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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lexington fan company signs on as 'climate sponsor' for Francisco's Farm Arts Festival

Midway Renaissance announced today that Big Ass Fans of Lexington will be the "climate sponsor" for the annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at its new location at Equus Run Vineyards next June.

The award-winning firm, which uses a backward-looking donkey as its logo, left, says it is the leading manufacturer of large-diameter, low-speed fans, which Renaissance hopes will “provide the climate we want,” Marcie Christensen, the event's coordinator, said in a press release. “We’ve tried ordering perfect weather for the festival for several years, and it always seems to be delivered two days late. This year we decided to be more proactive . . . ”

The festival, held for seven years at Midway College, is named for Col. John Francisco, the original owner of the farm on which Midway stands. The Southeast Tourism Society has named the festival one of its Top 20 Events for June 2011, and AmericanStyle Magazine included the festival on its Top 10 Art Fairs and Festivals list for 2007-2010.

The festival will be held Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artist applications will be accepted through Jan. 31. For more information, visit http://www.franciscosfarm.org/ or call 859-846-4049.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If your recycling wasn't picked up today, it will be tomorrow

The city advises that any recycling materials that were not picked up today will be picked up tomorrow. Heavy volume may have delayed your pickup. "Sorry for this inconvenience," Assistant City Clerk Diane Shepard said in a written notice this afternoon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deal to turn Midway Station into a commercial and residential development is dead

UPDATE, Jan. 6: EDA and Anderson have signed a new deal.

The would-be developer of Midway Station has refused a counter-offer made by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, killing the deal and leaving the EDA, the county and the City of Midway with no prospects for property sales to cover their interest payments on the failed industrial park.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said today that developer Dennis Anderson of Lexington verbally declined the counter-offer yesterday. Anderson had signed a contract to buy the property for a commercial and residential development after EDA was unable to sell it for industrial use and a proposal to relocate Lexington's Bluegrass Stockyards on the site ran into opposition from some Midway citizens.

Anderson first had until Dec. 1, 2009, to close the deal, but was granted a one-year extension. In recent weeks he sought a multiple-year extension, which EDA was willing to grant on certain terms depending on the length of the extension. EDA wanted the right to offer the property to other buyers, with a 60-day right of first refusal for Anderson, but he wanted 180 days, which would allow him to keep anyone else from buying the property, Duckworth told The Woodford Sun for the paper printed yesterday.

"The banks were generally in supprt of trying to do the three-year option with Anderson, but the terms weren't really equitable to the EDA," Duckworth told the Midway Messenger. He said annual interest payments on the property have declined with interest rates, to $138,000, but the EDA only has enough money to pay the interest for about 14 months. That means the city and county governments "will have to step back in" financially, he said.

Finding another buyer "will be extremely difficult in this economy," Duckworth said. "These economic conditions are more challenging than I think anyone wants to admit." He said economic-development professionals have told him that "in this economy, you almost have to give away the property" to get it developed. "Until this economy turns around there's really nothing short of giving it away that's a viable option."

Duckworth said he has resigned from the board, effective Dec. 31, because he told Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman, who appointed him, that he would serve until business with Anderson was completed. The board has three members appointed by the Versailles mayor, three by the county judge-executive and one by the Midway mayor. That is Charlann Wombles, who is leaving the city council at the end of the year but will remain on the EDA board.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what is Midway Renaissance, anyway?

Search this blog for "Renaissance" and you'll find at least two dozen items that mention Midway Renaissance, just one illustration of the amount of work undertaken by the volunteer organization.

But how did Renaissance get started? How is is run, and exactly what does it do? What are its hopes and plans? Rachel Bryant, a Community Journalism student at the University of Kentucky, has written a story about the group. To read it, click here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

EDA makes counter-offer to Anderson on Midway Station, sets Dec. 23 deadline for reply

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority decided today to make a formal counter-offer to the potential commercial and residential developer of Midway Station, the authority's failed industrial park on the north side of Interstate 64. The authority asked Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities to reply to the counter-offer by Thursday, Dec. 23.

Anderson signed a contract to buy the property by last Dec. 1, then got a one-year extension, but did not close the deal by the deadline. He proposed a five-year agreement, then after negotiations offered a written agreement with a three-year term, EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said in an interview. Duckworth said EDA's counter-offer has "some other terms and conditions we have amended" in the counter-offer. The authority discussed the matter in closed session to keep most details of the negotiations confidential.

"We’ve been negotiating for about six weeks trying to get something together," Duckworth said. "We just didn’t feel his offer was equitable enough." One potential sticking point is whether Anderson will continue to pay the interest on the bond issue used to buy the property, interest that was costing Midway and the county about $500,000 a year until the last agreement with Anderson.

Outgoing Midway City Council Member Charlann Wombles, right, Midway's appointee on the authority board, raised that issue at a council meeting last month. Wombles said today that if Anderson does not respond by Dec. 23, she assumes that the deal will be dead. "If he’s going to respond he should respond by the 23rd," she said.

Duckworth said, "We think as long as there's negotiation, there's potential for keeping the deal alive. I wouldn’t say the deal is dead yet, but there's potential for it looking a little different."

Both Anderson and the EDA have an interest in keeping the deal alive. He has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it, and the authority has few if any other prospects for purchase of the property or individual tracts. "This economy's tough right now and commercial property is just stangnant," said Duckworth, a Versailles banker. He said Anderson has been able to ride out the recession because he has "always been kind of a buy, hold and develop company. He's always kind of gone toward a slower approach to development."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Water company gets less of a rate hike than it asked, so council has to revise ordinance Thur.

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall to give first reading to a revised ordinance increasing water rates, following the state Public Service Commission's decision reducing the rate increase requested by Kentucky American Water Co. The company got a 29 percent increase after asking for 37 percent to pay for its new water plant on the Kentucky River at the Franklin-Owen county line and the pipeline from the plant. The council gave first reading Dec. 6 to an ordinance based on the full rate request.

Council to act Mon. on water rates, annexation

A special meeting of the Midway City Council has been called by the mayor for 11:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, at City Hall to act on annexation maps for Heritage Homplace and the ordinance passing along the water-rate increase from Kentucky American Water Co.  All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas in Midway: Tree, carols, show, Santa, photographers, authors, tours, cookies, punch!

The Christmas season officially begins in Midway tomorrow night, with lighting of the community tree at 6:30, followed by singing of carols and a 7:30 show at the Thoroughbred Theater with Clinton's Country Christmas. "Last year was a special Christmas musical treat and this year won't be different," the theater's John McDaniel promises in his Midway column in today's edition of The Woodford Sun. Shops and restaurants will stay open later on Friday and Saturday, with some offering free cookies and punch. (2009 photo by McDaniel)

Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive via train Saturday at 11 a.m., at the crosswalk in front of the theater, toss out candy as he rides a horse-drawn carriage around town, and visit with children from 11:30 to 2:30. Weather permitting, there will be a petting zoo and carriage rides until 3 p.m. The theater will have a model train exhibit, and the Midway Branch Library will host photographer Dave Toczko and his new book about the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. From 1 to 4 p.m. the Historic Midway Museum Store will host landscape photographer James Archambeault and former Lexington Herald-Leader horse racing writer Maryjean Wall, author of the new book How Kentucky Became Southern. Horses had a lot to do with it, she writes.

The Midway Holiday Home Tour will visit six homes from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at a cost of $20 per ticket, with proceeds going to the theater. Tickets are limited, and on sale at May & Co., as well as online at http://www.thoroughbredtheater.com/ and at Marketplace on Main in Versailles. Homes on the tour are at 109 E. Stephens St., 217 W. Stephens St., 219 S. Turner St., 321 S. Turner St., 332 S. Turner St. and the Rouse House at 337 S. Winter St.

Comprehensive Plan Committee continues review tonight at courthouse in Versailles

Tonight at 6:30 at the courthouse in Versailles the Comprehensive Plan Committee of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission will continue its required update of the county's comprehensive plan, last revised in 2005.

The commission the meeting will focus on transportation elements and regional coordination, the announcement says. However, the commission is also expected to entertain comments on other elements, such as the Preserving Town and Country part of the plan's appendix, which is of much interest in the Midway area and was discussed at the last meeting on Nov. 18. The commission says comments from the public will be limited to three minutes each.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Louisville newspaper features David Hume and his automotive specialty, Citroën

Sunday's Courier-Journal had a well-illustrated feature story about David Hume, whose Excelsior Motors on his like-named farm about three miles west of Midway on Old Frankfort Pike specializes in repair, maintenance and restoration of cars made by Citroën, a French firm known for its engineering innovations. (C-J photo by Pat McDonogh)

"On a warm afternoon this fall, a handful of Citroëns sat gleaming in the sun, looking every bit as sleek and mysterious as the thoroughbreds running around neighboring horse farms," reports Jeffrey Lee Puckett, normally the Louisville newspaper's pop-music writer. He writes that the Citroën developed "a reputation for being unreliable and difficult despite winning the 1972 Car of the Year award from Motor Trend magazine. Hume said that one reason the Citroën appeals to him is that it's misunderstood. While the maintenance is comparable to that for a small airplane, he said, the return in your investment is substantial." To read the story and see the pictures, click here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Businesses worry about arts festival's move; Renaissance says weekend could be bigger

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway Renaissance works with the Midway Business Association to promote commerce downtown, but merchants are concerned that the Renaissance decision to move the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival to Equus Run Vineyards will rob them of a big weekend.

“Of course we wish them all the luck but we’re wondering what kind of effect that’s going to have on what we do downtown,” said Eric Thoreson, owner of Damselfly Studio Gallery.

The festival has been held at Midway College since it began in 2004. Last year’s festival showcased 150 artists from 14 states and saw nearly 8,000 visitors.

The Renaissance committee in charge of the event announced at the group’s annual membership celebration Nov. 11 that it would hold the 2011 festival at Equus Run Vineyards and Winery, three and a half miles from downtown. (MapQuest image)

“I know there are efforts underway on trying to have people come downtown,” Thoreson said, “but it’s going to present challenges.”

Marcie Christensen, the Main Street manager for Renaissance, acknowledged at the meeting that the decision is causing concern among business owners.

“It was a long, long considered decision and carefully considered,” Christensen said. “It presents some challenges because there are some people who are concerned about how it’s going to work.”

While business owners fear that the new location will take the customers they normally see that weekend, Christensen says the change will attract more visitors to the area.

“I disagree with the opinion that we won't draw as many customers downtown,” she said in an interview. “In fact, I think we can draw even more than we have in years past. We'll be working with the Midway Business Association and the community over the next few months to develop plans and promotions that will tie the festival to downtown in ways that draw visitors to both places during the last weekend in June and well beyond.”

There were many factors in the decision to move the festival. Christensen said the college was not interested in a multi-year agreement to host the event, and the uncertainty left the board looking for alternate venues.

A group of artists, arts organization directors, and marketing consultants advised the committee that Equus Run offered many benefits, Christensen said: convenient parking, electricity for exhibitors, the opportunity to drink beer or wine, an even greater variety of dining options, room allowing a booth layout with easy access, and broad promotion from the winery including its thousands of loyal customers.

The college had declined to allow beer and wine to be served on its campus, Christensen said.

Not only are merchants worried about business, some feel that the involvement of the college was an important part of the festival.

“The college won’t be promoted at all. That was free advertising for the college and its nice having any college involved in the arts,” said Leslie Penn, owner of the Historic Midway Museum Store.

While merchants worry about the possibility of lost sales that weekend, they recognize that it’s impossible to know the end results, and acknowledged that it could be a successful event for all involved.

“Now one good thing about our outlook from the merchants’ association is we are trying to make people shop not just in Midway but all around Central Kentucky,” Penn said, “so expanding it out there might be good.” The committee’s new challenge moving forward, Christensen said, is to develop the concept of the community of Midway to be more inclusive, interdependent and collaborative.

She said at the meeting, “One of the things that is important for all involved in Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival or who wants to be or feels that it is an important part of the community is to look at expanding our concept of what our community is, and figuring out ways that we can make this work very well for everyone.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finance and City Property Committee meeting scheduled for today has been canceled

The meeting of the Finance and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council, scheduled for noon today, Nov. 15, has been canceled, according to City Clerk Phyllis Hudson.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sidewalk repairs on committee agenda Thursday

The Streets and Lights Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Thursday, Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room, upstairs of City Hall, to discuss sidewalk repairs. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Incumbents successful in Midway elections

All Midway officials who sought another term in yesterday's election were successful: Mayor Tom Bozarth, three of the six City Council members, Magistrate Larry Craig and state Rep. Carl Rollins.

Bozarth got 483 votes to 104 for Scott Hayes, a Woodford County ambulance technician who mounted a write-in campaign after he missed the late-January deadline to get on the ballot.

In his second four-year term, Bozarth will be joined by three new council members serving two-year terms: Joy Arnold, who got 407 votes; Dan Roller, who got 408; and former mayor Becky Moore (428 votes), who said when they filed that they were "kindred spirits" who had been heavily involved in volunteer activities in Midway. Some volunteers were rankled by a ordinance, backed by Bozarth and passed 5-1 by the council, that formalized volunteer work on city property. The three council members who sought re-election got the most votes: Sharon Turner (478), Aaron Hamilton (442) and Doris Leigh (433). City races are nonpartisan.

Democrat Larry Craig, the Midway area's magistrate on the county Fiscal Court, was re-elected with 61 percent of the vote, amassing 642 votes to 405 for Republican challenger Curt Savage. The 1st District's constable, Democrat Mike Morris, was re-elected without opposition.

In another Fiscal Court race of countywide interest, independent Bruce Gill defeated Democrat Rick Curtis and Republican Jenny Sue Given for 7th District magistrate. Gill got just under 51 percent of the vote. In perhaps the county's hottest race, Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman won re-election by defeating council member Ann Miller 1,521 to 1,374.

Rollins, a former magistrate and Midway mayor, got 52 percent of the vote to defeat Midway College executive Lyen Crews and win another term as state representative from Woodford and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties. Rollins, a Democrat and chairman of the House Education Committee, got 8,590 votes to 7,846 for the Republican. Rollins carried both Midway precincts, winning them 762 to 372. He won Woodford County 5,128 to 4,624.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler carried his home Woodford County 5,182 to 4,817, helping him edge out Republican Andy Barr of Lexington by just 625 votes out of more than 238,000 cast -- a margin of only 0.26 percent. Barr did not concede and said "The campaign continues," indicating that he will ask for a recanvass. Chandler, who lives in Pisgah Pike near Versailles, carried the Midway city precinct 426 to 245, but barely won the county precinct, 188 to 184.

U.S. Sen.-elect Rand Paul, a Republican, carried the county 5,344 to 4,520 for Democrat Jack Conway. Paul carried the county precinct 211 to 173, but Conway won Midway, 498 to 269.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Midway College completes expansion in Lexington

Midway College announced today that it has completed the expansion of its Lexington campus, located in the Hamburg area on the east side of the city. The college expanded to the entire third floor of the building and more than doubled its floor space, to just under 10,000 square feet. The expansion has added additional classrooms, a computer lab, a library, a conference and seminar room, and other workspace for faculty and staff. "Just as the expansion was nearing completion, the college received word from its accrediting body that it can now offer one of its most popular programs at the Lexington campus, its teacher-education degree program," the college said in a release.

The college says more than 400 students have been served at its coeducational Lexington campus since it opened in February 2008. The campus provides programs for the college's School for Career Development, which offers accelerated degrees and degree-completion programs in the evenings, with some weekend courses.

The college has set a goal of increasing its enrollment to 2,000 by the end of the 2010-11 academic year and 4,000 by 2015. It recently reported that its enrollment of 1,622 is 20 percent higher than last fall's figure of 1,349. Most of the increase came in online enrollment, which more than doubled, going from 205 to 413. The MBA program went from 56 to 75, while evening and weekend programs rose from 625 to 677. Women's College enrollment declined to 433 from 445.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Iron Horse Marathon is set for Sunday morning

The Iron Horse Marathon, which is actually a half-marathon of 13.1 miles, is scheduled to start in Midway at 8 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 31 and return to the city by 11 a.m. The annual event benefits Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.

The race will start at Gratz and Cross streets. The 700-plus runners will proceed to East Stephens Street, turn left out Weisenberger Mill Road and turn around at the Y. They will head back to Midway, cross Winter Street at about 9:30 a.m. and head out West Stephens to Blackburn Farm. They will head back to Midway and turn left on Turner Street to West Main Street and turn left and finish at the monument, probably between 10 and 11 a.m. The awards ceremonies will take place at Darlin Jean’s Cafe.
Streets in Midway will remain open. Officials ask motorists to drive with caution along the marathon route. Church parking areas will be coned off at 5:30 a.m. so that only church members will be able to park for services. Directional signage will guide visitors to designated parking areas at Walter Bradley Park, the Midway College tennis court and Northside Elementary School.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Midway Living History Day is Saturday

The third annual Midway Living History Day will be held from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Steele Davis, 93, will receive this year's Living History Award at Midway Presbyterian Church at 1:30. Antiques and memorabilia of the city's history will be on display at City Hall. The event is sponsored by Midway Renaissance.

Some churches will be open for self-guided tours; tour maps are available at City Hall. The historic Second Christian Church will hold a reception to celebrate the historic marker and Bluegrass Trust for Histotic Preservation plaque received by St. Matthew AME Church, Pilgrim Baptist Church, and Second Christian.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Second Midway Festival of 10-Minute Plays opens to good review, runs through next Sunday

The Thoroughbred Theater's second Midway Festival of 10-Minute Plays got a good review this morning in the Lexington Herald-Leader, from contributing theatre critic Candace Chaney.

"The festival, which continues weekends through Oct. 31, features some of the area's best directors and performers while promoting the value of original work and, if Friday's opening-night performances were any indication, it is a promising addition to the region's theatrical lineup," Chaney writes. "The wide range of material presented and the opportunity to view seven directorial visions and seven small casts are hallmarks of the festival, one that highlights the theater community's diverse strengths."

Among the skits Chaney likes is "Taken for a Ride, a humorous two-person skit about a woman abandoning her cat." (H-L Photo by Mark Cornelison: Jordan Pruitt as the cat and Hayley Williams as the owner.) Chaney also likes Blood Grass, The Test and It's Impossible to Get Fired from Thrifty Drug Aid. For her full review and more information about the festival, click here.

The festival received 250 submissions from 36 states and chose seven for production. Shows today and next Sunday are at 2 p.m., and on Oct. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at door; call (859) 846-9827 or go to http://www.thoroughbredtheatre.com/.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Council hears about plans for ambulance station, lets RV dealer stay longer to make sales

Midway and county officials have begun talks toward establishing a county ambulance station in the town, perhaps in the old library building. After a meeting yesterday that included Mayor Tom Bozarth and County Judge-Executive John Coyle, Bozarth and Magistrate Larry Craig of Midway discussed the idea with the City Council this evening.

"It was a very encouraging meeting," Bozarth said, noting that county ambulances made 121 runs from Versailles to Midway last year, not including those near the town. "This is not only about Midway," he said,. "but about the northern part of the county." He said after the meeting that the station is "probably a year or more away," because of the time needed for planning, budgeting and construction.

Craig said the county would pay for the equipment and three employees for the station. He said Coyle will appoint three Fiscal Court members to begin discussions with the council's Finance and City Property Committee. He said that of the four sites considered, the old library seemed to be best, and "hopefully the least expensive."

RV park now a sales lot: The council voted to give Nashville recreational-vehicle dealer Raymond Brody another month at Midway Station to help him sell some of the RVs he has at the site after renting them for visitors to the World Equestrian Games. He said there are about 180 campers on the site, none of them hooked up for rental. Bozarth said 55 were brought from the Kentucky Horse Park, the WEG site, where Brody also operated. He said Brody would pay the city an additional $50 per camper, under his agreement with the city.

Brody's lease will now run through Nov. 25, pending approval from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the failed industrial park. The council also required him have round-the-clock security, pay his fees and the $20,000 he owes the EDA by Nov. 1. Bozarth complimented Brody, saying "Your people did a very good job of trying to make everybody comfortable." Brody said there would be no on-site advertising for the RV sales.

Sidetrack construction: The council authorized HMB Engineers to advertise bids for removal and reconstruction of stone walls and concrete facilities to make room for the sidetrack to accommodate RJ Corman Railroad's dinner or excursion train. Joe Grider of HMB said he would like to open bids Nov. 10 and recommend contractors by Nov. 15, but construction would not start until after Jan. 1. He said it would take six weeks to two months and would be completed by April 1. For a PDF of a construction diagram, click here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Long-sought nursing home nears reality; would-be neighbor wonders if others understand the plan

UPDATE: The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Oct. 18 to recommend approval of the zone change, the amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and the conditional-use permit for Christian Care Communities. The city council has final say over the zone change.

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The family of Susan Coats, right, has lived on Woodstone Farm just outside Midway’s southeast city limits for 35 years, and she’s been there a year and a half. Now she sees her serene way of life threatened by the possibility of what she calls a new subdivision overlooking her property.

Midway’s 12-year-old nursing home task force and the nonprofit Christian Care Communities call it something else: a long-needed nursing home and assisted living facility. The 31 acres off East Stephens Street is zoned agricultural, so Coats and the nursing-home advocates may face off in a zoning hearing at 6:30 tomorrow night at Midway College.

The nursing home task force includes people from all over Woodford County. Helen Rentch, a member from Midway, said the campaign was started to keep seniors in the community.

“We have a lot of seniors in Midway who reached a point where they couldn’t stay home alone safely and there is no other care in Midway, so people had to leave town to go to where they could get care,” Rentch said. “Sometimes they had to go to several counties away.”

The task force members have overcome many obstacles. To be able to build a nursing home they had to get a certificate of need from the state, but the state was not licensing additional nursing homes at the time. The task force did a market study to see if there was support in the community for a nursing home, and discovered Woodford County had a higher percentage of people in retirement age than the other surrounding counties. That helped them get help in Frankfort to use the license for 23 nursing-home beds once held by the old Versailles hospital.

Christian Care Communities is Kentucky’s largest faith-based, not-for-profit provider of senior living arrangements. The nursing home task force contacted Christian Care, which will be the sole owner of the nursing home.

To build the small facility first envisioned, at least six acres were needed. The task force looked at many sites in and near Midway but had very few options. Rentch said two were zoned for development but the owners didn’t want to sell. Midway Station offered a site, but that was put on hold when Bluegrass Stockyards considered moving to Midway Station from Lexington.

The current site became available during the debate over the stockyards and was chosen because of its location. It is close to Midway College, allowing the college’s nursing program to collaborate with the facility. It is also close to town, so residents can drive golf carts downtown to shop, eat and be a part of the community. And it has more acreage, allowing more multi-household homes and a less institutional approach.

The plans for the nursing home and assisted living facility call for 23 skilled nursing beds, 12 personal-care rooms for people with dementia and other cognitive impairments, 12 assisted-living apartments, and patio homes for independent living.

The chief problem with the site is that it is zoned agricultural, and there has been considerable sentiment in Woodford County against rezoning agricultural land for development.

Coats said she can see how the site is more attractive, and how the new approach with patio homes is probably a better business plan, “but I’m not sure that justifies the rezoning and annexation when so much land has already been categorized that way.”

“What makes this community unique seems to be the farms and we need to support the farms, not business,” she said. “The land became available, so the plans expanded. It’s not truly meeting the needs espoused by the task force. . . . I just want there to be full discussion. I want everybody to understand what they’re committing to.”

Sharon Turner, a city council and nursing-home task force member, said the independent houses will be for seniors who can live by themselves and are able to take advantage of the services, such as laundry, food and a call light.

The responsibility of expense for the buildings has been distributed between the nursing home task force, Christian Care Communities and the city of Midway.

The city has a $500,000 community development block grant for the project because of the new jobs the nursing home will create. Rentch said Christian Care can borrow money and the city can issue bonds.

“We hope to break ground next fall,” Turner said. “Once construction starts it will take about a year to open the doors.”

If the land is rezoned and annexed into the city, Coats fears that the development will devalue her property both aesthetically and financially. She is also concerned about extra water runoff that could flood her crops. (Photo: Coats on her property, at the fence with the tract proposed for development)

She said she supports democracy, and if a majority of the city wants the nursing home built, then she will accept the decision. But she wants everyone to fully understand all aspects of the plan before they agree to it. She says the original idea of a nursing home has turned into “a subdivision on my fence line,” and wonders if the proposed developer of Midway Station wanted to build patio homes on the property “if they’d be willing to condemn it to R-3.”

Hank Graddy, Christian Care Communities’ lawyer and a leading preservationist, said the developers have heard Coats’ concerns and modified the plans. The buildings were moved farther away from the fence line so the property that joins Coates’ land would remain open space. They also added rain gardens to catch the runoff.

“We are trying to control both rate and volume of run-off by using appropriate design features on our property that would keep as much storm water as appropriate on our property,” Graddy said.

Before anything can be built on the land, the group has to follow a set of procedures to have the development approved by the city. On Sept. 7 Graddy filed with the city council an application to rezone the property from agriculture to R-3 residential, asked the city to annex the property into the city, and asked the city to support amending the county’s comprehensive plan to include the property within the urban service boundary.

At the meeting the council approved on first reading an annexation ordinance to bring the property inside the city limits.

Graddy has since filed an application to amend the comprehensive plan and an application for conditional-use permits to locate a nursing facility on the property.

At the hearing the Planning and Zoning Commission will hear public comment on the zone change, the conditional use permits and amendment of the comprehensive plan. A decision will come later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Railroad to add sidetrack with relatively little disruption, according to plans and illustrations

Construction of the sidetrack for the RJ Corman Railroad excursion train from Lexington to Midway will require removal and reconstruction of the short stone walls and their concrete steps along Main Street, but not the long fence on the south side of Main near Gratz Street, according to diagrams and photo illustrations unveiled by the railroad and its engineering firm at a special City Council meeting last night.

This set of photo illustrations, on display at City Hall, shows how the tracks and the adjacent area are supposed to look when construction is completed. (Click on image to view larger version; for a 16MB version, click here.) Mayor Tom Bozarth said today that the city will pay the cost of moving the walls and reconfiguring some parking spaces, and hopes to seek bids for the work in early November. He said the city has an engineers' estimate and "We have money available."

The major traffic change will be on West Main Street, which will be made one-way westbound, with on-street parking, to make room for the western end of the project. At the eastern end, some landscaping will have to be replaced. The railroad owns the right of way, and regulations require an eight-foot clear zone on either side of the tracks. The walls to be moved are only partially inside the "clear zone" so will not have to be moved far, according to the diagram on display at City Hall. For a PDF of a construction diagram, click here.

Council finance and streets committees to meet

Two Midway City Council committees will meet at City Hall this week.

The Finance and City Property Committee will meet at noon Tuesday, to discuss revenue policies and procedures and the old library property.

The Streets and Lights Committee will meet Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to discuss criteria for matching funds for sidewalk improvements and to discuss paving needs.

All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taxes among items of disagreement between candidates at Woman's Club political forum

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Candidates in the Nov. 2 elections gathered Thursday night for Midway’s political forum, presenting their views on controversial issues.

There are three contested races with special interest to Midway. Running for the state House in the 56th District are incumbent Carl P. Rollins of Midway and Republican Lyen Crews of Versailles. The district includes all of Woodford County, the northeastern third of Franklin County and the southwestern part of Fayette County.

There are two candidates for magistrate of Woodford County’s First District, Democratic incumbent Larry Craig and Republican challenger Curt Savage, both of Midway.

The race for Midway mayor is between incumbent Tom Bozarth and write-in candidate Scott Hayes. There are six candidates for six seats on the city council, making it a popularity contest.

Education and taxes were the major points of disagreement between Crews and Rollins, who faced off first.

Crews, vice president for business and financial affairs at Midway College, is for charter schools, which are tax supported but may have different curriculum and philosophy than other schools in the area and don’t have to follow the regulations governing ordinary public schools, but do have to meet certain standards. He said parents deserve a choice.

Rollins, chairman of the House Education Committee, is against charter schools. (He said at an Oct. 12 forum in Frankfort that studies had shown charter school were unlikely to improve instruction for students.) He said the effectiveness of teachers needs to be improved, by changing the evaluation process, because 99 percent of teachers rank as effective. He also said the best teachers need to teach the students who need the most help.

Crews called for eliminating both personal and corporate income taxes, saying lack of an income tax had helped Tennessee outstrip Kentucky economically. Rollins opposed the idea, saying if income taxes were eliminated a fifth of the state’s budget would be lost and programs would have to be cut.

The candidates also disagreed on the state retirement system. Rollins is for the defined benefit plan, the current approach, while Crews is for the defined contribution plan because he says it’s cheaper and would save the state money.

The magistrate candidates got into a heated debate over taxes. Savage, a retired businessman, said that if elected he would not raise taxes and accused Craig of raising taxes on Woodford County residents the last three years in a row.

Craig denied ever raising taxes. He explained that property values had dropped and he voted for the compensating rate to keep the county’s property tax revenue the same as the year before. He said the compensating rate has to be passed or income will be lost that the county will not ever be able to get back.

Savage criticized Craig’s vote for a project that would have hired out-of-state contractors to analyze and retrofit county buildings to reduce energy costs. The project, which did not pass, would have cost $890,000. Savage said Craig’s vote for the project showed that he is too quick to borrow money. He also said “green engineers” from Kentucky should have been given the job. Craig said the project would have saved the county money in the long run.

The candidates for mayor (Hayes seated, Bozarth standing) were on stage for only a short time because just two questions were posed to them.

A Midway citizen voiced concern about cars speeding on West Stephens Street, where children play, and asked what the candidates would do about it.

Bozarth said he was aware of the problem and had sent extra patrol cars to the area. No tickets have been issued, he said, but police will continue to patrol the area to slow down the cars.

Hayes lives on West Stephens. He said the patrols are not working because they aren’t there when the speeders are.

“The biggest problem is it’s in the morning and afternoon when they’re on shift change,” Hayes said of the police. “If we could see if they could get federal overtime during those times then we might be able to get the cars to slow down.”

Hayes was asked why, if being mayor was so important to him, he had missed the January deadline to get on the ballot. He said that when he decided to run, he had missed the deadline.

About 50 people attended the forum at Midway College’s Anne Hart Raymond Center. The event was held by the Midway Woman’s Club.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

As World Equestrian Games near end, RV park says it got fewer than half the guests it expected

By Neal Bassett
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With the World Equestrian Games coming to a close, the recreational-vehicle park located at Midway Station has not had as many guests as expected, but has been home to many volunteers, workers, and visitors from all over the world.

Manager Thomas Hosea said the park had fewer than half the visitors he expected. The lack of visitors may cause concern for Raymond Brody, the RV dealer from Nashville, who leased the failed industrial park north of Interstate 64 from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and still owes it $20,000.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said that he spoke with Brody, who paid a $10,000 deposit to use the land, and is confident that Brody will be able to come up with the rest of the funds, which were supposed to have been paid Aug. 1.

“As soon as he receives all of his payments for the games he will forward me what he owes,” said Duckworth. “I expect the man to pay me, it’s that simple.” Brody was not available to comment and Hosea said he had not heard about the financial situation.

The RV park has had roughly 300 guests, Hosea said. About 90 RVs were brought by guests, and the park has had another 90 or so that it has rented at prices ranging from $120 to $320 per night. Hosea said that “roughly 30 percent” of those who checked in are workers or volunteers for the games, and that he enjoys having workers and volunteers staying in RVs.

“The volunteers and workers spend a lot of their time and money to be here,” he said. ”These people love horses, and they’re passionate about it. They work very hard.”

He added, “The people here are wonderful, sweet, down to earth people, but this was not the turnout we expected.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that some park guests have been upset with service at the park. Hosea said some patrons were not accustomed to taking showers in campers with water tanks that hold only about six gallons, and laundry service was less frequent than expected because there were fewer guests than expected.

The park has run shuttles to the games at the Kentucky Horse Park, and has also made runs to Midway upon request. If the park shuttles are in use, Hosea said, he uses his vehicle to take people to Midway as needed.

Audrey Hanley, a volunteer for the games, was very pleased with the shuttle service.

“The shuttles come more often than they said it would,” said Hanley. “We have not had to wait more than five to 10 minutes for a ride, and it takes us right to town whenever we need it.”

Mike Narkiewicz traveled from Florence, Colo., for the games and was pleased with the shuttle service, but not the service he received in Midway.

