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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

NKU Awarded A1 Stable Ranking by Moody’s

Northern Kentucky University retains its A1 credit rating by Moody's Investor Service.

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Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has retained its A1 credit rating in the latest report by Moody's Investors Service, confirming NKU’s stable financial future.

The decreased pension payments to the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems (KERS) was a contributing factor to NKU’s A1 ranking. With the decision to exit KERS last year, NKU will reduce its future pension payments by $4.5 million each year.

"NKU was spending over 8.5 percent of its operating budget on pension payments for the combined defined benefit and defined contribution plans before the university opted out," said NKU Chief Financial Officer Mike Hales. "With the university now spending significantly less on pension benefits, NKU can use that money for a plethora of other uses.”

The rating solidifies NKU’s financial stability by exchanging uncertain future pension contribution increases for consistent bond payments over the next 30 years.

"The rating also has long-term financial implications for NKU," Hales continued. "If NKU chooses to take on any future debt for whatever reason, it will keep the university’s borrowing costs low as the A1 rating means we are a low credit risk."

NKU has been rated A1 since 2010. The entire Moody’s report can be read online with a subscription.

For more information, visit the Northern Kentucky University website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Second Annual Boos & Brews Coming to Newport on the Levee on October 30

Time to get your scare on. All are invited to Boos and Brews on October 30 at Newport on the Levee

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If you dare, grab your boo crew, don your most clever costume and head to the riverfront for Newport on the Levee’s second annual Boos and Brews. On Saturday, October 30, ghouls and goblins are invited to stop by the experiential mixed-use destination for a spell to enjoy music, dancing, a costume contest and spooky shopping and dining specials.

From 7 to 10 p.m., Bridgeview Box Park will transform into a scary-fun dance party as DJ Anthony from the award-winning group The Music Concierge spins fang-tastic crowd favorites and roaming stilt walkers provide the ultimate wicked photo op. A costume contest will also be hosted for guests to participate in between 7 and 8:30 p.m., with winners being announced at 9:15 p.m. Prizes for the best looks include an overnight stay at the Aloft Hotel adjacent to the property, treats from onsite retailers and restaurants, two tickets to the USS Nightmare and more.

Lots of treats, no tricks

Throughout the day, visitors of the Levee can enjoy hauntingly good offers from participating retailers and restaurants, including:

  • Annabelle Arthur – Enter to win a $25 gift card with purchase
  • Artifact – 10% off purchases of $50 or more
  • Beeline + The Buzz – $5 drink specials
  • Celestial Scent – 10% off purchases $25 or more
  • Colonel De Spices – Grab-and-go spice mix packets (two for $20)
  • CrepeGuys – Buy two crepes, receive one complimentary drink
  • J. Salindino – 10% off purchases
  • Leaf & Limb – Complimentary succulent for guests in costume
  • Little Spoon Bakery and Café – Topping off all drinks with Halloween lime green whipped cream and offering a special Matcha Latte
  • Sweet Dreams – Serving a special edition pumpkin cheesecake and caramel apple pie fudge
  • Wooden Cask –$10 Children of the Corn and Glowing Ghost cocktails

For more information, go to the Boos and Brews website.

And that’s not all, ghouls and goblins

Also scheduled at the Levee on October 30 are events at the Beeline and at Little Spoon Bakery and Cafe:

Heaven and Hell Party at Beeline from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. –The Levee’s newest restaurant is hosting a Halloween party for all the sinners and saints featuring $5 White Claws and $5 Tito’s drinks all night long, as well as a live DJ from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Interested partygoers can RSVP on the Heaven and Hell Party Form on the Beeline website.

Howl-o-ween at Little Spoon Bakery and Café from 6 to 7 p.m. – Dog lovers are encouraged to bring their little pumpkins to the Levee in costume for trick-or-treating. Upon arrival, furry friends can check-in at Little Spoon to receive a Halloween bag before exploring the property to collect dog treats and toys.

To stay updated on the latest happenings, follow Newport on the Levee on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit the website at Newport on the Levee is located at 1 Levee Way in Newport.

Three Campbell County Businesses Selected for NKY Small Business Grants

Kathy McDonald and Shane Coffey, owners of Galactic Fried Chicken in Dayton. (photo by Phil Armstrong, Fort Thomas Matters.)

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Dayton businesses Galactic Fried Chicken and Kate’s Catering and Personal Chef Services and Bellevue’s Danyelle’s Bellevue Tavern are among a group of 15 Northern Kentucky small businesses selected to receive a grant through the NKY Small Business Grants for Minority-, Women- and Veteran-Owned Businesses program.

Meet Ethan and the team.

The Duke Energy Foundation and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) Foundation partnered for the second year to provide the grants. Nearly 100 businesses applied for the grants. Fifteen were selected to receive varying amounts up to $10,000.

"A thriving small business community is vital to our region’s recovery from the pandemic," said Amy Spiller, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. "These grants will help businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, women and veterans successfully move forward. We’re grateful for the Northern Kentucky Chamber’s continued partnership in supporting our small business community."

Galactic Fried Chicken is a full service restaurant specializing in fried chicken, located at 624 6th Avenue in Dayton.

Kate’s Catering and Personal Chef Services provides event catering, personal chef services and cooking classes and is located at 702 6th Avenue in Dayton.

Danyelle’s Bellevue Tavern is a sports bar and tavern located at 615 Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue.

Other recipients included:

  • AmerAsia Café & Bar LLC (Kenton Co.)
  • BomDia Massage & Wellness PLLC (Kenton Co.)
  • Colette Paperie (Boone Co.)
  • Greenline Salon (Kenton Co.)
  • Imaginations Abound Early Learning Center (Kenton Co.)
  • Japan-America Culture Exchange LLC / dba Nagomi Japanese Restaurant (Kenton Co.)
  • Leadership Bridges LLC (Kenton Co.)
  • Spotted Yeti Media (Kenton Co.)
  • Reality Tuesday Café (Kenton Co.)
  • Red Bear Inc. (Boone Co.)
  • Rich’s Proper Food and Drink (Kenton Co.)
  • Taste on Elm (Kenton Co.)
The program was open to qualifying businesses with 50 employees or less that are Duke Energy customers in Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton counties. Applications were reviewed by a diverse panel of judges comprised of business and community leaders from a variety of industries, partner organizations and Duke Energy representatives.

More than 160 businesses applied for the first round of the NKY Small Business Grants for minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in July 2020, with 17 local businesses receiving assistance.

Leisa Mulcahy, managing director of GROW NKY and vice president of Workforce at the NKY Chamber, says the grants will give underserved businesses in the region the chance to not just survive, but thrive.

"As our local business community and the national economy continue to rebound from the impacts of COVID-19, it is imperative that the local businesses we support – especially those that are underserved – have the resources they need to endure and even flourish in this new economic landscape," said Mulcahy. "The generous support of the Duke Energy Foundation enables the continued recovery of our economy and community."

For more information, visit or

Purple People Bridge Receives Donations to Fund Repairs, Opens for Cancer Society Event

Funding raised for the Purple People Bridge has allowed it to reopen temporarily for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk as well as plan more permanent repairs.

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Generous donors have provided the funding needed to repair the pedestrian Purple People Bridge, which will fully open temporarily for this Saturday's American Cancer Society Making Strides Greater Cincinnati fundraising run for breast cancer research.

Donors contributed $350,000 to fund the temporary and permanent repair work on the iconic bridge linking Cincinnati and Newport, which should be fully reopened by Thanksgiving. The bridge closed May 11 after stones from Pier 1 reportedly fell into the Ohio River. The majority of the bridge reopened to pedestrians on July 1, but the northernmost portion remains closed.

Interested in what's happening at One Highland? Click here.

Engineers working on the project determined that it can be safely and temporarily opened for Saturday's American Cancer Society event provided specific measures are followed, said Newport Southbank Bridge Company President Will Weber.

"The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is an incredible event in the community that hits home for so many," Weber said. "The Newport Southbank Bridge Company recognizes this and has worked diligently with Brian Gibson, organizer of the Greater Cincinnati’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K, Donna Salyers, chair of the Making Strides event, as well as our contractor, Fenton Rigging & Contracting, Inc. and our engineer WSP USA Inc. to assess and make the necessary improvements to safely reopen the bridge for the annual walk to help raise money for the necessary resources for patients, survivors and caregivers."

Salyers, the founder and president of Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs in Covington, was thrilled to hear of temporary reopening of the bridge.

"Shockingly, one in eight women experience breast cancer," Salyers said. "While I’ve not had cancer, our adult son is a lucky survivor and to show my gratitude for his recovery, I volunteer. Our goal is $300,000 in research dollar donations and to recruit 10,000 participants for the 5k walk spanning between Ohio and Kentucky. Work began in February and we’re on-track to exceed all goals."

Donna and Jim Salyers have personally pledged a $25 donation for every runner that registers for the event by this Thursday.

"We’re walking to support those struggling with cancer as well as honoring those whose lives were cut short," Salyers said.

The following donors are making the temporary and permanent reopening of the bridge possible with their generous contributions:

  • Devou Good Foundation, $154,000;
  • John and Sue Topits Foundation, $100,000;
  • RC Durr Foundation, $50,000;
  • Newport Foundation, $13,000.

The Newport Southbank Bridge Company also provided $37,000 for the repairs for a total raised of $354,000.

"At this time, we are estimating the Purple People Bridge will re-open by Thanksgiving with a temporary repair and will remain open as we make the long-term repairs with an estimated completion date in spring 2022," Weber said.

Fort Thomas City Council Approves Purchase of Additional Public Parking

The back parking lot of the Hiland Building, located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave., has been acquired by the city of Fort Thomas.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

More parking will be available in the Central Business District soon. 

At its October meeting, Fort Thomas City Council approved a purchase agreement for additional spaces from the owner of the Hiland Building at 18 North Fort Thomas Avenue. The move fulfills the city’s stated intention to provide additional public parking to serve the district that includes the new One Highland project and several other businesses.

Have you tried the famous side-by-side? Ice cream, edible cookie dough. What's not to love?
1013 S. Fort Thomas Ave.

Fort Thomas resident and real estate investor Dan Gorman, principal of the Fort Thomas Properties Hiland LLC, agreed to sell the parking lot behind his building to the city for its appraised value plus closing and title search costs. The final purchase amount, which includes those costs, is $167,809.60.

About 40 of the spaces in the lot are already owned by the city. With the additional spaces, the lot could hold between 112 and 115 cars depending on how lines are drawn, Gorman said.

Over the years, parts of the lot have been owned or leased by different entities, explained City Administrator Ron Dill. Not only will the agreement provide much-needed additional public parking, the title work will help clean up a somewhat convoluted situation, creating a clear title to the lot under the city.

One additional aspect to be worked out, Dill said, is access to the lot via Miller Lane. The Fort Thomas Independent Schools District owns that portion. The city has access, but officials are working with the schools in the hopes of bringing ownership of that under the city as well.
With the purchase of parking behind the Hiland Building at 18 North Fort Thomas, between 112 and 115 public parking spaces will be added to serve the Central Business District.

The city will take over maintenance of the lot, but Dill said at this time no major reconstruction of the lot is needed, only basic resurfacing and maintenance. 

Want a Clean House?

Through its development agreement with the One Highland developers, the city agreed to spend $1.6 million to purchase public parking for that project. The purchase of the lot at 18 North Fort Thomas adds even more public parking for all businesses in the Central Business District.


Access to parking behind 18 North Fort Thomas comes from Miller Lane, and that portion is on property owned by the Fort Thomas school district.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Memorial Parkway Land Donated to Fort Thomas, Newport for Public Park

Land owned by Wayne Carlise to the cities of Fort Thomas and Newport is adjacent to Memorial Parkway. 
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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

At the October meeting of the Fort Thomas City Council on Monday night, council members and residents got the news that well-known local developer and philanthropist Wayne Carlisle will donate his property along Memorial Parkway to the city for use as a public park.

The property borders Newport and is located on Memorial near Stardust Point. Carlisle owns about 24 acres.

Chris Manning, an environmental planning consultant to the city, made the announcement. Through his company, Human Nature, he has helped the city through its comprehensive plan implementation and several other development projects. He said he had some exciting news for the city.

"A property that has been on our radar for a long time, and we've often said we should try to acquire it. The property owner is donating that property to the city to turn it into a park," he announced.

Manning acknowledge that there were some geotechnical limitations in terms of access that could affect the various uses of the property that will need to be addressed, but "Right now, it’s a time to celebrate. It’s a big moment in our history," he said.

Mayor Eric Haas explained how the donation came about. 

"We were discussing pickleball courts and where could we put pickleball courts and where is there flat land in Fort Thomas, and we talked about the property on Memorial Parkway. So I said, well, I know Wayne, I’ll give him a call."

