Saturday, March 29, 2014

WinStar Farm's Constitution wins Florida Derby by head; Brereton Jones' Albano fourth in Louisiana Derby

WinStar Farm's three-year-old Constitution cut through on the inside and won a thrilling stretch battle with Wildcat Red to win the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park by a head today and put himself very much into contention for the Kentucky Derby.

Constitution, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano over a mile and an eighth, has now won three of three races after not racing as a 2-year-old. The favorite (and Lexington Herald-Leader Derby favorite) Cairo Prince finished fourth, behind General a Rod. Constitution paid $8.60, $4.20 and $3.60.

In the Louisiana Derby, Brereton Jones' Albano finished fourth as Vicar's in Trouble, the 3-1 second favorite, easily upset 9-5 favorite Intense Holiday, which ran second. Vicar's in Trouble is owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey of Nicholasville, who won more money than any other owner in 2013 and are leading this year's standings, and was ridden by Rosie Napravnik.

Albano was fifth past the finish line, but after a stewards' inquiry swapped final places with In Trouble, which bumped him going into the final turn, so obviously that it was noted by the track announcer during the race. Albano started from the outside post position, No. 10, with Kerwin Clark aboard. They started at 9-2 and went off at 7-1. For the Equibase chart, click here.

Moving up to fourth not only won Jones $40,000 instead of $20,000, it enabled Albano to get 10 more points in Churchill Downs' tiered point system for entering horses in the Kentucky Derby if more than the limit of 20 are entered. Vicar's In Trouble picked up 100 points, for a new total of 120. Intense Holiday got 40 points for second, raising him to 93. Wildcat Red and General a Rod picked up 40 and 20, respectively, with their second- and third-place finishes in Florida, raising them to 90 and 40, respectively. After today, Albano has 34 points and Cairo Prince has 24.

Albano is trained by Larry Jones, no relation to the owner of Airdrie Stud, west of Midway. Albano had finished second by a nose to Intense Holiday in last month's 1 1/16-mile Risen Star Stakes, also at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, after leading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Midway-area resident wins ruling against eminent domain for proposed natural-gas-liquids pipeline

By Kayla Pickrell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A judge ruled Tuesday, in a lawsuit involving a Midway-area resident, that a proposed natural-gas-liquids pipeline does not have the right to enforce eminent domain on Kentucky landowners.

Bluegrass Pipeline Co. “remains free to build its pipeline by acquiring easements from willing property owners,” Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said in his ruling. “However, Bluegrass cannot invoke the sovereign power of eminent domain to threaten or intimidate, or even suggest to landowners who have no desire to sell, that Bluegrass has the right to take their property without their consent.”

Penny Greathouse (Photo by Natasha Khan, PublicSource)
Bluegrass said it would appeal and said it has not tried to invoke condemnation power.

Penny Greathouse, who lives in the Scott County part of the Midway postal area, and also owns property in the Franklin County part, said in an affidavit that she talked to a representative of the pipeline four times and he stated that the company has the right to eminent domain but would rather not use it. The representative said in an affidavit that he only referred to a news report of another representative saying that.

Greathouse said Wednesday, “It’s nice now that you as a landowner have the prerogative to say 'no, you can’t be on my property.' People have a clearer feeling of knowing that they are not being forced to sell their property.

“I think a lot of people would have said no a long time ago had this been done prior to.”

Greathouse said she is the only board member of Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain, the group that filed the suit, to be approached by the pipeline.

Her property is located along Woodlake Road and was on the initial route for the proposed pipeline. Bluegrass was asking her to give it an easement on seven of her 700 acres to place a 24-inch pipeline under the rocky terrain and among some of the numerous lakes on the property, she said.

After she declined the company’s offer, it has moved the route so that it bypasses her farm and goes through one owned by Greathouse Farms LLC, a company owned by her husband, Teddy Greathouse. Bluegrass Pipeline argued that since her property was no longer at issue, she lacked standing for KURED to sue on her behalf.

Sign in New Haven reflects apparent views
of many landowners in Greater Midway.
Shepherd rejected that argument, saying the route could be changed again, and “More importantly, the location of a pipeline carrying highly dangerous and toxic chemicals on the adjoining property gives Ms. Greathouse a continuing real and and substantial interest in adjudicating Bluegrass’ legal right to utilize eminent domain to obtain an easement from her neighbors.”

“I was kind of thinking that they would bury this in the court system and we would never hear from it again,” Greathouse said.

Shepherd ruled that for a pipeline to have the right of eminent domain, it must be “in public service,” as mentioned in state law. He noted that the company admitted that it is not a public utility, and said it would not be servicing Kentuckians in any way.

Bluegrass argued that it would be a common carrier in public service, because manufacturing plants along its route to the Gulf Coast could tap into the line for its products. It noted that a Calvert City chemical plant had reached an agreement with Bluegrass to do that.

Bluegrass also cited a state law giving eminent domain to pipeline companies “transporting or delivering oil or gas, including oil and gas products . . . .”

Shepherd said that when “oil and gas products” were added to the law in 1992, the legislature also required gas companies “to provide services to landowners whose property was used for pipelines,” and be regulated by the state Public Service Commission.

UPDATE, March 28: The Kentucky Oil and Gas Association criticized that part and other aspects of Shepherd's ruling. For a PDF of the statement, click here.

Shepherd was the state secretary of natural resources and environmental protection in 1992. He said the power of eminent domain in a democracy “cannot be delegated to private parties without a clear legislative mandate that such a delegation is in the public interest.”

Shepherd said the threat of eminent domain has a “real and immediate bargaining impact” on landowners. Factors such as legal expenses against the company play a role in whether a landowner gives an easement to the company. “Landowners who do not wish to sell, but who may be unable to finance a legal challenge, are entitled to know that the law does not support Bluegrass’ assertion of the power of eminent domain,” Shepherd wrote.

Bluegrass representative Joe Hollier told the Midway Messenger in an email last month, “We have purchased easements for approximately two-thirds of the route in Kentucky. “We have not used or threatened to use eminent domain to secure easements for the project.”

The company is seeking easements from landowners in about a dozen counties. Based on easements recorded with county clerks, it appears to have had more success in Scott and Anderson than in Woodford and Franklin. As of last month, only one easement was recorded in Woodford and two in Franklin.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas liquids are “used as inputs for petrochemical plants, burned for space heat and cooking, and blended into vehicle fuel.” NGLs can be ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and pentane.

The pipeline would transfer the liquids from shale-gas fields in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Louisiana, reversing the flow of an existing line that runs from Louisiana to Hardinsburg, Ky.

College faces lawsuits from fired faculty, injured student

By Bridget Slone
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Two lawsuits were filed against Midway College within days of each other this month, one by seven former faculty members, the other by a former student.

The faculty lawsuit was filed March 11 by Lexington attorney Debra Ann Doss on behalf of Richard Berry, 61; Eric Bolland, 66; Stephen Clark, 65; Francis Fletcher, 61; Teresa Isaac, 58; Wendy Hoffman, 57; and Saleem Mirza, 52. It accuses the college of age discrimination and breach of contract.

The lawsuit contends that the faculty members had extensive experience and qualifications in the areas they were assigned to teach and had received positive evaluations, but at the time of their contract terminations, the college hired people who were “substantially” younger than them and were lesser qualified in terms of “experience and/or education” to perform assignments they were performing, or were eligible to perform.
The suit says all seven were presented with annual contracts of employment in May 2013 for positions as full-time faculty members for the 2013-14 academic school year. However, in September, the seven received letters from the college informing them that “due to alleged financial hardships” it was terminating its contract on the grounds of lack of “available funding,” the suit says.

The college said in September that it had terminated about 12 faculty members’ contracts and suspended contributions to faculty members’ retirement accounts in order to balance its annual budget after suffering an 18 percent decline in enrollment.

The members dispute the college’s stance, citing multiple grounds. All seven taught in the School of Business, which “as of September, 2013, was, and had been for years, the division with the highest enrollment and which provided a positive cash flow for Midway College,” the lawsuit states.

They also argue that the college had $5.7 million in temporarily restricted assets that could be used for any purpose, along with unspecified “substantial assets” from which funds could have been derived to satisfy the college’s contractual obligations.

The lawsuit alleges that the college “violated the express provisions of its own Faculty Handbook” by failing to avoid premature terminations of the contracts by not pursuing less drastic measures. It says the college “violated its own written procedures for reduction in force, and its duty of good faith pursuant to its contracts with Plaintiffs, by failing to consider seniority, special skill and abilities, and job performance” as well as not involving the faculty in any discussions pertaining to their alleged financial hardship.

The suit also alleges that the college violated its “reduction in force procedures” by terminating Clark and Mirza’s appointments immediately without the minimum 30 days’ notice.

Hoffman, who was a full-time faculty member, had also served as the college’s athletic director for seven years, according to the lawsuit. The position was converted to full-time in fall 2013 and although Hoffman applied, the college hired a significantly younger, less qualified individual, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary compensation for lost wages and benefits as well as embarrassment, humiliation and, emotional and psychological distress.

Student lawsuit

Amanda Wagner, a former Midway College student, filed suit against the school March 13, alleging that an instructor’s April Fool’s Day joke caused her severe and permanent injuries.

According to the suit, on April 1, 2013, Wagner was in a horse riding class taught by head dressage coach Mandy Alexander, who decided to play an April Fool’s Day joke on her students, saying all of them must either tell a joke or “walk, trot and canter on their respective mounts without stirrups.”

The suit says Wagner told Alexander that she had never cantered without stirrups and she did not feel comfortable attempting it, but Alexander restated to Wagner that she could either do that or tell a joke, and Wagner eventually followed Alexander’s instruction and rode without stirrups on a horse named “Dutch.”

The suit tells the rest of the story this way: Wagner “had no problems holding her balance while she was walking, trotting and even cantering on Dutch.” However, when Alexander signaled to Wagner that she had done well enough and that she could stop, the horse sped up. Alexander then told Wagner to “sit up tall” and when Wagner followed the instruction, the horse started galloping, and when Wagner and Dutch rounded a turn close to the gate, Wagner fell off the horse.

The suit alleges that due to Alexander’s negligence Wagner suffered severe and permanent injuries, including a fractured pelvis and injuries to her lower back.

The suit, filed by attorneys David and Seth Thomas of Nicholasville, asks for unspecified monetary compensation for Wagner’s current and future medical expenses as well as her emotional and physical suffering.

