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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

All Kentuckians 16 and Older Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccines April 5

16 and 17-year-olds eligible at locations that offer Pfizer vaccines approved for their age group

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Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced all Kentuckians 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine April 5. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 and 17-year-olds.

“This is a good day. This news means that we will beat the president’s goal by a month to have COVID-19 vaccinations opened up to everyone,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are seeing in a number of states an increase in cases and hospitalizations, and it’s happening among younger people. We want to get ahead of the more aggressive COVID-19 variants and make sure that we fill every available appointment. Make a plan to get your shot of hope.”

The Governor said he would provide COVID-19 updates on his social media channels the rest of the week; due to Easter weekend, there will be limited COVID-19 reports Friday and Saturday and no COVID-19 report Sunday.
The Governor highlighted the Northern Kentucky Convention Center vaccination location, which has one of the highest number of available appointments throughout the state. You can register for that here.

Case Information
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 815
New deaths today: 22
New audit deaths: 3
Positivity rate: 2.96%
Total deaths: 6,090
Currently hospitalized: 413
Currently in ICU: 110
Currently on ventilator: 48

Kenton 28
Boone 24
Campbell 7 

Highlands, Covington Catholic Unite for Team "B"elieve

IMG: Dave Newman Aerial Photography. 

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Highlands and Covington Catholic are rivals. The two storied Northern Kentucky programs annually circle the date of their clashes each year, but this year the two schools will unite in solidarity to help a local man and his family. 

Brian Eviston had a commanding presence on the football field as a player for Newport Catholic and Thomas More College. Now a father of four, he was a practicing attorney when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. Eviston is a 1996 Newport Catholic graduate. 

The Evistons. Provided. 

Team "B"elieve, was formed shortly after and committed to support Brian and his family in all ways physically, spiritually, and financially. 

New Highlands coach, Bob Sphire, knew Eviston after coaching his brother, Eddie, on the Lexington Horsemen. After arriving to Fort Thomas on March 1 and learning about the Bluebirds' Annual Spring clean event, he immediately thought of Eviston and Team "B"elieve. 

The Highlands football team holds the annual spring cleaning event each year and chooses a cause to donate the proceeds. This year, that's Team "B"elieve. 

The Annual Spring Clean will be held Saturday April 24, 2021, from 1-5 p.m. The event is an opportunity for members of the football team to help area residents with chores, including yard work, cleaning out a garage, or working around your house or business for a donation to their cause. 

"We are all praying that somehow this can assist Brian and his family or at least the cause to donate to ALS," said Sphire. "Sometimes researchers are just one more foot away from the vein of gold. Maybe just $1 more is all it takes to find a cure," he said.

"It just changes your every day living. I think that's the biggest thing," said Eviston's brother, Covington Catholic coach Eddie Eviston told Fort Thomas Matters.

"I don't experience it so I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth that's ever gone through it. It's almost like your trapped in your own body. You want to do things, but your body isn't responding the way you're thinking. Obviously as a brother to Brian, it's hard to watch. But at the same time, I know he's going to battle it. His family is going to battle it. He's a guy who was very athletic, involved and active. It's one of those unfortunate events in life that he's dealing with."

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. ALS is characterized by stiff muscles, muscle twitching and gradually worsening weakness due to muscles decreasing in size, which results in difficulty speaking, swallowing and eventually breathing.

Please limit job requests to within a five (5) mile radius of Highlands High School as many players do not drive. For their safety, students cannot use power equipment or power tools. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021
Schedule your “Spring Clean” through this link HHS FOOTBALL SPRING CLEAN SIGNUP
For more information, contact Brady Dowling at or 859.992.9346.

Alexandria City Council to Review Two Zoning Change Recommendations

About 20 people attended the socially distanced public hearings at in the Alexandria Community Center to express concerns about a zoning change for a new development

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by Robin Gee

Earlier this month, the Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission held two public hearings to consider approval of requests for zoning changes at two properties owned by the Fort Mitchell-based developer Drees. Both requests were recommended by the commissioners and are on the agenda for a first reading vote by city council April 1.

Timber Creek setbacks

The first request was for property in the Timber Creek subdivision currently under development, located on the south side of Poplar Ridge Road and off East and West Timber Creek drives. The Planning Commission heard from Drees Development Specialist Matt Mains about both requests.

The change would not affect existing homes already sold in the development, but Mains said the developer is asking that the remaining property be rezoned, changing it from Residential 1D (R-1D) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). This change would enable the developer to request a change in the side yard setback, taking it from 15 feet down to 10 feet.

"This is in response to current market demand, which would allow customers to select some of the larger footprints that didn’t previously fit on these lots," Mains explained.

The company would like to offer larger floor plans as an option on their lots. Typical houses for the developer have been either 42 feet or 48 feet wide. Right now, on the 60 foot lots with the required 15-foot setbacks required by the zone, only homes up to 45 feet wide can be built on these lots.

The change to 10-foot setback would allow for the larger homes (48-feet) to be built, and in the future could have 70-foot lots that could include a 48-foot wide home along with a 12-foot garage, something home buyers are now requesting, he explained. With larger lots possible, the development could slightly reduce density as well.

The setback requirement is five feet in the PUD. One council member commented that with the five-foot minimum, that would still have 10 feet between houses, allowing for a fire lane if needed.

The commissioners found that the request would be in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan, and so voted to recommend the zone change request.

Riffle Ridge Development at Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive

The proposed townhomes on the site between Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive would cluster buildings on ridges leaving some wooded areas undeveloped (Google Maps)

At least 20 people attended the the second public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission to voice their interest and concern about a request for a zone change for a 48-acre property between Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive.

Mains presented on what Drees is calling the Riffle Ridge Development. "We think it is a great fit and we want to continue our success with a new development," he said.

The developer proposed a change from R-1D to PUD for this property as well. This would allow a change from single-family homes to town homes. The developer would like to build 36 buildings with 122 town homes total. Town homes, explained Mains, would be better suited to the ridged topography of the land. The plan would be to build on the ridges and leave a large swath of the property below the ridges undisturbed.

The proposed development fits within the Alexandria Comprehensive Plan, said Mains. With the PUD, the developer would be able to cluster development on the ridges leaving the natural land features and would not have to do extensive grading or other costly improvements.

The Comprehensive Plan calls for the area in question to be between 5.1 and 14 dwelling units per acre. The Drees’ proposal would be about 6.1 net units per acre. Each of the 36 buildings would have three or four units, and each unit would have both a driveway and a garage. In addition to the parking spaces for the units, there would also be 67 off street parking spaces scattered around the community.

Other amenities include a clubhouse and pool, an entry monument and pocket parks on the grounds. Sidewalks will be put in along the entire frontage of Breckenridge Drive and one side of the internal roads. The site will include 68 walkout and 54 slab ranch-style townhomes from 1,400 to 2,100 square feet each. Sale price will be from $230,000 to $350,000.

Three detention ponds would control runoff, Mains said. The developer proposes a 25-foot public road with a 26-foot right of way. Minimum set back from Breckinridge Drive is 30 feet, but Mains said the plan is to be setback from the street 100 feet.

The developer said a traffic study has been done and is on file with the city. It verified the site distance and noted there were no requirements for additional road improvement.

Public concerns focus on traffic

Several people spoke about their concerns with the development. Most approved of the plan to build only on the ridges, but wanted assurances that adequate mediation was in place for runoff and drainage. They also requested assurances that the surrounding woodland would remain undeveloped as outlined in the developer's initial plans.

Traffic was the main concern. Three people said they did not agree with the traffic study and were concerned that it was done at a time when more people are working from home. One person noted the uptick in traffic since schools reopened. The crowd clapped in approval as these points were made.

On a related issue, many expressed concerns that construction at the nearby Arcadia development has brought noise, trash and other issues because heavy equipment is using Breckenridge and Tollgate instead of US 27. They asked the developer to look into this issue, and he agreed to speak with their contractors. City officials said they would look into signage on the streets as well.

The development is expected to roll out over five years, according to the developer. There was concern that plans could change and that promised landscaping, improvements and protections of undeveloped portions of the site might not be completed.

City attorney Mike Duncan said he believed the plan for the site was in keeping with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, but he noted that this hearing was to discuss the zone change only. The site plan would still need more development and further approvals. He recommended that if the zone change were approved the commissioners may want to add some conditions such as permanent protection of undeveloped areas.

Commissioner Sonny Markus made the motion to approve the zone change but with the following conditions:

  • There would be a 100-foot setback from Breckenridge Road.
  • Entry landscape would be installed in the first phase consistent with the plan and that further landscaping be rolled out in each phase as the project proceeds.
  • The undeveloped woodland on the site would be kept undeveloped, permanently, now and forever.

The commissioners voted to recommend the zone change with the conditions outlined. The recommendation will be made to council for a first reading at its April 1 meeting.

Tuesday Round-Up: Highlands Softball Falls in Extra Innings

Highlands Baseball, Softball Lose First Games This Year

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior second baseman Isaiah Lampkin (right) leans in defensive position in the game at Conner on Monday.

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team (1-1) could not pull off the win in the 10-9 shootout loss to the Ursuline Academy Lions (4-0) in Blue Ash, Ohio on Tuesday.

Highlands lost in nine innings. Both teams had 12 hits. The Bluebirds batted .316 (12-for-38) as a team.

Kentucky lawmakers approve bill to limit no-knock warrants

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, presenting Senate Bill 4, a bill to limit the use of no-knock warrants, on the House floor.

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Sometimes tragedy can inspire change for the better.

That was the sentiment shared by Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, on the KY House floor today as he remembered Breonna Taylor, a Louisville EMT who was shot and killed in her apartment during the execution of a search warrant last year.
Senate Bill 4 seeks to create procedures and requirements for the issuance of both search warrants and arrest warrants that authorize law enforcement entry to a property without notice, commonly known as a no-knock search warrant.
Nemes presented SB 4 alongside Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, on behalf of the bill’s primary sponsor, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. The bill received unanimous approval from the KY Senate last month and cleared the House by a 92-5 vote today.
Most of the time, law enforcement will notify the occupants of a property before executing a search warrant, but sometimes that does not happen, Nemes said. And while the goal of executing a no-knock warrant is to keep everyone involved safe, that is not always the outcome, he added.
Under SB 4, no-knock warrants would only be allowed to be executed under certain circumstances. One instance would be where someone is believed to be in immediate danger, such as in kidnapping cases. A no-knock warrant would also be allowed to be executed during investigations involving certain violent crimes, terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.
SB 4 also sets guidelines on how officers can obtain no-knock warrants. An officer seeking a no-knock warrant would have to get approval from supervisors and certify the warrant application hadn’t been “shopped,” or the practice of trying to find a receptive judge. The bill would also make clear that an officer’s false statement in a warrant application constitutes felony perjury. And the approving the judge’s signature would have to be legible.
Blanton said any evidence obtained during a no-knock search warrant that was not properly executed under SB 4, would be inadmissible.
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“I would also note that this does not affect… a potential civil liability case against the officer and it doesn’t affect the ability of the agency to terminate the officer,” Nemes added.
The original version of the bill requires the officers who execute the warrant to be members of a special response team. Those officers would also be required to use body-worn cameras throughout the execution of the warrant.
House members amended the bill today to take rural counties into consideration.
Blanton said the amended version of SB 4 allows in counties with less than 90,000 people an exception where the judge can issue a no-knock warrant without the use of a special response team if there is not one available and the judge deems the need to go ahead and execute the warrant.
The amendment also allows these rural counties to use audio recording devices in lieu of body-worn cameras if body-worn cameras are not available.
“The point in that is… not every agency has the funding availability for body cams,” Blanton said. “… What we don’t want to do is have an emergency situation in a rural area where a special response team may not be able to get to in time to execute one of these.”
Another addition to the bill by the House is the requirement of a certified EMT on standby at a safe location close enough to the property where the warrant is being executed in the event of a medical emergency.
“Breonna Taylor might still be alive today had EMTs had been on the premises after she was shot,” said Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, who worked on the amendment to the bill.
While some lawmakers said SB 4 is not perfect and does not include everything everyone wanted to see in the bill, many see the legislation as an important step forward.
“I don’t think anybody thinks that this bill is perfect, but I think it is a really good start,” said Minority Whip Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg.
Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, who filed a bill to end the use of no-knock warrants, said in a statement read on the House floor that she was reluctant to vote in favor of SB 4.
“’I voted yes because daughters like mine deserve a chance to live without wondering if they will be next,’” Scott said in her statement, which was read in the House by Minority Floor Leader Joni L. Jenkins, D-Shively.
Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, decided to vote no on SB 4 after expressing he wishes to see the practice of no-knock warrants banned entirely in Kentucky. 
“I would like to have voted for this, but I cannot,” he said. “I cannot go home and talk to my brothers and my sister and say that we’ve done something that is going to save lives.”
Rep. Daniel Elliott, R-Danville, said he supports the bill and thinks it is an important piece of legislation despite some concerns he has about the evidentiary standard set by the bill in order for a judge to consider approving a no-knock warrant.
“It is a step forward that balances personal liberty with the government of keeping people safe,” Elliott said.
The Senate unanimously concurred on the House’s changes, and SB 4 will now go to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

Full-day kindergarten receives passing grade

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The Kentucky General Assembly earmarked money for full-day kindergarten during the final hours of its regular session today.
Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 

House Bill 382 was amended to include $140 million for full-day kindergarten by the Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committee. The Senate then passed the bill 36-1. That was followed by the House voting 90-3 on the measure.
Senate Minority Caucus Chair Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he has long been an advocate for early childhood education when he stood in support of SB 382.
“Finally, we fund full-day kindergarten,” he said.
State government currently provides funding for only half-day kindergarten although most districts use local taxpayer money to offer a full-day option. Supporters of expanding state support of kindergarten had previously testified that the move would free up those local tax dollars for other much-needed school programs.

The bill has already received praise from education groups, including the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

“This investment reflects significant progress on our Big Bold Ask for K-12 education. As most school districts already fund full-day kindergarten with local dollars, we hope this additional investment is used strategically by school leaders to advance critical priorities, such as increasing reading and math proficiency by the 3rd grade,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, President and CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Ramsey added that improving student outcomes in reading and mathematics – to the level of “basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – has the power to increase Kentucky’s economy by $335 billion. 

