Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Midway branch of county library is dedicated

By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Twenty-one years ago, a small group of volunteers gathered to establish a volunteer library in Midway, with the ultimate goal of having a full-scale branch of the Woodford County Public Library. This month, the dream came true, and today, as 250 people watched, the library was dedicated.

"This is an incredible, special, remarkable day in Midway, Kentucky," county library board Treasurer Dr. Michael Nichols said as he opened the ceremony. The board chair, Midway City Council Member Charlann Wombles, said the creation of the library was the latest example of Midway's volunteer spirit. Mayor Tom Bozarth noted that construction of a branch library was part of the library board's petition campaign for a tax increase several years ago. "Your promise and commitment to Midway has been fulfilled," he told them.

The new library, built at a cost of just under $1 million, is next to Northside Elementary School on land donated by the city. Laura Bostrom is the manager, and Margaret Smith, who ran the volunteer Midway Free Public Library at 428 S. Winter St., will be a part-time employee of the branch.

The former library was organized in 1988 and established in 1989, originally in the all-purpose room of the Midway Presbyterian Church. It started with 1,000 books donated by the Woodford County Public Library and was staffed by volunteers. Smith suceeded Missy Robertson as librarian in 1992, two years before the library moved to Winter Street, in a building that was once the residence of the janitor for the old Midway High School.

The new building, with many more books and plenty of computers, will be a tool of democracy and a forum of ideas and information, said today's keynote speaker, David Duggan, minister of Troy Presbyterian Church. He said the library should be an information source "free from the biases and prejudice that taint to much of our information flow today."

For the rest of the story, click here.

Noah Jones, 9, of Midway, got a head start, reading before the ceremony. He is the son of Blake Jones, who performed music at the ceremony and told the crowd that his son told him, "Daddy, this is a good place to read."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Governor puts Rollins on national education panel, Jones on one for land stewardship, conservation

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed a Midway resident to a national board and a Midway-area resident to a state board. Both are fellow Democrats.

State Rep. Carl Rollins, a former Midway mayor and magistrate, was named to the Education Commission of the States. Rollins has been director of admissions for Midway College, director of community education for Woodford County and vice president of government relations for The Student Loan People. He completed his Ph.D. In educational policy studies at the University of Kentucky in 2003. For a profile of Rollins, click here.

Elizabeth Lloyd "Libby" Jones, co-owner of Airdrie Stud, was appointed to the state Land Stewardship and Conservation Task Force. She is the wife of former Gov. Brereton Jones and has been active in farmland-preservation issues. The task force is studying the strategies that Kentucky and other states have utilized for protection of unique natural areas, farmlands, habitats and forests; and is to propose for the 2009 legislative session a bill creating a Land Stewardship Coordinating Committee to be the focal point for all land and property-rights acquisitions in the state relating to conservation, recreation and preservation. For the 2010 session, it is to produce legislative proposals relating to the funding, assessment, prioritizing and acquisition of conservation, recreation and preservation properties in the state. For the authorizing legislation, click here. For the other members, click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nationally touted Francisco's Farm Arts Festival returns to Midway College campus June 27 and 28

By Meghan Quigley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway will play host to the sixth annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at Midway College, produced by Midway Renaissance, June 27 and 28. The festival is named among the “Top Ten Art Fairs in the U.S.” for the third year in a row by AmericanStyle magazine.

The name of the festival commemorates Col. John Francisco, the original owner of the property on which historic Midway now stands. This year’s festival will display an array of media by 150 artists from 17 states, including Dan Neil Barnes of Lexington, who did this glass sculpture. (Photo by Sarah Wilson; read more)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Council approves budget with effective surplus of about $600,000; 'balance' includes city property

By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The budget adopted tonight by the Midway City Council for the fiscal year beginning July 1 contains an effective surplus of about $600,000, not the $1.6 million first reported.

The difference stems from a $500,000 grant for the proposed nursing home, which has been reported, and a major item that was not fully explained until tonight's meeting: $600,000 worth of city property that auditor Robert Ryan said is part of the $1,691,796 "balance" to be carried forward from one fiscal year to the next. The property is commingled with the city's cash assets and is not listed separately in the budget.