“When we went downtown and almost everything was closed,” said Narkiewicz. “The food wasn’t that great and we haven’t been back since.”

But other visitors have spoken favorably of Midway, and Lois Webb, a longtime Midway citizen, said the shuttle service has helped WEG tourists and volunteers see the town and given Midway an opportunity to look like more than just a small town.

“The park has been advertisement for the future and gives us a chance to expand,” said Webb. “It’s important for visitors to see Kentucky hospitality. We are more than just a small town, and we want them to experience that.”

The RV park has a concessions tent that offers snacks and drinks, which brought up speculation about whether it hurt restaurants in Midway.

Carol Bowles, owner of Wonderland Café, said she had not noticed the RV park and the concessions hurting her business.

“They found Midway, which is a good thing,” she said. “I think the games have helped my business. I have had people come in from Ireland, England, Australia, and Minnesota.”

The RV park has given visitors from all over the world a chance to see Midway and interact with locals, and Hosea said he believes the people are what make the experience successful.

“I’ve never had better people to work with,” he said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Margaret Ware Parrish, a leader in women's sports and local history, dies at 91

Funeral services for Margaret Ware Parrish, one of Midway's leading citizens and its most noted historian, will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Midway Christian Church. Visitation will begin at the church at 10 a.m. Burial will be in the Lexington Cemetery. She died Friday at her home.

Parrish was a pioneer in Kentucky women’s sports and had a teaching and coaching career that spanned more than three decades. She taught physical education and coached all sports at Midway College until she retired in 1979. She was honored last year at Midway's first Living History Day. (Photo by Megan Wimpy)

She was the author of several books including Outstanding Kentucky Women in Sports 1900-1968, in which she shared her insights into expanding opportunities for women in sports; and was a co-author of Woodford County, Kentucky: The First Two Hundred Years. She was a three-time recipient of the Midway Lions Club's Citizen of the Year award, a past president of the Woodford County Historical Society, and board member of the Woodford County Humane Society. She was also known for caring for Midway's homeless cats.

Parrish is survived by several cousins. Memorial gifts have been suggested to Midway Christian Church, Midway College, the humane society or the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

City to reveal sidetrack plan Monday evening

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Questions about the sidetrack planned for RJ Corman Railroad Co.’s planned excursion train will have to wait until a special City Council meeting next Monday.

When the Midway Messenger asked Council Member Sharon Turner after last night’s council meeting if diagrams of the sidetrack were available, she said Mayor Tom Bozarth would have them. Bozarth interjected, referring to this reporter, “She can wait to see the diagrams on the 11th.”

The special meeting has been called for Monday, Oct. 11 at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. The railroad and HMB Engineers will give a presentation. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Equestrian Games bring the world to Midway; impact may not be as much as some expected

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The world has come to Midway. The World Equestrian Games kicked off Saturday, bringing people from all across the globe to the Bluegrass.

The two week-long event looks to be a promising source of business for downtown Midway, as tourists filled the shops this past weekend, but it remains to be seen whether the impact of the games will be as large as some people had hoped or expected.

The Grey Goose restaurant and bar started serving people from other countries Wednesday night, but started seeing a noticeable increase in business on Saturday evening. The busiest time was after 9 p.m. when groups came in for late-night snacks. “The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. but we will keep it open as long as people are coming in,” said manager Jeff Wheeler. The Grey Goose is taking reservations only for groups of 10 people or larger during the games.

While most business people interviewed said they were happy with the games’ first weekend, restaurant owner Rob Vandegrift said it was slower than he had expected. He has extended his hours but says if business does not pick up during the week he will revert back to regular hours.

Vandegrift believes that the beer and food concession at the temporary recreational-vehicle campground at Midway Station are taking away potential customers from downtown. Mayor Tom Bozarth disagreed, saying many people at the park are workers or volunteers at the games, putting in 12-hour days and too tired to come downtown. Also, he said overall attendance at the games appears to have been less than expected. "No one knew how many people would be here," he said.

But by definition, people in an RV park keep and cook their own food. Margaret Hansen, a trainer from Poland, walked from the campground to downtown, about a mile and a half, Saturday afternoon to look around the shops. Asked if she came to town for food, she said, “No, we have our own food at the trailer. I stocked up for the week.”

Hansen brought three of her pupils with her to the U.S. She said that she always attends the World Equestrian Games to watch the dressage event. “It’s like ballet on horses,” she said.

Marcelo and Grace Decoud of Argentina found their way downtown Sunday evening for coffee The Grey Goose, thanks to Jill Ryder, editor of The Carriage Journal, because she thought it was a place they would enjoy seeing.

Marcelo Decoud owns The Carlos Hillner Decoud Carriage Museum in Quilmes, Argentina, near Buenos Aires. He said The Carriage Association of America brought him to the U.S. as a spectator but he also helped with the carriages in the opening ceremony Saturday night.

Mary May Sayre, owner of May & Co., was pleased with the turnout at her antiques-and-collectibles store over the weekend. “I felt like it was [Midway’s] Fall Festival again with so many people,” she said.

Saturday was filled with a consistent flow of visitors. Sayre described the shoppers as positive people who were really having a good time and enjoying Midway.

“There have been a lot of really interested people, people who are interested in horses and in the area," she said. "We are definitely selling the destination of Midway."

Like many other store owners, Sayre has decided to stay open seven days a week with extended hours, until the games are over.

Damselfly Gallery owner Mary Thoreson said more people visited her store last weekend than normal, but it was too early to tell if sales were up.

Knowing that the games were going to be close to Midway, she decided to put together the Damselfly Gallery Courtyard Art Fair with her husband Eric, to attract people to Midway and showcase Kentucky artists to the world during the games. In support of the games, they hung flags over the courtyard representing each country that is competing. (See next story.)

While the games have just started, it’s hard to say how busy Midway is going to be. But with the first weekend over, it looks to bring a promising group of consumers to the shops, while the restaurants contend with competition across the interstate.

“We’re trying to sell: Come to Midway, have a good time, eat, drink and enjoy,” Sayre said. “It makes Midway look even better when people are having a good time.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vacant lot becomes art fair for Equestrian Games

Story and photographs by Rachel Bryant
University of Ketucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A new green, public space in downtown Midway was created with the World Equestrian Games in mind.

Mary and Eric Thoreson and Doug and Donna Farmer, couples who each own half the vacant lot next to the Thoresons’ Damselfly Gallery, spent all summer creating the courtyard to host an art fair during the games, as a way to attract tourists to Midway.

The Damselfly Gallery Courtyard Art Fair will be set up through October 10, showcasing 20 artists from Kentucky.

One of the painters in the show, Dick Weir, right, has already noticed people coming to the fair from the games. “You hear a lot of languages, especially the thick English accent, and they’ve all been very friendly,” he said.

Weir is a self-taught painter who started painting after he retired from Toyota six years ago. “I like to paint memories, all of art is impressionistic, and an artist paints what he sees,” Weir said. I’m painting memories of what I’ve seen.” He sells his pieces at Madelein’s – Photo Studio, Gallery, and Gifts in Midway.

Jim Jones, owner of Forge On Metalworks, is a blacksmith showcasing at the art fair. He hopes it will be a good opportunity for business but recognizes there is always a risk. “You might sell everything or nothing, but I do it because I enjoy it,” he said. Jones not only sells his pieces in the Damselfly Gallery but has an online store and does custom work. “Typically I try to make something that is useful. In the declining economy it’s great if it looks good but even better if it’s useful,” he said.

A watercolor and oil painter, Charlotte Ploetner, left, says she hasn’t seen many people from the games yet, but acknowledges that they have just begun and expects to see more people as the week goes on. Ploetner, another self-taught artist, likes to paint landscapes and floral designs.

In light of the games, 58 flags, representing every country competing have been hung above the courtyard.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

City, railroad to share dinner-train siding cost

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Just a few years ago Main Street was beautifully reconstructed to give downtown Midway a modern but historic look. Now the RJ Corman Railroad Group wants to add a sidetrack to the railroad in the heart of downtown, meaning that some of the recent construction would be have to be taken apart and redone with the new addition.

The sidetrack would allow a dinner train to run from Lexington to Midway, with hope that it would create more business.

According to Diana Queen, a Midway City Council member, the council cannot approve or disapprove the project because the railroad owns the land along the tracks, giving Corman the right to do as it pleases with the land. However, Queen says that the council and railroad group are working together as a team on the project.

