Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Council OKs Ky. American survey of water system

By Colin Walsh
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council had a brief but eventful session before its special community meeting Monday, as the mayor took steps toward solving a problem that has been troubling the city for some time.

Tom Bozarth proposed that the council vote to allow Kentucky American Water Co. to conduct a survey of the water system with an eye to its improvement and possible sale. Council member Aaron Hamilton said it would be good to “get the ball rolling” on addressing Midway’s water issues, which include High rates and aged lines that have been causing citizens problems.

The motion passed but not without resistance from the council. Member Dan Roller, the only one to vote against the proposal, said he “doesn’t see the advantage to letting them study the system.” Kentucky American is the city’s water supplier.

“There has been very little discussion about alternative solutions, such as looking into a third party” other than the city or Kentucky American, to own or operate the system, Roller said. “More research needs to be done. We should retain our assets, I mean; we don’t give away our streets when we have someone pave them.”

Representatives from One Alliance Communications, the company that runs the Midway website, were invited to give a presentation to the council..

Lauren Baxter of One Alliance outlined the growth of the Internet and social media, citing the ability of a quality website to “build and improve the credibility” of a town like Midway, while attracting tourism.

Baxter also explained how Google Analytics, a free service offered by Google that generates statistics about website visitors, can help the town with marketing and demographic research.

Lisa Davis of One Alliance explained to the council the difference between a website and other forms of marketing.

“A website is organic,” Davis said. “A website must be fed in order for it to be a viable media entity; you have to constantly keep updating it. It is not something to be looked at as an expense either... It is an investment in Midway’s future. There are people coming to this site from all over the world, there is no way to reach them without it.”

Bozarth said he believes the city’s website is a “work in progress” that is “getting better on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.”

It was also noted that the Midway website was getting more traffic than the Woodford County website.

The council heard a request from Malcolm Endicott, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, to help fund the countywide Planning and Zoning Commission, with which the EDA would like to share some expenses, at least temporarily. Endicott said P & Z has a $48,000 budget shortfall because it is funded by fees, which have slacked off during the recession.

Some council members wondered about possible conflicts of interest between the two agencies, and no action was taken. The council will hold a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Monday to consider the 2011-12 city budget. The proposed budget calls for paying $24,194 to support P & Z, which is asking for an additional $5,291.

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