Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kentucky American Water offers $500 scholarships to good students committed to environmental stewardship

Kentucky American Water, Midway's wholesale water supplier, is now accepting applications for 2016 Ripple Effect Scholarships. Woodford County students are eligible to apply.

The program offers one-time, $500 scholarships to high school seniors who demonstrate strong academic performance and a commitment to environmental stewardship. The entry deadline is April 8.

The scholarship program was established in 2002 and has awarded $54,000 to 86 Kentucky students. Information about the scholarship program has been distributed to area high schools and can also be found at kentuckywater.com. --Chris Hartig

Friday, February 26, 2016

Women's group seeks nominations for awards to women who empower women and girls in their county

The Bluegrass Alliance for Women is seeking nominations for County Impact Awards to one woman in each of the 17 countries in the Bluegrass Area Development District who are empowering women and girls in their communities and who would otherwise go unnoticed. The deadline for nominations is March 7.

Nominators should devote at least one paragraph to each of the four criteria for the award: contributions the nominee is making in advocating and promoting the growth and well-being of women and girls within her county, and how her contributions have impact on the entire county; public and/or professional service activities in which the nominee participates in the county; leadership abilities and evidence of integrity as a role model for women and girls; how the nominee encourages and supports women and girls to explore education and career options.

For a copy of the nomination form, contact Allison Burkholder in Versailles at 859-879-4507 or aburkholder@unitedbankky.com. These awards will be given March 22. The BAW is a volunteer organization that fosters opportunities to improve the lives of women and girls in the Bluegrass and celebrate the success of women who make a difference in their communities. --Stepper Toth

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Head of nonprofit that runs The Homeplace at Midway is third outstanding alum of UK College of Public Health

Keith Knapp
Keith Knapp, the chief executive officer of Christian Care Communities, which includes The Homeplace at Midway, received the third Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health on Feb. 19.

The Homeplace at Midway, which opened last June 25, is home to 38 residents. The opening of the facility marked the end of a 16-year campaign for a nursing home in Midway. The development was the first facility built in Kentucky using The Green House model. The facility has four residential buildings with two dedicated to skilled nursing, one for assisted living and one for “memory care.”

Knapp has led the design and development of several other elder-care facilities in Kentucky. He has served as a member of the state Institute for Aging and as chief executive of the Episcopal Church Home of Kentucky.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New boutique opens Thursday at 117 E. Main St.

By Tiffany Broughton, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Downtown Midway is packed with good food and good shopping but a new boutique could soon become the talk of the town. 117 East Main Street is getting a new look, with the Cherokee & Co. boutique.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Planning Commission chair says Versailles bypass should be in revised plan; councilman Roller disagrees

The chair of the county planning commission said at a public hearing tonight that the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles, recently deleted from the state road plan, should be included as a goal or objective in Woodford County's comprehensive plan.

J.D. Wolf made the statement at the end of a hearing on the goals and objectives of the plan, which is up for its five-year revision. He spoke as an observer; the hearing was held by the Comprehensive Plan Committee of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission.

Wolf said an engineering study in 1999 determined that if more roads weren't built, "Versailles would be a traffic jam." Advocates of the bypass say it is needed because of downtown traffic congestion, and Wolf said, "I just think that ought to be part of the comprehensive plan."

Earlier, developer Harold Steele said the road should be part of the comprehensive plan, which guides zoning decisions.

Helen Rentch of Midway spoke at the hearing as
Commission Chair J.D. Wolf (blue shirt) watched.
Many in Midway oppose the project because it would funnel more traffic onto Midway Road. City Council Member Dan Roller, who was in the audience, said after the meeting, "I don't understand why the only solution for transportation is a 39-million-dollar project."

Roller repeated his earlier suggestion that trucks going to and from the Versailles industrial park be routed away from downtown with signs. "Nobody's spending any time to do the simple solution," he said. "Most of the time you could shoot an arrow straight down Main Street and not hit anybody."