Midway and RJ Corman will share the cost, Council Member Sharon Turner said. Mayor Tom Bozarth said the cost has not been calculated. Turner said they hope to have the train running by the start of next spring’s meet at Keeneland Race Course.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Queen's withdrawal all but seals council race; Hayes runs as write-in against Mayor Bozarth

The makeup of Midway's City Council in 2011 is all but decided, because Council Member Diana Queen has withdrawn her candidacy, but the city still has two contested races: for mayor, between incumbent Tom Bozarth and write-in candidate Scott Hayes; and for magistrate of the First District, which includes Midway. That race is between Democratic Magistrate Larry Craig and Republican Curt Savage.

Queen formally withdrew her candidacy Aug. 16. That left six people running for six council seats, making the nonpartisan race largely a popularity contest. Voters may vote for six candidates, but can vote for fewer. The candidates are incumbents Sharon Turner, Aaron Hamilton and Doris Leigh; Becky Moore, who was mayor before Bozarth; and two candidates Moore calls "kindred spirits," Joye Arnold and Dan Roller.

Hayes, an emergency medical technician for Woodford County, said in an interview that he wanted to file a regular candidacy for mayor but was mistaken about the late-January deadline. Voters can write in the name of anyone for any office, but votes will be counted only for candidates who have filed a notice asking that they be counted, such as Hayes. For our item on the filings at deadline time, click here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Midway Fall Festival continues through Sunday

The 36th annual Midway Fall Festival began at 10 this morning and continues through tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival has been named one of the top 20 festivals in Kentucky. It features crafts, food, demonstrators, entertainment and children's activities. For more information, go to the festival's website. The Old Smokey steam locomotive of RJ Corman Railroad Co., below, is on display today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Council committee to meet in Frankfort Friday

The Finance and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Friday, Sept. 3, at 8 a.m. at 305 Ann Street, Suite 201, in Frankfort. That is the office of the Kentucky Malt Beverage Council, which "represents the family-owned Anheuser-Busch wholesale beer distributors in Kentucky," its website says.

The city's official announcement says "The purpose of the meeting is to discuss revenue streams and the collection policies and procedures of such revenues."

Regardless of the location, meetings of City Council committees are open to the public unless the committee votes in open session to close the meeting under one of the exceptions in KRS 61.810, part of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. None of those exceptions appear to apply to the announced topic of the meeting. Any further action must be taken in open session.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Midway Arts Series bringing author House and songwriter Gover to Thoroughbred Theater Aug. 21

The latest installment in the Midway Arts Series will be held Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Thoroughbred Theater with a noted author and a singer-songwriter, both from Appalachia. The series is a collaborative project of the theater and Midway Renaissance.

Carla Gover, right, an award-winning songwriter, will conduct a songwriting workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. at a cost of $25 per person. Reservations are required; to make one, call 846-9827. "Her original songs range from misty, traditional sounding ballads accompanied by banjo to up-tempo, pop-influenced songs with a groove," says the performing arts directory of the Kentucky Arts Council. She is a native of Whitesburg in Letcher County. For more on her, from the arts council, click here.

Silas House, left, will hold a free reading from his work at 7 p.m. The theater doors will open at 6:30 for coffee and dessert. House was recently named National Endowment for Humanities chair in Appalachian studies at Berea College. He has been Appalachian writer of the year and is a native of Lily in Laurel County. For more on him, here is his website.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Agreement: Grant for market study will go directly to Renaissance, with all the responsibilities

Midway Renaissance and the city have agreed that the $15,000 state grant the non-profit group obtained for a market study to help local businesses will not be run through city coffers but will go to Renaissance, along with all the responsibilities.

"It's a win-win," Mayor Tom Bozarth said after the Renaissance Committee of the City Council and representatives of Renaissance and the Midway Business Association agreed on the approach at a City Hall meeting this evening.

The arrangement will require a three-way agreement between the state, city and Renaissance instead of separate agreements by the city with the other entities, and a new council resolution to replace the December resolution that approved the grant application by Renaissance.

"It looks like things have been resolved very nicely so everybody can live with it," said Tad Long of the Kentucky League of Cities, who acted as the facilitator for the meeting. Long is at far right in the photo. From far left are Renaissance members Becky Moore and Joy Arnold; business owner Mary Thoreson; Renaissance member Bob Rathbone; council and committee member Doris Leith; business owner John McDaniel of the Thoroughbred Theater; council and committee member Charlann Wombles; Main Street Director Marcie Christensen, of Renaissance; Bozarth; council and committee member Sharon Turner; and business owner Eric Thoreson of Damselfly Gallery.The Thoresons are obscured in the photo. Eric Thoreson suggested that the study should go beyond the city limits, saying that a survey had found as many as 80 entrepreneurs living or working in Woodford County north of Old Frankfort Pike, often regarded as the southern boundary of Greater Midway. He spoke in agreement with Wombles, who said the entire community needs to be aware of the study. Renaissance has created a Web page to "report on the progress and make accessible all documents generated," it says. "As the project moves forward, input and participation from the broader community is important as it provides fresh ideas and community ownership of this valuable study." (Read more; click on photo for larger image)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Council's Renaissance panel to meet with groups Tuesday; Renaissance creates web page for study

The Midway Renaissance Committee of the Midway City Council will hold a meeting Tuesday, July 27 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss alternative funding, understanding the Memorandum of Agreement, timelines, and request for proposal concerning the grant for a market study to help develop business in Midway.

The meeting will be facilitated by Tad Long of the Kentucky League of Cities. The council's Renaissance Committee members are Sharon Turner, Doris Leigh and Charlann Wombles. The representatives of Midway Renaissance will be President Randy Thomas, Becky Moore and Bob Rathbone, along with Main Street Director Marcie Christensen. A committee of the Midway Business Association, John McDaniel and two other representatives, will also take part, according to Renaissance.

The Midway Renaissance website now has a page about the proposed market study, http://www.midwayrenaissance.org/market-study.htm. Renaissance's Main Street director, Marcie Christensen, says in an e-mail, "I hope to make the entire project as transparent and accessible as possible in order to improve our success in attracting broader participation when the time comes for public meetings and input from the community. I’ll be updating the page regularly and encouraging folks to read the latest news and stay informed."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mosquito spraying rescheduled for Monday night

The state Department of Agriculture will be in Midway on Monday, July 26 at 9 p.m., weather permitting, to spray for mosquitoes. The spraying was scheduled for last Monday evening but was called off because of rain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Streets Committee to discuss the 'horse olympics' Monday; Water Committee to hear pleas Thursday

The Streets and Lights Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Monday, July 26 at 10 a.m. to discuss sidewalks and parking for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the horse world's equivalent of the Olympics, to be held Sept. 25 through Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. The meeting will be held upstairs in the Community Room of City Hall at 101 E Main St.

The council's Water, Sewer and Garbage Committee will hold a meeting Thursday, July 22 at 10 a.m. in the Community Room "to discuss two citizen requests for pool adjustments," according to the notice from City Hall. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Council expected to discuss business study for city

The published agenda for Monday evening's City Council meeting is scant, but the 5:30 session is expected to include a discussion with representatives of Midway Renaissance about the grant it recently received for a market study to develop a strategy for the development of downtown business in Midway.

Renaissance wants the council committee formed to work with the group (council members Sharon Turner, Charlann Wombles and Doris Leigh) to meet soon to establish a broader committee to develop the formal Request For Proposals from consultants, "create a review and selection process, develop recommendations regarding financial issues related to the grant administration, and set up a schedule for proceeding with the project," Renaissance Main Street Manager Marcie Christensen said in an e-mail. She added that Mayor Tom Bozarth has asked Renaissance President Randy Thomas to attend the meeting.

Monday, July 5, 2010

City gets $15,000 from state for study to create strategy for downtown business development

The state has given the City of Midway $15,000 for a market study to create a strategy for downtown business development. Midway Renaissance, whose contractor doubles as director of the city's Main Street program, said in a press release today that it "will work with representatives of the city and the Midway Business Association to hire a consultant and engage the whole community in the project."

The release said market studies are "used by businesses, developers, governments, and citizens for making better-informed decisions. The process includes documenting details about the downtown's current condition, exploring changes occurring in the marketplace, verifying what consumers want from downtown, discovering what businesses the downtown market will support, and creating a downtown business development strategy.  . . . Once a detailed picture of the downtown economy emerges, Midway Renaissance will work with all stakeholders to shape a business retention campaign that includes providing assistance and training to existing businesses, and participate in a recruitment campaign to compliment existing businesses. Recruitment will target businesses that people want and that the market will support."

Renaissance said the study will include public meetings: "Input and participation from the broader community is important so that recommendations resulting from the study reflect both market conditions as well as the preferences of the community. Local input provides fresh ideas and community ownership of the project. This buy-in is especially important after the analysis is done and its time to implement the study's recommendations."

The grant comes from from the Department for Local Government. Renaissance President Randy Thomas said in the release, “Our proposal was a joint effort and I believe that the market study will provide all of us with very valuable information as we work together to make Midway an even better place to live, work and prosper.” For more information contact Main Street Manager Marcie Christensen at 846-4049 or Thomas at 312-9891. News and updates on the project will be posted at http://www.midwayrenaissance.org/.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sparks in the Park! Gather at firehouse 4:30 for parade at 5 to Bradley Park; event to start at 6

The annual Sparks in the Park celebration for Independence Day starts with the parade at 5 p.m. today. All are welcome to march in the parade; gather at the Firehouse beginning at 4:30. The parade will go from the Firehouse to Gratz, right on Higgins, cross Winter Street to Turner, take a right to Bruen, take a right at the stop light, turn left on Winter to Main and turn right to Gratz, then left to Dudley and right to the Walter Bradley Park, arriving around 6 p.m.

After music by City Coulcilman Aaron Hamilton, the National Guard will present the colors and "The Star-Spangled Banner" will be sung. Dr. Jim Roach will give a patriotic reading, Pastor Mary Seeger Weese will give the invocation, and the Hilltop Rockers will perform from 6:30 to 7. The Midway Musicians (Billy and Lauren Hill, Margaret Lyle, Blake Jones, and Bill and Leslie Penn) will perform for half an hour, then the Rockers will return.

Councilwoman Diana McQueen says barbecue "will be available while it lasts... and music until about dark! Children's games will be going on throughout the evening. I hope you will consider walking in the parade . . . Please join me tonight in thanking Christian Care Communities for their generous $1,500 sponsorship of the barbecue. We are so fortunate to have this support! My sincere thanks to Tom, the council, and all the city employees who really contributed to making our celebration possible! It's going to be a special and wonderful evening!"

Monday, June 28, 2010

City Council to hold special meeting 8 a.m. Wed.

Mayor Tom Bozarth has called a special meeting of the Midway City Council for 8 a.m., Wednesday, June 30, at City Hall to consider insurance proposals, second reading of an ordinance amending the budget for the fiscal year (which ends that day), and a "walking tour contract," an item that was added to the agenda after the first notice went out. All council meetings are open to the public.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nationally touted Francisco's Farm Arts Festival returns to Midway College campus this weekend

Midway will play host to the seventh annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at Midway College, produced by Midway Renaissance, June 26 and 27.

The festival has been named among the “Top Ten Art Fairs in the U.S.” for the third year in a row by AmericanStyle magazine. This year's edition has several new features; for a full story, click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Council committees to meet Tuesday, Wednesday

The Streets and Lights Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 15 in the upstairs Community Room of City Hall to discuss sidewalk improvements and additional parking downtown. The Finance and City Property Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 16 in City Hall to discuss insurance quotes. No action will be taken at either meeting, according to notices from City Clerk Phyllis Hudson.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Council approves budget for 2010-11; city won't appeal attorney general's open-records decision

The Midway City Council adopted the city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 at its regular meeting Monday night. For a copy of the budget, as an Excel spreadsheet file, click here. For a PDF version, click here.

Mayor Tom Bozarth declined to release a copy of his proposed budget while the council was considering it. In a case prompted by the Midway Messenger, Attorney General Jack Conway ruled that a proposed city budget becomes public once the mayor presents it to the council. However, Conway's ruling does not become final until June 19, 30 days after it was issued.

UPDATE, June 10: Bozarth says the city will not appeal the attorney general's decision to Woodford Circuit Court.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Attorney general says city budget becomes public when the mayor gives it to the city council

Ruling in a case originated by the Midway Messenger, the state attorney general's office has ruled that a proposed city budget becomes public once a mayor submits it to the city's legislative body. But unless the City of Midway forgoes an appeal and releases its proposed budget for the year beginning July 1, the decision will not affect that document.

The Messenger first requested the proposed 2010-11 budget after Mayor Tom Bozarth gave it to at least some City Council members, those on the Finance Committee, which discussed the budget peripherally at a meeting in April. Bozarth declined to release the document at that meeting, saying the state Open Records Act exempted proposed budgets from disclosure.

Kentucky Citizens for Open Government, through Kentucky Press Association Executive Director David Thompson, appealed to the attorney general, adopting the Messenger's argument that a document should become public once discussed at a public meeting of a public agency. Attorney General Jack Conway did not accept that argument, but did rule that once a mayor proposes a budget to a council, it becomes public.

"The proposed budget must be made accessible to the public when it is submitted to the City Council pursuant to KRS 91A.030(7) because it constitutes statutorily required final action of a public agency, in this case, the Mayor of the City of Midway," the decision said. "At this juncture, the budget forfeits the preliminary character it enjoyed while it was in preparation and is no longer a draft," one exemption in the law. For a copy of the decision in PDF format, click here.

The decision overruled decisions made under then-Attorney General Ben Chandler in 1996 and 2000. However, it may not have immediate effect, because it does not gain the force of law until the 30-day appeal period has run. Bozarth told the Messenger today that he and City Attorney Phil Moloney "will discuss what we are going to do over the next few days." The council is scheduled to adopt the budget on second at its next regular meeting on June 7. The appeal period ends June 19.

Streets committee meets Tues. to talk sidewalks

The Streets and Lights Committee of the Midway City Council will hold a meeting tomorrow, May 25, at 4:30 pm upstairs in the Community Room of City Hall, to discuss sidewalk issues.

Sidewalks are an issue in discussions on the city budget, which the full council is scheduled to adopt on second reading at its next regular meeting on May 7.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'Revenue streams' on agenda as budget looms; city defends refusal to provide copy of proposal

The Midway City Council will be dealing with money matters in the coming week. Tomorrow at noon, the Finance and City Property Committee will meet at City Hall "to discuss Revenue Streams, and review any updates on City Property," the city's official notice says.

Next Monday at 5:30 p.m., the full council is scheduled to give first reading to the ordinance that will establish the city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget was discussed at a meeting last month, and the formal first reading was to have been held at the regular meeting on May 3, but that meeting was canceled because a quorum was not expected.

City officials have declined to release a copy of the proposed budget to the Midway Messenger, and the Kentucky Press Association has appealed the denial to the state attorney general's office, whose decisions have the force of law in open-records and open meetings matters. The argument of KPA and the Messenger is that once a quorum of a public agency discusses a basic policy document such as a budget in a public meeting, the document should be considered a public record, just as proposed state and federal budgets are.

In its response to the appeal, the city cited previous attorney general's decisions holding that a proposed budget is a preliminary document until it is adopted, and thus exempt from disclosure. "If a proposed preliminary draft budget loses its exempt status ... between the time of its initial creation and the version that receives final approval upon passage by a governmental body, then the aforementioned statute becomes unclear and blurred and subject to a host of interpretations other than its plain meaning and will require deciding what exceptions will be made to the exemption," wrote the city's attorney, Phil Moloney of Lexington. "Surely this was not the legislative intent of the statute when the exemption was created."

The first point of Moloney's letter noted that KPA did not request a copy of the budget. The open-records law does not require appeals to be filed by someone who has been denied a record. To read the full, three-page letter in a scanned PDF, click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Council to discuss budget Mon.; denial of request for proposal is appealed to attorney general

The Midway City Council has scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 26 at City Hall to discuss the proposed city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget discussion was scheduled for the regular meeting this past Monday, but was delayed because Mayor Tom Bozarth was out of town due to the death of his brother-in-law in St. Louis.

