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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Highlands-Scott Highlight Video

Highlands-Scott Game Story

Bluebirds Pull Away from Eagles in Second Half

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior running back Joe Buten (with ball) tries to escape a Scott tackler in the 42-13 win Friday.
Things may not have looked good early on.

But the Highlands Bluebirds football team finished the first quarter and the rest of the game strong on its way to a 42-13 non-district win over the host Scott Eagles on Friday. The Bluebirds led 28-13 at halftime and scored one touchdown in each of the third and fourth quarters to pull away.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Riverfest Reminders – Sunday, September 1st – Newport

By Lt. Chris Fangman, Newport Police Department 

On Sunday September 1st, 2019 the City of Newport will participate in the largest celebration of the year along with Cincinnati and Covington.  Per City Manager Tom Fromme, Riverfest draws an estimated 250,000 people to the city.

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Such a large venue requires some regulations, such as:

DO NOT bring any beverages, or ALCOHOL of any type into the venue.  (Parents with infants may bring water, milk, or other simulated milk products.)

DO NOT bring any coolers, grills, tents, large umbrellas, or large chairs.

DO NOT bring any roller-skates, rollerblades, scooters, motorized vehicles, or bicycles.

DO NOT bring any type of PETS.

DO NOT Park your vehicle illegally, or anywhere that you would not park it at any other given time (Such as: expressways, medians, road shoulders, entrance ramps, exit ramps, roadway, or no parking zones).

DO NOT bring or fly any drones, remote controlled electronics, or any other flying objects.

DO NOT bring any laser pointers or other light emitting devices.

NO SOLICITING North of 4th St. without a ‘Special Riverfest Vendors License’ issued specifically for the event.

Plan on which side of the river you want to be on prior to 6:00 pm, which is when most of the road and bridge closures begin to occur.  Pedestrian traffic closes at 2:00 pm (Purple People Bridge) and 7:30 pm. (Taylor Southgate Bridge)

Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive early due to limited parking and road closures.

Plan for long delays when leaving the event due to a large amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.          
Dress appropriately for the weather.

Small children should consider wearing hearing protection.

At 7:30pm Monmouth Street will close to vehicular traffic and re-open at approximately 9:00pm and will be one-way going south to exit the city via I-471.

859-781-5777. This is an advertisement. 

When Leaving the City of Newport: 

Residents Ask Fort Thomas to Consider Fairness Ordinance

Fort Thomas resident Terry Webster asks council to ensure all citizens and visitors to the city are welcomed and protected.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Fort Thomas could be the next Northern Kentucky city to pass an ordinance ensuring fairness for all its citizens. At the August meeting of Fort Thomas city council, residents requested the city consider passing the Fairness Ordinance, a local ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in our community.

Although the state of Kentucky has a civil rights law protecting against discrimination in housing, services, public accommodations and employment based on of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or disability, it is one of 28 states that does not mention gender identity or sexual orientation.

Nearby Dayton, Kentucky, recently voted to pass a fairness ordinance making it the 12th city in Kentucky to do so, said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign. In our area Covington was among the first group to pass the law, joining Louisville and Lexington 20 years ago. Many smaller communities have passed the laws recently and momentum is building, he said. 

Civil rights at the state level

Hartman explained the reason for taking the approach to ask municipalities to pass local ordinances. Efforts to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the state civil rights law have stalled due to a lack of political will in both the state legislature and the senate on both sides of the aisle. He is the main lobbyist in Frankfort on the issue.

"We have long enjoyed bipartisan opposition on this issue," he said, "but now we are starting to enjoy some great bipartisan support. There are Democrats and Republicans in the house and senate who have supported this measure, however, the will of leadership has not been to bring it forward."

He said momentum to add the language protecting the LGBTQ community is bolstered by communities stepping up and adding the ordinance locally. "We feel the way this will happen is if everybody’s hometowns adopt a fairness ordinance. When I started we had three, now we have a dozen, I think we will have 15 by the end of the year. We will reach the tipping point by which the state will respond and adopt a statewide ordinance."

Yet, the need for a local ordinance is not just about supporting statewide efforts. It can have an important impact on people living right here in Fort Thomas.

How a fairness ordinance can impact lives

Terry Webster of Earnscliff Court brought the request to council. "I’ve been a resident here for 15 years...Quite simply I’m asking my city Fort Thomas to consider adopting a fairness ordinance, which will provide protections to citizens and visitors in our community who identify as part of the LGBTQ community."

