Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Council rejects proposal to extend bar hours, seeks applications for temporary successor to Warfield

By Lizzy Allen
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council defeated an ordinance Monday evening that would have extended legal sales of alcoholic beverages to 1 a.m. six days a week.

The council also honored deceased member Libby Warfield and agreed to accept applications for the appointment to fill her unexpired term, which runs through the end of the year.

The defeated ordinance would have allowed licensed alcohol vendors to remain open until 1 a.m. instead of midnight Monday through Saturday. They would have still been required to close by 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“I don’t like the idea of this,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said. He said although the ordinance would pose no legal liabilities, the council should consider moral liabilities that could arise if extended hours of alcohol sales resulted in harm to citizens of Midway.

“At 1 a.m., you can’t get an Uber in Midway like you can in Lexington or Frankfort,” Vandegrift said.

Council Members Sara Hicks, Steve Simoff and Kaye Nita Gallagher also argued against the ordinance.

Hicks said that if Midway had public transportation, she would feel better about extending the hours, but she could not support the ordinance until then.

Simoff cited a serious car accident involving his brother and alcohol as an example of the potential consequences of later alcohol sales. “I just can’t, in good conscience, vote for 1 a.m. shutdown,” he said.

Gallagher said she did not see the need for extended hours. “I’ve always been told ‘nothing good happens after midnight’,” she said.

Council Member Bruce Southworth, who proposed the ordinance, said he believed there was a need for extended hours based on what business owners had told him. But only Council Member John McDaniel agreed with him, so the ordinance lost 3-2. (The mayor votes only to break ties.)

Warfield vacancy: The council adopted “a resolution honoring the life and service of Libby Warfield and declaring the week of March 4-10, 2018, as ‘Libby Warfield Week’ in Midway.”

Warfield died of cancer Feb. 24, after having served on the City Council since Jan 1, 2015. Several of her family members and friends were present at the meeting. After Vandegrift read the resolution, he presented the certificate to her husband, David Warfield.

Vandegrift asked Hicks to replace Warfield as chair of the Cemetery, City Property and Blighted Property Committee. Hicks accepted.

The council then discussed how to go about filling the open seat. Vandegrift reminded the council that it must make its decision within 30 days of Warfield’s death, but he would like to see the position filled by the March 19.

“I would suggest that you all accept essentially an application process,” Vandegrift said.

He said the letter should explain why the applicant would be a good candidate to serve the rest of Warfield’s term, which runs through Dec. 31. He said applicants should also promise that they will not run for the council after the term is up. The filing deadline for council elections is in August.

Vandegrift set the deadline for the applications for noon March 14. His formal notice appears at the bottom of this story. It does not bar applications from people who want to run in the council election, but says others would get preference -- unless none of the applicants say they're not going to run.

Merchants’ business: Leslie Penn, treasurer of the Midway Business Association, asked the council to reconsider donating $300 for interstate signs. This request was denied at the last council meeting.

Penn said that advertising like the interstate signs is crucial to keep business in Midway from dying out. “You have to remind people that Midway is alive and it is so interesting and we’ve got very diverse people and shops,” she said.

Southworth asked the balances of the association’s checking accounts. Penn said there is around $8,000 in the main account and another $8,000 or so in a separate account that holds only Fall Festival funds.

Vandegrift said that the donation for the interstate signs “was not denied out of malice.” He said that the council is planning on including funds for a new “Welcome to Midway” sign in next year’s budget.

The council approved the Business Association’s application for a parade/event permit for its “St. Paddy’s Day” celebration on Saturday, March 17.

The event will include six booths, a band, and cars, trucks and horses for the parade.

Other business: Helen Rentch of the Woodford County Community Fund invited the council to attend “On the Table,” an event the group will host March 28.

Rentch described the event as “a community conversation about ways to improve the place we call home.” She invited council members to register for breakfast, lunch or dinner, all of which will be served at the Life Adventure Center in Versailles.

Property owner B.J. Bentley asked the council to work on controlling the noise in downtown Midway, noting that most of the restaurants back up to houses and the noise from them, vehicles and music disturbs some citizens’ sleep.

Vandegrift said the noise ordinance is “difficult to enforce,” but said he would send out a letter as a reminder.
    The Midway City Council is now accepting letters of interest from Midway citizens who are interested in filling the open council seat left by the passing of Libby Warfield.
    Interested persons should write a summary (500 words or less) of their background and why they feel they are a good candidate to fill the rest of the term, which ends December 31, 2018. If you are interested, please turn your candidate summary in to City Hall no later than noon on Wednesday, March 14.
    By state law, the decision of who will fill the open seat is entirely up to the five remaining council members, and they are required to fill the seat within 30 days of the vacancy. They will confirm their appointment at our regularly scheduled council meeting on March 19 at 5:30 p.m.
    All candidates must be at least 18 years of age, and must be a registered voter in the city. Candidates who are NOT planning to run for a full city council term in the fall are preferable, so as not to give any non-incumbent candidate an advantage over other non-incumbents. 
    Intention to run for city council in the fall should not preclude any potential candidate from applying, but those applicants will most likely only be considered in the event that only full term council candidates apply.
    Feel free to call me at City Hall (846-4413) or on my cell (361-6320) if you have any questions.
Grayson Vandegrift, Mayor
City of Midway

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