Friday, May 27, 2016

Horsey Hundred will bring scads of cyclists through Midway Saturday; rest stop captain seeks volunteers

The 39th annual Horsey Hundred bicycle tour will come through Midway Saturday, May 28, with a rest stop at the lot next to Midway United Methodist Church from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with most of the cyclists expected to come through in the morning. The Bluegrass Cycling Club provides food and supplies, while volunteers hand out snacks, mix Gatorade, answer questions and provide other assistance.

Midway City Council Member Dan Roller, captain of the rest stop, is asking anyone from Midway who didn't register with www.horseyhundred.com but who want to volunteer part of the day "to just show up and wear any type of Midway shirt, Midway church shirts or other t-shirts that would let the riders know you are locals and may be able to provide information about local activities. . . . Please leave me a message or show up. Thanks."

Midway will also be the site of a Saturday night party for cyclists, with food, drink and live music. The ride, following various routes in the Bluegrass from 25 to 102 miles long, will continue Sunday but there will be no rest stop in Midway on Sunday. Georgetown College is headquarters for the event, which is expected to attract more than 2,000 cyclists from all over the country and other nations. Here's a map of the 102-mile route, with rest stops and major mileposts marked:

The 82-mile route uses some different roads, including Weisenberger Mill Road, with traffic going both ways on Stephens Street and Spring Station Road:
Here's a close-up of the 82-mile route's path through Midway:

The 60-mile route uses Spring Station and Georgetown roads:

Here's the 41-mile route:

The 25-mile route does not go through Midway proper, but through greater Midway:

Midway University presents Spotlight Awards, looks to its future as a fully coeducational institution

Midway University upheld its traditions at its annual Spotlight Awards dinner last night as it looked forward to a very different future, very soon.

The university presented former Lexington Vice Mayor Isabel Yates its Pinkerton Vision Award, named for the founder of the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which evolved into a college and became a university last year.

The Legacy Award went to the family of James Bowling, whose widow Ann and daughter Belinda Metzger have followed him as trustees of the school.

"Long live Midway University," Ann Bowling said as she accepted the award.

Nearby was another sign that will need changing before too long.
In an effort to ensure its survival, the university will become fully coeducational this fall. That "is a move that was not considered in haste but one that will allow Midway University to reinvent itself at a challenging time for private higher education," President John Marsden told the crowd.

The school announced the change May 16, four days after its trustees unanimously approved it. At the time, Marsden said "We cannot continue to preserve something that is unsustainable merely for nostalgic purposes."

The crowd did its part to support the school, spending $12,541 on bids and donations through an auction of specially engraved Woodford Reserve bourbon bottles on each table, said Scott Fitzpatrick, vice president for advancement. Brown-Forman Corp. was one of the dinner's sponsors.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Council committee will hear presentation on proposed zoning ordinance regarding unoccupied large buildings

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, at City Hall to hear a one-hour presentation from Billy Van Pelt of Woodford Forward on a proposed "empty box" zoning ordinance that would apply to large buildings. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

PSC sets public meeting June 7 to discuss Kentucky American Water's request for rate increase

Map shows site of hearing on water rate increase
The Kentucky Public Service Commission will hold a public meeting next month in Lexington to receive public comments on rate increases requested by Kentucky-American Water Co. that include a higher cost of water sold wholesale to the City of Midway.

The public comment meeting on June 7 will be held at the Conference Center on the Bluegrass Community and Technical College's Leestown Road Campus, 164 Opportunity Way, just outside New Circle Road. It will begin at 5:30 with an information session, during which PSC staff will explain the ratemaking process and an overview of Kentucky American's application. The public comment portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. For those unable to attend, the presentation will be available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov, beginning June 7.

Kentucky American wants to raise its annual revenue by about 15 percent, bringing total annual revenue to about $95 million. The requested rate increase for wholesale customers, including Midway, is 6 percent plus an increase in the monthly charge based on size of the meter. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift's budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 anticipates an overall 13 percent rate increase.

The company says its request is driven mostly by the need to recover the cost of ongoing system improvements and of major construction projects completed since the last rate adjustment in 2013, notably a new filtration system at its Richmond Road facility.

In addition to the base rate increase, Kentucky American is again asking the PSC for permission to begin adjusting retail and wholesale rates annually to cover the cost of infrastructure repairs and replacement. The annual adjustments would be subject to PSC review and approval, but through a process less extensive than that in a rate case, the PSC says in a press release. It rejected the same idea in 2013, on grounds that it would not accelerate the replacement of aging water lines.

The company's application and related documents are available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2015-00418. A narrated slideshow explaining the PSC ratemaking process is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch9vTS5NzJ8.

