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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Cold Spring to File Suit Against School District Over DAV Property

Cold Spring City Council has voted to sue the Campbell County School District for interfering with the purchase of property owned by the Disabled American Veterans.


by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Cold Spring City Council has voted to file suit against the Campbell County School District Board and/or the Kentucky Department of Education for interference in its purchase of the property belonging to Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

At a special meeting of council held Wednesday night (12-30), council members went into executive session. When they emerged, they held a quick vote on the matter of the DAV property with a resolution authorizing the mayor and city attorney to file the suit.

The measure passed four to one. Council member Cindy Moore voted against, but said her reasoning was that she had not had time to review all the materials. Council member Adam Sandfoss was not present at the meeting.

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City attorney Brandon Voelker read the resolution noting that the city has tried to intervene in the Campbell County School District’s suit to seize the property through eminent domain. A judge has not ruled on this yet, he said, but the district has opposed the city asserting its rights on the property.

RELATED: Fight Over DAV Property Heats Up: School District Files Suit for Eminent Domain

RELATED: Cold Spring Council Approves Move to Purchase DAV Property 

In an email sent to Campbell County School Board attorney, Jason Reed, and obtained by Fort Thomas Matters, Voelker asked the school district to dismiss its eminent domain action and allow the city of Cold Spring to complete the purchase. 

"If not, the City has taken action to authorize the aforementioned suit," he said in the email. 

Voelker outlined the issues and the city’s reasoning behind the suit:

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

In Other Words: We Have to Look Back in Order to Live Forward

 

In the cozy darkness of December I like to cast my eye over the events and lessons of the year as well as to look forward to the upcoming year. As difficult as this year has been, it is worthwhile to review it to see what we learned.  Indulge me as I review an extraordinary year and look for the common denominators of a few columns and events from this year. 

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We saw young leaders remind us of our collective duty to each other. In June, Ella Barnes organized a march to recognize and support our minority population. Hundreds of residents showed up to support neighbors and friends in a peaceful way. Ella told me recently that “The march from this summer did not cure the racism that our community and this country holds but it did begin a way for people to see that their actions are effective and loving and protecting your black brothers and sisters is the only way we can continue to move forward together.”  http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/06/in-other-words-we-are-better-together.html

Photo: Rudy Garns

The community showed up again recently to help young Aidan Silverton’s annual crusade to help the homeless and disadvantaged children of the area. In his fourth year, this twelve-year-old collected close to 2,000 items to distribute. He collected far more than any previous year thanks to you. Aidan says that he,”learned that most people are really generous.”   http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/12/in-other-words-sock-it-to-winter.html

Ella and Aidan have much in common - they care deeply about their community, they don’t want to see anyone suffer, and they took a risk to help. They could have failed in a colossal public way, but they didn’t. We need to take a cue from them. They took the risk that the community would stand with them. And it turns out we are so much better together than we are apart. 

Photo: Amy Silverton

One interview that sticks with me is with Nick Fite. He lost the love of his life to addiction and he is now raising their child alone. Even though I want to just cry for his loss and his suffering, he left me with a list of reminders that all of us need to tape to the mirror as a daily reminder. http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/06/in-other-words-its-through-crack-light.html

Everybody suffers from something.

Be forgiving.

Don’t be judgmental.

Love each other.

Accept people for who they are.

Your words reflect who you are.

Photo: Nick Fite

Finally I was reminded that we are capable of doing much more than we ever thought possible by doing something as simple as walking or giving away water. Lelia Wendel revealed something when she said, “Our family mission is that ‘Wendel’s love’ and we try to find ways to bless people.” So they did a simple thing - leaving free bottles of water for people passing by their home on South Fort Thomas Avenue. It is a simple blessing motivated by a family mission to love.  By doing the simplest thing they added to the collective compassion of our community.  http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/09/in-other-words-family-mission-builds.html?fbclid=IwAR0G9wNE7s48kO_pPtXLid12CRYfWlGmFz1izo7c9I2Fi8tPOV27fCegh84

And then Alisha Kinsella pushed herself to her limits and climbed a mountain with a group of women. Through her we learned that we are capable of doing so much more than we think if we only pushed ourselves with purpose. And that last part - with purpose - is the important part.  http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/10/in-other-words-you-can-do-lot-more-than.html

Photo: Alisha Kinsella

And, of course, we cannot forget the corona virus. Jamie Baker Rausch is not only a leukemia survivor but also contracted COVID while pregnant. She overcame the illnesses and delivered a beautiful baby girl. She showed us that no matter what obstacles, problems, or opportunities present to us, we can learn and grow from it. Growth is not easy or painless. Just look at a seed. It has to undergo pressure and internal stress in order to become something bigger, better, more beautiful, more useful. If Jamie can do that then we can get through this pandemic - together. No one should walk alone. http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/06/in-other-words-we-can-get-through.html

Photo: Jamie Rausch

The big story has been COVID-19 and the various aspects of that. A phrase that keeps popping up in reference to 2020 is “uncertain times.” Yes, we live in an uncertain time but then we have always lived in uncertain times. And we will continue to live in uncertain times. We shouldn’t feel overly anxious about that but we can prepare ourselves to be resilient and to develop the grit to succeed, to learn from failure. http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2020/06/in-other-words-in-these-uncertain-times.html

I am fortunate that I get to interview fascinating community members doing interesting things. I am encouraged and inspired by you. You are good teachers. Good role models. Good people. I enjoy every conversation. Even though I participate in it, I dislike small talk. I want to get to the core of a subject and talk about ideas and what we are learning. 

We are far more alike than different. We fret over family, friends, responsibilities, health, making a living, and making a life. We learned the importance of masks and community members who fired up their sewing machines to provide masks for all of us and new terms like “socially distanced.” And we navigated working from home and remote school. Wi-fi became the glue to bind us.  Even though there are attempts to distort politics, religion, education, race, or money with intention to divide us or pit one against the other, the ultimate truth is that we help ourselves when we help another. And that’s the big lesson I take from 2020. 

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  I plan to move forward and I won’t be sad to see 2020 go, but I know that as I step into 2021, I will go a little bit better prepared. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Kentuckians Over 70, First Responders and Educators Will Receive Vaccine in Next Phase


Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the next priority group (Phase 1b) for vaccination will be Kentuckians who are at least 70 years old, as well as first responders and educators.


Depending on the vaccine distribution schedule, Phase 1b could begin as early as Feb. 1, 2021, plus or minus a week.

The Governor said 40 additional sites will receive vaccine doses for the first time this week.

“Remember, this vaccine roll out is, I think, one of the toughest and largest logistics challenges we’ve seen since World War II,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s not going to be clean the entire time – we’re building the airplane while we’re flying it – but right now, we believe we’ve got the right plan in the right way to distribute this vaccine equitably all across the state.”

“In Kentucky, we are going to include people who are 70 and older – that’s five years younger than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended. We believe here, because we have such a disproportionate burden of death in this population, we want to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Stack. “We are also going to include first responders who haven’t been vaccinated in Phase 1a already, as well as K-12 school personnel.”

To date, in Phase 1a, approximately 126,600 vaccine doses have been delivered to Kentucky: 39,000 of those doses are designated for long-term care facilities. At least 22,500 vaccine doses have already been administered statewide: 17,752 to health care workers, 2,788 through local health departments and 5,796 to long-term care residents and staff. For more information about Phase 1a and 1b, click here.

Dr. Stack clarified that Phase 1a includes all health care personnel in clinical settings, including Kentuckians who work in environmental services, front-line operations, interpretation services, dental care and home-based health care staff. Dr. Stack estimated that there are at least 200,000 Kentuckians included in this category.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander further updated Kentuckians on vaccinations in long-term care facilities.

“Walgreens and CVS have been able to provide vaccinations at more than 30 facilities,” said Secretary Friedlander. “This is a great start. We’re making a down payment on our promise to take care of the most vulnerable Kentuckians first. Also, those health care workers who have been in those facilities, who have helped and provided services to those residents all along, this is a way that we are able to prioritize those folks who have done the most for the most vulnerable.

“Walgreens and CVS, thank you. We’ve talked with them just about every day as we learn together. They’ve been good partners with us, and we’ll continue to be good partners with them.”

Case Information 

A Look Back With Retiring Fort Thomas Fire Chief Mark Bailey

Retiring Fort Thomas Fire Chief Mark Bailey shared highlights of his 45-year career with Fort Thomas Matters.
 
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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

After 45 years in fire and emergency service, Mark Bailey announced in October that he will be retiring at the end of 2020. Fort Thomas Matters sat down with the chief to take a look back over his career that included 16 years at the helm as chief of the Fort Thomas Fire Department and to ask him what’s next. 

Fort Thomas Matters (FTM): Were you always interested in fire service? What first attracted you to that career? 

Mark Bailey: When I was in college at Western Kentucky University, I was working towards a degree in sports medicine. Part of that was I had to take an EMT class, and that was what really got me interested in EMS work and emergency care...I enjoyed the aspect of emergency medical services and the people. I enjoyed the fire side, too, learning all the tactics and the strategies involved with all the firefighting techniques. 

So I started in 1975 as a volunteer for Cold Spring and was there for seven years when I had the opportunity, after going to paramedic school, to get hired at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport Fire Department in October 1982. 

FTM: What did you do before being hired at the airport? How did that unfold? 

MB: After I graduated from Western, I went to UC and got my masters in education, and I actually started out as a teacher at Campbell County High School teaching health and driver’s ed. I was also the athletic trainer for all sports. I was the first certified trainer in a Northern Kentucky high school back in 1979. Having an EMT and emergency care background helped me in that position. I taught there two years but in 1981, Campbell County schools had a budget cut and cut 29 teachers. I was one that got a pink slip – and yes, it actually was pink! I left on really good terms, but they just did not have the positions and the monies to fill positions. 

FTM: So you were afloat. What happened next? 

MB: I got to thinking. I really liked the emergency care field. I now had the opportunity to go to paramedic school. I was one of only three individuals who completed the paramedic school in 360 days, just five days short of year, which is still the fastest record in Northern Kentucky. We were part of the second class of the paramedic program. That was 1980 to 1981. Then I went looking for a job. I applied at Fort Thomas and at the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky International Airport. The airport hired me. 

FTM: Did you continue on in your volunteer role after you went to the airport? 

MB: Yes, I continued at Cold Spring for 23 years. I worked my way up there as a volunteer all the way up to the fire chief’s position and spent six years as the fire chief there (from 1990 to 1996) while at the airport for my full-time job. 


FTM:
How long were you with the airport fire service? And how did you come to Fort Thomas? 

MB: I worked 22 years at the airport, working my way up to captain in charge of EMS before I retired in 2004. Then, I had the opportunity to join the Fort Thomas Fire Department. I have been blessed, so very fortunate to be here in the wonderful city of Fort Thomas for 16 years. It’s been quite an exciting time, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything about the city of Fort Thomas and the Fire Department. I’ve had a very fortunate career, 45 years total of firefighting and active EMS service, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of what I like to say are the two best fire departments in Northern Kentucky — the airport and Fort Thomas fire departments. 

Throughout his career, Mark Bailey has seen and participated in some devastating incidents, but he said each incident big or small is an opportunity to grow.

FTM: Were there any fires or emergency incidents that stand out to you in your long career that made you think, "yes, this is for real. I am in the right place, made the right career choice"?

MB: I do not like to use the word "opportunity" when it comes to these incidents, but the first big incident I was a part of was in 1977, May 28th, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. From Cold Spring we sent down a number of people to help out Southgate with that fire, and I was one of the EMTs they sent. I spent from 9 p.m. that night til 5 a.m. the next morning working that fire scene. 

So, that scenario, knowing the firefighting and EMS work, the criticalness of it, that kind of rang a bell with me that this is something I’m interested in doing, expanding my career as best I can and helping as many people as I can. 

I was hired at the airport on October 26, 1982 as a firefighter paramedic and then not long after, on June 2, 1983, was the Air Canada Flight 797 fire,* so I was on the scene that night working with then Captain Horton (who later became chief). We had a lot of work that night, trying to save as many people as we could. I worked through that. 

FTM: That’s a lot to handle. How did you cope? 

MB: I’ve seen some things through the years, and each one I try to take a little different perspective of when I come out of it. For one thing, I know I’m a part of a great organization. As they say, there’s n “I” in team. Whether it’s the airport or Fort Thomas, I know we do a great job trying to mitigate the situation as quickly as possible and help as many people as possible.  I’ve had times when I’ve been confronted with some big incidences, but, again, I feel like those have helped me grow and understand the career even more. 

FTM: I can imagine you’ve been called out for many less intense runs as well, maybe even some humorous ones, anything come to mind? I’ve bet you’ve had your share of cats caught in trees? 

MB: Sure, I’ve received a number of calls over the years, but if it is an emergency to one person at that time, then I think we need to handle that as an emergency and help them to mitigate that situation. That’s a philosophy that I’ve carried throughout my career and the people I’ve associated with carry throughout theirs. You may get called for some peculiar scenarios, but at the time the person calling feels it is an emergency, and we need to help them as much as we can. It’s important for us to answer all those calls to the utmost of our ability, and we do that here at the Fort Thomas Fire Department every day. 

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FTM: Over the years, have you seen major changes in the technology of fighting fires? 

MB: I think a lot of equipment has evolved through the years, gotten better. Recently, we have upgraded our SCBA masks with a more integrated self-contained breathing apparatus. With the COVID epidemic, a lot of changes have occurred. We’ve put our people in the best equipment we can to protect them. We have a motto in fire service that everyone goes home. I have that on a wristband that I wear and give to all of my employees...

So, yes, we’ve seen various different equipment upgrades over years. What sticks out to me in the last few years is now have more sophisticated technology that protects us as well as the patients we come in contact with, whether that’s at a fire or an EMS scene. 

Commissioner Ryan Quarles to "wait his turn" for Covid-19 vaccine


Almost a week after Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers each received their initial dose of the Moderna vaccine, Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles issued a statement saying that while he plans to take the COVID-19 vaccine, he will wait until it is more widely available to Kentuckians who need it most. 


"I plan on taking the vaccine, but I will wait for my turn in line,” said Quarles. “Though I appreciate the Governor’s invitation, as a healthy 37-year old man with no underlying conditions I would rather my early access vaccine be given to a high-risk individual like a frontline worker or a resident of a long-term care facility, two groups who have unfortunately borne the brunt of the coronavirus. 

I understand the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that officials like the Governor and top legislators be vaccinated for the sake of government continuity, but I do not believe rank-and-file politicians should be leapfrogging over those who are at higher risk of infection. I want to thank President Trump, Vice President Pence, and our medical professionals for their work through Operation Warp Speed to produce this modern day miracle, a safe and effective vaccine. But if it means saving one more life, I will wait in line just like everyone else.”

The vaccinations of state officials follow the first vaccinations in Kentucky on Dec. 14, when the first round of hospitals began receiving and administering 38,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to front-line health care workers. Long-term care facility residents and staff began receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through Walgreens and CVS, which have an agreement with the federal government. 

Gov. Beshear, who has hailed the vaccines as a modern medical miracle, vowed for weeks to take the vaccine publicly if it was determined to be safe and effective. First Lady Britainy Beshear also received the vaccination. Gov. Beshear said his children, Will, 11, and Lila, 10, will be vaccinated when it is approved for children.

“I would not risk my life or the life of my family, which I love more than life itself, if I didn’t believe this vaccine was safe and highly effective,” Gov. Beshear said. “These vaccines are a gift and our best vehicle to end this evil pandemic, allow our children and educators to safely return to school and reignite our economy.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended that all governors be vaccinated in public as soon as possible and Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner for Public Health, recommended leaders of each branch receive the vaccination to ensure continuity of government and promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Success comes at Beechwood for Cam Hergott

Cam Hergott Adds to Family Legacy at Different School

PHOTO: Dale Dawn. Fort Thomas native Cam Hergott fires a pass in the Class 2A state championship game Friday. Hergott helped the Tigerst to two state championships in three years.

Fort Thomas resident Cam Hergott ventured out of Kroger Field after playing the last football game of his storied career for the Beechwood Tigers on Friday.

But Hergott and his teammates left satisfied. The Tigers defeated Lexington Christian, 24-23 in overtime to win the 15th state championship in school history, but the first one in Class 2A in school history. Beechwood Head Coach Noel Rash credited families like Cam Hergott's parents Kevin and Kelly Hergott for the success of the program.
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"All I have to worry about is football," Rash said. "Our kids come and I don't have to teach them a lot of different things. I don't have to teach manners and how to conduct yourself or work on excellence. It's all taught in their homes. That's why we're standing here."

Cam Hergott's final pass at Beechwood came on the first play of overtime. He completed one to the right side to sophomore tight end Torin O'Shea for the 10-yard touchdown pass and senior kicker Colin Graman hit the extra-point attempt.


