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Photos: Great Neighbors, Community Leaders Honored in Covington

The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington hosted its 2014 Annual Celebration Awards Ceremony where several individuals and organizations were honored and recognized for their positive contributions to the city.

The event was well attended at the Madison Event Center and many city officials came to support the celebration.

The awards were given in four different categories: Key to the Future Awards, Community Leader Awards, Commitment to Covington Great Business Award, and Great Neighbor Award.

The Key to the Future Award recognizes Covington youth, grades 6-12, who demonstrate outstanding leadership and service to their community.

Holmes senior David Lemus was awarded for his leadership skills captaining the school's soccer team, being a peer tutor and Sunday School teacher, and leading by example in the class room by maintaining a high grade-point average.

Max Mason was recognized for his volunteer work cleaning up at organized Latonia events and showing a strong interest in the formation of the Latonia Community Council.

Verlie Meadows is an International Baccalaureate student at Holmes High School and a black belt in karate. She also teaches karate in the after-school program at Glenn O. Swing.

Mariah McIntosh spearheaded her swim team's Rock for Breast Cancer fundraiser and was awarded the Bulldog Leadership Award by her coaches for her volunteer work in the Bulldogs Give Back program at Holmes High School.

De'Montez Taylor was the 35th District Boys Soccer Tournament MVP this season and was nominated as class president by his peers as a sophomore. He is also a student co-op for Covington Partners at the Holmes Campus.

Sixth-grade twins Adam and Rowan Weckman presented at Covington City Hall ways to improve Goebel Park which led to a $50,000 grant for park improvements.

The Community Leader Awards were next which recognizes residents who make significant contributions to the city of Covington.

Lisa Gillham was first to be recognized for her work in nominating the Ritte's East neighborhood as an Historic District to the National Register which was later designated as such.

Barbara and Russell Horsely were next for the award. Russ had recently served on the Mayor's Task Force to Restore Public Confidence, which was put in place to strengthen the city's checks and balances. Barb is an expert baker who has contributed to many city functions including bake sales. The couple also works closely with the Historic Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum with oversight and event coordination.

Ben Huber earned his award for working with neighborhood kids at Latonia Elementary during the summer where he taught them how to grow plants from seeds, prepare fertile soil and compost. He volunteered regularly in the building of the Latonia Cardinals Community Park and along with school staff worked to secure a grant to fund a hydroponics lab.

Cole and Victor Imperi helped launch a fundraiser to benefit Goebel Park and also became involved in Make Goebel Great which helps make the park safer. They helped to merge two MainStrasse neighborhood resident groups into one and volunteered on other community projects. 

Virginia Kerst is a city activist that has long been committed to the Historic Licking Riverside Civic Association and The Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of Cov200, the Outreach Subcommittee and the Education and Culture Subcommittee.

Editor and Publisher of The River City News Michael Monks was awarded for his diligent reporting of all the stories in Covington and throughout the region. Monks is also a member of the Awesome Collective of Covington and a commissioner on the city's Human Rights Commission. 

Julie Plageman formed the Latonia Community Council. She has also found funding through grant money to provide a variety of community programs for all ages in Covington.

In 2014, Thomas Petty organized and held three separate city clean ups through his volunteer group, CovClean.

Jessica Spencer helped coordinate the replanting of over 100 trees on Holman Street along with the other members of the city's Urban Forestry Board.

Larry Weller has long served as the chairperson for the Friends of Peaselburg Neighborhood Association. Weller coordinated a Peaselburg group of residents to volunteer at the Great American Clean-Up.

Gus Wolf led the tree-planting demonstration that took place at the Holman Street tree replanting project as a member of the Urban Forestry Board. Wolf also managed the two-day tree planting effort and has become an important resource person to Grow the Cov. Many have seen the chickens Wolf keeps on Orchard Street.

The Great Business Award was given to Keen Publishing and Roebling Point Books & Coffee, which are both owned by Richard Hunt and housed in the same building where John Roebling kept his office while the Suspension Bridge was being built. Hunt was not in attendance to receive the award, so Michael Monks received it on his behalf. RPB&C has become an important meeting place for the community's organizers and business leaders and Keen publishes local history books including the commemorative history of Covington's bicentennial, The Gateway City, to be released in 2015.

Monks reads Hunt's acceptance speech

The Great Neighbor Award was first given to D'Artagnan Coots for his efforts in the building of Latonia Cardinals Community Park. Coots, a physical-education teacher at Latonia Elementary, initiated the project that brought about a brand new playground for the Latonia community.

Also to win the Great Neighbor Award was the Covington Police Department. Chief Spike Jones, Lt. Col. Bryan Carter, and Captain Rob Nader were on hand to receive the award for the CPD.

The event was emceed by the executive director of the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington Tom DiBello, and hors d'oeuvres were donated by the Madison Event Center. 

Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor