Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Council starts paying for fire truck; mayor, prompted, says he'll 'get the ball rolling' with county on ambulance

By Paige Hobbs, Anthony Pendleton, Kayla Loy and Arion Wright
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council meeting Monday night focused on issues of public safety.

The council voted to pay $50,000 toward a fire truck that has been custom-built for the city, and after Council Member Libby Warfield expressed her concerns about the lack of an ambulance in Midway, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he would talk to county officials and "get the ball rolling on that."

The new fire truck, which is completed and has been inspected, will replace the city's 43-year-old truck and will join the city's only other truck, which is 11 years old. "The company building the fire truck is getting pretty antsy to see some kind of money down."

That company is Dublin, Ohio-based Sutphen Fire Apparatus, which won a bid last year to build the truck for $232,258. The city has budgeted $125,000 for a down payment and plans to finance the rest but is seeking bids on interest rates for that.

Vandegrift said Midway's contract with Sutphen does not say the city will lose the truck if they fail to pay on time, which is "probably why the company wants the money now." The mayor said he'd like to get the down payment to Sutphen soon because "we don't want to reflect poorly on the city of Midway." Council Member Bruce Southworth suggested $50,000 and that was adopted.

Warfield raised the concern over the city's lack of an ambulance during her campaign last fall and said she would continue to bring it up every time she heard of something related to the issue. . .

Warfield said her brother-in-law, 53-year-old Philip Karrick of Northridge Estates, had three heart attacks Monday and his "life was barely saved" after he had to wait 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Versailles.

“That twenty-five minutes has to be like three hours when you’re all alone,” Warfield said. “We can’t go on just like this much longer. . . . We are so completely exposed to not have an ambulance more than twenty-five minutes away, it’s just archaic,” She asked, “What can we do?”

Vandegrift held back tears during Warfield's speech and said, “We are long overdue for an ambulance. There are six ambulances in Woodford County. Twenty percent of the phone calls come from Magisterial District One, so the math shows how long overdue it is.”

Vandegrift said he would speak with Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle about the issue. “There have been other issues in the past where the city council has gone to fiscal court . . . and I think we should go in good faith,” he said Vandegrift. “I’ll get that set up. I’ll talk to the judge and get the ball rollin' on that.”

Council Member Daniel Roller, chairman of the council's Finance Committee, suggested speaking with Linda Popp of Midway, the newly elected magistrate for District 1.

An amblance in Midway would need a station and a staff. Warfield said after the meeting that a new fire and ambulance station could be built in or near Midway.

In 2014, then-Magistrate Larry Craig told the council that the Fiscal Court had advertised for bids for a sixth ambulance, and the next step should be one for Midway.

This broken sign was discussed at the council meeting.
Council Member Sarah Hicks raised two areas of citizen concern that she said were brought to her attention. One merchant was concerned about the use of neon signage by several businesses, which Hicks said is prohibited in the Downtown Midway Historic District.

Vandegrift noted that there are about four businesses in town with such signs, but he read the ordinance aloud, showing that it doesn't mention neon but prohibits "flashing and moving lights." He said he would look into the issue with executive director of countywide Planning Commission, Pattie Wilson.

Wilson told the Midway Messenger that neon signs are not allowed on the exterior of buildings in the historic district, but signs that hang inside windows are allowed.

Hicks also expressed concern about the possble effect on traffic of a dumpster at the Midway Grocery. The council decided to refer this issue to the Streets and Public Works Committee.

Warfield expressed concerns about the procedure for downtown decorations, which have been supplied by Wilson’s Nursery in Frankfort without bids. The cost last spring was $2,163. Warfield, concerned about the expense and lack of bidding, suggested opening up the process and rewarding holders of Midway business licenses. "I have no problem with Wilson’s," she said. "Everything they do is darn near perfect, but … we may need to check into allowing some other people to have an opportunity."

Vandegrift said he would have no problem with that. "It's going to be the policy of this administration that we bid out a lot of stuff," he said.

The “Welcome to Midway” sign located on southbound US 62 just off of Leestown Road is once again broken. Vandegrift wants to consider using a material other than wood so the sign will not break every eight to ten months.

Vandegrift announced two calendar dates. There will be a pre-construction conference for the Higgins Street water line project at 3 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, and Relay for Life will have a kick-off Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Equus Run Vineyards.

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