Saturday, July 14, 2018

Four-church Vacation Bible School is a success

Children from four Midway churches, and some who have no church home, attended a joint Vacation Bible School this week.
Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Four Midway churches enjoyed their first multi-church Vacation Bible School this week, bringing together about 50 children – more than they expected – from the community and several denominations.

Cross-denominational gatherings have become more common in Midway since the creation two years ago of Locally Grown, a community youth group that focuses on uniting youth in the community and breaking down denominational barriers.

This year, Midway United Methodist Church, Midway Christian Church, Midway Presbyterian Church and St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church joined together for what they hope will be the first of many multi-church VBSes in Midway.

Presbyterian Church Pastor Mary Weese said the week was a success, both for the adults and for the children: “We get to be with each other. You don’t get to see people from other churches very often and work with them in projects. So, this has been a great opportunity.” She said the event “snowballed” from a small idea, to hoping for 36 children, to more than 50. “It’s been a huge success.”

Christian Church Pastor Heather McColl said she believes the event “exceeded our expectations” and has been successful enough to continue.  She said she was unsure in the beginning how such an event would work. “It wasn’t that I didn’t think the churches could work together, because the churches have done multiple projects together,” but she wondered about the timing, and that too many people would be traveling. “I am thankfully and gratefully wrong,” she said.
After dinner at the Methodist Church on Thursday, the group walked to St. Matthew AME Church to play games.
Each night, a different church hosted a variety of games, story-telling, Bible memorization and a dinner. On Monday, the group met at the Methodist church; Tuesday, at the Christian Church; Wednesday, at the Presbyterian Church, as Locally Grown hosted the students; and on Thursday, the students met first at the Methodist Church for dinner and walked to St. Mathews AME for a night of games. Friday was scheduled as a family event at the Methodist Church, allowing the children to wind down with their families from the week.

John Davis, who volunteered as one of the supervisors or “shepherds,” explained that the idea for the multi-church effort came from Midway having multiple churches but relatively few youth in each. “It’s difficult for each church to have their own” VBS, he said. “But when you get four together, it just works out so much better.” Davis said the event did not advertise to churches only, and welcomed several children who do not have a home church.

The pastors of the four churches attended each night and chimed in on how successful they think this week’s festivities have been.

“The community fellowship between these four churches is not seen in a lot of communities in Kentucky,” said Pastor Joshua Hale of St. Matthews AME, who said has pastored all around the state. He said Midway churches are doing what a lot of other communities have not embraced: worshipping together across denominations. “These churches work together all year long and worship together in different services all year long,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.” He said that it is his hope that the event will continue each year.

Methodist Pastor Mickey Richardson said the event has been “tremendously successful.” She said that “independently, we wouldn’t have had the resources to do all the things that we’re doing. So, by putting our resources together, we are able to serve the entire community.”

Students acted out the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River as Jesus's ministry began.
After dinner Thursday, the students listened to the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, and several students acted it out. Afterward, they split into teams by grades, and each group walked with their shepherd to St. Mathew AME. Once there, teams were given a frozen T-shirt, which they had to work together to melt and unravel and then put on, symbolizing the Biblical idea of donning a “robe of righteousness.”

Jakeb King helped younger children with a frozen T-shirt.
Jakeb King, a sophomore student in Locally Grown, said he enjoyed the event and thinks it should be done three times a year.

He said the programs and interactive songs were his favorite parts because “the kids were really into it. I think what made it really fun was the adults; they’re really active and into it. I think the kids got that energy. They caught onto it.”

King said he loves that churches in the community are coming together, and said he feels there are more opportunities for students to learn when more churches are involved.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Transportation Cabinet schedules informal meeting about Weisenberger Mill bridge for Aug. 9 at Northside

The state Transportation Cabinet has scheduled a meeting to receive comments from citizens about the proposed replacement of the Weisenberger Mill Bridge, which has been closed for more than two years for safety reasons.

The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, August 9, in the Northside Elementary School gymnasium, 500 Northside Drive in Midway.

Unlike the last meeting about the project, which was related to environmental and historic review, the meeting will be informal. Citizens can come at any time between 6 and 8 to discuss the project with representatives of the Transportation Cabinet and its engineering consultant on the project, HW Lochner.

Handouts and displays with information about the project, and sheets for written comments, will be available. Comments will be accepted up to 15 days after the meeting at the cabinet's district office at 800 Newtown Court, Lexington KY 40511

Written comments from this meeting will be part of the official record for the project and available for review via open-records requests. Requests must be submitted to the Office of Legal Services, Transportation Cabinet, 200 Mero St., Frankfort KY 40622.

