Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Versailles bypass plan continues to stir controversy; manager says he expects route choice in next 2 months

By Kelly Brightmore
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With the time for a decision drawing nearer, Woodford County residents are raising much debate over a proposed bypass around the west side of Versailles. A majority of resident feedback has been negative, calling the bypass a waste of money and a threat to the peace and safety of Midway and even to the county's agricultural economy.

The proposed road, officially named the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor, would extend Falling Springs Boulevard around the west side of Versailles to U.S. 60 northwest of town. The current state road plan says the project would cost $39 million, including $2 million for design, $5 million for buying rights of way, $2 million for utilities relocation, and $30 million for actual construction.

Many county residents fear the project will cost them more than just their share of the dollar amount.  In a letter to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Woodford County resident Dan Rosenburg called the bypass a “waste” and said it would “destroy valuable agricultural land that is the basis of Woodford County’s economy.” Versailles resident James Nicholson likened the pricey attempt to alleviate traffic to killing “a fly with a sledge hammer” in his letter to The Woodford Sun.

Midway residents have an added worry. Because the bypass would lead directly or indirectly to US 62, Midway Road, their concern is about added traffic to the downtown area. Drivers using the bypass for quick access to Interstate 64 could clog up traffic on the narrow road with poor shoulders.

Until recently, Midway residents were under the belief that the weight limit for Midway Road would be lowered from 80,000 to 62,000 pounds under a new order of the state Transportation Cabinet. A lower weight limit means fewer trucks and less danger.  It turns out, according to the Sun, that the order does not in fact lower the weight limit due to it being a federal highway within 15 miles of an interstate. Midway residents were convinced the order was a done deal and many, including Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, saw it as an act to appease those fighting the bypass.

At the project’s citizens advisory committee Nov. 19, Arrell Thompson, consultant for the Burgess & Niple engineering firm, announced that 75 percent of public comments received about the bypass said the road shouldn’t be built.

The public comments were on an online survey and a paper submitted at a meeting in Versailles in October. The numbers were almost the reverse from a similar survey taken in 2010 by the county Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority. In that survey, nearly 73 percent of respondents wanted the bypass completed and 60 percent believed downtown Versailles traffic was a problem.

The three alternate routes chosen by the project managers would all go west of the Osram Sylvania plant then tie into U.S. 60. The most supported alternative route, Alternative B, would connect to U.S. 60 near its current intersection with U.S. 62. The others would end at Midway Road and farther up U.S. 60.

Rob Sprague, project engineer for the state Department of Highways, said at the citizen advisory committee meeting that he believes there is a silent majority in favor of the project.

Sprague told the Messenger recently, “We should be able to recommend an alignment within the next couple of months and we should know the funding schedule in April,” after the legislature revises the state road plan.

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott is another leading proponent of the new road. In a letter to the Sun, he said the bypass would relieve a large amount of traffic from downtown Versailles and “would make downtown a more attractive area to visit.” He also addressed the concern over Midway Road, suggesting a lower speed limit, wider shoulders or reconstructing the road would address safety concerns.

Some opponents have said no study has supported construction of the road, but one letter writer cited the results of study issued in May 1999 by the Wilbur Smith Associates Consulting Engineers and Planners, which recommend the construction of a four-lane connector highway between U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 in order to relieve traffic in Versailles.

Woodford County residents and officials are not the only ones who have spoken out about the controversial project. The controversy has even spread as far as Lexington. There have been multiple letters about the bypass in the Herald-Leader and even an editorial. Herald-Leader cartoonist Joel Pett addressed the controversy in his Nov. 28 cartoon, which depicted the road as a connector between money and politics. The family of former state Rep. Joe Barrows owns property on the alternate route closest to Versailles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mayor says Midway Station tax-increment financing plan will have to exclude payroll taxes

By Adrian Rudd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the city council Monday night that he would ask for an amendment to the ordinance that would finance redevelopment of Midway Station through the increased tax revenue from the development.

The tax-increment-financing ordinance, approved by the council last December and the Woodford County Fiscal Court in August, authorizes 80 percent of the new property and payroll taxes generated at Midway Station to go towards the estimated $31 million needed to redevelop its public infrastructure. With this new amendment, the ordinance would apply only to property taxes and not occupational taxes, or payroll taxes.

According to Vandegrift, the property meets all but one state requirement for a full-scale TIF, that the property is “blighted.” The property, with streets, curbs and utilities, has sat almost entirely vacant for 20 years but doesn’t meet the usual definition of blight, Vandegrift said in an interview after the council meeting. He said state officials told him they would probably not approve the plan as proposed.

“This is no skin off our back, really,” Vandegrift said. “We want to work with the developer but now the bookkeeping aspect will be so much simpler for us, because we’re going to be the ones managing all these funds coming through and disbursing them back out.” The city collects payroll taxes quarterly, property taxes annually.

The new approach may also help Dennis Anderson, the prospective developer. He would start getting reimbursed for the estimated $31 million in public facilities once he has invested $10 million, significantly less than the $20 million he would have to invest under the current TIF plan.

Vandegrift said he didn’t know how the different TIF plan, which would generate less money for reimbursement, would affect Anderson’s private financing.

The council also heard discussion on the deal between the state and American Howa Kentucky Inc., a Japanese company that will make textiles for automobiles at Midway Station.

“The state has worked out the incentives directly with the company,” John Soper, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, told the council. “We won’t be coming back to you for the portion of the payroll tax, which is a big benefit to the city.” Some industrial incentive packages also involve local payroll taxes.

Since the plant will be built on the former Roach property that adjoins Midway Station, not on the original industrial park, it essentially means Midway taxpayers will not be funding the construction of the factory.

Soper said he anticipates a closing on the property between EDA and American Howa Kentucky to come in mid- to late January, and construction to begin no later than mid-February. Soper says the company will be the program’s first industrial client and the third U.S. plant for AHK.

“I think it is in our best interest to work with EDA and create jobs in Midway,” said Vandegrift, who expects the creation of AHK to ultimately bring other factories and about 250 well-paying jobs to Midway. Also, Soper said, “We think this will lead to more commercial things in Midway Station.”

