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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Highlands beats Sacred Heart in thriller, moves on to state championship

Bramble's Goal Lifts Bluebirds Back to Championship Game

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands girls soccer team beat Louisville Sacred Heart, 1-0 in overtime on Thursday to move on to the state championship game against Greenwood at 8 p.m. Saturday
It seemed to be headed for a third round of penalty kicks for the Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team (20-3-5 overall) in three games in the state tournament.

But one hard boot of the ball ended the game about seven minutes and 37 seconds shy of that in the first overtime. Sophomore forward Chloe Bramble took a nice pass from sophomore Faith Broering about 25 yards from the goal on the right side.

Bramble booted it to the upper right past Sacred Heart senior goalkeeper Eliza Kelly for the only goal of the game lifting the Bluebirds to a 1-0 win over the Valkyries (24-2-2) in the state semifinals at Lexington Bryan Station on Thursday. Highlands beat West Jessamine and Lexington Catholic on penalty kicks to make it to the state semifinals.

"When Faith received the ball, I just happened to be in the perfect position," Bramble said. "She played the perfect ball. I got a good touch on it. As the defender was coming. when I shot it, the wind took it and curved it perfectly to get around the goalie."

Bramble leads Highlands with 16 goals and has eight assists for a team-high 40 points. Broering has a team-high 14 assists on the season.

"Starting at the beginning of the game, we didn't know the wind so that's why right off the kickoff, we had our striker kick it in the air to see how the wind played," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "We realized it was going one way and one way only pretty much. So we just wanted to close out the first half. (In the) second half, we knew we had it with us. We didn't get too many shots off. Then right after we regulation, we (coaches) brought them together and said, 'Tails never fails.' We got the shooting side we wanted. We told the girls to change up our formation and go a little more attacking and it lead to a great chance. Chloe buried it, which was crazy."


Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore to retire


The City of Fort Thomas is now looking for a new Police Chief.

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore has announced that he plans to retire effective November 30, 2019.



Chief Kilgore has served in the Fort Thomas Police Department since November 2000.  He has spent his entire police career with the City of Fort Thomas. Kilgore earned his Bachelor's Degree in Criminology from Ohio University, and his Master's Degree in Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University.  He has proudly served the citizens of Fort Thomas as a Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Field Training Officer, SWAT Team Commander, Bike Patrol Officer and Media Officer before being named Chief of the Department last year.

“I have experienced an amazing career filled with great opportunities and wonderful people.  The City of Fort Thomas has been a tremendous place to work, live and raise a family.  I will truly miss all of the great people that I get to work with on a daily basis.  Retiring this year was not something that I was even considering; however upcoming changes to the state’s pension system have influenced me to explore all of my options.  Retiring this year is simply the best long term decision for my family. I feel very fortunate that I am able to retire happy and healthy, and I look forward to spending more quality time with my family and friends.”

Mayor Eric Haas has named Lieutenant Brent Moening as the interim chief effective upon Kilgore’s retirement. Lt. Moening is an 11 year veteran of the Fort Thomas Police Department and currently serves in the position of Administrative Lieutenant.


Mayor Haas stated, “Casey has been a great asset to our Police Department throughout his career and we are grateful for his contribution as our Chief. It is unfortunate that other circumstances have lead to his retirement as he was performing at an exceptional level for our department and our citizens. We understand his decision and wish him and his family all the best moving forward. He will be missed.”

Mayor Haas intends to consult with City Administrative Officer Ron Dill to develop a hiring process for filling the position.

Convicted Rapist Is Captured in Fort Thomas After Being Released From Georgia Prison ‘in Error’


A convicted rapist and child molester who was set free by accident last week from a Georgia prison where he had been serving a life sentence has been captured, according to a release by the U.S. Marshals.

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Tony Maycon Munoz-Mendez, was taken into custody late Wednesday night according to the Georgia Department of Corrections and multiple media reports.


Lt. Will Hunt confirmed to Fort Thomas Matters that the details of the release were accurate and added that the arrest was made by U.S. Marshals, and assisted in the capture by Georgia Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit, the Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) and some members of the Northern Kentucky Regional SWAT team.

Hunt said that marshals were able to track him to a four-family apartment building in south Fort Thomas where his brother lived. Both men were then taken into custody there.

They are currently being held at the Campbell County Detention Center.

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Further details about the brother's identity and the address were not immediately available.