Haas called Carlisle the next day with the intention to find out if the city might be able to purchase the land, but the conversation led to Carlisle’s decision to donate the property to the city for a park.

The mayor said he and other city leaders want very much to honor the donor by naming the property Carlisle Park.
Now open in the Fort! 33 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

He listed out several ideas for uses in the park. Fort Thomas Matters will share more on the project as this story unfolds.

Get your calm on with a free class from Mint Yoga (sponsored)

Mint Yoga Studio to offer free class this Saturday

If you've always thought about trying yoga or trying a class, this is a great opportunity! 

Mint Yoga Studio, located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, is hosting a free community class this Saturday, October 23 at 1 p.m. 

If you have never heard of Mint Yoga, it is an awesome little studio nestled in the heart of Fort Thomas. It's a friendly space where students of all levels can come to discover and deepen their practice!

Already a member of Mint Yoga Studio? 

You can check out one of the following classes this weekend. Click here to sign up.

Click here to learn more about Mint Yoga's free community class!


"Raising Our Spirits": NKY Chamber Annual Dinner to Celebrate Region’s Leaders and Businesses

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Dinner on December 16 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center pictured above.

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The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) invites the region’s business community to raise a glass at its Annual Dinner, Presented by Fifth Third Bank on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. Postponed from the original September date due to COVID concerns, the NKY Chamber’s biggest business event of the year will celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and the business community in making our region a great place to live and work.

NKY Chamber President and CEO Brent Cooper says the event’s "Raising Our Spirits" theme aims to bring the region together to toast the achievements of the business community with a nod to Kentucky’s rich bourbon tradition.

"We all know that Kentucky is the birthplace for Bourbon and this year’s Annual Dinner will certainly pay homage to the Bluegrass State’s native spirit. We’re encouraging our vibrant community to finally raise a glass together and celebrate the accomplishments that our business and community leaders have achieved despite the challenges we’ve all experienced over the past 20 months," said Cooper. "We have an outstanding list of leaders and businesses who are making a profound difference in the Northern Kentucky community."

The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of awards to individuals and organizations making an impact on the region. The following awards will be presented:

The Walter R. Dunlevy/Frontiersman Award, sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare: This year’s recipient is Bob Hoffer, DBL Law. Established in 1968, the Walter R. Dunlevy Frontiersman Award recognizes an individual who has a lifelong history of outstanding service to the Northern Kentucky community, exhibits outstanding service to their profession or industry, and exemplifies the highest standards of personal integrity and family responsibility.

The Walter L. Pieschel (MVP) Award, sponsored by Humana: This year’s recipient is John Hawkins, Management Performance International dba MPI Consulting. Named in memory of the NKY Chamber's first volunteer leader, the award recognizes an individual Chamber member who has provided outstanding volunteer service to the NKY Chamber as a committee member, committee chair, or in any other special capacity during the past 12 months.

The Northern Kentucky Unity Award, sponsored by PNC Bank: This year’s recipient is the Northern Kentucky Health Department. Presented to an individual or organizations who have shown leadership in bringing Northern Kentuckians together to address and solve common challenges and issues and has shown leadership in seeking regional solutions to Northern Kentucky challenges.

The Northern Kentucky ImageMaker Award, sponsored by Duke Energy: This year’s recipient is Newport on the Levee. Presented on special occasions to an individual or organizations who have brought national or international attention to the Northern Kentucky community through their achievements. 

The Devou Cup, presented by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation: This year’s recipients are Edwin T. (Ted) and Marlene Robinson. The Northern Kentucky Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation created the Devou Cup to honor the generosity of individuals who make a profound difference in the quality of community life in Northern Kentucky, now and into the future.

The Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III Northern Kentucky Economic Development Award, presented by Northern Kentucky Tri-ED: This year’s recipient is Ralph Drees (awarded posthumously). The Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III Northern Kentucky Economic Development Award is presented annually to the individual, entity, company, or organization demonstrating significant advancement of economic development efforts in Northern Kentucky.

The Northern Kentucky Horizon Award, presented by Horizon Community Funds: This year’s recipient is Chuck Session, Duke Energy. The Horizon Award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of an individual who exemplifies dedication, integrity, and honorable service to Northern Kentucky through community leadership. Recipients are individuals who have devoted their time, talents, and expertise to serve the public good, and who have made significant, demonstrable, and direct contributions to our community's well-being.

