
  • Best Critic Team
  • Sound: Steve Lang, Maddi McIntosh, Liam Morris and Crew
  • Lighting: David Dierig, Austin Paolucci, Miles Sower and Crew
  • Creativity (Directing): Vicky Alcorn and Tammy Sanow
  • Stage Management and Crew: Stella Fahlbusch, Olivia Greenwell, Eleanor Todd and Crew
  • Featured Actress in a Musical: Lillian Reynolds
  • Female Dancer: Lizzy Roeding
  • Comic Actor in a Musical: Grant Sower
  • Lead Actress in a Musical: Zoe Zoller
  • Best Musical: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
RELATED: Highlands Theatre Wins Record-Breaking 11 Cappies Theatre Awards 

Burgess thanked the board, the schools and the entire community for their support of the students and the program. "We are absolutely blessed to have the support that we have. The Theatre Department and the arts in general would be nowhere near what they are without the support we have of the district, and the leadership and the community."

Fort Thomas Home Walking Tour: Part I

By Vanessa Fisse

The rain has subsided and blue skies painted a picturesque background in Fort Thomas, Kentucky on June 25, 2019.

The city of 16,500 that sits on a ridge overlooking the Ohio River is home to a myriad of different homestyles from cozy cape cods to million dollar mansions.

Here are a few of our favorites, a sidewalk view, while out on a Fort Thomas Walking Tour.

To view as a slide show, click the first image below:

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cornhole Tournament Fundraiser to be held at FT Public House for Highland Park Field

A group of private investors are raising money for the installation of artificial turf at the baseball field at Highland Park and they have planned a cornhole tournament to help with the cause.

The "Friends of Highland Park Cornhole Tournament" will be held Sunday, July 28, 2019, from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Fort Thomas resident, Joe Grimme, is organizing the event.

The entry fee is $50 per team.

Players sign up as a team (two players) to participate in a double-elimination tournament. Prizes will be awarded to the first and second place teams.

First place: $200
Second place: $100

Prizes donated by Fessler, Schneider & Grimme

Go to to register or email Joe Grimme at

Event hosted by Friends of Highland Park

KY Power, Pride Team up to help Jon McSorley, Chasity Harney

The KY Power and Pride baseball programs are coming together to help two families in need.

The First Annual Swing for a Cause Home Run Derby will raise much needed money for KY Power parent Jon McSorley and Pride parent Chasity Harney.

The event will take place on Saturday July 20th from 2 to 8:00 p.m. at the Newport Vets.

In addition to a traditional Home Run Derby for players ages 8-15 and adults, there will be lots of other fun games and prizes for the whole family. Can’t make it but still want to help Jon and Chasity? Make a donation for the families. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go directly to the families.

Let’s all pitch in a Swing for a Cause.

To register or donate – go here. 

Jon McSorley is a longtime resident of Fort Thomas. He is a husband, father, coach, and friend. He has coached basketball at Highlands High School for over 20 years.

Jon was first diagnosed in his late 20's with ulcerative colitis. Over a decade later in 2016 he was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease affecting the bile duct and liver called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). There is no known cure for this disease and patients with PSC are known to be high risk for cancer of the bile duct. Unfortunately, in January 2019, he was diagnosed with just that.

Treatment for this has taken Jon to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. On June 21st Jon received a new liver via transplant. He is currently recovering at UC Medical Center.

Village Players of Fort Thomas Starts New Era, Renovation of Historic Fort Thomas Women's Club

Village Players is at the beginning stages of planning renovations to its building. The theatre group took over the building from the Fort Thomas Women's Club in October 2019.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

After more than 100 years of service to the community, the Fort Thomas Woman’s Club made the decision to disband in the fall of 2018. The club, whose motto was "to help others is to elevate ourselves, and to elevate ourselves is to help others," made a final act of generosity that is set to elevate the community for years to come.

