Friday, May 30, 2014

Council set to approve budget, fireworks ordinance

UPDATE, June 3: The council took the actions as planned on the agenda.

Final approval of the city's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is on the agenda for the regular meeting of the Midway City Council at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 2. The latest draft of the budget and other materials for the meeting can be downloaded here.

The agenda also includes final approval of an ordinance governing the storage, display, use and sales of fireworks in the city, and first reading of amendments to the countywide zoning ordinance recently recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Linda Popp gets 40.5 percent of the vote in defeating Magistrate Craig, former city councilman Benson

Linda Popp will be the new magistrate representing the Midway area on the Woodford County Fiscal Court, the county's governing body.

Popp won 40.5 percent of the vote in defeating Magistrate Larry Craig, who got 32.25 percent, and former city council member Dale Benson, who got 27.26 percent, according to the State Board of Elections website. (The figures add to 100.1 because of rounding.)

The vote was in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed, and no independent has served the required candidacy notice, so Popp will join the other seven magistrates in early January.

Popp ran an aggressive campaign. At the polls yesterday, retired journalist George Harper, 75, said he voted for Popp because "She's the only one who came by the house."

Susan McCall, a friend and former employee of Popp's, said she and Popp campaigned until "late last night. . . . I don't know of a door that we missed."

After Craig gave a report at last night's Midway City Council meeting, members told him he was free to return to campaigning. He said he had finished campaigning.

Popp is a financial representative for AIG Financial Network and was the owner of Country Classic, a gift shop, restaurant and catering business in Midway, which closed in 2006. She is a member of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, the Midway Merchants Association and Women in Business. She said she was born in Versailles and has lived in Midway 41 years.

In a pre-election interview with the Midway Messenger, Popp said she wants to see more community members involved in discussions about the county and hopes to do this through better communication with constituents.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Move back to college site pleases Francisco's 'farmers'

By Caleb Oakley and Darius Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Featuring more than 90 booths, ranging from jewelry to furniture, ceramics to paintings, and glass to photography, the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival had something for everyone yesterday and today.  

Francisco’s Farm featured 82 artists of many different types from all over the country.  The festival's 10th renewal saw it return to Midway College after a three-year stretch at Equus Run Vineyards.  It also was held five weeks earlier than last year, to avoid the heat. 

The changes appeared to resonate positively with festival-goers and artists alike. “Last year, people were more focused on finding shade than looking at the art,” one passerby said to an artist.

Though the temperature lingered in the 50s, it was a sunny day.  Those not perusing the art sat or sprawled on the college’s manicured lawns, enjoying the live acoustic music, eating refreshments from various food stands, and playing with dogs.

“I think the location may be better this year,” said Godwin Kou, left, an Atlanta watercolor painter making his second appearance at Francisco’s Farm.

J. Bird Cremeans, also a second-year attendee, echoed Kou’s sentiments. “I like the festival in this spot better,” said Cremeans, a photographer and artist from Huntington, W. Va.  “It’s more accessible for visitors. . . . The parking is better.”
(Photos by Caleb Oakley)

Cremeans, right, displayed black and white portraits mimicking those taken in the early 20th century, but with the heads of cute animals. “I was inspired by vintage photography of people who used to dress up their kittens,” she said.

Combs, a woodwork artist who has attended six of the past seven festivals, said, “I didn’t like doing this over at Equus. It was a big field, had too many bugs … it was just a hot mess.”

Sally Kinnaird, a festival volunteer since the festival's inception in 2004, said the biggest problem with being away from the college was the lack of community. “The worst part of Eqqus was that the town of Midway wasn’t connected,” she said. “The festival was losing community support.”

But she was grateful that the vineyard was available when the festival needed a new site after a disagreement with the college. “Thank goodness for Equus letting us continue over there … otherwise the festival would have died.”

Since Dr. John Marsden became president of the college a little over two years ago, one of his goals has been to work more closely with the town of Midway.

During setup Friday, a wind gust damaged the poles of an artist’s tent. Volunteers, including the president’s wife, Margaret Marsden, managed to get the tent to a nearby workshop and had the poles rebuilt within an hour.

“It was a very exciting day, said Melissa Oesch, an artist who makes leatherbound books. “It’s lucky that the mishap happened here as opposed to anywhere else or a random place. The volunteers were amazing.”

Combs said, “One of my favorite aspects are the people who volunteer. The atmosphere is really good here.”

Sara Hicks, the president of Midway Renaissance, the festival's main sponsor, said 1,347 cars parked for Saturday’s showing. Unlike previous years, there was no admittance fee to attend the festival.

The festival is juried, meaning the artists’ works were judged and approved by two experts to appear at the festival.

Lexington resident Christian Honican was impressed with the art he found at Francisco’s Farm this year.

“I’ve found things here you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” said Honican, lifting the bag of purchased ceramics in his hand.  “I’ll definitely come back next year.”

Francisco's Farm Arts Festival continues until 5 today

The Francisco's Farm Arts Festival continues until 5 p.m. today at Midway College. Here are some photographs from yesterday, by Darius Owens of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

College has four new academic degree programs

Midway College announced today that it has several new academic degree programs: Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice; Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting (BBA), Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication, and a Master of Education (M.Ed) Teacher Leader Program. The programs are part of a three-year strategic plan which calls for the addition of new academic programs to support enrollment, which declined last year.

"These new programs in Accounting, Criminal Justice and Integrated Marketing Communication were developed by our faculty in response to the market needs in the area and in consultation with our admissions office on requests they have received over the past few years for these programs," said Dr. Laura Armesto, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"The Master of Education (M.Ed) Teacher Leader program is designed for current teachers to earn a master's degree with a teacher leader endorsement and Rank II status. It is offered online with a few face-to-face courses to allow working teachers to complete the coursework and remain in their classroom with their students. The Accounting and Criminal Justice majors will be offered in our Women's College, and for our co-ed students in the evening and online."

Meanwhile, Armesto announced that the Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management will now be offered online "for student convenience and to offer this specialized program to a larger audience. It will continue to be a program offered on our Midway campus for our Women's College students."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Council accepts $232,258 bid for new fire truck

The Midway City Council voted this morning to accept the low bid of $232,258 on a fire truck to replace one that is 42 years old, part of Mayor Tom Bozarth's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The city has one other truck, which is 10 years old.

Bozarth appointed a committee of Council Members Dan Roller, Sharon Turner and Grayson Vandegrift to determine the best way to finance the purchase. Turner and Vandegrift are running to suceeed Bozarth, who is not seeking re-election.

The draft version of Bozarth's budget calls for the city to spend $125,000 of its $205,000 surplus on the fire truck. He has suggested financing the rest of it with a low-interest loan from the state.

The low bid of five opened May 9 was made by Sutphen Fire Apparatus of Dublin, Ohio. Its bid was $1,047 less than the next highest bid. "Versailles bought a fire truck from them and they're very happy with it," Bozarth said.

Council Member Sara Hicks asked if the city sought bids from any Kentucky companies. Bozarth said it did,and an Edgewood company bid $238,628. He said High Tech Rescue of Shelbyville, which submitted the highest bid of $253,534, is only a distributor for an Iowa manufacturer.

Bozarth said he, Fire Chief Butch Armstrong and other firefighters "looked at the two low bids" and agreed to recommend the Sutphen bid. He said the company is relatively close and has a good service network in the area.

In other business, the council voted to reduce the city's contribution to the combined emergency services department to $5,896 from $8,309 and have city attorney Phil Moloney send a letter asking that the formula for city contributions be renegotiated.

Mira Ball to receive award for service to Midway College

Mira Ball
Midway College Life Trustee Mira Ball will receive Midway College's new Legacy Award at the college's inaugural Spotlight Awards on June 5. The Legacy Award honors a person who has impacted the college over a period of many years by giving time, service, support and/or resources.

"We are very pleased to present our first ever Legacy Award to Mira Ball - a woman who gives so much of herself to so many," President John Marsden said in a news release. "She has served on the Midway College Board of Trustees since 1990, was the first woman chair of our board, and. was elected Life Trustee in 2000. More recently, she stepped in to assist the institution as interim chair in 2013 during a transitional period. Mrs. Ball's time, expertise, charitable support and friendship to the college cannot be quantified; they are priceless."

Ball has made contributions to many other organizations in Kentucky are impressive. From 2007-2010, she was the first woman chair of the trustees at the University of Kentucky, her alma mater. In 1991, she became the first woman president of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce. She is the first and only woman ever elected to the Kentucky Utilities Board of Directors. She serves on the Endowment Board of Kentucky Educational Television and is chief financial officer of Ball Homes LLC, which she and her husband Don incorporated in 1959.

