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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Three NKY infrastructure projects awarded money to improve highway safety near schools

US-27, Kentucky-10 in Alexandria. 

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Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced plans to invest $23 million to improve highway safety near public schools, protecting students, educators and families.


Two projects in Campbell County and one in Kenton County were awarded state funds:
  • Campbell Co., US 27, improve safety at CS-7092 near Crossroads Elementary - $80,000
  • Campbell Co., US 27, improve safety at KY 10 near Campbell County High School - $80,000
  • Kenton Co., KY 1072, improve sidewalks and pedestrian crossings near St. Agnes - $154,000
Gov. Beshear charged the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet with prioritizing and targeting safety projects near school sites using state funding allocated in the 2020 Highway Plan. Nearly 70 safety improvement projects in 44 counties across the state are included in the award.

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“These projects merge two key areas I’ve been committed to investing in since day one as Governor: education and infrastructure,” said Gov. Beshear. “Once completed, these projects will ensure safe access to and around our schools, as well as improve quality of life for the thousands of Kentucky families that drop off and pick up children every day.”  

Over the next two years, funding will be used to design and/or construct projects, ranging from new turn lanes and crosswalks to pavement markings and new entrances. Counties across the state will benefit from upgrades to existing school flashing lights, pedestrian crosswalk beacons and roadside signs encouraging distraction-free driving. The new projects are also expected to create contracting and design jobs.

American Airlines announces new service from CVG to Boston

@Robert_F, Unsplash. 

American Airlines is announcing new nonstop service from Cincinnati/Northern International Airport (CVG) to Boston, Massachusetts (BOS).
 

The new flight will operate 3x daily beginning November 2, 2021. American will fly the Embraer 175 with 12 First Class and 64 Economy seating. Tickets will be available for purchase at aa.com on Saturday, April 24, 2021.
 
“We are excited to strengthen our network at CVG with new nonstop service to Boston just in time for the winter holiday season,” said Brian Znotins, American Airlines Vice President of Network Planning. “While these routes will complement existing service from CVG to some of our largest hubs, we look forward to welcoming more local travelers to fly with us and further connecting them with our global network.”
 
Direct service to Boston will be American’s 10th destination served from CVG. It complements the airline’s existing year-round and seasonal nonstop service to Charlotte, NC (CLT), Chicago, IL (ORD), Dallas, TX (DFW), Miami, FL (MIA), New York, NY (JFK and LGA), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Phoenix, AZ (PHX) and Washington, DC (DCA).
 
“Boston is a top 10 market from CVG, so this new service is very exciting for our community in terms of both leisure and business travel,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, CVG. “American Airlines has been a strong partner since they began service here 74 years ago, and we welcome this service.” 
 
The planned schedule is:

Click schedule to enlarge. 


Tuesday Highlands Roundup: Baseball Rebounds from Loss

Softball Fighting Through Lull

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands freshman left fielder Bailey Markus waits during the game at Dixie Heights on Tuesday.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (7-6 overall) played host to the county rival Bishop Brossart Mustangs (9-5) on Tuesday instead of Wednesday before the snow hit the area.

Following a 4-2 loss to Newport Central Catholic on Monday, Highlands Head Coach Jeremy Baioni challenged the Bluebirds to fix some things. They responded with a 12-2 six-inning victory.

2021 Street Program and "AirBnB" Rental Zoning Approved in Fort Thomas

Waterworks Road and Wilbers Lane are the two streets on the 2021 Street Program in Fort Thomas. 


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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Fort Thomas City Council held a short meeting on April 19, working through some ordinances and a host of city board appointments.

During renovations underway at the city building, council has been meeting in the Mess Hall in Tower Park (801 Cochran Ave.). Meetings will continue at 7 p.m. at this location for the time being.


Leading the list was the 2021 Streets Program. Council approved the “intent to proceed” on street resurfacing for Waterworks Boulevard and Wilbers Lane, after hearing a recommendation from the city’s Public Works Committee.

Ken Bowman, chair of the Public Works Committee, noted that a public hearing, attended by about 35 residents was held March 23. The main concern residents had, he said, was drainage on their streets. The committee, that also includes council members Constance Grubbs and Adam Blau, recommended approval to proceed with the street project. 

The street program receives a public hearing each year for the community, with affected homeowners getting a certified letter inviting them to the hearing since the city individually accesses each property owner for a portion of the street resurfacing. 

