Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lexington fan company signs on as 'climate sponsor' for Francisco's Farm Arts Festival

Midway Renaissance announced today that Big Ass Fans of Lexington will be the "climate sponsor" for the annual Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival at its new location at Equus Run Vineyards next June.

The award-winning firm, which uses a backward-looking donkey as its logo, left, says it is the leading manufacturer of large-diameter, low-speed fans, which Renaissance hopes will “provide the climate we want,” Marcie Christensen, the event's coordinator, said in a press release. “We’ve tried ordering perfect weather for the festival for several years, and it always seems to be delivered two days late. This year we decided to be more proactive . . . ”

The festival, held for seven years at Midway College, is named for Col. John Francisco, the original owner of the farm on which Midway stands. The Southeast Tourism Society has named the festival one of its Top 20 Events for June 2011, and AmericanStyle Magazine included the festival on its Top 10 Art Fairs and Festivals list for 2007-2010.

The festival will be held Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Artist applications will be accepted through Jan. 31. For more information, visit http://www.franciscosfarm.org/ or call 859-846-4049.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If your recycling wasn't picked up today, it will be tomorrow

The city advises that any recycling materials that were not picked up today will be picked up tomorrow. Heavy volume may have delayed your pickup. "Sorry for this inconvenience," Assistant City Clerk Diane Shepard said in a written notice this afternoon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deal to turn Midway Station into a commercial and residential development is dead

UPDATE, Jan. 6: EDA and Anderson have signed a new deal.

The would-be developer of Midway Station has refused a counter-offer made by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, killing the deal and leaving the EDA, the county and the City of Midway with no prospects for property sales to cover their interest payments on the failed industrial park.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said today that developer Dennis Anderson of Lexington verbally declined the counter-offer yesterday. Anderson had signed a contract to buy the property for a commercial and residential development after EDA was unable to sell it for industrial use and a proposal to relocate Lexington's Bluegrass Stockyards on the site ran into opposition from some Midway citizens.

Anderson first had until Dec. 1, 2009, to close the deal, but was granted a one-year extension. In recent weeks he sought a multiple-year extension, which EDA was willing to grant on certain terms depending on the length of the extension. EDA wanted the right to offer the property to other buyers, with a 60-day right of first refusal for Anderson, but he wanted 180 days, which would allow him to keep anyone else from buying the property, Duckworth told The Woodford Sun for the paper printed yesterday.

"The banks were generally in supprt of trying to do the three-year option with Anderson, but the terms weren't really equitable to the EDA," Duckworth told the Midway Messenger. He said annual interest payments on the property have declined with interest rates, to $138,000, but the EDA only has enough money to pay the interest for about 14 months. That means the city and county governments "will have to step back in" financially, he said.

Finding another buyer "will be extremely difficult in this economy," Duckworth said. "These economic conditions are more challenging than I think anyone wants to admit." He said economic-development professionals have told him that "in this economy, you almost have to give away the property" to get it developed. "Until this economy turns around there's really nothing short of giving it away that's a viable option."

Duckworth said he has resigned from the board, effective Dec. 31, because he told Versailles Mayor Fred Siegelman, who appointed him, that he would serve until business with Anderson was completed. The board has three members appointed by the Versailles mayor, three by the county judge-executive and one by the Midway mayor. That is Charlann Wombles, who is leaving the city council at the end of the year but will remain on the EDA board.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what is Midway Renaissance, anyway?

Search this blog for "Renaissance" and you'll find at least two dozen items that mention Midway Renaissance, just one illustration of the amount of work undertaken by the volunteer organization.

But how did Renaissance get started? How is is run, and exactly what does it do? What are its hopes and plans? Rachel Bryant, a Community Journalism student at the University of Kentucky, has written a story about the group. To read it, click here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

EDA makes counter-offer to Anderson on Midway Station, sets Dec. 23 deadline for reply

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority decided today to make a formal counter-offer to the potential commercial and residential developer of Midway Station, the authority's failed industrial park on the north side of Interstate 64. The authority asked Dennis Anderson of Anderson Communities to reply to the counter-offer by Thursday, Dec. 23.

Anderson signed a contract to buy the property by last Dec. 1, then got a one-year extension, but did not close the deal by the deadline. He proposed a five-year agreement, then after negotiations offered a written agreement with a three-year term, EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said in an interview. Duckworth said EDA's counter-offer has "some other terms and conditions we have amended" in the counter-offer. The authority discussed the matter in closed session to keep most details of the negotiations confidential.

"We’ve been negotiating for about six weeks trying to get something together," Duckworth said. "We just didn’t feel his offer was equitable enough." One potential sticking point is whether Anderson will continue to pay the interest on the bond issue used to buy the property, interest that was costing Midway and the county about $500,000 a year until the last agreement with Anderson.

Outgoing Midway City Council Member Charlann Wombles, right, Midway's appointee on the authority board, raised that issue at a council meeting last month. Wombles said today that if Anderson does not respond by Dec. 23, she assumes that the deal will be dead. "If he’s going to respond he should respond by the 23rd," she said.

Duckworth said, "We think as long as there's negotiation, there's potential for keeping the deal alive. I wouldn’t say the deal is dead yet, but there's potential for it looking a little different."

Both Anderson and the EDA have an interest in keeping the deal alive. He has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in it, and the authority has few if any other prospects for purchase of the property or individual tracts. "This economy's tough right now and commercial property is just stangnant," said Duckworth, a Versailles banker. He said Anderson has been able to ride out the recession because he has "always been kind of a buy, hold and develop company. He's always kind of gone toward a slower approach to development."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Water company gets less of a rate hike than it asked, so council has to revise ordinance Thur.

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall to give first reading to a revised ordinance increasing water rates, following the state Public Service Commission's decision reducing the rate increase requested by Kentucky American Water Co. The company got a 29 percent increase after asking for 37 percent to pay for its new water plant on the Kentucky River at the Franklin-Owen county line and the pipeline from the plant. The council gave first reading Dec. 6 to an ordinance based on the full rate request.

Council to act Mon. on water rates, annexation

A special meeting of the Midway City Council has been called by the mayor for 11:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, at City Hall to act on annexation maps for Heritage Homplace and the ordinance passing along the water-rate increase from Kentucky American Water Co.  All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas in Midway: Tree, carols, show, Santa, photographers, authors, tours, cookies, punch!

The Christmas season officially begins in Midway tomorrow night, with lighting of the community tree at 6:30, followed by singing of carols and a 7:30 show at the Thoroughbred Theater with Clinton's Country Christmas. "Last year was a special Christmas musical treat and this year won't be different," the theater's John McDaniel promises in his Midway column in today's edition of The Woodford Sun. Shops and restaurants will stay open later on Friday and Saturday, with some offering free cookies and punch. (2009 photo by McDaniel)

Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive via train Saturday at 11 a.m., at the crosswalk in front of the theater, toss out candy as he rides a horse-drawn carriage around town, and visit with children from 11:30 to 2:30. Weather permitting, there will be a petting zoo and carriage rides until 3 p.m. The theater will have a model train exhibit, and the Midway Branch Library will host photographer Dave Toczko and his new book about the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. From 1 to 4 p.m. the Historic Midway Museum Store will host landscape photographer James Archambeault and former Lexington Herald-Leader horse racing writer Maryjean Wall, author of the new book How Kentucky Became Southern. Horses had a lot to do with it, she writes.

The Midway Holiday Home Tour will visit six homes from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at a cost of $20 per ticket, with proceeds going to the theater. Tickets are limited, and on sale at May & Co., as well as online at http://www.thoroughbredtheater.com/ and at Marketplace on Main in Versailles. Homes on the tour are at 109 E. Stephens St., 217 W. Stephens St., 219 S. Turner St., 321 S. Turner St., 332 S. Turner St. and the Rouse House at 337 S. Winter St.

Comprehensive Plan Committee continues review tonight at courthouse in Versailles

Tonight at 6:30 at the courthouse in Versailles the Comprehensive Plan Committee of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission will continue its required update of the county's comprehensive plan, last revised in 2005.

The commission the meeting will focus on transportation elements and regional coordination, the announcement says. However, the commission is also expected to entertain comments on other elements, such as the Preserving Town and Country part of the plan's appendix, which is of much interest in the Midway area and was discussed at the last meeting on Nov. 18. The commission says comments from the public will be limited to three minutes each.