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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Cold Spring couple celebrates 73rd wedding anniversary by receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at UC Health

Courtesy UC Health. 

Noel and Virginia Record have celebrated many memorable wedding anniversaries during 73 years of marriage, but on Tuesday they reached a new milestone.

The Cold Spring couple celebrated their wedding anniversary by becoming the first patients to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at UC Health under Ohio’s Phase 1B, which provides immunizations to members of the community aged 80 and above.
Noel “Gene” Record, aged 93, and Virgina Record, aged 91, received the vaccine early Tuesday morning at UC Health’s drive-through vaccination site for members of the community. The Records will return in three weeks to receive the second doses in the two-dose regimen.
“We want to get back to normal as soon as possible,” Mr. Record said. “I’m a square dance caller, and we have not been able to get together since March. We’re looking forward to people getting vaccinated and getting back to normal, where we can once again square dance and have fun again.”

Courtesy UC Health. 

“Get back to our normal life,” Mrs. Record added.

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UC Health, Greater Cincinnati’s academic health system, is among more than 750 locations across Ohio to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to members of the community under Ohio’s Phase 1B, which began this week.
“UC Health is proud to do our part to help bring our community out of this pandemic,” said Dustin Calhoun, MD, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UC College of Medicine and medical director of emergency management for UC Health. “We encourage all who are eligible under Phase 1B to make an appointment to get vaccinated.”
UC Health’s community vaccination center is located in a drive-through setting at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute building on the health system’s Clifton campus.
When patients enter the parking garage, they can tune in to a radio frequency to receive information about the vaccine inside their vehicles. A nurse or pharmacist completes the check-in process at the vehicle window, and patients are vaccinated while remaining inside their vehicles.
Patients aged 80 and above should check their My UC Health accounts to schedule an appointment: Patients can also call 513-584-DOSE.
UC Health will continue to offer vaccinations to members of the community under Phase 1B as it receives doses from the Ohio Department of Health.
Under Ohio’s Phase 1A, UC Health has provided vaccinations to more than 9,100 healthcare workers since Dec. 14.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccination at UC Health, please visit

Great News for Recyclers: Rumpke Now Accepting Plastic Tubs


Butter tubs, cottage cheese and yogurt containers, fruit cups all added to the list of recyclables now accepted by Rumpke.

by Robin Gee

Rumpke has announced its recycling bins are "about to get tubby" with the acceptance of plastic food tubs. This expansion means the company is now taking those tubs for yogurt, butter, cottage cheese and fruit cups.

The company has secured long-term contracts with regional end-users, allowing it to add this type of plastic to its list of acceptable items for recycling. The company has also received a grant from The Recycling Partnership that will help cover the cost of new robotic technology that will make sorting and other recycling processes more efficient.

The list of items you can recycle through Rumpke now include:

  • Plastic bottles, jugs, and tubs (butter, sour cream, cottage cheese tubs as well as yogurt and fruit cups)
  • Cartons (juice, milk, broth, etc., not egg)
  • Glass bottles and jars (any color)
  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Paper, paper board (cereal boxes, 12-pack containers, mail, etc.), and cardboard

Clean, empty and dry containers should be placed directly in recycling bins; do not put them in plastic bags; just toss them in loose. Also, put the lid or cap back on your item.

Larger recycling bins are available through Rumpke for free. To get a larger bin or for more information, go to the Rumpke website or call (800) 828-8171.

The Story of the The Blue Marble

By Tessa Woody, Blue Marble Books 

Tina Moore moved to the United States from the Philippines in 1969, but this was not her biggest adventure. She would later start one of the nation’s oldest, and beloved, independent bookstores.

Tina opened the Blue Marble in June of 1979 in a storefront on North Fort Thomas Avenue. Initially, the store was focused on selling back-to-basics toys. Her goal was to get children away from electronics.
She built up connections with children’s authors and illustrators, making some life-long friendships with some of the biggest names in children’s literature. She helped schools to invite authors and illustrators to speak to their students, and would invite them to the store as well. She also connected with her customers by remembering names, faces, and books they enjoyed.

In 1991, the Blue Marble moved to 1356 South Fort Thomas Avenue, its current location.The building was a fixer-upper, but Tina was a go-getter and Peter, her husband, was a problem solver. They transformed the building into a store and a living space.

What kept people coming back was Tina’s hospitality, and a little hospitality can go a long way! They transformed the upstairs into a bed-and-breakfast for authors who visited. There was no need to worry about paying for a hotel or eating alone. Tina and Peter prepared dinner and even gave them a tour of Cincinnati.

With the connections she made, she helped start both the ​Association of Booksellers for Children (​ABC) and the ​Kentucky BlueGrass Awards​ program. She was recognized for her contributions to area literacy by winning the Silver Gertie Award (1989) and was named one of the Women of the Year in Northern Kentucky (1991).

Her love for children’s books came from her own experience as a parent.​ ​Every night Tina and Peter read to their sons for hours. Reading was important for every child. Any child that walked through Blue Marble’s doors, with the jingle of the bells around the door handle, became just as important as their own.
Tina passed away in December of 2016, but the roots she planted are still strong. It can never be the same without her, but we carry on her legacy through our actions: the best way to get things done is to just go and do it! Tina proved this with every breath she took, and we are so proud of her legacy.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @bluemarblebooks

New tenant signs lease at Newport on the Levee

Legion Logistics LLC is moving its headquarters from Florence to Newport, joining other office tenants David J. Joseph Co. and Divisions Maintenance Group. 

The growing logistics company signed a long-term lease for about 5,000 square feet of space in the former Dewey’s Pizza space.

Newport on the Levee continues to transform its once-burgeoning retail and restaurant space to an office-space concept, while continuing to focus on event and live amenities.  

Tony Coutsoftides, CEO of Legion Logistics, said that's what attracted him to Newport on the Levee.

Last fall, North American Properties launched redevelopment plans for Newport on the Levee. 

Legion Logistics plans to move many of its 21 employees from Florence to Newport on May 1.

Newport on the Levee has about 75,000 square feet of office space available throughout the property.

Moyer Elementary Earns Top National Academic Achievement Award

Exceptional student performance and academic growth earned Ruth Moyer Elementary in Fort Thomas a top national academic honor.

by Robin Gee

Ruth Moyer Elementary is one of only 57 schools across the U.S. to receive a top honor as an example of a school with strong, superior, federally funded school programs in place. 

Dr. Dawn Laber, the principal at Moyer, sees the award as a team effort and something students, staff, teachers, leadership and parents should all take pride in.

“Ruth Moyer is honored to receive this prestigious award.  The ESEA values individualized, successful and innovative student initiatives and they reward schools for their strong partnerships between school, parents, and the community.  All of these closely align to our mis-sion statement and what we strive for each day at Moyer,” Dr. Laber said.  

“Our tag line on all correspondence and to the kids is #TogetherWeAreBetter.  That is fitting for this award because it was only achievable by working as a team for our children.”

The award comes from the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NESEA), an organization of state and U.S. territory ESEA administrators charged with overseeing the federal National Elementary and Secondary Education Act on the state level.

Moyer Elementary was the only Kentucky school to receive a 2020 Distinguished School Award, and received it based on “Category One” criteria — A school demonstrating exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years.

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Other categories were schools who demonstrated closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years (Category Two) and those schools demonstrating excellence in serving special populations of students (such as homeless or migrant students) (Category Three).

Springdale Elementary in Cincinnati was the only other school in the Greater Cincinnati area to be honored, selected under Category Two.

The NESEA, based in Fort Bragg, California, has honored federally funded school programs since 1996. Schools honored demonstrate an array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success and strong partnerships between the school, parents and the community.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Weekend Basketball Round-Up: Highlands Girls Dominate Bellevue

Bluebirds Defeated in Lexington

Highlands eighth grader Marissa Green (10) and junior Carissa Armstrong (2) defend in a recent junior varsity game. Green scored 12 points in the 58-12 Highlands victory at Bellevue on Tuesday.

The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team (3-3) dominated its 36th District contest, 58-12 over the host Bellevue Tigers (0-5) on Saturday.

Here's what happened in Frankfort last week

Rep. Buddy Wheatley, D-Covington, asks a question concerning House Bill 4, an act proposing to amend the Constitution of Kentucky relating to sessions of the General Assembly, in the House House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Photo: LRC.

This year, for the first time since the Kentucky General Assembly began holding annual sessions in 2001, lawmakers continued their work into a second week of an odd-numbered year session before starting a recess that will last until early February.
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Legislative leaders said working the extra days gave them a chance to move priority bills through the process. It also allowed them to jumpstart budget deliberations.
It’s unusual for lawmakers to create a state budget during an odd-numbered year. State budgets that cover two-year cycles are typically created during even-numbered years, when the legislature holds longer 60-day sessions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading at the peak of budget-making season last year. Policy experts were wary of planning two years’ worth of spending at a time when no one knew the toll the pandemic would take on the economy and state revenues. They decided to pass a one-year budget then, setting the stage to return to the negotiating table this year to plan a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Lawmakers head into this year’s budget deliberations with the state in better financial shape than many feared at the start of the pandemic. The Consensus Forecasting Group – economists who make the revenue forecasts that budgets are built around – projected in December that state revenue would increase $53 million in the next fiscal year. Still, some policymakers urge caution in spending, saying that state revenue has been boosted by federal aid to Kentucky that won’t be available on an ongoing basis.
Faced with a deadline to complete budget work before this year’s legislative session ends in late March, lawmakers have moved quickly. Versions of the next state budget were approved by both the House and Senate this week, leading to the formation of a budget committee tasked with creating a plan that both chambers can ultimately agree on.
As the budget plan advanced, lawmakers stressed that the quick action was largely procedural in nature. There are still plenty of big decisions to be made before there’s a clear view of what the final budget will look like. The plan that advanced through chambers this week was essentially a continuation budget put together to move the process to a point where the in-depth budget work can begin.
The same goes for three other spending plans that advanced this week. In addition to the state budget, conference committees have also been formed to hammer out the details of proposed budgets for the Transportation Cabinet, the Judicial Branch, and the Legislative Branch.
In other business, lawmakers approved legislation this week that would allow Kentuckians to file lawsuits against state government in the county of their residence. Currently, such cases must be filed in Franklin Circuit Court. House Bill was approved 28-6 in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill passed the House 69-24 the previous week. The bill has been delivered to the office of the governor, who has ten days to sign the bill into, allow it to go into law without his signature, or veto it.
Lawmakers have now returned to their home districts for a recess period required by the state constitution. They will come back to the Capitol on Feb. 2 to resume the session.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Walton-Verona Nips Highlands Girls in Double Overtime

