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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Northern Kentucky accounting firm merges with Fort Thomas business

Rudler, PSC, a public accounting firm located in Northern Kentucky, announced a strategic merger with Scott E. Grosser, PSC CPAs in Fort Thomas.

Grosser's firm will assume the Rudler name and a second office will open in Fort Thomas in addition to Rudler’s primary location in Fort Wright to accommodate the expansion.

The Fort Thomas location will be at 20 N. Grand Avenue, Fort Thomas.

“This merger is a major milestone in our 50 years of business that will allow us to grow while remaining independent and continue to provide outstanding service to our clients,” said Alex Weidner, president of Rudler.

“Similarly to our firm, Rudler has a stellar reputation for treating their clients like family,” said Scott E. Grosser, owner of Scott E. Grosser, PSC CPAs. “This merger allows us to broaden our technology platforms to better serve our clients and lend our years of tax service experience to enhance Rudler’s current service offerings.”

Support Veterans Wreaths Across America This December With Your Time or Money

For the 5th year, Wreaths Across America is raising funds and to place wreaths on the graves of Veterans in the Civil War Battery and the VA’s Soldier’s Lot at the Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate on Saturday December 14, 2019.  Wreaths will be placed at veterans cemeteries throughout the United State on that date as part of Wreaths Across America (WAA) program. The program started at Arlington Cemetery and has spread to Veterans' Cemeteries across the nation.
Evergreen Cemetery holds the graves of over 440 veterans from the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Organizer Paul Whalen says, “There are hundreds of National Cemeteries across the nation and the world doing this, including the Arlington National Cemetery.In the past, I believe we have placed the most wreaths on Veterans' graves in the Greater Cincinnati area.”
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In addition to funding wreaths, volunteers are needed to assist with placement of wreaths on the graves. Last year, the group placed over 310 wreaths last year.  Whalen says, “We would like to place 448 in order to include all the Veterans' Graves in the Civil War Lot in the front of the cemetery.”
Volunteers will meet at the John R. Little VFW for coffee and to pick up wreath for placement at 8:30 AM on December 14, 2019.

At 8:50, volunteers will proceed to veteran grave locations. The ceremony begins at 9:30.
 If you would like to make a donation to assist in this endeavor.  Wreaths are $15 a piece and donations are tax deductible.  Checks should be made out to “WAA” (Wreaths Across America) and mailed to Paul Whalen at P.O. Box 22; Fort Thomas, Kentucky 41075.  Checks should have Location KYELS and Group KY0098 marked on them as well.

Volunteers can email Paul Whalen at or call him at 859-466-3450 or Carolyn Noe at 954-815-2457.

Andy Eckerle takes the reins for Highlands Bowling

Bluebirds Ready to Soar with First-Year Head Coach

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Jordan Cole (left) and junior Tessa Killen (right) will be keys to the success of the Highlands bowling teams this year.
First-year Highlands bowling Head Coach Andy Eckerle mentioned the biggest component to success is like a lot of things in life.

That's consistency.

Eckerle takes over the Highlands bowling programs that have seen success since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association made it a sport in 2012. Eckerle said former Head Coach Glenn Schmidt still helps out at LaRu Lanes in Highlands Heights where the team practices and has home matches.

"I am kind of a newby with coaching. I have some experience bowling," Eckerle said. "It wasn't my sport growing up. I play it pretty consistently. (Schmidt) and I talk a lot. It's been key, too. We get a lot of practice time in and the kids are using it to their advantage. We have scheduled some practices trying to maintain focus trying to make sure that we practice as we hope to play trying to take our time on the lanes seriously."

The Highlands girls are coming off the first state tournament win in school history with a 3-0 (153-136, 171-139, 203-170) win over Harrison County. The Bluebirds then lost to Region 5 rival Campbell County by the same score in the elite eight. Campbell County finished state runner-up and won the region. Highlands has three region championships and six total appearances in the state tournament.

The Bluebirds graduated Emerel Woody and Erin Parrott from that team. But they return juniors Abby Bach and Tessa Killen. Woody and Bach made the individual state tournament last year with Bach making the state semifinals for a top-eight finish.

"I think they're chomping at the bit to get going," Eckerle said. "I know we've got some new additions who are real excited to get out there and get some experience, too so I think they'll be riding that wave into the year."