Other business: The council voted to amend its agreement with a former Kentucky State University professor who is fish farming at the old sewage-treatment plant, to allow him to use the main building and to sell fish there from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with 5 percent of the "gross profits" to be paid as rent in addition to the current $50 a month.

Council Member Libby Warfield said the fish farmer should clean up some scrap metal at the property, and Vandegrift said he would get that done.

Vandegrift said he would not sign an easement for Columbia Gas of Kentucky to build a new regulator station on the south edge of town until the company fixes a poor paving job at the intersection of North Winter Street and Northside Drive, in front of Midway Grocery.

Council Member Dan Roller reported that the Blighted Property Committee met with county Planning and Zoning Administrator Pattie Wilson and the new building inspector, and will be sending letters in the next 30 to 45 days to property owners who need to repair or demolish structures.

Council Member Bruce Southworth reported that the Sidewalk Committee met without making much progress and decided that individual members should develop their own ideas and get together again after the first of the year. He said deciding new policies and procedures for fixing sidewalks "is going to be an arduous process."

The council agreed to cancel its Dec. 21 meeting, making its next meeting Jan. 4.

Officials 'actively pursuing' hotel for Midway, they say

By Andrea Richard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority is “actively pursing” a hotel in Midway, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the Midway Messenger in a telephone interview Monday.

The mayor’s comment comes a month after the Oct. 29 announcement that the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved tax incentives for American Howa Kentucky Inc., an auto-parts factory that makes interior parts for the Toyota Camry, to build a plant at Midway Station.

Midway and Woodford County officials are optimistic that the development of the 100,000 square-feet building will bring about the possibility of the city’s first hotel.

“It’s a big goal” of the Woodford EDA to bring guest accommodations to Midway, Vandegrift said.

While it’s likely a hotel or motel would locate first in Versailles, the mayor said he doesn’t think such a property would diminish the prospect of a hotel in Midway, since it is on Interstate 64 and Versailles is not. Vandegrift said he is “confident that once a feasibility study is done, it will bring a hotel to the area.”

Just how soon residents and visitors can expect a hotel? The mayor said it’s “hard to say.”

“Companies want to do their homework,” Vandegrift said.

Nevertheless, Woodford EDA Chairman John Soper is confident that Midway’s acquiring American Howa Kentucky “is the next big step” for the city to land a hotel.

“People come in to industries to sell them things, to promote things, … so us landing this company is the next big step, hopefully, to help us land a hotel which we desperately want,” Soper said at the EDA meeting in Midway on Friday. 

A Subway restaurant opened recently in Green Gables.
Soper said a hotel operator looked at the 2-acre lot next to McDonald’s -- the development formally known as Green Gables -- earlier this year. Soper said after Friday’s meeting that a feasibility study was conducted and the operator decided that it was not the right time to build. He said he presumes that the independent developer did not visit Midway because of the way a similar feasibility study was conducted in Versailles.

“When you look at the demographics on the computer, this may not look like the ideal market,” Soper said. “I want to try to get the people in Midway, that hotel group, to come back and look at it. That’s what the people who looked at Versailles, they came here and looked at it, and spent two days here. We took them down to Woodford Reserve, we took them to KCTCS (Kentucky Community and Technical College System), they understood the Bourbon Trail, they made their decision to go forward, because there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t necessarily show up on an Internet search that is really here.”

According to Soper, the prospective hotel operator looked at the property before American Howa Kentucky’s decision to build a plant in Midway was announced. Soper said one of the things a hotel developer looks for is the ability for the property to stay full from Monday through Thursday.
“Industry provides that,” Soper said. “I think it was the missing piece.”

Soper said the Shell convenience store, McDonald’s and Subway, located in the Green Gables development at the southeast quadrant of the I-64 interchange, also work in the prospect’s favor. 

“My understanding of what a hotel needs, it needs to locate next to food, which we have out there and we obviously have in downtown Midway, and gasoline, which we now have,” Soper said. “From every account they’re all very successful. So, a hotel wants to locate there because people want that near them.” 

Soper told the Messenger that he’s not sure whether or not the announcement will push the independent developer’s desire to build “up to the front burner,” but hopes that AHK’s plant will bring him “to the forefront.”

Dennis Anderson, owner of the Green Gables development, said that while they are hoping to put a hotel on the site, the prospect would “have to fit with [their] overall design for the property.”

Anderson said he’s “more focused on building communities than dollars per acre.”

“We don’t just sell to anybody,” Anderson said. “We’re patient.”

In addition to his Green Gables development, Anderson is the prospective developer of Midway Station, the largely failed industrial park created in the 1990s.

After many years of little development, and the city and the county still paying off the bond used to buy the property, EDA and the city struck a deal with Anderson to transform most of the property into a residential and commercial development. But that started as the Great Recession began, and Anderson did not exercise his option to buy the property. As the economy improved and industrial prospects surfaced, EDA had the rear 80 acres of the property zoned as industrial.

If residential property does prove to be first on Anderson’s list, the developer said he could see about 15 homes being built in the first phase.

Anderson said a number of options have been discussed: medical, retail, and a possible convenience store. Anderson also said people have expressed interest in residential property as well. 

“You’ll build houses, you’ll build jobs,” he said. “You’ll build houses, you’ll build jobs.”

Coming of factory to Midway Station makes others, and a hotel, more likely, officials say

By Casey Parker-Bell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Teelcommunications

If you build it, so might others.

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says the recently announced auto parts plant for Midway Station could bring the city more jobs and businesses, such as more factories and a hotel.

“No one ever wants to be the first one through the door,” Vandegrift said about the challenges of bringing industry to Midway after the Woodford Economic Development Authority met Friday at Midway City Hall. “Once someone sees industry in there, they kind of tend to figure, ‘Well, they did their homework. Must be good land, must be a good prospect here. Maybe we will relocate there too.’”

The person who could be most responsible for bringing new business to Midway is Lexington developer Dennis Anderson. He has an option to purchase Midway Station for commercial and residential development and says he has been in discussions with multiple prospects, including retail, medical and biotech businesses, but they are waiting on approval of the tax-increment financing district for the property.

A TIF district would allow Midway Station’s estimated $31 million in redevelopment costs to be subsidized with tax revenue from the development. Anderson said that Midway Station needs significant changes to its infrastructure before development can begin. “The land is too hilly for large buildings to go on,” he said. “It wasn’t ever graded. They just went and put the roads and the streets and everything in.”

