Thursday, October 19, 2017

'Continuing the Conversation' about race, unity and diversity at 6:30 p.m. Sun. at Midway Christian Church

By Sarah Landers
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The public conversation about race, unity and diversity in Midway will continue on Sunday, Oct. 22, as a follow-up to the city’s ‘Peace in the Park’ event in August.

“Continuing the Conversation: A Peaceful Discussion on Race, Unity, and Diversity in Our Community” be held at Midway Christian Church, 123 E. Bruen St., at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting follows an initial gathering on the topic that was held in August. The first ‘Peace in the Park’ event, organized by Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, was a response to the violent white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.

Around 50 citizens attended the first meeting, and several of them spoke their thoughts and concerns to the crowd.

Vandegrift said after the August meeting that he wanted to continue the discussion on diversity, and that he hoped Midway could serve as an example to other communities.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announces for second term more than a year before the election

Grayson Vandegrift
By Katia Davis
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

More than a year before the mayoral election, Midway already has its first candidate.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announced Tuesday that he would run for re-election next year. The election will be in November 2018; the filing deadline is in August.

“It’s something I probably thought I would do from the get-go,” Vandegrift told Midway Messenger reporters. “I feel we’ve accomplished a lot over the last three years and I feel like there’s a lot left to do.”

Vandegrift, 35, served one two-year term as a council member before being elected mayor in 2014, defeating three-term council member Sharon Turner. He has been Midway’s mayor since Jan. 1, 2015.

“When I ran for mayor originally, one thing I said is that, you know, when it is all said and done, Midway, I think, should be considered the model for small cities,” Vandegrift said. “I think we are on our way there, but I think we still have some work to do. I feel like I’m the right person to keep the ship heading in that direction.”

The filing deadline for city office was once in January, but the council recently moved it to August. Vandegrift was asked why he is announcing now.

“I just figured, I’d made up my mind and there was really just no reason to wait,” he said. “I just figured, no time like the present.” He noted that some countywide offices already have candidates.

“I don’t think it hurts to just remind everybody that I’m going to run for re-election. I’m very proud of my record; I’d put it up against anybody,” he said. “There’s always one or two people who, I think, like to dip their toe in the water and see what people think.” But he said in response to a question that he hadn’t heard of anyone else interested in running. Turner didn’t return a call seeking comment.

On Sept. 18, the city council voted 5-1 to increase the pay for the mayor and council members elected next year. The mayor will get $1,400 a month, not the current $100 a month.

Vandegrift said the big pay raise did not effect his decision to run for mayor again.

“They could’ve lowered it and I would’ve done it,” he said with a laugh. “I put a lot of time into this, and you do make sacrifices. I think it’s fair, to be honest with you, but it didn’t have any bearing on my decision.”

The mayor once ran a restaurant on Main Street. He said he works part-time at Railroad Drug and cares for his son in the mornings. His wife Katie is a banker.

Vandegrift said that if elected, he would continue to work on “paying down the water and sewer debt,” which would lower water and sewer bills for residents. He added that he would like to pay off the debt on the current sewage-treatment plant early.

“I don’t think its fair for a city that is doing well in every respect to have to ever raise rates on citizens just because it has to come from that fund,” Vandegrift said.

Asked to name his biggest achievement in office, he said it was the recruitment of Lakeshore Learning Materials, a supplier of preschool and elementary school educational materials, which says it will employ 262 people, making it by far Midway’s largest employer. “I worked very hard on Lakeshore,” he said, adding later, “I think they will have just as big of a community impact as Midway University does now.”

Vandegrift said in his announcement, “Working together as a community we’ve brought new industry to Midway Station, creating what will eventually be over 350 well-paying jobs. We’ve increased the city’s revenue, lowered property taxes each of the last two years, and absorbed a rate hike by Kentucky American Water so as not to pass it on to the consumer.  We’ve encouraged volunteerism, which among other things has led to the vast improvements of Walter Bradley Park.