Two of those additions are junior Amanda Parrott and sophomore Kristen Egan. Amanda Parrott returns after not bowling last year.

"For the new players, we're just focusing on getting them comfortable in the lanes and we're just carrying the team as much as possible," Killen said. "We've been doing a lot of spare drills and we've been simulating game play here at practice and helping them with their techniques."

The Highlands boys did not make it to state for the third year in a row. But eighth grader Alex Bach made it to state individually.

The Bluebirds return their top two bowlers in seniors Gunner Gabbard and Jordan Cole. Kyle Tierney graduated from last year. But Highlands has six seniors including Perry Daniel and Jonathan Egan.

"I think we have three key senior bowlers that are strong," Eckerle said. "I feel really comfortable with the guys that we have."

Eckerle said he had a huge tryout for the squad. But he kept some new bowlers on the sidelines to prepare for beyond this season. He said the seniors have helped out there.

"(The underclassmen) have all been really outstanding," Cole said. "They understand their spot currently and they understand next year and the years to come, they're going to have more important role on the team. They understand they will eventually be some of the best bowlers on the team. They're very good at listening and are very coachable."

The Highlands boys have one lone Region 5 crown in 2016. The Bluebirds have been to state twice finishing state runner-up to Scott County in 2014.

Monday, November 11, 2019

KYTC District 6 Snowfighters to report for first winter event

Rain, snow and freezing temperatures coming our way

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 snow and ice removal crews will report to duty this afternoon at 4 p.m. for the first winter weather event forecasted for the Northern Kentucky area.

KYTC has been monitoring this first threat of precipitation.  The National Weather Service advises rain is expected to change over to snow later this afternoon.   Dropping temperatures during the overnight hours will also create the potential for slick spots on the Tuesday morning commute.

D6 Snowfighters will mobilize ahead of the storm to treat state roads and interstates in the Northern Kentucky area.   Crews will especially focus on bridges, overpasses and higher elevated roadways that would be more prone to freezing.

Motorists should plan their morning commute by leaving early to allow more time to reach their destination or later to allow the conditions to improve.   If you must travel, motorists should simply remember – When it snows, take it slow.

Maintenance crews in KYTC District 6 have responsibility for clearing over 2,000 miles of state-maintained highways in the counties of Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton and Robertson. That equates to 4,670   “lane miles” – all driving lanes from rural state roads to interstate highways.  District 6 state maintenance crews are prepared to work to keep roads in the best possible condition during winter weather.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has a webpage just for snow and ice information. The public can visit to learn more about priority routes, access helpful winter weather tips and fact sheets and view informational videos on salt application and snow removal.

District 6 starts out with 31,350 tons of salt each winter season stored in the domes located at the state maintenance facilities.  There are 133 trucks available to treat state highways and interstates.

In the northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell, District 6 is responsible for 1,868 lane miles of roadway. Crews have stockpiled 16,500 tons of salt and over 26,000 gallons of brine for de-icing in the three counties. Seventy-six trucks are available for snow and ice removal – three of which will concentrate on the six-mile section of I-75 between Buttermilk Pike and the Brent Spence Bridge that includes the “Cut in the Hill.”

Every snowstorm is different and presents unique challenges, such as air temperature, pavement temperature, the timing of snowfall and ice. Last year, 2018 – 2019, District 6 crews used 29,900 tons of salt, 44,749 gallons of salt brine and 38,565 gallons of liquid chloride for snow and ice events. In all, District 6 spent $5.6 million on equipment, materials and labor.

You are an important part!  Safe travel begins with YOU!

Be prepared:

The following measures will help keep motorists safe and prepared:

Newport on the Levee offers rent-free retail space for local vendors

The new owner of Newport on the Levee is planning an expanded holiday experience that will include activating every available space in the retail development.

North American Properties will host Winter Wonder on the Levee starting Nov. 23. The experience will include a Light Up the Levee event along with shopping and entertainment opportunities.

To create a unique shopping experience, NAP is offering a select number of rent-free retail spaces to Greater Cincinnati specialty retailers, makers, artists, eateries and other purveyors.

The spaces, which range from 700 to 7,800 square feet, will be part of the Village at the Levee in the Gallery building and be available for reservations through Nov. 20. Retailers will be able to activate the spaces Nov. 23 through Dec. 28.

Interested vendors can submit applications on the Levee website or email for more information. Accepted vendors will be announced as they’re confirmed.

“We are in a unique position this year where we are preparing for the transformation coming in 2020 and have a limited number of retail spaces available for the holiday season,” NAP partner and chief investment officer Tim Perry said in a statement. “Newport on the Levee has always been a community-driven hub. To show our profound appreciation for the artisans and makers in our region and to offer our holiday guests gifts and merchandise they can’t find anywhere else, we decided to create an amazing popup experience surrounding our holiday programming.”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Highlands-Conner Football Video Highlights

Ben Williams named Soccer Coach at NewCath

Today, Newport Central Catholic named Ben Williams as its new Boys Soccer Coach. He will be taking over the NCC Boys Soccer program starting in 2020 after serving as an assistant this past season.  He takes over the position left vacant by Coach Jeff Martin who will now be serving as the school’s Head Baseball Coach.

“I’m very excited to be leading these young men at Newport Central Catholic HS.  I enjoyed my time very much as a student-athlete at NCC and to now lead the soccer program as an alum, is truly an honor.  I’m looking forward to getting started,” said Williams.

Williams, a 2000 graduate of Newport Central Catholic, was a standout in both soccer and track.  He was a 1999 First Team All-Region selection for both the Northern Kentucky Soccer Coaches Association and The Cincinnati Enquirer and was also a 1999 All-State Honorable Mention selection.

Williams continued his soccer career at Wilmington College where he was a four year letterman and named captain his senior year.  His team advanced to the NCAA "Round of 32" during his sophomore season.

Principal Ron Dawn said, “I am really excited to announce Ben Williams as our new Boys Soccer Coach. It’s always great to have former players come back to coach. With the experience and knowledge that Ben possesses the future is bright for the soccer program here at NCC.”

NKY Chamber Government Forum to Address Vaping Epidemic in Northern Kentucky

On Monday, November 25, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) will host Government Forum: The Vaping Epidemic in NKY - Facts and Solutions. The event will bring together a panel of experts for a discussion on the region’s vaping epidemic and the proposed 2020 legislation before the Kentucky General Assembly.

Panelists will include Rep. Kim Moser, Chair of Health and Family Services, Kentucky House of Representatives and Ben Chandler, President and CEO, Foundation for Healthy Kentucky. Garren Colvin, President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare will moderate.

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine and come in many forms, with the most popular looking like USB sticks. The devices heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it and other additives. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use has grown dramatically over the course of the past five years, with usage by high school students exceeding adults.

“Northern Kentucky has a smoking problem,” said Brent Cooper, President & CEO of the NKY Chamber.  “While nationally 14% of adults smoke cigarettes, 23% of NKY adults smoke and this does not include the newest epidemic facing the youth of our region: vaping. This is a critical conversation for our community to be having as the health of our future workforce is at stake.”

The Government Forum will run from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. and will take place at St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center (3861 Olympic Blvd, Erlanger, KY 41018). Tickets are $30 for NKY Chamber members, $40 for future members, $25 for NKYP Passport holders and are available online at Pre-registration is required.

Government Forum sponsors include Event Sponsors AT&T and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The Host Sponsor is St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Alexandria murder suspect in custody, details developing

A suspect is in custody in connection to the shootings which occurred on N. Cottonwood Drive yesterday afternoon in Alexandria. Police are still investigating and will release more information when it becomes available.

Police arrested 18-year-old Richard Fessler early Saturday  morning in a neighborhood in Alexandria near Washington Trace. He was booked into the Campbell County Detention Center at 4:00 a.m. on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Alexandria Police Chief Lucas Cooper said one victim, who was shot twice, advised officers to a home where they found two other victims dead inside. Cooper said that there has not been a homicide in Alexandria in the time he's been with the department, 13 years.

Cooper said that they believe the suspect and victims knew each other.

Fessler had only one charge as an adult on his record, a shoplifting charge in August 2019. According to that case memo, police alleged that Fessler had stolen a facemask from Kohl's at the Crossroads Plaza in Cold Spring, valued at $30. He was given diversion by the court.

The case memo on that case also indicated that Fessler resided on N. Cottonwood Drive. It's not yet clear if the crime took place in the same home.