The value of property is normally included in final statements dealing with assets and liabilities, but not in government budgets. However, Ryan said in an interview that was the practice when he started working for the city in 2003, and he has continued it. He said the amount varies with the addition, deletion, depreciation and changes in market value of assets, but did not have records with him to specify those amounts.

When asked last month about the large amount to be carried forward, Bozarth referred questions to Ryan, who declined to answer until authorized by Bozarth. Then Bozarth answered a series of written questions submitted by a student reporter, saying that the amount included "all the city's assets," including property, but not saying how much. A recent Midway Messenger story, based on knowledge of standard budgeting procedures, said the budget "will result in $1,691,796 remaining in the city’s bank accounts."

At tonight's meeting, Council Member Charlann Wombles asked if the city "really had that much money." Bozarth and City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson replied in unison, "No." Ryan then explained that part of the "balance" is not money, but property such as "buildings, trucks, things the city can look to [in an emergency] to liquidate." He also mentioned the previously reported "windfall" that the city received in 2007-08 from the tax on two very large insurance premiums. That amount, about $552,000, accounts for most of the effective surplus.

Council Member Diana Queen alluded to the unappropriated money, saying "I hope we would work toward allocating money toward projects." Sharon Turner, chair of the council's Finance Committee, said the city has been laboring under some financial issues, but "We're coming out of those and we're going to have a little but to start building those funds." She said development of the failed Midway Station industrial park would add to the city's tax base.

Queen asked several questions about the budget, then told Bozarth that when next year's budget comes up for dissussion, the council should have "a work session" on it. Bozarth said there was such as session this year, referring to a council meeting at which a proposed budget was circulated but not given a formal first reading. At that meeting, Queen suggested more money should be appropriated for sidewalks, and the first-reading version of the budget had more money for sidewalks: $10,000, up from $5,000 this year.

In response to questions from Queen, Bozarth said the budget has no money for additional paving, much work having been done last year; and $20,000 for attorney's fees, up from $8,000 in this year's budget, based on unexpected expenses this year. He said those included the Midway Station development, "open-records requests that have taken a lot of time," the library and "annexation things we had to take care of." He and city attorney Phil Moloney said the "annexation" was a redefinition of the city's boundaries required by the state. Moloney said he expects some of the issues to recede, but added that there could be more work if the nursing home project starts moving or other issues arise with Midway Station.

Queen also asked about funding for a Main Street program manager, which the city was sharing with Versailles and Woodford County until the county chamber of commerce fired the manager and pulled out of the agreement to fund the position and coordinate local tourism promotion. Bozarth said "We will come up with something," in combination with downtown merchants and the Midway Renaissance organization.

Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce asked the city to pay $2,500 that they said was owed for the two months the Main Street manager was employed. Executive Director Tami Vater said Versailles and the county have paid their shares. Bozarth told them, "We will look into it and get back to you."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

City officials defend big surplus in proposed budget

By Bryan Kennedy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

On Monday, the city council will look to adopt the city’s budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Although the budget will be read for the second time, council members still have no plans for the more than $1 million in money not appropriated.

The budget proposed by Mayor Tom Bozarth will result in $1,691,796 remaining in the city’s bank accounts. The city would start and end the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, with the same amount of unappropriated funds.

Half a million dollars of the apparent surplus is actually a grant that can be spent only to build a nursing home, but even without that amount, the surplus is more than the city expects to receive in tax revenue next year.

Bozarth says the amount left over is not unusual especially in light of the recent economic problems. “The figure represents all of the city’s assets,” he said. “A substantial part of this represents grant money received by the city that is earmarked.”

Council Member Sharon Turner, chair of the council’s Finance Committee, agrees with Bozarth and says the amount left over is not cash sitting in the bank.

Much of the surplus is the $552,000 windfall Midway received in 2007-08 from the tax on two insurance policies. The city has yet to use this money.

Council Member Charlann Wombles says the council has to make sure they stretch money as far as it can go. Now with the extensive amount remaining she hopes the money will be used in new areas.

“We hopefully can address some areas that need to be addressed that we haven’t been able to even consider previously,” said Wombles. Other than sidewalks, which got a more money between the proposal of the budget and its first reading, Wombles didn’t have any other examples of areas that could be focused on.

Council Member Aaron Hamilton says he isn’t sure how long the money has been accumulating, but says it could help in case of a tragedy.