In addition to the awards being presented, the evening also marks the recent transition in leadership for the NKY Chamber’s Board of Directors from Dan Cahill, CEO of HSD Metrics to St. Elizabeth Healthcare President and CEO Garren Colvin.

"I’m honored and incredibly excited to accept the gavel from Dan and lead this next chapter in the NKY Chamber’s history," Colvin said. "He is a remarkable leader, and we will look to build on all of the accomplishments he spearheaded during his tenure as Board Chair. The Annual Dinner is a great time to kickstart the future of the NKY Chamber by saluting the businesses and community leaders who make this region such a special place to live, work, play and study. These organizations and individuals will surely guide us as we move forward to unite the region, improve the economy, grow, attract and retain talent, and build an inclusive business community in Northern Kentucky."

The NKY Chamber Annual Dinner takes place from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 16, 2021, at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center (1 West RiverCenter Blvd.). The event will begin with a networking cocktail reception followed by dinner and awards program at 6:30 p.m.

Individual registrations are $100 and a table of 10 is $1,000 until December 9, 2021. Registration is available for the cocktail reception only, for $65 ($55 for NKYP Event Pass). Registration is available online at

Gateway Offers Free Spring Semester Tuition to New Students

Gateway Community & Technical College is offering a scholarship covering Spring 2022 Semester tuition for incoming students and those returning after at least a one-year absence.

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Gateway Community & Technical College is now offering FREE tuition to new students in the Spring 2022 semester that starts in January.

"We know that the ongoing pandemic has made a lot of people put their life and education goals on hold for many different reasons," said Fernando Figueroa, Gateway president. "This scholarship, where students can get their first semester on us, will remove the financial barrier that many new students face." 

Gateway is offering free tuition through a scholarship that is available to any first-time Gateway student or any previous Gateway student who has taken at least a year off.

Free Tuition Scholarship Criteria

  • Eligible recipients must be a first time Gateway/KCTCS student or have been gone for over a year.
  • Complete a 2021-2022 FAFSA application (they don't need to be eligible for aid).
  • If the recipient is a Kentucky resident, they must complete a Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Application (not required if pursuing an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree). Students do not need to enroll in a Work Ready eligible program to be eligible for this scholarship.
  • They must enroll as a credential-seeking student, taking courses toward earning a college credential. Only courses required in degree program are eligible for free tuition.
  • Apply for free tuition scholarship by Nov. 15, 2021.
  • Recipients must be enrolled in a minimum of six Gateway credit hours at the time award is made and have Gateway listed as home campus.
  • Recipients must be enrolled in classes by Nov. 29, 2021.

The deadline to apply for free tuition is Nov. 15, 2021.

This is a "last-dollar in" tuition-only scholarship, meaning after all other financial aid or third-party payments (excluding student loans) are applied, the scholarship will cover the remaining tuition balance. Funding is limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information about FREE tuition, scholarship criteria or to see what program is right for you, go to

Gateway Community & Technical College is Northern Kentucky’s only public, two-year comprehensive community and technical college. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees.

The Baker’s Table Bakery Welcomes Diners Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

Baker’s Table Bakery announces official opening offering guests accessible, to-go options morning through mid-day and rustic pizzas in the evening. From the owners of The Baker’s Table, recognized by as one of the ‘16 Best New Restaurants in America for 2019’ and named by USA Today as ‘#4 Best New Restaurants in America’, the bakery offers a casual approach to artisan baked goods and farm-to-table ingredients.

Learn more.

The bakery will showcase sourdough breads, pastries, and espresso for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and, in the evenings from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., rustic pizzas utilizing fresh, farm-to-table produce and sustainable, Italian wines. See the full menu below.

“We want people to come to the bakery and be inspired by the amount of passion and craft that has gone into each loaf of bread since we opened The Baker’s Table three years ago,” Chef David Willocks says. “We’re proud of what we’re doing here, and we’re ready for people to see how we do it.” 

The focal point of the bakery is a rustic shaping table where folks waiting for their morning coffee can watch as the loaves for that evening’s dinner service are shaped and baked in front of them. Additionally, the bakery offers indoor seating for up to 24.

The Baker’s Table Bakery is located at 1001 Monmouth St., across the street from The Baker’s Table, an intimate rustic American restaurant that blends farm-to-table principles, old-world techniques, and regional flavors.

