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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Property tax rates on council agenda for Monday

Property tax rates for the coming year are on the agenda for the next meeting of the Midway City Council, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The rates must be set by ordinance, which requires two readings; this will be the first reading.

The council will also consider changes in the city's personnel policy and employee handbook, and hear from John Soper of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. All council meetings are open to the public.

Monday, July 22, 2013

City council to discuss job classifications, meet with Versailles council at college Wednesday evening

The Midway City Council will hold two special meetings Wednesday at Midway College. The first, at 5:30 p.m., will be to discuss city job classifications. The second, at 7 p.m., will be a joint meeting with the Versailles City Council to discuss matters of mutual interest. All council meetings are open to the public. The joint meeting agenda includes "Questions regarding topics of common interest from the audience."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Elkhorn Creek is a little bit polluted, but it's still a great place to boat, fish and float – or just watch it flow along

An angler wearing waders fishes South Elkhorn Creek near the Moores Mill Road Bridge
By Katie Ledford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

South Elkhorn Creek, Midway’s defining waterway, is popular with fishers and kayakers and is a beautiful feature of the area, but does not meet the standards for recreation involving contact with the water.

This does not mean that fishing in the stream is unsafe, but anyone with open wounds should avoid contact with the water, experts say.

“I would not recommend swimming in that creek, and that’s probably one of the better ones,” said Lindell Ormsbee, director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Kentucky. “I wouldn’t go boating immediately after wet weather events.”

Ormsbee was chief author of a report that showed fecal bacteria in the creek exceeded official limits in 2011, and recent samplings by volunteers of the Kentucky Watershed Watch found similar pollution.

A kayaker at the Margaux Farm bridge along Moores Mill Road
South Elkhorn Creek begins in Fayette County, and flows through Woodford, Scott and Franklin counties; defines the border between Scott and Woodford. Ormsbee’s study found more fecal bacteria the farther you go upstream, from the bridges on Midway Pike (KY 341) to Leestown Road to Payne’s Depot Road.

According to Ormsbee, the main problem is leaky sewer pipes and storm-water overflows in Lexington, which put fecal bacteria into the water.

“Lexington has got a pretty significant problem where these pipes are typically not big enough to carry all of the sewage,” Ormsbee said. “If you have a storm event, these pipes have lots of cracks and leaks in them so when you have a lot of rain the rain soaks in and it flows into these pipes.” If there is an excess amount of water, it will overflow through manholes and flow into the waterways.

Ormsbee’s report says wildlife and livestock sources also contribute to the pollution. Bluegrass Stockyards lies just downstream of the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant. Midway Station, a failed industrial park, nearly became the new home of Bluegrass Stockyards but was opposed by some because they feared pollution to the creek, which runs nearby.

Straight pipes are also an issue. These are wastewater system pipes that run from a home or business and are directly connected to a receiving body of water. The 2011 report says, “Straight pipes are suspected to exist within the watershed that ultimately discharge into South Elkhorn Creek, although the exact number and location are unknown.”

The latest report from the Kentucky River Watershed Watch, from 2012, says volunteers took samples from 44 locations in in the South Elkhorn watershed, which much more than any other stream in the Kentucky River basin. This could be because it flows through a metropolitan area.

The results of these samples showed that some of the sampling sites in Scott and Woodford counties exceeded the limit for fecal bacteria. Lee’s Branch, 150 yards downstream of Stephens Street in Midway, showed that it exceeded the bacteria limit and was low on dissolved oxygen. The portion of Lee’s Branch that flows in front of Midway College showed even less dissolved oxygen, which is one indicator of a waterway’s ability to support aquatic life.

Farther downstream, half a mile upstream of Midway Pike, the creek exceeded the bacteria limit and did not meet the standard for dissolved oxygen. However, along Moores Mill Road a little bit downstream from the Leestown Road bridge, a sample showed the bacteria and dissolved-oxygen standards were being met.

Weisenberger Mill is the best known site on South Elkhorn Creek
The latter result, which runs contrary to the trend that pollution is greater upstream, could be attributed to the dam at Weisenberger Mill, which aerates the creek. At the same time, that sample showed a relatively high degree of electrical conductivity, which reflects the amount of salts in the water – a factor that is bad for small aquatic organisms.

Though South Elkhorn Creek has fecal bacteria above the limits, amny tourists and locals like Gene Slusher of Midway, owner of Lexington Angler, are not discouraged from the visiting it.

Slusher laughed when asked about the bacteria in the creek, saying “I grew up on Elkhorn Creek and have swam in it.” Slusher, who spent a year working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on national water quality issues, said the amount of bacteria in the creek is not high enough to harm humans.

Slusher said he fishes the creek regularly and considers it an important recreational resource. He fishes South Elkhorn Creek all the time. Smallmouth bass are the most popular; this watershed was once a famous fishery for them. Common carp, sunfish, crayfish and other large invertebrates also live in the creek.

