A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington hires assistant city manager, $5.5M ROAD iD, ICON Marketing investment deal approved

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Bruce Applegate said he immediately felt the sense of community, and it was one of things that drew him to the city.

Since 2016, Applegate has been serving as the personnel director and director of administrative services for the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. At the Commission’s regularly scheduled legislative meeting Tuesday night, he was unanimously approved to be Covington’s assistant city manager.

“Thank you very much for the opportunity,” Applegate told the Commission. “Ever since the first visit, I was enamored by the pride” of Covington’s citizens. He noted he was looking forward to becoming a citizen in the near future.

City Manager David Johnston said that after 140 people applied, Applegate’s background was vetted by an interview group, as well as by Commissioners Shannon Smith and Tim Downing.

Four people were interviewed, and Applegate stood out. He will officially start Dec. 9.

“Congratulations,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer. “Welcome aboard.”

Also Tuesday:

*$5.5 Million Project Brings 50 Jobs

Economic development is about jobs, says Covington Economic Development Director Tom West. That’s why it was important to grant certain tax incentives to both Icon Marketing Communications and ROAD iD.

Commissioners agreed Tuesday night, and approved moves for both businesses.

Icon, a marketing firm currently housed in Fort Mitchell, will move to the ROAD iD building at 35 W. Eighth St., bringing with it 36 employees (with plans to add 10 more) and investing $4.13 million to renovate the building, founder and CEO Shawn Murdock said.

ROAD iD, which moved to Covington in 2018, makes safety identification tags and bracelets for runners, cyclists and people with emergency conditions. They plan to move to a warehouse it owns, located south of their existing building. They will add five employees and invest $1.3 million to renovate 20,000 square feet of space, co-founder and CEO Edward Wimmer said.

In years one through five, ICON and ROAD iD will receive 1.25 percent in tax rebates, so long as they stay in Covington. The ROAD iD agreement replaces a previous forgivable loan for renovation.

*Promotions, Retirements, and Nine Firefighters Hired

Assistant police chief Brian Steffen, detective Corey Warner and assistant fire chief Chris Kiely all had retirements approved, while nine new firefighters were approved to be hired.

Captain Brian Valenti was appointed to Assistant Chief of Police, and Lt. Justin Wietholter was promoted to Captain.

*City officials’ bonds are increased

Commissioners approved appropriate bonds and insurance policies to adequately protect the city from potential losses from “theft, mismanagement, etc.,” city documents read.

The City Manager and Finance Director are now individually bonded up to $5 million each. All other staff are covered by an insurance policy with a $1 million limit.

Previously, the amount was $25,000.

*Read Ready Covington Update

Mayor Meyer gave an update on Read Ready Covington, and the numbers are impressive. In 14 months there have been:

3,709 children enrolled
58,395 books read
95,418 skill-based activities completed

“We’re improving the lives of a lot of our youngest children,” Meyer said. “I think we’re off to a real good start.”

*Ideas Welcome

Commissioner Tim Downing mentioned that the Commission will be prioritizing their goals in January, and asked that residents send in their thoughts on what those goals should be.

*Small Business Saturday

Commissioner Shannon Smith mentioned that Saturday is Small Business Saturday, where the city focuses on its hometown businesses to attract shoppers. Nick Wade, executive director of Renaissance Covington, told the city that WiFi data showed 12,000 people came downtown on Small Business Saturday last year to shop and dine.

Wade said he expects the number to grow.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Dec. 10, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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