Friday, July 19, 2019

Mayor leaves state House race, citing 'unsettling feeling in my gut' every morning since he entered it a week ago

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

Although no one in this field likes to “flip-flop,” I’m going to own up to this one. One week after declaring my candidacy for state representative -- a week where each morning greeted me with an unsettling feeling in my gut, I’ve decided to stay where I am and remain mayor of Midway for at least the next three and a half years.

I came to this conclusion solely on my own. The outpouring of support and even money that flowed in this week is truly humbling, but I have to go where my heart wants me to go, and my heart wants me to stay put. To those who were excited for this prospect of me running for state representative, I sincerely apologize, but I know you understand that I can’t be me if I can’t be authentic. While I will likely want to follow my passion for public service into higher office someday, I don’t want to leave the current office I occupy anytime soon. I love it too much, and my heart is in finishing the job I was elected to do.

Therefore, I am retracting my letter of intent for state representative, returning the money I’ve raised, and settling in to continue what we’ve started with no distractions. I will continue to push the agenda of major infrastructure repair, of sustainable growth, of lower utility bills, of better services, of better housing, of fairness for all people. And, I will continue to work to improve the relationships within our county, particularly between Midway, Versailles, and the greater community. And, as I have for the last four and a half years, I will continue loving the honor and privilege of serving as mayor of the greatest small town in America.

Toastmasters set special public meeting in Versailles

Midway Toastmasters say they will hold a "bonus meeting" for the public Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to noon at Woodford County Public Library in Versailles.

Cynthia Lanham will facilitate a viewing and a discussion of Darren LaCroix’s winning speech in the 2005 World Championship of Public Speaking. "Learn how to take your speech from the ordinary to extraordinary," they say.

Arlynn McMahon, Rick Sebree and four others will also speak. "Arlynn believes that we don’t have to be standup comedians to find the humor in life and she’ll be using her husband as a case point," the Toastmasters say. "Rick will be tackling a more serious subject as he encourages his audience of factory employees to shape up or the factory will close."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

City councils, Fiscal Court to have 'historic' joint meeting Aug. 13 to discuss 'age-friendly' ideas, youth council

The city councils of Midway and Versailles will hold a joint meeting with the Woodford County Fiscal Court from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System headquarters in Versailles.

The topics for the meeting are on making the county an “age-friendly community,” with a presentation by representatives of that effort, and discussion of creating a county youth council, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

"One more topic may be added to the discussion prior to the meeting," Vandegrift added. "I want to thank Judge-Executive James Kay and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott for their cooperation and their leadership in the matter. The three of us hope this is the beginning of more joint meetings to come."

Soon after becoming mayor in 2015, Vandegrift sought a joint meeting of the three governing bodies to discuss topics of mutual concern, but John Coyle, then the county judge-executive, resisted the idea. In an email, Vandegrift called the meeting "historic."

Monday, July 15, 2019

Council hears plan for 'entertainment destination center' with relaxed drink-carrying rules; donates to Homeplace

Midway could have an "entertainment destination center" with relaxed rules for consumption of alcoholic beverages in a limited area, under a proposal offered to the City Council Monday evening.

The council deferred action on the idea, but took action on other matters, giving The Homeplace at Midway $5,000 to help buy a bus for residents and adopting a resolution supporting communication about land-use planning among local governments in the Bluegrass region.

Alcohol: About a year ago, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board enacted a regulation allowing cities to buy a license for an entertainment destination center, in which customers of private licensees can go in and out of their licensed premises with alcoholic beverages as long as they stay within the center's boundaries.

The licenses had previously been available only to businesses, but are slowly being bought by cities for a fee of $2,800. Versailles recently passed the necessary ordinance for one, and Frankfort is working on one, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The rationale for the license is to reduce the enforcement load on police and ABC agents, and help localities promote tourism and economic growth, said ABC Agent Ian Thurman, the husband of City Council Member Stacy Thurman. She asked him what the city's obligations would be as licensee.

He said the city would be liable for anything in the common area, inside the boundary and outside the privately licensed premises, that was not directly tied to a business, including someone with a beverage from that business.

Council Member Logan Nance asked about the possibility of drinkers being "overserved." Thurman said that has not been a problem in the two cities that have entertainment destination center licenses, Maysville and Owensboro. He said police and licensees say "It's one thing off the plate, about people walking in and out, that they don't have to worry about, and thus can focus more on over-service.

Cortney Neikirk of the Midway Business Association said allowing customers to go in and out of restaurants with alcoholic beverages "is a huge deal for all the restaurants." She said they work together to spot drunks who should be denied service.

Vandegrift asked the council to consider the proposal and put it on the agenda for the next meeting, on Aug. 5. He said he favored a provision in the Versailles ordinance, which requires beverages taken into the common area to be in a standard size and color plastic cup, for safety reasons. Neikirk said she was sure the restaurants would agree to that.

Other business: Business association coordinator Elisha Holt asked the council to pay half the cost of overtime for two police officers who would provide security and traffic help during the Midway Fall Festival. Vandegrift said "It makes perfect sense to help out with this," but the council deferred a decision to the next meeting.

The council adopted the regional planning resolution after a presentation from Rob Rumpke of Bluegrass Tomorrow, which he said is focused on protecting farmland and advocates growth along major transportation corridors. The resolution supports continuation and expansion of the Regional Land Use Partnership that has been meeting regularly since November 2017 to improve communication among governments and planners in the 18-county region.

"We're trying to build some consensus and partnership in the region" for better communication, Rumpke said. "It is in no way about creating a regional planning commission."

The resolution, supporting documents and other materials for the meeting, including a photo of the bus The Homeplace wants to buy, are downloadable as a PDF here.

The Homeplace bus would cost $25,000 and would hold 12 passengers and two wheelchairs. Representatives of the nursing and assisted-living facility said they had raised $8,000. Mary Lynn Spalding, president and CEO of Christian Care Communities, which operates the 48-bed facility, said the bus they want to buy is eight years old.

"I am 100 percent behind this idea," Vandegrift said. "I want to see a City of Midway sticker on that bus." He said the Homeplace generated more than $32,000 in occupational tax for the city last year, "and this is a one-time purchase." He noted that the newly adopted budget allocates $5,00 for donations. Council Member John Holloway moved to give that amount, and Council Member Bruce Southworth seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

The council also approved an encroachment permit for Tru Blue Hemp Co. to locate in Midway Station. "They're kind of the middlemen for the farmers and the oil processors," Vandegrift said.

Vandegrift reported that he and Southworth plant to meet with Frankfort Plant Board officials next week to discuss building a pipeline that would make FPB the city's primary water supplier, as the mayor announced recently that he wanted the city to do.

He also announced that the sidewalk project is scheduled to begin Wednesday, weather permitting, and take about two weeks. When it is done, he said, "eleven new sidewalks" will replace broken ones, "including the worst of all," which he didn't specify.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Vandegrift announces for state representative

Grayson Vandegrift
Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announced today that he is running for the state House seat held by Rep. Joe Graviss of Versailles, who announced in April that he is seeking the state Senate seat held by former governor Julian Carroll of Frankfort, who is retiring. All of them are Democrats.

"This was not a decision I came to lightly," Vandegrift said in an email. "I love being the mayor of Midway, and I will continue to serve as mayor as diligently as I ever have during the forthcoming campaign of 2020. Ultimately, I decided to run for this open seat because I love public service, and my record and my passion indicates that I am suited for it."

The part-time offices are quite different, but Vandegrift indicated that for now, at least, he is running on his record of four and a half years as the town's nonpartisan executive.

"When I entered the office of mayor, Midway was in danger of becoming insolvent unless we found new revenue sources," he wrote. "We immediately got to work, casting aside politics, willing to work with anyone. Under my leadership as mayor, we’ve created over 400 new jobs, tripling our revenue, which we’ve used to expand our services, invest in critical infrastructure, and pay off debt.

"This record-setting job growth not only enabled us to improve our community but also allowed us to return to our residents a 25 percent cut in property and sewer taxes. The Commonwealth of Kentucky faces a similar situation with our serious pension crisis, our woeful underinvestment in education, and our lack of sufficient revenue. It takes outside-the-box thinking and an ability to work with everyone, regardless of political party, to get things done. And Frankfort desperately needs leadership like that to get things done for the 56th House District and all of Kentucky."

The district includes all of Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties. No other candidates have announced. The filing deadline for the May 19, 2020, primary election is Jan. 2810. The next election for mayor is in November 2022.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Message from the mayor: Asphalt firm buys new lot in Midway Station, absolving city of interest due this year

Map projection at March EDA meeting showed lot sold this week. 
By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway
    I’m excited to welcome Imperial Asphalt as our newest addition to Midway, at Midway Station. Owners Seth Christian and Aaron Gillund have purchased 4.01 acres at the “nose” of McKinney Avenue, address 775 McKinney Ave.
    This closing, which occurred late yesterday afternoon, comes with additional good news. Because the 4.01 acres was not originally platted with Midway Station, the bank does not claim a release price towards the principal. For this reason, the Woodford County Economic Development Authority has agreed to use the proceeds, close to $120,000 after closing costs, to use towards paying the interest due at the industrial park.
    Because of this, as expected, we will not need to make an interest payment this year, as EDA will make that payment for us. This is not only a sign of goodwill from EDA to both the City of Midway and Woodford County, but also signals as new phase where our EDA is beginning to become self-sustaining, a fact that is good for the entire county.
    This also means that the $40,000 we have budgeted for this fiscal year in our general fund for paying interest is now freed up. My recommendation is that we let it sit for now as a rainy-day fund in case we have an unexpected expense this year, and if we should not need it, let it roll into our projected surplus at the end of June 2020.
    I want to thank the EDA board and Chairman John Soper for their diligence and excellent work, as well as their continued cooperation with the City of Midway.

Health Dean Barbara Kitchen retires from Midway Univ.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift proclaimed June 28 as Barbara Kitchen
Day in honor of her service. Dr. John Marsden, president, is at right.
Dr. Barbara Kitchen, longtime dean of health sciences at Midway University, has retired with honors.

The university Board of Trustees granted Kitchen the title of Faculty Emerita, which was presented to her at the May commencement ceremony. At a June 28 reception, a plaque honoring her was unveiled in the Anne Hart Raymond Building, where she worked.

Kitchen first came to Midway in 2001 as a faculty member in the nursing program. In 2004, she was appointed chair of the nursing programs, and in 2005, chair of the Nursing and Science Division. In 2014, when the college became a university, she was appointed dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Dr. John P. Marsden, university president, said Kitchen has run a highly respected program and been an ambassador for Midway University in the health-care industry. “She has had a tremendous impact on the education and preparation of numerous students,” Marsden said. “She has developed and fostered many community partnerships so that our nursing students could have clinical experiences as well as community service projects.”

Kitchen was highly involved with the task force that helped establish The Homeplace at Midway, a nursing home and assisted-living facility.