Sixty-eight property owners will pay personal assessments totaling $85,528, with an average bill totaling $1,257.76 each. The two low and high assessments were $221 for an individual on Memorial Parkway, abutting Waterworks and the Northern Kentucky Water District, paying $19,282 for their portion. 

Blau suggested taking a look at speed issues on Wilbers since it is being widened. Council agreed and voted to send the issue to the Public Safety Committee for discussion and review.

Two ordinances concerning adding language about short-term rental businesses as a permitted use to some resident and commercial zones and adjusting parking-related requirements, were passed by city council. 

The vote was 5 to 1 in favor. Blau voted against the ordinance saying he still had concerns at this time. 

"Although I believe the committee did a nice job of vetting the problems other local cities have had with AirBnB’s with this ordinance, after speaking with another city administrators, elected officials and a commonwealth attorney who have dealt with this in Northern Kentucky,  I don’t believe the positives out way the negatives," he said.

RELATED: Fort Thomas Planning Recommends Adding Short-term Rentals to Zoning Codes

More city business


Council approved a long list of municipal orders re-appointing Fort Thomas residents to various city boards and commissions. These included re-appointment of:

  • Barry Petracco, Mark Thurnauer, Jack Sackenheim and Barb Thomas to the Design Review Board
  • Carol Dixon, Steve Dauer and Susan Wingard to the Board of Adjustment
  • Mark Leopold to the Tree Commission


Two new police officers, Christopher Vance and Jeremy Moore, were appointed through executive orders. They will be introduced to the community at the May council meeting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

29 Businesses Receive COVID-19 Assistance Grants from City of Dayton

Dayton Mayor, Ben Baker, and Cheryl Gross of Master's Touch. 

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Twenty-nine businesses in the City of Dayton received funding from the city’s COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program, which provided $1,000 grants to city businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.


Dayton City Council created the program in January 2020 in response to mandated closures and other financial adversities suffered by Dayton businesses as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program was financed through federal funds paid to city under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress last year. 

The City also created a Dayton Dining Dollars program in which the city mailed out $5 coupons to Dayton residents earlier this year to use at local restaurants. To date, 289 residents have redeemed these coupons. This program also was funded by the CARES Act. 

“Small businesses and our growing restaurant, entertainment, and reception venues are the economic life blood of our city and important components to our city’s quality of life,” Mayor Baker said. “Many of these businesses struggled to stay afloat during the past year and City Council recognized the need to support these small businesses during this difficult time by creating these two business-assistance programs, which have proven to be very successful.”      
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The city began accepting grant applications for the COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program on February 1 and application period closed on March 15. The following businesses qualified to receive a $1,000 check from the city:

AA Wok
Avenue Pharmacy
Blue Ridge Simply Unique
Candyland Recording Studio
Care Bear Day Care
Dayton Eagles
Dayton Chiropractic
Elite Mechanical
Fastemp
Galactic Fried Chicken
Hansman’s Corner Market
Hickory Dickory Dock Vintage Candies
Hometown Heroes
Hudson Piping
Kate’s Catering
Master’s Touch Beauty Salon
Metal Solutions
Purple Poulet
Rose Room
The Cobb Group
The Lodge KY
Tony’s Ole Saloon
TQ Constructors
Turner Machine
Unataza Coffee
Unicom Asset Recovery
Urbandy
VFW Post 2899
Welding Equipment & Repair

Residents have redeemed the Dayton Dining coupons in eight of the city’s restaurants: AA Wok, Galactic Chicken, Hometown Heroes, Kate’s Catering, Purple Poulet, Taqueria Nogal, Trotta’s, and Unataza. Restaurant owners have told city officials that for every coupon residents use, they spend, on average, another $15 in food and drinks. Approximately 15 percent of all of the coupons mailed to residents have been redeemed at restaurants and the city has reimbursed the restaurants for the coupons that have been redeemed. Residents have until June 1 to redeem the coupons at restaurants, including Riverside Marina, a seasonal business that opens in May.

“This past January and February were our worst months during the entire pandemic so the city’s grant came just in time for my business; it kept us from having to cut our staff and payroll,” said Alejandra Flores, owner of Unataza Coffee. “And the Dayton Dining Dollars has been great incentive too, bringing several new customers, some of which have become regular customers.”