Ellen Gregory, the college's vice president for marketing and communications, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

State House passes bill to bar condemnation by natural-gas-liquid pipelines; Senate appears unlikely to go along

UPDATE, March 26: A Franklin County judge ruled yesterday, in a suit involving a Midway-area resident, that the Bluegrass Pipeline does not have the power of eminent domain. Pipeline representatives say they will appeal. A story will appear on the Messenger later today.

Bluegrass Pipeline map of proposed route
The state House passed a bill Friday to deny the power of eminent domain to pipelines carrying natural-gas liquids, including the Bluegrass Pipeline proposed through the northwestern part of the Midway ZIP code area in Woodford, Franklin and Scott counties.

However, the Senate appears unlikely to pass the bill because so little time remains in the legislative session, which is supposed to end March 31 except for reconsideration of any bills vetoed by the governor.

Senate President Robert Stivers "said any bill just now getting passed out of its first chamber faces challenges with less than 10 days left in the session," Greg Hall reports for The Courier-Journal. Passing such a major bill this late "appears to be more of a camouflaging effort than a true effort to have a discussion on policy," Stivers told Hall. As the session began, Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, questioned whether the legislature had any authority over interstate pipelines.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would run from shale-gas fields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, through Ohio and Kentucky to an existing pipeline at Hardinsburg, then reverse the flow of that line to the Gulf Coast. The Ohio portion of the pipeline has already been built without any condemnation through eminent domain, Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, sponsor of the bill, said during Friday's debate.

Tilley said the Williams Companies and Boardwalk Bluegrass Partners, which are building the line, have told Bluegrass landowners that if they don't grant easements for the line through their property, the companies could use eminent domain to use their land for the route. He said the legislature never intended to give such power to gas-liquids pipelines, which serve the chemical industry and other manufacturers, not retail customers.

Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, said "It's a bill about the big guy versus the little guy," and corporations wanting to use government power to make money. "I would have no objection to that if there was a public service or public use by the citizens of Kentucky." The state Eminent Domain Act requires pipelines to be "in public service" to have condemnation power.

Tilley, right, said natural-gas liquids pose greater risks in case of leaks, and "Landowners should not be burdened with those risks, at least not through a taking" of property rights by way of official authority.

The bill's main Republican co-sponsor, Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown, said the bill would not stop the pipeline; "They'll just have to deal with the landowners from an equal position."

The bill passed 75-16, but the critical vote was the House's 44-47 rejection, largely along party lines, of an amendment that would have removed sections making the bill retroactive to Jan. and effective upon signature by Gov. Steve Beshear, who has said he favors it. Tilley said the provisions are needed to keep condemnation lawsuits from being filed before the bill takes effect.

The amendment's sponsor, newly elected Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, said "Maybe there will be a rush to the courthouse," but noted that there hasn't been one yet.

In response to a question from Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, a co-sponsor of the bill, Miles said, "There's every possibility this bill could kill the Bluegrass Pipeline project" if it can't get the easements it needs. "Basically, we're saying our state's not open for business." Tilley said he wasn't trying to kill the project.

A Republican who voted for the amendment and for the bill, Rep. John "Bam" Carney of Campbellsville, said after the first vote that he would be willing to grant an easement for such a pipeline, but after seeing the effects of a recent gas-pipeline explosion at Knifley, in his district, he wants to make sure landowners have the right to keep it off their property.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Plat filed for McDonald's restaurant at I-64; developer says it would be key to getting the big prize, a hotel

Getty Images photo via BusinessWeek
McDonald's appears to be coming to Midway.

A plat including a McDonald's restaurant, to be built in the Green Gables development on the former Weems property at the southeast corner of the Interstate 64 interchange, was reviewed Monday by the Technical Review Committee of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission.

Dennis Anderson of Lexington, developer of the property and potential developer of Midway Station across the interstate, has been trying to attract the world's leading food-service retailer to the site for some time.

UPDATE, March 21: "The McDonald's deal is still in preliminary phases. There isn't anything solid yet," Anderson said, but he also sounded hopeful. He said McDonald's had turned him down twice, but he kept asking and is now moving in the right direction. "They're a big bureaucracy," he said. "Them and Walgreens are the best real-estate companies in the world."

Anderson said he has been aiming for "big brands" that say "This is a for-real location" that can attract a hotel. He said the McDonald's would be corporate-owned, which is a stronger vote of confidence in the location than a franchised store.

Anderson said the long-announced Subway restaurant should start going up at Green Gables soon, because the franchisee secured financing last week. The approved plat for the property has spaces for two restaurants, two small retail stores, a hotel and a gasoline/convenience store, which opened several months ago.

Mayor Tom Bozarth said the coming of McDonald's "would be a good thing for the development," and will help attract a hotel, one of his primary goals for development of the town. A hotel is also a goal of the county Chamber of Commerce, which has little tourism-promotion money because such funds come from a tax on room rentals and the county only has bed-and-breakfast lodging.

Bozarth said the presence of a McDonald's wouldn't hurt Midway's substantial restaurant business, and may attract some interstate travelers to downtown who would not have come if not for stopping at the restaurant.