Bozarth has given the budget proposal to council members, but has declined to make it public, saying it will not be released until the council adopts it. The Midway Messenger made a written request for a copy of the proposal during the finance committee meeting last week. Bozarth orally denied the request and Council Member Sharon Turner, the committee chair, backed him up. In a written response dated Friday, April 16, Bozarth said the proposed budget is "purely preliminary" and will be released when all council has "taken action that finalizes the budget."

This week the Kentucky Press Association appealed the denial to the attorney general's office, decisions of which have the power of law in open-records and open-meetings matters. The appeal arguues that the exceptions in the Open Records Act for “preliminary drafts” and “preliminary recommendations” are very limited. “Recommendations are by nature preliminary, so the adjective in the latter phrase compounds its limiting nature,” the appeal says. “Likewise, the former phrase does not simply say ‘draft’ or ‘preliminary document,’ but uses two limiting words together. A proposed budget is a document that by nature usually goes through a lengthy process of drafting, consideration and adoption. A proposed budget being circulated among employees of a public agency might be considered a ‘preliminary draft,’ but our position is that it ceases to fit that phrase once it is distributed to and discussed by members of a public agency at a public meeting. After all, a budget is the basic policy document for a government, and KRS 61.871 says, ‘The General Assembly finds and declares that the basic policy of KRS 61.870 to 61.884 [the Open Records Act] is that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest and the exceptions provided for by KRS 61.878 or otherwise provided by law shall be strictly construed, even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others.’”

Bozarth attached to his written response the first page of an attorney general's opinion that denied a newspaper access to a proposed city budget, but the appeal argues that the opinion does not apply “because that case did not deal with discussions by members of a public agency at a public meeting. Other parts of the law support disclosure of documents being discussed by members of a public agency at a public meeting.” For a PDF of the appeal, click here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Corman signs Lexington lease for dinner train

A dinner train is likely to run to or through Midway, now that RJ Corman Railroad Group has signed a lease with the Lexington Center Corp. for a track and platform that would serve the train and its customers, Beverly Fortune reported in the Lexington-Herald Leader.

The train "might very well be available for the holiday season," Corman Chairman Fred Mudge told the newspaper. Work cannot begin until completion of the Newtown Pike extension, scheduled for September. Corman operates a dinner train out of Bardstown. (Read more)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reclassification bill dies with legislative session

The bill that would have Midway a fourth-class city, with more power to regulate sales of alcoholic beverages and collect license fees from those sales, died today as the state Senate abruptly adjourned.

House Bill 325 would have also moved up the fifth-class cities of Guthrie in Todd County and Junction City in Boyle County. Opposition arose to the Junction City provision, so interested legislators agreed to take the bill to a conference committee and remove it, Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, said tonight. However, the Senate adjourned at about 3:30 p.m. after the Republicans who run that chamber decided not to pass the House's proposed continuation budget for the executive branch of state government.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Committee keeping proposed city budget to itself

By Heather Rous
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

At the Midway Finance and City Property Committee meeting on Tuesday, called in part to review the proposed 2010-11 city budget, the proposal was distributed to members but Mayor Tom Bozarth declined to give it to the Midway Messenger.

The meeting was called to discuss revenue streams, reviewing the budget draft, and reviewing any updates on city properties, according to the meeting notice and agenda. However, Bozarth informed the committee that discussion of the budget would be delayed until the meeting of the full city council on Monday, April 19.

“We’ll go over it with everyone on Monday at the meeting and spend some time with it and then come back and go over it again at our first meeting in May,” said Bozarth. “That’s my thought. If you have any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.”

Bozath is not a member of the committee, but committee chair Sharon Turner agreed with the approach.

A copy of the current budget was distributed, and when Al Cross, publisher of the Midway Messenger, asked Bozarth for a copy of the proposed budget, Bozarth declined.

“It’s a proposed budget, Al,” said Bozarth. “So we’ll give you a copy when it’s been approved by council.” He said the council would discuss the budget at its next two meetings, but noted that the budget does not have to be approved until June.

Cross and this reporter then submitted a formal, written request for a copy of the proposed budget. Cross told Bozarth and the committee that the situation represents a gap between the state open-meetings and open-records laws. The request for the budget argues that documents discussed by members of a public agency at a public meeting should be made available for immediate inspection.

“Based on how the laws are written, it’s open for interpretation,” Cross told the officials. “It’s never even been decided by the attorney general.”

The law states that “preliminary drafts” and “preliminary recommendations” are subject to inspection only on court order. Those are very limited phrases, Cross said after the meeting. “Recommendations are by nature preliminary, so the adjective in the latter phrase compounds its limiting nature,” he said, adding:

“A proposed budget being circulated among employees might be considered a ‘preliminary draft,’ but our position is that it ceases to fit that phrase once it is distributed to and discussed by members of a public agency at a public meeting.”

In 2000, the attorney general’s office ruled that a newspaper reporter was not entitled to a copy of a proposed county budget that had been distributed to the Fiscal Court, but not discussed at a court meeting. The draft budget was voluntarily released to the reporter.

Turner said that it was her understanding that she and the other committee member present, Charlann Wombles, were following state law. She said the committee’s understanding has always been that proposed documents, until they’re approved at council, are not subject to open-records laws.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Council budget and streets committees meet Tue.

Two City Council committees have scheduled meetings for Tuesday, April 13. The Finance and City Property Committee will meet at noon at City Hall "to discuss Revenue Streams, review budget draft and review any updates on City Property," the meeting notice says. The Streets and Lights Committee will meet at 5:30 in the upstairs Coimmunity Room to discuss sidewalk issues, which had budget implications last year.

Council seeks zoning amendment for temporary RV campground at Midway Station

The Midway City Council voted at a special meeting this morning to ask the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission to amend the county zoning ordinance to allow a temporary recreational-vehicle campground at Midway Station during the World Equestrian Games in late September and early October. The amendment is still being drafted, but Mayor Tom Bozarth said in calling for the motion that it would "allow RVs in all zones at Midway Station."

The vote was 4-0. Council members Aaron Hamilton and Sandra Cooke were absent. (From left: Bozarth and council members Charlann Wombles, Diana Queen, Sharon Turner and Doris Leigh) The motion also asked that a public hearing be held in Midway on April 29. At a recent council meeting, City Attorney Phil Moloney said the ordinance might need to be amended to allow the campground, which was originally set to be located on Margaux Farm in Scott County, just across South Elkhorn Creek (the county line) from the Midway area. Scott County zoning officials blocked the proposal. The star on the MapQuest image below marks the bridge across the creek to Margaux Farm. Midway Station is the area with streets at the northeast corner of the Interstate 64 interchange. It is a failed industrial park that a prospective developer hopes to turn into a commercial and residential development.

Margaux Farm has sued to overturn the Scott County zoning officials' action or be compensated for loss of the campground, but Bozarth said that there is no chance the campground can still be located there. He said Nashville RV dealer Raymond Brody will hire contractors to dispose of sewage from the RVs and has been in discussions with health officials about permits and procedures.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bill to reclassify Midway as fourth-class city left hanging as legislature adjourns until April 14

Legislation to reclassify Midway as a fourth-class city, giving it more power to manage its own affairs, was among the bills left hanging as the General Assembly adjourned yesterday for almost two weeks. Legislators will return April 14 to reconsider any bills vetoed by Gov. Steve Beshear and pass other legislation that would not be subject to an override of a veto, including an Executive Branch budget.

Among the bills in the balance is House Bill 325, which would move Midway from the fifth to the fourth class of cities. It would do likewise for Guthrie in Todd County and Junction City in Boyle County. It would also move from sixth to fifth class, Sadieville in Scott County and Wurtland in Greenup County. None of the cities appear to meet the minimum population of 3,000 that Section 156 of the state Constitution set for a fourth-class city, but Section 156A repealed that section and gave the General Assembly power to reclassify based on other criteria. The Midway City Council requested the classification. For an item on that, click here.

The bill originally dealt only with new restrictions for the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties, but the Senate amended it to include the classification measures. After considering and then dropping a floor amendment related to the original bill, the Senate passed the bill yesterday, 33-3. The House adjourned without taking up the revised bill, but could pass it on April 14  or 15. However, Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, above, said House leaders have a high threshold for suspending the rules to send Beshear more bills in the veto-override session, and the sponsor of HB 325 is unhappy with what the Senate did to it.