The amendment to HB 382 also appropriated money allocated to the state from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to projects unrelated to schools. Those included:
·         $575 million to pay back the interest and principal on the federal unemployment insurance trust fund loan Kentucky took out during the pandemic;
·         $842,400 for Kentucky’s nature preserves;
·         $50,000 for the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission;
·         and $3.3 million to reopen the Northern Kentucky Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.
In addition, the bill allocated $50 million more for broadband expansion through ARPA funds. The General Assembly overrode a veto on House Bill 320 Monday to allocate $250 million for the expansion of broadband to residential areas.
Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, said the broadband funds in HB 382 serve a different purpose.
“This money is designated specifically for economic development where it may be needed, so this is ‘in addition to,’” he said.
HB 382 will now head to the governor’s desk.

Kentucky General Assembly’s 2021 session ends: here were the new laws passed 👇

An empty Kentucky Senate Chamber. FTM file. 


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The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2021 regular session was gaveled to a close this evening, ending a session in which lawmakers approved a state budget for the coming fiscal year and approved numerous other bills that will affect people throughout the state.


Most new laws approved this year will go into effect 90 days from today’s adjournment, except for those that specify a different effective date or include an emergency clause that makes them take effect the instant they become law.


Legislation approved by the 2021 General Assembly includes measures on the following topics:


Abortion. House Bill 91 will allow Kentucky voters to decide next year whether to add the following words to the state constitution: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”


Adoption. House Bill 210 will ensure that employers offer parents adopting a child under the age of 10 the same leave policies that they provide to birth parents.


Asthma. Senate Bill 127 encourages schools to keep bronchodilator rescue inhalers in at least two locations and will require schools with inhalers to have policies and procedures in place regarding their use.


Attorney General. House Bill 2 will give the attorney general greater authority to enforce laws concerning abortion clinics in Kentucky.


Born-alive infants. Senate Bill 9 requires that medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life-sustaining medical care and treatment must not be denied to any born-alive infant, including cases in which an attempted abortion results in a live birth.


Billboards. House Bill 328 will re-establish the state’s regulatory authority for roadside billboards after a federal court ruling called the state’s prior regulations into question. It will put Kentucky’s statute back in place with changes intended to ensure its constitutionality.


Capitol security. Senate Bill 227 will require Kentucky State Police to brief the leadership of the General Assembly and the Legislative Research Commission on security matters relating to the State Capitol campus.


Child and new mother fatalities. House Bill 212 will require data in an annual state report on fatalities among children and new mothers to include information on demographics, race, income and geography associated with the fatalities.


Child protection. House Bill 254 will raise the penalty for possession or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor under the age of 12 years to a Class C felony. It will also raise the penalty for the distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance of a minor under the age of 12 years to a Class C felony for the first offense and a Class B felony for each subsequent offense.


Civil actions. House Bill 3 will allow civil actions regarding the constitutionality of a Kentucky statute, executive order, administrative regulation or order of any cabinet be filed outside of Franklin County.


Colon cancer. Senate Bill 16 will change the name of Kentucky’s Colon Cancer Screening Program to the Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention Program. A second provision will raise money for the screening program from the sale of special cancer prevention license plates. It will also require the Department for Medicaid Services to release statistics on cancer services related to colorectal cancer.


Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity. Senate Bill 10 will create the Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity. The group will conduct studies and research on issues where disparities may exist in areas including education, child welfare, health care, the economy and the criminal justice system. 


Diabetes. House Bill 95 will help those with diabetes by capping cost-sharing requirements for prescription insulin at $30 per 30-day supply in state-regulated health plans.


Driver safety. House Bill 439 will require a vision test renew a driver’s license, starting in 2024.


Education. House Bill 563 will give families more options when making decisions about schools. The bill will allow the use of education opportunity accounts, a type of scholarship, for educational expenses and, for students in some of the state’s largest counties, for private school tuition. Individuals or businesses who donate to organizations that issue education opportunity accounts will be eligible for a tax credit. The measure will also require a board of education to adopt a nonresident pupil policy to govern terms under which the district allows enrollment of nonresident pupils.


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 House Bill 574 will make some of the election procedures implemented last year to accommodate voting during the pandemic permanent. The measure will offer Kentuckians three days – including a Saturday – leading up to an election day for early, in-person voting. It will allow county clerks to continue to offer ballot drop boxes for those who do not wish to send their ballots back by mail. It will also allow counties to offer voting centers where any registered voter in the county could vote.


Ethics. Senate Bill 6 will create standards for the ethical conduct of transition team members of all newly elected statewide officeholders. The standards include identifying any team member who is or has been a lobbyist. It will require disclosure of current employment, board member appointments and any non-state sources of money received for their services. It will also prohibit the receipt of nonpublic information that could benefit a transition team member financially.


