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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Council sets work session to discuss pay raises

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting next week to discuss big pay raises for the council and mayor who will be elected in November 2018. After several months of discussing the proposal, the council decided Aug. 7 that it needed more detailed consideration.

The special meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at City Hall. The meeting notice says "The purpose is to have a work session on mayoral/council pay increases. No action will be taken." The notice says action will be taken on a proposed change to the zoning ordinance on industrial signs. All council meetings are open to the public.

The ordinance the council defeated Aug. 7 would have raised the mayor's annual pay to $12,000 from $1,200, and the council members' $600 salary to $4,800 a year, starting in 2019. Proponents have said the current pay is archaically low and the officials will have even more to do as Midway develops, while skeptics say the increases would be too large, especially for the council.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Peace in the Park' Sunday, Aug. 27 to 'celebrate diversity and discuss important topics of the day'

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has announced a special event in response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., and related issues. "Peace in the Park" will be held in the newly landscaped quarry area of Walter Bradley Park Sunday, Aug. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. Here's a poster:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Message from the Mayor: We should, and will, do our part to make the world a better place; stay tuned

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

With the horrific tragedies that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend I am once again struggling to wrap my mind around the fact that in 2017 there are white supremacists marching in the streets of our cities and towns. Racism is a vile and infectious idea – and completely un-American. The very idea that someone’s value is determined at birth was at the heart of the American Revolution, and the rejection of that notion is our highest principle.

But the division in this country has recently gone from polarizing political speech to violence and death, and so many of us are simply bewildered – and afraid. It’s as if a wheel has been spun that we can’t get to stop turning, and it continues to pick up speed. I’ve long believed that true change and true progress does not happen from the top down, but from the bottom up.

We are so fortunate to live in a wonderful and peaceful community, but we don’t live on an island, and we can and should do our part to make our world a better place. In the spirit of that, we are in the early stages of planning a city event to allow anyone and everyone to share what they’re feeling – regardless of who they are or what they believe. We will make details available as soon as they are ironed out. Perhaps we can even set a good example for other cities by showing how we can come together and enjoy one another, despite our petty differences.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Council wants to think more about pay raises

After months of thinking about it, when the time came to vote, Midway City Council members decided they needed to keep on thinking about paying the mayor and council elected in November 2018 a lot more than the officials make now.

The ordinance the council defeated Monday evening would have raised the mayor's annual pay to $12,000 from $1,200, and the council members' $600 salary to $4,800 a year. In monthly terms, that would take the mayor from $100 to $1,000, and the council from $50 to $400. Proponents said the current pay is archaically low and the officials will have even more to do as Midway develops.

Sarah Hicks moved to adopt the ordinance, and Steve Simoff seconded it. But they were the only council members who voted for it, and Simoff said afterward that he still wanted council members to get only $200 a month.

That sentiment was shared by at least some of the four members who voted no: Kaye Nita Gallagher, John McDaniel, Bruce Southworth and Libby Warfield, who had been the only one who publicly expressed significant reservations about the proposal.

Gallagher said, "I think the 400 is way too much," and suggested cutting it to $200 a month and adding another $100 to the pay of the mayor, who "is going to have a hell of a lot more to do." Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said that extensive a change would require redrafting of the ordinance and two more readings.

Warfield said in June that data from the Kentucky League of Cities showed that annual salaries in the six Kentucky towns most similar to Midway average $6,000 for the mayor and $1,900 each for council members.

Hicks said at Monday's meeting that there are "significant differences" between Midway and those towns, including income. She said Midway's median income is $53,874, and the next highest income among the group is in Bloomfield, at $39,196. She said Midway's income is "significantly above the state levels, but all the other cities were below the state levels."

Hicks also noted the town's proximity to interstate highways and much larger towns, and said "We are the only city of our size that has a university." She said much of the income in the other comparable towns "comes from manufacturing or extraction."

Southworth, a retired Midway and Versailles city official, said "I don't do this for the money. That's not the reason I'm here. It don't really make any difference to me."

McDaniel suggested that the council vote down the proposed ordinance and have a workshop to learn more about the issue.

Vandegrift said the council pay in the ordinance could be lowered by amendment, without redrafting and extra readings, but no council member moved to do that.

"I'd like to look at it some more," McDaniel said, apparently reflecting a consensus. Hicks acknowledged, "We could do more financial analysis," looking at budgets of comparable towns and the percentage of expenses that go to administration.

Warfield suggested there are intangibles to consider when making comparisons with other towns: "Do they give me the same feeling I get when I'm in Midway?"

After the 2-4 vote, Vandegrift said further action should be initiated by the Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee, chaired by Hicks. When she asked about a time frame, Vandegrift said he would send out more information on the issue this week.

Speed bumps: The meeting was the first since Vandegrift announced that he was getting rid of the removable speed bumps on East Stephens Street because of deterioration and would seek a refund of $5,300 from the manufacturer.

Gallagher asked about a four-way stop at the intersection of Brand and Stephens streets, but Vandegrift said state traffic engineers have told him that would cause accidents. "I think the answer is enforcement," he said, but added after some discussion, "We need to pursue all options. We're not going to stop working on this."

Southworth, who lives near the intersection, suggested lowering the speed limit, since "It makes the ticket bigger" for a typical speeder.

Tax rates: The council held first reading of an ordinance setting tax rates for bills that will be mailed this fall. The real-estate rate would remain the same, 10.2 cents per $100 of value, but the tax on personal property would be lowered to 12.43 cents from the current 14 cents.

Vandegrift said afterward that the rates are calculated to raise approximately the same amount of money as last year. He told the council that he would schedule second reading and passage of the ordinance for the next meeting, Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Police contract: Vandegrift announced that the City of Versailles, which provides police protection in all of Woodford County, had begun negotiations with the county government on a new police contract without involving Midway.

The mayor said he told Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and County Judge-Executive John "Bear" Coyle that all three governments should be involved in the talks, rather than Versailles approaching Midway after doing a new deal with the county.

"We're going to be asked to pay more money," Vandegrift said.

Other action: The council approved an encroachment permit for Equine Analysis Systems of 107 W. Main St., which has bought the vacant lot that lies behind it and fronts on Winter Street. The permit (and a state permit, because Winter is US 62) will allow EAS to build a driveway and handicapped parking area.

Southworth asked why half of the excavated area would be graveled instead of paved. Deborah Boehler of EAS cited cost. She said part of the driveway had to be paved to keep gravel from sliding into Winter Street, according to the state permit. Hicks said, "I'm glad you're using gravel, because it's permeable and reduces toxic runoff."

The council deferred action on a request for an event permit for Bourbon Country Burn, a proposed bicycling event, because of questions about the route, personnel to help with traffic control and the plan to use Walter Bradley Park, which has the free water supply, as a water stop.

Hicks also voiced concern about the number of races and similar events being routed through Midway: "We could just get so popular that it might not be an asset any longer."