“We’ve paved roads and launched a successful public/private sidewalk program. We’ve made upgrades to the Midway Volunteer Fire Department, begun water and sewer upgrades, and improved city properties and city services. We also amended our civil-rights code to include protections in housing, public accommodations, and employment for the LGBT community.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

City council delays action on ordinances to crack down on blighted property, but seems favorably disposed

City officials say this house at the northwest corner of Higgins
and Turner Streets has been abandoned for almost 60 years.
The Midway City Council eased into its crackdown on owners of abandoned and dilapidated property Monday evening, postponing passage of two ordinances but indicating no outright opposition after picking through several provisions.

"There's a whole lot we don't understand," Council Member John McDaniel said at the start, suggesting that the ordinances be tabled and saying he had a majority to do that. But Council Member Libby Warfield said she wanted to discuss the proposals, so the council and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift did just that.

Warfield took issue with the existing language that targets inoperable vehicles left on property for more than 10 days, saying it didn't seem fair to go after people who might be having temporary car trouble and ignore the junk around certain businesses. City Attorney Phil Moloney said he would look into the issue.

Moloney cleared up one bit of confusion by saying that the proposed new ordinance to create a Code Enforcement Board has one section of red, underlined language (which usually indicates an amendment) because it refers to two other ordinances. For a copy of the ordinances, in the previous meeting's packet, click here.

The proposed ordinance says members of the board are not to be compensated, but Moloney suggested that the council consider compensation because "It might be difficult to get people to serve."

The board will have the power to declare a property abandoned, raising its tax rate to 75 cents per $100 from the current rate of approximately 10 cents per $100. Moloney said the tax is a device to encourage people to keep up their property.

The proposal's schedule of fines rage from $10 to $1,000, depending on the nature of the violation and whether it is contested. "Some of those fines look like they're awful light," Council Member Steve Simoff said. To that, McDaniel smiled and gave a thumbs-up. Near the end of the discussion, McDaniel said the council could always change parts of the ordinances that don't work out.

Here are the proposed fines:

In other business, the council approved Vandegrift's reappointment of Rich Schein as the city's representative on the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission. "I think he's done a fantastic job representing us, and often times he's going against the grain," Vandegrift said.

Acting on a suggestion from McDaniel, Vandegrift said he would draft a letter to county and state officials a letter asking for action on the Weisenberger Mill bridge, replacement of which has been delayed for more than a year, forcing detours and loss of business.

The bridge over South Elkhorn Creek connects Woodford and Scott counties. Woodford County had responsibility for it until a few years ago, when the state agreed to take it over in return for the county's work on a state highway. Replacement of the bridge was delayed most recently for reports to the Federal Advisory Council for Historic Preservation; now the state is considering whether to go ahead with the replacement or undertake a temporary rehabilitation of the bridge that could open it to traffic sooner than a replacement, Ananias Calvin III, the state engineer for the project, told the Midway Messenger on Tuesday.

US 421 resurfacing from Midway to Franklin County line causing temporary lane closures through Friday

Resurfacing of Leestown Road (US 421) between Midway and the Franklin County line is causing temporary lane closures daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., says the state Department of Highways.

The department says one lane will remain open at all times and flaggers are guiding motorists, and "All work is subject to change depending on weather, emergencies and other factors beyond the control of the Department of Highways."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Midway Woman's Club wins Community Spirit Award from Midway University at annual Day for Midway

L-R: Adele Dickerson, Sara Hicks, Christy Reeves, DeeDee Roach, Tonya Steele (MWC vice president), Janice Holland, Debra Shockley, Mary Devers, Ellen Gregory (university marketing VP), Neisje Spragens, Genie Graf (MWC president), Dr. John Marsden (university president), Amy Perry, Amanda Glass (MWC parliamentarian), Katie Vandegrift (MWC treasurer), Helen Rentch, Lou Taylor. Absent: MWC Corresponding Secretary Kelly Brengelman and Recording Secretary Kelle Sanders.
By Sarah Landers
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway Woman’s Club is this year’s winner of the Community Spirit Award from Midway University, honoring nearly a century of community involvement.

This is the fourth year the award has been presented as part of the annual Day for Midway celebration to celebrate the close connection between Midway University and Woodford County. The university said it chose the Midway Woman’s Club for its long-term service to the Woodford community.

The Woman’s Club has accomplished many volunteer projects and has supported countless efforts to benefit the county over the years, including the Midway Free Public Library, Northside Elementary School, Woodford County High School, and the Midway Fall Festival.

"There is no other place like Midway and we're fortunate to have neighbors and community partners like the Midway Woman’s Club that are invested in our town and its possibilities," university President John P. Marsden said in a press release for the Oct. 10 event. "We are pleased to be able to honor this worthy group and their giving spirit."

The Woman’s Club was established by a group of 42 Midway women who first met in 1922 and adopted the slogan “For the Good of Our Community.”

“That good over the years has included wrapping surgical dressings during WWII, organizing a health education program for the county, supporting local schools and students, and sponsoring candidate forums for local and national elections,” Woman’s Club President Genie Graf said in an email.

Some of the organization’s most popular recent events include the Not-So-Scary Halloween Haunted House, an annual home and garden sale, and the annual Christmas decorations contest.

The club hosts political forums, staffs the Kids Vote booth at elections, sponsors an annual scholarship for a Midway woman high-school graduate, and has speakers at its monthly meetings, which are open to the public. Some recent speakers have included former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and minister-columnist-author Paul Prather.

Not only has the club benefited the community, the members gain from their involvement. Today, the club sustains around 30 active members, club treasurer Katie Vandegrift said. Some members are new, and some have stayed with the organization for several decades.

“The Midway Woman’s Club has been a gathering place for Midway women,” Graf explained, “for women affiliated with Midway, where women find commonality, where we find we are not so different, where we can find friendship, where we find purpose in helping to support and build our community into a place that we are humbled to call home.”

What’s next? The Midway Woman’s Club looks forward to hosting a new event, the Midway Historic House Tour, on June 3, 2018, Graf wrote: “We have five houses and a historic church on the tour, which we hope will become an annual event and fund-raiser that will allow the club to create more ‘good for our community’.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Message from the mayor: Thanks to the volunteers who made Midway's summer events possible and successful

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

With summer events wrapped up, I thought it would be a good time to recap the major events of our city and to thank, as a group, all of the many people who make them possible.

The Francisco's Farm Arts Festival has been a welcoming event that showcases Midway University's beautiful campus, as well as a wide array of the arts.

Midsummer Nights in Midway held three successful downtown block parties that celebrated the culture, and fun-loving spirit, of our community. 

Most recently, the Midway Fall Festival presented our city to the entire state, and other parts of the country, and people are clearly taking notice. Saturday's crowd was the biggest single-day crowd ever, and pushed the whole weekend into the record books. 

All of these events, which celebrate art, music, community, and life itself, are only made possible by volunteerism. Such as with the continuing improvements of Walter Bradley Park, it's the spirit of dedicating time, talent and energy that leads to enjoyable results for everyone. 

In a country that can't seem to agree on anything right now, these volunteers are an example of what can happen when people make the conscientious decision to work together. In fact, they exhibit the best of us, and remind us that the only way to achieve results is to collaborate. 

On behalf of the City of Midway, I want to thank every person who has dedicated their time for the betterment of all, and I encourage even more to join a local movement that these good folks have started.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ky. Horse Council seeks applicants by Nov. 15 for scholarship for college students in equine studies

The Kentucky Horse Council says it will award a $1,500 scholarship for the spring semester to a Kentucky college student who has demonstrated academic success, community service and involvement in the equine industry. The scholarship will be awarded to a student enrolled in an equine-related major or a horse-related program with a university or college in Kentucky. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 15, and the scholarship will be awarded Dec. 1. The student is required to be a member of the Kentucky Horse Council, but student memberships are free and interested students may sign up at www.kentuckyhorse.org.