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, who was the second of a dozen other speakers, had been a leading supporter of the bypass but did not mention it in his remarks. However, he did call for "flexibility" that would allow the commission to change the plan between five-year revisions.

Midway residents Helen Rentch and Joyce Evans mentioned other issues at the hearing.

Rentch said the plan should have affordable housing as one of its goals. "In Midway we don't have sufficient housing to support our workforce," she said.

She also said the plan should include housing standards that reflect the needs of an aging population, and she joined Traugott in endorsing the development of trails for walkers, runners and non-motorized vehicles.

Evans reflected the preservationist stance of most speakers, saying surveys have shown that Woodford County residents "want to protect the urban land and the farmland from each other."

Committee chair Chad Wells said the record would remain open for comments and he would schedule a work session for the committee in "the next few weeks."

Vandegrift cites Midway's 'fairness ordinance' in testifying for bill to create statewide law

By Anyssa Roberts
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift traveled to Frankfort Wednesday to testify on a panel in favor of the Fairness Campaign’s anti-discrimination bill at a state legislative committee hearing.

Vandegrift and other members on the panel said the state should change its civil rights laws to prohibit people from being denied employment, housing or services due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

He told the House Judiciary Committee that passing a “fairness ordinance” in Midway has been good for the town and would be good for the state as well.

“A lot of folks don’t realize that it’s still legal in Kentucky to fire someone just because of their sexual orientation,” the mayor said. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “simply want to earn a living and provide for their families just like everyone else.”

Vandergrift said that passing Midway’s ordinance was a “swift and easy” process and it can be just as easy for Kentucky.

He proposed the amendment in Midway in February of last year and the city council approved it with a 4-2 vote in June. He said the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission opened his eyes to the idea when they approached him about a countywide ordinance. The Versailles council is studying the proposal.

Midway’s ordinance bans discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing based on sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status.

Along with Lexington, Louisville, Danville, Frankfort, Morehead and Vicco, a small coal-mining town in the Appalachian Mountains, Midway is the latest city in the state to include protections for LGBT people in their civil rights ordinance.

Vandegrift spoke alongside Rev. Donzella Lee of the Franklin-Simpson Human Rights Commission, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville; Sen. Morgan McGarvey D-Louisville; Bob Brousseau, the director of corporate communications at Louisville-based Peptides International; and Patti Minter, a Western Kentucky University professor and leader in an effort to pass an ordinance in Bowling Green. Each person had a few minutes to testify their reason for supporting the bill.

In an interview with the Messenger after the hearing, Vandergrift said prohibiting discrimination of LGBT people statewide could also be good for the state economically.

“A lot of companies want to go to places where they feel like their workers and their families will be protected,” he said.

However, the bill will not be passed this session. The group did not ask for a vote because for fear that it would fail in the hands of the committee, Marzian said in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Also on Wednesday, more than 100 people rallied in the Capitol rotunda in support of the bill,  including Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Vandegrift said in the interview, “This truly is the right thing to do. If the history of progress is any indication, the future will shake its head at us if we don’t continue moving forward and expanding the borders of justice and equality.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Council discusses water-sewer rates, what it might do for system if there's money to spend

By Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Water has been a long-discussed topic in Midway but it was brought up with new perspectives at Monday evening's city council meeting. When Mayor Grayson Vandegrift asked the council for any final remarks after a light business session, Council Member Bruce Southworth raised the topic.

Southworth noted that Kentucky American Water Co., the city’s wholesale supplier, has asked for a rate increase for its wholesale customers, and said Midway’s water isn't as pricey as residents may think. He cited figures from the Bluegrass Area Development District, showing that Midway's price per 2,000 gallons is $22.94 and the average of cities the same size is $21.77. Midway ranks eighth among the 12 small cities for that amount, and eighth or ninth for larger amounts. (Click on images for larger versions)
But water bills also include sewer charges, and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the overall bills are high because the city had to build a new, updated sewage-treatment plant in 2000 before the old plant had been paid off and is still paying off both plants.

Even so, the cost for "wastewater is below average," said Southworth. "You could move to Lexington and save $5 on your water bill if that's what you want to do. It's a misconception that water is higher in Midway."

Council Member Sarah Hicks asked if the plants could be paid off early if Midway were to have a windfall of money. The city ended the last fiscal year with a cash balance of $567,000 after expenses of $788,000 and unexpectedly high revenues of $1 million.

Vandegrift said the bonds on the old sewer plant are to be retired in 2018 and cannot be paid off early, but those on the new plant can. They run through 2022. He said, “It may cut the sewer rates in half if you paid both of them off,” which could happen as early as 2018.

However, the sewer system needs repairs, and Council Member Dan Roller said, “We’re spending very little money on our storm sewers now. They’re in awful shape.”

Vandegrift said, “The city is going to have to invest some of that money in infrastructure improvements. . . . We will cross that bridge when we get to it.” He said the city would consider investing in sidewalks and water lines.

Park committee is active

Vandegrift reported that the citizens advisory committee for Walter Bradley Park is making strides other than just advising.

Vandegrift said the committee has formed a volunteer group that will be laying mulch, donated by Midway-area nursery operator Dave Leonard, across all trails to make them more useful. "It will look nicer and be easier to walk on," he said.

Vandegrift reported that the committee is "working diligently and meeting once a month." The chair of this committee is Cecilia Gass.

The committee has raised a little over $2,500 through donations and $10 fees to be “friends of the park, Vandegrift said. More information on becoming a friend of the park can be found at www.facebook.com/WalterGBradleyPark.

The committee is working with University of Kentucky graduate students and will report back to the council in late spring or early summer with ideas, said Vandegrift. "This is going to be beneficial to the city in the long run," he said. "They are helping improve our city out of love."

The Walter Bradley Park citizens advisory committee will hold a public forum March 21at 6:30 p.m.  at City Hall to solicit ideas from the community.

Vandegrift said the other citizen advisory committee he appointed, to work on grants, is headed by Jo Gleese. She is also the new president of the Midway Renaissance civic group. Vandegrift said the committee’s focus needs to be on grants for infrastructure, such as roads and sidewalks.

Other business

The council approved a resolution to give $16,384.01 left over from a community development block grant for housing to Habitat for Humanity for the building of its latest home at 209 E. Stephens St.

The council approved a resolution declaring surplus the city’s 1982 Ford fire truck and 1984 fire-department van. The council did this informally at its last meeting, but Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney thought a resolution was advisable.

The resolution says the vehicles can be sold "through sealed bids . . . or in any other reasonable commercial manner." Council member Libby Warfield asked, "What does ‘any other commercial manner’ mean?" Vandegrift replied, "I don't know, but I’ll let you know if it comes up."

The council voted to approve an event permit for the Race for Education on April 16. "The Race to Read" will have 200 to 300 runners, Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said.

The runners will start on West Main Street at the corner of North Winter Street, go down South Turner Street, out West Stephens Street and Spring Station Road and wrap back around for those running 10 kilometers. The race will run from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Vandegrift said owners of the log home on East Higgins Street that is in need of cleanup will be given only a few more days to do the maintenance. He said a lien will be placed on the property for the amount of work the city workers have to do if it is not cleaned up.

The meeting closed with a comment from Vandegrift that people have until March 1 to remove all artificial flowers from the cemetery.

The council meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 5:30. The next meeting will be March 7.

At groundbreaking, mayor praises AHK and Coyle

"This is a day a lot of people began to believe would never happen," Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told a group of officials and executives gathered for the formal groundbreaking of the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant Tuesday afternoon. "I think there's more to come out here."

