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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Scuba Santa Returns to Newport Aquarium This Friday

Scuba Santa returns to Newport Aquarium this Friday November 27. For the 18th year, kids and adults alike can enjoy this unique tradition where Scuba Santa swims with a tank full of sharks and other sea life. Guests can even talk to the jolly man underwater and tell him what they want for Christmas. Plus, they’ll discover festive lights and holiday music throughout the aquarium all running through December 24, 2020.

Pick up and go! Located at 14 N. Grand Ave. 

“Meeting Scuba Santa is magic,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium’s Executive Director. “There’s no other way to describe it when you see him in his aquatic world surrounded by fish and having a moment with a child they will never forget. It’s so special.”

Guests will notice many of the animals are excited to see Scuba Santa and his elves. Denver the loggerhead sea turtle can be seen curiously trying to get a look at Santa’s list. The shark rays also enjoy swooping and soaring past the giant Shark Ray Bay Theater window, where Scuba Santa makes his appearances.

In Other Words: CORA Makes Trails and Us Better


Jen Kirst, Nathan Kirst, Mike Lehrter, and Sherman Butler work the trail. 

Things don’t happen by themselves and when a group shares a vision then something big can happen. 

The bike trails in Tower Park are getting some long needed attention from the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance (CORA) in partnership with the city of Fort Thomas. 

Olivia Birkenhauer the Vice-President of CORA says, “Our plans for Tower Park Mountain Bike and Hike Trails are to fix the erosion issues we have, to repair and maintain what trails are currently that they are all more sustainable....The city is a great partner, supplying us with gravel to help us ensure trails are more sustainable for hikers and bikers."

Maria Bozeman, one of CORA’s organizers says, “CORA maintains the mountain bike trails in Tower Park but it takes an army of volunteers on community trail days to see the work done. We had over 40 on our last trail day, November 14!… We are working towards the short term goal of creating a well-signed beginner ‘green’ loop of approximately 2.5 - 3 miles. We would like to see way-finding for folks who do not know the trails well, so they can ride, hike, or run a continuous loop without getting turned around or lost. A long term goal would be to sign a ‘blue’ or intermediate loop as well as the difficult ‘black’ trails. Riders who ride the advanced trails know their way around well enough, so that’ll come last!” 

And the vision is clear. Maria Bozeman says, “The vision is to have a wayfinding system for different levels and types of trail users throughout the park; a map at trailhead with loop mileage and well-signed loops.”

CORA organizer, Brian Bozeman, Maria’s husband, notes that trail maintenance can be tricky. “Managing water and the way it flows over the trail is the largest concern to creating and maintaining sustainable trails. Locally, we also have the challenge of the clay content of our soil acting as a sponge that holds water. Erosion from users is very high when water is being held in the tread of the trail. Re-routing and fixing drainage issues should help, but the Trail Steward also notes on the Facebook page when the trails are closed. Users should consult this before heading out, it is a color coded system, green means go, red means enjoy the sidewalks today, yellow means it’s slick but usable, blue (used in winter) indicates freeze/thaw in effect and only usable if trail is frozen.”  

He adds that, “We are being careful to avoid the NKU Ecological Restoration Areas.” That’s a lot of attention to details that users of the trails don’t see.

CORA’s community work days are scheduled for the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 AM. Check the Ft Thomas Trails—CORA page for location details each month. Bozeman says, “We are asking folks to follow all COVID protocols when working during a community day, as well as limiting the use of tools to adults and older children.” 

Maria Boseman says, “It is a perfect winter-Covid-family activity!” 

You know, lots of people in various civic organizations work quietly and joyfully to make the city more enjoyable. They don’t do it for recognition or for money. They do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. It’s enjoyable and it builds community. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Gov. Beshear: Kentucky Continues to See Exponential COVID-19 Growth

Today at his press conference, Governor Andy Beshear implored Kentuckians to adhere to new restrictions and guidance that will help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.

He said the number of Kentuckians diagnosed with COVID-19, hospitalized with the disease, admitted to the ICU and put on a ventilator because of complications from the virus continues to rise week over week, reporting that today’s case report is the highest ever for a Monday.

Learn more, click here >

“Day in and day out, our health care workers are doing what it takes. So day in and day out, we have to, too. Think about their sacrifice, every day going into a unit where they could contract this virus that they see people die from,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are at war."

Beshear said that wearing masks continues to be the most effective action Kentuckians can take to protect themselves and others. A recent study in Kansas from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that on average, counties that mandated mask-wearing saw a 6% reduction in cases; in contrast, the counties that opted out saw a 100% increase in cases.

Case Information 
As of 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

Boone County: 85 cases
Kenton: 77
Campbell: 39

New cases today: 2,135
New deaths today: 5
Positivity rate: 8.97%
Total deaths: 1,792
Currently hospitalized: 1,573
Currently in ICU: 391
Currently on ventilator: 203

Those reported lost to the virus today include a 73-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 73-year-old man from Harlan County; two men, ages 85 and 88, from McCracken County; and a 77-year-old man from Webster County.

Campbell County FOP #10 Cops and Kids Event benefits record number of children this year, despite pandemic

James McKenna, Jimmie Poyter and Nick Heiert, at a past Cops and Kids event. FTM file. 

A fundraiser that police departments across Campbell County undertake each year will continue this year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Campbell County FOP #10 announced that over 90 children will be served this year - a record number - even with fundraising programming through the year being hampered.  Local schools helped identify  students who would most benefit from the program. 

FOP #10 represents every law enforcement agency in Campbell County, Kentucky with exception of Newport Police Department, which has its own union. 

This is the 26th year of providing Christmas to local children. Over 2,000 children have benefitted from FOP #10's efforts through the program's history. 

FTM file. 

This year, in order to follow social distancing guidelines, shopping with take place without the children, but kids will meet officers at the gift wrapping and pick-up location. 

"We know the need is even greater this year so we have worked hard to make this event happen while keeping everyone involved safe," said Officer Jimmie Poynter, event chairman.

Shopping will take once again at Meijer Cold Spring. Campbell County FOP #10 will also shop for the Marine Corps Toy for Tots program again with the help of the NKY Young Marines.

FTM file. 

NKU Serving Students Thanksgiving To-Go Meals

Northern Kentucky University’s on-campus food pantry and student community center, FUEL NKU, hosts its third annual Thanksgiving Celebration on Nov. 25 with plans to serve to-go meals for nearly 200 students staying on or near campus through the holidays.
Learn more here:

FUEL NKU hosts a family-style feast each year to help students give thanks and share a special meal together. With the university’s transition to remote operations and learning through winter break, FUEL NKU is teaming up with the campus community to make sure students have consistent university support they need.
“The holiday season is right around the corner, and the pandemic has brought an increase in food insecurities on campus,” said Dr. Jessica Averitt Taylor, FUEL NKU founder. “No one should be hungry, especially on a day that typically celebrates time with loved ones. We will be ready outside the Student Union with meals ready for you to grab and go.”
FUEL NKU is partnering with several community partners to provide the Thanksgiving meals for students. The Kroger Co. provided turkey for 200 meals, and Busken Bakery donated pumpkin pies. Chartwells, NKU’s external food services partner, pitched in to cover an array of side items and help with coordinating the event logistics. Along with the to-go meals, students can also request other food and essentials to support them through the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
What: FUEL NKU Thanksgiving Celebration To-Go Dinner
When: Nov. 25, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: The James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union

The number of students in need of FUEL NKU support continues to expand. Since 2016, the student community center has welcomed 15,067 visits and provided 85,706 pounds of food and toiletries to students over the last year.

Christmas Tree Seller Celebrates 50 Years Bringing Holiday Joy

Paul Stuempel and his wife, Rose Anne. 

by Robin Gee

Ahhhh...there is nothing more evocative of the holiday season than the smell of fresh pine trees and wreaths! And, there is nothing quite like a real Christmas tree, said Paul Stuempel, who is setting up his seasonal shop again this year at the Fort Thomas Plaza.

Stuempel grew up in Fort Thomas, but now lives in Dayton with his wife, Rose Anne, who helps with the business. The couple work with about 12 people on site each season, many of them high school students from Highlands and the surrounding area.

Paul Stuempel, owner of Natural Green, outside his Wreath workshop. He is about to open up his Christmas tree business for the season at the Fort Thomas Plaza.

An unplanned direction turns into a lifelong passion

This marks Stuempel’s 50th year selling trees. Back in 1970, when he first started, he had no idea he would fall in love with the business and that he would develop a real passion for what started as what one might call an act of desperation, he said.

When he was in his early 20s with two small kids and a wife, he found himself out of a job. He decided to try his hand at selling ice cream and purchased a truck for a season, but there were a lot of other competitors, and it seemed every time he pulled into a neighborhood, another seller had just left.

So, after a disappointing summer, he was again broke and without a job. His father, a bit frustrated with the situation, told him, face up to it, go get a job now. Fall was fast approaching. His dad was likely joking when he threw out a few ideas — why don’t you go get some turkeys or Christmas trees to sell?

Little did Stuempel, or his dad, know that the casual comment would turn into a lifelong business. "Christmas trees? I thought, I’m going to look into that! But, I really knew nothing about it. I even had a fake tree at home," he said. 

How it all began

Stuempel had a buddy in real estate who just happened to own an old empty lot across from Krogers in Bellevue. "So I rented it, fixed it up and that was my first Christmas tree lot...I ran electricity from the gas station next door and made a few trees into light poles."

Of course, the next step was to find trees. Back then, before Paul Brown Stadium was built, all the produce wholesalers had open-air markets along the river on the Cincinnati side, in a section known as "the bottoms," and everyone carried trees, he said.

At the time, business was booming. "My lot was in the middle of six other Christmas tree lots. You couldn’t pass a church parking lot or see a boy scout troop who was not selling trees," he said.

In the bottoms, trees were going for $1.25 to $2 per tree. He found an ad in the newspaper from a guy who was selling trees for 75 cents each. The man had harvested leftover trees from fields in Ohio, cut them down and brought them back to sell.

"So, I bought 75 to 100 trees from him, enough to be able to get started," Stuempel said. He continued to buy trees from the seller and from the big produce houses like Castillini and Fries Brothers.

"About 15 years into it, though, I started buying direct from tree farms," he said. For the past 35 years he has purchased from a farm in Michigan.

"The one thing I decided from the start is I would never have a cheap tree on my lot," he said.

Roofing, siding, gutters, painting. 859-393-5264

Hard times for tree sellers

As the years progressed, he noted, fake trees began to rise in popularity. Despite this, the market was strong up until the recession of 2008-2009. “The year 2005 was my highest sales. I sold about 1,450 trees.”

Yet, by 2007, the economy had started to unravel and when the downturn hit, things came undone, he said. On top of that, more people were turning to artificial trees for convenience. He has a theory that a reason for this may be that Boomers, who grew up with real trees, are becoming less able or willing to handle them or may be downsizing their homes.

Sourcing trees also became a bit harder after the big produce wholesalers were forced out of the bottoms, but it was the economic downturn paired with the growth of artificial options that took a toll on the industry, especially over the last decade. Fewer wholesalers are handling trees these days, he said.

The business can be volatile anyway, as tree growers are subject to the same issues that can plague any farmer — drought, insect infestation, high winds. Despite all that, Stuempel’s business has been steady, and he’s selling about 1,100 trees a season.

The season for Christmas tree sales is brisk and intense. It begins just after Thanksgiving and goes through mid December.

Getting the word out

Over the years, he said, he’s gotten more savvy about marketing. He’s added handmade wreaths and swags as well as tree-related items he sells from a trailer on his lot.

Pick up and go! 14 N. Grand Avenue. 

While he admits he prefers old school marketing over social media, one service he added in 2000 as a little "extra" for his business increased his sales by 30 percent and has turned into a holiday tradition for many Fort Thomas families.

Each year, when a family picks out a tree, Stuempel takes a photo of the family with their tree. As the season approaches, he sends out the photo and a reminder that Christmas tree time is coming. Many families have included these photos on social media and in their own holiday greetings.

Stuempel’s operation is a brisk and intense one. Although, he said the “season” for tree-buying has shifted earlier in recent years, the main sales period runs from the day after Thanksgiving through the beginning of December. "By December 15, most of the trees are gone. We generally close up between December 15 and 17," he said.

Trees and tree grades

When asked about what types of trees he handles, Stuempel mentions a wide variety including Scotch pines, Frasier Fir, Balsam Fir, among others. He likes to keep a wide variety, but the common denominator is the quality. He strives for premium and top-graded trees.

Trees are inspected and rated by the Department of Agriculture, he explained. The rating for top quality trees is premium, followed by US 1 and US 2. Below that are field grade trees and those that are ungraded. If a seller feels the trees he or she has purchased are not the grade they paid for, they can call in the government for an inspection.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Highlands Takes Down Conner Again to Start Class 5A Playoffs

Bluebirds Make Halftime Lead Stand

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands junior running back Griffin Richter made his return to action Friday in the first round of the playoffs against Conner. Highlands won 27-16 to advance to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Note: There will be no video this week.

Coronavirus 2019 may have denied high school football teams across the country full seasons.

But the pandemic did not deny the Highlands Bluebirds (5-5) a playoff win this year. Highlands built a 20-0 halftime lead and made it stand in a 27-16 win over the host Conner Cougars (3-4) to start the Class 5A playoffs Friday.

This marked the first playoff win for the Bluebirds in two seasons. They lost 38-28 at Conner in the same round last year after driving to the Class 5A region championship game in 2018. Highlands shut out Conner, 36-0 on the same field Oct. 3. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association pushed the playoffs back a week as a result of Coronavirus 2019 cases.

"They did a good job last week of staying even keel and just focusing on that day,"
said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "It seemed like it was going to be forever until we got a chance to play. Instead of focusing on that, they focused on the day. We had to alter what we would typically do just to get better for two weeks, then a week and a half, then a week as opposed to a typical Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday type deal. They did a good job of getting themselves ready to play."

HHS plunges into NTI again, Prin. Bertasso announces expectations and procedures

By Lexie Crawford, Editor-in-Chief, The Hilltopper 

On Wednesday, November 18, Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order that, among other mandates, required all public and private high schools in the state of Kentucky to cease in-person learning from November 23 to January 4, 2021. 

Though Highlands High School (HHS) experienced COVID-19 related disruptions previously and has a set plan for non-traditional instruction (NTI), some things have changed since the beginning of the school year. 

On Thursday, November 19, HHS Principal Matthew Bertasso appeared on the daily announcements (LINK: Prin. Bertasso’s announcement begins at 6:12) to share some of the changes to NTI and what it will look like this go around. 

During NTI in the beginning of the year, there was a convening time, during which students would meet with their Advisory classes and have additional time to work on assignments. This NTI will do away with Convening. Instead, the lunch time has been extended and will include Advisory time and Focus period. During Advisory time, targeted activities will take place, so students are advised to look forward to that. Focus will be brought back to provide students with additional time to work on assignments. 

This NTI’s schedule is similar to that at the beginning of the year, but does feature a couple of differences. Like NTI at the beginning of the year, even number classes (2nd, 4th, 6th, Early Bird (EB)) will meet on even number calendar days and odd number classes (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th) will meet on odd number calendar days. However, compared to the previous 70-minute classes, each class this NTI will be 80 minutes long. During this time, classes will host Microsoft Teams meetings, host virtual and in-person small group meetings, and give time to work on assignments. After the first two classes (1st/2nd and 3rd/4th) of the day, there will be an 80-minute break for lunch, Advisory, and Focus, which will be called LAF. The third and fourth classes (5th/6th and 7th/EB) of the day will be held after LAF. 

Though classes can only hold time bound events on their particular days, there may be other assignments for those classes on the days they’re not meeting. Students are advised to check Schoology everyday for those assignments and ensure they know where those assignments will be. Those assignments need to be completed, as they will roll over to the next class period. 

Prin. Bertasso emphasized the importance of participation, as this will need to be reported to the state, same as attendance is when students are in-person. The HHS staff also wants to ensure students don’t get lost along the way. This participation will be tracked in three ways. The first is a report pulled from Schoology, showing who has been in Schoology, what activities they’ve done, and more. The second is through Microsoft Teams, as teachers can pull a report showing who was in meetings and how long they were there. The third is teachers themselves will be able to report participation in class. Prin. Bertasso urged students to connect with their teachers on a regular basis. 

Transportation Cabinet’s “Drones” Aid in Brent Spence Bridge Inspection

Use of technology provided swift visual findings to supplement in-depth engineer inspection

As the Federal Aviation Administration celebrates Drone Safety Awareness Week, Nov. 16 – 22, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet deployed the use of drones on the Brent Spence Bridge to aid inspectors collect preliminary visual inspection images following the bridge closure on Nov. 11. Drones were brought in to aid inspection efforts before inspectors could access the bridge due to the large amounts of debris.

"The Cabinet has embraced the use of drones to provide another set of eyes to quickly and safely inspect structures for routine work and emergency events," said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray.

KYTC drone pilots and drone teams from Palmer Engineering and Burgess and Niple were on-site at the bridge to deploy drones to capture high-quality footage. Although only a portion of the bridge has fire damage, the entire bridge was inspected to check for any residual impacts. Drones flew the entire truss of the bridge to check for steel member alignment, including areas inside and outside the heat-affected zone. They provided up-close imaging as well as full views of the bridge.

"Drones give us the ability to access difficult to reach areas, give us a way to initially assess the extent of damage, and help us see the structure as a whole. We've used drones in a variety of ways to supplement bridge inspection," said KYTC Chief Bridge Inspector James Edmunds.

The use of drones will continue as repairs begin to document inspections conducted by rope, man lift, snooper and other inspection practices. Over the past two years, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has expanded its drone use statewide to aid in inspection efforts.  

See the video here:

Northern Kentucky Chamber “Where We Stand” Reception to feature: Schroder, Roberts, Koenig, Adams


The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) will host its annual “Where We Stand” legislative agenda preview on Dec. 8 from 1-2 p.m.


This year’s event will be virtual and feature a panel discussion focused on the NKY Chamber’s legislative priorities among other timely topics. Republican Majority Caucus Chair, Julie Raque Adams, will provide perspective from Senate Leadership on what to expect in the upcoming 2021 legislative session. Senator Adams discussion will be followed by a panel discussion of three Northern Kentucky Caucus members, including Senator Wil Schroder, Representative Adam Koenig, and Representative Rachel Roberts. 

“We are delighted to have Senator Adams, Representative Koenig, Senator Schroder, and Representative Roberts join us for this annual event,” said Kristin Baldwin, Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications of the NKY Chamber. “Attendees can look forward to hearing and learning more about the key legislative priorities for 2021 and how the legislative agenda will continue to advance the Commonwealth and our region.”


Registration for “Where We Stand” is free for NKY Chamber members, $15 for future members, and free for NKYP Passport holders. For additional information, and to register, visit Pre-registration is required. 

Roebling Capital Partners Announces First Closing of its Debut Private Equity Fund

Fund I closes ahead of schedule despite economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19

Dan Magarian and Keith Carlson. FTM file. 

Roebling Capital Partners (“RCP”), a Cincinnati-based lower middle market private equity investment firm, has announced the first closing of its debut private equity fund, Roebling Capital Partners Fund I (the “Fund”).  

The Fund has secured commitments from a diverse investor base from mainly local investors with varying backgrounds. The Fund has likely been popular due to the lack of local private equity investment opportunities and the confidence investors have in the partners of the firm, who each bring an extensive background in M&A, investing, tax, business leadership, real estate and entrepreneurship.

RCP was founded in May 2020 by five prominent businessmen from the Cincinnati area to meet the regional demand for private equity investments. Day-to-day operations are managed by Keith Carlson, Dan Magarian and Brian Malthouse, CPA; they are joined by William P. Butler and Robert B. Sathe, CLU, ChFC®.

RCP is ahead of schedule in reaching its first closing of Fund I despite the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.  According to Keith Carlson, CEO and Managing Partner at RCP, “Considering the current economic climate and uncertainty about what the future holds post-election, we are happy to be making significant progress for Fund I. We have reviewed over 200 deals since opening our doors just five months ago, with one pending transaction close to completion that is under Letter of Intent.”

RCP plans to invest $1 million to $4 million per deal (including follow-on investments), serving either as the primary equity sponsor or as a co-investor alongside other equity sponsors.  Transactions that require more than $4 million can be accommodated with RCP’s extensive network of like-minded institutional investors.

Executive Transportation Hosts Holiday Hope Charity Drive 2020

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 is excited to announce their 3rd Annual Holiday Hope Charity Drive. Each year they collect needed winter items for the children and families served by the Henry Hosea House in Newport, KY. COVID-19 has heightened the need for us all to come together and help those who are less fortunate this Christmas.

For the safety of everyone, they will not be having our larger one-day event, but rather, they have designated four locations as drop-off points throughout the month of December.


-Executive Transportation: Dec 1-21 | 9AM-5PM

-Carabello Coffee: Dec 5th | 9AM-12pm

-WesBanco Fort Thomas: Dec 11-12 | 9AM-5PM

-BB&T Highland Heights: Dec 17-18 | 9AM-5PM

*Masks are required at all locations.”

Kentucky Distillers' Association Announces New Riff Distillery levels up a "proof"

New Riff Distillery, located in Newport, Kentucky. FTM file. 

The Kentucky Distillers' Association has announced that New Riff Distillery has met the inventory requirements to advance to “Proof” level membership, the second-highest tier. “Proof” level membership is reserved for established licensed distilleries that maintain an inventory between 10,000 and 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits. 

In additional, the KDA announced that Rabbit Hole Distillery, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Willett Distillery have advanced to the rank of “Heritage” members, the highest level in the non-profit group that unites and leads the state’s signature Bourbon and spirits industry.

Support local! The Midway Cafe in Fort Thomas. 

To qualify as a Heritage member, distilleries must have at least 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses. As Heritage members, Rabbit Hole, Wilderness Trail and Willett will have an expanded leadership role in the management of the association and the future of the iconic industry. 
“This year we are recognizing the growth of four KDA members, a tremendous accomplishment that is rightfully celebrated,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “In addition to their individual achievements, all four companies actively work for the greater good of the industry and will now expand that leadership role.

“We raise a glass to toast their success and advancement within the KDA ranks and our iconic industry.”

The KDA now has 14 Heritage members, including Bardstown Bourbon Company, Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Green River Distilling Co., Heaven Hill Brands, Louisville Distilling Company, Lux Row, Michter’s and Wild Turkey.

Local, trusted and reliable. Call Adam today! 859-628-8304.

Located near downtown Cincinnati across the Ohio River in Newport, New Riff is the creation of Ken Lewis, former president of the Wine and Spirits Guild of America and former owner of The Party Source, one of the country’s largest and most prominent retail package stores. 

New Riff, located at 24 Distillery Way, offers free on-site tours and educational programs, as well as an event center and rooftop garden for meetings and private gatherings. A main architectural attraction is the gleaming all-copper, 60-foot column still encased in glass. 

