Monday, October 31, 2011

Property Maintenance Committee will meet next at Baptist Church; later meetings set for library

The Property Maintenance Committee of the Midway City Council now plans are to meet twice a month, on Tuesdays of the weeks that follow council meetings, Chair Dan Roller advises. "Meetings will be at the library when it is available," he writes. "Alternate accessible locations will be within the city, and announced timely prior to the meetings." The next meeting will be Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Midway Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. The Nov. 29, Dec. 13 and Dec. 27 meetings will be held at the library.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Three Chimneys Farm president says Thoroughbred industry more disciplined after 'worldwide crash'

Next to the world economy, the biggest recent factor affecting the Thoroughbred breeding business that surrounds Midway was the purchase of a regional bank in Cleveland by one in Pittsburgh, Three Chimneys Farm President Chase Clay, right, told The Lane Report in an interview published in the magazine's current edition and online. But Clay says the resulting decline in breeding, also a function of the economy, wasn't entirely a bad thing, even as the industry suffered "a worldwide crash."

"PNC Bank decided to exit lending to the equine industry," Clay told Publisher Ed Lane. "National City invested an estimated $400 million in equine loans, most of which has disappeared. When less money is available for lending, there are fewer horses because bottom-end mares are not being bred. The lowest-quality mares shouldn’t have been breeding from the start. They should have been pets, in my opinion. The breeders with the lowest-quality mares didn’t have the borrowing capability or the cash to breed the horse, so they didn’t breed them. There are some positives to that. Now it’s more of a flight to quality, which is a good thing. As supply declines – 4,500 horses as opposed to 5,500 – and demand remains the same, then prices go up, which thankfully happened this year," most notably at the September yearling sales at Keeneland.

Clay, 37, said breeders, trainers and owners tell him 2009 and 2010 were "the most difficult financially for our industry" that they can remember. "If our industry can maintain the discipline that it learned over the last two years," he said, "then our future margins will be higher."

In the interview, Clay also discussed the farm's recent sales and breeding success (its top stallion, Dynaformer, is fetching a stud fee of $150,000) and how and why he returned to the family farm to manage it, and this interesting analogy: "Our business is equivalent to the oil business. Investors drill 11 holes – we have 11 stallions – and one or two will gush oil, and one or two of them won’t. But they all cost money to drill." (Read more)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Council's Property Maintenance Committee holds first meeting; next one scheduled for Nov. 15

The first meeting of the Midway City Council's Property Maintenance Committee was held Wednesday night. (A notice placed in The Woodford Sun said it would be Thursday might.) Here are excerpts of an e-mailed report on the meeting by City Council Member Dan Roller, the committee chairman:

"Joy Arnold is working on minutes of the meeting and they will be sent our when finished. I have interviewed Paul Noel, P&Z Building and Zoning inspector, and as soon as Mr. Noel, Mayor Bozarth and P&Z Director Patty Wilson review and comment on the write-up, an outline of the Building Inspection process will be provided." A draft description of that process is in a PDF, availably by clicking here.

"The meeting dates for the next 2 months are Nov. 15 and 29, Dec. 13 and 27," Roller continued. "When available we will meet at Midway Branch of the Woodford County Library. Alternate accessible locations will be within the City, and announced timely prior to the meetings. The library is unavailable Nov. 15." Besides Roller and Arnold, the other member of the committee is Council Member Becky Moore.

Water lines to be flushed Monday through Thursday

The Midway Water Works Department will be flushing fire hydrants Monday Oct. 31, through Thursday Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Several fire hydrants in an area will be opened at once to create increased water flow, to flush mineral deposits and sediment. Residents may notice cloudy tap water, but the cloudiness should pass in a short time, and the water will be safe to drink, but should be allowed to clear before doing laundry. "The City of Midway is not responsible for laundry being damaged during the hydrant-flushing period," the notice from City Hall says. "We apologize for this inconvenience and assure you it is a necessary part of our operation. If you have any questions please contact City Hall at 846-4413."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Property Maintenance Committee to hold first meeting in library at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

The newly created Property Maintenance Code Committee of the Midway City Council will hold its first meeting Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodford County Library Midway Branch, 400 Northside Drive.

The notice from City Hall says the committee will discuss the 19 properties cited for building-inspection violations and review the city's Property Maintenance Code and any of the regulations, provisions, penalties, conditions and terms of the Building Officials and Code Administrators' National Property Maintenance Code.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Midway students collecting canned food for food banks, dollars for breast-cancer research Oct. 24

The Midway College Students In Free Enterprise team is asking local residents to support their second annual Pink Hair Day food drive for local food banks and breast cancer research by bringing one canned, non-perishable food item (for food banks) and $1 (for research) to the McManis Student Center Monday, Oct. 24, between 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The event is part of the international "Campbell's Let's Can Hunger Challenge" sponsored by Campbell Soup Co. For more information, contact Dr. Marla Ashe at 846-5731or SIFE@midway.edu.

