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Saturday, March 28, 2020

First COVID-19 Related Death in Northern Kentucky


The first patient identified with COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky has died. The patient, a resident of Kenton County, was over 60 years of age and had underlying medical issues.

“Our thoughts go out to their loved ones during this very difficult time,”  said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. “This sad event underscores our message now more than ever – all Northern Kentuckians need to maintain social distancing and stay healthy at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, 2020, 3 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Northern Kentucky, for a total of 26 cases. There have been 16 in Kenton County, 5 in Boone County, 4 in Campbell County and 1 in Grant County.

Cases will continue to be identified in Northern Kentucky through testing, but there are even more people in the community who are ill at home. Some with symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, coughing and difficulty breathing) are being evaluated by their health care provider through telehealth visits. Even without testing, a health care provider can tell a patient if they think they have COVID-19, and will give the same instructions for care: Those with milder symptoms must stay home, avoid others, take fever reducing medications, and practice infection control at home. If symptoms become more serious, they should seek emergency care.

At this time, availability of tests is limited, and health care providers and systems are carefully determining who needs to be tested. For those with no or mild symptoms, testing is not recommended.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Gov. Beshear: If You're a Kentuckian, I Need You To Not Go To Tennessee


By Jessie Eden

UPDATE AS OF 6:49 P.M. - "Unfortunately we have had a third death today, bringing our total #COVID19 related deaths to 8. Today we lost a 73-year-old female from Jefferson Co. Our thoughts are with her family. ^AB" (Gov. Beshear's Facebook Page)

Governor Andy Beshear issued his daily Coronavirus update for Friday, Mar. 27 with the following updates;

- There have been three additional deaths. A 75 year-old-female from Fayette and a 77-year-old male from Hopkins. This is the first day Kentucky has had two deaths in one day.

- We had 54 new cases today. We expect the numbers to elevate but the increase is small right now.

NEW CASES LOCALLY AS OF MAR. 27: 

Boone = 1
Campbell = 2
Kenton = 3

- "There are reports that a church in Florence is still holding service. Several people have reported the church by calling the hotline. We can't still be doing some of this," said Gov. Beshear. "I'm a person of deep faith, so are so many other people who have made the sacrifice not to go to an in-person service. God would not want to put our people at risk in this way. I know that in my heart. Please, please follow these directives."

- A Perry Co. man in a nursing home that they believe tested positive yesterday was incorrect. This man's test has come back as negative.

Governor Beshear continued to reiterate that a large increase is still possible. "The next two weeks are critical. We have very, very large surges going on in various parts of the country. We have more time than they do to reduce that curve. We aren't competing with another state, we're competing for the health and lives of our people."

- Gov. Beshear strongly stated that Kentuckians along the border of Tennessee should not travel to Tennessee. Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have. "If you're a Kentuckian, I need you to not go to Tennessee. We will be better protected as a state if our neighbors do the same thing but I can't control them." 



- Gov. Beshear has also contacted city and county officials to close public playgrounds, basketball courts have been ordered to close to discourage large crowds.

- Eric Friedlander spoke on the issues of homelessness and what is being done to help this demographic. He stated they are doing everything they can do to help aid those experiencing homelessness. There is more HUD funding potentially coming down from the federal government. Shelters are offering guidance. He asked local communities to work together.

- Unemployment claims are being processes, despite some people receiving messages saying they do not qualify. This is not accurate. You will get an email from unemployment next week outlining your claim.

- A segment outlining ways to connect with your child during this time was featured at the beginning of the briefing. You can view it here.

- There are 1,352 ventilators in Kentucky. Gov. Beshear says they are trying to increase that supply every day.

- Kentucky is working with at least two hotels to hopefully allow the space to turn into extended hospital space, if needed.

This Week at the State Capitol: Mar. 23 - 27



The following was released by LRC Public Information;

FRANKFORT -- Progress continued this week on two matters considered top priorities by many state lawmakers: the next state budget and relief for workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.




With the schedule for the General Assembly's 2020 session abbreviated in response to COVID-19 precautions, the Senate and House convened one day this week. Lawmakers serving on a budget conference committee also met this week to continue ironing out differences among proposals that would guide state spending over the next two years. Many say the next budget is likely to be austere -- more so than expected just several weeks ago -- as a result of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Lawmakers are working with an eye toward having a budget plan both chambers can vote on next week before a veto recess begins.

Broad bipartisan agreement was reached on efforts to provide COVID-19 relief this week. On Thursday, both the Senate and House approved Senate Bill 150, legislation that originally dealt with out-of-network insurance billing but was amended after the virus that causes COVID-19 arrived in Kentucky to strengthen the state's response and offer relief to those impacted by the pandemic.

Senate Bill 150 would loosen requirements for unemployment benefits and extend help to self-employed workers and others who would otherwise not be eligible. It would also:

·         Expand telemedicine options by allowing out-of-state providers to accept new patient visits. Insurers would be required to cover those visits at the same rate as in-person visits.

·         Provide immunity for health care providers who render care or treatment in good faith during the current state of emergency. It would also give immunity to businesses that make or provide protective equipment or hygiene supplies that are outside their usual scopes of business.

·         Extend the state's income tax filing deadline to July 15, the same extension offered by the federal government.

·         Address open meeting laws by allowing meetings to take place utilizing live audio or live video teleconferencing.

·         Require the governor to declare in writing the date that the state of emergency ends.




The legislation was approved by both chambers on Thursday. The Senate approved the bill on a 30-0 vote and the House approved the measure 82-0 before sending it to the governor's office.

Other bills approved over the past week include the following:


House Bill 415 would allow distillers, wineries, and breweries to be licensed to ship their beverages directly to consumers. Packages would have to be clearly labeled and signed for by someone 21 or older. Shipping to "dry" areas that don't allow alcohol sales would be prohibited. The legislation was approved by the Senate 21-11 on Thursday. The bill has been delivered to the governor.

House Bill 2 would require a national anti-human trafficking hotline number to be advertised in airports, truck stops, train stations and bus stations. Posters with the hotline number are currently required in rest areas. The bill would also close a loophole in the state sex offender registry by adding specific human trafficking offenses to the definition of a sex crime. Those convicted of human trafficking offenses would face a minimum $10,000 fine. House Bill 2 was approved by the Senate 33-0 on Thursday and has been delivered to the governor's office.

Senate Bill 72 would ban female genital mutilation, which the World Health Organization describes as procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedures are mostly carried out on young girls. Kentucky is among 15 states where they are not illegal. Senate Bill 72 would make performing female genital mutilation on minors a felony, ban trafficking girls across state lines for the procedure and take away licenses from medical providers convicted of the practice. On Thursday, the Senate concurred with a House amendment that placed an emergency clause in the legislation so that it would become effective immediately upon being signed into law. The bill has been delivered to the governor.

To offer feedback to lawmakers on the issues under consideration, call the General Assembly's toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

Campbell County Trail Passport is the Perfect Way to Practice 'Social Distancing'


Check some trails off your Campbell County Trail Passport this Spring!


By Jessie Eden

As you're trying to figure out different outdoor activities that still follow the rule of 'social distancing', consider a new project from the Campbell County Extension Service.

Although some parks may be closed due to the quarantine efforts, the surrounding trails are still open and are the perfect chance for you to get some fresh air and exercise and explore our beautiful county.

859-905-0714 | josh@joshmcintoshlaw.com.
This is an advertisement.

The Campbell County Trail Passport is a compilation of trails across Campbell County. Organized by the Campbell County Extension at UK, this nifty website lists all the trails in Campbell County with useful maps that also include the levels of difficulty for each trail. Ranging from easy to more difficult, there are trails for everyone.

Highland Hills Park, Fort Thomas

There is even an interactive component to the trails. The Campbell County Trail Passport encourages hikers to share their photos by emailing campbell.ext@uky.edu or on social media with #hikecampbellcountyky.


A Wide Variety:
There are so many different types within just one county. DJ Skully, an agent with UK and the Campbell County Extension, helped to flesh out the details for the Passport project and he said the wide variety of trails is his favorite part."Bellevue Beach Park has the diversity between different areas, you have different areas from urban to environmental focus at the Campbell County Environmental Education Center or in Melbourne, a fully immersive experience. There is a different flavor and culture that I didn't know existed in our county."


Bellevue Beach Park, Bellevue

How Did This Idea Come About?
It was born from a dedication to the great outdoors and several environmental departments working together. Fort Thomas Recreation's assistant Katie Spicer, who likes to hike, brought the idea up to DJ. "I loved the idea but thought 'let's do it on a larger scale'. Campbell County is unique with a lot of municipalities. Every group has people so we got those people together to discuss physical wellbeing exploration and wellbeing with an urban and rural interface."

Katie thought of the idea because of her love of the outdoors. "Hiking is important to me. I really enjoy it and I like to find different places to go and different terrain to try. I was interested in the idea of people sharing their favorite places to hike and sharing all the trails in Campbell County. I thought it needed to all be in one location and easy to find. The idea of kind of putting a challenge on it is to get encourage people to get out."

Katie knew DJ would have the right connections to bring the project to life."The one central organization is the Campbell County Extension Office and DJ is very knowledgeable in all the different outdoor areas that we have and the different parks. He has great contacts too and he was all in. He made things happen. He's a wealth of information!"

So, in February 2019, there were several meetings with recreation departments across Campbell County's municipalities and the Passport project was born. "We had four meetings to discuss the parks and trails. Kyle Snyder with Kenton County created digital maps for 18 parks, a total of over 40 miles of walking and hiking trails. It's so neat."