The Spotlight Awards will be held Thursday, June 5 at Midway College. The evening will include a sit-down dinner, a keynote address by 1972 Olympic diving gold medalist Micki King award presentations. The other award to be presented during the evening will be the Pinkerton Vision Award, for which nominations are being taken through May 20. For more information about the event, how to nominate someone for the Pinkerton Vision Award or tickets, call 859-846-5300 or visit www.midway.edu/spotlight.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Barn at Station being moved to make way for industry

By Kristen Sekinger
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A familiar barn on Midway Station property that was recently zoned industrial is being moved this week to the family farm of Steve and Tom Greathouse a half-mile down Georgetown Road.

Midway Station has streets and sidewalks – and a barn, but not for long.
Because the barn sits near the Midway Station water tower and is near Interstate 64, it is a familiar sight in the area. It sits on property that the Woodford County Economic Development Authority bought more than 20 years ago for an industrial park that has largely failed.

But late last year, Steve Greathouse said, EDA representatives told the family there were industrial prospects for the property and the barn was in the way. The 43-acre section of Midway Station was recently rezoned because EDA has industrial prospects for it, perhaps an automobile-parts plant that could employ hundreds.

The Greathouse brothers brought up the idea of moving the barn to their farm. “We’ve rented the property for the past three years to put corn and tobacco up there and then used the barn to house tobacco,” Steve Greathouse said.

Sonny Jones, a member of the EDA board, said the authority also wants to preserve the barn. “Too many of these old barns are being cast aside,” he said. We’d really rather not do that.” Jones said the Greathouses “lost a barn in a windstorm, so they need a barn, they have a property that is down the same road on the other side very close to there, a half mile away.”

The barn is being moved with a tractor-trailer and heavy steel devices that are necessary in order to move a barn.

A Kentucky Utilities crew recently raised a power line for the move.
“First you have to put steel in there and then brace it to the sides of the posts, and then use cables in the barn to tie it together, and then they use air jacks and just raise it up and put it on wheels,” said Greathouse. He said Sunday that those preparations should be completed Tuesday or Wednesday.

“It will take a tractor across three fence lines, under a power line and then it will make a left to go west and go across the road up on top of the hill where the foundation is already there. I’ve already done all my leg work, the foundation is in and the pole is up,” Greathouse said. “It will be used for farm purposes, tobacco and storage, equipment and whatever else is necessary for the farm.”

The barn is thought to have been built in the 1930s, but it is unknown exactly how old it is. “I’m guessing the barn was put up in the 30s when the tobacco program was first instituted,” Greathouse said. “A whole lot of these barns in this area were built during that time.”

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Midway photo gallery

Photos by Erin Grigson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Click on any of the images for a larger version and the full gallery.

 The Midway sign and the water towers are two landmarks you will see going into town.
Behind Midway College, there is a train on the tracks. It is no longer is use.
On a snowy day in February, some of the horses of Lilly Mae Farm/Hattiesburg Farm came out to visit.

New stoplight set to go into action Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Midway's second stoplight, installed by the state Department of Highways, is scheduled to go live Tuesday, May 13, at 10 a.m. The intersection of Leestown Road (US 421) and Georgetown Road (KY 341) adjacent to Interstate 64 has been the scene of many accidents. It currently has a flashing yellow light for traffic on Leestown Road and flashing red for traffic coming off the interstate and Georgetown Road. This photo was taken from the entrance to the new Green Gables development, which already has a turn lane and is expected to generate more traffic. Meanwhile, the Chevron station in the distance has closed, apparently a victim of competition with the new Shell station with a full-service convenience store in Green Gables.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Incumbent, former councilman and political newcomer seek to represent Midway district on Fiscal Court

By Rachel Aretakis
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Three Midway citizens are vying to be elected magistrate from District 1 on the Woodford County Fiscal Court. 

District 1 has two precincts: No. 2, rural Midway; and No. 21, the city.
Incumbent Larry Craig, Linda Popp and Dale Benson are running in the May 20 Democratic primary.  No Republican or independent filed.

The winner will represent Midway on the county level as one of eight magistrates. Each receives a salary of $21,322 as well as health insurance benefits and a cell phone, Craig said. The salary has not changed since 2008, he said, and he does not accept the insurance or the phone.