Everything new at CVG: new carriers, new routes, and low airfares


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The addition of new airlines, new flights and increased frequency of flights at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) are providing local travelers a choice of air carriers as well as convenient schedules and affordable airfares.
 

For the last five years, CVG has consistently added service while maintaining the lowest airfares in the region saving passengers an average of $150 per ticket.
 
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its average airfare ranking report for the fourth quarter of 2020, covering October through December. CVG is again the lowest fare airport in the region providing the most nonstop flight options.
 
CVG’s average fare of $237 in Q4 2020 was a 25-year low and outperformed the national average of $261. The airport’s official ranking was #80 of the top 100 U.S. airports. Airports are ranked from the highest average fare to the lowest average fare. Learn more on how the rankings are determined here.

18 N. Fort Thomas Ave. 

 
Regional comparisons:
CVG ranked #80 – average fare $237
Indianapolis (IND) ranked #65 – average fare $263
Columbus (CMH) ranked #58 – average fare $266
Louisville (SDF) ranked #54 – average fare $268
Dayton (DAY) ranked #13 – average fare $305

New airlines and routes starting soon:
May 14, 2021: Sun Country Airlines begins service
May 20, 2021: Alaska Airlines begins service
May 27 and 28, 2021: United Airlines begins service to four new leisure destinations
May 29, 2021: Viva Aerobus begins service to Los Cabos, Mexico
June 9, 2021: Allegiant Air begins service to Key West, FL

St. Elizabeth Healthcare contributes to Nationwide Covid-19 and Cancer Consortium Study

Dr. Daniel Flora. 

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The St. Elizabeth Healthcare Clinical Research Institute, an early contributor to the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), is honored to collaborate in the groundbreaking CCC19 study focusing on outcomes for COVID-19 patients with cancer. The updated study was accepted and published on March 18, 2021, in the prestigious Annals of Oncology.

90 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas Plaza. 

“St. Elizabeth was one of the first community oncology programs involved in the CCC19 project,” says Daniel Flora, MD, Medical Oncologist and Medical Director of Clinical Research at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “Through our participation in CCC19, we gained a better understanding of how cancer patients are at a much higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and counsel our patients accordingly.” 

The CCC19 includes 125 cancer centers and organizations that collect and analyze data on cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Founding institutions include Vanderbilt University, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, University of Washington, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, as well as community hospitals across the country like St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“To be able to say that St. Elizabeth was instrumental in the advancement of understanding COVID-19 in cancer patients illustrates the ongoing commitment that St. Elizabeth has to the community,” says Barbara Logan, Clinical Research Director at St. Elizabeth. “St. Elizabeth is invested in providing research opportunities that will better the lives of those affected by cancer.”  

CCC19 Study Findings: COVID-19 and Cancer Patients 

The CCC19 authors reviewed detailed data from almost 5,000 COVID-19-positive patients with past or active cancer. The CCC19 study authors determined that clinical factors like hematological malignancy, recent chemotherapy and older age all contributed to poor clinical outcomes. 

Additionally, the study found that 58% of COVID-19 patients with cancer required hospitalization, and 14% died within 30 days. This percentage is significantly higher than the 2% death rate for the general population. 

Other key findings include higher COVID-19 severity in:

Black populations
Hispanic populations
Men
Obese individuals
Older patients
Patients with medical comorbidities

The study also utilized the increased sample size to quantify COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on cancer patients that are Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC). These key findings shed light on several critical healthcare issues right now, including systemic racism and unequal access to healthcare. The study has the opportunity to create new insights and changes in healthcare moving forward. 
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“To be a part of an ongoing collaborative team that works to better understand the implications of COVID-19 on cancer patients has been a gratifying experience,” says Ms. Logan. “St. Elizabeth continues to make important contributions to this endeavor. We’re committed to making a difference not only in Northern Kentucky but worldwide.”

Monday Highlands Round-up: Newport Catholic tops Highlands, 4-2

Softball Loses Tough One

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands Head Coach Jeremy Baioni (blue jacket) holds a conference on the mound with the infield in the 4-2 loss to Newport Central Catholic on Monday.

During the run of four straight 9th Region championships between 2015 and 2018, Highlands head baseball coach Jeremy Baioni could tell you the team's record in the region tournament.

But the domination of 36th District opponents became so routine it somewhat became an afterthought. That changed with a 4-2 loss to the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds at Highland Park. Both teams are 6-6 on the season.

