Monday, November 6, 2017

Mayor says city should make up any pension pay cut; businesses 'ecstatic' and 'elated' about holiday kickoff

In a short meeting Monday evening, the Midway City Council heard Mayor Grayson Vandegrift criticize the employee "cut in pay" in the legislative proposal to save state pensions, and had positive reflections about local merchants' earlier Christmas-season kickoff Saturday.

Vandegrift issued a proclamation declaring “A Pension is a Promise Week” in Midway and urging the council to make up the pay cut if the General Assembly passes the plan to have state and local employees contribute an extra 3 percent of their pay toward retirement benefits.

"The problems with our commonwealth’s pension system were not caused by our public employees, but rather by a wide network of cronyism that has pervaded this commonwealth for far too long," Vandegrift said in the proclamation.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift posed with city employees and his pension proclamation. From left are Terry Agee, public works supervisor; Brandon Bobbitt, part-time laborer; Timmy Agee, public works; Vandegrift; Sonya Conner, assistant city clerk; James Downs, public works. Not present: Phyllis Hudson, city clerk/treasurer; Jack Blevins, water-sewer operator; Cloyd Downs, public works; and Mark Roberts, water-sewer labor. (Photo courtesy of John McGary, The Woodford Sun)
The mayor said before the meeting that the proclamation was his idea and he knew of no other jurisdictions taking similar action. During the meeting, he posed for a photograph with city employees.

Peggy Angel, president of the Midway Business Association, said Saturday's holiday-season kickoff was a big success. "The merchants were just ecstatic with the turnout we had," she said.

Angel said the chili cook-off, in which tasters bought a cup for $5, raised $656, half of which will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Much more than chili was consumed; Angel said one restaurant reported having as much business Saturday as it did on Sunday of the Midway Fall Festival in September. "The restaurants were elated," she said.

City officials were likewise upbeat about the event. "I think you all are doing a great job," Vandegrift said, calling the association "our chamber of commerce."

However, the mayor had a quibble about the merchants' new rack card promoting Midway, which mentions "upscale" places to eat. A former restaurateur, he said the word "plays into a false narrative about Midway."

Earlier, Council Member Sara Hicks noted that the card does not mention the Francisco's Farm Arts Festival among annual events. Angel said the event coordinator hadn't been hired when the card was being prepared and they were unsure of the date. "We definitely want to support Francisco's Farm," she said.

The cards appear below. Angel said the business association will elect officers for 2018 at its next regular meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 9 a.m. in the upstairs meeting room at City Hall.

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