“We have to have money for any surprises,” Hamilton said. “You don’t want any disasters to hit and us not be ready.”

Sandra Cooke is another council member in favor of saving the money in case of an emergency. Having to fill sinkholes as a result of collapsing limestone caverns is one example she said the money could be used for.

“It’s always a good idea to have a surplus going into each year because you always have contingencies,” said Cooke. “Also something you had planned to do in the future may cost more because prices are continuing to go up.”

Cooke also said the leftover money could be used to pay bank loans in the event that housing and commercial development of Midway Station, a failed industrial park, doesn’t begin as scheduled. If Dennis Anderson decides to pull out and no other developers are found, Midway could again be responsible for paying a portion of the interest on debts for the past development. If Anderson doesn’t keep his end of the bargain, the city and county could have to pay more than $185,000 each in yearly interest payments.

For the time being, the city doesn’t have to pay the interest, so it will use that money for other expenses, Turner said. Previously, pots and plants were donated, but now the city has budgeted $1,500 for plants downtown. She said the city has also budgeted to use this money for a new Web site, sidewalks and increased attorney fees.

Bozarth said when the budget was proposed that more attorney fees were included because the city is keeping its lawyer busier than expected. “We are anticipating that there will be additional legal services” in the coming year, he said, “relating to issues involving the development of Midway Station, annexations, open-records requests, the proposed nursing home and the re-writing of ordinances.”

In the proposed budget several programs are allotted more money than in the previous year; one of those was appropriations for equipment and maintenance of streets. Bozarth says the city will buy a new leaf machine and more salt, and Hamilton says a new wood chipper is also will be purchased.

Council Member Doris Leigh was absent from the last meeting. She referred all questions regarding the budget to other members who were present.

Turner says by the time the council meets Monday at 5:30 p.m., members should have all questions regarding the budget answered and be ready to adopt the budget.

For an earlier story on the budget, click here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thoroughbred Theater raising money to stay afloat

By Ashley Trosper and Sarah Livesay
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunicatons

The history of the Thoroughbred Theater is etched in the heart of the Midway community, but its future is unsure.

Though it faces financial uncertainty and the possibility of new ownership, John and Jim McDaniel, the co-managers and former owners, say the theater has some serious staying power and the possibilities for the future are promising.

“There’s a collective conscientiousness in this town” to support the arts, Jim McDaniel said. “Nothing is more important to me than the arts.”

Supporters of the theater have created a non-profit organization to preserve it, give the community a greater sense of ownership, and perhaps purchase it from owner Tony Moreno.

The non-profit's board has already been hard at work with the McDaniels, creating the Cornerstone Fund. Through April, 33 people had pledged $25 per month for six months to the Thoroughbred Theater, according to Jim McDaniel — all through e-mail solicitation. “It says a lot about the community support,” he said.

“I'm not surprised to see Midway folks jump on board the Cornerstone Fund,” said Bob Rouse, a menre of the board. “It's a way to provide much-needed funds to a cool hometown venue. These people are saying to Thoroughbred Theater, ‘We want you here with us.’”

The theater has undergone a facelift under Moreno’s ownership. He restored the theater with the “Thoroughbred” theme, adding green barn doors from Man O’ War Farm and a stairway from Churchill Downs leading up to the stage.

The McDaniels returned as managers of the theater in 2007. Jim McDaniel said their priority was to bring the community into the theater life. They added cinema, live music, stage productions and University of Kentucky basketball games on the big screen.

Moreno said he originally intended to turn the property into retail space, but after learning about the history of the theater, his intentions shifted into creating a space that “when you walk in, you felt like you were in the heart of horse country.”

Records show that Moreno bought the property at 127 E. Main St. from ASG Community Development LLC for $125,000 in October 2003. He sold some connecting property to Robert and Sarah Vandegrift for $320,000 in November 2008. The Vandegrifts used part of the property to create Quirk Café.

John McDaniel said Moreno has made tremendous renovations to all of the adjoining properties, including the theater. The sale of the building to the Vandegrifts required installation of handicapped-accessible bathrooms, which McDaniel said was the reason for the theater's closure this winter.

The theater reopened with a fundraiser March 21, featuring an original comedy-mystery theatre production by the Bluegrass Mystery Theater.