The candidates bring different backgrounds and experiences to the race. In separate interviews with the Midway Messenger, they discussed issues such as tourism, community involvement and Midway’s position in the county.

Craig defended his record of improving public services in the district. Popp says she will stay in better touch with constituents. Benson hopes to improve Midway’s relationship with the county and boost tourism.

Larry Craig

Craig has been elected as the Midway area’s magistrate for two four-year terms. He served on the City Council for several terms, beginning when he was in his early 20s, he said. He also has been on the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and county Planning and Zoning Commission; was vice president of Northside Elementary PTO for two terms and president one term; and was on the Woodford County Schools task force when his children were in school. Craig is a retired Lexington firefighter and is also retired from a painting business.

Discussing his work as a magistrate, Craig noted that a stoplight is being installed at Leestown and Georgetown roads and Interstate 64, and the long-sought nursing home is under construction. The county gave $25,000 for a study of the feasibility of a nursing home, which has since become a senior living community with nursing facilities, being built by the non-profit Christian Care Communities.

Craig said fiscal court has purchased one ambulance and has money in the budget for another, which would allow Midway to have an ambulance station.

“I’ve been a strong voice for Midway in District 1,” he said. “The roads in my district are in better shape than they have been in the last several years.”

Craig said roads have been widened, paved, striped and signed, and he drives through the district at least once a week to check road conditions.

“Any time the city council has come to me and had a request, I went to the fiscal court on their behalf and fought strongly for everything they asked me to do,” Craig said. “You don’t always win your battles, but I’ve always spoken up.”

Larry Craig
The biggest city-county conflict recently has been the county’s decision to stop snow removal on Midway’s streets after it became a fourth-class city. Craig said the decision was made by Judge-Executive John Coyle and the county engineer, and was only brought up in a fiscal court meeting. When he found out, he said he called Mayor Tom Bozarth.

At a city council meeting in January 2013, Craig apologized for being several days late in reading an email that Coyle had sent the magistrates advising them of the decision. Once he read it, he said, “I fought very passionately to leave things the way they were.”

Craig said in the recent interview that he could not remember if there had been a vote on the issue because it was a policy change, which doesn’t require a vote, he said: “If it did go to a vote, I’m sure I voted a no on it.”

Craig said he thought it was “silly” that a county snowplow truck would drive through Midway, stop plowing, then resume plowing outside the city limits.

Whoever is elected Midway magistrate, he said, must stand up and sometimes be the only vote on the court for a certain issue that concerns the north end of the county. 

Craig touted the fiscal court’s success at maintaining stability through the last few years.

“We’ve weathered through one of the worst economic downturns in history and haven't cut any services, we didn’t have to raise taxes," he said. "I think that says a lot for job that’s been done.” He said, the county recycling center in Versailles has been streamlined and is more efficient. 

Looking ahead, Craig said he would like to promote Midway College, one of the county’s biggest employers, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is headquartered in Versailles.

“When employers are looking to locate in a community, they  . . . want to see that the community puts an emphasis on education” and quality of life, he said. “They want to see a trained work force.”

Craig said it is important to encourage tourism including leisure activities and restaurants. He would like to see a hotel in Woodford County, which only has bed-and-breakfast lodging, to create more revenue from the lodging tax that is dedicated to tourism promotion.

Linda Popp

Popp is a financial representative for AIG Financial Network and was the owner of Country Classic, a gift shop, restaurant and catering business in Midway, which closed in 2006. She is a member of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, the Midway Merchants Association and Women in Business. She said she was born in Versailles and has lived in Midway 41 years. 

Linda Popp
One of Popp’s main goals is to educate the community about county government and what a magistrate does. She referred to her advertisements in The Woodford Sun, one of which read, “So many of you have asked, ‘What are the duties of a magistrate?’ A magistrate is a voting member of your Fiscal Court; determines county budgets and enacts ordinances; issues bonds and hires county personnel, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics.”

Popp said she tries to be involved in many different things. “We’ve all got issues,” she said, "but my issues and concerns are my people in the communities. I want to be their voice to see that things can happen in the future.”

Popp said she wants to see more community members involved in discussions about the county and hopes to do this through better communication with constituents.

“People don’t know what is going on,” she said. “My intention is being out around people in my district and going around and checking on them in the next four years. I’m not going to wait until the next election to go see them.”

A big concern Popp expressed is that the community does not work together.

“I come from the old school where everyone worked together as a community, and I don’t think we have that in our community anymore. I think it’s very separated between Midway and Versailles and the southern end”of the county, she said.

Dale Benson                     

Benson said he has lived in Woodford County his entire life and moved to Midway when he was 25. Six years ago, he completed his fourth two-year term on the City Council. He said he was the yearling manager at Airdrie Stud for more than 20 years and has worked in the horse industry for more than 33 years.

During his time on the council, Benson said, he was instrumental in the revitalization of downtown, developed the trails for the city park, and was actively involved in getting the city streets repaved as the chairman of that committee.

Benson expressed views similar to Popp’s about the county, saying there is dissension among its governing bodies. At the county level, he said, Midway is looked upon as “the little brother.”

Dale Benson
“The common denominator for all of us is that we are Woodford countians. That’s the one thing that we all can say we are,” Benson said, adding that he would like to see everyone start thinking with that in common and look to the future to work together.

“Woodford County, with three government entities, is never going to make great strides forward if what we spend most of our time doing is talking about who owes what to whom and not having a fair formula for determining that.”

Midway will pay Versailles $100,000 a year for police services over the next four years, up from about $70,000 this year. Benson said the fee isn’t wrong, but is arbitrary.

He wants a task force made up of government officials, private industry representatives and citizens to find ways to increase efficiency by merging various services.

Benson also calls for a more determined effort for tourism in Woodford County, and says the county can better capitalize on what it has to offer, such as the thoroughbred industry and the Bourbon Trail. “I feel like we are sitting on a gold mine,” he said.

He suggested two ways the county could do more to increase tourism: Encourage hotel construction to generate more lodging-tax revenue and create a paid position to promote tourism in the county. A hotel could be built next to the interstate, he said, which would bring in tax money to promote tourism. Eventually, he would like to see a full-time director of tourism so someone is held accountable. 

“Once you commit real funds to something,” he said, “it puts more pressure on the elected officials to make sure it works.”

He said the county is "overlooking our best opportunity for long-term success,” tourism.
“I want to help Midway be the front door of Woodford County instead of the back door.”

 Merging road and street departments

Recently, Bozarth said he wanted to merge Midway's street department with Woodford County's road department and the Versailles street department. He said in an April 22 Midway Messenger article that Midway citizens would save money and it would be more efficient.

Coyle rejected the idea, but all three candidates for Midway magistrate said they favor it. Popp said any time resources are merged, it can only get better.

Craig said it might not save money, but it would increase efficiency. "In the long run, the taxpayers would get more bang for their tax dollar," he said.

Benson said he doesn't think the city really has a street department now, and "The county should be providing the Midway district with basic road department service based on the fact that we are taxpayers and we pay county tax." He said a funding formula would need to be worked out, and Midway might need to pay some sort of stipend for the service.

“I believe most Midway citizens think right now that we don’t get a lot of bang for our buck with our county tax policy," he added.

Special council meeting on budget Tuesday morning

Mayor Tom Bozarth has called a special meeting of the Midway City Council to continue discussions on his proposed city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, at City Hall. Bozarth says the subject matter will be the new fire truck he has proposed buying.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Downtown Midway photo gallery

Photos by Erin Grigson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The City of Midway was founded because it was the middle point between Frankfort and Lexington on Kentucky's first railroad, but it is also midway about between Georgetown and Versailles. The railroad no longer drives business in Midway, but lends an old-fashioned air to a town that has become well known for its restaurants. These pictures are from Main Street, which is bisected by the CSX Corp. tracks leased by R.J. Corman Railroad Co. Click on any picture to see a larger version of it and the full sequence.

Entrance to The Courtyard on East Main Street

A view from The Courtyard, used for art and craft displays

Railroad Drug and Old Time Soda Fountain on East Main

City Hall is at the corner of Winter Street and East Main.

Monument to Col. William R. McKee, killed in Mexican War

Monument detail and Main Street, looking east

A view from West Main Street, looking east

A view from East Main Street, looking west

Trains still pass through several times a day.

Intersection of Gratz Street and the end of East Main

An old caboose reminds visitors of the town's railroad heritage.

The old water tower is known locally as the "Tin Man."

A view looking west toward East Main

Nazarene Church at the corner of Winter and East Main

The tracks follow the original 1833 route of the railway.