Friday, September 25, 2015

Story hours bring preschoolers to Midway library

Librarian Cindy Alvarado-Yeary reads “Five Little Monkeys” in the community room.

Story and photos by Nick Roush
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The community room at the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Library was filled Friday, Sept. 18, for Preschool Story Hour.  Librarian Cindy Alvarado-Yeary read “Five Little Monkeys” to five children and their families, but they did much more than read during the hour.

The children had snacks, which they shared with the puppets Alvarado-Yeary brought to entertain.  As she read the book, right, the children followed along, screaming when called upon: “NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED!”  The best word to describe their interaction? Cute.
Once the story was over, the fun had just begun.  The children joined Alvarado-Yeary to play with a parachute, throwing five fuzzy balls on top to represent five little monkeys jumping on the bed.

Left: The children got their turn to watch the monkeys jump on the bed, by throwing fuzzy balls on top of the colorful parachute.

After plenty of smiles and giggles, they moved on to arts and crafts. Their parents helped them create their own monkey puppet out of a paper bag.

Alvarado-Yeary shows Emory and Wyatt’s mothers how to do a paper-bag monkey puppet.

Some of the children, like 15-month old Eva, left, were too preoccupied for puppet-making, sticking strictly to coloring. It was her first trip to story-telling hour, and she paid close attention as the story was read.

The library’s Preschool Story Hour is not regularly scheduled, but Alvarado-Yeary says they try to have it at least two Fridays a month. It’s a great chance for kids like Eva -- who only has brothers, who are many years older -- to interact with kids their own age.

The library has activities for kids of all ages, with after school programs for elementary school students and a Sunday program for teens.

Parents gathered around the table to help their children with arts and crafts. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lieutenant-governor candidates, in Midway for their first debate, find a lot to disagree about

By Megan Ingros
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
An initial version of this story first appeared in the Kentucky Kernel, the independent student newspaper.

Candidates for Kentucky lieutenant governor were divided on a sexual harassment scandal, education, health care and other major issues in their first debate Wednesday night.

Candidates Sannie Overly and Jenean Hampton met at Midway University in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, which prepared the questions.

Overly is running with Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, and Hampton with Republican businessman Matt Bevin. Independent candidate Heather Curtis, running mate of husband Drew Curtis, did not meet the league's polling criteria (10 percent or higher voter recognition in established nonpartisan polls) to participate.

The debate was more civil than the first televised gubernatorial debate held last week, but included its share of sharp moments, the sharpest being Overly denouncing Bevin for his “false attacks” in that debate, in which he said she turned her back on the female state workers who said they were sexually harassed by a former Democratic state lawmaker.

“That’s why even Kentucky Republicans call Matt Bevin a pathological liar,” said Overly, who said she and Conway condemned the behavior and would change the culture in Frankfort.

Hampton replied that Overly “fought very hard during the harassment case to have her deposition sealed,” and would not testify in the case until she knew it would be sealed.

On education issues, the candidates disagreed about the Common Core State Standards and state vouchers for private education.

Hampton said she understands the need for education because it “was the key to escaping the inner city” of Detroit, but “I do not support Common Core because from what I’ve seen from it, it dumbs down the curriculum and our students are better than that.”

Overly said, “I think the results speak for themselves. We’ve doubled the number of kids in Kentucky who are college ready at graduation. . . . Since the Kentucky core standards have been implemented our college readiness at high school has doubled. It's gone from 31 percent to 62 percent.”

Overly noted her slate's support of expanded early-childhood education, and noted that Bevin has said it serves no purpose: "It is another big contrast in this race."

Hampton said Common Core is "too top down" and pledged to return control of schools to the local level as much as possible.

Asked how they would make post-secondary education more affordable, Overly said she wants to hold colleges and universities accountable and offer a statewide apprentice program so students can "earn while they learn" and afford the cost of college.

Hampton said she would work with students to help them understand they can minimize their debt, and work with schools to make students are aware of their choices as a career path.

Health care was another major topic, with Overly supporting the expansion of Medicaid to 400,000 Kentuckians and the state's Kynect health-insurance exchange.

“In our Kynect system there is a 1 percent charge. If we do away with that and go to federal exchange it’s going to go to a 3 1/2 percent charge, which in essence would be a tax increase for Kentuckians,” Overly said. Actually, the 1 percent is a fee on all health-insurance policies, while the federal fee is only on policies sold through the federal exchange.

