360 Fireworks Party

Saturday, April 14, 2012

CONVICTED: MUGSHOT ROUND-UP 14 APR

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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
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The following people are among a long list from this week's activity in Kenton County Circuit Court. Some are going to prison while others are on probation or in the felony diversion program. A few more are still wanted for failing to appear in court: 




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There are more at the link below with an explanation of charges and recommended sentences from Rob Sanders's Commonwealth Attorney's office. Some have been sent away, some are awaiting sentencing, and others will get probation. Whatever they end up with, let's hope as a community that they return healthy and rehabilitated, otherwise the cycle continues. 

PHOTOS: LADIES NIGHT IN MAINSTRASSE

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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE






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LOTS MORE PHOTOS BELOW, JUST CLICK THE LINK!
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Friday, April 13, 2012

SCHEPER RAPPORT: MAYOR'S DEMEANOR HELPS WIN AGREEMENT ON UNION CONTRACTS

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
Mayor Scheper announces agreements between City
and its three public employee unions
One hundred seventy-one days ago retired insurance executive Chuck Scheper stood before the citizens of Covington and reluctantly accepted the role as their mayor. Friday morning Scheper stood in the exact same spot inside City Hall's Commission Chambers and proclaimed his largest success yet: winning an agreement from all three public employee unions that will save Covington $10 million over the next five years. Contract negotiations that started two years ago, reaching a boiling point last summer with harsh back-and-forth rhetoric from city administration, union members, city commissioners, and then-Mayor Denny Bowman, finally ended this week. Scheper's entry into the discussion is largely credited. 
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"Once the mayor came on board things started to pick up," said Steve Hedger, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees chapter that represents 911 dispatchers, public improvement employees, and clerical workers in Covington. AFSCME's expected approval of its contract next Tuesday will follow this week's approval by Covington's Fraternal Order of Police and Local 38 of the International Association of Firefighters. 
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"Were it not for these changes we would be facing a very different future," Scheper said. The costs associated with America's health care system and its effect on the budgets of families and municipalities had weighed heavily on Covington's finances and negotiating table. Friday, it was announced that Scheper and the city's negotiating team and the unions agreed to three health care concessions that will require from employees an increased premium, a basic deductible, and an 80/20 co-insurance feature to a maximum out-of-pocket amount. 
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"Without (Scheper's) involvement I don't think these deals would have been done," said Brian Valenti, FOP president. "We wanted a fair deal. The city was able to get the health care they wanted while allowing us to stay competitive with other agencies." The contracts allow for annual pay raises from 1.5 to 3 percent. Valenti was the first union leader to approach the mayor and express an eagerness to reach a contract agreement following the January 31 state of the city address. 
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"I got to know these guys on a personal level," Scheper said. "(Union leaders) worked diligently on a resolution that considered the current financial position of the city as well as the best interest of their members. While we did not always agree on the issues we were able to maintain a healthy and respectful dialogue." Prior to Scheper taking over as mayor following Denny Bowman's surprise resignation last fall, the negotiations spilled into public view through heated arguments at commission meetings and on Facebook pages but since then the debate had maintained a quieter presence with only occasional lapses. 
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"Things were a little too hot, a little too personal," said Commissioner Steve Frank who was frequently at the center of the rhetorial bomb throwing. On Friday, Frank, and Commissioners Sherry Carran, Steve Casper, and Shawn Masters all showed their support and enthusiasm for the agreements and for moving their focus to economic development. "He is respectful, he's inclusive and he really does listen and makes you feel like are part of what's going on," Carran said of the mayor. Casper called the agreements a "remarkable success".
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"The city's firefighters are very pleased to have come to an agreement with the city," said Chris Black, president of the firefighters union which was the most vocal during the public debate over the new contracts. "The real winner here in all of this was the collective bargaining process. While the firefighters made considerable sacrifices, we got the chance to negotiate the best deal for our members while the city received the concessions they were looking for." 
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Scheper had listed new union contracts among his ten-point plan of action that he hopes to fulfill during his one year in office, much of which originated in his 1999 Scheper Report, a list of recommendations for Covington to take to avoid financial catastrophe initiated by then-Mayor Bowman. Few of the suggestions were ever adopted but the new contract agreements may be the most important check mark he adds to the revised and updated list. With its projected $20 million budget deficit by the year 2017, Covington's financial prognosis was looking dark so at his state of the city address when he unveiled his ten-point plan, Scheper delivered what he called "the brutal facts" which included the looming crisis. He announced that same night that he hoped to have new union contracts within sixty days, and while Friday morning was thirteen days longer than that, the agreements represent a feat that has offset roughly half of that projected deficit. 
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Friday's news followed last week's decision that Kenton County would assume responsibility for Covington's 911 emergency dispatch center, another check mark on Scheper's ten-point plan. Combined with the estimated $5 million saved from the dispatch acquisition, the $10 million saved in these new contracts mean that the city has erased nearly three-quarters of that projected $20 million deficit. 
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"Approximately twenty-five percent of the projected deficit still needs to be addressed," Scheper said, "but we are hopeful that the independent reviews (of each department within City Hall) which are currently in process will produce recommendations to make up this difference." The focus now turns more intensely to filling vacant store fronts and attracting new businesses and other items on that ten-point plan.
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"You're going to start seeing some of these C+V=G signs appearing in some of those empty storefronts," Scheper said of a plan to help change the message Downtown and to spread his mantra that Courage plus Vision equals Growth for Covington.  At next Tuesday's city commission meeting the new contract agreements are expected to be unanimously approved. Following the vote Scheper will have approximately two-hundred fifty days left in office to accomplish the rest of the ten points of his plan, something he believes will happen, though in no particular order. "All of them are running on this parallel track," he said.
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MORE PHOTOS FROM THE ANNOUNCEMENT BELOW, JUST CLICK THE LINK!
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NEWS ROUND-UP -- FRIDAY MORNING 13 APR

