Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Council names new alcohol administrator, starts raising garbage fees, discusses Thurs. forum, senior services

By Nicole Hennard and Jacqueline Nie
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council appointed a new alcoholic-beverage control administrator Monday evening and heard first reading of an ordinance that would slightly increase garbage rates. The council also discussed the upcoming forum on the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance and the availability of services for seniors.

The first order of business was appointing John Wilhoit, assistant police chief in Versailles, as ABC administrator. Versailles police patrol all of Woodford County, including Midway.

Tom Bozarth, who was mayor until the first of the year, had been the administrator, but new Mayor Grayson Vandegrift is ineligible for the job because his restaurant, 815 Prime, holds an alcoholic-beverage license.

Vandegrift said after the meeting that Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott agreed to include Wilhoit's new duties in that city's contract with Midway, at no extra charge. Vandegrift said Wilhoit Is planning to retire in four months, so another new administrator will be needed then.

The new garbage rates would be $12 for residential customers, up from $11.95, and $25.50 for businesses, up from $23.80. Residents get one pickup per week and businesses two; churches can choose to pay the residential fee, but get only receive one pickup per week.

Vandegrift spoke about the forum scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Northside Elementary School gymnasium to discuss the proposed “fairness ordinance” to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The mayor proposed the idea of the ordinance in early February, and city attorney Phil Moloney prepared the drafts in March at the direction of a council committee. The council has been discussing the language in the proposed document and wants input from the residents of Midway.

“The forum will be an opportunity to hear what our residents have to say,” without comments from the council, Vandegrift said. “This will not be a back-and-forth discussion, just a chance for them to speak.” He said said anyone who speaks will have two to three minutes.

The original wording of the proposed ordinance included language similar to that of Indiana's "restoration of religious freedom" law, which made national news, but that wording has been eliminated by the council's Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee.

The council recently agreed that it wants to hear what citizens think before it holds a first reading of the ordinance. “However many people show up, you know, it’s a chance for everybody to speak their mind,” the mayor said.

Council Member Sarah Hicks said after the meeting that she does not know what to expect at the forum. “I think it’s a great thing and I hope that, you know, we find out more about what the community wants,” she said.

Vandegrift added something new at the end of the meeting. He said he wants to conclude all future meetings with an open discussion, asking each council member if they had any concerns or talking points they wanted to bring up to the rest of the council.

Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said she spoke with contractor Bill Blaze about fixing the cemetery sidewalks, which are in need of repair. Gallagher said she is talking with other contractors about the job.

Council Member Bruce Southworth was concerned with the language of the ordinance that bans open burning and was written during a state of emergency. Council Member Libby Warfield was also concerned. “The ordinance we have is not logical. It prohibits gas and charcoal grills,” she said.

Council Member Steven Craig suggested that the fire chief be involved in rewriting the ordinance, and also pointed out that the door of the fire station needs repainting.

Vandegrift said he would like to see the citizens of Midway utilize the Woodford County Senior Citizens Center, which has only one client in the city and wants to get more involved in Midway. In addition to walking around town, the center will have a booth at the fall festival.

The center provides three hot meals a week, rides to doctors’ appointments and to grocery stores for people over 60. “It’s an untapped resource for Midway,” Vandegrift said.

The center receives federal and state funds, along with private donations, so its services are free and only require the client to fill out a piece of paper. Pam Wesley is the new director and can be reached at 873-8384 or pam.wesley@bgcap.org.

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