If you have a disability and will require assistance to attend the meeting, notify Casey Smith of the cabinet no later than Thursday, Aug. 2, by calling 859-246-2355 or mail the request to the district office in Lexington. Smith can also answer questions about the meeting or the project.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Mayor asks council to pay off debt on sewage-treatment plant, saying it would lead to rate cut of at least 25%

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Ahead of Monday’s city council meeting, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announced his intention to ask the council to pay off the city’s active wastewater treatment plant to allow lower sewer fees for water customers. 

Vandegrift would do that by cashing in one of the city’s three certificates of deposit, which total $473,483. That would leave CDs totaling $276,598.

Vandegrift told the council in a letter on Wednesday that the funds would be applied to the remaining balance on the wastewater plant, now $196,885. He said the city pays $60,000 a year on the loan, in two $30,000 installments, plus $9,000 in interest and “other services.”  He said the city would have an extra $9,000 in sewer revenue each month, leading to “lowering sewer rates for our citizens”

The next step, he explained, would be “letting the sewer fund build up some revenue for a few months,” then make some projections. “Once we feel that our sewer fund is sufficiently increased, I would then ask you . . . to vote on lowering sewer rates at least 25 percent, to begin with.” Sewer fees are based on water usage.

Vandegrift noted that the city recently paid off the old sewer plant, which had to be replaced before the bond issue used to build it was retired.

The CD that the mayor wants to cash in is worth $285,490. The remaining $88,605 after paying off the treatment plant would be rolled into a new CD, he said.

“Our current financial position is so healthy that I see no reason why we should continue to pay interest on a debt we are able to pay off,” he added. “Cutting sewer rates will help make Midway a city that is more affordable for everyone, and will be a major step in fixing one of Midway’s longest running problems.”

The council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. All council meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meetings set to discuss 'On the Table' ideas that could lead to $25,000 or more in grants for projects in county

Woodford County Community Fund press release

Earlier this year, the Woodford County Community Fund hosted "On The Table" conversations at the Life Adventure Center. What we heard most that day was “This was a great event and I really appreciated all the helpful conversation, so what’s next?” This is it!

In five identical upcoming events, we will reveal what we heard from the participants. Our “From the Table to the Streets” presentation will go over what everyone had to say at On The Table and what the community wants to do about it.

Please mark your calendar for either:
July 12: Light dinner from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Versailles Presbyterian Church.
July 13: Light breakfast from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Versailles Presbyterian.
July 13: Light lunch from 11:30am to 1:30 p.m. at Versailles Presbyterian.
July 14: Light brunch from 10 a.m. to noon at Troy Presbyterian Church.
Aug. 16: Light dinner from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Versailles Presbyterian.
Each event will cover the same information. Pick a date and time which suits your schedule best and learn what was discussed and how to apply for a grant.

This fall, The Woodford County Community Fund, in partnership with the Joe and Debbie Graviss Foundation, Glenn and Sandi Bromagen and the Quigg Fund will award at least $25,000 in grants to support ideas arising from the inaugural "On the Table" conversations. Successful proposals will address community needs through projects and programs that demonstrate sustainable impact and measurable outcomes. Following an initial review by the Woodford County Community Fund, the community will be invited to weigh-in and help select the final grant recipients. Working together, we can put ideas into action! If not enough grant requests meet the proper criteria, left over funds will be rolled over into next year’s program.

For more information, contact Joe Graviss or Lori Garkovich at woodfordcf@bgcf.org.

"On The Table" is an initiative of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, with special thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a funding and technical assistance partner.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Council donates to summer concert series, Midway U. tennis tournament; OKs striping of Stephens Street

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council decided unanimously Monday to give away another $650 of its allotted donation budget for the fiscal year that just began.

This year’s budget, which took effect Sunday, included $5,000 for donations, $3,250 of which have already been promised, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The council decided to honor the request of Joseph Reyes, the head coach for men and women’s tennis at Midway University, who requested $250 to sponsor a tournament in August.

The council then agreed on a donation of $400 for the Cool Summer Evening concert series to help pay for performers.

After subtracting other donations that have been promised, the city’s donation budget for this fiscal year has $1,100 remaining.

The mayor and council put removable speed bumps on East Stephens
Street last summer, but the bumps couldn't stand up to the punishment.
Street striping: The council also discussed Vandegrift’s traffic plan, which he laid out at the last meeting and asked the council to give some thought. His main request at the last meeting was for lines to be painted on some streets to slow traffic.

