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Villa Hills Civic Club clubhouse must be rebuilt after a fire; ‘The Fat Man’ and his committee are on the job

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

Everyone knew him as “The Fat Man.”

And just about everyone listened to him on WEBN Radio (102.7 FM).

These days, the 68-year-old Ernie Brown serves as President of the Villa Hills Civic Club – and people are still listening to him.

“I was asked to serve as Chairman of the Rebuild Committee a couple of months after the fire,” Brown told the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

The Villa Hills Civic Club clubhouse burnt to the ground, February 17, 2022. According to the Fire Investigation, the blaze started on the back deck when an astray blew off the table onto the wooden deck after the club had closed.

Brown said the building was a total loss.

Artist’s rendering of the new Villa Hills Civic Club (Provided)

So now it’s time to rebuild. That rebuilding committee consists of: Bob and Tracey Ulrich, Tom and Jackie Goetz, Michael Mouser, Roy East Jr., Andy Goetz, and Doug Moss.

“We took suggestions from members as well as builders,” Brown, a Villa Hills resident said. “We spent months going over plans. We even worked with a retired builder and submitted our drawings to an architect.”

Final drawings were sent for bids, according to Brown – and the numbers weren’t pretty. “They (numbers) were well beyond our means. They ranged from $1.3 million to $1.7 million,” he said.

Brown says the committee has raised some $500,000 – well below the projected bids received. He says there are options.

“Mortson Building and Mayslick are two possibilities for the building,” Brown said. “And just the building.”

The larger bids included the entire building as well as furnishing the interior.

“Simply put,” he said, “We need to raise money for this project.”

The Villa Hills Foundation is a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization, according to Brown. That makes the Foundation a portion of the U.S.

Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations – specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations.

It is regulated and administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury through the Internal Revenue Service.

“The only problem,” Brown sighed, “Is that you cannot raise money for a 501c 3; and that’s our club’s status.”

Plan B.

“We’ll stage charitable events to raise the funds,” Brown said. “We have put our plans on display all three days at St. Joe’s Festival, at the St. Joe’s Holy Name Society Meeting, at the Fire In the Hills Celebration in the City, and at the VHCC Car Show.”

Brown says he expects a new building up by the end of 2023, but, “It’s totally a membership decision.”

He plans to get volunteers for the electrical work, plumbing and furnishings.

‘The Fat Man’

The Villa Hills Civic Club has held meetings for members every month since the fire – except December. Traditionally, VHCC does not meet in December because of the Holidays.

Meetings are always the third Tuesday of the month.

“The City of Villa Hills has been kind enough to let us hold our meetings at the Council Chambers,” Brown said.

The very first officers and directors meeting of the newly formed Civic Club in Madonna Acres was held at 7:30 p.m., May 8, 1961 at the home of William Krumpelman, 2535 Amsterdam Road.

In fact, the VHCC predates the City of Villa Hills.

“We have always been community-driven,” Brown said.

“The Fat Man” always had power behind his microphone – he’s showing that same effort for his hometown.

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