New Riff joined the KDA in 2014. The distillery joins Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery in Lexington as the KDA’s two Proof level members. 

American Maid of Fort Thomas helps families de-stress with a clean, organized home

Book now! Call 859-568-2100 - Mention FTM! 

By Nora Schomaker, owner of American Maid of Fort Thomas 

2020 has been an uncertain and stressful time for all of us and American Maid of Fort Thomas is highly aware of our customers' concerns regarding safety. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our company has been deemed an essential service and our responsibility to our customer is not something that we take for granted. You can be assured that your safety is our number one priority.  We will concentrate all our efforts on providing you a friendly, safe and professional cleaning experience.

We use the same sanitizing and deep-cleaning methods pre-pandemic as we are right now, so our method of operation hasn't really change too much. We want to ensure a safe, clean and organized environment for your home.

We mask at every home we enter.   

We took advantage of some down time early on in the pandemic to better educate ourselves on methods, products and procedures necessary to provide our clients with the satisfaction of knowing their homes surfaces are properly disinfected.  Our cleaning staff have been certified in techniques and procedures involving COVID-19 precautions and awareness through the OSHA approved 360 training program.  

While we all are doing our best to do our part in stopping the virus spread, Thanksgiving and Christmas may not look like they have in previous years. Nonetheless, we are here to help with your deep cleaning needs as you prepare to spend the holidays in a way that best suits your family.

Call me, Nora Schomaker, today for a free quote! 859-568-2100. Mention Fort Thomas Matters and we will prioritize your call. 

Cobblestone Cafe Thanks Customers, Shifts to Carry-Out Only for Winter

Cobblestone Cafe - located at 654 Highland Avenue in Fort Thomas is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. 

Mother and daughter team Jen Black and Brenda Spade, the owners of Cobblestone Café. 

It has been quite the year for one of Fort Thomas' favorite restaurants -- Cobblestone Cafe -- and owners Jen Black and Brenda Spade are certainly grateful. "To everyone who has contributed to our success the past 15 years, especially during this challenging time, we are grateful and we sincerely thank you. None of this would have been possible without our dedicated staff and awesome customers."

As 2020 has presented challenges, Cobblestone Cafe has had to adjust and the Fort Thomas community has helped the quaint cafe keep trucking along. "This has been a new experience for all of us and we appreciate everyone’s patience, generosity and support. We hope to continue serving the food “you know and love” in the years to come."

As winter approaches, Cobblestone Cafe will be making some slight changes in order to continue to serve its customers in a safe manner while still providing the same tasty food options.

Carry-out Only for Winter

Moving into the winter season, Cobblestone Cafe will be offering carry-out only – outdoor dining available (weather permitting). “Due to our limited amount of indoor space we are unable to offer indoor dining while following the social distancing guidelines and occupancy restrictions.”

The opening crew back in 2005 when Cobblestone Café opened. 

Simplify Your Holidays with Box Lunches

With the holidays fast-approaching and things being a bit complicated with Covid-19, a box lunch catering order from Cobblestone Cafe could be just what you need to simplify the process. 

Additionally, they offer gift cards, which make great gifts and stocking stuffers. 

Tips for a Fast Ordering Experience: 

Here are some great tips for ordering efficiently (and quickly) from Cobblestone Cafe;

- Call in orders as early 9:00 a.m. to avoid congested phone lines during the lunch rush. Wait times during the lunch rush are usually 20-30 minutes.

- Prepay for an easy “grab and go” pickup (gratuity can be added and is always appreciated)

- Cobblestone also offers curbside service.

Remember, masks are required when entering Cobblestone Cafe and social distancing is encouraged.

Check out Cobblestone Cafe's menu here.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Employment and Work-from-Home Scams Prevalent During COVID-19 Pandemic

IMG: Unsplash. 

By LaDonna Koebel, Executive Director for the Attorney General's Office of Senior Protection and Mediation

Reports of scams to the Attorney General’s Office have skyrocketed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with dollar losses up as much as 8,000 percent compared to 2019. In August 2020, employment and work-from-home scams accounted for nearly half of the dollar losses reported to our office.

Scammers are preying on the vulnerabilities created by the pandemic and know that employment scams are the perfect lure for someone who has lost their job or is looking for a work-from-home opportunity.

Here’s how employment scams work. A scammer will pretend to be a recruiter or employer offering the ability to work-from-home. In some cases, the scammer may run an ad stating that you can “earn an excellent salary working from home.” In other cases, a recruiter might reach out to you after seeing your resume on a job search website.

18 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

Once you’ve responded to the work-from-home opportunity, employment scammers will usually try to get you to pay for training or special access before you can begin employment. Once they receive your money, there is no job, and you’ve been scammed.

