Monday, December 23, 2013

New president says college has returned to its values, will explore university status, cooperate with town

By Al Cross and Allan Ducker
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway College will explore university status as part of its new strategic plan and has returned to its faith-based values, new President John P. Marsden said after he was formally inaugurated as the school's 10th president on Nov. 8.

Marsden, who had been serving as president since Feb. 1, emphasized that university status is only something to be explored at this time, but "may more aptly capture the complexity of our mission and our intent to add additional graduate programs as well as to recruit faculty and students internationally."

He said becoming a university would not mean the college’s enrollment would balloon to 10,000, and “We would like to have about 1,700 students by 2017, with a balance of students in the Women’s College and the coeducational graduate and undergraduate programs. He said the college would also add more undergraduate programs, and he wants it to be recognized as “entrepreneurial and forward-thinking.”

The college is the largest employer and taxpayer in Midway. Marsden noted, “The relationship between the city of Midway and the college is a very important one.” He said the return to campus of Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival, announced a few months ago, “is one way to strengthen that relationship.” He said the college would like to consider “a project, maybe a building project, that would serve Midway College and the community of Midway.”

The college Board of Trustees selected Marsden after a six-month national search that ended in November 2012. He and his wife Margaret and son Will relocated from Wilson, N.C. where he served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Barton College.

“John has proven time and time again that we made the right decision,” Donna Moore, chairman of the trustees, said as she introduced Marsden during the installation ceremony in Duthie Auditorium, attended by representatives from 20 colleges and universities and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

“He took over at a time of critical need for the college,” Moore said. “He has brought to the board an accurate picture of the institution, by analyzing data and asking the hard questions: Why are we here? Are we following our mission? And what is the vision for our future?”

Marsden succeeded Dr. William Drake, a former minister whom trustees asked to resign after the college’s plan for a pharmacy school in Paintsville ran aground, at considerable expense. Marsden laid off 26 faculty and staff during the summer, citing an 18 percent decline in enrollment, to 1,362.

Moore said Mardsen “has worked diligently to get our house in order” to balance the college’s budget and get it ready for reaccreditation in 2015. “There have been many long, tough days and nights since John arrived in February,” she said. “The institution has come to realize a lot of things about itself, and adjustments have been made. . . . Through all of this, he has been open and transparent.”

Marsden thanked several people, including Mira Ball, who served as interim chair of the trustees when Marsden was being considered. He joked that his first two calls to Ball came during a University of Kentucky basketball game: “I’m not originally from Kentucky, but I think we learned that you have to check the basketball schedule before you make any calls.” As the audience chuckled, Marsden added, “She did take my call, but it was halftime.” Ball is a UK trustee.

Marsden recognized several faculty, staff, and students to highlight why Midway College exists and the faith-based values on which it was founded. He said that in recent years, the college had “lost sight” of its values. “In the last few months, we have reintroduced those values,” he said, “because they should drive the culture of our organization.”

He cited a recent study showing that “faith-based institutions that emphasize their values” are more likely to promote civic engagement and service. Marsden said those values, and the new strategic plan, would shape the future of the college.

Marsden said that at the end of the day, the goal of Midway College is to “provide students with a foundation to grow and positively contribute to society as leaders and informed citizens.” 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Midway College's interim chief financial officer gets job of vice president for business affairs, starting Jan. 2

Mark Wadlington
Mark Wadlington is the new vice president of business affairs and chief financial officer at Midway College, effective Jan 2. He has been interim CFO since August 2013. He is a certified public accountant, and was a partner with Ray, Foley, Hensley & Co. after operating his own firm, which focused on providing interim CFO services.

Wadlington succeeds Lyen Crews, who resigned to accept a finance position with eCampus online textbooks in Lexington and run, unsuccessfully, as the Republican nominee for state representative in a special election this summer.

"We are pleased Mark is joining our executive leadership team," President John P. Marsden said in a press release. "Mark brings strategic thinking, a collaborative style, great attention to detail, and a combination of integrity, gravitas, and humaneness to the position. He is working diligently to help us implement best practices in our business office and in other areas across campus and prepare for our upcoming reaffirmation visit from our accrediting body."

Wadlington said in the release, "I quickly came to love this place, its people, and the mission of the institution and I look forward to helping chart its future to serve the next generation of students."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Community Christmas tree says 'Happy holidays'

Midway's community Christmas tree was lit Wednesday evening with the help of WLEX-TV's Melissa Nord and "local Midway celebrity Buddy Johnson," as Mayor Tom Bozarth put it in his column in today's Woodford Sun. "It is the best decorated tree to date, and thanks to Assistant City Clerk Diane Shepard for her efforts."

The Community Journalism class that has done stories for the Midway Messenger this semester had its last meeting at the same time as the lighting, so we were unable to attend. Another, larger class will begin in January. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone in Midway! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas tree lighting, related events tonight at 6:15

The community Christmas tree and Main Street will look much different this evening. Singing is scheduled to start at 6:15 and the tree lighting is set for 6:30.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas tree lighting postponed until Wednesday

The annual Christmas tree lighting on Main Street, scheduled for this evening, has been postponed "due to the advice of our meteorologist," Mayor Tom Bozarth announced this morning. "The weather is going to be better on Wednesday. We will start with singing at 6:15 and the lighting will be at 6:30. Sorry for any inconvenience but the safety of our citizens and guests are paramount."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Downtown's annual Christmas Open House is a joy for children, parents and merchants

Children and parents waited at the wall along the tracks for Santa's arrival by R.J. Corman Railroad train.
Story and photos by Jill Novak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Click on an image to view a larger version.

The sun and spirits were bright Saturday, as children and parents eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus at Midway’s annual Christmas Open House.

Santa, who arrived by train at 11 a.m., greeted the spectators as they gathered around the tracks dividing Main Street. “Jingle Bells” echoed throughout downtown, as the crowd clapped and cheered, joining to sing Christmas carols.

Once Santa exited the caboose, parents and children were allowed to take self-guided tours of the train and take family pictures.

For Ben and Sheena Roller and their daughter Olivia, below, Santa is the best part about coming to the open house.

“This is our second year coming and we had so much fun getting to ride on the train with Santa,” Ben Roller said.

For Midway resident Ken McDaniel, who said he looks forward to bringing his family to the open house every year, “The best part is the train, the kids really like the train.”

More excitement took place at Santa’s Workshop, which was located in the Midway Auction House at the low end of Gratz Street. Aside from eating cookies and making crafts with elves, children lined up outside the door to get a chance to tell Santa what was on their Christmas list. Flashes of light filled the room as proud parents took pictures of their kids sitting on Santa’s lap.

For the merchants of Midway, the open house was a chance to show off their selections and talents. Scott Skidmore, owner of the Midway Whistlestop, showcased his handcrafted Christmas ornaments by setting up tables in front of his store where people could purchase the items and even have them engraved. “We’ve been doing craft shows for about 10 years and this is our first year at the open house,” said Skidmore.

Walking through downtown, people also lined up for carriage rides and all the homemade kettle corn they could eat.

Midway resident Sarah Wilson and her daughter Emily said they enjoyed their first trip to the open house and will definitely be back next year.

“We went shopping and got an ornament to commemorate Emily’s first trip,” said Wilson, below, “and we’re just having a great day walking around and seeing our friends.”

Even after the carriage rides stopped at 3 p.m., people continued to shop and eat at their favorite restaurants as they enjoyed the crisp, sunny weather.

Mayor Tom Bozarth declared this year’s Christmas Open House a success and a “Chamber of Commerce Day in Midway, with the weather.” He singled out the Midway Merchants Association president, a city council member who runs the 815 Prime restaurant, and the owner of the Celtic Trends store for credit: “Kenny Smith, Grayson Vandegrift and Claire Parisol had things well organized.”

Woman's Club building poses legal issues for city; committee meeting canceled again

The City of Midway may have to file a friendly lawsuit to resolve questions about the Midway Woman's Club building, which the Woman's Club wants to give to the city under the terms of the 1952 bequest that gave the club the house at 230 N. Gratz St.

City Attorney Phil Moloney told the city council Monday night that the bequest provided that if the building was not maintained, it would go to the city in perpetual trust as a place for community gatherings. Moloney said the law does not allow a bequest to impose an obligation on the city, so he said the council should consider filing a friendly suit against the club and the unknown heirs of the woman who made the bequest, so it could take possession of the property, sell it and use the proceeds for the intended purpose -- perhaps to improve the upstairs of City Hall to provide meeting space.

"As I understand it, the City of Midway is not interested in taking over that house," because it would need improvements and upkeep, Moloney said. Council Member Dan Roller said the city has many more meeting places than it did in 1952, and "There's a lot of different needs in the community." After Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said he doubted that anyone would buy the building for use as a home, Roller noted that it has no shower or bath.

Mayor Tom Bozarth said the next move is up to the Woman's Club, which might be able to locate heirs who could inherit the property if a court modified the deed.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the special committee Bozarth named to study the idea of accepting the building has been canceled again. It had been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. No new date has been announced.

Iron Horse date set, financial authority debated

Among other business, the council agreed to set Oct. 12 as the date for the next Iron Horse Half Marathon. Organizer Chuck Griffis said the Bourbon Chase relay race, which has been going through Midway and is expected to again, will conclude the previous day.

As the meeting was about to adjourn, Council Member Bruce Southworth made a motion that council approval be required for any unbudgeted expenses exceeding $1,000. He cited the recent auditor's report, which recommended that a limit be placed on purchase orders that the mayor can sign on his own.

Bozarth said, "Any large items we don't budget for would be brought before the council." Southworth asked, "Would it be that much of a burden?" Bozarth replied, "It must be a burden for you," and clarified what the auditor had recommended. Southworth responded, "I would just like to know where the money's at." Southworth joined the council in January and has raised several financial issues at council meetings.

Vandegrift said he could see the value of a limit on one-signature purchase orders, but "I don't want to impose on Tom." After more discussion, during which Southworth's motion was not seconded, Bozarth said he thought the motion was out of order, and said he would refer the issue to "the finance committee." Vandegrift, who also joined the council in January, asked, "We don't have a finance committee, do we?" Bozarth said he was referring to "Sharon's committee," the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee, chaired by Council Member Sharon Turner.

Finally, the council adopted a motion by Council Member Aaron Hamilton to cancel the regular council meeting scheduled for Dec. 16. That makes the council's next regular meeting Jan. 6. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. on first and third Mondays.

Monday, December 2, 2013

City council committee considering Woman's Club building resets its meeting

UPDATE: This meeting has been canceled. The special City Council committee appointed by Mayor Tom Bozarth to look at the Midway Woman's Club building and consider accepting it as a donation to the city will meet at the building at 230 S. Gratz Street on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. No action will be taken, according to the notice from City Hall. This meeting had been scheduled last week and was postponed.