In addition to the public meeting, the PSC will conduct a formal evidentiary hearing in the case on July 13, beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. The hearing will be held at the PSC offices at 211 Sower Blvd. in Frankfort and may last several days. It will be open to the public and may be viewed live on the PSC website. Written comments will be accepted through the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing. They may be mailed to the PSC at P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, KY 40602, faxed to 502-564-9625, e-mailed from the PSC website or submitted in person at the public meetings or at the PSC offices.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Francisco's Farm draws a big crowd Sunday

The 13th annual Francisco's Farm Arts Festival at Midway University had a little bad luck Saturday, with rain off and on, but the skies cleared and the weather warmed Sunday, and a big crowd turned out to see the 92 juried artists and crafters from 16 states, have lunch and enjoy the day.

Heath and Molly Eric of Rumsey, Ky., right, were among the musical entertainers Sunday afternoon.

The festival, presented by Midway Renaissance, is named for John Francisco, who owned the farm where Midway was founded by Kentucky's first railroad in the 1830s.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Asbury filmmakers in Midway for 'small town America'

Anson Williams, director, gave a "thumbs up" to Midway.
A video production crew is in Midway this week, shooting scenes for a one-hour pilot of a situation comedy that the Film Division of Asbury University hopes to sell to a national network or cable channel.

The crew is mainly students from Asbury, led by director Anson Williams, who starred as Potsie on TV's "Happy Days."

Williams said he was happy with the town, the crew and the cast, which was assembled from several states. The star is Doug Jones, who played the Silver Surfer in "The Fantastic Four."

The working title of the show is "Nazareth N.C." and it is set in rural North Carolina, which has no town named Nazareth. The pilot tells the story of Nathan Taylor, a New York stockbroker who loses his job and moves his family back to his hometown, where be becomes provost (chief academic officer) of the local college.

The synposis on the online casting call says in part, "Nathan has two weeks to procure $5 million to keep the college from going under. Complicating matters, the childhood home he’s moving his dubious family into is now a money pit and falling apart. So Nathan must settle his family, rebuild the house, rebuild relationships, and woo the local millionaire who does not suffer fools lightly. Set in the Blue Ridge mountains of N.C.‐ think 'Northern Exposure'  meets 'Gilmore Girls'."

The screenplay was written by Dr. Jim Shores of Asbury and Dean Natali, who produced "That '70s Show," according to Don Mink, who is Asbury's operations manager and the line producer for the sitcom. Other shooting will be done in Wilmore, where Asbury is located.

The crew prepared for the scene in which the family arrives
in town, parks in front of Railroad Drug and goes inside.
Mink said Midway was chosen for some scenes because "This is small-town America," and the storefront are sharp, distuinctive and colorful. "The color just jumps out at you."

In one scene filmed early Thursday afternoon, the family arrives in town, parks in front of Railroad Drug and walks in.

Mink said the last production he knew to be filmed in Midway was the 1998 movie "Simpatico," which starred Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone as Thoroughbred owners and Nick Nolte as a former co-conspirator of theirs in California.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mill, creek, dam and sky make for a nice picture at mill

The Weisenberger Mill on South Elkhorn Creek is a quintessential scene in Midway, especially today.

Committee to discuss parking sign for post office corner

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at City Hall to discuss a No Parking or 10 Minute Parking sign for the post office corner. No action will be taken, according to the notice from City Hall. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sanders carries Midway and, narrowly, the county

State Board of Elections map:
Precincts carried by Sanders

in green, Clinton in brown
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders carried both Midway precincts on his way to narrowly carrying Woodford County in yesterday's Kentucky presidential primary, won narrowly by Hillary Clinton in unofficial returns.

Sanders edged Clinton in the Midway city precinct, 172 to 164, with former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Mally getting three votes and 13 going to a theoretical uncommitted slate of convention delegates.

The rural Midway precinct gave 92 to Sanders, 76 to Clinton, 11 to uncommitted, 2 to O'Malley and 1 to Rocky De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman.

Countywide, Sanders got 1,918, or 47.68 percent; Clinton 1,862, or 46.28 percent; O'Malley 46, De La Fuente 10 and uncommitted 187. Clinton carried most Versailles precincts and those east of town.

Statewide, Clinton got 212,549, or 46.75 percent; Sanders, 210,626, or 46.33 percent. Other votes were uncommitted, 24,122; O'Malley, 5,720; and De La Fuente, 1,592.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Council considering new sidewalk ordinance, cost-sharing program with percentages to be decided

The walk at 122 W. Main St. is one of many
in poor repair. (Photo by Casey Parker-Bell)
The Midway City Council is considering legislation that would create a cost-sharing program to improve the city's hazardous and sometimes incomplete sidewalks.

