Header

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Midway council accepts bid for Gayland Drive sewer line, street work

By Kendall Staton
Midway Messenger 

The Midway City Council Monday accepted a low bid of $347,500 from J & L Contractors, LLC of Hillsboro for sewer line work and street repair on Gayland Drive.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the street presently looks like it has a series of inverted speed bumps, which are the result of storm sewer lines that have sunk into the ground. The project is funded, in part, by a $200,000 low-interest loan from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

Work will begin Jan. 2 and should be finished by Feb. 15, weather permitting, Vandegrift said. After the sewer lines are repaired, the street will be repaved.

Internment Ordinance

The council unanimously approved an ordinance revising the city’s interment policy. The new rules allow two cremains to be interred in one grave space if the first is placed at least 12 inches from the headstone and the second is towards the foot of the grave. One regular burial and one cremain can also occupy the same grave plot if the regular burial occurs first. 

Tree lighting

The city’s annual tree lighting ceremony is set for Friday in downtown Midway at 6:30 p.m. Free hot chocolate will be provided, which Vandegrift said would likely be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person. The event will include the unveiling of the new downtown lights and other attractions. “We’re going all-out,” Vandegrift said.

Iron Horse Half Marathon & 12K

The council unanimously approved an event permit for the 13th annual Iron Horse Half Marathon & 12K to be held on Sept. 17, 2023. With the expectation of 500-1,200 participants, proceeds from this race will be donated to local Central Kentucky nonprofit organizations.

Dec. 19 meeting cancelled

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he did not anticipate any reason for the council to meet so close to Christmas, but noted a request for cancellation must come from a council member. Councilmember Sarah Hicks motioned to cancel the Dec. 19 meeting, and other council members unanimously agreed.

The last meeting of the year will occur Dec. 5.

Midway flag update

The committee responsible for selection of the new Midway flag counted final votes Monday evening in a meeting room above the council chambers. The new Midway flag will be unveiled at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Midway University receives $5 Million pledge to support continued growth

(Photo courtesy Midway University)


Submitted by Midway University

At its Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month, the Midway University Board received and accepted a $5 million pledge from Trustee Jan Hunter and her husband, Richard. The pledge, made as a lead gift, is specifically earmarked for renovation and conversion of the top floor of the existing Little Memorial Library into student residential living in the coming year, the building of a new library in the future, and then the complete conversion of the remaining floors of the Little Memorial Library into student residential living.

"The University has great momentum, demonstrated by its seven consecutive years of enrollment growth," said Jan Hunter. "Dick and I feel that now is the time to continue investing in Midway so as not to discourage continued growth. Midway University is offering a collegiate experience that is both wanted and needed, and we have a great demand to provide additional housing options for students on campus."

"The Hunters' support has made it possible to transform our campus and enhance the student experience in the past few years," said Dr. John P. Marsden, President, Midway University. "Their previous gifts not only allowed us to build the new Hunter Field House; their generosity also played a huge part in other major campus projects such as the renovation of Marrs Hall, and the creation of the new Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center."

Marsden added, "This gift allows us to address our current short-term need for more housing spaces and to begin the planning for a new state-of-the-art library and more future housing development. We will begin the conversion project of the top floor of the current library in the spring semester and hope to complete that renovation in time for Fall 2023 student move-in."

According to the motion accepted by the Board, the Hunters will retain the naming rights to the future housing space and made their wishes known to the Board that the new library maintain the Little Memorial Library name to honor the original donor - Lucille Caudill Little, a former trustee at Midway University.

Since 2018, Midway University has completed several construction and renovation projects without incurring any new debt. Recent projects include the Hunter Field House, the renovation and conversion of Pinkerton Hall into residential living, the renovation of Marrs Hall and the creation of the Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center, the new Tracy Farmer-Don Ball Stadium, the new Bud's Barn and Spy Coast Farm Education Center, new tennis courts, and the renovation of all bathrooms in Belle Wisdom Residence Hall and Buster Residence Hall.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Midway council updates interment policy

