Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ministerial association to hold 2nd Frozen Rails 5K on Jan. 1; register online or get packet Dec. 30 or race day

The Midway Ministerial Association is staging the second Annual Frozen Rails 5K on Monday, Jan. 1, starting at 2 p.m., with the start and finish at the corner of Main and Winter streets. The race will benefit the association, which expects 300 or more runners to participate.

All pre-registered runners and walkers will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt while supplies last. Registration packets can be picked up at Midway Christian Church Saturday, Dec. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m., or on race day, or runners can register online at https://runsignup.com/Race/KY/Midway/NewYearsDay5KInMidway.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Latest print edition of the Messenger is available

The latest print edition of the Midway Messenger has been distributed to businesses and public facilities in Midway. We publish a print edition once a semester to highlight student work, but this one also includes John McDaniel's essay about Sam Shepard. If you have story ideas for the spring semester, please mention them in a comment on this post or send them to al.cross@uky.edu. For a PDF of the print edition, click here.

We thank Libby and Brereton Jones for sponsoring the printing of this edition. Merry Christmas, Midway!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Woman's Club announces winners of decorating contest

The Midway Woman’s Club has announced the winners of its 13th annual Christmas house decorating contest. The best daytime display was judged to be at 202 South Turner St.:

Mezzo Italian Cafe and Provisions, 131 E. Main St., won the award for best business decorations:

The home of Midway University President John Marsden, 305 S. Winter St., won for best wreath:

The award for Most Animated Lights went to three side-by-side homes at 138, 140 and 142 Carriage Lane. We tried to get you a video, but getting good photos of Christmas lights is tricky, and getting good video of them is even trickier, so you'll just have to go look for yourself.

New to the contest this year was the People's Choice Award, chosen by votes for the favorite of four houses on the Midway Musings Facebook page. The award went to the home at 106 Cottage Grove. The runner-up was 232 W. Higgins St. Honorable mention went to 112 Old Towne Walk and 117 Carriage Lane.

Other awards were: Best Front Door – 412 Mill Road Place; Most Creative Lights –119 E. Stephens St.; Most Whimsical Lights – 238 W. Stephens St.; Best Indoor Tree – 304 S. Winter St.; Best Christmas Spirit – 209 Gayland Drive; Best Traditional Decorations – 225 Gayland Dr.; Best Overall Design – 109 Carriage Lane; Best Outdoor Tree – 345 Northridge Dr.; Most Fun – 103 Carriage Lane; Best Porch – 219 W. Higgins St.; Best Yard – 219 Gayland Dr.; Best Inflatables Design – 222 E. Stephens St.; Special 2017 13th Anniversary MWC Holiday D├ęcor Judging Award – 116 E. Stephens St.; Best for Spirit of Woodford County – 102 Cottage Grove; and Best Gate – Southern Equine Stables, 241 N. Winter St.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

City to ask residents what they want from it, explore idea of creating neighborhood associations

The City of Midway plans to survey residents about their needs and wants, and ask about the possibility of creating neighborhood associations in the town.

City Council Member Sara Hicks revealed plans for the survey Friday evening, at an Events, Outreach and Tourism Committee meeting called to discuss the idea of neighborhood associations.

"We are planning an outreach at the first of the year called 'All Aboard,' to find out what people in town are wanting from the city," Hicks said. The survey would be posted on the city's website and included with water-sewer bills.

Hicks and the committee agreed to include in the survey a few questions about neighborhood associations, such as potential benefits and pitfalls, improvements they would like to see in their neighborhood, and what neighborhood residents consider themselves to be part of.

Joyce Evans, a promoter of the neighborhood-association idea, said preliminary discussions have defined as many as eight neighborhoods and as few as five. She said drawing a map is "way down the road."

Judy Offutt, another promoter of the concept, said initial discussions should focus not on boundaries, but "the social aspects of it and a way to get to know your neighbors. We've talked so often about people on our block who we don't even know."

If the survey indicates sufficient interest, the next step could be a town meeting to discuss the concept. Council Member John McDaniel, who suggested a meeting, said it could be moderated by a Kentucky League of Cities staffer who moderated a town hall in Midway a few years ago.

"You need the interaction," McDaniel said. "What Sara's talking about would give us some ammo, different things to be sure and cover at the meeting."

Offutt said neighborhood associations would not be legal entities like homeowners' associations that enforce deed restrictions, levy dues and "tell you what color you're going to paint your house. . . . That's not what what we're talking about at all."

She, Evans and council members said neighborhood associations could encourage neighbors to look out for each other, provide babysitting services, set up telephone trees for communication, provide assistance during natural disasters, and work on projects such as replacing old trees -- "just something that makes these neighborhoods get closer," Evans said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Council panel to discuss neighborhood associations

The Events, Outreach and Tourism Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at City Hall. The meeting notice says the purpose is to discuss neighborhood associations, and no action will be taken. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

The council discussed the possibility of creating neighborhood associations on March 21, pursuing a suggestion by Joyce Evans and Judy Offutt. Evans said the idea was “driven by the need for a little closer communication within the community.” She added, “I think it’s about getting to know who your neighbors are and how you can interact with them and help out.”

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said at the March meeting that neighborhood associations would be “a great way to connect city government to the city,” but Council Member John McDaniel questioned the need for them, noting Midway's small size, and said he would prefer "town hall meetings."

Vandegrift said such meetings typically attract about 30 people, and neighborhood associations would probably be more effective because individual leaders within the associations could promote involvement in each community, person to person. He, Evans and Offutt agreed that the first step in creating associations would be to establish neighborhood boundaries.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Message from the mayor: Christmas lights judging Fri.; shop at home; council meets Jan. 2; Merry Christmas!

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

If you want to be in the running for one of the coveted Midway Woman’s Club annual Holiday Decorating Awards, make sure your strands are plugged in this Friday night. Starting at 7:30 p.m., members of the club will be driving around all of Midway’s 11 square miles to pick the best of the best. If you wake up Saturday morning with an award attached to your door, you’ve got bragging rights for at least 365 days.

When and if you’re looking for one of those last-minute gifts, I strongly encourage you to find that little something in downtown Midway (if you haven’t already). Locally owned businesses make Midway’s commercial economy standout from the pack, and study after study shows that money spent close to home tends to stay close to home. Shop owners who get support from local citizens do better, and when they do better, they reinvest in their communities, which benefits everyone.

Our next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 2 (because of the New Year’s holiday) at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. In the meantime, here’s to hoping that you and yours have the happiest holiday season yet. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sam Shepard's last book, written at his Midway home, is an intimate, precise portrait of Lou Gehrig's Disease

Shepard chose his book's cover image, of an old
man staring at circling birds, by Graciela Iturbide.
Playwright, author and actor Sam Shepard, who had a home near Midway and spent his last days there, is the author of a just-released book about his fatal struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Spy of the First Person "is an unvarnished, intimate portrait of a man facing the end of his life, as he reflects on his past and observes how his own body has betrayed him," Alexandra Alter writes for The New York Times.

"He had always been incredibly private, and he didn’t want to publicize his deteriorating health," Alter reports. "Few people apart from his family, closest friends and collaborators knew about his diagnosis." It was known among those in Midway who knew him, but as usual, they respected his privacy.

"Shepard explored his condition through his writing in vivid, precise prose that transformed his worsening symptoms into something akin to poetry," Alter writes. "He wrote in notebooks at first, as he always had, but when his condition grew more grave and he could no longer control his hands, he dictated into a recorder" while sitting in the garden of his home near South Elkhorn Creek in Scott County. He got help from his longtime editor, LuAnn Walther, and his old friend, singer Patti Smith.

Sam Shepard's home near Midway, where he died July 27
“He was always a very private writer, and the fact that he was now having to involve his family in his process was not easy for him,” Walker Shepard, one of Shepard’s two sons, told Alter in an email. “I think it was a relief for him to work with Patti because she is not family.”

Shepard's sisters, Sandy and Roxanne, "transcribed the tapes and gave the pages back to him to read over," Alter reports. Sandy Rogers told her, “His mind was like a steel trap. He would dictate for an hour and a half or two hours from the top to the bottom, and he would never change anything.”

Alter writes, "One of the most moving moments in the book occurs before the story even begins. In a heart-rending inversion of a typical dedication page, where the author often thanks his or her family, 'Spy of the First Person' is dedicated to the author himself: “Sam’s children, Hannah, Walker and Jesse, would like to recognize their father’s life and work and the tremendous effort he made to complete his final book.”

The 96-page book is available at the Historic Midway Museum Store. For Midway City Council Member John McDaniel's remembrance of his friend, written shortly after his death, click here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Electric-vehicle charging station unveiled at City Hall

Cutting the ribbon: Council Member Bruce Southworth; David
Huff, director of energy efficiency and emerging technologies for
KU and LG&E; Mayor Grayson Vandegrift; council members John
McDaniel and Sarah Hicks; Woodford Forward CEO Chase Milner.
Kentucky Utilities representatives and Midway city officials unveiled KU’s new publicly available charging station for electric vehicles Thursday in the far corner of the parking lot behind City Hall.

The City Council agreed in July to reserve two spaces at the back corner of the parking lot for the charging station, which was installed at no cost to the city. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said then that KU had picked Midway to be one of 20 towns with such stations, which charge $3.28 per hour.

Council Member Sara Hicks, who had pushed the idea, said at the July meeting it would attract new visitors to town and generate business because "They'll have to sit around for an hour" while their vehicles charge. Vandegrift said, "It's just the next step in becoming a greener city."

Local nonprofit Woodford Forward took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Its chief executive officer, Chase Milner, "initiated outreach with KU and the mayor of Midway this spring in seeking to cultivate a private/public EV partnership opportunity," the group said in a news release.

“Chase helped to bring renewable energy innovation and EV charger development to Midway’s infrastructure grid, thereby putting the City of Midway ‘on the map’, which will help to attract more zero-emissions vehicle drivers to Woodford County,” Woodford Forward Chair Benny Williams said. “We hope that this effort will also help spur more destination tourism to Midway’s uniquely charming and historic downtown, as EV drivers will now have a great place to visit and shop while they wait on their vehicles to charge.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mayor sees much progress, several challenges in annual report to City Council

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift delivered the following annual report at tonight's meeting of the Midway City Council.

It’s easy for many of us – at least I know it is for me – to go through life as though Midway is the center of our universe. For me and you, in so many ways, it is the center, and so I think you’ll forgive me for speaking in such terms. Developments in recent years have been extremely encouraging, and now we are seeing the fruit of generations of care that has given us a better right than most to lay our claim that we are the greatest small city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

More specifically, our general fund is very healthy, our debts are rapidly being paid down, and there is no need to raise any city taxes anytime in the near or remote future. In each of the last two years we have lowered property tax rates, and come budget time, I’ll be proposing we lower them once again.

In financial terms, the reason for our stability is no secret. In fact, the entire Bluegrass Region knows that Midway is open for business. As I stated previously, the added payroll taxes generated by American Howa Kentucky, now in full production, have begun flowing into our city coffers, and with the end of the 4th quarter of 2017 approaching, we will soon begin to collect the significant revenue that Lakeshore Learning Materials is generating, and of which we have all been long awaiting.

Midway University, also a significant contributor of occupational tax revenue, is thriving. Now co-ed, their enrollment numbers are climbing, and nothing but good news is coming from 512 E. Stephens Street. The Homeplace at Midway is an enormous sense of pride, a significant employer, and it continues to win accolades for their superb service to the wisest of our citizens.

Downtown is as vibrant as ever. Three new restaurants have opened in the past year alone, bringing our downtown dining options to an impressive eight, and new shops continue to relocate here from Lexington. The downtown business district has organically been expanding from Main Street onto North Gratz, stretching towards our continuously improving Walter Bradley Park.

A rejuvenated Midway Merchants Association has created new and successful events that have delighted local businesses, residents and visitors. Midsummer Nights in Midway had a terrific sophomore season, and the Midway Fall Festival brought in the largest crowds the 43-year-old event has ever seen. Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival continues to improve, and creates a midsummer boost of its own to downtown shops and restaurants. We should continue to support and encourage these efforts, providing these non-profit organizations the atmosphere – and the autonomy – they need to succeed. I challenge the Midway Merchants Association, in particular, to have it so there is at least one event in each month of the year, so as to give local merchants much needed support to get them through the tougher times.

As a government, we’ve shown that we can accomplish tasks that have seemed elusive to the city for many years. The success at Midway Station, the resolution of inconsistent cemetery regulation, and the public-private collaborations that led to the repair of highly trafficked sidewalks have proven that like our citizens, our government can accomplish anything we set our minds to. Our next challenge will be passing and enforcing a new Property Maintenance Code ordinance that will ensure that diligent property owners are not burdened by careless neighbors, and that renters in our city never have to suffer the negligence of bad landlords.

We’ve also made important tune-ups to our wastewater treatment plant in hopes that we can extend its lifespan for another decade. In 2018, we will finally pay off the old wastewater treatment plant. We should then consider having the plant appraised, deemed surplus property, and put up for public bid. We are currently planning improvements to some of our worst storm sewers, and will be paving more roadways in the spring.

With all of the positive news we’ve become accustomed to, we still have many challenges. As I’ve said before in previous annual reports, we can’t take our eye off of needed improvements to old water and sewer lines. Currently, we are making repairs in small doses, and this policy will need to continue until we have paid off our current debts, because no matter how much new revenue we have or are still to create, the expense of such projects will still most likely involve borrowing money.

Despite the change in fortunes the city has seen at Midway Station, many challenges there still await us. Nothing worries me more at the moment in our mercurial industrial park than the fate of the roads. It is clear now that there can be no guarantee that any private developer will pay for the cost of the needed finishing coat on the roadways there. At the same time, I don’t see any reason why we as a city should accept into our possession any road at Midway Station in its current condition.

One solution is to continue to push for a rezoning of the 61 acres on the east end of the park from residential back to industrial. Aside from the increased revenue this would generate, it could also allow for the complete removal of those inadequate roads in that portion of the park.

All of our problems, however, are solvable; most cities would gladly trade their main issues for ours. If a community works together, and everyone’s light is allowed to shine, then they possess a formula for success.

In summary, our local economy is booming, our citizens are engaged, and our accomplishments can easily be seen. Despite our challenges, it’s abundantly clear that our city is flourishing, and the opportunities we have are only bounded by our own imaginations. I have never been more optimistic about our city’s future than I am right now. Like the classic children’s story about a little engine that could achieve what others believed impossible, we are the “little city that could,” because we think we can … we think we can … we think we can …