The TIF district was approved by Woodford County in August and is pending state approval. “We have inquiries, but until we understand what we have with the TIF our hands are kind of tied,” Anderson said. Vandegrift announced at Monday's Midway City Council meeting that the TIF ordinance will need to be amended to exclude occupational taxes to win state approval.

Midway Station is a publicly owned tract of land originally intended to be an industrial park. After the development’s inability to attract industry, Midway Station is now zoned mainly for commercial and residential development.

If the TIF district is approved by the state, Anderson said, “It is my intention to exercise the option.” He says he has 120 days to exercise his option after the approval of the TIF district.

Anderson says he wants to build a community in Midway but said, “I never dreamed it would be this long, this difficult and this expensive.” Recently, a Subway opened in Anderson’s Green Gables development, where Anderson says he is saving a spot for a hotel.

“Well, Green Gables we saved one site and anticipated getting a hotel,” Anderson said. “We intend to pursue that line.” Just because Anderson wants a hotel, does not mean he believes it will happen immediately. “How long will it sit and wait trying to get a hotel, you know, I don’t know.”

Vandegrift said the new factory would “absolutely” make the arrival of a hotel more likely. And John Soper, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, believes the factory was “the missing piece” to generate interest from a hotel.

Soper said a hotel operator looked at a two-acre lot next to McDonald’s and decided not to move on the property, but that was before the announcement of the factory.

American Howa Kentucky Inc., the company building the auto-parts factory, will become the second largest job provider in Midway, according to Vandegrift. The largest now is Midway University, with about 100 jobs.

“The one thing we really lack in Midway is jobs,” said Vandegrift. He said AHK’s decision to build in Midway could lead to more development in Midway Station. Vandegrift said in the future there might be four or five business in the development’s industrial area: “I mean, maybe that ends up totaling 250 jobs. That would be enormous for Midway.”

Soper agrees with Vandegrift that the factory could spur other developments and said that there are other businesses interested in Midway. “We’re constantly in conversations with other plants that have looked at this,” Soper said. “It is a very long process.” He added it was “premature” to say whether there would be any new developments soon.

Soper said he anticipates AHK will buy the land in January, at the latest. AHK is a Japanese company that manufactures interior automotive products.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Some stores extend hours for holidays; Merchants president thinks they need to do that year-yound

By Andrea Richard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

As the December holidays fast approach, Midway shoppers are seeing longer business operating hours – something the president of the Midway Merchants Association would like to see continue.

After Thanksgiving, some stores, like the Damselfly Gallery, extend their hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Other shops, like the White Horse Collection, extend their hours based on the flow of traffic.

Stores are decked out for Christmas, but most don't stay open late.
However, shoppers should not get accustomed to the new hours. After the season, the stores will operate on their normal schedule, one that Merchants President Kenny Smith  thinks falls short of the city’s potential.

“Seventy percent of retail is done after 6 o’clock,” Smith told the Merchants at their October meeting, quoting a research study that he found. Yet, “Here at five, the doors are locked and everybody goes home.”

Leslie Penn, owner of the Historic Midway Museum Store, told Smith that his statistic was representative of malls, not small businesses like the ones in Midway. Smith said his statistic is representative of everywhere, and told the merchants that the times his business, Kennydid Gallery, has stayed open, sometimes until 8 p.m., he has had customers ask why all the stores are closed.

“’Cause we’re not a mall,” Penn replied.

“But we are merchants, and we are in the business to make money,” Smith responded.

Early closing hours is not the only problem Midway shoppers face. According to Smith, customers complain about businesses not opening at all on Sundays.

“Invariably people come in on Sunday, lots of people, and say ‘Why is nobody open?’”

Smith said visitors travel from Louisville and Cincinnati on Sundays only to find stores closed.

“If we get a reputation that we’re never open, it doesn’t matter how much advertising we do,” Smith said. ”People aren’t going to come.”

Mondays are also an issue. Don Durs, owner of Old Towne Antiques, said in an interview that he has heard several customers complain about stores being closed on the first normal business day of the week.

“One would think that they would follow Macy’s. They’re open seven days a week,” Durs said. 

“Don’t sit here and tell me that we don’t open on Monday because there is no business. You’re not open. If you’re not open … how do you know?”

Along with early closing hours, and stores not opening at all, some shoppers find late opening hours to be a problem too.

At 9:45 on Saturday mornings, most businesses are not set to open. When 10:00 rolls around, only a handful of shops have opened their doors. Most open at 11. One boutique does not open until noon.

Cathy Jackson of Boonville, Ind. stopped on East Main Street before visiting relatives in Midway one day last month.

“We got here at 10 thinking most of the stores would be open at 10,” Jackson said. “I just wish we would have known because we were planning our day around coming here first.”

Jackson said she’s not a big shopper, but was “looking forward to going in and out of a bunch of the stores” to see what Midway merchants had to offer. Instead, a lot of shops lost her potential business, she said.

Jackson wasn’t the only disappointed shopper in Midway that day. Sisters-in-law Kristina McDowell and Julia McDowell said they were “trying to figure out what … to do” after finding most shops didn’t open until 11.

Durs’s shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

“We’ve been opening at 10 o’clock for 26 years,” Durs said. “Whatever [the other shops] want to do, that’s their business.”

But Durs isn’t for later hours. When asked his opinion of Smith’s presentation at the Merchants Association meeting, Durs said, “After 6 o’clock it’s all restaurants.” He said most customers “either come browsing before going in for their reservation, or they go eat. When they get out at 7, or 8 or 9 o’clock, they go home.”

Other Midway business owners like Roz Roney-Dougal, owner of the White Horse Collection, share the belief that quick browsing before or after dinner would not bring their businesses much trade.

Roney-Dougal said her store is open Tuesday through Saturday until 5 p.m. She said if the merchants were to advertise to the horse community, and the city were to get more restaurants, it would be worth staying open. But, as it is, “People do not cross the street when they’re going to dinner to shop.”

When asked about weekend hours, and whether businesses should stay open for out-of-town visitors, Roney-Dougal said “No, because there’s no hotel.”

