Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Women become 'Calendar Girls' to promote play, theater and the role of women in Woodford County

By Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway residents may have been surprised to see a calendar featuring many well-known women of Woodford County posing modestly nude, in support of The Woodford Theatre’s adaptation this month of Calendar Girls – the uplifting story about a group of women who pose semi-nude for a good cause.

The theater’s connection to this story hits close to home because the theater is run by four women: Patricia Clark, the executive and artistic director; Dawn Connerly, technical director; Dara Tiller, managing director; and Vanessa Becker Weig, education director. Clark said she wanted to highlight the strong women in the area who are notable community figures.

“When I first came here to work, I was impressed by all the women business owners in Versailles and Midway. The [Main Street] strip in Midway is mostly women who have opened businesses,” said Clark.

The original story of Calendar Girls is based on the true story of Angela Barker, whose husband passed away from lymphoma in his early 50s. Barker and her friends, part of the England Yorkshire Women’s Institute, decided to pose semi-nude for a calendar – which had typically featured meadows and flowers – to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research, according to the website if The Bloodwise, a United Kingdom cancer charity for which the women have since raised over £3 million, or $4.32 million.
The calendar for July features this photograph of Leslie Penn.
The calendar features three women from Midway: Leslie Penn of the Historic Midway Museum Store; Peggy Angel, owner of Steppin’ Out Boutique; and Karel Churchill, owner of Le Marche Boutique on East Main Street.

“People have come into the store asking for my autograph,” said Penn. “I just love participating in community things and I love to see how people can work together in achieving what we want.”

Calendar Girls was adapted into a film starring Helen Mirren in 2003, then an onstage production in 2008, and continues to be adapted to suit various aspects of feminism, including in Midway. The calendar became a symbolic way for the women of Midway to express their strengths.

“The journey we took in setting up their photographs is everything the actual true story of the Calendar Girls was,” said Clark. “This was a really special community effort that we got the chance to complete this year.”

The tale has since become an empowering lesson driven by all types of women and has a flexible message for feminists. The Woodford Theatre’s adaptation of the story gave the women of Woodford County an opportunity to pose for their own calendar.

“Everyone has been incredibly positive,” said Churchill. “You know, this is the South. They’re a little more conservative. But I’m really proud of the women who got together to do it.”

Additionally, the theater spent the month of March, Women’s History Month, promoting The Girl Project, an arts- and performance-based program for young women that was founded by Weig and Clark’s daughter, Ellie. The project is “designed to inspire, educate and empower girls of all ages to challenge the misrepresentation of girls and women in American media culture through performing arts and education.” Clark said she truly believes that the project can help young women, and men, to express themselves and understand the issues and mistreatment they face today.

“I have people who absolutely celebrate and love the calendar and people who will shy away from it,” Clark said. “I often find it interesting how people receive comedy and theater with sexual innuendos, but it’s really about people’s perceptions.”

Although she credits the success of the theater to the women in charge today, Clark says that the message that her story and the real-life story of Angela Barker can inspire women and men of all ages at any stage in their lives.

“This is a celebration of life and that’s exactly what the story reveals,” said Clark. “There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. They are celebrating their aging. They’re celebrating themselves as women. They’re celebrating their bodies as much as they can.  They’re saying, ‘This is who I am and I’m proud of this.’”

Mayor putting Northside Drive repaving, sidewalk repairs, park work in budget to be proposed soon

Northside Drive (Photos by Katherine Stach)
By Katherine Stach
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

As he sketches a city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has some ideas to highlight, such as road repairs, park improvements and sidewalk repairs.

The biggest project would be the repaving of Northside Drive, the road that runs from the Midway Grocery up to Northside Elementary School. The condition of the road is of concern considering the high volume of school buses and children that use it for transportation.

Potholes on Northside Drive
The mayor says he has set aside $80,000 for repaving, but does not plan on having to use the full amount. He says the job will cost around $60,000, and any funds that remain will be used to repave other streets with issues.  Vandegrift said he considers Northside Drive to be the worst road in town.

“I’ve told the council this year that I think our top priority should be roads and sidewalks,” Vandegrift said in an interview.

