Friday, October 29, 2010

Iron Horse Marathon is set for Sunday morning

The Iron Horse Marathon, which is actually a half-marathon of 13.1 miles, is scheduled to start in Midway at 8 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 31 and return to the city by 11 a.m. The annual event benefits Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.

The race will start at Gratz and Cross streets. The 700-plus runners will proceed to East Stephens Street, turn left out Weisenberger Mill Road and turn around at the Y. They will head back to Midway, cross Winter Street at about 9:30 a.m. and head out West Stephens to Blackburn Farm. They will head back to Midway and turn left on Turner Street to West Main Street and turn left and finish at the monument, probably between 10 and 11 a.m. The awards ceremonies will take place at Darlin Jean’s Cafe.
Streets in Midway will remain open. Officials ask motorists to drive with caution along the marathon route. Church parking areas will be coned off at 5:30 a.m. so that only church members will be able to park for services. Directional signage will guide visitors to designated parking areas at Walter Bradley Park, the Midway College tennis court and Northside Elementary School.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Midway Living History Day is Saturday

The third annual Midway Living History Day will be held from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Steele Davis, 93, will receive this year's Living History Award at Midway Presbyterian Church at 1:30. Antiques and memorabilia of the city's history will be on display at City Hall. The event is sponsored by Midway Renaissance.

Some churches will be open for self-guided tours; tour maps are available at City Hall. The historic Second Christian Church will hold a reception to celebrate the historic marker and Bluegrass Trust for Histotic Preservation plaque received by St. Matthew AME Church, Pilgrim Baptist Church, and Second Christian.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Second Midway Festival of 10-Minute Plays opens to good review, runs through next Sunday

The Thoroughbred Theater's second Midway Festival of 10-Minute Plays got a good review this morning in the Lexington Herald-Leader, from contributing theatre critic Candace Chaney.

"The festival, which continues weekends through Oct. 31, features some of the area's best directors and performers while promoting the value of original work and, if Friday's opening-night performances were any indication, it is a promising addition to the region's theatrical lineup," Chaney writes. "The wide range of material presented and the opportunity to view seven directorial visions and seven small casts are hallmarks of the festival, one that highlights the theater community's diverse strengths."

Among the skits Chaney likes is "Taken for a Ride, a humorous two-person skit about a woman abandoning her cat." (H-L Photo by Mark Cornelison: Jordan Pruitt as the cat and Hayley Williams as the owner.) Chaney also likes Blood Grass, The Test and It's Impossible to Get Fired from Thrifty Drug Aid. For her full review and more information about the festival, click here.

The festival received 250 submissions from 36 states and chose seven for production. Shows today and next Sunday are at 2 p.m., and on Oct. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at door; call (859) 846-9827 or go to http://www.thoroughbredtheatre.com/.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Council hears about plans for ambulance station, lets RV dealer stay longer to make sales

Midway and county officials have begun talks toward establishing a county ambulance station in the town, perhaps in the old library building. After a meeting yesterday that included Mayor Tom Bozarth and County Judge-Executive John Coyle, Bozarth and Magistrate Larry Craig of Midway discussed the idea with the City Council this evening.

"It was a very encouraging meeting," Bozarth said, noting that county ambulances made 121 runs from Versailles to Midway last year, not including those near the town. "This is not only about Midway," he said,. "but about the northern part of the county." He said after the meeting that the station is "probably a year or more away," because of the time needed for planning, budgeting and construction.

Craig said the county would pay for the equipment and three employees for the station. He said Coyle will appoint three Fiscal Court members to begin discussions with the council's Finance and City Property Committee. He said that of the four sites considered, the old library seemed to be best, and "hopefully the least expensive."

RV park now a sales lot: The council voted to give Nashville recreational-vehicle dealer Raymond Brody another month at Midway Station to help him sell some of the RVs he has at the site after renting them for visitors to the World Equestrian Games. He said there are about 180 campers on the site, none of them hooked up for rental. Bozarth said 55 were brought from the Kentucky Horse Park, the WEG site, where Brody also operated. He said Brody would pay the city an additional $50 per camper, under his agreement with the city.

Brody's lease will now run through Nov. 25, pending approval from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the failed industrial park. The council also required him have round-the-clock security, pay his fees and the $20,000 he owes the EDA by Nov. 1. Bozarth complimented Brody, saying "Your people did a very good job of trying to make everybody comfortable." Brody said there would be no on-site advertising for the RV sales.

Sidetrack construction: The council authorized HMB Engineers to advertise bids for removal and reconstruction of stone walls and concrete facilities to make room for the sidetrack to accommodate RJ Corman Railroad's dinner or excursion train. Joe Grider of HMB said he would like to open bids Nov. 10 and recommend contractors by Nov. 15, but construction would not start until after Jan. 1. He said it would take six weeks to two months and would be completed by April 1. For a PDF of a construction diagram, click here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Long-sought nursing home nears reality; would-be neighbor wonders if others understand the plan

UPDATE: The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Oct. 18 to recommend approval of the zone change, the amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and the conditional-use permit for Christian Care Communities. The city council has final say over the zone change.

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The family of Susan Coats, right, has lived on Woodstone Farm just outside Midway’s southeast city limits for 35 years, and she’s been there a year and a half. Now she sees her serene way of life threatened by the possibility of what she calls a new subdivision overlooking her property.

Midway’s 12-year-old nursing home task force and the nonprofit Christian Care Communities call it something else: a long-needed nursing home and assisted living facility. The 31 acres off East Stephens Street is zoned agricultural, so Coats and the nursing-home advocates may face off in a zoning hearing at 6:30 tomorrow night at Midway College.

The nursing home task force includes people from all over Woodford County. Helen Rentch, a member from Midway, said the campaign was started to keep seniors in the community.

“We have a lot of seniors in Midway who reached a point where they couldn’t stay home alone safely and there is no other care in Midway, so people had to leave town to go to where they could get care,” Rentch said. “Sometimes they had to go to several counties away.”

The task force members have overcome many obstacles. To be able to build a nursing home they had to get a certificate of need from the state, but the state was not licensing additional nursing homes at the time. The task force did a market study to see if there was support in the community for a nursing home, and discovered Woodford County had a higher percentage of people in retirement age than the other surrounding counties. That helped them get help in Frankfort to use the license for 23 nursing-home beds once held by the old Versailles hospital.

Christian Care Communities is Kentucky’s largest faith-based, not-for-profit provider of senior living arrangements. The nursing home task force contacted Christian Care, which will be the sole owner of the nursing home.

To build the small facility first envisioned, at least six acres were needed. The task force looked at many sites in and near Midway but had very few options. Rentch said two were zoned for development but the owners didn’t want to sell. Midway Station offered a site, but that was put on hold when Bluegrass Stockyards considered moving to Midway Station from Lexington.

The current site became available during the debate over the stockyards and was chosen because of its location. It is close to Midway College, allowing the college’s nursing program to collaborate with the facility. It is also close to town, so residents can drive golf carts downtown to shop, eat and be a part of the community. And it has more acreage, allowing more multi-household homes and a less institutional approach.

The plans for the nursing home and assisted living facility call for 23 skilled nursing beds, 12 personal-care rooms for people with dementia and other cognitive impairments, 12 assisted-living apartments, and patio homes for independent living.

The chief problem with the site is that it is zoned agricultural, and there has been considerable sentiment in Woodford County against rezoning agricultural land for development.

Coats said she can see how the site is more attractive, and how the new approach with patio homes is probably a better business plan, “but I’m not sure that justifies the rezoning and annexation when so much land has already been categorized that way.”

“What makes this community unique seems to be the farms and we need to support the farms, not business,” she said. “The land became available, so the plans expanded. It’s not truly meeting the needs espoused by the task force. . . . I just want there to be full discussion. I want everybody to understand what they’re committing to.”

Sharon Turner, a city council and nursing-home task force member, said the independent houses will be for seniors who can live by themselves and are able to take advantage of the services, such as laundry, food and a call light.

The responsibility of expense for the buildings has been distributed between the nursing home task force, Christian Care Communities and the city of Midway.

The city has a $500,000 community development block grant for the project because of the new jobs the nursing home will create. Rentch said Christian Care can borrow money and the city can issue bonds.

“We hope to break ground next fall,” Turner said. “Once construction starts it will take about a year to open the doors.”

If the land is rezoned and annexed into the city, Coats fears that the development will devalue her property both aesthetically and financially. She is also concerned about extra water runoff that could flood her crops. (Photo: Coats on her property, at the fence with the tract proposed for development)

She said she supports democracy, and if a majority of the city wants the nursing home built, then she will accept the decision. But she wants everyone to fully understand all aspects of the plan before they agree to it. She says the original idea of a nursing home has turned into “a subdivision on my fence line,” and wonders if the proposed developer of Midway Station wanted to build patio homes on the property “if they’d be willing to condemn it to R-3.”

Hank Graddy, Christian Care Communities’ lawyer and a leading preservationist, said the developers have heard Coats’ concerns and modified the plans. The buildings were moved farther away from the fence line so the property that joins Coates’ land would remain open space. They also added rain gardens to catch the runoff.

“We are trying to control both rate and volume of run-off by using appropriate design features on our property that would keep as much storm water as appropriate on our property,” Graddy said.

Before anything can be built on the land, the group has to follow a set of procedures to have the development approved by the city. On Sept. 7 Graddy filed with the city council an application to rezone the property from agriculture to R-3 residential, asked the city to annex the property into the city, and asked the city to support amending the county’s comprehensive plan to include the property within the urban service boundary.

At the meeting the council approved on first reading an annexation ordinance to bring the property inside the city limits.

Graddy has since filed an application to amend the comprehensive plan and an application for conditional-use permits to locate a nursing facility on the property.

At the hearing the Planning and Zoning Commission will hear public comment on the zone change, the conditional use permits and amendment of the comprehensive plan. A decision will come later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Railroad to add sidetrack with relatively little disruption, according to plans and illustrations

Construction of the sidetrack for the RJ Corman Railroad excursion train from Lexington to Midway will require removal and reconstruction of the short stone walls and their concrete steps along Main Street, but not the long fence on the south side of Main near Gratz Street, according to diagrams and photo illustrations unveiled by the railroad and its engineering firm at a special City Council meeting last night.

This set of photo illustrations, on display at City Hall, shows how the tracks and the adjacent area are supposed to look when construction is completed. (Click on image to view larger version; for a 16MB version, click here.) Mayor Tom Bozarth said today that the city will pay the cost of moving the walls and reconfiguring some parking spaces, and hopes to seek bids for the work in early November. He said the city has an engineers' estimate and "We have money available."

The major traffic change will be on West Main Street, which will be made one-way westbound, with on-street parking, to make room for the western end of the project. At the eastern end, some landscaping will have to be replaced. The railroad owns the right of way, and regulations require an eight-foot clear zone on either side of the tracks. The walls to be moved are only partially inside the "clear zone" so will not have to be moved far, according to the diagram on display at City Hall. For a PDF of a construction diagram, click here.

Council finance and streets committees to meet

Two Midway City Council committees will meet at City Hall this week.

The Finance and City Property Committee will meet at noon Tuesday, to discuss revenue policies and procedures and the old library property.

The Streets and Lights Committee will meet Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to discuss criteria for matching funds for sidewalk improvements and to discuss paving needs.

All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taxes among items of disagreement between candidates at Woman's Club political forum

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Candidates in the Nov. 2 elections gathered Thursday night for Midway’s political forum, presenting their views on controversial issues.

There are three contested races with special interest to Midway. Running for the state House in the 56th District are incumbent Carl P. Rollins of Midway and Republican Lyen Crews of Versailles. The district includes all of Woodford County, the northeastern third of Franklin County and the southwestern part of Fayette County.

