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Friday, September 24, 2021

Presentation Outlines Concepts, Ideas for Fort Thomas Parks

A screen grab from the recreation presentation shows a proposed bike/skate park in Tower Park. With input from nearby residents, planners may revisit ideas for the location.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

On September 15, Chris Manning of Human Nature and City Administrator Ron Dill shared a presentation outlining concepts and ideas for Fort Thomas parks and amenities with the city’s Recreation Committee and the general public. This committee has met several times over the last three years to refine the proposed amenities. 

Generated by the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the presentation featured updates on projects underway as well as concepts for projects slated for the near future. Among the projects in the concept stage were two that have garnered the most interest from city residents – the proposed skate/bike park and the splash park (aka spray park).

Between 65 and 70 residents attended the meeting, many with interests in these two projects. Over the summer, the city shared ideas for the projects at Fort Thomas Farmer’s Market and at city events with the invitation to residents to weigh-in with comments.

The meeting also drew high interest from city council. Council member Jeff Bezold is chair of the Recreation Committee that also includes council members Lisa Kelly and Adam Blau, yet all the council members attended the meeting.

Location, location, location

A preliminary plan for the splash park put it in Highland Hills Park. Also noted is a grand staircase to the disc golf area, improved practice fields and new trail connections.

Overall, said Dill, the meeting went very well. Most people were generally in favor of the two projects, both of which came from discussions generated around the Comprehensive Plan. Yet half of those present expressed concerns about the location.

Residents on Sergeant Avenue and the surrounding streets near the side of Tower Park where the skate/bike park was proposed had concerns about traffic and safety. They said the area is already under pressure, and there is congestion whenever the soccer field is in use.

For the presentation, locations for a bike/skate park and the splash park were those that put them near associated activities. For the bike/skate park, that was in Tower Park as that is where there are popular bike trails. For the splash park, Highland Hills was chosen because of the proximity of the swim club.

Neither location was cut in stone, said Dill, but they selected based on what seemed to make the most sense based on preliminary research and the input received over the summer.

"What came out of the meeting was to look at other options for locations," said Bezold. "We decided to go back to the literal drawing board and look for other options that might offer a better solution. I'm not saying they won’t be there [where they are proposed] but we're looking at other options as well."


Taking another look

Blau said he had concerns about the locations going into the meeting. He shared some of his ideas at the meeting and then later followed up with a letter to council members, Manning and Dill. Basically, he said, he would like the city to consider switching the proposed locations for the two amenities.

"The plan I would like to see looked at is moving the skate/bike park to the bottom of the hill at Highland Park, and the splash pad would be moved to the main area of Tower Park. I would like to still see the two additional practice fields go behind the skate park at Highland Park along with fixing up the two we have on Sergeant," he said.

Making improvements to the soccer fields and moving the bike/skate park to a more central location in Highland Hills Park could alleviate some of the residents’ concerns, he said. Tower Park already has access to water, drainage, restrooms and a shelter in place so that would be cost effective for the splash park, he added. He also said he’d like to see a scaled down version of the splash park similar to what is in place in Cincinnati’s Washington Park downtown.

He said he felt the city is listening and will take his and all the other ideas shared at the meeting into consideration as they explore the options further. "This is actually a great part of the developmental stage because this is when the people come to you. When you’re digging, you may hit a big rock. How do you get around this rock?"

Now is the time to work together to find a way around, he said. "We have to work through those concerns to make sure we make the best choices for these particular projects. So we haven’t unearthed everything yet. People had some extremely valid concerns on this project but overall, it was extremely well-received."

"We not only came out of the meeting wanting to look at other options, but also we got a better understanding," said Bezold. "We are now more aware of that area, especially the entrance to that area. Even if we don’t put [the project] there, we now have the door open to spruce up that area."

Enthusiasm for other projects

New pickle ball courts in Tower Park near the tennis courts is a welcome plan for enthusiasts and fans of the activity.

One project outlined in the presentation is already underway. New playground equipment is being installed in Tower Park near the softball field and Shelter Three. Parking lot paving is also happening there.

Several people attended the meeting to express support for more pickle ball courts around the city. Two pickle ball courts will be added adjacent to the tennis courts, said Dill. That project should be underway soon, as well as some planned adjustments and redesign to the city’s disc golf course.

Improvements were outlined in the plan for the small Riverside Triangle Park at the intersection of Riverside Parkway and Sunset Avenue. A new basketball court will be added, as well as new pavers, benches, a drinking fountain, lighting and landscaping elements.

Another important and long-term project discussed was the Route 8 corridor (Kentucky Route 6335/Mary Ingles Highway). A large portion of the road has been shut off due to damage from mud slides. Residents on the road have expressed frustration in recent months with the pace of the project, but the presentation noted that much behind-the-scenes work has been underway. The city received a $50,000 grant to support evaluation and cost estimating to determine the best way forward.

Plans for Riverside Park include a basketball court, landscaping, lighting, benches, a water fountain, pavers and more.

Looking ahead

The city will revisit ideas for locations for the skate/bike park and the splash park in the coming weeks. The hope is to have the planning completed over the winter to be able to hit the ground running in the warmer months. The Recreation Committee will work with city staff and Manning to do more research. They will bring revisions and new ideas back in upcoming meetings.


Public input has been and will be an important part of the process, said Blau. "These are truly just the beginning stages of this project, and we have these meetings to ensure that we have looked at these projects through the eyes of community that it will affect."

Dill said, "We were very pleased with the participation from our residents, and I think our committee of council and planning team like having that type of input. It’s an important part of that process. It helps guide us to a better project."

Highlands Travels to Dixie Heights for Final District Tune-Up

Bluebirds, Red Colonels Meet for First Time Since 2018

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands senior Oliver Harris (14) and sophomore Christian Stojkovic (51) come onto the field before the game Friday against Ryle.

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There is nothing more that the Highlands Bluebirds football team (3-2 overall) would like than to right the ship in the final non-district game of the season.

But the opponent will present its own unique set of challenges coming off the bye week. The Dixie Heights Colonels (2-2) came into the season with high expectations after driving to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs last year for the first time since their state runner-up finish in 2014 in 6A.

The red Colonels have won the two games they scored 42 points in against Lloyd Memorial (42-0) to open the season and Conner (42-26). But they've scored a combined 18 points in the losses to Cooper (19-10) and Covington Catholic (24-8). 

"We have not put a good game together all year," said Dave Brossart, Dixie Heights Head Coach. "We clicked offensively in the pre-season and in our two wins. In our two losses, we moved the ball effectively, but made too many mental mistakes in costly turnovers and penalties at the wrong time. We had chances to take the lead early against CovCath and Cooper and did not take advantage of these early opportunities. Defensively, we played our best game at CovCath last week. The game was only 10-0 in the fourth quarter and we gave them 10 points on a broken play and a fumble. Hopefully, we can put things together this weekend."

A late kickoff return for a score against CovCath prevented the shutout. The red Colonels had 148 yards against CovCath and yielded 237. 

The Colonels have outscored opponents, 102-69 for an average of just more than 25 points to just more than 17 points per game. But Highlands Head Coach Bob Sphire praised Dixie Heights, which has two games left before starting Class 6A, District 6 action.

"You can see the talent level that (the Colonels) have," Sphire said. "Similar to Ryle, they're a lot bigger than us. I don't know how good a job they do in the weight room. But they look really strong on video. They're a good 6A, physical football team that's going to be coached up. When they figure it out, they're going to be really, really tough."

Highlands has lost two in a row after starting the season 3-0. The Bluebirds had chances in both games in the fourth quarter in losses at Cincinnati McNicholas (27-21) and at home against Ryle (27-13). But they could not come through in the clutch. The Bluebirds have outscored opponents, 150-117 for averages of an even 30 to 23.4 points per game.

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The Highlands Spread offense has put up 699 yards rushing and 1,112 yards passing already passing last year's total of 1,032 yards for averages of just under 140 rushing and just more than 222 passing. The Bluebirds are still searching for consistency in the running game outside junior quarterback Charlie Noon with a rotation of players. Highlands Offensive Coordinator Hayden Sphire said junior Noah Hodge, sophomore Ty Boler and freshman Deven James could join that rotation this week.

No one has more than 77 yards rushing on the season outside of Noon. Noon has 395 yards rushing on 60 carries and two touchdowns for an average of between six and seven yards per carry. Noon has also completed 57-of-94 passes for 870 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions this year.

The top wide receiver in senior Jake Welch could be out again Friday. That means wide receivers such as seniors Clayton Lloyd, Oliver Harris and the likes of juniors Jack Hendrix and Ryan DeBurger could be called upon more. Sophomores Davis Hinegardner and Carson Class have had big catches this year. But the Bluebirds mainly need Class on defense.

"Everybody that's kind of been waiting for their opportunity, it's starting to present itself," Hayden Sphire said. "For them to get on the field, they have to go out there and make plays. We'll see who steps up to the plate and who wants to play big-time football."

Sophomore wide receiver Mateo Matteoli had three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown against Ryle. The coaching staff would not mind more games like that from Matteoli. Ryle tried to take away the big plays from the Highlands offense. The Bluebirds still made some. But they could not go on long and sustained drives against the Raiders.

"We just need to get all of them mentally focused and we'll be alright," Matteoli said. "We were down a little bit so I thought in my brain, it was time to step up. I was trying to show out. It wasn't for myself. I was trying to do everything for the team and be there for my coaches."

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The Highlands 3-4 defense has allowed 811 yards rushing and 891 passing for averages of 162 yards rushing and just more than 178 passing. The Bluebirds have won every game where they've recorded a takeaway. They've had none in the last two games.

Junior defensive back Adam Dunn continues to lead Highlands with 26 tackles. Senior defensive back Isaac Surrey and junior linebacker Sam Robinson have 21 each. Robinson also leads Highlands with two interceptions.

The Bluebirds face a Dixie Heights offense that runs the zone read, spread and runs downhill similar to McNicholas. That includes a tight end with two running backs in the backfield behind senior quarterback Logan Landers. The Colonels have put up 1,257 yards of total offense for an average of just more than 314 per game.

