Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Citizens vote to give Walter Bradley Park $10,000 from Woodford Co. Community Fund for boxcar stage in park

The application for funding of a boxcar stage in Walter Bradley Park was the top winner as Woodford County citizens met at Midway University last night to hear and vote on applications to the Woodford County Community Fund.

Friends of Walter Bradley Park asked for and got $10,000. All other applications were fully funded, except the project to place chairs made of bourbon barrels around the county as a "Sense of Identification Public Art Project," and a donor "stepped forward to make up the difference" for that project, Midway Renaissance President Debra Shockley said on the Midway Musings Facebook page.

The other applications were from the Life Adventure Center, $5,000 for "Opt Out: Opportunity to Stay off Opioids;" Big Spring Park in Versailles, $5,000 for a deck with seating and cable railings in a city-owned area above the park; Spark Community Cafe in Versailles, $2,500 for funding of 280 meals for people facing food insecurity; $2,300 for a project to preserve the history of Huntertown as an African American community; and $2,250 to create a Council of Neighborhood Associations in the county.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

MBA accepts Iron Horse Half Marathon as part of next Fall Festival; Rentch mulls donation of strategic tract

By Desiree Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway Business Association accepted the Iron Horse Half Marathon’s offer Wednesday to move the race up about a month and make it part of the Midway Fall Festival Sept. 21-22.

Runner's World magazine on the race
The race is owned and operated by John’s Run/Walk Shop in Lexington. It has donated part of the proceeds to the city of Midway, the Midway Area Ministerial Association and the Versailles Police Department, which patrols Midway.

Zach Beavin and Riley Marshall, representing the race, said the change would bring more traffic to the race and festival, and allow cost-sharing for things such as entertainment and porta-potties.

One area of concern for the association was parking. The festival and the race have used Chip Guillot's Southern Equine Farm for parking in the past, and plan on doing the same for the coming year. They hope that by having the race on Sunday, the slower day for the festival, it will work out.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift had positive feedback on the idea: “It’s your all’s decision, but I think it’s worth trying. . . . Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Chip parked like thirteen hundred cars on Saturday but only like three hundred on Sunday, so I think we have the capacity there.”

2019 will be the Iron Horse’s 10th year. The race has begun at 8 a.m. but with the earlier date will be moved up to 7 a.m. The race has agreed to provide additional porta-potties and live music until 10 a.m.

This corner could become the site of a thematic entrance to Midway, highlighting its railroad heritage.
Thematic entrance for city: MBA Secretary Steve Morgan said Helen Rentch is planning on talking to the city about donating a small tract at the corner of Midway Road (US 62) and Leestown Road (US 421). It is a triangle formed by the two roads and a small creek.

Morgan said Cynthia Bohn of Equus Run Vineyards has been in touch with RJ Corman Railroad Co., which is willing to place train equipment on the site as a thematic entrance to Midway, which advertises itself as Kentucky’s first railroad town.

Rentch told the Messenger that she is also interested in promoting Midway as a key spot on a trail that would run from Frankfort to Lexington.

Advertising: Elisha Holt, the hired marketer for the MBA, gave an update on the holiday advertising and assured the association, “It’s going beautifully.”

Holt also reported on the website, www.uniquelywoodford.com, intended to be a collective site for the whole county. She said the county’s Falling Springs Center has agreed to pay to have signage put throughout its building and be a bronze sponsor for the site.

She said the tourism commission is working on a sponsorship as well, but she has to guarantee them that their dollars will be spent outside of the county so they can be partially reimbursed by the state.

Midway projects: Boxes for Toys for Tots are placed and at their select locations for the holidays. Morgan said about six boxes of toys are already in storage.

Leadership: The nominating committee nominated officers for the new year: Leslie Penn to remain treasurer, Katie Hicks to become secretary, Steve Morgan to become vice president and Steve Simoff to become president. The election will be held at the final meeting of the year on Dec. 5.

President Peggy Angel, who is hanging up her presidential cap due to health issues, told the group. “I would like to stay actively involved and hopefully bring some positive things to the table if you all will let me.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Midway University VP Gregory receives public relations award from UK Department of Strategic Communication

Ellen D. Gregory
Ellen D. Gregory of Midway, vice president of marketing and communications at Midway University, received the Excellence in Public Relations Award this week from her alma mater, the University of Kentucky.

The annual award, to an outstanding Kentucky public-relations practitioner, is sponsored by the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication in UK's College of Communication and Information and the UK Journalism and Media Alumni Association. 

During nearly 10 years at Midway, Gregory has been coordinated all of the school's marketing and public relations, including rebranding of the institution, its change to university status and transition of its women’s college to a co-educational institution in 2016.

Earlier, Gregory spent 12 years at the Preston-Osborne marketing, PR and research firm in Lexington, serving the last nine years as chief operating officer.  While there, Gregory twice won the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Award, considered the Pulitzer Prize in public relations.

Gregory's UK degrees are a bachelor's in political science and a master's in public administration. She and her husband, Eric, have three children, Ginny, Duncan and Sarah. The family spends much of their time restoring Victorian homes, like the one where they live at the corner of Winter and Stephens streets, and last year won the Service to Preservation Award from the Kentucky Heritage Council.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Midway University breaks ground for $3.2 million field house to accommodate growing athletic programs

Midway University trustees turned sand at the ceremony, which also included local officials.
Midway University held a ceremonial groundbreaking today for a new $3.2 million facility to accommodate its burgeoning athletic programs. The 20,000-square-foot facility will be named Hunter Field House, to honor the primary donors, Jan and Richard Hunter of San Diego, Calif.

Jan Hunter, a university trustee since 2000, announced two years ago her intention to donate $2 million to the school. She told the crowd at yesterday's ceremony, "This is an institution worth investing in." She and her husband own Hunter Industries Inc., which manufactures irrigation systems.

The other major donor recognized yesterday was Trustee Belinda Betzger. Donna Moore Campbell, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the event was "a wonderful way to celebrate what has been accomplished" at the school in the last few years.

President John Marsden said the school faced great challenges in 2016, when the trustees opened daytime enrollment to men. He said daytime enrollment, which ha shrunk to 266 women, is now 571, more than 400 of them athletes, and total enrollment is 1,668.

The field house will house most of the university's athletic staff and have an auxiliary gymnasium, an elevated walking track, two locker rooms, a recruitment conference room and a weight and cardio room. Construction is to begin immediately and be completed by the end of 2019 so it can be ready for the spring semester of 2020.

The project is part of the university's "Campaign of Opportunities," which it launched in 2016. "The main goals of the campaign are to raise funds for improvements to some existing facilities and construction of new facilities," the school said in a news release. "Aside from the new field house, the campaign already has funded some renovations to the existing residence halls and, when the campaign closes out, another groundbreaking will occur for an on-campus baseball stadium. To date, the University has amassed over 90 percent of the pledges needed to successfully complete the campaign."

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

EDA delays application for industrial rezoning of 138 acres adjoining Midway Station and Brown-Forman

By Thomas Franconia
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority has postponed its application to rezone property owned by Homer Freeny Jr., north and east of Midway Station, likely for a month. The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission had scheduled a public hearing on the application for Thursday night, Nov. 8.

The application seeks light-industrial zoning of 138 acres of agricultural property that is in the middle of commercial and industrial users. If approved, the rezoning would provide an industrial area that reaches from Interstate 64 to South Elkhorn Creek, the county line, including the Brown-Forman whiskey warehouses being built in an agricultural zone under a conditional-use permit.

EDA Chair John Soper said, “We felt as if we were getting too ahead of ourselves” and “needed to resolve all issues” before moving on to the next step.

The issues addressed are sewer and water hookup locations. Soper said EDA is looking at different areas than previously planned, but needs more geographical detail in order to know the best alternative.

Over the next month, a plan should emerge to implement appropriate and efficient utility areas, and push the application through its current stage. As soon as this happens, a date will be scheduled for a public hearing on the application. The next commission meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.

The property is not in the city limits, but the city is expected to annex it. It is just inside the urban-services boundary set in the county's recently revised comprehensive plan.
Vision Engineering map, labeled by Midway Messenger, shows in red (and a small block of green) the property that  the Midway City Council recently rezoned. The county Fiscal Court would have final say-so in rezoning the large green tract.

Democrat Liles Taylor elected magistrate by 2.2 percent of vote, on strength of support in city precinct

Liles Taylor
By Christie Netherton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Democrat Liles Taylor won the race for fiscal court magistrate over Republican Joseph Greathouse, his next-door neighbor in Northridge Estates, in Tuesday's election.

The results were close, with Taylor winning by 32 votes, 744 to 712 – a margin of 2.2 percentage points. Greathouse won the county precinct 312 to 233, while Taylor won the larger city precinct 461-367.

“That’s how people voted, and that’s all right with me,” Greathouse, 44, said shortly after the results were posted. “I’ve served for 16 years, and I’ve loved doing it, and I will continue to serve my hometown and Woodford County.” He is a farmer and an officer in the Woodford County Fair Association.

Taylor, 31, the political coordinator for the state AFL-CIO labor federation, attributed his win to his supporters who showed up at the polls, and to his campaigning.

“I knocked on over 550 doors multiple times in town, and I burned up a lot of shoe leather,” he said. “So I feel like that was a big impact on the race.”

Taylor also ran in a contested primary this spring, which may have given him a head start. One voter he saw in the spring was Brandon DeMoss, 33, a business analyst for the state, who said he voted for him because “He’s the only one who showed up at my door and talked to me.”

Joseph Greathouse
In interviews at the polls, voters generally said personal knowledge of the candidates, or affinity with them, drove their choices in the race.

Thad Kesters, 44, a registered Republican who works for a video production company, said he voted for Greathouse because “My in-laws are farmers, and he’s a farmer.” Geologist Ray Daniel, 63, a registered Democrat, said he chose Greathouse because “I’ve known him and his family along time, and I trust the man.”

Taylor said before the election that some of his major concerns on Fiscal Court will be working on the Weisenberger Mill Bridge replacement (a state project) and flooding on Williams Lane, as well as addressing traffic issues in downtown Versailles in ways that do not increase traffic on Midway Road, US 62.

He said other priorities will be maintaining an economy that preserves the county’s roots in its agricultural community, improving Midway’s relationship with the rest of the county, and increasing transparency and accessibility of county government by live-streaming Fiscal Court meetings and creating an online portal for citizens to report and track road problems and repairs.

Taylor will succeed Linda Popp, whom he defeated in the May primary. “I think that a lot of folks are really excited about what we’re going to do to move forward in the community,” Taylor said.

Mayor coasts to re-election, credits accomplishments

Vandegrift spoke at his Aug. 14 campaign kickoff.
By Hannah Woosley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift won a second term as mayor of Midway with 588 votes over his challenger and School Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV, who got 239 votes.

After his 71 percent win, Vandegrift said he thinks Midway residents re-elected him because he showed he had a “very inclusive administration” that has accomplished a lot.

“We brought in so many new jobs and all of a sudden our economic future went from . . . uncertain, and now it’s clear our economic path is set for the future,” he said. “Also, the work we did around town on our parks, our infrastructure, our storm and sewer work.”

Vandegrift announced his candidacy for a second term more than a year before the election, in October 2017. Wilson, 67, entered the race on the Aug. 14 filing deadline, and stressed his experience in business and state government.

In an interview, Wilson said he thinks the future of Midway is bright. “I congratulate Grayson on his victory and I look forward to working with him and the new city council in any way I can,” he said. “I look forward to helping in any way I can to move Midway forward.”

Vandegrift said he thinks people were happy with his first four-year term. “Now I look forward to trying to do even better the next four years,” he said.

The mayor said his hard work and conversations with residents helped, ending with his second city-wide canvass on Nov. 3. “I knocked on every door in town again,” he said.

That sort of attention pleased Melissa Wilson, 46, who is disabled. "Vandegrift came to the house, addressing concerning topics such as updates to the cemetery and speed limit," she said.

Generally, most voters interviewed at the polling place said they saw no reason to change mayors.

“I thought he did all right,” said retiree Sharon Staff, 67. “I’ve got no complaints.”

Justice Heltzel, who lives across from Northside Elementary School, the polling place, said after he voted, “The mayor has done a lot of good stuff since we moved here two years ago, and he’s been very personable, and every time you see him out, he says ‘hello’ and I feel like that’s really important.”

Information for this story was also gathered by UK journalism student Thomas Franconia.