Sunday, April 29, 2018

Message from the Mayor: Council adds to proposed capital expenses in budget for fiscal year starting July 1

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

I recently presented my proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 to the council, and this past Thursday, we had our first workshop. Every year I propose a budget to this body and I’m generally prepared for them to cut some of the projects I’ve funded in favor of different ones, which I accept as part of the process. This budget workshop was different, however.

My proposal included a 25 percent cut in property taxes as well as significant investment in infrastructure, roads, storm sewers, parks, and many other vital components of our community. I reflexively expected some snips here and there, but was pleasantly surprised when members not only accepted everything I had proposed, but even added to my proposed investments in road paving as well as further streets and cemetery improvements. They bought into the central message of this budget: that it’s time to use our general fund surpluses to give money back to our citizens and to invest more in our community. They made an exciting budget even better.

With spring in bloom it’s a great time of year to get the dogs out of the house – I know mine have plenty of pent up energy from the long winter. Please politely help us get the word out to any dog parents that don’t know that we have an ordinance requiring dogs to be leashed at all times when they’re out and about.

Katie and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support as we go through a difficult pregnancy. Your thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement have been uplifting and sustaining in a difficult time for us. We’re forever grateful for this beautiful, thoughtful community.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Public Works Committee will meet to discuss water bill

The Public Works and Services Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at City Hall to discuss an individual's complaints about a high water bill. The notice of the meeting says no action will be taken. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A look at the improved section of Walter Bradley Park

Park Manager John Holloway took a group of Midway residents on a tour of the wooded section of Walter Bradley Park Saturday morning, revealing some of the park's hidden assets and some of the improvements that Holloway, other volunteers and city workers have made to the park.
Holloway gestures to the trail going to Lee Branch. The dog park fence and entrance were recently improved.
Walkers look at the short rock wall on the town side of the creek, built during an upgrade of the park about 15 years ago.
Holloway points out a feature. He is a University of Kentucky theatre professor and staging specialist.
Walkers cross a curved, nearly completed bridge over an area near the creek that is often wet and swampy.
Looking from the opposite direction of the above photo, the new bridge and the sharp bend in Lee Branch can be seen.
The bridge across Lee Branch connects downtown, to the left, with the library, the school and Northridge Estates.
The downstream, downtown side of the bridge recently got a new bench for sitting and watching the creek flow by.
Rustic signs mark several new trails and other features, and official signs give park hours (dawn to dusk) and prohibit loitering, alcohol, littering, collecting and scavenging, with the message: "Leave only footprints; take only memories."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Preservationists say Ky. lost half a million acres of farmland to low-density homebuilding in 20 years

John Piotti of the American Farmland Trust and Jessie Wilder of the
Bluegrass Land Conservancy spoke at the press conference Saturday.
The president of the nation's leading farmland-preservation group came to the Midway area Saturday to announce that America has been losing twice as much farmland than the group thought, and Kentucky has been a leader in the main cause of it: low-density residential development.

"This is a place where it's worth putting in all the effort we can to stem the tide of farmland loss, John Piotti of the American Farmland Trust said in a press conference on the farm of Bob and Laura Riddle of Midway, on South Elkhorn Creek and Fishers Mill Road in Scott County.

Piotti said a study that AFT will issue in May will show that the nation is Kentucky lost 791,000 acres of farmland from 1992 to 2012, and 499,000 acres of that, or 61 percent, was from building of single-family homes on lots of two to 10 acres. He said the national figure was 41 percent, so "Kentucky stands out."

In Woodford County, 30 acres is the minimum size for a residential lot in the area in and around Midway that is zoned as prime agricultural land. That "has gone a long way toward protecting some of the farmland in the area," said Jessie Wilder, executive director of the Bluegrass Land Conservancy.

Fayette County has a 40-acre minimum, but Scott County's minimum is only 5 acres, Wilder said, and it is under much more pressure from development than Woodford. She said Scott County once had a program to purchase development rights, as Fayette County does, but has not funded it.

Another way to preserve farmland is to put under a conservation easement, which becomes a covenant running with the land that protects it from development. Wilder said the land conservancy holds conservation easements on the Riddle farm and 125 others covering 27,000 acres in the Bluegrass, including 5,000 to 7,000 acres in Scott and Woodford counties -- mostly in Woodford, along Old Frankfort Pike and Midway Road.

