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Garren Colvin on St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Efforts to Combat COVID-19

“A few years ago during the Ebola scare, we formed an Infectious Disease Response Team in case we were inundated, which we weren’t. We kept the team in place with periodic training, so when COVID-19 hit our radar, we pressed “go” and activated them. We dedicated one of our four Northern Kentucky facilities to be our COVID-19 center, Ft. Thomas. Our facilities people turned four wings of that hospital into isolation wards, reworking the air and heating flow to create totally independent systems.

“I’m so impressed by the hard work of our 9,000 physicians and associates. I would stop by Ft. Thomas to meet and talk with our staff, hoping to uplift them and show support—but they always uplifted me. Their attitude going onto shifts and coming off of shifts was remarkable. I never missed a day of work in the office, nor has anyone on our leadership team. If we asked our associates to be on the front lines in our hospitals, I wanted us to be there too.

+Cincinnati Magazine looks back to see how Cincinnatians of the past made it through their dark days and to the leaders of today’s efforts to move forward. Read all the stories here.

“We’re excited to be one of 10 U.S. hospitals working on a clinical trial for a new COVID-19 drug treatment. We got involved because of our relationship with [Covington-based clinical research and consulting firm] CTI; we told them St. Elizabeth had the interest and the capacity to ramp up research quickly, which is the key with this virus. It’s a phase II trial, meaning smaller-scale, in-house research. If successful, phase III will involve the general public.

“Health care facilities across this region were the safest places for the public during the pandemic. Too many people died at home or got in bad shape at home because they were afraid to see their doctor or go to the hospital. It didn’t have to happen. We prepared for the worst case, which thankfully hasn’t happened, and we’re ready for a second COVID-19 spike in the coming months. More than 80 percent of those who tested positive for COVID-19 showed only mild or no symptoms, so it’s hard to say how widespread it is in our communities right now.”

Remember When the Air Force Practiced Nuclear War Over Cincinnati?

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Unless you’re an air show regular, you don’t hear many sonic booms these days. The occasional military flight offers an over-enthusiastic jet roar, and sometimes a meteor smacks the atmosphere just so—but such incidents are pretty scarce.

Map of the Cincinnati Target Complex

Image extracted from microfilm by Greg Hand

There was a time when sonic booms were a regular and frequent occurrence in Cincinnati. From the mid-1950s well into the 1960s, Cincinnatians were amazed, then annoyed, by this novel phenomenon.

Although Cincinnatians heard about sonic booms since the early 1950s, the first local booms were recorded in 1955 when an F-104 Starfighter squadron out of Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base engaged in maneuvers south of Wilmington. For the next five years, occasional Starfighter sorties caused residents to light up the switchboards at newspapers and police departments.

The first sonic boom in Hamilton County was blamed on a B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber being flown from Wright-Patt to Ft. Worth, Texas by a civilian test pilot. That boom, on August 2, 1957, cracked a plaster ceiling in one of the northern suburbs and resulted in widespread panic. The Cincinnati Enquirer [August 6, 1957] was not amused:

“Telephone lines of fire departments, police, newspapers, radio stations and the like were jammed with calls. It was an illumination illustration of what might happen if the scare had some basis, and those lines were needed for emergency purposes.”

Yet sonic booms were so new and so different—five to 10 times louder than thunder—that people had no reference. Walter McCrosky didn’t. He was caretaker of an Oakley apartment building, and when he heard a sonic boom on December 4, 1958, he was convinced it originated inside his building and called the fire department. When they found nothing amiss, he refused to believe the sound was caused by an airplane 30 miles away.

So many sonic booms and complaints about damage allegedly caused by them piled up that the local newspapers published contact information for Air Force officials handling damage payments. On October 22, 1959, The Enquirer printed advice from the Internal Revenue Service allowing deductions for damage to property as the result of sonic booms.

None other than Al Schottelkotte, then an Enquirer columnist, announced on May 4, 1960 that Cincinnati need no longer endure sonic booms because the F-104 squadron based at Wright-Patterson had been cut in an Air Force budget move. The respite was short-lived, because the Air Force revealed in 1962 that it was going to bomb Cincinnati a couple nights each week for the next year. Air Force logistics, it turned out, had painted a big tactical “X” on Cincinnati.

The Air Force set aside a limited number of corridors for attack training, and two of them ran through Cincinnati airspace. One started in New York and ended in Missouri; the other started in North Carolina and ended in Minneapolis after passing over Milwaukee.

