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NKY Scholarship for Future Government Administrators Named for Roger Rolfes

The Northern Kentucky City and County Manager Association is naming its scholarship for Roger Rolfes, who served as the city manager in Florence and Edgewood, and also served as Florence mayor from 1982 to 1991 and on city council from 1976 to 1982.

The scholarship is awarded each year to a student at Northern Kentucky University working on a graduate degree in public administration.

Launched in 2014, the scholarship is valued at $1,000.

Rolfes, a graduate of NKU, retired in 2011. He also served as president of the NKU Alumni Association and as vice president of the Norse Athletic Club.

In adopting the new name for the scholarship, the organization's resolution noted Rolfes's achievements, including his tie-breaking vote that led to the conversion of a proposed sewer treatment plant to a pumping station that positioned Florence for growth. 

Rolfes was also mayor when the city acquired the land for its government center, World of Sports, and sixteen acres of parkland.

In Edgewood, Rolfes developed new compensation plans for employees, a city-wide street maintenance classification program, and helped to obtain more than $4 million in grant funds.

He was Edgewood city administrator when the new city building and firehouse were developed, and when a senior center was added at Freedom Park.

Rolfes is an honorary lifetime member of the city and county managers association and was named City Administrator of the Year in 2003. Other leadership roles include his past as board chair of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, past-president of the Kenton-Boone Cable TV Board, past-president of the Municipal Government League of Northern Kentucky, past chairman of the Florence Volunteer Fire Department, which he also retired from as a lieutenant after serving fifteen years.

"Nearly every administrator in this area has benefitted from the mentoring that Roger Rolfes provided," said Larry Klein, who served as city manager in Covington and as city administrator in Ft. Wright. "He is in with the likes of Lou Noll and Bill Goetz as leaders in the Northern Kentucky area. He has always understood that the community appreciated the local decision making ability, and he regarded the ability of the citizens to keep the decision making local as a priority. He fought with other cities for what was good for the cities at the state level."

Klein said that Rolfes was one of the key players, along with others, in helping to create a mayors group, which helps unify local leaders in the area, and assists with exchange of information of what is happening in the region.

Rolfes received a standing ovation when the scholarship name was announced.

"Roger has been a longtime friend and mentor," said Brian Dehner, who succeeded Rolfes as city administrator in Edgewood. "His experience in local government is outstanding, and he has probably dealt with just about any issue you can think of. The NKCCMA scholarship is intended to help students who have demonstrated through their educational achievements and work history they are interested in pursuing a career in local government. Roger Rolfes has exemplified those characteristics in his career, and also been a great advocate for NKU.  He has left every city better than when he started working there, he continued his education and training even after serving for more than 30 years, and he has always been there to listen when others needed advice, or to just talk. I am proud to say I know him, and I am blessed that he was once the city administrator in Edgewood because he helped make it what it is today."

Rolfes was visibly moved by the display at the meeting Tuesday.

"Thank you," he said. "I am honored to have the scholarship named for me."

"Roger is the living example of a lifelong public servant," said Klein.

The first Roger W. Rolfes Scholarship was handed out at the meeting as well.

Craig Bohman presents check to Taylor Schafer (RCN)

"Students who wanted to apply for the scholarship submitted a resume, and a 500-word essay on the reason they are pursuing a career in local government administration," said Kristen Scott from the NKADD. "The deadline for this year's scholarship was December 16, at 5 p.m. We had twelve applicants, more than usual, and a winner has been selected. The winner is Taylor Schafer. "

Villa Hills City Administrator/Clerk Craig Bohman presented the $1,000 check to Schafer, who works with the City of Cincinnati and operates the Clifton Recreation Center. Schafer's win was attributed to her essay and the details she included about budgeting and employees that she supervises.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor