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Florence: Population Up; New Starbucks; Firefighters Honored

Mayor Diane Whalen, in a state of the city presentation, proclaimed Florence to be strong.

In a short speech, she referenced the promotions of Police Chief Tom Grau and Fire Chief Scott Knoll, and the return of Josh Wice, this time as city coordinator. He had previously been economic development director.

The city's budget has a 4.8 increase in expenditures over the previous year, mainly due to a 12-percent increase in hazardous and non-hazardous pension contributions mandated by the state.

Capital expenditures are down 11 percent from last year, to $6.7 million.

108 streets have been improved or are nearly improved, Whalen said. She also noted improvements to Lincoln Woods Park, and the installation of a new park along Kentaboo Drive and a nearby sidewalk to help pedestrians access that park.

The mayor touted the rising population of the city, of about 33.294 people in 2018, an 11 percent estimated increase from 2010's 29,951.

Whalen said that though Florence does not have the riverfront views of other Northern Kentucky population centers, she believes the city is just as impressive, and wrapped up her presentation by saying, "That's y'all, folks."

Firefighters honored


Several Firefighter/EMTs were honored by the city council after receiving the Lifesaver/EMS Award from St. Elizabeth Healthcare: Bud Webster, Troy Webster, Dave Piening, Jerry Sipe, Ricky Lang, Rob Honaker, Jasper Miller, Paul Hilmer, and Phil Bender received awards for their work at an accident where a driver had a medical emergency and ended up flipping his car, requiring medical treatment and extraction from the vehicle. 

The patient was ultimately taken to the hospital, where he recovered.

Firefighter/Paramedic Jonathan McNamara was given the Paramedic of the Year award from St. Elizabeth.

New Starbucks coming

The Florence city council approved a zoning map amendment to allow a special sign district in its commercial 2/planned development zone. The roughly 0.8-acre site at the intersection of U.S. 42 and Express Street will be home to a new Starbucks location.

The company wants better signage to advertise its drive-thru.

Councilwoman Julie Metzger-Aubuchon said that because cars often create a long line in a Starbucks drive-thru, additional signs would be needed to direct drivers efficiently during peak hours. 

The new location will be the fourth Starbucks in the city, with one located at Florence Plaza on Mall Road, one located in the Kroger grocery store on Mall Road, and one inside the Target store on Hansel Avenue.

Other notes:

City council also voted to appoint Tom Szurlinski to the Boone County Planning Commission, replacing Ed Mentz, who resigned. Szurlinski will serve through December, 2021.

Mayor Diane Whalen reminded the city that the Fourth of July celebration will be held on the third of July, from 4 to 11 p.m. at UC Health Stadium.

Music will be provided by Velvet Soul and the Florence Community Band. Cincinnati Circus will perform, and there will be a children's zone, food trucks, and booths.

The Florence Freedom play at 6:05 p.m. and general seating will be free to anyone who wants to watch. Fireworks follow at 10 p.m.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

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