By Kendall Staton
Midway Messenger


The Midway City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that updates the city’s current interment policy to accommodate more burials per plot. 
The new rules allow two cremains to be interred in one grave space if the first is placed at least 12 inches from the headstone and the second is towards the foot of the grave. One regular burial and one cremain can also occupy the same grave plot, provided the regular burial occurs first. In both situations, proper identification of both interments must appear on the memorial at the grave site. 
Public Works Supervisor Nelson Wright said funeral homes can place any amount of cremations in a casket, but separate interments are regulated differently. ARPA funds for new communication system.
The council also unanimously approved spending $135,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the $1.1 million upgrade of Woodford County’s first responder communication system. The county and City of Versailles will also help pay for the project. 
“We really have the best first responders in Kentucky,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said. “It’s phenomenal, the job you all do.” 
New playground
During closing thoughts, Councilmember Steve Simoff thanked Bryan Lynch for donating fencing for the new playground planned for South Gratz Street near Midway University’s softball field. Lynch’s donation will save the project effort thousands of dollars, Simoff said. Equipment for the installment has been ordered and is expected to arrive around next May. Simoff has personally raised more than $30,000 for the project. 
Midway voting
Councilmember Sara Hicks encouraged Midway citizens to show up at the polls on Election Day. “I just want to encourage all our citizens to go out and vote tomorrow, and eat pancakes at the (Midway) Christian Church,” Hicks said. Vandegrift, who is running for the 56 th state House seat held by Rep. Dan Fister, said he believes Midway has one of the highest voter turnouts in the state, and encouraged city residents to prove him right. Midway’s Northside Elementary was the site of one of four voting centers around the county Tuesday.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween!

 

"MUMMY BOWLING" was one of the highlights of last Friday's Halloween celebration at Northside Elementary. Providing encouragement and pin-setting was Northside 3rd grade teacher Teresa Heady. More in this week's Woodford Sun. (Photo submitted)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Midway council approves Bluegrass Distillers zone change

By John McGary
Woodford Sun Editor

In a brisk meeting Monday, the Midway City Council voted 4 to 0 to approve a zoning map amendment that will rezone 9.46 acres of the 61.67-acres Bluegrass Distillers property at 158 West Leestown Road from A-1 (agricultural) to I-1 (light industrial).

Councilmembers Steve Simoff and Mary Raglin were absent.

The zone change was recommended by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The ordinance passed Monday states the applicants “agreed to a stipulation that the historic Elkwood Mansion and the enslaved quarters cannot be destroyed. The applicants also have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kentucky Heritage Council … which required the applicants to obtain (the state council’s) approval … for improvements and renovations that will be made on the mansion and enslaved quarters.” The ordinance also notes, “By opening a distillery in Midway, the applicant will be able to bring back an industry to Midway that was a corner staple of the City of Midway in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

Company co-owners Sam Rock and Ben Franz attended the meeting, but didn’t speak. At the July 22 Woodford Economic Development Authority meeting, Rock, who grew up in Woodford County, said the company’s move from Lexington to the old Mitchell Farm near Midway Station has been a long process, but he appreciated the efforts of all involved. He called the operation a long-term opportunity to bring distilling back to Midway and said the taxes generated there would benefit Woodford County Public Schools.

Trick or Treat

The council voted 4 to 0 to hold Trick or Treat on Halloween, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Interments

The council discussed a proposed ordinance designed to clean up language about how many people can be buried in a plot in the Midway Cemetery, but took no action. City Clerk Sonya Conner said the present ordinance could allow two people to be buried in the same plot, though to her knowledge, that’s never happened.

Councilmember Logan Nance asked if the proposed ordinance would allow two young children – perhaps the victims of stillbirth – to be buried in the same plot. Conner said yes, if they were cremated. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the matter should be studied further and suggested the first reading of the ordinance be tabled until the council’s next meeting, which will take place Nov. 7. Vandegrift said he’d speak to employees of the Public Works Department in the interim.

Encroachment permit

The council voted 4 to 0 to approve an encroachment permit for Greg Rawlings so he can build a 12-by- 40-foot garage driveway entrance for a house at 400 South Winter Street. Rawlings said the ribbon driveway will allow for better drainage.