There are two candidates for magistrate of Woodford County’s First District, Democratic incumbent Larry Craig and Republican challenger Curt Savage, both of Midway.

The race for Midway mayor is between incumbent Tom Bozarth and write-in candidate Scott Hayes. There are six candidates for six seats on the city council, making it a popularity contest.

Education and taxes were the major points of disagreement between Crews and Rollins, who faced off first.

Crews, vice president for business and financial affairs at Midway College, is for charter schools, which are tax supported but may have different curriculum and philosophy than other schools in the area and don’t have to follow the regulations governing ordinary public schools, but do have to meet certain standards. He said parents deserve a choice.

Rollins, chairman of the House Education Committee, is against charter schools. (He said at an Oct. 12 forum in Frankfort that studies had shown charter school were unlikely to improve instruction for students.) He said the effectiveness of teachers needs to be improved, by changing the evaluation process, because 99 percent of teachers rank as effective. He also said the best teachers need to teach the students who need the most help.

Crews called for eliminating both personal and corporate income taxes, saying lack of an income tax had helped Tennessee outstrip Kentucky economically. Rollins opposed the idea, saying if income taxes were eliminated a fifth of the state’s budget would be lost and programs would have to be cut.

The candidates also disagreed on the state retirement system. Rollins is for the defined benefit plan, the current approach, while Crews is for the defined contribution plan because he says it’s cheaper and would save the state money.

The magistrate candidates got into a heated debate over taxes. Savage, a retired businessman, said that if elected he would not raise taxes and accused Craig of raising taxes on Woodford County residents the last three years in a row.

Craig denied ever raising taxes. He explained that property values had dropped and he voted for the compensating rate to keep the county’s property tax revenue the same as the year before. He said the compensating rate has to be passed or income will be lost that the county will not ever be able to get back.

Savage criticized Craig’s vote for a project that would have hired out-of-state contractors to analyze and retrofit county buildings to reduce energy costs. The project, which did not pass, would have cost $890,000. Savage said Craig’s vote for the project showed that he is too quick to borrow money. He also said “green engineers” from Kentucky should have been given the job. Craig said the project would have saved the county money in the long run.

The candidates for mayor (Hayes seated, Bozarth standing) were on stage for only a short time because just two questions were posed to them.

A Midway citizen voiced concern about cars speeding on West Stephens Street, where children play, and asked what the candidates would do about it.

Bozarth said he was aware of the problem and had sent extra patrol cars to the area. No tickets have been issued, he said, but police will continue to patrol the area to slow down the cars.

Hayes lives on West Stephens. He said the patrols are not working because they aren’t there when the speeders are.

“The biggest problem is it’s in the morning and afternoon when they’re on shift change,” Hayes said of the police. “If we could see if they could get federal overtime during those times then we might be able to get the cars to slow down.”

Hayes was asked why, if being mayor was so important to him, he had missed the January deadline to get on the ballot. He said that when he decided to run, he had missed the deadline.

About 50 people attended the forum at Midway College’s Anne Hart Raymond Center. The event was held by the Midway Woman’s Club.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

As World Equestrian Games near end, RV park says it got fewer than half the guests it expected

By Neal Bassett
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With the World Equestrian Games coming to a close, the recreational-vehicle park located at Midway Station has not had as many guests as expected, but has been home to many volunteers, workers, and visitors from all over the world.

Manager Thomas Hosea said the park had fewer than half the visitors he expected. The lack of visitors may cause concern for Raymond Brody, the RV dealer from Nashville, who leased the failed industrial park north of Interstate 64 from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and still owes it $20,000.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said that he spoke with Brody, who paid a $10,000 deposit to use the land, and is confident that Brody will be able to come up with the rest of the funds, which were supposed to have been paid Aug. 1.

“As soon as he receives all of his payments for the games he will forward me what he owes,” said Duckworth. “I expect the man to pay me, it’s that simple.” Brody was not available to comment and Hosea said he had not heard about the financial situation.