The legislation consists of a draft ordinance and draft resolution that were distributed at Monday night's council meeting.

The ordinance would clarify the city law that makes property owners responsible for sidewalks abutting their property, raise inspection fees for repair permits, require the use of contractors approved by the city, and allow it to share costs with property owners.  The fees, now $5 for the first 50 feet and $1 for each additional 1 to 50 feet, would rise to $20 plus $5 per additional section.

"If property owners refuse or choose not to participate they will nonetheless be expected to repair, remove and replace sidewalks on the list to be composed, at their own cost," city attorney Phil Moloney told Mayor Grayson Vandegrift in an email.

A completely new section of the ordinance would allow the city to repair or replace sidewalks if the property owner did not get the permit within three weeks of a city notice that the work was needed, and to place a lien on the property to cover the cost.

Also, the fine for violation of the ordinance would be $25 to $250 per day, up from per occurence, instead of the current $10 a day.

The resolution calls for the city to draw up a list of sidewalks that need to be repaired, replaced or installed and notify each abutting property owner, who would have a time period yet to be decided to agree to participate in cost sharing and pay their share of the costs, as determined by public bidding. The city's share of the cost also has yet to be determined.

The city would pay the entire cost of any new sidewalk, and the program would end Oct. 31.

Vandegrift's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, introduced as an ordinance and given first reading Monday night, includes $25,000 for sidewalk work. However, at this point the city has little or no idea how much money would be needed to share costs with property owners.

The council is expected to fill in the blanks in the three weeks before the council's next scheduled meeting, on June 6. Bruce Southworth, chair of the special sidewalk committee appointed by Vandegrift, said he expects the ordinance to get its first reading at that meeting. Ordinances require two readings; resolutions can be passed at any time.

The council also heard first reading of an amended garbage ordinance that would raise rates 8 percent, to $12.91 per month for residential customers and $27.54 for businesses, which get two pickups a week. Rumpke Waste & Recycling requested the increase last month and the council agreed, authorizing Vandegrift to sign a new two-year contract with the company.

Midway University will become co-educational this fall

Midway University's home campus will no longer be limited to women students.

The school's Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday, May 12, "to transition the university to a fully coeducational institution and begin admitting men into its daytime undergraduate programs," the institution said in a press release today.

John Marsden, Ph.D.
"Today is yet another historic moment in the life of an institution that has always transformed itself to remain relevant," President John P. Marsden said in the release. "Our founding mission was to provide young women with access to education at a time when education was mainly available to men. We have fulfilled that mission for 169 years and this decision will ensure that we continue to do so."

In an interview, Marsden acknowledged that going co-educational is probably necessary to maintaining the university's financial viability. "These are challenging times for higher education in general," he said.

The school, Midway's largest employer, took a financial hit a few years ago when its plans for a pharmacy school in Paintsville fell apart. Soon afterward, enrollment declined and it laid off faculty and staff. Its latest biennial report to the state Council on Postsecondary Education, last year, showed its unrestricted endowment at a record $9 million.

"Marsden noted that the decision ultimately centered on ensuring the institution remains viable during challenging times for higher education and is not a statement on the important role Women's Colleges play in education," the release said. "With fall 2015 enrollment of 1,042 students, one-quarter were enrolled in the Women's College, and the residential population was under 200."

"It was time to look at options for our traditional undergraduate program," Marsden said. "We see this as an opportunity to overcome existing challenges we have faced with tight budgets, decreased interest in single-sex education, and a national trend in declining enrollments."

Marsden, who became president after the pharmacy-school debacle, noted, "This is not the first time the institution has transformed itself."

Several years before it became Midway University last year, the school started evening and graduate programs for men and women at a Lexington campus. Earlier, it transformed itself from a junior college to a four-year school granting bachelor's degrees. It began as the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847, the year after the state legislature formally chartered the City of Midway.

"Admitting men into our daytime undergraduate programs will allow us to serve a broader audience of traditional college students who will benefit from our programs and the learning environment we have established on campus," Marsden said in the release, which said, "Many media outlets have reported that only 2 percent of high-school women desire a single-sex education."

"We see this change as strengthening our historic mission to educate women by broadening our reach to that 98 percent of young women who would never consider a women's college," said Marsden.

The president said discussions about going co-educational began during discussions about adopting university status. The release said, "The university board and administrative staff discussed this issue at length over many months. They reviewed numerous enrollment trend reports, read national research studies, examined finances, talked with other institutions which moved to coeducation, and deliberated all possible means for the institution's long-term viability prior to making the decision."

