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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Committee to continue discussing recreational use of wooded area along Lee's Branch

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, April 13 at City Hall to continue its discussion about improvements to the nature trail along Lee's Branch near the city park, according to a notice from the city, which says no action will be taken.

Advisory committee leans away from ending new Versailles bypass at Midway Road intersection

Transportation Cabinet chart
The Citizens Advisory Committee for the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles leaned toward ending it at the north end of the existing bypass rather than US 62, Midway Road. This is the vote count from the committee meeting Thursday night. Here are the alternative routes:
Here is an aerial photograph, looking west with north at the right, with the routes superimposed:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dr. Jim Roach's book about near-death experiences, God's House Calls, is being published tomorrow

By Kacie Kelly
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Dr. Jim Roach (Photo by Kacie Kelly)
On a typical Friday, Dr. Jim Roach is seeing patients at the Midway Center for Integrative Medicine. But today, he is in Southern California doing radio interviews to promote a book being published tomorrow about his patients’ near-death experiences.

God’s House Calls: Finding God Through My Patients stands at No. 2 on Amazon book pre-sales and is being pushed by Roach and his promotion team to become No. 1.

Roach said in an interview that he wants his book to spread the words of these occurrences and even change medicine: “I feel like this could be the tipping point towards that transformation to recognizing the reality of these spiritual experiences.”

The book reflects not only on patients’ experiences, but on Roach’s integrative approach to medicine. Integrative medicine is a practice not common among doctors. It uses natural methods of healing while utilizing modern medical technology and advances.

Roach became interested in integrative medicine when he was about 50 years old. “I wanted to see how well and long I could live,” he said. After attending conferences about integrative medicine and its benefits, he began incorporating spirituality into his practice.

“Spirituality is a big part of my practice now,” he observed. “We are finding that incorporating spirituality is impacting patient health.”

For the last 15 years Roach has been pulling patients off of prescription drugs and incorporating more natural medicine, such as botanicals. Roach says botanicals can combat pain, allergies, digestive problems and more without the negative consequences of modern pharmaceuticals.

Roach began being fascinated with near-death experiences when a patient told him a story of her “blissful” encounter with death: “She told me she didn’t fear death after that.” Roach replied, “What do you mean you don’t fear death? Everyone is scared of death.”

He said the episode posed a question for him: What about these experiences makes people no longer fear death? For two years, he collected the stories found in God’s House Calls.

Examining near-death experiences has become a part of Roach’s practice and he says they are, “the gateway to understanding it all.” Roach said that “If someone reads this book with an open mind … I think you can’t read this book and not be convinced of the reality of God.”

One story from the book asks, “Could death be pleasant?” and is about Roach's own near-death experience. He was swallowing supplements when he accidentally swallowed the plastic preservative. Roach choked for minutes and felt “a peaceful feeling settle in.” He laid down and gravity saved his life when it made the preservative pass through.

The stories don’t always involve the patient coming close to dying. Sometimes it is about someone being intuitive. One story is about a woman named Karen who had a daughter named Amanda, who was suffering from spousal abuse and committed suicide. Two weeks before the incident, Roach writes, “Karen heard God’s voice telling her, ‘Amanda isn’t going to be with you for long.’”

The book is filled with very different experiences with death or near-death experiences. Some patients have a first-hand encounter with it, and some sense “spiritual entities.”

Roach says in his introduction, “Their lives were substantially impacted by these events, always in a positive way.”

Roach and his wife, Dee Dee, said they continue to grow spiritually as they learn of patient experiences. “It has been eye opening,” she said.

Roach said, “When writing this book, there was temptation to whitewash its contents, to conform to a particular spiritual belief system. That would have made it more tidy and acceptable to a traditional audience. But I do not accept that as my calling.”

Roach said he likes to take a personal approach to his practice. “I realized how important relationships are in the healing process,” he said after he saw one patient’s health dramatically decline at the beginning of his career. The patient was seen by a nurse every day, and Roach watched the patient begin to heal. The nurse had some time off work and from then on the patient’s health decline dramatically.

Roach said he finds that building strong relationships with his patients improves his ability to treat them. In doing this he is able to find the best method and course of action to improve their overall health. “My greatest need is to serve the needs of others,” he said.

Roach said he has come to the conclusion that “The way we live our life matters.” He said, “Maybe if we are making the world a better place, we shouldn’t have to fear death and dying.” He said he lives by this motto and will donate all profits from the book to charities including Habitat for Humanity, the Academy for Integrative Health and Medicine, Midway Christian Church, and Midway College (soon to be Midway University). In churches where this book is sold, buyers will have $4 of their purchase donated back to the church.

Roach said he will continue to push and promote his book until his “face turns blue.” The books kick-off party will be held at the Holly Hill Inn Tuesday, March 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. Roach and his wife will be there along with people featured in the book. He said those who know him are invited.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Council committee picks fairness ordinances for city attorney to choose from in drafting one for Midway

By Anthony Pendleton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
To read a document highlighted in blue, click on that highlight. An Adobe PDF will load.

A Midway City Council committee will have City Attorney Phil Moloney compare different versions of a fairness ordinance, which provides equal protection for sexual orientation and gender identity, to help decide what to include in the city's version.

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee met Monday to discuss differences between fairness ordinances from Morehead and Danville, a "model ordinance" from the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and a fairness ordinance that failed at the Berea City Council on a 5-3 vote.

Toward the end of the meeting, the committee dropped Berea's version of the ordinance. "I think the Berea one is out because it's never been tested," Roller said. Asked after the meeting why the committee chose ordinances from Morehead and Danville, as opposed to Lexington, Roller said those cities are similar "culturally and in size" to Midway.

The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission proposed a countywide ordinance, by way of revising the interlocal agreement that created the commission. Committee and Council Member Sarah Hicks wanted to use that document as the basis for Midway’s ordinance.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said that in his discussion with Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and County judge-Executive John Coyle, “It was in everyone's opinion there, that even the lawyers would agree, that's not the way to do it. That it should be done municipality by municipality . . . If we end up having three of them, we could amend them, like we did with the smoking ordinance, so they all kind of fit."

Committee chair Daniel Roller said the interlocal agreement should not be part of the process. "You're mixing ordinances and interlocal agreements," he told Hicks.

Roller took a moment to clarify what he thinks the ordinance is supposed to be about. "There was an article in the paper that referred to this as, I think they called it the ‘gay ordinance.’ This ordinance, the fairness ordinance, is much, much broader. I mean that’s sort of like saying civil rights only apply to black people. Civil rights applies to all these different groups. It's not giving a privilege to one, but it's treating all people the same." Roller was referring to a story in The Woodford Sun on March 12, which called it a “gay rights ordinance.”

Roller said he also wanted to make sure that people who oppose the ordinance would still feel welcome in Midway. He said that can be achieved with an “obstruction and retaliation” provision, which is included in the state’s model and the Danville ordinance. “I think that is really important,” he said. “That was one of the things that I think will assure people that we're not trying to do something to people who don't think they automatically fall under one of these groups.”

Council and Committee Member Bruce Southworth voiced concerns over the state model ordinance. "This one is cumbersome . . . and on top of that, it's setting up a human rights commission, which we already have." He asked, "Why do we have to reinvent the wheel when we can have Phil go through this and make this what we want?"

As the committee attempted to go through each ordinance, Vandegrift seemed to share Southworth's view, saying, "I don't know that it's really your responsibility to write it line-by-line . . . It would be a little unprecedented, I think, for you all to write this ordinance this way." He suggested that the committee turn over the responsibility of writing the ordinance to Moloney.

Southworth and Hicks agreed, but Roller was initially a bit reluctant, saying, “If you’re interested in streamlining, let the lawyer do it all.” He said the committee needs to tell Moloney what it wants. “We’re the legislators and we have to come up with the material.”

Hicks asked when the committee would “start the hammering-out process. We’re meandering around it now.”

After more discussion, including at stab at writing definitions of key terms, Vandegrift said, “I don’t know that it’s really your responsibility to write it line by line. . . . I would give Phil, 'This is what the ordinance should say, this is what we're talking about,' and then it comes back to you all then you all can kind of go through it and say, 'Well I don't like that, let's strike that, let's change it to that.'"

The committee agreed, and decided to give Moloney the fairness ordinances from Danville, Morehead, and Midway's 1997 Fair Housing and Discrimination Ordinance as guidelines.