City Council Member Grayson Vandegrift, who operates the 815 Prime restaurant and tavern, said "It doesn't bother me as a restaurateur because I don't think we compete with each other at all." But he also said, "I'd love it if fast food never came to Midway. . . . I don't particularly love the idea, but I don't think it's going to take away from the charm of downtown."

Council Member Sharon Turner, who like Vandergrift is running for mayor to succeed Bozarth, said that when the restaurant opens, "Our seniors will have a place to go that they can grab something quick." She also said it would make Midway Station more attractive by offering a nearby restaurant to employees of industries or businesses that might locate there. A rezoning request is pending to revert 37 acres of Midway Station to industrial, from residential.

County Planning Director Pattie Wilson said McDonald's relationship to the property was revealed during the meeting by Robert Saylor, a consulting engineer for Anderson, when he said he would have to check with the company about her recommendation that the entrance to the restaurant lot also be an exit to allow people staying at the hotel to return to it without having to go to Leestown Road and turn around. The planning commission is scheduled to consider approval of the amended plat at its April 10 meeting.

On the portion of the proposed amended plat at right, the McDonald's lot is marked with bold boundary lines and a handwritten number 2. The entrance/exit at issue is marked with a handwritten arrow. The Subway lot is just to the north, across from the hotel lot. (Click image for larger version)

The location is about 9.5 miles from McDonald's in Frankfort, Georgetown and Versailles. The map below of McDonald's locations, created through a search for Midway on the company's website, appears to be based on a 10-mile driving distance from Midway and thus does not show more distant McDonald's in west Frankfort and at the Newtown Pike interchange in north Lexington.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Council hears plans, pleas from Francisco's Farm; votes to seek state loan to replace Higgins Street water lines

By Caleb Oakley and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Changes to the Francisco’s Farm arts festival, such as its admission price, location and quality of the art, were outlined in Monday’s Midway City Council meeting.  Council members also discussed replacing water lines on Higgins Street and an ordinance for adjustments to bills in case of water leaks.

Francisco's Farm was last held at Midway College in 2010.
Jon Maybriar, a member of the Francisco’s Farm planning committee, updated the council on the festival, which he said is in “a new phase.” This year’s festivities will be free, will be held about five weeks earlier to avoid hot weather, and after three years at Equus Run Vineyards will return to Midway College.

“They, I think, are more excited about having us back than us going out there,” Maybriar said. “It just couldn’t be a better relationship working with them.”

Francisco’s Farm will transpire May 17-18, the same weekend as the Art in the Park festival in Versailles, a one-day occasion on Saturday, May 17.  Only Francisco’s Farm is juried, which means the artists’ works were judged and approved by a jury in order to appear.

The jury accepted 93 of the 153 artists who applied, and almost 70 are coming, said Maybriar and Council Member Sara Hicks, president of Midway Renaissance, which sponsors the event.

“We raised the bar on the quality of the artists,” said Maybriar. “We wanted it to be a little better quality than where it’s maybe slipped in the last couple of years. If we don’t have as many artists, that’s by design. . . . We’re really trying to make sure the quality is there, and meets the expectation of people who come to a fine arts show.”

The festival will no longer charge $10 a car for parking. Making it free “really turns it back to the community,” Maybriar said. “It’s the community’s event.”

Maybriar said he was seeking both in-kind and financial contributions from the city, but acknowledged that his request for money was on short notice. The city has a little more than three months left on its current budget.

Mayor Tom Bozarth didn’t reply directly to the request for financial aid, but asked Maybriar to list only the in-kind help he would like from city employees, and when he would need it. He asked him to avoid weekend work, which incurs overtime. Maybriar said the tear-down of booths on Sunday will take less time that the set-up on Friday.

Maybriar also articulated the need for volunteers to serve on committees, design posters and banners, and to help set up and tear down. He asked the council to put an appeal for volunteers on water bills, and after the council agreed, Bozarth said that would be done on the bills going out in late April.

The festival’s notice in last week’s Woodford Sun said volunteers will also be needed to direct traffic, drive golf carts, deliver water to artists, occupy booths while artists take breaks, and provide information at entrances.

“We’re open to a lot of new volunteers coming back home again,” Maybriar said, adding that homecoming is “sort of a theme” for the 2014 festival.

Maybriar gave the council his phone number, 948-3621, so anyone interested in helping with Francisco’s Farm could contact him. Volunteer coordinator Mary Penn is at 699-9894. Maybriar said people can also volunteer online at www.FranciscosFarm.org.

Construction projects, other issues discussed

Chris Stewart of HMB Engineers, a consultant to the city, announced Midway is eligible for a federal-state loan to replace water lines on Higgins Street.  The Kentucky Infrastructure Authority would loan Midway $198,000 at a 2.75 percent, repayable over 20 years.  That would cost the average city water customer an extra $1.43 per month, council members said after the meeting.

The council voted to submit the application, which is due April 14, with the assurance by Stewart that they would still have time to decide whether to accept it. The KIA would not bring the project to its board until June 2014 and the city would not have to bid on construction until June of 2015.

“I think this would be good for the city,” Bozarth said after the council meeting. Stewart said during the meeting that the council might also want to do some drainage work on Higgins Street during the construction to avoid tearing up the street and yards twice.

The council voted to allow Vanhook Enterprises of Somerset, which won the contract to build a wheelchair ramp on Main Street, to use three parking spaces for equipment and materials. Stewart said Vanhook will begin mobilizing its equipment this week and start construction Monday, March 24. The company would need to do this to meet its completion date of April 23, followed by stone facing by Renner Construction, which would finish by May 7, he said.

Stewart said Renner had hoped to use its bond for the recently completed Gratz Street project for the ramp work, but was unable to that, and wanted the council to reimburse its bonding fee of $100. The council agreed, raising Renner’s total contract price to $5,600.

The council spent considerable time discussing a proposed water bill adjustment ordinance.  The current ordinance allows individuals to seek reimbursement from the city in the case of a water leak, but only by reducing the sewer charge, which is based on water usage.  The proposed ordinance would allow those outside the city limits who are not on city sewer to request an adjustment.

Council members were on board with the idea of an adjustment, but disagreed over whether to also give a discount on water bills. They tentatively decided against such a discount, and asked city attorney Phil Moloney to draft the ordinance accordingly. For details of the discussion, see the video below.

The council unanimously voted to repeal and replace an ordinance prohibiting business after midnight except at restaurants and private clubs, which are regulated by another ordinance. The new ordinance expands the exemption to include the Interstate Service Business (B-5) zone, so the new Shell station and convenience store at Interstate 64 now complies with city law, according to Council Member Sharon Turner.

Bozarth announced that he would deliver his proposed budget to the council on April 7, and that the council would hold budget work sessions April 14 and 28 at 9 a.m. at City Hall. The council will have regular meetings April 7 and 21.

Here is a video of the council meeting:

Internet access for videostreaming provided by Verizon Wireless MiFi

Monday, March 17, 2014

Woodford Humane Society starts its 40th year March 25

The nonprofit Woodford Humane Society is celebrating its 39th birthday on Tuesday, March 25. The society cares for more than 1,000 animals a year and depends on donations, adoption fees and sales of items such as its limited-edition calendar, right, to do its work. In addition to monetary donations, it also accepts such items as dog toys and treats, collars and leashes and cleaning supplies. For more information call 859-873-5491 or go to www.woodfordhumanesociety.org.

Monday, March 10, 2014

As winter breaks, Midway Merchants hear plans for new, revived and revised events for the rest of the year

By Brian Bouhl and Dylan Russell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The temperature is rising, the snow is melting, and as the Bluegrass began to break out of its winter hibernation, the Midway Merchants Association discussed some of the year’s many upcoming events at its monthly meeting last Wednesday.

The members discussed events in every season, near and far from this week’s awakening -- including summer’s Uniquely Woodford Weekend featuring the popular Francisco’s Farm art festival and Art in the Park; spring’s Beaten Biscuit Workshop; and a fall quilt show at Midway College.

May promises to be of one of the biggest weekends of the year in Midway and Woodford County, as the area’s two biggest art fairs will take place side-by-side May 17 and 18. Francisco’s Farm usually takes place in late June, but artists and patrons have said the weather is too hot then.

The schedule originally worried some who thought that the events might hurt each other’s attendance, but they agreed to co-promote under the county's new Uniquely Woodford brand, hoping to get visitors to attend and enjoy both events. The events will share a Uniquely Woodford Art Weekend promotional brochure, suggested by Midway City Council Member Sara Hicks, president of Midway Renaissance, the main sponsor of Francisco's Farm.

Hicks said in an email interview that Council Member Dan Roller, a member of the planning committee, searched online for schedule conflicts and had been unaware of Art in the Park's schedule. When the conflict became known, "I suggested creating a Uniquely Woodford Art Weekend event. I contacted Margie and Julie Buchanon of Art in the Park to suggest our joining as a single Woodford County promotion entity," she wrote. "We met and agreed to share with our boards and committees our idea to partner. They approved and we are now in the thick of creating posters, bookmarks and signage to promote ourselves under the Uniquely Woodford logo."

Francisco's Farm was last held at Midway College in 2010
Helen Rentch, head of the Midway Nursing Home Task Force, said at the merchants' meeting, “That was challenging, but it’s been turned into a positive. It should be a good time for people to be coming through Midway as well as the whole county.”

Merchants are looking forward to the return of Francisco’s Farm to the college campus after three years at Equus Run Vineyards, three and a half miles east of town.

Association member and Midway City Council Member Grayson Vandegrift was also pleased with the collaborative promotion effort. “I thought they did a good job with digging that out,” he said. “I think it could be a real positive in the long run.”

The merchants discussed how they can draw people to the festival, including using signage and having specials and samples at some of the Midway restaurants. The festival features many different artists and food vendors, who will be announced soon, according to the festival website. Admission woill be $10 per carload.

Spring will see the renaissance of an old treasure in Midway, with the Beaten Biscuit Workshop April 5 at Midway Christian Church. The workshop, put on by the Midway Nursing Home Task Force and sponsored by Holly Hill Inn and the Weisenberger Mill, will tell the unique story of beaten biscuits and feature demonstrations on how to make them.

“They are traditional Southern food, especially traditional to Kentucky,” Rentch said. “They’ve truly died out. This is an effort to have a resurgence. It is a tradition and there seemed to be an epicenter here in Midway; everyone here knew and made them.” Midway “master beaten biscuit maker” Charles Logan will show attendees how to make the biscuits with his collection of hand and electric machines.

