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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Campbell County Attorney: here's what you need to know about fireworks and the law


By Steve Franzen, Campbell County Attorney 

The Fourth of July will be upon Campbell County sooner than we know it. Although this is a day of celebration and remembrance, this is not a reason to forgo and ignore the rules that are in place to keep citizens safe.  

LEARN MORE: HWCG.com/NorthernKentucky 

Since 2011, the Kentucky Legislature has allowed consumer fireworks to be used and sold. The consumer fireworks can only be sold by individuals who have registered with the State Fire Marshal. This registration must be received by said fire marshal at least fifteen (15) days prior to the selling of fireworks. At the site in which fireworks are being sold, there is to be a registration certificate displayed in a conspicuous location. An individual is prohibited to sell any consumer fireworks to a person who is under the age of eighteen (18). Violations of these rules regarding fireworks could lead to a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) and/or imprisonment in the county jail up to thirty (30) days.  

Although the state of Kentucky allows the use of consumer fireworks, it is important to check with local governments to ensure that you are in compliance with the laws and ordinances. 

For example, within Fort Thomas, it is prohibited to purchase or use fireworks unless a permit is acquired. Such a permit can be obtained from the Chief of the Fire Department. Within Highland Heights, and other towns, it is prohibited to use or display fireworks without a permit. A display firework is one that is designed primarily designed to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration or detonation. This could include firecrackers that contain more than two grains of explosive composition or aerial shells that contain more than 40 grams of pyrotechnic composition. There is also the chance that the county, or local government, has a fire restriction in place. It is important to always check with local laws and ordinances before using any fireworks.  

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If you are able to use fireworks, it is important to do so safely. Fireworks are dangerous, and improper handling could cause there to be injury to spectators and the person igniting the fireworks. The State Fire Marshal recommends the following safety tips to follow when using fireworks: 

-Use fireworks outdoors only 
-Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal in your area, do not use them 
-Always keep a bucket of water or a working water hose nearby 
-Only use the fireworks as intended. Do not try to alter or combine them 
-Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait twenty (20) minutes then soak it in a bucket of water 
-Use common sense. Spectators should be at a safe distance 
-The igniter of the fireworks should be cautious and wear safety glasses 
-Do not mix alcohol and fireworks. Always have a “designated adult operator” 
-Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives, they can be dangerous 
-Report illegal explosives to the local authorities 
-Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks 
-Read and follow all instructions on the label 
 
I hope you have found this information helpful.  If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at countyattorney@campbellcountyky.gov, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071

Steve Franzen. Provided. 


Purple People Bridge to partially reopen Thursday, July 1

Northernmost portion will remain closed 


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The Purple People Bridge, a regional destination that has been closed for nearly two months, will partially reopen at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 1. 
 

The engineering firm of WSP USA has inspected the bridge and determined that the portion of the bridge south of Pier 1 can be safely reopened to the public. However, barriers will be installed on the northern section of the bridge, at the state line, to prevent pedestrians from crossing the bridge. Access will only be allowed from the Kentucky side of the river.  
 
The reopening announcement was made by Jack Moreland, who is retiring Thursday as the president of both The Newport Southbank Bridge Company - which operates the Purple People Bridge - and Southbank Partners.  
 
"Until those repairs are made, access will be limited to the Kentucky side of the bridge,” Moreland said. “Pedestrians will be able to walk on the bridge up until the state line but will not be permitted to walk the length of the bridge between Ohio and Kentucky until repairs are made on the Ohio side of the bridge.” 
 
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Plans for reopening the bridge are being developed to determine the scope and cost of the repairs as well as how the repairs will be funded. A decision on when major public events, such as the Party on the Purple, will be announced at a later date.  
 
The bridge has been closed since May 11 after stones from Pier 1 reportedly fell into the Ohio River. 
 
“We have appreciated the public’s patience while we worked through this situation,” Moreland said. “We know how popular the Purple People Bridge is, and our focus is getting it fully reopened. But for now, at least part of the bridge can be utilized and enjoyed once again.” 

Fort Thomas District Achieves Accreditation with "Off The Chart" Top Scores

Highlands Middle School, part of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools District, which has earned national accreditation with top scores from the Cognia accrediting body.

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by Robin Gee

Fort Thomas Independent Schools scored a near-perfect score on national accreditation by Cognia, a nongovernmental membership organization that accredits public and private schools. Known for its emphasis on continuous improvement, the organization uses a set of rigorous research-based standards and evidence-based criteria to examine an institution as a whole.

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The district earned an IEQ, or Index of Education Quality, score of 387.42 out of a possible 400 points, a very high achievement considering the average score for schools across the country is between 278.34 and 283.33. Perhaps most impressive was that the district achieved this score in a school year challenged by a pandemic.

"The accreditation that Fort Thomas Independent Schools was able to achieve is incredible, but not surprising. Our teachers, staff and students rose to the challenge — maybe the most challenging year in the history of modern education — to demonstrate why our district continues to excel," said Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser.

The Cognia accreditation is part of the district’s ongoing continuous improvement efforts. Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning Bill Bradford heads up the district’s continuous improvement work.

"The vast majority of Cognia’s standards for continuous improvement found us to be at the highest level, which is the impacting level, which means we have noteworthy practices, clear results that has positively impacted our district. That was a great finding, something we are very proud of," said Bradford.

"I think we are also very proud of the actual high IEQ score we earned. It’s essentially off the charts, and even the Cognia review team indicated that it was not a score they have ever assigned to an institution. We are very proud of that," he added.

Further, Bradford said the high scores were verfication and validation of the things the district has put in place.

Significant progress over previous accreditation


Bradford explained that districts go through this extensive accreditation or re-accreditation process every four or five years depending on the district’s schedule. Fort Thomas schools were last accredited in 2016. At that time, the district earned an IEQ rating of 308.78.

Since then, the accrediting body went through a rebranding, changing the name from AdvancED to Cognia, but the standards and expectations the organization uses have remained the same.

Since that time, Fort Thomas also welcomed a new leadership team — Dr. Cheser, Bradford and Jamee Flaherty, assistant superintendent for Student Services — who came on board in the 2017-18 school year and who made concerted efforts towards continuous improvement and engagement across the school community.

Having a system-wide analysis that looked at all the district’s efforts over the past five years shows the schools are headed in the right direction, Bradford said.

The district’s strongest areas identified in the Cognia review were its Portrait of a Graduate.

"There was a significant validation of the work that we have put into place, specifically over the course of the last few years. Some of those are specifically related to Portrait of a Graduate and our focus on stakeholder engagement through opportunities for parents, teachers, students and community to have voice in decision making and in consultation," he said.

A big thank you to the school community


Bradford said he was proud to represent the superintendent’s office leadership team during the accreditation process. He also praised his Teaching & Learning teammate, Sally Race, and all the school principals who were true partners in the efforts to get the Cognia team all the data, documentation and material they needed for the review.

While having leadership on board was a key component, he was quick to note that the work of many people across the district were vital to the accreditation process. "There were a lot of people involved... we had parents involved, board members involved, teachers involved, classified staff involved, and we had students involved."

A review like this takes hours of time, effort and research, he said. "It’s very invasive and very intensive... They are examining a wide array of evidence that we had to supply that demonstrated how we are meeting these standards. It was a very time intensive process, but somehow we made it happen this year. A lot of people contributed and made it happen." 
LEARN MORE: HWCG.com/NorthernKentucky


How Cognia determined the score


At a recent school board meeting, Bradford shared a brief outline of the Cognia standards, how achievement is measured, how Fort Thomas did and what the district has learned through the accreditation process.

He outlined a rating process that included levels of achievement in relation to the standards provided. The levels were insufficient (little or no activity toward improvement), initiating (just getting started), improving (quality practices are in place and meeting standards) and impacting (noteworthy efforts that have had a positive impact).

The district was measured against sets of standards and criteria in three core areas — Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity and Resource Capacity. In each area, the district scored at the impact level with a few at the improvement level.

The Cognia team concluded their report with praise for all involved in the district including educators, parents, leadership and students. They wrote, 'The culture of Fort Thomas Independent Schools reflects an unwavering commitment among all stakeholder groups to serve students and staff in a way that supports their growth and success..." 

New goals ahead 

The review team went on to encourage the district to use the Portrait of a Graduate, its focus on stakeholder engagement and other efforts already in place to help in continuing on the journey to positively impact learning.

Specifically, the Cognia review team suggested two opportunities for improvement. The first was to consider unifying the instructional framework across all grade levels and across schools.

Bradford explained the goal would be to ensure the district has common expectations for the types of learning experiences all students have across grade levels and content areas. "That could mean project-based learning, inquiry-based learning...expectations for some level of uniformity across classrooms."

The second challenge was for the district to dig deeper into how the Portrait of a Graduate has impacted graduates. The Cognia group challenged the district to find ways to better understand what effect Portrait of a Graduate has had on students as they move to college and career.

This could involve conducting surveys, interviews and other engagements to understand and learn how graduates exposed to Portrait of a Graduate have benefited from it and what the district could do better to prepare graduates for the future, said Bradford.

"We accept both of those next steps as great opportunities," he said. "On behalf of the district, I can say that feedback is certainly relevant and could absolutely propel us to further success, that’s for sure... It really was an opportunity to have outside analysts provide constructive feedback as to where we could go next, where we could continue to grow and be better," Bradford said.

For more information on Cognia accreditation, see accreditation and certification on the Cognia website.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Continues Expansion in NKY

The site of Beacon's medical office on Alexandria Pike in Fort Thomas. FTM file. 

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Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is continuing its expansion into Northern Kentucky with the planned opening of two Orthopaedic Care Centers in Kenton and Campbell counties. 
 
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Beacon's Kenton County care center at 2900 Chancellor Drive in Crestview Hills is scheduled to open July 14th and a new Campbell County care center being developed by Ashley Builders Group at 775 Alexandria Pike in Fort Thomas is slated to open in early 2022.  

 
The company's existing Northern Kentucky care center is located at 600 Rodeo Drive in Erlanger.  
 
"Northern Kentucky is an underserved market where patients will benefit from more competition, increased accessibility to high quality, low-cost comprehensive orthopaedic care," said Beacon CEO Andy Blankemeyer. "We are excited to once again be growing our presence in Northern Kentucky and we continue to look for opportunities to expand." 
 
Northern Kentucky has been a major focus of Beacon's growth this year.  
 
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In April, Beacon announced that John J. Larkin, MD, a highly regarded Northern Kentucky orthopaedic surgeon, joined the Beacon team.  And in May, Beacon's Glen McClung, MD, was named medical director of the Florence Y'alls Frontier League minor league baseball team. 
 
With the opening of the Crestview Hills care center next month, Beacon will have a total of 15 local care centers throughout the region. 
 
"Bringing the best care to more patients is what we are accomplishing in Northern Kentucky and across Greater Cincinnati," said Beacon President Peter Cha, MD. "We are growing strategically and geographically with the Beacon model that places emphasis on quality, access and value."  

Newport Catholic's Ron Dawn to retire as Thoroughbreds Basketball Coach

Ron Dawn announced his retirement from the head coaching position at NCC. He previously announced his retirement as Principal earlier this year. 

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Today, Newport Central Catholic High School Basketball Coach Ron Dawn announced his resignation as the head coach of the Thoroughbreds.  

This follows the April announcement of his retirement as principal of the school.   It was previously reported that Dawn would return as NCC's coach.
 



Dawn, a 1974 graduate of Newport Catholic and standout basketball player, began his coaching career at NCC with the boys basketball program in 1980.  He was named the NCC boys’ head coach in 1990.  After a five year break to follow his son’s college basketball career, he resumed coaching duties at NCC.  He was named the girls’ head coach in 2009, a post he held for four seasons.  

In 2013, Coach Dawn returned to the boys' basketball program adding three more All "A" Classic State Titles to his list of successes.  His most recent 9th Region Championship came in 2015-16 where his team made it to the semifinals in the KHSAA State Tournament.  Following that season he stepped down as head coach but returned to the post in 2019.

Coach Dawn is the only coach in the state to win an All “A” State Championship in both boys and girls basketball.  Additionally, he is the only 9th Region Coach to win a regional title for both the boys and girls.  Coach Dawn retires with 520 career victories. 

Coach Dawn expressed his thanks to all of his past and present coaches and players.  He said, “I am grateful to all the young men and ladies I have had the honor of coaching over the years and to all those who coached alongside me.”

“As a former player, assistant coach, co-worker and mentee of Coach Dawn, I can personally attest to the deep positive impact he has had on multiple generations of players and students,” Principal Kenny Collopy added. “Newport Central Catholic High School is forever in debt to his selfless dedication.  We are so grateful.”

Northern Kentucky Young Professionals Announce NKYP Legend Award Recipient

Shannan Boyer, President and Founder of Scooter Media to be recognized during 2021 NKYP Next Generation Leader Awards Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
 

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Northern Kentucky Young Professionals (NKYP) is pleased to announce that Shannan Boyer, president and founder of Scooter Media in Covington, has been named the 2021 NKYP Legend Award recipient. Boyer will be recognized during the upcoming Next Generation Leader Awards (NGLAs) celebration. The NKYP Legend Award is presented to an individual who excelled as a young professional leader in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region and has continued to inspire leadership and career success among young professionals throughout their career.

 
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The NGLAs will be awarded from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27 at Hotel Covington (638 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011).The NGLAs is an annual celebration hosted by the Northern Kentucky Chamber to salute and applaud young professionals under the age of 40 for significant professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership and community impact. The event will feature 22 NGLA finalists across seven industry categories, as well as the NKYP Legend Award recipient.

"Our region's diverse, talented pool of young professionals has and continues to shine throughout the history of the NGLAS," said NKY Chamber Director of Talent Strategies Amanda Johannemann. "Their dedication to their careers and communities is outstanding. With talent attraction and retention being priorities for our region, the NGLA’s ability to highlight our region's leaders illustrates how Northern Kentucky can compete on a national level and meet growing employer demand."
Boyer is receiving the award in recognition of her impressive 20-plus years working in communications on a local, regional, and national level. She is best-known for founding her PR agency, Scooter Media, in 2012.  
 
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Boyer’s achievements over the course of her career are not only extensive, but impressive. Her highlights include being named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s “Forty Under 40” list, Cincy Chic’s “Woman of the Year,” as well Public Relations Professional of the Year by the Cincinnati Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
 
Under Boyer’s leadership, her agency has earned numerous honors, the most recent being named Best PR/Communications Agency in Greater Cincinnati by Cincy Magazine earlier this year. This follows Scooter Media’s recognition as the Small/Mid-Size PR Agency of the Year for the fourth consecutive year by Cincinnati PRSA. Scooter Media was also a winner of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s (NKY Chamber) “Cool Place to Work” award.  
 
“Shannan embodies the spirit of NKYP by paying it forward and giving back to the region. As an original member back when the program was known at Legacy, she continues to stand behind this program and connects with young professionals to give guidance and advice,” said Ellen Bates, 2020-21 Chair for NKYP. “Shannan is not someone who does things for recognition, but just because she knows how much it meant to her as a young professional and the value it continues to provide other young leaders in our region. That’s why it’s a privilege to name her as the recipient of the Legend Award for her continued impact on the young talent in our region.”
 
An active member of her community, Boyer is a board member for Aviatra Accelerators and is on the Northern Kentucky University Alumni Board of Directors. She is also involved with Xavier University’s Mentor Program.
 
“It’s humbling to receive this award, especially when I think about how far I’ve come since being involved in NKYP during the early years. This impactful program provides our region’s young professionals with opportunities to engage, connect and grow early in their careers,” Boyer explained. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and guidance I’ve received from countless mentors and business leaders in our community over the years. I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredible people who have played a major role in the trajectory of my career – from family and friends to my mentors, as well as my team at Scooter Media.”
 
NGLA event registration is $40 for general admission and $35 for NKYP Passport holders. Pre-registration is required online at www.nkychamber.com/ngla. For information regarding the NGLAs or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Amanda Johannemann at ajohannemann@nkychamber.com.
 
The 2021 NGLAs are presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare. The NGLAs Host Sponsor is Hotel Covington. The NGLA Award Sponsors are Northern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky Tri-Ed, and New Riff Distilling. 2021–2022 NKYP sponsors include Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Talent Magnet Institute, Scooter Media, and Leadership Council for Nonprofits.

River City Resilience Series: Dayton, Kentucky | Galactic Fried Chicken serves up Out-of-This-World Chicken! (Sponsored by Southbank Partners)

“Positive will Prevail” 

Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

by Robin Gee
Photos by Phil Armstrong

Galactic Fried Chicken | 624 6th Avenue, Dayton KY
Monday - Wednesday 11:30am - 8 pm; Thursday - Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 9pm; Sunday 11:30am - 8pm | Take out and delivery (within a 3-4 mile radius), call (859) 287-7049 

Galactic Fried Chicken | 624 6th Avenue, Dayton KY. Photo: Phil Armstrong. 


Shane Coffey, who owns Galactic Fried Chicken in Dayton, Kentucky, with his wife, Kathy McDonald, said his motto for life and for his business is “positive will prevail.” That motto served him well as he opened up his restaurant on March 5, 2020, just a few days before the world went into shut down mode.

Shane Coffey and Kathy McDonald. Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

An experienced restaurateur who had held executive chef positions in Aspen, Colorado; New York City and, more recently, in an upscale private resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Bahamas, he knew opening a new eatery in the middle of a pandemic would be a challenge, but he was confident that he could handle whatever came.

Fortunately, McDonald also had experience in the industry. The couple knew when to pivot and how, he said. "And, fried chicken does well in carry out situations. Originally, we weren’t going to even deal with carry out because we had quite a lot of success without that, but, obviously, that was a change we made...We just kept our heads up and tried to push forward."

That attitude did indeed serve them well. The restaurant has quickly built a reputation for some of the best fried chicken in the region, and as things have opened up, their inside dining stays busy at full capacity. They seat about 50 inside but also have an outdoor patio behind the store and share an outdoor space with Unataza Coffee, a Honduran-inspired coffee cafe next door that opened in 2019.  


Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

Deepening Roots in Dayton


While they reconnected in the Bahamas, both Coffey and McDonald grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and went to the University of Cincinnati, so they knew the area and wanted to return to live here after Coffey’s time at the resort was over. McDonald had owned a home in Dayton, Kentucky, for 18 years, and Coffey said it just felt right.

"We thought about it. It would have been fairly easy for me to just open another restaurant in Aspen or New York, but we decided to be here and started by going the food truck route," Coffey explained.

He started with Street Chef Brigade, bringing "edgy comfort food" to area businesses and locations before settling in outside the Streetside Brewery in the East End. From there he bought a second truck. That truck was painted with a fun retro, space-aged theme, inspiring the name for his new business, Galactic Fried Chicken.

How Galactic touched down in Dayton, he said, is an interesting story. He used to take his first truck to Darkness Brewing in Bellevue right nextdoor. One day, one of the brewery owners asked him if he could do fried chicken. "I said I can so the next time I came there I did. That was probably 2016 or early 2017. It kinda set the scene."

He’d been toying with idea of doing a fried chicken truck. He started experimenting with recipes and talking to people all over about what they liked and didn’t like. At about the same period he was approached by people in Cincinnati considering a new restaurant. When he told a friend about it, his friend asked, "Are you interested in brick and mortar again? Well, I know a spot. It just needs some elbow grease and someone who knows what they’re doing."

Coffey was intrigued and agreed to check it out, and when the friend told him the address, he was floored. The restaurant space was right around the corner from his house. 

"I knew it was right the moment I walked in. It’s got a real retro vibe; it used to be the Dayton Chili Parlor and it had an art deco, midcentury modern look going for it. I looked to my wife and said, do you want to fix up the house or open a restaurant? So, here we are."

He was able to sell his original truck business but kept the Galactic Fried Chicken truck. It’s now sitting on his property. He said he expects to use it again to help promote his brick-and-mortar store around the area.

Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

Right place, right time


Dayton was home, he said, and he wanted to build something that would be a part of the community. The city is thriving, growing quickly in recent years, but "sometimes people in the area don’t remember we are only two miles from downtown Cincinnati. Once people realize we’re here they love it."

Some of the locals from across the river are pleasantly surprised and tell him they had no idea so much was here so very close. They have "rediscovered" Dayton. "That’s pretty fun," he said.

In recent years the city of Dayton has concentrated on attracting new business and in particular revitalizing the stretch that runs along Sixth Avenue connecting with nearby Bellevue’s popular shopping district along Fairfield Avenue. The connections between the two communities are clear, yet each has its own distinct character.

The city is supporting this development through community incentive grants, and the plan is paying off. In the last few years several vacant buildings within the business district have been transformed. In addition to Unataza Coffee and Galactic Fried Chicken, the city center boasts an old-time candy shop, a salon and brow bar, a new pharmacy, a new doctor’s office, a flooring showroom and new restaurants, as well as coming soon a second location for Roebling Books, a popular Covington bookstore.

The city’s apartment and condo market has expanded with luxury developments, and officials have been working on entertainment and recreation opportunities for current residents and new riverfront dwellers, including the Riverfront Commons project that runs along the Ohio and connects the various river cities.

Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 


Chicken is the star, but check out the jackfruit


While his restaurant might be a surprise for some, Galactic Fried Chicken’s reputation has grown quickly over the past year. The specialty is, of course, fried chicken, but it is not like fried chicken anywhere else in the region, Coffey said.

"Our chicken is more of the southern style, has a little bit of spice to it,” he said. “We specifically wanted avoid two things. We wanted to move away from the tenders-only situation, and we also got away from the very hot trend."

Trends come and go. They die. "But what doesn’t die is simple, straightforward fried chicken," he said.


 

Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 


It is straightforward chicken, but the secret to success is in the crust. For one thing, it’s gluten-free. When he was traveling down south, Coffey said he picked people’s brains for what made the best chicken crispy.

"And rice flour kept coming up. So, when I came back to Kentucky, I started messing around with it, and I realized I like the texture of the rice flour and potato starch much more than the wheat flour formulas we put together."

People in his family suffer from celiac’s disease, but Coffey said he didn’t set out promote his chicken as a gluten free option at first. He wanted to build a reputation for great-tasting fried chicken alone. Yet, the word is out for people concerned about gluten. People come from all over the state and beyond. Children’s Hospital has even been recommending Galactic Fried Chicken to patients. Coffey notes his brine is dairy free as well, another "happy accident."

What is not an accident is perhaps the most unique item on the menu — fried jackfruit, a fibrous Southeast Asian fruit that looks somewhat like a pineappple. While older jackfruit you can sometimes find fresh in Krogers and other are groceries is very sweet, Coffey said he uses young canned jackfruit. (Some have compared young jackfruit with its mild sweetness to a slightly sweet pulled pork.) 


Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

With his spices and the same crust as his chicken, Coffey has added a special treat for vegetarians to enjoy alongside their chicken-loving friends and family.

Traditional sides round out the menu, he said, including macaroni, mashed potatoes, French fries, corn cobettes and, on occasion, green beans. He also has kale salad and other choices as well as fried pickles and crunchy fried cracklin’s made from the chicken skin. Galactic Fried Chicken also has a full liquor license, Coffey added.


 

Photo: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 

Lessons learned and looking ahead


When asked what he would take away from this unusual year, he said, "Even with as much experience as I’ve had, every time you do something new, you want to do everything, when, maybe you just need to step back, pare down a little...do a few things very well."

He is concerned about the rise in food costs across the industry. The price of chicken tenders has shot up 100 percent over 2019 prices. It’s scary, he said, but he’s kept that positive attitude and his ability to adapt. He said with national food sources rising, he is using even more locally sourced food. He’s also trying out new recipes for dark meat and in-bone pieces.

Galactic Fried Chicken employs about six people but as business continues to grow, Coffey hopes to add more staff. The crew he has now keep things going, but he said he’d like to give them and himself a little more time off. The restaurant is open seven days a week but shuts down for a few days around all the major holidays.

Coffey is excited about the future. He is already looking to expand, talking to people on both sides of the river. In Kentucky, he said, he is looking to possibly open further south. He already has a good following from Louisville and Lexington both, he said.

"Our thing has been 'positive will prevail.' We lived that this year. We had that before the pandemic and it worked out for us. No matter what happens, we will keep moving forward. And, we will prevail."

About Southbank Partners

Southbank Partners, Inc,, is a community and economic development organization that coordinates activity with the cities that lie along Northern Kentucky's bank of the Ohio River. Their purpose is to support the cities through promoting and coordinating development activities, fostering teamwork and collaboration, and providing a unified voice for the partner cities in advocating common positions to state and federal government, as well as to other communities. Members are: Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Fort Thomas, Silver Grove, Ludlow and Newport.

Photos: Phil Armstrong. Fort Thomas Matters. 









Monday, June 28, 2021

Opportunity House in Highland Heights receives $1 million dollar grant

Governor also presents checks totaling $314,000 for school safety in Kenton, Campbell counties


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Gov. Andy Beshear today announced a $1 million award to help open the Highland Heights Opportunity House in Campbell County.

While in Northern Kentucky, the Governor also presented ceremonial checks totaling $314,000, representing school safety projects in Kenton and Campbell counties.

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The Governor awarded the $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to the City of Highland Heights, which applied for the grant in partnership with Brighton Properties, Inc. (BPI). BPI will lease an office space that has been vacant for 15 years, known as the Brown Building, and renovate it to create 16 affordable apartments in the new Opportunity House for low-income Kentuckians ages 18-24 who are pursuing a college degree or professional certificate.

“We want to lift up our fellow Kentuckians across the commonwealth. This project ensures greater access to safe, stable housing, breaking down barriers that often keep folks out of higher education,” said Gov. Beshear. “This project can help those it supports break cycles of poverty, not only by helping those participating, but by lifting up future generations of Kentuckians.”

“The City of Highland Heights is proud to be a part of the Opportunity House project, which will be a vehicle for changing young lives in our region for years to come,” said Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers. “The name really says it all, it will be a special opportunity to shape the lives of those who end up calling Highland Heights their home and I look forward to seeing the dividends the Opportunity House and its social programs will pay in the form of skilled workers and productive citizens for our communities.”

The basement of the Opportunity House will provide training and meeting space for comprehensive social services and counseling for residents. Residents must participate in life skills training and secure part-time employment.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also serves as Kentucky’s Secretary of Education and Workforce Development, emphasized the significant need for Opportunity House in its community.

“Our administration will always put education first because every child and young adult in our commonwealth deserves our full support as they reach toward their potential,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “The Opportunity House will remove many financial and social obstacles that make it harder for some young Kentuckians to graduate from college or a technical school through no fault of their own.”

Lt. Gov. Coleman said there are more than 5,000 Kentuckians age 18-24 in Campbell, Boone and Kenton counties who are both unemployed and not in school.

Without support systems like the Opportunity House, these youth often struggle financially and emotionally into adulthood, especially if they turned 18 in foster care and were never adopted. According to recent statistics provided by the National Youth in Transition Data Base, at age 19, 44% of youth that aged out of foster care were receiving public assistance; by age 21, the number grew to 59%.

In addition to leasing the Opportunity House, BPI, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of Brighton Center, will operate, manage and insure the facility. The CDBG will be provided by the City of Highland Heights to BPI in the form of a 20 year forgivable deferred loan, with 5% forgiven each year the Opportunity House is in operation.

The Governor highlighted that BPI will match 83% of the CDBG grant, investing $832,105 into the Opportunity House. Brighton Center will also provide a licensed therapist to provide intake assessments of prospective residents and a full-time case manager to develop and monitor individual-specific plans, leading residents to educational success, employment and self-sufficiency. Brighton Center estimates that these services over 20 years have a value of more than $2.2 million.

“We are so grateful for the transformational impact that this funding will provide in the lives of the young adults that will be served through Opportunity House. Access to this stable housing, quality post-secondary education and comprehensive supports will lead to their financial independence, and ensure they will achieve the best quality of life possible,” said Wonda Winkler, president and chief executive officer of the Brighton Center.

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Gov. Beshear also thanked Neighborhood Foundations, Newport’s public housing authority, which will provide 16 project-based Section 8 vouchers to make the units affordable to residents, valued at more than $2.3 million over a 20-year period.

Finally, the Governor recognized Northern Kentucky University (NKU), which is forgoing approximately $539,970 in rental income by leasing the property to BPI for 30 years at $1 per year, saying the university’s commitment to equity helped make the project possible.

“At NKU, we know that higher education is the clearest path to upward economic mobility,” said NKU president Ashish Vaidya. “Our responsibility is to innovate and find new ways to meet diverse learners where they are and to support their needs. This community partnership creates a beacon of hope and access to higher education for youth so that they can take the important step to a brighter future.”

The Department for Local Government (DLG) administers CDBG grants. Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced more than $85 million in investment through DLG for approximately 200 projects that are helping to update infrastructure, support Kentuckians and diversify regional economies.

Gov. Beshear Presents Checks Representing $314,000 in School Safety Funding

In April, Gov. Beshear announced plans to invest $23 million to improve highway safety near schools, protecting students, educators and families. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is using state funding allocated in the 2020 Highway Plan to complete 70 school safety improvement projects in 44 counties across the state. To see the full list of projects, click here.

Today, Gov. Beshear presented a $154,000 ceremonial check to Kenton County, representing a safety upgrade at a busy intersection in Fort Wright where pedestrians often include school children.

The project site is Kentucky Route 1072 (Sleepy Hollow Road) near its intersection with U.S. Highway 25 (Dixie Highway), one of the main routes in Northern Kentucky. St. Agnes School is less than a block from the intersection. KYTC will build a new sidewalk along KY 1072 and will remove a crosswalk in the middle of the block. Families and students instead will walk toward the intersection and cross the road at a signalized crosswalk. 
1013 S. Fort Thomas Ave. 