Bob Sphire said Dixie Heights runs a combination of option, power and spread passing game football along with the play-action pass. The Colonels spend most of the time in the pistol set with one, two or even three backs and employ lots of motion and shifts. Highlands has not faced an option team this year.

"It's a real challenge to get lined up, make the right strength calls," Bob Sphire said. "You get your defense set and comfortable. Then you have to know your option assignments whether you have quarterback, dive or pitch. They have some stuff that's a problem. You have to be really disciplined."

Senior Pierce Rohlman is one of the main running backs for Dixie Heights. The Bluebirds hope to overcome that with athleticism up front like they have in the past with senior defensive linemen such as Ivan Roller, Henry King and junior TreVaughn Woods.

"You have to give them three or four different ways in which they can attack the offensive line. You don't expect a group like we have to just be able to sit back, play read defense and just be in a constant one-on-one battle just across from him," Bob Sphire said. "You have to be able to punch that guy in the mouth sometimes. You have to be able to take his punches. But you also have to be able to slant inside, slant outside. You have to have some twist stunts and some things that you can do to the offensive line because if you let our guys just constantly be a steady target, their offensive line size-wise is a mismatch. Our guys are athletic, can move and they have quickness and speed so it's up to me as the defensive coordinator to move those guys around and give them calls that allow them not to be an easy target."

Bob Sphire mentioned Dixie Heights opened two games throwing vertical routes as deep as possible. That means the Highlands defensive backs such as Dunn, Boler, Class and junior Aiden Nevels have to be on their toes. Dixie Heights has two speedy wide receivers in seniors Kel Hawkins and Devin Holbert. Brossart said teams have been more prepared for Hawkins and Holbert this year.

"The timing is really hard. Coach (Bob Sphire) always says to play the man," Boler said. "When you hear the ball is in the air, you just have to be ready to swat it down. We're really focused on (reading our keys) this week."

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The Dixie Heights defense has allowed 1,032 yards this year for an average of an even 258 yards this year. The Colonels use a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. Hawkins and Holbert also play on defense.

"I think Ryle was really fast," Hayden Sphire said. "Dixie might be a bit more physical. But they have some athletes. There's no doubt about it."

Brossart said the biggest challenge against Highlands is the name on the visiting team's jerseys. The Bluebirds own 23 state championships in school history. But they have gone 41-36 since winning the last one in 2014.

"Our kids need to believe they can win," Brossart said. "If they don't, they will get beat before they step on the field. Honestly, I am more worried about Dixie Heights than my opponent as of today. We need to keep (Noon) in check and not let him have a big game. I believe in our kids and in the end, if we can eliminate mental mistakes, we can compete against anyone."

Highlands is 66-9 overall against Dixie Heights. The Bluebirds won three of the four meetings when they faced off in the same Class 5A district between 2015 and 2018.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Fischer Design Center Hosts Enzweiler Students to Learn About Careers in Construction

Kristie L. Patterson, Market Lifestyle Design Center Manage.

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The Enzweiler Building Institutes curriculum ensures that every student in the program is exposed to the many different careers in construction. The institute is fortunate to have relationships formed with many local businesses in the construction trades to provide resources and educational tours. One such partner is Fischer Homes, who welcomed students of the Enzweiler Building Institute to visit their design center located in Erlanger on Thursday, September 16th. 

Meet Ethan and the team.

Fischer Homes Design Center Manager Kristie Patterson said, “We are thrilled to have opened our doors to our future trade partners. It's exciting for us to show the possibilities that we do here at Fischer Homes and show the students how important our trade partners are to us. 

We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the Enzweiler Building Institute.”
 Students from the Boone County School District. 

During this visit, Fischer Homes design consultants shared the process of how they work with their clients on making selections for their future home. The students learned about sales, design selections, estimating, architecture, permitting, and construction roles. The students also had the opportunity to assist in making the exterior color selections for two of the builder’s upcoming inventory homes in their Reserves of Parkside community in Alexandria, Kentucky. Gary Harmon, a junior from Randall K. Cooper High School enjoyed the experience. “I was amazed by how many choices people have to make when they build a house. I really liked seeing the CAD drawing and blueprint process.”

Vicki Berling, Director of Professional Development at the Enzweiler Building Institute facilitated the visit. “We are so fortunate to have partners like Fischer Homes who help us expose our students to all aspects of the building industry. Kristie and her team did a great job walking us through the design process for new home builders.”

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra Lights the Fuse on its 30th Anniversary Season

The Newport Car Barn will host the May 21 KSO show. 

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The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra will kick off its 30th anniversary next month with the first of five concerts in four cities.

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Click here.

The KSO will launch its 2021-22 season Oct. 16 at St. Henry High School in Erlanger as it returns to auditoriums, a cathedral and a former street trolley depot spanning four cities (Erlanger, Cincinnati, Highland Heights and Newport) in three counties (Boone, Hamilton and Campbell).

Like last season, concerts will be offered in-person and via livestream. The KSO will adopt the safety protocols of each respective venue. 