“If they were staying in Midway, of course. But people who come here after 5, 6 o’clock, are going to dinner, and that’s it.”

However, Smith doesn’t believe that a lack of traffic after 5 p.m. is an excuse for businesses to close early.

Smith says he sees the traffic, since his gallery (which is near restaurants on Main Street) is open seven days a week and stays open as late as 8 on some weekend nights.

“I invariably have people come in who have driven here from Indianapolis, Louisville or Cincinnati, and they’ll ask ‘Why are you the only one open?’ And what do I tell them? Because at 5 o’clock they lock their doors and they go home,” Smith said.

“We have to develop a reputation of being customer-friendly,” he added. “Not everybody can come during the day between 11 to 5, because the people who have the money to spend are working to earn that money.” 

Mary Thoreson, owner of the Damselfly Gallery on the other side of Main Street, said she has tried opening earlier and closing later.

“I’ve opened early, stayed late; opened late, stayed late, and I’ve never thought that I’ve lost much business, closing between 5 and 6. What I have always found is that after that, people are really coming to eat. They may come in and browse and come back later, but they’re not really here to shop. That’s my experience.”

Thoreson said most of the complaints come from businesses not opening at all. “Anybody that comes here is making an effort to come here,” Thoreson said. “It’s a tourist destination. So when they drive here, and people aren’t open, that leads to complaints.”

Thoreson, whose business is open seven days a week, said she believes most businesses are closed on Monday because owners are tired.

“They’re all mom-and-pop stores,” she said. “I think people need a day off.”

Smith said that at age 68, he’s one of the oldest business owners on East Main Street, and he works seven days a week.

“If I get tired, I take a nap, and that’s usually at night after I go home,” he said. “If you’re going to be in business, and you can’t be here, hire somebody.”

Smith said if Midway gets the reputation of “never being open on Sunday or Monday,” customers who come looking to shop will “probably never come back.”

“I have people call me because they’ve been to the website and saw I was a contact person, and they’ll say ‘All right, I’m bringing a group on Monday,’ and I have to be honest and say things won’t be open. Or they’ll call and say I’m bringing a group on Sunday, and there are maybe three of us that are open on Sunday, four at most, and I can’t tell them ‘Sure, everybody will be open,’ because I know they won’t be. That hurts the image of Midway. It hurts my business. It hurts their business.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving service shows the diversity and community feeling in Midway

By Adrian Rudd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Pastor Judy Stallons greeted a diverse group of parishioners on the doorstep of Midway United Methodist Church Monday evening, as it hosted the annual community Thanksgiving service sponsored by the Midway Ministerial Association.

Members of several different church communities gathered together to give thanks in light of the holiday season. This service is just one of several times a year that Midway churches worship together despite their differences in denomination.

“We do a Martin Luther King worship service, a sunrise service on Easter, and a peace service for 9/11, and we rotate which church hosts,” said Stallons.

The Thanksgiving service filled churchgoers with holiday spirit while also celebrating diversity. The gathering music featured special guests, siblings Chakrapani and Bhavani Gudlavelleti, performing the national anthem of India, “Jana Gana Mana,” and India’s national song, “Vande Mataram.”

The Midway University Chorale filled the church with beautiful melodies, leading the congregation in several hymns throughout the service.

Brother Chris Wright, pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, spoke about something that unites all Christians this holiday season, giving thanks to God.

“Thanksgiving is what flows from our hearts,” he preached. “It’s not what’s going to be on the table, it’s not Black Friday, it’s not about the things we will buy.”

Wright’s message was answered with frequent ‘amens’ from the congregation of about 50 people from various Midway churches. He prompted several laughs as well when he urged Christians not to shop on Black Friday.

“My wife is already telling me I’m going shopping with her, and I don’t like shopping,” he smiled, “I don’t think Christians ought to shop on Black Friday. It’s hard to be a Christian on Black Friday.”

All jokes aside, Wright’s message about giving thanks was heard and well received.

“Thanksgiving is an opportunity to remember the beautiful God we serve,” he proclaimed.

While in many small towns people may stay isolated within their own churches, these community-oriented worship services are just one example of how Midway stands out from other communities.

Stallons, pastor at the Methodist church for five and a half years, wrote a letter to The Woodford Sun last week, thanking the community of Midway for the prayers and generosity she received with the recent passing of her younger sister.

“Somebody brought me a casserole, and you know, they’re not from my church,” Stallons said in an interview. “Being a pastor, I don’t expect people from other churches to do that sort of thing. The fact that people from other churches reached out meant a lot.”

After growing up around various cities in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, the warmth that Stallons received from the Midway community came as a pleasant surprise to her.

“People from the Christian Church greeted me in restaurants,” she said. “People from the Presbyterian Church would stop and say they were praying for me.”

In his message to the congregation, Wright restated the importance of embracing differences and recognizing the common thread between all people.

“Part of embracing diversity is being comfortable with yourself,” said Wright, an African American.
The attendees were clearly comfortable with each other, exchanging hugs, handshakes, and laughs before and after the worship service.

This culture of accepting others across boundaries brings support to people in the community during difficult times, and brings joy to everyone during the holiday season. 

Mary Wright of Pilgrim Baptist was especially joyful following the Thanksgiving service.

“I think these events are wonderful for the community,” she said. “I would love to see more of it.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Community Thanksgiving dinner at Christian Church starts the holiday season in Midway

Story by Amanda Colvin, video report by Brittany Forte'
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Food, community, and fellowship set the scene of Thursday night’s Thanksgiving dinner at Midway Christian Church. Toddlers, kids, adults, and elders participated in the annual event. Around 100 people from Midway and surrounding areas attended the dinner to get their first taste of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pastor Heather McColl said the event originally started out as a charity but has evolved into an annual dinner that provides the community with a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, an event that shows off the kind, welcoming spirit of Midway.

“It originally started out with some people in our community that might not have had a chance for a Thanksgiving dinner, so that was sort of the thought behind it,” said McColl. “This really is a chance for a community to come together, have a meal, and really get to know each other.”

Whether adults or children, young or old, the people in attendance were eager to grab a plate and catch up with old friends. Music played by live musicians filled the room to aid in the sense of community and excitement. Upon walking into the church’s fellowship hall, you were instantly greeting by smiling faces and welcomes.