Three Players Score in Double Figures for Bluebirds

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior forward Kelsey Listerman prepares to throw the ball in during a recent game.

The Highlands Bluebirds girls basketball team (2-3 overall) found some bright spots Friday. But the Bluebirds could not make enough plays to beat the host Walton-Verona Bearcats losing 51-49 in double overtime.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Gov. Beshear: Security at Capitol Increased for Next Several Days

Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced heightened security measures around the Kentucky State Capitol grounds in Frankfort following the Jan. 6 attack by domestic terrorists on the U.S. Capitol.

“There have been domestic terror threats against state capitols all over the United States. Our commitment is that what happened at the U.S. Capitol will not happen here,” the Governor said. “We have the commitment and participation of the Kentucky State Police, Frankfort Police and the Kentucky National Guard to ensure the safety of everyone in this area. There have been no requests for permits for gatherings at the Capitol in the coming days, so there are no gatherings or rallies that can or should be happening.”

Gov. Beshear said that in addition to an increased law enforcement presence, areas near the Kentucky State Capitol will be closed on Sunday.

“To further ensure the safety of everyone – both on or around the grounds and in the neighborhoods surrounding the Capitol in Frankfort – we will be closing the Capitol grounds entirely on Sunday,” he said.

The Governor acknowledge that the measure would inconvenience some in the area.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and your patriotism,” he said. “Domestic terror is never OK. We must stop it every time we see it, and we cannot let what we saw at the U.S. Capitol become a new normal for this country.”

Brig. Gen. Haldane (Hal) B. Lamberton, Adjutant General of the Kentucky National Guard, said Guard soldiers’ involvement in the security effort has been approved.

“Gov. Andy Beshear has authorized the Kentucky National Guard to support the safety and security of the state Capitol grounds and surrounding area over the coming days,” he said.

Acting Commissioner Lt. Col. Phillip Burnett Jr. of the Kentucky State Police said the measures were necessary to protect both the public and state buildings.

NKU Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Annual MLK Day Celebration

Northern Kentucky University celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with its annual Day of Community Service on Jan. 18, at 10 a.m.
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The virtual event continues NKU's rich history of service and engagement. More than 1,500 members of the campus community have honored Dr. King by volunteering and giving back to the region over the past two years. Given the constraints of the pandemic, this year’s program will focus on education and remote events.
"The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals from all walks of life to work together and create solutions that eliminate the social and economic inequities that persist to this day,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “I am proud that this has become an annual tradition at NKU, and this day upholds the lasting impact we continue to make within our society.”
Hosted by NKU's Division of Student Affairs, the program features a keynote presentation led by Alonzo Jones, a well-renowned speaker with more than 25 years of higher education experience. Jones will deliver his signature program exploring the life of Dr. King and moderate a panel discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion with members of the NKU community.
“Community Service is a quality I have long admired in NKU. I could not be more excited to join my new community with an event that not only honors Dr. King but further inspires our campus to make a difference,” said Dr. Eddie Howard, Vice President for Student Affairs. "While we may not be together in person for this day, there are still ways to serve and have a collective impact within the community safely. Service and donations are still as important as ever.”
Jan. 18 Schedule for MLK Day of Service

Concepts for Fort Thomas Coffee at One Highland Unveiled

Interior rendering of Fort Thomas Coffee, PCA Architecture. 

In August of 2020, Fort Thomas Coffee was announced as the first tenant of One Highland, and anticipated expansion of that business.

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Now we know what the local, family coffee shop may look like and what services will be offered after they relocate from 118 N. Fort Thomas Ave. in the Spring of 2022. 

One Highland is a project by Greiwe Development with partners North American Properties; a mixed-use development that will add luxury condos and commercial space in Fort Thomas. The development is expected to be a total investment of $20 million, with 12,985 square feet of commercial space, topped with 18 condos priced from $695,000 to $1.2 million.

Fort Thomas Coffee's new location is 3,600 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor of the development

Owners, Christine and Justin Smalley shared design concepts, created by local architect, Emma Adkisson of PCA Architecture. 

Emma Adkisson of PCA Architecture. 

"We discovered our talented architect, Emma, simply by striking up conversation with strangers," said Christine.  "Before long we discovered our personal connections to Fort Thomas and that our professional needs met her talents.  On our list of architects, we found that while Emma has vast experience and talent, she has the most heart to design this space for our amazing community.  A hangout that she and her family will also enjoy." 

Albert Fedders of Fedders Construction will oversee construction of the interior. 

FTC announced that they would expand its offerings with the addition of a bakery, wine bar and a flexible work space that will offer many of the amenities of coworking space.

Here's some details:

The Coffee Bar at FTC – Everything you love about your community coffee shop expanded over 4x the current space. 

The Bakery at FTC – Custom cakes, party treats, donuts, and coffee shop pastries.
The Wine and Cocktail Bar at FTC – Craft beer, wine, spirits, and retail bottle sales. 

The Office at FTC –  Office supplies and essentials plus three conference rooms for reservation, high speed internet, tech support, virtual meeting set up, copy machine, printer, scanner, fax, and more.  

The Playroom at FTC – A smart designed location just for kids and parents to enjoy while maintaining a quieter atmosphere for other coffee shop guests.  Seating inside and tables just outside the playroom allow parents opportunity for a coffee date while children enjoy updated toys and budding friendships.

Events at FTC –The large conference room in The Office at FTC has private outdoor access and will be ideal for home business showcases, private parties, clubs, and organizations.  This room opens into the mid-sized conference room to accommodate larger parties.  The lounge area can be reconfigured for semi-private gathering like birthdays, wedding showers, baby showers, and parties of all sorts.

PCA Architecture rendering. 

Smalley said that the bakery concept is "half-baked with room to rise." 

"In the next months we will interview established bakeries and independent pastry chefs.  The kitchen is yet to be fully designed allowing opportunity for baker's input."

Cold Spring Holds In-Person Special Meeting to Discuss DAV Property After Complaints Over Procedures

Cold Spring city council held a special meeting in person only to continue its discussion of the DAV property after technology challenges and school board complaints over procedures.

by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

The Cold Spring City Council called a special meeting Wednesday, January 13, to vote on issues surrounding the purchase of the Disabled American Veterans property. The meeting was held in-person only at the Cold Spring city building.

Since the pandemic, the city has been following state health guidelines with livestreaming of their meetings shared on its Facebook page. Yet, after a complaint from the Campbell County School Board about the processes of some of the meetings and some technical difficulties encountered with the livestreaming, the council decided to return to holding public meetings in person only at the city building.

RELATED: Campbell School Board Raises Issues With City Meetings on DAV; Council Meets to Discuss

Three of the council members did not attend the meeting but instead joined through  Zoom conference. The city told Fort Thomas Matters they followed Kentucky law in providing the required 24-hour notice of the special meeting, but no one from the public attended. 

City explores value of proposed development

After returning from the executive session, city attorney Brandon Voelker gave a summary of what was discussed.

The developer, Al. Neyer and the DAV have an agreement in place with an unnamed healthcare facility to build a facility on the property. While the name of the healthcare business was kept confidential, Voelker said council learned more about the financial status of the company and what it could bring to the city.

"We have received confirmation of the general nature of the medical facility, notably that it will pay taxes whether in the form of a lease payment or payment in lieu of taxes," he explained.

The facility under discussion has an estimated value of 80 to 85 million dollars and will bring an about 240 jobs with an annual salary average of between $85,000 and $95,000. The city also learned that the DAV was agreeable to sell the property for $6.5 million.

"This development is the culmination of almost two years worth of work since the city was notified that the DAV was leaving. That economic development is an essential function of city government and critical to its survival and providing of services," he said.

The project, he said, would “provide economic benefit not only to the city of Cold Spring but businesses in the form of new customers and/or other taxing districts as the purchase is pursuant to the request for development from the city.”

As part of the financing industrial revenue bonds (IRB) and other similar financing would be issued to ensure payment of all applicable taxes.

Voelker noted that over a year ago the city was approached about a potential IRB due to infrastructure needs on the property including addressing a high-pressure gas line that runs across the property. The gas line has been a point of discussion between all parties interested in the property as it may pose a safety threat and will need to be addressed by whoever purchases the property.

Council members at the meeting voted unanimously to accept the information Voelker shared. (Council member Adam Sandfoss was not present.) 

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Authorizing city officials to act

The next point of business for the executive session was to ask council to pass a motion to allow the city officials to file any necessary legal actions against the Campbell County school district or their representatives. The motion passed, but Council Member Cindy Moore voted against.

The final business discussed was a memorandum of purchase agreement between the developer, the medical facility and the city. This did not commit the city to purchase the property from the DAV but rather set up a period of time for Neyer, the city and the medical facility to determine whether they want to proceed with the matter, said Voelker. 

A motion was needed to ratify the action of the mayor to enter into the assignment of the purchase agreement with Neyer as well as a memorandum of purchase agreement with the DAV, he said.

Council passed this motion unanimously.

Aviatra Accelerators Builds Local Support with New Fund for Female Entrepreneurs

Aviatra Accelerators and Horizon Community Funds have launched a new fund to bolster Aviatra’s work in shaping entrepreneurial passions to build sustained success in Northern Kentucky. 

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“Aviatra is a tremendous catalyst for female entrepreneurs,” said Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “When we introduce opportunities to truly grow, thrive, and sustain to our entrepreneurs, our entire community is strengthened. The Aviatra Accelerators Fund at Horizon Community Funds will be a great way for donors to connect with these crucial resources in Northern Kentucky.” 

Aviatra Accelerators was founded in 2010 with a single vision to help educate female entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools to be successful in order for them to have a significant, positive economic impact on the local community. 

“Aviatra Accelerators is so grateful to the Northern Kentucky region for their support over the years,” said Aviatra Accelerators President/CEO Nancy Aicholz. “An Aviatra Fund with Horizon Community Funds is a perfect addition to our regional funding portfolio. Our donors are extremely generous, and knowing that their contributions are safe, secure, and growing in order to better serve female founders in the area will be an added benefit to them.” 

The organization’s effectiveness has been proven as it rapidly has grown to serve over 2,500 women throughout Ohio and Northern Kentucky, and has provided $1 million in low-interest loans. Its women have received over $10 million in follow-on funding and have generated over $1 billion in combined earned revenues over the last decade. 

Fund partnerships with Horizon Community Funds provide a flexible way for donors to support their preferred nonprofit organization or charitable effort. Donors can make an endowed gift to support the mission of the nonprofit organization for generations to come, or can opt to make a non-endowed gift which provides funding for needs as they arise in Northern Kentucky. 

NKY Chamber of Commerce highlights Kentucky Young Professionals 2021 leadership

Northern Kentucky Young Professionals (NKYP) recently announced the members of the 2020-21 Steering Committee.

Representing young professional leaders from across the region, the steering committee’s term began in September 2020 with a goal to provide guidance, lend support and share feedback about themes and topics that are most important to the region’s young professionals and programming offered by NKYP.

NKYP, a program of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, creates opportunities for young professionals to become strong leaders by providing connections, fueling professional growth and encouraging community engagement. The program aims to enhance the quality of life and economic well-being in Northern Kentucky.

“The selected 2021 Steering Committee members are a group of young professionals who consistently contribute to making our region a great place to live and work,” said Ellen Bates, 2020-21 chair for NKYP. “Every member is a local rising leader who will help set the program’s direction for the year and leverage their time and talents to strengthen the Northern Kentucky community at large.”

This year, the steering committee has strengthened its focus on civic engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion. The group will also emphasize how to best navigate the current climate and work to provide creative programming that continues to allow young professionals to connect and grow despite the looming pandemic.

The 2020-21 Steering Committee members include:

Ellen Bates, chair, Brighton Center
John Enzweiler, chair elect, First Financial Bank
Ross Emerson, outgoing chair, STEP CG
Ashley Bangi, programming and events committee co-chair, The Madison
Dani Schwarz, programming and events committee co-chair RJE Business Interiors
Mike Ballenger, marketing and outreach committee co-chair, VonLehman CPAs & Advisors
Jimmy Beatrice, marketing and outreach committee co-chair, Business Benefits
Antwone Cameron, Thomas More University
Katie Collier, Frost Brown Todd

Thursday Round-Up: Highlands Outlasts Dixie Heights

Highlands Co-Ed Bowling Also Wins

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands Head Coach Kevin Listerman (center) goes over things before a recent game. The Bluebirds outlasted Dixie Heights, 88-81 in double overtime Thursday.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team is figuring some things out at this point in the season.

Head Coach Kevin Listerman pointed out the challenges with the delay of the season until January including no scrimmages as a result of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic. But Highlands (2-1 overall) figured some things out with an 88-81 double-overtime victory over the Dixie Heights Colonels (3-2) on Thursday in Fort Thomas.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Northern Kentucky Now Vaccinating Age 70 and Older with move to phase 1B

This evening, Governor Beshear announced that Kentucky is moving into the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccination stage. Phase 1B includes people aged 70 years or older and K-12 school personnel. Beginning tomorrow, January 15, we will begin vaccinating Phase 1B individuals who live and/or work in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties.

Phase 1B individuals who are 70 years or older may schedule their vaccination appointment here. An appointment is required to be vaccinated. When considering where to receive your vaccine, remember that the COVID vaccine requires two doses, and the first and second doses of the vaccine must be provided by the same organization.

For all K-12 school personnel, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, in partnership with Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton County school districts, both public and parochial, is working directly with school administrators to schedule vaccine appointments at designated clinic locations for all K-12 personnel who would like to receive a vaccine. School vaccinations will occur over the next few weeks and are being scheduled internally within the school districts.

For Phase 1A and 1B individuals, please bring to your appointment specific items that will be needed to validate your Phase eligibility, as applicable. Items to bring include:

Gov. Beshear announces Kroger partnership for drive-through vaccination clinics across Kentucky

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Kentucky will partner with Kroger to ramp up its coronavirus vaccination distribution starting next month, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday, as he announced 4,084 new cases of COVID-19 and 51 more virus-related deaths.

Kroger, through its partnership with Kentucky, will set up a series of “high-volume vaccination centers” across different regions of Kentucky that, once they are set up the week of February 1st, will be accessible to anyone eligible in the third-priority group, 1C. That group includes essential workers, anyone age 60 and older, and anyone over the age of 16 with certain health issues.

People will be able to begin scheduling appointments on January 28th.

Beshear said he expects to complete vaccination of K-12 personnel by the end of the first week of February.

"The state is making a real investment to prioritize K-12 educators and other school staff to enable students to get back into class," said commissioner of public health, Dr. Steven Stack. "This is nothing short of amazing to get these new vaccines out so quickly."

Kentucky has sped up its vaccine distribution (last week, the number of doses given out was nearly double the week before), but the state still has only administered 63 percent of the 324,650 doses it has received.

The state is only responsible for administering for a portion of the doses that arrive in the state each week. Kentucky doesn’t have control, for instance, over how quickly the federally-contracted CVS Health and Walgreens dole out doses to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Immunization of that population continues to be slow-going — only 29 percent of the 98,475 doses received for that population have been given out. 

Beshear on Thursday said it “needs to go faster.”

Case Information 
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 4,084
New deaths today: 51
Positivity rate: 12.34%
Long-term care total deaths: 2,105
Total deaths: 3,042 
Currently hospitalized: 1,661
Currently in ICU: 548
Currently on ventilator: 196

Kenton: 235
Boone: 176
Campbell: 126

This story will be updated. 

Budget advancement sets stage for negotiations

Senate Appropriations & Revenue Chair Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, discussing the budget process.

After a series of largely procedural votes on a one-year state budget and other spending plans, the General Assembly formed a series of committees today to hammer out the details of those plans.

“The primary purpose of our procedures today is to get these bills into conference committee with the House,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, before the Senate approved its version of the executive budget, known as House Bill 192, by a 32-0-1 vote. The House later refused to concur with the Senate’s changes, allowing for the formation of a conference and free conference committee.
Compromises agreed to by committee members are then subject once again to approval by a majority of members of each chamber, after they return from a constitutionally required recess on Feb. 2.
“As we have spoken many times, we are passing an unprecedented one-year budget due to the nature of the coronavirus,” said Senate Appropriations & Revenue Chair Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill. “This is actually a process that started at the end of last February. This is merely a continuation.”
McDaniel was talking about lawmakers passing a one-year budget in March of last year. Typically during such even-numbered years when the legislature meets for 60 days, lawmakers pass a 24-month budget for the state.
The state’s Consensus Forecasting Group predicted in December that Kentucky would see a small increase in revenue at roughly $53 million in the next year, with economists predicting the state’s budget will not be as hurt by the pandemic as originally thought in part due to federal COVID-19 relief.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, stressed that budgetary decisions were not being made during today’s votes. He expressed hope that committee members would consider the priorities in the governor’s budget proposal announced during a joint session of the General Assembly on Jan. 7. Those priorities included funding for Medicaid, local health departments, education, small business relief and internet broadband.
“What we are voting on today is a budget bill, but we are not voting on the budget,” McGarvey said. “This is the first step in the process of how the budget works. My support today for this bill is a support to continue that process because it is so important. It is a process that was started last year in good faith between Democrats and Republicans when as we were in this process of writing the budget we were faced with a global pandemic none of us had seen before.”
Senate President Robert Stivers II, R-Manchester, agreed that the votes were bipartisan.
“This is a process vote --not a policy vote,” he said. “As critical as I have been of the governor, I compliment him on the way we proceeded last year and the dialog we’ve had this year.”
While there weren’t marathon discussions on the budget today, Senators from districts in the coalfields, including Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, said they hoped that coal severance tax revenue would be earmarked for counties hurting from the decline in coal production.
Other budget measures going to conference committees included the legislative budget (House Bill 194), judicial budget (House Bill 195) and transportation cabinet operating budget (House Bill 193).
“Every two years the General Assembly passes two closely related, but technically separate, pieces of legislation: the transportation cabinet’s operating budget and the six-year road plan,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon. “Back in March ... we only passed a one-year operating budget for the transportation cabinet. We did, however, complete the biennial road plan so we are not talking about the road plan here. There will be no votes or any legislation dealing with the road plan this year. They are already completed.”

The verdict: Lawmakers OK change to judicial venues

The General Assembly has passed a measure that would allow Kentuckians to file lawsuits against state government in the county of their residence, a move that would diminish the longstanding role Franklin Circuit Court has played in deciding those types of cases.

After amending it in committee, the Senate approved the measure, known as House Bill 3, by a 28-6 vote yesterday evening. The House later concurred with the change by a 72-20 vote. The governor now has 10 days to either sign the bill into law, let it become law without his signature or veto it.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, said HB 3 was designed “to eliminate the super circuit that Franklin County has right now.” He said that circuit has an oversized influence on policies that affect the entire state.
“(HB 3) allows the people, the plaintiffs, to file an action from where they are instead of traveling from the far corners of the commonwealth to Franklin Circuit Court,” said Westerfield, who carried HB 3 in the Senate.
HB 3 would establish legal challenges to the constitutionality of state statutes, executive orders, administrative regulations or cabinet orders be filed in the county of the plaintiff's residence, Westerfield said. A second provision of HB 3 would establish that non-residents of Kentucky making such claims would continue to file in Franklin Circuit Court. A third would allow a complaint to be filed in any county where a plaintiff resides if there were multiple plaintiffs.
The original House version of the bill would have achieved the same goal, Westerfield said, but with a three-judge panel to hear such cases.
Senate Minority Caucus Chair Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he couldn’t support HB 3, in part, because it would enable forum shopping. That’s the practice of choosing the court in which to bring an action based on which judge is likely to provide the most favorable outcome.
“That is not the way our judicial system ought to be run,” Thomas said. “We should not now pervert the judicial system.”
Westerfield said HB 3 wasn’t a rebuke of the two sitting Franklin Circuit Court judges. Westerfield added that he is more concerned about what would happen when those judges retire and the races for those positions “become a super-political process” because everyone realizes the statewide impact of the rulings coming out of that court.
“We need to spread that love around a little bit,” Westerfield said.
Sen. Johnnie Turner, R-Harlan, said HB 3 would remove the unnecessary burden on plaintiffs in rural, mountainous regions having to travel to Franklin County.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Campbell School Board Raises Issues With City Meetings on DAV; Council Meets to Discuss

The city of Cold Spring is holding a meeting to further discuss issues surrounding the development of the former Disabled American Veterans property.

 by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

In the ongoing tussle between Campbell County School Board members and Cold Spring city officials over development of the former Disabled American Veterans (DAV) property in Cold Spring, the school board has accused the city of violations of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act.

RELATED: Cold Spring Council Approves Move to Purchase DAV Property

In a letter sent to the city, the board said special meetings called by the city on December 17 and 30, 2020, did not follow the law concerning public input with regard to executive sessions and the meetings around them. The school board identified what it said were irregularities with the process and demanded all decisions and actions taken at those meetings be rescinded by the city within three business days or face further action.

 The school board's complaint

Fort Thomas Matters filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the school board’s letter outlining their issues with the city meetings. The complaint lists out issues with the way the meetings were presented and advertised, including conflicts between meeting announcements and the agenda, a lack of clear information on how the public could view and participate in the meetings, as well as actions taken at the meeting that were not shared with the public on the agenda.

In conclusion, the complaint on the December 17 meeting stated, the city "a) met without allowing any capacity for the public to attend or observe the video conference; b) purported to take action (voting to authorize the mayor and city attorney to negotiate with DAV for purchase of the DAV property) without that action being on the agenda; and c) live streamed only a portion of the meeting, which did not include convening the meeting, invoking the executive session or adjourning after the executive session."

The complaint about the December 30 meeting includes similar issues with notice to the public and live streaming. The board also claims in that meeting, the city moved to file legal action against the board, without including it on the agenda.

The school board letter threatens legal action if the city does not take certain remedies including rescinding decisions made at those meetings and a demand that the city adopt methods by which the public can observe video conference meetings in real time, adopt policies that ensure citizens can attend or observe meetings and that meeting agendas clearly state all action items planned.

The city attorney's response

Since receiving the letter, the city has announced it will hold a special meeting at 7:30 tonight, Wednesday, January 13.

"We do not agree with the school board. They continue to assert a lack of transparency when we have been very transparent. But to appease them, at a significant cost to the city, we are meeting in person," said Cold Spring city attorney Brandon Voelker.

He went on to note that the city has struggled with some technical issues since the decision to have meetings on Zoom and carry them live on Facebook. That decision was made to keep council members, staff and the public safe, Voelker added. Without a full-time IT staff, the city manager and clerk have tried to handle meeting live streaming but have run into difficulties, he said.

There have been some glitches. Some of the meeting videos did not load properly. Yet, he said, "Using the technology issues to assert false accusations against us is disingenuous on the part of the district."

Voelker said the city will no longer attempt to stream the meetings on Facebook; instead all meetings will be live and open to the public at the city building. "Now, due to the school district, we will have all live meetings putting everyone’s safety at risk."

He insists the board’s assertions that the city has not been open about its decisions is untrue, "If this was truly about transparency, I encourage anyone to look at what Cold Spring has put out versus what the school board has put out...I do hope the board members come to the meeting and make public comment."

He noted the meeting this evening will treat the topic of the DAV property as a new issue. On the agenda is an executive session, which will be conducted "regarding current threats of litigation, action to pursue legal action and intervene in legal proceedings, regarding the Disabled American Veterans property and any entities asserting an interest therein, including but not limited to the Campbell County Board of Education and/or its employees/agents."

Eddie James Speaks on Decision to Return to Franklin County

James said He'll Learn from Mistakes Made in Hiring Process

Franklin County Head Coach Eddie James accepted the head football coaching job at Highlands over the weekend. But he informed the Highlands administration he will be returning to Franklin County on Tuesday.

Eddie James knows he will receive a lot of criticism from this decision. But James said he's a man and will learn from it.

James accepted the Highlands Bluebirds football over the weekend, attended a press conference at the Highlands Field House on Sunday with Principal Matt Bertasso and Director of Athletics Wes Caldwell in attendance, contacted returning players, then reversed course and decided to return to Franklin County on Tuesday. 

The Highlands faithful, including players that intend to suit up for the Bluebirds in 2021, turned out to show their support on Sunday, lining the street down to the Fieldhouse and shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with the man they thought would be their coach.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Sends a Free Book Every Month to Young Children in Campbell County

Campbell County Public Library is proud to continue offering Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails a free book monthly to enrolled children under age 5.

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 

The Imagination Library puts hand-selected, age-appropriate, high-quality books into the hands and hearts of children across the world. The program has mailed millions of books to children since its launch in 1995. It arms caregivers with the necessary tools – books! – to help children become “reading ready” as they enter kindergarten. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics.

Families who live in Campbell County can sign up their children, from newborn to age 5, online or at all Campbell County Public Library branches. Enrolled children are mailed a new book every month at no cost or obligation to recipients.

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true,” Parton said of the program in a statement. “I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

The program is made possible thanks to a partnership between the Campbell County Public Library, Campbell County Schools and the independent school districts in Bellevue, Dayton, Fort Thomas and Newport.

Highland Heights Officials Honor and Congratulate Retiring Officer

Highland Heights Police Officer Kim Williams Retires After 27 Years in Law Enforcement.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Highland Heights Police Officer Kim Willliams announced her retirement after 27 years in law enforcement. City officials thanked and congratulated her during their first council meeting of the year.

Kentucky State Senator Wil Schroder was on hand to congratulate Williams and present her with a plaque from the Senate honoring her for her service to Highland Heights, Campbell County and the community.

Williams began her career in public service in 1993 as a dispatcher for the Campbell County Emergency Services Department. After eight years as a dispatcher, she decided to further her career by becoming a police officer with the Campbell County Police Department. While there, she was an active member of the Campbell County Police Honor Guard and served on the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Task Force as a drug agent.

In 2013, she joined the Highland Heights police department, where she has served the community for the past seven years.

Highland Heights Police Chief Bill Birkenhauer said she will be greatly missed, "She had a big role here managing the property room and evidence collection. We’re going to miss her; she brought a lot of experience to the table. I’ve worked with her for most of the time she’s been in law enforcement and dispatch, and you couldn’t ask for a better coworker or employee," he said.

The chief noted that in November she saved a community member’s life, and she will be receiving a Life Saving Award commendation from the city. He said, a 61-year-old woman had been experiencing breathing difficulties. Officer Williams responded to the call and performed CPR on the woman for several minutes before EMT arrived and transported the patient to the hospital. Paramedics and hospital staff said that Williams’ actions most likely saved the woman’s life.

Mayor Greg Meyers congratulated Williams on her career and retirement. "We are really going to miss her, miss seeing her smiling face in the neighborhood as she was patrolling our neighborhoods."

He said he recalled working with her when she was on the drug task force and was so impressed with her that he asked the chief at the time if they might get her on the Highlands force one day. He wished her luck in retirement, and said he looks forward to seeing her and her husband, Andy, a member of the Wilder city council, at city events.

Schroder noted, "I first met Kim at the Commonwealth attorney’s office and had a few cases with her and can attest to everything that’s been said. She’s been a great officer, always came prepared to whatever hearing or meeting we had going on, a standup officer that you would want in your community. Being a resident of a nearby neighborhood in Wilder, my family and I have walked through Cold Spring with the kids and had occasion to see Kim. She was always good with my kids, especially my daughter who is at a great age right now to look up to law enforcement...I want to share this citation honoring her for her service to her community and to the surrounding region."