The RV park has had roughly 300 guests, Hosea said. About 90 RVs were brought by guests, and the park has had another 90 or so that it has rented at prices ranging from $120 to $320 per night. Hosea said that “roughly 30 percent” of those who checked in are workers or volunteers for the games, and that he enjoys having workers and volunteers staying in RVs.

“The volunteers and workers spend a lot of their time and money to be here,” he said. ”These people love horses, and they’re passionate about it. They work very hard.”

He added, “The people here are wonderful, sweet, down to earth people, but this was not the turnout we expected.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that some park guests have been upset with service at the park. Hosea said some patrons were not accustomed to taking showers in campers with water tanks that hold only about six gallons, and laundry service was less frequent than expected because there were fewer guests than expected.

The park has run shuttles to the games at the Kentucky Horse Park, and has also made runs to Midway upon request. If the park shuttles are in use, Hosea said, he uses his vehicle to take people to Midway as needed.

Audrey Hanley, a volunteer for the games, was very pleased with the shuttle service.

“The shuttles come more often than they said it would,” said Hanley. “We have not had to wait more than five to 10 minutes for a ride, and it takes us right to town whenever we need it.”

Mike Narkiewicz traveled from Florence, Colo., for the games and was pleased with the shuttle service, but not the service he received in Midway.

“When we went downtown and almost everything was closed,” said Narkiewicz. “The food wasn’t that great and we haven’t been back since.”

But other visitors have spoken favorably of Midway, and Lois Webb, a longtime Midway citizen, said the shuttle service has helped WEG tourists and volunteers see the town and given Midway an opportunity to look like more than just a small town.

“The park has been advertisement for the future and gives us a chance to expand,” said Webb. “It’s important for visitors to see Kentucky hospitality. We are more than just a small town, and we want them to experience that.”

The RV park has a concessions tent that offers snacks and drinks, which brought up speculation about whether it hurt restaurants in Midway.

Carol Bowles, owner of Wonderland Café, said she had not noticed the RV park and the concessions hurting her business.

“They found Midway, which is a good thing,” she said. “I think the games have helped my business. I have had people come in from Ireland, England, Australia, and Minnesota.”

The RV park has given visitors from all over the world a chance to see Midway and interact with locals, and Hosea said he believes the people are what make the experience successful.

“I’ve never had better people to work with,” he said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Margaret Ware Parrish, a leader in women's sports and local history, dies at 91

Funeral services for Margaret Ware Parrish, one of Midway's leading citizens and its most noted historian, will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Midway Christian Church. Visitation will begin at the church at 10 a.m. Burial will be in the Lexington Cemetery. She died Friday at her home.

Parrish was a pioneer in Kentucky women’s sports and had a teaching and coaching career that spanned more than three decades. She taught physical education and coached all sports at Midway College until she retired in 1979. She was honored last year at Midway's first Living History Day. (Photo by Megan Wimpy)

She was the author of several books including Outstanding Kentucky Women in Sports 1900-1968, in which she shared her insights into expanding opportunities for women in sports; and was a co-author of Woodford County, Kentucky: The First Two Hundred Years. She was a three-time recipient of the Midway Lions Club's Citizen of the Year award, a past president of the Woodford County Historical Society, and board member of the Woodford County Humane Society. She was also known for caring for Midway's homeless cats.

Parrish is survived by several cousins. Memorial gifts have been suggested to Midway Christian Church, Midway College, the humane society or the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

City to reveal sidetrack plan Monday evening

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Questions about the sidetrack planned for RJ Corman Railroad Co.’s planned excursion train will have to wait until a special City Council meeting next Monday.

When the Midway Messenger asked Council Member Sharon Turner after last night’s council meeting if diagrams of the sidetrack were available, she said Mayor Tom Bozarth would have them. Bozarth interjected, referring to this reporter, “She can wait to see the diagrams on the 11th.”

The special meeting has been called for Monday, Oct. 11 at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. The railroad and HMB Engineers will give a presentation. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.