Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Council hears new reasons for siding delay and discusses crime and Elkhorn Creek pollution

By Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Construction of the downtown railroad siding has been delayed by disagreements with CSX Corp., the big railroad that owns the right of way, R.J. Corman Corp. Chairman Fred Mudge told the Midway City Council Monday night. He said the project, slated for completion this year, has also been delayed by protracted negotiations with the state Transportation Cabinet and by unseasonal weather conditions in areas where Corman's crews do rail construction and repair

Mudge didn't specify the disagreements with CSX, which leases the rail line to Corman, but he said they were minor and said he expects the project to be completed next year.

Mudge also updated the council on Rick Corman’s struggle with cancer. Corman is commuting between home and Boston, Mass., where he is receiving experimental drug treatment for the disease. Mudge said Corman is responding well to the chemotherapy, and “We’re all hoping he continues to go in the same direction and the treatment is successful.”

Midway has enjoyed a good relationship with Corman, who has made special trains available as a centerpiece for community events, including bringing Santa Claus to town for the upcoming holiday season.

Citizens urged to report unusual behavior

Assistant Chief Fugate of the Versailles Police Department reported that incidents needing police attention are on par with last year, but warned that citizens too often fail to report unusual behavior. Afterward, Mayor Tom Bozarth said he requested the chief’s visit. “These are tough times in central Kentucky,” Bozarth said. “It’s desperate times for a lot of people and a lot of bad things are going on. I just want neighbors to look out for their neighbors and to report anything suspicious to the Versailles police dispatch so we can all look after each other.”

Council reacts to article on Elkhorn Creek pollution

In a spirited discussion, the council reacted to the Dec. 1 Messenger article regarding pollution standards for the South Elkhorn Creek watershed. Council Member Dan Roller asked Bozarth for clarification on the operation of the city's wastewater treatment plant, which a state study said puts an average of 43 fecal coliform colonies per 100 milliliters of water into Lee Branch. The state limit is 200 per ml. Roller mentioned that the study covered a period where the water was treated by the city’s old plant.

In a later interview, Roller said he was concerned about how the study could differentiate between pollution stemming from the plant and that coming from livestock farms. A former state employee, he said state agencies would most likely continue to set the bar higher toward a better environmental standard.

At the meeting, Bozarth related a conversation with sewer-plant manager Mark Roberts and assured the council the plant was operating within the present guidelines, quoting the same figures as the report.  In a later interview Bozarth said, “I took a little exception to the article because it gives the impression the city is doing something wrong and the city’s not doing anything wrong.  We operate the plant well within the boundaries the state requires.  I was just taken aback when I first read the article.”

Bozarth noted that developments on KY 341 north of town are served by septic tanks that have drain fields approaching the creek. Those were not mentioned in the state report.

Midway Messenger Publisher Al Cross said afterward that the state report did not assert that the city was in violation, but indicated that the sewer plant might be one obstacle to making the creek swimmable if the state decided to try to achieve that standard.

Midway to light Christmas tree Friday night

Downtown Midway will hold its annual downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Friday, Dec. 9, at 6:30 pm. Nikki Burdine, Channel 18 weekend news anchor, will be this year’s special guest.

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