New city clerk

Elizabeth Waterfield was introduced as the new city clerk, replacing Cindy Foster, who is retiring a year early to care for her ailing husband. Waterfield, who was once branch manager of United Branch in Midway, is a Midway native. Vandegrift said Foster and Assistant City Clerk Sonya Conner had helped make the city government a finely tuned machine, and Waterfield said she took the job on the condition that Conner remains.

Nance said Foster “has been incredible … and we’ll definitely miss her.”

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Late firefighter honored with honorary street renaming

VINCENT PRICE HONORED: From left, Midway Fire Captain Allen Vann, Assistant Chief Joseph Campbell, AlethaBruzek(Price’s daughter), Firefighter Jestine Johnson and Chief Butch Armstrong pose for a photo in front of the newly unveiled “Vincent Price Way” sign at the intersection of East Bruen and Gratz streets Sunday. Price, who died in March, was a Midway firefighter for 43 years. (Photo by Kendall Staton)

BKendall Staton

Midway Messenger

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift Sunday unveiled a street sign denoting the portion of EastBruen Street in front of the Midway Fire Department  “Vincent Price Way” to honor the late firefighter, who died March 17.

Price served as a Midway firefighter for 43 years, 18 of those as assistant chief, according to his obituary. Price’s daughter, Alethea Bruzek, saidthe Midway community is a family her father always loved to serve.

“My daddy was born and raised here, lived here his whole life, and he loved this town,” Bruzek said. “He loved this community, and he loved serving this community and he would be so happy right now.”

Community members met in front of the Midway Fire Department early Sunday afternoon, where Vandergrift recognized Price for his years of service at the station.

Attendees then followed Fire Engine 1 to the intersection of East Bruenand Gratz streets, wherethe sign was unveiled. The honorary renaming, first suggested by Councilmember Logan Nance shortly after Price’s passing, does not affect the official address of any location on the street.

Midway Fire Chief Butch Armstrong called Price “a great guy” and said he felt the honorary street renaming was well deserved, due to Price’s years of service and his lifetime Midway citizenship.

Vandegrift called the sunshine and clear skies “Vincent weather,” and said Price would enjoy the weather on an afternoon walk. Vandergrift said he felt it is important to not only honor the history of Midway as a city, but also to recognize community members who go above and beyond.

“We take pride in those who go above and beyond. It adds pride to the city,” Vandergrift said. “Folks who want to step up and help lead our community, we honor that because, the truth is, communities don’t thrive without those kinds of people.”

The ceremony hosted Price’s family, citizens of Midway and some prominent community members including the mayor, city council members, Woodford Judge-Executive James Kay and others. Bruzek said she did not expect a large crowd and was pleasantly surprised by the robust turnout.

“[Price] cared so much and to know that the community reciprocated that, I feel so blessed,” she said.“This really is a great place to live and to grow up and the community here is more like family. I don’t know whyI’m surprised they came. Of course they would.”

Sole mayoral candidate Stacy Thurman attended the sign unveiling and said the sense of community Bruzek referenced is the reason she looks forward to leading Midway as mayor starting in January.

“The way that we honor the community and the way we celebrate the lives of the people that lived here makes people like me want to work for this community,” Thurman said. “It’s a very special place. I do love that we do so much for our history.”

Editor's note: This story appeared in the Oct. 6 edition of the Sun. 


 

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Midway City Council Q&As

Kaye Nita Gallagher

Why are you running for Midway City Council?

If reelected, this will be my fifth term. Since being elected we have achieved a lot for the city. I would like to keep achieving even more.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
The housing market, downtown businesses and tourism.  I would work with each individual challenge; and try to resolve some of them.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?

We have established a committee for this ordinance.  Most of the prior properties have been brought to code. There are still a few that need tending to.

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
This I am not sure about.  What is affordable to some may not be to others.  We would have to work together with the community to establish a plan.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
We have set aside most of this money for the maintenance on the water tower in the industrial park.  The maintenance and upkeep are important to insure safe drinking water for our citizens.