"We made this decision after careful thought and thorough discussion," said Board of Trustees Chair Donna Moore Campbell, an alumna of the school. "We believe this is the best and most prudent decision to ensure the viability of the institution so that we continue to honor our original mission to educate women and serve all students, male and female, for years to come."

The University already offers co-educational programs in its evening, online, and graduate programs. This change will only affect the daytime undergraduate program.

Asked if he had received negative reaction to the change, Marsden said, "We made a number of phone calls today. Generally, so far it's been positive. The only negative comments we have heard have more to do with tradition."

University spokeswoman Ellen Gregory said that while some are nostalgic and hate to see it the change, "Most people think, 'O.K., that's a smart move. Why haven't you done this sooner?"

Marsden said in the release, "We cannot continue to preserve something that is unsustainable merely for nostalgic purposes." The release said a recent informal survey "indicated support for this move among students, faculty, and staff."

Marsden told the Midway City Council that the change is not a statement about the worthiness of women-only institutions, "but for us it's to ensure long-term viability of the institution." He said "Some of our alums are disappointed ... but in general we announced it on campus today to a round of applause."

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told Marsden, "I think you all are doing what you know is best for the university ... and I commend you all on it."

Asked in the interview how Midway can continue to be distinctive, Marsden said, "It is very difficult for all small, private colleges that talk about a beautiful campus, small class sizes [and so on]. We're all offering the same thing. Some of our distinctions include a sterling reputation for our nursing program [and] an equine program that is right on campus and part of a working farm. We also consider our location to be a good one because it connects us to surrounding horse farms. We're in a rural location but not in a remote location. We're not in the middle of nowhere, which is the case with some institutions."

The university said it has begun submitting notifications of the change to CPE and accrediting bodies, and will begin recruiting male athletes and admitting men as commuter students in its traditional daytime programs immediately for fall 2016. Applications for male students in residence halls will be accepted and considered for spring 2017. "This will allow time for campus conversations with current students on incorporating men into the existing residence halls," the release said. "There is no plan to construct any new residence halls at this time. . . . No additional athletic fields will be added at this time."

Marsden said he hopes the change will bring more donations to the school. "Our alumni giving rate has been low, and potential donors had expressed their concerns that the institution had not yet become co-ed," he said in the release. "We hope to draw support from the community around us and grow our financial donor base with this transition to serve a larger population."

The release said "The university will preserve existing programs that support its historic commitment to serving and empowering women." The Ruth Slack Roach Scholarship "will remain as a legacy program focused on developing leadership skills in women." The annual Midway Reunion "will be dedicated to our Women's College graduates from the Kentucky Female Orphan School, Pinkerton High School, Midway Junior College, Midway College, and Midway University Women's College Class of 2016. This event is held every June with graduates returning to campus for a weekend of celebration and remembrance of the time when the campus was their home."

The university will continue to give the Midway Woman Award to a graduating senior who demonstrates a profound sense of service to others; is an outstanding leader and role model; and is of strong character. The annual Spotlight Awards fund-raising event will still "highlight women who have been leaders in representing women's issues, who have made an impact benefiting women in the state of Kentucky and beyond, and who have been innovators in their fields," the release said. The Lilialyce Akers Leadership Speaker Series "will continue to bring women leaders to campus to speak on topics important to women relating to leadership skills, career growth, diversity and more."

Potential students with questions regarding the admissions process can contact the Office of Admissions at 800-952-4122 or admissions@midway.edu.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Francisco's Farm Arts Festival May 21-22 will have 92 juried artists from 16 states, plus food, fun and music

A painting by Penny Dobson, one of the artists
The annual Francisco's Farm Arts Festival will be held at Midway University May 21-22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. While admission to the festival is free, the fee to park will be $5 per vehicle.

Presented by Midway Renaissance, the festival has become a signature event of the Bluegrass.

"It is the event that represents the community as a whole," Midway correspondent John McDaniel wrote in The Woodford Sun. "It is the Midwegians who make this event what it is. Everybody from Midway and surrounding areas wants to pitch in and . . . Midway University has provided a backdrop for the Francisco’s Farm arts fair that is really second to none."

This year's festival will feature 92 artists from 16 states, including potters, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers and photographers. Applicants were selected by three jurors.

"Visitors to this year's Festival will be pleased with the wide variety of artists," Artist Committee Chair Kenny Smith said. "We have several of our crowd favorites returning this year along with a number of newcomers to the event." For details on the artists, click here.

Hammock woven by Chris Oaks, one of the demonstrating artists
The festival will also have demonstration booth with Chris Oaks of Louisa, Va., who will be demonstrating how to weave hammocks and related furniture items; and basket weavers Jim and Nancy Phillips of Jacksboro, Tenn.

Food vendors will offer eclectic festival food including barbecue, crab cakes, specialty drinks, ice cream, homemade candies and lots more.

"Midway Renaissance and Midway University are excited to welcome visitors to this year's festival," said Joy Arnold, festival committee chair. "Our volunteers work throughout the year to stage this event and we are excited to show off our community and our beautiful university's campus, which provides a lovely setting to view works of art, hear wonderful music and have an event the whole family will enjoy."

The Woodford County Public Library will again sponsor a children's art booth, where kids can create their own art. This year's projects will have children creating their enchanted crowns to wear around the festival. The festival website includes a code of conduct for visitors.

A variety of local musicians will entertain each day. Here's the schedule:
Saturday, May 21
10:30 a.m. Midway Children's Choir - Various
11:00 a.m. Bill and Leslie Penn - Traditional English and Irish Folk
12:00 p.m. Aaron Hamilton - Rhythm and Blues and Gospel
 1:00 p.m. Water - Jazz, African and Spoken Word
 2:00 p.m. Rock Peddlers - Classic Rock
 3:00 p.m. Mitch Barrett - Americana, Topically Relevant Folk
 4:00 p.m. Maggie Lander and Blake Jones - Folk and Americana
 5:00 p.m. Margaret Lyle Gravitt - Celtic
Sunday, May 22
12:00 p.m. Grayson Vandegrift - Americana
 1:00 p.m. Michael Jacobs - Roots Rock, Pop, and Folk
 2:00 p.m. Heath and Molly Eric - American Folk Rock
 3:00 p.m. Billy, Lauren and Sophie Hill - Americana
 4:00 p.m. Keith Hubbard - Piana Tonk balladeer

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Committee to work on sidewalk ordinance at 6 p.m. Sun.; budget ordinance likely at council meeting Mon.

The discussion among Midway City Council members and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift over how to handle the city's sidewalk problems is coming to a head.

The special Sidewalk Committee of the council that Vandegrift appointed last fall will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at City Hall to discuss a draft of a proposed sidewalk ordinance, according to the official notice of the meeting.

The notice says no action will be taken, but the discussion is expected to inform the council meeting at 5:30 p.m. the next day.

At that meeting, Vandegrift hopes to present his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in the form of an ordinance. He has budgeted $25,000 for sidewalk repairs, and the council has not objected, but the question of when and how the city will pay for repairs has not been decided. That would be done by a sidewalk ordinance.

All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Shadwell Farm's Derby horses mainly disappoint; Mohaymen was fourth by a nose; Shagaf walked off

Story and photo by Stepper Toth
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway’s Shadwell Farm fell short this year at the Kentucky Derby with Mohaymen finishing a close fourth and Shagaf finishing last. Nyquist was the winner.

Mohaymen, bought by Shadwell for $2.2 million as a yearling, was a 12-1 shot as the Derby began. Shagaf, foaled at Shadwell’s Lexington farm, was 55-1 and did not finish, as new jockey Joel Rosario saw him tiring, pulled him up and walked him off the track.

Mohaymen was again not able to prove himself against Nyquist, who had ruined Mohaymen’s perfect record of 4-0 on April 2 at the Florida Derby, where Mohaymen placed fourth on a muddy track.
In the post parade, Mohaymen jockey Junior Alvarado appeared to look at the videoboard as it showed Nyquist.
Nyquist, undefeated in eight races, was the fourth straight favorite to win the Derby. He also completed the race the fastest since 2003, in 2:01.31, over a track that was rated fast though it had puddles from a thundershower an hour and a half earlier. Nyquist won the Derby by 1¼ lengths over Exaggerator, with Gun Runner third.

Nyquist’s win immediately spurred speculation the he could win the Triple Crown of the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, as American Pharoah did last year for the first time in 37 years.

Mohaymen’s trainer, Lexington native Kiaran McLaughlin. told reporters, “Congratulations to Nyquist, he’s still undefeated. He’s a star. I don’t know about the Triple Crown, but we’ll have a great year.”

As for his own horse, McLaughlin said Mohaymen broke too slowly. He told reporters, “It was too much ground to make up by then; he didn’t get away great and he [jockey Junior Alvarado] said that he spun his wheels too early, but he had a pretty good trip and saved ground around the first turn. He came out and put in a good run.”