Council Member Bruce Southworth said, “I don’t think anybody’s opposed to [putting stripes on the road] through East Stephens all the way up to the cemetery.”

The cemetery is on West Stephens, so the council agreed that the whole length of the street through town should be striped with double yellow lines in the middle and white lines on the side. Traffic engineers say striping roads and streets makes them seem narrower, slowing traffic.

Council Member John McDaniel asked the council to consider adding a bicycle lane on the street, but Vandegrift said two lanes would be needed, one in each direction, and he wasn’t sure the street is wide enough for that.

The council approved a motion to allow the city to paint Stephens Street, with bicycle lanes “where possible.” The painting will wait until state requirements and logistics can be confirmed.  “I don’t know that we’ll have this done before the next council meeting,” Vandegrift said, adding that the city plans to do the work on its own. “All we’re gonna pay for is the paint,” he said.

Parks Board: Vandegrift nominated, and the council approved, the appointment of Tiffany Marsh to the parks board to replace Julie Morgan, who the mayor said felt she could not complete the second half of her four-year term due to family commitments.

Marsh recently won the Kentucky Teacher of the Year award for her work as a music teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. Vandegrift said Marsh has already been an active volunteer with the parks board and “it will be good to have an educator on the board.”

Animal ordinance: The council enacted a new ordinance on treatment of animals, which City Attorney Phil Moloney revised to fit the language of an ordinance recently enacted by the county, while adding some specifics. In some cases, “our language was much more specific,” Vandegrift said.

Sparks in the Park: The mayor reminded the council and the audience that the annual “Sparks in the Park” event will run from 6 p.m. to dusk at Walter Bradley Park. He said there will be enough barbecue to feed 300.

Park gets a new entrance, fence and trail behind library

Walter Bradley Park has a new entrance, behind the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Public Library. The new gate is the head of a trail that runs along the edge of the cliff created by the old quarry. It was installed after the city installed a fence along the edge of the cliff. The photo below is taken from the trail, with the gate near upper left of the photo.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Larry Cory, singing and leading his band
Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
For a larger version of any photograph, just click on it.

Hundreds of people came out for the third annual Midsummer Nights in Midway event Friday evening.

Debra Shockley of Midway Renaissance, which was experimenting with a new parking and traffic flow with vendors and the band set up in the westbound side of East Main Street, said the new arrangement was working.

Lily McDaniel (left) and Ainsley Lynch danced.
Shockley said with signs informing people of additional parking, “it worked out well. We got all the vendors in and none of the merchants are complaining, so I guess it’s a good thing.”

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the new setup was “working out really well. We’re very excited about that.”

While the street closure made room for more vendors, Shockley said the crowd for this year’s first event was about the same as in other years. Midsummer Nights will also be held on the last Fridays of July and August.

Adults had fun browsing around 20 vendors and listening to Larry Cory and The Passport Band, but it was the children who stole the show.

Early on, Emma Davis (right) danced with a flower she received from Locally Grown’s booth, where the youth ministry was set up selling T-shirts and giving away flowers. Her godmother, Angela Blackburn, watched her dance with a smile. She said she loves Midsummer Nights in Midway. “It’s great,” she said. “Every town should do this.”

Later, with the band in full gear, Midway’s Ainsley Lynch and Lily McDaniel (above) danced their hearts out to the band’s music, earning laughter and smiles from the crowd. Bandleader Larry Cory joked about the girls being his “backup dancers.”

Brenda Jackson (right) and Breauna Pennie at Jackson's craft table
Brenda Jackson, a member of Midway’s Second Christian Church, set up a table at the event to raise money for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse ministry that allows people to send a shoebox full of goodies to less fortunate children around the world at the holidays. Jackson said she has been filling the shoeboxes for about five years and comes to Midsummer Nights to raise money for the contents and the shipping. “It keeps getting more expensive each year,” she said, but added that she is able to sell considerable produce at the event.

Her booth was full of interesting trinkets such as wooden trains featuring soda caps, candle holders, and jewelry, all of which she made herself for the ministry. She was sporting one of the bracelets she was selling. She said she made them after taking a class on jewelry making. She said the boxes are her own labor of love and “it’s just part of my passion for the church.” She said Breauna and Benisha Pennie, also members of Second Christian Church, help her with the boxes each year.
The westbound side of East Main Street, closed for the event, was filled with vendors and event-goers.