Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Iron Horse Marathon and city on track for Oct. 13; first of 3 water-sewer public meetings Thur. at 6:30

By Courtney Ehrler, Courtney Kincaid and Katie Ledford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Fitness and tourism were the focus at the Midway City Council meeting Monday night, as the council approved a permit for the fourth Iron Horse Half Marathon, which expects to bring more than a thousand runners through town on Sunday, Oct. 13.

In 2011, the first year the 13.1-mile race was held in and around Midway, citizens were concerned about traffic and parking congestion in the downtown area, especially at church time. Race coordinator Chuck Griffis of John’s Run/Walk Shop in Lexington told the council that the organizers addressed these problems successfully last year, and because this year's event will be during Midway College's fall break, it will be able to use the college for parking, which will be a big help.

Clip from Runners' World magazine
(click on image for larger version; for a scan of
the full magazine page, click here.)
The event was named 21st among the top 28 half marathons in the U.S. by Runner’s World magazine, which Griffis said he hopes will bring in more participants from a wider area. “I think a lot of that has to do with the location it was held in,” he said. “We feel strongly that quaint little communities like Midway have something to offer for these people as a destination. If they don't necessarily stay that day, maybe they see it as a place they want to come back to. . . . We hope there is an opportunity there for the city of Midway to piggyback off of this article and maybe get in some other tourists publications and things like that as another destination.”

The race has proven to be a success for Midway and received full support from council members and Mayor Tom Bozarth. “I think this year it was very well-run,” Bozarth said.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift noted the locations of some other races on the magazine's list: "Naples, Florida; Montana; Virginia Beach, Virginia . . . and then you see Kentucky and that’s really awesome.” He said the race has already become “one of the biggest events of the year,” but hopes it can become “more of a community event.”

Griffis said he and the runners would also like to see more community focus. Mentioning two local runners, he said “They've pledged to me that they are going to try to build up some community support to try to encourage people to be out along the course, to be out in downtown, and maybe to have some local things stay open in downtown for people to stick around and see what Midway has to offer. Our plans for 2013 are to bring it more focused to the city of Midway."
Chuck Griffis spoke to the council about the race. (Photo by Courtney Kincaid)
The event started out in Lexington, so it brought in people and charities from outside the community, but as it has grown, localization has become more important. “With the mayor’s help we’ve constantly moved forward towards this becoming a community event and less an outsider event,” said Griffis. The Midway Ministerial Association will host a pancake breakfast before the event and afterwards, Darlin’ Jeans Apple Cobbler Cafe is reserved for entertainment, he said.

Griffis said John's Run/Walk Shop would again donate part of its profits from the race to the city and the Woodford Humane Society, which received $2,500 and $7,500 last year, respectively. The city used its money to buy software for the cemetery. Griffis said the humane society had "a really great group of volunteers" who helped with the race, and this year will direct participants because signsdid not seem to work as well as planned.

The shoe store has committed to at least match the 2012 proft and participant numbers -- 1,240 entries and about 1,000 finishers, Griffis said. Bozarth told him, “I can’t thank you enough for giving back to our community and the city of Midway.”

Registration for the race begins March 1. The basic fee of $55 will increase as the race approaches, Griffis said in an interview. “About 70 percent of participants are from the state of Kentucky and probably about a 150-mile radius of the area and a majority of participants are female between the ages of 25 to 39,” he said.

The council also approved a permit for the third annual Fox 56 5K run, another race Griffis is involved in. Last year’s race had a little over 200 participants. This race benefits the Child Care Council, which brings awareness to childcare issues. “There’s going to be a major cut in child care in the state, and this is a really greatly needed benefit,” Council Member Sara Hicks said. Griffis said that early on, races may not be huge fundraisers, “but they're great awareness raisers.”

Debra Shockley, Midway's representative on the Board of Architectural Review, explained how the board goes about considering variances in historic districts in Midway and Versailles. the steps that must be taken for residents seeking to make changes or improvements to property. She mentioned the possibility that Midway's district, now almost entirely along Main Street, might be expanded.

“We’ve tried very hard to make this user-friendly, economically-friendly. We’re mainly here for the historic district, just to make sure something drastic doesn't happen,” Shockley said. She told the Midway Messenger that she was asked to speak at the meeting to familiarize the new council members on what the board does for the community.

Bozarth expressed how proud he is of his city for recycling, saying that in the last six months of 2012, Midway recycled 70.18 tons, or about 11.7 tons per month. “That's pretty doggone good for a little town of 1,600,” he said, adding congratulations to all of the citizens of Midway.

The council passed a resolution asking the legislature to reform the unsustainable pension plan for county and city employees. Bozarth said the City of Midway will pay more than $40,000 into the system in 2013, up from $14,500 10 years ago.

The second reading of ordinances to establish definitions and regulations for "tourist destinations" in agricultural and industrial zones was again postponed. “We're going to table those for a while and see what happens,” Bozarth said, alluding to the scheduled passage of the ordinances by the Woodford County Fiscal Court next Tuesday evening.

Bozarth noted that a public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Midway College to present the findings of the Midway Water and Sewer Task Force. The public hearing will be the first of at least three meetings to discuss Midway’s options for the utilities.

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