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
IT'S OFFICIAL: CITY REACHES AGREEMENTS WITH ALL 3 LABOR UNIONS
In a press conference scheduled for 11:00AM, the City of Covington will announce the end of a lengthy negotiating period with the three unions representing public employees by detailing the new contracts. The fire and police unions have already voted to accept the new contracts while AFSCME is expected to vote next week. The River City News will be at City Hall for the press conference and will report immediately afterwards. 
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SEE ALSO: Just hours before confirmation was made that there were new contracts, the firefighters union was in a court-like setting at City Hall before a state attorney for a hearing over its claim that the City engaged in unfair labor practices. 
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SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN STEPS DOWN, NEW DETAILS ON HOLMES FIGHT
The school district clarifies what happened during the fight at Holmes that led to five students being arrested; Plus, School Board Chairman Mike Fitzgerald steps down. Details at the link. 
School Board Chairman Steps Down, New Details on Holmes Fight 
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   BESHEAR V. WILLIAMS AGAIN
The harsh rhetoric from last fall's gubernatorial election is back as Frankfort implodes on the final day of the 2012 session of the General Assembly. Governor Beshear is forced to call a special session for Monday to deal with transportation and drug abuse bills which failed to pass yesterday. Beshear did not mince words in blaming his archrival, Senate President David Williams: 
For 12 years since Williams has been president of the Senate, Kentuckians have suffered under Williams’ leadership, Beshear said.
“His rank partisanship, his obstructionist attitude, have caused numerous special sessions and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars of unnecessary expenses in having to conduct those special sessions,” Beshear said.
Beshear said Kentuckians last November rejected Williams “and I whooped him by 21 points. I think everybody in this state got the message except for David Williams.”
Williams called Beshear “a small, petty and vindictive individual.” 
Bluegrass Politics 
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How Ky. officials snatched dysfunction from the jaws of respectability in the session's final day cn|2 
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In the wake of last minute stalemate, Beshear vs. Williams -- round 2 cn|2 
Rep. Hoover: 'Failed leadership' in both chambers at root of latest breakdown cn|2 
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FOR NKY, ROAD PLAN WOULD BE HISTORIC Cincinnati Enquirer 
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Westwood honored on final day of session Cincinnati Enquirer 
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NEW NKU PRESIDENT WILL FACE OLD CHALLENGE: LEGISLATURE Cincinnati Enquirer 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
OH YES IT'S LADIES NIGHT! IN MAINSTRASSE VILLAGE TONIGHT
Don't miss this
Retail, service, food/drink specials, tarot card readings, live music by Chris and Kyle of The Turkeys. Enter to win a MainStrasse Village gift basket with products and gift certificates from the MainStrasse businesses. 
From 6:00 until 10:00PM tonight in the Mainstrasse Village. 
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ALSO FROM THE MAINSTRASSE VILLAGE ASSOCIATION: 
Residents, business owners and patrons of MainStrasse Village, please be aware some electric conduit and wires were cut by accident (Thursday) by work crews in the 5th Street Parking Lot. Tonight some of the lighting on 5th and 6th Street will be out, but should be fixed some time (Friday). 

QUICKIES   

Woodland Middle School students combat bullying through social media Imperfect Parent 
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People Working Cooperatively in need of donations Cincinnati Enquirer 
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CONSTRUCTION ALMOST COMPLETED AT BOUQUET IN MAINSTRASSE
What a great addition to the Village:

See a lot more photos here
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SEE PREVIOUSLY: Bouquet and Otto's are both expanding The River City News 
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ACROSS THE RIVER
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Perception of Downtown Cincinnati improved in 2011 Cincinnati Enquirer 
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So, if Cincinnati doesn't smell like kitty litter (as implied in a controversial billboard), what does it smell like? The Atlantic Cities 
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Coach Cal's recruiting the dream that never ends Herald-Leader 
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New recruit Nerlens Noel: UK needs UConn's Oriakhi John Clay 
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TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT'S OPENING AT THE CARNEGIE IN COVINGTON TONIGHT:

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For ticket information click here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

CITY REACHES TENTATIVE CONTRACT AGREEMENTS WITH ALL THREE UNIONS

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
UPDATE: It is now confirmed that the police union and the fire union have both approved the terms of their contracts. Details on the contracts are expected to be available later this morning at an 11:00AM press conference at City Hall.
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ORIGINAL POST:
The River City News has confirmed that Mayor Chuck Scheper and the City of Covington has reached tentative agreements with all three unions that represent public employees, possibly ending the lengthy contract negotiations. The Fraternal Order of Police may have already voted to approve its new contract (working to confirm) while Local 38, the firefighters' union, is voting tonight. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees which represents dispatchers and public improvements workers is expected to vote next week. 
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The contract agreements would end nearly two years of negotiations with the most prominent sticking point being the cost of health care and the contributions from employees. Mayor Scheper has called for a press conference Friday morning at 11:00 inside City Hall where he and members of the unions will be available to comment.
                     THIS STORY IS DEVELOPING

SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN STEPS DOWN; DISTRICT DETAILS HOLMES FIGHT

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
Mike Fitzgerald
Covington School Board Chairman Mike Fitzgerald is stepping down as chairman but will remain a member of the school board. Board member Glenda Huff will take over as Chair at the next meeting in two weeks. "I have some family reasons that are pressing for me," Fitzgerald said Thursday, explaining that fewer responsibilities will allow him to tend those family matters. "Quite recently I have been upset about comments made about the board but let me assure you that the top priority of the board members is the education of the students."
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Fitzgerald has been a member of the Covington School Board for sixteen years. "This is one of the best boards I've been able to work with," he said. 
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DISTRICT OFFERS MORE DETAILS ON FIGHT INSIDE HOLMES HIGH SCHOOL
Ken Kippenbrock
At Thursday's school board meeting, Ken Kippenbrock, director of pupil personnel at the district, cleared up some of the rumors that followed a fight inside the Holmes High School cafeteria that led to the arrests of five 18-year old students. Six juveniles were also cited and released to their parents. Disciplinary hearings for the students involved are pending further investigation. Kippenbrock addressed other issues raised by the community following the incident: 
  • No Covington Police officers drew their weapons but one officer was in possession of a visible pepper ball gun which was not used
  • One student was partially tased by an officer when he did not cooperate
  • No students were in possession of any weapons
  • There were no serious injuries
  • The school was placed on lockdown for five to seven minutes as a precaution. Kippenbrock said parents were not notified of the lockdown or the situation in the cafeteria so as not to create a panic in the community and not to attract a flood of parents to the campus. "Our goal is not to cause alarm for parents every time the school is placed on lockdown," Kippenbrock said. Also, he contacted several surrounding school districts and confirmed that none of them contacts parents when the schools are placed on lockdown. 
  • A letter to parents detailing the incident and clearing up rumors was mailed out Thursday. Kippenbrock said that the district wanted to conclude its investigation before issuing a response to families. 