Munoz-Mendez, 31, had been missing since Friday morning, when he was released “in error” from Rogers State Prison in Reidsville, Ga., about 65 miles west of Savannah, said corrections officials.

According to online corrections records, Mr. Munoz-Mendez was sentenced to life in prison for rapes that occurred in 2010 and 2012, as well as aggravated child molestation in 2010.

2018 State Final Rematch: Highlands, Sacred Heart for the right to go to the state final

Bluebirds Set for Rematch Against Valkyries in State Semifinals

Highlands senior Maria Broering boots the ball in a recent game. Highlands takes on Louisville Sacred Heart in the state semifinals at Lexington Bryan Station on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No one can underestimate the value of experience, especially in the state tournament.

A year ago, the Highlands Bluebirds soccer team (19-3-5 overall) made it all the way to the state championship game for the first time in 10 years, but lost 2-1 to the Louisville Sacred Heart Valkyries. The driving force for this season has been making it back to the title game and winning it.


"We know the intensity and the level that we have to play at to get a win and we know how hard we have to work," said Katelynn Helminiak, Highlands senior defender. "We know we worked hard and I feel like we're working just as hard this year or maybe even harder because we really want that state championship."

The Bluebirds have to beat the seven-time 7th Region champion Valkyries (24-1-2) in the second semifinal game Thursday at Lexington Bryan Station at 8 p.m. 16th Region champion Ashland Blazer (20-0-2) and 4th Region champion Greenwood (21-2-3) face off in the first semifinal game at 6 p.m.



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Highlands Volleyball Season Ends in Region Semifinals

Bluebirds Unable to Solve 9th Region Wall

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team gathers before the third set against Notre Dame in the 9th Region semifinals on Tuesday at Boone County. The great season for the Bluebirds ended at 29-8 overall.
The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team (29-8 overall) put together a season to remember.

In the 9th Region semifinals at Boone County on Tuesday, Highlands put up a solid fight against the Notre Dame Pandas (27-11). But the Pandas proved to be too much winning the match 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-8).

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Highlands teacher, Colleen Epperson, wins Global Leader award

Science teacher Colleen Epperson received a Global Leader award for encouraging her students to improve the world.

Each month the Fort Thomas Independent School Board selects people who have demonstrated the skills identified in the district’s Portrait of a Graduate. These skills match key roles of courageous leader, empathetic collaborator, creative problem solver, curious and critical thinker and global communicator.


Global Leader awards are open to all including students, faculty, school staff and administration, parents, community members or area business people. Nominations can come from anyone in the school community.

A final Global Leader award went to teacher Colleen Epperson. Highlands counselor Schnitzler nominated her colleague for the award as a courageous leader, empathetic collaborator and creative problem solver.

"Colleen is the epitome of a teacher who offers real-life opportunities to her students. Through her work with the AP Environmental Science class, Envirothon and the recent cleanup of the campus, Colleen continues to find ways to improve the world around her," said Schnitzler.

"I learned that this summer she had the opportunity to take a 16-day educational adventure to the Peruvian Rain Forest...Colleen continues to lead students in the understanding of environmental concerns and creating solutions."

Two Highlands Middle School students create ‘Trunk or Treat’ experience for foster kids


By Jessie Eden

Two fantastic Highland Middle School students are using the Halloween season to give back to foster children.

Reese Dunbar and Mayson Gindele decided that they wanted to volunteer somewhere for kids during Halloween because they felt like every kid should have the same memories they have. So, they got in touch with DCCH (Diocesan Catholic Childrens' Home).


“We got a contact at DCCH. They reached out and asked what they could do,” said Kelly Gindele, Mayson’s mom. “As a result, they got to design, shop, decorate and man the DCCH van for a trunk or treat event for the resident and foster kids.

They did an amazing job and received a ton of compliments. This was 100% their idea and their vision.”

Last Thursday, the girls kicked off their first “Trunk or Treat” experience As a result, the girls have been asked by DCCH to be Fort Thomas’ community ambassadors.

“DCCH has monthly support meetings for the foster/adoptive parents. They need volunteers to put together programming/activities for the kids during those meetings,” said Kelly. “They have asked Mayson and Reese to help with that and the girls are wanting to do that a few times per year.

As far as the Fort Thomas ambassadors, DCCH has named Fort Thomas as a Targeted Community Campaign to convey the DCCH's need for foster, adoptive and respite parents.”

