Monday, March 3, 2014

Council accepts bid for handicapped ramp, discusses ways to get public to use emergency notification system

This crossing will be reconfigured to include a ramp.
A ramp on Main Street for the handicapped to cross the railroad should be completed by early May, the Midway City Council was told last night after accepting the lowest of six bids on the project.

The council approved the low bid of $26,989 from VanHook Enterprises of Somerset. It had already agreed to pay the contractor on the new Gratz Street wall $5,500 for stone work to make the ramp and related, reconstructed structures match the city's streetscape.

R.J. Corman Railroad Co. has agreed to pay $20,000 toward the work, so the city's cost will be $12,489. The ramp will be build on the north side of the western railroad crossing for pedestrians.

Chris Stewart of HMB Engineers, the city's consultant, said he had not worked with VanHook but "All the references we were able to get in touch with said very good things about them." Mayor Tom Bozarth said the company just finished building a new pharmacy in Versailles.

Once paperwork is completed and VanHook obtains performance bonds, Stewart said, the city should be ready to issue a notice to proceed on or about March 12. The contractor will have 10 days to start work, and then 30 calendar days to complete it. The stone finish work is to be done in 14 addiitonal days, Stewart said, and that would make the completion date around May 7, the middle of the week after the Kentucky Derby.

Derby Week brings many visitors to Midway, so city officials had hoped to get the work done by then, or even in time for the spring Keeneland meet April 4-25. Stewart said the city could delay the work until after the Derby, but Bozarth siad, "I don't think that's a big issue."

With Woodford County Emergency Services Director Keith Slugantz, the council discussed ways to get more citizens to sign up for the high-tech emergency notification system being paid for by the county, Midway and Versailles. Slugantz said only 400 of 25,000 potential users have created accounts on the system, which he called disappointing.

The system, Everbridge, allows citizens to sign up for emergency alerts via text messages, social media, telephone calls and other methods, and to exclude certain alerts (except tornado warnings) and certain time periods. If the system does not sense that an alert has been received, it will try alternate methods until it receives an acknowedgement, Slugantz said.

Operators of the system can target alerts to specific areas or even one building. "We came up with a Cadillac system," Sligantz said. "It will save your life. It has the ability to reach everybody, and I've never been able to do that." Citizens can sign up at www.woodfordalerts.com.

Signup requires an email address. Council Member Sara Hicks said her 89-year-old mother and many other people don't use email or computers, but Slugantz said Hicks could use her account to direct calls to her mother. Hicks suggested training workshops to educate people about the system.

After considerable discussion, the council tentatively agreed to include information about the system in a water-bill mailing. Bozarth said the town is small enough for city officials to make door-to-door visits to explain the system and encourage people to use it, and Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said that could be done if the mailing isn't effective.

Slugantz said Richmond "put a lot of money into an ad campaign" but only 10 percent of potential users signed up. "A lot of people are resistant to giving up their information," he noted, but said the system is "secure and password-protected."

Among other business, the council gave first reading to an ordinance that would replace the current one limiting business operations after midnight, gave formal approval to the lease of city property to Windstream Communications, and approved events permits for two 5K races. Details are available in the council meeting packet, posted here as a PDF.

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