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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fiscal court moves toward allowing Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages in restaurants and stores

By Meg Quigley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford County Fiscal Court Tuesday night ordered drafting of an ordinance to allow Sunday sales of alcohol, a move primarily sought by restaurants in Midway to boost tourist business.

The 5-2 vote directed County Attorney Alan George to draft an ordinance allowing sales from 1 to 10 p.m. on Sundays in the county outside the county seat of Versailles, which turned down Sunday sales last week. The ordinance would allow sales of packaged alcohol in stores as well as restaurants.

Versailles makes some of its own alcohol rules but Midway’s are governed by Fiscal Court. Three restaurants in Versailles and five in Midway have asked for Sunday sales.

Midway Magistrate Larry Craig made the motion to draft the ordinance and was supported by Magistrates Ellen Gormley, Geoff Reid, Gerald Dotson and Jim Staples. Charles “Bones” Webber and Jackie Brown voted no, and Steve Barnett was absent.

Craig said in an interview that regardless of his personal opinion, his job is to represent the people in Midway and this is what they asked him to do. “If we’re going to do it, let’s start now,” he said. “If we’re going to attract people to these restaurants, we’ve got to be competitive with our surrounding cities.”

Brown, who lives on McCowan's Ferry Road between Versailles and Mortonsville, said in an interview, “I have a strong belief that we don’t need it. We don’t need to be selling on Sundays, it’s sabbath day, we already do it six days a week.”

Midway restaurants say they need Sunday sales to compete with restaurants in Lexington and Frankfort, especially with the World Equestrian Games coming in 2010. The council in Georgetown, the same distance from Midway as the other two cities, is debating Sunday alcohol and is scheduled to decide the issue next month.

In October, Midway restaurants Bistro La Belle, The Black Tulip, Holly Hill Inn, Darlin’ Jeans and Quirk gave Fiscal Court a petition to allow Sunday sales. The Heirloom restaurant has since joined the bandwagon.

Craig told The Woodford Sun that he wants the ordinance to also allow retail sales, to avoid what he called discrimination between retailers and restaurants. He told the newspaper that if restaurant sales were approved, retailers would ask for the privilege. "Do it all at once, be done with it," he said. "Or turn it down, all at once, and be done with it." The license fee would be $300 for restaurants and $125 for package stores.

Mark Wombles, owner of Heirloom, said in an interview that alcohol sales on Sunday coincide with alcohol sales in general. “They should legalize it or take it away completely,” he said.

Midway’s population of 1,620 makes it a fifth-class city, which prohibits its city council from making its own decision on the issue. A first draft of the ordinance will be presented at the next Fiscal Court meeting March 10. A second reading would come March 24. If the ordinance passes it will take effect as soon as it uis advertised in the Sun.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Question of Sunday alcohol sales in Midway likely to be discussed tonight at Fiscal Court meeting

By Meg Quigley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford County Fiscal Court will meet at 7 tonight and the hot topic may be one that is not on the agenda.

Last week, the Versailles City Council declined to amend the city’s ordinance to allow sales of alcoholic beverages in restaurants on Sundays. Three restaurants in Versailles and five in Midway have asked for Sunday sales; Versailles makes some of its own alcohol rules but Midway’s are governed by Fiscal Court.

The Versailles measure failed when Mayor Fred Siegelman broke a tie vote on the council. He told The Woodford Sun that he had received more than 100 calls about the issue, and “I don’t think it’s necessarily the right time to do this.”

Siegelman’s thoughts were much different from Midway restaurant owners. Mark Wombles, owner of Heirloom, said the small-town mentality leaves no room for forward thinking. “It’s time that Kentucky got on the same social scene as the rest of the United States,” he said.

Heirloom has been in business for almost three years and because the restaurant only seats 58, it is only allowed to serve beer and wine. Under Kentucky law, no restaurant that seats fewer than 100 people can serve hard liquor. “Being able to sell alcohol on Sundays would put us on a more level playing field,” said Wombles.

Laura Wolfrom, owner of Bistro La Belle, didn’t stray too far from Wombles’ arguments. “What if a holiday happens to fall on a Sunday? We just want the option to be open and able to sell alcohol,” said Wolfrom. She said Midway is much different than Lexington. “I mean, there is no one here after midnight.”

Wolfrom said she wants the opportunity to compete, especially with the 2010 World Equestrian Games just around the corner. “We need to be able to compete with Lexington and Frankfort when the games start,” she said. The council in Georgetown, the same distance from Midway as the other two cities, is debating Sunday alcohol and is scheduled to decide the issue next month.

Midway’s population of 1,620 makes it a fifth-class city, which prohibits its city council from making its own decision on the issue. That leaves it up to Fiscal Court, which was waiting to see what Versailles did. At tonight’s Fiscal Court meeting at the courthouse, the issue is not on the agenda but is likely to be discussed, County Judge-Executive John Coyle said.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ordinance would create paperwork for volunteers; committee meets on it 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23

By Amanda Currier
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

It was what was not said at the Midway City Council meeting last Monday that is sparking debate this week. Council members had planned to give first reading to a new ordinance, but were asked to take a second look by Midway Renaissance President Randy Thomas.

If passed the ordinance would require all Midway volunteers who intend to work on city property to sign a waiver and be approved by the council. Council Member Charlann Wombles says the ordinance does nothing more but make sure the city complies with insurance standards.

“The city is trying to maintain good insurance coverage and we have been recently looking at the requirements to meet in order to do that, and it has come to our attention that there are strict stipulations about volunteers working on city property,” Wombles said after the meeting.

However, Thomas says some of language in the ordinance should be looked over. He says strict regulations could cause the number of volunteers to decline.

“Volunteers contribute a tremendous amount in this community, I think in any community, and what you don’t want to do is put hindrances in that,” he said.

Wombles says that this is not meant to impair volunteers, but something they have to do. “We do not want to get ourselves into a position of where we’re having questions about whether or not we can be covered,” she said. “We cannot afford to get this community in that situation.”

Today, anyone wanting to volunteer on city property is not fully covered by the city’s insurance plan. Delaying the first reading of the ordinance could delay passage of it until late spring.

The draft of ordinance requires any group wanting to volunteer to complete a request that includes the date, time, and location where volunteers intend to work. Council member Sharon Turner says the request forms will be a good way to keep up with the amount of hours people volunteer in Midway. However, she does understand the hassle of more paperwork.

“It’s more paperwork and that’s what people don’t like,” she said. “People want to go straight to the work. “

After the meeting Wombles reminded Thomas how thankful the council is for everything Midway Renaissance does for the community.

A committee will meet at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the community room, upstairs at City Hall, to discuss the draft of the ordinance. Here's a video report with interviews of council members and Thomas:

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