Designing the Maps:
After the trails were identified, it was up to Kyle Snyder, a geospatial data specialist with the LINK-GIS Partnership/PDS Planning and Development Services of Kenton County. It was his job to bring the trails to life in a graphic design type of way so that the information is easily accessible and understood...but the design part had its own challenges. "These parks are all quite different in size (AJ Jolly is 950 acres and several parks are just 2 or 3 acres)," said Kyle.
"Representing each park on 8.5 x 11 maps with the same look and feel was a challenge. 


Frederick's Landing, Wilder

"The trails are the key assets that we highlighting. Representing them in a way that will help the park visitor use the trail system was the most important aspect of the map. There are other things like access to water, parking  and  restrooms that are also important  and we represented these features as well."  


Halloween in the Time of Quarantine: Dress Up on March 31

Love those costumes!
Reese Dunbar and Mayson Gindele pose during the 'Trunk or Treat' they organized last Fall.
They created the event for foster children at DCCH. Great job girls!


By Jessie Eden

We could all use a little cheer right now. If you're a diehard Halloween fan like me, you'll be really excited about this idea!



In order to have a little fun during Quarantine, there is a new effort to celebrate 'Halloween' on Tuesday, March 31 by dressing up in your favorite costume and taking photos.

If the idea of TWO HALLOWEENS sounds amazing to you, thrown on that costume on Tuesday and share a photo with us via Facebook, Twitter or email it directly to me; jessicaCeden@gmail.com.

We'll put together a photo gallery to share with everyone.

Happy Quarantine-o-ween!





Thursday, March 26, 2020

19 Cases of COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky; How to Stay Healthy at Home Outside


Today at his 5:00 p.m. press conference, Governor Andy Beshear reported that today, March 26, was the single largest increase of positive Covid-19/Coronavirus test in one day. There are now 248 total positive tests, 50 new cases today, including two in Boone County and the first positive test to a person in a nursing home, a 90-year old male in Perry Co.

"People of all ages are getting the Coronavirus. It's important for our young adults and teens to understand that they can get this. You are not invincible," said Gov. Beshear.

Mayors and County Judges have been asked to shut down congregations in public areas.

"We are going to do what it takes. We do not want to do this, but large groups are congregating and we cannot let that happen. Do not try to be the exception. Let's make sure that we are committed and not think that we are above this."

Four additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Northern Kentucky, for 19 total cases. There are 12 cases in Kenton County, 3 cases in Campbell County and 4 cases in Boone County.

“It is important to remember that while cases will continue to be identified in Northern Kentucky through testing, there are more individuals in our community with symptoms who have COVID-19, but have not been tested,” says Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health.

“Because we are seeing COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky, the safest place you can be right now is healthy at home.”

Although we need to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this does not mean we need to stay inside. With warmer and nicer weather on its way, we all want to get outside. Getting fresh air and exercise can help us stay healthy, but we also need to stay safe, and practice social distancing. Here are some tips for staying healthy at home while outside:

- Remember to practice social distancing, and keep six feet of distance from others.
- Children can play outside, but they should not be playing games with other children that cause them to be in close contact (i.e. sports activities and other games).
- Going for a walk, run, hike or a bike ride is fine, but stay six feet away from others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow. Throw the tissue away in a garbage can.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately after coming inside.

At this time, there are a very limited number of tests available, and health care providers and systems are carefully determining who needs to be tested. If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, stay home and call your health care provider. If it is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are ill and in isolation at home, learn how to prevent the spread of the virus in your home at https://bit.ly/3dBMfCO.

For individuals with no or mild symptoms, testing is not recommended.

NKY Health has been actively responding to the COVID-19 crisis for months. They continue to provide guidance and collaborate with local officials, health care providers, first responders, schools, businesses, social service agencies, and others, as well as respond to a high volume of questions from the public.

They are also coordinating the distribution of personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to health care providers and first responders. Additionally, staff track testing conducted throughout Northern Kentucky, and provide instructions to contacts who have had exposures to cases.

For more information, visit our COVID-19 page on www.nkyhealth.org or www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can also call Kentucky’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-722-5725. The Governor’s press releases are available here: https://governor.ky.gov/news

NKY Plumbing Company Owner: Tradesmen and Women are Proud to Wear the Badge of "Essential Workers"


By Brady Jolly 

These past few weeks have been tough for everyone. We’ve all had to accept the new normal in our everyday life. Anxiety is high on this invisible virus we are fighting and the headlines change minute by minute.

When the severity of the situation became clear, I found out that my company, Jolly Plumbing, would be classified as an essential business. But I have to be honest, I did have the thought, is my plumbing business really that essential? Just the other night in one of Governor Beshear’s recent 5 PM updates he used the term life sustaining business instead of essential. Again I thought “People probably don’t see plumbing as life sustaining.”

