Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Midway Merchants recruit Cupid and chocolate for winter promotion Saturday, Feb. 7

By Cameron Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The thrill of the holiday season has worn off and the winter season has left much to be desired. The last thing on many people’s minds is going outside.

In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, the Midway merchants have strategized a new promotion tied to Valentine’s Day to get folks out the house and spend time with their loved one. 

The “Midway Chocolate Stroll” begins Saturday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. The event is sure to be tasty for people to share their love of chocolate a week before Valentine’s Day, a popular time for Midway restaurants.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Old Friends Horse Farm, a facility for retired Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end.

Visitors to the Midway Chocolate Stroll will be encouraged to purchase a $5 ticket at The Crushed Violet at  219 North Gratz St., where they can begin their stroll.

“The ticket will be used by customers to be stamped at each shop they visit to have a chance to win a  Historic Midway gift basket that will be filled with gift certificates, restaurant discounts and items from each shop,” said Melissa Willis, owner of the Savon Apothecary store at 120 East Main St.

Willis said she started this event as a way to promote Midway and the shops on Main Street as well as giving people  something to do on a Saturday when the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team plays  at 9 p.m.

The idea of the Midway Chocolate Stroll is to have each Main Street merchant provide a chocolate treat for everyone to enjoy, as well as Valentine’s Day discounts. Willis says the discounts and types of chocolate will depend on the individual shops.

Claire McCarthy, owner of Celtic Trends, says “Customers can expect a 15 percent store wide discount” at her store. “I’m not sure what type of chocolate I will be serving, but I am considering hot chocolate but it totally depends on the weather that day.”

Visitors can also expect live music from an acoustic artist, a chance to take a picture at a kissing booth, a kettle corn booth and the opportunity to enjoying a glass of wine and chocolate pairings by nearby Equus Run Vineyards.

The Midway Chocolate Stroll will run from 1 to 4 p.m.  “We hope to make this an annual Midway event,” Willis said. “Even if 10 people show up, we want those 10 people to have the best experience.”

Four students from Midway on college dean's list for fall

Four students from Midway, seven from Versailles, nine from Georgetown and two from Stamping Ground were among students who made it onto the Midway College dean's list for the 2014 fall term.

For a student to make the dean's list, one must classify as full-time and achieve a 3.6 grade point average for the semester.

Students on the list from Midway were Raven Rape, Mariah Smock, Andrea Vanvoorhis and Brittany Rice.

The listed students from Versailles are Alex Atkins, Sara Fields, Xia Hoffman, Jill McGregor, Susana Ruvalcaba, Michelle Varner and Bobbi Smith.

The Georgetown students are Neryssa Crisp, Brandon Drake, Jennifer Green, Beverly Hayes, Jen Jones, Becky Powell, Amy Sullivan, Jennifer Wilbers and Mary Eastham.

Students on the list from Stamping Ground are Emma Redmon and Emily Sergent.

--Kayla Loy, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Midway Station TIF plan gets thumbs-up from county's leader, conditional support from Woodford Forward

The plan to use tax-increment financing to redevelop Midway Station went before the Woodford County Fiscal Court Tuesday night, and received a favorable prediction afterward from Judge-Executive John Coyle.

Asked after the meeting if the court would join the plan endorsed by the Midway City Council, Coyle said "I can't see doing it for one city and not the other." The county is participating with Versailles in a tax-increment-financing project, in which the anticipated extra tax revenue from a redevelopment is pledged to reimburse the developers for the public infrastructure in the project.

The county and Midway are on the hook for payments on the bonds they issued to create Midway Station, which so far has failed as an industrial park and would largely be transformed into a commercial and residential development. The public infrastructure, almost half of it planned to be parking, is estimated to cost almost $31 million.

After consultants for developer Dennis Anderson presented the TIF plan, the court received a qualified endorsement of the plan from Billy Van Pelt II, CEO of Woodford Forward, a recently formed group that says it seeks "innovative policies that promote the highest and best use of urban land and the productive use of agricultural farmland."

In a letter, Van Pelt said Woodford Forward would support TIF for Midway if Anderson would provide landscape buffers, fencing, berms and other screening beyond what is required by the zoning ordinance; require an "'empty box' bond for any 'big box' building located on the property" to pay for the building's demolition if it was vacant for a year or more; and have a "live where you work" development with pedestrian trails and dedicated greenspace.

The letter noted that the Interstate 64 exit ramp bordering Midway Station "is the first impression that tourists traveling from the east have of the City of  Midway and Woodford County. It is vitally important that the scenic viewshed tourists experience . . . enhances Midway and Woodford County's brand identity."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Council to pay CSX $18,850 on Higgins water project, calls for 'extreme caution' on Versailles bypass design

By Megan Ingros, Kacie Kelly and Cameron Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
(Corrected version)

The Midway City Council voted Monday night to pay CSX Railroad a surprising $18,850 for a license agreement and insurance on the Higgins Street water-line replacement project.

The council also scheduled the Iron Horse Half Marathon for Oct. 11, and passed a resolution calling for "careful consideration" of Midway's interests in the state's design of a Versailles western bypass that could increase truck traffic on US 62.

The payment to CSX will include a $16,000 for a license agreement allowing the city to use railroad property for the project, which includes a loop line to eliminate problematic dead-end lines. The R.J. Corman Railroad Group operates the rail line but CSX still owns the railroad.