The mayor has also planned to budget $25,000 for repairing sidewalks. That funding will not be spent, however, until the city is able to secure a grant for sidewalk improvement, he said.

The city has run into difficulty with sidewalks, mainly because property owners are responsible for repairs. A city ordinance holds that a property owner can be charged $10 a day for a damaged sidewalk, but it cannot expect a property owner to pay the fee if they are not financially able to complete the repair themselves.

Vandegrift said the council plans on reworking that law so that it is fair to both the city and the property owner, which could mean splitting the repair costs.

Last fall, Vandegrift appointed a committee to address the city’s sidewalk concerns and to draw up an extensive plan for improvement. Council Member Bruce Southworth was named chair of the sidewalk committee, and Council Members Kaye Nita Gallagher and Steven Craig were also appointed to the committee.

The committee has had difficulty coming up with a comprehensive plan and a clear policy for the maintenance and repair of sidewalks.

One of the city’s main concerns is the injuries that can come from walking on damaged sidewalks, and although property owners are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their sidewalks, the city itself can still be held liable for any possible injuries sustained. 

Vandegrift said he also plans to allocate $10,000 for minor improvements at Walter Bradley Park.

Some of the improvements suggested by citizens who attended a public hearing on the park last week include the expansion of the park’s walking paths leading to Midway University, a gated entryway behind the library and adding displays about the city’s history.

UK professor and Midway resident John Holloway, who serves on the citizens’ advisory committee for the park and has been improving its wooded area, said he has applied for a grant for planting 500 dogwood trees to improve the general aesthetics of the park.

Vandegrift said that his personal favorite suggestion at the hearing was the addition of a train car as a backdrop for the stage in a planned pavilion. He suggested placing the car at the top of the hill and using the flat land at the bottom as a place for public performances. Visitors could bring picnic supplies and enjoy the events held there.

The suggestions at the hearing could increase the popularity of Walter Bradley Park and attract more visitors to the area Vandegrift has called “the least-used resource in town.”

Vandegrift said at the last council meeting that he expects to present his proposed budget soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shadwell Farm has two top 10 Derby prospects, including high-ranked Mohaymen, homebred Shagaf

By Stepper Toth
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media 

Shadwell Farm, which has two of its four locations in the Midway area, has not had a horse in the Kentucky Derby since 2006. This year, it expects to have two horses in the Derby, and both are top 10 prospects to win the May 7 race.

Mohaymen beats Zulu in the stretch to win the Fountain of Youth
Stakes at Gulfstream. (Photo by Adrianna Spadoni/Coglianese)
Mohaymen, bought by Shadwell for $2.2 million as a yearling, is the Derby favorite or co-favorite among handicappers.  Shagaf, who was homebred at Shadwell, is another top prospect.

Of 30,000 thoroughbred foals born every year in the United States,”Only 20 of those are going to make it to the Derby every year,” Shadwell Farm Stallion Manager Kent Barnes said. “So your odds of getting just one horse to the Derby are pretty long, but to get two, I mean, that is really something.”

Mohaymen “is very, very talented and very well bred,” trainer and Lexington native Kiaran McLaughlin said in a telephone interview from his base in New York. “He is five for five now. He won his first three in New York; his second race was a Grade II,” the second highest level of stakes races.

“His third race was a Grade II, a mile and an eighth, so [the Derby’s] mile and a quarter should not be an issue.”

Shagaf wins the Gotham Stakes. (New York Racing
Association photo by Adam Coglianese)
Shagaf is more lightly raced, but Shadwell Farm Vice President and General Manager Rick Nichols said the colt has not only both good pedigrees and good conformation, but he has it in his heart, making him a top Derby prospect.

"He’s bred to stay a little better than a lot of horses we’re breeding nowadays, Nichols said. "Has 50 points, which is enough to get him into the Derby.”

Qualification for the Derby is based on a points system for 34 stakes races. Points are awarded to the top four finishers on an increasing scale of 10-4-2-1 and their multiples, most recently 100-40-20-10. The top 20 point earners can earn a spot in the Derby.

Mohaymen led the standings with 70 points after winning the Nashua, Remsen, Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth stakes, but dropped to third after Gun Runner won the Louisiana Derby, worth 100 points for a total of 151. Lani, a Japanese horse, won the UAE Derby over the weekend, earning 100 points for second.