Chief Cooper said that a passerby acted quickly to help the victim who had been shot by stopping to help emergency treatment.

Ambyr Schnitzler told FOX19 she was driving through the area with her two kids in the car when she saw a man running down a cul-de-sac with his arms up and blood all over him.

“I needed to be there. I really believe that. He was shot in the shoulder and underneath his rib area and there was so much blood. I am not sure how many times he got shot. I just know those two areas and the whole time I was holding it and packing it and all that pressure. I made him stay with me, not to go into shock and he was telling me about his son. He just kept up with me until they got there,” Schnitzler told Fox.

The injured victim was transported to UC hospital. Their condition is unknown at this time.

The City of Alexandria Police Department issued a "shelter in place" for area residents while they attempted to located Fessler.

Highlands Falls in First Round of Class 5A Playoffs

Conner Makes Clutch Plays in Win over Bluebirds

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds football team comes onto the field for what would be the final time at Conner on Friday.
Going into the game, the Highlands Bluebirds football team (6-5 overall) knew it had to contain the prolific Spread-Option attack from the host Conner Cougars (8-3) and produce more on offense to advance in the first round of the playoffs.

The Highlands offense did produce more than in recent games. But Conner senior quarterback Jared Hicks and company made enough clutch plays to lead the Cougars past the Bluebirds, 38-28 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs on Friday in Hebron. This marks the second first-round exit for the Bluebirds in four seasons.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Alexandria Police Looking for shooting suspect, residents to "shelter in place"

An active investigation on Brookwood Dr. in Alexandria, has led Alexandria Police to let residents know to "shelter in place until further notice" after police say a shooting occurred.

An emergency advisory message was sent to residents by police via Nixle. The message also indicated that the area should be avoided.

Authorities say they are searching for a suspect in a shooting.

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Campbell County Dispatch also put out an advisory to be looking for a man with a gun.

Dispatchers were told multiple people were shot in Alexandria and to be on the lookout for the suspect’s vehicle on the AA Highway.

The vehicle is reportedly a black Ford Focus.

Buffalo Trace 6 Millionth Barrel Bourbon Raffle for Holly Hill

Campbell County Residents Receive Emergency Notifications with Smart911

Emergency Management officials in Campbell County announced today enhancement to Smart911 that allows individuals to receive emergency notifications. Through one sign up process, residents can share additional information with 9-1-1 and receive timely alerts.

Smart911 now enables residents and travelers to CAMPBELL COUNTY to sign up for free at or download the Smart911 app to receive timely and actionable emergency alerts via email, text or voice message. They can also identify when and how they are alerted and communicated with before, during, and after emergencies.

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“Individuals will receive notifications that will improve safety in our county and help inform residents of potentially life-saving actions they may need to take in an emergency,” said William R. Turner, Director of the Campbell County Office of Emergency Management.  “The information in Smart911 Safety Profiles and the emergency notifications allows both residents and first responders to be better informed in an emergency situation.”

Smart911 is a free service that allows individuals to improve their personal safety by receiving alerts and creating a Safety Profile for their household that can include any information they want 9-1-1 call takers and first responders to have in the event of an emergency they need to dial 9-1-1, their Safety Profile will immediately display on the call taker’s screen saving critical seconds and even minutes in response to the emergency and now individuals can receive alert notifications on potentially hazardous situations involving weather, traffic, and other emergencies.

“Smart911 saves critical time in an emergency when seconds count,” said Director William R. Turner, “The key information provided in a Smart911 Safety Profile enables us to know exactly where we are going and who we are looking for if a child goes missing or there is a house fire, those details can help us respond faster and more efficiently. Sending notifications through Smart911 allows us to keep the public informed of emergencies and how to be prepared and stay safe.”

Wilder Officer Christopher Vance Promoted to Sergeant

Sgt. Christopher Vance is congratulated by Wilder Mayor Robert Arnold after taking his oath of office.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

Wilder city officials, family and fellow officers were on hand at the city council meeting in October to congratulate Christopher Vance on his promotion to sergeant in the Wilder Police Department.

A graduate of the Kentucky Police Academy, Vance has served the city as an officer since 2013, coming to the department from the Covington Police Department.