He added that the commonwealth currently has an anti-discrimination law that spells out protections for different groups of people. "Missing from that very specific list are any protections for those in the LGBTQ community. That means that anyone in our community could lose a job, be denied service in a restaurant or bank, be turned away from renting an apartment or buying a condo or a house. I don’t want that for my adopted home town, especially if we are experiencing new housing down at the fort and also with the planned development here in midtown," he said.

"I know that a lot of people want to shy away from this because it’s viewed as political, but I don’t. For me it’s an issue of fairness, something that is the right thing to do for people in our community...I’m not an expert on this...I’m simply speaking as a proud father of a son who is part of the LGBTQ community, and I’m asking this because I want for my son the same kind of legal protection that I have. That’s what’s fair, it’s the right thing to do."

Although he had not planned to speak on the ordinance, Fort Thomas resident and native David Roth said he was moved to speak. "I want to say how much I support a fairness ordinance and how much it means to me personally. I grew up in Fort Thomas, went to Johnson, went to Highlands. Moved away for a time and then returned to Fort Thomas because I missed it. I missed my family and my community. I was lucky enough that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage and so I was able to be legally married to my husband, and we are both proud residents of Fort Thomas."

Roth shared a very personal experience. "When I was younger, I was terminated from a job in Kentucky for being gay. And to this day it’s still something I think about and it still haunts me. When something like that happens to affects you on a deep level. It’s like saying you are not welcome in a community. That you are not enough, you are not valuable, you don’t have worth. It hurts and it leaves a lasting impact."

He urged council to think about the people this will help, and the message it will send that this is a welcoming community, open to all and is a great place to live for everyone.

Reverend Adam Forbes, a Fort Thomas resident and pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Camp Springs, also spoke in favor of the ordinance. He reminded those present that Fort Thomas has a reputation as a safe and supportive community.

He added that passing a fairness ordinance fits in with the values of Fort Thomas as a place of refuge and community. "Thinking of fairness, thinking of safety, thinking of community is a part of who we are. It’s a core part of our DNA," he said.

How a fairness ordinance works

Chris Hartman, executive director of the statewide Fairness Campaign, offered resources and support for the city to draft a fairness ordinance.

Hartman outlined some details on how the fairness ordinance could work. "Fairness ordinances are simple. Your city attorney could craft an ordinance that works for your community here. Sometimes cities create a Human Rights Commission that deals with the enforcement of such ordinances. Sometimes in cities that don’t have a human rights commission, like Dayton, Morehead and many others, the city administrator would intake complaints and try to mediate in a situation," he explained.

"Almost all of these discrimination complaints are resolved through mediation so there is very seldom an administrative hearing that would have to be held. But, in the case of not having a human rights commission, if having a hearing was needed, basically the council would serve as the adjudicating body to those complaints."

Hartman said he shared information with council member Ken Bowman, and provided a collection of resources and materials including model ordinances. He also provided a packet of material from the Covington Human Rights Commission that includes drafted ordinances for cities with and without a commission.

"I was there the night Covington issued the challenge to other cities in the area,” he said. “For a long, long time, more than a decade, they were the only city in Northern Kentucky with these discrimination protections. We would love to see every city in Northern Kentucky extend these same protections."

Class of 2019 Highlands Athletic Hall of Fame: Jared Lorenzen

Class of 2019

Jared Lorenzen – Class of 1999 is considered one of the most recognizable athletes in the history of Highlands athletics. In basketball, he was All-Region as a sophomore, junior, and senior, was Honorable Mention All-State as a sophomore and junior, and Lorenzen won First Team All-State honors as a senior. His Highlands basketball jersey (#34) is retired in the school gymnasium.

In football, he played on state championship teams as a sophomore and senior and was First Team All-State as a junior and senior.

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Known for his electric feet and a strong throwing arm, Lorenzen was named Mr. Kentucky Football as a senior. He also won the Roy Kidd Award and the Frank Camp Award as the best football player in Kentucky. In addition, he made the Prep Star Magazine All-American Team and was voted the Best Quarterback in the South by the Orlando Sentinel. In his high school career, he completed 351-587 passes (an impressive 60 percent completion rate) for 6820 yards and an average of 19.4 yards per catch.  Lorenzen also threw for 89 touchdowns.

At the University of Kentucky, he was All-SEC and a four-year starter at quarterback. He ranks first in school history in career total offense, passing yardage, career completions, and touchdown passes. He was a two-year semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. He holds six NCAA records, four SEC records and 10 school records. He played in the NFL for the New York Giants from 2005 to 2008, winning the Super Bowl as a backup to Eli Manning in February of 2009.

To know Jared is to know how devoted he was as a father to his two children, Taylar and Tayden, who live in Fort Thomas.  Lorenzen passed away on July 3, 2019.


To purchase tickets for the 2019 HHS Athletic Hall of Fame Reception, tickets must be purchased on by September 5, 2019

Tickets are $55 for the dinner reception at The Syndicate in Newport, Kentucky on 9/22/19 at 6:00 pm. The Hall of Fame ceremony in the HHS PAC begins at 3:00pm on 9/22. That event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Class of 2019 Highlands Athletic Hall of Fame: Coach Dale Mueller

Class of 2019

Dale Mueller graduated from Highlands in 1973 and was a two-sport athlete and team captain for the baseball and football teams.  In addition, Dale earned a total of 7 varsity letters and was named All-State his senior year in both sports.  Upon graduation, Coach Mueller attended Cornell University and played 3 seasons at catcher on the Big Red baseball team.  He then returned to the area and earned a degree in Secondary Education at Xavier University.  His football coaching career began with stints as an assistant at Newport and Western Hills High Schools.  He later became the head coach at Cincinnati Withrow and then moved to Sycamore High School to lead the Aviators’ program.

In 1994, Coach Mueller was offered the job to lead his alma mater and finished his career with an impressive 250-36 record over 20 seasons as head coach.  His football teams won 11 state titles and were runners-up 3 times.  Under the direction of Coach Mueller, Highlands ended their seasons ranked nationally 8 times, finishing as high as 3rd in the USA Today Prep Poll in 2009. His overall record as head coach was 309-67. In addition to being an outstanding football coach, Dale also excelled as a mentor in the classroom.  He taught science throughout his career as well.

During his tenure, Dale was recognized locally, statewide, and on a national level for his coaching success.  He won numerous coaching awards: the Louisville Courier Journal Kentucky Coach of the Year, Cincinnati Bengals Coach of the Year, Marvin Lewis Coach of the Year, the Paul Brown Excellence in Coaching Award, Russell Athletic National Coach of the Year, and the National Federation of High Schools National Coach of the Year.  More importantly, the positive impact Coach Mueller has had on his former students and players will be felt for years to come.  He continues to mold young people and teach life lessons through football in his work with the Ft. Thomas Junior Football League.

He resides in Fort Thomas with his wife Patty and has 4 children: Maggie Mason (Michael), Eamon (Melissa), Terrence (Lizzie), and Kelsa Ader (Jackson).  Dale and Patty have 5 grandchildren: Meredith, George, Henry, Alice, and Nori.


To purchase tickets for the 2019 HHS Athletic Hall of Fame Reception, tickets must be purchased on by September 5, 2019 -

Tickets are $55 for the dinner reception at The Syndicate in Newport, Kentucky on 9/22/19 at 6:00 p.m. The Hall of Fame ceremony in the HHS PAC begins at 3:00 p.m. on 9/22. That event is free and open to the public.

Fort Thomas Police Share Proud Moment in Promoting Two Officers

Sergeant Derek Faught was one of two Fort Thomas Police Officers recently promoted. His wife, Sarah, pins on his sergeant's bars.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore shared news of two promotions within his department at the August 19 city council meeting.

"Tonight we are very lucky, very fortunate to be promoting two of our own officers. Detective Derek Faught will be promoted to sergeant and Sergeant William Hunt will be promoted to lieutenant," he announced.

Sergeant Derek Faught

Kilgore shared a story about Sergeant Faught. He came to the department in 2012, and while attending the Police Academy he captured the attention of reporters for Law Enforcement Magazine who decided to follow him throughout the academy training, about 36 weeks. "So he became instantly famous...and his portrait was on the front of the magazine," the chief added.

He went on to add that since that time Faught has contributed greatly to the department. "Derek’s been with us for seven years. We love having him as part of the department. He’s a good friend, good teacher, good mentor — the type of guy you give him a task you know it’s going to get done. You don’t have to worry about it," he said.

In that time Faught has served as training officer and recently finished a stint as a detective for the department. He also helps run the department’s evidence room, said Kilgore.

"My wife and I love this city," said Faught "We moved here last year, after many years of trying to get in, a common experience here...You have a great department and a great chief, so I truly enjoy my job. I just want to thank my fellow officers, all the guys who make this great and, obviously, my family. Thank you all very much."

Faught will serve as the second-shift patrol sergeant and his new badge is number 4318. After the chief pinned on his badge, his wife, assisted by the couple’s small children, did the honor of adding his sergeant bars to his uniform.

Lieutenant Will Hunt 


Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore holds a new badge for Lieutenant Will Hunt.