Firefighters. House Bill 44 will allocate funding to help full-time and volunteer firefighters experiencing post-traumatic stress injuries or disorders receive proper care from licensed mental health professionals.


First responders. Senate Bill 169 will give first responders injured in the line of duty access to more disability benefits. Line of duty or duty-related disability benefits payable to a member of any of the systems administered by the Kentucky Retirement Systems will increase from 25% to 75% of the member's monthly average pay. 


Fish and Wildlife Commission. House Bill 394 will ensure that the state’s Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission will have sole authority to appoint the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.


Gaming. Senate Bill 120 will define pari-mutuel wagering in state law in a manner intended to ensure the legality of certain historical horse racing games that are often compared to slot machines.


General Assembly. House Bill 4 will let voters decide next year on a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would allow the General Assembly to convene an additional 12 legislative days each year upon a joint proclamation from the Senate President and House Speaker.


Groceries. House Bill 190 will exempt legally permitted food service establishments from any state or local laws and administrative regulations that prohibit the sale of grocery items such as bread, milk, and other staples.


Illegal dumping. Senate Bill 86 will designate 100 percent of a new open dumping fine to be paid to the county where the violation occurred.


Immunizations. Senate Bill 8 would create exemptions from any mandatory immunizations for those who object based on religious beliefs. It also prohibits orders during an epidemic from requiring the immunization of people who object based on conscientiously held beliefs or the written opinion of the person's physician that immunization would be injurious to the person's health.


Inmate care. Senate Bill 84 will ban jails, penitentiaries, local and state correctional facilities, residential centers and reentry centers from placing inmates who are pregnant or within the immediate postpartum period in restrictive housing, administrative segregation, or solitary confinement. It will grant an inmate who gives birth 72 hours with a newborn before returning to the correctional facility and will offer six weeks of postpartum care. It also mandates that incarcerated pregnant women have access to social workers and any community-based programs to facilitate the placement and possible reunification of their child.


In-person instruction. House Bill 208 called on public schools to reopen to in-person instruction in some capacity by March 29. The legislation set the expectation that public schools would be open to in-person instruction at least four days a week for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year. Schools have the option to operate under a hybrid model where students spend part of the week attending in-person classes and the rest from home. The bill requires schools to allow a student to attend in-person classes at least twice a week under the hybrid model. It also limits the remaining amount of nontraditional instruction days school districts are allowed to use.


Kentucky-grown products. Senate Bill 102 will include Asian Carp, paddlefish, or swordfish in the definition of "Kentucky-grown agricultural product."


Kindergarten. House Bill 382 will make $140 million available for full-day kindergarten in Kentucky schools. The legislation also appropriates money allocated to the state from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to projects including: $575 million to pay back the interest and principal on the federal unemployment insurance trust fund loan Kentucky took out during the pandemic; $842,400 for Kentucky’s nature preserves; $50,000 for the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission; and $3.3 million to reopen the Northern Kentucky Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. The bill also allocated an additional $50 million for broadband expansion through ARPA funds.


18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

Late fees.
 House Bill 272 will allow water districts to impose a 10 percent late fee and cut off service for nonpayment of bills. Customers who receive financial assistance for their bills will be exempt.


Livestock. House Bill 229 will make someone guilty of criminal mischief for intentionally or wantonly causing damage to livestock.


Living organ donors. House Bill 75 will prohibit certain insurance coverage determinations based upon the status of an individual as a living organ donor. It will also encourage the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop educational materials relating to living organ donation.


Medicaid. Senate Bill 55 will prohibit copays for Medicaid beneficiaries.


Microbreweries. Senate Bill 15 will allow microbreweries to sell and deliver up to 2,500 barrels to any retailer under certain restrictions. It will also require arbitration for some disputes with distributors.


Newborn safety. House Bill 155 will allow the use of a "newborn safety device" when a newborn is being anonymously surrendered by a parent at a participating staffed police station, fire station, or hospital. The device allows a parent surrendering an infant to do so safely using a receptacle that triggers an alarm once a newborn is placed inside so that medical care providers can immediately respond and provide care to the child.


No-knock warrants. Senate Bill 4 will limit and set guidelines for the use of no-knock warrants, which allow officers to enter a premises without notice. Under the legislation, such warrants will be allowed in limited instances if someone was in immediate danger or in other cases, such as those involving violent crimes or terrorism. The measure also specifies it would be perjury if an officer made a false statement in an application for a no-knock warrant.


Operational guidelines. House Bill 1 created a framework for businesses, local governments, schools and nonprofits to operate during COVID-19 restrictions. It suspends interest on unpaid unemployment insurance contributions until next year. It also provides guidelines for noncustodial parental visitation during the state of emergency and will allow each resident at long-term care facilities designate an “essential personal care visitor” that will be exempt from visitor restrictions. (This is one of several new laws being challenged in court by the governor.)


