Awards … and bit of ‘Covington craziness’

Photo 1: Ron Padgett wows the crowd. (Photo by Sam Greenhill)

Photo 3: The Victor J. Canfield Preservation Stewardship Award winners were Jim and Donna Salyers and Guy van Rooyen (left to right, in the white shirts). At far left is Vic Canfield, at far right is Historic Preservation Officer Kaitlin Bryan, and Economic Development Director Tom West is in the back row. 

City celebrates National Economic Development Week with salutes to businesses, historic preservation

COVINGTON, Ky. – With the super-bright colors of a block-long mural as a backdrop, the energy in the alley leading off Madison Avenue late Thursday afternoon was a bit frenetic:

Covington “personality” Ron Padgett interviewed people on the red (er, blue) carpet. … Trophies topped with gold-colored goats were handed out. … Circus performers juggled and spun … Economic Development staff ran around in attire that included a kilt, vintage skirt, a Canadian tuxedo, and a shirt emblazoned with The Anchor Grill’s Barbie Band … and one of Covington’s most popular eateries – KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia – served up tasty goodness from their restaurant abutting the “mural-lized” alley.

“If this seems like a mashup of serious purpose and Covington craziness, that’s exactly what it is,” Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said. “But it’s fun, and it shows how much we appreciate our businesses.”

The event was held to recognize National Economic Development Week in Covington, and the City used the opportunity to give historic preservation awards honoring sensitive rehabs of old buildings … a first-ever stewardship award for a lifetime commitment to preservation and economic momentum … and the annual “Authenti-CITY Awards” to a select handful of businesses, organizations, and people who epitomize the city’s quirky character by “keepin’ it real in The Cov.”

The event was emceed by Will Weber, president and CEO of the regional economic development organization Southbank Partners.

“Welcome to the bold side of the river,” Weber began before reciting a few facts from the City’s 2022 Economic Impact report, such as $44 million in private capital investment, over 1,000 jobs created, and a 2,000 percent return on City incentives. A video of that report played on a screen.

The awards were then presented by the City’s business retention & expansion specialist (Patrick Duffy), historic preservation officer (Kaitlin Bryan), and mayor (Joe Meyer, via pre-recorded video).


The Authenti-CITY awards were created in 2021 and nominees are selected and voted on by the City’s Economic Development staff and Communications staff.

“The Authenti-CITY award recognizes local businesses, individuals, events, or organizaitons that embrace the uniqueness of our city and are ‘keepin’ it real in The Cov,’ ” Duffy said. “These folks play a vital role in maintaining our city’s distinctive character and charm and, honestly, they are just darn good at what they do!”

This year’s winners of the gold-colored trophies from Egleston-Maynard Sports topped with a goat in tribute to the Goebel Goats (it’s a long story):

  • Latonia Bait & Tackle.
  • D’Amicos Tailor Shop.
  • Blank’s Pharmacy.
  • Glier’s Meats.
  • Richard Webster’s Holiday Extravaganzas.

(As is custom, the City’s Communications staff will profile the winners in individual articles next week.)

Historic preservation

The Covington Preservation Excellence Award Program recognizes outstanding recent contributions to the preservation of the city’s historic fabric.

“In Covington, we like to rehab, refurbish, repurpose, resurrect, recycle, and reincarnate buildings,” Bryan said. “We’re better at it than anywhere else Kentucky. It’s part of what makes Covington special.”

There were five categories:

  • Interior Restoration: The House of Beauty at 611 Madison Ave. (Dina Deller).
  • Exterior Restoration -- Residential: Covert Design & Build at 256-258 West 8th St. (Tom Covert).
  • Adaptive Re-Use -- Residential: Bradley House at 627 Greenup St. (Orleans Development).
  • Exterior Restoration -- Commercial: Monarch Auto Company Building at 722 Scott St., (Hub+Weber Architects).
  • Adaptive Re-Use -- Commercial: Monarch Building at 109 East 4th St. (Allen Haehnle).

(Next week, the City’s Facebook page will feature pictures and details of each project.)

Lifetime Award

The Victor J. Canfield Preservation Stewardship Award – given for the first time – is named after Vic Canfield, who restored historic properties in Covington and served on the City’s then-named Urban Design Review Board for 37 years, including as its chair for 25 years.

The winners were Jim and Donna Salyers of The Salyers Group and Guy van Rooyen of The Salyers Group and vR Group.

“These individuals have gone above and beyond to protect what makes Covington unique and special,” Mayor Joe Meyer said. “They have painstakingly restored historic buildings – and they have done so in a way that preserves their features for future generations. They see Covington’s outstanding history and architecture not as burdens but as significant advantages in the area of economic development.”

Among the projects completed by the Salyers and van Rooyen:

  • The Madison Event Center (700 Madison), which “preserved the charm of a former Woolworth Store and turned it into one of the most popular wedding venues in the tri-state.”
  • First District (525 Scott), which “converted a WPA-era school into Class A office space.”
  • Hotel Covington (638 Madison), which “converted a former department store (Coppins) into a remarkable and highly successful boutique hotel.”
  • North by Hotel Covington (Pike & Madison), which “converted the former YMCA building into a truly exquisite expansion of the hotel.”


Attendees were encouraged to dress in festive attire, with no particular theme except “your best Covington look.” Outfits included big hats, Hawaiian beach wear, bolo ties, lace tights and the like.

To keep the effervescent Ron Padgett from claiming the “best dressed” trophy (he who donned elaborate costumes and “immaculate” personas to film virtual fashion shows to entertain people during the pandemic), the City made Padgett the judge.

He selected Liam Haehnle of Landslidefilms. Haehnle won a trophy and a throw from Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs.


For more photos, check out the City of Covington’s Facebook page, @covingtonkygov

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