Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Council discusses removal of snow and vultures, changes in October marathon route

By Morgan Rhodes
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway’s extended troubles with snow removal and roosting vultures were main topics discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting. While the roosting issue was somewhat left in the air, the issue of snow removal may finally be put to rest.

Mayor Tom Bozarth swore
Charlann Wombles onto the council
as Council Member Dan Roller watched.
Other business at the meeting included a discussion about route changes for the third annual Iron Horse Half Marathon, and the swearing-in of a new member.

The council approved an agreement with Woodford County to take care of road treatment and snow removal for the remainder of this winter pending one change: a clause requiring either party to give 30 days’ written notice if it wishes to terminate the agreement.

At the last meeting, where the first draft of the agreement was reviewed, council members agreed that such a clause was needed, and that the first three paragraphs of the agreement should be deleted.

These paragraphs detailed Midway’s new fourth-class city status and said “to be fair and consistent,” the city and county had agreed that the “service cannot be provided to Midway at no cost.” They remained in the agreement signed by County Judge-Executive John Coyle, and Council Member Sharon Turner said she was “not happy” about it.

Midway Magistrate Larry Craig and Magistrate Bruce Gill said the fiscal court unanimously told County Attorney Alan George to add the 30-day clause. As for the opening paragraphs, “You have to pick your battles” in contract negotiations, Craig said, adding that he saw no point in pressing the matter “and the feelings that go along with that” – a reference to city officials’ unhappiness with the way county officials handled the policy change. 

Mayor Tom Bozarth asked City Attorney Phil Moloney to contact George with the request to add the 30-day language requiring both parties to give 30 days notice of termination. He said the city is still getting informal bids for snow removal service, both citywide and on narrow streets the county says it cannot handle. “We’ll have to see which is best for the City of Midway and our citizens,” he said.

For a copy of the agreement and a list of streets that the county will handle, click here.

In light of the issue, Turner suggested that the city and the Fiscal Court send each other advance copies of their meeting agendas. “Communication seems to be an issue,” she said, alluding to the county’s late notice of its policy change. Gill endorsed the idea.

With the agreement about snow removal in process, the council moved on to discuss how to eliminate the vulture problem in Midway.

Increasing numbers of vultures are roosting at three sites, leaving a distinct odor, grounds covered in droppings and health concerns. (Photo by Morgan Rhodes)

One location is behind Midway Christian Church, where Rev. Heather McColl has already applied for a federal permit to kill and remove the vultures. McColl sent in a permit application on Friday, she said. It takes six to eight weeks for permits to be processed and approved.

McColl told the council she enlisted the help of Assistant Versailles Police Chief Fugate to help kill the vultures. If the church receives a permit, “The city will receive notice of when the birds will be killed in emails, posters, et cetera,” she said, to ensure the citizens are aware that firearms will be in use at the church and prevent any fear or distress.

A permit is required to kill vultures because they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Adam Probst, the University of Kentucky cooperative extension agent for agriculture in Woodford County, told the council. Both the native turkey vulture and invasive black vulture are in Midway, Probst said. Read more about the vultures here.

Probst suggested that property owners where the birds are roosting also apply for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Without the permit, “You can harass them all you want, you just can’t shoot them,” Probst said.

Probst said he believes applying for the permit to kill and remove the vultures is the best course of action for Midway because other defenses have failed. Last year, the Versailles Police Department fired blanks to scare the vultures away, and Council Member Dan Roller created an effigy to hang outside the church.

Each property owner must apply for an individual permit because the city cannot kill or remove vultures from private property, Probst said.

Probst said Midway is an ideal roosting site for vultures because of abandoned buildings and covered pine trees. In Midway, scare tactics would only make the vultures move from one location to another down the road, he said.

Because Midway ideal for vultures, Probst said, there is no permanent fix for the problem.

Other business: marathon, members, ordinances
For the third year, the council issued an event permit for the Iron Horse Half Marathon, a 13-mile foot race through Midway, on Oct. 14 this year.

Chuck Griffis with John’s Run/Walk Shop of Lexington, a sponsor of the race, attended the meeting to address concerns about the disruption the event causes. It begins at 8 on a Sunday morning, complicating travel for residents heading to or leaving churches.

To reduce traffic obstruction in town and allow downtown to open back up earlier, the course will be run in a direction opposite from last year, and the start and finish line will be at the corner of Brand and Cross streets, instead of finishing at the corner of Main and Winter, a much busier intersection, Griffis said. For a PDF (2.13 MB) of last year's course, click here.

Proceeds from the race have gone to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. However, Griffis said he is looking for a more localized cause. Last year, the event raised roughly $10,000, Griffis said. He said he expects 1,300 participants this year, 250 more than last year.

Turner asked where participants will park. Bozarth said they will park at Midway College and Walter Bradley Park. Griffis said the college will be on fall break, possibly making more spaces available.

Before the meeting began, Charlann Wombles, a former council member, was sworn back into office, replacing Becky Moore, who had resigned with 10½ months left in her term. The council appointed her at a special meeting last week.

The council passed a revised ordinance on the administration, licensing and payment of fees for selling and serving alcohol. The second reading and final passage of a new parking ordinance was put on hold until next meeting pending corrections.

After a brief discussion, the council agreed to include the option of combined recycling and garbage pickup as it requests proposals for the service in the coming year.

Near the end of the meeting, Bozarth asked council members to think of one item they would like to see in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. And he told several candidates for council seats in the November election, who were in the audience, that he would hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to familiarize them with city issues. “We’ll try to do this on a regular basis to try to help you all move forward with your candidacy this fall,” he said.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please do not kill the vultures. They provide an ecological service to our environment.