Organ and tissue donation. Senate Bill 12 prohibits a person from selling or purchasing human organs or tissues and prohibits for-profit entities from procuring any eye, cornea, eye tissue, or corneal tissue. The measure is intended to preserve the nonprofit nature of human eye tissue donations.


Oversight and investigations. House Bill 6 will change the name of the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee to the Oversight and Investigations Committee. The goal is to make it the main investigative committee in the General Assembly. It will also, for the first time, define the committee’s subpoena powers.


Police standards.
 Senate Bill 80 will strengthen the police decertification process by expanding the number of acts considered professional wrongdoing. Such acts include unjustified use of excessive or deadly force and engaging in a sexual relationship with a victim. The bill also will require an officer to intervene when another officer is engaging in the use of unlawful and unjustified excessive or deadly force. It will also set up a system for an officer’s automatic decertification under certain circumstances and will prevent an officer from avoiding decertification by resigning before an internal investigation is complete.


Public records. House Bill 312 will limit the ability of people who do not live, work or conduct business in Kentucky to obtain records through the state’s open records law. These restrictions do not apply to out-of-state journalists. The legislation specifies that open records requests can be made via email. It also calls for a standardized form to be developed for open records requests, though it’s not required to be used. It will allow the legislative branch to make final and unappealable decisions regarding open records requests it receives. The bill will allow government agencies up to five days to respond to open records requests.


Recovery Ready Communities. House Bill 7 will establish the Advisory Council for Recovery Ready Communities. The council will be responsible for establishing a “Kentucky Recovery Ready Community Certification Program” to provide a measure of a city's or county's substance use disorder recovery programs and to assure citizens and businesses that a city or county is committed to ensuring the availability of high-quality recovery programs in its community.


Sexual abuse. Senate Bill 52 will amend third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy and second-degree sexual abuse statutes so law enforcement officers could be charged with those crimes if they engage in sexual acts with a person under investigation, in custody or under arrest. 


Sexual assault. House Bill 472 will extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sexual assault offenses against minors from five years to 10. It also extends that window to 10 years on civil claims for the same course of conduct.


State budget. House Bill 192 contains the state spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The plan will mostly continue spending in the manner of the current fiscal year’s budget, with some modifications. It includes some structural changes to the budget, such as putting more money in the rainy day fund and ensuring that funds meant for the state Road Fund aren’t diverted to other matters.


Supplementary education. Senate Bill 128 will allow students to retake or supplement courses that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the current school year.


Teacher retirement. House Bill 258 will create a new hybrid tier for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System that contains elements of both defined benefit and defined contribution plans. This change will affect new hires starting in 2022, not current teachers. The bill changes when those teachers could retire. Instead of retiring in 27 years, new hires under this tier will have to work 30 years and be at least 57 to be eligible for retirement.


Telehealth. House Bill 140 will permit telehealth services that were allowed to expand due to COVID-19 pandemic to remain in place even after the pandemic ends.


Theft. House Bill 126 will increase the threshold of felony theft from $500 to $1,000. It will also allow law enforcement to charge members of organized shoplifting rings with a felony if a member steals a total of $1,000 worth of merchandise over 90 days. 


Tobacco settlement funds. Senate Bill 3 will move the organization that decides how to spend much of Kentucky’s share of the Tobacco Master Agreement settlement money from the governor’s office to the Department of Agriculture.


To-go alcohol.  Senate Bill 67 will allow certain restaurants to sell alcohol, including cocktails, with to-go and delivery orders when purchased with a meal. The Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is directed to promulgate regulations for the implementation of the bill.


Unemployment insurance overpayment. Senate Bill 7 will allow the state to waive unemployment insurance overpayment debts that occurred between Jan. 27 and Dec. 31 of last year if the overpayment is not the fault of the recipient and if requiring repayment would be “contrary to equity and good conscience,” according to the legislation.


U.S. Senators. Senate Bill 228 will change the way vacancies are filled for a U.S. senator from Kentucky. The bill will require the governor to choose a replacement from a list of three nominees selected by the state party of the departing senator.


Merk & Gile Injury Attorney. 526 York Street, Newport. Free consultation 513-713-0862. 

Victim privacy. House Bill 273 will exclude from the open records act photographs or videos that depict a person's death, killing, rape, sexual assault or abuse. The act is named in honor of Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, who were killed in the 2018 Marshall County High School shooting at the age of 15.