All ingredients at both The Bakers Table and Baker’s Table Bakery are sourced from local purveyors guided by sustainable principles, menu items rotate depending on seasonality and availability ensuring that food items taste good, feel good and do good.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Highlands Girls Soccer Gives Valiant Effort in 9th Region Championship Loss

Bluebirds Have Made it to Four Straight Region Championship Games

Highlands senior midfielder Faith Broering earned the 9th Region Offensive Most Valuable Player of the year and a spot on the all-tournament team along with fellow seniors Jade Rehberger and Chloe Bramble.

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The final score does not reflect the intensity and effort the Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team (14-5-1 overall) played with Saturday in the 9th Region title game.

In a similar scenario in the championship game of the Lexington Catholic Lady Knights Cup Challenge Cup on Sept. 18, Highlands trailed the state championship favorite Notre Dame Pandas (24-0-1) just 1-0 at halftime. But the Pandas pulled away with three goals in the final 15 minutes, 56 seconds of the game for a 4-0 victory at Boone County.

"They just have so many weapons across the board," said Chris Norris, Highlands Head Coach. "They've got great size, great speed, great strength. They just run all over the place and their passes always go to feet. They're just a really, really strong team. I think they played really well. I thought we pressured them very, very well into making some mistakes. We just couldn't one past their defense into the goal. If you can't score then you open up too many spots on defense. It allows them to capitalize on mistakes."

Highlands lost both games to Notre Dame during the regular season by 3-0 scores. But the Pandas have outscored opponents, 105-3 on the season.

This marked the first time Highlands did not win the 9th Region since 2017. The Bluebirds finished state runner-up in 2018 and 2019 before losing 1-0 on kicks from the mark in the first round of the state tournament last year to eventual state runner-up Lexington Catholic.

The Bluebirds graduate 10 seniors from this team. Forward Chloe Bramble has seen varsity minutes starting her freshman year. Midfielder Faith Broering, defender Jade Rehberger and forward Macy Hedenberg saw varsity minutes since their sophomore years. Senior goalkeeper Meg Gessner split halves there last year. Defender Hailey Barton and goalkeeper Hailey Parks saw some action as juniors and stepped into bigger roles this year. Midfielders Julia Heck, Lucy New and forward Lindsay Thompson were new to the Highlands varsity this year. 

New and Thompson played soccer in middle school before returning this year. Bramble, Broering and Rehberger made the all-tournament team. Broering earned the region's Offensive Most Valuable Player honors.

"I can't express in words how proud I am of our senior class and all the teams we've had in the past couple of years," Rehberger said. "I think every year, we've shown progress from the beginning of the season until the end and that's what matters."

The seniors also helped Highlands to another 36th District Tournament championship. The Bluebirds have won six in a row.

"If you look at their growth, I can't wait to see them when they get to their college teams," Norris said. "They've just been absolutely fantastic leaders. They've been fantastic players. They improved all through the season. I hope they learned something this year about what it takes to get to the next step. It's rather unfortunate they didn't get that state trophy during their careers."

Notre Dame recorded 14 shots including 11 on goal to six shots with one on goal for Highlands. Senior goalkeeper Meg Gessner recorded six saves to keep Highlands in the game early before Parks took over late in the game. Senior Abby Breeze recorded one save.

Highlands recorded three offsides calls, nine fouls, one corner kick and one yellow card. Notre Dame had seven fouls, one offsides call and four corner kicks.

Sophomore Carlyn Tranter scored the only goal the Pandas needed to win the game with 26 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. The Pandas put the speedy senior Macie Feldman in the back to preserve the lead in the second half. Senior Marina Ruthsatz, junior Kennedy Clark and Feldman scored the goals in the final 15:56 of the game to let the Pandas pull away.

The Pandas graduate 14 seniors from this team. They own state championships in 2004, 2011 and 2013 under former Head Coach Sara McSorley, who attended the game Saturday.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Highlands-Covington Catholic Video Highlights


Highlands loses to Covington Catholic on last-second blocked field goal attempt

Colonels Block Field Goal in Last Minute to Preserve Win

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands junior quarterback Charlie Noon looks downfield in the game against Covington Catholic on Friday.

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The eight points the visitors put up in this game is the same amount of consecutive wins they have in this series.