Steve Morgan of the Midway Business Association announced that the next free CPR class for bystanders will be held Aug. 16. He said seven people (four business owners and three council members) attended the class held last month.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dr. William Brown retires from Midway University, which gives him most of the credit for its re-accreditation

William Brown and President John Marsden
Midway University has granted emeritus status to Dr. William Brown, who has retired from the school, and given him most of the credit for being re-accredited for 10 years.

"In 2014 and 2015, he led an institution-wide effort to ensure Midway's reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges," a university news release said. "Midway University was reaffirmed for 10 years in December 2015 without sanctions or monitoring largely due to the efforts of Dr. Brown."

"Dr. Brown has had a profound impact on this institution and has directly or indirectly touched all students, whether they knew it or not," University President John Marsden said. "He is an honorable man and valuable colleague and will be sorely missed in his retirement."

Marsden announced Brown's honor from the Board of Trustees at the school's commencement ceremony on May 13, the date of his retirement.

Brown began his career at what was then Midway College in the fall of 1996 as an assistant professor of philosophy and religion and a staffer in the financial-aid office. "In 1997, he played a critical role in a newly created School for Career Development, which is the predecessor of the university's evening and online programs," the release said. "Dr. Brown was instrumental in the day-to-day oversight of the School for Career Development and held various positions in that office including dean and vice president. More recently, Dr. Brown served as associate vice president of academic affairs with oversight for the credit-for-prior-learning program, assessment, accreditation, academic policies, administrative withdrawals and drops, academic petitions and appeals, and the dual-credit program."

Brown holds a Ph.D. in theology from the Pontifical University of Rome and an M.A. in Philosophy from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sam Shepard in Midway: He liked the town that honored his privacy, and he chose to spend his last days nearby

Shepard at the Sundance Film Festival
in 2014 for the opening of Cold in July.
By John McDaniel
Special to the Midway Messenger
    This week began on a sad note when it was announced Monday that Sam Shepard, noted Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, screenwriter, director and Oscar-nominated actor,  had passed away at his farm near Midway, just across South Elkhorn Creek in Scott County. The family waited five days before letting the public know that he died from complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
    Samuel Shepard Rogers III was born in the town of Fort Sheridan, Illinois, just north of Chicago, on Nov. 5, 1943. He died Thursday, July 27, at the age of 73.
    A close friend of mine, after hearing of Shepard’s passing, sent me a text wanting to know if I had heard the news. My friend, a Shepard admirer, author of several books, and a filmmaker himself, knew that I often talked to Shepard, and on one occasion my friend sat down with us and discussed the ins and outs of their trade for an hour or two. I sent a text back saying I hadn’t heard that Sam had passed away. However, the news did not surprise me, because I had seen him out just a couple of months ago on Main Street, and saw how much different he looked from just a little over a year ago before he found out that he had ALS. Seeing him in his wheelchair, it was easy to surmise that his days left on this earth were few.
    After seven years or so, it’s going to be a little bit different not seeing Shepard in town anymore, hanging out on the downtown patios or squirreled away in back of one of the Midway restaurants, writing notes in his notebook or reading a book as he ate.
    I met Sam like I have met so many other people who have made their way through Midway. It was several years ago when I was sitting at the bar at The Black Tulip, now the Grey Goose, watching the women’s college fast-pitch playoffs on the TV above the bar, when this guy came in wearing boots, blue jeans, and a wild head of hair the wind had blown in every direction. He takes a seat beside me and orders a shot of Patron Tequila, says “hi,” looks up at the screen and questions why I liked watching women play fast-pitch softball. When I told him that was what was playing when I came in, he laughed. I said if he would rather watch something else, we could get the bartender to change the channel. He gulped down his shot of tequila and ordered another. I drank my Miller Lite, asked the bartender if she would change the TV to the horse-racing channel, so we watched races and talked about horses.  He said that he had some horses racing, but it was more like a hobby.
Shepard at Sundance, 2014
    He was friendly enough, but a bit reserved in his conversation, as I drank another Miller Lite and he did another shot of tequila. After finishing up I had to leave and said goodbye, and he replied that he would probably see me around again. Like I said, he wasn’t much on conversation, at least not that particular day. However, he was right; he did see me around again, and I later discovered that he was one of the most interesting conversationalists that I have ever had the pleasure of talking with. In fact, he turned out to be one of the most interesting people that I have ever known.
    I soon learned that this windswept, cowboy-looking fellow was actually a movie star who had been nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for playing test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. I was also informed that he had bought a farm and would be living just outside Midway. That was pretty neat, but I didn’t really know that much about the movies he had been in, or anything else about him, for that matter. To me, he was just somebody who had been in a movie; no big deal. After all, Star Trek’s William Shatner came around town a few times a year, so a movie person in Midway wasn’t unheard of. To me, people in movies and on TV were pretty much like everyone else, except most of them had more money than they knew what to do with. I was to find out later found out that Sam wasn’t like a lot of other movie people and wasn’t the stereotype movie celebrity.   
    After seeing him around town almost every day after our first meeting, I quickly discovered that he was without a doubt a curiosity, and it was comical to sit back and watch people’s reaction once they recognized who he was as he sat in corner booths of Midway’s restaurants. It was interesting how far out of the way women would walk to get a closer look, not looking where they were going, and bumping into chairs as they stared at him while making their way to the bathroom.
Shepard at the back door of his home on now-closed Sharp Lane in Scott County
    One night when he was eating at Heirloom with Phil Gerrow of Midway, a contractor who did most of the work on Shepard’s home off Fishers Mill Road, a group of ladies at the front of the restaurant recognized Sam across the way and began giggling like a bunch of high-school teenagers who just got patted on the behind by the captain of the football team.  They would giggle some more, put their heads together, and plan their next course of action. Each one of the six made their way past his booth on the way to the bathroom, one at a time, and came back to the table verifying that the guy sitting in the booth was definitely the Sam Shepard.
    Henry Wombles, co-owner of the Heirloom at that time, and I sat at the bar laughing and wondering what it would be like to garner that much attention. After a while others in the restaurant recognized Sam, and the normal table chatter that filled the room dropped to a steady murmur, fingers began to point as heads shook in agreement, and people at the tables would wave their waitresses over to have them confirm that the person sitting in the booth at the back of the restaurant was indeed Sam Shepard. That’s when people would begin to get up from their tables to head for the bathrooms, slowing down as they passed Sam’s booth.
    One night one lady, in a very nice-looking yellow dress, must have been on some serious diuretic pills or the Heirloom food was seriously disagreeing with her. Henry and I sat at the bar and counted nine round trips from her table to the bathroom and back again using the longest route possible so that she could walk close to Sam’s booth.  That’s the way people acted when they visited Midway and recognized Sam Shepard at one of the restaurants in town and it happened every time he came to town.
    Shepard told the New York Times in 1994, “I still haven’t gotten over this thing of walking down the street and somebody recognizes you because you’ve been in a movie, there is an illusion that movie stars only exist in a movie. And to see one live is like seeing a leopard let out of the zoo.”
    I think a lot of people were intimidated by Shepard. Though they were excited to see him in the flesh, it was very seldom that onlookers would actually stop to ask him for an autograph; most would just stare at him. Midway residents would smile and speak but, I only knew a few who ever bothered him for a picture or autograph. Townspeople made it a point to respect his privacy, and I believe that is why he liked Midway so much.
Shepard's home (Photos from www.sam-shepard.com)
    Every once in a while, someone would gather up enough nerve to ask for an autograph, or ask if he would have a picture taken with them. Sometimes he would accommodate them with a great big smile, other times he would be very reluctant, and other times he would refuse and totally embarrass the person who dared to make such a request. Such refusals were mild compared to the tongue-lashing he gave people who would walk up and set off flashes from their camera into his face. He would remind them that he wasn’t some animal in the zoo.  Knowing that he couldn’t very well take their cameras away, he would warn them that he had better not see or hear about the picture appearing on Facebook or anywhere else. The violators would apologize, duck their head, and disappear as fast as they could.
    This was just the beginning of me getting to know Sam Shepard. Little did I know that we would later have many interesting talks, discussing politics, religion, horses, dogs, and probably a few subjects that Wikipedia has yet to research. The more I learned about him I discovered that he was more than just a face on a screen. I gained a respect for him as I learned more about the 40 plays he wrote, including “Buried Child,” which won the Pulitzer.  I discovered that he was a genuine cowboy and loved his quarter-horse cutting horses. I learned that he could play guitar and sing, and one night when he wanted to see inside the Thoroughbred Theater that my brother Jim and I ran, he saw my set of drums on the stage and asked if he could play them. I told him where I kept my drumsticks and he went on stage, sat and played drums until 2 a.m.
    There is no doubt that Sam Shepard was a very talented, complex and intelligent person. He could be rude, he could be funny, he could be compassionate, and he had days that he just didn’t give a damn. I liked him for a lot of reasons, but he won me over because during one of our talks he once told me that he really did like Midway and that it had such a quality that even he had a hard time finding the words to describe the area around here. Maybe that’s why he chose to spend his last days here.

John McDaniel, left, is a member of the Midway City Council, the Midway correspondent for The Woodford Sun, and a former Midway and Woodford County police officer. He wrote this expanded version of his weekly Sun column at the request of the Midway Messenger.

Tonight on Broadway in New York, marquee lights will go dark for one minute in memory of Sam Shepard. He is survived by three children: Jesse, his son by his marriage to O-Lan Jones, and Hannah and Walker, his children with actress Jessica Lange; and by two sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers. Funeral arrangements are private, and no plans have been made yet for a public memorial, according to the website www.sam-shepard.com.

UPDATE, Aug. 3: Singer-songwriter Patti Smith writes in The New Yorker magazine about times spent with him on his Midway farm.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bevin appoints new circuit judge from Georgetown

Woodford County is getting a new circuit judge.

Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed Georgetown lawyer Jeremy Mattox of Georgetown as a judge in the14th Judicial Circuit Judge, Division 1, also serving Scott and Bourbon counties, effective Aug. 25. He will replace Rob Johnson, whom Bevin recently appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals to fill a vacancy created by the election of Larry Van Meter to the state Supreme Court. Johnson's term runs through 2018. The other judges in the circuit are Paul Isaacs and Family Court Judge Lisa Morgan, also of Georgetown.

A news release from Bevin's office said Mattox is a graduate of Harrison County High School, Georgetown College and, in 2006, the University Kentucky College of Law. "Mattox has practiced law almost exclusively in central Kentucky, representing clients in a variety of civil, criminal and domestic matters," the release said. "He has been involved in a number of civic organizations, including the Georgetown-Scott County Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Justice Association," a lobby for plaintiffs' lawyers.

Mattox said in the release, “I am honored by this opportunity to serve the citizens of Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties and am grateful to Governor Bevin and the Judicial Nominating Commission for selecting me.” The governor fills judicial vacancies from a list of three names submitted by commissions for each jurisdiction. The other nominees were Damon Loyd Preston and Perry Thomas Ryan, also of Georgetown.

Free, fresh fruits and vegetables to be distributed in parking lot of God's Pantry at 11 a.m. today

The Rev. Heather McColl, pastor of Midway Christian Church, reports:
"Today, August 1, God's Pantry will be bringing a truck of fresh fruits and vegetables for the citizens of Woodford County. They currently have an abundance of fresh foods which must be distributed or spoil. They will be distributed in the parking lot of the food pantry at 11 a.m. Anyone interested in receiving some of this food must park by the ball fields and walk over. This is also the Senior Food Box distribution day."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mayor says E. Stephens Street speed bumps will be removed and a refund sought from the vendor

Photo provided by the mayor shows bump is missing a section.
The removable speed bumps on East Stephens Street, which have been welcomed, reviled and avoided, will be taken up because they have suffered damage that can't be repaired, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announced Thursday morning.

"Due to irreparable damage to the speed humps on E. Stephens, I have instructed city workers to remove them immediately," Vandegrift said in an email to city officials and the news media. "I will be contacting the company, Barco Products, to notify them of our expectation of a full refund." He said later that the expense was about $5,300.

Asked if there was any chance that the damage might the result of vandalism, Vandegrift replied, "It doesn't appear that way, but we haven't ruled it out completely."

Another photo from the mayor shows the missing piece.
Vandegrift and Council Member Bruce Southworth, who lives near the site, were leading advocates of measures to slow down traffic on the street, which runs past Midway University and the Homeplace at Midway, and becomes Weisenberger Mill Road at the city limits.

Some motorists said the bumps were too high, and the Homeplace and emergency medical services complained about them, so last month Vandegrift got the council to authorize him to buy a lower model. "Since these have deteriorated so rapidly, I don't plan on using the same company, and want to evaluate other options before installing more speed bumps," he said in a follow-up email.

The mayor said in his first email, "We will continue to pursue ways to effectively slow high traffic speeds on that stretch of E. Stephens, as well as any other road within the city where speeding persists," he wrote. "Feel free to contact me with any questions." His address is mayorgrayson@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New county fire department station under construction; could help clear the way for an ambulance station

Work continued this morning just west of Midway on the new station for the Woodford County Fire Department, following removal of rock and placing of a culvert last week. Local officials hope the site of the current station can be repurposed into an ambulance station for the northern part of the county.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lanes, ramp at Newtown Pike interchange to be closed

Light blue line shows where interstate lane will be closed. One lane of
northbound Newtown Pike, south of the interchange, will also be closed.
If you're heading into Lexington via Interstate 64 and Newtown Pike this weekend, be aware of road construction.

The state Transportation Cabinet says temporary ramp and lane closures are scheduled in and around the Newtown Pike (KY 922) interchange from 7 pm. Friday, July 21 through 5 a.m. Monday, July 24.

The ramp from Newtown Pike to I-75/64 southeast will be closed for rehabilitation work, and the far right of the interstate through most of the interchange will be closed for concrete patching work. Two lanes will remain open.

Also, one lane of Newtown Pike northbound from Coleman Court to the interstate bridge (about a quarter-mile) will be closed for concrete patching work. One lane will remain open.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Raise gets first reading; Simoff says proposed council pay should be halved; 'Old Smoky' could still come

Member John McDaniel seemed
dressed for the occasion as the
council proposed a pay raise.
The Midway City Council gave first reading Monday night to an ordinance that would give the mayor and council elected next year big pay increases, but one council member said he would try to cut the council's proposed salary in half.

The long-discussed plan would raise the mayor's annual pay to $12,000 from $1,200, and the council's $600 salary to $4,800 a year. In monthly terms, the mayor would go from $100 to $1,000, and the council would go from $50 to $400.

Council Member Steve Simoff said he would propose at the next meeting, on Aug. 7, that the council members elected in November 2018 be paid $200 a month, or $2,400 a year. "We're all doing it for fifty dollars right now," Simoff said. "I just want everybody to kind of think about it."

There was no response to Simoff's suggestion. Council Member Libby Warfield, who has been the one most publicly skeptical of the proposal, was not in attendance.

Proponents of the raise have said it is long overdue and the council and mayor are badly underpaid, especially in light of the the increased responsibilities they have as Midway grows and Midway Station develops. The council could vote to enact the raises at the next meeting. For a copy of the proposed ordinance, click here.

The caboose is near the Corman track.
Locomotive needs financial fuel: Council Member John McDaniel announced that the R.J. Corman Railroad Group still has a grant available to place its "Old Smoky" steam locomotive in Midway. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the grant is for $180,000 but the cost of the project is estimated at $250,000, so the city and Corman would have to raise private money.

Vandegrift said the Corman family wants the locomotive "displayed prominently downtown," in a see-through enclosure like the one it once had in Lexington, so the likely location is where a Corman caboose now sits, at the east end of the United Bank parking lot. Placing it there will require a retaining wall and an easement on the adjoining property, he said.

The mayor said after the meeting that a possible new location for the caboose would be the hill above the intersection of Leestown Road (US 421) and Georgetown Road (KY 341), which intersects with Interstate 64, so it would greet traffic coming into town from the freeway and remind visitors of Midway's status as the first Kentucky town founded by a railroad.

Lakeshore sign and jobs: The council voted to ask the county Planning and Zoning Commission to amend its industrial-sign ordinance in a way that would allow Lakeshore Learning Materials to have a proportionally sized sign for the distribution center it is building in Midway Station.

Vandegrift said the size limit on industrial signs is 300 square feet, which "would be a dwarf sign on a five hundred thousand square-foot building." The change would remove the absolute limit but keep the ordinance's maximum of one square foot of sign for each lineal foot of building frontage. He said he had discussed the change with Planning Director Pattie Wilson and expects the commission to make the recommendation and send it back to the council for final approval.
Photo illustration shows how Lakeshore's sign would look if the industrial-sign ordinance is changed to allow it.
Lakeshore official Paul Chisholm showed the council a rendering of how the 40-foot-wide sign would look on the 575-foot-wide building. Asked about outside lighting, he said it would come from light-emitting diodes, directed downward, to limit light pollution.

Chisholm said work is on schedule and the company expects to get an occupancy permit Aug. 4 and begin the interview and hiring process there. The schedule calls for the plant to be active on Sept. 29 and make its first shipments in early November. It is expected to employ 262 people after two years.

Electric-car charging: The council agreed to reserve two spaces at the back corner of the City Hall parking lot for an electric-vehicle charging station to be installed at no cost to the city by Kentucky Utilities. Vandegrift said KU had already picked Midway to be one of 20 towns with such stations. The council also authorized him to sign a memorandum of understanding with KU.

Council Member Sara Hicks, who had pushed the idea, said it would attract new visitors to town and generate business because "They'll have to sit around for an hour" while their vehicles charge. Vandegrift said, "It's just the next step in becoming a greener city."

Other business: The council accepted a series of bids for surplus equipment, the largest sale being $350, bid by Thomas Walton for a 5-by-10-foot trailer. Brian Boettcher got a 1990 Ford Ranger truck for $250 and Simoff got a 1994 Jeep Cherokee for $186. He abstained on the vote. Council Member Bruce Southworth was among four bidders for the trailer. For the bids and the rest of the council's meeting packet, click here.

The council also approved an event permit for the "Hope for Tomorrow" 5-kilometer and 1-mile races on Nov. 4, and an encroachment permit for 216 Higgins St.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Message from the mayor: City invests in infrastructure

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

One of the most important issues that any city, state or nation faces is one that often gets talked about the least. It’s costly, it’s complicated, and sometimes you can’t see it at all, but it’s ever-present in our lives. I’m of course talking about infrastructure, and while I’m proud of the steps we’ve been taking to improve ours, I’m the first to admit we’ve still got a long way to go. That’s why I’m pleased with the budget that the council passed for fiscal year 2017-2018, which took effect July 1, and I thought I’d relate a few of the highlights relating to infrastructure.

The appropriation for road paving is $32,000, with the stretch of East Stephens between Oak and Smith being a priority. We’ve budgeted about a third less in sidewalk improvements from the year before, but that’s actually a blessing in disguise: Because we were able to implement the new sidewalk program with full participation from property owners, we came in well under budget. I fully expect that program will continue to be a success. We’re also making a push to repair long-neglected storm sewers around the city, with $10,000 earmarked for that.

In the water and sewer end of things, we’ve budgeted $35,000 in capital improvements for our wastewater treatment plant, and we’ll be making other small improvements to the system knowing we’ll have some more major projects on the horizon. We’re “peeling the onion” of water and sewer infrastructure repair one layer at a time, because we’re all determined to make the necessary improvements without raising rates.

For a full version of the budget, please call or visit city hall and we’ll be happy to make you a copy. (Or you can download the most recent budget tracking report here.)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Katie Comley and her shop Breckinridge are honored for 25 years in business on Main Street

Members of the Midway Business Association gathered with Mayor Grayson Vandegrift Wednesday morning as he presented Katie Comley of the shop Breckinridge, next to City Hall, with a proclamation recognizing her 25 years in business on Main Street. From left are Pat Logan, MBA President Peggy Angel, City Council Member John McDaniel, Comley, Vandegrift and MBA membership chair Steve Morgan. The proclamation, which was a surprise and declared today "Breckinridge Day," said Comley "has become known as a steady entrepreneur and friendly face in our city."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Annual Sparks in the Park event draws crowd July 3


The annual Sparks in the Park event was held at Walter Bradley Park Monday evening, July 3. The city provided a barbecue dinner with bottled water, as well as a bouncy house for children. Vendors offered ice cream, kettle corn and lemonade.