In Other Words: Linda Slone Receives Outstanding Volunteer Award But That’s Just Part of the Story



Linda Slone and DJ Scully

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Linda Slone received 2020 Outstanding Extension Volunteer for Natural Resources and Environmental Management award on April 14. UK Extension Agent, DJ Scully, presented her with the award.  


DJ Scully says that, “Linda Slone is being recognized as being the Outstanding Volunteer for Natural Resources and Environmental Management for her significant contributions to increasing recycling in Fort Thomas by working with the Highlands High School students and Team Chuck to turn plastic bottle caps and other plastic lids into recycled content benches that are placed around the community. To my memory you recycled over one thousand pounds.” That equals four benches. 

But there is more to the story.  Like what is Team Chuck? Is there anything he can't do?

Two years ago I was preparing for a CAR-T transplant to treat a particularly nasty case of Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma. Chemo had failed and I was on the list for the recently released cancer treatment. I was patient #9 in our area. Linda Slone wanted to help. She organized all of my transportation and home care with volunteers. She and my niece founded Team Chuck and she became a major force in my recovery from a deadly disease. But the support group grew beyond its initial intention. So many people wanted to help but there weren’t enough tasks. So I asked that people do something good for the community in specify ways - donate blood, donate books, or donate time, talent, or funds to an environmental cause. And this is where the story takes an interesting turn. 

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There is a company in Indiana that recycles bottle caps into park benches. They take bottle caps because standard recycling programs like Rumpke cannot take them because the tiny pieces simply gum up the machinery. The requirements are simple - collect 250 pounds of plastic and pay a couple hundred dollars and you get an eight-foot colorful recycled plastic bench in return. DJ Scully at the UK Extension office in Highland Heights sponsored a grant program to reimburse the cost making the ultimate cost of each bench $0. It was clearly an environmental and community win.  

If you don’t already know Linda Slone, then you must know that she is an unstoppable force.  She arranged for every Hoxworth center in the tri-state to collect caps. And then she arranged for high school students to collect, count, and weigh the caps. Neighbors and friends collected caps. And as word spread  she started receiving caps in the mail from around the country. People wanted to give. They wanted to participate. They wanted to be part of the program. And she was willing to take as many caps as people sent. 

Types of acceptable caps to recycle


High school students sifted through each bag to weed out the unacceptable caps and then weighed them, marked them, and stored them. So many hands were involved with all of these caps - all well before COVID-19 - all for a common cause. Then Linda and her husband, Lonnie, drove to Evansville, Indiana, made the trade, and returned with four bright blue benches. Two can be found at Highlands High School where I taught for many years, one at Saint Thomas, and one more in the Model Native Garden in Tower Park. Highlands High School students are collecting caps for benches to put in their outdoor learning center. There are plans for more. 

Ultimately, though, Linda did this as testament to the goodness in the community. DJ Scully was so impressed that he nominated her for their annual award.

Linda Slone has done so much for Fort Thomas from organizing the Independence Day Parade and musical events in the park to fundraisers for cancer patients to recently making thousands of face masks for students, neighbors, friends, and whoever needed one. She makes things happen and if there is some community event happening in town, well, she probably has a hand in it. I tell her that that it is her superpower and we are fortunate to have her. I know that I am. So this award carries quite a story with it.


So when you are out for a walk and take a break on the bright blue bench in the Native Garden or one around town then think about the story behind it. It is more than simply recycling. It’s about the love of community.   

If you are interested in acquiring a recycled bench or participating in the program, please contact Linda Slone at the Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 25 in Tower Park for details. She will have a booth collecting caps. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Gov. Beshear gives updates on Kentucky Healthy at Work policies

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On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on the state’s Healthy at Work requirements.

“We have fought really hard to get where we are – a much better place than in the fall and winter – allowing us to streamline some of our guidance,” said Gov. Beshear. “I hope people are able to enjoy some of these capacity increases. We can do so safely if we continue to wear our masks.”


The minimum requirements list includes specifications for:

Physical distancing;
Facial coverings;
Hand washing and sanitizing;
Ventilation;
Telework;
Common areas; and
Daily temperature/health checks.
Events with 1,000 or fewer people in a single space are limited to 60% capacity, or the maximum number of people that allows for physical distancing. Events with more than 1,000 people in a single space are limited to 50% capacity, or the maximum number of people that allows for physical distancing.

