Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turner and Vandegrift start mayoral campaigns

By Jill Novak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With the news of Mayor Tom Bozarth’s decision to not to seek a third four-year term, candidates are already lining up for a shot at the position.

City Council Members Sharon Turner and Grayson Vandegrift announced in separate interviews last week that after encouragement from family and friends, they have both decided to run for mayor next year.

“I’ve been on council since 2005 and I think it’s time to take the next step,” said Turner, 51.

After Bozarth changed his mind and decided to run for re-election in 2010, Turner said she chose not to run for mayor out of respect for him.

Having gone so far as to fill out mayoral filing papers last time and patiently waiting for a chance to run for the position, Turner said that she’s been “very diligent.”

“I attended council meetings for a year before I even joined council,” said Turner. The filing deadline is more than 11 months before the elected candidates take office.

Asked why she thinks she is right for the job, Turner said, “I think I’m a well-rounded candidate.”

Vandegrift, 31, has served on the council since 2012. He says he also thinks that he has what it takes to be the next mayor.

“The amount of support I’ve gotten from my fiancĂ© as well as from family and residents, has been inspiring,” said Vandegrift.

As the general manager of 815 Restaurant and Tavern, Vandegrift thinks his business experience is another factor that makes him a qualified candidate. “Having a small business allows me to have flexibility to do the job,” he said.

Turner is also self-employed, working as the manager for the Kentucky Malt Beverage Council in Frankfort.

“Because I’m self-employed, I don’t have set hours, which allows me to have time to do the job,” said Turner.

As an active member of the community, Turner has spent her time working with students at the Northside Elementary School and has served on the Midway nursing home task force, a group of public officials and community leaders that worked to create The Homeplace at Midway, a senior living residence now being built.

Leslie Penn, owner of the Historic Midway Museum Store, said she believes Vandegrift’s business experience will come in handy as mayor.

“Grayson is open-minded and has appreciation for business and tourism,” said Penn.

Turner said she plans to work more with members of the Midway Merchants Association to have a successful downtown.

“I plan to keep Midway the small, quaint city that it is, but also vibrant,” she said.

Kenny Smith, president of the Merchants Association and owner of the Kennydid Art Gallery, said the next mayor of Midway should be someone who is willing to work with the other merchants of Midway and their ideas.

“It needs to be somebody that will help promote downtown and its merchants,” he said.

As far as her future plans for Midway go, if she is elected mayor, Turner said that she intends to continue on with the same mission as Bozarth.

“I want to follow through and continue to keep tourism and government separate,” said Turner.

In hopes of raising Midway’s tax base, Vandegrift said he would like to de-emphasize residential development at Midway Station and include more “light industries,” like distribution centers, to create more jobs, which would raise occupational tax revenues.

“We need jobs, not homes,” said Vandegrift.

While each candidate may have different ideas for the future of Midway, Turner and Vandegrift agree that Midway’s biggest concern still remains the city’s water and sewer systems.

“I plan to do more about providing better city services,” said Turner.

When asked what candidate he would support for the next mayor, Council Member Bruce Southworth responded, “I think that they would both be qualified for the job.”

Bozarth declined to comment on his speculation of who might run, but concluded, “I would not be surprised if there was not multiple candidates who may file for the office of mayor.”

Turner and Vandegrift still have yet to officially file their paperwork for the election in 2014. Candidates have until Jan. 28 to file; if more than two file for mayor, a May primary will reduce the number of general-election candidates to two.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Council committee meeting at Woman's Club is off

The special City Council committee meeting at the Midway Woman's Club building, scheduled for today at 11 a.m., has been canceled, according to a notice from City Hall.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Council committee will meet at Midway Woman's Club building Monday morning to talk about taking it over

The special City Council committee appointed by the mayor to look at the Midway Woman's Club building and consider accepting it as a donation to the city will meet at the building at 230 S. Gratz Street Monday, Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. No action will be taken, according to the notice from City Hall.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

'Twelve years of public service can wear you out,' Bozarth says, looking forward to last year as mayor

By Jill Novak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Bozarth at this year's Memorial Day service
After serving Midway as mayor for seven years, and due one more, Tom Bozarth is ready for a change.  Upon announcing his decision to not run for a third term last week, Bozarth explained in an interview, “It’s just the right time.”