You see, even an owner of a plumbing company who grew up around the trades can forget about the importance of our services. Try going without hot water or a toilet for a few days. Or heat. Or electric. All the basic necessities that we take for granted every day. It’s part of what separates us from a third world country. What helps us fight things like COVID-19 and any other virus or disease you can name. Just like our frontline workers in healthcare, our talented and dedicated tradesmen and women are absolutely essential. Yes, even life sustaining.

Are they concerned about being out? Absolutely. They have every right to be, but in a lot of ways I’ve seen a shift in our team's mentality from it’s “just a job” to now it’s a duty to be working. These past two weeks are the proudest I have ever been of the Jolly team. They are out there everyday risking their health for the health of our region. This is the reason we started the The Journeyers, a project that promotes the trades as a viable career. It’s times like now, when you see the pride they take in the important work they do, that really validates that sentiment.  



We recently made badges for our employees with “Essential Employees” at the top. Sure, it’s a precaution in case they get pulled over for being out but really in my eyes, that’s a relic I hope they keep for the rest of their lives. I hope they show it to their grandchildren one day. When everyone else stayed home, they went out. That’s what they do because without them life as we know it would stop.

We wont stop,

Brady

Brady Jolly is the owner and CEO of Jolly Plumbing, Jolly Cleaning and Restoration, Jolly Property Maintenance and the Jolly Event Center based in Wilder, KY. 


Ky. AG Subpoenas Amazon Third-Party Sellers for Price Gouging During Pandemic


FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 26, 2020) -- Attorney General Daniel Cameron today issued subpoenas to six third-party sellers in Kentucky who used Amazon's online platform to engage in suspected price gouging during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.




The sellers allegedly engaged in the price gouging of essential emergency and medical supplies, including hand sanitizer and N95 respirator masks.  Some sellers inflated the price of these items by as much as 1,951 percent when marketing to consumers.

"Kentuckians who purchase essential medical and emergency supplies should feel confident that they are not being taken advantage of because of the health crisis," said Attorney General Cameron.  "The egregious actions of these third-party sellers will not be tolerated in Kentucky, and the subpoenas we issued should serve as a warning to anyone who tries to illegally profit from COVID-19.  I am grateful to Amazon for working with us to stop these predatory practices by third-party sellers."

Amazon worked with Attorney General Cameron to identify the top price gougers based in Kentucky.  Over half of the sellers were served with cease and desist orders, and investigations are continuing.

Since Kentucky's price gouging laws went into effect in early March, Attorney General Cameron has worked diligently to protect Kentuckians from predatory pricing during the COVID-19 health crisis.  In addition to today's actions, Attorney General Cameron:

Activated the Consumer Protection Hotline (1-888-432-9257) for suspected price gouging complaints.

Launched Kentucky's first online price gouging complaint form (ag.ky.gov/pricegouging) to make it easier to report suspected price gouging.

Worked with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to return medical supplies from a suspected price gouging scheme to law enforcement and first responders.

Requested that Gov. Beshear renew the executive order activating Kentucky's price gouging laws.
KRS 367.374 outlines the sale or rental of goods and services when a state of emergency is in effect, and states that no person shall sell or rent an item for a price "which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration."  Goods and services included in this prohibition include consumer food items; goods or services used for emergency cleanup; emergency supplies; medical supplies; home heating oil; building materials; housing; transportation, freight, and storage services; and gasoline or other motor fuels.



When filing a price gouging complaint, consumers are encouraged to report as many details as possible about the suspected price gouging, including the name and address of the seller/retailer, the item purchased, the price of the item after the emergency declaration, and the price of the item before the emergency declaration, if known.  If a refund is sought, consumers should also keep receipts from the transaction to show proof of purchase.

The Attorney General can seek restitution for victims of price gouging and may seek civil penalties against sellers of up to $25,000 for multiple price gouging violations within a 24-hour period.

Report suspected price gouging to the Attorney General's office at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging or by calling 1-888-432-9257.


Southside Deli - "The Best Little Deli In Town" - Offering Carryout Options

Owner John Beatsch and Deli Manager Sue Martin have put a lot of hard work into making Southside the "best little deli in town."
(Pic: FTM file)

An important note in regards to the Coronavirus Carryout guidelines:

Southside Deli is still offering several carryout options! 
If you need to get out of the house, go pick up some food and have a picnic. 

"We have cold sandwiches daily 8am - 8pm and hot lunches weekdays 11-5," said Sue Martin, Deli Manager. "We are extending our fish fry 11am - 8pm we have homemade salmon patties and fish set up." 

---

Southside Deli has been around since a lot of us can remember, and maybe that's because it opened in 1973. It was Convenient Food Mart then. Owned by John Beatsch's brother-in-law, Beatsch was a stock boy there when he was 17.

The store eventually became Ameristop until it went independent in the 1980s. After working his way from stock boy to assistant manager, Beatsch eventually bought the store with a partner in 1998, and has now owned and operated Southside since 2013.

Also Southgate's fire chief, Beatsch says owning the "best little deli in town" is something he never thought of 44 years ago. But, it has been an adventure, a hometown staple, years of meeting and making friends and serving the community some of the best eats around.

