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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Council panel to discuss sidewalk at veterans' memorial

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meeting Friday, July 31, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the sidewalk at the veterans memorial in the cemetery. The notice from City Hall says no action will be taken. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Midway Messenger print edition has been published, online and in hard copies around town

The Midway Messenger is primarily online, at www.MidwayMessenger.org and here on the Messenger blog at http://midwayky.blogspot.com. But twice a year, we publish a print edition, with work from the previous or current semester at the University of Kentucky, where students produce the Messenger as part of Community Journalism classes in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications.

The print edition includes some stories that have not yet appeared online, including a story about Midway merchant Kenny Smith building bridges between the town and the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce as its chairman this year, the ongoing effort to revitalize the Midway Renaissance organization, a feature on Midway's two honey producers, and a profile of cancer survivor and City Council Member Libby Warfield.

Because the print edition appears twice a year, it includes several stories that first appeared online weeks or months ago. The front-page stories are about two big issues, one settled and one pending: the city's new anti-discrimination ordinance and the possible routing of a new Versailles bypass and whom it would help or hurt. All the stories were written by UK students under the direction of Associate Extension Professor Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

Copies of the Messenger are available at many locations in Midway. If you see a location that needs copies, please email Cross at al.cross@uky.edu. The print edition can be downloaded as a 6 mb PDF by clicking here. Printing of this edition was financed by Kentucky American Water Co., represented by an advertisement on the back page.

Midway residents are more protective of farmland in countywide, self-selected survey by Woodford Forward

People in Midway are more likely than those in Versailles to support local candidates who oppose expanding urban-service boundaries and developing farmland, according to a survey by Woodford Forward, a nonprofit group that holds those views.

In the non-scientific survey, 53 percent of the self-selected respondents said they would favor such a candidate, but in Midway, the figure was 72 percent. In the rural areas of Woodford County, it was 60 percent. Only 25 percent of the total said they would favor a candidate who favors expanding the urban-service boundary.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they live on a tract of 10 or fewer acres; 47 percent of the total said they live in Versailles, 44 percent in rural Woodford County and 7 percent in Midway (95 people). Nine percent were in the Midway ZIP Code area. Two percent didn't categorize their residence.

Asked what they liked about living in Woodford County, 41 percent said "small town atmosphere and 27 percent said "beautiful countryside," the two leading responses. Midway residents were more likely to cite the countryside; those citing the small-town atmosphere were likely to be older.

Asked the downsides of living in the county, 35 percent cited "lack of available goods and services locally," 24 percent said "lack of restaurants" and 14 percent said "few entertainment options." Residents of Versailles were more likely to cite those downsides than rural or Midway residents.

Click on image to view a larger version
The longstanding tension between growth advocates and preservationists was apparent in responses to the question, "What do you think is the single most important issue facing Woodford County today?" The results: 34 percent said growth, and 33 percent said economic development, a term typically used by growth advocates.

Given a list of possible priorities for county planners, respondents gave the top rating

Woodford Forward said it mailed the survey to all 11,128 households in the county. The survey could be completed in hard copy or online. The group said it received 1,329 mail and 134 online responses, for a total of 1,463, or 13.1 percent of the households. (Another 51 were received after the survey ended and analysis began, for a total of 13.6 percent.)

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of various policy positions related to growth, on a scale of 1 to 10. The highest rating, 8.25, went to "Planning for innovative and responsible growth and development within the designated urban service areas of Woodford County." The next highest, 8.06, went to "Preserving the unique characteristics of Woodford County – defined small town
centers surrounded by scenic and productive farmland," followed by "Protecting prime farmland for agricultural use," at 7.98.

Click on image to view a larger version
Then respondents were asked how well the county is doing in those areas. Those are shown in the chart at left, as the green line on top of the importance ratings.

Given a list of possible policy priorities for county planners, respondents gave the highest rating to "Redevelopment of vacant land and property within the urban service areas," followed by "Basic infrastructure services such as sewers, roads and other public services" and "Protecting Woodford County’s key agricultural areas such as horse farms from development."

