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Friday, February 28, 2020

Highlands Wins District Title in Convincing Fashion

Bluebirds Bring Home Elusive District Champiuonship

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore guard Zach Barth (10) and sophomore forward Oliver Harris (13) run at Newport senior guard DaeShawn White (0) in the first half of the 36th District championship Friday. Highlands pulled away for a 75-49 victory for the first district championship for the program since 2008.
If they starred in a move, it would probably be titled, "Left Behind No Longer."

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team (26-3 overall) had been the only one of seven 36th District teams at the school that had not won a district championship in the last several years. That ended Friday with a convincing 75-49 victory over the host Newport Wildcats (15-14).

This Week at the State Capitol

February 24-28, 2020

FRANKFORT – More top issues of the General Assembly’s 2020 session came into better focus this past week as legislative action hit high gear.

In the Senate, members gave approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that could give the General Assembly authority to establish standards on restoring voting rights for certain felons, not including those who committed treason, election bribery, a sex offense, a violent crime, or an offense against a child.

Kentucky law currently prohibits felons from voting unless they have their rights restored by the governor.

Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order in December to restore voting rights to about 140,000 felons. Supporters of Senate Bill 62 say the legislation would build on this by giving Kentucky an enduring approach to restoring voting rights that isn’t susceptible to different approaches future governors might have on the issue.

The bill passed the Senate 29-7 on Thursday and now goes to the House for consideration. If approved there, Kentucky voters would have the final say on the proposed constitutional amendment in November.

Measures advancing in the House this past week include a bill that would establish a tax on vaping products. It would also increase the excise tax rate per unit and weight on snuff and chewing tobacco.  Pipe tobacco and cigars would also see a wholesale tax increase from 15 to 25 percent, although cigarettes would not see a change. Supporters say the legislation, House Bill 32, would help decrease vaping among youth while generating needed revenue for the state.

The bill was approved by the House 75-17 on Wednesday and delivered to the Senate.

Other bills that took steps forward in the legislation process over the past week include measures on the following topics:

Sen. Wil Schroder Legislative Update

Now that we have passed the halfway point of this session, the countdown begins as we in the Senate anticipate the 2020-2022 budget bill from the House of Representatives, which we are expecting to receive by early March.

While crafting the biennial budget remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we are staying the course to uphold our other legislative obligations as members of the General Assembly by passing bills that include specific reforms and amendments to help us move the Commonwealth forward.

I am pleased to announce that this year’s school safety measure, Senate Bill 8, has been signed into law by the Governor. Passing both chambers with bipartisan support, Senate Bill 8 requires the trained and certified law enforcement officers already serving in Kentucky schools to be armed. The School Safety and Resiliency Act, which passed in 2019, implemented additional security and safety standards for schools, such as the requirement of a school resource officer and increased mental health services.

This week, I briefly stepped out of my role as chairman and presented a bill to the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The measure I am sponsoring, Senate Bill 159, relates to public health and protection concerns in regards to “splash pads.” These water play areas are usually found in public parks and have little or no standing water. As the father of two young children, I know how much kids enjoy running around on these splash pads. Senate Bill 159 establishes standards for the operation and maintenance of splash pads in a safe and sanitary manner—similar to those of a public swimming pool.

Another bill I am sponsoring advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 183, relates to child abuse or neglect investigations and would prohibit a parent, guardian, or other custodian from withdrawing, transferring, or in any way altering the current enrollment of a child to hinder an abused or neglected child investigation.

The Senate passed a few constitutional amendments this week, all of which relate to responsible criminal justice reform. Constitutional amendments passed by the Kentucky General Assembly go through a slightly different process than regular bills by also requiring the approval of Kentucky voters. If a legislatively referred constitutional amendment is passed by both chambers, the proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot at the next general election during which members of the state legislature are up for election. If approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes part of the Constitution.

A constitutional amendment that advanced this week was Senate Bill 58, which would curtail a governor’s ability to issue pardons on the way out of office. In other words, a governor would not be able to issue pardons or commutations during a certain period of time, beginning thirty days prior to the gubernatorial election and ending on the fifth Tuesday after the election—before the next governor is sworn in.

Sections of the Kentucky Constitution granting a governor the power to pardon date back to 1891 when it wasn’t unheard of to duel. Since then, our society and the composition of our judicial system has changed dramatically. It’s important to keep in mind that the power to pardon allows one man or woman to override the judgement of multiple authorities and officials within our criminal justice system. To limit the possibility of political corruption, Senate Bill 58 implements overdue, responsible oversight to a governor’s power to pardon.