NEWS ROUND-UP -- THURSDAY AFTERNOON 12 APR

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
UNION: CITY COMMITS UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE, REQUESTS BACK WAGES
In a hearing that is still going on at this hour, the union representing Covington firefighters is presenting its claim that the City of Covington engaged in unfair labor practices by unilaterally reducing the number of firefighters required to be on duty during a shift. The City maintains that it had a right to do so per an agreement with the union that allowed for changes should a significant condition arrives. Covington administrators say the significant condition is the troubled financial outlook the city faces. Click the link for details. 
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A BRIDGE TOO FAR: COVINGTON FIGHTS FOR EXITS
What the new Brent Spence Bridge plan means for the city and why Covington leaders want your voice to help save some important exit ramps. Plus, the new bridge may be accompanied by a newly envisioned Goebel Park and a bike/pedestrian path through Lewisburg. Details at the link. 
The River City News 
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NATION'S FIRST ANTI-GAY HATE CRIME INDICTMENT COMES DOWN IN KY
Two Eastern Kentucky men accused of beating a gay man now face the first ever federal anti-gay hate crime charges: 

A federal grand jury in London indicted David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland, and his cousin Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, of Partridge, on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and committing an act of violence based on the victim's sexual orientation.
The victim, Kevin Pennington, told authorities that the two men took him to a secluded spot in Kingdom Come State Park, near Cumberland, in April 2011 and beat him. Anthony Jenkins' wife, Alexis, and sister, Mable, allegedly cheered on the attack, yelling things such as "Kill that faggot," according to a court document.  
Herald-Leader/Bill Estep 
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          GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT WORK 
          ON LAST DAY IN FRANKFORT
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The Kentucky Genera Assembly is in session for the final time this year with a slew of bill still on the table.
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FRANKFORT HEADLINES
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Outside of budget line items, Gov. Beshear does not expect to veto anything WFPL 
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Beshear vetoes part of budget bill Bluegrass Politics 
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Grocery list of major bills remain on General Assembly's last day cn|2 
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Beshear predicts pill mill bill will pass WFPL 
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Lawmakers reach agreement on roads budget Cincinnati Enquirer 
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Legislature brokers roads bill deal Courier-Journal 

