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Local Restaurant Owner, Oktoberfest Enthusiast Honored in Germany

The German government has honored a City of Newport employee and Covington business owner.

Sal Wertheim, the special events coordinator in Newport and owner of Wertheim's restaurant in Covington's Mainstrasse Village, was awarded the Order of Merit, the highest tribute the German government can give to an individual, for his work on the sister city program (known in Germany as the twin town program), between Blue Ash, Ohio (where Wertheim lives) and Ilmenau, Germany.

Bodo Ramelow, minister-president of the German state of Thuringia, presented the award on behalf of German President Joachim Gauck. Wertheim received the award in late September while in Germany as part of a Blue Ash delegation visiting Ilmenau, which is similar to Blue Ash in population, economic development, and education.

Wertheim has served the sister city program as an interpreter, organizer, host to German families, and in other capacities and roles.

"The majority of people on both sides of the Atlantic are of the opinion that the USA and German are reliable partners," Ramelow said in announcing the award. "Appreciation of each other will only continue to flourish, however, if a close-knit network of contacts between citizens forms the basis of cooperative relationships.

"We therefore need cultural contacts and business relationships. And we need twin town partnerships and people like Sal Wertheim, who know how important personal contacts are, both between citizens and between specialists in various fields."

Wertheim's family left Germany in 1935 to flee the Nazis and immigrated to Argentina, where he was raised. He came to the United States in 1964 and began working in the restaurant business. He joined Frisch's restaurants in 1966 and worked as a manager and area supervisor for nearly 20 years. In addition to operating Wertheim's, which opened in 1990, Wertheim coordinates special events in Newport and also consults with the City of Cincinnati on major event planning.

"With his Wertheim's Restaurant and as one of the organizers of the world's second largest Oktoberfest in Cincinnati, he cultivates German traditions and customs in the State of Ohio," Ramelow said. "He knowledge about German culture and his familiarity in dealing with our authorities were indispensable in establishing the twin town partnership between Blue Ash and Ilmenau."

Wertheim also works closely with Southbank Partners, the coalition of government, business and community leaders in Northern Kentucky's river cities.

"We are very proud of all Sal has done for Southbank, for Newport and Covington, for Blue Ash and of course internationally," said Southbank President Jack Moreland. "Sal is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. When he says he is going to do something, it gets done. I commend the German government for recognizing all he has done for  relations between communities, people, businesses and cities here and in Germany."

-Staff report

Photo: Wertheim's (via Facebook)