This is an installment of reporter Julia Fair's series "By the way, NKY." Here, you'll find what's going on in Northern Kentucky.
If there's something you think should be included, email reporter Julia Fair at [email protected]
'Passing an ordinance would be a waste of paper' Edgewood City Council emails about abortion clinic ordinance
In May, Lebanon became the first city in Ohio to ban abortions.
When local cities pass new legislation, especially on polarizing social issues, I wonder who’s going to do it next. So, I’ve been on the lookout to see if any Northern Kentucky cities are going to try to outlaw abortions locally.
I read a River City News article about Mike Thelen, 56, of Edgewood, who asked council at its May 17 meeting to outlaw abortion just like Lebanon did.
I sent the city of Edgewood a records request and asked for emails city officials sent to each other that mentioned abortion. I wanted the emails so I could see what city leaders said about Thelen’s request.
A few days after Edgewood voted to table discussions about outlawing abortion clinics, I got the emails back. They included an official from the Diocese of Covington emailing a councilmember, and discussions about Roe v. Wade and zoning issues related to abortion clinics.
On May 25, Jamie Schroeder, a Chancellor at Diocese of Covington based in Covington, emailed Edgewood Councilman Dale Henson, who is the chief financial officer for the diocese. Schroeder is on the team that assists the Bishop in the "pastoral and administrative" governance of the Diocese of Covington, according to the group's website.
The Enquirer was unable to reach the Diocese of Covington before publication.
Schroeder forwarded to Henson an article Thelen sent her about Lebanon declaring itself a sanctuary city for the unborn. Schroeder added that the man who helped Lebanon indicated he would help Edgewood as well.
Henson forwarded the email to City Administrator Brian Dehner with the message "FYI."
Also on May 25, Dehner and Councilwoman Darla Kettenacker emailed each other about the ordinances.
Kettenacker wrote to Dehner about a petition Thelen posted online to ask the city to ban abortions.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t Council be involved with Planning/Zoning if someone even tried to open an abortion clinic in our city?” Kettenacker wrote. She asked if they could ask City Attorney Frank Wichmann about it.
She wrote about how there are no abortion clinics in Kenton County, and how Edgewood is a "strong, highly Catholic, community who promote the sanctity of life."
“Frank told the Mayor and I that passing an ordinance would be a waste of paper at this time because it wouldn’t be enforceable,” Dehner wrote. “He also brought up the Supreme Court ruling everyone is waiting on. Frank said it would probably bring about several lawsuits on the city and cost the city funds in defending it at this time.”
Dehner said he is anti-abortion, and that his comments are what he believes “would be best for the City as an organization.”
He wrote that the city could pass a resolution to indicate they are opposed to abortion clinics and that one would not be welcome in the city.
“Later if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we could then seek legal opinion on what we could do,” he wrote. “I don’t think people recognize it, but this is a zoning issue, not just passing an ordinance. We would probably need to look at the zones we have that allow medical procedure offices and amend those zones to prohibit the type of business (abortion.)”
Kettenacker thanked Dehner for his insight. She said waiting to see what happens to Roe v. Wade “sounds like the right thing to do,” and that the zoning information was helpful.
Money to improve Boone County streams, forests
Money is available to spruce up streams and forests in Boone County.
The Boone County Conservation District partnered with the Kentucky Natural Resource Conservation Service to give out up to $800,000 on conservation projects in the Middle Creek Watershed. Landowners will be able to use the money to improve the health of forests or streams, said Watershed Project Manager Mark Jacobs.
Jacobs told The Enquirer they want to help landowners remove invasive species and protect forests.
More than 500 parcels in 7,100 acres of the watershed could benefit from the program. Owners can encourage the growth of native plants, which can help stabilize stream banks. Other projects could include creating pollinator habitats, managing brush, building a livestock fence to keep animals out of streams, and more.
Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands. Approved landowners will be reimbursed for their project, Jacobs said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been implementing programs like this one, through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The local conservation district will provide the application. Then, staff from the Kentucky Natural Resource Conservation Service will work with landowners through the planning process.
To apply, contact the Boone County Conservation District/NRCS field office in Burlington, KY at [email protected] or 859-586-7903 ex 3. For more information visit: bccdky.org/focusedconservation-project.
Covington Plaza to open
On Friday, the $6.54 million Covington Plaza on the riverfront of the city of Covington will officially open.
It includes two hiking and biking trails, two overlooks, canoe and kayak access, as well as a 1,350-seat amphitheater and an event area, according to a press release from the city.
The grand opening celebration will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. People will be able to buy food, beer, ice cream and other refreshments from food trucks and listen to live music.
That's it for this installment of By the way, NKY. Let us know if there's something you think we should include in the next. In the meantime, here are some other ways to keep up with your community:
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Julia is the Northern Kentucky government reporter through the Report For America program. The Enquirer needs local donors to help fund her grant-funded position. If you want to support Julia's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at this website or email her editor Carl Weiser at [email protected] to find out how you can help fund her work.
Do you know something she should know? Send her a note at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JFair_Reports.
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