Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anderson starts building at the interchange, but development across the highway is still uncertain

By Katie Ledford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A combined Shell station and convenience store drive-thru Subway restaurant has begun to rise on the old Weems property at the Interstate 64 interchange and should be open in less than five months, developer Dennis Anderson says.

Anderson has yet to move on a much larger project, the residential and commercial development at Midway Station, the failed industrial park across the interstate from the Weems lot. It could take some time, but will be done efficiently, Anderson said in an interview last month. “It’s my intent to not pull the trigger until we can get in there and know that it will be successful,” he said.

The interview provided the first look at Anderson’s hopes for Midway Station, which if fully developed could double the size of the town.

In January of 2011, Anderson signed an agreement to buy Midway Station within 35 months. He pays the taxes on the property as well as the interest on the money that the county and city borrowed to buy and develop the property.

He said the property will probably take 15 years to fully develop depending mostly on the housing market, which is coming back slowly.

Anderson said he may start with a building in Midway Station’s industrial zone, at the rear of the property, to house the Photizo Group, a research and consulting firm now in a building on West Main Street in Midway.

Part of Midway Station is zoned to be residential rental, which could change the nature of the Midway area. Bozarth said, “We need additional housing in Midway. This will be a mixed use development like Townley Center in Lexington which combines commercial and residential.”

Anderson, who developed Townley, said he will not rent to people who have been charged with misdemeanors or felonies. However, he will overlook at least one DUI charge. “It’s all about safety,” he said. “Safety and social interaction are our primary concerns.”

Anderson Communities is patient and persistent about its developments. “It’s important that we do it right,” said Anderson, who has been in the business for 22 years. His first project was McConnell’s Trace, a 500-home development on Leestown Road across from Masterson Station Park in Lexington.

Anderson, 60, acknowledged that he might sell his Midway Station interest before the property is fully developed. He said he would not sell his properties to anyone unless they “would do a good job and could do a good job with it.”

Plat of former Weems property, with Shell building marked (Click on image for larger version)
As for the Weems property, Anderson said the Shell station will have a very distinctive style to its architecture. It will feature a green gabled roof with a cupola, to match the rest of Midway’s character. Unlike the current gas station across Georgetown Road, he said, “A gas station with a clean bathroom is important.”

Harry Seeger, owner of Midway Fuel Co., which operates the small station, did not return calls seeking comment on the future of his business. Before the recession, he talked of plans to expand the station into a larger, more modern facility and protecting the Midway Oak tree as he built.

The Weems property plat includes locations for a hotel, a Subway restaurant, another stand-alone restaurant and a small retail store. Anderson said he has talked to representatives of hotel chains, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dollar General and Family Dollar about coming to the Weems property. He called Midway an “underserved area” and said they are trying to attract people to the town.

Local officials welcome the Weems property development, at the southeast corner of the interchange. “We try to be business friendly and want to encourage businesses to locate to Midway,” said Mayor Tom Bozarth. “The addition of a Shell station and a Subway will be good additions to our community.”

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day service honors veterans, hears from Luallen

The annual Memorial Day service at the Midway Cemetery "was probably the most meaningful one we have had," Mayor Tom Bozarth said, because the crowd was large and 40 names were recently added to the monument. City Council Member Sharon Turner, the event's chief organizer, said the weather was perfect: sunny, mild and not a cloud in the sky.

After Boy Scouts from Troop 40 raised the flags, the Midway Children's Choir, directed by Melissa Askew, sang "America," Bozarth introduced former state Auditor Crit Luallen by noting her many official posts and concluding, "That's quite a resume for someone who could be governor" in 2015.

Luallen, left, noted her family history in the area, including two nephews of a Crittenden ancestor who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War, and said "Every family has its own heroes." She said those stories should be passed on to young people who may be disconnected from history "so those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to use Lincoln's words from Gettysburg, will not have died in vain."

Luallen mentioned a little-known fact, that the first Memorial Day service was held in 1865 by freed slaves in Charleston, S.C., to honor 257 Union soldiers who died in the local Confederate prison camp. And she quoted the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, saying during his recent visit to Louisville that all religions "stimulate the practice of love and compassion," and those things as measn to end conflicts.

"The ultimate goal of man must be a world at peace," Luallen concluded, "and individuals with compassion in our heart must do what we can to achieve that peace."

