Campbell County community members recognized at fiscal court meeting

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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Former Campbell County Head Wrestling Coach Mike Bankemper recognized for his 42-year career

Recently retired Campbell County High School Wrestling Coach Mike Bankemper was honored at this week’s Campbell County Fiscal Court meeting for his 42-year career. 

Bankemper was a wrestler at Campbell County High School until he graduated in 1976 and wrestled at Northern Kentucky University.

He found his way back to Campbell County High School in 1980, when he became the assistant wrestling coach. Bankemper remained in that role until 1982, when he took over as head coach—the position he held until his retirement this year. He also served as Campbell County’s director of athletics for nine years.

During his 40 seasons as head coach, the Campbell County Camels won four state championships and, as a team, ranked in the top 25 nationally.

“That strikes me as amazing because I don’t know how they go about the process of defining how high school teams in their 1000s across the country rank, but it’s a pretty good indication that there’s a tradition of excellence that is recognized and also a high-quality team,” Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery said. 

Under Coach Bankemper, the Campbell County wrestling team accomplished: 

  • State runner-up five times and placed in the top 10 in the state 29 times
  • Won the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference 24 times and came in second eight times
  • Won 18 regional championships and finished runner-up in the region 15 times
  • 27 individual state champions 
  • 59 state finalists 
  • 191 state placements 
  • 10 high school All Americans 
  • Seven students went on to compete at the NCAA division one level 

“Just an amazing career. Unbelievable,” Campbell County Attorney Steve Franzen said. “There were times when especially with the football team—I’m a Camel like Mike—when it wasn’t as successful as people wanted, but the wrestling program was always just the diamond. It was a gold standard out there. Thanks to you.”

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Bankemper won the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2016. The National Wrestling Coaches Association Region 4 Coach of the year in 2004. And was the Kentucky Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor three times in 1990, 1991 and 1994.

For his many accomplishments during his tenure at Campbell County High School, Bankemper was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, the Northern Kentucky Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Northern Kentucky Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“I’ve known Mike for 30 years,” Campbell County Commissioner Geoff Besecker said. “I was honored to come to Campbell County as somebody not from here. One of the very first people I ever met there was Mike Bankemper, and Mike was the athletic director at the time. I got to coach for 10 years under Mike’s tutelage as an athletic director. He always had the temperament that was necessary to calm the coach down when things weren’t going all that well and give them a high five when things were going well.”

Besecker said that no one else had done a better job than Bankemper for the student-athlete.

Campbell County Commissioner Brian Painter went to school with Bankemper and said he had known him for 46 years.

“I have to go back all the way back to 1976. You were a wrestler, and you were one of the athletic people,” Painter said. “I didn’t participate in any of that, but you were always willing to take people as they were and were friendly to everyone you came across. That made an impression on me about people in sports, and the reason why you are able to always excel with your students and your student-athletes is because of the way you treated people, and that was a special thing.”

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Three members of Campbell County Emergency Management team recognized

Three members of the Campbell County Emergency Management team recognized by the Campbell County Fiscal Court. From Left to right Campbell County Attorney Steve Franzen, Campbell County Commissioner Geoff Besecker, Campbell County Commissioner Brian Painter, OEM Deputy Director Greg Buckler, OEM Director William Turner, President of the Kentucky Emergency Management Association Jon Allen, Deputy Director of Operations James Sparks, Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery, Campbell County Commissioner Tom Lampe. Photo by Haley Parnell | LINK nky

The Campbell County Emergency Management team is responsible for planning and training for disasters countywide and incidents they may be dispatched to, such as the devastating tornado in Western Kentucky last year and recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky. 

The Campbell County Emergency Management team consists of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director William Turner, Deputy Director of Operations James Sparks, and OEM Deputy Director Greg Buckler.

Campbell County is the state’s first county to have all its staff certified as Kentucky Emergency Managers.

The three team members were recognized for their work at the Campbell County Fiscal Court meeting on Sept. 21. The President of the Kentucky Emergency Management Association, Jon Allen, spoke at the meeting. 

Allen said Buckler had distinguished himself as a leader in the emergency management community in Campbell County, state, and nationwide. He noted that Buckler is a certified Kentucky Emergency Manager and was recently elected as KEMA (Kentucky Emergency Management Association) region vice president. 

“To receive the title of certified Kentucky Emergency Manager is not something that comes easy,” Allen said. “It requires at least a four-year commitment. It requires the recipient to dedicate themselves to specific training and mutual aid appointments, be published in media, and have advanced knowledge of the profession and its practices. All of this in addition to our already hectic work duties as emergency managers.”

Allen recognized Spark’s work in Eastern Kentucky after the flooding, where he served as a deputy team leader. 

“His leadership knowledge and determination are examples of things that every CKEM (Certified Kentucky Emergency Manager) should strive to represent their career,” Allen said.

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Sparks was also recently elected as the KEMA Statewide Secretary.

Allen awarded Office of Emergency Management Director William Turner the KEMA President’s Award at the meeting.

“The KEMA President’s Award is reserved for circumstances and individuals whose work to advance emergency management within and outside of the borders of the Commonwealth goes far beyond the efforts of our peers,” Allen said.

Turner began his career in Eastern Kentucky as the director of Owsley County Emergency Management. He spent two and a half years there before accepting the position of area manager with Kentucky Emergency Management working out of the hazard office.

After 10 years in that role, he left Kentucky and became the Emergency Management Director in Butler County, Ohio, where he spent the next 10 years of his career.

Turner found his way back to Kentucky, where he took on his current role as Emergency Management Director and has been with Campbell County for the last 14 years. 

“Director Turner’s dedication to his job, his care for his peers and subordinates is unmatched,” Allen said. “He is a tremendous asset to KEMA, Campbell County, and the Commonwealth.” 

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