Some employment scammers may direct you to make purchases for the company as a “secret shopper” and tell you that you will be reimbursed for the purchases after you submit an expense report. You’ll never receive the reimbursement, and you’ll be left holding the charges for the items you purchased.

Another twist on the work-from-home scam initially looks like a safe bet, but don’t be fooled. Using a ploy from a longstanding check scam, a fake employer may send you a cashier’s check to cover your initial expenses and payroll. After the funds clear, your new employer will ask you to buy a computer or other expensive items, and then ship them to an address they provide. You’re told to keep the rest of the money from the check for your time. But, there is no job. While the check initially clears your bank and the money appears in your account, after 10 days the bank will reverse the charge because the check was unauthorized or stolen. You’re left holding the debt once the money is removed from your account.

Be extra cautious in your job search during COVID-19. Not only can you lose money to fake employment scams, you could become the victim of identity theft after completing new employment paperwork for a fraudulent employer – unknowingly turning over your name, address, and social security number, as well as your driver’s license number and even bank account information to scammers.

If you experience an employment-related scam, please report it to:

Support our local Wellness and Fitness Partners here👇: Numbers and Websites

Barre Fort Thomas. Located at 90 Alexandria Pike. 

Governor Andy Beshear announced yesterday that he would be directing all restaurants and bars to cease in-person service by 5 p.m. on November 20. 

In addition to the restrictions mandated upon the restaurant industry, the fitness industry also has to navigate more rules put in place that start on November 20. The full order is listed below. 

Everyone has their favorite gym, workout or fitness studio (feel free to plug them in the comments), but below are a list of fitness-related Fort Thomas Matters advertising partners who support us and the content you read daily. Without them, FTM wouldn't exist. 

Please consider supporting them by booking virtual classes, purchasing a package to use in the future or supporting them under the guidelines they currently have in place. 

Campbell County YMCA | Website | Facebook | 859-781-1814

Barre3 Fort Thomas | Website | Facebook859-360-7420

Mint Yoga Studio | Website | Facebook | 859-442-2600

Orangetheory Fitness - Newport Pavilion | Website | Facebook | 859-838-4555

Restrictions on the Executive Order issued on 11-18-20.
  1. Gyms, Fitness Centers, Pools, and Other Indoor Recreation Facilities. Gyms, fitness centers, swimming and bathing facilities, bowling alleys, and other indoor recreation facilities must limit the number of customers present inside any given establishment to 33% of the maximum permitted occupancy and ensure that individuals not from the same household maintain six (6) feet of space between each other. Indoor group activities, group classes, team practices, and team competitions are prohibited. Notwithstanding 902 KAR 2:210E, Section 2(3)(j), all individuals inside such facilities must wear face coverings at all times, including while actively engaged in exercise. For the avoidance of doubt, this provision does not apply to athletic activities at schools, for which separate guidance will be provided by KHSAA, or athletic activities at institutions of higher education.

CVG Airport previews this year’s holiday travel season

Summary of COVID-19 protocols, and tips for flying healthy


Airports and airlines across the country are working together to prepare for the holiday travel season. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) expects November and December to be the busiest months for passenger traffic since the pandemic started with the more popular destinations being Florida, Arizona, Cancun, and the Rocky Mountain region.


The busiest days for the Thanksgiving holiday will be Friday 11/20; Tuesday, 11/24; Wednesday, 11/25; Saturday 11/28; Sunday, 11/29; and Monday, 11/30. 


Barre3 Fort Thomas. 90 Alexandria Pike. 

“Passenger safety is our top priority as evidenced by our global health accreditation,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, CVG. “We encourage passengers to visit our website which provides information, videos and links to resources for travelers to plan ahead to feel comfortable and confident when arriving at the airport.” 


Specific changes and updates passengers will see at CVG:  

  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-traffic areas and touchpoints including restrooms and handrails, and aircraft (which is done by the airlines). A new product enhancement at the airport is the use of SafetyNet, a two-step process that first applies an electrostatic disinfection followed up by an anti-microbial solution that binds to and protects surfaces for 30+ days.  
  • Plexiglass guards installed at ticketing counters, security checkpoint, concessions locations, and gate areas.
  • More than double the number of hand sanitizer stations added throughout airport facilities.
  • Friendly reminders for travelers to wear masks and social distance themselves from others.

Travelers can read more updates and tips on the Fly Healthy section of

Fort Thomas Carry-out Options: Numbers and Websites

Midway Cafe Fort Thomas wings. 859-781-7666. 

Governor Andy Beshear announced yesterday that he would be directing all restaurants and bars to cease in-person service by 5 p.m. on November 20 ... but that doesn't mean you can't order some carry-out and support these awesome Fort Thomas businesses!