Asked if they agreed with this proposed mission statement, "The future of Woodford County will depend on balancing a moderate level of innovative and sustainable growth around its central town centers, while at the same time protecting productive and unique farmland in the county," 74 percent agreed. The most favorable response came from Midway, where 82 percent agreed.

Asked to "rate the current focus in Woodford County on encouraging cooperation to balance the need to grow our communities AND preserve our farmland," on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), 22 percent said poor and only 4 percent said excellent. The plurality, 31 percent, gave it a 3 rating.

For a PDF of the survey report, click here.

The survey was not truly scientific because it was not a random sample of the population. Self-selected surveys tend to get more participation from people who are more interested in the topic, are well educated or have more time to complete such surveys. Other factors may influence their response or lack of it.

Sixty percent of the survey respondents were women, and 29 percent have a graduate or professional degree. Another 28 percent have a bachelor's degree, and 27 percent have an associate degree or some college education. Only 15 percent said a high-school diploma was as far as they got in school.

If the survey had been a random sample, the margin of error for the Midway results would have been plus or minus 10 percentage points. A self-selected survey may have a greater error margin.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/07/28/3963974_survey-woodford-residents-like.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Critt Rawlings serves the men's clothing world, including Coach John Calipari and athletes, from store in Midway

By Kayla Loy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Growing up on a farm near Lebanon in Central Kentucky, Crittenden Rawlings watched his father dress, and “always had a love” for good clothes, he recalled.

Rawlings in his store (Lexington Herald-Leader photo by Tom Eblen)
Rawlings started designing clothes in his teens and spent decades in men’s clothing design and merchandising, concluding with eight years as president and CEO of Oxford Clothes, which has the “most famous suit in America for hand tailoring,” he said.

He was “bored to death” at Oxford and retired to a Mercer County farm, but was prompted to get back into the trade by a “ridiculous” increase in the price of men’s suits, he told Kentucky Monthly magazine three years ago. He developed his own line, selling his clothes to retailers all across the U.S. But he didn’t like having all his clothes in a warehouse, so he decided to open a retail store.

Rawlings knew there had been a men’s store in Midway, Logan’s, that had done well before it moved to Lexington, so he decided to open Crittenden and Co. in a building at the corner of East Main and Gratz streets in Midway five years ago.

“We’re very happy with the progress we have made,” he said. “We sell a lot of famous horse people, executives, from many walks of life.”

Basketball coach John Calipari and NFL quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tim Tebow have worn Rawlings’ clothing. Calipari couldn’t be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts, but his patronage of the store is no secret.

“We still get people to walk in here and say they understand we clothe Coach Cal, so it’s been a huge assistance to our business,” said Rawlings.

Rawlings, 76, thinks customers keep coming back to his store because it’s “small and intimate.”
“They’ll say many, many times that they enjoy the experience of shopping here ’cause it’s small and they get attention,” he said.

“I think the retail has changed so dramatically in the world today that it’s a pleasant surprise when people walk into a small store like this where we understand our fabrics, we understand our clothing, and we can tell them a lot more about the product than many, many stores can give or do give to their customer.”

Rawlings said he strives to give “outstanding customer service” and “offer the consumer great style, classic style, classic American style, and offer them a very good value. I think our clothing is an outstanding value in today’s world of clothing. We use great fabrics, it’s very good construction and it’s not terribly expensive.”

Early in Rawlings’ career, he received mentoring from well-known fashion designers such as Norman Hilton and Ralph Lauren.

Rawlings worked for Hilton in the mid-1960s, who is known for his work with the Ivy League look.
“He had brilliant taste in style, and so he was a great mentor to me in my early days of getting into design,” said Rawlings.

He said Lauren taught him “high standards in taste and quality,” to “never waver” and to “always design what you believe in.”

Because Lauren sticks with his beliefs, “Ralph is the greatest designer,” Rawlings declared.
Rawlings’ work is also inspired by a suit from the Duke of Windsor, which he copied while at Oxford, buying items from the Duke’s personal wardrobe at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.

“I love the construction of those garments, so when I started my company I used that code as the standard of what I do,” said Rawlings. “And what I love about it  . . . it’s light construction and very comfortable to the consumer.”