At the finish, Mohaymen was only a head behind third-place Gun Runner, and a nose in front of Suddenbreakingnews. And while he didn’t return any money to bettors, Mohaymen still won Shadwell fourth-place money of $100,000. Nyquist won $1,631,600, Exaggerator $400,000, Gun Runner $200,000 and Suddenbreakingnews $60,000.

McLaughlin said he is unsure about where Mohaymen will run next because it is too early to tell. UPDATE: McLaughlin said Sunday that Mohaymen would not run in the Preakness or Belmont, and would probably aim toward the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August, "With probably something before that."

Shagaf’s trainer, Chad Brown, told reporters, “Shagaf was a huge disappointment. He got up there in the race, attending a pretty hot pace, but I liked the fact that he was out of trouble. Then he just completely spit the bit. I’m not sure what exactly happened. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board. He trained so well leading up to it, that’s a surprise to me, a disappointment.”

This year’s Derby had the second largest attendance ever, with 167,227 people going through the gates at Churchill Downs.

This video, from NBC and Churchill Downs, via the Lexington Herald-Leader, shows the entire race, including Shagaf being pulled up in the final furlong:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Shadwell's Mohaymen keeps getting respect from Derby handicappers; some see Shagaf as 'longshot to like'

Mohaymen won the Gotham Stakes.
(Photo by Arianna Spadoni/Coglianese)
Shadwell Farm's Mohaymen is no longer the Kentucky Derby favorite, but he is still getting lots of respect as he and stablemate Shagaf head toward the track at Churchill Downs today.

In The Courier-Journal's poll of 16 racing journalists and industry observers, Mohaymen scored better than any horse except Florida Derby winner Nyquist, which got seven first-place votes and 31 points on a scale of three for first, two for second and one for third.

Mohaymen, who lost his favorite status when he placed fourth in the Florida Derby, got 13 points, including two first-place votes. Exaggerator got 12 points, including two picks for first. Outlook got three first-place votes and 11 points. They were the only horses with double-digit point scores.

Shagaf got one third-place vote and two "longshot to like" calls, from Marty McGee of the Daily Racing Form and Jon White of Santa Anita Park.

In early betting, the horse was "surprisingly the longest shot on the board" this morning, at 72-1, The C-J's Jonathan Lintner reports. "While flat late last time in the Wood Memorial, the son of Bernardini is undefeated on fast tracks." The Wood track was muddy.

Nyquist, the morning-line favorite at 3-1, was bet down to 2-1 by this morning, as bettors liked his chances of being the fourth straight favorite to win the Derby. He will start from post position 13.

Mohaymen, trained by Lexington native Kiaran McLaughin and now at 12-1, will start from post No. 14, the last slot in the regular starting gate.

Shagaf will break from post No. 16, in the auxiliary gate that is used for the Derby, which is limited to 20 horses. He has a new rider, Joel Rosario, and is trained  by Chad Brown.

Stepper Toth of the Midway Messenger is at Churchill Downs today and will report on the Derby.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

State will build two-lane replacement for Weisenberger Mill bridge, close old one for construction in late fall

A northbound car waited for a southbound sport-utility vehicle to cross the one-lane bridge on March 15.
By Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Weisenberger Mill Bridge will be closed and replaced with a two-lane bridge, the state Transportation Cabinet has decided.

For years, the one-lane bridge has been under consideration for replacement due to its old, crippling structure.  Recently, it underwent a weight limit reduction, from 10 tons to 3 tons. 

The plan to replace it can now proceed because the legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin have approved the state’s road plan, which budgets $1,380,000 for replacement this year, more than previously.
The bridge crosses Elkhorn Creek near the historic Weisenberger Mill and connects Woodford and Scott counties.  Built in 1930, it has always been a popular site for its scenic and historic value in the community, overlooking the mill, its dam and the creek.  

Ananias Calvin III, the project manager for the Transportation Cabinet, said the plan is to start construction on the bridge in the current construction season, which typically runs through November.

Calvin explained that once construction starts, workers will have to close the bridge while the new 
one is built.  He said the state hopes construction will only take one season. 

Calvin said as of right now, bid letting on the project is set for Oct. 28, but workers may not start work on it until as late as December.  A detour will be set up, but it has not been finalized.

Calvin said the agency decided to build a two-lane bridge because “We don’t like to put back a one-lane bridge when there’s a two-lane road.”

Many members of the community have opposed a complete replacement of the bridge on historic grounds, but others, including mill owner Mac Weisenberger, have safety concerns about a two-lane bridge.

Because southbound traffic must make an immediate sharp turn after crossing the bridge, Weisenberger said the plan will creates a possible hazard for motorists, as well as visitors who just wish to see the scenery.