Fort Thomas Matters, with help of the Fort Thomas Business Association, compiled a full list of phone numbers and websites for all the restaurants in Fort Thomas below.

We will do our best to add our industries in similar content who'll also need support of our local communities.

(Want to be added? Please leave a message us on one of our social media pages)

PADRINO FORT THOMAS:  859-957-4082   |   Menu

SNAPPY TOMATO PIZZA:   859-441-5805   |    Menu

FORT THOMAS PIZZA:     859-441-5030   |   Menu

MIDWAY CAFE:     859-781-7666   |    Menu

GRASSROOTS & VINE:     859-841-8391   |   Menu

NEW GARDEN:     859-781-7888 |  Menu

COLONEL DE'S KITCHEN:   859-215-0200  |   Menu  (open until 2:30 p.m.)

915 PUB & GRILL:   859-441-1333   |   Menu

KAMPUCHEA KITCHEN:    859-814-8012   |    Menu

SOUTHSIDE DELI: 859-781-4482   |   Drop in to check out the menu (Grab a sandwich and essentials!)

Note from Southside Deli: 
We will have cold sandwiches daily 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. and hot lunches weekdays 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. On Fridays, they are extending our fish fry 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. They will have homemade salmon patties and fish set up.

FORT THOMAS COFFEE:   859-999-8080   |    Menu  (open until 8 p.m.)

COBBLESTONE CAFE:   859-781-3000   |   Menu (open until 3 p.m)

Burglary at Johnson Elementary Thwarted by Police and Citizen Tip

Johnson Elementary under construction earlier this year. A tip from a neighbor helped lead to an arrest of a man suspected of burglary of materials at the construction site.

by Robin Gee, city council beat reporter

Thanks to a tip from a resident, Fort Thomas police were able to stop a crime in process and recover stolen materials from the construction site of the soon-to-be-completed Johnson Elementary School.

Bryan Fancher, a Fort Thomas resident, was apprehended in the early morning of October 25 when he was suspected of attempting to take copper pipe and spools of coated wire, valued at about $1,000, off the property. So far, he has five charges against him: receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, burglary 3rd degree, fleeing or evading police (on foot) and 3rd degree criminal trespassing.

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore said the alertness of the neighbor who called in, combined with quick action by his officers, led to an efficient and safe arrest.

"It is always great to see a citizen's tip turn into a significant arrest. Our schools are especially important to us, and we do know that sometimes construction sites are a target of thefts. It is unfortunate that someone would take advantage of our community by targeting a school that is under construction. I am very proud of all of the officers involved and very thankful that the person was apprehended without anyone getting injured."

Here’s what happened at Johnson

A neighbor noticed something didn’t seem right and alerted police that someone was on the Johnson construction site property before dawn. Officer Michael Dietz, the arresting officer, along with Sergeant Derek Faught and Officer Joe Paolucci arrived on the scene to investigate. Campbell County officers were called in to help set up a perimeter.

Fancher was confronted near the construction trailer. He tried to run away down Cliffgate, but eventually gave up and was handcuffed. Officers found wire cutters in his pocket and a pile of copper pipe and the spools of wire.

Fort Thomas Detectives Wayne Dutle and Nick Hoffman are conducting further investigation on the case.

The importance of good relations in our city

Sergeant Adam Noe, speaking for the department, echoed Kilgore on the value of citizen and police cooperation. "Our relationship and communication with the community is a vital part to our success as an agency. We rely on citizens and residents to report suspicious activity so we can respond and deter crime. We have found that when we have community involvement our success rate in solving crime increases significantly."

Having open communications and trust, are key, he said, "Our officers are on patrol regularly 24 hours a day but can't be everywhere all the time. Our residents know their neighborhoods ...We have always encouraged citizens to contact us immediately when things seem out of place or something is wrong. Having a positive relationship, trust of the community and an open line of communication with the community, helps us all by keeping Fort Thomas one of the safest places to live in Kentucky."

Words of wisdom going into the holiday season

While the holiday season can be a joyous one, it’s also a time when thefts from vehicles and homes are on the rise. Noe wanted to add a word of caution for residents as the season approaches. Lock your homes and cars, he said, and report break-ins to the police department.

"During this time of year, we also start to see people receiving more packages via Amazon amongst others. There are ways to limit your potential to have these items stolen. A few examples would include having them delivered to your work, having neighbors take the package when it arrives or leaving detailed instructions for the delivery person on where to store the package so it isn't visible from the porch. If you reside in an apartment or condo and expect packages to arrive, we recommend you have them delivered to the main office where you can pick them up," he added.

He also noted the department’s partnership with the Ring app system that began earlier this year as another way to protect property.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Police Department Announces Partnership With Ring