The closest football game the Highlands Bluebirds and Covington Catholic Colonels have had in a while showed a few things. It showed the progress the Bluebirds (4-5 overall) have made this year. But as Highlands Head Coach Bob Sphire pointed out, it also showed Highlands was two points not good enough in the 8-7 Covington Catholic (5-3) win.


"That hurts. We're out there at the end of that game looking at that scoreboard,"
Sphire said. "That's a pretty burning, scorching visual in your brain that you're probably going to carry with you for the rest of your life. That's what happens when you compete your tail off for 48 minutes and you just have some things happen down the stretch. You have to do a better job. Everybody's got to do a better job. We tackled our tails off really for the first time all season and we flew to the football. We just have to figure out how to win those games now."

CovCath moved to 3-0 staying on top of the district and Highlands fell to 1-2 in district play. The teams could have a rematch in the playoffs.

Highlands drove down the field and lined up to boot the game-winning field goal from 30 yards out in the final minute of the game. But Highlands had issues setting it up. With time winding down, CovCath timed the snap and blocked junior Davis Burleigh's kick then ran out the clock to preserve the victory.

Senior defensive lineman Trevor Wilson blocked the kick for Covington Catholic. The Bluebirds had converted 1-of-2 field goal tries prior to that attempt. They've converted 29-of-30 point after touchdown kicks this year. Sphire said the team should have taken a delay-of-game penalty. But the Bluebirds did not have a timeout.

"We obviously knew (Burleigh) had a strong leg," said Eddie Eviston, CovCath Head Coach. "Our special teams coach talked about it the whole drive. We knew we probably had to get some pressure and try to make it. We were able to get in there and make a big block."

The Bluebirds executed well on the last drive to earn the chance to win the game led by junior quarterback Charlie Noon. Highlands put up 172 yards of total offense with 102 rushing and 70 passing on 47 plays for an average of between three and four yards per play. Noon completed 7-of-13 for that passing total and rushed for 82 yards on 24 carries for an average of between three and four yards per carry.

"In the first half, we missed some explosive plays just poor execution," said Hayden Sphire, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "We just came back to them at the start of the second half and executed them. This is hard. These kids absolutely fought their tails off. That was one of the most difficult and heartbreaking ways to lose a game. But games like this are kind of the building block to a championship program."

Highlands had 12 first downs. The Bluebirds converted on 2-of-11 for 18 percent on third down and 3-of-5 on fourth down for 60 percent.

Sophomore wide receiver Carson Class came up with a huge catch on a 4th-and-10 from the CovCath 35. Noon rolled to his right and found Class over the middle. Class had two catches on the drive for 30 yards.

The Colonels scored their lone touchdown with two minutes, 50 seconds left in the game. Senior quarterback Preston Agee set it up with a 33-yard run to the Highlands four. Sophomore running back Owen Leen scored on the short run to make it 7-6 Bluebirds.

"It wasn't any player," Bob Sphire said. "It was just one of those things. They're a good football team. We're a good football team. It was a classic battle. We just flinched at the wrong time."

But another big play occurred on the point-after kick. Highlands drew a tight offsides penalty and CovCath decided to go for two. The Colonels lined up in an unbalanced set giving the ball to senior running back Brayden Collins going right. Highlands junior defensive back Adam Dunn met him near the goal line, but could not stop Collins from scoring the conversion run.

"We were moving the ball pretty well. We'd made two plays (but) couldn't get the third play," Eviston said. "It was hard to move the chains, keep the series going all night long. We needed a couple big plays. When you get the ball half the distance, obviously you have to think about it. I trust our offense. I trust our guys up front. That's what we decided to do. It worked out for us."

Highlands took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove all the way to the CovCath two holding the ball for nearly nine minutes. The Colonels held on four tries to punch the ball in the end zone even though Noon appeared to score on second down.

The Colonels moved the ball to their 20. But a bad snap led to Highlands senior defensive lineman Henry King recovering the ball in the end zone for the touchdown with 1:12 left in the third quarter. That is the second touchdown for King in two weeks.

Covington Catholic put up 132 yards of total offense with 116 rushing on 45 plays for an average of between two to three yards per play. The Colonels converted 2-of-9 on third down for 22 percent and 2-of-5 on fourth down for 40 percent.

The leading rusher in senior running back Reid Hummel had 86 yards on 13 carries for an average of between six and seven per carry. Agee had 15 carries for 75 yards for an average of five per touch.