At the meeting Wilder Mayor Robert Arnold said “When he was first hired with the city, it was also my first day on council so the first thing I got to witness as a new council passing a resolution to hire Chris. It’s great having him stay with us all these years and move up through the ranks. We certainly appreciate his effort and commitment to the city.”

Police Chief Chad Martin said his department has undergone many changes lately, and Sergeant Vance has provided important support and leadership throughout this period. “When three of the most senior officers within the department retired in close proximity, Sgt. Vance was instrumental in not only maintaining, but also increasing the overall efficiency of the department by implementing new processes."

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wilder Bluegrass Festival Planned as Stop for Licking River Canoe and Kayak Trail

A canoe/kayak trail is planned for the Licking River. (photo by Rdikeman, Creative Commons license)

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

At the city's November council meeting, Wilder City Administrator Terry Vance announced he would provide a presentation on planned improvements to the Frederick's Landing Boat Launch at a meeting of the coalition working to bring a canoeing and kayaking trial experience to the Licking River.

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The Licking River Jacob Spears Trail would be a water-based trail that would span Kentucky on the Licking River from Paris all the way to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Like the Appalachian trail for hikers, participants would be able to do parts or all of the trail, coming in and out as desired.

Paris, Kentucky, is said to be where bourbon got its start. It was home to farmer and distiller Jacob Spears, who brought bourbon up the Licking River on flatboats to the Ohio and beyond. Wilder, Newport, Taylor Mill and Covington are among the Northern Kentucky cities who would benefit from being a part of the trail and the state's rich bourbon history.

Cities are exploring ideas to tie events into the trail in different ways. For Wilder, plans are starting for the annual September bluegrass festival to be promoted as one of the tie-in attractions along the trail. Coalition members have penciled in the third Saturday of September to be included in planning for the trail activities, said Vance.

Wilder Firehouse Update, Park Ground Breaking, Street Lighting

Wilder Mayor Robert Arnold and other city officials wore Hawaiian shirt and other summer clothes to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Wilder City Center Park. (photo courtesy city of Wilder)

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

It was a busy month for the city of Wilder as officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the city park project, finalized the financing of the firehouse project, began replacement of lighting on poles throughout the city and explored the idea of creating a Tax Increment Financing District.

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Official start for the city park project

On October 13, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony and celebration for the city park project. The park, located on the city building property, will cover approximately three acres and will feature an expansion of the existing playground and the addition of a splash park, sports court, sand volleyball courts, a concession building with restroom facilities, two additional shelters with tables and grills, as well as a lawn event area.

Fire station work and financing

Work was underway in October for the new Wilder fire station. At the October 7 city council meeting, City Administrator Terry Vance announced that geopiers were in place, and the construction company was pouring the concrete footers for the foundation.

At the November 4 council meeting, Vance explained recent finance issues for the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract for the work. The good news, he said, was that the entire project will come in at just under the six million dollars planned for the project. However, none of the items included as alternates to the initial plan (additional improvements) were included.

Vance explained that these alternates could be revisited at a later date with money saved from the project or from other places, and that any one or all of these could be separate projects with other contractors.

With a GMP, a certain amount of money is set aside for contingencies, and there is a good chance, if all goes well, that some of that money can be used for the additional items later. The items that didn’t make it into the project included upgrades to the council chamber room, the police department bathrooms, the exercise room, as well as a second shelter and archway in the back of the building.

As part of the process, changes were made to the plans to keep it within budget, and every aspect was examined for cost savings. For example, Vance noted that a plan to purchase new playground equipment was taken out, saving $175,645. Instead, city officials will meet with the Miracle Play Equipment company who provided the current equipment to see if it can be refurbished and a rubber mat put down.

The city will also look at using pre-cast stone instead of real stone for some of the exterior work. If officials decide to do this, it will result in a savings of about $11,000. The cost of two steel countertops for the firehouse, about $17,000, was taken out of the project. These can be added back later with monies set aside for furnishings. Firehouse drywall also came in under budget at $230,000, saving about $50,000 on the original estimate.

All told, the cost saving measures resulted in bringing the GMP just under budget at $5,994,828,036. Vance said the items removed will be revisited, and officials will look for additional funding elsewhere as well as savings that could come from this initial project.

The council voted to approve the GMP agreement and to authorize Mayor Robert Arnold to sign it.

