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Monday, November 29, 2021

Midway University dedicates welcome center in newly renovated building, concluding fund-raising campaign

Wide-angle photo of Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center in recently renovated Marrs Hall (Midway University photo)

Midway University recently held a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center in the school's newly renovated Marrs Hall, the last of several projects made possible by a recent fund-raising campaign.

"The Welcome Center is the first stop for prospective students and their families when visiting campus and serves as a one-stop shop for information related to the offices of Admissions, Business, and Financial Aid," the university said in a press release. "Marrs Hall also includes many other administrative offices and meeting rooms."

University President John P. Marsden recognized three women – Trustee Janet Hunter, Trustee Emerita Ann J. Bowling, and Trustee Belinda Bowling Metzger – who played key roles in the university's recent expansion and recently completed Campaign of Opportunities. Hunter inspired the campaign with a lead gift and provided funds to renovate Marrs Hall. She named the welcome center for Bowling, with whom she had served on the Board of Trustees. Bowling's daughter, Belinda Metzger, co-chaired the campaign with Hunter, and the Bowling family also generously supported it, the release said.

Ann Bowling became a trustee in 1997 after the death of her husband, James Bowling, who had served on the board for 35 years. Metzger, their daughter, was elected a trustee 2012. Hunter has been on the board since 2000.

The Campaign of Opportunities funded several other improvements:
  • Construction of Hunter Field House
  • Construction of the Tracy Farmer-Don Ball Stadium and Dick Robinson Field
  • Renovation and conversion of Pinkerton Hall to residential housing
  • Renovation of Belle Wisdom Residence Hall bathrooms

“As proud as we are to celebrate all the new and improved facilities, the most important item to note is that we covered all projects without incurring any new debt for the university,” Marsden said.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Council cancels Dec. 6 meeting to avoid conflict with Board of Adjustment meeting on RV resort's latest move

The Midway City Council voted this evening to not hold a regular meeting Dec. 6, to avoid conflict with a Woodford County Board of Adjustment meeting on the proposed recreational-vehicle resort's request to let it have its own sewage-treatment plant and buy water from Kentucky American Water Co.

The council normally meets at 5:30 p.m. on first and third Mondays, and the Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet at 6:30 at the courthouse in Versailles. The board will take oral comments of up to three minutes per speaker, and written comments before the meeting.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the city's ordinance on council meetings doesn't allow a regular meeting to be moved to a different day, and scheduling a special meeting is problematic because discussion at such meetings is limited to the agenda for the meeting. Thus, he said earlier, the council couldn't discuss the resort developer's application tonight.

Vandegrift said the meeting could be held earlier on Dec. 6, and mentioned 5 p.m. as an alternative, but said Council Member Sara Hicks "felt like that wasn't a very good idea." Hicks did not attend the meeting, held via Zoom teleconference.

Noting that the council usually cancels its second meeting in December, due to Christmas, Vandegrift suggested that it meet on Dec. 20 but not on Dec. 6. He said he expects the agenda to be short, and that while there is no certainty of that, he has no agenda items yet, and "It's clear right now we're only gonna need one meeting in December."

Council Member Stacy Thurman moved that the council not meet Dec. 6, and meet Dec. 20. The motion passed 5-0.

When the Board of Adjustment granted Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort a conditional-use permit to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an agricultural zone, one of the conditions set was that it must have "City public water and sewer." KBER is asking the board to change the conditions to require use of water from Kentucky American, the city's wholesale water supplier, and sewage treatment by a facility permitted by the state.

The request for a private sewage-treatment plant is likely to be more controversial, since concern about water quality in the creek has been a main concern of those opposed to the project, which would lie in both Woodford and Scott counties, on either side of the creek.

Message from the mayor: Big tree to be lit at 6:30 Fri.

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

Our tree lighting ceremony will take place this Friday at 6:30 p.m. Please join us as we welcome the season, sing some carols, and light up this 25-foot beauty.

Big thanks to (left to right) Public Works Supervisor Nelson Wright and hard-working city employees Spencer “Deen” Craig, Timmy Agee and James Downs on getting the town looking festive.

Please keep in mind that there will not be leaf pickup this week because of the short week and decorative efforts by our staff.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

RV resort asks Board of Adjustment to let it get water directly from wholesaler, have its own sewage treatment

Revised plan shows sewage-treatment plant at upper left, and detail of two types of RV sites.
To enlarge any image, click on it; to download an image, right-click on it.
Adapted image from WKYT-TV drone is centered on the Woodford County part of the project area.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The developer who wants to build a recreational-vehicle resort on both sides of South Elkhorn Creek is asking the Woodford County Board of Adjustment to let him get water directly from Kentucky American Water Co. and have his own sewage treatment facilities, since the Midway City Council unanimously refused to give him water and sewer service.

The conditional-use permit that allows Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an agricultural zone requires it to have "City public water and sewer." KBER is asking that the conditions be changed to require use of Kentucky American water, and sewage treatment by a state-permitted facility "in compliance with the Clean Water Act," a federal law that is enforced by the state.

Kentucky American is the City of Midway's main water supplier. It once supplied the city only through a main that runs along Leestown Road, but recently built a line through the project site (the former Mitchell farm) to provide better service to Midway Station and the city's only operating water tank.

The request for a private wastewater-treatment plant is likely to be the more controversial request, since concern about water quality in the creek has been a main concern of those opposed to the project, which would lie in both Woodford and Scott counties.

The application is on the agenda of the Board of Adjustment meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the county courthouse in Versailles. The next meeting of the Midway City Council is scheduled for 5:30 that evening, so Council Member Logan Nance has asked that the council move its meeting "so that those who would like can attend the BOA meeting and participate in the public comment portion."

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he will call a special meeting of the council for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, "to give the council the opportunity to reschedule the Dec. 6 meeting to another night."

Under Board of Adjustment rules, each commenter at its meetings is limited to three minutes, and written comments can be submitted before the meeting.

The board gave the resort a conditional-use permit in May after the county's Agricultural Review Advisory Committee gave the resort's application a relatively low score and a qualified recommendation in February.

The $40 million resort would be one of the largest in the East, with over 1,000 sites. That, and lingering questions about its effect on the creek and how much RV traffic would come through Midway, have been its main obstacles. An organized group of opponents is represented by a Lexington lawyer.

When the City Council rejected the resort's request for utility service, which would have included annexation, Nance said the conditional-use permit for a commercial operation in an agricultural zone "shows that our system is broken, and that's something we'll have to fix."

Vandegrift said at the meeting that he is drafting a resolution to advise developers that "We are not interested in developments that are not within the comprehensive plan," the county's planning guideline.

After the meeting, KBER attorney Hank Graddy of Midway said he and developer Andrew Hopewell would continue "educating and persuading, and we may be doing some modifications" of the project. The prospect of private sewage treatment, in the absence of annexation, had been mentioned by Graddy and some opponents of the project at public forums before the council voted against it.

UPDATE, Nov. 22: The application says KBER has made "an exhaustive effort" to get city water and sewer service, noting a town-hall meeting, attempts to meet with opponents, and an offer to design and do initial construction of the 14 acres the city recently acquired upstream on the creek.

"Our team has been in communication with Midway officials since the project was first announced in June 2020," the application says. "The project received great support and enthusiasm through the BOA process and even Mayor Vandegrift sent an email to our team the day after" the permit was approved.

The application quotes Vandegrift as writing, "I'm so happy to have heard last night that your plans were approved by the BOA. We are very excited about this opportunity to grow Midway's tourism and local economic potential. Please let me know if I can help with anything. As you all get an idea of how much sewer capacity you'll be using, let me know and we can start talking services."

A month later, after several Midway-area residents called for a delay in the process and noted the planning staff's report to the BOA said the Woodford County side of the resort could accommodate up to 472 guests when that was actually the number of accommodations, Vandegrift granted them the 30-day comment period they requested and called for the project to be scaled back.

Vandegrift said in an email today, "I was, at the time, like so many others, under the impression that we were accommodating 472 guests on the property, not 472 sites. Something changed between their original communications with me and what got approved, and I don’t quite understand why or how they did that."

The city's official forum on the project was delayed until a traffic study could be completed while school was in session. Vandegrift said last summer that the project should not be built until Georgetown Road (KY 341) is widened. On Oct. 18, the council voted unanimously to deny water and sewer service.

Amanda Glass wins merchants' rainy, chilly chili cook-off

From left: Steve Morgan, second place; Anna Mills, third place; and winner Amanda Glass
Cold, rainy weather slowed but didn't stop the annual Chili Cook-Off of the Midway Business Association today. "We had 9 participants and we sold about 80 spoons" for people to judge entries starting at noon, MBA President Cortney Neikirk reports. "Much smaller than past years, but we are still in an pandemic so we are happy with that turnout!" Amanda Glass was the winner; Steve Morgan took second and Anna Mills third.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Governor puts mayor on state Law Enforcement Council

Gov. Beshear has appointed Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, which oversees training for law-enforcement officers in the state.

Vandegrift replaces Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf, who has resigned and is running for mayor of Metro Louisville. Vandegrift was named to serve out Dieruf's unexpired term, which ends July 1, 2023.

Vandegrift is not running for a third term in 2022 and has entered the Democratic primary for the state House seat held by first-term Republican Rep. Dan Fister of Versailles.