Left to right: Brett Setzer, Brett Construction; state Rep. James Kay,
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, Plant Manager Gary McPeak, AHK President
Hirosato Nanami, Engineering Manager Kazuhiko Ichii, Deputy State
Economic Development Commissioner John Bevington; Gene Hornback,
Woodford County Economic Development Authority board member;
Woodford County Judge-Executive John "Bear" Coyle
Vandegrift thanked several past and current officials, especially Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle, who he said was a pleasure to work with on the project. "I think it's going to lead to other great cooperation in the next few years between the city and county."

Midway has had conflicts with Coyle, but he and Vandegrift are working together to rework the tax increment financing ordinance and other arrangements that will lead to the commercial and residential development of Midway Station, adjoining the factory site.

"More than anything, we have to thank American Howa Kentucky," Vandegrift said after saying that the city and county couldn't ask for a better company with which to do business.

Gene Hornback, a director of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, thanked AHK for "being the spearhead of development for our community." Local officials expect more plans to locate on the property and/or Midway Station.

Plant manager Gary McPeak, speaking on behalf of AHK, thanked local officials and EDA, which bought the property from the Roach family and sold it to AHK. "Everything runs smoothly and quickly," McPeak said. "It made Woodford County and the City of Midway an easy choice for us."

AHK officials talk with Dr. Jim Roach
Dr. Jim Roach said he was glad to sell the property for an industry that would be "a positive force for the community," and said he had turned down an entreaty to sell it for "a distillery barrel storage area."

The Rev. Mary Weese of Midway Presbyterian Church set the tone for the event with an invocation that asked God to see that "what will be built here will have a firm foundation in wisdom, that all things may be constructed with integrity; that all dreams and plans may be made with courage. We pray that this business, which will make parts for something bigger, will indeed be blessed to play a part in something much bigger: that it will play a part in the well-being of all employed here; that it will play a positive part in the life of this community; that it will play a part in the common good of our society."

Latest print edition of Midway Messenger is out

The latest print edition of the Midway Messenger has been published and is being distributed at various locations in the Midway area this week.

The Messenger publishes a print edition twice a year, loosely following the semester schedules of students at the University of Kentucky, who cover the Midway area for the Messenger as part of courses in community journalism.

The Winter/Spring edition includes several stories from the fall class, including Jamilyn Hall's feature on the Weisenberger Mill and its 150th anniversary; Kayla Loy's story on Henry Wombles and his novel; staff reports on city elections and finances; and stories on community events such as the Midway Fall Festival, the Iron Horse marathon and chili cook-offs.

Stories from the current semester include a pair by Tiffany Broughton, on meetings of Midway Renaissance and the Midway Business Association; a a feature by Molly Elifritz on Ouita Michel and Holly Hill Inn's "Around the World in 80 Days" international menu series. A video version of that story will appear online. For a PDF of the print edition, click here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

American Howa Kentucky to break ground on auto-parts factory at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday

A formal groundbreaking for the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant will be held at the site next to Midway Station tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m.

A tent will be provident in case of inclement weather, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said at tonight's city council meeting. Parking will be available on McKinney Avenue, the street fronting the site.

AHK, which has a plant in Bowling Green, bought the former Roach property on Georgetown Road from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which optioned the property and had it rezoned when industrial prospects became known.

The factory is platted to cover 102,000 square feet and expected to employ 54 to 63 people. The property has room for the plant to expand.

Vandegrift and EDA officials have said the coming of AHK should encourage other plants of similar size to locate on the property or the industrially zoned area of Midway Station, spurring commercial and residential development there and on other property around the Interstate 64 interchange.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ky. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of rulings denying condemnation power to Bluegrass Pipeline

The legal battle over the Bluegrass Pipeline, led by Midway-area landowners, is over, and they have won. For now.

The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Court of Appeals decision that upheld Franklin Circuit Judge Phllip Shepherd's ruling that said only utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission can use eminent domain, or condemnation, to get easements for pipelines.