Despite the fact that South Elkhorn Creek has some pollution, it is still is a valuable resource to locals and tourists for many reasons. The creek loops around Equus Run Vineyards between the Leestown Road and Interstate 64 bridges. The vineyard’s owner, Cynthia Bohn, said there is no fencing to separate South Elkhorn Creek from the 38 acres of Equus Run and she didn’t suspect such pollution in the creek.

Cynthia Bohn at Equus Run Vineyards
“I would have never known it’s polluted,” she said. Bohn called the creek a “tremendous asset” for her business. Her customers enjoy fly fishing, kayaking and floating on the creek with inner tubes. She said the creek around her land is about 20 to 24 inches deep, not ideal for swimming. Guests can come into the vineyard office and get a fishing pass to use on the property as well as go picnicking along the creek. Bohn said on a nice Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you might see 10 fishermen out on the creek. She said almost half of the vineyard has direct access to the creek.

“We are right in the middle of the Bluegrass, the horse capital, and we have all these treasures,” including the creek, Bohn said. “I love my Elkhorn Creek. … I am very interested in sustaining it.” She added, “I’m in the tourism business and when my customers have more things to enjoy when they are in the Bluegrass, the better.”

The co-owner of Canoe Kentucky in Frankfort, Mason Detenbrock, said South Elkhorn Creek is a good fishing stream but has very public limited access. “Most people access the creek from private property which, historically, landowners have not minded,” he said.

Detenbrock said his business does some guided canoe tours of the creek. “It’s a beautiful stretch of creek for sure.”
South Elkhorn Creek watershed is marked with red lines on this Kentucky Geological Survey map.
Streams marked in red do not support "assessed uses," such as swimming. Sewage plant outfalls
are marked as pipes spilling red liquid. Numbered squares are public water withdrawal sites.
Number 12 in yellow circle is the site of a photo on the full Kentucky River watershed map.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Council passes noise ordinance, gives Bourbon Chase a good shaking and stirring before approving its permit

Midway has a tougher noise ordinance and the Bourbon Chase has another permit to run through the town in mid-October, following tonight's city council meeting.

The council voted unanimously for the noise ordinance, which officials said would be easier to enforce than the current one, but not before some pointed questions from Council Member Bruce Southworth.

"Do we need this?" Southworth asked, inquiring how many noise complaints city officials have received in the last six months. Council Member Sharon Turner said she had probably received 10 during the past two years, mainly regarding "car stereos, fireworks and loud mufflers."

Turner and Council Member Dan Roller mentioned repeat violators, such as a car owner who regularly gunned his engine through loud pipes at 5:30 a.m. and a resident who used a riding lawn mower as a personal vehicle on the streets.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said he had heard from no one who was opposed to the ordinance, but Southworth continued to be skeptical, asking how it could be enforced, particularly against the driver of a vehicle moving through town.

The Versailles Police Department patrols the entire county. Assistant Chief Jim Fugate, who reviewed the ordinance while it was being drafted, said officers would try to catch up to the vehicle and stop it, and if the noise had ceased, tell the driver about the noise ordinance and the complaint.

City attorney Phil Moloney said, "There's no doubt it's going to be tough to enforce, but it's meant to control the excessive, extraordinary noise," and incidents when apparent violators don't stop when asked. Mayor Tom Bozarth added, "It's better to have something [than to tell citizens] there's nothing we can do. . . . This is something Chief Fugate and the police department need."

Southworth, apparently convinced, joined the rest of the council in approving the ordinance, which can be read here.

Towns on the Bourbon Chase route map are marked with distillery symbols
At its last meeting, the council tabled a permit request from the Bourbon Chase, an annual relay race on a route connecting Central Kentucky distilleries. Bozarth and several council members complained that guiding the runners through town is a burden with uncertain rewards. "It's starting to feel like people are coming in and taking advantage of our town," said Vandegrift, who made the motion to table. "The community should get something back for it."

The race benefits the National Hospice Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and LexArts, a funding source for Central Kentucky arts groups. Two weeks ago, the council discussed the possibility of tiered permit fees for such events, depending on their size, but that option was not discussed tonight.

Instead, the council and Bozarth gave a grilling to Bourbon Chase representative Mike Kuntz about the personnel and planning needed to make the race run safely and smoothly through Midway -- even after he told them that the race now requires those coming from long distances to provide volunteers, and that had quickly filled the slots for volunteers in the Midway area (two shifts of five volunteers each, he said afterward).

Bozarth pressed his case. "I'm not going to stand out here in Winter Street and direct traffic," as he did last year, he said. "Six of us have had to do this ourselves, and that's got to stop."

When Kuntz said the Bourbon Chase could bypass Midway in favor of other towns that want it, starting next year, Bozarth said they need to meet with Fugate to discuss traffic control, have a plan, and know when the first, last and bulk of the runners will hit town on Oct. 19. Kuntz said the bulk would come through a little after 2 p.m., and he offered to station the areas coordinator for the race in Midway. He also offered to take suggestions from local leaders about what to mention on informational sheets about the community that are given to runners and other team members.