"We have everything you find in a bigger grocery store," said Beatsch, "Just smaller amounts."

From pet, medical and cleaning supplies to ice, beer, lottery tickets and more, Southside really is a one-stop shop for anything you may need.

"The deli is what drives us," said Beatsch. "We put a lot of effort into it."

Southside employee Kaitlyn Dischar prepares a sandwich.
(Pic: FTM file, 2017)


You may be surprised what this little deli has to offer - a great assortment of deli meat and cheeses including local Bluegrass meats with excellent prices, pre-packaged sandwiches and salads to grab on the go and a small selection of fresh produce.

Also a surprise - on any given morning, Southside serves up 120 to 200 homemade breakfast sandwiches - sausage, egg and cheese; Gliers goetta, egg and cheese; and egg, bacon and cheese.

"People that try them usually get addicted to them. Occasionally, we have people complain they are gaining weight. We don't make them healthy," Beatsch joked. "We make them good!"

Sue Martin, deli manager since 1998, said before she started working at South Side she often wondered how fresh things would be in a small deli. A former deli manager at Remke, Martin is proud to say people rave about the pimento, chicken and ham salads and other meals that are made fresh daily.

In addition to breakfast, the deli serves daily lunches and hot dinner specials from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Their homemade salads are delicious as well as coneys, 3-ways, chili cheese fries, wings, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, rib and fish sandwiches.

Southside is not just a store with deli sandwiches and a place to get your morning coffee and doughnut, the selection is huge. They even cater box lunches and party trays that can feed up to 100.

"I love working here," said Martin. "John gave me an opportunity years ago to work hours that allowed me to spend time with my son."

Alongside Martin, Southside has 18 employees, many of which have worked there for several years.

Fort Thomas resident, retired CSX Railroad employee and U.S. Navy Veteran Robert Small who passed away in 2017 worked at South Side Deli since the 1980s until six months before his death at age 83.

Martin says it's a place where everyone knows your name - a staff that is like family with a good hometown feel.

Southside Deli Hours: 

5 a.m. - 11 p.m., Monday - Friday

6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday - Sundays

The deli counter is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Missing a Long Cincinnati Tradition Today

Sports to Return Eventually

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo (58) poses with Fort Thomas Matters sports reporter G. Michael Graham.
Opening Day was postponed today because of the spread of Coronavirus.

By G. Michael Graham

For years, I have known about the great tradition in the Queen City.

A year ago, I did not go to the game. But I had the opportunity to be in downtown Cincinnati for Opening Day for the first time in my life and I've been a Reds fan for 42 years strong.




If you have not been in the heart of it, it's hard to understand. But I had never seen downtown as crowded full of fans donning the Red and White of the Cincinnati Reds. It also helped that the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3 thanks mostly to a three-run home run from pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich.

Today, I miss it. I had my picture shown above taken with Reds ace pitcher Luis Castillo at Redsfest in December. I so thought I would see him pitch today.

Student Showcase Features Highlands’ Successful Robotics Team


The Highlands High Robotics Team pose with their robot. They earned fifth place against 61 teams in a recent regional competition.
 
By Robin Gee

Students and faculty from Highlands High School’s robotics team introduced their current robot and presented on their successful and popular program at the March Fort Thomas school board meeting.

This year was the best year for the team yet in regional competition. They competed in the Miami Valley Regional at Wright State University against 61 teams taking fifth place and making it into quarter finals. 

Start your home search now!

Highlands senior Magnus Sieverding introduced the team’s latest robot, which is about the size of a small go cart and weighs more than 100 pounds. "It always amazes me, when I say robots, people think of the LEGO® robots, the little robots that drive around on the table. People are always shocked at the size of these robots, and when you have six of them on a tennis court-sized field, it does sometimes get very out of hand...that’s we have the bumpers," he said.

"Last year we only managed to make it to seventh place. Two places up is a huge deal for us especially this year with so many new members... Our drive team and our operators are just completely new this year."

The robot was given several tasks at the competition, so Sieverding and other students on the team demonstrated driving the robot to run, swerve and pick up balls, known as "power cells" and carry them to a bin. Later the robot had to climb a bar and lift itself up off the floor, no simple feat for a robot of its size and weight.

He explained that in learning principles of robotics, size does matter. "Because these are so big, it’s real-world engineering. I want to go into engineering, aerospace engineering specifically, and this was great hands-on experience. I immediately fell in love with this. I was able to work on this robot, to get hands on, to experience what it’s like in the competition under stress and under time restrictions." 


Highlands robot in action, lifting itself up on a bar after gathering and depositing power cells.

 

Support of the team has been vital


Highlands teacher Tim Auch thanked the school board and the parents for their support of the team. He also thanked the Fort Thomas Education Foundation for a grant to support the team’s efforts.

