Monday, July 18, 2016

Midway University growing, looking for Aug. 20 service projects for students; council OKs firearms ordinance

A growing Midway University is looking for community service work that its students can perform from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 20, as part of their orientation, the City Council heard Monday night.

In other business, the council passed an ordinance banning discharge of firearms in the city unless needed to protect person or property, and heard some financial reports from Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

The council heard from Tracy Small-Spotts, the university's director of student involvement and leadership, about the community service day, which she said is designed to correct "the slight disconnect between the university and Midway."

Small-Spotts said the school is looking for seven to 10 community-service sites, most of which could accommodate 20 to 25 students. She said the school is expecting "one of our biggest enrollments," including 150 new resident students. For the first time, some will be men, and the university has also accepted students from Saint Catharine College near Springfield, which has closed.

She said the students could clean up homes, yards, parks and so on. Council members and Vandegrift offered some suggestions for work sites and groups who might be asked to help set them up.

The firearms ordinance is needed, said Asst. Chief Mike Murray of the Versailles Police Department, which patrols all of Woodford County. The council set the penalty for violation of the ordinance at $100 to $250.

Vandegrift noted that the city ended the fiscal year with a $150,000 surplus in its general fund, with lesser surpluses in other funds. The primary reason was more than $394,000 in occupational taxes, which had been budgeted at $275,000. The main reason for that was The Homeplace at Midway, the new nursing home and assisted-living facility.

Vandegrift also reported that he had consolidated the city's information-technology services with a single contractor, which he said would be more efficient and save at least $2,000 a year.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Midway residents object to making Versailles bypass a goal of county's revised comprehensive plan

Dottie Cordray of Midway told the commission that the bypass appears “in direct opposition” to another goal of the plan
that says local governments should discourage tractor-trailer traffic from US 62. (Herald-Leader photo by Greg Kocher)
The proposed Midway bypass was a major focus of attention at a public hearing Thursday night on proposed changes to Woodford County's comprehensive plan. Several Midway residents objected to it, according to a story by Greg Kocher of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

At the behest of Planning Commission Chairman J.D. Wolf, the plan's proposed goals and objectives say the panel should "promote and encourage" the bypass, which would direct more traffic toward Midway Road, US 62. Gov. Matt Bevin dropped the $30 million project from the state's six-year road plan.

“It is a controversial proposal that has divided the community and it will always divide the community,” lawyer Hank Graddy said on behalf of the Woodford Coalition. “Fortunately, Frankfort has seen the wisdom of deleting this proposal. The planning commission should follow the lead of Frankfort.”

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he has “always firmly supported Versailles’ right to alleviate their possible traffic concerns,” but “I don’t support doing so without trying other sound suggestions which to date have been ignored and which might avoid dumping the problem on their next-door neighbor.”

Vandegrift said that if the objective is not removed from the plan, it should be changed “to express concern for the traffic issues in Versailles but not favoring a currently undoable option out of many other doable ones.”

UPDATE, July 21: Vandegrift also objected to the absence of Midway's only member on the commission, bypass opponent Rich Schein, on the subcommitee that drafted the goals and objectives. He said it "looks like a not-so-subtle attempt to remove Midway's voice from the process as much as possible," The Woodford Sun reported.

Bob Pekny, who lives on the Kentucky River, told the commission, “I feel this does not belong in the goals and objectives unless you can show data that a clear majority of the people in Woodford County think that’s what they want. I don’t think that’s the case.”

Realtor Harold Steele, a bypass advocate, said a 2010 telephone survey found that 73 percent of respondents “wanted the bypass” and “I don’t think you have to be an expert … to stand at Corner Drug (in downtown Versailles) any time during the day and not recognize that we’re in bad need of a bypass.”

But Billy Van Pelt II, CEO of Woodford Forward, "said the bypass was the lowest priority among 1,463 people who responded to a 2015 survey by that organization," Kocher reports.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Burgers & Beats picnic at Wallace Station July 17 will support GleanKY, which collects food for the hungry

Sunday, July 17 is the day for Burgers & Beats, the largest annual fundraiser for GleanKY, a six-year-old nonprofit that has saved over 950,000 pounds of produce from waste piles and distributed the food to people and groups who feed Central Kentucky’s hungry.

Burgers & Beats is a picnic-style event from 5 to 8 p.m. at Wallace Station, with food from the kitchen of chef Ouita Michel, musical entertainment from The Swells, a silent auction, and games and other activities for children. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the event; tickets for children 5 to 12 are $10. To buy tickets, call 859-444-4769 or go to the GleanKY website.

"We’re working with more organizations and people than ever before," GleanKY says. "It is our belief that no one should lack fresh produce while produce is thrown away. Proceeds from Burgers & Beats allow us to sustain this work year-round, reducing food waste and getting fresh produce to those who need it most."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Council OKs sidewalk subsidy plan, raises city's share to $1,000 per project; discusses Main St. rest room idea

The Midway City Council amended and approved a policy Tuesday night for fixing the city's sidewalks, after hearing that some repairs may be so expensive that only a few projects will be completed with the $27,000 the city has in its budget for the work.

"We'll be lucky to get to four" projects, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, after Council Member Bruce Southworth estimated that 12 projects could be done and Council Member Steven Craig estimated eight to 10. Council Member Libby Warfield said, "I think you could have $15,000 on some of these."

Vandegrift said earlier that while many sidewalks need repair, "The vast majority that are not in great shape are not a priority."

The council passed a resolution saying that the council will establish a list of sidewalk projects that are needed for safety reasons, take bids for the work, and notify the property owners that it will pay half the cost, up to $1,000, if they will pay the rest. If a selected property owner refuses to participate, the city could pay the entire cost and place a lien on the property, which would have to be satisfied if and when the property is sold.