Rawlings makes most of his coats with full French face construction, which is very light in nature. Tom Eblen of the Lexington Herald-Leader described it this way: “Outer material is wrapped inside the front to provide enough stiffness. Only the sleeves are lined. Body seams are piped with silk. 

There is no other lining except two triangles of silk on the shoulders. The style makes jackets lighter and cooler.”

Rawlings said, “For today’s lifestyles, dress coats have changed so dramatically I think it’s a much more practical construction.”

The Crittenden store mostly sells sport coats and trousers. The suits are mostly custom made, ranging from $900 to $2,000 while the sports coats range from $395 to $1,295.

Silk and linen fabric are used for the jackets in the spring and summer. In the fall, primarily 100 percent wool, 100 percent cashmere, and 100 percent camel hair are used. Crittenden trousers are cotton and fine wool and priced from $155 to $295.

The racing and horse industry boosts Crittenden’s business. April, May, September and October, key months for racing meets and horse sales, are four important months – so much that their total comes close to  the total sales of November and December, which historically are the largest two months of retail sales in the U. S., Rawlings said: “Horse industry helps our business greatly.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Barrows disavows role in Versailles bypass that might help him, downplays Midway's US 62 traffic concerns

By Jacqueline Nie
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Citizens of Midway are concerned about heavier traffic on Midway Road, U.S. 62, if a northwestern bypass is built around Versailles.

Three of the four most likely routes for the bypass lead directly into U.S. 62, and two of those lead to a piece of land that is undeveloped but residentially zoned and owned by former state Rep. Joe Barrows and his family. The Citizens Advisory Committee for the project has leaned toward the one running through the Barrows property.

All four of the most likely routes go through a farm with a residence, owned by the Dufont Corp., where, according to public records, John Platt resides. These are the two largest undeveloped pieces of property in the bypass area that are adjacent to the developed area of Versailles. Platt could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.
Transportation Cabinet map looks west; property names added by Midway Messenger; click on map for larger image
Barrows was unresponsive in an initial interview, asking why questions were being asked. In a later interview, he said he was not responsible for adding the project to the state road plan.

Barrows, a Democrat from Versailles, was state representative from 1980 through 2006, the year the legislature put $500,000 into the state road plan for preliminary design of the “Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor,” as the Transportation Cabinet calls it.

“I think that road ought to be built, but I don’t have a strong opinion where it should be built,” said Barrows, who is executive director of the state Commercial Mobile Radio Services Board and state 911 director.

Barrows said the project was conceived in the 1983-87 administration of Gov. Martha Layne Collins, but was removed by a later governor. He said he wasn’t for the construction of Falling Springs Boulevard, a sort of southwestern Versailles bypass, because it split his family’s other farm and didn’t increase its value.

Barrows said his family has contracted for development of their property along the northwest bypass route, retaining a 20 percent interest, “but I don’t consider that contract viable anymore” because of the market for additional housing in the area is weak.

Barrows was succeeded in 2007 by Democrat Carl Rollins of Midway, who served until 2013. During that time, the legislature added $40 million for the project: $3 million for detailed design, $5 million for buying right of way, $2 million for utility relocation and $30 million for construction, scheduled for 2017.

Rollins said he supported that because the Versailles City Council and fiscal court had voted to support a northwestern bypass, which would more or less complete a loop around Versailles. “Those two governing bodies, mayor of Versailles and the county judge, came to me,” Rollins said. “I did what I was supposed to do to get a study done for the bypass.”

The money to build the road has not yet been appropriated. Rollins said he was unaware that Barrows might benefit from construction of the bypass. “I was not aware that he owns any land on that side of Versailles or that he was part owner,” he said.

The property, on the west side of McCracken Pike (KY 1659), is owned by the estate of John E. Barrows. After a lengthy administrative and court battle, it was rezoned for a residential development about a decade ago.

The aspect of the bypass that has brought the greatest objections from Midway is the possibility that it would lead directly into Midway Road at its intersection with U.S. 60. Three of the five alternatives would do that, which Midwegians fear would funnel more trucks and other traffic onto the narrow road with poor shoulders that becomes Midway’s main north-south thoroughfare, Winter Street.