Vandegrift, who spent two years on the council before becoming mayor at the start of the year, said he commended the committee’s attention to detail, because “Too many lawmakers don’t even read the laws that they’re voting on.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Committee to meet on 'fairness ordinance' Monday

The city council committee considering an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will have its third meeting at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee will meet at City Hall, 101 E. Main St. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

State offers city money to create parkland along Lee's Branch, but city would lose much control of the tract

By Anthony Pendleton and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Should the Midway City Council give up control of seven wooded acres along Lee’s Branch in return for state money that can be used to make the tract usable by the public but maintain its natural state?

The council deferred action Monday night on the issue of a conservation easement suggested by Zeb Weese of the state Land Heritage Conservation Fund.

At last week's Cemetery and City Property Committee meeting, Weese said the city could apply for funding to help clean up the seven acres and make it easier for the public to enjoy. In exchange for the funding, the city would lose its right to develop it.

Council Member Sara Hicks, chair of the committee, told the council that up to $15,000 might be available for removing invasive species from the property and otherwise improving it. That was the amount Weese had suggested at the committee meeting.

The Internal Revenue Service defines a conservation easement as the "historic preservation of land and buildings" in which "the property owner gives up certain rights but retains ownership of the underlying property."

Council Member Libby Warfield, a member of the committee, said at the council meeting that she is not in favor of the conservation easement.

"If we do this with the state, I don't believe we'll ever have control again. ... I have read all of their application forms and then their management guidelines and so forth. They are pages and pages and pages," she said. "Anything you want to do within that seven acres, you have to go to their board and ask."

Warfield said she believes there's no need for a conservation easement because the land is already partially protected by covenants in an existing conservation easement. "They are fairly extensive,” she said. "So the property is already protected to a certain extent."

In 1991, Blue Grass Properties & Investment Co. granted the city of Midway an easement on 23.54 acres for “preservation of scenic and agricultural values,” including the seven acres along Lee's Branch.

The 1991 easement prohibits “industrial and commercial activity” on the land but allows farming and “recreational activities approved by the City of Midway,” subject to certain requirements.

More significantly, it allows the city to build “facilities deemed necessary and appropriate by the City of Midway,” including access roads and “recreational and community facilities, and accessory structures,” including fences.

It could not do that under the state easement, though the committee seemed to agree that the entire seven acres did not have to be included in the easement. Specifically mentioned as an exception was the flat area in front of the old rock quarry.

The council discussed possible improvememts to the area in 2013. Here's an aerial photograph that then-Mayor Tom Bozarth used for reference (click on image for larger version):
Warfield told the council she also wants to discuss conceptual plans from 2007 that would add a walkway from Northridge Estates to the rest of Midway, through or near the area. Hicks said at last week’s committee meeting that such a walkway is needed, but shouldn’t go through the wooded area.

The council decided to defer further discussion until a City Property Committee meeting on April 13.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Midway College will charge most students same tuition next year, lower it for master of education degree

By Megan Ingros
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

As Midway College prepares for a new academic year as a university, students will notice that while some things change, others remain the same.

Midway College announced that tuition rates will remain the same for the 2015-16 academic year, and Master of Education tuition will decrease.

Students enrolled in the women’s college or the coeducational undergraduate and graduate programs for working adults will not see a raise in tuition costs for the 2015-16 academic year. Students enrolled in these evening or online undergraduate classes will continue to pay $395 per credit hour. 

Students pursuing a Master of Education will see a decrease in tuition from the previous set rate.
“Instead of $410 per credit hour, teachers seeking their M.Ed. will only pay $395 per credit hour, making this the most competitive tuition for such a program in the Lexington area,” said Ellen Gregory, the college’s vice president of marketing and communications.

College President John P. Marsden said, “To remain competitive in the current marketplace we are reviewing every touch point we have with our students and their families. The Midway difference has always been our high level of service to our students and now more than ever we want to continue that. I am proud of our faculty and staff's commitment to go above and beyond to help all of our students achieve their educational goals. To support those efforts, we believe keeping the cost of our tuition competitive is one of the most important things we can do.”

The announcement was released a week after the college announced that it will become Midway University on July 1. This name change is part of a three-year strategic plan for the college, which also includes a new website to be launched and brand changes that will also take place over the summer.