Monday, August 29, 2016

Red Cross and local safety agencies to install free smoke alarms Sept. 10; sign up at 873-5829

The Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross is partnering with Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, emergency service agencies in Woodford County (county fire department, ambulance service and emergency management; and the Midway and Versailles fire departments) and other community partners to install smoke alarms where needed in Midway and the county.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, volunteer teams from the Red Cross and the agencies will install smoke alarms free of charge to city and county residents from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The teams will visit targeted neighborhoods, but residents can also sign up in advance by contacting Jerald Wash at 873-5829.

The effort is part of the Red Cross's nationwide Home Fire Campaign, which has a goal of reducing the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years. "Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire," the Red Cross said in a press release. "Countless others suffer injuries."  

“Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half, so we are joining with the fire department and other community volunteers to install smoke alarms,” Steve Powell, Red Cross disaster program manager, said in the release. “We also will be teaching people how to be safe from a home fire.”

In Kentucky last year, the Red Cross responded to nearly 1,400 disasters, most of which were fires in single-family homes. As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross is asking everyone to take "two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home." For more safety tips visit http://rdcrss.org/JwSNUG.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Midway expecting 262 new full-time jobs with location of educational-products distribution plant

The 41.9 acres in four tracts to be bought by Lakeshore Learning Materials are outlined in blue on this county zoning map.
Midway is expected to get 262 new jobs and up to 150 seasonal jobs when Lakeshore Learning Materials, an educational-products company, locates a distribution center in the heart of the industrial zone of Midway Station.

"We do have some minor issues on the land," Woodford County Economic Development Authority Chair John Soper said at the EDA board meeting this morning. "It's more some minor technicalities we need to make them comfortable about."

Soper and Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift treated the deal as all but done, after a state press release announced that Lakeshore "will locate" in Midway with the help of state incentives. "We're one step closer," Soper said.

"I just can't thank you all enough for what you've done for Midway," Vandegrift told the board. The jobs from Lakeshore and the American Howa plan now under construction, "probably represent a 100 percent increase in jobs in Midway."

The jobs also mean about $200,000 in payroll-tax revenue for a city with an annual budget of just over $1 million. "Those revenues are going to set us on a firm course well into the future," Vandegrift said.

Soper said meetings with Lakeshore executives indicated that the company will be a good corporate citizen. After dinner at the Holly Hill Inn, "The next morning they wanted to get up bright and early and walk the streets of Midway with the mayor to see what the community is about."

Here is the state press release:

Gov. Matt Bevin today announced Lakeshore Learning Materials, a developer and retailer of high-quality educational products, will locate a distribution center in Woodford County’s Midway Station industrial park with an investment of more than $47.4 million projected to create 262 full-time jobs.
“Over the past 60 years, Lakeshore Learning Materials has established itself as a highly regarded brand in the world of education,” Gov. Bevin said. “This multi-generational family company is a great fit for the Commonwealth. Their core values are well aligned with Kentucky values. Their community orientation, history of product innovation, and deep roots in both entrepreneurism and education are exemplary. It’s with great joy that we welcome Lakeshore to Kentucky and thank them for choosing to invest and create jobs in the Bluegrass region.”
Lakeshore’s construction of a 500,000-square-foot fulfillment and distribution facility in Midway will allow the company to be more centrally located to its customers. Company leaders expect the building will be operational by November 2017.
“Lakeshore was drawn to Kentucky by its wonderful sense of community and the state’s rich history of supporting families, education and businesses like ours,” said Bo Kaplan, Lakeshore’s president and CEO. “We truly feel like we’ve found a home here, and we can’t wait to become an active part of the Midway community.”
Ethelyn Kaplan, a homemaker from Omaha, Neb., founded Lakeshore after relocating her family to Oakland, Calif. to open a toy store in 1954. The business soon began focusing on learning materials, moving to Carson, Calif., and launching its first catalog in 1958. Lakeshore started developing its own products in 1988, and today the company provides teachers and parents with innovative educational products for children from birth through sixth grade. Lakeshore now employs more than 2,000 people across the U.S. and is in its third generation of Kaplan-family ownership.
Sen. Julian Carroll, of Frankfort, said the company will be a great fit for Midway.
“Lakeshore Learning will be a great addition to the Midway industrial community,” Sen. Carroll said. “We stand ready to fill the anticipated 262 jobs with dedicated and skilled workers. I appreciate this investment in the Midway community and look forward to a long and profitable relationship with our new industrial partner.”
Rep. James Kay, of Versailles, said the region’s focus on education will make it a great fit for Lakeshore.
“We are pleased to welcome Lakeshore Learning to Midway. Our community deeply cares about education and we know that Lakeshore Learning shares our support for our schools,” Rep. Kay said. “It is our amazing public education that produces our second-to-none workforce and the quality of life we offer. I’ve worked tirelessly with our local and state officials to bring quality jobs and opportunities to Woodford County – businesses that our people can be proud of. We look forward to building a lasting partnership with Lakeshore Learning to better our community and grow our local economy.”
Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift welcomed Lakeshore to the community.
“On behalf of our city, I am extremely pleased to welcome Lakeshore Learning Materials to Midway, Kentucky,” he said. “We are very appreciative of the confidence that they’ve shown in our workforce and our business community. We also appreciate the Cabinet for Economic Development’s assistance in expediting this project and look forward to a long-term corporate relationship with this wonderful, education-based company.”
Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle said bringing Lakeshore to Midway was a team effort.
“Again, we open our arms and welcome another family owned business to Woodford County,” Judge Coyle said. “Lakeshore Learning Materials has a long history of providing innovative education materials to our nation’s children and we’re ecstatic they chose to be part of our community. We want to thank the Kaplan family for their confidence in our community and we wish to thank the Cabinet for Economic Development, who worked so hard this past year with the Woodford Economic Development Authority to make this day possible.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in August preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $3.7 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Lakeshore for up to $1.4 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Lakeshore can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
For more information on Lakeshore Learning Materials, visit www.LakeshoreLearning.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Community Unity Meal and Service to be held at Midway Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Wednesday

