Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Festival drew what looked like biggest crowd ever

Sam Said of Lexington worked at one of the many food booths.
Main Street in Midway was filled with people, dogs, farm animals and a lot more Saturday and Sunday for the 39th annual Midway Fall Festival. The event displayed local arts and crafts, food, and music. People from all over the area were invited to "an old-fashioned family festival, filled with small town hospitality." While adults shopped the white-top tents and open shops for crafts, clothes and more, the children could take a ride on a mini train, feed various goats and sheep, or careen down a bouncy obstacle course. Even away from Main Street, activity was everywhere. Churches and houses alike had yard sales set up out of their garages. People from all over Central Kentucky flocked to the streets of Midway to experience the weekend festival, and the weather cooperated. Woodford Sun correspondent John McDaniel estimated the two-day crowd at 17,000. Photos and text by Tessa Lighty, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
     Children and adults got around the crowded streets of Midway with the Choo-Choo.

    Addison Jarrard of Lawrenceburg performed with the Agility Gymnastics Academy.

     Jim Olive of Lexington played the banjo next to one of the stairs on East Main Street.

Ashlee Vanhoose, right, of Lexington, took a picture of her one-year-old, Casom, at the petting zoo.

     A wide selection of honey was on display at the 39th annual Midway Fall Festival on Sunday.

Oct. 2 forum will include City Council candidates

The Oct. 2 candidate forum at Midway College will include candidates for the Midway City Council, contrary to an earlier Messenger item. The press release from the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce says three of the six council candidates have agreed to participate: Stephen Craig, Libby Warfield and Council Member Sara Hicks. Only six candidates are running for the six council seats, with the withdrawal of Peggy Sharon from the race.

The forum will also include the candidates for mayor, Council Members Sharon Turner and Grayson Vandegrift; Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs and challenger Ethyle Noel; Family Court Circuit Judge Tamra Gormley and challenger Lisa Hart Morgan; and District Judge Vanessa Dickson and challenger Chad Wells.

The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Duthie Auditorium in the Anne Hart Raymond Building. All candidates are welcome to arrive and set up information tables in the lobby at 6 p.m. to talk with guests individually. Candidates are welcome to stay after the event in the lobby area to speak with guests. The forum is sponsored by the chamber, the college and the Midway Woman’s Club.

Construction has started on Midway McDonald's

Ground was broken Monday morning for construction of the McDonald's restaurant in the Green Gables development in the southeast quadrant of the Interstate 64 interchange in Midway. Approval has also been granted for a Subway restaurant. The community still awaits an announcement about a factory that may locate in Midway Station, on the interchange's northeast quadrant. (Photos by Joseph Haydon)

Monday, September 22, 2014

City Council to meet with Versailles; committee meetings called; candidate forum set for Oct. 2

Several special meetings involving the Midway City Council have been called for this week.

The Midway and Versailles city councils will have a joint meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 at the offices of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, 300 N. Main St., Versailles, to discuss issues related to cooperation among governments.

Shortly before that, the Midway council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 regarding roof replacement bids for the Rau Building, which houses City Hall.

The Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee of the Midway council will meet Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss a request for a mausoleum in the Midway Cemetery.

The special committee appointed by the mayor will meet Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Midway Branch Library to discuss the common area of Northridge Estates.

The other committee meetings will be held at City Hall, 101 E. Main St. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

In a related matter, the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce has announced details of its second forum for political candidates, to be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2 in the auditorium of the Raymond Building at Midway College. Candidates for mayor, district judge, family court judge and circuit judge have agreed to appear. There will be no forum for city council because the withdrawal of Peggy Sharon as a candidate has left six candidates seeking six seats. The forum is also sponsored by the college and the Midway Woman's Club.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Midway Fall Festival is Saturday and Sunday

They're not quite sure if it's the 39th or the 40th, but the people of Midway are proud of their Fall Festival, and with good reason. It usually has great weather, big crowds, good entertainment and other attractions. It runs Saturday from 10 to 6 and Sunday from 11 to 5.

Midway merchants are promoting the downtown event as the 40th annual, but John McDaniel, the Midway correspondent for The Woodford Sun, reported this week that he discovered that the first festival was actually held on June 26, 1976, as Midway Bicentennial Saturday. It was "so much fun that it became an annual event," McDaniel wrote.

The R.J. Corman Railroad Co. wasn't able to fulfill its plans for a dinner train to Midway and maybe Frankfort a few years ago, but it will have a dining car from its Lexington-Versailles dinner train on display Saturday. The steam engine it usually brings is under repair.