Regardless of Derby points, Mohaymen remains the favorite of many racing observers. He got nine of the 14 first-place votes in the DerbyHQ Top 20, rankings by horse-racing writers compiled by The Courier-Journal. Nyquist was ranked second with three first-place votes.

Shagaf recently won the Gotham Stakes, giving him all his 50 points. He is tied for fifth in the official Derby rankings, with Cupid and Danzing Candy. In the DerbyHQ Top 20, Shagaf is eighth and the lowest-ranked horse with a first-place vote -- from Jon White of Santa Anita Park, who has ranked him first all along.

“Shagaf had an excellent workout Saturday morning in New York while preparing for the April 9 Wood Memorial, White wrote. “Just a week ago, Shagaf had a workout that his trainer, Chad Brown, called 'outstanding'.”

Nichols told the Midway Messenger that Shadwell has avoided racing Mohaymen and Shagaf against each other before the Derby due to their connection.

Mohaymen and Shagaf each have one more race before the Derby. Mohaymen’s next race is the Florida Derby on April 2, in a field including Nyquist.

Sign at Leestown Road farm entrance (Photo by Stepper Toth)
Beyond racing, Shadwell Farm’s main focus is to produce offspring for its owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the 28-year-old crown prince of Dubai.

“Sheikh Hamdan races primarily in England, Ireland, and France,” Barnes said. ”He has the U.S. stable, and he has three trainers in the United States. He has a stable in Dubai and he has a stable in South Africa. He will ship out from some of those bases to race in Japan, Italy, over the place.” In addition to the farm in Lexington, he owns a farm in England and a farm in Ireland.

The newest additions to Shadwell are the farm on Leestown Road west of Midway, and a 400-acre layup facility on Georgetown Road in Franklin and Scott counties, also with a Midway address. The layup facility is used to keep racing horses that need a rest or rehabilitation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Council nixes primaries, OKs new fish-farm agreement, hears of property-maintenance deal, History Day April 2

Candidates for city office in Midway won't have to file their papers more than 11 months before taking office, under an ordinance passed Monday evening by the City Council.

State law allows cities with nonpartisan elections to opt out of the law that requires a primary if the number of candidates is more than twice the number of seats available, such as 13 or more for Midway's six-member council.

The council apparently voted to do that more than a decade ago, but failed to make note in its minutes, so the ordinance had to be re-enacted to take effect. The city hasn't had a primary election for at least 60 years, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The change, which will take effect in 2018, will mean that candidates won't have to file their papers until early August, instead of late January. "Most people are in hibernation at that time," Council Member Libby Warfield quipped.

"They're not thinking about it," Vandegrift agreed, predicting, "You're going to get a better pool of candidates" with a later filing deadline for the November elections. Seven candidates are running for the six council seats this fall; member Dan Roller is retiring.

The city will move the pile of dirt and lumber and bill the owner.
Vandegrift reported that the situation with an abandoned log house in the 200 block of East Higgins Street is being resolved, with the property owner doing most of the fix-up and clean-up. He said the owner was unable to move the pile of dirt and lumber in front of the house, so agreed to have the city do that and be billed for the use of employees and equipment. This will mark the first time the city has done work to enforce its property-maintenance ordinance and billed the owner.

The council authorized Vandegrift to sign a revised agreement with Advancing Sustainable Aquaculture Performance, which operates a small-scale fish farm at the old sewage-treatment plant. It will allow ASAP to use the basement and office building for an extra $50 a month plus the additional utility costs, and to conduct retail sales of fish, which Warfield could be used to stock local farm ponds.

The council also approved an event permit for the Bluegrass Cycling Club's annual Horsey Hundred race to pass through the city on various routes Saturday, May 28, with a rest stop at the Methodist Church. About 2,500 cyclists typically participate. "They come from everywhere," including Europe, Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said.

Vandegrift said he would continue to pursue the idea of regular, three-way meetings with the Versailles City Council, which has endorsed the idea, and the Woodford County Fiscal Court, which has been skeptical. The mayor said he has been working well with County Judge-Executive John Coyle on some issues, and may arrange for the council to attend a fiscal-court meeting to discuss the idea. He said the Madison County Fiscal Court meets quarterly with the councils of Richmond and Berea, and "Only good things can come from that."