The McDaniels and Moreno said it would be ideal for the non-profit to buy the theater. Moreno said he would sell it for market value, noting that he has invested significant time and money for the renovations.

“He has made generous concessions that reflected his will that the theater continues,” Jim McDaniel said. These concessions include allowing the managers three months to pay a deposit of $1,200 on the theater instead of one, according to Jim McDaniel.

Moreno said the lease payment of $1,200 a month has not been easy on the theater, and he hopes the non-profit will relieve some of the financial stress on the McDaniels. “I’m trying to make it easy,” he said.

Those involved with the theater have brainstormed options to make the purchase possible. Moreno said he’s looked into loan-guarantee programs for the McDaniels and has even approached the City of Midway to purchase the property for the community. On April 29, Moreno met with Mayor Tom Bozarth to discuss the option.

“He was noncommittal, but he’s looking at the options,” Moreno said. “It would be a great, great deal. My job as a developer is to do a development that’s in line with the community’s interest. But, we have to make a profit.”

Bozarth said that while he believes the theater is good for the city, it would ultimately be a city council decision. “With the economy, I don’t think it’s the right time for the city to be buying up property,” he said.

The non-profit’s board is forming committees, setting up fundraising and helping monitor the budget, according to the McDaniels.

“Everybody is feeling out their role,” John McDaniel said. “Each one has an area of expertise. We’ve established a development committee and program committee.” The board includes President Diana Ratliff, Vice President Mary Thoresen, Secretary Bob Rouse, Liz Trontz, Chris Stafford, Lauren Hill, Blake Jones, Cindy Grisolia and Sue Roberts.

Rouse said he’s thrilled to be on the board. “I joined the board because I’m a Midway boy through and through, and this theater presents a unique pathway for bringing Midway people together to enjoy creativity,” he said.

According to John McDaniel, the theater is now doing two to three performances a week on average. He said he hopes to have several different events every week including musical performances, comedians and plays. “We found out how much the community enjoyed it,” he said. “In reality, we’ll do anything to keep this thing going.”

Moreno agreed, saying, “There’s a ton of community interest to do it.”

An application for the theater become a non-profit corporation was filed in mid-January, according to the McDaniels. Jim McDaniel said it will be extremely beneficial to the theater because donations will be tax deductible.

“We’re able to attract sources of money like private foundations, corporations and individuals who believe in what we’re doing,” he said. The brothers are working on reaching non-profit status at the federal level as a non-profit organization under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

While the non-profit status will be a life-preserver, Jim McDaniel said it is his brother who is the backbone of the theater. “His average work week is about 90 hours,” he said. “He pours his whole life and life’s blood into this. He’s tireless. Whatever it takes, he will do it to keep this place up and running.”

While John McDaniel is a tireless worker, Jim McDaniel has a significant amount of experience in non-profit management. “It’s been my entire professional career,” Jim said. “I know it like the back of my hand.”

The next fundraiser for the Thoroughbred Theater will be The Helping Hand Fund. According to a letter from the board, the Helping Hand Fund and the Cornerstone Fund were created “to infuse needed revenue for the non-profit Thoroughbred Theater to begin expanding program services beyond our entertainment schedule.”

The McDaniels want the theater to remain a significant piece of history in the Midway community. “It’s not about the number of people filling the chairs, it’s about experiences,” Jim said.

“If Midway truly embraces this theater,” Rouse said, “we can build something extraordinary here.”

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pageant reading opens a time capsule, gives hope for full reprise of Midway's centennial pageant

By Ashley Trosper
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

It was like opening a time capsule Saturday, April 4 in Midway through a combination of speakers, images and music. The Midway Living History Committee and Midway Renaissance presented a reading of The Midway Centennial Pageant of 1933 at the Thoroughbred Theater.

The reading included actual images and lines from the original pageant, which was put on by over 200 members of the Midway community almost 75 years ago to mark the town’s 100th anniversary. (Photos by John McDaniel)

Lines such as this one told of Midway’s past, including its founding. : “In eighteen hundred thirty three the train made a trip for all to see. It carried the mail and many a man through Mr. John Francisco’s farm it ran.”

According to pageant co-director Herman Farrell, right, Helen Rentch was essential in breathing life into the project. Farrell also said she was the one who found the “treasured” history. “My grandmother was involved in it,” Rentch said. “I came across her script and none of us knew what it was.”