Overly said it would cost $23 million to dismantle Kynect and asked Hampton, "Where are you going to come up with that money?"

Hampton replied, "My question is where we come up with the dollars to go to Medicaid at the end of 2017, when the federal subsidies are gone?" Actually, the subsidies for the Medicaid expansion do not disappear, and begin to shrink at the beginning of 2017, to 95 percent. They decline in steps to 90 percent, the federal health-reform law's minimum, in 2020.

“Jack and I will monitor Medicaid and see if we can afford going forward,” Overly said. She cited a state-funded study predicting that the expansion will pay for itself by creating health-care jobs and tax revenue, putting $30 billion into Kentucky’s economy through 2021.

Hampton said the underlying premise of "Obamacare" is the belief people are incapable of making their own health-care decisions, but she didn't elaborate.

Asked if they agreed with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses, Overly said Davis should have followed a federal judge's order, but Hampton said “Matt and I side with Kim David because this is an issue of religious freedom. However, to say that it is the law of the land is questionable . . . because if that were true I would still be a slave.”

The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, which was amended in 1865 to ban slavery. Hampton also questioned whether the court can overrule the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but Overly, a lawyer, noted that the U.S. Constitution has a supremacy clause overriding state laws.

The debate's first question was "What is the most significant issue the new governor will face?"

Hampton said, “The $34 billion pension shortfall has potential to derail everything we do in Kentucky,” Hampton said. She repeated Bevin's emphasis on growing the economy to fund programs.

Overly replied, “Growing more and better good paying jobs for the people here in Kentucky,” making the first of several mentions of heir campaign's jobs plan that will "change the environment here in Kentucky."

The debate was co-sponsored by Midway University and CBS affiliates WKYT-TV of Lexington and WLKY-TV of Louisville. WKYT anchor and political editor Bill Bryant and WLKY anchor Vicki Dortch asked the questions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Festival draws 15,000, including newcomers

Video story by Brittany Forte'
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Story and photos by Dimitri Silva
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Residents and visitors alike flocked to town to see the attractions, eat some good food and enjoy the atmosphere at the Midway Fall Festival Saturday and Sunday. The sun was out and the crowd was, too, as the 90 merchant tents and 80 arts and crafts booths were packed full of customers and curious observers.
The total crowd was estimated at about 15,000: more than 8,000 Saturday, more than 6,500 Sunday.
“We’ve been coming for years,” said Carol Kane, a Versailles resident who has long attended the festival with her husband, Dick. Her favorite items to buy each year are the hand-woven baskets. “We have a house full of them and all our relatives have them as well, great Christmas shopping,” she said with a smile.

Dick is partial to the clothing from Crittenden Clothes, Midway’s esteemed tailor and clothing designer. “My favorite thing is the men’s shop that has all their items and stuff on sale once a year,” he said. Likewise, the couple enjoys the “steam engine” used to skin corn and the lively festival atmosphere as a whole.

A man on stilts entertained festival goers.
This year’s festival had several new foods and products to offer visitors. Lawrenceburg resident Amy Osbourne and her family visited the festival for the first time this year after seeing promotion for it on Facebook.

“I love Midway,” Osbourne said. “My husband and I visit this town quite frequently and I’ve been wanting to visit the festival.” Asked what she was excited to see, Osbourne said, “I really enjoy visiting the antique booths and local shops.”

Joseph Hawkins of Lexington-based Black Barn Woodworks spent his day selling rather than buying. Hawkins crafts custom, high-quality wooden utensils and household items that were on display in his booth.

“I started woodworking like two-and-a-half years ago after building something for [his girlfriend] off Pintrest and it has just snowballed from there,” he said. Hawkins’ items included cutting boards, bowls and even custom-made wooden bow ties.

After walking around in the hot sun many people found themselves hungry. Fortunately, there were many food vendors ready to satisfy any hungry customer.

Like all festival food booths, Thai & Mighty had a cure for that hunger. Based in Lexington, Thai and Mighty Noodle Bowls’ booth was a popular destination for hungry festival goers. Many were likely drawn there by the food’s enticing aroma, and many of those munched on Thai & Mighty’s most popular dish, the basil beef noodle bowl.

It was the restaurant’s first time at the festival, sponsored by the Midway Merchants Association. “There was no way we could not be here,” said Seneca Holden, one of the managers.

The balmy weather made this year’s festival feel like summer. Music, meals and handmade goods were in abundance as Midway welcomed in the fall season with style.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Council panel to discuss Columbia Gas easement

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Thursday, Sept. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, to discuss an easement for Columbia Gas. The notice of the meeting says no action will be taken.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Council joins Renaissance in applying for grant to design arts spaces for city park

The Midway City Council voted unanimously this evening to join Midway Renaissance in applying for a grant to design arts performance and display areas and other improvements for Walter Bradley Park and the old quarry and woods adjoining it.

Renaissance President Jim Wombles told the council that city support was needed to start the process of the grant application, which he said would seek an estimated $25,000 to $30,000 to hire "a national landscape architecture firm with an impressive track record."

The firm would design a project that could cost $200,000 or more, creating an amphitheater at the quarry, a stage, walkways and other features, Wombles said after the meeting.

"I'm talking about a huge step," he told the council. "It's not going to happen in a year or two, but it's a step in the right direction."

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, "We're talking about massive improvement to quality of life" in Midway, giving tourists "another great reason to come visit."

Noting last weekend's Midway Fall Festival and the Francisco's Farm art fair, started by Renaissance, Wombles said, "This town cannot survive on those two functiosn to bring people here." He ssid the city should build on the success of those events.

Wombles said the grant from the National Endowment for the Arts would require a 50-50 match, but "I have no doubt that we could get matching funds. . . . I think the Thoroughbred indiustry will be behind it if we can show them something."

City-county meetings

Vandegrift reported that he had lunch with Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle in Midway today to discuss the mayor's idea for twice-a-year meetiings of the county fiscal county and the Midway and Versailles councils. Coyle and magistrates voiced doubts about the idea recently.

Vandegrift said Coyle made the court's concerns plainer. He said they agreed that before any such meeting would occur, the governing bodies would have to agree on a topic and a moderator.

The mayor called the conversation "very positive," and Midway Magistrate Linda Popp said Coyle agreed to put the idea back on the fiscal-court agenda. But she voiced doubt that her colleagues would accept it. "I can't convince them it's just throwing out ideas and trying to help each other," she said. "They're just not wanting public group meetings."

Popp told Vandegrift, "You need to get it more in line-to-line detail. . . . Unfortunately, in the past, when these entities get together, there's a big blow-up."

Council Member Dan Roller, perhaps offering an olive branch, said "I would like to commend the fiscal court for passing the TIF legislation," the tax-increment financing agreement to redevelop Midway Station. He said that was an example of how the two bodies could work together.

Other business: The council heard various propoals from Steve Mims, who is using the old sewage-treatment plan to raise fish. After some discussion, Vandegrift said City Attorney Phil Moloney would work on amending Mims's contract with the city.

Council Member Bruce Southworth reported that a council committee had discussed speeding on Stephens Street and the feasibility of placing on it speed humps that could be removed in the winter. He said members would like to hear from the public about the idea.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Community joins together at Service of Peace and Hope

Rick Smith spoke at the Community Service of Peace and Hope at Walter Bradley Park on Sunday.

Story and photos by Adrian Rudd; video report by Brittany Forte'
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Nothing but smiles, laughs, and ”Amens!” were exchanged Sunday as congregations from six Midway churches gathered at Walter Bradley Park. About 80 attendees graced the annual Community Worship Service of Peace and Hope for an outdoor service and picnic as a way to remember the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Kitty Wieschhoff, a member of Midway
Presbyterian Church, enjoyed the
service with her dog, Daphne. 
The service began in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the attack on New York’s twin towers, and the tradition has continued each year. While none of the participating churches were directly affected by 9/11, organizers said people still needed a sense of community to reflect on a time of great loss in our nation.

Rather than focusing on the sadness and devastation of 9/11, the event is aimed towards spreading hope, love and positivity throughout Midway churches.

“We are here celebrating the hope and unity that He gives us,” Mary Weese of Midway Presbyterian Church said in welcoming the combined congregation.

The service allowed time for an official each church to speak. Rev. Dr. Marian McClure Taylor, board member of the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, gave the sermon.

Churches in attendance were Midway United Methodist, St. Matthew A.M.E., Midway Christian, New Union Christian, Historic Second Christian, and Midway Presbyterian.

Eugenia Johnson-Smith, a member of St.
Matthew's A.M.E. Church, filled her plate.
“The event has grown since it started,” said the Rev. Heather McColl, minister at Midway Christian. “This was the first year for New Union to join.” New Union is at the eastern tip of greater Midway, between Faywood and the Fayette County line.

Immediately following the service, the crowd enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and socializing at the picnic.

As Jim Nance, a member of Midway Christian, simply pointed out, nothing brings people together better than food.

“We get all the churches together to celebrate our Christian faith,” Nance said, “plus, everybody loves to eat.”

Here's a minute-and-a-half video report on the service, from Brittany Forte' of the Midway Messenger:

MIDWAY SERVICE REDO from Al Cross on Vimeo.

41st annual Midway Fall Festival is this weekend

By Adrian Rudd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Mid-September means brisk air, brown leaves, and in Midway, the return of the annual Fall Festival. This Saturday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Sept. 20, more than 100 vendors, crafters and demonstrators will gather downtown to provide a weekend of fun for all ages.

The festival’s 41st year will feature a variety of music and entertainment. The Midway Children’s Choir, the Jones Family Band, the Hamilton Band, and several others will play Saturday. Man Cave Ruckus, a ukulele trio, will have their Fall Festival debut on Sunday, among other performances.

“We have a lot of bands coming in both days,” said Festival Coordinator Kenny Smith. “We will have music playing all day long.”

Attendees can stroll through more than 90 merchant tents and 80 arts or crafts booths, five of which will have demonstrations such as basket weaving. Festival-goers can enjoy food from about a dozen different vendors or purchase fresh items from the farmers’ market.

To entertain the kids, there will be pony rides, a petting zoo, a clown with balloon animals, bouncy house, and a mini train ride. In addition, several non-profit organizations will have booths set up such as Habitat for Humanity, Midway Renaissance, and various churches.

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone, so you can bring the whole family,” said Smith. 

The event will run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Parking will be available at Southern Equine Farm.

“All we need is great weather,” said Smith. “We look forward to seeing everyone out here.”

Monday night, the forecast for Saturday was a 50 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms with a high temperature of 87; the outlook for Sunday was mostly sunny with a 10 percent chance of rain and a high of 82.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fiscal court skeptical of Vandegrift's proposed local-government summits, but mayor says he will persevere

By Kelly Brightmore and Nicholas Roush
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Despite skeptical comments Tuesday night from the Woodford County Fiscal Court, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says he will continue seeking two joint meetings each year among the court and the city councils of Midway and Versailles.

But that could take some time to come to fruition, if this week’s events are any indication. At Tuesday night’s court meeting, County Judge-Executive John Coyle appeared to dismiss the mayor’s proposal.

According to The Woodford Sun, Coyle said his office is always open to the mayors, “individually or together,” and he feels free to go to either of their offices. The Sun reported, “Coyle joked that he’d travel to Midway to eat with Vandegrift and down the street to eat with Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and would tell them he’d, 'get back with you in a couple of years.'”

Vandegrift couldn’t attend the meeting because it was at the same time as the city council meeting, which was a day late due to Labor Day. He said in a telephone interview with the Midway Messenger that Coyle’s “sarcasm was disheartening,” but it won’t lead him to abandon the proposal.

Coyle told the Messenger in a phone interview at the same time Wednesday that his remark was purely in jest. “I didn’t pick up the phone today,” Coyle said, but insisted he will speak with both mayors and that the summit meetings are still a possibility.

Vandegrift isn’t the only city leader who likes the idea of the city-county joint meetings. Mayor Brian Traugott of Versailles had a positive reaction to the proposal as well, telling Vandegrift in a letter given to the Midway City Council that the proposal is a “wonderful idea that could reap great benefits.”

Vandegrift made the proposal in early August after release of a survey of Woodford County citizens' attitudes and opinions that showed "the people of Woodford County want to see the three governing bodies work better together," he said at the time.

Moving forward, Vandegrift said he will reach out to Coyle in order to further explain his proposal and he will speak to Midway Magistrate Linda Popp about getting it on the agenda for the next fiscal court meeting.

Vandegrift said it could be a big accomplishment to have community leaders discussing public issues and it could lead the county down a new road. Midway and Versailles have had frequent conflicts with the county, most recently over emergency management. Vandegrift said the proposal is important and exhibits “a new kind of politics.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cemetery committee to discuss walk project Wednesay

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 5 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the progress of the new walk at the Veterans Memorial in the cemetery. The notice from City Hall says no action will be taken. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.