Lying along these practice corridors were Nike missile emplacements at Oxford, Wilmington, and Felicity, Ohio and at Dillsboro, Indiana. Each had state-of-the-art radar systems capable of evaluating the accuracy of supersonic bombardiers. Within the “Cincinnati Target Complex” were several locations boasting brilliant radar profiles. These spots became the “bullseyes” onto which the bombers aimed their practice bombs: Addyston, Mason, Middletown, Maysville, Connersville, South Dayton, and the Greater Cincinnati Airport.

Although the Air Force gave a heads-up so Cincinnati could prepare for a rash of sonic booms, practice runs were also mandated for the sub-sonic B-52s and B-47s that formed the backbone of the U.S. nuclear deterrent strategy. Consequently, the local media were disappointed when the first practice run produced no sonic booms at all. “Boom Over City Goes Pf-t” whined The Enquirer [July 17, 1962]:

“Hey, what happened to that boom? Cincinnatians expecting to hear the air-ripping thunder of B-58 Hustler bombers over the city last night were disappointed. Only one of the jet bombers flew over—and it made no sonic boom.”

In short order, the Air Force fell into a pattern with two booms sounding almost every night between 8 and 8:30 p.m. and another set around 11 p.m. Those late night booms generated the most complaints about interrupted sleep, awakened children, and disturbed pets. Despite the grumbles, the aerial maneuvers inspired patriotism at The Enquirer [July 27, 1962]:

“The ‘sound of freedom’ boomed loud and clear over the Cincinnati area last night in two window-rattling installments, sending jarred citizens to their telephones. The booms sounded at 8:18 p.m. and again at 8:28 p.m. as two B-58 Hustler bombers passed over the city on practice runs from Asheville, N.C. to Milwaukee.”

Perhaps the most profound impact of the 1962 assault on Cincinnati occurred at the Camp Myron Kahn Boy Scout facility near Camden, Ohio. Cheviot Boy Scout Troop 601 occupied the camp for a week that summer. One night, the scouts enacted a ritual in which several boys, dressed as Indians, ran into the council ring and chanted an incantation before a stack of wood. One boy intoned “Let there be fire!” just as a sonic boom cracked the sky and just as a hidden scoutmaster ignited the bonfire. According to The Cincinnati Post’s Si Cornell [August 9, 1962]:

“The little Indian chief seemed amazed at the extent of his mystical powers.”

Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney Launches Initiative to Support Black-Owned Businesses

At the end of April, Cincinnati City Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney launched her #CincyBuyBlackThursday initiative to remind Cincinnatians that local Black businesses need their support. “Every time someone patronizes a Black business, we ask people to take a photo of it, post it on social media, and use the hashtag #CincyBuyBlackThursday,” Kearney says. This seemingly small act of support can go a long way for struggling local businesses.

The Confetti Room is one of many Black-owned businesses in Cincinnati

Photograph by Alison Sun

According to a research team at the University of California Santa Cruz, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. were forced to permanently close due to COVID-19; whereas, white-owned businesses experienced only a 17 percent loss. The systematic discrimination in the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) is partly responsible for this high percentage of closings. Roughly 95 percent of Black business owners who applied for PPP compensation were rejected. Many of these business owners are sole proprietors, do not have a substantial payroll, and/or do not have access to bank credit, making it very difficult for them to stay afloat during the current economic decline.

Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney and her family at her swearing-in ceremony

Photograph courtesy of Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney

“What I hope is that people start integrating Black-owned businesses into their lifestyles and routines. Instead of going online and supporting national companies, find a local business here,” she says. A detailed directory of more than 200 local Black-owned businesses can be found on Kearney’s city council page. This tool is free to the public, and it’s a great resource for learning about Black businesses.

In addition to her #CincyBuyBlackThursdays, Kearney is working to support the Black community in other ways, including providing affordable housing, reforming the police culture, and improving resources for Cincinnati Public Schools. To support affordable housing, Kearney is working to prevent neighborhood development from pushing residents out of their homes. “We can all live together—different races, different economic levels—in a thriving neighborhood. There’s room for everybody,” she says.

In efforts to decrease police violence and provide citizens with appropriate support, Kearney hopes to incorporate human services agencies and social workers into the law enforcement system. She also is working to increase summer youth employment and provide volunteer tutors for disadvantaged students. In the future, Kearney wants to see greater minority representation on corporate boards, provide small businesses with much-needed government funding, and close the health and economic disparities between races.

All of these combined efforts support Kearney’s goal to uplift disadvantaged populations, particularly people of color. “At one point, Cincinnati was the fifth most segregated city in the United States, and it is still known to be a segregated place,” Kearney says. Her mission is to change this, and her first step is with #CincyBuyBlackThursday. “There are so many fantastic people here doing great things,” she says. “Cincinnati is a strong place. We’ve got a very bright future.”