Rentch also found a scrapbook at the Midway Woman’s Club, she said, which really set the Farrell’s project into motion. “If he wanted to try it I was willing to go along,” Rentch said. “Then we found the scrapbook at the Woman’s Club with its wonderful old pictures and it got more exciting.”

Farrell said once the scrapbook was found, “The time had finally arrived to do something about this piece of history.”

Midway Renaissance President Randy Thomas said the public reading was “to let people see images and hear some lines that were said. And to get more people involved.” He said The Thoroughbred Theater was the perfect location for the performance.

“The McDaniels really support things like this,” he said, referring to managers John and Jim McDaniel. “It’s a great venue. It’s an historic theater.”

The original pageant, which told the history of Midway, took place on the Midway College Campus, Thomas said, and at least 2,000 people came to see it. “They came to hear the history of Midway,” Thomas said. “In 1933, that couldn’t have been easy.”

While there weren’t 200 people involved in the reading like in the original, there were almost as many on stage as in the audience. Around 30 community members participated in the reading.

Farrell said Rentch and Becky Moore, chairwoman of the Midway Living History Committee, were instrumental in the casting of the performance. The two women “got folks who are personally connected,” said Farrell, who has been a resident of Midway since 2001.

Many of the readers, according to Rentch, were descendants of the original pageant cast. Others were community members who represented organizations.

“In our generation we came to appreciate the value of the ‘oral tradition’ of passing down history in families and among indigenous peoples,” Rentch said. “In part, because we no longer have those story tellers among us. I see that this could be a similar kind of treasure, a mode for the community to pass down its history.”

The outcome was an hour-long reading filled with history — words and images of the past. “It was fun to get to do something among friends and neighbors and I think Herman did a superb job of staging it so that it felt like something we could be proud of,” Rentch said. “It certainly enhanced a sense of community among some of us who didn't know each other very well before.”

Thomas said he hopes to continue the enhancing this sense of history and community. “The intent is to restage the entire thing,” he said. “This was a great way to get people interested in it.”

Director of chamber and tourism effort tells city council Midway will be promoted more effectively

By Amanda Currier
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce told the Midway City Council Monday that the county’s tourism effort, which the Chamber runs, is going to be more pro-active. Tami Vater said she wants to be transparent and to encourage the various interests in the county to work together.

Vater’s visit was planned a month ago, but came in the wake of the chamber’s withdrawal from the inter-local agreement between the county and its two cities for tourism promotion, an agreement the chamber had promoted before Vater arrived. Also, Midway was left out of a recent Woodford County tourism brochure, bringing complaints from some in the town.

For the rest of the story, via an audio report, click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Proposed city budget keeps $1.6 million surplus; $500,000 of it is grant for proposed nursing home

By Bryan Kennedy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 shows that the City of Midway will continue to have more than $1.6 million remaining in unused money.

At Monday night’s meeting, the council gave first reading of the 2009-2010 budget and appropriations ordinance. The budget lists all appropriations of $1,388,970. After subtracting the appropriations from total resources the city will have an estimated General Fund balance of $1,691,796 – the same amount it expects to have left over at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

The council did not discuss the surplus at last night’s meeting. Two ideas for extra spending have been presented, but none would take as much as even 5 percent of the amount of money that the city has left.

Last night, the council authorized a $419,600 grant application for an emergency generator for the water plant, needed in light of major acts of nature like the ice storms this year and in 2003. The city’s share of the cost would be 13 percent, or about $54,500. Mayor Tom Bozarth said the budget could be amended to include the expense, but he did not mention the surplus during the meeting.

Last year the city budgeted $5,000 for sidewalk restoration, but the original version of the proposed budget called for $3,500. At the last meeting, Council Member Diana Queen suggested $30,000 be used to restore sidewalks, with pilot projects to help property owners improve safety and encourage others to do likewise. The proposed budget now calls for $10,000.

“It’s a start,” City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson told Queen, who indicated that she wanted to talk about raising the appropriation even more.

The sidewalk restoration and generator proposal are the only ideas currently on the table to begin using the money that the city has remaining. Even if the council passed $30,000 along with the money for generators, the city would still have over $1.6 million remaining to be used. The question still remains, what will the city do with the funds left over?