The "pretty hefty number" was a surprise, consulting engineer Chris Stewart told the council. "We knew there was going to be a cost," he said. "I didn’t think it was going to be quite that much." In past cases, CSX has charged a small annual fee, but now wants a lump sum, said Stewart and Council Member Bruce Southworth.

The city has a low-interest loan from the state for the $188,000 project, but with no project money left to cover the money for CSX, it will come from the city's water fund. This year's water budget is $1.3 million, mostly for purchasing water from Kentucky American Water Co.

The rest of the payment is for insurance. CSX requires a $5 million liability policy, and Midway has a $3 million policy.

The project is the first of what may be a series of improvements to Midway's water lines, replacing them slowly over time. Higgins Street Project is being tackled now because the dead-end lines are prone to leaks and sediment buildup, resulting in bad water.

Council Member Libby Warfield abstained from voting because she lives nearon Higgins Street and a water line her family installed will be used as part of the project. "This is a great benefit for me," she said. "We've had 24 years of bad water."

The city also hopes to get a state loan to repair sewer lines that allow water to leak in, burdening the system. Stewart said the original plan was to seek $670,000 for the Brand Street sewer, but said the problem there is likely being caused by leaky sewer lines that feed into it. He said he had prepared an application for $420,000 to use cameras and smoke and dye tests to find leaks, including $150,000 for sending a camera up residents' lateral lines that feed the city's line.

"You're probably going to find that's where a lot of problems are, but that's a touchy issue," because the lateral lines are private property, he said. The council still has the opportunity to decide against lateral launching. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The council granted the Iron Horse Half Marathon a permit to use city streets for its sixth race on Sunday, Oct. 11. Warfield suggested that the race be run on SaturdaySunday. "Thank God you have eighteen hundred people who can run the race," she told organizer Chuck Griffis. "Why can't you consider doing this on Saturday rather than Sunday?"

Griffis said most marathons and half-marathons run on Sundays because vehicular traffic is lighter. Warfield replied, "You’re running on our two main roads that are all horse farms, and horse farms go seven days a week." After more conversation, Griffis said he knows from two shorter Saturday races that use Spring Station Road, which is part of the Iron Horse course, that traffic on the road is heavier on Saturdays.

With little discussion, the council approved a resolution offered by Vandegrift calling for "extreme caution and careful consideration" in the design of a western bypass of Versailles, formally called the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. One of the three alternates for the road's intersection with US 60 is the US 60-62 junction, which would "substantially increase the amount of tractor-trailer and vehicle usage" on US 62, Midway Road, the resolution says.

The resolution, to be sent to state officials, says Midway Road "is a narrow, two-lane road with little or no shoulders . . . already over-utilized by tractor-trailers," and in Midway is "lined with residences where children play and residents walk to school, church and downtown."

In a nod to the problems Versailles has with downtown traffic, the resolution says "The City of Midway recognizes the autonomy of the City of Versailles, and does wish to inhibit its right to relieve and regulate any traffic issues, safety and quality-of-life considerations relating thereto."

Council Member Sara Hicks called the resolution "nice . . . not too heavy-handed." Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney toughened up his draft.

The council also decided to advertise for bids in interest rates for financing approximately half of the purchase price of the new fire truck.

At the conclusion of the meeting there was a closed session to discuss the sale or purchase of real property. No action was taken, Vandegrift said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Council committee to continue fire-truck discussions

The City Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at City Hall to review financing options for the new fire truck. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Council to meet at 8 a.m. Monday to discuss payment schedule for new fire truck, what to do with old one

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 12 at City Hall to discuss payment options for the new fire truck and the future of the old fire truck.

The packet sent to the council with information about those matters can be downloaded as a PDF  here. All council and council-committee meetings are open to the public.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New council meets; Southworth is mayor pro tem, chair of public works committee; Roller heads two panels

The new Midway City Council met for the first time Monday night and organized itself and city government for the new two-year term.

Council Member Bruce Southworth was elected mayor pro tem, and will serve as mayor when new Mayor Grayson Vandegrift is absent. Vandegrift was elected in November for a four-year term as mayor over fellow council member Sharon Turner, who had been mayor pro tem for six years. By tradition, the pro-tem post goes to the council member who got the most votes in the last election.

The council has three new members: Steven Craig, Kaye Nita Gallagher and Libby Warfield. They join Southworth, Dan Roller and Sara Hicks. Vandegrift named Roller to chair two of the four year-round committees he created. He named Southworth, a former Versailles city administrator and Midway sewage-treatment plant operator, to head the Public Works and Services Committee. Vandegrift appointed these members (chairs named first):
  • Finance, Ordinance and Policy: Roller, Hicks, Southworth
  • Public Works and Services: Southworth, Gallagher, Roller
  • Cemetery and City Property: Hicks, Warfield, Craig
  • Blighted Property: Roller, Warfield, Hicks
Vandegrift also put Gallagher and Craig on a committee to handle this year's Memorial Day service. The council re-elected Phyllis Hudson as city clerk-treasurer and Diane Shepard as assistant clerk. At the end of the short meeting, the council turned to the Midway Messenger camera:
Left to right: Gallagher, Hicks, Southworth, city attorney Phil Moloney, Vandegrift, Roller, Shepard, Warfield, Craig.