Gov. Beshear also presented a $160,000 ceremonial check to Campbell County, representing a pair of highway safety projects in the vicinity of three local schools.

KYTC will replace traffic signals at two intersections in Cold Spring and Alexandria with new signals that are more reflective and more easily seen by motorists.

Both intersections are on busy U.S. Route 27. In Cold Spring, the cross street is Crossroads Boulevard, near Crossroads Elementary School. In Alexandria, the signal is at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Main Street, near Campbell County Middle School and Bishop Brossart High School.

In each project, KYTC engineers will examine the sites to determine whether other pedestrian improvements would be feasible through construction or reconstruction of handicap ramps.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Council Passes Budget, Continues Skate and Splash Park Discussion

One of the boards showing one idea for the proposed bike and skate park in Tower Park. The boards will be displayed around town all summer for resident input. Click image to enlarge.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor


Over the past year, despite challenges presented by the pandemic, city officials and staff have been working through a long list of projects around town outlined in the Fort Thomas Community Plan.

Among these have been improvements to Tower Park, including a new shelter, upgrades to the tennis courts and softball fields and public parking, as well projects in other local parks.


At the June 7 and 21 city council meetings, Fort Thomas officials and staff continued discussing more amenities on their list and are opening up that discussion for community input.

After a few years of conceptual work by the Parks and Recreation committee, word is out that the city is considering a possible splash park in Highland Hills park and a combo bike and skate park in Tower Park. A few residents who spoke at the meeting were concerned about where these would go and the traffic, parking and potential safety issues they could cause in certain neighborhoods near those parks.

Mayor Eric Haas responded that it is still very early in the planning stages. City officials and staff have some ideas and have been working with planners on those ideas, but the plan is to first share ideas with residents at various public city events throughout this summer in an effort to spark interest and input.

"We’ve been looking at different locations. Once we filled up the bottom level of Highland Park, we realized we had so much land available, we’d be able to do a splash park and have a practice field, so we looked at that as a possibility," he said. However, "there has not been any details about anything yet. In fact, we have been bringing out great big boards with some of the descriptions and pictures ...When you see those boards, which will be around at all the events we have this summer, look for that, go up, give your ideas."

Residents can leave sticky notes with questions, concerns and ideas. Residents are also welcome to share their ideas and concerns directly with the city as well, he said.

"We’ll spend the whole summer gathering input and then in late summer or early fall, the city recreation committee will discuss all the input we’ve received," he explained.

A board depicting a potential splash park and other improvements for the Highland Hills Park. Click image to enlarge.


 
A close-up view of potential improvements in the Highland Hills park. Watch for boards like these at the Fort Thomas Farmers Market and other locations throughout the city this summer. Click image to enlarge.

More city business


This was the second reading for the city FY 2021-2022 budget. The budget ordinance was passed unanimously. For the second year in a row, officials kept property taxes frozen at the 2019 rate.


The budget includes funding for the street resurfacing program and several city projects now underway such as the completion of the city building and improvements in area parks. It also includes other projects tied to the comprehensive plan scheduled to start this year.

Council passed related budget items including the 2020-2021 budget amendment and ordinances setting salaries and classification plans for city employees. 

RELATED: Fort Thomas City Council Reviews Budget, Freezes Property Tax Rate for Second Year

Also on its second hearing was the ordinance to create an Entertainment District in Fort Thomas. Two potential districts are named in the ordinance, but plans are in place to request the appropriate license for only the Midway Business District for now. By also including the Central Business District in the ordinance, officials would have the option to pursue that area in the future.

Language in the ordinance was kept simple, relying on city laws already in place for noise and related issues, according to the mayor. The plan is to gain some experience with the special district before adding restrictions if needed. The Entertainment District ordinance also passed unanimously.

City Administrator Ron Dill gave a brief update on city projects. The city building project is progressing as planned with work on the foundation for the new addition, the elevator shaft and duct work. The work on North Fort Thomas Avenue is near completion except for one small section he expects to be completed very soon.

Haas noted the city is preparing for the Fourth of July celebration on July 3. Events start at 5 p.m. and fireworks are again scheduled for all three city parks so that residents may see them from all over the city.