The kitchen was full of volunteers who had prepared enough food for the entire room to eat and take home leftovers. Food of all kinds lined the counters waiting to be sampled. The roar of people catching up with old friends and meeting new acquaintances competed with the volume of the music.

“We just hope that everyone can come enjoy a good meal and the music and have a good time tonight,” said the church’s care-team leader, Etta Manor.

The smiling faces and warm embraces meant that Midway Christian Church had met the goal of its Thanksgiving dinner, but also showed the sense of community in Midway, making the first event of the holidays a good one.
Photo by Amanda Colvin, UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Monday, November 23, 2015

County fire department getting another foam device through grant from Kentucky-American Water Co.

Click on map to view larger version
The Woodford County Fire Department is getting a foam eductor through a grant from Kentucky-American Water Co., which serves most of the county's population, including Midway.

The $800 piece of equipment is used to apply firefighting foam to liquid combustibles that can float on top of water. County Fire Chief John Varner said the equipment would be housed at the department's main station in Versailles but would be available for use countywide, including mutual aid to the Midway Fire Department. Varner said the county department has an eductor, but it is housed at the Millville station because distilleries are in the area.

The grant was one of 18, totaling $9,000, made this year through the water company's program to support fire departments in its service area. "We appreciate what these dedicated men and women do every day for our communities," company spokeswoman Susan Lancho said.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sidewalk Committee to meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday

The Sidewalk Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at City Hall to discuss a sidewalk plan. The notice from City Hall says no action will be taken. All city council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3 council members will develop plan for sidewalks; grants committee formed; pop-up store coming

The sidewalk at 122 W. Main St. is in bad shape.
Story and photos by Casey Parker-Bell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Soon you might not have to look down when walking the streets of Midway.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift appointed a committee to develop a comprehensive plan to improve the sidewalks of Midway. “We have an issue with sidewalks of disrepair downtown,” Vandegrift said.

City law makes landowners responsible for the upkeep of sidewalks on their property. “Obviously, I think we all agree waiting for owners of these sidewalks is probably going to be a futile effort,” Vandegrift said. But the mayor said he wants to work with homeowners and not force them to fix broken sidewalks.

“Instead of approaching this as ‘We’re coming to get you, you’re going to fix your sidewalks,’ we need to approach this as ‘You have a sidewalk that is in disrepair; it is in the city’s best interest to get it fixed’,” Vandegrift said.

This sidewalk is at 105 S. Winter St.
Part of the city’s concern with bad sidewalks is the city’s liability if someone is injured., Vandegrift said, calling it “a public safety issue.” Even though landowners are responsible for the upkeep of sidewalks, the city is liable if anyone is hurt because of problems with the pathways.

Vandegrift said in an interview that he knows of two cases of people tripping and hurting themselves on cracked sidewalks. “Luckily no one has sued or anything yet,” he said. “The big one was about two years ago; a lady tripped and fell, and busted her face open pretty good.”

After that incident, the city painted yellow stripes on all of the trip hazards around town. “But all that does is make it more discernable to the eye,” Vandegrift said. “It’s not a long-term solution.”

Vandegrift said he has heard complaints from citizens about the condition of the sidewalks, from parents with small children to the members of a local Girl Scout troop who wrote him a letter about the sidewalks on Winter Street near the post office.

A comprehensive sidewalk plan is needed because of the city is limited in the ways it can improve sidewalk conditions, Vandegrift said. “Currently our only recourse is to put a lien on the property, and it’s just not effective,” Vandegrift said. “There are a lot of people who would never sell their properties,” which a lien would prevent.

The mayor said has heard of ideas like cost sharing between property owners and the city to fix sidewalks. “I do suspect we will have to offer something like that to engage people to go ahead and fix them.”

Council Member Bruce Southworth, chair of the sidewalk committee,  said he believes there are multiple options for Midway to improve sidewalk conditions. He said he wants an approach where homeowners and the city can share burden. “Maybe we can come up with something that can work to both of our benefit.”

Southworth said he thinks the committee will have a plan together by the first of the year, but set no specific timetable.

A tree has heaved this sidewalk at 129 W. Main St. about two inches.
Sidewalks in need of repair are not hard to find in the downtown area. Many if not most have been painted yellow to alert pedestrians of danger, but the damaged sidewalks dip or bulge more than an inch in some places, creating a tripping hazard. Some sidewalks on Winter Street near the post office on have the worst damage.

Kenny Smith, president of the Midway Merchants Association, said he hopes that the city is successful improving the sidewalks. “If it makes the town more likeable, then it helps the whole town,” he said. Smith said he didn’t believe that the quality of sidewalks in residential neighborhoods necessarily affects shoppers from out of town, but he wants to make the city better as a whole.

Vandegrift also appointed Council Members Kaye Nita Gallagher and Steven Craig to the sidewalk committee. He said the issue should have been addressed "yesterday."

Council Member Sara Hicks suggested that sidewalk repairs be coordinated with sewer repairs that the city plans to do when it has the money. "If we’re gonna tear up sidewalks it seems to me, in terms of efficiency, if we needed to do anything on the sewers that would be the time, because we’d be torn up already.”

The mayor also announced the creation of a citizens advisory committee to help the city with grant writing. “We’re behind the eight-ball on this,” he said. Vandergrift said some grants could help pay for improving sidewalks around town. The committee members he appointed are Jo Blease, Diana Ratliff, Debra Shockley and Mark Pitzer.

Vandegrift announced a new citizens advisory committee that will help with city grants.

Vandegrift said he is looking to get grants for “anything and everything”  and a grant committee is needed to be competitive and give Midway a chance at great opportunities. “There’s a lot of money out there, but we lack man power,” he said in an interview. “We need to know where to look and how to write.”

Vandegrift said the last major grant the city of Midway received was back in 2004 for roadwork in downtown Midway on Main Street. “This committee could end up developing into a part-time position or even a part of the city council,” he said.

The council heard that Bob Mickler’s lifestyle and performance-riding apparel store, in Lexington, plans to open a holiday pop-up shop in Midway from Nov. 25 to Dec. 25 at 119 E. Main St. The store will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Situated in the same location as Bourbon Lane Stable and McMahon & Hill Bloodstock, the pop-up shop seeks to supply local residents and holiday tourists alike with riding and casual apparel, said Chief Executive Officer Michael S. Michalisin. “We are going to do our very best to make it representative of the classy look that is prevalent on East Main Street,” Michalisin said as he asked the council for advice and ideas regarding the best way to do business in Midway and answered questions the council had about the new store.

Vandegrift welcomed the pop-up shop, saying, “I think that it’s a great fit for Midway.” Likewise, he expressed a desire for the company to consider opening a permanent location in the town.

The mayor announced that the city Christmas tree lighting will take place Friday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the common area across from Steppin’ Out Boutique and the Christmas Open House will be that Saturday with Santa Claus arriving via train provided by R.J. Corman Railroad at 11 a.m.

Information for this story was also gathered by UK students Kelly Brightmore, Mackenzie Clark and Dimitri Silva.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wreaths at cemetery remind us today is Veterans Day

The Midway City Council recently voted to buy two wreaths for the veterans monument in the Midway Cemetery
on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. This photo, taken today, shows the wreaths in place. (Photo by Al Cross)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Midway University gets higher marks in national ratings

Several publications have recognized Midway University recently for academic excellence.  Most notably, the state’s only women’s college was ranked as the tenth best women’s college in the nation by BestColleges.com. 

The university boasts an 83 percent freshman retention rate and a 15:1 student-faculty ratio.  Such numbers helped Midway move from 65th to 45th in U.S. News & World Report’s list of top colleges in the South. 

Midway’s president, Dr. John Marsden, said he was honored that the institution received high marks from a variety of organizations.  “Although these rankings are not a comprehensive measure of our entire institution, each of them is a snapshot and high level measure of key indicators for our prospective students and their families,” he said in a news release.

Since Marsden became president in 2012, it has grown.  Known as Midway University since July 1, the institution expanded its mission statement to be more open to international students.  These recognitions highlight the school’s progress. 

The university’s nursing, sport management and health-care administration programs were also recognized by BestColleges.com.  The website rated Midway’s online curriculum as the fifth best in Kentucky. Midway was ranked 10th out of 26 universities in Kentucky by USA Today’s College Factual.

Midway also received commendations for it affordability after three consecutive years without raising tuition or room and board.  Washington Monthly magazine ranked Midway 16th in its list of “Best Bang for Buck Colleges in the South.” --Nicholas Roush


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weisenberger family marks 150 years in the milling business on the bank of South Elkhorn Creek

Phil Weisenberger is the sixth-generation manager of his family's mill on South Elkhorn Creek near Midway.

Weisenberger displays cornmeal immediately after grinding.
Story and photos by Jamilyn Hall
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

On the bank of South Elkhorn Creek near Midway stands Weisenberger Mill, where the family is celebrating 150 years in business at the same location. The mill has passed through six generations and continues to create a local product with wide reach.

Above bottles of the mill's grains and their basic grinds are
portraits of Gus Weisenberger, Phil's great-grandfather, and
Phil Weisenberger, his grandfather, who died in 2008.
Founder August Weisenberger, an immigrant from Germany, bought an earlier mill at the site and began milling corn and wheat into flour in 1865, by using the water from the creek to power the mill.

“We have been open for 150 years, since 1865. We still grind things the same way that we did in 1913,” when the current mill was built, said Philip Weisenberger, manager and son of owner Mac Weisenberger.

Weisenberger is a small company with a large reach, making about 85 percent of its sales wholesale, Weisenberger said.

Sacks of flour boldly labeled "WEISENBERGER" are prepared for shipping at the mill's loading dock.
The mill sells to companies like Miguel's Pizzeria in Slade, Ky., and companies in Lexington. “We sell to these distributors that go to restaurants,” Weisenberger said. “We haven’t sold to Keeneland, but I would say our products are sold to a food service company that services Keeneland.”

When the Breeders’ Cup came to Lexington, the family company saw increase in business. “I have noticed an increase in people stopping by here in the last week,” Weisenberger said that week.  “There’s a lot more people in town looking for culture and things to see.”

About 15 percent of the mill's business is retail.
The mill is a way to consume local products. The grains are Kentucky grown, and the mill has a wide variety of products, such as muffin mix, pizza crust mix and seasoning flour.

“I have seen an increase in the awareness and the desire to buy local, and local foods, in the last five years,” Weisenberger said. “That has really helped us in some ways to increase awareness of local foods. All of our grain here is grown in Kentucky, it’s non-GMO [genetically modified organisms]. So it really is local food in every sense of the way.”

The Weisenbergers and their three employees look to extend their reach, at trade shows.

“The Incredible Food Show was this past weekend, this was our seventh year,” said Phil. “It’s a local food event in downtown Lexington. It caters to a lot of foodies and other people that like to cook at home.”

Boxes of products are ready for shipping.
Weisenberger said the company donates to various local charities throughout the year giving to schools for charity auctions, the Lions Club, Shriners, Goodwill, churches and other ways to give back to Woodford and Scott counties. The mill is in Scott, but the creek is the county line and the Weisenbergers are more identified with Woodford – and with Midway.

The mill’s power source has been one of its few changes since 1865. “You can’t rely on the water,” because the creek level varies, Weisenberger said. “In the 1930s they put in diesel power to run the mill and then after that they put in electricity.”

The mill continues to use creek water, but “to turn turbines, and then it turns an electric generator and makes electricity,” Weisenberger said loudly over the roar of the machines. “We use electricity to run the mill, but we use the generator to generate electricity to offset the costs.”

Another thing that has changed is the technology for dealing with customers. “We interact with customers with email and Internet sales, that has changed,” said Weisenberger.

But in 150 years of business the Weisenbergers haven’t seen much change. “We still grind the corn and we still grind the wheat essentially the same way,” Weisenberger said.

“One thing that used to drive me crazy as a kid was, nothing changed out here; it was always the same. There’s something to be said about finding something you do good and sticking to it, that's what we do.”
The mill's interior has the original wood floors but lots of modern equipment. It's a manufacturing plant.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Payroll tax, licenses and permits brought city 40% over estimates; clerk-treasurer cites new jobs, more business

By Andrea Richard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The City of Midway saw big increases in its two main revenue sources in the last fiscal year, according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The audit for the year ended June 30 showed revenue from licenses and permits was 43 percent above budget, and occupational taxes were 42 percent over budget.