Lexington Christian junior standout Xavier Brown scored from three yards out to make the final score. But Beechwood junior defensive back Brady Moore blocked the Eagle PAT attempt from junior kicker Andrew Dobbs to seal the win.

Beechwood led 14-3 at halftime. Cam Hergott completed 12-of-26 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 97 yards on 25 carries for an average of 3.9 yards per touch. Cam Hergott said the team did not know if it would play this year because of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic.

"Coach Rash teaches us when you're getting kicked in the teeth, you have to love that," Cam Hergott said. "You have to eat it up because that's the only way you're going to learn and get better in life. We kind of got kicked in the teeth in the second half. We loved it. You can't get down about that stuff. That's just going to lead to a lot of worse things. We knew we had to get up, eat it up and just go do our thing."

Cam Hergott finished the season with 161 completions on 220 passes for 2,467 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 1,078 yards on 140 attempts and 15 touchdowns for an average of 7.7 yards per carry.

In his three years as starting quarterback, Cam Hergott helped the Tigers to a 30-8 record and two one-point wins in state championship games. Beechwood edged Pikeville, 21-20 in the Class 1A state title game in 2018. The Tigers lost at eventual state runner-up and playoff nemesis Mayfield, 35-7 in the Class 2A semifinals in 2019.

The run started with a decision a couple years ago. Cam Hergott helped the Highlands freshman team to a nice record in 2017. His uncle Tommy Hergott passed away and Cam Hergott said Tommy Hergott's wish was for Cam Hergott to attend Beechwood. Cam Hergott wound up playing three years for his uncle, Greg Hergott. Greg Hergott played for Beechwood years ago and has been the offensive coordinator for the Tigers since 2002.

"It meant a lot to me. I knew Coach Rash was a phenomenal head coach," Cam Hergott said. "He just pushes us every day to work harder. When it gets hard, that's when you work harder. He teaches us sacrifice, commitment and brotherhood. We just kept fighting the whole offseason and season and it turned out well for us."

But Cam Hergott said his Dad told him to keep it a secret for a while. Cam Hergott appeared poised to lead the Bluebirds to great things as a freshman in both football and basketball.

"When (my Highlands friends) did find the news, they were kind of mad at first, which I get. I would be, too," Cam Hergott admitted. "But as we went on, we stayed close and we're still best friends. We're picking each other up and hanging out during the week and always staying close because I still love Highlands. I went there first so I always have a love for that place in my heart."

Cam Hergott completed 103-of-167 passes for 1,671 yards and seven interceptions as a sophomore in addition to rushing for 547 yards on 97 carries and seven touchdowns for an average of just under six yards per carry. The Tigers lost to just Corbin and Covington Catholic that year.

"I came into a really good senior class," Cam Hergott said. "I had to get their trust early. I can run the ball and I can throw the ball really well so I fit into everything that Beechwood does and we had an amazing season."

The Tigers only lost to Dixie Heights and Covington Catholic this season. Dixie Heights made it to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs losing to state power Louisville Trinity and CovCath lost 20-0 in the Class 5A semifinals to eventual state champion Bowling Green.

He completed 441-of-673 yards in three seasons for 6,214 yards, 65 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,376 yards on 366 carries and 34 touchdowns for an average of around 6.5 per touch.

"Cameron is obviously a stud," Greg Hergott said. "But we have a lot of solid football players around him."

City Council Approves Building Remodel Bids at Year-end Meeting

Fort Thomas purchased a new ambulance. It arrived December 2 and is already in service.


by Robin Gee, city council beat editor


Fort Thomas City Council members said their good-byes to several longtime and highly regarded city staff and council members at their December 21 council meeting. Members expressed gratitude and congratulations to a number of people retiring or moving on with new things.

Fire Department Chief Mark Bailey passes the baton next month to a new fire chief, Chris Amon. Bailey has been with city for 16 years, building in his words a department of "18 firefighters who are the best in the business."

The chief congratulated Amon and addressed council, "I cannot thank you enough for what you’ve done for me over the last 16 years. Going back in time, I want to thank not only the present council in front of me this evening but also the past councils I’ve had the opportunity to worked with, all of which have been the most professional bunch of people I’ve could ever think about trying to work with."
 
Haas and several council people, including outgoing long-time council member Roger Peterman, thanked the chief for leading and creating one of the area’s top fire service agencies.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Fire Chief Mark Bailey to Retire After 45-year Career in Fire Service.


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More departures


The meeting also marked the departure of Economic Development Director Debbie Buckley who recently announced she would retire at the end of January. City attorney Jann Seidenfaden announced at the November meeting that she, too, will retire this coming March. Council members praised both for their hard work, direction and support for the city over the years.

Council members David Cameron, Mark Collier and Roger Peterman are also moving on, and this was their last meeting with council. Haas and their colleagues thanked each one and noted their accomplishments.

City Administrator Ron Dill thanked all three for their passion and contributions to the city. He said he and the staff appreciate this council’s leadership, especially during this year of COVID.

All three department members shared their appreciation for their colleagues, staff and the city. Peterman has been on council he longest, for 20 years. He noted former and current leadership on staff and council and his pride in working with all of them and in representing the city.

City building remodel moves ahead


A total of five contractors bid on the planned remodel of the Fort Thomas city building, and bids were fairly close. City staff and the architecture firm working on the project, Robert Ehmet Hayes and Associates, recommended the city accept the company with the lowest bid, Cincinnati-based general contractor Graybach LLC.

The company’s bid was $5,148,000 dollars. The bid also included alternative bids, extra parts of the project that can be broken out and accomplished separately. Architect Joe Hayes said he recommends the company also do one of the alternate bid items, decorative wainscoting. With that addition, the project would come in at $5,234,000. It should take approximately 12 months.