That’s a good question, Queen said after the meeting. She is a proponent of spending the money wisely and keeping a balance between costs and revenue, but also wants the city to start to make a plan on what the money should be used for in the future.

“It is very important that we are meeting community needs,” says Queen, “There needs to be a strategic plan set for the next couple of years.”

Queen, who is in her third year on the council, said the money left over could be a result of conservative spending by the city in recent years, and the city’s obligation to pay the debt on the failed Midway Station industrial park, now slated but not guaranteed to be a residential and commercial development.

Once Midway Station’s fate is known, hopefully in December, “I want to know where the big picture is going,” Queen said. “There are projects that need to be done here in Midway in the future.”

Bozarth and Hudson referred reporters and others to the city auditor to get answers to these questions: How long has the surplus been accumulating? Why has it been allowed to accumulate? How might the city use the money?

UPDATE, May 13: In response to written questions from reporter Sarah Livesay, Bozarth said "a substantial part" of the surplus is earmarked grant money, which can be spent only for the designated purpose. Most or all of that is a $500,000 grant to help build a nursing home. As for the rest of the surplus, he said, "We do not believe it is unusual, especially in light of the economic downturn our country is facing, to have a cash reserve and to be on sound financial ground."

Another reason for the surplus is an unexpected $552,000 windfall that the city received in 2007-08 from the insurance-premium tax. Insurance companies pay such taxes to the state, which sends the money to cities, so city officials know only that the money came from taxes on premiums on just two policies.

In responding to a question about a proposed increase in payments to the city attorney, Bozarth revealed that the city is contenplating annexation. "We are anticipating that there will be additional legal services relating to issues involving the development of Midway Station, annexations, open-records requests, the proposed nursing home and the re-writing of ordinances," he said.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Midway Presbyterian Church celebrates creation

By Emily Rosenberg
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Sunday’s worship at Midway Presbyterian Church was more than just a regular service. The April 26 service was held outside and was the setting for the second annual creation celebration, encouraging the celebration of animals, plants and all of God’s creations.

The creation celebration is tied to Earth Day, April 22. Pastor Mary Seeger Weese (in photo) said, “It’s sort of a submersion of Earth Day and a celebration of God’s creation at the same time.”

Weese said the celebration was also about the church’s community garden, which has grown tremendously. “It’s like twice as big as it was last year and a lot more people other than just people involved in the church that are doing it,” Weese said. “So we’re just excited about this whole thing it’s just kind of grown and grown and grown just like God’s creation tends to do, so that’s exciting.”

This year’s celebration was shorter than last year’s. Weese said last year the event was celebrated over four Sundays during April, during which they discussed God’s creations and how to honor it. This year they decided to make it a one-Sunday event.

It was a beautiful morning for an outdoor service: warm and sunny. There were approximately 50 people in attendance. Most brought their dogs, and a few brought some other interesting things such as two guinea pigs, a potted plant and a stuffed leopard. They were all out to celebrate God’s creation and waiting to be blessed by Weese.

Gay Barnett, a member of the church all her life, said this service is special and one of her family’s favorites to attend. “It’s definitely the children’s favorite service. It’s nice to be able to come and be casual and have our families and our pets with us.” The Barnett family brought their dog Daisy and a potted plant to the celebration to be blessed.

One thing Weese and Youth Minister Brent Giuliani wanted to encourage was the sense of community brought together for the celebration. Giuliani said there were people at the church service he had never seen before. “It’s not like we’re trying to get more numbers, we just want people to come and share in God’s love,” he said. “And we want them to feel accepted by us and feel a sense of community and friendship; we’ll welcome them with open arms.”

Onedia McClure has been a member of the church for 17 years. She said she loves days like Sunday’s celebration when everyone comes together to celebrate and be with one another. “I love the people, I just the love the community in our church the members and just the church in general.”

Bill and Leslie Penn joined Weese in playing music at the service.
The church was founded in 1846 on land deeded from the railroad. The building still stands as it was from when it was founded. Remnants of the historic building can still be seen today. Everyone is welcome to the church anytime. Sunday discipleship is at 9:45 a.m. and worship services begin at 11 a.m. Also, don’t forget to stop by and see the community garden grow!