The schedule:

- "The New Bs," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16, Drees Auditorium (St. Henry High School). This all-orchestral program features not the Three Bs (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) but the New Bs (Peter Boyer, Mason Bates and Béla Bartók).

- "Psalms Sung Blue," 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, (Cincinnati). King David’s Psalms from the Bible have long inspired composers over the centuries. Devout Catholic Anton Bruckner closes the program with his uplifting psalm of praise, power and glory. 

- "A Parting Opus," 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, 2022, Greaves Concert Hall, (Northern Kentucky University). The KSO returns to the venue of its very first concert in 1992 for Gustav Mahler’s final complete composition. The KSO has offered commissions to U.S. poet laureates to write poetry inspired by Mahler’s 9th Symphony. These original poems will be juxtaposed with the KSO’s performance of Mahler’s parting opus. 

- "The Greatest Showmen" 7:30 p.m. March 5, Drees Auditorium. The KSO will screen British actor-composer Charlie Chaplin's 1928 film "The Circus" as it performs Chaplin’s own 1967 revised score (restored for live performance by Timothy Brock). Following an intermission, the KSO turns to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of P.T. Barnum in the 2017 film "The Greatest Showman."

- "Studio 54 Revisited, 7:30 p.m. May 21, Newport Car Barn (Newport). Last year, when the KSO was searching for a venue for its season finale, it stumbled upon the Newport Car Barn, a depot built in the 1890s for electric trolley cars. Studio 54 was the exclusive club in New York City that became synonymous with disco, celebrities and other associations. The KSO performs the charts of Abba, Barry White, the Village People, Vicki Sue Robinson, Kool & the Gang and more with its studio orchestra and vocalists amidst mirrored balls, lights and nostalgia.

Tickets are $35 per concert, $150 for all five. For those who prefer to stay home, the KSO continues live streaming each concert (with multiple cameras).

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

NKY Partners Welcome Afghanistan Evacuees to the Region

The KRM office will be located in the Center for Great Neighborhoods. 

Welcoming Week ended Sunday, but Northern Kentucky organizations continue to prioritize making the region a welcoming and inclusive place by supporting neighbors of all backgrounds.
Afghan evacuees will be joining the NKY community in the coming weeks, and a coalition of Northern Kentucky partners will welcome the displaced refugees to the region as part of the Afghan Evacuee Welcoming Plan for NKY.  
The Northern Kentucky of Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber), RefugeeConnect, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) and Horizon Community Funds of NKY are partnering in a community effort to provide resources and connections to the Afghan evacuees to ensure NKY provides a welcoming home for those who have been relocated.
Want a Clean House?

Additional community partners have been closely engaged in these efforts, including St. Elizabeth Healthcare, The Immigrant and Refugee Law Center, NKY Health Department, Kenton County Library, the Northern KY Justice and Peace Committee, Learning Grove, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, the NKY Area Center of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University, Cincinnati Compass and Welcome House of Northern Kentucky. 
Kentucky Refugee Ministries is reopening its Covington Office, while Horizon Community Funds has started the NKY Afghan Evacuees Community Fund to support and enable Afghans to thrive in Northern Kentucky as they are relocated.
The KRM office will be located in the Center for Great Neighborhoods (321 Martin Luther King Blvd., Covington, KY 41011). Three full-time jobs are available at the location, including Resettlement Director, Case Manager and Community Resources Coordinator.
The office is scheduled to open on Nov. 15, but a community-based welcome of recently arrived Afghan evacuees may take place prior to that date in coordination with the Northern Kentucky partner coalition. Those interested in learning more about the open positions or applying for the jobs can visit
1013 S. Fort Thomas Ave. 

“In recent years, Northern Kentucky has experienced dynamic growth—economic and otherwise,” said John Koehlinger, Executive Director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries. “I am heartened that the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, together with a wide range of prominent stakeholders in the development of Northern Kentucky, are partnering with KRM to welcome refugees and immigrants to the area. As shown by the crisis in Afghanistan, there is an urgent humanitarian need for this effort. But as we have seen throughout KRM’s 31-year history—and the history of the U.S. refugee program—persecuted people from all over the world embrace and contribute to those communities that offer them freedom, safety and opportunity. At KRM, we look forward to working together with all partners in Northern Kentucky to provide humanitarian support to refugees—and to build a prosperous, inclusive community for everyone.”
KRM services include helping refugees and immigrants access housing, medical care and eligible public benefits as well as employment and legal services.   
The Horizon Community Funds’ NKY Afghan Evacuees Community Fund will support nonprofits and charitable organizations who are directly involved with supporting the Afghan relocation efforts. Northern Kentucky residents and organizations interested in supporting the fund can learn more and donate here. 
“Horizon Community Funds is proud to partner with the Northern Kentucky Chamber, Kentucky Refugee Ministries and RefugeeConnect to aid the Afghan evacuees who have been displaced from their communities and homes,” said Nancy Grayson, President of Horizon Community Funds. “Donations from our community are critical to assisting these families and individuals during this humanitarian crisis.  Our nonprofit partners have joined together to ensure that our pooled resources are used effectively and efficiently to help those in need.”
RefugeeConnect will coordinate the welcoming efforts in the region. RefugeeConnect’s mission is to connect refugees (people forced to flee their country to escape persecution or war) with resources to rebuild their lives as United States citizens. The Junior League of Cincinnati launched RefugeeConnect in 2013 after a routine community needs assessment determined that connecting refugees to existing resources was a pressing need for women and children in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The organization became an independent nonprofit in 2018.
“As an organization, RefugeeConnect prides itself on helping create a more welcoming community for all,” said Kristin Burgoyne, Executive Director of RefugeeConnect. “Since our inception, we have facilitated collaborative leadership opportunities through our Refugee Empowerment Initiative. Our goal is to convene stakeholders, nonprofits, cultural leaders, and providers across the NKY region to embrace and welcome this new population of refugees as they resettle and rebuild their lives, while also strengthening culturally responsive trauma-informed services that will support the long-term goals of our newest neighbors. We are proud to be partnering with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, the NKY Chamber of Commerce, and all the organizations and providers who have stepped up to support this humanitarian effort to relocate Afghan evacuees. It will truly take a community-wide effort and we are seeing how compassionate and generous NKY is through this welcoming taskforce,”
The NKY Welcoming Plan, launched in March 2020 by GROW NKY and multiple partners, provided the foundation for these community efforts and made it possible to rally partners to assist with the Afghan Evacuee Welcoming Plan for NKY and help reopen the Covington KRM office.
GROW NKY is a strategic workforce collective comprised of leaders across NKY organizations working collaboratively to leverage the region’s assets to grow, attract and retain a globally competitive workforce. The NKY Chamber serves as the backbone organization leading the GROW NKY collective.
The NKY Chamber’s strategic imperatives include “building an inclusive business community” and “growing, attracting and retaining world class talent.”
Helping spearhead the Afghan Evacuee Welcoming Plan for NKY is a way for the NKY Chamber to continue to meet these imperatives and lift up people, businesses and neighbors of all backgrounds. 
“Northern Kentucky is truly a welcoming and diverse community where businesses, organizations and people from all backgrounds can thrive,” said Leisa Mulcahy, Managing Director of GROW NKY and Vice President of Workforce at the NKY Chamber. “Our partners joining together to welcome the Afghan evacuees is proof that the work of GROW NKY to unite like-minded organizations and create the NKY Welcoming Plan is paying off and will pay dividends in the future.”  
Additionally, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the premier healthcare provider in Northern Kentucky and largest private employer in the region, is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to evacuees, including mental health services.
“These individuals have experienced a great deal of trauma in having to evacuate their home country,” said Alieu Nyassi, Asst. Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “St. Elizabeth Healthcare wants to make sure we are providing mental health services, as well as comprehensive care, to these individuals to treat the whole patient. We stand ready to lend a hand to these evacuees as soon as they join our community. It is also important to note that these Afghans sacrificed and risked their lives for our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters over the past 20 years. It is our time to show that we care about their well-being, too.”

74 urban-style homes to replace Shady Terrace mobile home community in Bellevue

Reserve at Bellevue will be located at 724 Covert Run Pike in Bellevue. 

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Neyer Properties Inc. has broken ground on a residential development in Bellevue where Shady Terrace mobile home park on Covert Run Pike formerly sat.

Reserve at Bellevue is a single-family home development featuring 74 urban-style home lots on 16 acres and represented a total investment of $35 million. 

The land was previously purchased this year for $565,000.

According to a release, amenities will include a 1-mile walking trail, gathering spaces with fire pits and grill areas, a reflecting pond and pedestrian bridges. Neyer Properties will be preserving six of the 16 acres of the site for a wooded amenity area. The walking trail will go through of portion of the wooded amenity area.

Neyer Properties worked with the city of Bellevue to create the vision for the site. The city also provided industrial revenue bonds to help pay for a portion of the infrastructure costs.

“It was a public, private partnership that brought this project to fruition,” Dobrozsi said.

“The Reserves development will be transitional for the city of Bellevue,” said mayor, Charlie Cleves. “We have taken a battered mobile home park to a higher and better use.”

Neyer Properties expects Reserve at Bellevue’s first homes, which will be at least six model homes, will be ready in summer 2022.

Nevels Fitness to Open State-of-the-Art Performance Training Facility in Newport

Jordan and Kris Nevels are set to open their new high performance sports gym on Monmouth Street in Newport in November.

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by Robin Gee

A new high-end sports performance training facility is set to open this November in Newport. Located on Monmouth Street across from Dixie Chili, it offers two floors designed to provide high level training for athletes and teams from middle school through professional level.

Schedule a tour here:

Owner Jordan Nevels described the philosophy behind the new venture. "We are a sports performance science training facility. A modern game requires a modern approach. Above all, it requires, speedier, healthier and better-conditioned athletes. 'What worked before' is an apathetic, insufficient justification for retaining a decades-old strength and conditioning model. We live in an information age driven by data and strategic application of that data. Pair that with old-school toughness, grit and hard work and you get Nevels Fitness."

A surprising twist

Having such a high-level sports training center right in Northern Kentucky could come as a surprise, yet there is another intriguing and unique aspect to the facility — It is also designed to "transform" for use as a group workout space accessible to anyone looking to get in shape, Nevels said.

For the past five years, his company has provided onsite wellness programs for employees, and Nevels has kept these clients in mind when designing the new facility.

"My plan for the gym originally was just to focus on the training of athletes, sports performance training," he said. Yet, the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to combine his two passions — sports training for athletes and promoting wellness throughout the community, he said.

"I thought, why give up one and just focus on the other? Why not do both? So, I came up with the idea to outfit the gym so that I can break it down and transform it from one of the best performance training studios in the world to a gym that is set up for the general public to come in and do a group training class through the Nevels Fitness program."

A Highlands Star Comes Home

The Nevels name should be very familiar to anyone who follows sports at Highlands High School. Jordan is the strength and conditioning trainer for the school’s basketball program, and his brother, Kris Nevels, who is a co-owner in the new facility, is a Highlands varsity football coach.

Jordan Nevels is a graduate of Highlands. A star player in his high school career, he was the first defensive back in the school’s history to be Team All State two years in a row. After Highlands, he went on with a Division One scholarship to play for the University of Kentucky. He was about to be drafted into the pros, he said, but a nagging hamstring injury from high school sidelined his plans. After college, he turned his skills and interests into a training career both in high school athletics and in providing corporate health and fitness programming through Nevels Fitness.

His company provides wrap-around services to support health and fitness in business settings.

"We actually go into businesses and do all personal training on site. We basically bring everything possible into the workspace to make getting healthy a convenience option. So we bring personal trainers onsite. We train and work out employees during the workday. We bring healthy meal preps and deliver right to them at work. We bring in massage therapists, chiropractors, you name it. Basically, we provide a one-stop shop in the workspace."

Top of the line for sports performance

The new training facility is a culmination of a dream to provide sports training to area athletes, especially young athletes, Nevels said. After all, "my passion and background is in sports."

He and Kris teamed up with developer Todd Hosea of Champions Elite, who purchased the former furniture store with a goal to turning it into a sports facility.

Set to open later this fall, the space offers two floors — 9,000 square feet each — designed to provide high-level sport performance training. The top floor is designed for speed with 40 yards of real field turf, as well as high-end equipment such as Kaiser air pressure machines and the Shred Mill, an expensive and somewhat rare speed training machine popular with NFL players. The bottom floor, said Nevels, is designed to provide a nitty gritty old-school-gym workout.

"It’s like two different worlds, but co-existing so perfectly...The upstairs is modern, it’s flashy, it’s fast. It’s everything you could imagine. Downstairs is rugged, it’s raw...So we’re able to deliver almost two different experiences but give the athlete the best of both worlds all in one gym, all in one workout simply by walking upstairs and downstairs." 

Partners in the Nevels Fitness include Todd Hosea with his wife Christie Hosea (on the mezzanine) and brothers Kris Nevels (l) and Jordan Nevels (r).

Upstairs, downstairs and in between

The upstairs turf is infilled with organic sand and provides athletes with the most realistic indoor training possible, Nevels said. "It is the playing surface that most athletes play on so they can actually mimic the surface they will be using throughout the week that they will be playing on Friday nights, Saturday nights or Sundays in the NFL. So that’s important because it’s not the traditional carpet type of turf that you see in most facilities. This is actually the real deal turf that they will play on at a prime time field."

Nevels calls the downstairs training level "strength fit." "That is where all of the grit and grind gets done," he said. "It’s where the muscles are built, it’s where all the hard, hard work gets done and where our heavy machinery is. So that’s our leg presses, our hatch squats, all of our machines that are hard core heavy that are going to build that dense muscle our athletes are looking for. It’s got that really cool vibe. If you can picture a Rocky Balboa old school gym, that’s what downstairs is like."

In addition to Nevels brothers, five trainers, trained directly by Nevels, will be on hand at the facility. He will also hire a few employees to staff a smoothie bar to be located on the gym’s mezzanine level.

"You can actually sit up there and watch the athletes training, the group training going on and grab a protein smoothie, grab a protein cookie, kick back, relax, enjoy it. We wanted to have everything in house. So, as soon as you finish your workout, you can walk up there and grab a protein smoothie afterwards and get that recovery process started."

In addition to the smoothie shop, Nevels will have a retail area were customers can find gym merchandise including a line of supplements he has designed with pre-workout, recovery and endurance formulas.

"We will have absolutely everything possible that is underneath the sun when it comes to sports performance training...It will really truly be the place that I believe all athletes will want to come to. For every single level, whether it’s middle school, high school, collegiate or professional, there is something that can greatly benefit them, and I think it will be a truly one of a kind type of a gym, and it’ll be right here in Newport," he said.
Now open in the Fort! 33 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

Providing opportunities

Nevels said he will have special pricing for teams, and he does not want finances to be a barrier to any student athlete. "I also have another brother who is the head coach at Holmes High School in Covington, so he’ll be sending a lot of his team...Teams like his might not be blessed financially with means to afford something like this kind of training," he said. He said he will find ways to be able to provide the training for a reduced rate or free if needed.