Barre3 Fort Thomas. 90 Alexandria Pike. 

Dill noted that two additional projects related to the building remodel will need to be bid separately. While much of the asbestos in the building has been removed when the fire service area was remodeled and in subsequent building projects, there may still be some in the building and a remediation company will need to remove it. 
 
He also said there will be bids necessary for the work of moving the radio transformer located at the back of the city property. All told, these projects could come to about $200,000, he said.

Council members voted unanimously to approve Graybach for the project. Company owner Pete Subach happens to be a Fort Thomas resident.

City reports


Police Chief Casey Kilgore gave a brief end-of-year report and noted that police calls were around 13,000 this year, about the same as they were in 2019. Chief Bailey noted that this is also true for the fire department with calls on par with the previous year despite the pandemic.

Dill shared news on a number of projects:

North Fort Thomas Sidewalks: Finally, he said, movement is underway for the North Fort Thomas Avenue sidewalk project. The Kentucky Traffic Cabinet has approved construction plans and authorized the release of the project for bid. The plan is to bid the project out in January, select a bid winner in February and begin work as soon as possible with a target completion at the end of June. After the sidewalk work is complete, road resurfacing on the avenue will be added to the annual road surfacing project.

City events: While the holiday walk is canceled due to the virus, the mayor was able to do a virtual Christmas tree lighting at Inverness on December 12. Santa was also on hand at the city building to collect letters from children and to pose for photos. A tree was planted at the Inverness spot this year and dedicated to the Jack and Joyce Steinman family who have been instrumental in the establishment of the park at Inverness. On the night of the tree lighting, area restaurants offered special menu items. A house decorating contest is underway with officials scheduled to do the judging after the council meeting.

Temporary move for city staff: While the city council remodel is taking place, city offices will surge to the Armory. Dill reported that staff is ready and can move over the next two weeks. The goal will be to be open city offices for business by January 4.

Employee health self-insurance: Dill noted that it has been two years since the city decided to go to self-insurance for employee health care, working with city staff unions for employee buy-in. Right now, the plan is going extremely well, but he said, it is hard to get a picture of how self-insurance will go in a typical year. The first year was only a partial year in the program. This year, due to COVID, the usage in the first three quarters of the year was way down as people canceled elective surgeries and office visits. This has resulted in a surplus for the program, and so Director of Finance Joe Ewald announced no premium increases will be passed on to employees for the coming year.

Request for easement:
Dill asked council to consider an easement on property in Riggs Park for the sewer district. SD1 is planning significant improvements to sanitary and storm sewers in the vicinity at the intersection of Strathmore and Rosemont and asked for permission to transverse the park. The district’s plan is designed to avoid existing park amenities but if there are any disruptions, the district will put everything back to rights upon completion of the project. City council voted to approve granting the easement.

City ordinances and municipal orders


City council heard the first readings of two ordinances. The first was the transfer of the cable systems franchise agreement made with Cincinnati Bell, to the company’s new owner parent, Red Fiber Parent LLC. This is basically a name change and nothing in the agreement will change.

The second is an ordinance setting the terms of compensation for the new fire chief.

Council passed a municipal order appointing council member Ken Bowman to be the council’s representative on the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana (OKI) Council of Governments for 2021.

Next meeting: January 4 

 
Before adjourning, Dill announced the first meeting of council for 2021 will be January 4. At this meeting new council members will be sworn in. The meeting will also include a comprehensive update of implementation of the Community Plan.


Fort Thomas Appoints Chris Amon as New Fire Chief

New Fort Thomas Fire Chief Chris Amon
 


by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

The city of Fort Thomas has a new fire chief. Chris Amon, a captain in the department, has been approved by council to serve as fire chief starting next month.

18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

A city committee, as well as an outside assessment firm, reviewed qualifications and interviewed several top-notch candidates both from within and outside the department, said Mayor Eric Haas.

"We were so blessed in Fort Thomas because we had a lot of really good candidates. Any one of them could have easily filled this spot, there’s no question about that, but Chris rose to the top. We are excited to have him and really looking forward to him being our fire chief."

Council members voted unanimously to approve his appointment to the fire chief position. "I really am humbled to have this position. It’s been a privilege to work for the city of Fort Thomas...I have high expectation of myself and the staff over at the fire department, and we’re going to do great things." said Amon. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Governor Addresses NKY Business Leaders in Year-End Chamber Forum

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear talked about COVID, the economy, vaccines and the road ahead at a recent Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum.
 


by Robin Gee


Coming at the end of the country’s first week of vaccine distributions, COVID relief was a central topic of an online presentation by Governor Andy Beshear for members of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum on Friday, December 18.

The tone of the forum was somber in parts as the governor laid out particulars of the toll the Corona virus pandemic has taken on Kentucky, but overall it took a hopeful note as the he announced the arrival and deployment of vaccines as well as great news about the Brent Spence Bridge, job creation in the state and other promising signs of recovery on the horizon.

Celebrating the vaccines


While he shared some sobering statistics about the virus’s impact on Kentuckians, the governor began with the announcement that the Moderna vaccine, the second of two very powerful vaccines had been approved and was set to be delivered this week.

"This week has been incredible, with our first vaccines delivered," he said, "They have been a shot of hope, and they mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic. In 2021, we will defeat the Corona virus."

He thanked the front-line health care workers who have been our first line of defense and comfort throughout the pandemic and praised them for setting an example as they "roll up their sleeves" to take the vaccine.



Summing up the impact of the pandemic


The vaccines were welcome news, but could not come soon enough, he said. He noted the sacrifice and suffering the disease has caused all of us. The virus has infected more than 239,000 Kentuckians and more than 2,300 have died across the state.

