Thursday, October 29, 2020

As freezing weather looms, protect your pipes

Kentucky American Water Co., Midway's wholesale water supplier, encourages customers to take a few minutes to help prevent their homes’ water pipes from freezing this winter, before really cold weather arrives. A low of 26 degrees is forecast for Monday morning.

“Taking a few simple steps now can help prevent inconvenience and costly damage this winter,” said Vice President of Operations David Farrar. “We encourage customers to spend a few minutes assessing their homes and completing a few simple tasks so that their homes are well-prepared for colder temperatures.”

Frozen water lines typically occur in areas such as crawl spaces or along the outside walls where unprotected plumbing tends to be more vulnerable to the elements. Customers are encouraged to:
  • Disconnect garden hoses from your home. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it is turned off and drained.
  • Search your house for un-insulated water pipes, especially in unheated areas. Check attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls. Consider wrapping pipes with insulation sleeves. Another option is electric heating tape, but follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold air away from pipes.
  • Prevent frozen pipes by draining and shutting off the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze.
Once cold weather arrives:
  • If you’re going out of town, set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is safe for pipes.
  • When below-freezing temperatures occur, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets supplied by pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces. This will help prevent the water in pipes from freezing.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is located inside your home so that you can shut off your water quickly in the event of a water pipe leak. This valve is often located in a utility room, closet or in the basement or crawlspace.

Online Monster Mash to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday

Midway Monster Mash, an online event, will be hosted by Midway Toastmasters from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. Winners will be chosen for best spooky tale, best costume, best pet costume, and best Halloween Zoom background. All are welcome! More information and registration are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/124287107083.

Midway Toastmasters is an educational club that helps members develop communication and leadership skills. The club says it was recently recognized as Club of the Year for its district, led the U.S. in educational awards earned in 2019-20, and was ranked seventh in the world.

Monday, October 26, 2020

EDA board member raises idea of multi-family housing in Midway Station commercial zone; mayor says no

Portion of zoning map is labeled to show B-5 commercial zone and other zones at Midway Station.

Trying to figure out how to sell the commercially zoned lots in Midway station, some of Woodford County's economic developers are talking about rezoning part of the property for multi-family housing. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says he opposes that.

The idea was mentioned at Friday's meeting of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority board, in the first report from a committee appointed to "steer future decisions" on the commercial lots. Chair Paul Schreffler said one option could be rezoning some for industrial or multi-family.

Schreffler said the other options for the commercially zoned tracts include redesigning some lots or "doubling down on the new urbanism" concept in the development's original plan. The concept uses walkable streets, accessible public spaces and housing and shopping in close proximity.

There was no reaction from the board or any comment from Vandegrift when he had an opportunity, but had one when the Messenger asked him later Friday about multi-family housing. "That's not in line with our thinking or policies," he said. "I thought we had settled that when we rezoned everything."

Power lines in Midway Station can complicate
sale of lots in the heart of the commercial zone.
Asked to explain "our thinking or polices," Vandegrift said "Any additional housing in the city needs to be adjacent to other housing." He said "the populace demands" that to avoid "sprawl" and "the feeling of two Midways," which was the prospect when various types of housing were part of the plan for Midway Station from 2008 to 2018.

Vandegrift said the property now zoned commercial "doesn't seem like a good place for homes," and the large power lines running through the property also pose an obstacle. He said "developers want to develop," but "We have to control that impulse."

Vandegrift said Monday that he spoke with EDA Chair Michael Michalisin of Midway about the idea, "He said he was just as surprised as I was; and that idea is not on the table."

At the board meeting, Vandegrift noted that the recent closing of the sale of lots to RD Holdings, for a plant to store and maintain golf carts, will add 30 to 40 jobs, bringing the total in Midway Station to more than 600.

Discussion of marketing the commercial property, zoned B-5 for highway business, dovetailed with talk about the EDA's website.

"We need to get this B-5 ready to go, and no one's going to look at it with our current website," board member Maria Bohanan said.

Schreffler agreed: "The website is awful, and we've got to be competitive." He noted that it requires not just new construction, but constant maintenance.

EDA Executive Director Lucas Witt said he would talk with Mandy Lambert, who has made a proposal for reworking the site, but also offer other options for the next meeting. Bohanan said action on the site needs to wait until Midway and Versailles officials have been consulted about how it will brand the two cities and the county.

Witt reported that Bluegrass Distillers remains in line for a community-development loan from the state for its facility to be built on the northwest quadrant of the Interstate 64 interchange, and said he is coming closer to an agreement with the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce on cooperative activities, such as a quarterly meeting of local industries.

The EDA meeting was held via Zoom and was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Woman's Club holds Halloween Decorating Contest

233 W. Higgins St. won for best use of inflatables. (Photo provided by Midway Woman's Club)
The Midway Woman's Club has announced the winners of its annual Halloween Decorating Contest. The club said fewer homes decorated this year, but there were more in Northridge Estates. The winners:

  • Most Fun Decor: 211 S. Winter St.

  • Best Use of Inflatables: 233 W. Higgins St.

  • Best Overall Design: 121 Carriage Lane

  • Most Halloween Spirit: 211 Cottage Grove, 323 S. Winter St., 216 Coach Station

  • Creepiest Decor: 129 Old Towne Walk

  • Scariest Decor: 225 E. Higgins St.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

City asks residents to put leaf piles in right of way near street, but suggests leaf removal really isn't needed

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift delivered two public-works updates this afternoon, on leaf collection and the water-line project on Martin Street.

He said leaf collection is starting, and the city is asking citizens to put leaf piles, not bags, in the right of way near the road or street. "Despite popular myths, leaves rarely smother grass, and in fact provide nutrients that we often find ourselves repurchasing each spring," he said. "However, we are more than happy to continue providing this service to any who wish to have their leaf piles removed." He said more information is at https://www.treehugger.com/skip-rake-and-leave-leaves-healthier-greener-yard-4858786.

Vandegrift said the Martin Street water line is in service and the boil-water advisory has been lifted for the residents on and near the street.

Democrat Lamar Allen and Republican Dan Fister running for state House seat being vacated by Graviss

Lamar Allen, Democrat; Dan Fister, Republican
By Nicholas Hall
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

State spending and the tax code are points of contention between Republican Dan Fister and Democrat Lamar Allen, the candidates for the race to represent Woodford County in the state House.

While both candidates agree that the government should secure pensions for state employees, they disagree on what changes should be made to pay for it.

Allen, 32, of Lexington, grew up in Louisville and works as a teacher, but also drives for Uber and Lyft. Allen said he was inspired to run by a desire to help students beyond his work as educator.

“I realized that it was time to have an advocate who will fight for them outside of the classroom just the same way that I will fight for them inside the classroom,” he said in an interview.

Allen became the Democratic nominee by defeating Woodford County educator Bob Gibson in the primary election. While Allen lost by more than 500 votes in Woodford, which cast 60% of the primary vote, his 1,000-vote lead in Fayette County and 329-vote margin in Franklin County won the primary.

Fister, 60, has lived his entire life within 15 miles of the Versailles hospital where he was born. He has been a farmer and a senior accountant for a multinational corporation, and operated his own construction company for 34 years.

Fister ran for the seat in 2016 and 2018. He said he was inspired to run by seeing the problems he saw in the community that his grandchildren would grow up in, noting in particular the murder of six-year-oldLogan Tipton of Versailles in late 2015. “We’ve got to do something, and I’m not doing anything, so that’s when I agreed to get involved.,” he said in an interview.

Fister said that he’s running this time for the same reasons. “I just see it as an extension of the first one,” he said. “I’m still running for the same office; I think it’s a good fit.”

Fister ran unopposed in the Republican primary this year. He won primaries in 2016 and 2018, but lost to Democratic incumbent James Kay in 2016 and to Joe Graviss in 2018.  Graviss is running for the state Senate, so the House race has no incumbent.

The district includes all of Woodford County and parts of Franklin and Fayette. Its voter registration is 53 percent Democratic and 38 percent Republican, but many registered Democrats, especially those in Woodford County, vote for Republican candidates.

Allen says Kentucky’s education and health-care systems need more support from state government. He stressed that funding for public education system should not be rerouted to charter schools or school vouchers, tax credits for private education.

Fister did not reply to questions about those two issues. Earlier, he said the education system should be supported, calling it “a driver in all directions,” but would like to bring in more business by reducing tax rates.

Allen disagreed, saying past tax cuts have benefited Kentucky’s highest earners at the cost of hurting working-class Kentuckians. He said the state should consider an additional tax bracket for Kentucky’s highest earners.

The preservation of state pensions was important to both candidates, though Fister noted that Gov. Andy Beshear’s budget plan in March 2020 would have reduced pension benefits. “I would like to see some changes in it, to make it, to make it go forward in health, okay?” Fister said. “The way it’s set up right now you’ve got fewer people working supporting a larger group of retirees and we’ve got to fix that mix somehow.”

Allen said the government needs to secure the pensions of state workers. “I think that we have a group of people who are doing a lot with a little, and they’re often getting the least amount of resources and they’re still expected to provide the same outcome,” he said. “And at minimum what we should be doing, because oftentimes these people are underpaid, is making sure that they are set up for life after work.”

Allen said state government should decriminalize marijuana to reduce the strain on the criminal justice system, or even legalize it, to bring in new agriculture opportunities. He also said the government could bring in more revenue by expanding gaming and continuing to raise taxes on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

Fister emphasized the need for the state government to exercise fiscal responsibility. “You know it’s just like at home, you look around you can find waste, you know. Government, the way the budgets are designed and the way it’s been done since the beginning of time is if you don’t spend what you budgeted for, you won’t get it next year,” he said. “So if you don’t need that money this year, instead of wasting it, let’s cut it out and you can get it back next year if you need it, you know?”

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Midway City Council candidates are profiled; Messenger will have no print edition for this election, but has a PDF

The Midway Messenger has published profiles of all 10 candidates on the ballot for Midway City Council. As usual, the stories were written by students in the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media, who are enrolled in the Community Journalism course taught by Al Cross, editor and publisher of the Messenger. They are published on our Candidate Profiles page (link on left rail of this page).

The Messenger usually publishes a print edition with election stories, to help Midway voters make their choices, but we will not have one for this election. We are sorry about that, but the pandemic poses obstacles for a print edition, as we discovered this spring and summer. Also, absentee voting has been going on for weeks, and early voting for more than a week, and production of a print edition would have made these stories even later.

Because there is no print edition, we hope you will read and share these profiles with your friends, relatives and neighbors. We have posted online a PDF that you can download for printing and sharing.

Our election coverage also includes stories on the county school board race in the Northern District and the state legislative races in Midway's ballot. We hope you will read and benefit from all these stories. The Messenger exists mainly to provide a real-world experience for journalism students, but it has another very important function, serving as Midway's community newspaper. Please let us know how you think we are doing; just send an email to al.cross@uky.edu.