Only a few types of businesses still have supplemental Healthy at Work requirements: health care facilities; wedding, funeral or memorial service venues; restaurants and bars; pools and bathing facilities; and gyms, sports and exercise activities.

“What we’re doing today is simplifying our guidance so it’s easier for Kentuckians to follow and easier for them to stay safe,” said Dr. Stack. “I look forward to the day when we put COVID behind us and none of these requirements are necessary. The way we get there is for everyone to make the choice to get vaccinated. These vaccines are amazing tools to help us get our lives back.”

Gov. Beshear also said that Black and Hispanic Kentuckians are no longer disproportionately represented among the commonwealth’s COVID-19 deaths.

“I’m proud to report in our newest statistics, we have now either achieved proportionate or even disproportionately low numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths among most groups of minority Kentuckians,” said Gov. Beshear. “For instance, Black and African-American Kentuckians make up 8.4% of the state’s population; to date, they make up only 8% of all of Kentucky’s COVID-19 cases and 8.1% of Kentucky’s COVID-19 deaths. This used to be 16% and it’s been cut in half.”

Orangetheory Fitness, Newport Pavilion. 



Case Information
As of 4 p.m. Monday, April 19, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

Kentuckians vaccinated (have received at least one dose): 1,665,196*

New cases today: 231
New deaths today: 4
New audit deaths: 5
Positivity rate: 3.46%
Total deaths: 6,347
Currently hospitalized: 402
Currently in ICU: 121
Currently on ventilator: 43

NKY:
Kenton 11
Boone 6
Campbell 1

Saturday Highlands Roundup: Baseball Snaps Losing Streak

Softball Drops Game to Henry County

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands beat Covington Holy Cross, 10-0 on Saturday.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (6-5 overall) won its final game of the Doc Morris Invitational with a 10-0 win over the Covington Holy Cross Indians (3-10) at Meinken Field.

Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs Selects 19 NKY Students for Summer Program

Charlie Gorman, one of the Highlands students selected for GSE at FT Launch. Gorman started the Highlands Investment Club.

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The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), a highly competitive summer program where Kentucky high school students focus on product innovation and business model design, has announced the selection of 120 students from nearly 50 Kentucky counties for the 2021 program.

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Nineteen Northern Kentucky students were selected, including four from Highlands, three from Campbell County and one from Newport Catholic. 

“I am so proud of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs and the students who have been chosen to participate in this premier summer program,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The GSE experience is so sought after that we have added a second session this year so we could accommodate the increasing demand. Kentucky has set the bar high for giving high school students a rewarding and unique residential college experience. This program will unleash their innate entrepreneurial spirit and put them on a path to create businesses and opportunities that will reap benefits for our state for years to come.”

Hundreds of high school students applied to be part of the GSE experience. Participants are selected through a competitive process that does not consider GPA or test scores, and the experience is free for all participants. GSE’s uniquely designed application is structured to identify creative problem-solvers who want to roll up their sleeves and dive head first into creating something meaningful.

“While social and economic empowerment has always been at the core of the GSE experience, our talented class of 2021 truly embodies the fact that without diversity in all forms, innovation does not exist,” said Tasha Sams, executive director of GSE. “In fact, what we look for in our participants can’t be tabulated. We seek the innovative thinkers, the collaborators, the risk takers, the change makers, the teens with a drive that is unstoppable. They are Kentucky’s future business creators, and based on GSE’s class of 2021, the future of the commonwealth is brighter than ever!”

Earlier this month, GSE announced the addition of a second summer session for 2021 to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for the GSE experience. This year’s program will welcome 120 high school students from across the commonwealth, up from 72 in recent years, with plans to double the program size in 2022.

“Congratulations to all of the students selected for the GSE class of 2021. I am excited to see what new ideas and products come out of the program this summer, and to see how the students will grow from the GSE experience,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is also the secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. 

GSE’s first session will run June 6-26, 2021, and the second session July 5-24, 2021. Plans for an in-person program hosted by Northern Kentucky University (NKU) are underway. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSE will implement health protocols to keep participants safe and has worked alongside university partner NKU and the Northern Kentucky community on a comprehensive and strategic plan for this summer.

GSE is a relative newcomer on the list of Kentucky’s Governor's Schools, having opened to its first group of students in 2013. The three-week residential immersion program brings high school students from across the state together and equips them with the tools needed to unleash their innate entrepreneurial spirits for the betterment of Kentucky. During the program, teams of students develop a business model, design a prototype and pitch their startups to a panel of judges. GSE teaches the opportunities, benefits and pitfalls of taking a business concept from the idea phase to pitching it to potential investors.

While all participants gain vital entrepreneurial skills through the program to use as they enter the workplace or continue into higher education, more than 16 new businesses have been launched by GSE alumni since it started. Others have filed for multiple patents and developed new ideas and relationships that sow the seeds for more business formation.

Dozens of alumni have chosen to enroll in entrepreneurial programs at Kentucky universities and attribute this decision to the inspiration they received by attending GSE in high school. Through partnerships with collegiate partners, GSE provides more than $5 million in scholarship funding opportunities to Kentucky high school students each year. GSE fosters and empowers the Commonwealth’s future business owners and community leaders, giving these teens the support they need to go from high school students to business owners.

Because of strong partnerships with entities like the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, The Cabinet for Economic Development, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK), and numerous public and private supporters like the Marksbury Family Foundation, and Nate Morris of Rubicon Global, GSE is completely free for selected entrepreneurs. Alumni of GSE gain access to a host of scholarship opportunities, high school class credit, and a statewide network of life long entrepreneurial support. Since 2013, more than 500 student entrepreneurs have received scholarship funding through the program.

Parents, educators, entrepreneurs and teens who believe grit, a growth mindset and creativity in problem solving tell as much about a young person as good grades and test scores, can learn more about the Governor’s School of Entrepreneurs at https://kentuckygse.com/.

Savannah King, from Highlands, helped start "The Coffee Bus" at Fort Thomas Coffee. Read more here. 



See the full list of Northern Kentuckians here:
Bella Marita, a Sophomore at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Charlie Gorman, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Colin Esmeier, a Sophomore at Covington Catholic High School in Kenton County
Ella Stahl, a Sophomore at Campbell County High School in Campbell County
Gabrielle Joyce, a Junior at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Jonah Prost, a Junior at Newport Central Catholic in Campbell County
Jordan Brooks, a Sophomore at Campbell County High School in Campbell County
Luke Zurad, a Junior at Larry A. Ryle High School in Boone County
Ming Faih Wong Burgess, a Junior at Covington Catholic High School in Kenton County
Nate Weidner, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Olivia Currin, a Junior at Simon Kenton High School in Kenton County
Parker Cleveland, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Putiaha McBagonluri, a Junior at Larry A Ryle High School in Boone County
Riley Maddox, a Sophomore at Notre Dame Academy in Kenton County
Ruhshona Tursunova, a Freshman at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone County
Samuel Webb, a Junior at Ryle High School in Boone County
Sarah Assd, a Sophomore at Boone County High School in Boone County
Savannah King, a Junior at Highlands High School in Campbell County
Sydney Brooks, a Junior a Campbell County High School in Campbell County

Sam Vinson Wins MaxPreps Kentucky Basketball Player of Year Honor

More Awards for Highlands Senior Point Guard

PHOTO: Dale Dawn, Fort Thomas Matters.. Highlands senior point guard Sam Vinson (3) goes in for the score in the state semifinal win over Ashland. Vinson won the MaxPreps Kentucky High School Basketball Player of the Year award.

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Highlands senior point guard Sam Vinson may not have won the Kentucky Mr. Basketball award,
but he did take home the 2021 MaxPreps Kentucky High School Basketball Player of the Year honor. 

Vinson also won the 9th Region Player of the Year honors. 

2000 Memorial Parkway. 

Despite an incredible run that capped off an incredible year, Lexington Catholic senior guard and Bellarmine University commit Ben Johnson won the Kentucky Mr. Basketball honors. The Knights beat the Bluebirds, 73-57 early in the season Jan. 17 in Lexington. But LexCath lost 101-97 at Madison Central in the 11th Region quarterfinals.

Voting for Kentucky's Mr. Basketball took place weeks before the Sweet 16 tournament, leading some in the media with ballots lamenting their decision. Evan Dennison, sports editor for The Ledger Independent in Maysville was one that admitted he would have voted differently.  



Vinson will take his talents to Northern Kentucky University next year. Vinson scored 758 points for an average of 22.3 points per game and added 320 rebounds for an average of 9.4 per game helping the Bluebirds to a 30-4 record and the first state championship in school history two weeks ago. Highlands finished the season winning 21 straight.