In other business, Dee Dee Roach told the council that the history committee of Midway Renaissance is reviving its observance of Midway History Day, April 2 from 11 to 2 at the Christian Church. She invited community members to bring photographs and other historical artifacts to share. A scanner will be available to copy photos.

"We want to hold on to this history before we lose some of our older members," Roach said. "We really hope we can do something every year."

After the council meeting, about 35 people attended a public hearing on the future of Walter Bradley Park. The Messenger will report on it later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Successful, home-grown restaurateur Mark Wombles plans to open Mezzo, on Main Street, on Monday

Wombles sits in front of the herb garden that isn't just decoration, but will supply the Mezzo kitchen.
By Molly Elifritz
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Chef and restaurateur Mark Wombles is set to open his new restaurant, Mezzo Italian Café and Provisions, on Monday, March 21.

The name of the restaurant is inspired by the town of Midway. “Mezzo” is the Italian word for “middle,” “half” or “medium.”

Midway has no Italian restaurant, and Wombles says he hopes Mezzo can fill the void and is ready “to go big on it.”

The Messenger got a sneak peek before the opening, which will start with a limited menu March 21. Wombles said on March 12 that it “should fully open a few weeks after that.”

Mezzo is on Main Street, two doors down from Wombles’ other Midway restaurant, Heirloom, which remains the top choice for the Lexington area on OpenTable, an online reservation and ratings service. His other restaurant, Distilled, in the Gratz Park Inn in Lexington, is rated fifth in the area.
Mezzo is much larger than Heirloom, and differs greatly from it in other ways.

“We’re not going to do the same food as Heirloom,” Wombles said. “It’s going to be more casual. I don’t want to say that we’re not going to use good ingredients and all that but, we still want to elevate the food even though it is casual. We want it to be really good.”

Wombles at the front door of Mezzo Italian Cafe and Provisions
What will be the atmosphere? “Just very welcoming is the best way to put it,” Wombles said.
The deep wood colors enhance the Italian feel and the sofa seating next to the wine bar gives off an open-hearted vibe. The interior has been altered only slightly from that of the 815 Prime restaurant, the building's previous occuant.

The ambiance of Mezzo is meant to relate to everyone. “Wear a pair of jeans if you just got off work; it’s fine,” Wombles advised. “Come in and have a drink or whatever.”

Mezzo houses a wood-burning pizza oven that will come in handy on “Kids Night” once a week. Every Monday Mezzo will offer special prices ($2.99) for pizza and pasta for children.

Wombles plans to serve what he calls “elevated casual” food, with an important aspect being fresh herbs and spices.

“Fresh is going to be a big thing for us. We try to use the best possible product that we can,” Wombles said as he pointed to a grid along the front wall next to the window. The grid will be an in-house herb garden, allowing the restaurant to be one step closer to supplying the freshest basil, chives, oregano and other herbs.

Outdoor seating is to be enhanced as the weather warms. A lounge area will allow customers to gather and spend time with friends and family.

Mezzo will be fully equipped with a downstairs bar, in the former site of the 815 Tavern, as well as a wine bar upstairs.

This is Wombles’ third restaurant and his second restaurant in Midway, and he expects to open more.
Crediting some of his success to Midway’s reputation as a restaurant town, he said, “Competition is a good thing, you know. It keeps you on your toes and it also sparks more interest.”

Wombles described his urge to open the restaurant as “second nature.”

“I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it, but I want to succeed at what I do,” he said. “We try to do everything perfect.”

The hours for Mezzo are yet to be set in stone. Wombles said he hopes to be open by 11 and close around 9 or 10 depending on traffic and other details.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Midway University seeks nominations for annual awards

Midway University is seeking nominations for its 2016 Spotlight Awards, to be presented Thursday, May 26. The awards honor a female community leader who has improved the lives of women or someone who has served as a strong role model for young women, and someone who has directly benefited the university.

