It’s All in the Outlook
By Roger Auge

Here is an example of Dennis Repenning’s sense of humor. Imagine this radio script:

“So on a Friday night on Cincinnati AM radio, Dr. J. David “Scram” Davis, the Bluegrass secretary of transportation, announces a blockbuster: a brand new bridge…on the site of the venerable Roebling Suspension Bridge… which must be torn down to make way for the future. A Welcome Center where visitors to the Commonwealth are greeted with free shots of Kentucky bourbon! Welcome to the Commonwealth! A shopping mall for parents on one level, and the kids dangle a fishing line into the Ohio River on another floor!

“A steep price tag, no doubt. But, as Dr. Davis explained, it would be funded by a special tax on Kentucky’s seniors, by automatic tax deductions, right from their Social Security checks! ‘A great opportunity for our seniors to give back,’ Davis explained, ‘and they’ll never feel a thing!’”

Dr. Scram Davis, also known as, Dennis Repenning, doing a Rube Goldberg comedy bit, puts this one over on a listening audience. The station can’t field all the calls in protest.

“We’d gotten to know a lot of the radio people in town, so they’d put up with our nonsense from time to time,” Repenning says.

This is how Repenning demonstrates a wry, dry sense of humor: telling stories about himself as a comic, as a WKRC-TV reporter, as a well-respected tax lawyer, and, most recently, as chair of the Board of Regents at Northern Kentucky University.

“I don’t try to be funny,” he says. “But I don’t try to take myself too seriously either.”

He recently served as a special justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, became chairman of the NKU Board of Regents and is an active member of the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education.

Repenning is no dummy.

He is in the chairman’s seat as NKU grows in Division 1, rattles the bushes for new students, builds more dormitories and determines what new academic building to build next while managing a growing FM radio station, a high-powered theater department and colleges of law, education and business. In addition, the Steely Library has adventuresome growth plans that, in today’s high-tech world, only enable the institution to keep pace.

“It’s an honor to be on NKU’s Board of Regents because I am surrounded with smart and engaged folks,” he says. “NKU is facing financial challenges, as are public universities across the nation.

“This is a systemic problem; as the state cuts higher education money, student tuition rates go up. This isn’t sustainable.

“How to manage increasing costs, entertain a variety of educational demands and accommodate all the technological changes underway in the world today, is the challenge we face.”

This unassuming man is the same Repenning whose hero in life is the cartoonist Rube Goldberg and the one who created, with his pen, elaborate contraptions to do simple tasks. In some ways, Repenning is similar to a coffee-table book; you learn more with every page you turn. 

“I’m not sure where I go next,” he says meditatively. He lists obtaining a master’s degree in public history and continuing to serve NKU, either on the board or some other capacity, as future possibilities.

Repenning faces the future with a wry, dry smile. 

NKY’s Own Memorial
By Kat Cook

The idea for the NKY 9/11 Memorial began two and a half years ago, according to Fire Chief Jeff Wendt of the Crescent-Villa Fire Department. One of 10,000 applicants, the department acquired a two-by-four I-beam from the World Trade Center.

“I want to give kids the opportunity to touch a piece of history,” says Wendt.

Once completed, the memorial will be in close proximity to the existing Kenton County Veterans Memorial at the corner of Buttermilk and Collins Road. The I-beam is the centerpiece of the memorial, which also includes a pentagon-shaped base surrounded by two renderings of the twin towers.

Lou Hartfiel, co-founder of the 9/11 Memorial site, says, “Getting the word out about the memorial was challenging. We put out a 10,000-piece mailer to surrounding areas, and did various radio and television appearances encouraging donation to the memorial.”

Funding for the memorial has been done mostly through private contributors in addition to a variety of fundraising events. About $98,000 has been donated, leaving $52,000 left to reach the goal of $150,000.

The Fort Mitchell-based independent wealth management firm Altus Wealth Management is recognized as a first responder sponsor. The level of first responder recognizes contributors who gave $10,000 or more. Steve O’Connor, president and managing partner at Altus Wealth Management, says they chose to support the memorial because “We have the heart to give! We are always looking for opportunities to give back to our community.”

Altus wants to see this project become a reality because it has a special meaning. “The memorial represents the stories of every American. Although we didn’t personally lose someone, 9/11 changed our lives. The events of 9/11 had a dramatic impact on the financial service industry and our clients. The 9/11 Memorial is all about remembering what matters most: family, friends and the sacrifice so many have made to make this the greatest country on Earth. This will be a good place for people to remember and reflect,” says O’Connor.