Also passing was Senate Bill 62. This measure would grant the General Assembly the authority to establish standards for giving persons convicted of certain felonies the right to vote. However, the new process to restore voting rights would exclude those convicted of treason, bribery in an election, a violent offense, a sex offense, or an offense against a child. Currently, Kentucky is one of only two states, along with Iowa, with a lifetime voting ban for felons. Although there was an executive order put into place in late 2019, there are around 170,000 Kentuckians that are still without the right to vote due to a prior felony conviction. If approved by the House and Kentucky voters, Senate Bill 62 could give felons a clearer path to regaining their voting rights.

An act relating to blockchain technology is also heading to the House following its passage this week. Senate Bill 55 establishes a blockchain technology working group attached to the Commonwealth Office of Technology to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of using blockchain technology to enhance the security protection of Kentucky’s critical infrastructure. If you aren’t already familiar, blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied and, in many ways, has become the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin Blockchain, the tech community has now found other potential uses for the technology. I am proud to support this measure and look forward to seeing continued technological advancements here in the Commonwealth.

The Senate also passed a number of other bills this week:

SB 132- Adds individuals with state-issued personal identification cards to a master list of potential jurors, giving us a wider representation of our communities within our jury pools. The list of potential jurors was last expanded by the General Assembly in 2002.

SB 156- Ensures that Kentucky’s high school career and technical education system is unified, equitably funded, collaborative, responsive to industry, sustainable, and provides equalized access to all Kentucky students.

The pace in Frankfort is getting quicker, and I anticipate an increase of visitors and advocates from across the Commonwealth. As always, I welcome your input on these issues. I am honored to be your voice in Frankfort.

Robbery in Highlands Heights, Suspect Escapes

A robbery has occurred at the BB&T Bank in Highland Heights

By Jessie Eden

Northern Kentucky University has confirmed via Twitter that a robbery has occurred at the BB&T Bank on U.S. 27. The suspect is now on the loose.

The suspect is described as a white male in a gray hoodie and blue jeans. He left the scene on foot and was last seen heading towards Walgreen's and Applebee's.

Huff Realty next door was locked down as a result of the robbery.

Photo taken from Huff Realty. The space has been locked down as police search for suspect.

NKU is advising people to avoid the area and call 911 if the suspect is seen. A Norse alert was also sent out via text.

This is a developing story.

Photo Gallery: Don't Miss Your Last Chance to Roll -- RECA Roller Rink to Close on March 1

 The Last Roll: 

Check out these photos of RECA Roller Rink throughout the years...

By Jessie Eden

All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, it's the end of the road for RECA Roller Rink in Alexandria.

Paid for by Kentucky Sports Betting Now.
10 West Vine St., Suite 30, Lexington, KY, 40507

The RECA Roller Rink began at that location in 1958. The Danner family took over the business in the 1980s, and the current owner, Kelly Danner, announced in October 2019 that the roller rink would shut down on March 1, 2020.

RELATED: Zone Change Clears Way for New Business at RECA Roller Rink Site

In honor of the long-standing business and its importance to the community, Pfaehler said he plans to name the location the RECA Business Center.

Alexandria Mayor Andy Schabell has officially proclaimed March 1 as RECA Roller Rink Day. The proclamation reads, in part; "Families have been coming to RECA Roller Rink for roller skating, birthday parties, school functions and many other special events for over 60 years and whereas RECA has been a source of fun, exercise and entertainment creating decades of memories..."

RECA Roller Rink owner Kelly Danner receives proclamation from Alexandria Mayor Andy Schabell.

Your last chance to roll is this Sunday. There are two events planned;

Afternoon Skate: 

Evening Skate: 

6p.m. to 10 p.m. skate with live music by The Skeleton Crew. (designed for all ages, RECA is offering a chance for guests to 'sip & skate')

Please enjoy some of the photos FTM found from RECA's throughout the ages; if you have additional photos, we would love to see them:

Kathy Wessling, 15, looking for a size in the skate room at RECA Roller Rink, Feb. 12, 1983.
(Img: Terry Duennes, KY Post, Kenton Co. Library)
Adam Browning, 4, at RECA Roller Rink, date unknown
(Img: KY Post, Kenton Co. Library)
Susan Turner, 18, & Maria Moore, 13, at RECA Roller Rink, date unknown.
(Img: KY Post, Kenton Co. Library)
Jack and Wilma Wessling, Owners of RECA Roller Rink, Feb. 12, 1983.
(Img: KY Post, Terry Duennes, Kenton Co. Library)

General Thomas Statue Update, Donation Problems Solved

A model of the General George Thomas statue.
A nine-foot statue of the general will be installed at Tower Park.

By Robin Gee, city council beat editor

The city of Fort Thomas is moving ahead with plans for the statue of General George Henry Thomas that will be installed in Tower Park this coming fall.

The statue will be placed near the south side entrance to the park, and work will begin soon to develop a plaza and surrounding streetscape for the statue, according to Debbie Buckley, economic development director for the city and member of the statue committee.

The city faced some issues recently regarding donations for the statue. Donations large and small are welcome, said Buckley, but a "technical snafu" resulted in a return of some donations to donors. The issue has been fixed, she said, and she encouraged donations large and small for the statue. To donate, go to the General George H. Thomas Statue Fund.

RELATED A First Look at the General Thomas Statue

For more on General Thomas and his legacy, see the Fort Thomas History section of the city’s website.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Highlands Holds off Persistent NewCath for Another District Crown

Bluebirds Win Sixth Straight District Crown

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Piper Macke (1) and Maggie Hinegardner (13) get in defensive position in the 36th District championship at Newport on Thursday. Macke earned Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.
After a couple years of Blue and White dominating the series, the old days of these two 36th District rivals battling to the very end returned this year.

But the Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team (21-10 overall) won another district championship with a 44-41 win over the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (20-12) on Thursday at Newport when the dust settled. This marks the sixth in a row for the Bluebirds and seventh in the past eight seasons.

U.S. Bank Closes Three Locations in NKY

U.S. Bank closes three locations in NKY, including NKU campus location.

One of the U.S. Bank locations is on the NKU campus. It will close April 21.

By Jessie Eden

U.S Bank is closing three of its Northern Kentucky of which is on NKU's campus in Highland Heights.

The campus branch will close on April 21. A staff member at this location confirmed that the bank's contract with NKU was up and PNC had outbid U.S. Bank for the retail space.

PNC will open in the space after U.S. Bank closes.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion

The U.S. Bank locations in Fort Wright and Crescent Springs closed on February 19...but a new branch will open in Fort Mitchell by March.

Customers have been notified of the closures. The NKU branch opened on January 9, 2006.

Democratic Senatorial Candidate Forum To Take Place at Southgate House Revival on March 5

Local grassroots organization 'Indivisible NKY District 4' brings the Kentucky Senate race to Northern Kentucky

On March 5, Indivisible NKY District 4 will host a Democratic Senatorial Candidate Forum at Southgate House Revival in Newport. The event starts at 6 p.m.

The forum will feature many of the top Democratic candidates seeking to face Mitch McConnell in November. The topics will range from a variety of issues that are important to Kentucky voters.

It will be moderated by Ryland Barton, Capitol Bureau Chief at Kentucky Public Radio.

Candidates include;
- Jimmy Ausbrooks, Mental Health Counselor

- Charles Booker, State Representative

- Mike Broihier, Farmer and former Marine.

- Amy McGrath, Democratic Nominee for KY-06 and former Marine

How To Watch:
This event will air on Kentucky Public Radio and it will also be live-streamed on the Indivisible NKY District 4 YouTube channel.

The event is free but priority will be given to ticket holders. Tickets are available here.

About Indivisible NKY District 4:
Indivisible NKY District 4 is a group of local progressive grassroots activists working to build a better Kentucky by holding our elected officials accountable. The candidate forum is one of many events that the group will be holding to implement progressive change in Kentucky politics and building a coalition of voters that support progressive values.

For more information about Indivisible NKY District 4, please visit

NKY Chamber Hosts "Pints & Perspectives: Attracting International Talent" on Mar. 5

Dr. Ashish Vaidya of NKU (left) and Dr. Eli Capilouto of UK (right) will
discuss how the region can attract international talent on Mar. 5.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) continues its popular Pints & Perspectives series with “Attracting International Talent” on Thursday, March 5, from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Attendees will hear from Dr. Eli Capilouto, President of University of Kentucky and Dr. Ashish Vaidya, President of Northern Kentucky University about how local universities are attracting international talent to our region, the importance of keeping international talent, and the impact it has.

“Northern Kentucky is currently facing a workforce shortage,” said Brent Cooper, President and CEO of the NKY Chamber. “It’s important for our business community to work together with the local universities to provide a welcoming place for international talent who can fill those gaps and make our region a more diverse place to live.”

Pints & Perspectives: Attracting International Talent will be held at Hilton Cincinnati Airport Hotel at 7373 Turfway Rd Florence, KY, 41042.

Registration for Pints & Perspectives is $25 for NKY Chamber members, $35 for future NKY Chamber members, and free for NKYP Passport holders. Pre-registration is required and is available online at

The Title Sponsor for Pints & Perspectives is C-Forward.

About the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce: 
The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc. founded in 1969, is the leading business organization in Northern Kentucky with more than 1,500-member companies representing approximately 175,000 employees. The NKY Chamber strives to promote and support the development of strong businesses, resulting in a better quality of life for all. Dan Cahill, CEO of HSD Metrics, is the Chair of the Board and Brent Cooper is the President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Additional information on the NKY Chamber is available at

Highlands Runs Away from Dayton

Bluebirds Hit Quarter-Century Win Mark with Tournament Win

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands freshman guard Coby Kramer (24) gets in defensive position in the 36th District semifinal game against Dayton on Wednesday.
The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team continued its solid play in the first postseason game Wednesday at Newport.

The Bluebirds (25-3 overall) started fast and pulled away from the Dayton Greendevils (12-19) for a convincing 72-24 victory in the 36th District semifinals. Highlands hit 25 wins in a season for the first time since 2003.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

KBE upholds decision denying River Cities Academy Inc. charter application

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) voted at a special meeting Feb. 25 to uphold the decision of the Newport Independent Board of Education denying the charter school application of River Cities Academy Inc.

The application to open a charter school was filed on Oct. 30, 2019, with the Newport Independent Board of Education by Lynn Schaber and Evelyn Pence, acting on behalf of River Cities Academy Inc. It proposed opening a K-8 charter school that would draw students from Covington, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow, Fort Thomas and Newport independent school districts.

On Dec. 26, the Newport Independent School Board voted to deny the charter school application. On Jan. 23, River Cities Academy, Inc. appealed the decision to the KBE.

In its final order, the KBE explained that the charter application submitted did not contain an adequate financial plan for the first five years of operating the charter school. For the first year, the order read, River Cities Academy, Inc. projected a deficit of $529,957. The majority of the assumed revenue was public funding based upon the school’s average daily attendance.

The final order said that the funding mechanism for public charter schools expired on June 30, 2018, so an assumption that the majority of the revenue for the school would come from public funds was flawed.

“The Appellant’s budget assumes that the majority of its funding will come from public funds through an ADA allocation; however, under Kentucky law, there is no such current funding formula for public charter schools,” the order read.

The final order also stated, “other funding sources projected by the Appellant include, for example, federal and state grant funding as well as direct contributions. However, the Appellant does not include within its charter school application evidence of securing such grant and donor funding.

“Thus, the Appellant has not demonstrated the ability to operate in a ‘fiscally sound matter,’ pursuant to KRS 160.1594(7)(b), as its budget is built on financially unsound assumptions regarding the receipt of public and private funds necessary to sustain its public charter school.”

The final order also found that the academy’s plan to operate at a deficit the first year, “does not adhere to ‘generally accepted accounting principles’ as required by KRS 160.1592(3)(h) and is prohibited under KRS 160.1592(3)(p)4 ….”

Before the unanimous vote to adopt the final order, KBE Vice Chair Lu Young thanked representatives from both River Cities Academy and Newport Independent for working through the appeal process with the board.

This was the first charter school application and the first appeal filed since the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation in 2017 that allowed public charter schools to be formed.

“I know that none of you take this process for granted nor have you taken it lightly,” she said.

Officials Issue Statement on Preventing the Coronavirus in Kentucky

Kentuckians Urged to Prevent Coronavirus by Same Protocols as Influenza

(LOUISVILLE, Ky - February 26, 2020) The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA), the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care (KFMC) and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky are urging Kentuckians to practice known flu prevention protocols in light of Tuesday's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warning that the novel coronavirus is expected to spread within communities in the United States. 

"While novel coronavirus presents a low risk currently to the majority of populations within the U.S., we do know that the virus can spread rapidly and is transmitted primarily through tiny air droplets and close contact with an infected person," said KMA President and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Board Chair Brent Wright, M.D. "However, the good news is we already know how to prevent the spread of such a virus, since protocols for it are nearly identical to those for the flu, which remains a much greater threat to public health currently."

KMA, the KFMC and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky partnered for the 2018-2019 public health campaign, Focus on Flu, which seeks to mitigate the spread of influenza across the state by encouraging Kentuckians to get their flu vaccines, consult their physicians if they think they have the flu, and help prevent the spread of the illness by implementing a number of known prevention techniques.