City council discusses recycling, Renaissance, Francisco's Farm, scout projects, more

By Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council played to a standing-room only crowd Monday night in what longtime council watcher John McDaniel called “the best meeting I’ve seen in a while.”

The standing room was rectified with the arrival of extra chairs as the council discussed issues ranging from recycling a business study to Eagle Scout projects, and received updates on Midway Renaissance and planning for the 2012 Francisco’s Farm Art Festival.

Recycling: “Name me a business that can show a 53 percent increase in productivity,” Magistrate Bruce Gill said as he ran the numbers describing improvements in Woodford County’s recycling efforts.

Gill reported how grant monies were used for machinery that has all but eliminated using middlemen to sell recycled products. By bundling the materials and taking only mill-ready material to the end user, the county is receiving top prices, Gill said.

The county received $186,000 for recycled materials this year and kept 1,100 tons of material out of the landfill. By not using the landfill, Gill estimated, the county saved fees of more than $60,000. “That savings goes un-noticed,” he said. Midway residents pay county taxes.

The problem of not accepting fiberboard, which drew criticism from the city last February, was addressed by recycling resource coordinator Nola Serber. She reminded the council that in addition to household material, they are handling 204 businesses five days a week. “We take everything, but glass, and we’re working on that right now,” she said.

Renaissance: “I can see an opportunity for this community,” said Council Member Becky Moore, as she reviewed the status of the group. “It is a very well established, driven 501(c)(3) organization, and depending on who’s on the board ... it can go in whatever direction the community wants it to go.” Renaissance is recruiting volunteers and board members to fill vacancies created by three retiring board members. Moore directed interested parties to the organization’s website for more information.

The status of the Francisco’s Farm festival was covered in a report from event coordinator Marcie Christensen, right (photo from a different meeting). The event planning committee is proposing June 23-24 for the festival and recommending it remain at Equus Run Vineyards, where it was moved last year. This recommendation will be offered to the Renaissance board for approval.

The board has said it needs to know who will be responsible for the finances and momentum of the festival. Co-chairs for the festival are Equus Run owner Cynthia Bohn and Sarah Hicks. Bozarth asked, “Who is ultimately responsible for Francisco’s Farm?” Christensen replied, “Midway Rennaisance.”

Market study: “The right direction for Midway has to come at the intersection of community desire and market potential.” That’s what Josh Bloom, principal in the Community Land Use and Economics Group, said at a public meeting last March. CLUE was hired to prepare a state-funded market study of Midway’s business potential, administered by Renaissance. The completed study is now available on the Renaissance website, Christensen said.

She called attention to the retail and restaurant tip sheets, designed to help businesses improve traffic and sales. McDaniel, president of the Midway Business Association, said downtown merchants are already using some of the suggestions and added some have purchased virtual business tours to increase their online presence.

Eagle Scouts: The community projects that Boy Scouts Tim Hagan and William Borland are mounting to gain the Eagle rank continued to gain momentum. Both gave the council addenda to their proposals, filling in details needed to gain the council’s approval. The council voted to let Bozarth grant final approvals and schedules for the projects.

Hagan’s dog park project received an additional boost. Donations of resources and materials were pledged to help reduce the cost. “I called in a few favors,’ Bozarth said as he told Hagen about the contributions. (He said after the meeting that posts have been donated by Shadwell Farm and the concrete is being donated by John and Jim McDaniel in honor of their dogs Little Man and Molly.) Borland is mapping and cleaning cemeteries.

Other business: The council set Nov. 19 as the day to dispose of large items, at the old sewer plant from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Bozarth said the city’s property maintenance code needs to be strengthened. He appointed a committee of council members to work on it: Joy Arnold, Dan Roller and Moore, his predecessor as mayor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Francisco's Farm committee wants to keep going; Renaissance wants key questions answered

By Nate Courtney
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
(This story has been revised to correct a mistaken attribution.)

The Planning Committee for the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival decided at its meeting Sept. 29 that the festival should continue in 2012 because they believe enough people have committed to raise necessary funds and do other work.

The committee, which will meet again Thursday, also decided the venue should be Equus Run Vineyard, where it was moved last year after seven years at Midway College.

After the planning committee meeting, the Midway Renaissance board voted “in favor of Francisco's Farm continuing, especially if they have enough interest for that to happen in an effective manner,” according to a report provided by Marcie Christensen of Renaissance. However, the directors won’t fully endorse it until two items are resolved: First, who will be responsible for the finances of the festival, and second, who is going to be the driving force of the festival and keep the momentum going forward?

The driving force of Francisco’s Farm has been Midway Renaissance, the future of which is in doubt.

“We will not continue to exist without people taking leadership positions,” Renaissance President Randy Thomas, said at a general Renaissance meeting on Sept. 26. Thomas has said he will be leaving the Renaissance board at the end of the year.

Three days later, at the planning committee meeting, Cynthia Bohn, right, owner of Equus Run, agreed to serve as co-chair of the festival.

“I love art,” Bohn said at the meeting. “But it will take a village to run this festival.”

Phil Dare, a regular volunteer for Francisco’s Farm and chair of the Greenspace Committee of Renaissance Jon Maybriar, a former Renaissance member who has volunteered to help with the festival, said there are Midway residents who feel separated from the organization. “There is a mistrust,” he said. “It needs to be repaired.”

Dare Maybriar also said that the planning committee meeting was the “first serious dialogue about including downtown Midway.” Downtown businesses were upset that the festival moved three and a half miles away.

Several committee members also wanted to have a meeting with the Midway City Council and Mayor Tom Bozarth to “bridge the gap,” as Dare Maybriar put it.

One way to bridge the gap is transparency of information, Bohn said. “Communication,” she said. “That will help unify Midway again.” She said the key mission of Francisco’s Farm is simple: to give back to the community.

Bohn acknowledged that the festival’s overall preparation was an issue its first year at Equus Run. Everything from the loosely kept entrance gate to toilet paper control led to some revenue loss, the committee said. Christensen said the festival account had about $1,000.

In order to counter these flaws, Bohn wants to see the creation of specific teams for parking, signs, advertising, music, production, and food vendors, which could improve revenue for the festival, which she said drew more than 11,000 visitors last year.

Bohn has offered her 16 employees to Francisco’s Farm but the festival has been heavily reliant on a larger number of volunteers.

Former Renaissance president Diana Ratliff expressed her concerns in an interview with the Midway Messenger.

She said the important point of the festival’s success is the volunteers, and it can’t replace 400 volunteers with 16 employees.

Ratliff said Francisco’s Farm should still remain a community engaged event, and there are a number of people in the community that would be willing to help.

Several steps the committee is taking include: having a downtown restaurant owner on the committee, promoting downtown at the festival, and alternating future committee meetings between Equus Run and downtown. Committee members said alternating the meetings would reinforce the understanding that the festival is a Midway event, not just an Equus Run event.

The committee’s next meeting will be Thursday, Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at United Bank.

Committee members know that the longevity of Francisco’s Farm depends on the community and its volunteers, like Sara Hicks.

“I love the festival because I love the arts,” Hicks said at the meeting. “I don’t want to see it leave. I’m here to see it stay.”

Information for this story, originally published in the Midway Messenger, was also provided by Dick Yarmy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Committee on water, streets etc. to meet Wed.

The Water, Sewer and Garbage and Recycling / Street / Sidewalk Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting, according to a notice from City Hall, is to discuss street painting on the corner of Main and Winter streets and a citizen's request for a water-bill adjustment. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Would-be Eagle Scout wants to build dog park

By Nate Courtney
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Tim Hagan, 14, approached the Midway City Council on Monday night with an agenda.

Distributing a manila folder to each council member, Hagan proposed building a dog park behind Northside Elementary that would cover about an acre for his Eagle Scout project.

In his folder Hagan provided a detailed cost estimate of $3,225, which would be less if some materials were donated.

Mayor Tom Bozarth suggested that Hagan mark off the area so people can see where the dog park would be and help him attract sponsors for the construction cost. A diagram Hagan prepared on an aerial photograph shows the black outlines of the park along Dudley Street in the middle, narrow part of Walter Bradley Park, which is outlined in red.

Council Member Joy Arnold encouraged Hagan to get in touch with the Woodford Humane Society, which “might have grants for these things.” Other council members suggested Hagan might be able to entice volunteers to help with the project.

With or without help, Hagan’s motives for building a dog park were simple. “I just wanted to give back to the community (of Midway),” he said in an interview.

Hagan already has some support. He told the council that Smithers Sign Company of Lexington has agreed to donate two signs: – a title sign and one that will contain the rules of the park.

Hagan showed the council signs that Smithers made for the dog park in Lexington's Masterson Station Park, which he said inspired his project.

Hagan said he will achieve the Eagle Scout rank upon completion of the dog park but the rank is not why he’s doing it. “I want to not only help out the community but also the animals that will enjoy it.”

The council voted to endorse the concept of Hagan’s project without committing financial support.

Another would-be Eagle Scout, William Borland, told the council that he wants to clean up, map and index the cemetery behind the Presbyterian Church and perhaps another. After discussion of some details of his plan, the council asked him to do more research and report back at the next meeting, Oct. 17.

Bozarth told the crowd that Midway should be proud of Boy Scout Troop 40, which has produced 36 Eagle Scouts since it was chartered in 1994, more than two per year.