Thursday, December 29, 2011

Second son of Ferdinand moves to Old Friends

A second son of Ferdinand, the Kentucky Derby winner that was apparently sold for slaughter in Japan, is now living at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement farm in Scott County between Midway and Georgetown.

Ferdinand’s Star, a son of the 1986 Derby winner and the Dare to Command mare Rose and Betty, is a 16-year-old gelding who was retired from racing after winning one of 10 starts. He was retrained for competitive dressage, then was donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation "after he was no longer able to compete due to soundness issues," said a story in The Blood-Horse.

TRF send the horse to the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center in 2008, where he was a lightly used school horse and a mascot for the facility, "but a tendon injury ended his career for the second time," the story said. "Before retiring to Old Friends, Ferdinand’s Star was briefly part of the equine rehabilitation program at Blackburn Correctional Complex near Lexington and also spent several months being 'clicker' trained by Kentucky-based artist and equine advocate Marti McGinnis. Ferdinand’s Star will spend his remaining years at Old Friends in a paddock alongside Bull Inthe Heather, another son of Ferdinand." (Read more)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Midway native Teresa Jones James named acting head of state Dept. of Community Based Services

A Midway native has been named acting commissioner of the embattled state Department for Community Based Services, which has been under fire for its handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

The challenging assignment goes to Teresa James, who has been the department's deputy commissioner since April 2008 and "has 25 years of clinical social work experience, including more than 17 years working with severely abused and neglected children and their families and four years working with vulnerable adults," a state news release said.

James is the daughter of Clyde and Carolyn Jones and the second cousin of City Council member Doris J. Leigh, according to Mayor Tom Bozarth. James received bachelor’s and master's degrees in social work from Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky, respectively, and has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1993.

“Teresa is a proud and passionate social worker who has a wide range of experiences in her field,” Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller said in the release. “She has worked in pediatric medical settings with the issues of abuse and neglect and has dealt with issues surrounding children with chronic illness and severe health needs. She has also performed trauma and crisis intervention work and was a domestic violence trainer, educating more than 4,000 medical professionals a year on the issues surrounding violence in families.” When she worked in Florida, James helped develop a medical foster parenting program that "became the model for many states around the country," the release said.

James replaces Patricia Wilson, who quit this month as her department and cabinet continued to lose court battles with newspapers over records relating to their handling of child abuse and neglect and Gov. Steve Beshear told the agencies to be more transparent and accountable. For background from the Lexington Herald-Leader, click here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

City council will not meet Monday

The Midway City Council will not hold its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Dec. 19.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rollins upbeat, Carroll cautious on Beshear's plan for constitutional amendment to expand gambling

Democratic state Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway, left, sees support for a constitutional amendment to expand gambling, proposed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in his second inaugural address yesterday, but Democratic Sen. Julian Carroll, whose district includes Woodford County, "says any proposal must be vetted before there’s a vote," Kevin Wheatley of the Frankfort State Journal reports today.

The issue is of particular interest around Midway, because it is pushed by the Thoroughbred industry as a way to keep racing horses and breeding stock from leaving Kentucky for states where slot machines and casino table games finance race purses and breeders' awards. The idea has been blocked in the Senate, where President David Williams has been its most powerful foe, but Williams lost to Beshear in last month's election and now says there are enough Senate to pass it, depending on its content.

Carroll indicated similar caution. “I think there are a lot of questions that need to be thought through before we start putting that on the ballot because it’s not a question of the right of the people to vote on the issue, but it is a question of once it’s voted on,” he told Wheatley. “I am deeply concerned about some of the influences that are going to come in here with a constitutional amendment issue, so I want to see the legislation itself before I make a commitment.”

If three-fifths of each chamber voted for an amendment in the legislative session that will run from January until April, the proposal would be put to voters on the November ballot.

Rollins "said he’s heard positive comments from fellow lawmakers regarding a constitutional amendment," but wants it to start in the Senate, which in 2009 killed a House-passed bill for slots at racetracks. “Once before we took a hard vote on it. It was hard for a lot of members, not for me, and then the Senate killed it in committee. Never even heard it,”  he told Wheatley. (Read more)

Christmas-tree lighting brings season to town

Story and photo by Dick Yarmy

While the daily news of the last three weeks may have stuffed coal in our stockings, touting political gridlock, financial institutions misplacing funds, an lack Friday violence, the city of Midway gave its residents a present –– the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Friday night, a crowd of more than 100 including families, students, friends and neighbors waited in the glow of decorated store fronts and mercury vapors for WLEX-18 weekend anchor Nikki Burdine (at left in photo) and Mayor Tom Bozarth to light the tree.

Burdine greeted the crowd and remarked how impressed she was by the city. "I'm really thrilled you asked me to be part of this,” she said. "I'm going to get out of Lexington and come down here more often ... especially for dinner.”

John McDaniel of the local business organization enlisted help from local students to pass out Christmas-carol lyrics and the crowd joined Bozarth and Burdine for a community sing.

The event might not have come up to the stereotypical Norman Rockwell or Frank Capra standards –– but was well worth witnessing.

Burdine’s dinner comment must have stuck a note with the crowd –– many went directly from the event to queue up for tables at downtown restaurants to share in the cheer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Property maintenance panel won't meet tonight

The following notice was sent by City Council Member Dan Roller, chairman of the council's Property Maintenance Committee: "We were unable to secure an official 24-hour notice to schedule an official meeting of MPMC on Tuesday, December 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Midway Library and therefore will have no meeting . . . or recommendations on the Midway Property Maintenance Code for the City Council meeting scheduled for Monday December 19. Recommendations will be delayed until 2012. Thank you."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Midway mayor has been at the center of 'righting the ship' at the Kentucky League of Cities

By Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Five hundred days ago, news coverage of the Kentucky League of Cities depicted a listing ship, awash in staff executives’ extravagant spending and mismanagement of the organization that provides insurance and many other services to cities.

That ship has been righted, according to Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth, left, and other recently elected officers of the league.

Bozarth, the league's second vice president, said the problems that culminated in the resignation of Sylvia Lovely as executive director were a learning experience for the three new officers. “We were on the executive board when it broke,” he said. “Bottom line is, we didn’t ask enough questions.”

The transition to new leadership was difficult. “We were basically a split board,” he said, with staunch supporters of Lovely on one side and members whom Bozarth considered more objective on the other side. “We started apart,” he said. “Then over the year we came together in the middle, and in the end became a stronger board.”

“Our national search uncovered some good candidates; we decided on Jon Steiner and it’s been a good hire for the league,” Bozarth said. “The attitude of the employees has been like night and day; it’s been a good transition.”

The hiring of Steiner as CEO and an increase in transparency have restored pride to the member cities, KLC President and Paducah Mayor William Paxton said in a news release.

“The executive director hit the ground running,” Lyndon Mayor Susan Barto, the first vice president, said in a telephone interview with the Midway Messenger. “He’s been out to visit two-thirds of the cities and he’s open about everything. Anyone in the general public that wants to know how the KLC runs can go to a meeting ... our records are open and we respond to everything.”

After questions about the management of KLC and the Kentucky Association of Counties, first raised in both cases by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the legislature made them subject to state open-records and open-meetings laws.

Barto said KLC provides products and services to 382 member cities. (Kentucky has 420 cities.) “KLC does nothing but help cities,” she said. “We provide legal advice, legislative programs, lobbying, as well as financial and insurance programs.”

Bozarth said the training provided by the league is critical for small cities like Midway. “People who run for office in small cities have no political experience. They need to reach out and have someone help them learn,” he said. “That’s what the league does.”

Barto called the training “invaluable.” She said she hadn’t been an elected official before becoming mayor of her Jefferson County city, and “ I knew nothing. . . .  I came in as mayor with absolutely no training. They were there to bail me out and give me all the information I needed.”

Bozarth said KLC’s services are a bargain for the dues the cities pay, in Midway’s case $495 a year. “We get that back ten-fold,” he said. “They have the support staff –– it’s like having more employees working for you.”

As examples, Bozarth cited the league’s legal help. “They answer legal questions and provide sample ordinances, cutting down on our legal fees,” he said. For example, league staff helped a recent alcohol ordinance, the insurance discounts for being a drug-free work place and the firefighter grants KLC awarded the city.

Barto also gives the League’s staff high marks. “ They have a remarkable staff,” she said. “They really do care about cities. Members of the staff will work with the individual cities to help develop a personalized master plan, a strategic plan and other concepts to encourage citizen’s involvement.”

Kentucky’s cities and towns have a wide range of sizes and demographics, but have common issues. according to Barto. “Retirement is the biggest issue,” she said. “ If you have a police or fire department you’re paying almost 39 percent in retirement benefits. You have nowhere to pass the buck at the local level –– we have to operate on a balanced budget.”

The league’s accomplishments after the reorganization appear to have been noticed by its members. The last convention had 64 percent more attendance than the previous one. Bozarth credited the increase to a good program, calling out the drug summit in particular. “We addressed problems that were common across the state,” he said.

Bozarth also called attention to KLC’s legislative accomplishments. “We got eight pieces of legislation passed for cities” in this year’s short legislative session,“ he said “We get behind any issue that will impact a city.”

One of those bills allows incentive pay for city officials who get training. Bozarth said that was a good example of legislation bubbling up from the city level: He said Carl Ellis, a Versailles council member, asked state Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway why cities didn’t have a voluntary training program similar to the mandated program offered by the counties’ association. Rollins and Bozarth presented the idea and it was placed on KLC’s legislative agenda. The bill failed to pass the first time, but passed a year later.

Midway and Versailles have passed ordinances implementing the incentive pay. The Midway ordinance was questioned by some council members, but passed. Bozarth considers the passage an accomplishment and places a high value on training. “I believe people should be compensated for getting training,” he said. “They sacrifice a lot of time for just $50 a month,” the salary of a council member.

Bozarth said KLC has “righted the ship” and is going in the right direction. “When we started asking questions and looking into things we got a real education,” he said. “We lost some trust with members, but with the changes we’ve made, we’ve regained that trust.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Council hears new reasons for siding delay and discusses crime and Elkhorn Creek pollution

By Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Construction of the downtown railroad siding has been delayed by disagreements with CSX Corp., the big railroad that owns the right of way, R.J. Corman Corp. Chairman Fred Mudge told the Midway City Council Monday night. He said the project, slated for completion this year, has also been delayed by protracted negotiations with the state Transportation Cabinet and by unseasonal weather conditions in areas where Corman's crews do rail construction and repair

Mudge didn't specify the disagreements with CSX, which leases the rail line to Corman, but he said they were minor and said he expects the project to be completed next year.

Mudge also updated the council on Rick Corman’s struggle with cancer. Corman is commuting between home and Boston, Mass., where he is receiving experimental drug treatment for the disease. Mudge said Corman is responding well to the chemotherapy, and “We’re all hoping he continues to go in the same direction and the treatment is successful.”

Midway has enjoyed a good relationship with Corman, who has made special trains available as a centerpiece for community events, including bringing Santa Claus to town for the upcoming holiday season.

Citizens urged to report unusual behavior

Assistant Chief Fugate of the Versailles Police Department reported that incidents needing police attention are on par with last year, but warned that citizens too often fail to report unusual behavior. Afterward, Mayor Tom Bozarth said he requested the chief’s visit. “These are tough times in central Kentucky,” Bozarth said. “It’s desperate times for a lot of people and a lot of bad things are going on. I just want neighbors to look out for their neighbors and to report anything suspicious to the Versailles police dispatch so we can all look after each other.”

Council reacts to article on Elkhorn Creek pollution

In a spirited discussion, the council reacted to the Dec. 1 Messenger article regarding pollution standards for the South Elkhorn Creek watershed. Council Member Dan Roller asked Bozarth for clarification on the operation of the city's wastewater treatment plant, which a state study said puts an average of 43 fecal coliform colonies per 100 milliliters of water into Lee Branch. The state limit is 200 per ml. Roller mentioned that the study covered a period where the water was treated by the city’s old plant.

In a later interview, Roller said he was concerned about how the study could differentiate between pollution stemming from the plant and that coming from livestock farms. A former state employee, he said state agencies would most likely continue to set the bar higher toward a better environmental standard.

At the meeting, Bozarth related a conversation with sewer-plant manager Mark Roberts and assured the council the plant was operating within the present guidelines, quoting the same figures as the report.  In a later interview Bozarth said, “I took a little exception to the article because it gives the impression the city is doing something wrong and the city’s not doing anything wrong.  We operate the plant well within the boundaries the state requires.  I was just taken aback when I first read the article.”

Bozarth noted that developments on KY 341 north of town are served by septic tanks that have drain fields approaching the creek. Those were not mentioned in the state report.

Midway Messenger Publisher Al Cross said afterward that the state report did not assert that the city was in violation, but indicated that the sewer plant might be one obstacle to making the creek swimmable if the state decided to try to achieve that standard.

Midway to light Christmas tree Friday night

Downtown Midway will hold its annual downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Friday, Dec. 9, at 6:30 pm. Nikki Burdine, Channel 18 weekend news anchor, will be this year’s special guest.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Environment agency seeking comments on bacterial pollution of South Elkhorn Creek

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is seeking public comment until Jan. 2 on a draft report on bacterial pollution in nine stream segments and two springs in the South Elkhorn Creek watershed, including some in and near Midway.

One stream segment is the last mile of Lee Branch, which flows through Midway. It is polluted with fecal colifrm bacteria, presumably from livestock farms and the City of Midway sewage-treatment plant. Almost all of South Elkhorn Creek, which forms the northeast boundary of Woodford County, is similarly contaminated for those and similar reasons, the report says.

The Midway treatment plant's permit allows its discharge to contain 200 fecal coliform colonies for every 100 milliliters of water. The report says the plant's average from 1983 to 2003 was 43 colonies per 100 ml.

The federal Clean Water Act requires the state to identify waters where designated uses are not being met and water quality impairments exist, and to prioritize the list of impaired waters, calculate a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants for those waters and devise plans to improve the water quality. A TMDL is a calculated amount of pollutants a particular water body may contain and remain unimpaired for its designated use.

The report by the state Division of Water addresses bacterial pollution in the South Elkhorn Creek watershed at levels that makes the streams unsuitable for swimming. The report includes data and procedures used to calculate the TMDL for the stream segments. Revisions to the report may be made following the public comment period and before it is sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

The report may be viewed on the Division of Water website here. (It's a 277-page PDF that may take a while to load if your connection is slow.) Comments should be sent in writing to Eric Liebenauer, Division of Water, 200 Fair Oaks Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, or by e-mail to eric.liebenauer@ky.gov.