Barrows downplayed those concerns. “The only big trucks on Midway Road are the ones that are hauling in horses or bringing in hay,” he said. “I don’t think finishing this road will add to the big truck traffic.”

One of the three alternatives (in light green on the map) leading directly to Midway Road would run through an isolated slice of Brookdale Farm, very close to the Barrows property.

The other viable alternative (shown in red on the map) would end the bypass at the north end of the existing bypass, where it splits from U.S. 62 and the business route of U.S. 60. That route would run through the northeast half of the Barrows property and the southern half of the larger DuFont property.

All three of the alternatives that would go directly to Midway Road would also run through the DuFont property.

The Citizens Advisory Committee leaned toward the red route, running through the Barrows property and ending at the north end of the existing bypass.

Only one of the three routes running directly into Midway Road, the middle (lavender) route through Brookdale Farm, got a favorable vote from the committee.

Another alternative would have the bypass intersect U.S. 60 more than half a mile north of the U.S. 62 intersection, toward Frankfort. That route is not considered likely to be chosen because it would be the longest and is most strongly opposed by the committee.

Committee members voted on each of the five alternatives, as well as two others that would merge two of the alternatives. The lavender route received six positive votes and two negative votes, with 12 abstentions. Light green received five positive and six negative votes, with nine abstentions. Blue only received one positive vote, along with 10 negative votes and nine abstentions. Magenta did the best, receiving six positive and two negative votes with 12 abstentions.

The red route got eight positive and two negative votes, but also 10 abstentions. The outer route (shown in orange on the map) did the worst, getting only one positive vote, with 16 negative votes and three abstentions.

The only alternative route that got more positive votes than negative votes plus abstentions was a combination of the beginning of the lavender route and the end of the red route.

Some community leaders support a “no build” option, in which safety measures would be taken – such as signage along U.S. 60 near the Bluegrass Parkway exit, and moving the “Federal AAA trucking highway” designation of the Midway Road portion of U.S. 62 to U.S. 60.

There will be a meeting in September for the general public to comment on the alternatives. The Citizens Advisory Committee will review the public’s comments, and the cabinet and the Burgess & Niple engineering firm will choose a preferred alternative for the committee to review, probably in December.

The pressure for a northwest bypass of Versailles comes from commercial interests in the city who say industrial truck traffic – some of it from the Osram Sylvania plant that would be along the bypass route – is choking downtown business and endangering pedestrians.

There is no direct route from Versailles to Interstate 64 eastbound or to I-75. After the Bluegrass Parkway was built in 1965, an extension to I-64 and/or I-75 was proposed, but the idea was dropped 40 years ago because of opposition from preservationists in the Pisgah Pike Historic District.

Information for this story was also gathered by Al Cross, instructor of student reporters for the Midway Messenger.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Council panel to consider site for new gas regulator, which Columbia Gas says is needed to meet demand

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Monday, July 27, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the request of Columbia Gas for an easement for a new regulator station. The notice from City Hall says no action will be taken.

According to The Woodford Sun, Columbia wants an area of about 30 by 55 feet off School Run Road, near the garage next to the Midway School Apartments, and would put a 25-by-25-foot fence around the regulator.

In discussion at Monday's council meeting, it was unclear whether the property is owned by Steve Simoff, who said he hoped that he did, or by the city, which Columbia land agent Chris Bowlin said is what the county property valuation office told him.

Tony Tipton, land services leader for Columbia, told the council that a new regulator station is needed to meet demand in the city. He said the company lost 50 to 60 customers because the current regulator on Muffin Street failed under heavy demand last winter. Bowlin said that site is not big enough for the new, larger regulator and space for company trucks to park and turn around.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Council committee to discuss improvement of veterans monument at cemetery

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will hold a meeting on Thursday, July 9, at 5:30 p.m. at the Midway Cemetery, 431 E. Stephens St., to discuss a new sidewalk for the Veterans Memorial Monument. The notice from city hall says no action will be taken. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

UPDATE, July 13: The committee scheduled another meeting at City Hall for this evening, but canceled it.