A Contemporary Suburban Stunner in Evendale

3441 Carpenters Creek Drive

Situated on a corner lot in Carpenter’s Creek in Evendale near the Blue Ash Golf Course, this contemporary home built in the late 1980s has been updated over the last few years with upgrades totaling $100,000. The 6,000-square-foot home features five bedrooms and six full and one half bathrooms. The varied roofline and stone chimney add visual interest to the exterior, while inside, the living room boasts high ceilings and a working fireplace, with another stone chimney. A wall of windows offers a glimpse of the shaded back deck. The living room opens to the dining room, which is in turn open to the kitchen, the two spaces separated by a built-in bar and cabinets, creating a practical space for entertaining. On the other side, a trio of niches set into that half wall have spotlights that can be used to showcase artwork.

The kitchen is perhaps our favorite room. It’s spacious, with an efficient layout. The eat-in island has a built-in cooktop, plenty of cabinets and drawers, and quartz countertops. An oversized farmhouse sink stands in front of a greenhouse window that’s perfect for a few pots of herbs. Shaker-style cabinets with brushed nickel hardware match the stainless appliances. Finally, a small breakfast nook is filled with light from windows that overlook the back deck and skylights above. For the entertaining pros, the back deck will be a friend group favorite. Mostly shaded by trees, it’s broken into a substantial conversation area and a spot just off the dining room that’s perfect for a dining set.

Other noteworthy rooms include the office with its own fireplace and built-in shelving, a seating area on the second floor outside the bedrooms, and the master bath with a soaking tub overlooking the yard. The lower level features another massive, open entertaining spot with a full-size fridge next to a small wet bar, working fireplace, and loads of shelving doubling as the entertainment center. A unique room that’s rarely in the basement is a sunroom-like space with several floor-to-ceiling windows and a walkout. An entire wing of the home is a dedicated in-law suite with two bathrooms and a bedroom. Here, hardwood stretches throughout the first floor’s open living room and kitchen. Skylights line the ceiling in the lofted second level that has plenty of room for an office or sitting area. The bedroom here also has a walkout to the main deck.

Outside, the lot includes quite a bit of land, a new water irrigation system and creek bed, and driveway space on either side of the house, with a basketball hoop on one end and a garage for the in-law suite on the other.

Click through our gallery to view more photos of this home:

Covington’s Bouquet Reopens With Tech Aimed to Reduce Spread of COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dining-out experience probably won’t look like it used to for a while. Many restaurants have cautiously reopened to the public with added safety measures to reduce the chances of infecting staff and customers. But Stephen Williams, chef-owner of Bouquet Restaurant in Covington, wanted to add an extra layer of virus protection to his dining room: an ionic air filtration system.

This filtration system, called iWave, uses technology called “needle-point bipolar ionization” to filter out pollutants such as mold, smoke, and pollen. Some studies published on the manufacturer’s website show a 99.4 percent decrease in SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease) when filtered using this technology.

It’s important to note, however, the efficacy of such ionic filtration systems with SARS-CoV-2 have not been endorsed or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It’s the same technology that caused a stir last month when touted by the pastors of a megachurch in Arizona prior to a political rally hosted by the President.

Williams says he originally came across the technology while looking for an air filtration system for his own home. “It was really something that we just thought would be that extra level of protection,” he says. “[It] was just what I thought was the best next step.”

Along with the system’s installation, Bouquet has made additional changes to their operations to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19 between staff and guests. Pedal operated hand sanitizer stations have been installed in the dining room, which is now also limiting its dining room capacity to 30 percent to ensure social distancing. Disposable menus are now printed on paper and masked and gloved staff members sanitize shared surfaces frequently throughout the day.

Bouquet Restaurant, 519 Main St., Covington, (859) 491-7777

Anderson Township Trustee Dee Stone Keeps It Sassy and Chic

Occupation: Executive Director, Forest Hills Foundation for Education; Anderson Township Trustee
Style: Always trendy

Describe your style.

When I lived in San Francisco, this guy told me, Oh, your style is sassy-chic, and I was like, OK, I guess that’s what it is then. So that’s how it’s been described to me.

What does sassy-chic look like?

I always try to do either big accessories or some little twist that makes it a little different from everybody else. A lot of my outfits start with either a really patterned or colorful pair of pants coupled with black. Or I start with black pants coupled with a colorful shirt.

After college, you worked as a lawyer for IBM before becoming the publisher of a San Francisco–based fashion magazine. What influenced this career change?

