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Friday, January 24, 2020

Highland Heights Presents Good Neighbor Awards, Meets Candidates, Prepares for Year Ahead

Students on the Lego League team from Calvary Christian School received a Good Neighbor Award from Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers.

by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Three area groups received Good Neighbor awards at a short January meeting of the Highland Heights city council.

The meeting started with a moment of silence for the memory of local businessman Harold Blocher, Sr, who had recently passed away and in support of his son who has served on the Highland Heights Planning Commission and several other city boards including the board of council.

First up for a Good Neighbor Award was the Lego League Team from Calvary Christian School from Latonia. Seven students from the school presented to council in December on a solution to traffic safety issues at the intersection of US 27 and Sunset, a corner dubbed "Malfunction Junction."

The presentation was one element of a larger project for the group that involved several parts. The students were required to come up with an innovative idea and consult with a professional. For that portion, the students chose Highland Heights City Planner Dave Geohegan to help them with the intersection project.

The students were also required to design and program a robot and send it through a series of tasks for which they would earn points.

The students’ coach Alison Sammet explained the students were also scored on core values including teamwork, innovation and gracious professionalism.

"They did very well at the competition and will be moving on to the state competition on February 1 at Northern Kentucky University. We are very proud of them for that."

The students and coaches Sammet and Heather Verst, accepted a plaque from Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers. The students wore medals presented to them at the regional Lego competition given to them for exceptional teamwork.

RELATED: Students take a run at fixing Campbell County's "Malfunction Junction"

College students honored for service to the community

NKU advisor David Kime and two Honors Program students, Jennifer Ashleman and Kendyll Smith, received a Good Neighbor Award for their help with Highland Heights city events.

Student members of the Northern Kentucky University Honors Program earned a Good Neighbor Award from the city for their service throughout 2019. The students helped with several city events including Halloween and the annual Veteran’s Day/Senior Breakfast.

The students were a hit with the senior citizens, said Meyers. He told the students,"Not only did you carry trays, but you actually went to the tables and sat and talked with the seniors. You don’t know how much that means to seniors," he said. "It brought a couple of them to tears, because you took the time to sit and listen to them. They really did appreciate it and had nothing but kind words to express to you."

The students in this NKU Honors Program are in a residency program at Callahan Hall, said advisor David Kime. The program involves 12 student volunteers.

In speaking of the students’ relationship with the citizens of Highland Heights, Kime said, "We are very grateful to have this opportunity. I know the students in the living community really wanted to be involved and be a part of the community of Highland Heights, and we are looking forward to continuing and expanding these opportunities."

Meyers also presented a Good Neighbor Award to the Asbury Church Choir. The choir helped the community celebrate the holidays by performing at the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

Choir Director Doug Collier accepts a Good Neighbor Award on behalf of the Asbury Church Choir  from Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers.


District 67 special election candidates introduce themselves

Both candidates running for the open seat in the Kentucky House District 67 were invited to attend the January city council meeting. The candidates, Mary Jo Wedding (R) and Rachel Roberts (D) addressed council and those present.

They were each given five minutes to introduce themselves.

Republican Wedding said "I’m a conservative. I’m the Republican Party candidate for the special election. I’m a citizen. I’m not a career politician, and I’ve actually never run for office before. Over the years as events changed and governments transitioned, I became aware I wasn’t real happy with what was going on..."

Republican candidate for Kentucky House District 67 Mary Jo Wedding addresses Highland Heights city council.

After receiving unsatisfactory answers to her questions about federal spending and infringement on personal liberties, she said, she decided to learn all she could about politics, policy and procedures. She became an advocate for Citizens for Self-Governance, eventually serving as the organization’s state legislative officer.

After speaking with citizens across the state and returning to school, she considered running for office in 2017 but felt she wasn’t ready. "I decided 2020 was my year," she said.

Wedding runs a payroll service company. "We cater to small businesses in Northern Kentucky. We have 116 clients, about 95 percent are Northern Kentucky small businesses in our area including some municipalities."

RELATED: Mary Jo Wedding Selected GOP Nominee for District 67 Special Election...

Democrat Rachel Roberts said she, too, is a small business owner. She owns a yoga studio in Newport, and lives in Newport.

Rachel Roberts, Democratic candidate for Kentucky House District 67, speaks with Highland Heights city council.

"I ran for office 2018 as your Democratic state candidate at that time, and that was life-changing for me. I’ve always been an activist, I’ve always been politically minded and I’ve always been a community builder and through that opportunity I got to meet and learn from people in three different counties. My whole world view changed and expanded," she said.

"It was my greatest honor to stand on people’s porches and speak with them...People will tell you their deepest wants, their deepest fears and their deepest hopes for their families. That is a great privilege and a great burden and I’m really excited I get to stand on those people’s porches again and learn from them."

RELATED: Special Election: Democrat Rachel Roberts Nominated...

Meyers thanked the candidates for introducing themselves to the community and wished them luck. He reminded all present that the special election for Kentucky District 67 will be held on Tuesday, February 25.

On the horizon

City council members received updates on some ongoing discussions. Council member Rene Heinrich reported on her research regarding AirBnB and related short-term rentals. The city has been considering whether city regulations maybe needed for such operations.

Heinrich said there were a handful of air bnbs in town but there had not been any concerns or complaints. She said, since the city has regulations for noise and for parking, she was unsure if additional regulation is needed. She noted that owners of these short-term rentals tend keep up their properties to be able to attract customers.

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City Attorney Steve Franzen said the businesses are required to pay the city the gross receipts tax. Many of the owners may not be aware of this.

Council member Mike Kessling questioned whether technology is available to monitor the many different rental websites through one app. He said he will do research on the best way to track these businesses.

Council members said they will continue to explore the topic and look for ways to inform short-term rental business owners of their responsibilities.

Kessling also brought up questions about Sunday liquor sales in the city. Nearby communities are re-examining Sunday hours of operation. The mayor asked him to do more research and report at the council’s next meeting.

The council approved changing the date for the next Community Day event to September 26, 2020. Hot weather during the last few years' events held in July prompted the committee overseeing the event to consider moving the date to a cooler month that promises more comfortable weather. The plan is for food trucks to provide food and the city to provide the beverages, thus avoiding the heat of cooking as well.

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