"William has been with us since 2003. He started in Southgate in 2001 and did a couple of years there. He realized this was where he wanted to be so he came home to us in Fort Thomas and has been with us ever since," said Kilgore.

He noted that Hunt has taken on a “full plate” of duties and projects over the years, and is someone who can be relied upon to follow through.

Over 50 years experience in NKY. Call now, mention FTM. (859) 287-2499.
Hunt has been a field training officer and runs the department’s field training program. He’s a media officer who fields calls from anyone with questions about what’s going on. He recently oversaw and completed the department’s accreditation process. A crime scene investigator, he also the summer Crime Scene CSI Camp for area middle schoolers.

After the chief pinned on Hunt’s new badge, Lieutenant Chris Carpenter stepped up to pin on his lieutenant bars. It was a special personal night for Hunt, Kilgore and Carpenter, who are friends and have worked together for 18 to 19 years. They planned out the pinning ceremony so they could all take part in honoring their friend.

Highlands "chomping at the bit" to get football season started

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands senior defensive back John Kohler (right) zeroes in on a Ballard ball-carrier in the scrimmage Friday. Highlands opens the season Friday at Scott at 7 p.m.
It's one of those games with a lot of unknowns, which is typical for season-opening football contests.

It starts with the approximately 20-minute drive across the Licking River on I-275 to the Taylor Mill exit. The last time the Highlands Bluebirds football team played at Scott in 2010, the team and its supporters had to drive through Taylor Mill then turn back to the north off Kentucky Highway 16 to arrive at Scott High. But the completion of the new 16 route in 2014 provides people a straight shot to Scott in about five minutes from the interstate.

Once there, it will be all business for the Bluebirds, who are looking to start the season on a strong note at 7 p.m. Friday. Highlands has successfully done that all but once since 2002. That lone blemish came in a 37-13 defeat at Cooper to open the 2015 season.

"They're chomping at the bit right now," said Sam Umberg, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "I'm honestly the exact same way they are. I'm anxious to get out there and get into some full games, get some stats out there and get our guys to have some fun against a good team."

Over 50 years experience in NKY. Call now, mention FTM. (859) 287-2499.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

NKU Awarded $1.8 Million in Federal Grants to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Northern Kentucky University received $1.8 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) to combat the opioid crisis. HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded the funds to establish and expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

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NKU, along with collaborators from across northern Kentucky, received more federal funding than any other university in the Commonwealth to support HHS's Five-Point Opioid Strategy. The university’s Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) has spent the past year working in communities greatly impacted by the crisis. According to the HHS, the number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction at HRSA-funded health centers increased 142 percent from 2016 to 2018. The IHI is working in Owen County, which has one of the highest risk rates for drug overdoses in the region – combined with very limited treatment facilities and multiple barriers to accessing them.

“The HRSA funds support Kentucky’s rural communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “This regional collaboration is necessary to enhance opioid use disorder services and expand early intervention and access to treatment and support. We are proud to partner to address this critical population health concern.”

NKU will receive $1 million as part of HRSA’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative to address barriers to access in rural communities related to substance use disorders. NKU also received $847,008 from HRSA’s Opioid Workforce Expansion Programs (OWEP) for Professionals and Paraprofessionals. This award supports training across the behavioral health provider spectrum to encourage a unified approach to training through academic and community partnerships.

“The collaboration that went into receiving these grants is truly a transdisciplinary effort, spanning nine community partners in northern Kentucky and seven departments across NKU,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, St. Elizabeth Healthcare executive director of the Institute for Health Innovation. “We hope these funds allow us to scale up the work we are doing in Owen County to serve as blue print for other rural communities.”

The IHI received a HRSA grant in 2018 to establish the Owen County Collaborative Addiction Treatment Initiative (OCCATI), a consortium of northern Kentucky community partners invested in addressing substance use disorder and healthcare gaps in the eight-county northern Kentucky region. This brings the total amount of grant funding that the IHI has received since its initiation last summer to $3.6 million.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Around the County: Alexandria City Council Holds Public Hearing on Property Tax Rate

The Alexandria City Council met on August 15. (photo: FTM file)

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Alexandria, Kentucky, city council members began their August 15 meeting with a public hearing on the fiscal year 2019-2020 property tax rate. As required by Kentucky law, the city must have a public hearing when the tax rate will bring in money that exceeds the four percent revenue rate maximum set by the state.

The request for a tax rate of .174 per $100 for this year is the same rate and request as that of the previous fiscal year, officials noted. The additional revenue raised, about $25,447, would go into the General Fund budget.