The Pinkerton Vision Award honors the legacy of Dr. L.L. Pinkerton, whose vision of the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847 established it as the first formal education for orphaned girls on the site that is now Midway University. Criteria include: an individual or group who has had a direct impact on improving the lives of women; a woman who has served as an outstanding role model; or a woman who has displayed great leadership, innovative thinking and influence in her chosen field. The recipient must be a Kentucky native, resident or organization located in Kentucky. For a nomination form, click here.

The Midway University Legacy Award award honors a person or persons who have impacted the university over many years by giving time, service, support and/or resources. The winner is chosen by a committee of college representatives.

The awards dinner, in the Piper Dining Hall at 6 p.m., will also have a keynote speaker. A reception will precede it at 6 p.m. All proceeds from the dinner and awards ceremony will go to support ongoing academic programming and student scholarships at Midway University. The awards are sponsored by Community Trust Bank.

To make a nomination, purchase tickets, become a sponsor of this event or find out more about the awards dinner, visit www.midway.edu/spotlight or call Scott Fitzpatrick at 859-846-5300.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Photizo Group leaving Midway; owner Ed Crowley, leaving EDA, says it's not related to fairness ordinance

By Anyssa Roberts
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Ed Crowley, Midway’s member on the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and owner of a business with nine employees downtown, is moving his company to Lexington.

The Midway City Council named Ron Layman of Midway to succeed Crowley Monday evening. Layman has a background in finance as a loan officer for Republic State Mortgage in Versailles.

Crowley is the CEO of Photizo Group, an international print data service and consulting company that has been housed in the barnlike building that houses Robin’s Nest Bakery on Gratz Street for several years after starting out in Versailles.

Ed Crowley
Crowley said in an email that while Midway is a “unique place to work, it is much easier to recruit staff for a firm like ours when the firm is located in Lexington versus Midway or Versailles due to the shopping, dining, and housing opportunities provided by Lexington.” He said most of his employees live in Lexington so moving the company makes it an easier commute, he said.

Crowley said he will continue to live in Versailles and farm in Woodford County. He said he feels that someone with a business in Midway will be better suited for the position. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said that was the top criterion for his nomination of Layman.

Last year, Crowley was the only business person to publicly object to Midway’s “fairness” ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual preference, gender identity or familial status.

Crowley said in the email that he did not leave because of the ordinance.

“While I still do not agree with it because I do not believe there was an issue to begin with (it was driven by outside interests) and I believe it will open business owners up to lawsuits, I believe the right process was followed, and the passing of the ordinance was not the motivation for our move.”

Vandergrift said after the meeting that he does not think Crowley is leaving because of the ordinance, because Lexington has one as well.

Council Member Libby Warfield, who voted against the ordinance, asked how many jobs the company will be taking with it to Lexington. Vandergrift said that he didn’t know, but they were “good paying jobs.”

Photizo Group employs nine people in Midway, Crowley said, and has 35 employees internationally, according to the Photizo Group website.

“I hate to see him go,” Vandergrift said. “He was a great business pillar of the community… but we’ll keep bringing in new [jobs].”

Steam engine seeks a home

Vandegrift updated the council on the uncertain status of the RJ Corman Railroad Group’s “Old Smokey” steam engine. He said he and the railroad are concerned that the engine and the caboose next to the bank lot won’t fit in the space without backfill and a retaining wall. The railroad is seeking more money from the state, which gave it a grant to put the engine in the Midway Historic District.

Vandergrift said having the engine downtown could be a great attraction, but he said a “plan B” could be moving it to Walter Bradley Park, which is also in the district. He said he is meeting with RJ Corman representatives to look at spaces in the park this week.

“RJ Corman Railroad Company really wants this train to be here,” Vandergrift said. “This place is where it should be. We’re Kentucky’s first railroad town. We don’t want to lose this to another city.”

Council Member Sara Hicks said the engine and caboose could be a “great feature for the park,” and that she could envision a small railroad museum there.

Emergency budget: Drew Chandler of the Woodford County Emergency Management team presented the semi-annual emergency management update. The organization has cut 30 percent of its budget, largely by converting all full-time positions to part-time. The county and the two cities had a dispute last year about the emergency management budget.

The lack of full-time employees relieves the department of paying health, life and dental insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance, saving $17,072.23. Chandler said after the meeting that the cuts can be attributed to a reduction of state and federal money. He is one of four part-time employees operating the service.