Though the name of the event may imply that it includes fireworks for the Fourth of July, the only sparks were "all our little ones running around," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said. He is at left with his son, Jackson.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Midsummer Nights in Midway returns for 2nd season Friday, June 30, and on last Fridays of July and August

Midsummer Nights in Midway will return for a second season at 6 p.m. Friday, June 30, and will be held monthly through August. The events are designed to provide wholesome, family fun and serve as a platform for local businesses, artists, and non-profits to reach new audiences, as well as "highlight the historic, small-town warmth of Midway," says Midway Renaissance, the event's originator and coordinator.

The Twiggenburys, a Lexington-based band that plays rock and pop from British artists from the '70s through today, will provide live music from 7 to 10 p.m.

Local restaurants will be selling food and beverages, local shops and street vendors will be open late, and local non-profits will be selling food, soft drinks and water.

There will be activities for children, including Tiny Tallman from 6 to 8 p.m., and a Bearded Brothers photo booth. Free parking will be available.

Midway Renaissance is offering a sponsorship level called Friends of Midsummer Nights. For $25 sponsors get a t-shirt and their names in a drawing to win a gift certificate to local restaurants and stores. People can sign up at the Midway Renaissance t-shirt booth at the event.

The presenting sponsors of Midsummer Nights in Midway are Grey Goose Restaurants and Graviss McDonald's Restaurants. Other sponsors are Midway Shell and Midway BP (now under the same ownership), Midway University, the Lexington law firm of Sturgill Turner, Amberway Equine, Sporthorse Properties, Mezzo Italian Cafe and Provisions, The Homeplace at Midway, Kennydid Gallery, Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Woodford County, Horse Country Cottage, Kentucky Honey Farms, Weisenberger Mills, May & Co., Southern Equine and Holly Hill Inn and the City of Midway.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Council OKs cemetery rules, house demolition bid, purchase of lower speed humps for Stephens Street

The Midway City Council enacted new cemetery regulations and authorized the mayor to buy lower speed humps for East Stephens Street at its meeting Monday evening. It also put some surplus equipment up for sale and awarded a bid to remove the old house in the cemetery.

The cemetery regulations are the first update in 18 years, said Council Member Libby Warfield, chair of the City Property and Cemetery Committee. She said nothing in the new rules (at the end of the council meeting packet, here) conflicts with the cemetery brochure distributed by City Hall, but they impose some new requirements in addition to the cemetery ordinance.

For example, memorials made of concrete, artificial stone, wood, composition, cast plaster, tin or iron are prohibited. Warfield said many graves in the cemetery don't comply with the ordinance, which requires "a suitable memorial identifying each set of remains in a particular lot." Warfield said, "So many of the things that are not in compliance are from what people are leaving there as a marker."

Warfield agreed with a suggestion by Council Member Sara Hicks that the city look for a way to help people who can't afford suitable memorials. Hicks suggested raising the cost of a lot by $50, to $700, and putting the extra money in an assistance fund. Warfield said the ordinance already allows the city to create such a fund, but raising the lot price would require a new ordinance.

The new rules set time periods for artificial decorations, rules for display of flags, and circumstances for the city to remove shrubs. They ban concrete urns, pots and planters; trellises, standards, brackets and shepherd's hooks; new plantings of trees or shrubs; bark mulch, lava rock, stones, glass pebbles and similar products; edging, curbing or fencing; benches, unless used in place of a headstone; toys, shells, balloons, decorative stones, wooden items, statuary, mirrors or other glass items, eternal flames, solar lights, photographs, paper articles, lawn stakes, tree ornaments, wind chimes, sun catchers, birdhouses, feeders and several other items. Warfield said newly prohibited man-made items in the cemetery will be removed.

In other cemetery business, the council accepted a $7,200 bid by Grubbs Excavating of Versailles to remove the old house in the cemetery and restore the site to a mowable condition. Vandegrift said the work will be done after June 28, because the Versailles Police Department will be using the house in a special-weapons-and-tactics exercise that day. He said windows will be broken.

The mayor gave the council a copy of this ad for the replacement
speed humps he wants to buy. Click on it to view a larger version.
The council spent much more time discussing the removable speed humps that were installed in early May on East Stephens Street, upsetting some residents. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the 3-inch-high humps need to be replaced by 2-inchers, mainly because of concerns by emergency medical services and The Homeplace at Midway. He said the 3-inchers could be used on streets with lower speed limits.

Several council members wanted Vandegrift to check with EMS, traffic engineers and others before making the purchase. "These questions you're asking now weren't asked the first time," he said. "You all want to be 100 percent certain that these are going to work. I can't give you that." But he said "I'm going to do a lot of homework" before buying the replacements.

The council declared as surplus property, to be sold by sealed bid, to vehicles and several pieces of equipment: A 1990 Ford Ranger pickup, a 1994 Jeep Cherokee 4x4, a set of 6-foot side toolboxes, a 5x10-foot trailer;, a 50-gallon sprayer on a trailer, a Honda push mower, two Stihl blowers, an Echo hedge trimmer, two Shindaiwa weed eaters, a Meyer salt spreader, a SnowEx salt spreader, and an unspecified number of DeWalt and Skil battery-powered tools.

The council agreed to cancel its meeting scheduled for July 3 because the "Sparks in the Park" event will be held that evening, starting at 6. He said the proposed ordinance with a big pay increase for the mayor and council elected in November 2018 will probably be ready for first reading at the July 17 meeting.

Hicks informed the council that Woodford Forward and Kentucky Utilities will have a meeting Friday at 10 a.m. in the parking lot behind City Hall to discuss installation of a charging station for electric cars. "It's exciting," she said.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Council to consider new cemetery rules and regulations

The agenda for Monday evening's Midway City Council meeting includes a new set of Midway Cemetery rules and regulations, on which a council committee has been meeting for several weeks. A copy of the proposal is in the packet sent today to council members as a PDF, available here; the current regulations are in a brochure, available here.

The council will also consider a bid to remove the old house in the cemetery, a resolution to sell several items as surplus property, and discuss the nagging issue of the removable speed humps on East Stephens Street. The council packet has an advertisement for humps that are two inches high, one inch less than those recently installed.

The agenda includes a usual subhead, "First Reading of Ordinances," but no ordinances are specified. The council recently asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance with a big pay increase for the mayor and council that will be elected in November 2018.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

City council discusses pay raise, adopts new budget

The Midway City Council agreed informally last night to draft an ordinance that would greatly increase the salaries of the mayor and council elected next year. If the council adopts the recommendation of the Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee, members of the next council would get $400 a month, up from $50; and the mayor would get $1,000, up from $100.

Council Member Sara Hicks, chair of the committee, said she had "received favorable feedback. Many people approached me and said they thought it was a good idea," in light of the increased workload of city officials, especially with the Midway Station project. But Council Member Libby Warfield said she's having difficulty with her own opinion.