On last Thursday alone, he said, 54 Kentuckians had died making it the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic. As of Friday, 64 residents of Kenton County, 22 from Campbell County and 35 from Boone County had lost their lives to the virus.

In addition, the pandemic has wrecked havoc on the economy, damaging businesses and creating record job loss across the country, he added.

Noting how far we’ve come


The governor thanked the business leaders who have stepped up to help and do whatever it takes to defeat the virus. He is certain, he said, that things might have been far worse if that had not happened. He said he believes the actions of the business community contributed to the state’s success in keeping the tremendous spikes of infections seen in other states at bay.

He recalled the early days of the pandemic and the struggle to get testing in place and to secure personal protective equipment. He said he is very proud of how far we have come and listed several noteworthy accomplishments:

  • The "Kroger testing partnership" originated in Kentucky and is now the national model across the country for surge testing.
  • The state has a 120-day stockpile of PPE and has distributed more than 18 million pieces of PPE across the state.
  • More than 100 companies donated or produced PPE to help fill the need.
  • The governor singled out Northern Kentucky’s own Gravity Diagnostics for stepping up to provide the vital need for testing across the state.
  • Data gathering and distribution of information has improved dramatically.
  • The state distributed 1.6 billion in CARES Act funding, which included a $40 million food and beverage relief fund for that industry.
  • From the CARES Act funds, the state set aside $298 million to pay benefits and improve the unemployment system in the state, as well as $200 to 300 million to help repay the federal unemployment insurance loan. 
 

Growing the economy even in the worst climate


Acknowledging the toll the virus has taken on the economy, Beshear also touted some notable accomplishments even during these dark times. More than 270 economic development projects are underway across the state, totaling $2.56 billion in investment by private sector companies. The effort promises 8,700 full-time jobs with the second highest average wage in the state’s history, the governor said.

Two examples in the region he noted were Protective Life Insurance’s move of its regional headquarters from Cincinnati to the River Center in Covington, bringing with it 255 jobs and a $17.1 million investment. Technology engineering business Step CG LLC announced its plans to expand to Kenton County in February, bringing another 83 high paying jobs to the area.

The governor noted that Covington has added 2,100 new jobs and boasted $86 million in private investment this past year, and plans are underway for a large project on 23 acres near the city’s downtown.

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Investing in infrastructure and innovation


In this year, the state completed several new road projects and more bridge projects than any other year in the state’s history, the governor said. Projects included restoration of 104 bridges and construction of 25 new bridges.

Among these, of course, is the successful repair of the Brent Spence Bridge reopening on time this week. He commended Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray and state workers on the project, as well Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and his team.

Infrastructure support and improving access across the state is key to growth, the governor said. These steps help open the door for more innovation, a key to growth in the economy as we move forward.

The governor laid out some of his vision for innovation for the future. "This is the vision we have to have right now. Innovation in every sector of our economy means we can grow together, attract more investment and lead in a post-COVID economy. While this has been a tough, unprecedented year, we continue to move forward."

Looking toward the next legislative session


The governor had a message for Kentucky legislators. Now is not the time for partisan wrangling. It is a time for bold moves and courageous decision making, he said. He listed his plans for focus for 2021:

  • Investing in education, especially post-secondary
  • Investing in infrastructure, addressing our transportation budget
  • Focusing on new, high wage jobs, not just any job
  • Passing sports betting and medical marijuana
  • Modernizing government to create better access
  • Finding a bipartisan solution to allow historical horse racing to continue in the state
  • Growing our reputation as the nation’s agritech capital
  • Expanding broadband for education and telehealth
  • Protecting affordable care act, not allowing any restriction of access for basic health care
  • Addressing the state’s antiquated unemployment insurance system. The governor said he is committed to contributing to the unemployment insurance trust fund, and adding money to the rainy day fund.

New COVID-19 Safety Requirements in Effect for Child Care Providers

Changes include child masking policy updates


New requirements are in effect for Kentucky child care providers.

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The new regulation, which was filed by the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), an agency of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), on Dec. 10 and took effect immediately, enhances other requirements for all regulated providers - child care centers, family child care homes and limited duration child care programs.

CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander said many of the changes are a result of several public comments and discussions with stakeholders.

“These changes reflect our commitment to listening to the needs of providers and parents as we all continue to balance financial needs with protecting the health and safety of children, families and staff,” he said. “This pandemic has only emphasized the critical role that child care providers play in our economic and community infrastructure. Child care is a bridge for many parents – and the providers themselves – to navigate a successful career or track to complete their education.”

DCBS Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub said her agency and the cabinet’s Office of the Inspector General and Department for Public Health (DPH) have worked hard to serve providers, including managing the distribution of $67 million in federal CARES Act funding designated for Kentucky child care.  

“Throughout this challenging time, child care providers have evolved to make their centers safer and more accommodating for families, and we have strived to be responsive and supportive to them, with financial assistance, expert guidance and helpful resources,” she said. “Many of our child care staff are parents and grandparents themselves, and they genuinely serve in the best interests of both providers and families.”

“We understand the challenges providers have faced, the losses they have experienced and their difficulties in staying open,” Miranda-Straub said. “Because every facet of our commonwealth benefits from quality child care, we’ve taken several steps to help.”

The new regulation updates criteria for children’s mask wearing, including exemptions in accordance with DPH’s face covering regulations.

DCBS Division of Child Care Director Sarah Vanover said two guidelines stay the same: Children under age 2 do not wear masks, and children in first grade and older do wear masks, unless exempted.

Now, under the new regulation, when parents of children between age 3 and first grade do want their children to wear masks while in center, both parents and their providers must sign a child care face mask permission form to note agreement. Providers cannot mandate that all children age 3 through first grade wear masks.