Vinson made 278-of-492 shots for 57 percent including 31-of-90 from three-point range for 34 percent and 171-of-223 free throws for 77 percent. Vinson scored 20 in the 79-60 win over Elizabethtown in the state championship game at Rupp Arena.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Highlands Baseball Falls to Trinity Again

Highlands Faces Holy Cross in Final Game of Doc Morris Invitational

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Austin Eads gets in defensive position in a recent game.

The undefeated Louisville Trinity Shamrocks (12-0) baseball team came to Fort Thomas on Friday for the Doc Morris Invitational and left with another run-ruling 13-2 over the Highlands Bluebirds (5-5) in six innings.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Finders Keepers Scavenger Hunt Will Be Part of Newport’s Spring Fling

Monmouth St., Newport. 

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The popular local scavenger hunt, NKY Finders Keepers, will be part of the Spring Fling event in Newport’s historic Monmouth Street business district. Spring Fling is an annual celebration with sidewalk sales, special window displays and seasonal restaurant menus. It will be on Saturday April 24.

2000 Memorial Parkway. 

The free scavenger hunt was created by Jill Morenz from the Catalytic Fund. She describes it as “a fun, no-cost way for people to explore the art, architecture and businesses on Monmouth Street, while finding clues and solving puzzles.” 

The hunt can be played any time between 5:00 pm on Friday April 23 and 6:00 pm on Sunday April 25. Prizes include merchandise and gift cards from Newport businesses.

The NKY Finders Keepers scavenger hunts were launched last year over Thanksgiving weekend. The hunt provided a family-friendly, COVID-safe activity for the long weekend. As a fundraiser, it brought in over $1,800 to support the Catalytic Fund’s public art initiatives, including NKY ArtQuest, NKY Art Tours and the Public Arts Network of Northern Kentucky. 

A free version of the hunt was created for Newport on the Levee’s Valentine’s Day celebration. 

The clue locations in the Spring Fling hunt will be found in the public art, architecture and window displays on Monmouth Street, starting from the “Tribute to Newport mural” and ending at the World Peace Bell Center. The entire hunt can be done with just a smart phone, but players might find it helpful to bring along a piece of paper and a pen. While supplies last, there will be pencils and Code Keys available by the Finder Keepers easel sign at the Tribute to Newport mural.

For more information about Spring Fling and the scavenger hunt, visit www.NKYFindersKeepers.com.

Scam Alert: Loan Repayment Companies Scamming Students, Charging Them For Services Available for Free

@loganisbell, Unsplash. 

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Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) warned that if Kentucky students owe money on federal student loans, they should watch out for scamming loan repayment companies.

Orangetheory Newport Pavilion. 

The companies offering to help students lower their payments may be charging large fees for services available for free.

“My administration will always put education first, and part of that means protecting Kentucky students, after they’ve graduated, from predatory companies trying to take advantage of them as they pay back the loans that helped them pursue their education goals,” Gov. Beshear said.

Some third-party companies claim to offer document preparation services and act as though they can help students qualify for a loan forgiveness program, but they may want upfront fees and personal and financial information. The Federal Trade Commission says it is illegal for companies to charge upfront fees before providing debt relief services.

The Governor and KHEAA warn borrowers to be skeptical about companies that:

Ask for payment up front and for monthly fees to monitor an account;
Promise immediate loan forgiveness; or
Ask for a student’s FSA ID password and a power of attorney.
“To avoid falling victim to a scam, start with the servicer the Department of Education has assigned your loan to,” said Gene Hutchins, executive director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. “Your servicer can tell you what your options are and can help you with the forms you need. And unlike these scam companies, your servicer will never charge you a fee for their assistance.”

If a student doesn’t know what his or her servicer is, that information can be found at https://studentaid.gov/h/manage-loans.

If students believe they have been contacted by a scammer, they should report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office here.

This is KHEAA’s Money Tip of the Month. 


KHEAA is the state agency that administers Kentucky’s grant and scholarship programs, including the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). The agency also provides financial literacy videos at itsmoney.kheaa.com and free copies of “It’s Money, Baby,” a guide to financial literacy, to Kentucky schools and residents upon request at publications@kheaa.com.

KHEAA’s sister agency, the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC), offers low-cost Advantage Loans to help students and parents pay for college or refinance student loans. For more information about Advantage Loans, visit www.advantageeducationloan.com.

Many of KHEAA’s student aid programs are funded by Kentucky Lottery receipts.