Thursday, May 24, 2018

Northside Elementary plants a tree to honor Ambrose Wilson IV of Midway, 26 years a school board member

Left to right: Nolan Asher, Charlie Twehues, Payten Asher, Ambrose
Wilson IV and Cindy Smithers, Wilson's daughter. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
By Sarah Ladd
University of Ky. School of Journalism and Media

Northside Elementary School staff and students met on the school’s grounds Wednesday morning to plant a tree honoring long-time Woodford County Board of Education member Ambrose Wilson IV of Midway.

The tree, a small Japanese maple, was chosen for its distinctive color and was dedicated to Wilson for his 26 years of service on the board, part of it as chair. Wilson said the school board surprised him at its April 23 board meeting by announcing the gesture in front of his family, grandchildren and many others. 

Wilson said he felt honored by the gesture and by the continued support he receives from the voters at each election. “The school was always so important to me,” he said. “Now a piece of me will always be here.”

The tree (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
The three students who helped dig the hole for the tree decided to use the original shovel used to break ground for the school in 1991, which Wilson had given to the school. Payten Asher, Nolan Asher and Charlie Twehues said they didn’t realize how significant their decision was at first, but when they realized, they were excited.

“Well, at first they were just going to use old garden tools!” said Nolan, who had the idea to use the shovel.

The school plans to provide a plaque for the tree. The students will care for and water it as a way to give back to Wilson. The children were all smiles and said they were eager to take care of the tree.

Shelby Ison, curriculum and instruction coach at Northside, said she has been with the school since its beginning and has been with Wilson all the way. She said his work for the school has contributed greatly to the school’s vibe and has made Northside competitive with other schools. “We have the best of everything!” she said.

Ison said Wilson frequently visits class activities and is highly involved around the school. “He’s highly visible, but it’s a sincere visibility,” she said.

Wilson got the school's walkway covered. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
One of Wilson’s accomplishments, Ison said, is the shelter that covers the walkway leading up to the door. “Before this, students stood out in the rain.”

Ison said Wilson has been an influential advocate for students, and has actively worked to provide the best programs possible for students, such as the robotics program and the reading program. “Sometimes, the decisions he makes are not always popular with the adults,” she said, “but it’s all about the students!”

Council committee will meet at 10 a.m. Fri. to discuss ordinance on animal shelter and inhuman treatment

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, May 25 in City Hall to discuss a proposed ordinance, "An Addition To Existing Ordinance Pertaining to Animal Shelter and Inhuman Treatment," says a notice from the city.

At the last two council meetings, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift first said the ordinance would be identical to one enacted by the Woodford County Fiscal Court, then asked the council to table the ordinance because the city's current ordinance is more specific in some cases. The council tabled the ordinance, meaning it will take a majority of the council to even consider it again.

The meeting notice says the committee will take no action. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Midway University students, faculty and student organizations receive awards of excellence

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway University recently presented awards of excellence to faculty, students and campus organizations.    

"The annual honors event is an important reminder of our purpose and a celebration of our students' academic and social achievements,” Dr. Mary Elizabeth Stivers, vice president for academic affairs, said in a university news release. 

The awards were presented at an April 19 event named for the late Joy Edwards Hembree, a long-time university trustee who advocated for women and children, recognizes persons for superior accomplishments, both in the classroom and beyond, the release said.

Award recipients from the Midway area were:
Georgetown: Katie Morgan, Future Alumni
Versailles: Shannon Jackson, MSN Education Track Award for Professional Excellence
Frankfort: Cait Smith, Outstanding English Student Award; Alexus Thornton, Outstanding Student in Master of Business Administration

Other award recipients included:
Dr. Cynthia Ryder, Outstanding Teacher Award
Courtney Clark (Lexington), Associate Degree Nursing Faculty Award for Academic Excellence
Ashley Lewis (Lawrenceburg), BSN Professional Excellence Award
Sheila Griffeth (Lexington), MSN Administration Track Award for Professional Excellence
Velkys Montemayor Jordan, Health Care Administration Award
Jasmine Valentine (Simpsonville), Outstanding Biology Student Award
Sgt Daniel Truex (Lexington), Outstanding Criminal Justice Student Award
 Michelle Clark (Sidney, Ohio), Outstanding Psychology Student Award
Heather Ping (Somerset), Outstanding Teacher Education Student Award
 Mike Johnson, Outstanding Master of Education Student Award
Jarol Prado, Outstanding Mathematics Student Award
Rachel Carter (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Outstanding Business Student Award
 Elizabeth Douglas, Outstanding Student in Equine Rehabilitation
Beverly Gartland (Essex, Vt.), Outstanding Student in Equine Management and Equine Science
Christina Neira, Outstanding Sport Management Student Award
 Callum Johnston (Lexington), Excellence in Community Service Award
Rashea Smith (Corbin), Ruth Slack Roach Junior Scholar
Freshman Leadership Award: Cameron Kincer (Neon) and Lynsey Doles (Ripley, Tenn.)
Midway Eagle Leadership Award: Kendra Legters (Bloomfield, N.Y.) and Ellie Lyons (Shelbyville)