At the end of October, the organization gifted its building to its very special tenants, the Village Players. The theatre group, which was started by members of the women’s club and grew out of the club’s Music and Drama Department, has been located in the women’s building since 1967.

The theatre group built a thrust-style theater (a stage with seating on three sides) in the basement of the women’s building and took on a vibrant life of its own, bringing people from across the community into the space to enjoy community theater.


A new era takes shape

Last week, members and friends of Village Players were busy ripping out 1970s-era paneling and busting through old plaster at their building at 8 Fort Thomas Avenue.

It’s the beginning of an ambitious project to bring the building up to modern standards and to create a more friendly and accessible cultural and community center in the heart of Fort Thomas.
The building is in need of basic repairs to make it serviceable including a new boiler and radiators, upgraded HVAC, new drywall and other renovations. In addition, the group would like to make the space more accessible and bring it to life as a center for the arts and culture.

Excitement as the future unfolds

"Plans are not finalized yet, but we are beginning work with an architect," said Steve Myers, who has been active in community theater since the early 1970s and member of the Village Players since 1975.

"We have raised some money to start working on tearing down and planning what’s next, but we are working on a more concise plan going forward. We need to secure a grant. We have committees working on this, including a grant writing team," he said.

While the plan is to keep the group’s theater space in the basement of the building, he said, "I’m not sure what I would like to see it become. We want to open up the space and have a real box office...It’s scary but exciting. I’m anxious to see what will happen going forward, what path we will take."

Performances continue while plans are being made

Myers and volunteers were working on the tear downs while also preparing for the Village Players’ upcoming show, Life Story, that will run from Friday, June 28, through Sunday, June 30. The show features six new plays by local authors about "birth, death and the stuff in between."

RELATED: Village Players of Fort Thomas presents local playwrights' plays

The company does three full-run productions during the regular season from October through April with a family friendly play in December. The line up for 2019-2020 season includes "Arcadia" (October), "Room for Seconds" (March) and "The Last Five Years" (April) as well as "Of Dragons and Dwarfs" (December).

In the summer, they produce a shorter show to provide room for Caroline Stine’s InBocca Performance group for young actors.

Creating a space all can enjoy

Monday, June 24, 2019

Learn About the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act at Informational Event This Week

District Court Judge Cameron Blau addressed city council in February to urge adoption of the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you can learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA) at an informational meeting this Wednesday, June 26, at 6 p.m. in the Fort Thomas city building council chambers.

District Court Judge Cameron Blau will discuss the act and answer questions at the open session. In April, the Fort Thomas city council voted to adopt the act, and it brings the city in line with all the other communities in Northern Kentucky.

Making the act uniform across all area municipalities will help landlords and tenant have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities no matter where they own property or rent in the region, said Blau.

Naked Karate Girls Concert Tomorrow (6-25) at Tower Park

The Naked Karate Girls concert, originally scheduled for Tuesday, June 18, was rescheduled for the for Tuesday, June 25.

Emceed by Q102's Katie Walters, the annual event is co-hosted by Brighton Center in which concert-goers are asked to bring a can good to help stock the Newport-based social service's food pantry.

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The free event runs from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Tower Park Amphitheater. Donations in the form of cash, check and credit card will also be accepted.

Food trucks, Sea Cuisine, Pretzelfuls and Cups and Cones will be available as well as Braxton Brewing Company and Kona Ice.

Schwalbach runs from Dayton to Cincinnati for Alzheimer’s cause

Fort Thomas man continues series of ‘Jackie’s Run’ endurance runs 

Averaging a full marathon a day for an entire week is a challenging feat for even the most experienced ultra-marathoner. Over the past five years, Steve Schwalbach of Fort Thomas, has successfully completed a number of multi-day state runs, all in honor of his late mother, Jackie, and to help raise funds in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

After running the state of Kentucky in 2014, Ohio in 2015, Florida and Rhode Island in 2016 and across California in2017, Schwalbach ran 85 miles (Dayton to Cincinnati) in a single day last year in support of the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day.

This past weekend, Schwalbach successfully ran 100 miles from West Carrollton, Ohio to Fort Thomas in just over 30 hours, again in support of The Longest Day.

The last mile, he was joined by some Fort Thomas residents and first responders.

For Schwalbach, the idea for “Jackie’s Run,” came from wanting to do something to help his mother, who was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2001.

“It started about six years ago as I was visiting my mother, Jackie.  I was thinking, ‘what can I do to help her?’” She had been bedridden for more than two years,” he said. “I was saying prayers that had no answers. It was heart breaking to see my mother like this. I knew she was not in pain but I was watching the mother that raised me and my five brothers and sisters slip slowly into death from this awful disease.”

Schwalbach said that while on a training run for an upcoming marathon that night, the idea came to him.

“I was thinking about what I could do. I’m not a doctor or research scientist who could develop a new drug. I’m just a construction worker and a runner. As I ran, an idea popped into my head. I would run the state of Kentucky for Alzheimer’s and raise money and public awareness throughout the state of Kentucky. The more I thought about this idea, the more excited I got on my run. The tears turned into a smile on my face.”

Although the state’s hilly terrain made the run even more difficult than Schwalbach anticipated, he completed the run on schedule. In addition to raising more than $15,000, Schwalbach’s run generated interest from print and broadcast media in Kentucky and Cincinnati.

Just a few days after completing his state-long run in Kentucky, he was contacted by two runners from Ohio who heard his story through media reports. They asked him if he wanted to run 328 miles across Ohio for the Alzheimer’s Association in May of 2015. Schwalbach agreed to the Cleveland to Cincinnati run that took place during eight days in May.

About 45 days before the start of the Ohio run, Schwalbach’s mother died in Florida. Since then, his runs have been in her memory. Over the past five years, Schwalbach has raised more than $50,000 in donations to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For details on Jackie’s Run this Saturday, visit or Facebook – Jackies Run.

Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and affects more than 5.8 million Americans. The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati serves 37 counties in Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana with a variety of programs and services, most of which are free of charge.

Fort Thomas saw highest rent increase in Kentucky, year-over-year

Fort Thomas saw the highest rent increase from last year, according to data compiled by Kentucky Rent Report.

Rents in the 41075 zip code increased 8.9% or $70 year over year. Georgetown saw the second highest annual increase, with rents jumping by 5.1%, $45 more expensive than the same month last year. Independence and Elizabethtown experienced the third and fourth fastest rent increases, up by 4.6% and 4.1% y-o-y, respectively.

The report used information gathered by Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

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The U.S. average rent increased by 2.5% ($35) year over year and reached $1,442 in May 2019, up by 0.3% ($5) month over month, according to Yardi Matrix data.

Residential rents are rising steadily across markets, with the third month in a row sprouting a 0.3% month-over-month jump. Compared to last May, renters pay $35 more on average.

The average rent in Kentucky is generally lower than the national average rent. Of the cities analyzed, Louisville apartments are the state’s most expensive for renters, averaging $949, followed by apartments in Independence with $941 per month. Averaging $932, Georgetown is the third-most expensive rental market in Kentucky

On the flipside, the most affordable cities in Kentucky to rent an apartment are Erlanger ($717), Shepherdsville ($723) and Elizabethtown ($769).

If we look at 5-year rent changes, Independence rents picked up speed as the city saw the highest rent increase in the entire state, up by 20.49% ($160) since 2015. Runner-ups are Florence (with an 18.78% rent spike or $139 more than in 2015) and Burlington, up by 16.43% ($128). Louisville rents grew by 14.48% ($120) in this timeframe.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Leadership Northern Kentucky Welcomes New Program Participants

The Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2019 celebrates participation in the program sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

With the community as the classroom, 52 emerging and developing leaders across the region will participate in Leadership Northern Kentucky for 2020. The program, created by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, targets area entrepreneurs, business owners and community service leaders to help them develop and learn more about opportunities available throughout the region in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati.

Participants will meet each month to explore area resources and practice the skills necessary to motivate and engage others. In addition to building leadership skills, the goal of the program is to help make a difference within the community. Organizers say the curriculum for each session is based on the specific topics designed to address community needs within the region.

The class of 2020 will kick off on Friday, August 2, during the Leadership Northern Kentucky’s 40th Alumni Anniversary Luncheon. The alumni-only event will be held in Covington at The Madison and will bring together past participants to welcome the new class and to recognize alumni honored with the Leadership Northern Kentucky (NKY) Ruth A. Eger Leaders of Distinction Award.

"Leadership NKY is a unique and immersive leadership experience," said Dawn Denham, executive eirector of the NKY Chamber Foundation and Leadership NKY. "Through monthly sessions, this new class will learn and grow together to become better equipped to support and solve pressing issues facing our region. This year’s class will unquestionably have a huge impact on our region and on one another."

The following individuals have been named to the Leadership NKY Class of 2020:

  • Emma Adkisson, PCA Architecture
  • Ryan Allen, Love Must Win, Inc.
  • Joel Appleberry, Strategic Healthcare Services, LLC
  • James Beatrice, Business Benefits Insurance Solutions
  • Michael Bloemer, Covington Fire Department
  • Christy Burch, Women’s Crisis Center
  • Emily Cahill, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation
  • Keith Carlson, VonLehman & Co.
  • Aaron Caskey, Dressman Benzinger LaVelle, PSC (DBL Law)
  • Gregory Cecil, Duke Energy
  • Mark Collier, Living Media
  • Ken Durbin, The At Home Chef, LLC
  • John Enzweiler, First Financial Bank
  • Ryan Eten, Jolly Enterprises
  • Michael Fay, Commonwealth Hotels
  • Jessica Fette, City of Erlanger
  • Jamee Flaherty, Fort Thomas Independent Schools
  • Joe Fleissner, Fifth Third Bank
  • Darren Ford, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP
  • Sarah Gray, U.S. Bank
  • Patrick Haggerty, Baker & Hostetler LLP
  • Nick Hoyng, Danis Construction
  • Will Johnson, Messer Construction Co.
  • Ryan Kennedy, North American Properties
  • Adrijana Kowatsch, Gateway Community and Technical College
  • Paul Kremer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Brittany Lawrence, Clark Schaefer Hackett
  • Neha Matta, The Health Collaborative
  • Ashley McClure, Covington Partners
  • Marcella McNay, Campbell County 9-1-1 Center
  • June Miller, Brighton Center, Inc.
  • Cynthia Minter, Campbell County Fiscal Court
  • Kyle Newman, Forcht Bank
  • Jennifer Panepinto, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED
  • Nicholas Pieczonka, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
  • Amy Prather, Republic Bank
  • LaDonna Purcell, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Brandon Quillen, Newport on the Levee
  • Matt Ritzmann, Heritage Bank
  • Brandon Roell, St. Elizabeth Physicians
  • Julie Rottman, Zalla Companies
  • Billy Santos, BB&T
  • Ann Schoenenberger, Kenton County Library
  • Christina Schreiner Spille, Faith Community Pharmacy
  • Holly Smith, Cove Federal Credit Union
  • Karralea Stickrod-List, The Décor Group of NKY, Inc.
  • Jack VonHandorf, Notre Dame Academy
  • Nicolas Wade, Renaissance Covington
  • Ann Marie Whelan, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Joshua Wiffler, Kroger
  • Christina Willis, CitiBank
  • Karen Zengel, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Northern Kentucky

Alumni interested in attending, or in nominating a Leadership NKY alum for a Ruth A. Eger Leaders of Distinction award, should visit the Leadership NKY page on the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce website. Cost for the luncheon is $40.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Highlands Alum Excited About Upcoming Season with Ben-Gals

Reynolds Enters Second Season as Captain

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Cincinnati Ben-Gals Captain Sam Reynolds (center) leads a cheer while teammates Emma McClure (left) and Nicole Armour (right) follow. Reynolds is entering her fourth season on the squad and second as captain.
PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Cincinnati Ben-Gals Emma McClure (left) and Sam Reynolds (center) are entering their fourth seasons on the squad and guiding rookies such as Nicole Armour (right).
Sam Reynolds can't help but be excited for her fourth season on the Cincinnati Ben-Gals professional cheerleading squad. Reynolds, a 24-year-old 2013 Highlands graduate, will also be a captain for the second season.

The squad has 28 members with a nice mix of returning dancers and rookies. Reynolds refers to cheering mates as sisters.

"All the rookies (and) all the vets have just such as positive attitude. My biggest excitement of this season is seeing the growth that's going to come from this team because we're already starting in a better place than previous seasons," Reynolds said. "That's exciting for me as a leader to get to harness that and kind of see how far the team can go. I think with the positive attitudes that we have and the work ethic that these girls exhibit, there's no telling how strong we'll be by August, preseason, but also to be able to see how far these ladies come in their personal and professional lives. There's so much growth that can happen from this team. Our coaches and directors are true mentors. You leave a changed person from the person that you came in as so I'm excited to see how far my sisters (teammates) come, get to be a part of and dance alongside of them. That's something I'm so grateful for."

Notre Dame graduate Emma McClure is also entering her fourth season with the Ben-Gals. McClure and Reynolds danced together for Northern Kentucky University's Dance Team. McClure echoed Reynolds' sentiments on the season.

"I think our team chemistry is incredible," McClure said. "Every year is very different. But so far this year, I can already tell we're a close-knit team. It's so interesting to get to know every individual on our team because we all come from different backgrounds and different careers so everyone has something different to bring to the table and become the best team that we can be."

Reynolds and Abby Siemer are co-captains. Simer danced in the Pro Bowl for the squad last year. Ben-Gals Director of Cheerleading Charlotte Simons said Reynolds will be one of three Ben-Gals going to a dance conference in Atlanta this month to bring back choreography to the squad.

"As always, Sam brings sold leadership and experience to our team," Simons said. "We are thankful for her desire and ability to guide others as she continues to grow in her skill as well. Her heart and desire for the team is very special, and I am thankful to work with Sam as a cheerleader and a captain for 2019-2020."

During the summer, the team practices three times a week and the rookies practice a fourth day. During the school year, the team practices twice a week. Reynolds has mainly focused on her fitness again in the off-season personally and bringing the team together as a captain.

"To me really, it's not so much an honor to be recognized because it elevates me personally. It gives me an opportunity to give back to a program that's done so much for me," Reynolds said. "I got to be captain at NKU as well. It was never something I strived for. It was just something that was a pleasant surprise not because I wanted the power position or anything, but just the opportunity to serve my team. I think there's so much that goes into making game day happen and all the stuff that's behind the scenes (such as) events and things like that. It takes a lot of hands on decks and someone who can give the time and energy and really pour into my friends. That's something that I don't take lightly."

Reynolds knows the importance of every dancer being on the same page with the routines. Reynolds said she and Siemer align in the idea of being proactive in everything.

"We're already trying to get systems in place in terms of fitness, glamour and dance technique so that we're hitting things head on," Reynolds said. "The biggest thing is having similar goals so we had our boot camp on Sunday and that was really nice because we all got to kind of align in terms of our purpose of why we're here. Outside of this, we're all professionals. We have other careers. This is secondary. This is like a really exaggerated hobby."

Reynolds said the team has already learned 10 to 12 routines as of practice a week ago. She said it may be a lot, but it helps the mind.

"I think that's something people underestimate because you have to be so intelligent to be on this team," Reynolds said. "You learn (a new routine) in practice. At the next practice, you're expected to perfect it then you perform everything else and you're evaluated on it and they make decisions based on it so there's a quick turnaround. You have a lot of material you're expected to retain at one time then quickly reproduce it. 

It's especially hard for the rookies because they're coming in with everything fresh, but we're learning a routine every day in practice which is at least two new routines a week. With having careers outside of here and trying to balance work and life and all the things that we do, it is a lot. It keeps us all motivated to do better and push ourselves. We've all been dancing since we were super little so none of us want to come in and not be challenged. We want to produce that product on game day that is something to be proud of and if we aren't constantly learning new material, then we produce the same things and the fans get bored. 

It does keep us on our toes. That's for sure. But I don't think we'd want it any other way."

Reynolds noted the importance of trying to keep up with what's going on with the Bengals. In an episode of making the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders squad years ago, a coach expressed frustration with a potential dancer not knowing when the first preseason game took place and the opponent.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Art Around Towne this Friday, June 21

Art Around Towne kicks off this Friday, June 21, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Central Business District of Fort Thomas.

The event, which started in 2015, is hosted by the city every third Friday in the summer. The next two events are scheduled for July 19 and August 16.

Art Around Towne is an art walk where businesses extend their hours with special offers; local artists and artisans showcase their uniquely original works in booths along the route, local musicians play live on the lawn and food trucks and restaurants offer exquisite culinary cuisine.

This is a free family friendly event for all ages, that allows the community to come together while supporting local business.

This Friday, food will be offered by Texas Joe Tex-Mex Food Truck, It’s Just Brick's, FT Public House, Colonel's Kitchen & Catering. Drinks will feature Braxton Brewing Company or wine from Charities Guild of Northern Kentucky in Schone Kitchen Design's parking lot.

Volunteers from First Presbyterian in Fort Thomas help South Carolina residents recover from Hurricane Florence

Volunteers from the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Thomas, Kentucky are spending the week in Lenoir County, South Carolina, performing much needed repairs to storm damaged homes.

The group is replacing flooded out flooring, repairing leaky roofs, and sealing up windows.

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The visit is part of a continuous effort by the "KARE", or Kinston Area Recovery Efforts organization, to bring skilled help to residents in need.

Volunteers like Angie Briley say it's a great feeling to be able to help out. She says, "I think we get more out of helping these folks than they actually get. We're doubly blessed to be able to come down and help them."

Groups from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New Jersey also plan to volunteer in Lenoir County this summer.

June 17 City Council: Budget, Bad Weather, Executive Session, Golf Carts

Fort Thomas City Council at work during the June 2 meeting. Council met twice this month to accommodate budget requirements.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

In the second of two Fort Thomas City Council meetings held this month, council took care of business for the coming fiscal year.

The Law, Labor, License Committee met before the council meeting to discuss implementation of the GROW grant programs for small business facade improvements. Chairman of that committee, David Cameron, noted that the committee clarified how selections would be made. He also noted that the committee asked staff to advertise and run Renaissance Board meetings in the same manner in which other city boards and commissions are.

A question was raised from the audience and acknowledged by Mayor Eric Haas about disclosing financial interests in the project before heading into executive session. At the end of the short meeting, council adjourned for an Executive Session to discuss specific proposals by the developer of the proposed Central Business District project.

The Executive Session, which is closed in accordance with Kentucky law, resulted in no votes or decisions. According to City Administrator Ron Dill, the session was a discussion of possible terms for the development agreement but was only a preliminary discussion of potential issues covered in the agreement.

Any formal agreement would have to be presented to council in a public meeting, he added.


A budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 was passed and followed with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget ordinance. This coming year’s budget reflects increases in payroll and legislated payments to the County Employees Retirement System (CERS).

A handful of big-ticket items include 800 Mhz radios and two police cruisers for the Police Department, yearly equipment maintenance and upgraded record keeping software for the Fire Department, tennis court resurfacing for the Recreation Department and some property maintenance equipment for the General Services Department.

A new fund was set up this year for health insurance as the city moves to a self-funded plan. The CBD fund includes an increase for the new GROW grant program for small businesses.

Budget highlights:

  • Total General Fund revenues are $13,517,479, representing an 8.9 percent increase over the current year.
  • About 40 percent of the revenues come from city property taxes and the rest mostly from city payroll, insurance and business license fees.
  • Total General Fund expenditures are $13,506,201, a 9.6 percent increase over the current year.
  • Contributing to the expenditure increase is the increase in CERS by 12 percent, the amount stipulated in the state’s phase-in legislation. The impact on the budget is about $200,000.
  • As with most public budgets, personnel costs account for about 80 percent of the budget and 20 percent comes from capital outlays, professional services, utilities, insurance and supplies.
  • Fund transfers increased by 70.3 percent due to transfers to the Tower Park Fund (for Shelter #3) and the KDOT Fund (for Alexander Circle Roadway).
  • The KDOT Fund reflects an increase in operating expenditures of $300,000 over FY 2018-2019. The fund assumes $500,000 in the coming year for road and sidewalk construction; $400,00 for Alexander Circle roadway improvements and $20,000 for the ongoing Pedestrian Safety initiative.

Fire Department Report

Fire Chief Mark Bailey noted that his department has applied for a $15,000 grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to purchase a Lucas External CPR device, a mechanical chest compression device that delivers compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients.

He said it appears some movement is happening on a number of other grant applications through the Assistance to Firefighters Program (AFP). No news yet, but he says he is hopeful to hear soon on some of the applications totaling more than one million dollars for items including radios, an exhaust system for their building and a new safety house for the county.

Bailey also reported he and his staff are ready, permits are secured and a command post has been selected for the July 4th celebration.

Police Department Report

In late May, the Rolling Thunder Memorial Ride came through town, reported Police Chief Casey Kilgore. The annual motorcycle ride honors veterans, especially those missing in action and prisoners of war. Traffic control and other issues went well, he said, and he looks forward to the riders’ return next year.

The Police Department continued its participation in an annual Click It or Ticket seatbelt safety initiative into June, said Kilgore. He added that as the school year has wound down new School Resource Officer Zac Rohlfer conducted several tours and talks with young people over the last month.

City Administrator’s Report

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I-471 to be named The Jim Bunning Memorial Highway

In honor and remembrance of former U.S. Senator and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, Senate Joint Resolution 44, sponsored by Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder), directs the Transportation Cabinet to designate Interstate 471 as the Jim Bunning Memorial Highway.

A beloved member of the community, Senator Bunning served in many levels of government. From his beginnings with the Fort Thomas City Council to the Kentucky State Senate, to eventually serving in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, he was dedicated to serving the people of Kentucky.

Senator Schroder, a friend of the Bunning’s, recalled the Baseball Hall-of-Famer’s dedication.

“Jim Bunning once said, ‘I have never cared if I stood alone in Congress, as long as I stood by my beliefs and my values.’”

“Following an outstanding career in Major League Baseball, Senator Bunning stuck to his roots in Congress and led with a steadfast heart,” Schroder added. “The memory of his wisdom and unwavering leadership remains an inspiration to Kentuckians across the Commonwealth.”

Representative Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) and Southgate Mayor Jim Hamberg also spoke in support.

“I can think of no public servant in the Commonwealth more deserving of this recognition than Senator Jim Bunning,” Representative Joe Fischer said. “The dedication of I-471 in Senator Bunning’s name will serve as a fitting remembrance of Jim’s life, legacy, and commitment to his faith, family, and community for generations to come.”

"Senator Bunning firmly stuck to his beliefs and lived a life of faith and humility,” said Mayor Jim Hamberg.

“He never forgot that Southgate was his home. With the support of his community and loved ones, it is fitting that we honor him, on the 55th anniversary of his first no-hitter on Father’s Day 1964, with the naming of I-471 as the Baseball Hall of Famer and U.S. Senator Jim Bunning Memorial Highway."