"That’s something I’m really passionate about. We never want a kid to miss an opportunity that could be life changing just because of finances. That’s not what this is about. It’s about giving kids the tools and the opportunity to go to college and maybe to go play professionally," he said.

"The overall goal is to improve athletic performance. Give these kids the tools they will need to take their career to the next level, college, professional and truly change their lives and change the life of their families as well. That’s the goal with any athlete that walks through the door — to make you better, not just a better athlete, but a better person. And that’s what the whole community of Nevels Fitness is all about."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Heaven Sent Care:You deserve exceptional care for your loved one (Sponsored)

When you need exceptional care for a loved one, you can depend on Heaven Sent Care

The team at Heaven Sent Care understands your concerns in regards to finding kind people to stay with your beloved family member while they are recovering from surgery, or perhaps, fallen ill and may need someone with them at all times.
If you have been the only one able to take care of your loved one for a while now and you need a vacation or a few hours every week to attend to your other obligations, Heaven Sent Care can help you.

Heaven Sent Care prides itself on its carefully selected caregivers who understand and are prepared to assist your loved one in almost any capacity that is needed. From just a few hours a week to overnight stays, Heaven Sent Care caregivers are committed to you and to your loved one's well being.

Heaven Sent Care promises to provide experienced, caring, and professional services to all their clients and for your security and peace of mind, they conduct thorough background checks and drug screenings of all staff members. 

Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Services include;

Peace of Mind
Non-medical help in the home
Light housekeeping
Meal preparation
Doctor visits, shopping, errands
Overnight stays

Click here to learn more about Heaven Sent Care.

Bats not a problem for Tri-State Wildlife Management

It may not be Halloween yet...but animals in your attic can be kinda spooky!

Maybe you've heard them late at night...squeaking, rustling, wings flapping. Petty spooky, huh?

If you think you may have a bat problem (or birds, raccoons, squirrels or an unknown animal for that matter), bring in the professionals at Tri-State Wildlife Management. 

As temperatures start to drop, all kinds of pesky animals may try to sneak into your attic for warmth and  having bats in your home is an unsettling and serious problem. They can cause staining and odor problems where they roost and are known to cary diseases that can be dangerous to humans such as rabies and histoplasmosis (a lung disease caused by the spores of fungus which grow on their droppings).

Although bats are very beneficial to humans because they keep the flying insect population (such as mosquitoes) down, they don't belong in your home. If they find their way into your home, they can also be some of the most destructive, dangerous, and expensive wildlife to control.

Since bats are a protected species, removal should be done by a trained professional, such as our trained technicians. In addition, we perform repairs and/or restorations to your home or business to prevent re-entry. 

Don't panic -- Tri-State Wildlife Management is Certified Bat Standard Compliant by the National Wildlife Control Operations Association and they offer bat removal in Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana. They can take care of your bat problem and make life normal again for you and your family. 

TSWM also offers partial and full attic cleanups after bat exclusion.

If you are in need of wildlife removal services, let Tri-State Wildlife Management help you. Click here to learn more!

First of two Honor Flights returns to CVG today, after being postponed last year by COVID

Honor Flight. FTM file. 

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Tri-State veterans and their guardians will return to CVG Airport to take the first Honor Flight in two years today.

Honor Flights had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is back in full swing for these veterans to see their memorials and participate in ceremonies that honor their service to their country.

Learn more.

The flight departed at 7:30 a.m. and will arrive back at CVG at 8:35 p.m. Over 180 passengers were expected on the American Airlines chartered flight.

Honor Flight Tri-State’s sole mission is to fly veterans 65+, who served stateside or overseas, to their memorials in Washington, D.C. at no cost. All veterans traveling on this flight are from the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana area.

The trip includes visits to the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Iwo Jima, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the US Air Force Memorial and other Washington D.C. sights.

The flight was preceded by bagpipes from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, a TSA color guard ceremony and other special remarks in the Welcome Point area on the Lower Level of CVG Terminal building.

Everyone on the trip was masked according to federal mandate.

The return flight to CVG will be on an American Airlines chartered flight. Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian.

This is the first of two Honor Flight Tri-States of the year. The second will be Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

To contribute or volunteer for Honor Flight Tri-State, please visit

Update: Fort Thomas Passes Tax Rates, Golf Cart Change on Hold

The city Law, Labor and License Committee met before the September 20 council meeting to consider a proposed change to the golf cart ordinance but decided not to recommend at this time. L to R: Connie Grubbs, Adam Blau, Jeff Bezold and CAO Ron Dill. 

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Fort Thomas City Council met for a second meeting this month on September 20, designed primarily to provide a second reading in September for the proposed tax rate for Fiscal Year 2021-22.

Council passed the rate, which has not changed since 2019. It remains at $3.97 per $1,000 of valuation. Since this is not a year in which all properties are assessed unless there is a sale, most property owners can expect to pay the same as last year.


At the last council meeting, Mayor Eric Haas said the decision to keep the rate steady was made to provide some relief for homeowners affected by the pandemic economy.

The only other order of business was a second reading of the ordinance to update an older ordinance outlining the rules for chair and table placements for outdoor dining.