I’ve always been interested in fashion and fashion magazines. It’s an inherited gene apparently. My mother was always the best-dressed mom. We would go to any event and she was always totally pulled together, and my grandmother was the same way. Our style is that we’re always following the trends. If [the color of the season] were purple, my mom would be wearing a purple suit long before anyone else in my town would be wearing something purple. I grew up seeing that, and it just became second nature for me.

You frequent Snooty Fox for vintage and consignment pieces. Where else do you shop to stay on trend?

What I try to do to now—just because I have a pretty interesting collection of clothes—is shop my closet. I have plenty of accessories and clothes. I don’t really need anything new. The only thing I always need something new for is shoes. If you have the right pair of shoes, anything can look in style.

Any tips for crafting the perfect outfit?

Play dress-up! It’s good to try [an outfit] ahead of time, and it’s a great rainy Sunday afternoon activity. Also, a full-length mirror is your best friend; you’ve got to look head to toe.

Renee Mahaffey Harris Says the Pandemic Has Shown That We Must Work Together

“Our organization has been around for 16 years, working to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati. When someone asked Dr. Fauci why there are disparate COVID-19 incidences and outcomes among black people in the United States, he said, How long do you have? Because the factors that put us in this place are systemic and have been here for some time.

+Cincinnati Magazine looks back to see how Cincinnatians of the past made it through their dark days and to the leaders of today’s efforts to move forward. Read all the stories here.

“From the moment I heard about the stay-at-home order, I reached out to organizations that serve the black community—the Urban League, the African American Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, Councilmember Jan-Michele Kearney, and Roosevelt Walker, president of the Cincinnati Medical Association—and we came together to develop a website to provide trusted information on the pandemic. Things can be confusing when there’s conflicting information and when issues aren’t understood. We have weekly town hall meetings on Zoom and Facebook Live, with experts answering questions from members of the black community, and we do interviews with different experts on Radio One and in The Cincinnati Herald. We’ve created a hotline for seniors in Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority buildings so they can find out where to get meals, masks, and answers to their questions. Traditional word-of-mouth communication can’t happen in this pandemic. To reach young people, we’re utilizing social media, using the mechanisms they use. TikTok is a new one to me, but we’ve just done one showing kids that, when you walk out a door, you grab a mask. When you see kids talking to other kids about wearing masks, that’s when activation happens.

“We now have more than 30 organizations that have joined in, making sure they could be a part of this fight. I serve on the minority strike force for Governor DeWine, and he’s asked about some of the collaborative things we’re doing. There are many organizations serving marginalized populations in Cincinnati. The pandemic has shown that we must work together. That has to be what comes out of this. I’m optimistic it will happen.”

Spring Grove Cemetery Offers an Alternative Outdoor Art Experience

As coronavirus concerns continue to prevent art aficionados from visiting indoor museums, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum remains a top cultural destination in Cincinnati. People have flocked to the Cincinnati Horticultural Society–founded gem ever since its 1845 inception—and for many reasons other than visiting deceased loved ones. Boasting 733 acres, Spring Grove is it the second largest cemetery in the country. Its innovative lawn plan forever elevates expectations for cemeteries and makes it easy to socially distance, but that’s only one part of the grounds’ appeal.

“You might say it’s a cemetery with a capital ‘C,’ in the fact that it has it all,” says Douglas Keister, a photographer once called America’s chief tombstone tourist. “It’s got nature. It’s got magnificent mausoleums. It’s got landscaping. It’s got the winding roads in a very bucolic environment, and also sculpture.”

The Norman Chapel greets visitors who enter the main gate. The Romanesque revival dates to 1880 and was added to the national register of historic places 100 years later. (The cemetery was named a historic landmark in 2007.) Though interior viewings are by appointment only, a glance toward the ground-level barred windows left of the front doors reveals the chapel’s subterranean jail cell.

Then there’s the impressive collection of private mausoleums. The Dexter Mausoleum, for example, has been the centerpiece of Spring Grove for 150 years. The grand gothic structure, which is said to be modeled after Sainte-Chappelle royal chapel in Paris, houses four generations of Dexters inside the city’s only pair of flying buttresses.

Taken together, the cemetery’s oversized memorials offer a clinic in architectural history. Many date to a time when wealthy families employed personal architects for all their building needs, much in the way modern celebrities use the same fashion designers. And by design, all are left largely untouched.

“If you want to study architecture, go to a cemetery. You’ll find every type of modern architecture in a pretty pristine form. You’re not going to find a bungalow with aluminum siding,” Keister says. “Spring Grove has a wonderfully eclectic assortment of mausoleums. It’s got Gothic, Art Deco, and Classical Revival and is nicely sited because of the rolling hills,” Keister says.

The rolling hills, plus the 15 lakes, 44 miles of paved roads, and 1,200 plant species (1,000 of which are labeled for identification) are worth the visit alone and make the cemetery feel more like a park than a graveyard. Throughout your visit, you’ll likely encounter people jogging and enjoying a picnic, plus occasional wild geese, turkey, and deer sightings.

Like museums, Spring Grove is best appreciated with a plan of attack. “I would say get a guidebook and you want to make a kind of treasure hunt,” says Keister, who enjoys hunting for “zinkies,” which are headstones that appear to be solid granite but are hollow inside. Visitors can grab a map from the Customer Service Center or schedule a docent-led tour to learn about Spring Grove’s horticulture and notable burials, such as the 41 Civil War generals buried throughout the cemetery.

Check out more of what Spring Grove Cemetery has to offer in our gallery:

New Riff Kicks Off July Rooftop Pop-Up Events

New Riff Distilling welcomes back guests with a creative twist with its Riff Top pop-ups throughout the month of July. Utilizing its Tower Room and adjoining outdoor terrace (which normally houses weddings and private events), there is ample room to accommodate guests while implementing social distancing. 

The Riff Top events began on July 3 and will continue throughout the month on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. Capacity is limited for social distancing on a first-come, first-serve basis. The distillery offers guests an array of craft cocktails and gorgeous views of the Cincinnati skyline from its rooftop.

Cucumber Castle cocktail

Photograph courtesy of New Riff Distilling

“Similar to our approach to making whiskey—cautious, with a careful inclusion of ingredients and our passion—we have created these pop-ups to ensure the safety and enjoyment of our guests,” says New Riff Director of Communications Amy Tobin.

Besides classic cocktails and seasonal options such as the refreshing Cucumber Castle or the beachy Royal Hawaiian, there are flights, neat pours, exclusive single barrel options, and various beers and wines available. Food options are nice and light, including snacks and appetizers. Live acoustic music will also be featured during many of the Riff Top nights.

“Our patrons want a calm and thoughtful—while still fun—environment that guarantees safety,” says owner Ken Lewis.

To keep customers and staff safe, masks are required unless seated; there are contactless menus accessed via QR codes; sanitizing stations have been placed throughout; and staff members are dedicated to hourly cleanings.

New Riff Distilling, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, (859) 261-7433

Bobby Diddle’s Longfurbs Gives a Crafty Update to a ’90s Icon

You’ve either loved a Furby, loathed a Furby, or just now learned the word Furby. For local artist Bobby Diddle, the infamous late-’90s animatronic owl has been a lifelong love. “When I was a kid I was obsessed with them,” Diddle says. “I had a baby blue one, I had a cheetah one, a graduation one, an angel one. I had all of them.”

She wasn’t alone: Tens of millions of Furbies sold in just their first years on the market, largely because the creatures were programmed with their own kind of artificial intelligence—a then-novel technology, especially in toys. Out of the box, they would twitch their ears and beaks and speak their own cheeky “Furbish” language, and then, in an uncanny twist, would “learn” the language spoken around them. Pairs would “talk” to each other. People with Furbies viewed them with simultaneous awe and alarm, and toys were never the same. “It’s kind of a cult object,” Diddle says. “It’s like having a piece of history.”

Nineties nostalgia is indeed a whole scene on the internet, attracting collectors and enthusiasts alike. Diddle, took her interest and made it her art with Longfurbs, her collection of Furbies, which she converts to have long necks and bodies, and then shares their images on Instagram. “It’s a very niche group with a very deep connection to them,” she says. That niche group, at least on Instagram, is up to 27,700 followers (and counting!), part of a loyal web audience that breathlessly awaits the next Longfurbs release; they currently go for hundreds of dollars each on eBay.

Diddle’s process to create Longfurbs is more complicated than it looks: The School of Creative and Performing Arts grad starts with a theme, and looks for a personality that fits the Furby. “I completely scrap it, remove the skin, take the faceplate off, and then hand-sew everything. It takes around three days,” she says. “I connect the body, which is just a sock with stuffing.” Diddle dresses them, usually in Build-a-Bear clothes (“They fit perfectly”). Finally, part of the fun of mak­ing—and presumably owning—Longfurbs is posing them in lifelike environments, drinking a cocktail or eating fried chicken. Since September 2018, Diddle has sold some two dozen Longfurbs, and isn’t stopping any time soon, as it perfectly blends her vocation and avocation. “I’ve always been a huge fan of birds and creepiness and the ’90s,” she says. “It’s an amalgamation of all those things.”

Click through our gallery to view more photos of Diddle’s Longfurbs: