Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doris Leigh leaving local government after 46 years

Editor's note: Monday evening's council meeting will be the last for Leigh as a member.

By T.J. Walker
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Every vote counts.

But to Midway City Council Member Doris Leigh, every vote matters. That's why when she wasn't re-elected in November, she wasn't upset for long.

Leigh, a Midway resident born and raised, wants what her fellow citizens want.

"It was fine, if that's what the people wanted," Leigh said in an interview last week. "It hurt at first, and it hurt the next day, then I got over it. I had done all I could do, and if that's what they want I've done all I could." (Photo by Dick Yarmy)

At 83, Leigh has no plans to run for office again. She said the initial pain to losing the election came because she was had been told she had won, in a race where the top six vote-getters were elected.

After all the votes had been counted, Leigh was told she would be re-elected, getting two more votes than fellow incumbent Daniel Roller to get the sixth spot. But the absentee ballots were forgotten, and when those votes were counted, Leigh was ousted by only four votes.

"I was shocked," Vice Mayor and Council Member Sharon Turner said. "We had all thought she had won."

Leigh won't be in office, but she won't soon be forgotten.  She worked in the Woodford County Courthouse for 42 years as the chief deputy in the property valuation administrator's office, then retired and was elected to the council in 2008. Over the years she has made a lot of friends. She'll even help the three new members of the City Council, she said.

"I wish the three new ones well," Leigh said. "I'll help them because this is a good town to live in. They'll do well." The newcomers are Sara Hicks, Grayson Vandegrift and Bruce Southworth, who respectively placed second, third and fourth in the election, behind Turner and ahead of incumbent Aaron Hamilton.

Leigh has become an icon in Midway. She feels connected to the town and said she knows everybody. Before working at the courthouse and running for office, she worked in the Midway Post Office and as a nurse. She's given half the people in Midway their baby injections, she said.

Leigh has loved every job she's ever had, she said, and even if she's not working in the government she plans to continue helping others.

"Midway means more than anything to the world," Leigh said. "I love Midway and I've done everything I could do."

Volunteering will be the next step for Leigh. She'll spend most of her time at Woodford County High School and at the library. She wants to help any way she can.

City Clerk Phyllis Hudson is inspired by Leigh's commitment and dedication to Midway.

Hudson has been around Leigh long enough to know that she's rare, and that her commitment to her town is one of a kind.

"Doris is absolute gem," Hudson said. "You can't help but to love her. She gives 100 percent at everything she does. Doris treated this community like her family. She truly loved everybody."

Leigh is proud of having known her community. Hudson said in order to do a good job in a government position you have to know what the people want, and Leigh did.

"We need someone like Doris Leigh to be out there to understand everyone's views, so they can make informed choices," Hudson said.

Leigh doesn't look back at one specific accomplishment she and her fellow city council members made during her time in the courthouse or city government. She's more proud, she said, of all the small things she accomplished.

And in an elevator.

When they needed to steal her away for a few minutes of insight, a judge or county attorney often would take an elevator ride with Leigh. It became a valuable brainstorming space.

"Every once in a while I would get a call saying, 'Let's ride the elevator'," Leigh said. "The judge would have something he would want to get settled; the county attorney would do the same thing. We rode the elevator a lot and it was fun. The judge called me the other day saying, 'I miss those days in the elevators, and we solved a lot of problems.'"

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Tourist destination' amendment to zoning ordinance is on its way to Fiscal Court and city councils

By Cassandra Shouse
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

VERSAILLES – “Tourist destinations” would be allowed in rural areas of Woodford County under the countywide zoning ordinance if the Fiscal Court and the Midway and Versailles city councils go along with last night’s vote of the Planning Commission.

After a second public hearing, the commission voted 8-1 to adopt a revised version of the amendment to the ordinance. Although the revisions dealt with some of the issues that brought objections at the last hearing, citizens such as Libby Jones of Midway still said it needed more work.

Jones, right, the wife of former governor Brereton Jones and his partner in Airdrie Stud, said the traffic created by tourist destinations could have harmful effects on the horse farms of Woodford County. She urged the commission, “Please do not adopt this amendment as it is written; please go back to the drawing board one more time and address the issue of how the rights of the neighbors can be protected.”

Nathan Billings, an attorney representing property owners in the Pisgah Historic District, had several issues with the proposal. He said it was special legislation for the CastlePost, a home made to look like a castle at the junction of Pisgah Pike and Lexington Road, that has converted to a bed and breakfast. He said “it’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room that everyone knows about, and no one wants to acknowledge.”

Billings said the definition of a landmark added to the proposal was vague and unconstitutional. The proposed amendment defines a landmark as “any site, building, structure, or natural feature that has visual, historic, or cultural significance.” He also said the definition of “tourist destinations” and “tourist destinations expanded” were in complete violation of the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the commission, the county and the cities.

Another resident, Tom Brown, didn’t think the proposal is necessary. Noting that a special board does individual assessments of property in agricultural zones whose owners would like to open to tourism, Brown said the commission should “adopt an approach similar to the current ag-tourism review and assessment used by the Agricultural Advisory Review Board.” Since it’s only one property, the CastlePost, that prompted this proposal, Brown said it would be better to do an assessment similar to the ag-tourism review, so a proposal that could be used as a zoning backdoor wouldn’t be necessary.

Jim Boggs was the only commission member to vote against the proposal.

UPDATE, Jan. 7: The Lexington Herald-Leader examines the proposal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Planning Commission votes 8-1 for latest version of 'tourist destination' amendment to zoning ordinance

The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission voted 8-1 tonight to recommend that the cities and county amend the countywide zoning ordinance to provide for "tourist destinations," a move sought by the CastlePost east of Versailles but opposed by those who said it would destroy the integrity of the county's agricultural zone.

Jim Boggs was the only commissioner to vote against the latest version of the amendment, which added some definitions and limitations to the original. Some who had opposed the first version said at tonight's public hearing that it resolved their issues, but more, including Libby Jones of Midway, said the changes didn't go far enough and the proposal needed more work.

The proposed amendment now goes to the city councils and Fiscal Court for action. Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth said in a telephone interview that he had expressed some concerns about the proposal to some commissioners, but he expected the City Council to "go along" with it, as it does with most proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance.

A more detailed story on the meeting appears above.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tree lighting starts the season; Santa is on his way

By T.J. Walker
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Rain didn't stop some Midway residents from sharing the holiday spirit and singing a Christmas carol or two Friday night. ABout 25 people lined Main Street for the annual tree lighting. Few kids saw the lighting, possibly because of the rain, but also because they needed to get to sleep, as a BIG visitor will be making his way through town Saturday morning. Santa Claus arrives via R.J. Corman Railroad at 11 a.m.

Here's a video report with people at the tree lighting. (The screen indicates an incorrect running time; it is about 2:20.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Filling a swimming pool will no longer qualify you for an adjustment in your water-sewer bill

By Kevin Ortiz
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

After an intense debate, the Midway City Council voted 3-1 Monday night to stop reducing sewer charges for residents who fill swimming pools with water that does not enter the sewer system. 

The process has allowed pool owners a one-time discount based on the owner’s previous six months of water usage.  Members of the council couldn’t agree on an adjustment plan that would include things like turning on sprinklers and watering gardens.

Council Member Charlann Wombles raised the issue, saying, “My concern is with those of us who use water for watering our gardens, or just a variety of reasons who have no avenue for requesting an adjustment.  “I think it would be nice for other citizens to have that too, and I know it would be a nightmare, an absolute nightmare, to compute and to administer, but that still does not make it fair.”

Council Member Sharon Turner also voiced her displeasure: “I think it’s an unfair practice and I’ve said that since I’ve been here in 2005.”

Referring to the $1,400 in total reductions of sewer charges this year for pool owners, detailed in a list given to council members and members-elect, Turner said, “It’s not the amount of money, it’s the principle.” She said that even with a second meter to measure non-sewered water, a device that would cost a customer at least $700, “It’s an unfair practice.”

After the council couldn’t agree how to make the adjustments fair, Council Member Daniel Roller suggested that the issue be referred back to committee. Mayor Tom Bozarth said the matter should be left with the whole council. Earlier, Bozarth had asked the council, “Does anyone think this is a fair policy?” and Roller had replied, “I don’t think it’s an unfair policy.”

After his committee suggestion was rebuffed, Roller asked his colleagues, “Do you want to make a motion that we do away with water adjustments completely? If you want to put your vote out there and somebody wants to make that motion, then we can vote on it.”

Turner then moved to abolish the pool adjustments. Roller reiterated that he would like to see the issue go back to committee for research, but Bozarth called a vote on the motion.  Wombles and Doris Leigh joined Turner in supporting it; Roller voted no, and Joy Arnold abstained. Aaron Hamilton was absent.

“I don’t think the adjustments are unfair,” said Roller.  “I don’t think it penalizes everyone else.”

Among other business, the council appointed Debra Shockley to the county planning and zoning commission’s Architectural Review Board, named Al Schooler to the commission’s Board of Zoning Adjustments and put Helen Rentch on the county Human Rights Commission.  

The council also gave first reading to ordinances adopting the commission’s proposed changes in the countywide zoning ordinance. All deal with signs; one change would allow electronic signs with changing messages, and another would require removal of signs advertising businesses that have closed. Second reading and passage are scheduled for the next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 at City Hall.

Announcements of civic interest

Wombles announced that the Sister City Board, which would oversee agreements with cities in other countries, will meet at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at the Midway Branch Library to discuss its proposed bylaws. All meetings of any committee created by the city are open to the public.

Turner announced that fund-raising for the Homeplace at Midway through last week's quilt show totaled $17,075, not including proceeds from meals promoted by restaurants and donation jars that are still in local businesses. Roller noted that the total includes $5,000 donated by the Francisco’s Farm arts festival.

Bozarth announced that the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday and that Santa Claus will arrive by train at 11 a.m. Saturday.

This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Midway College names John Marsden 10th president

The Midway College Board of Trustees has selected a new president, John P. Marsden, currently provost and vice president of academic affairs at Barton College in Wilson, N.C. He will take office Feb. 1 but will be welcomed to campus in ceremonies next Tuesday. (Barton College photo)

Marsden will succeed William Drake, who resigned in March after encountering difficulties with the college's since-abandoned effort to create a pharmacy school in Paintsville. Robert Vogel has been serving as interim president.

Marsden, who will be the 10th president of Midway, is a specialist in gerontology and the author of a book, Humanistic Design for Assisted Living. That background and the college's nursing program made him especially attractive to the board and its search committee, because of The Homeplace at Midway, the senior housing, assisted-living and nursing facilities to be built next to the Midway campus by Christian Care Communities.

"That was something that was a very positive aspect of his background," Donna Moore, chair of the search committee, said in an interview, but she cited other pluses, including "his experience in strategic planning, his enthusiasm, his energy" and his academic record.

Moore said in a press release, "The entire college participated in the selection process of Dr. Marsden and the excitement is growing for him to join our campus community." She said the board believes that "His experience, academic background and personality are a great match for Midway College and that he will build on our current momentum and help develop and implement a long term strategic plan for the college."

Fund-raising is often the prime responsibility of a college president. Marsden has been part of the "major gifts team" at Barton, "with a portfolio of prospects and fundraising and external relations duties," his official biography says. Before going to Barton in 2011, he was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He started his career at Auburn University and then the University of Florida.

Marsden earned his Ph.D. with a major in environment and behavior and a minor in gerontology from the University of Michigan. He earned his undergraduate degree in architecture with a minor in industrial management at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his master’s in architecture and graduate certificate in gerontology from the University of Arizona.

Marsden said in the release, "It is an honor to be selected as the next president of Midway College and to join an institution with a strong commitment to women’s undergraduate education as well as coeducational accelerated, graduate, and online programs. Midway College has a long tradition of providing students with a professionally oriented liberal arts education that prepares them for lives of leadership, service, and responsible citizenship. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaboratively build a vision for the college based on its solid foundation."

Marsden and his wife are scheduled to arrive on campus at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and walk up the “Pathway of Opportunity” next to the soccer field, accompanied by a bagpiper. He will make remarks in Pinkerton Hall, then host a press conference in Marrs Hall at 10:30. A receiving line in the student center will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Railroad Drug owner-pharmacist prefers small town

By Justin Wright
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

An old saying goes, “Everybody dies famous in a small town.” This comes from the notion that in a small, tight-knit community that everyone knows everything about all the people in town. Sometimes such intimate knowledge can be a good thing, while at other times it can be something to despise.

This leads many people to leave small towns and pursue other, supposedly bigger, opportunities in a place where no one knows their name and everyone is out of their business. But some who get away from the next-of-kin setting realize that being from a small town and knowing all about what is going on was just fine with them, because they were a name to somebody and not just another face in the crowd.

Knowing people on a first-name basis is one in which many small-town businesses take great pride, and on which they base their level of work and patronage to their community. This is how Railroad Drug owner Ken Glass, above, operates his business day to day.

“Running a pharmacy in a community like Midway is very personable,” Glass said. “I'm on a first name basis with all of my patients and fellow business owners.”

Railroad Drug is on Main Street in the heart of Midway and offers a nostalgia that many small town pharmacies once had. From the old-time soda fountain to meals served at your request, this drug store is a “blast from the past,” as one might put it, keeping in close touch with its small-town roots.

Glass grew up near Morehead, earned his pharmacy degree from the University of Kentucky and has lived in Midway for nine years while working for other pharmacies.

“I had always wanted to open my own pharmacy, and finally I just built up the nerve to do it.  Plus, I had grown tired of the chain-store setting,” said Glass, who worked for a two chain pharmacies and an independently owned store. 

How does running his pharmacy differ from running one in a city such as Lexington or Louisville? “In a community such as Midway, you know everyone,” he replied. “My patients aren't co-pays or Social Security numbers to me. I know them. I know their children, their parents, and their grandparents. It's very rewarding to have that kind of relationship with the people that patronize my store; you just can’t find this in a bigger city.”

This is the life for Glass, who has no wish to return to a bigger establishment where pharmacists don’t see the same people every day.

“No contest,” he said. “I would hate not knowing my patients and in fact, have hated that exact issue in the past at previous workplaces. If I ever open another pharmacy in a bigger city, I would like to bring that kind of personal touch to it, so it seemed like it was a smaller community to the people who filled their prescriptions there.”

Stores such as Railroad Drug are keeping the tradition of down-home alive, one customer at a time, and offering hope that they and their like will be found in small towns for many years to come.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Case Clay, head of of Three Chimneys Farm, elected chair of Gluck Equine Research Foundation at UK

Case Clay, president and chief executive officer of Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, has become board chair of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Foundation.

Clay told UK news writer Jenny Evans that his elevation “means a lot to me, as my grandfather, Albert G. Clay, was one of the founders and a board chair. My father, Robert Clay, also served on the board. I will take this honor very seriously, and I am excited to work with the board to take the world's only research facility with the majority of faculty doing full-time equine research to the next level.”

Clay joined the board almost three years ago. He was elected chair at its October meeting, succeeding Walter Zent, a veterinarian and former partner at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The foundation supports the work of the Gluck Center, where UK faculty conduct research in genetics and genomics, infectious diseases and immunology, musculoskeletal science, parasitology, pharmacology/toxicology and reproductive health.

“Case comes with a great knowledge of the horse industry and experience on numerous boards. This combination will provide him with the tools to be a very effective leader for the Gluck Foundation,” said Ed Squires, director of UK Ag Equine Programs and executive director of the foundation. (Read more)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Voters give city council three new members; Rollins re-elected; Chandler loses rural Midway, county

Three of the four Midway City Council members on the ballot won re-election yesterday, but Council Member Doris Leigh lost her seat, finishing seventh in a race with six winners and 10 candidates.

Vice Mayor Sharon Turner, right, again led the pack with 453 votes, but the next three winners were newcomers: Sara Hicks with 423, Grayson Vandegrift with 406 and Bruce Southworth with 379. Incumbents Aaron Hamilton (367) and Dan Roller (342) were re-elected. Leigh was close behind with 338. Kevin Locke got 323, Steven Craig 260 and Michael Ashton 201. All figures are from the website of the secretary of state. (An earlier version of this story had an incorrect result.) Council Member Joy Arnold did not seek re-election, and appointed Council Member Charlann Wombles did not run.

In other races of major local interest:

State Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, left, got 53.3 percent of the vote against Republican Douglass Jones of Lexington, who was boosted in the final week by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, speaking on a radio commercial paid for by his political action committee. Rollins won 10,851 to 9,522. He carried the Midway city precinct 543 to 235 and the rural Midway precinct 251 to 198. The precinct totals do not include absentee votes.

Republican lawyer Andy Barr of Lexington carried Midway's rural precinct, 247 to 201, in his victory over 6th District U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles. Chandler carried the city precinct 467 to 298. Independent Randolph Vance got 8 and 16 votes in the two precincts, respectively. In unofficial, incomplete returns, Barr got 50.6 percent of the district's vote and Chandler got 46.7 percent, and Chandler lost his home Woodford County by about the same percentages, 6,221 to 5,803. He carried only Franklin and Fayette counties.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Midway College to host panel of outstanding female athletes to mark 40th anniversary of Title IX

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the 1972 law that bans sex discrimination in higher education intercollegiate athletics, tomorrow morning Midway College will host a guest panel of accomplished female athletes to discuss the impact that the ruling had on their sports careers and reflect on what this has meant for women.

The panel will include Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and former University of Kentucky assistant athletic director; Micki King, 1972 Olympic gold medalist in springboard diving; Myra Blackwelter, former LPGA tour player and first female athletic full scholarship recipient at UK following Title IX; and Stacey Reed Sheppard, former UK Lady Cat and two-time member of state high school basketball championship teams at Laurel County High School.

Dave Baker, sportscaster with WKYT-TV, will moderate the panel Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 11 a.m. in the Duthie Auditorium in Anne Hart Raymond Building at Midway College. The public is invited.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finalists for college presidency to meet community starting today at 1:30 at Midway Christian Church

The first of three finalists for the presidency of Midway College arrived in town yesterday, and will have a community meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at Midway Christian Church. Dr. John Marsden is provost, or chief academic officer, of Barton College in Wilson, N.C.

Dr. Anita Bowles, vice president for academic affairs at Methodist College in Spartanburg, S.C., will be in town tomorrow and Thursday and will have a community meeting at the church at 1:30 Thursday.

Dr. Sandra Patterson-Randles, chancellor of Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, will visit Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 29 and 30, with a community meeting at the church at 1:30 Tuesday.

The new president will succeed the Rev. Robert Vogel, who was named interim president after Dr. William Drake resigned in March.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Council hires firm to remove snow from streets

The Midway City Council voted Monday night to have a Richmond firm to remove snow from city streets, a task that Woodford County left in the city's hands after Midway became a fourth-class city last year.

The council also heard complaints from two citizens about the city's policies on business licenses, set Halloween trick-or-treat for 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31, accepted $2,500 in proceeds from the Iron Horse Half Marathon run Sunday, and agreed to grant a building permit for reconstruction of a dilapidated house that had been slated for demolition.

On recommendation from the Streets and Lights Committee, the council voted 5-0 (Joy Arnold was absent) to hire Wright's Farm Services Inc. of Richmond for snow removal. The estimated cost is $1,377.50 per event, with unspecified extra payments if the snow is heavy. Phil Moloney, attorney for the city, was directed to draft a contract with details.

Mayor Tom Bozarth said the deal would give the city what is not had before, a service that will make the city a priority and do all the streets. The county's equipment is unable to do narrow streets. The county's bill for one day of snow removal in January was $1,233.

Council Member Aaron Hamilton alluded to the impending need for a snow contract: "The squirrels are gathering nuts."

The council heard complaints from Laura Wolfrom of Bistro La Belle and Anthony Delimpo, representing his wife's home-based business, about the city's business license tax and its enforcement policies. The issues were referred to the council's Ordinance and Policy Committee; Moloney said one point may need clarification, and Bozarth asked Wolfrom to consult with other restaurants about her objection to her local food vendors being required to have a license.

Bozarth said the city would adopt Council Member Dan Roller's suggestion that all holders of business licenses be listed on the city's website, which Roller said might help them get more business.

John Sensenig of John's Run/Walk Shop in Lexington, a sponsor of the half-marathon, said the third-year event was a big success, with 1,000 finishers "from all over the country. . . . I've been doing foot races for 35 years and I can say in all honesty this is the favorite foot race I've ever done." Bozarth, alluding to some past logistical problems, said, "This is the first year where I think it went very, very well."

The council agreed to a building permit for a house on Martin Street, which the Yount family first said it would demolish but now wants to rebuild, but the permit will require construction to begin in six weeks, not the usual 90 days. Bozarth gave a progress report on two other dilapadated Yount houses, and agreed to have a representative of the family give its own update at the next meeting.

Charlann Wombles, who was appointed to the council after not running for re-election, and after city officials began to focus on property-maintenance issues, told her colleagues, "I would really like to commend you all for the work you've done on these properties. This is long, long overdue."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Future of water and sewer systems dominates discussion among city council candidates at forum

By Drew Teague
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Two candidates for Midway City Council said at a forum Thursday night that the issue of whether to sell the city’s water and sewer system or have the city refurbish them was too big for the council to decide itself.

At the forum presented by the Midway Woman’s Club, restaurant manager Grayson Vandegrift, seeking his first term on the council, said the issue "should be voted on by all the people." Council Member Sharon Turner, the mayor pro tem, said after the forum that such an issue can't be put on the ballot, but "We talked about having public forums to let everyone in Midway voice their comments, concerns and thoughts prior to the council making any decision." (An earlier version of this story incorrectly had Turner supporting a referendum.)

Some of the four questions put to the candidates sparked discussion of the water-sewer issue, and several candidates brought it up in their opening remarks.

Turner said there needs to be a lot of research into the questions of selling the systems to a company – probably Kentucky-American Water Co., the city’s raw-water supplier – or the city borrowing millions of dollars to refurbish the current systems. “I don’t think this is anything we can decide yet,” she said. “Even after we prepare the sides, I don’t think it’s for a panel of six people to figure out.”

Vandegrift’s thoughts on the matter were similar to Turner’s, but he added that there may be an opportunity to sell the system at a later date, so there is no rush to sell it now. He said the systems are operating at half capacity.

Turner, who has served on the council since 2005, is looking to take on the systems’ problems during her next term if re-elected, she said in her opening statement. She noted that she is on the council’s Water and Sewer Task Force, “and that’s going to be a lofty task in front of us … but it’s something we’re researching.”

Bruce Southworth noted in his opening statement that he has served Midway, Versailles and Georgetown and their water-treatment systems for 27 years. “What I’ve heard this year while I’ve been running is the water-sewer system is the main issue,” he said. “It’s my time to give something back to Midway.”

He said that once the council sells the water and sewer systems, they are gone, so careful consideration needs to be taken when deciding the solution, after the task force releases its research report on the systems. “Unfortunately, until the task force report is released I cannot make an intelligent response,” Southworth said in his candidate profile in the October issue of Midway Matters, a monthly newsletter for citizens about the goings-on in Midway.

Sara Hicks, a licensed marriage and family therapist, also said there should be a lot of research before a decision is made, and if the systems are sold, that the council should realize  that the company will make a profit and the council will have to make sure the company keeps to the promises they made.

Steven Craig and Council Member Daniel Roller said there is a lot more to know before decisions are made.

Roller said that the city needs to continue the study, through the task force, to find the cost of refurbishing the systems. “For over a year we’ve analyzed the different problems with that. There’s old lines, there is dead lines, there’s pop offs,” said Roller, a member of the task force.

Michael Ashton, Kevin Locke and three-term incumbent Aaron Hamilton did not respond to a question about the systems, but Hamilton was the first to bring up the topic during opening remarks. He is on the task force and said the issue needs to be addressed soon by the council.

Ashton said in his opening statement that he is looking to build a balanced budget and vigilant controlled growth for the city.

Craig said he is a Midway native who believes he can help the council.

Hicks said she “longed to come home” to such a “precious, sweet treasure” while she lived outside the state. She said she has worked with non-profits for over 30 years and knows how to listen and analyze problems. “I want to be a person on the city council that hears the people in Midway,” she said, adding that the city needs to be smart with money and use it to solve problems. “We have to use our taxpayers’ money in the most efficient and effective way possible," she said. "We need to solve any structural issues, such as the water and sewer.”

Vandegrift, who said he has been to every city council meeting his year and is president of the Midway Merchants Association, said he had a deep passion for public service and would bring new energies to the council.

Locke, a member of the Woodford County Board of Architectural Review, said voters should find out the motives of the candidates. His stated reasons for running: responsibility for and pride in Midway.

After opening statements, candidates were asked four questions from the public that had been screened by members of the Midway Woman’s Club, including city Council Member Charlann Wombles, who is not seeking re-election. They answered voluntarily, in no particular order.

Asked to name the council’s first responsibility to citizens of Midway:
  • Locke said he would want to make the council open and available to all citizens of the town.
  • Roller said he wants to work with others on economic development and businesses in the city. Hamilton said he wants to keep the citizens safe and that there is not a bad crime rate in Midway. Turner said the city needs to be fiscally responsible while providing services to its citizens.
  • Vandegrift said the council should work with all organizations, the city and county, making sure there are no breaks between them, adding that political parties should not be brought into the council. Council races are nonpartisan.
  • Southworth said the quality of life in Midway would be one of his big concerns if he was elected.
  • Craig said he would do whatever was best for the whole of the citizenry of Midway.
  • Ashton said participation would be his main focus, and everyone should show up and participate in city council meetings.
Asked if they favored moving the Fire Department to a shared facility with Woodford County:
  • Roller said that as best he knew this would just be a joint facility, not a joint department between Midway and the county.
  • Turner said the city would need to continue researching and see about a joint station saving money, but something else needs to be built on the Midway end of the county, instead of a joint fire station. “We just started research on it, but I see more of a need for an ambulance station on this end of the county,” she said.
  • Craig said the council needs to “dive into it.” He is a brother of Magistrate Larry Craig, who is the captain of the county’s Midway fire unit.
  • Hamilton said they need to explore the options and see the benefit that it will have to Midway. Ashton, Locke, Southworth and Vandegrift did not answer this question.
Asked to identify problems that “haven’t gone so well” for the council:
  • Craig cited the bickering and fighting among the members of the council: “I’d like to see this council come together as a team.”
  • Turner said she feels some items the council has dealt with have been rushed, saying the council has not looked into things as hard as it should. She also said there needs to be research into all sides of an issue before a decision is made.
  • Locke said divisiveness is a good thing and that council needs to talk about items more. He added that Midway needs more engaged citizens. “I like it when people get involved,” he said. “We solve the questions … by being engaged.”
  • Roller pushed Danville, a town 10 times the size of Midway, as the prime example of what Midway can be like.
  • Ashton said money needs to be used better, for all citizens, not just small groups, and he also pushed the new “Uniquely Woodford” brand that the council voted Monday night to support with $1,500 (in conjunction with Versailles and Woodford County) for a video and brand logo.
  • Southworth and Hamilton did not respond to this question.
Nine of the 10 candidates attended the forum. Moderator Steve Wilson said Council Member Doris Leigh was absent due to illness.

Council members are elected to terms of two years. Voters can vote for six candidates, one for each seat available, but are not required to vote for six.

The last day to register to vote in Kentucky is today. Election Day is less than a month away, on Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

State House candidates disagree on education, feelings about expanded gambling

By Drew Teague
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Candidates for the 56th District state House seat in the Nov. 6 election disagreed on expanded gambling and education reform at a forum held Thursday evening in Midway.

The Democratic incumbent, Rep. Carl Rollins II of Midway, is for expanding gaming in the state, while his Republican opponent, Doug Jones of Lexington, says he is against it, but if elected would vote to put the issue on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.

The candidates appeared at the Midway Political Forum 2012, presented at Northside Elementary School by the Midway Woman’s Club. Candidates made opening statements then answered written questions from the audience, screened by members of the club.

The clearest difference between the candidates was in their answers to a question about the state’s failure to qualify for $175 million from the federal “Race to the Top” program.

Rollins, chairman of the House Education Committee, disputed the premise of the question, that the state lost out because it does not have a law authorizing charter schools – independently operated schools that set more of their own rules.

“We did not lose $175 million just because of charter schools. We don’t have a decent teacher evaluation system,” Rollins said. “Charter schools don’t work. Research shows they don’t work.” He said charter schools, after a few years, send children with behavioral problems and special needs back to public schools.

Rollins opposes a law authorizing charter schools, but said he allowed such a bill to be heard in the last legislative session, and did not call a committee vote on it “because the sponsor asked me not to vote on it . . . because out of 29 committee members he had two votes.”

Jones, who answered the question first, said, “I agree . . . We need to be able to give parents a choice. . . . In the West End of Louisville we’ve got 50 percent dropout rates. . . . I think they deserve more opportunity.”

Jones, a semi-retired marketing consultant, said in his opening statement that the state needs to focus more on education. He also discussed how bad he felt the Kentucky tax system is because he says neighboring states are taking jobs from Kentucky.

Rollins, who has been mayor, a city council member and a magistrate on the Woodford County Fiscal Court, said in his opening statement that he wants to expand gambling in the state to help the horse industry. “If we focus on the horse business, I think we have to talk about expanding gaming,” he said. “I am in favor of expanding gaming if that provides revenue to the horse business.”

Jones did not mention the issue when the candidates were asked what they would do to help agriculture. He said, “We have got to save our horse industry,” but people in the industry have told him that getting people in the industry to agree on what to do “is like herding cats.”

In a telephone interview, Jones said that he is against expanded gambling, such as casinos, even if all the money were to go to the horse industry. He said racetracks should not have a monopoly on casinos because “That’s the government picking winners and losers.” (The last casino bill would have allowed seven at tracks and two at other locations some distance from tracks.)

However, Jones said that he would vote to put the question on the ballot as a constitutional amendment if voters wanted the opportunity. Polls have shown that about 80 percent say they want to vote on it. He said it should not be passed solely by the General Assembly.

“If the people of Kentucky wanted to vote for a change, and they put it as a referendum, and the people voted to say ‘Yes we want to do it,’ then I would have no problem with that,” Jones said. “It’s not something I would go after and be a champion for.”

Jones said a study showed that in the initial four to five years of operation, casinos may do well, but slack off when competition increases.

Rollins said at the forum that with the losses he sees in the industry, he feels the state needs to step in and help keep the industry alive. He said the average race does not have “the million dollar horses that sell at Keeneland,” but those raised by “horsemen with small operations.”

The candidates were asked their most important reason for running. Jones, running for the first time, was the first to answer, saying the county and the state are falling apart. “I was contacted by the Andy Barr campaign, in fact,” he said of the challenger for the 6th District U.S. House seat. “Andy decided to come back again this time and at the same time I said ‘Andy, if you’re coming back I’ll come back for phase two and we’ll be better.’”

Rollins said he feels people should be more involved in politics, and he is being involved to serve the community.

Top-of-ballot races

The candidates who did not attend, state Sen. Julian Carroll and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, both Democrats, sent a representative and a letter, respectively.

Barr, challenging Chandler for the second time, said the nation is in an emergency, an economic disaster, and jabbed at his opponent for not attending the forum. “Career politicians no longer listen to the American people,” he said, adding that they “are no longer accessible to the American people [and] don’t even show up to listen to the people and to debate.”

Joy Arnold, a member of the Midway City Council and friend of Chandler, read a letter from the Versailles congressman saying that he had a full schedule when invited to the forum, but that Woodford County has a special place in his heart and its people are important to him.

Barr, answering questions from the audience, said that if people were not fighting the coal industry so much in Kentucky, Kentuckians would have more jobs in the state. “For every one coal mining job, three additional jobs are dependent on coal jobs,” he said.

Asked if he views corporations as people and money as being speech, Barr said they are vastly different, but the freedom of speech needs to be protected. “Well, obviously, individuals are different from corporations; people are different from corporations. Corporations are legal entities and free speech is enshrined in our constitution,” he said. “As an instructor of constitutional law I never think that we should restrain political speech; we should never constrain freedom of speech.”

Frank Haynes, the challenger to Carroll in the 7th Senate District, said he got into politics because he was a doorkeeper for state Senate committees, which he recommended everyone go watch for half a day.

David Cobb, a Carroll aide, said the senator and former governor is a supporter of education and health insurance for teachers and has helped balance the state budget.

Haynes said he wants to repeal a bill that raised pensions for former legislators after they work for the executive branch for just three years. Cobb said a new state senator will not be able to get much done, since few bills even get voted on each session.

The last day to register to vote in Kentucky is Oct. 9, with Election Day less than a month away, on Nov. 6. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Legislative and council candidates to attend forum at Northside Elementary School at 7 p.m. Thursday

Candidates in the Nov. 6 election will appear at a forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at Northside Elementary School. Candidates for each office will make platform statements, then answer screened questions submitted from the audience.

The forum will begin with candidates for the state legislature. Rep. Carl Rollins, a Democrat from Midway; his opponent, Doug Jones, a Republican from Lexington; and Frank Haynes of Frankfort, the Republican challenging state Sen. Julian Carroll, a Democrat who has not confirmed that he will attend.

The legislative candidates will be followed by those running for the Midway City Council. Then Andy Barr of Lexington, the Republican nominee for Congress, will speak. Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles. Chandler's campaign said today that he would not attend, due to previously scheduled engagements, said Sarah J. Wilson of the Midway Woman's Club, which is sponsoring the forum.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Council OKs helping pay for video and brand logo, if funders' representatives constitute advisory group

With a little more grumbling, the Midway City Council voted this evening to contribute $1,500 to a project that will produce a four- to six-minute promotional video for Woodford County and a logo for its newly adopted "Uniquely Woodford" brand.

The council voted to pay the money as long as the funding sources -- Midway, Versailles, the county government and the Woodford Tomorrow organization -- each have a representative in a group of four people "who will be providing input" to executive producer Sam Kolintsky of Marvo Entertainment, as phrased in his agreement with the county, which controls the brand.

The agreement requires Kolintsky to "use his best efforts to ensure a cooperative working relationship  among the producers and the four designated individuals," who by Friday, Oct. 5, are to give him a list of up to seven people who could be interviewed on camera for the video, and could agree to extend his deadlines: the logo by April 28 and the video by June 29.

Joy Arnold (file photo)
The county had revised the agreement to resolve concerns of Midway officials, who had tentatively agreed to contribute before seeing the written agreement. Council Member Joy Arnold, the chair of Woodford Tomorrow, said she was disappointed that the provisions for the advisory group were not more specific. Other members and Mayor Tom Bozarth agreed. "It should have been an agreement between all four bodies," Bozarth said.

"At some point we're just gonna have to trust 'em," said Council Member Aaron Hamilton, and Member Charlann Wombles agreed. "This is a really good thing for all of us," she added later.

Bozarth said he had made clear that Midway should have "its own appointment" on the group. "I just wish we would have been approached back in July," when the agreement was first drafted.

Aaron Hamilton (file photo)
Hamilton, as chair of the Streets Committee, reported that the panel is interested in the bid of Wright's Farm Services for snow removal in the city and would like to have the company at the next council meeting. "As I understand it, he would be able to do all the streets in Midway," Hamilton said.

Parts of some narrow streets have not been cleared by the county government, which began charging Midway for snow removal last winter on grounds that the city's classification had been raised to equal that of Versailles, which handles its own snow.

The council also approved a memorandum with the state Division of Forestry for management of trees in the city, primarily in the cemetery; an ordinance confirming that public fire hydrants in the city are to be painted; and a budget amendment, the major difference being money for a previously approved new van for the fire department.

Bozarth reported that three dilapadated homes had been demolished as part of the ongoing effort to reduce blight in the city. "I think we're making progress," he said, adding that he is scheduled to meet this week with county Building & Zoning Inspector Paul Noel to clear up some questions about procedures. Bozarth said he wants reports on each identified property each quarter, "not [every] six months or a year."

Council salutes Midway Nursing Home Task Force

The Midway City Council paid tribute this evening to the Midway Nursing Home Task Force, which 13 years ago began the campaign to bring a nursing home to Midway. "This dream has become a reality because of the dedicated, determined, would-not-take-no-for-an-answer nursing home task force," Mayor Tom Bozarth said, citing the preliminary approval for a federal loan to Christian Care Communities to build a senior residential development that will include nursing facilities. The council passed a resolution naming each of the task-force members, then posed with them for pictures. (Click on image for larger version)
Bozarth (top left in photo) recalled how the task force was asked to raise $12,000 for a feasibility study and raised $16,000; obtained the license for 23 skilled-care beds when the old Versailles hospital closed; obtained a $500,000 community development block grant; made a $160,000 down payment on the site across from Midway College; and donated $10,000 to start the public phase of the fund-raising campaign.

Bozarth said more than $1 million has been raised from more than 600 sources. He said The Homeplace at Midway will employ 42 people and have an annual payroll of $1.7 million, which will generate revenue for the city, but he emphasized that it will enable loved ones and neighbors to have an opportunity for nursing-home care in their home town.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sign of the seasons: Panel to discuss snow removal

The Streets and Lights Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall located to discuss bids for snow removal. The regular city council meeting will follow at 5:30 p.m. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

The Homeplace at Midway comes closer to reality, with additional funding commitments

The long-awaited and sometimes-sidetracked plan to build a community for seniors in Midway has come much closer to reality in the last few weeks, as the developer received a $300,000 challenge grant, local pledges totaling $100,000, and conditional approval for a federal loan to build The Homeplace at Midway.

“This significant new funding support moves us closer to developing the next generation of elder care – a truly person-centered care community – in Midway, fostering the transformation of long-term care in Kentucky,” Dr. Keith Knapp, president and chief executive officer of Louisville-based Christian Care Communities, said in a press release.

Knapp thanked the Mary K. Oxley Foundation of Tulsa for its challenge grant, and the Woodford Health Foundation and Midway Presbyterian Church for their pledges of $50,000 each. He complimented the Rural Development staff of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for guiding his non-profitcompany through the application for a low-interest loan under the Rural Community Facilities Direct Loan Program.

The project needs to raise another $400,000 by the end of the year to take full advantage of the loan's favorable terms, said John Greely, owner of Wintergreen Stallion Station and head of the fund-raising campaign. “We are extremely grateful to the more than 500 individuals, numerous foundations and corporations that have brought us to within reach of the bulldozer arriving on the site,” he said in the release.

The Homeplace at Midway is to be built on 31 acres across from the entrance to Midway College, which will have a cooperative arrangement through its nursing program. The facility is to be Kentucky’s first Green House community, part of "de-institutionalization effort designed to restore individuals to a home in the community by combining small homes with the full range of personal care and clinical services expected in high-quality nursing homes," according to the Green House Project. (Click on illustration for larger version)

"Plans for The Homeplace at Midway include two skilled nursing cottages for 23 residents in need of short-term rehabilitation or long-term care; a 12-bed Memory/Personal Care cottage for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia; and a 12-bed Assisted Living cottage for residents who need periodic assistance with daily living activities," the press release said. "Future plans include the addition of an Adult Day Care program and independent living duplexes to complement the initial resident cottages."

Helen Rentch, chair of the Midway Nursing Home Task Force, said in the press release, “This design moves the whole concept of caring for Older Adults from the established, medical model to an approach that is more residential in scale, honors people’s privacy more appropriately and relies more heavily on the importance of relationships among care givers and recipients. Residents of The Homeplace at Midway will enjoy their own private bedroom and bath while sharing all other areas of the cottage, including the kitchen. It is all designed to promote freedom from the limitations of an institutional schedule.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Council to meet Monday to discuss video project

UPDATE, Sept. 24: The council met with Kerkhoff and made some suggestions but took no action because the Memorandum of Understanding is between the video producer and the Woodford County Fiscal Court. UPDATE, Sept. 25: The issue is on the agenda for Monday's regular council meeting.

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 24, at City Hall to discuss the ​Memorandum of Understanding for production of the Uniquely Woodford promotional video that was discussed at the last regular council meeting. Versailles Council Member Ken Kerkhoff, who is spearheading the project, is scheduled to be present. The council has tentatively agreed to give $1,500 to the project but wants more details. All council meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Officials call festival 'record-breaking;' it looked it!

By Ariel Waldeck
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Another year at the Midway Fall Festival has trailed off into the distance. One of Kentucky's top 20 festivals is now a memory that, for several thousand people, will live on for years to come.

The 38th annual Midway Fall Festival was held Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16, on Main Street. Nearly 100 vendors from Kentucky and neighboring states came to Midway to showcase their wares. The Fall Festival is put on by the Midway Business Association and City of Midway and traditionally brings several thousand people to this Central Kentucky town. These pictures were taken on Sunday during the festival. For a larger version of a photo, click on it.

Someone among the crowd said,” I don’t know what paid for this weather, but it was a good investment.” The sunny day proved to be a one of the deciding factors for those attending the event. “Biggest one I’ve seen,” based on the parking, “which went for blocks in all directions,” said Diane Shepard, assistant city clerk. Mayor Tom Bozarth called it “record-breaking.”


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Council wants details on video, hears audit and news that a major, long-idle property will be developed

Midway officials still want more details before forking over $1,500 for a promotional video for Woodford County, the city has received a favorable audit, and work has begun on a new convenience store and gas station at the Interstate 64 interchange.

Those were the headlines from the regular meeting of the Midway City Council last night.

The council had agreed to support the video project, but wanted more details. Mayor Tom Bozarth said the county was asking for the money, but had left some blanks in its memorandum of understanding with filmmaker Samuel Koltinsky of Marvo Entertainment: the names of three people who "will be providing input on content" and a list of "seven potential on-camera interviewees."

Phil Moloney of Lexington, attorney for the city, wondered if any of the interviewers would be people who would promote Midway. After some discussion, Bozarth asked Moloney to get the details from County Attorney Alan George.

George, who received Moloney's emailed list of nine questions while he was being interviewed by the Midway Messenger this afternoon, said he would refer the questions to Versailles Councilman Ken Kerkhoff, who is spearheading the project. George told the Messenger he did not think the three local consultants had been selected, but said it might make sense to have one each representing Midway, Versailles and the county.

The county is paying $3,500 toward the video's cost of $11,000, and Woodford Tomorrow and the City of Versailles are paying $2,500 each. Woodford Tomorrow's interest is the promotion of the "Uniquely Woodford" brand that it developed for county products and tourism, which the county has adopted and which is to be the theme of the video.

"Everybody's paid but Midway," Bozarth said. "They want their money by tomorrow and they want it all finalized by Friday."

Some of Moloney's questions dealt with the broader Uniquely Woodford branding project. Noting that Bozarth had received "a list of members composing a branding committee," he asked how they were chosen and by whom. He also asked, "What number of members will compose the branding committee, and what limitations will there be by time or length of service, and what involvement will the funding members have in selecting and appointing these representatives or replacements in the future?"

During the meeting, Bozarth endorsed the branding concept, saying, "It's a good idea."

Audit report

Louisville CPA Robert Ryan, the city's outside auditor, presented his audit of city finances for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which ended June 30. He said the city is in a good financial position, with very small liabilities and $2.5 million in assets, not counting the $6.3 million water and sewer system, which has separate finances.

Last year's income to the city's general fund was $93,000 over budget, and the water-sewer system took in $30,000 more than budgeted, Ryan said.

He suggested that the city find another home for its cemetery fund, because fees charged by the Old National Bank in Evansville, Ind., are "on the high side" and have been more than the interest earned by the fund. Bozarth agreed, and said he would like to keep the fund in Kentucky.

The council approved an amended budget for the current fiscal year, reflecting an increase in expected general-fund revenue to $968,257, up from $912,912. On the expense side, the major changes were adding $26,000 to fire expenses for a new van that the council had agreed to buy, and reducing street expenses by $34,000. Bozarth and City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson said state aid money has made up the difference in the street fund.

Other business

In a brief aside at the end of the meeting, Bozarth announced that a bulldozer had started clearing ground on the former Weems property, which lies between I-64, US 421 and KY 341. He said it will be the site of a Shell gas station and convenience store.

The property is owned by Lexington developer Dennis Anderson, who is the prospective re-developer of Midway Station, the failed industrial park on the northeast quadrant of the interchange, across the interstate from the Weems lot. Bozarth said the station will be operated by a company that has stores in one or more Anderson developments in Lexington.

The council delayed second reading and passage of an ordinance changing the colors of the city's fire hydrants because Council Member Charlann Wombles noted that the ordinance didn't refer to the ordinance it would replace. The current ordinance calls for hydrants to be red with black caps; the new one calls for yellow with red caps, thought to be more visible.

Pam Yount gave a progress report on repair and demolition of her family's dilapidated properties and got a favorable reaction from the council.

Bozarth thanked Midway Business Association President Grayson Vandegrift for his hard work that helped make last weekend's Midway fall Festival "a record-breaking event." He said before the meeting that the crowd was the largest ever.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Midway Fall Festival to be held Saturday and Sunday

The 38th annual Midway Fall Festival will be held this weekend, and Mayor Tom Bozarth and Midway Business Association President Grayson Vandegrift promoted it on today's noon-hour news on WLEX-TV, Channel 18.

"There's something for everybody," Vandegrift said, but indicated that the festival is not just about quantity, but also about quality in arts, crafts and food: "We're very selective about vendors we accept."

Bozarth said the event is a big homecoming for former residents: "We have a lot of people who come back to Midway who have moved away, and every year they come back to the Fall Festival."

A recent survey of visitors, residents and business owners found that the festival was clearly the most popular annual event in the Midway area.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Old Smokey (in photo), the steam locomotive of R.J. Corman Railroad, will be on display Saturday. For details on the festival, go to its website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teresa Jones James, Midway native, affirmed in job supervising state government's social services

Midway native and Versailles resident Teresa Jones James has been named commissioner of the state Department for Community Based Services, after serving as acting commissioner since December under appointment from a Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary who has since resigned.

James, the daughter of the late Clyde and Carolyn Jones, had been the department's deputy commissioner since April 2008. She 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.

CHFS Secretary Audrey Haynes, a social worker by trade, said in a press release, “Since my appointment four months ago, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Teresa on many issues related to child protection and family services. She has a true servant’s heart and is committed to the Cabinet’s mission of protecting our most vulnerable children and adults. I am proud to have her serve as our commissioner of DCBS and am pleased she has accepted the challenge.”

DCBS has offices in all 120 counties, an annual budget of about $930 million, and more than 4,000 employees. It provides family support, child care, child and adult protection; makes eligibility determinations for Medicaid and food benefits; and runs the state foster-care and adoption systems. The agency "has been under intense scrutiny from the media and legislature over its handling of child-abuse cases," Beth Musgrave reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "Since James has been interim commissioner, relations between the legislature and the department have started to improve."  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tax rates raised to keep city revenue stable; new, joint city-county fire station is a possibility

By Drew Teague and Cassandra Shouse
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Taxpayers in Midway will be paying 3 cents more per $1,000 of assessed value in taxes on real property after the City Council voted Tuesday evening to raise the tax in order to stabilize the city's revenue in the wake of lower property assessments.

The tax rate on real property will be 10.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from last year’s 10.2 cents per $100. The new rate is designed to generate about the same amount of money from real property as in 2011.

According to the tax calculation sheet given to council members, the value of Midway’s real property, or property that is immovable, such as land and buildings, in 2011 was $99,413,900. This produced revenue of $101,402. For the year 2012, the assessed value of real property decreased by 2.19 percent, or $2,172,500, to $97,241,400. Had the tax rate stayed at 10.2 cents, Midway would have collected $99,186, a 2.1 percent decrease from 2011.

To get approximately the same revenue, the tax rate would have to be 10.4278813 cents per $100, according to the calculation sheet provided by the state Revenue Cabinet. The law requires the rate to be rounded up to the nearest tenth of a cent, resulting in the 10.5 cent rate. The 0.3 cent bump is a 2.9 percent increase in the rate that will produce a 1.94 percent increase in revenue because the rate was rounded up. It is expected to produce $103,269 in revenue.

State law allows the council to raise tax revenue up to 4 percent without being subject to a petition for a referendum on the new rate.

The tax on personal property tax was also raised because of a decrease in assessed value. The rate is now 16 cents per $100, up from 14.5 cents, a 10.3 percent increase in the rate. This is also a compensating but rounded-up rate; the tax will only generate about $1,850 in revenue for the city.

The council approved Mayor Tom Bozarth’s appointments to the new Vacant Property Review Board, created by the new ordinance that will raise tax rates on property that the board rules is blighted and is not fixed up to 75 cents per $100. The board members are Dale Benson, Eddie Hardy and Council Member Doris Leigh.

Council Member Dan Roller questioned Leigh’s appointment, noting that she had voted against the ordinance. Leigh said she did so only because she thought a board member should be both a resident and property owner in the city, “not just a renter.”

County firefighters Thomas Hagan, left, and
Timothy Rader clean a truck Tuesday evening.
New fire station?

Magistrate Larry Craig spoke about renewed hopes for a new Woodford County fire station in the Midway district. He said the existing station stands on the site of an old pond, resulting in flooding whenever there are heavy rains, and the new county fire chief is interested in a new building that both the city and county departments could use.

Craig, who is captain of the county’s Midway unit, said the old sewage plant could be a home for the new fire station. The proposed location is just on the other side of Interstate 64 from the county's existing station.

Bozarth suggested forming a committee to study the issues and make recommendations. Craig said he would take that idea to the county fire board’s next meeting, in early October.

Business survey, donations

Expansion was also on the mind of three master-of-business-administration students from Midway College. Phil Luckett, Ydaisa Gomez, and Srihari Medam, surveyed 123 residents, customers, visitors, and business owners and found that people visited Midway mostly because of its restaurants, with arts and crafts second.

The downside was the respondents thought too many establishments closed earlier, and there was not a lot of available parking. To increase business, the students suggested more parking and store hours that are more in line with those of the restaurants.

Ellen Gregory, chief spokesperson for Midway College, asked the council for $1,000 to support the college’s new lecture and convocation series, which will begin Sept. 13 with a lecture by author Dorothy Moore. To find out more, click here.

The series will also feature the American Spiritual Ensemble and a panel of women athletes to mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which guarantees gender equality in intercollegaite athletics. Council members unanimously agreed to make the donation.

Another program in need of money is Cops for Kids, operated by the Versailles Police Department, which patrols countywide. Officers take underprivileged children in their cruiser to a store to shop. Normally the charity receives money from profits of a haunted house, but this year has no location for it.

Bozarth said six children from Midway were in the program last year, at a cost of about $150 per child, and the police wanted unspecified financial support. However, some council members weren’t sure if they should or could use taxpayers’ money for charitable donations. Arnold suggested that the matter be tabled until the next meeting, Sept. 17, and Bozarth agreed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Author of book on female entrepreneurs to speak

Midway College will host Dr. Dorothy Perrin Moore as she discusses her new book WomenPreneurs: 21st Century Success Strategies Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Anne Hart Raymond Center.

Moore, a graduate of the college, will discuss development of the book and success strategies of the subjects. "Major themes in the book include the nature of the changing workplace, the challenges of organizational life, career strategies, entrepreneurship, home and family balance and tactics for navigating in a turbulent economic climate," a college press release said.

The event is free but registration is required. To register, go to www.midway.edu/events. For more information, contact Ellen Gregory at 859-846-6046 or egregory@midway.edu.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Council passes ordinance on blighted property

The Midway City Council voted 4-2 tonight to enact an ordinance to crack down on blighted properties in the city, a topic of discussion in city government for almost a year.

The "no" votes were cast by Council Members Doris Leigh and Sharon Turner, left, the mayor pro tem. Leigh did not explain her vote, but Turner said she wanted tighter qualifications for the mayor-appointed committee that will review the cases of properties officially identified as blighted.

The ordinance calls for members of the committee to be property owners or residents in the city. Turner said they should be both property owners and residents. In an interview, she said that would prevent non-residents who own property, and residents who do not own property, from sitting in judgment of property owners in the city.

Turner said she was "tickled to death" with the rest of the ordinance, but had received several calls from constituents who saw the committee question as she did. The committee members will serve three-year terms and their appointments are subject to approval by the council.

For a copy of the ordinance, click here. For the nuisance code ordinance, go here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bozarth is on state task force that will start meeting on Thursday to examine alcohol laws

Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth to the Governor’s Task Force on the study of Kentucky's Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws, which will have its first meeting Thursday.

Bozarth represents the Kentucky League of Cities on the task force, which has 22 members and is headed by Public Protection Secretary Robert Vance. It will meet Thursday, Aug. 16, at 1 p.m. in Room 110 of the Capitol.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Council to hear proposed property-tax rates, may pass ordinances on property maintenance

The Midway City Council has a busy agenda for its meeting Monday, Aug. 20 at City Hall: First reading of an ordinance setting tax rates for real estate and personal property, second and probably passage of the ordinances on blighted properties and the nuisance code, a bond issue for the Montessori school in Versailles, and an event permit for the Bourbon Chase.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. All council meetings are open to the public.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Council panel will meet Wed. to discuss billing adjustments, extraterritorial services, parking issue

The Water, Sewer and Garbage Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall to discuss pool adjustments, services outside the city limits and parking issues near Corner Grocery. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blighted properties dominate Mon. council agenda; zoning amendment would apply to microbreweries

The Midway City Council will consider ordinances on nuisances and blighted property, and hear about some individual cases of condemned properties, at its regular meeting Monday evening, July 16.

The draft agenda calls for first reading of Ordinances 2012-006, on elimination of blighted and deteriorated properties, and 2012-007, on enforcement of the Nuisance Code and nuisance-notice appeals. The council reviewed drafts of both ordinances last month.

The substantive business of the meeting is scheduled to begin with an appearance by Lewis and Pam Yount, who were issued a compliance order last month on six properties and are to submit a plan of action at the meeting, according to City Council Member Dan Roller, chairman of the council's Property Maintenance Task Force.

This house at 313 Second St. is not among properties under the compliance
order to but is near one that is (at 327 Second) and was among those reviewed
by the Property Maintenance Task Force. (Photo by Morgan Rhodes)
The Younts told the council last month that they plan to tear down three of the houses and/or sell the lots at 218 N. Winter St., 305 Smith St. (next to Second Christian Church) and a burned house at 306 S. Brand St, next to the old Tococo plant, Roller said in a mass email on June 24. "The three other properties condemned were at 113 Martin St., 209 E. Stephens St. and 309 E. Stephens St. They further stated they must arrange financing and other details."

Roller added, "The council also received a condemnation letter dated June 5, 2012, on 327 Second St., owned by Lion Crest LLC. The owner stated by letter the house would be torn down starting by Aug. 1 and completed by Sept. 1, 2012."

The new business on the council agenda for Monday night includes amendments to the "principal uses" sections of five zoning district regulations sections in the Woodford County Zoning Ordinance: 713.2, neighborhood business; 714.2, central business district; 716.2, highway business district; 717.2, highway interchange; and 718.2, light industrial, all in Article VII of the ordinance. These are to conform to an amendment approved by the county planning commission last month, to make specifications for microbreweries. There has been discussion of the possibility of a microbrewery in Millville, and/or in or near Midway.

UPDATE, Sept. 2: Greg Kocher of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a brewery is being established in Millville.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Council bans open burning, use of fireworks

At a special meeting at noon today the Midway City Council passed am emergency ordinance banning open fires and use of fireworks because of dry conditions caused by the drought. The ordinance will remain in effect until repealed. The ban means there will ne no sparks at the annual Sparks in the Park event at Walter Bradley Park tonight. However, city council candidates are scheduled to speak, so there could be some figurative sparks.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Founder of project to help exploited and abused women and girls in India to speak at Christian Church

Midway residents have an opportunity to learn about the Anchal Project, which helps abused and exploited women and girls in India, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Midway Christian Church.

Colleen Clines, a co-founder of the project, will speak and offer for sale quilts made by women and girls she has helped. Coffee and dessert will be provided.

The quilts will be part of a trunk show at Damselfly Gallery Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1. Marcie Christensen will be on hand to talk about the project.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Francisco's Farm arts festival is this weekend

The annual Francisco's Farm arts festival will be held at Equus Run Vineyards from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The festival is juried, meaning that the 100-plus exhibitors have been approved by a committee of artists, and that has helped it win regional and national recognition. For examples of the art, click here.

Musical entertainment begins at noon Saturday with the Seth Murphy Band, a folk group. Bluegrass, jazz and flamenco fusion groups will also perform. For the entertainment schedule of entertainment and activities for children, click here.

The festival is named for Col. John Francisco, who owned the farm where Midway was founded with the building of Kentucky's first railroad in the mid-1830s. Francisco's Farm is being produced this year by the Lexington Art League, Equus Run and Midway Renaissance. For those groups' contact information, and inquiries about the festival, click here. Sponsors of the event include Midway College, where it was held until last year, and the Midway Business Association. To help with the festival, click here.

Admission to the festival is $10 per vehicle. For more information, go to www.franciscosfarm.org.

UPDATE: Here is the Lexington Herald-Leader's story on the festival.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Woodford Tomorrow adopts vision statement to guide and enhance the county's development

By Al Cross and Alex Ruf
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Woodford Tomorrow, a community improvement organization focusing on economic development and natural resource preservation, adopted its vision statement tonight after almost two years of discussion and work.

"I just think it's amazing," Midway City Council Member Joy Arnold, the group's chair, said after the unanimous vote. "There have been times when we didn't think we would get anyplace."

Woodford Tomorrow is the latest in series of citizen groups that have tried to guide development and preserve the county's rural landscape in the last 40 years, starting with Woodford Save the Land and the Woodford Coalition. Some who were in those groups are in Woodford Tomorrow, but say it is less a preservation group than a strategic development group.

Woodford Tomorrow members at last month's meeting
"We just want Woodford County to succeed," said lawyer Hank Graddy of Midway, a leading preservationist in a county that is one of Kentucky's richest, but lacks assets and amenities that other successful communities have -- such as a hotel, an arts council, a full-time economic developer and a brand to identify the county and attract tourists and investors. All are goals in the vision statement and the summary of the group's analysis of the county's economic clusters.

"We're not saying we're against -- those are things we're for," farmer Hampton "Hoppy" Henton said at last night's meeting. "The whole thing is that we're positive. It's not same old over-my-dead-body" attitude.

The group's statement of purpose says, among other things, "We are pro-business (small, medium and large)" and "We are for eliminating Woodford County's reputation for being 'lawsuit-happy'."

The group has identified many short-term and long-term goals for the county, one that has already surfaced: a "Uniquely Woodford" brand for "destination industries, the arts, value-added agricultural products and all that is uniquely Woodford in the community."

Graddy compared it to the Kentucky Proud brand, which is given to qualified foods and products grown or made in Kentucky. The brand is used to encourage Kentuckians to support Kentucky agri-businesses. The Uniquely Woodford brand will be put on items that are made, grown, or manufactured in Woodford County.

UPDATE, July 6: For a story by Greg Kocher of the Lexington Herald-Leader about the brand, click here

Woodford Tomorrow plans to schedule events promoting the brand. The first event was to be the “Uniquely Woodford Local Food Fair,” April 29 at Equus Run Vineyard, but it had to be rescheduled due to too many conflicts, such as the Kentucky Derby, but likely will be held in the fall, said Woodford Tomorrow member Elizabeth “Libby” Jones. The food fair will feature free food and live music and allow people to meet growers and chefs.

“The simple act of restaurants informing the providers of other products they now purchase outside the county or area will assist the providers in knowing what others lines of products they may be able to sell locally.” said Dan Roller, a Midway City Council member who is supportive of Woodford Tomorrow.

The Woodford Tomorrow vision statement puts strong emphasis on cooperation and collaboration, and the first lines in the purpose statement say "We are a research and fact-finding organization, open to any citizen, organization or company. We strive to provide support and input to city and county officials to help in their decision-making process regarding the betterment of our county."

The group's next steps include taking the vision statement to other groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, to get their comments and support, and then present it to the county Fiscal Court and the city councils of Versailles and Midway. A formal, uniform presentation will be developed by Lori Garkovich, a University of Kentucky rural sociologist who lives in the county and has been active in development issues.

Some members said other groups might not accept the vision statement as a whole, but could list their exceptions. Garkovich said one of the effort's great potentials is that individuals or groups will get excited about individual parts of the plan and make them happen.

The first three decades of battles over development and preservation in Woodford County are chronicled in "Land (and how it gets that way)," a documentary film by Walter Brock, which premiered in 2004. It will next air on KET-KY (the Kentucky channel) at 9 p.m. June 22.

Woodford Tomorrow meets every second Monday in Versailles at the Community Trust Bank at 6 p.m.