The event will be free of charge, but donations will be accepted for The Homeplace at Midway, the senior-living community being built across from the college.

The biggest annual event in Midway is the Fall Festival, which is set for Sept. 20-21 this year, but this year’s fall calendar will have another one that organizers hope will be big.

Rentch announced that she is reviving, revising and moving her annual quilt show, which wasn't held last year. It will be held at Midway College Nov.14-15, instead of the Old Depot restaurant building at the start of the Christmas season, and will have two segments: a quilt registry where older quilts will be photographed, documented and archived, and the actual show.

In the past, the event was called Homeplace Day because it was a fund-raiser for The Homeplace at Midway, and it will continue to benefit the senior-living community being built across Stephens Street from the college. Rentch said organizers decided on an earlier date and a larger venue to increase participation, and got a rental discount from the college, "a wonderful venue."

They hope the show will become a regional attraction and bring business to downtown Midway, with restaurants providing traditional Kentucky menus and local businesses displaying quilts to unify the theme throughout the city.

The changes should “make it more of an event” and encourage participation, Rentch said but getting people involved is the key to success: “The main thing is to go find quilts and find people we can engage in the process. That’s the most fun.”

A couple of merchants volunteered to participate, including Peggy Angel, whose Steppin’ Out Boutique in the old Thoroughbred Theater on Main Street has an in-store balcony that offers a unique space to display quilts. Vandegrift also volunteered space to display quilts in the windows of his 815 Prime restaurant, also on East Main.

Don Vizi, executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, announced that Leadership of Central Kentucky will visit Midway as part of its Woodford County Day on March 19. The Lexington-based group visits a Central Kentucky county each month to check out local points of interest. It will be in Midway in the morning before moving on to the Castle Post and Versailles, finishing at Woodford Reserve in the afternoon.

Vizi also brought Chamber of Commerce membership applications and encouraged Midway businesses to join. He mentioned the chamber luncheon to be hosted by the Cooperative Extension Service on March 13.

Donna Hecker, general manager of the Holly Hill Inn, announced that the restaurant will be included in this year’s Lexington Restaurant Week, July 24 through Aug. 2. It is the first representative from Midway, and the only one this year, but the merchants discussed using it to their advantage. Vandegrift said other restaurants and Midway businesses should expect some overflow business from the crowds that week. “It’s a good way to draw people in,” said Merchants Association President Edwin Rye.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EDA and developer want to return 37 acres of Midway Station to industrial zoning, from residential

By Kristen Sekinger and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority plans to rezone part of Midway Station back to its original industrial form.

The plans came to light at the EDA board meeting Friday, when Chairman John Soper said developer Dennis Anderson would file an application to rezone 37 acres on the back of the property east of the water tower. That tract, which adjoins an existing industrial zone, is a little less than half the land in Midway Station that is zoned for single-family housing.
Industrial zone is in purple; 37 acres that would be rezoned industrial is outlined in purple. (Click image to enlarge)
Soper and Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth said industrial prospects have already been on the property, and public reaction to the prospect of industrializing it has been positive. Bozarth said after the meeting that Toyota’s addition of a Lexus line at its Georgetown plant creates the possibility of supplier plants in the area.

The Midway City Council has authority over zone changes, after hearings by the county planning and zoning commission.

The council rezoned the property for residential and commercial development in 2008 after the idea of Midway Station as an industrial park failed and the EDA signed a deal to sell the property to Anderson Communities once it was rezoned and its initial construction plans were approved.

Anderson has not developed the property, citing the uncertain economy, but has paid the interest, approximately $10,000 a month, on the city and county’s $4.7 million in debt on the property. Selling part of it for industry would help pay down the debt and reduce the need for immediate residential and commercial development.

Bozarth expressed confidence that Midway Station will be developed because it is a “good piece of property.”

Reducing the amount of residential property in the development was an idea mentioned by Council Member Grayson Vandegrift in November when he said he was going to run for mayor.

Vandegrift said he would like to de-emphasize residential development at Midway Station and include more “light industries,” like distribution centers, to create more jobs, which would raise occupational tax revenues. “We need jobs, not homes,” he said.

Council Member Sharon Turner, who is running for mayor against Vandegrift in the November general election, said Wednesday that she thinks change in plans is a good thing partly because Anderson is developing a smaller tract across Interstate 64 from Midway Station. “Now that you have, for example, the Shell station and a fast-food restaurant [Subway] coming to the Weems property, businesses are looking at it as a more business-friendly area,” she said.

Turner said officials approved the residential and commercial development because the attempt to attract industry had failed. “I think we all wanted residential . . . because we didn’t see hopes for anything else,” she said. She said since the Shell station has opened, “the exit is a viable exit, it makes sense to go industrial,” because services are being developed near the site.

Turner said she has high hopes that business at Midway Station will start moving, “now that we have somebody that’s really stepped out. . . . Once you bring people that are actually physically working there, it changes the whole scheme of the whole park.”

The approved plan for the Weems property calls for a hotel, two restaurants and a small retail store. Last May, Anderson said he had talked to the representatives of hotel chains, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dollar General and Family Dollar about coming to the property.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Free program on health-insurance reform to be held at Midway Christian Church at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 13

If you still don't know what federal health reform will mean for you as an individual health care consumer or small business owner, information will be available in a free program at Midway Christian Church at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 13.