Mayson and Reese will start partnering with DCCH as part of their campaign to spread the word. The two girls will start reaching out to residents, businesses, and churches to see if they are willing to put a yard sign up.

“This is a new relationship, but the girls were very passionate about helping the kids and want to continue to do so in every way they can,” said Kelly.

In Other Words: There's No Need To Put The Rush in Rush Hour


The advantage of writing a column is that I get to work out a problem albeit in public. Here’s a problem - and it has layers.

I see a problem with pedestrians and drivers. Drivers are eager to get to their destinations. People on foot are equally eager to get where they are going. And there’s the potential for conflict. First one then the other.

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This is a walking town and that is one of its many charms. No matter the time of day there are people walking, running, running or walking with strollers or dogs or both, bicycling, and skateboards. It’s wonderfully active.

And there are always vehicles on the road. And the traffic jams are as predictable as school or sport schedules. Compound that with construction trucks, utility trucks, and trash collection trucks, and school buses, and the streets get pretty crazy.


So what happens when these two collide?

Over the years a number of people have been hit by cars in front of the high school and recently some minor encounters have happened in front of the middle school. Fortunately, none of the injuries were serious.

Here’s a concern. I left my house at 7:00 AM and walked the mile and a half to the center of town and then back.  Along the way I saw many pedestrians and runners wearing dark colors which made them more difficult to see. I saw an adult runner completely clad in black running in the street well before the sunrise and during high traffic time.


Here’s a concern. Many student cyclists wear dark clothing and do not have a light attached to their bikes. They also do not announce themselves as they approach pedestrians from behind.

Here’s a concern. I witnessed drivers applying make-up and others on their cell phones while driving in front of the busy schools during high traffic times.

Here’s a concern. I have witnessed some aggressive drivers during slowdowns. I have witnessed drivers yelling at other drivers and pedestrians.

Here’s a concern. I have witnessed a driver back up onto the sidewalk to turn around.



Here’s a concern. I have seen pedestrians dart out between parked cars.

Here’s a concern. Crossing guards told me that some drivers disregard their directions and that they have come close to being hit.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Baioni, Nieporte, Ponzer, Kempf honored as Global Leaders

Baioni, Nieporte, Ponzer, Kempf. 

Each month the Fort Thomas Independent School Board selects people who have demonstrated the skills identified in the district’s Portrait of a Graduate. These skills match key roles of courageous leader, empathetic collaborator, creative problem solver, curious and critical thinker and global communicator.

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Global Leader awards are open to all including students, faculty, school staff and administration, parents, community members or area business people. Nominations can come from anyone in the school community.

Dr. Karen Cheser shared a letter to the schools from Mark Wehry of 859 Sports Radio. Wehry regularly provides play-by-play coverage for Northern Kentucky games.

He wrote, "We were at Highlands tonight for the Ryle game as our Game of the Week. I have never left a school feeling more compelled to compliment on how we were treated...The hospitality was top-shelf. Kevin Nieporte gets it.

He knows how to treat people, and everyone in the program takes his lead and could not be nicer. It’s not all about the most points in the field, it’s about scoring points with people, and in this your staff is undefeated. From Kevin to Jeremy Baioni to Guy Ponzer to Jill Kempf in the parking lot, we were treated like family. Be proud of what is going on at Highlands High School – It’s a special place, filled with special people."

Highlands Volleyball escapes Dixie Heights in hard-fought regional win

Bluebirds Face Pandas in Region Semifinals

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior setter Audrey Graves (8) sets up to serve in the 9th Region Quarterfinals against Dixie Heights on Sunday.
When the drawing took place, many associated with 9th Region volleyball figured this one would be a battle.

These two solid teams played each other three times during the regular season and had also met in the 9th Region Quarterfinals the previous two years. In the deciding fifth game, the Highlands Bluebirds edged the Dixie Heights Lady Colonels by the thinnest 15-13 margin Sunday to move on to the region semifinals back at Boone County.

The three-time 36th District champion Bluebirds moved to 29-7 on the season with the victory and the 34th District runner-up Lady Colonels finished 23-11. Highlands faces the Notre Dame Pandas (26-11) back at Boone County at 6 p.m. Tuesday.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Highlands Girls Soccer Headed Back to Lexington

Bluebirds Take Care of Business in Penalty Kicks Again

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior goalkeeper Maggie Hinegardner made her season debut Saturday in the second half of the state quarterfinals against Lexington Catholic. She made five saves in the Highlands victory.
For the second time this week in the state tournament, the Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team had to go to penalty kicks to advance.