Bozarth has also served two years on the city council, seven years on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky League of Cities, of which he is now president, and the last two years as an officer.

“Twelve years of public service can wear you out,” he said.

Reflecting on his two terms, Bozarth says he was surprised by the amount of time the job requires.

“In my first term, I was always in a hurry and wanted something quick,” he said Bozarth. “I realized that is not the way government works; it’s a full-time job.”

Asked for his reaction to Bozarth's news, Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said, “I think that he did a pretty good job and is ready to focus on other areas in his life.”

Vandegrift says he is planning to file for mayor in next year’s election. So is Council Member Sharon Turner.

Admitting that she was “a little surprised” by Bozarth’s decision to not run for a third term, Turner said,“He has set a lot of important procedures and processes in place.”

She added, “We’ve updated things like tax forms, the employee handbook and the city brochure and added transparency to them.”

As mayor, Bozarth has worked with council members on accomplishments like bringing recycling to Midway, maintaining a strong relationship with Midway College and working with the Midway Merchants Association on creating a “vibrant downtown,” he said. “Our economic development is something we should be proud of.”       
Ken Glass, the owner of the Railroad Drug and Old Time Soda Fountain, recalls Bozarth encouraging him and his wife Amanda to open their store.

“He’s a friend of mine and I think Midway is better with him being mayor,” Glass said.

Kenny Smith, president of the Midway Merchants Association and owner of the Kennydid Art Gallery, said the mayor made the right decision: “I agree with his decision that politicians should have term limits.”

Smith said Bozarth “liked to do things his way,” and he and the mayor had some disagreements over the last two years. He declined to reveal them and said, “He’s done a lot for this town and maybe it is time for some new ideas.”

Leslie Penn, owner of the Historic Midway Museum Store, said the next mayor should be “someone who is willing to adjust to the times. . . . History isn’t everything.” She also said she would like to see a woman mayor.

Asked what he would like to see in the next mayor, Bozarth said, “I hope that the next mayor has a vision and work ethic to continue to put Midway first.” 

He added, “If you want Midway to be a special place, it takes a whole lot of work.”

Looking forward to the additional position he will hold for the last year of his mayoral term, Bozarth said he is confident in the experience that he can bring to the table as president of the Kentucky League of Cities.

“I think I’m a real advocate for small cities,” he said.

Information for this story was also gathered by Community Journalism student Allan Ducker.

It was a night of honors at City Council; stricken runner tells how Freeman Bailey walked her to the finish line

Story and photos by Holly Brucken and Morgen Wells
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Small towns can be home to some big heroes. Following a special meeting on Nov. 18 to approve the city's annual audit report, the Midway City Council proceeded with its regular meeting and recognized three Midway heroes.

Lloyd Jones, James "Buddy" Johnson and Freeman Bailey were thanked for service to the community through formal resolutions passed by the council.

Lloyd Jones of Midway, right, was honored for selflessness, passion and hard work and service on the Woodford County Parks and Recreation Board.

James "Buddy" Johnson gave 27 years of service to the county schools, and was honored for giving his time, talents and experiences to education and to the city. Below, Johnson holds the resolution with Mayor Tom Bozarth as they stand with council members and family members.

Freeman Bailey of Versailles, a Midway native who works for the county Emergency Medical Service, was honored for helping distressed runner Savannah Gillispie to the finish line at the Iron Horse Half Marathon Oct. 13. He found her at the eight-mile mark, on Weisenberger Mill Road near the city limits, unable to breathe.

“I hit mile eight and I hit a wall,” said Gillispie. “I really wanted to finish, but there were other runners beside me that called the paramedics.”

“When we got there she was sitting on the side of the road,” Bailey said. “She overexerted herself and was short of breath, but nothing major.”

Freeman Bailey and Savannah Gillispie listen to his resolution
Gillispie, 29, is a Lexington native who was running her second half-marathon. “I figured, I’ve done one before, so I didn’t train as hard as I probably should have,” she said. “We registered [for the race] after we should’ve started training. We had less than six weeks to get ready for it.”