Patrick Hall

Why are you running for Midway City Council?
I want to bring a new voice to the Council and I have the experience to lead. I began my professional career developing emergency management and health policy for the City of New Orleans. For the past 13 years, I have practiced in the field of administrative law as an attorney for the state and federal governments and several private firms. I currently serve as the treasurer for the Woodford County Library Board and St. John’s Episcopal Church, where I have managed large budgets with fiscal prudence, including a $2.5 million expansion of the main library.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
The City must focus its economic development resources towards invigorating the Main Street corridor.  There are several vacant or underutilized commercial spaces on Main Street and its surrounding blocks.  We need to ensure that the Woodford Economic Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, and our other partners are working to recruit new small businesses to fill these spaces, with an emphasis on female and minority-owned businesses. Midway must become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. We need more bike lanes, more dedicated bicycle parking, extended sidewalks, and enhanced speed enforcement to ensure both citizens and visitors can safely transverse the city.  

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
The ordinances regarding abandoned and blighted properties are more than sufficient to meet the needs of the City, they simply have to be used. The City Council must ensure that adequate funds have been allocated to allow for vigorous enforcement of the blighted properties ordinances. For many elderly homeowners or homeowners of modest income, financial limitations can be a barrier to compliance. The City should use some of its remaining ARPA funds to develop an Emergency Repair Program providing financial assistance for plumbing, electrical, and other structural repairs to owner-occupied homeowners who meet certain income thresholds.  

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
With the Woodford County Comprehensive Plan up for revision next year, now is the time to have community discussions over such options as prioritizing infill development and possibly extending the urban services boundary. One area of focus could be the development of housing designed for the needs of our senior citizens. A significant portion of the housing stock in Midway is historic homes that are not equipped to accommodate age-related health problems. As our population ages, we need housing that is designed to accommodate age-related health problems so that our older citizens can remain a part of our community.
   
Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
Again, the City should use a portion of these funds to establish an Emergency Repair Program providing financial assistance for plumbing, electrical, and other structural repairs to owner-occupied homeowners who meet certain income thresholds. Alternatively, it can use a portion of these funds for the development of bike lanes, bike parking, and sidewalk extension. Remaining funds can also be used for park improvements and maintenance.

Sara Hicks


Why are you running for Midway City Council?  
I am running for Midway City Council first because I love our town and its residents. Additionally, I would like to initiate new projects to improve Midway’s handicap accessibility, policies of inclusion and justice, and a county/city partnership to develop a swimming and health facility to serve northern Woodford County.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
I want to invite more Midway citizens, young and old, to actively engage in creating the kind of community they want to live in. You know who you are and now you are formally invited to this party we call Midway.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
Midway recently revised and developed strong blighted /abandoned property ordinances. We created a property review board. Now we need someone to step up to be our blighted property inspector.

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
Midway property owners are profiting through the operation of bed and breakfasts or air B & B’s. Can housing diversity and affordability exist side by side with a tourist destination. Midway citizens need to consider what values they want to support for our town. One solution might be a change in county zoning so that our aging seniors could live behind the main house instead of moving into senior facilities.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
During the 2023 budgeting the Midway City Council discussed using ARPA funds for repainting the city’s water tank. This is an excellent plan as it would eliminate the need to borrow that money and it complies with regulations governing the use of ARPA funds.

Verna Dee Mason

Why are you running for Midway City Council?
I want to be a voice for the citizens of Midway. Even though I feel there is not a lot to be done, there are some changes that could be made.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
I feel that we do a lot for the tourists but not enough for the citizens of Midway. I think that the seniors and families get left out. I would love to see more activities and recreation for seniors and families who live in Midway.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
I don’t feel like we need to add or change our current ordinances, but we need to enforce the ordinances we have in place.

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
I don’t have a problem with new housing, I just have a problem with too much new housing. I feel there needs to be a discussion on what is affordable housing. We need to use common sense on the land to house ratio.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
I am not familiar enough with the guideline on how the money can be spent. I thought the coupons Midway gave out during Covid to be spent with a downtown business was a good idea. I think we need to consider ways of using the money in the winter months to help support our local businesses and Midway citizens.