Exploring Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Vance asked council to approve the hiring of Jim Parsons, a partner in Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL and legal expert in setting up Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. This is just a first step in the process, he said, but he felt it would be a good idea to start exploration now so that a district might be created soon to help attract developers to the area.

Wilder has several parcels of property, said Vance, that have various issues that make developing them a challenge. For example, one includes wetland, another has a problem with fly ash. While over the years developers have looked at some of these properties, no one has wanted to take on the additional costs of clean up or necessary changes to allow development.

Tax Increment Financing is a public financing method that allows a subsidy for redevelopment of a property by diverting taxes from a defined area, or district. Under a TIF subsidy, the city would forego tax revenue in the future so that the developer would have more money to develop and build on the property.

Vance noted that many of the properties in question have been vacant for years. Creating a TIF district could attract developers, but the city would set the parameters of the deal and could accept or reject a developer. It is possible to wait until the city has a developer interested, but the city administrator said getting a TIF set up can be a long process and doing so ahead of time gives the city "another tool in the toolbox" that could be ready to be used if an opportunity arises.

City council approved the request to engage Parsons’ services.

More city news

New overhead lights are coming on in Wilder. Duke Energy is switching out the old overhead lighting for new LED lights. Work is underway to convert all the city’s wooden pole street lights outside of subdivisions. The switch does not include some decorative lighting planned for the downtown area. The initial cost of $76,946.50 sounds steep, but Vance said the city will recoup that amount in savings in utility bills over the next three to five years. Council authorized the mayor to to proceed with Duke for the lighting project.

The administrator also announced Wilder has received a grant from the Kentucky Extension Service for $1,000 to create a Monarch butterfly way station. The project will be erected next spring along one wall of the city building.

Police and Fire department news

The mayor, council and Police Chief Chad Martin congratulated Christopher Vance on his promotion to sergeant in the Wilder Police Department. The sergeant’s family, friends and fellow officers filled the council chambers at the October council meeting to witness his oath of office and to congratulate him.

Chief Martin also announced that Officer Robert Peak has taken on a detective role. Questions regarding police investigations should now be directed to him.

The chief also said the department has received a generous donation from one of its vendors, Indianapolis-based Pro-Guard Products. The company donated a prisoner cage with ballistic shield worth $2,800 for the departments’ new police car.

Normally, retired police and other city vehicles are sold in surplus auctions, garnering the city under $1,000 to $1,500, but Martin announced a potential deal with the county sheriff’s department that could help the city recoup the current value of the car. The sheriff’s department has expressed interest in purchasing the city’s 2011 Dodge Charger. If the county officials like the car, the city may work out a deal to sell it to them directly for $6,000.

The city plans also to sell its surplus radios, both car and portables. These will not work with the new county radio system. The Harrison County Fire Department has offered to purchase the 16 radios for $40 a piece.

The Wilder Fire Department participated in active shooter training with B and B Riverboats and the Coast Guard last month. The department’s boat was used for the exercises that included the Wilder department as well as the county SWAT team and departments from Newport and Kenton County.

Upcoming dates of note

Boutique Bocce Court, Italian-inspired restaurant and bar opens at Newport on the Levee this week

A new retailer is slated to open at Newport on the Levee this Friday.

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Rotolo, which is open in the former Axis Alley space, is a full service bar and restaurant that will feature 16 bocce ball lanes, billiards and foosball.

The food menu will feature Italian cuisine.

Rotolo, which means "to roll" in Italian, has indoor and patio seating on the street level of Newport on the Levee.

Its street address is 1 Levee Way and will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

North American Properties promised to refresh and renew the mall after purchasing it for an undisclosed amount in December of 2018.

They began making good on that promise with the announcement that the building that housed Mitchell's Fish Market, a tenant at the Levee since 2001, would be torn down to make way for a new tenant. What that tenant or tenants is isn't quite clear, but based on drawings by Reztark Design Studio, it will have some open air patio space and be built with two floors.

North American Properties said it will spend $100 million,to upgrade the mall and add a new mix of food, retail and entertainment destinations, but no new tenants have been announced yet.

Over the next year and a half, Cincinnati-based North American plans to re-configure the mall's physical footprint to better take advantage of the panoramic views of the river and Downtown.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Seeks Substitute Teachers, Substitute Instructional Assistants and Substitute Bus Monitors

Maya W. with longterm substitute, Kirt Yurchak. 
Fort Thomas Independent Schools is seeking applicants for the positions of Substitute Teacher, Substitute Instructional Assistant and Substitute Bus Monitor.  Please forward this information to anyone who may be interested.  We offer competitive pay and the opportunity to work in one of the highest performing districts in the state!

Substitute Teachers perform the instructional and classroom management processes for teachers who are absent for a day or longer periods of time.  Their duties include facilitating instruction, supervising students, and ensuring that students’ needs are met.  Candidates need to be flexible in their availability.  Requirements to be a Substitute Teacher include:

- Applicant must be over 18 years old.
- Applicant must have at least 64 semester hours of college credit.
- Applicant must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.45 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

New substitute teacher applicants must attend a mandatory 3-hour training session before they can be added to our active substitute list.

Substitute Instructional Assistants provide support to teachers, instructors and faculty members in an educational setting.  They assist with a variety of functions, including implementing instructional programs, assessing student performance, and other tasks as needed by instructor.

Substitute Bus Monitors are responsible for supervising students with medical and/or special needs during bus transportation routes.

Here is the direct link to our substitute applications online:  Please complete the specific application for your position of interest.

For Substitute Teacher applicants, please also pick up a "CERTIFIED SUBSTITUTE TEACHER PACKET" available at Central Office, located at 28 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas, KY.

This packet contains information needed to fully complete your application.
Please contact Alesha Meyn, Director of Human Resources, at 859.815.2030 or with questions.

Highlands will take on Conner in the first round of the playoffs

Bluebirds Set for Rematch Against Cougars

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands sophomore running back Griffin Richter could be counted on for carries when the Bluebirds open the playoffs at Conner on Friday at 7 p.m.
It is the time of the year when you take advantage of a second chance, prove yourself again or see your season end depending on your seed.

The Highlands Bluebirds football team (6-4 overall) is looking to take advantage of that second chance on Friday in a Class 5A, District 5 rematch at the Conner Cougars (7-3) at 7 p.m. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association voted to pair district opponents against each other in the first two round of the playoffs this year.

"I think it will be a good opportunity to go back and fix some of the things that we did wrong," said Noah LaMothe, Highlands senior defensive back. "The deeper fade routes can be covered better. We got a do-over and not a lot of teams get that."

Highlands Junior/Senior Girls Face Off in Annual Powder Puff Game

The Highlands High School senior girls will play against junior girls in the Annual Powder Puff football game on Saturday, November 16, at 7pm. The game will be played at the David B. Cecil Memorial Stadium on the main campus of the high school.

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Hosted by the HHS senior class, the proceeds of this game will benefit the Sam Scott Memorial Scholarship and the Michelle Chalk Scholarship Foundation.

This event is open to the public, and takes place at Highlands High School in the David B. Cecil Memorial Stadium (2400 Memorial Parkway Fort Thomas, KY 41075).

Admission to the game is $5.  Because this is an annual charity event, activity passes will not be honored. The proceeds are going to benefit two scholarship funds.

Highlands' Matthew Mason to be inducted to NKY Athletic Directors Hall of Fame

Highlands alum, Matthew Mason, will be inducted into the Northern Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony will be hosted on November 14 at Receptions.

Highlands Athletic Director, Kevin Nieporte, nominated Mason, a three-sport star, lettering in baseball, football and basketball from 1993-1996. He went on to play baseball at Eastern Kentucky and finished his degree at Northern Kentucky University.

"Matthew is one of our most highly decorated student-athletes during his time and contributed to the success of all three teams. We are proud to call him a graduate," said Nieporte.

While at Highlands, Mason's teams were state runner-up in football in 1995 and won the 9th Region in 1996. He was team's Most Valuable Player, an NKAC All-Star, a three-year tarter for the Bluebirds and team captain.

On the court, he was a three-year letterman, playing for Coach John Messmer.

On the gridiron, Mason was team Most Valuable Player, a Top-24 Selection, a two-year starter and captain while playing for Coach Dale Mueller.

He credits his dad as being his greatest role model. “He was always a great example for me to look up to.”

NKADA President, Tony Bacigalupo said that Mason was one of the best three-sport athletes he'd seen in Northern Kentucky over the last 25 years.

“He is one of the few athletes to achieve at such a high level in three sports,” he said.

Mason and his wife Katie, live in Fort Thomas with their three children. He is the co-founder of BM2 Freight Services Inc. since 2008.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bleacher Report article details legacy of Jared Lorenzen's legend

Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer took a storytelling swing to capture the spirit of Highlands' Jared Lorenzen and he hit it out of the park.

There has not been a shortage of articles on Jared since his tragic death earlier this year, but

"The Everlasting Legacy of Hefty Lefty" incorporates insights from those who knew him best, in long-form, weaving in video highlights and inside stories that will make you read with a wry smile and finish with a tear.

"Jared Lorenzen was a highlight machine, Super Bowl champ and early prototype for QBs like Cam Newton and Patrick Mahomes before dying at 38 after a long battle with obesity and other issues"

By Adam Kramer, Lexington, KY, October 31, 2019

Since his son, Jared, died, Joe Lorenzen has avoided traveling as much as possible. His job as an applications engineer requires some nights on the road, so he can't entirely avoid it. But he knows just how empty a hotel room can be these days.

When he's out there, on his own, he can get lost in his own thoughts, thinking about Jared.

And when he thinks of him, it's not to replay the many touchdowns he scored at Kentucky or the night in February 2008 when his son lifted him off the University of Phoenix Stadium turf after winning the Super Bowl. It's the emptiness and regret and love and loss that consume him.

Joe plays golf to occupy his mind. Candy Crush, too. But there is little that can truly distract him from his grief.

It all still feels so vivid as he describes it on this day in mid-October, a bit more than three months since Jared's death and about five hours before the former Wildcat's life is to be celebrated at a Kentucky home game against Arkansas. Sitting on the back porch of his son's home, a few miles from the stadium, with a chill in the air as the wind knocks leaves off the trees, Joe wears blue jeans and a white long-sleeve shirt that is neatly pressed. As he speaks, his hands rarely leave his lap.

The resemblance between the father and his late son is uncanny, so much so that years ago they were regularly confused for brothers. The rosy red cheeks. The defined facial features. The belly. And the natural warmth that draws you closer without you even questioning why or how.

"I miss him so much," Joe says. "But I couldn't be any prouder of who he was. I'm proud of his athletic accomplishments, but I'm prouder of the person he was. For wanting people to be happy."

He misses their phone calls. Ten minutes to seven, every morning, usually when they were both on their way to work. Jared and Joe wouldn't talk for long. But each would get to hear the other's voice and start each other's days, and that was enough.

Read the rest at Bleacher Report here.

Generous donation from Highlands alum leads to Eden Park transformation

Tom Jones, with family, at the ground-breaking ceremony at Eden Park. 

A field in Eden Park will be getting some needed improvements and renovations thanks to the generosity of Fort Thomas native and Highlands High School alumni, Tom Jones.

As it sits now, the park includes a single basketball court, which will stay, and is popular with rock climbers who traverse what remains of the reservoir walls.

The area will be renamed the Tom Jones Commons for Jones, who would take daily walks through the park from his Mt. Adams home. The retired Proctor and Gamble attorney, now living in Florida, also generously donated to the renovations of many of the schools in Fort Thomas, including the plaza outside the gymnasium at Highlands High School.

"We stood right up on top of the (reservoir) wall and we looked down on this space and it was green and it was open but it was very empty, and thus the seed was planted," Jones said at the ground breaking ceremony in October.

"One thing I really like about the new children's play area is it's going to be totally done by the park staff using their own design and using natural materials they're going to get not only from Eden Park but from other parks that they'll bring in and be very creative about creating this space for the kids."

The project will create a walking loop around the perimeter of the field and extend to Playhouse in the Park to connect the park with the city.

Interim Cincinnati Park Board Director Kara Kish said the space has been underutilized for years

Other improvements will include benches, picnic tables, trees placed along the walkways, additional features will include a play environment, a shelter for wonderful picnics in the shade, a new landscape, a wetland with a boardwalk, and improved site drainage and a welcome kiosk which will depict the rich history of this reservoir with interpretive signage.

Jones hints there could be future improvements, including solar "trees" that would generate enough energy to light the park and, possibly, a mini golf course.

“Parks and libraries are free and accessible to all, which is why I have chosen to give a gift that the entire community can enjoy for years to come," said Jones.