"It is a touchy subject," Warfield said. "This is a larger increase than I think anybody I talked to ever would have expected, and I'm trying to work on my own to justify it, but I'm not having a whole lot of luck."

"I'm torn as well," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

Warfield said she has less problem with raising the mayor's salary because the office has a four-year term and council members' terms are two years. For them, "You could increase it some and then watch that workload and the increase it some more after two years," she said. "We wouldn't have that luxury with the mayor's position."

Hicks said she had recommended to her committee that the mayor's salary be $20,000, but the committee "encouraged us to be more prudent. . . . Given the amount of the work the mayor's doing, twenty thousand would just be a beginning ... and could be raised as the job becomes more demanding. . . . I'm real concerned with the burden on our mayor."

Council Member Steve Simoff said a recent email from Warfield about her work as chair of the Cemetery and City Property Committee showed council members need to be paid more. But Warfield replied, "It just feels like it's a really big leap."

Hicks said that as a member of the council and other boards related to her council work, she attends five to eight meetings a month and also spends time preparing for the meetings. "The good thing is, we're all like excited about our town," she said. "That's really a good problem to have, but I don't think there's a problem with us being reimbursed for that."

McDaniel noted that the committee used other cities in the Bluegrass as a guideline, but Warfield said the average salaries in the six Kentucky towns most similar to Midway average $6,000 for the mayor and $1,900 each for council members.

Hicks said that's not the whole story. "The difference is how active these towns are in their regions and how active their regions are in the state," she said "We are in one of the most active regions in the state and for the size of our town we're one of the most active towns."

Joseph Coleman, research director for the Kentucky League of Cities, said in an email to the Midway Messenger last month that in "cities of similar size to Midway (1,000-2,999 population), the median annual pay for mayors was $6,600 and for legislative body members was $1,200 in Fiscal Year 2016," which ended last June 30.

Vandegrift ended the discussion by saying he had wanted to get "a straw-poll consensus" from the council, and said he would ask City Attorney Phil Moloney to draft an ordinance with the raises.

In other business, the council adopted the city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Vandegrift said that was the end of "the smoothest budget process I've ever seen." For a copy of the budget, click here.

Vandegrift said the removable speed bumps recently installed on East Stephens Street need to be smaller, and promised to tell the council that "every two weeks" because "It's only a matter of time before they cause some injury to somebody." The council meets on first and third Mondays.

The mayor said most of the city's first subsidized sidewalk repairs have been completed, but work at the corner of Bruen and Winter streets will require removal of trees, which will need approval from the state Transportation Cabinet because Winter is a state right of way.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Top officials of Japanese firm speak at grand opening of American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant

Tatsuro Ito, president of Howa Textile Industry Ltd., spoke at today's grand opening of the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant in Midway Station, which has been operating for several months. "We hope this plant will become a role-model plant among our American facilities," Ito said, after noting that the Japanese company has 36 plants in 13 countries.

American Howa Kentucky President Mizuhiro Toki said "AHK is committed to being a good neighbor and building strong relationships in the community." He expressed thanks to "the people of Woodford County for welcoming us into the community."

The plant is building headliners, the inside roof covering, for automobiles produced at the Toyota plant in Georgetown. It has about 70 workers now and will have 83 by August, plant manager Chris Fortino (at far left in photo) said in an interview. He said he lives in Frankfort, is a native of Cleveland, and has worked for Howa for 11 years and at all the company's U.S. facilities.

Lindsey Ransdell of the state Economic Development Cabinet (seated next to the lectern) told the crowd, "Our automotive industry is what really drives our state," and said 100,000 Kentuckians work for foreign-owned businesses. She said AHK's decision to locate in Midway Station spurred more growth, alluding to the larger Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center that is under construction next door.

The company's name is pronounced "Ho-wa" and it has a plant in Bowling Green. Here's a 14-second video of the ribbon-cutting, which was followed by a reception and tours of the plant:
video



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sixth print edition of Midway Messenger is available

Margie Stedman, Shirley Davis and Lou Taylor enjoy the
Messenger outside the post office, with Lou's dog Molly.
The latest print edition of the Midway Messenger was distributed to locations around greater Midway this week. It mainly features stories that have appeared online, but also includes an update on the Weisenberger Mill bridge and a story about Heirloom being ranked among the top 100 U.S. restaurants on Open Table.

Stories of lasting interest include Austyn Gaffney's profile of artist Ray Papka, the city council's discussion of goals for the town, concerns of local merchants, the Midway Christian Church's environmental work, the recent study about agricultural jobs, and the denial of a request for another bed-and-breakfast.

The Messenger began publishing a print edition twice a year three years ago in response to requests from Midway citizens. Its major distribution points are City Hall, United Bank and Midway Grocery, but many other businesses also have copies. If you can't find one, email al.cross@uky.edu or download a 16-page PDF of the newspaper here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ellen and Eric Gregory win Kentucky Heritage Council award for their restoration of five old homes

Eric and Ellen Gregory on the porch of their Midway home, at 304 South Winter Street. (Photo submitted)
Ellen and Eric Gregory of Midway are being honored with a Service to Preservation Award from the Kentucky Heritage Council "for their hands-on rehabilitation of multiple family homes, notably The Bell House in Metcalfe County; for engaging their children to help with these projects; and for utilizing and promoting the use of historic rehabilitation tax credits," the council says in a news release.

The Bell House in Metcalfe County (photo by Eric Gregory)
The Gregorys bought and restored a Victorian-era home at the southeast corner of Winter and Stephens streets, a key intersection in Midway. The house in Metcalfe County has been in Ellen Gregory's family for generations; Alex Hein of Setzer's Chandelier and Restoration Shop on Main Street restored the original gas lights in the house.

The couple also restored homes in Lexington, Georgetown and Winchester. Their latest project was the childhood home of Ellen's father, Richard Duncan, who told them shortly before he died, "I can go in peace knowing that the house is in good hands."

The Gregorys posed with the award at Berry Hill. From
left are Ginny, Eric, Duncan, Sarah James and Ellen.
The presentation of the award at an invitation-only ceremony Tuesday at the Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort noted that the project also involves the newest generation: "They are also passing along a love of history to their children, whom they have made active participants in their latest venture."

The awards are presented during National Historic Preservation Month to recognize excellence in the preservation of historic buildings and cultural resources through investment, advocacy, volunteerism, building partnerships, public involvement, lifelong commitment or significant achievement. Others receiving the Service to Preservation Award are the Martin Luther King and William Wells Brown Neighborhood Associations for “Gathering Our History: An East End Preservation Project,” documenting Lexington’s East End neighborhood, capturing its stories, and creating an event to publicly celebrate the community’s rich cultural heritage, historic architecture and long-time residents; and the University of Kentucky Historic Preservation Symposium, an annual conference that premiered in 2005 to introduce students and others to innovative work shaping the boundaries of historic preservation practice by bringing together a range of speakers to discuss current topics in an accessible format, the release says.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Big weekend in Midway: First movie night at the park; Horsey Hundred cyclists passing through; block party

Movie Night in the Quarry tonight will kick off a busy weekend in Midway.