A Community Unity Meal and Service will be held at Midway Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. The event is also sponsored by three historic African American churches: Second Christian, Pilgrim Baptist and St. Matthew AME.

Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby
The event, listed as "Reconciliation Meal" on the Midway Baptist Church's online calendar, is being held in response to recent tragedies around the nation that had racial components. Speakers will include the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons Bible College and senior pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville. He was among the speakers at Muhammad Ali's memorial service.

"The fact that these churches are taking the initiative is really, really helpful, especially since they are in many ways the driving force of unity in our community," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told The Woodford Sun for its latest edition. He said that because society remains segregated on many levels, "Any time we can come together . . . and just talk, I think it starts to break up a lot of that division."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Property tax to drop slightly, Northside Drive to be repaved, park to get soccer field and walking trail

The city property tax is about to drop slightly, Northside Drive is about to be resurfaced, the city park is about to get a soccer field and tree-lined walking trail, and some owners of blighted properties are about to feel a crackdown from the city.

Those were the major items of business at Monday evening's Midway City Council meeting.

The council heard first reading of an ordinance that would lower the city's property tax rate to 10.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from the current rate of 10.7 cents per $100.

The new rate would produce about the same amount of revenue because real-estate assessments in the city have risen above $100 million and there is $400,000 worth of new property. The council can increase revenue from existing property by 4 percent without being subject to a petition for a referendum.

The council also heard first reading of another ordinance that would leave the rate on personal property at 14 cents per $100.

A pothole on Northside Drive (Photo by Katherine Stach)
The council accepted Lexington Blacktop's bid of $11,407 for extra work on Northside Drive, which the firm will repave under a $59,500 bid accepted earlier. The firm's Johnny Merritt said several potholes stem from a "sub-grade failure" and need to be excavated and filled with asphalt.

Council Member Steven Craig asked what will happen if the potholes come back. Merritt said the firm guarantees its work for a year, then added, "They won't. They shouldn't." Vandegrift said the street was built 20 to 25 years ago and has never been resurfaced.

The council agreed to let the Derby City Rovers, a soccer team of 8- to 10-year-old girls, use a flat area at Walter Bradley Park for a soccer field if they provide proof of insurance. They will also use goals that the city has on hand.

"This is not going to be a state-of-the-art soccer field," said John Holloway, who is spearheading improvements at the park. "it's something that can be used for kids."

Holloway reported that he has laid out a new walking trail for the park, which students from Midway University will mulch Saturday. Fifteen trees will be planted along the trail, as indicated on the map, on which the trail route is red.

Council Member Dan Roller, chair of the blighted property committee, listed four properties that would be referred to the building inspector to determine whether they had been abandoned: 216 E. Higgins St., 259 W. Higgins, 313 N. Winter and the brick house at the corner of Higgins and Turner streets. He added that several outbuildings are in bad shape, with roofs collapsing and "open to varmints," and recommended that they also be referred to the inspector.

Declaration of abandonment is up to the city's Vacant Property Review Board, which Vandegrift said needs new members. He complimented Roller, who is not seeking re-election this fall, for his work on the issue during six years on the council.

Roller said the committee had surveyed the town and agreed that property maintenance is much better than a few years ago, when the city began to crack down on violators, but "There's a number of properties just sitting there, not being improved, not being occupied, nothing being done." He said just mowing grass isn't sufficient to keep a property from being declared abandoned.

Sign on North Winter Street
Vandegrift announced that signs were erected Monday on major streets to mark the boundaries of the Midway Historic District. He thanked Dee Dee Roach and Bill and Leslie Penn, of the history committee of Midway Renaissance, for getting the work done.

In other business, the council voted to give $400 to the Woodford County Human Rights Commission, which had asked for an unspecified amount of support toward its $2,400 annual budget. Vandegrift said County Judge-Executive John Coyle had suggested that the county's three governments fund the commission at the same shares as other joint agencies. That was "sort of meager," Vandegrift said, suggesting $300. Council Member Bruce Southworth moved to give $400 and the rest agreed.

