Kenton County Fiscal Court Hosts First Meeting in New Building
The Kenton County Fiscal Court held its first meeting at its new government meeting, days after various county government agencies moved into the facility.
The 1911-era building originally housed the Bavarian Brewery, which left in the 1960s, not long before the previous Kenton County Government Building was constructed on Court Street in Covington.
The building, largely unoccupied in recent years, was most recently home to Jillian's nightclub. Jillian's Way, situated between 12th Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pike Street, was renamed Simon Kenton Way, in honor of the county's namesake ahead of the county's move.
The county budgeted $29 million to renovate part of the old brewery, tear down other parts of the building and the neighborhood, and to construct an adjoining new facility. The new building prominently features the words Kenton County and Kentucky to be visible by the thousands of passing motorists along nearby I-75. The Kentucky sign is expected to be lit up soon.
The sign's delayed lighting was just one of many visible unfinished pieces of the project. There is still landscaping to install on the outside, and some boxes to unpack, signage to install, and digital screens to display on the inside.
The fiscal court chamber, on the new building's second floor, will also host other meetings, such as the Kenton County Planning Commission.
Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann referred to the move as "marrying up" when compared to its previous home on Court Street, which was sold as part of the $29 million project and will be turned into an apartment tower. Other members of the fiscal court also praised staff members, construction crews, and others who helped facilitate the move and (mostly) finish the project.
"I'm impressed with the building and the end result," said County Commissioner Jon Draud. "I wasn't in favor of the original concept but I would say right now they did a great job. I appreciate the effort they put forth. The end result seems to be a pretty good result. I'm very proud to play a very small part in this whole process, and I'm proud to say my name will be on that plaque."
Commissioner Beth Sewell joked that she is looking forward to working with Fiscal Court Clerk Sue Kaiser on placing "a beautiful Christmas tree" in the new atrium.
"Is the budget for that open-ended?," Kaiser asked.
"No," Knochelmann said.
"I can't say enough about how it turned out," said Commissioner Joe Nienaber. "It seemed like eternal meetings when we first started picking this off the ground. I'm glad I'm always pleasantly surprised. As much as you think you hit it out of the park on the front end, it always delivered in the end.
"Everybody I've engaged about this are pretty proud of the concept and proud of what we've done for them with their money."
The project is expected to have an economic impact on its new neighborhood, with county government workers and customers now frequenting the southern end Covington's downtown.
Knochelmann said an official grand opening is scheduled for November 15 and that the Kentucky sign should be lit up by Thursday. The judge/executive called that addition a "tough of pride for the state and Northern Kentucky." He also complimented the various departments for working cooperatively to manage the move. All the county departments previously located on Court Street are now on Simon Kenton Way. Planning & Development Services of Kenton County is also now housed with the rest of the county government after moving from its longtime home in Fort Mitchell.
"Not a single person has acted in a non-cooperative way," Knochelmann said.
"The plaque will say, dedicated to the citizens of Kenton County," Knochelmann said. "That's something we can't forget."
Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher