Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'Meet Me In Midway for First Friday' starts Mar. 1

By Katie Ledford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

“Meet Me In Midway for First Friday” begins this Friday, March 1 at 5:30 p.m. This event is hosted by the Midway Business Association to attract more visitors from surrounding counties.

Kenny Smith, association president and owner of Kennydid Gallery, started this event in his business to bring more visitors to Midway and draw more customers to his store.  Smith’s idea was so successful that other businesses began participating in First Friday as well.

The goal of First Friday is to make Midway the destination for the first Friday of each month.  Smith says the entertainment for First Friday depends on the individual shops.  Kennydid Gallery will feature a live guitar player for two hours.

Shops will be doing more than just having their doors open. They may feature certain artists or designers each month or have special events.  Some businesses will be providing refreshments such as cheese and crackers, cookies, and soft drinks.  “As more shops get involved,” Smith said, “there will be more festivities.”

Furlong Friday will resume once the weather warms up.  This event, which began last year, is a downtown block party held on the second Friday during the summer months.  These events will feature live bands that will play in the parking lot at Darlin’ Jeans Apple Cobbler Café.  Furlong Friday will begin at 7 p.m. and will last until 9 or 10 p.m. depending on the entertainment.

Meet Me In Midway For First Friday will be held every first Friday of the month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Smith encourages everyone to head over to Midway this Friday.  He said, “We want to make it as big of an event as possible.”

Shops that will be participating in First Friday are Midway Boutique, Kennydid Gallery, LeMarche, Eagle’s Nest Antiques, Damselfly Studio and Gallery, Celtic Trends and Fashion Filly. Participating restaurants are 815 Prime, Darlin’ Jeans Apple Cobbler Café and The Grey Goose.

Woodford Tomorrow tells EDA it wants to balance county's development and preservation

By Courtney Kincaid
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunicatons

Woodford Tomorrow, a citizens' economic-development planning group, presented its goals on how to encourage economic development in the county, while preserving its attractive attributes, at the Woodford County Economic Development Authority’s monthly meeting Friday.

Woodford County has fought for 40 years over preservation and development. Like many other counties, it has tried to balance the benefits of rapid growth with the challenges it creates, and that is the concept behind Woodford Tomorrow. 

“It’s a cross-section of very strong opinions on both sides of the equation," Versailles City Council Member Ken Kerkhoff, a member of the group, told the EDA board.

Another member, Brett Butler, said the group agreed that “We’ve been at each other for too long” and need to examine “how Woodford County is going to approach the future as the economy starts to turn. . . . A house divided cannot stand.”
Brett Butler of Woodford Tomorrow speaks to the county EDA board.
The organization began forming in 2010, with the mission to lead and act as strategic facilitators and bring together neighbors and community leaders toward a shared vision that would improve and communicate the county’s attractiveness to residents, businesses and visitors, Butler said.

“We agree a lot more than we disagree,” he said. For example, all agree that “We don’t want Versailles Road to become Nicholasville Road.”

Woodford Tomorrow’s first objective is to create a “Uniquely Woodford” brand “to promote the positive, wholesome, ‘uniqueness’ of Woodford County, promote economic development, and to position Woodford County as a desirable place to live and locate new businesses,” Kerkhoff said. In its statements of purpose, Woodford Tomorrow says it desires development that highlights what is uniquely Woodford, rather than replicating what can be found in “Anytown, Anywhere.”

The group targets six clusters of economic activity that show promise for success in capitalizing on the uniqueness of Woodford County: agriculture, business and industry, health care, education, hospitality and the arts. Butler discussed business and industry, the cluster of most concern to the EDA because of its goal to create and retain jobs. 

Butler noted that Woodford Tomorrow’s description puts business before industry. “The industry is important and we do want the jobs to come here,” but the county should think about recruiting white-collar professional firms and consulting firms, he said, not only to create a diverse economic base, but to increase salaries.     

“Let’s recruit some destination businesses,” Butler said, adding said that when the group realized that the county has already rezoned 400 acres for business, “That was a big wake-up call. . . . Let’s get focused on that.”

Butler discussed the action items that are needed to continue this growth and development, beginning with hiring a director of economic development and the funding of a budget for multiple years.  The first priority on the list: Retain and expand existing business and industry.

Butler noted that Woodford County’s location provides a foundation for the growth of business in the community and offers all that a business or industry might be seeking: “a beautiful landscape; solid business infrastructure, quality health care, strong entrepreneurial spirit, and quality education system.”

Those things allow for the convenience and advantages of being in a major metropolitan area but with the quality of life associated with a rural agricultural community, Butler said.

“Employers are attracted this this sort of rural lifestyle with big-city convenience,” he said. “Woodford County is going to have to be competing for the jobs of the future.  The economy is starting to turn around and we have to see how we can position ourselves to win because there is a lot of communities out there competing for jobs and we know we have to come together to do that as a team.”

Asked where the group goes from here, Butler said the group’s function is “to help bring people together,” and it will make similar presentations to the local governing bodies. “We’re not trying to take over anybody’s job,” he said. “What we are trying to do is establish common guidelines.”

Chamber director wants Midway, Versailles to cooperate

The new executive director of the county Chamber of Commerce, Don Vizi, told the board that the chamber is trying to get back involved in economic-development efforts.  “The chamber has been kind of inactive for the last four to five months, and we want to be more active with the EDA and tourism and . . . try to bring Midway and Versailles together, which as you know has been kind of a problem, to get them working together,” he said.

The EDA developed the Midway Station former industrial park, but it attracted only a few jobs and has been rezoned for commercial and residential development. Representatives of local banks, who hold the debt for Midway Station, came to Friday’s meeting to discuss an appraisal of the property, but that discussion was held in closed session.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Southworth, who knows water, sewers and cities, leaning against sale to Kentucky-American Water

By Courtney Ehrler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
One of a series of looks at new City Council members.

Bruce Southworth has already taken on multiple leadership roles for the cities of Midway and Versailles, but he now adds Midway city council member to the list.

Southworth posed with other
members at their first meeting.
Southworth brings an extensive background of water and sewer knowledge to the council, which is a major asset as Midway is faced with the important decision of what to do with its own water and sewer systems. Right now, Southworth says he’s leaning against selling to Kentucky American Water Co.

“With me, I think control is what you need. If you can keep the system to yourself, then you don't have to depend on somebody else,” he said. “That's the way I’m leaning right now, but I don't have all the information. . . . So until we can get the information… I really can’t make a decision. I guess that's where I’m leaning now. I’m not convinced that the first thing to do is sell.”

Southworth said he ran for the council to use his professional experiences to give back to his community. In his 27 years of public service, he served as water treatment plant operator in Georgetown for six years, wastewater treatment plant operator in Midway for 11 years, as well as city administrator for Versailles for several years. In 2011, he retired after six years as the public works director for Versailles.

Midway is in the process of deciding whether to sell its system to Kentucky American, the city’s water supplier since the 1980s, or finance the cost of renovation, estimated at $8.4 million for a complete job.  Mayor Tom Bozarth created a task force in March 2011 to study the issue, and the first of three public hearings on the issue was held Feb. 7.

Southworth said he is looking for the best alternative for the city. “Let’s look at all the options,” he said. “I’m open to anything. Let’s not jump to the first thing that comes along.”

Reflecting his experience in water and sewer operation, Southworth has been assigned to the Water and Sewer Committee. He has also been appointed to the Garbage and Recycling and Streets and Sidewalks committees.

Asked about his specific goals for the two-year council term, Southworth said there was going to be a lot on the council's plate this year.
“I know there are things that need to be done, but let me get a little farther along in the year and then see what we’ve got,” he  said. But he has no doubt that utilities are the main issue.

“There’s always the little stuff,” he said. “You always have the everyday stuff … But, I think that's the biggest issue facing us right now.”

Hicks sees her new role as city council member a continuation of her life of 'taking care of people'

By Courtney Ehrler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
One of a series of looks at new City Council members.

Sara Hicks called the glamorous metropolis of Los Angeles and the sunny beaches of Naples, Fla., home for much of her professional career. But since 2004, the quaint town of Midway has been where her heart lies.

Hicks posed with other new
members at their first meeting.
Hicks grew up outside Midway, so her return to the heart of the Bluegrass brings a familiarity with the community and its lifestyle. She said her new position on the Midway City Council is grounded in her love of people and genuine desire for a better community for all.

“I ran for city council because I love Midway and I love people,” Hicks said. “I wanted to be a voice for people so they felt like they could tell somebody and something would get done.”

Her career as a licensed marriage and family therapist laid the foundation of a strong fondness for people and taking care of them, something the role of therapist and city council member share. Her background brings a different perspective to the council and approach to community issues.

“I have an expertise in communication and also in psychology because of my career, so I’m very people-focused. I think that sometimes when you’re on the city council it can be a lot about ordinances, zoning, things like that,” she said. “I think at the heart of it, you really have to take care of your people and that’s what my career is about: taking care of people.”

As the council continues the two-year term that began last month, it will undertake some fairly large issues the community faces. In agreement with other council members, Hicks said the water and sewer system would be the major item to tackle this term.

“Clearly the water infrastructure is the most important issue,” she said. “We had a community forum last week, and hardly anybody showed up and that really saddened me because it’s such an important issue.” About 35 people attended the first of three public meetings on the issue. Hicks said community interest in the water and sewer issue is important, but acknowledged that not every citizen is as tuned in and passionate about the project as she and her fellow council members.

Two months into the two-year council term, she is finding her place on the six-member council and capitalizing on her background in connecting with people and improving their lives. “I’m a rookie,” she said, so her short-term goal “is to study the issues, be responsive to the public, and continue to learn about what it means to be a city council person.”

Her care and concern for the Midway community came through in an interview, when she discussed her involvement in multiple committees devoted to making Midway a better place to live.

Mayor Tom Bozarth appointed her to the Cemetery and City Property Committee where she hopes to make the cemetery “more beautiful, to be a place where there is tree diversity for people to come and see different types of trees.”

Hicks volunteers at Northside Elementary School and is a member of Woodford Tomorrow, an organization dedicated to improving the community through economic development and natural resource preservation. Bozarth has asked Hicks to attend the Woodford County Economic Development Authority meetings. “I’m very interested in Midway being a part of looking at increasing our economic viability in Woodford County and making sure that the way that it develops respects our agricultural base,” she said.

Hicks is chair of Midway Renaissance, a non-profit membership organization striving to promote the city of Midway, reduce the city’s environmental impact and encourage local business and the arts. Last year the organization held a contest for children to create designs for shopping bags to cut down on paper and plastic grocery bags.

Hicks wants Midway to move toward a sustainable future. “I would love it if every house had rain barrels, if people had cisterns, if everyone eventually had solar panels,” she said. “We are doing really well with our recycling, but not every house recycles. I would like to see every house in Midway recycle.”

Midway Renaissance has had some conflict with Bozarth and the council in past years. The organization withdrew from the Kentucky Main Street Program in February 2011, saying in a press release, “The partnership between Midway Renaissance and the governing body of the City of Midway regarding participation in the Main Street Program has not been the type of relationship that is conducive to effective and sustainable participation in that program.” Becky Moore, who preceded Bozarth as mayor and was a supporter of Midway Renaissance, resigned from her post on the council in January 2012.

While the history between the council and the community organization has been uneasy at times, Hicks said she does not intend to have conflicts with the mayor. “I think when I’m at the council meetings I’m representing Midway and the citizens of Midway,” she said, adding that Renaissance is “for the arts and the environment and history. I don't think that’s a conflict of interest with the city. I hope it isn’t anyway because I wouldn't want to do that.”

In her first few weeks, “What I’ve really been happy to experience is that all the members seem to be strong in their care for Midway and respectful of each other,” Hicks said. “I feel like we’re a really good team and I feel like we’re going to get things done.”

In latest leadership role, Vandegrift assembling tourism committee, hearing divided views on water

By Julia Myers
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
One of a series of looks at new City Council members.

New City Council Member Grayson Vandegrift has high hopes for what he can help accomplish in the city of Midway. Vandegrift, one the three new council members elected in November 2012, says he’s excited about the opportunity to make improvements to the city.

Vandegrift said he is involved in a handful of exciting projects that will have an impact on the community. He heads a committee studying a possible Midway chamber of commerce and tourist commission, but says the debate regarding the future of the city’s water and sewer system is his primary focus. 

“I think this is a really, really important topic for the future of our town,” he said. “And of all the things we will do, this might be the thing that affects us the most in the future.”

The council will decide whether to refurbish the system and keep ownership, or sell it to Kentucky-American Water Co., the city’s water supplier. Vandegrift voiced his uncertainty in an interview, saying he needs more information before he can make his decision.

“I think if you’d ask all six of us right now, I think we’d all say the same thing – that we don’t have enough information yet,” he said. “The information we need is slowly starting to trickle in but there is going to be a lot more information to gather over the next couple of months.”

Some of that information came out last week during a public hearing on the issue. Engineers working for the Midway Water and Sewer Task Force estimated that to fully repair the current system would cost $8.4 million, and would add $26 to the average resident’s monthly bill.

But Vandegrift says that there is still more to learn before they vote on the issue. One of his biggest concerns is the opinion of the people of Midway.  He asks that residents attend the public hearings, and share their opinions with the council. The first hearing drew about 35 people, which disappointed at least some council members.

“I’m definitely going to encourage residents to call us and email us and stop us on the street and let us know what they think,” said Vandegrift, “because the council is going to have to vote on it and it’s certainly going to help our decision to know what the residents think, going forward.”

The council member says about half of the residents he has heard from so far believe that the city should sell the system, while half are in favor of keeping ownership a little bit longer. The majority response, he says, is that residents want to learn more about each option.

Last week’s public hearing was one of three.  The next one will be held March 12, and will feature a presentation by Kentucky American outlining the option of selling the system.

Vandegrift is also busy putting together a tourism committee.  During the first council meeting this year, Mayor Tom Bozarth said he wanted to study creating a Midway chamber of commerce and tourist commission, separate from Woodford County’s. He asked Vandegrift to lead the effort.

This is the latest of several leadership roles Vandegrift has held in Midway. He has been president of the Midway Merchants Association and chairman of the Woodford County Tourist Commission, and is general manager of his family’s restaurant, 815 Prime, on Main Street.

This project is still very much in the “fact-finding phase,” according to Vandegrift. He has been working with the Kentucky League of Cities to understand what it would take to create a chamber of commerce and tourist commission.

Bozarth asked Vandegrift to lead a committee of other business owners. Kenny Smith, who is the president of the merchants association this year, and Clare McCarthy, owner of Celtic Trends, have both joined the committee. Vandegrift plans on adding one more person to the group.

The committee will speak to people in other towns similar to Midway about the benefits and drawbacks of having its own tourist commission. They plan to speak to cities such as Morehead, Bardstown and Harrodsburg over the next few months.

The council member says that there is still a lot of research to be done. “It’s very complicated,” he said. “It’s not something that’s going to happen tomorrow in any way, but I’m interested in it. At the end of the day, if it’s something that’s going to be beneficial to the entire city, I’m certainly going to recommend that we do it. “

The tourism committee will meet for the first time in the next few weeks. Vandegrift’s plan is to present ideas to the City Council by April.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Council OKs permit for The Homeplace at Midway, hears from new college president

By Courtney Ehrler and Nini Edwards
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Action is taking place for The Homeplace. A permit for the retirement community, signaling that it's nearing construction, was among an array of topics on the agenda for Monday night’s Midway City Council meeting.

The new Midway College president pledged to maintain the college’s connection with the community, and a police officer offered advice for making Midway a safer community. Also, a vote on the “tourist destination” zoning ordinances was again held off for a later date.

Phyllis Mattingly, a Versailles attorney representing Christian Care Communities, the developer of The Homeplace at Midway, said that last week, “They indicated they were in the process of filing for loans to go on ahead and be able to start construction on the nursing home,” but need to make sure they have all the proper easements and rights of way.

She asked the council for an encroachment permit, allowing excavations and construction in a city right of way, to avoid any legal questions. “In looking at this issue, it was my feeling after considering it, that perhaps we needed to come back to the city and just make sure that the city would issue and would approve encroachment,” she said. All council members voted to grant the permit.

Mattingly said Christian Care Communities has set an anticipated completion date of June 30, 2014, and ground may be broken in April if the loans are secured fairly quickly. The Homeplace will be built on 31 acres across from the main entrance to Midway College. The property has been annexed and rezoned for the development.

Dr. John Marsden, the college's recently appointed president, introduced himself to the council and made clear his commitment to “having a strong relationship with the town and the college.”

“I’ve just begun my third week at Midway College, so I’m very new; learning about the institution, learning about the city,” Marsden said. “I’m learning as much as I can as quickly as possible as we try to shape the future of the college.”

Mayor Tom Bozarth expressed satisfaction with the past relationship between the college and the community, but said he wishes to increase communication and involvement between the two.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with the college and over the last eight months it has gotten even stronger,” Bozarth said, referring to the eight-month interim presidency of Robert Vogel, who was popular. “I look forward to going on that same path and having that partnership between the city and the college.”

Marsden agreed, and echoed that the college would be looking for more ways to make sure that Midway residents are invited to campus.

“I’ll certainly be keeping you informed of things that are going on,” Marsden said. “I want to make sure that strong connection is present.”

Bozarth asked Officer Nathan Craig of the Versailles Police Department to speak at the meeting to “offer us some ideas on what we can do better to help the police and what we can do for the safety of our own homes and community,” as Bozarth put it.

Craig reminded the council to make sure all doors and windows are locked and to turn on lights at night.

“Another huge deterrent is being a community and watching out for your neighbors,” Craig said. “If you see something out of place, call us and let us know. We have officers over here almost all the time. The response time is usually very short.”  The Versailles police patrol the entire county.

Council Member Sara Hicks voiced concern with issues of traffic control, saying multiple residents had contacted her concerning vehicles speeding through town and one case of a driver passing a school bus while picking up students. In response to a question from Bozarth, Craig said a witness could write down a license plate number and report it to police.

In other business, the council approved an event permit for the Race for Education 5K Run, which is sponsored by Equus Standardbred Station and will take place on April 20. 

Once again, voting on the “tourist destination” zoning ordinances was postponed. Bozarth said he felt it was in the city’s best interest to wait and take action 30 days after the fiscal court’s Feb. 12 decision, the allotted period for a lawsuit to be filed against the action, and because the ordinances would have no effect within Midway’s city limits, Bozarth and company agreed to postpone the decision until after March 14.

Committee discusses park improvements, permit fees for events, cemetery policies, City Hall work

By Melody Bailiff
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A committee of the Midway City Council started moving Monday to resolve a heavy agenda of issues and projects.

Efforts to improve Walter Bradley Park and resolve safety concerns with the back of City Hall were set as long-term projects. Consideration of a noise ordinance, tiered permit fees for events and an identification of downtown garbage cans were set as short-term issues.

Mayor Tom Bozarth told the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee, “There needs to be a long range look at the park.” Bozarth said the addition of a footbridge at the end of Gratz Street to create a pedestrian entrance could get the community involved with volunteers, who could build the bridge for much less than a previous six-figure estimate.

Bozarth, who appointed the committee and is a member by virtue of his office, also said bathrooms were needed and they could be placed near the dog park at a reasonable cost.

Grayson Vandegrift, a member of the committee, said beautifying the park would “be a long term project but we can make it really nice out there.”

The library will add an “outdoor reading room” behind the library, which overlooks the park, said committee Chair Sharon Turner. She suggested the possibility of stringing lights in the rock quarry that no longer operates. This could make the area into an amphitheater, she said. Vandegrift said, “I love the idea of an amphitheater.” (Click on image for larger version)
The committee agreed to resolve safety issues regarding the City Hall building as a long-term project. Bozarth said, “There’s not a real hurry;” Turner added, “But it is something we eventually need to do.” She said the open top on the back porch allows animals to come inside, and the uncovered stairs are dangerous.

Bozarth said the work needs to fit the architecture of the building, so this could be an opportunity for students from the University of Kentucky's College of Design. Turner said she will check with UK. Bozarth also said this project will require time and the committee should not rush it.

Downtown restaurants may need to be more cautious about leaving their garbage and recycling cans on the street. Cans left on the street may smell and the committee found this issue to be a problem. To enforce the ordinance already in place that prohibits leaving cans out after garbage runs are made, the committee will work with the hauler, Rumpke, to place some sort of identification on the cans. This would place pressure on businesses to remove their cans from the street at the designated time.

Fines for the restaurants in violation were not discussed. Bozarth said he would contact the health department to see how the cleanliness of the cans can be enforced.

The committee decided organizations that host outdoor events in Midway should be required to pay a permit fee. “We've toyed around with an idea of a tier system depending on participants,” Turner said. most cities do charge a permit fee so I think it is something worth looking at.”

Vandegrift said that if the town is used for financial gain of the event holders, they should give something back to Midway monetarily.

Bozarth noted that some events such as the Bourbon Chase, a team race that has Midway near the end of its 200-mile course, donate to charities but not to the city. “I was told that it gave away $150,000 to charity last year or the year before, and I mean, well, charity starts at home.”

Permit fees could be used to help cover the wear and tear of the city that may result from hosting events, Vandegrift said. The committee agreed to start a review of other cities’ permit fees.

The committee will also study other cities' noise ordinances, in response to several vehicle-related noise complaints. “We've had a consistent request for years to put in a noise ordinance. I think one of the biggest complaints is still car stereos,” Turner said.

Bozarth, Turner and Vandegrift discussed concerns about how to effectively enforce a noise ordinance. “By the time you get the phone call,” Vandegrift said, “it is too late to enforce” the ordinance. Turner said she would check into what ordinances may already exist, such as no music after 10 p.m.

The committee, with help from former council member Doris Leigh, who headed a separate Cemetery Committee in the last council term, decided that the last Monday in January would be the deadline to remove items such as Christmas wreaths from graves in the cemetery. Turner even though she has only received two phone calls on the issue of removing wreaths, the cemetery ordinance as a whole needs to be consistent.

“Another thing we have been doing is preparing stones and foundations,” Turner said. “We set aside money every year for this. Some of these are beyond our repair but some can be fixed.” She said the committee makes repairs with the help of a map and a database done as part of an Eagle Scout project. “We also had them rate them (the stones) on what needs immediate attention,” she said.

Council Member Sara Hicks, the other member of the committee, was not present at the meeting.

Friday, February 15, 2013

City panel to discuss possible noise and garbage ordinances, park and cemetery issues Mon. at 9 a.m.

Several interesting items are on the agenda of the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee of the Midway City Council, which will meet Monday, Feb. 18, at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

The agenda items include a possible ordinances to regulate noise and require identification of downtown garbage and recycling cans; permit fees for events; work on the back porch of City Hall; Walter Bradley Park, including a possible foot bridge; and several cemetery issues: removal of items,  Memorial Day, the tree grant and repair of stones and foundations.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fiscal Court OKs 'tourist destination' zoning, reduces speed limit on Weisenberger Mill Road near bridge

By Melody Bailiff and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Last night the Woodford County Fiscal Court gave final passage to two zoning ordinances allowing and regulating "tourist destinations" in the agricultural and light industrial zones of the county's unincorporated areas.