Here's the entertainment schedule for Saturday: 10 a.m., Midway Children’s Choir; 12:30 p.m., Bark Alley band; 1:45, Jones Family Band; 3 p.m., Aaron Hamilton Project, a jazz band with Midway Council Member Aaron Hamilton. on Sunday, Billy and Lauren Hill will play at 1:15 p.m. and the Wildcat Cloggers will entertain at 2:15. For more information see www.MidwayFallFestival.org.

Kevin Locke renamed to state housing-building board

Gov. Steve Beshear has reappointed Midway architect Kevin Locke to a four-year term on the Kentucky Board of Housing, Building and Construction. Locke, of Ross Tarrant Architects of Lexington, represents the Kentucky Society of Architects.

Council OKs deal to help Lexington project, hears it could help finance Midway Station development

The Midway City Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday morning to create a nonprofit corporation that can sell tax-exempt bonds for projects that use tax-increment financing, a scheme that uses most of the tax revenue generated by a project to pay off the project's debt.

The proposal was made by the Kentucky League of Cities to help finance the CentrePointe development in the heart of downtown Lexington, but it could help Midway and developer Dennis Anderson turn the long-dormant Midway Station into the commercial and residential area he has envisioned for six years.

Mayor Tom Bozarth read a letter from Anderson saying that he intends to ask for tax-increment financing to redo the public infrastructure in the 185 acres north of Interstate 64. Monday night, Anderson estimated that cost at $31 million.

Bozarth said John Soper, chair of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the property, told him that EDA is also supportive of the TIF idea. Bozarth is president of the League of Cities this year.

Temple Juett, attorney for the League of Cities, said Midway would have no liability if the CentrePointe project of developer Dudley Webb fails. "It's a little risky," he said. Webb attorney Darby Turner said most the bonds for the project will probably be bought by bond funds and mutual funds.

Council Member Bruce Southworth said, "I'm not against it, but what's in it for us?" Bozarth said creation of the nonprofit corporation would create another option for Anderson "or anyone else who wants to do development in Midway." He said it would not affect the city's bonding authority.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Council hears about tax-increment financing; developer says it would greatly increase Midway Station prospects

By Tessa Lighty, Paige Mullen, Sarah Brookbank and Quinn Schwartz
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

It has been a roller-coaster ride for Midway Station, the failed industrial park, but the development could be back on track with tax-increment financing, which developer Dennis Anderson says would greatly increase the chances of it becoming a mixed-use development.

Tax-increment financing allows a city or county to create a TIF district and use the increase in future tax revenue from development within that area to fund the cost of public infrastructure for the development. Representatives of Commonwealth Economics, which is working for Anderson, explained TIF to the Midway City Council at its meeting Monday night.

TIF is “used to help local governments jump-start improvements in declining or underperforming urban areas where development would not otherwise occur,” according to the Kentucky League of Cities website. Turning Midway Station into a TIF project would allow the area, once developed, to use the increased state and local tax revenue within the district, to keep the money local, as opposed to spread around the state.

"It allows even the smaller cities to recover some of the tax dollars that they generate and send to the state. You don’t know where the state is going to allocate those dollars," Casey Bolton of Commonwealth Economics told the council. He said TIF does not create new taxes, tax exemptions or any restrictions on the property in the district.

Anderson (right, photo by Tessa Lighty) didn't speak during the meeting, but he told the Midway Messenger afterward, “The chances of this project happening become greatly increased with the TIF.” He said the estimated cost of reconstructing streets, utilities and other infrastructure in the 185 acres of non-industrial property for residential and commercial use would be roughly $31 million.

“It sounds like a huge amount, but it is over a 20-year period. Nine million dollars a year,” he said. “There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be changed. . . . When you go to change the elevation of a lot, then the street changes, the sidewalk changes, and everything changes with it. . . . Also, the electric there is not appropriate for a mixed-use community so it has to be changed as well.” Anderson said the infrastructure would be the property of the city.

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority developed Midway Station as an industrial park 24 years ago, but it has created fewer than 10 jobs. After a proposal to relocate Bluegrass Stockyards on the property ran into local opposition, Anderson signed a tentative deal in 2008 to buy and develop the property as a residential and commercial development. The area was rezoned but Anderson said in 2009 that development had been delayed by “lackluster economic conditions.” In January 2011, Anderson signed a new deal with the EDA in which he pays the taxes on the property and the interest on the $6 million debt the county and city incurred to develop it.

Prospects for development have improved recently, with rezoning of the rear of the property for a major industrial prospect the EDA is recruiting and commercial development of property Anderson owns on the south side of Interstate 64. The planning and zoning commission took no action last week on a request that some adjoining property behind the industrial area also be zoned industral.