Property maintenance: Vandegrift updated the council on the status of a dilapidated log house on East Higgins Street. The owner has agreed to purchase wood to board up the windows and to move the trash and dirt from the premises.

The owner has until the end of the week to make the changes, Vandergrift said. This is the first time that the city has taken action to fix a property at the owner’s expense.

“The point that I relayed to them is that these are difficult situations, but the city can not send the message that when we send out letters that we are not going to follow up on them,” Vandergrift said. “And I think we made that clear this time.”

No primary elections: The council heard first reading of an ordinance to eliminate the need for primary elections for city offices. State law requires primaries in nonpartisan elections if there are twice as many candidates as seats to be filled unless the city opts out of primaries. Midway has not held a primary since 1955.

According to city attorney Phil Moloney, the council had voted on a similar ordinance in the past, but because it was not included in the minutes, it needed to be re-enacted. The second reading and passage are scheduled for March 21. If passed, the ordinance would take effect in 2018.

Surplus fire vehicles: The council dismissed a $100 bid for the city’s surplus fire truck but accepted a $260 bid for the department’s surplus van. “Is that too much?” Council Member Bruce Southworth asked, laughing with the others.

Warfield said she took the liberty of contacting Ronnie Day of the Kentucky Fire Commission in Frankfort, who operates an email list of fire stations in the state. Day may be able to send an advertisement for the truck to interested buyers in the firefighting field, Warfield said.

“It’s no offense to the bid that’s on the table, but my main concern is the fire truck be placed somewhere that it can really be used,” Warfield said.

Cemetery security: Warfield brought up the issue of closing the cemetery gates. She said her mother and sister had seen a car in the cemetery after dark. Not closing the gates at night leaves the cemetery susceptible to trash and vandals, so the gates should be locked after dark, she said.

Assistant Versailles Police Chief Mike Murray, who was in the audience, said he would have patrol officers check the cemeteries after dark and escort loiterers off of the grounds.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Steam engine site uncertain as Corman seeks more money; mayor expects Main St. manager in 1-3 years

Old Smokey appears at the Midway Fall Festival.
By Tiffany Broughton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The R.J. Corman Railroad Group’s plan to house the “Old Smokey” steam engine in Midway has hit a snag.

The plan was to put the engine on the United Bank lot where a Corman caboose already resides but Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he has doubts the engine will fit there.

Vandegrift said the bank has been very helpful, but doesn’t even own the land where the caboose is, much less the space needed for the engine.

“If we put it over there it will probably cost an extra $200,000 for a retaining wall and backfill because of the slope” behind the caboose, Vandegrift said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Midway Business Association. “Ideally, it should go downtown.” He said in an interview that the site is “highly visible and near a lot of things visitors want to come to.”

Vandegrift told the merchants that Corman went back to Frankfort on Wednesday to see if the state Transportation Cabinet is willing to give it any more federal money.

Vandegrift said he was told the meeting was positive but they won't have an answer until the middle of summer. He noted in the interview that a new transportation secretary was just appointed.

Vandegrift said he does not want to lose the potential tourist attraction to another city. He said in the interview that Corman does not own the land where its rails run in Midway – CSX Corp. does – but it does have full ownership of its line to Versailles, location of the Bluegrass Railroad Museum.

However, the government grant that Corman received to house the engine is dependent on it being placed in a historic district, and the Versailles Historic District does not extend to the railroad.

Vandegrift said in the interview that the Midway Historic District apparently includes the Walter Bradley Park, where he told the merchants that it could fit really well if the bank site doesn’t work out.

“I’m just afraid it’s going to be way too complicated to do this on private property,” he said, partly because the bank would also have “some liability issues” from tourist traffic, and “They have legitimate concerns.”

Main Street manager?

Talk about getting a Main Street manager to attract business and help retail and commercial development has circulated since the city lost its Main Street manager four years ago after the previous administration’s disputes with Midway Renaissance, which shared the cost. Vandegrift says there is potential to fill the position in the next one to three years.

"I hate the term Main Street manager. I think it's incredibly narrow," the mayor said. "I think I'd like to call it tourism and economic development director. It's not just a focus on downtown; it's a focus on economic development, which includes downtown."

Vandegrift said the city needs to decide how the job would fit in with what the business association is already doing.

"In the past we've had the merchants pay for part of it and the Renaissance pay for part of it. . . so the person basically has three bosses and it is a mess," said Vandegrift. "I just want to let you know that it is on the horizon."

Other MBA business

As of Feb. 3 the Midway Business Association only had three paid members. Treasurer Leslie Penn reported at Wednesday’s meeting that it now has 16.

Meanwhile, the advertising committee is meeting regularly and working on a plan.

"Our main goal is to most effectively. . . reach everyone consistently on a daily basis, not just for events," committee member Peggy Angel said. "We want them aware that we are here every single day, doing what we do."

James Reed of the Kentucky Broadcasters Association has developed a media and advertising campaign to market to tourists, said Angel. Reed also works with Midway University.

During the February meeting, Angel said the association will have a budget of $16,000 to $20,000 for the campaign. Advertisements will cover a 70-mile radius and reach out to families with a decision maker 30 to 60 years old, she said.

The MBA has no monthly costs for Reed, Angel said: " It is a cost as we determine what we can afford and what we want to do."

Angel said the committee has picked apart everything they have looked at so far. "We have asked what is the cost, what is the distribution and what is the benefit for the entire association?"

Reed has set up radio ads with three stations, two in Lexington and one in Louisville, to promote Midway from 6 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., said Angel. "We are trying to monitor the costs under a microscope this year to make sure we are spending our dollars wisely," she said.

The advertising committee has more work to do. Eli Mertens of TravelHost Magazine and Hannah Smith of A Look At were in attendance, pitching their ideas for ads the committee may consider.
These publications would be placed in hotels and motels around the Bluegrass. TravelHost is a magazine released six times each year. A Look At is a hard-cover book placed in each room at specific hotels and published once a year. The MBA has used TravelHost in the past, but A Look At would be a new venture.

The MBA has already agreed to be a part of the Kentucky Horse Park Magazine for the spring and fall of this year, said Angel. The magazine will be printed before the Keeneland meet in April.
Part of the budget will go toward advertising for the Midway Fall Festival, which is the association's main money-maker.

Elisha Riddle, creator of the Meet Me In Midway Facebook page and owner and operator of Charismatic Media, said she has been working on drawing more people to the page.

Riddle uses $25 of her $125 monthly fee for promoting the page to targeted audiences on Facebook.
"The first month I put the dollars towards promoting the Chocolate Stroll and I think it had a mediocre effect, to be honest," said Riddle. "The second month I put the dollars towards an ad to get people to like the Meet Me In Midway page and I think there was a very positive response from that."

As of Feb. 7 the page had 80 likes. Less than a month later, on March 3, the page had 210 likes.

Vandegrift said the city’s Meet Me In Midway website, which is still not connected to the same-named Facebook page, has been updated and is receiving a facelift. He said the goal is for the site to work better on mobile devices.

"The analysis shows that every year less people are using our website on laptops and more on phones and tablets," said Vandegrift.

The Francisco's Farm Art Festival sent out 108 invitations to artists on March 1. Twenty had been accepted as of the next morning, said Kenny Smith, President of MBA and the festival’s artist coordinator.

"We should have a good turnout of artists this year, more so than last year," said Smith.

The Versailles-Woodford County Chamber of Commerce will be holding a ribbon cutting on March 11 for Cherokee & Co, which opened recently on Main Street, reported Don Vizi, executive director of the chamber.

Vizi said the chamber has been working with a Midway University intern, Sadie Boschert, to help find grants to bring bathrooms to downtown.

On Saturday, March 12, there will be a forum for the Hike Bike Waterways Horseback Riding Trail Alliance at KCTCS in Versailles from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to display and brainstorm proposed trails.

The MBA meets the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. upstairs in City Hall. The next meeting will start with a short brainstorming session on potential fundraising ideas.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Two new hair stylists join Midway salon

Lara McMath-Wilson and Tammey Morrison have joined the team at V.S. Salon and Spa. The renovations are almost finished and Tammy Mitchell VanSteenbergh, owner of the salon, says she is excited to welcome the two stylists to her team. Together the two share years of expertise in hair styling. --By Tiffany Broughton, business reporter