"This was a team effort and everybody contributed. That’s why we have been so consistent and why we finished the best we’ve ever finished in a qualifying round. I’m very proud of this team and what they did," he said.

He explained that the team uses space in the Launch building to practice. It takes about seven weeks to build the robot and two weeks of practice with the robot. As with most technology, it’s never smooth sailing. Students learn how to identify and fix problems, sometimes on the spot. In fact, Sieverding described the team at the competition as similar to a pit crew.



First started 20 years ago, the robotics team has grown steadily and attracts a wide variety of students from all areas of interest. Mike Smith, one of the team’s mentors, has been with the program for about four years. "There all different kinds of students who would be interested in this. We see a lot of student athletes. It’s very competitive. We see students all over the range of STEM programs, science, technology, engineering," he said.

Sieverding praised Auch and team mentors Mike Smith and Bob Steller for their guidance and for developing a program that gives students the rich opportunities to build skills in robotics, which he deemed nothing less than "magnificent."

School board member Karen Allen noted that Steller has been with the program from the start and said the program would not be as vibrant as it is without his dedication and support.

Student team members presenting included: Lance Borden, Owen Borden, Lexi Crawford, Gannon Ehrman, David Erion, Logan Lutenkoff, Liam Morris, Declan O'Dea, Magnus Sieverding, Stefan Urbanek and Noah Wormald.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Here's a List of What Will Stay Open: Governor Orders Non-Essential Businesses To Close Thursday

Gov. Beshear signs an executive order to close all non-essential businesses.
Here is a list of what WILL be open...


By Jessie Eden

Governor Andy Beshear announced in his press conference on Tuesday that further steps would be taken to ensure that Kentuckians were following safe social distancing practices. As a result, he announced that all non-essential businesses would be ordered to closed at 8 p.m. on Thursday night.



More clarification on the executive order came out Wednesday around 12 p.m. in the form of a PDF released on Gov. Beshear's Facebook page. 

Essential businesses may remain open...but every other business must close per the Governor's order. We have included a full list of what CAN REMAIN OPEN below.

Essential businesses are defined as those that are 'Life-Sustaining' businesses. Below you can read a section of the his order that outlines this. (Read the full details of his executive order here..)





The businesses that can stay OPEN include: 

  • grocery stores
  • drug stores and pharmacies
  • banks
  • hardware stores
  • agricultural operations
  • gas stations
  • media
  • businesses needed for transportation 
  • logistics 
  • shipping
  • delivery and pick-up
  • housing, building and construction
  • laundry
  • financial services
  • home-based care and services 
  • professional services
  • manufacturing 
  • other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services
  • businesses covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector

You can read the entire executive order here.



Covid-19 Disaster Funding for Businesses: Facts and Info



By Keith Carlson

The funding programs recently announced by the current administration (as part of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act) have triggered numerous questions and clarifications from the general public. These programs are vital and are intended to help all businesses that are facing an economic crisis in response to the recent unprecedented events.


Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavillon

Although the situation is evolving by the day, some details around this relief funding have begun to crystallize, and many within proximity to VonLehman's offices are now eligible to apply. If you aren't currently eligible, there's no need to fear: states and territories are being added in real time, and there are substantial zones that are currently deemed "disaster areas." Given the details are becoming clearer, we want to share what we know and how to begin the process, should you feel the need or desire to obtain the funding.

Brief Program Overview:

The U.S. Small Business Administration ("SBA") is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). States supporting their constituents' access to the programs must submit a request via the Governor's office to be declared a disaster area. Once approved, those who reside and operate businesses in those states/territories can apply for the funds and loans.

How it has evolved:

For those in close proximity to VonLehman's regional offices, you will be interested to know that the governors of KY, IN, and OH (among many other states) have applied for approvals. Before applying, you should be sure your county is approved within the designated areas. You can use the easy search tool to see if your county is currently approved. You should use the filter tool carefully.

For example, there are five (5) different area classifications that can be found in KY counties. You may need to go through the various areas that are included in your state to discover which area you would belong to.

Other salient details:

Unlike other SBA funding, those seeking access to the funds will have to apply directly to the US Government. You are free to discuss the program with your banker; just know they don't have the ability to apply for you. If you find the application process challenging or too daunting, consult your accountant, attorney, wealth advisor, or other advisors to help you.

Businesses intending to apply must meet the definition of what qualifies as a small business. Here is a link that will allow you to see if a business meets the requirements. The tool function is helpful, as it allows you to sort by NAICS codes. The size standards are fairly generous in relation to many of the clients we serve.

Applicants cannot use the loan proceeds to refinance debt, or to buy property, plant or equipment.  They may use the proceeds for loan payments, tax payments, A/P, and general operating expenses. They are advised to keep receipts for the expenditure of funds for 3 years in case of an Audit.
The maximum loan able to be obtained is $2.0 million; loans below $25,000 do not require collateral; loans above $25,000 will require some collateral details to be supplied, but applications will not be turned down on the basis of a collateral shortfall.