Both ordinances passed.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Council Holds Tax Rate Steady, Updates on City Projects

The golf cart question

It was expected that council might see a first reading of an amendment to the city’s golf cart ordinance passed in 2019. The Law, Labor and License Committee, which includes Connie Grubbs (chair), Ben Pendery and Ken Bowman, discussed the proposal to lower the driving age for the golf carts from 19 to 16 at their last meeting and decided to table it to give them more time to research the issue and speak with residents.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Council Committee Tables Golf Cart Amendment for Further Review

The committee met again just before the council meeting and decided not to recommend the item at this time. Yet, it was clear from their discussion they plan to revisit the issue.

Since their last meeting, the committee members spoke with community members and school officials, and reported a mixed response. Because there were still safety concerns and some hesitancy, the committee decided to put the issue aside for now.

Council member Pendery suggested they might consider a compromise position on the subject, perhaps permitting a 16-year-old to drive but under certain conditions, such as with a parent or older individual.

The mayor agreed and suggested other possible conditions such as grade point average and driving record.

Pendery also suggested they revisit the issue before next summer so that, if it passes, those affected would have the opportunity to enjoy the warmer driving season.

In Other Words: Celebrate Car Free Day September 22 at the Farmers Market

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Car Free Day is an international event celebrated every September 22 where people are encouraged to get around without cars. People are encouraged to ride their bikes or ride public transportation, carpool, vanpool, walk, or telecommute. This is the first year that Car Free Day is celebrated in the Greater Cincinnati area and Fort Thomas plans to participate. 

The annual celebration began in the mid-1990s as a way to raise environmental awareness regarding transportation and is now celebrated in over 3,100 cities in over 50 countries. Some cities organize parties, encourage bike picnics, or even running errands using your bike. The key benefit is a day with less traffic congestion, a greener environment, and reduced energy use. And as we saw last year during the lockdown, there was noticeable  uptick in air purity when there were fewer cars on the road.

You may even have noticed an increase in the number of students cycling to and from school as well as a number of organized rides through the city. You don’t need a high-tech bike and you don’t need the clothes or special shoes. All you need is a bicycle to enjoy the health benefits. Just get on your bike and take a spin around the neighborhood or pedal to a local restaurant or business. Or go to one of the local bike trails at Lunken airport or the Loveland bike trail or A J Jolly park. It’s a pleasant way to see the world and get some exercise.

The Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA) and the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy (FTFC) and bike vendors will display at the Farmers Market on September 22. You will be able to pick up maps outlining local hiking trails. There will also be a community bike ride and a pop-up bike maintenance shop. So be sure to stop by to chat.

Fort Thomas is already a vibrant and energetic community and celebrating  this day only enriches the possibilities. Slow down. Enjoy the view. Help yourself and the planet. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Local cleaning company celebrates 35 years in business

Cheers to 35 years in business for Regal Maid!
(Img provided: Andy Venneman and his mom, Connie Venneman)

Regal Maid is a small, local, second-generation family-owned business that was founded in Fort Thomas in 1986. This year, the company is celebrating its 35 year anniversary! 

Regal Maid is currently owned and operated by Andy Venneman, a 1988 Newport Central Catholic graduate, but it was started by Andy’s parents, Connie, and Dave Venneman, in 1986. 

Andy's parents saw a need for a company-based cleaning service that would be able to meet the increasing needs of the growing dual-working parent environment. Dave had a business background, and Connie was a former teacher. They were stepping out of raising Andy and his brother and were looking for a change and new adventure.

Connie and Dave Venneman, Founders of Regal Maid
(Img provided)

Regal Maid started off as the first Molly Maid franchise in the Northern Kentucky area. In 1989, Andy’s parents were able to separate their ties with Molly Maid and founded Regal Maid as an independent, family-owned business.

Regal Maid’s success and longevity has come from being able to separate themselves from their competition. 

Regal Maid handles the liability, bonding, and worker’s compensation insurance. They also handle the employees’ taxes and social security withholdings. The Regal Maid staff provides the cleaning products to maintain the cleanliness of the customer’s property and strive to have the same cleaning staff service the customer’s home on a regular basis. 

“Our customers and staff like to see the same faces, and our customers like to feel that their homes are being cleaned by individuals, not companies,” said Andy. Some of Regal Maid’s staff have been with the company for 28, 22, 19, 16, 13 years, and some of Regal Maid’s customers have been using the cleaning service for over 34 years.

Regal Maid cleans homes and businesses daily, weekly, alternate weekly, every four weeks or on an 'as needed' basis. They also clean boats, apartments, RVs, and Airbnbs. Their service area is the Boone, Campbell, Kenton counties and the Greater Cincinnati area. Learn more about their cleaning services here.

After 35 years of success, Andy says it's all thanks to the customers. “The only thing we need, is your willingness to let Regal Maid help you with your cleaning wishes", said Andy. "We’ll take care of everything else so you can feel safe and secure.”

Click here to get a free quote from Regal Maid!

Cleaning questions? 

Call Andy Venneman at 859-781-3300 or click here to follow Regal Maid on Facebook and learn more!