Vanover said by signing the form, providers assure that they have the supervision available to make sure that children are safe while wearing a masks. And parents and guardians signing the form acknowledge that they will supply the masks and that it is the children’s responsibility, not the providers’, to ensure masks are worn.

“This is something parents need to talk about with their children at home to make sure children understand their role,” Vanover said. “Providers are not responsible for making sure that every child in the class wears the same mask, all day long, while also completing their other responsibilities. This is a team effort.”

Children who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have a disability or a health exemption do not have to wear masks. Children cannot wear lanyards with their masks because of risk of suffocation or strangulation.  

Children shall not wear masks when they are napping because of a risk of suffocation.

“Sleep time is a mask-free time, and both parents and providers can emphasize this to children for safety,” Vanover said.

Children also shall not wear masks when they are engaged in vigorous play, when they’re outdoors and 6 feet apart from each other, when they are actively eating or drinking.

Woodfill Student Creates and Sells Notecards to Benefit Emergency Shelter NKY


Barre3 Ft. Thomas. Virtual classes available! Gift card too. 90 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas. 

Late summer Mya Beets, a 4th grader at Woodfill Elementary, drew a picture of a woman with blue hair wearing a red mask. That drawing sparked a fundraising effort that will benefit many local men and women experiencing homelessness this winter. 

 


“My mom liked it and put it on Instagram and then I drew more,”
 Beets says.

 

She drew nine more, people from her imagination, all different except for one constant – a mask. 

 

Beets says one of her mom’s book-club friends said if those drawings were on a notecard, she’d buy it. “So we designed them and my mom said we could print them and start selling them and I made a video and my mom posted the video on Facebook,” Beets says.

 

But Beets’ motivations to make money went beyond her personal piggy bank. Instead she wanted all proceeds to be given to the Emergency Shelter of NKY (ESNKY). 

 

“About two years ago we took some extra dessert or some chocolates over there and my mom’s friend is the director – her name is Ms. Kim,” Beets says. “And she took us on a tour of the emergency shelter and we got to see where they store the food and where they slept and all that kind of stuff and we got to see their building and I thought that would be a good place because it must be hard to be open during a pandemic.” 

 

ESNKY opened in 2008 at 634 Scott St., Covington, as a response to homelessness by providing cold weather shelter for adult men and women. On December 15, ESNKY broke ground on a new 9,000-square-foot facility at 436 W. 13th St., Covington, which will double the shelter’s current capacity. The new facility will also provide guests with daytime mental health services, help with job searches, shower facilities and a place to do laundry. 

 

Also on December 15 ESNKY moved its overnight shelter to Newport, which will allow them to shelter 50 adults this winter compared to the 24 that is allowed at the Scott St. location with social distancing in mind.

 

“We were offered space and asked by Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery along with Campbell County Jailer Jim Daley to use the empty building since they knew the reduction of emergency shelter beds could be catastrophic and deadly since more people need services,” says Kim M. Webb, ESNKY’s executive director. “This is a huge win for Newport, Campbell County, ESNKY and our region, but more importantly for the human beings that need an immediate bed to sleep in.”

 

Beets made her video (she said she was only a little nervous and it took a few takes) in front of her family’s Christmas tree. Her mom posted the video and immediately orders –and comments – started coming in:

 

“So cool that Mya is using her artistic talent for good.”

 

“Very proud of you Mya. Your original collection of masked girls is beautiful. Though we might feel hidden wearing masks, your girls have expression and voice. Like you!!!” 

 

“We are using them as Christmas cards. Thanks again, Mya!”



 

Beets’ teacher, Tina Reynolds, took note, too. “As a teacher, one of my main goals has always been to guide my students to become engaged, kind and productive members of society,” Reynolds says. “Providing the skills necessary for this is just the first step. It is my hope and dream that as the students grow and mature they will use the skills I teach them to do amazing things. Mya is doing just that! This project shows a very sophisticated understanding of citizenship and highlights Mya’s caring nature and personality. I am certain she is going to continue to do great and creative things for others in her future. She is making a difference.”

 

Beets initially ordered 250 cards and quickly sold out. So her mom ordered 500 more. To date Beets has sold more than 70 packs (with eight to a pack), raising about $750, which includes some additional donations. 

 

“It was a total surprise,” Webb says. “Her thoughtfulness and creativity will help many adults have a safe, warm place to sleep tonight. Doubling our capacity means doubling our fundraising efforts. Every card she sells helps an adult in need of an immediate bed to sleep to any adult man or woman. Mya is to be commended for her efforts to make NKY a better community to live in. I enjoy working students as they are our future.”

 

Beets has 25 packs left, available for local delivery. To order, contact her mom, Angel Beets, via text at 513-305-9444 or angelspyrou@hotmail.com. You can Venmo Angel @angel-beets. Let her know your address, and they will drop them off. Angel and her husband, Marty, are covering printing costs so no overhead is taken out of the $10. All money goes directly to ESNKY.

 

On the back of each notecard is a quote: “We can make a difference.”

 

“I just thought about people who needed help, who needed help in the pandemic, and I thought, well, I can make a difference and I thought that would be a good line,” Beets says.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Center Names New Executive Director

Marci McNay Executive Director as Dale Edmondson Retires




The Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Center (CCCDC) Board of Directors has named Marci McNay its new Executive Director as current Executive Director Dale Edmondson will retire effective December 31, 2020.


McNay joined CCCDC in May 2004 and has served as the Assistant Director since July 2015. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications from Northern Kentucky University, is a member of Leadership Northern Kentucky 2020 and obtained her Emergency Number Professional certification in 2014.

“There is no one more qualified than Marci for the Executive Director job of Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch- she’s served the organization exceptionally well for the past sixteen years and is ready to effortlessly assume her new position. 