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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
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COVINGTON TO HOST RALLY INSPIRED BY TRAYVON MARTIN DEATH
The shooting death of a Florida teenager at the hands of Neighborhood Watch participant has ignited debate across the country and now several people in Covington are organizing a rally:
The Covington community is invited to convene for a rally to discuss community issues and Kentucky’s Castle Doctrine, which is similar to the Florida law that has been used as a reason not to arrest, and suggested as a defense, in the case of George Zimmerman, who shot Martin in a situation that Zimmerman appeared to have started.
Confirmed guest speakers and performers include:
  • Jerome Bowles- President, Northern Kentucky NAACP
  • Ms. Bennie Doggett- President, East Side Neighborhood Association
  • Bishop Nerrick Jackson-Founder, Grace of God Ministries
  • Kris Nevels-Attorney, Nevels Law Office
  • Vibe-One-Owner, E.S.A Entertainer/Producer
The rally is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2012, at Randolph Park, 8th and Greenup Street, Covington, Kentucky 41011. It will run from 3-5:30 p.m. 
Press release via FOX 19
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CORRECTION: On Tuesday, The River City News posted photos from a tour of the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower and cited the tour as part of a "Friends of Covington" event. That was an error. The event was part of "Covington After Hours" and was sponsored by the Mainstrasse Village Association which alternates organizational responsibilities for After Hours with the Center for Great Neighborhoods, the Latonia Business Association, and the Friends of Covington. The River City News regrets the error. 
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BUT THE PHOTOS ARE STILL COOL -- SO GO CHECK THEM OUT IF YOU MISSED THEM!
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MORE PHOTOS AT THE LINK -- JUST CLICK BELOW!
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NEW LUNCHTIME RESTAURANT TO OPEN ON 5TH STREET
Wolf & Co. Bistro will open at 14 East 5th Street:
On the menu are seven sandwiches, with traditional choices such as a reuben joining more unusual offerings, like a grilled Tuscan white bean puree and bitter greens sandwich. There’s a garden salad (with or without chicken), a Caesar salad and a soup of the day. 
The location was previously home to Flippin' Jimmy's and the Red Light Cafe. 
Cincinnati Enquirer/Shauna Steigerwald 
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FROM THE CENTER FOR GREAT NEIGHBORHOODS: 
We are looking for parents/guardians who are interested in participating in a Cincinnati Children's focus group about your child(ren)'s health and strengths and weaknesses of our community. It will be May 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Center. Dinner and childcare will be provided. If interested, please contact Jenni at jenni@greatneighborhoods.org. 
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BUDDY LAROSA SPEAKS TO STUDENTS AT COVINGTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
From the school district: 
Buddy LaRosa, founder and Chairman Emeritus of LaRosa’s, Inc., spoke to eighth grade students at Holmes Middle School Tuesday. He shared his life experiences, engaged the students with questions and answered questions from the audience.
Mr. LaRosa, 82, stressed the lessons he learned as he worked his way from a boy of modest means into the owner of his very successful restaurant and food business.
“I kept trying, I kept trying, and I didn’t stop until I got where I wanted to be,” he said.
Having a positive attitude has been the most important lesson he learned, Mr. LaRosa said. He encouraged the students to do their best every day, no matter what they are doing.
“I want you all to be winners,” he said.
Mr. LaRosa said that achievement deserves a reward. If the students achieved a worthy goal, he said he would return with a pizza wagon for a celebration. 
More details at the Covington Independent Schools Facebook page. 

POLITICS
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DEMOCRAT BILL ADKINS BRINGS CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN TO COVINGTON
The Williamstown attorney, one of two Democratic candidates vying to represent NKY in Congress, talked to supporters at the Pike Street Lounge. 

"We need to make investments in our future, reduce deficit in a balanced way that asks all Americans to pay their fair share," Adkins said.  One of those investments is the Brent Spence bridge, Adkins said before leaving his event to attend the bridge meeting at Covington City Hall where he met some of the City employees and viewed the proposed plans.  
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ADKINS ALSO APPEARED ON CN|2 THIS WEEK DISCUSSING THE CAMPAIGN:
See that video by clicking here
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REP. YARMUTH CONTINUES TO CALL OUT SEN. MCCONNELL ON HEALTH CARE
From Yarmuth's office:
In an interview with CN|2's Ryan Alessi, Congressman Yarmuth discusses the future of the Affordable Care Act and his letter to Sen. McConnell, in which Yarmuth corrects inaccuracies and distortions in the Senator's recent comments about the health care law.
QUICKIES
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Missing Kenton County teen returns home NKY Spot 
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South Covington Community Action Association meets tonight Click Here
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Dramatic video of a construction crane on fire in Ft. Mitchell Local 12 
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Verizon Wireless, Time Warner Cable to partner Business Courier 
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Recovery Kentucky helping to end addictions Cincinnati Enquirer 
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Top high school basketball recruit Nerlens Noel will play at UK next year Herald-Leader 
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Kevin Costner to unveil memorial at Fort Knox WBKO 
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WHAT IS COVINGTON FUTURECRAFT?
You can find out tonight
Do you own your own business? Or dream of someday becoming an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs are spontaneously creative, able and willing to make decisions from the gut, and generally risk-takers. Entrepreneurship is also largely about helping others achieve the goals they care about. Is that you? Well then, we like you already. Welcome to Futurecraft!Futurecraft is a group of Covington entrepreneurs embracing ingenuity, vision, and growth through a peer-to-peer community network.
Entrepreneurs in and around Covington, join us for happy hour!Futurecraft is a simple but fun concept: The startup culture of Covington and surrounding areas is invited to gather to discuss what we’re all thinking about, working on, needing help with, and might do for each other. Existing or aspiring entrepreneurs of all types and ages are invited. Let’s raise our glasses to building the entrepreneurial culture beyond ourselves.April’s Happy Hour will be Thursday, April 12, 5:30 p.m. at Pike St. Lounge. We’ll be here drinking and thinking. Will you? Drop in. 
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EMOTIONAL NIGHT AT NKU AS STUDENTS HONOR OUTGOING PRESIDENT
Dr. James Votruba, who is retiring this year as NKU's president, and his wife, Rachel, received an emotional tribute Wednesday night: 