Wilder said loss of farmland was once easy to see, with development of high-density subdivisions, but large residential lots may look like farmland. "It looks different, and lot like farmland is being eaten up, but it is," she said. "It's a threat to our way of life," not just farming but tourism, which in the Bluegrass is tied to farming because the landscape is "the reason people want to come back."

Prohibiting development on farmland keeps land prices down, making it easier for young people to get into farming, Piotti said.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Armored riders and jousting scheduled Saturday at Midway University Equine Center

Midway goes medieval Saturday, with armor and jousting. Yes, real jousting, says the Midway Horse Association, a student organization of Midway University, which is co-sponsoring a day-long program at the school's Equestrian Center, ending at 3 p.m. with "full-contact jousting."

The day begins at 9 a.m. with an informational clinic from The International Series, which calls itself "the world’s first invitational mounted martial equestrian games series."

The riders will don armor at 2 p.m., with a question-and-answer session, followed by the jousting.

"The show is family friendly and appropriate for all ages," the organizers say. Admission is free.

Chef Ouita Michel of Midway to be feted at 'An inspired Evening' at UK Sat. night; profiled in Kentucky Kernel

Ouita Michel
By Akhira Umar
Kentucky Kernel, University of Kentucky

Ouita Michel has perfected her recipe for prosperity. To her, it’s delicious, and the customers at her chain of restaurants across Kentucky would probably agree.

Michel happily boasts seven restaurants: Holly Hill Inn, Wallace Station, The Midway Bakery, Windy Corner Market and Restaurant, Smithtown Seafood, Glenn’s Creek Cafe and Honeywood. While some of these locations are rather new and others are well-established, all of these food stops are a testament of the same tenacity and passion Michel has had all her life.

Michel has had such a positive impact that the University of Kentucky will give its respect on April 21, when the UK Art Museum and College of Fine Arts will host "An Inspired Evening," a soiree and fundraising event honoring Michel. It will feature dance, music, drinks and heavy hors d'ouevres made by Michel-trained chefs, at $75 a ticket.

Michel had not always looked to the kitchen for her future. While she now competes against other top chefs for James Beard Foundation Award nominations, she used to compete with top debaters for the National Debate Tournament championship at UK.

She credits debate, the honors program and being in the first class of Gaines humanities fellows at UK with guiding her to the path she wanted to take in life. Among the people who also helped guide her were former poet laureate Jane Gentry Vance, Herb Reid and Michel’s debate coach, Roger Solt.

One of the proudest achievements in Michel’s life was winning the National Debate Tournament in her senior year, 1986, with a debate topic of education reform.

“It was a really near and dear subject to my heart,” she said.

Michel and her partner, David Brownell, beat Washington D.C.’s Georgetown College 4-1. The win cemented Michel as only the second woman to win the national debate championship. Though there were a few, yet talented, women debaters, Michel shined as an accomplished woman in what her coach calls a “male-dominated activity.”

She said it was a “fantastic moment” to be rewarded for working about 60 hours a week researching and practicing.

Michel credits debate with one of her greatest moments, as well as leading her to her future career. The team traveled to places like Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, allowing her to experience a myriad of food along the way. Even though she loved cooking as a child, it was through these cross-country trips that she took cooking seriously.

This love inspired Michel to head to New York City and try the restaurant scene. The venture up north only made her love for food grow. Michel attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and graduated first in her class before bringing her talents back to the Bluegrass State.

Michel was able to get her feet in the door of the Kentucky food industry thanks to another successful female restaurateur, Debbie Long, owner of Dudley’s on Short. Long was a mentor and an inspiration to Michel, along with other "foodie" women like Lucie Slone Meyers and Libby Murray.

“There were a lot of women in the restaurant business that were very successful in this area that were role models,” Michel said.

In 2000, Michel bought Holly Hill Inn and opened the restaurant the next year.

Michel prides herself on her incorporation of Kentucky “food culture.” This includes farmers’ markets, fast food, restaurants, food trucks and even poetry about local agriculture. Michel said food culture includes everything from foods historically eaten in a specific location to the experience and production of food now and even the introduction of new types of food.

“It’s like what we write about food, what we think about food, where we buy food, how we eat food,” Michel said. “It can be defined by our individual families, and those individual families when they come together form communities, and those smaller communities come together and create a larger community that is Lexington and central Kentucky and then the commonwealth of Kentucky. It’s a big, interesting melting pot and trying to get people to think broadly about food culture rather than super narrowly.”

Each of Michel’s restaurants are a little different, but using locally produced foods is one thing every location has in common.

“If you’re using locally growth agriculture that’s part of what makes it Kentucky because this was grown in Kentucky from Kentucky soil,” she said.

Michel said she wants others to succeed as much as she has. She is involved with UK HealthCare and the International Society of Neurogastronomy in an effort to help chronically ill patients conquer appetite issues. She works with the UK College of Agriculture to help match small producers with small markets. She occasionally speaks to the Lewis Honors College. She helps young adults hoping to enter into the culinary industry by promoting them and giving them challenges and advice. She tries especially hard to make her restaurants safe places for working women.

“I just try to make sure that in my businesses women feel supported, heard, empowered, and I want that for my daughter,” Michel said. “I feel that way about women, I feel that way about all kinds of different people, that we need to be tolerant and we need to listen to one another and everyone should be treated fairly.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Alternating lanes and shoulders of I-64 to Frankfort will be closed from 7 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday for repair

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced today that it will close lanes and shoulders of Interstate 64 this weekend between Exit 58 in Frankfort and Exit 65 in Midway. The work is scheduled from 7 p.m. Friday, April 20 to 6 a.m. Monday, April 23, "to perform corrective work on a recently completed pavement rehabilitation project," the cabinet said in a news release.

"Contract crews plan to alternate closures between the left lane, right lane and shoulder on eastbound I-64 while westbound I-64 closures will be limited to the right lane and shoulder," the release says. "At least one lane in both directions will remain open at all times. The date and duration of this work may be adjusted if inclement weather or other unforeseen delays occur."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bevin names Paris lawyer Brian Privett to Circuit Court

Judge Brian Privett
Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed Paris lawyer Brian Privett to fill the vacant circuit judgeship in Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties. He succeeds Judge Paul Isaacs, who retired from the Division 2 seat in the 14th Judicial Circuit.

An election for the rest of Isaacs' term will be held Nov. 6. UPDATE: Privett was a candidate for district judge in the May 22 primary, but withdrew his candidacy April 19.

Privett is a graduate of the University of Louisville law school. A news release from the governor's office said Privett began his legal career in 2007 and has handled civil suits, real estate, wills and estates, family law, criminal defense, criminal prosecution, collections, debtor law, other business law, personal-injury law, equine law, and government and non-profits law.

He has been an assistant county attorney in Bourbon and Harrison counties and assistant commonwealth's attorney for the 14th Circuit. "Privett advocates for the protection of children and has been active in working with both Drug Court and recovery groups," the news release said. "Additionally, he helped found the 18th District Drug Court."

Privett said in the release, “I am so thankful to the Governor and all of my supporters in Scott, Woodford, and Bourbon counties for this incredible opportunity. I look forward to getting straight to work to reduce docket size, to expand our Drug Court, and to make sure cases are adjudicated quickly so that justice can be served in our communities.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

American Farmland Trust coming here to reveal findings from analysis of farmland threatened by development

The president and CEO of the American Farmland Trust will come to Midway Saturday morning to promote his group's forthcoming report, report, “Farms Under Threat: The State of America's Farmland.”

John Piotti will join local agricultural leaders for two press conferences in Kentucky, the first on the Riddle farm at 603 Fishers Mill Rd., just across South Elkhorn Creek in Scott County. He will be accompanied by AFT board member Libby Jones of Midway and Jessie Wilder, executive director of the Bluegrass Land Conservancy.

The second press conference, between Cecilia and Rineyville in Hardin County, will include Jones and Keith Rogers, chief of staff to state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. AFT says both events will announce "the first major findings" from the report.

AFT says it is coming to Kentucky because the state has much high-quality farmland that could be the target of low-density rural development, the building of single-family homes on lots of more than one to two acres. That is indicated by this AFT map:
"Government officials and nonprofit organizations have been aware of Kentucky's loss of farmland and have taken meaningful steps to slow it," AFT says in a press release. Speakers at the press conferences "will discuss past farmland-protection successes and preview future efforts."

AFT says its full report, to be released next month, "is the most comprehensive analysis of the location, quantity and quality of U.S. farmland lost to development ever done. The report will include maps of the contiguous United States that show actual patterns of farmland loss within counties.

It is also the first study to examine the effect that low-density rural development . . . has on the loss of agricultural land nationwide."

The group argues, "Low-density rural development is particularly harmful because it burdens the land while benefiting few people, can cause problems for the remaining farmers trying to farm and may push farming to more marginal land where it will require more resources."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mayor's budget reflects plan to cut property tax 25%, has more money for paving, drains, pavilion at cemetery

The Midway City Council got its first look at the mayor's proposed budget and heard complaints about the work that has expanded Walter Bradley Park at its regular meeting Monday evening.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift's budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 put numbers to a promise he made last summer, to cut property taxes because increased employment is bringing the city much more occupational tax.

The proposed budget calls for $82,000 in property-tax revenue, 25 percent less than the $110,000 budgeted this year. That will more than be made up by occupational-tax revenue, which is budgeted to rise to $550,000 in the next fiscal year from $500,000 this year.

Vandegrift said the property tax in Midway is twice that in Versailles.

On the spending side, Vandegrift budgeted $50,000 for paving, up from $32,000 this year; $20,000 for storm drains, up from $10,000; and an extra $15,000 for the cemetery building fund, to erect a pavilion to provide shelter in inclement weather.

He said he "proudly" renewed the $17,000 annual appropriation for improvements at the park.

Earlier, the council heard the first public complaints about work at the park, from a neighbor who lives at the foot of Gratz Street, near the new entrance to the area where brush has been cleared and paths have been created.

"I'd like to know what the plans are for the park that surrounds my house," Vicki Olivo said. "I have some concerns about what's going on down there."

Olivo said the work at the park has removed cover for birds and small mammals. "The owls have gone," she said. "We don't see rabbits anymore. It's just run the wildlife out."
Solar-powered lights illuminate paths leading to the new bridge over Lee Branch in Walter Bradley Park.
She said the humming, solar-powered lights at the park make it "like I'm living next door to a car lot on North New Circle Road" in Lexington, "and that's not the ambience anyone wants in Midway."

She asked why the lights are needed, since signs say the park is open from dawn to dusk. Vandegrift said the lights are designed to encourage traffic between Northside Drive and downtown, but said they might not be needed as late as midnight.

Vandegrift suggested that Olivo take her concerns to the park board, which meets Tuesday evening.

In other business, the council heard first reading of a zoning-ordinance amendment that would allow bed-and-breakfasts of no more than three sleeping rooms in agricultural zones, on lots of at least five acres, with no events allowed. The proposal is countywide.

County Clerk Sandy Jones explained the process through which she found that there were enough signatures on a petition to force a referendum on a proposed property tax to build a new Woodford County High School.

The school board has appealed Jones' decision to circuit court, but she said the vacancy in one judgeship has left uncertain what judge will handle the case.

Jones said the board wanted to have the special election a week before the May 22 primary, which "was not humanly possible." She said a special election would cost nearly $50,000. Holding the referendum at the Nov. 6 general election would save extra election expenses but force preparation and mailing of a second set of tax bills, the cost of which she said she didn't know.

City Council discusses ways to get better broadband

Midway city officials will explore options for improving internet service in the town, they appeared to agree at a special City Council meeting today.

After hearing a presentation from Solarity Group, a broadband consultancy that started in Midway, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the city would probably create "some kind of task force" with council members, interested citizens and possible partners.

He said private investment will be needed to improve the system, but the city might be a partner. He said one primary possibility is Midway University, and another might be Lakeshore Learning Materials.

The conversation will also involve the local internet service providers: Windstream Communications, primarily a telephone company, and Spectrum, the cable-television company.

Noting reports of poor customer service by both companies, Vandegrift said, "At some point we need to send a friendly notice to Windstream and Spectrum that they need to step up their game in Midway."

Later, he said, "We need to start some kind of task force . . . because we need to put Windstream and Spectrum on notice. They don't seem to really care that much about us." He said internet service in parts of town is "just pitiful."

Terry Barnes of Solarity told the group, "One of your strategic goals may be to increase competition, which usually improves affordability."

Windstream received federal economic-stimulus grants of $60 million to extend high-speed broadband to rural areas of Kentucky and other states. It was the largest recipient of such grants. Windstream leased the former city dump on Spring Station Road for an installation related to the project and paid a one-time fee of $15,000, three times what it originally offered.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

City Council to hold special meeting on broadband

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, April 16 to discuss improvement of high-speed internet (broadband) access in the city. The Solarity Group, a Lexington consultancy, will make a presentation and take questions. The meeting notice issued by City Hall says no action will be taken. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ray Popp, husband of Magistrate Linda Popp, dies

Ray Popp, the husband of Midway Magistrate Linda Popp, died Thursday, April 5 in Lexington. He was 64. Other survivors include daughter Ginger Hill (Mike), son Matthew Popp (Kassie) and six grandchildren.

The funeral will be held Wednesday, April 11, at 1:30 p.m. at Clark Funeral Home in Versailles, the Rev. Randy Nation officiating, with burial in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be held Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Moss Hill Country Club.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tracy and Carol Farmer join group trying to eliminate use of performance-enhancing drugs on race days

Tracy and Carol Farmer (WHOA photo)
Tracy and Carol Farmer of Midway have joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance, a horse-industry group trying to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs in racing, WHOA announced Thursday.

"After many years as breeders and owners and now after my service on the commission, Carol and I are convinced that nothing short of strong, centralized and diversified leadership, made possible by federal law, will enable racing to survive and prosper as a sport and a business," Tracy Farmer said in a WHOA news release.

The drug issue has divided the horse industry for many years. U.S. Rep. Andy Barr has introduced bills to ban use of performance-enhancing drugs on a horse the day it races, but no other House members from Kentucky have joined him. The owners of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore support a ban, but Louisville's influential Churchill Downs does not, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is neutral on the issue, reports Lesley Clark of McClatchy Newspapers.

Barr told Clark, "The reputation of American horse racing is really contingent on us replacing this diverse patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules regarding medication policies with uniformity" among the states, through federal law.

Farmer, who has been vice chairman of the Kentucky Racing Commission and head of its special committee on drug regulation and enforcement, said likewise: "Our lack of consistent rules, and erratic enforcement of existing ones, has soiled our public image with fans and bettors and turned a beautiful and exciting endeavor into an endangered species. Now that we are out of regulating and back into racing, we are pleased to add our support to this cause."

Other members of WHOA include former Keeneland Race Course president James "Ted" Bassett of Midway, owner-breeders Seth and Arthur Hancock, Will and Bill Farish and Jim Squires, trainer John Ward, Old Friends owner Michael Blowen, and former Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife Jane.

The Farmers own Shadowlawn Farm south of Midway. They have "raised and raced many top quality thoroughbreds including Albert the Great, Commentator, Sun King, Sir Shackleton, Royal Assault, and 1997 American Champion Older Mare, Hidden Lake," the release notes. They endowed the Tracy Farmer Center for Sustainability and the Environment at the University of Kentucky.

Carol Farmer has been active in equine-welfare causes as a founder and board member of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. She has also been a board member of The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and "continues to work as an advocate for racehorse retirement," the release said. Tracy Farmer, a native of Jackson County, has had various successful business ventures, including banking, automobile dealerships and real-estate development. He is a former chair of the state Democratic Party and remains active in politics.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Holloway is Citizen of the Year for his work at Walter Bradley Park; mayor puts blight back on council agenda

John Holloway holds the antique railroad light signifying his
Citizen of the Year award from Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.
Parks Manager John Holloway was named Midway Citizen of the Year Monday evening for a long list of accomplishments, many of which he reported to the City Council before being honored. Holloway, who sparked the revitalization and expansion of Walter Bradley Park, also reported plans for further improvements.

Among other business at the meeting, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he wanted the council to return to deliberations on the blighted property ordinance, which has been pending since last fall. One council member mentioned a prominent property that Vandegrift said shows the need for the ordinance.

New signs direct visitors to the park.
Holloway, a University of Kentucky theatre professor who lives in Midway, has used his carpentry and artistic skills to transform the park, but has also served as a motivating catalyst for others. The structure of the park board, with one member serving as manager, was made with him in mind.

In declaring Holloway Citizen of the Year, Vandegrift presented him with a 1925 railroad light. "You've been the guiding light on that train," he said. The mayor's proclamation, which says it was issued with the council's blessing, read in part:

"John Holloway can be found most days toiling somewhere on the grounds, leading the efforts of many towards the reformation of Walter Bradley Park, where he and other dedicated volunteers have created new walking trails; improved and maintained existing ones; reclaimed parts that were overrun with invasive species; planted native trees, bushes, and grasses; added new features; and built a figurative bridge between two parts of the city, as well as a literal one that now spans Lee’s Branch; and John Holloway has done all his labor for no financial gain, but for the betterment of Midway’s natural beauty, and for the enjoyment and recreation of all those who make memories there."
Photo taken in late December shows LED lights on Town Trail and the solar panels that power them.
Among the recent improvements Holloway mentioned at the meeting were:
  • Installation of about 300 linear feet of solar-powered LED lights along the Town Trail, which leads from Northside Drive to the Gratz Street entrance, across the bridge built by Holloway and city workers. "Sometimes in the winter there's not enough light to make it work," Holloway said, "but I think it works about 95 percent of the time."
  • Signs, suggested by police, banning loitering in the park from dusk to dawn, prohibiting alcohol and admonishing visitors, "Leave only footprints. Take only memories."
  • Planting several species of trees, including an "edible forest," beginning with pecans. Other species will be planted in midsummer when they are available, Holloway said.
  • Planting of native trees in the section of the park along Northside Drive, which now has a roofed gateway that is a terminus of the Town Trail.
  • Clearing of brush along the park's wet-weather creek and the small quarry, which Holloway says has a rock face "much prettier than the other one." A trail will be extended in the area.
  • Planting of Indian grass and other plants that have made the park an official way station for Monarch butterflies "five times larger then the 'colossal' size," Holloway said.
  • Planting of giant cane and native grasses that will provide screening between park visitors and residents of homes near the park boundary.
  • Planting of 1,000 daffodil bulbs, which are now blooming. "They'll just thicker as the years go by, as they multiply," Holloway said.
  • Printing of a six-panel brochure promoting the park as "a peaceful walk through nature," with one side devoted to a map of the park, its trails, its streams and its facilities.
  • Refurbuishment of the dog park, with a gravel turnaround and parking area, a bridge across the large sewer pipe, an improved fence, a kiosk with seats for shelter, and a smaller staging area, replacing one that was too prone to staying muddy.
Dog park has a new turnaround and parking, a bridge, a kiosk for shelter and a revamped staging area at the corner.
Holloway's efforts at the park began in 2015, with repair of the dog-park fence. He told the council that he would like the water turned back on at the dog park. Vandegrift said it was turned off because visitors left it on and it was also the target of a water thief. "It needs to be something that doesn't need human help to run right," the mayor said.

Vandegrift said he plans to ask the council to allocate $17,000 for improvements at the park in the annual budget he will propose soon. Holloway said the park received a $500 grant from the Woodford County Conservation District, and is seeking money for a gate behind the library. Friends of Walter Bradley Park remains active and a way to donate to park maintenance and improvements. 

Overflow from swampy area is damaging Newton Street.
Holloway said he is trying to persuade state fish and wildlife officials to stock trout in Lee Branch, but they are reluctant because trout are in heavy demand. He said he is tracking water levels and temperature in the creek, partly to help them recognize it as a trout stream.

He said the city needs to clear and reset drainage pipe from the spring in the park meadow to eliminate swampy area and stop erosion of the edge of Newton Street. Vandegrift said he hopes to address the issue through the city's next paving contract.

On Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m., the day before Earth Day, the park will have nature walk "to show people what's already happened and talk about what's the future gonna be and ask them what they want to see," Holloway said. Later in the year, there will be a tree identification class.

Blighted property: "Now that we have a full council again, I want to bring back up the blighted property ordinance," Vandegrift said. The council debated the ordinance last fall, but discussions lagged as disagreements arose and member Libby Warfield missed several meetings. She died Feb. 24 and the council appointed Johnny Wilson to fill the seat for the rest of the year.

Ness Almadari has owned 116 E. Main St. for two years.
Vandegrift said "the main hangup seems to be whether to have a board or council committee" to enforce the ordinance. "I think it's an important issue," he said, noting "quite a few responses" in the city's current survey saying it should do more about blighted property. "I think there's a craving for it," he said.

Whatever body is assigned enforcement duty will put at the top of its list the old Masonic building at 116 East Main Street, Vandegrift said.

Council Member Steve Simoff first mentioned the building, announcing that he had asked property owner Ness Almadari his plans for the building. "He kind of indicated the possibility of doing something in the next 45 days if something else didn't get in the way," Simoff said. "I indicated it was quite dangerous" and that the city might need to place orange cones or yellow tape to keep curious pedestrians away from it. "He also seemed to take offense at me even bringing it up," Simoff said.

Vandegrift said, "The only way to get improvement on this is with a new blighted-property ordinance."