The public hearing was closed after noting that no citizens attended to address the tax rate issue. City Attorney Mike Duncan explained the public would still have additional time to petition to have the rate reduced if it passes and that will be publicized in the Campbell County Recorder.

This was the first reading of the proposed tax ordinance.

Fire Department Report

Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Pohlman gave a report on the Fire Department as well in keeping with state requirements. He explained, because fire districts are considered special government entities, they must provide information about tax rates both online and through a report to the nearest municipality, which in this case if Alexandria.

The Fire District is proposing its tax rate to continue to be 18 cents per $100 (unchanged from last fiscal year).

"We were lucky to keep it at 18 cents," Chief Pohlman said. "It’s getting tougher with everything going on. We have some apparatus that is approaching 30 years old, and I don’t know if any of you have purchased a ladder truck lately, but those things cost about a million bucks a piece...But we do have a good capital plan."

He thanked the city for its partnership and support. He added that his department has applied for and is receiving grants to help offset the cost of purchasing equipment. He also noted that city’s designation as a Class 3 Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating may help save in insurance costs.

A tax hearing for the Fire Department will be held at the Alexandria Fire Station on Tuesday, August 27, at 7:15-7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a vote at the fire district board meeting. The station is located at 7951 Alexandria Pike.

Police Department Report

Alexandria Police Department Chief Lucas Cooper announced his department will be taking applications for officers and will hold a test soon for new recruits. Those interested should contact the department.

The chief also reminded everyone present that school will be open and school zones are now operational. He advised all to be on the lookout for students and school buses.

Business Retention and Development

Council member Kyle Sparks, chair of the Business Retention and Development Committee, said the committee is in the process of exploring a new website for the city. The committee has received a bid for the site from the Kentucky League of Cities. A second company may be interested in submitting a bid as well.

Sparks said the goal is to create a website that is easy to update and that will include a tab for new businesses to the area to have all the information they need. He said he wants to provide users with a "one stop shopping" experience with all city information easily accessible on the site.

The committee also is looking into signage for Alexandria on the AA Highway that could be offered to businesses along US 27. Sparks said he has been in touch with the Kentucky Department of Transportation for pricing.

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Deadline approaching for summer Beautification Award nominations

Council member Sue Neltner, chair of the Beautification Committee noted that nominations for the prettiest summer yard "Beautification Award" are still available until 2 p.m. on August 22. People can nominate their own yards or someone else’s within the city limits.

Contact a member of the Beautification Committee for a nomination form. Photos of the yard are helpful, she added. Those interested can contact Sue Neltner, Kyle Sparks or Tom Baldridge. The winner will be announced at the September 5 city council meeting.

Dog Park Revisited

Around the County: Alexandria Planning and Zoning Rejects Request, Begins Work on Comprehensive Plan Update

Public hearing in Alexandria. FTM file. 

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

A recent request for a zoning change in Alexandria was rejected but highlighted the interest and need for the city’s Comprehensive Plan Update.

About two hundred area residents attended a public hearing scheduled before the Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 16 to express concern about a request to change a single family residential zone to a multifamily residential zone.

The first courthouse and jail in Campbell County is located in Alexandria. (photo: Creative Commons via Wikimedia)
Wallick-Hendy Development Company, LLC, requested the zone change for 8822 Constable Drive to to build a senior living housing project at the site with 50 units, half one-bedroom and half two-bedroom apartments. The developer needed approval of the request to apply for a housing tax credit from the state of Kentucky that would help offset construction costs.

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Alexis Dunfee, vice president of development for Wallick-Hendy, said if the developer was awarded the state tax credits, they would sell these to investors to raise funds for construction. She noted that with the credits, the state requires the units be made available only to those who made less than 60 percent of the median area income. At present, 2019 rents would be kept to the $750-to-$950 per month range.

An attorney for the owners of the property, the Schneider family, noted that this sale would be the last of the property that originally made up the family’s farm in the area. He said the owners agreed the proposal would be a good transitional use of the property.

Considering how the development would fit in with city plans

Residents questioned if the development would be in keeping with the city’s comprehensive plan for the area. Many expressed concern over traffic and noise. Jeff Schumacher, an attorney representing 142 homeowners from Constable, Southwood, Stonegate and surrounding areas, brought up concerns about missing information in the developer’s request for the change. He noted that the site plan provided was that of another project in Elsmere and not the site under consideration.

He also noted that the development would not be in keeping with the low-density, single-family environment of the area.

The developer countered that the missing information had been provided separately from the request document. Much of the site details would be worked out at a later date.

After the public hearing closed, Planning and Zoning board members questioned the height of the proposed building (three stories) and suggested the developer return with plans for one or two stories. They also requested moving the proposed building closer to US 27 and to use that as the main access, leaving Constable as a secondary entrance.

City Attorney Mike Duncan advised the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider the city’s comprehensive plan when making their decision to vote on a zoning map amendment. He noted that the future land use plan includes some area within the proposed site that would be for multifamily.

Member Sonny Marcus motioned that the decision be tabled until all material could be presented and considered. The motion was seconded by member Steve Shinkle and passed unanimously (5 to 0) with the chair abstaining.

Focusing on Alexandria's Comprehensive Plan Update

The developer did not return to the Planning and Zoning meeting on August 6. A review of the comprehensive plan update was the main topic of discussion at that meeting.

The commission began review of the plan in June and planned to continue carefully examining all language at subsequent meetings. Chair Dave Hart asked commission board members to look at the vision statement presented in the plan to determine if it needed an update.

Most discussion focused on the part of the vision statement that reads "Alexandria is a city committed to preserving its historical past without losing sight of where the city should and will be headed in the future..." Some questioned how the past is being protected and what the intention was behind the statement.

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It was noted that the Old Town section of the city contains historical buildings but no buildings have official historical registration, including the old courthouse built in 1840 and located at 8352 E Main Street. The building was the original Campbell County courthouse and jail.

Mayor Andy Schabell addressed the commission to discuss the idea of a Comprehensive Plan Working Group designed to assist Planning and Zoning in the task. He said his purpose was to assess if Planning and Zoning would like the help. He proposed that the working group include a member of council, members of the commission, members from the Parks and Recreation committee, someone from the state highway department, area business owners and others.

"The working group would be to add to the conversation so you [Planning and Zoning members] are not up here all by yourselves trying to figure this out," Schabell said.

He noted the size and time involved in the task would require support and input. The committee members agreed.

Gathering public input

Experience Forest Bathing Event in Tower Park This Sunday

Courtesy: Jeremy Shannon
Forest bathing does not require soap and water, just an open mind.

The Japanese term for forest bathing translates into “taking in the forest” which may be a more accurate description. And you can experience it all on the trails in Tower Park on Sunday, August 25 between 10:00 and 2:00. Show up, take in the woods, and relax. It’s free and is sponsored by the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy. Meet at the museum for information.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas, located at 90 Alexandria Pike in the Fort Thomas Plaza. 
Forest bathing is a Japanese practice that is taking off throughout the world as more people discover the benefits of the forest. You can discover the enchantment of Tower Park through short self-guided activities/meditations locales on the trails.

Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy’s Trisha Schroeder is leading the event and she says, “This is not a guided hike… Forest bathing is usually done alone or within a small group.  The participant(s) will receive a map showing the locations of the guided meditations, and there will be arrows in the woods to help them navigate. Please note that there are uneven surfaces on the trail, but this is designed to be hiked at your own pace.”   

Schroeder says, “Forest bathing is a general term that is being used for reconnecting with nature and using the woods as a way to ground oneself, heal, unplug or de-stress.  A lot of forest bathing is simply providing a forest for people to go and amble at their own pace through the woods with no agenda.” She adds that there will be “a little more structure and guideposts, signs in the woods, give the participant suggestions on how to reconnect more deeply with nature.  Forest Bathing may also have a ‘forest therapy’ guide that will lead small groups or individuals on silent hikes or guided meditation hikes.”

Courtesy: John Homer
There are some very real benefits to Forest Bathing.

It helps your cardiovascular system, reduces stroke and heart attack possibilities, lowers inflammation, and helps lower high cholesterol and diabetes. Doctors in other countries are actually prescribing that a patient take a walk in the park or nearby woods to address some ailments.  Schroeder says, “Not only has forest bathing been shown to reduce cortisol levels and blood pressure, but new studies are discovering depression and ADHD both have strong correlations with amount of time spent indoors.  Therefore, not surprisingly, it has been discovered that both depression and ADHD symptoms ease when an individual has daily immersions into nature.

 Being in the woods forces you to slow down. It lowers your blood pressure, lowers stress, and can help fight autoimmune diseases. It can even help you lose that mental fatigue that plagues us as the work week progresses. Schroeder says that “The idea is to slow down and experience nature on a deeper level.  That means taking time to hear the sounds of nature, smell the air before a rain or see the different hues presented in nature.”  We can experience a sense of awe just by examining a small piece of nature like a garden or a tree canopy or bird songs or the gurgling stream.

As you slow down you become more self-aware. We live stressful lives in the city and our woodland DNA needs to be satisfied. It’s part and parcel of being human. National Park visits are at record highs. We are becoming more aware of the value of trees to our health. There is even an enzyme in dirt that transmits through our skin with a positive healing effect.

These benefits can improve even more with a guide. So make the time to visit the forests in Fort Thomas.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Tower Park Live Concert Series Continues Tuesday, 8-20

The Fort Thomas Summer Concert Series continues Tuesday, August 20 at the amphitheater in Tower Park with live music from Catalina Wine Mixer Band plays yacht rock night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Q102's Katie Walters is hosting the event. The event will feature food trucks from Texas Joe, It’s Just Bricks, Kona Ice, and Cups ‘n Cones Ice Cream as well as Braxton Beer Trucks.

Stop searching. Start finding. 
The event is also being used as an opportunity to help the Henry Hosea House stock their food pantry. Please bring a canister of powdered drink mix (like Kool-Aid or Lemonade) to donate.

Yacht Rock was one of the most commercially successful genres of its era, existing between the mid-1970 and early 1980s.

If you like Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Toto, and Christopher Cross, you'll have an incredible time in Fort Thomas on Tuesday.

The SkyWheel is ready to be shipped to Newport

The 235-ft. observation wheel is ready to be shipped to Newport and is scheduled to break ground in September.

On July 22, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers informed the city of Newport that it had approved the permit for the construction. Efforts to bring a SkyWheel to Newport were first reported in 2015.

Final terms between the city of Newport and SkyWheel Attractions, along with the Newport Aquarium and Newport on the levee ownership, will bring the privately funded SkyWheel to Newport. The total investment is expected to be around $15 million.

EGC Construction will build the bridge and pier for the SkyWheel. The assembly of the wheel and associated equipment will be done by the Netherlands-based company called Dutch Wheels, which is the manufacturer of the SkyWheel.

Newport's SkyWheel has already been manufactured and tested in the Netherlands. It is being stored in shipping containers, ready to transport to the United States. Officials say the wheel could open two months after the completion of the pier construction, which is predicted to be finished in March 2020.

The SkyWheel will be accessible to all abilities. It will stand more than twenty stories high and has thirty fully-enclosed gondolas with glass windows and doors to view the Ohio river, Northern Kentucky, and the beautiful Cincinnati skyline. The climate-controlled gondolas hold up to six riders for three or four revolutions.

“Like with the first SkyWheel on the coast of Myrtle Beach, we chose Newport because if its unparalleled views of the Ohio River and Cincinnati’s skyline,” said Matt Stack, president of SkyWheel Attractions.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare, American Legion Ride in 10th Annual Teddy Bear Ride

Collaborative effort to benefit children who visit St. Elizabeth Emergency Department 

The American Legion Riders will hold the 10th Annual Teddy Bear Ride on Saturday August 24, at 12 p.m. to benefit children who visit the St. Elizabeth Florence Emergency Department. The ride begins at the American Legion Post 4 at 8385 U.S. Highway 42 in Florence and continues to St. Elizabeth Florence.

Anyone interested in experiencing the excitement and thrill of witnessing more than 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles? Come watch them roar up to the hospital’s main entrance at the St. Elizabeth Florence location.

Phone: 859-905-0714 - Email: This is an advertisement.
Anyone is welcome to attend. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and kickstands are up at 12 p.m. Riders are expected to reach St. Elizabeth Florence at approximately 1 p.m. The only cost is a donation of a new teddy bear(s). All bears and stuffed toys must be new and bagged. There will also be teddy bears ready for purchase on day of event for $5.

This event was started by the director of the Florence American Legion Riders in 2010 to “help put a smile on a child’s face when experiencing a visit to the hospital or emergency room.” This event has become a tradition for the community. In the past ten years, more than 30,000 bears have been donated, creating 30,000 smiles on a child’s face.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Highlands-Ballard Football Scrimmage

Bluebirds Find Areas of Improvement in Scrimmage

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands offensive linemen set up blocks in the scrimmage against Louisville Ballard on Friday. The Bluebird offensive linemen, from top to bottom, are Max Dierig (55), Jackson Roy (66), Brock Huber (54), Dylan Turner (77) and Kaleb Kissee (69).
The Highlands Bluebirds football team has generally approached scrimmages like a practice throughout the years.

You don't have the usual scouting reports and various game preparations. But the Highlands coaching staff said facing someone that's not a teammate helps expose things that need worked on.

The Class 6A Ballard Bruins located on Louisville's east side came to town Friday (8-16) with those same intentions. The varsity teams started off the game with a certain number of plays on offense then defense before the junior varsity teams came in.

After those sequences, the varsity teams played two 12-minute quarters. The score was not kept. But during those 24 minutes, the teams tied 13-13. Ballard did have a touchdown called back on a penalty late in the second quarter.

"You don't watch it like a game. There's so much you're thinking about during the scrimmage," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "It's hard to get into the flow of a scrimmage as a player. We saw things we hadn't seen last week and summer. We found some good things."

Friday, August 16, 2019

Interests rates are at their lowest since 2016, here's what one local Fort Thomas broker says to do

A stately Fort Thomas home was just featured on the Fort Thomas Matters Home Walking Tour. 

The market has been volatile lately with stocks fluctuating and people looking for safety in the bond market.

While many of those indicators can seem overwhelming, local Entrust Mortgage broker and Fort Thomas resident, Lee Witte, has one takeaway: interest rates are at their lowest levels since 2016.

“It’s amazing how many people will shop for cars, clothing, insurance but they won’t shop their mortgage,” he said.

Witte said that consumers should be shopping their rate, but according to a new survey by Fannie Mae, one-third of them are not. He said the interest rate drop last week meant that 8.2 million 30-year mortgage holders could likely qualify for a refinance and save at least 0.75% off of their current interest rate by doing so.

"I pride myself on my ability to not only connect with the consumer and gain their trust but also provide them with the quality service they deserve. Purchasing a home is one of the largest transactions a person may ever be involved in so it’s important to make sure you are choosing an expert in that industry," said Witte.

There are multiple reasons consumers may look to refinance their mortgage like lowering their interest rate, shortening their term, pull cash out for home improvement projects or to consolidate debt.

If you are in the market to purchase a home or would like a Free Mortgage Refinance Analysis contact Lee Witte at 859-380-5674, or email He's an independent broker, meaning that he can shop a multitude of banks and rates to get you the best deal.

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Pot Grow Operation Halted by Dayton Police and Drug Strike Force

Adam Frank Baird was arrested for a marijuana grow operation in Dayton, Kentucky.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Dayton Kentucky police, assisted by members of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, made an arrest on August 12 of Adam Frank Baird, age 48, in connection with a marijuana grow operation found in his Dayton home on May 22.

Police seized and destroyed 91 marijuana plants found in the home along with equipment used in growing the plant. Baird had alluded police capture since the initial discovery and was finally located at a relative’s home in Alexandria.

In May, while investigating an unrelated complaint, Dayton Police Chief David Halfhill noticed a strong smell of fresh marijuana plants emanating from the home.

“Once they opened the screen door, the smell was so strong. There was no ventilation in the house. Even outside, the smell of the plants was coming out through cracks in the foundation,” he said.

Baird arrived home before the house could be searched and, although given the option to enter his home, he ran away. After obtaining a search warrant for the house, Chief Halfhill conducted the search and found his suspicions were correct.

In all, the bust represented 1,998 grams of marijuana.

The chief called in the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force to assist. The force supports the drug-crime-related work of police departments in Campbell, Boone and Kenton counties.

Highlands Student Earns Perfect Score on ACT

Highlands High School rising senior Maria Broering earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT test.

Maria took the ACT for the fourth time in June. She prepared for the ACT by taking online practice tests through Naviance and the official ACT app. She also filled her class schedule with advanced and AP courses, which helped her develop the necessary skills to do well on the ACT. She credits her teachers at Highlands for her 36 and other academic achievements, including first place in Kentucky on the National Spanish Exam three years in a row and high passing scores on all of her AP exams.

“I love going to school at Highlands,” said Maria. “I am so grateful for all of my wonderful teachers who have always pushed me to do my best.”

In addition to her school work, Maria is involved in many clubs at HHS. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, FCCLA, and Spanish Club, and she was recently elected Secretary of the Math Honor Society.

Maria runs cross country and track, but her favorite sport is soccer. She has played for the HHS varsity team since 2016 and has verbally committed to play collegiate soccer at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she will be studying dietetics to become a registered dietitian.

“Maria is a hard-working student who knows what she wants,” said Laura Schnitzler, Highlands High School guidance counselor.  “She pushes herself to do her best, and it is no surprise she achieved a 36 on the ACT.  We are proud of her achievement!“

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fort Thomas Home Walking Tour: Part VII

By Vanessa Fisse

Fort Thomas Matters continued its Home Walking Tour on August 15, 2019.

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

We decided to showcase the beautiful homes that Fort Thomas has to offer through a virtual walking tour. Be on the look out for more to come!

RELATED: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI

To view as a slideshow, click the first image below:

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