There are no prepayment penalties.

Interest rate is 3.75%; interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.

Long-term repayments: up to a maximum of 30 years.

Once the application is submitted, assuming the forms are correctly filled out, the SBA is estimating two to three weeks for approval and an additional week for funds to be disbursed.

We are told the biggest delays in the process will be from invalid or incorrect filings so, if you pursue this option, please take the time to do it correctly. For perspective, the forms and links required for submission are provided below;

  • SBA Form 5
  • IRS 4506-T
  • SBA Personal Financial Statement (PFS)
  • SBA Schedule of Liabilities
  • Business and personal Tax Returns (three years of actual filings; no worries if you haven't completed 2019 yet).



Anecdotal feedback we have received from several of our partner lending institutions:
Businesses seeking less than $500,000 are currently experiencing a simpler process that is more predicated on an applicant's credit score.

Timelines are progressing quicker than anticipated and estimated, but that will most assuredly slow down once the volume of applications begins to swell (as more states are approved).

SBA is sending $25K to applicants upon approval; balance will be remitted in less than 30 days.

Requests greater than $500,000 undergo a more stringent lending process with a full application and submission of standard financial packages; longer evaluation times are certain.

Guidelines at the SBA have been to cap loan requests to 50% of Gross Profit.

Loan will be secured with a UCC filing against business assets; personal assets may be required as collateral as well. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

Don't be discouraged by the complexity of these programs. Our team of specialized M&A experts is here to guide you through the uncertainty of this current landscape.

Contact us today at 800-887-0437 or kcarlson@vlcpa.com. Most importantly, stay healthy!

Fort Thomas City Council Goes Live for March Meeting

Fort Thomas city council provided live coverage of their March meeting on Facebook.

by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

On March 16, Fort Thomas city council went live on Facebook with its monthly meeting. The move to provide live coverage had been part of a developing communications plan for the city, but with the situation created by recent events, officials decided to move forward quickly to provide the option for residents.

Monitoring the situation, city staff and officials have been making quick decisions and plans to keep citizens safe while still providing services, said Mayor Eric Haas.



At the meeting, Haas read an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the city.

After references to the state of emergency called by President Trump and by Governor Beshear, the mayor’s order read, in part:

"Whereas, COVID-19, a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death and can easily spread from person to person; and

"Whereas, the emergency response of the city of Fort Thomas must be deployed rapidly to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens; and

"Whereas, it is necessary for Mayor Haas to coordinate emergency effort with national, state, county and other local agencies for maximum effective response."

The declaration went on to list out Kentucky statutes giving authority to the declaration and a statement of cooperation with state, county and federal efforts to respond to the emergency.

City business moves forward


Due to the nature of the situation, the council meeting was streamlined to include the most important items of city business first and to keep the meeting as short as possible.

On its second reading was an ordinance to approve a five-year non-exclusive franchise agreement with MCImetro for use of public streets and facilities for transmission communication services. The ordinance passed.

The mayor also made several reappointments to city boards, including:

  • Hans Tinkler to Planning Commission
  • Jim Beineke to Board of Adjustment
  • Joey Hood to Tree Commission
  • Barb Manyet to Tree Commission
  • Pat Hagerty to Design Review Board

Changes in retail alcohol sales rules


The council also heard first readings of two ordinances to amend city code to change some parameters on retail alcohol sales. Council discussed the issues behind the ordinances at earlier meetings and referred them to city attorney Jann Seidenfaden for drafting.

An ordinance to amend city code to change the times permitted for Sunday liquor sales would change start time from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The topic was first introduced by council member Adam Blau in January. He noted that state liquor laws do allow for the sale of alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, but provides for communities to set their own restrictions.

The restrictions of nearby communities have been changing. Recently, the city of Bellevue joined Newport in moving the start time for Sunday packaged alcohol sales to 9 a.m. Blau said he had been in contact with several business owners and all were in favor of the time change.

In February, council member David Cameron, chair of the Law, Labor and License Committee, introduced another issue affecting businesses that serve alcohol. The city of Fort Thomas charges $1,000 per year for alcohol licenses, which is high compared to other cities in the county. In fact, the state license fee is $830 per year, he noted.

Some license holders had complained that the Fort Thomas fee was higher than neighboring cities as well as the state. The ordinance would bring the fee down to $830 per year.

Both ordinances make changes that are in keeping with the council’s overall goal of unifying rules and regulations for local communities throughout the county and area, noted council member Mark Collier.

"This may seem small to some but these are changes that help ensure we give the same opportunity to our businesses to compete with the markets in the surrounding communities that have already adopted the time change. This conversation allowed for the city to re-evaluate how much we charge for our liquor licenses in town. And in turn. we found out we could lower it to be more in line with state fees – a win win for everyone," said Blau.

Council will vote on these ordinances after a second reading, scheduled for the April council meeting.



City administrator’s report

City Administrator Ron Dill noted that bids were in for a resurfacing project throughout Tower Park. The project would include resurfacing the parking areas around the ball field, the Mess Hall, parking on Cochran Avenue, Alexander Circle and parking at the Shelter 3 project. The resurfacing for Alexander Circle would be reimbursed through that project’s contractor, he noted.

He said an alternative bid also included sidewalk and curb improvements but it was decided city work crews could do much of that work and taking it out of the bid helped keep costs down.

City staff recommended and council voted to approve the lowest bid of $243,576 for the project.

Dill also reported that the North Fort Thomas sidewalk project had been moving along slowly but passed a milestone recently. The city has received consent of all property owners to proceed. The next step will be to submit the project for review to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Once the project is accepted, the city can move to the bid process. The plan is to have the project begin in summer with a completion of October.

The resurfacing part of the project may be delayed until spring, said Dill, and may also be affected by a plan by the Water District to replace the water main in the area. Still, progress is happening, he said.

Annual report discussions limited

The March meeting begins a series of annual reports for city departments. Scheduled to present at the meeting were reports from the General Services Department and the Fort Thomas Police Department. Normally, more time is devoted to review and discussion of the reports, but under the circumstances, presentations were brief.

General Services Director Kevin Barbian thanked his crew and the many volunteer boards that help with planning, design, code enforcement and development for the city. He noted the major projects including One Highlands and Alexander Circle as well as several additions, remodels and upkeep on city buildings and facilities.

He also noted projects such as the bike station, tennis court resurfacing, parking lots, crosswalk improvements and improvements to the Mess Hall and other facilities. He also noted the city entered into several partnerships that brought special events including the Johnson Hullabaloo, a wrestling tournament, preschool expo, the passport program and the city’s presence at the Farmer’s Market.

He ended by asking the mayor for a proclamation for Building Safety Month in May. Kentucky is a leader in building safety, he said.

Fort Thomas Police Chief Brent Moening presented the annual Police Department report and thanked his officers who worked on the report and for all in his department for their continued service to the community.


Highland Heights Honors Good Neighbors and a Milestone Birthday

Highland Heights resident Patricia Mclaren flanked by Good Neighbor Award winners Sheila and Jim Parker (l) and Penny and Bill Clark (r) with Mayor Greg Meyers (l).


by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

At the March 3 city council meeting, Highland Heights honored a group of residents with the March Good Neighbor Award. Two couples, Penny and Bill Clark and Sheila and Jim Parker were honored for stepping up to help a neighbor in need.



The group was nominated by Highland Heights resident Patricia Mclaren who lives on South Main Avenue. In a letter to the city she explained:

"When my husband Walter 'Baldy' Mclaren fell ill in 2019, he could no longer take care of his yard, the Clarks and Parkers stepped up and took care of everything. When Baldy passed away on March 31, 2019, the Parkers and Clarks have continued to take care of my yard even until today."

Mclaren called the city on what would have been her husband’s birthday, February 7, 2020, to make the nomination. She said she was overjoyed with the support and kindness of her neighbors over the past year and wanted to honor them for all they have done.

Honoring a local veteran on a milestone birthday 

 

Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers congratulated veteran Donald Moore with a special day in his honor for his 90th birthday on March 22.

Mayor Greg Meyers proclaimed March 22, 2020, as Donald Charles Moore Day in the city of Highland Heights. Moore, a resident of the city, is celebrating his 90th birthday and was on hand to receive the honor.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Moore served on the U.S.S. Wisconsin as a radio operator from 1948 to 1952 during the Korean War. He is a member of nearby Bellevue Vets.




Moore has been married twice and had eight children with his first wife Janet and three step-children with his current wife of 23 years, Elizabeth More. He has 20 grand children and 26 great grand children. He received a standing ovation to thank him for his service and congratulate him on his special day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Party Source now offering online ordering and curbside pickup

Has your liquor cabinet, beer fridge or wine cellar taken a beating from all of your social distancing? 

No worries, The Party Source (95 Riviera Dr., Bellevue, Kentucky) has your back with super convenient ways to order and pickup everything you'd need from the largest liquor store in the United States. 

In-Store & Curbside Pickup:

Need it today, no problem just place an order online for same-day pickup. 

When you place your order, write your pickup time and whether you'd like in-store or curbside pickup in the comment section when checking out. 


They'll do the shopping and have your order ready when you arrive. Same-day pickup items will be available within a minimum of two business hours from the time you place your order. Orders placed after 5:30 p.m. will be available for pickup the next day. 

For all pickup orders, they'll email you when your order is ready for pickup.


There are two convenient ways to pickup your order: in-store or curbside pickup. For in-store pickup stop by Case Central, our customer service desk, for your order. For curbside pickup, when you arrive you can text (859-652-0169) or call (859-291-4007) with the name on your order, where you are parked and the make and color of your car. You will need your credit card and ID ready and it must match the order information. 

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