Mary Volkerding, a community relations representative with the Kentucky Health Cooperative, a new, non-profit insurance company created under the reform law, will present an overview of the options individuals and businesses have to get quality, affordable health coverage.

In addition to discussion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, she will also cover how to use Kynect, the state health-insurance marketplace. For more information contact DeeDee Roach at 846-4697.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Council accepts bid for handicapped ramp, discusses ways to get public to use emergency notification system

This crossing will be reconfigured to include a ramp.
A ramp on Main Street for the handicapped to cross the railroad should be completed by early May, the Midway City Council was told last night after accepting the lowest of six bids on the project.

The council approved the low bid of $26,989 from VanHook Enterprises of Somerset. It had already agreed to pay the contractor on the new Gratz Street wall $5,500 for stone work to make the ramp and related, reconstructed structures match the city's streetscape.

R.J. Corman Railroad Co. has agreed to pay $20,000 toward the work, so the city's cost will be $12,489. The ramp will be build on the north side of the western railroad crossing for pedestrians.

Chris Stewart of HMB Engineers, the city's consultant, said he had not worked with VanHook but "All the references we were able to get in touch with said very good things about them." Mayor Tom Bozarth said the company just finished building a new pharmacy in Versailles.

Once paperwork is completed and VanHook obtains performance bonds, Stewart said, the city should be ready to issue a notice to proceed on or about March 12. The contractor will have 10 days to start work, and then 30 calendar days to complete it. The stone finish work is to be done in 14 addiitonal days, Stewart said, and that would make the completion date around May 7, the middle of the week after the Kentucky Derby.

Derby Week brings many visitors to Midway, so city officials had hoped to get the work done by then, or even in time for the spring Keeneland meet April 4-25. Stewart said the city could delay the work until after the Derby, but Bozarth siad, "I don't think that's a big issue."

With Woodford County Emergency Services Director Keith Slugantz, the council discussed ways to get more citizens to sign up for the high-tech emergency notification system being paid for by the county, Midway and Versailles. Slugantz said only 400 of 25,000 potential users have created accounts on the system, which he called disappointing.

The system, Everbridge, allows citizens to sign up for emergency alerts via text messages, social media, telephone calls and other methods, and to exclude certain alerts (except tornado warnings) and certain time periods. If the system does not sense that an alert has been received, it will try alternate methods until it receives an acknowedgement, Slugantz said.

Operators of the system can target alerts to specific areas or even one building. "We came up with a Cadillac system," Sligantz said. "It will save your life. It has the ability to reach everybody, and I've never been able to do that." Citizens can sign up at www.woodfordalerts.com.

Signup requires an email address. Council Member Sara Hicks said her 89-year-old mother and many other people don't use email or computers, but Slugantz said Hicks could use her account to direct calls to her mother. Hicks suggested training workshops to educate people about the system.

After considerable discussion, the council tentatively agreed to include information about the system in a water-bill mailing. Bozarth said the town is small enough for city officials to make door-to-door visits to explain the system and encourage people to use it, and Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said that could be done if the mailing isn't effective.

Slugantz said Richmond "put a lot of money into an ad campaign" but only 10 percent of potential users signed up. "A lot of people are resistant to giving up their information," he noted, but said the system is "secure and password-protected."

Among other business, the council gave first reading to an ordinance that would replace the current one limiting business operations after midnight, gave formal approval to the lease of city property to Windstream Communications, and approved events permits for two 5K races. Details are available in the council meeting packet, posted here as a PDF.

Boutique is named 'Best Place to Shop in Midway' in Woodford County Community Business Awards

Photo by Dylan Russell
By Dylan Russell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway Boutique was the local winner as the 2014 Woodford County Community Business Awards were handed out at Midway College Tuesday evening, Feb. 25.

Midway Boutique was named best place to shop in Midway, in an online "best of" survey of 277 people by the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce in January and February.

Located at 100 East Main Street, at the corner of the railroad and Winter Street, this quaint little boutique offers upscale clothing and accessory brands geared towards women.

Jeanette Keaton, owner of the store, was very pleased about winning and seeing her hard work pay off. “It’s quite an honor. It’s unexpected,” Keaton said soon after accepting the award from Chamber Chairman Adam Probst in the Duthie Auditorium at the Anne Hart Raymond Center. “It’s uplifting.” (Photo by Erin Grigson)
As you enter Midway Boutique, it’s impossible to ignore the array of colorful clothing that lines the walls like a rainbow. Displays of purses, shoes and other accessories are spread out neatly around the store. Keaton’s experience and professionalism are evident. (Photo by Dylan Russell)

“We’ve been here over eight years,” Keaton said, “but I’ve been in the wholesale retail business for over 30 years.”

Keaton said she strives to have a little bit of something for everyone at Midway Boutique. That’s part of what makes her store special.

“Our store is unique,” she said, “because of all of the different brands and lines for all different ages.” (Photo by Dylan Russell)

Keaton’s award was one of 16 handed out at the event, ranging from best veterinary clinic (Woodford Veterinary Clinic) to best bank (Citizens Commerce).

WinStar Farm receptionist
Diana Elam (Grigson photo)
Other winners with Midway connections included WinStar Farm, best horse farm; and ERA Show Place Realty, best real estate agency. Brenda Rollins of Midway is an ERA agent.

The Woodford Community Service award was won by Woodford Tomorrow and Uniquely Woodford, the community brand that Woodford Tomorrow took the lead in developing.

The award is given to an organization that helps make Woodford County a better place to live, work and visit, said Probst, the county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

From left: Ken Kerkhoff, Sandi Bromagen and Joe Graviss accepted
for Woodford Tomorrow and Uniquely Woodford. (Grigson photo)
Woodford Tomorrow is an organization striving to bring the community together and to help preserve Woodford County while developing it economically. It coordinated production of an eight-minute video and a two-hour documentary about the county, as well as worked with Midway College to develop the Uniquely Woodford logo.

Ken Kerkhoff, a Versailles City Council member who spearheaded the Uniquely Woodford project, won the Eureath White Spirit Award.

The 16 awards were:
•             Best Place to Shop in Midway: Midway Boutique
•             Best Place to Shop in Versailles: Pretty in Pink
•             Best Veterinary Clinic: Woodford Veterinary Clinic
•             Best Breakfast: McDonald’s
•             Best Horse Farm: WinStar Farms
•             Best Bank: Citizens Commerce
•             Best Real Estate Agency: ERA Show Place Realty
•             Woodford All-Star Award: Brenda Craig, Sandi Bromagen
•             Leadership All-Star Award: Tommy Haggard
•             Eureath White Spirit Award: Ken Kerkhoff
•             Outstanding Farmer of the Year: Brad Carmickle
•             Woodford County Distinguished Farmer of the Year: Jesse Lane
•             Business Industry of the Year: Ruggles Sign Co.
•             Business of the Year: Life Adventure Center
•             Tourism Achievement Award: Woodford Reserve
•             Community Service Award: Uniquely Woodford, Woodford Tomorrow

Saturday, March 1, 2014

'George Washington Carver and Friends' play, and one very busy actor, illustrate African American achievers

Antony Russell plays Jackie Robinson running the bases as he talks with Kate Rozycki, playing Dorothy.

Story and photos by Erin Grigson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Two actors portrayed 10 characters in “George Washington Carver and Friends,” performed at Midway College on Sunday afternoon. One actor played nine characters, all notable African Americans.

Antony Russell is a 25-year-old actor who has worked for Bright Star Touring Theatre, based in Asheville, N.C., since January. In Sunday’s play, his major role was agricultural chemist George Washington Carver. Carver was known for developing more than 300 uses for peanuts, and that passion was portrayed in Russell’s performance.

In a series of costume changes, he played baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, potato-chip inventor George Crum (left), egg-beater inventor Willis Johnson, self-made cosmetics millionaire Madame C.J. Walker, heart surgeon Daniel Hale Williams, Cascade detergent inventor Dennis Weatherby, educator Booker T. Washington, and Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice. Those roles are pictured below in that order, ending with Carver.

Throughout the play and during Russell’s costume changes, Kate Rozycki, 23, played a young student named Dorothy, who was researching famous African American inventors and ground-breakers. Using what she called her “magic book,” she met all these people, all played by Russell. The character of Carver kept recurring, as Dorothy’s essay topic always came back to him.

Rozycki said in an interview, “At one of the shows the other day, (some adults) were like, ‘You made learning about all these people really fun.’ So this show is deceptively educational because maybe people don’t realize how much they’re actually learning.”

About 80 people were in the audience for the performance, most of them children. During the play, to teach the kids about the three branches of government, Rozycki chose three from the audience and brought them on stage. She then gave each of them a hat or wig to put on their head to designate them as a specific branch. A boy with a top hat represented the executive branch, a girl with a Ben Franklin wig represented the legislative branch, and a boy in a powdered wig represented the judicial branch. Meanwhile, Thurgood Marshall talked about his time as a lawyer arguing the Brown v. Board of Education case that ended school segregation.

Rozycki said she has been with the company since November of last year. On her last tour, she was the one with all the costume changes. In “A Dickens Tale,” she played all the characters except Scrooge.

For this play, though, Russell was the actor with hands full. However, he had some tricks up his sleeve.

“Sometimes you have to put on a lot of different accents to help out with that,” he said in an interview.

He said he has learned how to speak in several accents, including Jamaican, Trinidadian, African, Bostonian, and New Yorker.
Still, that didn’t make his job much easier when it came to all the costume changes he had to do in the hour-long play. During the question-and-answer session with the audience after the show, Rozycki complimented him, saying, “He did a good job. I didn’t have to stall once.”

After about 60 performances, it seems the pair should have it down to a science. In a little less than two months, Russell and Rozycki have performed this show anywhere between 50 and 70 times. And they still have a month to go.

Along with the Carver play, they are also currently performing “Struggle for Freedom: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King.” While the Carver show is more upbeat and interactive with the audience, the King play is more serious. In both, the pair enjoys working and performing together.

“I love how fun it is,” Russell said of the King play. “I think it’s so awesome that we’re able to give that to people and let people feel what it may have been during that time.”

Rozycki agreed, saying of the Carver play, “This is a fun show. It’s kind of goofy.”

The play was brought to Midway College by the Woodford County Public Library’s Lottie M. White Children’s Program Series.
Dorothy (Kate Royzcki) listens to agricultural chemist George Washington Carver (Antony Russell).