Logan Nance

Why are you running for Midway City Council?
I am running for Midway City Council because I love this town and I want to make sure that my children get to grow up in the best community in the state. I want to continue to be in a position to advocate for the best interests of this community. It’s been an honor to serve two terms on the Midway City Council and I want to continue to build upon the great things we have been able to accomplish together these past 4 years.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
Land use and responsible growth will continue to be the most important issue facing Midway. With the lack of land available to us within our urban service boundary we have to be very careful and deliberate in how we approach new development so that we can protect Midway from sprawl. I will continue to advocate for keeping Midway small and not expanding into the precious agricultural land that surrounds us.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
This was the first question I asked the new Planning and Zoning commissioner when he took office and I am looking forward to working with him to help us as a council protect our city from blighted and abandoned urban property. We need to add teeth to our ordinances to make sure people don’t buy up property and leave it sitting vacant, allowing it to degrade. With our new blighted property commission I believe we have taken a big step.
Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new
housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
I think we need to look for opportunities to develop affordable housing where available in the limited space we have in our community. I think it’s also ok that we don’t continue to build more and more housing if that’s what the people of Midway want. Development just for the sake of development is not a good thing. We need a responsible approach to development that eases the pressure on property values, but also doesn’t take away from what makes Midway so special.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?

I think the most important use of that money is to continue to spend on updating our aging infrastructure. We still have several large sections of sewer lines that need to be updated and replaced, specifically the section that leads directly into the treatment plant. This will be a costly project, but since it is the most “downstream” section of pipe, replacing it will take care of many issues. Additionally the beloved “tin man” water tower is in desperate need of some repainting and repair.

Mary Raglin

Why are you running for Midway City Council?  
I am running for my second term as a Midway City Councilwoman because I have a love and a longing to continue to be that unheard voice in my community. Midway needs me and I need Midway … we compliment each other. I have unfinished business, so I need a second, third, fourth term to help me.  Two years is not enough time, my first year I was learning. My second year I was learning and realizing.  I want to continue to be an advocator for citizens of color in my community.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
One of our challenges for sure is providing more housing. There is a need for more housing and it’s going to take some time to get this issue resolved. It can be resolved and it will be I just hope I’m a part of the solution and not the problem. Another important challenge (my opinion) is getting our young black educated folk to remain in Midway. Once they graduate, they leave town for better opportunities.  We need to find a way to make opportunities in Midway available for the people of color.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
Good question. We are working on that problem. Possibly hiring a code enforcement officer.

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
Unfortunately, or fortunately Midway residents will have to realize that Midway is going to have to grow at some point and time. Finding the right areas to build safe and affordable housing in this small community is an ongoing concern and conversations are in place.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
Midway is a small town but we need to find out the needs of the community and partner with other agencies that can assist with those needs for the citizens in Midway.

Steve Simoff

Why are you running for Midway City Council?
I have served two terms on the City Council, purposely taking a term off in between to learn more about the position. I came back more knowledgeable about how to get things done, and I’m happy to have led the project on the upcoming playground improvements at William G. Clark park, as well as fighting to stop the RV Park and supporting local businesses during the pandemic. I want to continue to apply my skills to improving our great town.

What are a couple of the most important challenges facing Midway, and what will you do about them?
We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into our sanitary and water and storm water system, but there is still more to do. I want to continue to push for more improvements and I want to work to curb speeding in town with new and improved solutions.

What can be done to strengthen city ordinances regarding blighted and abandoned properties?
We’ve made some real progress, including getting movement on properties that have sat vacant for decades. I’m especially interested in budgeting money to hire a code enforcement officer to bolster the recent laws we’ve passed regarding blighted properties.

Given rising property values and the reluctance of some Midway citizens to not want new housing near them, how will you help bring more affordable housing to the city?
I want to find properties that could hold more properties, especially for senior citizens and first time homebuyers that exist within the urban service boundaries but that avoid conflict with existing neighborhoods. A couple of such properties do exist, and if the city can be of assistance in encouraging housing that first Midway, I will support those efforts.

Midway has nearly $500,000 in unspent ARPA funds. How should that money be spent?
I would like to see us spend roughly $200,000 towards rehabilitation of the Midway Station Water Tower, with general funds money making up the difference, and $200,000 towards assisting the county in staffing the forthcoming 24-hour EMS station that I was proud to vote for, and I’d like to see us save $100,000 for unforeseen circumstances that will arise before we have to spend it all, the deadline of which is 2024.