The next meeting of the council will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6, due to the Labor Day holiday. Vandegrift said he hopes to have at that meeting a list of sidewalks to be repaired with city help.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Final 'Midsummer Nights in Midway' is Aug. 19

The last of the "Midsummer Nights in Midway" for this year will start at 5 p.m. next Friday, Aug. 19, with an old-time jam session on Main Street. There will be square dancing from 7 to 8 p.m., and the old-time string band Paw Paw Pickers will entertain from 7 to 10 p.m.

Food vendors on the street will be 2 Ladies and a Kettle: Gourmet Kettle CornTrifecta BBQSt. Matthew AME Church (fried fish, hot dogs, cake pops, candy), Mezzo Italian Cafe and Provisions (pizza by the slice), Summer Starts Here Farm (desserts), Bruster's Real Ice Cream and Second Christian Church (desserts). Beverages will be offered by Mezzo, West Sixth Brewing and the event's main sponsor, Midway Renaissance. Several stores will have extra shopping hours.

A children's activity area will include a misting tent and bubble pools, and the library will operate a kids' craft area. There will also be a balloon artist, classic cars and a cornhole game. For more information go here.

Commission approves Midway Station changes over local objections; committee keeps bypass in goals

The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a revised development plan for part of Midway Station last evening, overriding objections from Midway representative Rich Schein, who asked for a month's delay.

Later, a committee of the commission rejected an attempt to delete from the proposed goals and objectives of the county's comprehensive plan the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles, which could funnel more traffic onto Midway Road.

The revised development plan for 45 acres at the front of Midway Station uses the existing streets of the old industrial park, instead of the plan approved when Anderson Communities optioned the property from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority in 2008. Anderson had planned to redo the streets with tax-increment financing, which uses revenue from redevelopment to pay infrastructure costs, but the project didn't qualify for as much support as he, the EDA and city officials expected.

The original plan, which was based on the "new urbanism" concept of an inward-looking residential and commerical development, has now been changed to a more traditional type of development, but with lesser building setbacks than the 30 feet normally required. Under the original plan, buildings had to be constructed two feet from the property line. Now the setbacks will be 20 feet in some places and varying distances in others. The commercial area along Georgetown Road will be reoriented toward the road rather than the interior of the development.

Anderson attorney Richard Murphy told the commission that Anderson, EDA and potential buyers of the property agree that two-foot setbacks are "not really practical for Midway Station. . . . We're trying to accommodate today's needs for development."

Also, Murphy said, the 250-foot wide easement for the high-powered electric transmission line crossing the property makes some of it unavailable for development. "It's sort of a potpourri of reasons that bring us here," he told the commission.

Schein, an urban geographer, asked, "What's going to happen to the rest of Midway Station?" Murphy said he wasn't sure, but "The users we have now, in 2016, just aren't interested in going forward with the old guidelines." He said Anderson has "active prospects" and the initial development will be commercial.
Midway representative Rich Schein, at right, makes a point as Dick Murphy, attorney for Dennis Anderson, listens.
Schein said he was sympathetic, "but I still see this as a complete turning around of this project in the other direction. Honestly, it looks like Towne Centre to me." That is the Anderson development on Leestown Road in Lexington, just inside New Circle Road.

When commission member Ed McClees made a motion to approve the new plan, Schein said he wanted to delay action for a month. "There's a lot to take in here in a very short period of time," he said. "It's not clear to me how this plays out following that, and I don't want to make a hasty decision."

McClees declined to withdraw his motion, and the plan was approved with Schein and member Jim Boggs dissenting. "There seem to be too many questions," Boggs said.

During the discussion, Planning Director Pattie Wilson said the new plan is a blend of B-5 zoning and new urbanism. She said it has a "hierarchy" of building setbacks, ranging from 30 feet on Georgetown Road to 20 feet on most interior streets, but with some areas still having the two-foot setback.

Nevertheless, Schein maintained, "It will look no different than a B-5 strip development."

Bypass remains in comprehensive plan draft

Schein does not sit on the commission's Comprehensive Plan Committee, though he is Midway's sole representative on the nine-member commission. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has objected to that, saying it appeared designed to suppress opposition to including the northwest bypass of Versailles as a goal of the new plan, as proposed by Chairman J.D. Wolf.

Committee member Patty Perry said she wanted to remove the bypass as a goal of the plan and mention it in more detailed sections on land use. "It's not going to happen in the next five years, before the next update," she said, referring to Gov. Matt Bevin's removal of the project from the state road plan.

Committee chair Chad Wells said he preferred to leave the project in, for consideration by the full commission. McClees and member Tim Parrott agreed, making a majority of the five-member committee. Member Randal Bohannon did not speak but voted to approve the goals and objectives as proposed.

The full commission is expected to consider the goals and objectives next month.