The Athletic Team Impact Award went to the women's soccer team and the Student Organization Impact Award went to the Midway Horse Association.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Liles Taylor defeats Magistrate Linda Popp in primary; Greathouse awaits; McDaniel 3rd but plans council race

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Liles Taylor won the Democratic primary for Midway district magistrate Tuesday with 284 votes to incumbent Linda Popp’s 141 and City Council Member John McDaniel’s 136.

In the Nov. 6 general election Taylor will face Joe Greathouse, his next-door neighbor on Cottage Grove. He said last night that he and Greathouse, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination, haven’t discussed the race. Taylor, 31, is political coordinator of the state AFL-CIO. Greathouse is a farmer.

Liles Taylor
At the polling place at Northside Elementary School, Brandon DeMoss said he supported Taylor because of his stance on important issues. “Linda Popp is OK with me,” he said, “but I like Taylor because he’s a fresh face with new ideas.” DeMoss, a young man, said he did not feel that Taylor’s age made him more appealing. Rather, he said the issues won his vote.

One anonymous voter said she supported Taylor because he had such an active campaign. She said the community spoke highly of him and he was the only candidate to send her literature on his issues. He called for increased transparency of county government through online access to documents, focus on the county budget and look for ways to alleviate traffic in Versailles without putting more on Midway Road (US 62).

Several other voters who wished to remain anonymous said they voted for Taylor because of his character and youth. “It’s good for the county to get young people in office,” one said. Others said it was time for a change and they think Taylor will be the right kind of change. One would not say who won her vote, but said she was disappointed in Popp’s inactive campaign.

Popp’s husband, Ray Popp, died April 5, and she said his illness and death kept her from campaigning. In the last week of the race, her campaign signs appeared all over the district.

Justice Heltzel arrived late in the afternoon to vote and said he proudly supported Taylor. He said he has known Taylor for a long time and described him as a “genuine” person. “He’s interested in the community he lives in,” Heltzel said. “And you want someone who’s passionate. He embodies what I want to see for this position.”

Kayleigh Taylor said she is new to Midway, and Taylor made her feel welcome, so she voted for him. “He knocked on my door and had a conversation with me,” she said. “Being new, that felt good.”

Liles Taylor said he knocked on about 850 doors so far and plans on doing more before November “because there’s nothing like having the opportunity to speak with voters one on one. I’m excited about doing that going forward.”

Taylor said he was proud to be the Democratic nominee. “I’m really proud of the campaign that I’ve run this far,” he said, “and I’m excited about earning folks’ votes in November.” He also complimented the graciousness of the other candidates. He said Popp called him and was “exceptionally gracious” and said he appreciated her service to the county during her term.  “I look forward to working with anyone who will work with me as we move forward,” he said.

McDaniel said after the polls closed that he was not ready to comment on the results, but when he came to vote at around 5 p.m., he was all smiles and said, “Liles ran a race like a politician should.” The day before, in an informal conversation with the Messenger, he had predicted Taylor would win.
McDaniel, who was more critical of Popp during the race, said he plans to file for re-election to the city council. The filing deadline for the six council seats is Aug. 14.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mayor keeps passage of budget scheduled for June 4; 'leaning against' Southworth's request for 3rd workshop

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council met Monday to discuss the budget that starts in July, approve the city’s borrowing limit and honor a local Eagle Scout.

The council held the first reading of the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 following two workshops at which the council worked on it. The budget outlines the city’s planned revenue as well as spending for next year.

It reflects significantly lower property tax revenue for the next fiscal year, $82,000, compared to $110,000 in the current year. Vandegrift said in January he wanted to reduce property taxes 25 percent since the city is getting so much more money from occupational taxes as a result of increased employment. Tax rates will be set later this year.

