New council, new space: Fort Thomas meets in remodeled chambers

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Residents and officials got a first glimpse of the newly renovated Fort Thomas City Building at the city’s first council meeting of the year on Jan. 23.

While the remainder of the space is not quite ready, officials did receive permission from the building inspector to hold meetings in the newly redesigned council chambers.

With its marble entryway, expansive front lobby and two-story glass-enclosed staircase, the new administrative space bears little resemblance to the original structure built in 1968. Gone are the cream brick walls, narrow hallways and tiny elevator. The city went with an open concept featuring glass-fronted public offices, a large well-lighted council chamber room and several open seating areas throughout the building.

City Administrator Matt Kremer said the city plans a proper opening and tour for the public once office staff is fully moved into the building. Some electric panels are still on order and must be installed before the final move-in. He said he anticipates the building could be ready in two to three weeks.

The new chamber was an appropriate setting to swear in the new city council and mayor. For half the council, it was their first meeting since the election. Fort Thomas welcomed the return of council members Jeff Bezold, Adam Blau and Ben Pendery and new members Andy Ellison, Lauren McIntosh and Eric Strange.

Campbell County District Court Judge Cameron Blau and his new colleague and Fort Thomas resident District Court Judge Erin Sizemore were on hand to swear in the new council and mayor.

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Getting down to city business

While the meeting was short, Kremer gave a full report of project updates and new meeting procedures for the coming year.

He said now that he’s been in the administrator position for seven months, he will implement a few changes in meeting procedures designed to improve the flow and clarity of meetings.

Citizens addressing council would be held to three minutes each to allow for more people to speak. Those wishing to speak will fill out their information on a sign-up sheet. That way, he will have contact information to follow up if needed.

Kremer also introduced “office hours” following the last Planning and Zoning meeting. The time is set aside to allow citizens and officials an opportunity ask questions and discuss further issues from the meeting. He said he plans to do more of these discussion sessions throughout the year.

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