Marci has outstanding relationships with our dispatchers, first responders, and the community as a whole. The Board and I are thrilled with this promotion and look forward to working with Marci in her new role,” said Mark Bailey, Fort Thomas Fire Chief and CCCDC Board Chair. 

Edmondson has served the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky region, Campbell County and the City of Fort Thomas in numerous roles over the years. 

"We are all grateful for Dale's service," said Campbell County Judge Executive, Steve Pendery. "While we will miss him and his contributions to the community, we should take comfort in knowing we are in Marci’s capable hands. Marci has the experience, knowledge and character to lead the Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Center and I wish her well."

Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Center is a Special Purpose Government Entity formed in 2001 by Campbell County, Fort Thomas and Newport and is governed by a board of representatives from the founding entities. CCCDC is responsible for all E-911 service in Campbell County and handles approximately 175,000 calls for service per year.

Bipartisan Kentucky leaders receive Covid-19 vaccine

Gov. Andy Beshear receiving the Covid-19 vaccines. Provided. 

Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers, heads of the three branches of Kentucky government, each received their initial dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, ensuring the continuity of state government during this pandemic and demonstrating broad, bipartisan support for the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccination.


Their vaccinations follow the first vaccinations in Kentucky on Dec. 14, when the first round of hospitals began receiving and administering 38,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to front-line health care workers. On Monday, long-term care facility residents and staff began receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through Walgreens and CVS, which have an agreement with the federal government. This week, about 80 regional hospitals and more than 90 local health departments are receiving over 70,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to inoculate more health care workers.

Gov. Beshear, who has hailed the vaccines as a modern medical miracle, vowed for weeks to take the vaccine publicly if it was determined to be safe and effective. First Lady Britainy Beshear also received the vaccination Tuesday. Gov. Beshear said his children, Will, 11, and Lila, 10, will be vaccinated when it is approved for children.

“I would not risk my life or the life of my family, which I love more than life itself, if I didn’t believe this vaccine was safe and highly effective,” Gov. Beshear said. “These vaccines are a gift and our best vehicle to end this evil pandemic, allow our children and educators to safely return to school and reignite our economy.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended during a call Monday with governors that all governors be vaccinated in public as soon as possible.

Michelle Searcy, BSN, RN, school health supervisor with the Franklin County Health Department, administered the vaccines Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. Amy Cubellis, an RN and school health nurse in the county health department, administered the vaccine to Searcy.

“I appreciate the Governor’s request for the heads of the three branches of government to be vaccinated,” said Chief Justice Minton of Bowling Green, who was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in 2006 and is just the second justice in Kentucky to be chosen by fellow justices to serve four terms as chief justice. 

Chief Justice, John Minton. 



“I recognize this is a privilege most Americans don’t yet have, but Dr. Steven Stack and the Centers for Disease Control recommended that we get the vaccine to ensure the continuity of state government. I’ve already begun advocating for our judges, circuit clerks and deputy clerks to get the vaccine as soon as they’re eligible based on the federal distribution schedule. They’re essential workers who have frequent contact with the public and we want to ensure their safety as they conduct the important business of the courts. I appreciate the Kentucky Department for Public Health for keeping us updated on how the vaccine will be distributed in Kentucky.”

Senate President Robert Stivers. 


“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine signals an optimistic turning point in our fight against the virus,” said Senator Stivers of Manchester, who has served in the Senate since 1997. “This bipartisan group of leaders chose to take the vaccine together to send a message that the vaccine is safe and it is crucial for the health and welfare of the commonwealth. The importance of taking the vaccine cannot be overstated, because you are protecting yourself and your fellow Kentuckians. I encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.”




Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and J. Michael Brown, the highest appointed official in Kentucky as secretary of the executive cabinet, also received the initial dose of the vaccination against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on Tuesday.

Dr. Stack recommended leaders of each branch receive the vaccination to ensure continuity of government and promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Gov. Beshear, Dr. Stack and the CDC prioritized front-line health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Long-term care residents account for two-thirds of COVID-related deaths in Kentucky.

Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Announces New Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Board Member

Bob Heil. FTM file. 

The Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) announced several board members were recently elected to new roles. In addition, Ben Brandstetter, President of Brandstetter Carroll Inc., was appointed to the company’s board of directors by Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore and approved by the Boone County Fiscal Court.

1017 S. Fort Thomas Ave. 

 
At the November board of directors meeting, these individuals were elected to leadership positions:
  • Tom Banta, Managing Director of Corporex Companies, was named Vice-Chair
  • James Dressman, Partner at DBL Law, was named Treasurer, and
  • Candace McGraw, Chief Executive Officer of the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport, was named Secretary.
 
“We appreciate our board members continuing their support of Tri-ED and stepping into new roles,” said Bob Heil, Chair of the Tri-ED Board and CEO of KLH Engineers. “We have an impressive bank of knowledge on the Tri-ED Board supporting the mission of generating, preserving and enhancing high quality economic opportunities for Northern Kentucky.”
 

Brandstetter is President of Brandstetter Carroll Inc., a national architectural and engineering firm with locations in Lexington, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dallas. He will serve a term ending June 30, 2022 that was previously held by Aaron Bludworth, President and CEO of Fern. He is currently the Chair of Kentucky’s Council on Post-Secondary Education and previously served six years as a member of the Boone County Planning Commission. Brandstetter is a native of Lexington and received a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
 
“We welcome Ben Brandstetter and his expertise to the Tri-ED Board of Directors,” added Heil. “We also express deep appreciation to Aaron Bludworth for his years of service to Tri-ED on the Board of Directors and many committees. Aaron has been steadfast in his support of Tri-ED and its mission in Northern Kentucky.”