A TIF district brings back 80% of state income tax, property tax and corporate liability taxes and 100% of local income, occupational licensing fees and real estate taxes, Brett Antle of Commonwealth Economics told the council. Examples of TIF areas are the Yum! Center in Louisville and the new Kroger-centered development in Versailles.

The council wasn't asked to do anything regarding Midway Station, but it was asked to approve an agreement with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to help finance a major TIF project in downtown Lexington, the CentrePointe hotel and related development. The deal was proposed by the Kentucky League of Cities, of which Mayor Tom Bozarth is president.

After Council Member Bruce Southworth said he wanted more time to study the proposal, the council scheduled a special meeting for 8 a.m. Friday to act on it. For more information on the project, from the Lexington Herald-Leader, click here.

The council decided to wait until a joint meeting with the Versailles council to act on Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle's request that the cities pay the county more for emergency-management services for the current fiscal year, on the promise from Coyle that the county would consider reducing the amounts for the following year. The county wants Midway to pay about $700 a month for the services; it has been paying $500.

In other business, the council approved  a request to add three names to the Midway Veteran’s Memorial (John L. Dotson, Vietnam/Persian Gulf, and Martin Goldey and Jeffery D. Spencer, Iraq/Afghanistan); a new electricity franchise ordinance; and a permit for St. Matthew’s Church to close the sidewalk for its fish fry. It gave first reading to an ordinance on encroachment permits, a subject of some controversy this summer.

Information for this story was also gathered by Jackson L. Reams.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Midway College says its budget is likely to stay balanced despite another decline in enrollment

By Midway Messenger Staff

Amid yet another decrease in enrollment, Midway College announced last Thursday that it had a balanced budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 and said it is likely to stay that way.

The school experienced an 18 percent decrease in enrollment from 2012 to 2013, and said in a press release that it had declined this fall to 1,140 students from 1,362, a drop of nearly 17 percent. The loss was entirely in the what the press release called the nationally declining “non-traditional market” for students over age 24, or the college's coeducational programs. The Women's College enrollment went up by two students, to 294.

Dr. John Marsden, president
"Enrollments are of course a significant part of looking at the vitality of an institution. However they do not, and cannot, tell the entire picture," college President John P. Marsden said in a press release. He said "fundraising, budgeting, managing expenses and sound business practices all impact the bottom line," and the college is likely to have a balanced budget in the current fiscal year.

Marsden said in the release that he was unaware of the budget issues when he was hired in February 2013. "I was incorrectly told there would be a balanced budget," he said. "Once on campus, I discovered significant budget issues and we immediately took action."

To balance the budget, Marsden and college trustees were faced with a number of difficult decisions. Perhaps the toughest was the release of 14 faculty members and 16 staffers in the fall of 2013, as well as suspending contributions to faculty retirement accounts. According to Marsden, a balanced budget would not have been possible without these changes.

Seven of the former faculty members, all from the School of Business, filed a lawsuit against the college alleging breach of contract and age discrimination. The suit claim the terminations failed to consider seniority, special skills and job performance, as well as failing to involve the former faculty members in any discussions about the supposed financial hardships. The case is pending.

The press release focused on the positive developments that helped the college climb out of its deficit of $1.8 million, such as the partnership with a Panamanian government agency that will send the college 26 students per year for a college readiness program at full tuition.

Other changes use to balance the budget included outsourcing dining and physical-plant services, creating a new tuition payment process, improving collections, suspending the match for employee retirement funds, and greater fundraising efforts. It said fundraising other than estate gifts was up 60 percent in the recently ended fiscal year.

The release made nothing more than a footnote of the reason the college ran into trouble in the first place. It said the 2012-13 fiscal year "was a year of recovery from substantial losses for Midway College from discontinued pursuit of a School of Pharmacy and misaligned spending during periods of declining enrollment." For more on that, click here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chamber to raise funds with art auction at college

A benefit art auction for the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce will be held Saturday, Sept. 13, in the Anne Hart Raymond Building at Midway College. The art preview will begin at 6 p.m. and the auction will start at 7.

More than 200 works of art "by nationally and internationally recognized artists will be auctioned, as well as three pieces donated by local artists, galleries, and community members," the chamber said in a press release. "Beginning bids will be below retail gallery prices. . . . A magnificent piece of art will be raffled off the night of the auction."

Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres donated by chamber members who are helping sponsor the event will be served.  Admission is $5 in advance or $10 at the door. For more information contact Chamber Executive Director Don Vizi at woodforddirector@gmail.com.