University of Louisville law professor Tony Arnold, a land-use and environmental law expert, told James Bruggers of The Courier-Journal that the decision was "significant for both for opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline and for all Kentucky residents who want to ensure that the exercise of eminent domain for energy development and transmission is held accountable to the public interest."

However, the ruling goes only so far, Arnold said: "National companies seeking to move oil or gas through Kentucky and to use eminent domain to acquire easements for their preferred routes may try to get around (this) limited ruling by partnering with public utilities that are regulated by the Public Service Commission or with state agencies. They would have to provide some sort of benefit or service to Kentucky residents, such as providing some of the oil and gas to Kentuckians. Don't underestimate the tenacity of energy companies to find a way to get what they want."

The Williams Companies put the Bluegrass Pipeline on indefinite hold in April 2014, saying it did not have enough customers for the natural-gas liquids it planned to move to the Gulf coast from oil and gas fields in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Tom FitzGerald of Louisville, attorney for Kentuckians United To Restrain Eminent Domain, told Bruggers, "I couldn't have had better clients." (Read more)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Merchants create Facebook page, plan to reshape advertising; second Chocolate Stroll is Saturday

By Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Valentine's Day is approaching, meaning the annual Chocolate Stroll is just around the corner, but the Midway Business Association has been working on several other ideas for the upcoming year, including new ways to promote and advertise.

The Chocolate Stroll will be held Saturday, Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Midway. The event is hosted by the business association and merchants are encouraged to participate.

Patrons will pick up a ticket in any of the participating stores, which will be labeled by a sign in the window. Those who have their ticket punched the stores with signs can drop their punched ticket off in the Kennydid Gallery for a drawing at the end of the event.

The drawing will be for a $250 Historic Midway basket that will have donations from each of the participating merchants. The event and tickets are free of charge.

"It is up to the individual merchant what they do as part of participation for this event," said Peggy Angel of Steppin' Out Boutique. "I am giving flowers away for the first 50 buyers, chocolate treats, which all merchants usually give and I'll be giving away door prizes."

The winner will be posted on the Meet Me In Midway Facebook page created by the business association. For more information on the Stroll and other events hosted by the merchants, visit Facebook.com/meetmeinmidway.

The Facebook page is the first public evidence of the business association’s plan to revamp and redirect its advertising and marketing.

"The goal of this Facebook page is to promote Midway to tourists," by promoting events and related webpages, said Elisha Riddle of Lexington, creator of the page and owner and operator of Charismatic Media.

The Midway Business Association pays Riddle $125 per month to keep the page updated. Riddle said she puts $25 of that monthly payment back into advertising and promoting the page to targeted audiences on Facebook.

The page was started three weeks ago and as of Feb. 7 had 80 likes. The page will share merchants’ postings and be an outlet for tourists to check out Midway. She said it will help merchants build their email lists to send out email blasts that  promote events and businesses.

Screenshot of city's website, MeetMeInMidway.com
The page is not yet affiliated with meetmeinmidway.com, the city’s website, and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift attended Wednesday’s association meeting partly to say the operators of the sites need to communicate and coordinate.

"If we spread ourselves out, we're not creating more traffic," said Vandegrift. "I'm afraid we're just diluting ourselves."

Along with Facebook promotions, the business association is having James Reed of the Kentucky Broadcasters Association develop a media and advertising campaign to market to tourists. Reed also works with Midway University.

"Hopefully, next month he will be ready to report to us with what he recommends as the general campaign for us as a small city," said Angel, speaking as secretary of the association and member of its advertising committee. "We are hoping to market our brand as our city."

The association will have a budget of $16,000 to $20,000 for the campaign, Angel said. Advertisements will cover a 70-mile radius and reach out to families with a decision maker 30 to 60 years old, she said.

"You've got to be consistent and I think that is something we haven't done so well in the past," said Angel. "You've got to limit what you do, but you have got to be effective with what you do."

Part of the advertising money will cover the Midway Fall Festival, which is the association's main money-maker.