Unlike the semi-state win at West Jessamine on Tuesday that had to go seven rounds, the 9th Region champion Bluebirds (19-3-5 overall) took care of things quickly in this one against the 11th Region champion Lexington Catholic Lady Knights (in the 2-1 victory. Highlands did not have to take the full five shots to win the penalty kicks winning them 4-1.

They advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight year as a result. The Bluebirds earned a rematch of last year's state championship game against Louisville Sacred Heart (24-1-2) on Thursday in Lexington. Sacred Heart won the state championship, 2-1 last year and also won by that score during the regular season in Louisville on Oct. 5.

Heartbreaker in Penalty Kicks for Highlands Boys Soccer

Highlands Loses to One-Loss Henry Clay in State Quarterfinals

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds finished the season 17-6-4 with a second straight appearance in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.
Penalty kicks helped the Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team win the 9th Region championship a week ago.

They unfortunately did not work out in the favor of the Bluebirds (17-6-4 overall) in the state quarterfinal game against the Lexington Henry Blue Devils (23-1-3) on Saturday at Tower Park. Henry Clay won the game, 2-1 after winning the six rounds of penalty kicks, 4-3.

"It's not like I have a better solution for how games end, but I despise PKs," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "It happens. I don't know what the solution is. We have guys leaving here more in tears because they missed a PK or something. We have guys leaving here in tears because they're sad that it's over. We've practiced PKs at that goal. We picked those guys because they've made them time and time again. Nobody's perfect. It's how the game gets decided sometimes. It just didn't work out in our favor."

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Highlands-Cooper Video Highlights


Highlands-Cooper Game Story

Bluebirds Hold Off Jaguars, 14-7

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands senior running back Sawyer Depp takes off for a 20-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Depp finished with 128 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns in the Highlands win.
A lot of things seemed to play out against the Highlands Bluebirds football team in the final game of the regular season on the road against the Cooper Jaguars.

But when the dust settled, only one thing mattered. Highlands 14, Cooper 7.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Highlands student sets out on his future path with App Development course

Computer Science teacher Chad Niedert with his student Luke Weidner discuss the App Developer Flight Path.

The student showcase this month at the Fort Thomas Independent School Board meeting focused on the work of Highlands High School students taking the App Development course through a new Flight Path program. Senior Luke Weidner shared his experiences in the class and demonstrated an app he has been developing to enhance crowd photography during sporting events.

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He was joined by his teacher Chad Niedert who explained how the course has supported students on several levels from beginner through the advanced work like that being done by Weidner, thanks in part to the resources available through the Launch education center.

The App Development program is one of three "Flight Paths," programs designed to offer students specific courses and opportunities that will prepare them for future careers. The other Flight Paths include Health Innovations and Entrepreneurship.

Students in the App Development path have a unique opportunity to learn and work with programming in the Swift language, the newest Apple products programming language, explained Niedert.

Although it is now the "go-to" programming language for many Fortune 500 companies, Swift app development is not the norm across the U.S., and there few colleges that teach it, mostly because students must have access to MacBooks, he explained.

For Weidner, who has been taking computer science classes since he was very young, the app development class offers him larger blocks of time, two-hour blocks, to work on his projects rather than a traditional 50-minute class. It also offers him the time, space and opportunity to explore and take his own learning to a new level.

Niedert says the program is flexible so that he can work with students on all levels. He has seven students in the class all with different familiarity with programming and computer science. "To what Luke said, he’s taken just about every computer science class prior to this year, and there’s another two other students that are in a similar boat. This is an option for them beyond the dual credit opportunities. But, for the other half of the students, this is the first time they’ve taken computer science classes."

It can be intimidating for the newer students when sitting next to peers working and collaborating on an advanced level. The program allows Niedert to provide beginning students more structured instruction and projects.

Regardless of skill level, Niedert tries to simulate how developers and programmers work in the real world. He is still learning himself, so he serves as a resource but encourages the students to work together and research solutions to problems.

Highlands cross country runner helps support opposing team runner

Cooper Gamble received a Global Leader award for reaching out to help another student athlete.

By Jessica Eden and Robin Gee 

There is something to be said about great sportsmanship and one young man on the Highlands Cross Country team is the epitome of that term.

At a Cross Country run on Sept. 13, Highlands Freshman Cooper Gamble noticed that another student on the opposing team was having a hard time keeping up. A St. Phillips student, whose family wishes for him to remain anonymous, experienced a family tragedy. As a result, the runner missed several practices...but, he was still determined to run.


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In an email shared with us from St. Phillips Cross Country, Coach Mike Braun, he says the student really wanted to run despite the challenges he faced. “I just couldn’t tell him no, so I let him run. He, of course, was last, way last. Your runner [Cooper] stuck with him the ENTIRE time, encouraging him, talking to him, supporting him. After the meet, he even came back over to our team and said goodbye [the student]. We are so thankful for this young man!” said Braun.

In an email shared with us from Head Cross Country Coach Brian Alessandro to St. Phillips Cross Country Coach Mike Braun, Brian says Cooper is one of many spectacular students. “I know I am biased, but I do believe we have the absolute best group of young people Highlands has to offer involved in our program. I am so thankful for these kids, but also your kind words. This sport is about more than running, and this story shows it.”

Alessandro, who is also a Language Arts teacher, says Cooper began Cross Country at a young age.

“Cooper has been a part of our program for several years. He began running in elementary school, and I also had him in class as a student in the 7th grade. He is involved in the Drama program at Highlands, and he’s just an overall nice young man.”

Although the student did not wish to be named, Coach Bran wanted to make one thing clear to Cooper’s coach Brian…. “This young man went ABOVE and BEYOND last Friday to help one of my runners.”

School Board Celebrates Athleticism, Good Sportsmanship, Academic Achievement

Three Highland High students were on gold medal medal winning teams at the Kentucky State Softball Special Olympics

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

With the school year underway, the Fort Thomas Independent Schools Board celebrated both student and faculty successes at its October meeting.

Three Highlands High School students brought home gold medals from the Special Olympics Softball Tourney in Bowling Green last month. Joshua Fahlbusch, Ian Kirschenbaum and Luke Laskey were on two different teams that both achieved first place in competition.


Parent Marc Kirschenbaum explained that, while Special Olympics provides opportunities for people with unique skill sets to participate in a variety of athletic events, softball is unique in that it is one of the few sports for which participants must qualify.

"These guys played all summer long in a variety of tournaments and eventually went to Georgetown, Kentucky, and participated in a regional tournament, qualified for the state tournament and then in the middle of September they went down to Bowling Green for two days and participated in the state games," he said.

Board members thanked the students for representing Fort Thomas Independent Schools at this important statewide event. About 1,000 students from across Kentucky compete on 69 teams in the state softball program.

National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists  

National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists Hiren Lemma and August Hug. (Maria Broering, not pictured, also earned semi-final status.)

Highlands High School Counselor Laura Schnitzler announced that three Highlands students have been named 2020 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists: seniors Maria Broering, Hiren Lemma and August Hug.

About 1.6 million juniors from 21,000 high schools enter the national scholarship program each year by taking a qualifying test known as the PSAT.

"A nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of high school seniors includes the highest scoring entrants in each state," explained Highlands counselor Laura Schnitzler.

"To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application on which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received."

She emphasized the challenge of making it to the semifinals. "A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test."

From approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level. Finalists are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference, said Schnitzler.

In February students will be notified if they have made finalist status. About 7,600 of the finalists are chosen winners and receive a $2,500 Merit Scholarship or a company-sponsored or college-sponsored scholarship. In addition, those not selected as finalists have the opportunity to be considered for one of more than 1,000 special scholarships provided by corporations and business organizations.

Superintendent Karen Cheser and school board members congratulated the students. Lemma said she plans to study psychology in college, and Hug is preparing to go into mechanical engineering. Broering was unable to attend the meeting because she was playing soccer for her school.


The Johnson Project now looks like a project


Work has been underway for some time on the Johnson Elementary School project, but Director of Operations Jerry Wissman said it’s gotten a lot easier to drive by and see the work in progress.

Up until now work was focused on the foundation and underground work but is now building up from the bottom. "We are getting to the point where people will start to see evidence of that work. As I mentioned previously, the foundations of building one, the footers are done, and they are working on the foundation walls. A lot those that were up close to the road that were pretty far below eyesight as people were driving along...These are now starting to creep up high enough for people to notice and say ‘wow, stuff’s going on.’ They now can see the evidence, not just hear it," he said.

The various trades are working with the concrete company to make sure what they need is in place for utility work. The developers are now at the point, where they are asking school officials to discuss colors for the building both interior and exterior. Overall, said Wissman, work is progressing at a steady pace.

Board members said the plan for the colors is serene and natural. More to come soon.

Executive Transportation Hosts Holiday Hope Charity Drive 2019


The Holidays are a such special time, filled with good food, friends and family, and special memories. But for many people this time of the year reminds them of what they do not have. With the lack of basic needs like warm food and a warm bed, this season can leave many feeling hopeless.


Executive Transportation has seen the needs in the Newport community and has decided to step in an try to make a difference. Executive invites you to JOIN in DONATING to the children and families in need from the Henry Hosea House in Newport, KY and help warm up their Christmas this year!

DETAILS: 
Executive Transportation Holiday Hope Charity Drive
December 7, 2019
9:00 a.m. to noon 
901 Monmouth St., Newport, KY 41075

Needed items: ** All items must be NEW ** to benefit The Henry Hosea House 

  • Sleeping Bags (all sizes)
  • Backpacks
  • Umbrellas
  • Boots (Mens, Womens, and Kids)
  • Socks (all sizes)
  • Coats and Hoodies (all sizes)
  • Hand/Foot Warmers
  • Hats and Gloves (all sizes)
  • Blankets

Fort Thomas Hosts Best Haunted House Contest Celebrating Spooky Decor


Jack-o-lanterns photo by Shawn Campbell (Creative Commons license )

Saturday, October 26, is the DEADline for the Fort Thomas Best Haunted House Contest. If you or someone you know goes all out with decoration for All Hallows Eve, let the city know.

Over 50 years experience in NKY. Call now, mention FTM. (859) 287-2499.
The city wants to showcase the best Halloween decorated homes this year and highlight the one house that’s a “must-go-to” treat. The winner will receive a trophy and scary bragging rights.

Send an email to Sam Shelton at sshelton@ftthomas.org or call him at 859-572-1209 to register.
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Thursday, October 24, 2019

City Council Roundup: Guest Fire Chief, City Building, Project Updates



Each year Moyer Elementary students create artwork featuring Fort Thomas businesses and organizations. This year, the city received artwork from Moyer students Benjamin Loyson, Graham Wiley and Jack Walker.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

A new face represented the Fire Department at the October Fort Thomas city council meeting. Grace Mumper, a fifth grader at St. Thomas School, is the city’s first Firefighter for a Day, and she served as guest fire chief for the meeting.

Mumper, who won her spot with a winning essay on how to improve our community, gave the monthly Fire Department Report. She had a strong showing of support at the meeting with family and new friends she has made at the department.

Her report included monthly statistics for September, including:

  • 147 overall fire service responses
  • 105 were EMS-related calls
  • 35 were fire incident responses
  • 16 involved mutual aid responses to neighboring fire departments
  • 8 public education classes training 229 people
  • 64 fire safety inspections 
  • 4 car seat installations

Other activities included trainings for personnel on both emergency management and fire services topics and department presence at the St. Thomas School fundraiser and the Merchants and Music Festival.


Firefighter for a Day Grace Mumper surrounded by council, family and her new friends at the Fort Thomas Fire Department

With a strong family background in fire service, Mumper was a great fit for the first ever Firefighter for a Day contest. Her uncle is a Norwood, Ohio, firefighter, and her grandfather served in that fire service for 33 years, including 17 as chief.

RELATED: Meet Fort Thomas' New Firefighter (for a Day)

Chief Mark Bailey thanked Grace, her family and the many firefighters and other department personnel who helped make the day and the project possible. He gave some background on how the idea came about.

He said planning for the day started over a year ago. During Fire Prevention month in October last year, he saw a story about a similar project in the Lexington Herald and discussed it with City Administrator Ron Dill. At about the same time, Lieutenant Eric Scherpenberg in his department also had seen a story about a program in the Louisville paper.

From there the chief and Scherpenberg began a discussion with other members of the department, and all were excited about the idea. The theme for 2019 Fire Prevention Month is "Not every hero wears a cape, plan and practice your escape," and it seemed a perfect theme to start a new community participation program. Area fifth graders already participate in a related poster contest, so the department added an essay contest to find its first Firefighter for a Day.

Bailey said the day was a lot of fun for all involved. After being picked up at school, Grace worked with the squad learning about many of their duties. She visited the Water District to flow water, learned about equipment and what goes on behind-the-scenes, participated in a fire inspection at KLH, visited with medical staff at St. Elizabeth hospital emergency and topped the day off with a dish of genuine firehouse chili.

"Grace fit right in. You wouldn’t believe how many answers to questions she got correct today...We’re very happy to have had Grace with us," Bailey said.

The chief also took the opportunity to thank all his staff who helped with the project, especially Scherpenberg, Captain Tammy Webster, who served as Mumper’s chaperone for the day, Captain Chris Amon and the entire second shift team.

He thanked Mumper and gave her a Fort Thomas Fire Department patch and challenge coin to remember her day.

Update on regional radio dispatch project and more Fire Department news


Bailey updated council on the situation with the regional radio dispatch project. Public safety organizations in three counties — Campbell, Kenton and Boone — embarked on a project to upgrade the region’s antiquated radio dispatch communication system in 2017.

RELATED: Public Safety Radio System to Be Upgraded


Fort Thomas joined nine other fire departments in Campbell County to apply for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to offset some of the costs of the regional dispatch project. The chief said the application was rejected although it had made its way to a spot near the top of consideration according to his sources. He said the Campbell departments will resubmit as soon as possible.

It’s not a surprise that such a large regional project has faced several hurtles along the way. Recently, explained Bailey, Boone County has run into issues with two cell towers it had been leasing in Indiana. The owners of the towers declined permission for the vendor, Motorola, to put its equipment on the towers. This leaves Boone County to come up with two new towers. The affect on the timeline could push the whole project back until next spring.

The new timeline might actually help with implementation of the project as the testing radius is different when leaves drop from the trees than when leaves are full. A spring start for the project would be a good thing, Bailey said.

The department did have good news this month. Fort Thomas has been awarded a FEMA grant for $53,333 for a new house exhaust removal/ventilation system, said Bailey.

The Fort Thomas Fire Department will say goodbye to two of its staff this season. Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Wulfeck has retired, and Captain Amon announced he will retire November 30. The city is already discussing the positions and doing some interviews.

Mayor Eric Haas took the opportunity to thank Amon and Wulfeck for their service to the community.

Lock your doors and gather your meds


The Fort Thomas Police Department report was brief this month but included two important reminders.

October 26 is Drug Take Back Day. Bring your expired prescription drugs to the Fort Thomas Police. There will be a collection spot inside the City Building, 130 North Fort Thomas Avenue.

As the holiday season is fast approaching, remember to lock your car doors. Police report an uptick in car break-ins at this time of year, but many are thefts where "breaking in" isn’t necessary because doors are not locked.

Johnson Elementary School Hullabaloo Festival | Friday, October 25th



Johnson Elementary School Hullabaloo Festival | Friday, October 25th

One thing that endures in the Fort Thomas community is tradition; so, despite the fact that Johnson
Elementary School is a construction zone, the annual Johnson Hullabaloo Festival will STILL take place, this Friday October 25th, with a few changes. This year, Hullabaloo will take place at Tower Park from 5- 9pm in conjunction with the Pumpkin Walk for what is sure to be one of the best Fall Festivals ever. This annual PTO-sponsored event raises money that directly benefits the students of Johnson Elementary and will go toward completion of the ongoing construction project, helping to support a state-of-the-art and safe learning environment for our students.

This year promises to return some of the best features from prior years and to showcase new, exciting, and fun activities.  Rain or shine, there will be a ton to do for everyone. And by combining with the Pumpkin Walk and Hocus Pocus playing in the Amphitheatre, it is sure to provide a full evening’s worth of fun for the whole family.



SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Hullabaloo Festival at Basketball Courts across from VA Hospital: 5-9pm
Pumpkin Walk at Tennis Courts: 6-9pm
Hocus Pocus at Amphitheatre: 8:30pm



HULLABALOO ACTIVITIES:
For Kids:
*Two bounce houses throughout the evening (unlimited bounce bracelets available for $10 purchase).
*Classic Festival Games such as soft drink ring toss, football toss, and many more. Tickets are two for $1 and prizes are available to win.
*Face painting and glitter hair spray.

For Families:

*Food trucks will be present and a portion of all proceeds donated back to Johnson. Look out for *California Tri-Tip, Texas Joe’s, Hungry Bros, and Graeter’s Ice Cream.
*Pumpkin Walk
*Hocus Pocus



For Adults
Silent Auction to get a head-start on holiday shopping with amazing items such as four tickets
and backstage passes to Cincinnati Ballet’s Snow White, 6-month YMCA membership, Sweet
Ace Cakes cookie-making class, Frontier Airlines Vouchers (valued at $500), Mint Yoga
Studio gift card, a round of golf for four at Highland Hills Country Club, and many more. Once
again, the auction will be entirely online so even if you cannot attend, you can still bid by going
to: Hullabaloo Auction and viewing the items from there.  The auction will close at 9pm on Friday October 25th. Major Raffle ticket drawing for a grand prize winner of $1,000 will take place at 8pm.
Be sure to come out Friday October 25th to Tower Park from 5-9pm. See you there!



Hullabaloo would not be a success without its sponsors. 

Highlands takes on Cooper in district battle of 5-4 teams

District 5 Rivals Battle for Playoff Positioning

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands senior defensive lineman Conner Zell (59) lines up with linebackers Mason South (42), Mason Schwalbach (4) and senior defensive back Sawyer Depp (3) against Covington Catholic on Friday. The Bluebirds stopped the Colonels inside the Highlands 5 in the final minute of the game.
Both teams know they will be on the road for the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

It is just a matter of determining which short destination in Northern Kentucky they will travel to. The Highlands Bluebirds and Cooper Jaguars come into the game with identical 5-4 records and both sit third in District 5 with 1-2 records having lost to Covington Catholic and Conner in district play and both handily defeated Boone County. Game time is 7:30 p.m. in Union on Friday.


Undefeated Covington Catholic (9-0) and Conner (7-1) meet for the district championship Friday in Hebron. The winner of the Highlands-Cooper game will earn the third seed in the district and face the loser of CovCath and Conner while the loser finishes fourth and will travel to face the top-seeded district champion.

Both teams have outscored their nine opponents. Highlands has done it by a 238-114 margin for averages of between 26 and 27 points to between 12 and 13 points per game and the Jaguars have done it, 189-161 for averages of 21 to between 17 and 18 points per game.

"Our players come in every day and work hard to get better," said Randy Borchers, Cooper Head Coach. "We have a lot of young players in key positions and it has been very rewarding watching them grow over the season.  Our goal at Cooper has always been to be playing our best football come playoff time and to improve each week during the season.  We are hoping that Friday we play our best football of the season."

The Highlands 3-5 defense hopes to come up as huge as it has all season. Opponents have rushed for 1,162 yards and passed for 1,045 for averages of between 129 and 130 yards rushing and between 116 and 117 passing. Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich said an area of focus for the defense this week will be executing the game plan at a high level.

The Bluebirds held their own against the mighty Covington Catholic Spread offense. But one wrong step on defense led to the game's lone touchdown on the third offensive play of the game against the Colonels.

"You preach all the time and you hear it all the time. You get in a big game and you have two good teams, it's going to be three or four plays that will be the difference," Weinrich said. "That play put us behind for the rest of the game. We wanted to give up no touchdowns to give ourselves a chance to win the game. There were times we were off just a little bit with our technique on third down. We could have got them off the field."


Senior linebacker Brycen Huddleston continues to dazzle for the Bluebirds with 79 tackles including nine for a loss and four sacks. The Highlands defensive line continues to get pressure in the backfield. Senior defensive lineman Zach Lewin leads the way with 38 tackles including 13 for a loss and four sacks with senior defensive back Sawyer Depp adding 38 tackles including two for a loss.

Highlands has done well when the defense gives the offense short field position. The Bluebirds have 11 fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions on the season. Depp and junior linebacker Mason South lead the Bluebirds with two fumble recoveries each with senior defensive back Jacob Brass recording a team-high six interceptions and junior defensive back Jason Noe making two.

"Everyone is hustling and everyone is trusting what Coach Weinrich says," said Tyler Phillipps, Highlands senior defensive lineman. "Over film sessions, he gets the points across really well and shows us why what he's preaching makes success. Everybody needs to be on the same page in order to be successful."

Cooper has gone more to a Spread formation this year trying to take advantage of the athleticism of junior Jeremiah Lee. Borchers said the Jaguars had to use him at quarterback last year and teams knew they had a chance to win if they shut down the Cooper running game, which Highlands did well in a 36-7 victory in Fort Thomas to open last season. Lee had just 25 yards rushing on 18 carries.