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/04/12/2148377/two-eastern-kentucky-men-indicted.html#storylink=rss?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#storylink=cpy

CITY HALL BECOMES COURTROOM FOR FIREFIGHTER HEARING

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
UNION: CITY COMMITS UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE, REQUESTS BACK WAGES
Attorney Susan Durant prepares to listen to testimony
during Thursday's hearing at City Hall
The Commission Chambers at City Hall served as a courtroom Thursday morning as Covington's firefighter union versus city administration battle reached the state level. Attorney Susan Durant was sent to Covington from the Kentucky Attorney General's office to serve as the hearing officer in a back-and-forth that began more than a year ago. "Y'all have dealt with this for a great deal of time, I have not," Durant said from the seat that is usually occupied by Mayor Chuck Scheper, "so rather than filling in the blanks by guesswork I will be asking a number of questions."
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Local 38, the Covington firefighters chapter of the International Association of Firefighters, claims that the City of Covington engaged in unfair labor practices when it unilaterally moved to change the fire department's minimum manning standards from thirty on-duty firefighters to twenty-seven, the current mandate. The union lost its argument in Kenton County Circuit Court early last fall. This time Local 38's grievance is being heard by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet where a board will receive Durant's recommendation and will decide whether or not to agree. That recommendation will not come from Durant today. 

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"I have always found the statute that governs unfair labor practices to be confusing from my point of view," Durant said, noting that only one such claim arrived in her office in the previous ten years but that now a slew of complaints are coming in. Covington's is the first to receive a hearing, much of which was an encore performance of testimony on both sides that was heard in the Kenton County courtroom last year. The firefighters' union maintains its claim that the City did not negotiate in good faith when a minimum manning agreement was agreed to in November 2010. Just three months later the City requested to lower the number of on-duty firefighters. 
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"This not a hearing on the city's finances," said Local 38's attorney Buddy Wheatley, a former Covington Fire Chief. "Being unable to pay is not a defense for bad faith bargaining." Covington City Solicitor Frank Warnock disagreed, just as he did last year in front of Judge Gregory Bartlett. "We don't operate in a vacuum here," Warnock said. "They want to operate in a vacuum and it just doesn't work. The city manager must present a balanced budget. We cannot operate on a deficit. It is not allowed."
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Covington's precarious financial situation which includes a projected $20 million budget deficit by 2017 according to the city finance director motivated city administration to see concessions in health care coverage from its employees and a lower minimum manning agreement from the fire department. The agreement reached in November 2010 included a provision that the number could be revisited if a "significant condition" arose. Warnock argued that the projected deficit amplified by the loss of large employers Omnicare and the Nielsen Company qualifies as a significant condition.
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"Their effort is to keep the city from talking about its financial situation but that is very much in play," Warnock said. "We cannot do things the way we did thirty years ago. They lost in (Kenton Circuit Court) and they didn't like that so they filed this unfair labor practice complaint when they didn't get what they wanted at the state court. If you accept Local 38's argument there is no endgame in this."
Mike Holtman testifies at City Hall
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Not so, Whealtey countered with his first witness, retired Covington firefighter Mike Holtman who is a previous president of Local 38. Holtman pointed to figures from the National Fire Protection Association that suggest for a city the size of Covington, forty firefighters on duty at all times. When negotiation the minimum manning for the Covington firefighters, the union agreed to thirty in recognition of the city's coffers. "We knew that would be challenging financially for the city," Holtman said.
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"So Local 38 does take seriously the finances of the city," Wheatley asked. 
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"Yes."
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Local 38 maintains that their grievance is not whether Covington faces a budget deficit but whether the city negotiated in bad faith and broke an agreement in a signed contract. City Manager Larry Klein expected the hearing to continue all day. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A BRIDGE TOO FAR: COVINGTON FIGHTS FOR EXITS