Gillispie works for United Way and signed up for the half-marathon as a way to get to know some of her coworkers. She ran on a team of four. “They stopped and wanted to stay with me but I said ‘absolutely not’,” she said. “It was their first half. There’s nothing like the accomplishment of going through the finish line, so that’s why I had to finish.”

“We told her we’d walk with her to make sure she was okay,” Bailey said. “She’d walk a little ways, get winded; we’d recheck her vitals, make sure she was stable, and walk more until we finished.”

Bailey stayed with Gillispie through five miles of what she said was the worst pain she’d ever experienced. “I have never physically hurt so much, ever,” she said. “I was feeling great, ‘til I hit eight. Mentally I wasn’t ready to quit, but physically I was done. There were points where he was almost holding me up. He was great.”

Bailey walked the five miles with Gillispie in the heat, in full paramedic gear. By the time she reached the finish line, Gillispie was ready to jog again. “He said, ‘This is your race’ and let me go on.”

By the time she crossed the finish line, the race was being torn down. She came in at around four hours, over an hour longer than her first half-marathon. Nevertheless, she was encouraged. “There’s a camaraderie that happens in a half [marathon],”she said. “You’re racing and competing but everyone wants everyone to do their best. Even though the race was shut down people with medals were cheering me on.”

Gillispie won’t let her status as a self-described “distressed runner” affect her future, however. “It’s the most beautiful race I’ve ever run. I’ll come back next year.”

As for the veteran emergency medical technician, Bailey said he celebrated “Freeman Bailey Day” just like he celebrates every day. “I’m just thankful to be doing well and healthy,” he said. “I enjoy it the best I can.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tom Bozarth says he won't seek a third term as mayor

Mayor Tom Bozarth (Photo by Dick Yarmy)
Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth announced in his weekly column in today's edition of The Woodford Sun that he will not seek a third four-year term in next year's elections.

"After my current term ends, I will have served 12 years in public office, two terms on the council and two terms as mayor," Bozarth wrote. "I have also served seven years on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky League of Cities, two years as an officer and last month was elected as president of the organization. While I appreciate being encouraged by several friends and colleagues to run for other political offices, I am a strong believer that there needs to be term limits for elected officials. Therefore, I am imposing my own term limit knowing that our work over the past several years has set Midway on course for an even brighter future."

Bozarth, a Thoroughbred bloodstock agent, wrote that he made the decision last spring "after much discussion" with his girlfriend Danielle Tussey, his family and friends. Filing for offices in the 2014 election opened last week and closes at 4 p.m. Jan. 28. If more than two candidates file for mayor, a primary will reduce the number to two. All six city council seats will also be on the ballot.

Shortly before the 2010 filing deadline, Bozarth said he would not seek a second term, but changed his mind. "I had some things I wanted to do ... but I was approached by some people I respect in the community who talked to me and asked me to run again," he said then, declining to name them. Bozarth was re-elected by 483 votes to 104 for Scott Hayes, a Woodford County ambulance technician who mounted a write-in campaign after he missed the filing deadline.

Bozarth writes today, "I have enjoyed being your mayor of the best small city in Kentucky. We have accomplished a lot for the betterment of our community over the last seven years and I look forward adding to these accomplishments over the next year. I want to thank all the council members that I served with during my terms for their cooperation, hard work and putting Midway first. It has been an experience of a life time for me. Thank you citizens of Midway for electing me to serve as your mayor!"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day-late trick or treat caters to kids of all ages

Court Levering used a hollow stump
to burn a bonfire, with spooky results!
By Morgen Wells
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Princesses and turtles alike roamed the streets of Midway in search of candy Friday.

While weather delayed trick-or-treat for a day, families still enjoyed the Halloween tradition.  Nov. 1 proved an excellent day for trick-or-treat; the weather was warm, breezy and dry, in contrast to the storms of Halloween night.

Many families dressed in coordinating costumes. Some young teens braved the spooky night sans chaperones, while tots slept in strollers.

Jon Maybriar made fresh kettle corn to hand out to the trick-or-treaters, and is friend Luther White donned a costume to help.

Others, such as Court Levering and Shannon Hawkins, sat near fires to to keep warm. Many houses were decorated with cobwebs and lights, and others went so far as to include fog machines.
Debra Shockley and Hope Ramos
in front of Shockley's house
Overall, the unseasonably warm night was a success, as kids scampered home with undoubtedly enough candy to last until Christmas.
Walter Titze 
Emma Horn, as a bat
Amber Smith, Dakota Shepard, Kaitlyn Agee, Marcie Shepard and Abby Shepard
Scott Shelton's yard decorations
Shelton handing out candy
Lorenzo and Malaya Morton
Elliot Elkins
Kate McLean, Sharon Cross and Elizabeth Luster
Kyle and Gracie Fetters
Eric and Ellen Gregory's house decorations
Victoria and Kaitlyn Lobsiger 
Sophia, Samuel and Nate Walker with their father
Scott and Maddy Midkiff
Nolan, Payton, Eli, Jenny, Ryan Asher
Bethany Langdon's UK Jack o'lantern
Another Langdon Jack o'lantern
Langdon yard decorations
Enter if you dare!
Jeremy Caudle as Paul Bunyan 
Duncan Gregory as a "Duncan Donut"
Sarah Gregory as a baker
Parker Craig in a homemade Lego costume
Mike Warren 

In meeting at Midway College, economic-development board hears reasons for concern and hope on campus

By Allan Ducker
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

When the Woodford County Economic Development Authority board came to Midway College for its monthly meeting Oct. 25, it heard some concerns about the college. While the main focus of the meeting was the authority’s annual audit, a discussion about Midway College revealed some concerning statistics about the college as it moves forward.

Ellen Gregory, vice president of marketing and communications at the college, gave the members of the authority an update on the college, including a significant enrollment drop that led to layoffs, and a need to increase fund-raising.

In an interview Gregory gave several reasons for the 18 percent drop in enrollment for the fall semester from last fall, to 1,362 students. She said the college saw its largest graduating class this past spring, and recruitment “is a major challenge, as the market for private colleges is getting smaller and smaller.”

The enrollment is an even bigger concern at Midway because it is a “tuition dependent institution,” Gregory told the board. She said only 3 to 4 percent of the college’s annual budget at the college is from fundraising, so it relies on tuition to fund programs more than most private colleges.

Gregory told the board that the college has set a 10 percent fundraising goal, “in line with other institutions of similar size and makeup.”

In the interview, she cited the college’s youth as a four-year institution (it granted its first four-year degrees in 1991) and unique alumni base (all resident students are women) as reasons for the low rate of fundraising.

Gregory said in a follow-up email that only 3 to 4 percent of Midway alumni donate to the college. Centre College in Danville, founded in 1819, has a 52 percent alumni giving rate. Gregory said Midway College is always looking for new ways to engage alumni, and keep pace with other institutions of its kind.

Another note from the meeting was the news that the college has switched from a per-credit hour tuition model to a flat model. The residential tuition cost is $11,000 per semester; in the past, students paid $600 to $700 per credit hour. This led to difficult schedule planning for some students, Gregory said, and the decision to change to a flat model was done entirely to benefit students, recruitment and enrollment. She said the new model benefits students by allowing them to freely schedule classes at a flat cost, rather than scheduling the amount of hours based upon finances.

Board member Sonny Jones asked for a comparison of tuition at Midway to institutions of similar size and market. Gregory said she wasn’t sure how the college compared to public institutions, but “Last time we looked we were somewhere near the upper middle for private schools.”

While some in the community may be worried about the direction of the college, given last year’s forced departure of William Drake as president, the losses suffered from the pharmacy-school project that was abandoned and the recent enrollment drop and layoffs, Gregory told the board that with the new influx of leadership the college is on the rise, and progressing in ways not seen before. She said it is looking to expand and crate programs that will attract students.

The board expressed interest in helping the college improve. Soper noted that EDA and Midway officials would like to attract “green jobs” to the community, and “We think having the college here would be a sales point.” He said part of EDA’s mission is helping large employers, and “I hope we have started a dialogue today that we can continue.”