Kuntz began his presentation by emphasizing the economic benefits of bringing hundreds of runners to the town. He said this year's relay will have 4,000 runners in 330 relay teams, "an affluent group . . . known for spending money when they are here." He said there is "anecdotal evidence" that runners are coming back for more leisurely visits. He said the race is trying for "controlled growth" and this year turned down more teams than it accepted.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pipeline proposal causing concerns, several meetings: Mon. in Frankfort, Tue. in Millville, later in Versailles

UPDATE: About 60 people attended the Frankfort meeting, which "grew heated," reports Ryan Quinn of The State Journal. Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks said the company does not have the power to condemn property in Kentucky through eminent domain. (Read more)

Several meetings have been scheduled to discuss the proposed pipeline that would carry natural-gas liquids through Central Kentucky, including the greater Midway area.

The Franklin County Fiscal Court will hold a public meeting on the issue Monday, July 15 at 1:30 p.m. A representative of the Tulsa-based Williams Companies, one of two partners in the project, is scheduled to make a brief presentation. He did likewise at Friday's meeting of the Scott County Fiscal Court, where residents expressed "strong emotions," reported the Georgetown News-Graphic.

People from several counties met in Versailles and Bardstown this week to discuss the pipeline, and at least three other meetings about it are scheduled soon in Woodford County. At 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, a citizens' meeting will be held at Millville Christian Church.  Woodford Fiscal Court is scheduled to discuss the pipeline in its work session at 6 p.m. July 23 at the courthouse in Versailles. A citizens' meeting about the pipeline is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the courthouse.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/11/2711769/underground-gas-pipeline-in-central.html#storylink=cpy

The exact route of the pipeline will be determined by negotiations with landowners and perhaps court action. The company is seeking easements 50 feet wide, plus a temporary 50 feet for construction, and says it is trying to use existing utility-easement corridors. Williams' generalized route map shows it going through much of the Midway ZIP code area in Franklin and Woodford counties before heading west, crossing the Kentucky River near Millville and going back into Franklin County:
For maps of the entire pipeline route, from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, click here.
The pipeline proposal has drawn skepticism from residents who fear leaks or explosions of the flammable liquids. "There is a lot of concern about the project," Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "If an accident happens and there's a break in the line, what the effects would be to the water and the soil and the cattle and the people. . . . If the benefits are going to outweigh the risks."

Woodford County resident Lori Garkovich, a rural sociology professor at the University of Kentucky, told the Herald-Leader, "A pipeline rupture has a low probability of occurrence, but it has a very high probability of damage if it does occur. If you look at federal data on accidents per mile, these pipelines that carry hazardous liquids represent the smallest amount of pipeline miles, but over half of all the incidents."

The state Public Service Commission says it has no authority over the pipeline because it does not fit the state's definition of a utility, but the Kentucky Resources Council is disputing that. Council Director Tom FitzGerald argues that if the pipeline is not a utility, its owners do not have the power to condemn private property for it.

At an early meeting in Bardstown, "A representative for Williams said it was unclear whether Kentucky law would allow the company to use the right of eminent domain, but it preferred not to exercise it," Randy Patrick reported for The Kentucky Standard. "State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon,  said it was unclear as to whether a private company could get eminent domain for a non-utility pipeline, but it is not the legislature’s intent that it could. Higdon and state Rep.  David Floyd, R-Bardstown, urged residents to call Gov. Steve Beshear’s office and ask that he add to his call for a special session on Aug. 19 discussion of a bill to allow an existing state Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting to have the authority to regulate natural gas liquids pipelines."

Fitzgerald has called for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study for an environmental impact statement. At the Scott County meeting, Magistrate Tom Prather said he would be appalled if the Corps does not do a study before construction, Nancy Royden reported for the News-Graphic. Fitzgerald says a study would take a year; Williams says it wants to have the pipeline operating by 2015.

FitzGerald has posted online a detailed discussion of the pipeline, much of it oriented to landowners' concerns. To read it, click here.
The state
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/11/2711769/underground-gas-pipeline-in-central.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/11/2711769/underground-gas-pipeline-in-central.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Council scheduled to act on noise ordinance July 15

The Midway City Council gave first reading July 1 to a proposed ordinance that would regulate noise in the town and prescribe a $250 fine for violators. The ordinance is scheduled for second reading and final passage at the council's next meeting, Monday, July 15, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Assistant Versailles Police Chief Jim Fugate was scheduled to discuss enforcement with the council at its July 1 meeting, but was unable to attend. Mayor Tom Bozarth said Fugate is scheduled to appear at the July 15 meeting. Versailles police patrol all of Woodford County.

A key part of the proposed ordinance reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to make, cause to be made, continue or to permit any excessive or unreasonably loud noise or any other raucous sound, considering the time, date, place and nature of such noise or sound, that annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace, safety or repose of other persons of ordinary sensibilities within the city limits. Factors for determining whether a sound is unreasonably loud and raucous include, but are not limited to the proximity of the sound to sleeping facilities, the land use, nature and zoning of the area from which the sound emanates and the area where it is received, the time of day or night the sound occurs, the duration of the sound and whether the sound is recurrent, intermittent or constant."

To download a PDF of the draft ordinance, click here.