Highlands did win the turnover battle. Senior linebacker Eli LaFrange recorded his second interception of the season near midfield in the first quarter. The Bluebirds drove to the CovCath 36, but could not convert on a 4th-and-four.

"Offensively, I thought we could have done things a lot better," Hayden Sphire said. "In the second half, we really controlled the clock and shortened the game. The defense played its absolute tail off. But we have to do more. (The defenders) did about everything they could. CovCath made two big plays there that kind of changed the game. (CovCath) is top tier program. We're still building. That's part of the process."

Friday, October 15, 2021

Fort Thomas City Council to Discuss Future of Former BB&T Bank Property, additional parking

Plans for the former BB & T Bank building at 25 North Fort Thomas Ave., is expected to be a topic of discussion at the upcoming city council meeting.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

The City of Fort Thomas is set to discuss two major developments in their Central Business District at the next council meeting on Monday, October 18.

In July 2019, as part of the preparations for the One Highland project, the city of Fort Thomas entered into an agreement with the developers that outlined the parameters of the project, as well as financing details, commitments and responsibilities for all parties.

Included on the agenda for the next council meeting is an item from the list of responsibilities falling to the city. In the initial agreement, the developers were given until October 2020 to secure a tenant for their proposed commercial building that would replace the old BB&T bank building at 25 North Fort Thomas Avenue.

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If the developer was unable to do that, and the city subsequently notified the developer that the requirement had not been satisfied, the city agreed it would have the "right and obligation" to purchase the site of the commercial building from the developer for $825,000. It followed from there that the city would attempt to find a suitable tenant.
The initial deadline passed, but it was extended another year in consideration of the previously unforeseen affects on the business community by the Covid-19 pandemic. The final deadline, therefore, became October, 15, 2021 — today. 
Developer Rick Greiwe outlined the difficulty faced with trying to find a restaurant for the building as outlined in the initial plans.

"The intent was to find someone who would tear down the old BB&T building and build a brand new building that would have a restaurant in it. We have had a commercial broker go out and try to find anybody with the means to do that, but we were unsuccessful. The only people who wanted to build a new building there were banks. We did have several banks who would be happy to buy the property...but the city did not want another bank," Greiwe explained.

He said they pressed to find a bank that would consider having a restaurant on the first floor, but there were no takers. The search for a suitable restaurant was a problem, he said, because chain restaurants were not interested in such a small market, and the local independent restaurants who might have been interested in the spot did not have the means to retrofit the bank building to serve their needs let alone do a complete tear down and rebuild.

"There are plenty of restaurants who would like to come to Fort Thomas, but they would need a developer to partner with who would build out the building," he said.
The retail and hospitality industries have been hit hard during the pandemic, and in this climate, it has been very difficult for these entities to secure loans for the money needed to take on such an ambitious project without some help, he said.

The city must now step in

As of the October council meeting, scheduled for Monday, October 18, the ball is in the city’s court. City Administrator Ron Dill agreed that the city must act on the matter and said there would be discussion at the upcoming meeting on the plan for the property. 

Questions that could arise are whether or not the plan for a sit-down restaurant could be achieved, and, if so, would the city need to incentivize a restaurant owner or group to facilitate the purchase of the property? If a restaurant could not be found or if too much of an incentive was required to make it happen, could a developer be found willing to partner with a restaurant? Or, would selling instead to a bank or other similar entity, be an alternative option?
Also on the agenda for the council meeting is a consideration of a purchase agreement for parking behind the Hiland Building at 18 North Fort Thomas, which would provide additional public parking to serve the Central Business District. Although the city has been studying the parking issue in the CBD, this is the first discussion of purchasing additional parking for that purpose. In the development agreement for One Highland, the city agreed to spend $1.6 million to purchase public parking for that project on the One Highland site, but now is considering additional parking for the area.
With the One Highland Project well underway and the Comprehensive Plan complete, focus is again on the Central Business District (CBD). The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission is starting its work on examining and revising the zoning ordinance to support the vision outlined in the plan. The Central Business District will be one of the first topics of discussion as the commission looks to update zoning in the entire city. 

RELATED: Fort Thomas Planning Will Discuss Update of City Zoning Ordinance

City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 18, in the Mess Hall in Tower Park (801 Cochran Avenue). The upcoming Planning and Zoning Commission meeting will be Wednesday, October 20, starting at 6:30 p.m., also in the Mess Hall.