The city-funded limit on each project was originally going to be $500, but the council raised that to $1,000 after concluding that $500 might not go very far. Council Member Sara Hicks said she received an estimate of $1,200 for replacing 13 feet of brick sidewalk for which she has the bricks.

At Hicks's suggestion, the council also changed the resolution to specify that property owners with any delinquent taxes or blighted property in the city will not be eligible for the city subsidy. The original draft applied only to property with dangerous sidewalks.

Hicks asked if the council could make accommodation for property owners who can't come up with all the money at once, but she withdrew the idea after city attorney Phil Moloney asked if owners of commercial buildings would get the same treatment and Southworth said, "You have to be fair across the board."

After agreeing on other changes, the council passed the resolution 5-0. Council Member Nita Faye Gallagher, who has a sidewalk that might qualify for the program, abstained.

Public rest room on Main Street?

In other business, the council encouraged Midway Renaissance to investigate the group's idea for a public rest room on Main Street for evening and weekend visitors who don't patronize the restaurants, but declined to embrace the idea outright.

Renaissance President Jo Blease said the need for a public restroom "seems to be a consistent complaint that people hear," but "We really can't proceed unless we know that's something you all would be supportive of."

Vandegrift said, "That can't be a priority for the city unless there are some private funds." Blease asked whether it was something the council would like to see Renaissance focus on. Craig said, "I would like to see you focus on something else, other than that."

Other council members didn't say likewise, and discussed the possibility of building a rest room in the rental side of City Hall or creating a new entrance to City Hall's rear bathroom and blocking access from it to the rest of the building. Council Member Dan Roller said that would require more security for the building's upstairs tenants.

Roller moved that the council support Renaissance's investigation of the idea, and the motion passed unanimously.

Earlier, Roller suggested that Renaissance work with the Midway Business Association on the idea, because "They would be a good judge if a lot of people ask about rest rooms." Blease told the council that MBA President Kenny Smith had suggested Renaissance pursue a rest room as a project. The subject was not mentioned at Wednesday morning's MBA meeting, which lacked a quorum but discussed other topics, such as support from the county Tourism Commission for advertising.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Weisenberger Mill Road bridge closed for safety; replacement project, set for Jan., may be moved up

This view looks into Woodford County from Scott. On the other side, signs and a barrier have been placed before the curve.
This item has been updated.

The bridge over South Elkhorn Creek on the Weisenberger Mill Road has been closed, after a state inspection found it was no longer safe for traffic, the state Transportation Cabinet said Friday.

The cabinet said inspectors say they found advanced deterioration in the lower chord of the truss that supports the deck of the bridge.

The one-lane bridge, built in 1932, is scheduled for replacement with a two-lane span, with construction bids originally to be let in October. That was moved to January 2017 but, "With the closure of the bridge, it may be moved up," Ananias Calvin, the state engineer on the project, said in an email to the Messenger.

The bridge is a popular scenic spot, overlooking the dam of the Weisenberger Mill, built in 1913 on the site of a mill the family built in 1865.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Michel to be guest chef on 'CBS This Morning' Sat.

Ouita Michel at Holly Hill Inn
UPDATE: Here's a link to the CBS story: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-dish-chef-ouita-michel/

Ouita Michel of Midway will be the guest chef on a "CBS This Morning" segment called "The Dish" tomorrow. "Michel will talk about summertime foods that reflect Central Kentucky and are great for picnic and grill-outs, as well as Kentucky bourbon," Janet Patton reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"Michel's suggestions: an appetizer of grilled peaches wrapped in country ham, sides of Happy Jack's sweet-corn salad, blackeyed-pea salad and bourbon beer bread, main dish of pork chops bourbonnais with Kentucky Bourbon Trail berry shortcake for dessert and a Woodford Thoroughbred cocktail."

Council July 5: Sidewalk subsidy, gun-shooting ban, comprehensive plan with Versailles bypass as a goal

The Midway City Council will meet Tuesday, July 5, rather than the previous day, due to the July 4 holiday. The agenda includes adoption of a revised plan for subsidizing sidewalk repairs, first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms in the city except by police or "unless necessary or proper for the protection of person or property," and an invitation to submit comments by July 7 on the proposed revision of the Woodford County comprehensive plan.

The sidewalk resolution includes a new provision barring the 50 percent subsidy (up to $500) to anyone with an interest in property on which taxes are delinquent, property that the city has currently identified as abandoned or blighted, or property that has been referred to the building inspector for possible code violations. A copy of the resolution is in the council packet, downloadable as a 5.13 mb PDF here.

The planning proposal includes several changes in the plan's goals and objectives, including "Promote and encourage the extension of KY 2113 to US 60 at or near the intersection of US 62." That is the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles, to which Midway had objected because of the likely funneling of traffic onto Midway Road, US 62. The provision was requested in February by J.D. Wolf, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Other new goals and objectives include "emphasis on retail and dining in Versailles" as part of encouraging commercial centers; encouragement of "green construction" in commercial and industrial areas; and "Protect Woodford County from fracking, especially the transportation of fracking byproducts like natural-gas liquids." The county has no known oil or gas reserves that could be subject to hydraulic fracturing, but a plan for a proposed natural-gas-liquids pipeline through the Midway area was scrapped two years ago after courts said the pipeline didn't qualify for the power of eminent domain or condemnation.

A copy of the proposed goals and objectives is in the council packet. The hearing on the comprehensive plan is scheduled for July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse in Versailles.