The merchants do not yet have the membership they had last year. As of Wednesday’s meeting, only three merchants have paid their dues; last year there were 18 members. Dues are $100 per year.
"We really need to campaign for members for this association.," said Angel.

The members present agreed to sponsoring the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival, but without a quorum they could not officially vote on the sponsorship.

Applications for the festival have closed, with 112 artists seeking consideration by jurors who will select exhibitors, said business association President Kenny Smith, who also works with the festival.

The applications for vendors and non-profits at the festival are on the festival's website. Non-profits will be limited to those in Woodford County.

"We were getting people from Cynthiana selling dogs. ... I think it was a puppy mill," said Smith. "If you are selling windows or Tupperware, no. We are an arts and crafts festival."

Don Vizi, executive director of the Versailles-Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, told those at the meeting that there will be a ribbon cutting for the new factory in the next two weeks. The Woodford County Economic Development Authority wants to have Gov. Matt Bevin attend, he said.

"We can't get the governor to commit when and if he's coming or not," said Vizi.

The chamber is starting a drive for used cell phones, to be donated to abused women. More information will be available shortly, said Vizi.

Leslie Penn suggested that the chamber seek help from local churches, which “tend to have a big influence on collecting things for the needy.”  She volunteered to pick the donated phones up from the churches if the chamber goes that route.

Vizi said the chamber is working on the Hike Bike Waterways Horseback Riding Trail Committee, which will meet on March 12 at KCTCS in Versailles from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to display proposed trails to the public.

"We will lay out all the charts for the future trails and how they will tie together," said Vizi.

Merchants in attendance were Kenny Smith of Kennydid Gallery, Leslie Penn of Historic Midway Museum Store, Peggy Angel of Steppin' Out Boutique, Ellen Gregory of Midway University and Kaci Leatherwood and Connie Snyder of Cherokee & Co., a boutique that will open late this month.  The Midway Business Association meets the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. upstairs in City Hall.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Versailles bypass not in new road plan; both mayors speculate that politics were in play

By Al Cross and Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed road plan does not include the controversial Versailles bypass, pleasing interests in Midway that feared it would bring much more truck traffic to the town and Midway Road.

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he didn't know why Bevin dropped the $40 million project, but speculated that it stems from its cost and Bevin's Republican politics, "the sort of tea-party aspect of it. He's sort of trying to cut anywhere he can cut."

Bevin has called for a 9 percent cut in most General Fund agencies. The Road Fund is separately funded, but its main source of revenue, motor-fuels taxes, has been declining along with gas prices, and the road plan has more projects than can be built in its six-year span, Vandegrift noted.

Also, he said, "They probably were aware it was a controversial project." Bill Marshall, a leading Republican in Midway who knows Bevin, said he had not spoken to the governor about the project. County Republican Chair Bobby Gaffney, who ran for county-executive judge in 2014, could not be reached for comment.

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, who works for Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and is a major promoter of the bypass, said he didn't know, either, but also said the move seemed political, aimed at a county that is represented in the General Assembly by Democrats.

"I can't imagine that the governor has any real public-policy opinion on that road one way or the other," Traugott said. "He obviously doesn't know the local politics. It's not a real party-line issue."

Asked if he thought his legislative job influenced the decision, he said, "I can't imagine that that would help, but I would expect more out of a governor. The speaker and I have never discussed the road. I believe it was purely political, but I don't think it was geared toward me or the speaker or my role there. He probably thinks we've elected the wrong people to represent us."

Transportation Cabinet map (click on it to view a larger version)
State Rep. James Kay, a Democrat from Versailles, told The Woodford Sun, "My priorities . . . never included the bypass. I obviously understand the traffic concerns, I understand the future when you look at it, but there was never an effort on my part to get funds for the bypass, particularly considering everyone knew they wouldn't be there."

The road, officially known as the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor, is designed to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Versailles. It would extend Falling Springs Boulevard, which begins at KY 33 near the Bluegrass Parkway, to Frankfort Road (US 60).

Vandegrift said Bevin's move doesn't necessarily kill the project, and Traugott said he considers it a delay, not a cancellation. He said he will try to get the legislature to add planning money for the project in the latter part of the plan "to keep the discussion alive." The plan had included $2 million for final design of the road.

The Transportation Cabinet has identified three possible routes, one of which would feed directly into Midway Road (US 62), which trucks could use to reach Interstate 64 eastbound and Interstate 75. The other possible routes would intersect Frankfort Road short distances either way from its intersection with Midway Road.

Robert Sprague, the Transportation Cabinet engineer supervising the project, was not able to provide a reason why the bypass was left out of the road plan. He did tell the Midway Messenger that the cabinet still plans to recommend a route for the bypass some time this month, as previously scheduled.

Told that, Traugott said, "I'm glad to see that they're moving forward with that due-diligence part of it."

Midway is about to become even more of a railroad town, as the permanent home of a steam engine

By Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The R.J. Corman Railroad Group has received a grant to house the “Old Smokey” steam engine in the Midway Historic District where citizens and visitors can see it and the Corman caboose already in the city, the Midway City Council heard Monday night.

CSX Railroad owns the track that runs through Midway, so a building to house the engine and caboose would have to be built off CSX property to avoid issues with CSX, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The plan is to put the engine on the United Bank lot where the caboose already resides.  “We still have to get approval from the bank,” Vandegrift said.

Vandegrift said the engine itself doesn’t qualify for the historic-oriented grant because it was built in 1987, but a building in the Midway Historic District does qualify.

Vandegrift revealed that the state Transportation Cabinet has approved a grant of $193,000 to help build the facility, with a total cost of about $241,000, all covered by Corman. 

Corman barn in Lexington, before large steeples were added to it
Vandegrift said the building would be a smaller version of the one in Lexington that has housed Corman’s dinner train to Versailles, which recently stopped running.

The main issues are how the engine will be placed in the 125-foot-long building and where it will be built.

Vandegrift said the project is a great opportunity for Midway, the first town in Kentucky to be established by a railroad, which was the state’s first rail line. That was in 1833; the city was incorporated in 1846.

Coolmore America buying Waterford Farm, getting city water

The council approved running a water line outside the city limits to Waterford Farm, which is being bought by Ashford Stud, a division of Coolmore America, whose Versailles Road farm is home to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The 720-acre farm is just outside the city limits on Weisenberger Mill Road, next to The Homeplace at Midway, a new senior-living community.

The main concern among council members was howa break in the water line might affect the water pressure at The HomePlace, for which fire suppression is critical.

First-term Council Member Libby Warfield asked if the line would be “detrimental to The HomePlace” and whether other farms outside the city limits get city water.

Vandegrift said there are such farms, and Water Superintendent Mark Roberts said a pressure problem is unlikely. He said The Homeplace’s lines would be cleaner because it would no longer be at the end of a line.  In case of a major break, Roberts and Vandegrift said, the farm line could be turned off at the new meter or the town’s water tank could be filled.

They said the city would require a backflow preventer on the line to keep solids from flowing into the city’s water in case of a break in the city system, which could siphon non-potable water from the farm.

Waterford Farm would be responsible for paying all expenses and meeting the city’s specifications, Roberts said.

In other business, the council declared the old fire truck and the fire department’s old van to be surplus, allowing them to be put up for bid. Vandegrift said the equipment is “just taking up space.”

The council also discussed the city’s plan to use $16,384 remaining from a community development block grant funds to build a new Habitat for Humanity home at 209 E. Stephens St. The topic was tabled after Council Member Dan Roller found an apparent discrepancy in the documentation.

Vandegrift wrapped the meeting up by thanking Deputy Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler for his help in preparing Midway for the snowstorm a few weeks ago. 

“They sent me updates days ahead,” he said, adding later, ”They even put on snow boots and walked through eight inches of snow though my yard to let me sign the emergency declaration.”