by Michael Monks 
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THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
"This is by far the most important meeting in Covington about the Brent Spence Bridge in several years," said City Manager Larry Klein at the start of a packed public meeting inside City Hall. Covington's elected leaders and administrators hoped to create a unified message from Northern Kentucky's largest city as the region embarks on one of the biggest infrastructure project in its history, a new bridge between Cincinnati and Covington that may eliminate an important exit ramp to the Kentucky riverfront. 
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Fifty percent of the traffic that comes into Covington from northbound Interstate 75 does so at the 5th Street exit which would disappear under the plan recommended by transportation departments from Ohio and Kentucky. Instead, northbound drivers would exit at 12th Street and then use a collector road to get to 5th. Heading south from Cincinnati the issue is of even more concern to Covington as drivers would have to begin to exit near the Museum Center in preparation for an exit at 5th Street in Kentucky. 
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The loss of an exit ramp, while possibly the most significant, is not the only trouble facing Covington as the bridge project moves forward. Important access to Devou Park would be compromised, Goebel Park would lose its basketball court and possibly its swimming pool, and the Lewisburg neighborhood could yet again be gutted in the name of interstate progress. "When the original highway went in it cut Lewisburg off from the rest of the city and this new development only makes that void worse," said Beth Johnson, Covington's historic preservation officer.
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HERE IS A LOOK AT THE ISSUES AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS:
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ACCESS TO DOWNTOWN COVINGTON
Covington wants to ensure that a collector road is guaranteed on the northbound side of the interstate at the 12th Street exit so that traffic can continue on to 5th Street. Also, it wants amplified access to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge so that traffic can be mitigated during afternoon rush hour traffic on 4th Street allowing drivers to choose the Clay Wade Bailey to access the interstate in Cincinnati. Additionally, Covington's leaders want a direct ramp from I-75 to 9th Street.
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LEWISBURG
Twenty-three properties will be completely removed while twenty properties will be partially affected. Most of the homes being removed are on Crescent Street which would no longer be a through-street and would have double cul-de-sacs. The homes to be removed are indicated in red in these photos:


Suggestions by the city include demolishing noncontributing buildings, emphasizing a facade grant program for the neighborhood since it is an under appreciated gateway into the city, and also the creation of a Charles Zimmer Memorial Path that would be pedestrian and bike oriented in honor of the former hardware store owner who was dubbed Mr. Lewisburg in his day.
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DEVOU PARK
Access to Devou Park from Lewis Street would be closed creating more traffic on Baker Street according to the city which also said the street is not designed or equipped for through traffic. The proposed solution by city staff is to make Monatgue a two-way street with an off-street parking option. 
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GOEBEL PARK
Suggestions for a revamped Goebel Park include a new pool and pool house, a "sprayground", a fruit and vegetable garden, a pond, and new parking. Check out the photo for details: 
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There are two public meetings scheduled on both sides of the river in a couple weeks: Tuesday April 24 at Longworth Hall and Wednesday April 25 at the NKY Convention Center (parking is free that inside the RiverCenter garage). Both meetings are from 5:00 to 8:00PM. The focus of the presentations will be the recommended plan but Covington's alternate suggestions will be display with a "not recommended" label. The public will be able to submit comments through a court reporter who will be present at both meetings.