Vandegrift said second reading of the budget ordinance would be held June 4. Later in the meeting, Council Member Bruce Southworth said he thought there was going to be another workshop before action on the budget. Vandegrift said he would call a council meeting for another workshop, perhaps at a special meeting he plans to have about blighted property on May 30, and would not reschedule the second reading.

Southworth said after the meeting that he wanted the council to discuss the $17,000 proposed for various improvements at Walter Bradley Park. City Attorney Phil Moloney said the budget could be changed on second reading as long as the changes were not "substantial."

Mayor changes his mind

Tuesday morning, Vandegrift told the Messenger in an email that he was leaning against calling another budget workshop. He reiterated that he had asked the council May 9 that if anyone wanted another workshop, adding that he “told them if I didn’t hear from anyone within a few days we would move forward with putting the budget into ordinance form.” He said now that the work has been put in to make the budget an ordinance, he does not see the need for another workshop, “especially when the question at hand is not, as one council member put it after the meeting, about money.”

Asked about that via email, Vandegrift wrote, “Bruce told me that his issue 'is not about the money,' which among other things, led me to believe the real issue is with personnel. I stand firmly with the entire Parks Board and the work they are doing, and believe personnel issues are separate discussions from budget ones.”

An anonymous donor bought this willow arch at the Francisco's
Farm Art Fair and donated it to the park. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
Vandegrift wrote earlier, “I am extremely proud of this budget in its current form, including the Parks portion, and will leave it up to each individual member to decide whether or not to vote for or against the only budget in Kentucky that cuts property taxes 25% and increases investments.”

At the end of the meeting, Council Member Sara Hicks brought to the council’s attention that an anonymous donor purchased a willow archway at Francisco’s Farm Art Fair over the weekend and donated it to the park. It now graces the entryway to the Osage Trail behind the dog park. The asking price of the archway was $1,500, other members said. The arch was created on a steel frame by Justin Roberts of Murray, an apprentice in the Kentucky Arts Council program.

The council approved a resolution for the authorization of short-term borrowing for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It allows the city to borrow up to $99,000 “to pay amounts that have become due in the normal course of business,” though Vandegrift said it is unlikely the city will need to borrow money while awaiting tax receipts. Should the city need to, the interest would be consistent with Woodford County banks’ rates for commercial loans.

Eagle Scout honored

New Eagle Scout Eric Witt of Midway was honored at the council meeting for his service to Midway. Vandegrift announced that May 31 will be Eric Gerard Witt Jr. Day in honor of the scout’s courage and service despite physical pain due to his rheumatoid arthritis. Witt has been a scout since first grade and has mentored younger scouts.

Left to right: Mayor Vandegrift with Kim Witt, Eric Witt Jr. and Eric Sr.
Witt’s service includes a structure he designed as a multi-purpose pavilion behind the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Public Library and Northside Elementary School.

Eagle is the highest rank a Boy Scout can receive. Vandegrift read from his proclamation, which said in part, “Eric Gerard Witt Jr. exemplifies what it means to serve one’s community and the city of Midway is proud to call him on of their own.” Witt is a senior at Lexington Catholic High School.

In other business, The council voted to table an ordinance on inhumane treatment of animals, which would be identical to the county ordinance. “There might be more overlap here than we realize,” Vandegrift said. “Our ordinances are actually more specific than this ordinance.”

Vandegrift said he would not have a special speaker for Saturday’s Memorial Day service at the cemetery, but would talk about the Iraq War experiences of an unnamed local veteran who served in difficult circumstances but doesn’t want to speak about it. “I really think his story is important and powerful,” Vandegrift sad, “and he’s one of our own.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Midway University presents annual Spotlight Awards to longtime trustee and Dress for Success of Lexington

Analisa Wagoner accepts Pinkerton award from President John Marsden.
Midway University presented its Spotlight Awards Thursday night, at its annual fund-raising dinner in the Piper Dining Hall on campus.

The Pinkerton Vision Award, named after the founder of the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which evolved into the university, honors those who have had an impact on women's lives or served as a strong role model for women. This year's award went to the Lexington Chapter of Dress for Success, for its work to help women gain economic independence. Analisa Wagoner accepted the award.

"Dress for Success Lexington brings services and career development opportunities to women in the Lexington community," President John Marsden said. "Since its founding in 2013, the organization has served more than 675 women through their Suiting Program and Career Center. . . This organization resonated well with Midway University as an institution that offers a career-focused education, provides support through our career services office, and champions women and leadership."

Julia Hunter accepts Legacy Award from Trustee Donna Moore Campbell.
The Midway University Legacy Award went to Janet Green Hunter of San Diego, Calif., a trustee of the school since 2000. The award honors a person or persons who have impacted the university over many years by giving time, service, support and/or resources.

"Jan has given her time and generous monetary support to the institution and she was the impetus of our current Campaign of Opportunities with a lead gift to help build a new field house, construct an on-campus baseball stadium and make improvements to residential housing," said Donna Moore Campbell, chair of the Board of Trustees. "She most recently served as vice chair of the board and chaired our strategic planning and development committee."

All proceeds from the dinner and awards ceremony go to support academic programming and student scholarships at the university. The 2018 Spotlight Awards were presented by Community Trust Bank.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Saturday showers don't dampen pride of artists and appreciation of guests at 15th Francisco's Farm Art Fair

Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Art vendors proudly displayed their masterpieces at the 15th annual Francisco’s Farm Art Fair Saturday and Sunday, despite frequent rain showers the first day.

The fair at Midway University featured many jewelers, painters, sculptors and potters, as well as food vendors including Bite Me and Hog Fathers BBQ & Catering. Live musicians sang while guests visited each tent and children enjoyed interactive booths.

"The Little Whirly" isn't so little.
Among the more striking images at the fair was a 12-foot steel statue that was visible above the tent line. Savanna Haner, who works with the statue’s artist, Anthony Slichenmyer, by adding the final paint touches, said the towering piece of art is simply for decorative purposes, but they hope to someday incorporate a design that would allow it to pump water for a garden. The tall piece has an ironic name, “The Little Whirly.”

Slichenmyer owns All But One Ironworks and had a beautiful display of steel flower garden markers and ornate mirror d├ęcor at his booth. He said the process of creating a piece can be quite long; he does all his work free-hand rather than using molds. Sometimes, he said, he will finish one part and need to start again because it was crooked. “It’s fun, though,” he said.

Sherburne's newspaper pots (click on photo for a larger version)
Potter Jimmy Sherburne displayed many eye-catching pots, bowls and jugs in his tent, such as his comical moonshine jug with a burned-in newspaper image that read, “Prohibition ends at last!” To get the newspaper and other images onto his pottery, he said, he adds the images using ceramic decals and then fires them a third time at 2,300 degrees. He said his motto is “Mundo Cane”, which means “A Dog’s World” or a “Dog’s Life” because of the similarity he sees between dog-like courage and loyalty and the human condition.

He also has a bigger vision for the pieces he creates: “Consider the timeless nature of pots,” he said. “Consider the archeaological potential of deriving cultural significance from the stories future scholars find on our pots. I do not make pots as memoriams so much as markers.”
Midway native Jimmy Sherburne's "Most Excellent Pots" (click on photo for a larger version)
Sherburne was raised in Midway and said he holds a special place in his heart for the area. Though he now lives in Pennsylvania and works out of his gallery there, Artist Hand Gallery, he returns to Midway for the fair to share his art with the community he loves.

The Making of a Master display and the children’s art display was inside the university’s Anne Hart Raymond Center. It showcased the work of the area’s finest artists.
Civil War style quilt (click on photo for a larger version)

On display was a striking quilt made by master quilter Patricia Brennan of Fort Thomas featuring 15 traditional block patterns using Civil War style fabric. Brennan’s description card said the quilt, “speaks to me of the importance of following your dream. At the time of the Civil War, the dream was freedom. My dream of passing on quilting skills and the love of quilting is much smaller but still important to me.”

The displays also included one adult-sized and one child-sized Appalachian chair made by father-and-son pair Terry and Joseph Ratliff.

The children’s art display included paintings and sketches from Northside, Simmons, Southside and Huntertown elementary schools, Woodford County High School, St. Leo’s School, Versailles Montessori and Woodford Christian School, and ranged from landscapes to self-portraits to abstract. (Click on photo for larger version)
An interactive booth outside allowed children like Joseph Hale (left) to decorate a container and plant a flower in it to take home and care for.

Several vendors said the intermittent rain dampened a few spirits, but they persevered and made the most of the event.