While the flu vaccine will not prevent novel coronavirus, having the flu weakens your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to contracting other illnesses like coronavirus. Seasonal flu is continuing to circulate across Kentucky, with more than 1,800 cases confirmed just last week and a total of 66 deaths so far, so it isn't too late to get a flu shot, even if you've already had a bout of flu this season.

Symptoms of coronavirus also closely resemble influenza, so patients are encouraged to consult with their doctor if they are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Health officials have also emphasized that proper hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of both novel coronavirus and influenza. "Washing your hands with warm soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, as frequently as possible, helps prevent the spread of germs more than anything else," said Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Ben Chandler. "Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough and staying away from others when you are sick are also common-sense practices we should be utilizing during all seasons, but particularly to prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu and coronavirus."

"While coronavirus is scary, we can be confident that we are doing everything we can to prevent it by treating the threat of the virus the same manner we do the flu," said Dr. Wright.

 # # #

About the Kentucky Medical Association:
Established in 1851, the Kentucky Medical Association is a professional organization for physicians throughout the Commonwealth. The KMA works on behalf of physicians and the patients they serve to ensure the delivery of quality, affordable healthcare.

Members of the KMA share a mission of commitment to the profession and service to the citizens of this Commonwealth that extends across rural and urban areas. From solo practitioners to academicians to large, multi-specialty groups, KMA is the ONLY state association representing every specialty and type of medical practice in Kentucky.

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky: 
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at

About the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care: 
Founded by the Kentucky Medical Association in 1971, the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care (KFMC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to improving the health of all Kentuckians through medical education and public health initiatives.

Indoor Music Festival 'BluebirdPalooza' Kicks Off March 14

Experience BluebirdPalooza!

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Fort Thomas Education Foundation (FTEF) will be hosting their 17th annual fundraising event, sponsored by Fedders Construction at the historic Newport Car Barn in Newport, KY from 8pm to midnight. The theme this year is an indoor music festival, BluebirdPalooza.

The DNA will be rocking live music, great food and an awesome party that raises more than $50K for the FTEF, which goes to support the Fort Thomas Independent School District through an annual grant process.

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Arrive early and enjoy complimentary bourbon tastings the first hour provided by New Riff Distillery.  Bircus Brewing Company will offer their craft brew selection and entertainment.

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Floyd and the Walkmen will headline the event with special guests Josh McIntosh and company starting at 8:30pm.

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Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati’s best eats will be parked right inside the Newport Car Barn, conveniently located for attendees to taste the most delicious festival food and sweets from around the area.  Food trucks will include Marty’s Waffles, California Tri-Tip, Kabobske Mediterranean and Taco Oso. 

BluebirdPalooza will be the fun place to be! Live music, food trucks, dancing, billiards, psychic readings, bourbon tasting, craft brews, axe throwing, split-the-pot, raffles and so much more!

Tickets may be purchased at and includes admission into the music festival and light snacks. Drink tickets may be purchased for $4 each at the door. 

Monies raised from BluebirdPalooza will help provide funding for teacher grants and school programs.  One of the best things about bringing hundreds of enthusiastic, like-minded people together?  Connecting them with an organization that is improving and providing the best public education possible in a private school setting. 

Thank you to our Sponsors. We appreciate you!

Event Sponsors:
Fedder's Construction, Newport Car Barn

Gold Sponsors:
Morel Construction, Viox & Viox

Silver Sponsors:
Executive Transportation, Trent Montessori, Liz and Brad Younger, C-Forward, Tracy Davis State Farm Insurance, Graybach, LLC, Greater Comfort Heating & Air, Grassroots & Vine, Fort Thomas Coffee, CT Consultants, Johnson Investment Counsel, Keith Carlson - Von Leaman CPA & Advisory Firm, Shriver & Company PSC, Assured Partners, Crawford Insurance, Pendery Insurance

Bronze Sponsors:
Greg & Becky Hug, Jason & Amy Lang, Haoitic Security, Johnson Electric Supply Company, Dan Gorman, United Property Group, Doug and Megan DeSola, Mark Thumauer, Architect, Frank & Ann Meyer, Strauss Troy Attorneys at Law, Blau Mechanical, Hans & Michelle Tinkler, Todd & Christie Hosea, Chris & Sara Ryan, Dobbling Muehlenkamp, Ershell, Inc., E.C. Schmidt Plumbing Contractor, Inc., Cobblestone Cafe, Gorilla Glue, Michelle Story, D.M.D., R & M Fence & Construction, Dental by Dr. Ansley H. Depp, D.M.D.

Birds of a feather PARTY together!

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