Worker safety regulations. House Bill 475 will prohibit the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board or the secretary from adopting or enforcing any occupational safety and health administrative regulation that is more stringent than the corresponding federal provision.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Highlands, Muhlenberg County Meet in Battle of Hottest Teams Entering State Tournament

Bluebirds Hope Balance Continues to Make Difference in State Tournament

PHOTO: Dale Dawn. Highlands senior forward Luke Muller looks ahead in the 9th Region championship win over Conner. Muller averages 16.5 points per game. The Bluebirds play Muhlenberg County in the first round of the state tournament at Rupp Arena at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday.

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The balance that has carried the Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team all season hit a big level to help them make the Sweet 16 State Tournament at Rupp Arena.

90 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas Plaza. 

Highlands (26-4 overall) saw all five starters score in double figures in the three 9th Region Tournament games. That happened even though they came out of the 104-62 region quarterfinal win over the Ryle Raiders with four minutes left in the third quarter at Russell Bridges Gymnasium in Fort Thomas.

Senior point guard and Northern Kentucky university commit Sam Vinson averages 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior forward Luke Muller follows at 16.5 with sophomore guard Will Herald and junior guard Zach Barth averaging 13.7 and 10.5 points. The fifth starter in junior forward Oliver Harris is not far behind at 8.2.

That balance could be a huge factor in the first round game Thursday at 11 a.m. against the 3rd Region champion Muhlenberg County Mustangs (19-1) in a battle of the two hottest teams entering the state tournament. Highlands has won 17 straight and Muhlenberg County has won 16 in a row. The head coach of the Mustangs is Kyle Eads.

"Your daily process is about doing the right thing at the right time and doing it day after day after day," said Kevin Listerman, Highlands Head Coach. "I think we've got a group of kids that understand that. But at the same, we have a group that's confident enough to roll into Lexington and believe that we belong there number one, and two, that we have a realistic shot at winning things and playing in that 8 p.m. game on Saturday night."

Muhlenberg County is located in Greenville in between Hopkinsville and Owensboro off the Western Kentucky Parkway. In 2009, Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South merged to form Muhlenberg County High.

"You don't come out of Owensboro and the 3rd Region with a 19-1 record without being really good," Listerman. "I know that they hang their hat on their defense. Coach Eads has done a great job down there and they're led by a great group of seniors. We think that they're going to be vey good and it's going to be a big-time challenge for us to get out of that first round for sure."

Only two other teams have double-digit winning streaks entering the state tournament. They are the 4th Region champion Bowling Green Purples and 16th Region champion Ashland Blazer Tomcats with 11 each.

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"We're playing phenomenal right now at a perfect time, too,"
said Bryson Cody, Highlands senior forward. "We played a lot of hard games at the beginning of the season, which prepared us to go the distance. This year, we pushed ourselves as hard as we possibly can even with Covid and everything else going on. It made an impact at district and region. At state, we hope to put our stamp on it."

Highlands has scored 2,506 points and allowed 1,922 on the season for averages of 83.5 and just more than 64 points per game this season. The Bluebirds have scored 100 or more points three times this season.

The Bluebirds have done well spreading teams out this season. The floor at Rupp Arena could lend a bigger help with that. It helps that Highlands has taken care of the ball well all season.

"Every practice, we have a ball-handling period where we go at it pretty hard for 10 minutes," said Daniel Buchanan, Highlands senior guard. "That always keeps our (ball handling) tight. Everybody knows how to handle the ball."

During their winning streak, the Bluebird victories have all come by at least 10 points with the exception of the 74-68 win over St. Henry in the region semifinals at Holmes. Muhlenberg County has had two close scares during its winning streak. The Mustangs needed a last-second triple by senior guard Cole Vincent to win at Grayson County, 56-53 on Feb. 27 and edged Owensboro, 53-51 at home on Feb. 9.

Muhlenberg County has outscored opponents, 1,212 to 871 for averages of between 60 and 61 points per game to between 43 and 44 points per game. Senior guard Nash Devine and Vincent lead the Mustangs averaging 16.5 and 12 points per game. Devine has an offer from NCAA Division III Sewanee: University of the South located west of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The unusual start time may throw some people off. But Listerman expects the Bluebirds to rise up to the challenge.

"If it were 11 a.m. on Saturday, I might be concerned," Listerman said. "I don't think it's really going to affect the student-athletes because they're used to getting up and going to school. Our kids are going to be excited to play whenever it is that we get to tip off and get on the floor again. The format is different. But I don't know that it makes a whole lot of difference to our kids because we haven't been there before so we don't know any better, which is I guess a good thing. I personally like it because we'll get up and we'll be ready to play. You don't have to wait around all day to try to figure out what you're going to do and how to fill the day. You get up, you eat and you get to go play. I think our kids will be ready to go."

Listerman indicated the game could come down to whoever dictates the tempo better in a battle of contrasting styles. Highlands likes to be off and running once someone snags a rebound or comes up with a style on any part of the court. But Muhlenberg County likes to slow things down and work for good shots. The Mustangs did trap the wings against Grayson County.

"We play better when the game is up and down. We've had a couple games where it has taken us a while to get to that point," Listerman said. "We hope to enforce our will on them in the first round for sure."

The Mustangs also won the region in 2010 in their first year as a school. But the Mustangs lost 73-63 to 12th Region champion West Jessamine in the first round. 

Fort Thomas Jewelers Pays It Forward with Free Meals, Support for Other Businesses


Congrats to Fred and Suzanna Drapp, the recipients of Fort Thomas Jewelers' #tipitforward campaign. The Drapps are new to Fort Thomas.

By Jessie Eden

Everyone likes the word 'FREE', especially when it comes with a special mission...such as supporting the Fort Thomas business community. 

Bilinda Benton with Fort Thomas Jewelers has made it their mission to pass along some positive vibes to other Fort Thomas businesses by paying for random customers' bills. 

The #TipItForward campaign, which also uses #dontbreakthechain, encourages people to frequent local businesses in town for a chance to win a free meal. "The idea is to help out local businesses that have taken a hit during the pandemic and spread the love," said Bilinda. 

The winners are then encouraged to #tipitforward to support workers with a tip on the balance they would have paid.

The first recipients? Fred and Suzanna Drapp who decided to stop for a bite to eat at Midway Cafe. Fred and Suzanna are new to Fort Thomas and at the end of their meal, they were surprised to find out that their bill was paid for by Fort Thomas Jewelers! "They were SO surprised. It's such a great idea and we were so happy to participate," said Midway Cafe co-owner Erika Kraus, "They were so sweet and thanked us and Fort Thomas Jewelers."

The best part? Fort Thomas Jewelers has committed to donating up to $350 towards these efforts AND several other restaurants in town are participating in the campaign. So, head on out and get something to eat...and you may get a free meal.

Thanks to Fort Thomas Jewelers, owners Vince and Renai Keairns!

Monday Highlands Round-Up: Baseball Edges Conner

Softball, Boys Tennis Post Victories

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands seventh grader Payton Brown made her debut in left field for the Bluebirds on Monday. Brown had a bases-loaded walk and scored a run.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team found itself in a tough spot in the top of the seventh in the season opener Monday.

Highlands led 7-6. But the host Conner Cougars had the tying run at third and the game-winning run at first with two out having already scored three runs.

But junior pitcher Drew Hack coaxed a playable foul ball near the visiting first base dugout. Senior Isaiah Lampkin dove to the ground to make the final out to preserve the victory by that score.

BREAKING: Fort Thomas Independent Schools Selects Brian Robinson as Next Superintendent

Brian Robinson has been named the new superintendent of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools District

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The Fort Thomas Independent Schools announced today that the Board of Education has selected Brian Robinson as the next superintendent to lead our district. Robinson will return to Fort Thomas, where he spent the majority of his professional career as a government teacher, assistant principal and administrator in central office, culminating with a nine-year stint as principal at Highlands High School from 2008-2017.

"Mr. Robinson clearly stood out from a group of incredibly impressive candidates and I am so pleased that he will be coming back to the Fort Thomas schools. He’s a great leader and a tireless advocate for students and teachers," said Jeff Beach, the Board representative on the superintendent search committee.

Robinson, 45, lives in Northern Kentucky with his wife, Julie, and two sons, Nick and Jake, both of whom attend Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

"I am just thrilled and honored to return to Fort Thomas, where the schools are and always have been the heartbeat of the community," said Robinson. "Leading the Fort Thomas Independent Schools as superintendent is both a great privilege and responsibility, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their confidence in me to guide our schools forward."

Robinson’s appointment completes a national search and Ann Meyer, chair of the Board of Education, wants to thank the candidates both locally and from around the country that submitted applications. The Board unanimously chose Robinson.

"Mr. Robinson outlined a clear vision for building on past successes and positioning our students to achieve in a 21st century environment," said Meyer."Of course, we remember clearly the wonderful job Mr. Robinson did leading Highlands High School and we anticipate similar outcomes as he moves to the superintendent’s office."

Robinson will succeed Dr. Karen Cheser, who will retire as superintendent after four years at the helm at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. She will join the Durango School District 9R in Colorado as superintendent starting July 1.
Since departing from Highlands High School in 2017, Robinson served as Executive Director of Advanced Placement implementation at The College Board and currently leads curriculum initiatives as the High School Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at the Forest Hills School District.

"I know our schools will be in great hands with Mr. Robinson’s appointment as superintendent," said Dr. Cheser. "The Board has made a thoughtful and important choice and I will be celebrating along with everyone else the many successes that Mr. Robinson oversees."

Robinson graduated from Simon Kenton High School and Thomas More University, and will assume his new role once his contract, slated to begin on July 1, 2021, obtains approval from the Board of Education.