Midway Magistrate Larry Craig again cast the only vote against the amendments. Magistrate Bruce Gill abstained, saying he was “a vocal participant” in a hearing by the Planning Commission, which recommended the ordinances. He supported them.

The ordinances would not take effect in Midway unless approved by the City Council, which has twice delayed action on them, waiting to see what Fiscal Court would do. Mayor Tom Bozarth said in an interview that he didn’t think Midway has any A-1 or I-2 zones to which the ordinances would effectively apply, but thinks it is probably better for the council to approve the ordinances so zoning rules are consistent in the city and its surrounding area.

The Midway zoning map shows that part of Midway Station in the northeast part of the city limits, a former industrial park that has been rezoned for commercial and residential development, is zoned A-1 (the areas in green). The city’s old sewage treatment plant is zoned I-2 and two very small areas next to it, one adjoining the new plant, are zoned A-1. There is another small A-1 area on the eastern edge of the city, which is almost completely surrounded by A-1 zoning. UPDATE and clarification: None of the tracts in the city meet the 30-acre minimum in the definition. For a large PDF of the map, click here.

Craig said after the meeting there was an effort to sway Fiscal Court toward a “no” vote by citizens who wrote letters and spoke at meetings expressing concern about the definitions of “tourist destination” and “tourist destination expanded.”

The ordinances define “tourist destination” as “a unique, regionally recognized, existing landmark or historic structure that is primarily known for its existing architectural significance and/or uniqueness which promote(s) tourism and the overall economy, which naturally draw(s) the general public as a destination,” subject to criteria and limitations set out in the ordinance.

A “landmark” is defined as “any site, building, structure, or natural feature that has visual, historic or cultural significance.” That definition was added after opponents said it was needed, but they said it was still too vague and could apply to most buildings in the agricultural zone.

Generally, the ordinance says “Tourist destinations provide for the rehabilitation and productive re-use of structures . . . in the rural areas of Woodford County, thus promoting tourism and the overall economy, while allowing for the continued use of the subject property for agricultural purposes, if any, and preservation of the landmark or historic structure.” They must cover at least 30 acres and front a state or federal highway.

The criteria and limitations allow a restaurant of up to 75 seats and lodging of up to 10 rooms, more if authorized by the Board of Adjustment. Those provisions come under “tourist definition expanded,” which allows the ability to host more than seven special events, such as charitable fund-raisers and weddings, per week as determined by the Agricultural Advisory Review Committee. The events must be 300 feet from any property line, music cannot be played after 11 p.m. and lighting must be shielded. For the full criteria and limitations, click here.

Bozarth said the ordinances were designed to help the Castle Post on Lexington Road near the Fayette County line get a restaurant. They could also provide legal underpinning to the public tours offered by Woodford County horse farms, including Three Chimneys near Midway.

The Castle Post has scheduled an event for Saturday night. The Woodford County Rotary Club is hosting a fundraiser for the Woodford County Backpack Project and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, starting at 7 p.m. It will include dinner, a drink ticket and a live band.

Among other business, Magistrate Bruce Gill announced the shooting for the “Uniquely Woodford” promotional video discussed for the past two years will be done in April and production will be finished in June. He said there are seven areas have been selected for inclusion the video, although he did not list them.

The video is a project of the three local governments and Woodford Tomorrow, a group interested in how the county develops. Gill, a member of the group, said the group will make a presentation about its goals and principles to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority at its regular meeting Friday, Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. in the Fiscal Court meeting room.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Full water-sewer repair would cost $8.4 million, add $26/mo. to bills, say estimates revealed at meeting

Story and photos by Denny Densford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway finally has some numbers to put with its water and sewer woes.

If the city fully repaired its water and sewer system, the work would cost $8.4 million and add $26 a month to the average resident's bill, according to engineers’ estimates revealed Thursday night at the first of three public meetings on the subject.