“They’re running cars down a straight hill across the two-lane bridge into a [sharp] turn,” said Weisenberger.  “The only reason they slow down now is because there’s a one-lane bridge, but when they get the two-lane bridge, they will be flying across the bridge into the turn.”

Weisenberger said his concern could be addressed by widening Weisenberger Mill Road, but Calvin said that would cost more than the budget for the project.  

Weisenberger said the bridge closure for reconstruction will have no effect on the shipment of goods to his mill, since they come from Leestown Road.  But he still worries over the possible traffic issues in the area. 

“It’s going to open up an avenue for big trucks to run from I-64 to Versailles Road,” he said. “Once the weight limit changes back there will be trucks cutting from 64 to the Bluegrass Parkway.”

Weisenberger said his main issue is the safety of drivers and people who visit the bridge for its scenery.  The bridge is a hotspot for photographers and tourists alike.

“People get out and walk up on the bridge up here,” Weisenberger said, “and I don’t think they’ve put much consideration into the situation.”

Calvin said the posted speed limit on the county road is 35 miles per hour, and the state will post (or arrange with Scott County) to post a sign warning that a 25 mph or 15 mph curve is ahead.

The state is paying for the bridge because Woodford and Scott counties paid for repairs on a bridge on a state road a few years ago.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Council likes proposals for pedestrian bridge, signs and new entrance to reclaimed park area along creek

The Midway City Council looked favorably Monday evening on projects that would make the area along Lee's Branch a working part of the city's Walter Bradley Park.

After recounting its recent work, the citizens advisory committee for the park recommended that the city build a pedestrian bridge across the creek, create at least one major entrance to the area from downtown, and erect signs inside and leading to the park.

"I think all those are doable this year," Council Member Bruce Southworth said after hearing committee member John Holloway estimate for the bridge of $7,000 to $8,000, using as much volunteer labor as possible.

The park already has one new bridge, across a run. In a March 15
photo, Joy Arnold, who lives on an adjoining lot, suns with her dog.
"I'd like to see that No. 1 on the list," Southworth said. "I'd like to see that done as soon as possible."

The council earlier indicated agreement with Mayor Grayson Vandegrift's request to put $10,000 in the budget for improvements at the park. Vandegrift said that probably wouldn't cover all three projects but he noted that the city could also use $3,200 in a special park account, funded mainly by a grant and $10 memberships in Friends of Walter Bradley Park.

Holloway said the best site for the bridge appears to be about 50 feet downstream from the site of a bridge that led to a distillery on the north side of the creek 100 years ago. An abutment for that bridge still exists.

Holloway said the site seems to be where the banks are highest and the creek is narrowest, limiting construction costs and the difficulty of getting a Corps of Engineers permit, which will require non-interference with the waterway. He said the bridge, to be made of steel beams and wood, would span 32 feet.

For the proposed entranceway, probably at the north end of Gratz Street, Holloway said local architect Debra Shockley has agreed to create a design at no charge.

Later, he said, the city should create an entrance on Northside Drive behind the library and build a trail that would lead to the north end of the bridge "and basically connect together three parts of town." He said that as the city expands north of Interstate 64, the park will be even more centrally located.

Holloway said the trail down the hill to the creek would need to have a grade of 8 percent or less so it could be used by a stroller or walker device, but wouldn't necessarily have to comply with the Americans for Disabilities Act.

Council Member Libby Warfield said the city should try to make the entire park ADA-compliant, and noted that a past plan had called for a winding trail to lessen the grade. Cecilia Gass, chair of the park committee, said that plan would have cost $40,000.

Council Member Sara Hicks said the park could be ADA-compliant except in areas where the slope is "severe."

Warfield said she wants to see a route to Gratz Street from Northside, which would give residents in that area a shorter, safer way to downtown.

The committee displayed some park plans prepared by University of Kentucky landscape-architecture students.
Park committee chair Cecilia Gass showed one rendering by University of Kentucky landscape-architecture students.

Vandegrift complimented the committee for its work. "They really have created a new part of the park," he said. "It's beatutiful." He said his goal is to make the park "a natural and true gathering place for our community."

The council will hold its second workshop on the budget Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

In other business, as the council approved the minutes of the last meeting, Warfield said she feared that "People got the impression I'm in favor of pouring more sidewalks" in areas that don't have them, which is incorrect. "We've got our hands full right now."

Hicks said she may have been misinterpreted on a sidewalk question, too: "I just want to make clear that I really love trees also."

Lucy Bassett, part of a leading family of Thoroughbred racing, dies at 87; visitation this evening in Lexington

Lucy Gay Bassett
Lucy Gay Bassett, the owner of historic Lanark Farm on Old Frankfort Pike, died there Sunday, May 1. She was 87. Survivors include her husband of 65 years, James E."Ted" Bassett III; her brother, Dr. James G. Gay, his wife Anne and their four children.