The new event, sponsored by the city and Friends of Walter Bradley Park, will be held in the old quarry behind the dog park, in the recently cleared and landscaped area of the park.

A campfire session, with announcements, will begin at 7 p.m. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., the Midway Branch of the library will have a storytelling time.

The movie, the Disney family film "Sing," will begin at 8:15. The temperature at that time is forecast to be 75 degrees. If you go, bring a flashlight, bug spray, a chair or blanket, and a litter bag; and don't bring any alcoholic beverages, because they will not be allowed.

On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds and perhaps thousands of bicyclists will roll through an near Midway on various routes of the annual Horsey Hundred, sponsored by the Bluegrass Cycling Club. That night, the first Block Party sponsored by the Midway Business Association. Larry Corey and the Passport Band will entertain at 7 p.m.

The Memorial Day service at Midway Cemetery will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29. The featured speaker will be Sarah Wilson.

Here's a Google map from the Bluegrass Cycling Club of overlapping Horsey Hundred routes in Midway:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Message from the mayor: New property-maintenance ordinance coming, will be enforced 'to the maximum'

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

I am currently awaiting a draft of a new property maintenance code ordinance from our city attorney, which will be handed to the Blighted Property Committee of the Midway City Council for their review before it goes on to the full council for final passage.

This city has endured for too long a number of property owners who hold in their possession multiple properties that they choose not to properly maintain. While I do not yet have the particular language of the ordinance in my possession, I am partially familiar with its contents, and pending passage by the council I am committed to enforcing it to the maximum extent which the law allows. As a city, we will do everything within our means to ensure that property owners who diligently maintain their properties do not suffer from the blight and abandonment of others.

With that being said, there are some people who own multiple properties and still make the effort and the investments necessary to keep their properties maintained. Some in particular have gone the extra mile to work with the city over the years to bring blighted properties back to code or have demolished uninhabitable abodes. For them I am extremely grateful, and I would remind everyone, as I often remind myself, not to conflate your frustration with some onto others who are doing what is responsible and right.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Parrish-Roach family, Margie Samuels of Maker's Mark are winners of Spotlight Awards from Midway University

A famous Midway family and the co-founder of a famous brand are the winners of Midway University's annual Spotlight Awards, to be presented at a dinner at the university on Thursday, May 25.

The 2017 Legacy Award, for service to the university, goes to the Parrish-Roach family, defined as James Ware Parrish and his descendants.

Parrish worked with Dr. L.L. Pinkerton to establish the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which became Midway College and then Midway University. Parrish raised money to buy land and erect buildings, and the site he chose for the school remains the home of the university, which last year admitted male undergraduates for the first time.

Parrish had two sons who were active trustees of the school, "and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many in-laws have continued to love, work and dream with the school as it transformed to meet its students’ needs," the awards program says. Margaret Ware Parrish was a coach and teacher for 40 years. Parrish’s son, Thompson Marcus, was patriarch to the Roach family.

Current Roach family supporters of the school include Ben and Ruth’s son, James Parrish Roach, who is a trustee; their daughter, Helen Rentch, who spearheaded efforts to build The Homeplace at Midway, an assisted-living facility and nursing home that collaborates with the school's nursing program. "Helen is also a member of the Midway University Ambassador program," the program says. "Robyn Roach, widow of Ben and Ruth’s son, Tom, established and still helps lead the Ruth Slack Roach Scholars program, in partnership with Mildred Buster and Janie Polk. This scholarship has benefited 20 young leaders on campus, giving selected students a full ride for two years, allowing many to complete their college education."

The Pinkerton Vision Award honors a person or group that has had a direct impact on improving women's lives; a woman who has been an outstanding role model; or a woman who has displayed great leadership, innovative thinking and influence in her career. This year's winner is the late Margie Mattingly Samuels, wife of Bill Samuels Sr. of Bardstown, with whom she conceived and promoted Maker's Mark bourbon in 1953. She died in 1985.

Margie Mattingly Samuels
"While Margie never held an official position or had delineated responsibilities, her contributions were invaluable," the Kentucky Distillers Association says. Not only did she name Maker's Mark, "She discovered a way to help her husband decide which small grain should be selected to replace rye as part of the formula in his new whisky; she baked bread with a variety of alternative grains. Bill blind-tasted the bread and decided on taste. She insisted that all the old buildings at the Victorian-era distillery they had purchased to make their whisky not only be saved but also faithfully restored, even at a time when money was scarce. This resulted in Maker’s Mark becoming America’s first distillery to be designated a National Historic Landmark and earned a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records for Maker’s Mark as 'America’s oldest operating distillery on its original site.' By far her most famous contributions were the creation of two of the spirits industry’s most famous symbols for handcrafted quality: the brand name Maker’s Mark, and the distinctive red wax which drips down the neck of every bottle. . . . Margie also designed the shape of the Maker’s Mark bottle, as well as the distinctive lettering on each label that has become an internationally recognized type style."
UPDATE:
Below, Rob Samuels, Margie's grandson, accepts the award for her as President John Marsden listens.
Below, Dr. Jim Roach accepted for his family as Donna Moore Campbell, trustees chair, listened.

Monday, May 22, 2017

14th annual Francisco's Farm Arts Festival attracts varied artists and a good crowd to Midway University

The 14th annual Francisco's Farm Arts Festival, with juried artists and craftspeople from several states, drew a good crowd to the campus of Midway University on Saturday and Sunday.

One of the more striking items was an American white pelican made of stainless steel and copper by Scot and Laura Kellersberger of Phoenix Creative Metal Artwork in Salvisa. Scot said the bird “is not quite life size; it has a seven-foot wing span.” He and Laura work on only one piece at a time. Some of their work is on display at Damselfly in Midway, Sincerely Yours in Lexington and Secret Garden in Louisville.

Jean-Marie Havet and wife Juanita, at left, talked with David and Lynn Perron of Lexington, at the festival Sunday. The Havets are owners of JM Havet Jewelry in San Francisco.


Photos by Elizabeth Spencer, University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information


Below, vibrant glass art by Larry Hamilton of Hamilton Glassworks in Winterville, Ga., was on display.

The festival is sponsored by the university and Midway Renaissance.

Right, visitors looked over the menu of food options.

Below is a collection of handmade brooms by Shannon Lewis, owner of Bluegrass Brooms in Ashland.

At bottom, Lewis talked with Fred Thomas of Midway during a broommaking demonstration.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Midway-tied Classic Empire a head short in Preakness; headed to Belmont Stakes in New York June 10

The Preakness finish (Photo by Nick Wass, The Associated Press)
Midway-connected Classic Empire grabbed the lead in the final turn but was overtaken by 13-1 shot Cloud Computing, who won the Preakness Stakes by a head at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore yesterday.

“I got to the lead early, maybe too early,” Classic Empire's jockey, Julien Leparoux, said afterward.

Trainer Mark Casse seemed to agree: “His mind tends to wander. . . . He starts seeing things and stops paying attention. You could see Julien getting after him like, ‘Come on. Come on. We’re not done.’ He thought he was done.”

Cloud Computing did not run in the Kentucky Derby because his trainer, Chad Brown, thought he needed more than three races in preparation. “Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses, and our strategy was, if we are ever going to beat them, let’s take them on on two weeks’ rest when we have six, and it worked,” Brown said after the Preakness. Always Dreaming, the Derby winner, finished eighth in yesterday's 1 3/16-mile race.

Classic Empire is owned by John and Debby Oxley, who own Fawn Leap Farm just south of Midway. He is a Tulsa oilman who also has homes in Palm Beach and Saratoga; she is a native of Shively. The horse was last year's two-year-old champion and finished fourth in the Derby after being heavily bumped at the start.

UPDATE, May 22: Casse told Jason Frakes of The Courier-Journal that he plans to run Classic Empire in the June 10 Belmont Stakes. He initially was pointing toward the Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 30, but decided against a break because the horse is improving. On Saturday, "He was a better horse than he was two weeks ago." Brown said the mile-and-a-half Belmont may not suit Cloud Computing. Always Dreaming trainer Todd Pletcher also hasn't decided. Senior Investment and Lookin at Lee, third and fourth respectively in the Preakness, are headed to the Belmont. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Council sticks with Stephens speed bumps, hears Soper back officials' pay raise, and helps merchants with signs

The Midway City Council stuck with its new speed bumps for now, helped merchants pay for signage, and heard a strong endorsement of its proposed pay raise Monday evening.

The council also had first reading of the city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and passed on second reading an ordinance allowing all nonprofit organizations, not just churches, to get once-a-week trash pickup instead of twice a week.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and council members were expecting comments from guests about the removable speed bumps installed a week ago on East Stephens Street to discourage speeding on the avenue, which becomes Weisenberger Mill Road. They got one complaint and one compliment, and had a lot more discussion among themselves.

Dakota Shaw, who lives in the 200 block of South Gratz Street, said the devices had diverted speeders into her street and others, and "They're speeding more than usual." She added, "There's a lot of kids where I live, so it's pretty dangerous."

Margi Stout, of the 200 block of East Stephens, said she favored the bumps "or whatever mechanism you choose to do," because traffic on the street "has improved immensely."

She said the biggest problem had been from eastbound drivers going downhill out of town. "By the time they get to Gratz, they're going like 55 or more. . . . Something had to be done, and it does seem to be helping."

Vandegrift said, "They're extremely effective, but there have been some concerns brought forth. I'm a little disappointed that, you know, then, some of the voices on social media didn't come to the meeting tonight, because they were invited to. But that's kind of the nature of social media, in some respect."

Vandegrift said he was sorry that he had not checked beforehand with Woodford County Ambulance Director Freeman Bailey, who was concerned that the bumps could cause complications for patients being transported. He acknowledged that they had diverted traffic to other streets, and said the city has ordered a sign to alert motorists that they are approaching the bumps. UPDATE, May 16: Here's a short video of traffic crossing the bumps:
video

The mayor recommended that the city get bumps "that aren't quite so tall" because "You have to go 5 miles an hour over those" that have been installed. But later he said that if shorter bumps didn't work, the city would "be between a rock and a hard place."

Council Member Bruce Southworth, who lives on East Stephens and spearheaded the purchase, said "I think they're doing exactly what they're designed to do." Later, he said, "We need more of 'em in town."

In response to a question from Council Member Steve Simoff, Southworth said he didn't know the speed rating for the bumps, but "I ordered the tallest ones they had," 3 inches high. The speed limit on the street is 25 miles per hour.

Council Member Libby Warfield said she had received three calls for the bumps and three against, with some suggesting four-way stops at various intersections.

Council Member Sara Hicks suggested using 2-inch bumps on Stephens and moving the 3-inchers to other streets. But when Simoff asked Council Member John McDaniel, a former city policeman, what he thought, McDaniel said "Give it more time," and the council informally agreed.

Pay raise: Hicks reported that the council's Ordinance and Policy Committee had recommended that the mayor and council elected next year be paid $12,000 and $4,800 a year, respectively, instead of the current $1,200 and $600. She gave many of the same reasons that she gave in an interview with the Messenger last week.

"We think that we are going to have a lot more work ahead of us, because of the way Midway Station is developing," Hicks said. "We want the positions to be positions that younger people would be willing to give their time up for, and we think that if we raise the money that maybe we'll get some fresh, new ideas."

John Soper, the paid chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, said "I strongly endorse those concepts."

Soper, who was at the meeting to report on developments at Midway Station, said the mayor and council will have many more decisions to make about the industrial and commercial development in the next few years. He said "the work's there," and so is the revenue, to justify a mayoral salary of $25,000 that could be raised to $40,000.

"Twelve thousand dollars is not enough to put up with me for what's coming at us," said Soper, who had some contentious meetings with Vandegrift and the council last year. "We've got a major project going on out there . . . and it needs to be shaped by the people in this room. . . . It's going to require a lot of time and your effort."

Soper alluded to the county's longstanding conflict between preservation and development interests. He is identified with the former, and Midway has been largely identified with the latter. "There is probably no town in Kentucky that has a better identity than Midway," he said, "and we've got to keep that."

Earlier, Soper said commercial development at Midway Station is about to start, with sale of a big lot for a convenience store. He said an "ag retail" business may buy eight acres and a "high tech
manufacturing" company that serves automobile plants may locate on the remaining 1.5 acres of original industrial land in the development.

Other business: The council voted to give the Midway Business Association $600, the remainder of its donations budget for the fiscal year, to keep signs on Interstate 64 and place a new sign downtown directing motorists to parking, shopping and the city park.

"A lot of people coming into our city don't know where everything is," MBA President Peggy Angel said.

Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said she was more concerned about the interstate signs, the fees for which are due this month. Angel said the group had run short of money to pay the $1,200 bill, and had obtained about $200 in donations from non-member antique stores because one sign in each direction of the road mentions antiques.

In other business, Gallagher stepped down as chair of the Tourism and Outreach Committee, saying she was going to help start a new business. Vandegrift appointed McDaniel to succeed her.

The council granted an event permit for the annual Horsey Hundred bicycle race, which will pass through town May 27 and 28. There will be live music in the Darlin' Jean's parking lot from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 27.

The second reading of the proposed city budget for 2017-18 is scheduled for the council's next meeting, on June 5. The pay raise will also be up for discussion, but it would require drafting of an ordinance, which requires two readings.