The estimate for repairing only lines considered priority is $1.8 million, which would increase the bill of the average Midway water user by $5.62. These numbers will leave Midway with some important questions to answer.

The estimates were developed for the Midway Water and Sewer Task Force, which Mayor Tom Bozarth created in 2011 to investigate the city’s sewer and water needs.

Tad Long, left, a community development adviser with the Kentucky League of Cities, gave a slide presentation to the approximately 35 people at the meeting at Midway College on the recent history of the water and sewer system, including recent upgrades and financing.

In 2001, Midway built a new sewage treatment plant that is using just over 8 percent of its capacity because no major industry ever located in the Midway Station industrial park. The city still owes $520,744 for the plant, which is to be paid off in December 2021. The city’s water tower, built in 2002, has been paid off thanks to a state grant.

The most recent addition – a water line extension by Kentucky American Water Co. to the industrial park and the Weems property on Leestown Road – is the only other item Long mentioned that the city still owes on. The balance is $173,881. These costs, as well as bonds still due from an earlier sewage treatment plant built in 1984 that will be paid off in 2018, leave the city owing a total of $912,125.

The task force set out to determine the cost to replace what it defined as ”priority” projects, as well as the cost for a total upgrade to the city’s water and sewer systems.

According to estimates from HMB Professional Engineers, a Frankfort-based engineering firm, replacing all the necessary water lines would cost $3.1 million, and all the necessary sewer line replacements would cost $5.46 million.

A partial upgrade, limited to the priority projects, would be $277,300 for water and $1.5 million for sewes, for a total of $1.8 million.

So, what would each alternative mean for the average water user in Midway?

According to the report, right, if the city performed a full upgrade to both systems, the average water customer’s bill would increase approximately $26.20 per month. The “priority” upgrades would only increase the average bill by $5.62. The amount of the current average bill was not mentioned.

The costs were estimated on the assumption that the city received a 40-year bond issue at an interest rate of 3.38 percent, but market conditions could affect this number.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said that the cost for a full upgrade was too extreme, that he would never support such a price hike, and he couldn’t imagine anyone else on the council doing so, either. “I’d prefer to keep it city owned,” he said. “But my main concern is the cost.”

Bozarth, left, mentioned at the beginning of the presentation that Midway could sell the systems to Kentucky American Water Co., which has been supplying treated water to Midway since the city closed its water plant.

The next meeting on March 12 will feature representatives from Kentucky American, said Council Member Sara Hicks. Their presentation is expected to include the option of selling the water system.

Hicks said she thought the presentation was insightful and that she was interested to hear from Kentucky American as well as any other options that may surface at the next meeting.

Members of the task force include council members Aaron Hamilton, Dan Roller and Sharon Turner, as well as Bob Blankenship, James Johnson, Danny Smith and Roy Mundy, a former Kentucky American official.

Katie Brown, who has lived in Midway for two years, said she’s happy to see the issue being studied. She reported paying significantly less for such services before she moved to Midway.

Janice Holland, a faculty member at MidwayCcollege and a resident for nine years, said that she wished the presentation had a little more information. “I’d like to see more options,” she said.

Holland went on to say that the full upgrade option would result in an “outrageous increase,” and added that boil-water advisories had become a concern. She said they seemed to occur every two months, and Brown said there was one on the day of the meeting, Such advisories are usually the result of breaks in lines that need to be replaced.

While both options and increases seemed drastic, both Brown and Holland said  something definitely needs to be done.

Bozarth agreed, and said he was looking forward to future meetings that would help Midway solve its water and sewer issues. “It’s a three-step process,” he said, noting that the March 12 meeting will be followed by one that will provide a question and answer session so that anyone concerned about the decision will get an opportunity to voice their concerns and questions.

If that’s not enough? Bozarth said the city would hold as many meetings as was necessary before Midway takes its next big step.

The report, a very large PDF, is available on the Midway city website. You can find it here. http:// https://dl.dropbox.com/u/22643569/Midway%20Task%20Force%20Report.pdf

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.