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In Newport, Businesses, Individuals Celebrate Each Other's Success

When a night ends with two elected officials performing as The Blues Brothers, you know you've just had a good time.

You also know you're in Newport.

On Wednesday night, a packed Syndicate saw the city's business community come together for a celebration of each other's success, for some hellos to new businesses, and a goodbye and thank-you to long-serving individuals.

The Newport Business Association annual meeting and presentation of awards first honored Fire Chief Gary Auffart with its Community Leadership Award. 

"This is the highest award I've ever received," the chief joked. His work on Buona Vista Park, the city's Quality of Life process, the addition of in-home smoke detectors throughout Newport, were specifically mentioned.

"He's only been in the position for two years but has a lifetime's worth of giving back to the community," NBA president Lynne Cole stated. 

NBA vice president and Southbank Partners president Jack Moreland helped Cole, who was on a crutch that became the target of her first in a string of jokes, welcome the crowd and the local officials in attendance that included the entire Campbell County Fiscal Court, city leaders, and others. "I was supposed to be the entertainment," quipped Cole, manager at the Bank of Kentucky branch. 

"There are so many good things happening here," Cole said, a continuation of the theme from Monday night's city commission meeting where Newport recognized a significant increase in its payroll tax revenue in spite of the loss of four of its top ten companies over the previous four years. The tight-knit business community and volunteers demonstrated on Wednesday night how working together can lead to continued success worthy of the night's celebration.

For their stewardship of green space enhancements and the Farmer's Market, Don and Sherri Spaulding were given the Volunteers of the Year Award. "Anything I can do to help Newport out, I will be here in the future," Don Spaulding said. 

The Business of the Year Award was shared by Newport on the Levee and Capital Investment Group for their joint effort, along with Musselman Hotels, for the approximately $80 million hotel/apartment/retail project underway east of the Levee. "The development of the Levee was the clarion call for the revitalization of Newport as a place to live, work, and play," Moreland said. 

"We want to continue to invest in the City of Newport," said David Bastos of CIG, which previously developed SouthShore condo tower and Vue 180 apartments here.

Aqua on the Levee "will be a fabulous project", CIG's Gregg Fusaro said.

Levee manager Harold Dull acknowledged the long road his entertainment complex has had before arriving at the significant development. "You have to find the right partners to make it work and we found the right partners in the Capital Investment Group," he said.

Carabello Coffee was given the New Business of the Year Award amid its expansion into a storefront on Monmouth Street. "We moved here four and a half years ago and we fell in love with the East Row. It was our dream to open a business here," said Justin Carabello who owns the business with his wife, Emily. "Everyone here has been amazing. It's great to see all of you hanging out there. We sit back and look and think, did we make that?"

Carabello said that a high percentage of their many customers each week come from Cincinnati. "We truly love introducing people of Cincinnati to Newport. We love seeing them discover what we know is a great place."

Wally Pagan was acknowledged for his early work in returning Newport to a destination. After leaving Covington as city manager, he became the first president of Southbank Partners in 1996 where he was instrumental in developing the Southbank Shuttle, the Purple People Bridge, and the Levee. "He has worked tirelessly to make things happen here in Newport and all over the region," Moreland said in presenting Pagan with the Long Standing Service Award named in honor of Marvin Polinsky.

The collaborative nature of Newport is what Pagan mentioned when he accepted the award. "What is most impressive to me," he said, looking around the crowded room, is I met so many people in this room that I've been able to partner with." He said the honor is not one he would forget for a long time.

Robert Horine received the Business Recognition Award. Friday will be his last day as Campbell County Administrator, a position he held for thirteen years. "Campbell County will miss his quiet counsel," Moreland said. "He is leaving Campbell County significantly better than he found it thirteen years ago."

Horine acknowledged Bev Holiday, who handles community relations for the City of Newport and who organized the event, as someone he first met in 1976 when she was on the Boone County Planning Commission. "It has been an absolute pleasure to work with all of you," Horine said. "We have a great team coming into my position and the county government and they will work very well together in the coming years."

Mayor Jerry Peluso said that every year of his twenty-eight years in government has seen an improvement in Newport. "I wish I was twenty years younger because I can see the bright future we're going to have over the next twenty to thirty years," the mayor said. He then presided over the Oath of Office of the NBA's board: Michael Bach (Michael P. Bach, PSC), Chris Brewer (Zavoodi), David Dalton (The Think Shop), Charlie Fry (Master Fry Defense Systems), Jaimie Niemczura (American Diversified Development, Inc.), Marvin Polinsky (Retired), Larry Weber (PNC Bank), Tammy Weidinger (Brighton Center), Mark Ramler (Mansion Hill Properties), Tete Turner (Newport Independent Schools), Peggy Cook (Newport on the Levee), and Jon Salisbury (Nexigen).

Officers for the next year will be President Lynne Cole (Bank of Kentucky), Vice President Jack Moreland (Southbank Partners), Secretary Bev Holiday (City of Newport), and Treasurer Drew Bach (Michael P. Bach, PSC).

Police Chief Tom Collins tickled the ivories for the crowd as the people sang Happy Birthday to Cole. Ricky Nye then took over and got things going with a Blues Brothers medley, and who better to rock the stage as the bluesy bros than Mayor Peluso and City Commissioner Tom Guidugli? To see the video, check out The River City News Facebook page.

Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Jack Moreland (left) and Bev Holiday welcome guests as they arrive