The audit shows $194,720 was budgeted for licenses and permits, and the city took in $277,596. City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson told the Messenger that the increase reflects larger-than-expected revenue from alcohol licenses, business permits, insurance licenses and the Midway Fall Festival. 

Hudson said the even larger dollar increase in the 2 percent occupational tax reflects new jobs at The Homeplace at Midway, the new senior-living community across from Midway College, and the McDonald’s in the Green Gables development in the southeast quadrant of the Interstate 64 interchange. Each employs about 45 people.

The occupational tax generated $396,618 in fiscal 2015, compared to a budget expectation of $280,000, a boost of $116,918. The city ended the year with a $567,000 cash balance, an increase of $338,183.

CPA Debbie Smith of the Mountjoy Chilton Medley accounting firm presented the numbers to the council.

Council member Sara Hicks asked Smith if the city’s “nice numbers” meant Midway was financially strong, or if the city “[wasn’t] taking care of business.”   

Smith said most cities try to keep “three to four operating months of expenses as a rule of thumb.” Last year, the city’s expenses totaled about $788,000, but its revenues were about $1 million.

Smith told the council that they ended the year with $420,000 in CDs, giving them a strong cash and asset position. Even with adding a pension liability, required by federal law, the city still had a good, strong net position, Smith said.

Smith’s one recommendation to the council was to update the ratings of streets’ condition. “You’re supposed to every three years,” Smith said. “It’s been four or five.”

Speed limit sign: The council voted to spend $3,170 for a speed limit sign to collect data on the city’s traffic. The move grew out of concern over speeding on Stephens Street at the Brand Street intersection.

“We’re going to have to collect [the data] ourselves because no one else does it,” said Council Member Bruce Southworth, who lives near the intersection.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the data will be used to show trouble spots to police and state highway officials. “Sometimes you have to take care of your own problems in your community,” he said. “We can use it to say this is what we have . . . verifiable data.”

Southworth said the sign not only flashes the speed of a vehicle, but also collects the number of cars traveling the street, and how much the cars are going above the speed limit. The city can set the sign to a specific limit, and it will flash red if drivers travel above the set speed.

After Southworth presented the council with the price tag, Hicks asked, “We hire the Versailles police to perform a job for us in Midway. Why are we not able for our employees to do this service for us?”

Vandegrift said he did not have an answer to Hicks’ question, but he’s learning “more and more that you don’t want to burn bridges with the state,” which has not been as responsive to city requests for help as city officials would like.

Other business: After the council approved the mayor’s appointment of Council Member Libby Warfield to the Veterans Committee, Warfield said she wanted to buy two wreaths for each of these holidays: Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Christmas and the Fourth of July. The council agreed to two each for the former pair, and one each for the latter pair.

The city’s older fire engine sustained damage after the driver backed into a rail. The truck was being used to clean the streets after the fall festival. Vandegrift said he’s “trying to figure out whether to pay out of pocket [for the damages] or to go through insurance,” which might result in a premium increase. The body-work estimate ranges from $12,000 to $14,000.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Auto-parts factory in Midway Station is 'a total game-changer' for Midway, Mayor Vandegrift says

By Andrea Richard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The coming of an auto-parts factory to Midway Station, the biggest investment in the industrial park in its 18-year history, is a game-changer for the city, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says.

Vandegrift said in an interview with the Midway Messenger that American Howa Kentucky Inc.’s decision to build a plant in Midway means that more factories will follow, now that AHK has demonstrated confidence in the property.

“If we bring in four to five industries over the next however many years, and each of them gets up to 100, 200, maybe 250 employees, it’s a total game-changer for the city of Midway,’ Vandegrift said. “It will change everything about the way we’re able to improve services and what we can add to our city.”

State officials said AHK will bring 54 jobs to Midway, but Vandegrift said Craig McAnelly, executive director of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, told him that the factory will bring 63 jobs to the city.

“In Midway, you count every nine jobs you can get,” Vandegrift said with a laugh. He said the factory will be the city’s largest employer after Midway University, and that will boost the city’s budget.

The city’s occupational tax is 2 percent of payroll. With the average auto-manufacturing employee making roughly $22/hr, the city would net $915.20 in tax per year from each employee. With 63 jobs at AHK, Midway would collect an additional $57,658 a year.   

“You see why Thursday was such a good day for me?” asked Vandegrift, a former one-term city councilman who is in his first year as mayor.

AHK, a Japanese company based in Bowling Green, makes interior parts for the Toyota Camry, made in Georgetown. It expressed interest in purchasing 12 to 15 acres with an option to purchase five more, Vandegrift said.

“What we were able to sell them on here is that there is a huge benefit with their logistics, being this close to Toyota and right on the interstate,” Vandegrift said. “The land is really good. You don’t have to cut through a bunch of rock. It’s ready to dig. I fully expect the geotechnical report on the Roach property to say the same thing.”

The Roach property is a 38-acre, industrially zoned tract on the east side of Georgetown Road (KY 341) next to the industrially zoned part of Midway Station. The land was formerly a part of the 215-acre property known as the Homeplace Farm owned by the Roach family. The EDA has an option to buy it, and recently had it rezoned industrial.

According to the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County planning and zoning commission, when Midway Station was developed in the 1990s it was rezoned with certain conditions, and excluded the Roach property. EDA bought the remaining property.

After many years of little development, and the city and the county still paying off the bond issue used to buy the property, EDA and the city struck a deal with Lexington developer Dennis Anderson to transform most of the property into a residential an commercial development.

But that started as the Great Recession began, and Anderson did not exercise his option to buy the property. As the economy improved and industrial prospects surfaced, EDA had the rear 80 acres of the property zoned industrial.

Vandegrift said EDA optioned the Roach property “to give this company an option. From what I understand the company likes both spots. We should know very soon exactly where they want to go. But it appears like the Roach property right now.”

The mayor said AHK is in the process of picking out a contractor, and he hopes the contract will be signed soon.

“I had heard originally when this was still kind of under our hats that they may want to start breaking and digging in December, but that’s pretty ambitious,” Vandegrift said. “I would think we’re looking at the spring. That would be my guess.”