Luallen said afterward that the part of the service she liked best was the individual recognition of veterans by family members in the crowd, which followed the children's choir singing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Midway Magistrate Larry Craig walked through the crowd with a wireless microphone, gathering the recognitions. Air Force veteran Lonnie Adkins, right, made some extemporaneous remarks thanking the Midway Veterans Memorial Committee.

After City Council Member Aaron Hamilton, left, sang "How Great Thou Art," Turner thanked the participants and helpers, particularly the recently reinvigorated Midway Veterans Memorial Committee, which added the names to the monument and is raising money to expand it to recognize veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Midway Baptist Church Pastor Steve Hadden gave the benediction, and then the crowd enjoyed cookies and cold water under the sun.

For information on the Midway Veterans Memorial Committee and its efforts, click here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day service at 10 a.m. Monday at cemetery

Former state auditor Crit Luallen will be the featured speaker at the Memorial Day service in the Midway Cemetery. The service is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with a welcome from Mayor Tom Bozarth and presentation of the flags by Boy Scout Troop 40.

Magistrate Larry Craig will do the recognition of veterans. Music will be provided by the Midway Children's Choir, led by Melissa Askew, and City Council Member Aaron Hamilton. Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Turner will make closing comments.

To learn more about the Midway Memorial Veterans Committee, go to http://midwayveterans.webs.com or call City Hall at 846-4413.

PSC to hold hearing on Kentucky-American request for rate increase Tuesday; Midway's hike would be 2.3%

The state Public Service Commission will hold a meeting in Lexington Tuesday, May 28 to hear public comments on Kentucky-American Water Co.'s request for a rate increase. The company wants to raise the typical residential customer's bill by 17.6 percent, but it is asking for an increase of 2.3 percent in the wholesale rate paid by the City of Midway, according to Mayor Tom Bozarth. The city passes along to its customers rate increases by Kentucky American.

PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovich said the company is seeking an increase of less than 1 percent in its rate for wholesale water users like Midway, but is also seeking a 57 percent increase in the city's monthly meter charge, to $1,120 from $712, which appears to be included in the 2.3 percent figure cited by the mayor.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium in Bryan Station High School at 201 Eastin Road. The public comment portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 and will be preceded by an information session in which PSC staff will explain the rate adjustment process and the criteria used to evaluate rate adjustment requests rates. The presentation will include an overview of the Kentucky-American Water application.

The Kentucky-American application and related documents are available on the PSC website, www.psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2012-00520. Persons wishing to address the proposal may speak at the meeting or submit their comments in writing to the PSC at P.O. Box 615, Frankfort KY 40602, faxed to 502-564-9625 or e-mailed via the PSC website. The evidentiary hearing in the case will be held at the PSC offices at 211 Sower Blvd. in Frankfort Tuesday, June 4, at 10 9 a.m. The hearing, which may last several days, will be open to the public. Public comments will be taken at the beginning of the hearing. Written comments will be accepted through the conclusion of the hearing. The evidentiary hearing may be viewed live on the PSC website.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Midway College names Laura Armesto new provost; Board of Trustees elects Donna Moore new chair

Dr. Laura Armesto has been named the new provost and vice president of academic affairs at Midway College. She will join the staff June 24.

Armesto was most recently vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, which like Midway has undergraduate programs for women and graduate programs for both men and women and recent years has expanded its online course offerings. During Armesto's 10 years in the job, she developed more than two dozen programs. Before Chatham, she held several administrative positions at Barry University in Miami. She has reviewed grant applications for the American Association of Colleges and Universities and facilitated workshops for chief academic officers through the Council of Independent Colleges.

"She possesses a wealth of academic and administrative experience as well as a collaborative leadership style that will serve the institution well," Dr. John P. Marsden, president of Midway College, said in a press release. "The search committee believes Dr. Armesto is a strong fit for the institution, and I know her capabilities first hand after working with her earlier in my career." The release said Armesto was selected after a national search.

Dr. Marlene Helm, who served a year as interim vice president of academic affairs, will return to her position as an education professor with oversight of the teacher education graduate program. "I thank Dr. Helm for her service over the last year in the interim position," Marsden said. "The first graduating class of our Master of Arts in Teaching program which she helped establish just received their diplomas at our May commencement. I know under her leadership that program will continue to grow and other graduate level programs will be developed."

Meanwhile, the college's Board of Trustees has a new chair, retired Kentucky Educational Television executive Donna Moore, right, of Lexington. She was elected at the May 9 meeting and immediately succeeded Interim Chair Mira Ball. Moore, a 1962 associate-degree graduate of Midway Junior College, has a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky. She has been on the board since 1999, is a past president of the Alumni Board and headed the recent Presidential Search Committee, which recommended the hiring of Marsden early this year.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Council considers how to finish the new Gratz Street wall: Natural stone? Manufactured stone? Stamped concrete?

