The Cov Commission discusses recovery plans, paves the way for new police cars, approves incentives and more
By Ryan Clark
Could it be time to relax again?
If Ben Oldiges has his way, it will be.
Oldiges, the city’s parks and recreation manager, is poised for its biggest season since COVID-19 — and the department’s latest program guide (minus some final changes) will be ready to go public soon, he told city commissioners.
“A little background – as you all know, in 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 has devastated the world of parks and recreation, as it has done many other industries across the country,” Oldiges reported. “Covington has tried to keep recreational programs alive.”
He said they use outdoor festivals and drop-off programs. In 2021 they have reopened their water sports programs. They also tested two one-time programs:
• Urban Hike Series – Urban walks through the city of Covington
• Pickleball program – like full size table tennis, played outside
“We wanted accessibility — we wanted to have recreational programs right in the heart of the city that were walk-in events,” he said. “And we wanted affordability.”
Oldiges said 99 percent of the programs they plan to offer are completely free. And they wanted to focus on diversity — “We wanted every neighborhood to have some part of the recreational program,” he said. “We wanted to cover all ages. We want to be innovative and develop new ideas.”
Some of these new ideas are:
• Earth Day – teaches life skills topics such as the importance of recycling and green spaces
• Covington Jack o’ Lantern Walk – lights up the Licking River Trail with pumpkins
• Youth Soccer Program – for 5-7 year olds (partnered with FC Cincinnati)
• Covington Basketball Club — A combination of skill and practice, with structured games and games of HORSE and PIG
• Northern Kentucky Senior Games
• Senior Swimming
• Men’s Softball
Oldiges said they plan to continue expanding their program in the future.
“While this program guide isn’t as solid as we wanted it to be, it’s the most solid we’ve produced in years,” he said. “And we want that to be a stepping stone to get us into 2023 and into the future.”
Police cars and change
The commissioners approved a budget change to wire $500,000 and buy 10 police cars for the city.
Two weeks ago, Chief Robert Nader explained that the department hadn’t bought any cars in five of the last 10 years and that he was “able to pull it together” by buying older vehicles from other departments and only driving half the normal ones Time.
In January, Commissioner Ron Washington asked the City Manager if he could develop a plan to purchase 10 new, full-featured police cars for the fleet.
• The commissioners approved a forgivable front office agreement for Mark Kohlhas for $1,834 at 17 W. Pike St.
• Commissioners approved a forgivable front-end agreement for BrandFuel Co. for $3,667.57 at 17 and 15 W. Pike St.
• The commissioners approved a forgivable front office agreement for Jodie and Jeffrey Ganote for $3,943 at 604 W. 12th St.
The commissioners authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with BrandFuel Company LLC to facilitate payment of a $6,000 commercial lease incentive for the property at 15-17 W. Pike St.
Commissioners approved hiring for:
• J. Kyle Snyder – Managing Director of the Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority
• Sarah Allan – Associate Director, Economic Development Division
• Steven Willis – Police Officer
• Jeffrey Tolliver – Police Officer
• Michael Martinez – Police Officer
• Kennedy Sizemore – Police Officer
• Ryan Wielgus – Police Officer
Commissioners approved resignations for:
• Meganne Robinson – Grant author
• Misty Haas – Business Analyst
The commissioners approved a reappointment for:
• Sean Pharr – Municipal Planning and Land Use Commission of Kenton Co
ARPA for senior shuttles?
Commissioner Tim Downing asked if city officials could explore the possibility of using ARPA funds to subsidize shuttles to senior living facilities.
“To help some of our elderly residents travel,” he said. “I know this has happened in the past, but it has now fallen by the wayside and it would be nice if we could find a way within ARPA to revive that – even if it’s just that for a short time.”
City accepts award
On Friday, the city received the City Government of the Year award from the Kentucky League of Cities.
“It was a very nice event,” said Mayor Meyer. “This is a recognition that is primarily based on the city’s outstanding economic development performance in the past year, but also external confirmation of the high quality of the work of our city employees and our city administration. ”
Meyer went on.
“I make it a point to talk about the fact that our city government is actually much more than just those of us who work here in the different buildings and are on the payrolls,” he said. “But that includes dozens of people who serve on our various boards and commissions because they have also been instrumental in making Covington the kind of governor and the kind of city we wanted to be. So I want to reiterate the appreciation of the whole Commission for all the great work that is being done by the people who work for us and by the citizens who have put their hands up and volunteered to do their work at this very challenging political time have try to make the city a better city.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Covington Commission will be held as a caucus session on March 1 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington. The meetings can be viewed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, the TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline and the TBNK Roku channels.