The mayor also said the city has another prospect for the industrial property at the rear of Midway Station.  

“They just didn’t want to be the first one,” he said. “They wanted to know that it worked.”

The mayor said he’s “as confident as the process allows me to be” that the company will follow through.

The chances “are probably better than 50-50,” he said. “That’s being somewhat conservative about it, because there are a lot of things that come into play that prevent a company from relocating – and not just here, anywhere.”

Vandegrift said he’s not sure how many jobs the prospective company would bring to Midway, but assumes it would bring around the same number as AHK.

The mayor Vandegrift said he doesn’t see the city going after large factories: “I think we’re going to try to hit these companies that have between 50-100 employees and maybe they’ll want to expand.”

Vandegrift said he believes the industrially zoned land could hold six manufacturing plants, but the city’s strategy is to bring in about five similar sized industries to the area.

The mayor was excited about AHK coming to Midway.

“I think everybody was starting to believe it was never going to happen,” he said. “But now that it’s happening I think it’s going to snowball in the right direction.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Auto-parts factory will bring 54 jobs to Midway Station; most of industrially zoned land still available

STATE PRESS RELEASE follows; Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says the exact location of the factory will depend on geotechnical work recently ordered by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the property. EDA Chair John Soper said, "The geo-tech is in on all 80 acres and all of it is suitable for construction, therefore, geotechnical is not an issue on any of the I-1 [industrially zoned] land. The company will most likely purchase 12-15 acres and may option up to an additional like amount. The total I-1 available was 80 acres. Remember this is not a done deal yet. This was a very significant starting point and I fully expect it will go forward; however, till a purchase contract is signed we won’t take anything for granted and will continue to assist AHK in making a very important decision not only for them but for Midway and Woodford County."

Bowling Green-based American Howa Kentucky Inc. (AHK), a manufacturer of interior products for the automotive industry, will create 54 full-time jobs through an investment of more than $13.1 million in a new facility in Midway, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today.

“The automotive industry is a major factor in the success of Kentucky’s economy,” Gov. Beshear said. “With that, so too are the automotive suppliers who ensure the industry thrives in the Commonwealth. Auto manufacturers and suppliers contribute more than $6 billion in payroll to Kentucky workers annually. With announcements like American Howa Kentucky’s, we know that figure will continue to climb.”

The construction of a 60,000-square-foot facility in Midway Station Industrial Park will allow AHK to supply the nearby Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky facility in Georgetown with headliners for the Toyota Camry.

“We are grateful and excited to announce that American Howa Kentucky will build a manufacturing plant in the industrial park at Midway,” said Hirosato Nanami, president of American Howa Kentucky. “We chose the Midway site due to the commitment from state and local officials and incentives which made Midway the obvious choice.”

AHK currently operates one Kentucky facility in Bowling Green, employing 179 full-time workers. That facility produces dash insulators, sunshades, headliners and other automotive interior products.

The company announced that facility in 2007 and expanded it in late 2008, adding 24 jobs, and grew it again in 2011, adding 86 jobs and 56,000 square feet to the 138,000-square-foot facility.

The Bowling Green facility already plays a role in Kentucky’s automotive-related success.

In 2014, approximately 20 percent of Kentucky’s announced new investment and new jobs came from motor vehicle-related products. The Commonwealth is home to more than 470 automotive facilities employing nearly 86,000 people. While automotive jobs have declined by 26 percent nationally since 1990, Kentucky’s automotive workforce has grown by 72 percent.

“I welcome American Howa Kentucky to Midway and the economic impact that it will have on the area and the state,” said Sen. Julian M. Carroll, of Frankfort. “We have a skilled and dedicated workforce ready to fill the new jobs the company will create. I look forward to their success well into the future.”

“American Howa Kentucky is a great addition to Midway and offers an exciting opportunity with 54 new full-time jobs,” said Rep. James Kay, of Versailles. “The company has already seen great success in the Commonwealth and I look forward to seeing its growth continue with this new location.”

“On behalf of our city, I am pleased to welcome American Howa Kentucky to Midway, Kentucky,” said Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. “We are very appreciative of the confidence that they’ve shown in our workforce and business community. We appreciate the Cabinet for Economic Development’s assistance in expediting this project and look forward to a long-term corporate relationship with AHK.”

“This is a great day for the citizens of Woodford County, and we welcome American Howa Kentucky to our corporate family,” said Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle. “This project will bring needed manufacturing jobs to our community and tax base which allows us to better serve our citizens. Thank you Gov. Beshear, Cabinet for Economic Development and Woodford EDA, who guided this project through completion.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $900,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term.

Additionally, AHK was preliminarily approved by KEDFA for $300,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.

American Howa Kentucky also is eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.

Halloween comes early with home decorating contest

Best Overall: 211 S. Winter St. (Shelton residence)
(Pictures have been added to original post.)
Story and photos by Mackenzie Clark
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Halloween came a little early this year for some folks in Midway.

The Midway Woman’s Club is going above and beyond Christmas decorations this year. The club decided to go around and give awards to houses for their Halloween decorating skills.

The houses were judged in six different categories: Best Overall Design, Scariest House, Best Use of Technology, Most Kid-Friendly House, Best Spider Web, and Best Jack-o-Lantern. There was some tough competition, but the Woman’s Club was able to pick out six houses that deserved the awards and recognition. The winners were:

Best Overall Design: 211 S. Winter St.
(Shelton Residence)

Scariest: 304 E. Stephens St. (Gregory residence)
Scariest House: 304 E. Stephens St.
(Gregory Residence)

Best Use of Technology: 128 S. Winter St. (Shockley Residence)

Most Kid-Friendly: 219 W. Higgins St. (Langdon Residence)

Best Spider Web: 318 N. Winter St. and 119 E. Stephens St. (Holloway residence)

Best Jack-o-Lantern: 106 Cottage Grove (Keith Residence)
Best Use of Technology: 128 South Winter Street (Shockley Residence); note the eyes in the windows.
Most Kid-Friendly: 219 West Higgins Street (Langdon Residence)
Here's a view from the street of the Most Kid-Friendly home, making pretty clear why it won.

Best use of spider webs: 119 East Stephens Street (Holloway Residence)

The Keith residence at 106 Cottage Grove had many good jack-o-lanterns and won that award.