Looking north on Gratz Street toward Main Street
The Midway City Council passed its budget for 2013-14 without discussion last night, but spent a good deal of time talking about the biggest project in the budget: reconstruction of the walls and sidewalk on Gratz Street at the east end of downtown.

The council voted to accept the $63,173.50 bid of Karsner Construction Co. of Frankfort for the work, which was 21 percent higher than the engineer's estimate of $49,710. Joe Grider of HMB Professional Engineers said the estimate was based on initial design work, and he increased the quantities of materials in the final design, increasing the cost. The new budget allocates $70,000 for the project, to be paid from funds accumulated over the last several years.

The other bids were $90,064 from Woodall Construction Co. of Lexington and $94,178 from Stewart Contracting Corp. of Richmond. "I didn't see anything out of line" in Karsner's bid, Grider said, adding that on most of the 11 bid items, at least one of the unsuccessful bidders was much higher than the other two bidders. For HMB's tabulation of the bids, click here.

The bid item that drew discussion was the plan to use a stamped concrete finish for the wall, which Karsner bid at $6,827. The current wall is made of hand-cut stone that has badly deteriorated. Council Member Dan Roller said the wall should be finished with stone, "a more Midway type of thing." He said tourists come to the area to see stone walls, not concrete formed to look like stone.

"It's going to be considerably more" to finish the wall with stone, Mayor Tom Bozarth said, suggesting that it could be done at a later time, but also saying that the city might be able to save a few thousand dollars by demolishing the existing wall and sidewalk. Council Member Aaron Hamilton said he liked that idea, but Grider noted that the option was included in the bid, and Karsner deducted only $4,400 of the $6,845 demolition bid. Why? "As soon as he turns control of that over to the city, he's at the mercy of the city" for the project schedule, Grider said.

Council Member Sara Hicks asked if the existing wall's stone could be re-used; several at the meeting said it could not because it was of poor quality and badly weathered. After the council voted to accept the contract, Council Member Bruce Southworth asked if the wall could be finished in manufactured stone, which looks real to many observers. Grider said it might look better than stamped concrete for a few years, but after 20 years "I'm not so sure." He agreed to check on costs of both natural and manufactured stone and report back.

Bozarth said he wants the project done by Sept. 1 because the Midway Fall Festival will be held Sept. 21 and 22. The bid document calls for the work to be completed within 60 calendar days; Grider said Karsner told him work could start two weeks after getting notice and should take 25 to 20 working days, or about six weeks.

Forum in Versailles June 18 for candidates in special election for state representative

Among other business at the meeting, Don Vizi, executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, said the group had hoped to have its forum for state-representative candidates at Midway College on June 18, the only date that all three candidates were available, but the venue was not available that night, so the forum will be held at Falling Springs Park in Versailles, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Vizi was reminded that the county fair will be getting under way at the park that night, and was asked how those who only wanted to attend the forum could do so without paying the fair's admission fee, which is charged at the entrance to the grounds. Vizi, who has been on the job only a few months, said he was unaware of that complication and would try to get it worked out.

A special election for state representative from the 56th District (Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties) will be held June 25 to fill the year and a half remaining in the term of Democrat Carl Rollins of Midway, who resigned to head the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The candidates are Republican Lyen Crews, independent John-Mark Hack and Democrat James Kay.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Council scheduled to pass budget Monday evening

Final passage of the city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is on the agenda for the regular meeting of the Midway City Council Monday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. All city council meetings are open to the public.

City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson says the council has made no changes in the detailed budget offered by Mayor Tom Bozarth last month. For a copy of the proposal, click here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Committee to consider first draft of noise-and-nuisance ordinance, cemetery ideas Monday morning

Noise and cemetery issues are on the agenda of the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee of the Midway City Council, which will meet Monday, May 13, from 9 to 10 a.m. at City Hall.

The committee will consider first draft of a noise ordinance, an idea it has discussed at its last two meetings. The draft will also cover nuisances other than excessive noise, according to the meeting notice from City Hall.

Cemetery topics will be ideas for a chapel, a bench for senior citizens and the Memorial Day service. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Committee to consider citizen parking request Thursday

The Water-Sewer, Garbage-Recycling and Streets-Sidewalks Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 9 at City Hall to discuss a citizen parking request. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.