She was the daughter of the late A. B. and Elizabeth Simms Gay of Spring Station and a 1950 graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. As the owner and breeder of Lanark Farm, she bred more than 10 stakes winners, including three Grade I races and Adoration, the winner of the 2003 Breeder's Cup Distaff and earner of more than $2.1 million. She bred 21 horses who won over $100,000. According to The Blood-Horse magazine, Lanark Farm was the leading consignor of stakes winners at the Keeneland September sale in 1996-2000.

Lanark Farm was part of the original Airdrie Farm, founded by her co-ancestor, R.A. Alexander, whose home was on the property. He owned Lexington, one of the three foundation sires of Thoroughbred racing. The nearby Airdrie Stud, founded in 1972, is owned by her cousin, Elizabeth Lloyd "Libby" Jones and former Gov. Brereton Jones. For a history of the Alexander family, from the Kentucky Historical Society, click here.

Lucy Bassett was an inquisitive traveler and a wonderful ambassador for thoroughbred racing, accompanying her husband, the former president of Keeneland Race Course and Breeder's Cup Ltd., to numerous countries and racing events across the world. She was an avid and competitive golfer, winning Lexington's Idle Hour Country Club championship three times.

A major landowner, she had an intense interest in farmland in Central Kentucky. In 1975 she established the Rogers-Bassett real estate firm, which was one of the leading farm real-estate brokers for the next 20 years.

A graveside service will be held at the Lexington Cemetery Wednesday, May 4, at 12:30 p.m. Visitation will be held at Milward Funeral Directors, 159 N. Broadway, Lexington, today from 5 to 7 p.m. Memorials are suggested to the American Heart Association, the Woodford Humane Society or the Trixie Foundation.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rumpke's 8% garbage-rate increase doesn't quite add up; mayor reviewing proposed contract, sees no ill intent

By Molly Elifritz
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Last Monday, the Midway City Council authorized Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to sign a contract with Rumpke Waste and Recycling that contained an 8 percent price increase for residential customers. The price increase means that the current rate of $11.95 would escalate to $12.91.

During the meeting, Rumpke representative Stacey Chambers said the 8 percent price inflation for residential customers was a reflection of the Consumer Price Index. In an interview, Chambers said that the price increase was a representation of the CPI over the past four years as well as an estimation of where the CPI will be in the next two years, after the contract renewal.

However, the CPI has risen only 3.7 percent since 2012, and according to the Federal Reserve System estimates, it is expected to rise 1.5 percent this year and 2.2 percent next year. That would put the projected CPI at 7.4 percent, not 8 percent. (Compounded, the ultimate rate would be 7.57 percent.)

When asked about Rumpke's estimated CPI, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, “We will study the CPI closer and kind of get a better idea about exactly why Rumpke feels the charge is necessary.”

Vandegrift said he noticed the 96-cent monthly increase a few weeks ago when he was presented with the raw numbers of the new contract but “I didn’t know they were basing that figure off the CPI until the council meeting.” Being a man of business, Vandegrift said, he understands that “unfortunately” prices increase as the economy grows.

After looking into what other companies are charging, Vandegrift still believes that Rumpke is offering a competitive price and most importantly, good services.

“From what I have found in the past, Rumpke is a much more competitive company than a lot of others and they offer, in my opinion, probably a better service than a lot of companies do because they are really easy to work with,” said Vandegrift.

Although the council authorized Vandegrift to sign the Rumpke contract, he isn’t ready to sign on the dotted line just yet. “Just like any other contract, I always go in and check things before we do,” he said. Vandegrift said the contract should call for rebidding in 2018.

Vandegrift said that this isn’t the first time that the city has delayed the signing of a contract. Just last year Vandegrift chose to restrain from signing an easement for Columbia Gas of Kentucky, to build a new regulator, until the company fixed a poor paving job in front of the Midway Grocery. “We’ll have to get this settled out before I sign anything,” said Vandegrift.

Vandegrift seems to think that the contradicting numbers stem from miscommunication. “I really don’t think there was any ill intent in not letting us know about the CPI aspect of it. If anything there is a chance our wires got crossed,” he said.

Vandegrift said that the council gave him the authority to execute the contract because no matter what, everyone “unanimously” felt like they were getting a good service. “Overall their service has been excellent; they’ve always been open and honest with us.”

Rumpke is a privately owned waste and recycling company, based north of Cincinnati, that provides services to commercial and residential properties throughout Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia.